Thursday, December 20, 2012

Do YOU want to be well?

Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5:3-9

I read this story and ask myself the same question you are probably asking yourself. Why on earth would Jesus ask this poor sick man if he wants to get well? Do I? Do I? Are you kidding me?

Truth is, this story isn’t just about an invalid man that Jesus heals. This story is about me; this story is about you. And dear friends, Jesus is on to us.

At some point in time in our lives, to some extent or another, we have been blind, lame and mostly, or at the very least, feeling paralyzed. I know I have. We have all been emotionally wounded and left to lie near the pool at Bethesda. What takes you to these promising waters? A broken relationship? A troubled childhood? A devastating loss that you feel like you will never get over? A failure in life that you can’t let go of? An emotional “thorn” that won’t go away? We all have a story. We have all been lying there in our story for thirty-eight years, ten years, two months, completely impaired and devastated. Sometimes life seems hopeless and lonely, and although we lie in hope of a miracle, we seem unaware of the fact that Jesus sees us. He sees us, knows us, and will never, ever pass us by. We are so wrapped up in our pitiful selves that we don’t even realize that he is, indeed, asking us this very same question.

Do you want to be well?

Trouble is, even though we think it is a crazy- rhetorical at best- question, it actually is a very legitimate one.

Whatever being well means to you, will, most definitely, change your life. Do you think and truly believe that you are ready for that kind of change? Are you ready to be well? In this story, we don’t know how old this man actually is. We do know, however, that he has been there, in the same spot, every day, for the past 38 years! Once this man is healed, his life will never be the same. What will he do now? His life will no longer be about waiting for the waters to stir. What will it be about? Does he understand the implications of what will happen when it is no longer just him and his mat? Does he understand that he will have to go, put one foot in front of the other and make new decisions, breathe a different life, and do something new with his time? His life will now be consumed with new thoughts, new ideas and perceptions. His legs will take him to new places, places he has never gone to before. Will he know what to do? Will he know how to act? Will he know whom to talk to, and what to talk about?

What I find most fascinating about this story is not the fact that Jesus asks this man if he wants to be well (duh…) what is eye opening is the fact that the guy never really answers him! He immediately begins to give Jesus excuses and tries to justify himself for not being well already, as if it was up to him.

Somewhere deep within us, and I believe, deep within this man, we understand that perhaps we are ill prepared for what may lie ahead of us if this healing comes to fruition.

Are you sure you want that change? On the mat life is simple, predictable. We hold on to the hope that the waters will stir. Holding on to hope is safe; watching our hope come to life is scary. On the mat we have the freedom to blame others for our failures but when we are whole, we will be out of excuses.
You will no longer be the “Invalid at the pool” that just sits and waits. You will now be the healed woman that can walk! Are you ready to walk?

How many times do we ask for healing? How many times do we ask for the thorn to be removed? How many times do we wonder what our life would be like if only…? but then the healer sees us and asks us this question.

Do you want to be well?

But our answer is not yes. Our answer is:

No one is here for me.

I’m waiting for “something” to happen.

I’m trying but others get in my way.

Why can’t we just say yes?

Honey, he sees you. He knows you need healing. He’s heard how long you have been there. He has not passed you by. He has not overlooked you. What you don’t realize is that even though he has asked if you want to be well, and you gave him excuses, he has healed you already.

The man never asks Jesus to heal him. Jesus never tells him he is healed. He just is! He gets up and at that moment he is cured.
You no longer have to wait for others. You no longer have to hold on to some hope of waters stirring.

What is your answer?

DO you want to be well?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Welcome to my Midlife Crisis

There are two semi crazy, daring things I have wanted to do for years. You can call it a midlife crisis or the guts of a more mature woman that sent me over the edge and made me brave enough to follow through with the insanity. Not only have I done the deeds, but now I also dare to be brave enough to share them with you, and bold enough to be proud of them.

First. Three weeks ago…. wait for it…..I….wait for it……..a Tattoo!

Oh Yes! I Did.

As if experiencing the pain of having gallstones, kidney stones, and birthing two children without any pain medication were not enough, I decided to put myself through this ultimate test of torture. Actually, I hate to admit it, but compared to all of the above, it was just a walk in the park. Think: bad sunburn, sharp piece of glass. Pain, but nothing like pushing a child through my birth canal!

My tattoo is written in Hebrew, and it says: “Oh! Mighty man of valor.” Most Bible translations read “Mighty warrior.” If you have been reading my blog you will know exactly why I chose those words. If not, then let me encourage you to go HERE and read through the 5 posts I wrote about Gideon and on being brave. If you are just too lazy to go through it all, feel free to cheat and just read THIS post. It says enough for you to understand where I’m coming from.

