Thursday, January 23, 2014

This one might sting a little.

And you know what?  I totally get that.  It stung me, too.  Got me righthere.  The Spirit told me to stop and examine the wound, told me it stung - I was angry - because it applies to me.  It wasn't something I wanted to hear, but it's resonating in my heart, loud like a thousand bells. And it goes against everything we're taught in secular life and modern counseling.  It's a lie I didn't realize I believed.

Here goes...

Forgiveness isn't a process.

Just let that sink in for a sec.

Forgiveness - - - isn't - - - - - a process.

Oh, we love to call it a process, though.  That way we can justify hanging on to our anger until we're darn good and ready to let it go.  Until we're satisfied that our offender has suffered enough.  Until our over-developed sense of justice is appeased.  Until the wrongs have been righted.

We've all heard it.  We've probably all said it.  "I'm just not ready."  "There's just too much hurt."  "When they ask me, maybe then..."  "No way, I'm not letting him off the hook!"

What I heard today is that forgiving is an action.  A choice.  Something we DO.  It's not a feeling.  And friend, it's not a suggestion.  We're commanded to forgive.

Not when we're ready, but now.
Not when we feel it, feelings have nothing to do with obedience.
Not when we're asked, but before.

Of course I don't have it in me to forgive.  Of course I'm not ready.  Of course I can't do it.  That's the whole point of it.  Nothing I do in my own power is worth anything.

But I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.   -- Philippians 4:13

See, calling it a process is just another way to sugar coat our disobedience.  Withholding forgiveness puts ME in control.  Obeying the command and just doing it in faith - and trusting God to bring my feelings in line with His will - puts CHRIST in control.

So how does that look?  I don't have a clue.  I told you I'm still chewing on this myself.  Maybe when you encounter that person, you're pleasant.  When bitterness comes to the surface, run-don't-walk to your prayer closet and lay that ugliness at the feet of Jesus.  Pray about it?  Yes yes a million times YES.  Ask one trusted friend to pray with you to ask God for the strength to show grace and mercy you don't feel?  YES!

For SURE you stop gossiping about it to others, and stop the vague Facebook posts.  Your unwillingness to move on is like choosing to wear cement shoes.  People with the victim mentality want to remain victims, and one way they accomplish that is by dragging (many) others down into the pit with them.  Choosing *not* to move on.  And it is a choice.

Don't be a victim, you're a victor!  Christ already won, the victory is YOURS in HIM!

It helps me to keep in mind that we have no rights.  You heard me, Americans.   

As Christians, you have no rights.  

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fictional "rights" made up by men and found in a humanist document called the Constitution.  You won't find those "rights" in Scripture.

We die to ourselves daily, taking up our cross.  Who carries a cross?  A criminal condemned to die, that's who.  That's why you carry it, by the way.  Not because being a Christ-follower is a daily burden to be borne, but because you and I have been tried and convicted, and you die to yourself daily.  We have no liberty.  We are slaves to Christ!  "Paul, a prisoner..."  And we have no right to the pursuit of happiness, but we are to pursue the best for others.  We give up everything for the cause of Christ.  Nothing belongs to us, no righteousness comes from us.  The joy of the Lord is our strength!

It also helps to remember Christ's behavior on the cross.  He asked God to forgive US.  We, who put him there.  Your sin and mine!  Nobody was standing there apologizing, nobody was asking for his forgiveness.  But he gave it, and freely.  Dying the most excruciating death imaginable, he was caring for the ones who put him on that cross.  How could we do less?

So as I said, I'm not sure yet how this relates in my life.  I know that I want him to forgive me, so I need to be ready, willing, and able to forgive.  I don't think I'm harboring anything against anyone, but I ask God daily to see if there be any wicked way in me.  He knows, and I trust him to reveal the strongholds and the ugliness I have hidden away.

*sigh* So much ugliness.  So thankful He forgives.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

When you don't understand what God is doing

I have a heavy heart these days.  So weary and heavy, but at peace, because God is always good. 

My dear friend, Kari Bennett, who is only 1 month older than me, who sang at my wedding, who has been a tireless homeschool support friend and guide, confidant, sister, middle-of-the-night counselor, road trip chum, Classical Conversations champion, has been sent home from the hospital with hospice care.  The doctors have said she has 2-4 weeks, possibly less, before cancer finishes its evil work with her body.