My initial idea was to just write the word “warrior”. I was a little apprehensive, thinking It would sound to much like the “princess warrior”, you know, as in, Xena. But I identified so much with that word, and it spoke so loudly to me that I was willing to do it anyway. As I was sharing my idea with my son Isaac, who is 14 years old now (By the way, I just earned myself some major cool mom points on this one! If your kids think you are not cool, which they do, get a tattoo. Seriously. I’m riding this one as far as I can go, I’m sure it won’t last long. Unfortunately the minute I begin to bust some moves and try to dance, because I love to dance, (and really, I’m not that bad at it) my cool balloon will be deflated before you can say ouch!) Uh, where was I? My cool 14 year old suggested that I have something done in another language. Genius! I was so thrilled with the idea, and he was thrilled to have suggested it. What better than to have the very words that God spoke to Gideon written in its original language? I did quite a bit of research, which turned out to be a waste of time. It had not occurred to me that I have a brilliant father-in-law that has Doctorates in all kinds of stuff, including Theology, and has studied extensively in Greek and Hebrew. He had a Hebrew font installed on his computer and printed out these words for me to hand to my tattoo artist.

About a week after I got my tattoo I was reading a blog post. I learned a fascinating thing about one of the words written on my wrist. The word translated for “warrior”, or “man of valor” in Judges is the word “chayil”. It's the word on the left. This word just so happens to be the same word used to describe the woman in Proverbs 31. The woman of “noble character” is actually a woman of valor, a warrior. Who knew?  A part of me wishes that I had had the “female” version written on me, but the more I thought about it, the less I regretted my choice. Gideon is my man, and the words spoken to him are the words spoken to me.

Now I see, and therefore I hear the words of God that I desperately need to hear every single day, several times a day. You, my dear, are a warrior. You are more that you think you are. And I can do way more for and with you than you can possibly imagine.

 Beautiful! Is it not?


The second brave thing I did, this one only a week ago, was get my hair cut. Again, shorter yet. I’m thrilled.

I have short hair!

Years, years I have waited for this. And well, I’m getting used to it. In the pictures you can’t tell how short it is in the back. It is, it’s really short, shorter than I have ever had it.



OH! I wonder what could be next!
A new career? A new car? A new kid? Liposuction?

Cheers to the Midlife!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What bothers you?

I hate it when I feel like my kids are beginning to cringe every time I call their name; when I can tell they are thinking, “what have I done now?” I feel so guilty about the fact that I have been noticing all of the negative stuff and have made a point to call them out on it.  I can’t seem to notice all of the good, much less take the time to praise them for it. This week I have really been trying to minimize any negative that I may notice and go out of my way to look for as much positive as I can find. I want my kids to love to hear their names and know that I find great joy in being their mother. Shocking what I have discovered, they really are great kids!

Anyway, in an attempt to adopt the motto “if you don’t have anything good to say don’t say anything at all” to my kids, my hormonal wrath has been in need of some sort of outlet. I have been channeling therefore, all of my frustration away from my children and have directed it straight toward the world at large. I am a pretty easygoing gal that doesn’t get too revved up about much at all; but there are a few things that get under my skin. I thought it would be fun to share them with you, just because.

Here are my top 10 pet peeves. If none apply to you then when I call out your name you will know that you have done nothing wrong, no need to cringe, and all is good between the two of us.

  • Skinny Jeans should only be worn by skinny people, preferably young, skinny people.

  • I hate dull knives. Sharpen them if you want me to cut something.

  • Unless my child or you are in imminent danger DO NOT tell him what he can and cannot do at the grocery store, park, restaurant, or wherever. You may watch and have as many judgmental thoughts as you wish. You may silently thank God or your lucky stars that he is not your child. But woman, I am standing right here! Back off! (this really no longer applies to me really, but it still annoys me and it annoys me for all of the mothers of young children of the world)

  • Don’t wear your PJ’s and slippers to Wal-Mart. No make-up is acceptable (right?), but for heaven’s sake, put on some clothes!

  • Don’t ask me to make something and then tell me how to make it, unless of course I ask you to. Do you trust me or not? If not, then don’t bother asking me.

  • If you walk out of a restroom without washing your hands you can’t possibly expect me to not have judgmental thoughts about you. Eeeeeww

  • Unless we are in a very loud place DO NOT eat an apple in front of me. DO NOT chew on ice. Just don’t.

  • What is the deal with the word “literally”? I believe the word you are looking for is figuratively. No, you did not just “literally” jump out of your skin or pull your hair out. Your heart did not just “literally” break in two, if it would have you would be dead. You are not “literally” starving or freezing to death. Don’t tell me you literally just ran two miles. I would believe you even without that added, unnecessary, abused word.

  • If you are not going to sit on the toilet to pee in the public restroom please grab a little piece of tissue and lift up the seat. If you expect your husbands and sons to do so at home then surely you can extend the same courtesy to people like me who know that you can’t possibly catch a disease by sharing a little bit of thigh space. SIT or LIFT up the seat.  Simple.
Don’t even get me started. I actually wrote on the topic a couple of years ago. Please read further HERE. I may have to write a book about it some day. Oh, it makes me so mad….

Have a blessed day. Tell your kids how great they are, and tell your friend that those skinny jeans are just called Skinny Jeans, they don’t actually make her look skinny.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Me

An amazing writer and blogger Emily Freeman has just published her second book: Graceful: Letting go of Your Try-Hard Life, a book written for teenage girls. Although I haven't read this book yet, I have read her first book Grace for the GoodGirl: Letting go of the Try-Hard Life, a book that I highly recommend. On her blog Chattingat the Sky she has invited her readers to join in in writing a letter to our teenage selves. I found out that I had quite a bit to tell my 16-year-old self. I never would have thought it would be so hard, tearful, and… healing. This here is only a glimpse of what came forth from my aching heart. Although I still don’t want to let go of her, she has taught me much, and I am grateful to her for making me who I have become today.

graceful for young women

My heart aches for you right now because I know that you will never receive this letter. If you were to receive it and heed to my advice I would probably be a different person right now. I guess, however, that it will be okay that you don’t get it. I am okay. Fortunately we have a Savior that works all things together for good and also is great at restoring joy and healing wounds.

You are 16 now and you have lived such a delightful, life. The land where your parents were called to serve, that lovely place where you were born and raised, Chile, will be in your heart forever. Keep savoring every inch of it every second you are there. Although you’ve got this down pat, I will say it anyway: delight yourself in you friends, they adore you. But, what you don’t have down pat is this: delight yourself in your mom. After you leave home she gets very sick. Her illness will last for many years. It will be very painful not just for her, but watching her deteriorate the way she does is incredibly devastating to you, so much so that it will become too hard for you to get close to her. Please Susan, cherish her, love on her and don’t pull away from her. She will need you; she wants to be close to you. Talk to her; ask her questions; cry with her, laugh with her. By the time you are 26 she will have lost control over most of her motor skills, she won’t be able to talk to you although she will long to. And by the time you are 31 she will be gone…you need her desperately, don’t suppress that. Yes it will be excruciatingly painful to lose her, but losing her after withdrawing from her because you can’t handle the thought of losing her some day will be even worse. Go, go hug her NOW.

And speaking of your mom, although she was a wonderful mom and a very worthy woman to have as a role model, let me tell you something. Right now I am the same age she was when I was your age. I can assure you, she so does not have it all together. She is probably insecure, and scared. She most likely feels unprepared, unworthy and like she is a total mess. She needs to know that you think she is a wonderful mother and that she has done a super job raising her children. Don’t assume she knows that. Tell her. I know you think she is perfect and untouchable. She isn’t. You will live your life trying to be her, but because you think she is perfect you will never succeed. You will feel depressed and unworthy. You will never be her but don’t worry, you don’t need to be. You are who God made you to be, embrace it, and embrace Him. What she has is Jesus; any perfection you see in her is really Him. Don’t live your life seeking perfection; live your life seeking Him. Seek his grace.

That whisper you keep hearing that is telling you to breakup with your boyfriend is a wise whisper. Please listen to your instinct.  He is a good guy, but believe it or not, he is not for you. You will not be a bad person if you break up with him. Trust me, you will be sparing both of you a lot of pain.

Sorry I’m too late to tell you to choose a different orthodontist. You will unfortunately spend many more hours in his waiting room. He is so rude, I know. I’m so proud of you for taking that whole initiative, picking your orthodontist, making your appointments and keeping them. You did a super job owning that responsibility. I brag about you all the time. Your independence will pay off later. I’m sorry to tell you that you won’t have your braces off till after graduation. But you will look amazing. In the end it will have been worth those ugly 4 years. Your mom is going to take this great picture of you the day you get them off.  It’s one of your favorites; so, don’t give her an attitude about it.


When you go off to college your soul will be crushed. I guess you know that, you sense it and you are already starting to feel the dread starting to creep in. Once you get to the States I urge you to begin to embrace your new life there, it really wouldn’t be so bad if you let yourself enjoy it. By accepting this new life you won’t be betraying your old one; you won’t be betraying your old friends or betraying who you are. Your life in Chile will always be a part of you and you will forever have priceless memories of a happy childhood, but it is okay to begin making new memories of a happy adult life.
I wish you could see that not all Americans are shallow and materialistic. They have beautiful needy souls just like yours. Get off your judgmental high horse and love them in the same way you want them to love you.
Don’t withdraw, the hole you will dig has been a lonely place to live in, so please listen, it’s okay to let go and move on.  Don’t allow the enemy to steal your joy.

Your mom and dad, your classmates, and your best friends aren’t the only ones that are capable of loving you and accepting you just the way you are. Allow yourself to develop new deep friendships even at the risk of losing them. Allow yourself to love your children with total abandon even at the risk of being ignored and hurt. Open up to your sisters even at the risk of feeling like a child again. Remember that they grew up in the same home as you did. They will understand.