God can still intervene if He chooses, and what a glory that would bring Him!  She is so close to Heaven, the doctors have all their scans and things for proof, they couldn't deny God's miraculous work in her body if He chose to do it.  Let me be clear, I am not double-minded in this point: God *can* heal her physical body of cancer.

But if He chooses to heal her by taking her to Heaven, we will miss her.  Oh how we will miss her.  But we know His ways are perfect, and somehow He will still be glorified!

The LORD will keep you from all harm - 
he will watch over your life.  Psalm 121:7

I've really been wrestling with that...truth.  I must declare it to be truth, I admit I force my mouth to form the words.  It is truth, and yet I wrestle. 

My heart cries out to God, "How could little 11-year-old Selah losing her mother to cancer, *not* be harmful?  How is it alright that Abi won't have her mother at her wedding?  Oh Daniel... Kari is Daniel's biggest fan!  And oh dear Lord, I'm so broken hearted for all their future spouses, they would have had the most wonderful mother-in-law in Kari Bennett... 

"And her husband, who adores his wife, to not be able to grow old with his best friend since his youth.  Kari's parents losing another daughter... oh Father, it's too much.  It's all just too much.  I don't understand why You're allowing this to happen."

But God, in His mercy and grace, His unfathomable loving kindness, gently reminded me that I have been looking at His Word through my own fleshly, selfish, childish lenses.  Using my earthly circumstances to qualify the Word rather than going to God's Word to better understand my circumstances.  Wondering if God's Word wasn't true because of what I was seeing happen around me.  Oh dear Father, please forgive me.

If God says "all harm" then He must mean... ALL harm. 

(the heart whispers, but.... but.... but....)

The hard truth here for me has been that this situation - Kari's cancer, her 3 children growing up without her, her husband trying to survive without her, her parents' anguish, we, her friends, who enjoyed her as part of our daily lives for so long - this situation... somehow... must not be "harm" in God's eyes.  I don't think this means He is oblivious to our feelings, not at all.  But there's more to it.

Something was trying to edge its way into the periphery  of my mind and heart, something that had never occurred to me before.  Indeed, my entire belief system regarding suffering has been shifted on its axis because of this right here:

Could it be that our responses to our circumstances are what harm us, and not the circumstances themselves?

Now.... this would mean that Kari's cancer is not the harm.  Oh the muscles I've used to wrap my brain around this one.

God never did promise us perfect lives, did He?  Well, not earthly perfect.  The Word mentions trials, troubles, afflictions, sufferings, and all manner of hardships.  Here are only a few...

"Hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground.  Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward."  Job 5:6-7

"My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."  Psalm 119:50

"If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction."  Psalm 119:92

Paul's response to persecution is a good example of what our response to trials and suffering might look like.  We don't deny the pain is there. 

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 The troubles will come.  The sufferings *will* come.  But if we believe God... if God is Who He says He is... if His Word is true, then He keeps us safe from all harm.  (Psalm 121:7)

We must look at all our circumstances with eternity in mind.  This life, the trials that come, the pain we suffer, the loss that is so great, we can't imagine how we'll go on...  It is all so fleeting. 

Just a whisper. 

We will experience sorrow, anger, shock, disbelief, mourning, illness, persecution.  All of these are real!  But we must gather those up and run to the Father with them!  Run toward Christ knowing that we need Him now more than ever, and not away from Him in anger. 

We can sit in His presence and *tell* Him we don't understand.  *Tell* him we're hurting.  *Yell* at the ceiling, God's got massive shoulders, He can handle your emotions!  Just *be* there.  Be in His presence.

 "Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

Allow Him to minister to your sore heart.  Run to him with your anguish, don't run from Him because you're hurting.  He didn't cause Kari's cancer.  Until sin is gone and death is no more, we will always have cancer.  But God is there with you, never leaving you or forsaking you. 