Your husband is amazing. You will have an unbelievably happy marriage. He will love you more and better than anyone ever has. I really won’t give you any advice because you will pick the right one and truly become natural at this marriage thing. Your future mother-in-law has been praying for you all of your life. She probably prayed for you today. Your mom has been praying for your husband all of your life as well. I am convinced that your marital success is due to their dedicated prayers. It would do your children well if you do the same for them.

The first time you meet your husband is in the school cafeteria where you work, you will make him a sandwich. That is all I’m sayin’. The rest needs to be a surprise.

As a mother you will experience joy and pain like none other. It really doesn’t matter what I say to you now about parenting because there is nothing that will ever prepare you for motherhood. Nothing.

Relax and enjoy your boys (oops, did I just let that slip?) Laugh more and frown less. Don’t focus on trying to make them good kids so that you will look good; focus instead on learning how to love them better every day. They will never be perfect; don’t take it personally.

Food is not a good comforter. Being thin isn't either. It also won’t make you a better person or make people like you more. If you would remember those two things you will spare me years of yo-yo dieting.

Susan, don’t leave joy behind. Please take it with you.

Explore Grace.

Ask God to search your heart and restore your soul.

Don’t worry about what to do. Focus on what you believe. Believe God. Believe truth. If you believe truth, you will do the right thing.

Age 43

For heavens sake child, stop laying out in the sun and getting those sunburns. You look awful when your eyes swell; it is not worth it. You will never, ever tan. Never, so stop trying! I wish you could see the wrinkles you have given me. Your mom is right. Make her happy and make me happy too; put on some sun block and wear a hat.

I thought it would be cool to share this awesome historical moment with you, readers. In April of 1986 I was 16 years old. About 15-20 miles from where we lived was a very rural area where on clear nights you could see every star in the sky. A breathtaking place to be, I must say.
Lucky us, this was a clear night, and what I am looking at in this photo is none other than Halley's Comet.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

on procrastination and perfectionism (Part 2)

Perfectionism goes deeper still. I read in a book the other day that said perfectionism at its core is trying to earn the acceptance and approval of others. Ouch! Did that hit you as hard as it just hit me?

As I take a sober look at my imperfection I tend to make the huge mistake of equating imperfect with inadequate. And who wants to be perceived as inadequate? So I find myself in the business of image management. Next time someone asks me if I have a job or work outside the home I will say yes, I have a full time job as a perfectionist, an image manager. It is a very high stress, exhausting job. I keep telling myself I need to quit, but I’m a workaholic and I just can’t help myself. Your opinion of me is just too important to me; I’m trapped in this job. My reputation and the essence of my being are at stake here. And if there is any chance of you perceiving me as anything less than perfect, or at the very least, better than you, then it is time to put in some overtime hours. It is during those overtime hours that I revert to the defense mechanism of procrastination. When all else fails, leave it unfinished. Works like a charm.

I put it off because I am just not willing to take the risk of being rejected in any way shape or form. I’ll keep it unfinished and keep all of you in the dark; you will never know how imperfect I really am!! Ha!

Who am I kidding?

I am a completely imperfect total mess.

And since I have worked on this post for days and I can’t come up with an inspiring ending, I of course procrastinated, left it unfinished and made myself this necklace.


I know you are just loving the bubbles at the bottom. You have no idea how hard it was for me to not rip the whole thing out and start all over again. I decided, however, to leave it imperfect.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

on procrastination and perfectionism (Part 1)

Why do you procrastinate? What does your procrastination look like?

For most of us, most of the time, procrastination is just an avoidance or delay of the discomfort that one will incur by performing the task at hand. I don’t want to wash the dishes because I’m tired. So I procrastinate. I watch TV instead. I don’t want to clean the bathroom because it is nasty, and I get hot every time I clean the bathrooms. I procrastinate. I go swimming instead. I don’t want to struggle anymore with this piece that I’m writing. I procrastinate. I sweep the kitchen floor instead. I don’t want to fix dinner; I don’t even want to think about cooking dinner. I procrastinate. I play sudoku instead.

Let me tell ya’, I am a master procrastinator.

I have been noticing lately all of the unfinished projects that I have and all of the other ones that have not even made it from my brain to something you can actually see, feel or touch. I began to ask myself, what on earth is going on here? Why is it that I find so many things to do and so few of them to finish?

I really didn’t like the answer to my questions. I noticed that sometimes, most of the time, it wasn’t that I was just delaying the discomfort of the task; there was something much deeper that I was running from. Even though I didn’t like my answers, I’m going to share it with you anyway. Perhaps we could all benefit from looking deeper into what makes us procrastinate.

I noticed that when I procrastinate, what I’m really doing is delaying the Imperfect.

One of my many menacing issues in life is a constant struggle with perfectionism. Do I have any sisters out there? (no need for my real sisters to answer that question, we each came by it honestly, and just for the record, they are worse than me. Just kidding.)

My mind is very good at conjuring up all kinds of wonderful masterpieces, or if I can’t come up with any of my own, through pinterest and a plethora of other fabulous creative blogging women I have plenty of marvelous projects in my mind that are just waiting to be tackled.

The problem is, because I tend to be such a perfectionist, once I begin a job, sooner or later I start to notice that the final result is not going to be this perfect thing that I had envisioned. The next logical step then, in my mind, is to stop, drop and roll away.

Accepting the fact that I am imperfect and that everything I ever do is going to be imperfect is really hard. I fight this all of the time. I find that the best defense I have against imperfection is just to leave it incomplete. It is much easier to say, “it isn’t finished” than “it’s not perfect”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in excellence in everything we do and giving the best we possibly can. But if we spend our lives trying to be perfect, we will never be able to enjoy the imperfect, which is pretty much everything, so we can’t enjoy life the way we were supposed to enjoy it. We skip from one unfinished project to another and all we have to show for it is frustration; Or if we do finish, discontentment instead of a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

Solomon in the midst of all his toiling wisely discovered this truth in Ecclesiastes 2:24.

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

In a small nutshell, our work is a gift from God; our souls are to enjoy our work, not the end result. If the perfect end result is what we are aiming for, since it will always be imperfect we won’t be able to enjoy it.

Do your best; don’t put it off. Enjoy away in your good labor, it is, after all, “from the hand of God.” Offer it up to the Lord.

Then, delight yourself in his perfection.

Monday, July 30, 2012

on worship (part 2)

Make sure you read Part 1 First.

Make up sex.

There is a reason we have that term. Make up sex has magical healing powers. Don’t tell me it doesn’t because if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have that fantastic term in the first place. Make up sex, the very best kind. You know it!

Have you ever noticed that when you go for long periods of time without having sex with your spouse a drift begins to form between the two of you? Sometimes the drift appears when sex is absent, other times sex becomes scarce and then the drift begins to emerge.  Either way when there is no sex true intimacy is hard to achieve, where there is no intimacy walls start to go up and true closeness is hard to come by. You argue more, your selfishness escalates and your willingness to give evaporates. You blow up and have the big fight.  But then… you have make up sex.  Sex not only creates intimacy like no other loving act on earth, but it is also a healing salve to our wounded and disconnected souls. When this kind of intimacy occurs, it’s magical healing starts to take place. 

 Does that sound familiar? I find that in my own spiritual journey the more selfish and self focused I am the harder it is to worship, because worship is about God, not about me. When I don’t worship and I become self centered my resentment and a lack of understanding of my relationship with God begins to deepen. At this point I am only interested in taking instead of giving myself to him. Do you see the connection?

Worship puts an end to wherever the cycle had degraded. Worship heals and reconciles. Worship is about giving. Worship takes the focus off of self and it gives to what it loves. The more we give ourselves to what and whom we love, the more joy we experience. Sex is the same way.

Just like in sexual intimacy, pleasure is to be given, but pleasure is also to be received.

As we recognize who we are in Christ and receive his precious gift of salvation, peace, love, joy and hope we are able to thank him and acknowledge him as the giver through worship. It gives us great pleasure in doing so and, it gives him great pleasure to receive it. He delights himself in you! You are his bride! He chose you. He died for you for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2).  You are the apple of his eye.

Go and practice the healing power of sexual intimacy if you wish. But mostly I urge you to go practice the healing power of Worship as you give yourself to the Living God and connect with him like never before. Delight yourself in him and enjoy as he delights in you.

Friday, July 27, 2012

on being under the influence

You have heard (or perhaps even experienced) that when you are under the influence of alcohol you lose all inhibitions. Well, it is my contention today that when you are under the influence of PMS you lose all concept of reality. Furthermore, you also lose the ability to exercise moderation in any area of your life.

During PMS you are always extra fat and extra ugly, and everyone else is extra fat and extra ugly. Except for your thin friends, of course, they are suddenly extra thin and more gorgeous than ever. You become a monster and everyone else around you becomes a monster too, especially your children. You husband suddenly becomes insatiably horny and won’t keep his hands off of you, which under any other circumstance would be flattering, but now is just plain annoying. Your friends are mean, and your in-laws can do nothing right. You eat all the time, and when you are not eating you are crying or, at the very least, whining and complaining about something. What is there not to cry about? Everyone is a monster and you are fat.

Life is exasperating. 

You age 10 years. You get 10 new wrinkles, 10 new zits and 10 new ponds (in each breast!). It is 10 times hotter and everything takes 10 times longer to do; everywhere you go is 10 times further. You have told your kids what to do 10 times and your husband, well, he’s… disappeared by now.

When you reach 40 take all of the above and make it 10 times worse.

My clothes are tighter, my car is slower, I forget everything, I'm having a real bad hair day, and everything is so darn complicated. The dog won’t stop barking.

Hello, my name is Susan and I am under the influence.

I’m exasperated, I’m old and I have a hard time moving forward. I was on the computer for hours today trying to improve my blogging savvy-ness and learned nothing. I haven’t taken a shower and my head is hurting. I never made it to the gym, and I have at least 5 half written blog posts to finish, three more in my mind that I haven’t even started. I can’t remember the clever sub title that I was going to add to this post, but, even if I could, I wouldn’t know how to add a subtitle anyway, because I learned nothing today. Remember?

I have clean clothes spread on my bed, waiting to be folded and put up. I will at some point in time throw them all back on the floor so that I can go to bed. There is hair all over the bathroom floor, books all over my desk, soap all over the bathroom sink, and the only reason I swept the kitchen today is because my monstrous clumsy son broke a glass. I also have no food on the table, only chocolate in my belly. Who cares about anyone else anyway? They are monsters.

Don’t worry, after the hangover I’ll be the happiest woman on earth, married to the sexiest man alive, enjoying the most awesome kids ever, and admiring best in-laws that ever existed. I will feel beautiful and alive. I will run 4 miles, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and cook healthy meals for my family. I will smile, not yell; I will laugh and not cry. I will fold the clothes, clean the house and take a shower. I will wear makeup, put on my cutest outfit, and wear my wedges without falling over.

Until then I think I will go pour me a glass of wine, find me an uncluttered spot in the house and read a non-thought provoking book.

Cheers to all women. Cheers to PMS and being under the influence!

Friday, July 20, 2012

on worship, an act of trust (part 1)

Take a deep breath here and stay with me. Warning. This is a very candid post.
This is actually a re-post from about a year and a half ago that I felt like sharing again. I edited it slightly and as I pondered more about the subject matter I decided to write a second part that I will be publishing some time next week. Stay tuned if you are not scandalized by the subject matter!

Here we go.

I read a long time ago in a Beth Moore study about prayer life and how it can be likened to marital intimacy. Although I agree with her because there is a great bit of intimacy in prayer, I tend to agree more with John Eldredge.

In his book "The Journey of Desire" he wrote a chapter titled: "The grand affair".
He writes:

"For us creatures of the flesh, sexual intimacy is the closest parallel we have to real worship"

Stop here and let me say this. I hope you are married so you can better understand what I am going to write about. I also hope that you are as blessed as I am with a very healthy marriage. I am married to the most wonderful man on earth for me. My husband, although he is not perfect and he doesn't always "get me", he loves me very well. He is my best friend, my companion, he is good at lifting me up, taking care of me, and he is a wonderful giving lover.

Although Eldridge does a way better job at going deep into this, he really helped me understand the discipline of worship in a whole new light. I got to thinking about sexual intimacy and what it requires of us. Lets face it, if you are truly going to experience great sexual intimacy with your husband there are a few things that are kind of required, or else it may not be all that healthy of a relationship.

First of all I need to feel very secure in the love and loyalty that my husband has toward me. That is something that he has proven over and over in the 21 years of our marriage. My husband is faithful.
Are you secure in the fact that God loves you, that he is loyal to you; he wishes no harm to you. Can you see how he has shown himself faithful to you all these years?

Second, it's kind of hard to have sex with your clothes on! You have to take it all off. For some crazy reason my husband thinks that I am the sexiest, most desirable person on the face of this earth. I know that and I BELIEVE it! I know that I am not perfect; he knows that I am not perfect, yet he STILL wants me. He still treasures me, and when I understand that it is way easier for me to take it all off and still have the light on. I have nothing to hide.

Do you think that God loves you and treasures you? Do you know that you can "take it all off" and he will still love you where you are, with the “extra pounds” the not so perfect “figure”, with the "cellulite" or "varicose veins". If you don't feel like he will take you as you are, then you will have a hard time taking it all off. You will go through the motions and never know what it feels like to be "naked" in his perfect presence yet still be treasured in your imperfect being. Don't be ashamed in the presence of God, delight in him and let him delight in you!

Lastly, to have great sex you must give it your all. There is no holding back. You could call it complete abandon.

All of this requires TRUST. I believe that that is the bottom line in worship. It is why I think that worship is an act not only of adoration, but also one of trust, an expression of trust. "I not only love you and adore you Lord, you are the creator of the Universe and of me. You are powerful and mighty, but also I trust you and I GIVE myself fully to you with complete abandon."

How can you believe, take it all off and be naked in the presence of God if you don't trust him? Don't worry about what it looks like on the outside, or what others seem to be doing, ask yourself: Do I trust you, God, with myself? Then give yourself completely to him, no holding back.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

do you have an ark to build?

As I was struggling and arguing with God again about my inadequacies, lack of experience, and lack of audience he brought to mind the story of Noah.

It is estimated that it took Noah 55-75 years to build the ark. Although it ultimately saved humankind, only 8 people boarded that boat. Only 8.

This is what he taught me that day.

I have time. I don’t have time to procrastinate, but I have whatever time God has allotted me. No matter how difficult the task is or how long I think it may take me to accomplish, time is going to be ticking away no matter if I do it or not. I can avoid it and whine while time passes, or I can get to work (perhaps even fail) while time passes. He has given us time, lets make our time count.

I can’t worry about who gets on board. My job is not to get people on board, my job is to walk faithfully with God and obey. So be it if I only have 8 who join me. My art and my work will not ultimately save the world, but even if only 8 come with me, we can together ride the storm and delight ourselves in rainbows at the end. 

Don’t get caught in the storm. When the rain starts falling and the waters begin to rise you’ll be glad that, even though it seemed crazy at the time, you obeyed anyway.

Now, go grab your hammer and nails. Go build your ark. He will give you the time you need and the right company to hold your hand when the boat starts to rock.

Friday, July 13, 2012

between spit and heaven

In her book So Long Insecurity, Beth Moore pays a visit to a very unusual story in the Bible. It’s one of those stories that makes your head spin and you can’t help but wonder what on earth was Jesus doing? And what on earth would this mean to me? As it turns out, as with most stories that swim in my mind for weeks on end, the more I thought about it the more it meant to me.

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida
 22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

Can I get an amen on the, this is just a weird story?

What’s up with spitting in a man’s eyes in the first place? Interestingly, the act of spitting is quite an insult anywhere else in scripture and, well, in any societal mores period; it is gross and degrading. Why would Jesus choose such a crazy unconventional means to heal this blind man? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that, but I do love Beth’s perspective on the whole spitting matter.

In terms that are common to us today, you might think of it as Christ slathering the blind man’s eyes with his own DNA.

This is not the only instance in which he chooses such unconventional approach to healing. He healed another man’s blindness with a concoction of spit and dirt from the ground in John 9. And in Mark 7 he also healed a man that was deaf and “could hardly talk” by placing his fingers in his ears and then it says that he “spit and put his hand on his tongue”. Surely it wouldn’t be blasphemous for me to say that God sometimes does really weird things, would it?

Weird enough if we left it there. But what really must be catching your attention as it did mine is the fact that at first glance it sure does seem like Jesus has made a mistake. This man is only partially healed. Do you remember Wesley, in The Princess Bride, after Wesley is tortured to death and brought to the witch Doctor? Wesley is declared by Billy Crystal’s character (the which doctor) as “mostly dead”. I guess we could declare this blind guy as “mostly healed”. I mean, he went from what we can assume complete blackness blind to seeing men as trees, walking. Close enough? I don’t think so.

As I continue on my own personal journey of healing, I find myself relating to this guy more and more. For starters, notice how he takes the blind man by the hand and guides him outside the village. In my own life although I could have been healed anywhere (as could have this blind guy) Jesus chose to take me by the hand and lead me outside of what was familiar to me, literally outside of my village to a completely different part of the country. Without knowing what was really going on when God took my hand to bring me to Texas he knew that this was the place where I would best feel his healing hands upon me, and where I would begin to see real change taking place in my heart.

Healing is part of the restoration and sanctification process that we receive only through Christ. He already spilled his DNA from the cross to bestow onto us this healing; and after his hands are upon us the healing journey will be so different for each of us. I love that about him. He does not use a “one prescription heals all” method. We are all wounded so differently, and we each have our own stories to live, and eventually our own stories to tell. We can come to him in secret as the woman with the “flow” did, or we can have people who care about us lead us to this healer, as the blind man’s friends did, or just have our loved ones intercede on our behalf, as the father of the dead little girl did. He has an individual remedy for each of us.

My favorite part of the story comes next. After spitting and laying his hands on the blind man he says:

Do you see anything?

I love how Jesus checks in on him. Jesus is the one pursuing us.
Sometimes I feel like Jesus is continually checking in on me in this way. He asks me, what do you see? Most of the time, I feel as though I still see “men like trees”, in other words I don’t think I’m seeing things clearly. You have for sure laid your healing salve on my being; I see things differently, but not clearly. Here is the best part.

He put his hands on his eyes again…

His healing never ends. I believe this only from experience. Perfection and complete restoration will not be reached till we are with him in heaven. Right now I want him to ask me every day, what do you see? When I see distortedly I want his healing hands on me once again.

…and he made him look up.

This reminds me of Peter, as Audio Adrenaline puts it so well, “if you keep your eyes on Jesus, you can walk on water”. My healing cannot take place by looking at men; they will look like trees. My healing will take place when I look up. Up toward my Father, up toward heaven, up to Jesus himself.

And the hope of the journey is:

And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.

My healing is a constant touch of the hands and spirit of Jesus as I continue to look up. That is just where I am now. I am in the pause somewhere between the spit and heaven. Some days I just have to say, Lord, I see men like trees, walking. I need your touch as I look to heaven. I want to see things clearly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

to fleece or not to fleece (Gideon Part 4)

Yes I promise that this is the final thought on Gideon. For now, because Gideon is my hero and, since we all have a little bit of Gideon in us I probably won’t be able to let him go forever.

v. 17 If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.

v. 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.

v. 39 Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.

Three times, three times Gideon asks for a confirmation from the Lord. Do you think maybe he was a tad bit insecure? God, my precious God, he is so patient! …for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

Don’t be afraid to come to God with your insecurities, that is what he is there for. He is there for us because when I am weak he is strong.

I think that Gideon here was not demanding proof from God, but instead asking for reassurance and conformation from God.

I also think that what Gideon was seeking was not the will of God; he knew what the will of God was. God had already told him what to do, AND he told him what the outcome would be. I think that what Gideon was seeking was in essence the same thing that the man with the spirit-possessed son was asking for in Mark 9 when he tells Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

What I love most about this particular part of the story, is that a few verses after the three requests from Gideon (which God complies with, by the way), God actually chooses on his own initiative to give him yet one more sign. He tells him:

“If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah  and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.”

Man, he is so sweet!

I have a great marriage. Mike and I are deeply in love, even after 21 years, the love just keeps growing. I have many issues, but thankfully none of my issues and insecurities involves doubt about my husband’s love for me. I have absolute total confidence that he loves me deeply. I never have fears or irrational thoughts of him leaving me for a younger, thinner, more beautiful woman, I just don’t. Don’t get me wrong; I’m never na├»ve enough to think that I’m immune to anything like that happening, because everyone is susceptible to having their life, as they know it, change in an instant. It happens all the time. But really, losing my husband is the last worry on my mind. I have plenty of other things to worry about.  Yet, on a regular basis I reach out to him and ask him this silly question, that of course, I know the answer to.

Do you love me?

Of course he loves me! But in the comings and goings of life I just feel this deep need for his reassuring devotion to me. In the midst of the multiple messages I receive when I glance at the magazines at the grocery check out counter, or when I see commercials on TV that insinuate that what men really want is “this” (you know, the ridiculously sexy, lean, touched up bombshell), it’s good to be reminded that what my man really wants is me. I know it, but I still want to hear it. When the house is dirty or there is no food on the table and I fear his disappointment (which isn’t even there), I want to be reminded that he still loves me, that his love does not hinge on my looks or my performance. I need to hear it.

In the midst of sin and being overtaken by the messages from the enemy that was oppressing him and his people, Gideon needed that reminder that God really was going to save Israel by his hand. And just like Mike is willing to indulge me and tell me that he really, really does love me, and then go above and beyond and also remind me that he thinks I’m beautiful and sexy and the best wife ever, God was willing to indulge Gideon and let him know that he really, really was going to use him to deliver Israel, and then goes above and beyond by sending him to overhear an enemy’s conversation. There, the enemy pretty much declares that they knew that Gideon was going to defeat them! (and don’t you forget that truth girlfriend, the enemy knows he’s screwed!)

Some people may be hard on Gideon, and perhaps rightly so. After all, think about the brave ones that so blindly trusted God even when they had no idea what the outcome was going to be. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refusing to bow down to the image of gold knowing good and well that they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. They had no idea if they were going to be saved or not. They did it anyway. Ester decided to go talk to king Xerxes, knowing good and well that she could be put to death for doing so. She did it anyway. David never asked God if he would be able to defeat Goliath! He just went for it.

I tend to have a little more compassion on Gideon though, because I can also think of people like Thomas who believed that Jesus was the Son of God and was his follower for 3 years. He had heard that he was going to die and rise again, but refused to believe that he was alive until he had proof. When Jesus saw him he said,

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27

Even John the Baptist, toward the end of his life while he was in prison he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him,

Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?”

As much as we might deserve it, Christ will not chastise us in moments of insecurity and unbelief. He heals the man’s spirit possessed son, he asks Thomas to touch his hands and his side, he sends an answer to John the Baptist, he wets Gideon’s fleece and keeps it dry on the second request.
If “putting down your fleece” is a prayer to Christ to nourish your trust him, and to help you overcome your unbelief, by all means, lay down the fleece, he will be there to let you know-

Yes dear, I really, really do love you. I really, really am going to use you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Welcome to My Freedom

It’s been a while since I have opened my doors to you. Today you will get a small glimpse of the downstairs new paint color. It is so much lighter and brighter in here. I love it. In the future I will on occasion continue to show you the slow progress in all that has been done and will continue to be done on our house.

For now, I just wanted to wish all of you a fun, relaxing, flip flop wearing,  bbq smelling, watermelon seed spitting, bike riding, mosquito killing, firework filled Forth of July.





As we celebrate this awesome day that marks another anniversary of the day our forefathers successfully proclaimed our freedom through their sacrifice and blood, I want to also remind you to celebrate the ultimate personal freedom we have all received through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
 2 Corinthians 3:17