I think of what Kari might come back and tell us all, if God does call her home and He allowed her to visit for 5 minutes.  When we all get to Heaven, we'll understand. And in view of eternity, which is so vast compared to this vapor we live in, Kari might tell us to rejoice for her - she'll be in the presence of Christ her Savior!  She might tell us that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18

She might tell us to stop wrestling, and run to Christ.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mud bath: an update

Mud.  I've been wallowing in it lately.  And I do mean wallowing, y'all. Scalp deep in the mud, not especially inclined to come out of it.  I've jumped in with both feet.  The mud that is resentment.  And more than a little self-pity.

And I am waaaay down deep in there.

Shaking my head back and forth so it gets all in my hair.  Wiggling around so it gets in all the nooks and crannies.  Yes, there is no part of me that isn't touched by the mud somehow.  In the ears, up the nose, in between the toes.


How comfortable the mud is, I mean.  It wraps you up and entices you to abandon all else but the wallowing.  Keeps you focused on the mud, hopes you don't remember your direct line to clean Water.

And why do I run from it?  The Water that washes, cleanses, builds, restores.  Is it because I would have to let go of my "rights?"  My hurts that I delight in stacking around myself?  Smugly constructing my wall of you-did-this-to-me and you-did-that. (I'm not interested in I-did-this-to-you.  This is about me.) 

Keeping careful count of each ugly, selfish, mud-caked brick.

The mud slowly becomes a strait-jacket that can only stop the Blood's flow to my heart.  I don't even notice the constriction until it's so tight I can't move.  Nothing outside myself matters while I wear it.  Everything I touch is a muddy mess.  Everyone I encounter walks away with mud-stained shirt, glasses, heart.

And I stubbornly choose to wear it!  With white knuckles I hang on for dear life, not seeing - not wanting to see - that it is Life I need most desperately but will. not. seek.

But He calls me.  Amazing.  He calls me!  *I* wouldn't call me.

He still chooses to get His hands dirty.  With me.  I am His child, He has promised to discipline me.  What wonderful crazy love that is.  He leads me to pools of Living Water, rather than the fire I so richly deserve.  He gently pries my white-knuckled fingers away from my wall.  I can do nothing but weep and stand exposed to Mercy's Rain as It melts the dried, baked-on mud, washes it away.

Washes me clean.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A giveaway at one of my favorite blogs!

Y'all should go check out The Legacy of Home anyway, but be sure to go today and enter this fab giveaway.  A book called Raising Real Men and Hero Tales audio CD's.  Hurry!  :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A new (to me) use for milk kefir - biscuits!

We're loving our journey into the world of kefir.  Water kefir flavored with a good organic grape juice is my favorite, while the children favor the mango lemonade.  It's fizzy and fun, incredibly easy to make, and so good for you!  It costs pennies to make a quart every day, and it's so tasty that we'd drink more if we had it.  Completely guilt free juice/soda.  Oh yes, I said guilt free.

We've only just begun to venture into milk kefir.  If you've never had it, I would describe it to you as drinkable yogurt.  You should be able to find a reasonable substitute to homemade in a better grocery store, but as always, homemade is best.  Milk kefir is made a pint at a time.  You can use cow's milk, goat's milk, or even coconut milk.  I whisk a good raw honey into mine after it's done, the children will drink as much as I'll give them.  It's another fantastic source of good bacteria and yeast.  Something our commercial food system has succeeded in eliminating from our food chain.  We've pasteurized, homogenized, non- and low-fatted our way into being the most unhealthy nation on the planet.  But I won't get started on that right now.  Others have already done it, and have done a better job of it.  I was intrigued by this blog post, and my journey towards a traditional diet began.  It's been a year-long process, and we're healthier for it.

But.... that's not why we're here.  We're here to talk biscuits, people!  Which, if I'm to be honest, isn't the best thing for you.  The processed white flour is so so bad.  But with melted butter and cheese in biscuit form?  I don't wanna be good, y'all.

None of us was in the mood for milk kefir today, so I needed to find a way to use today's batch that didn't involve drinking it.  With raw milk being $10 a gallon, I'm not wasting anything made with milk if I can help it.  I wondered if I could substitute kefir for milk in a biscuit recipe.

I made a biscuit today that tasted exactly like Red Robin's Cheddar Bay biscuits.  The children and I agreed that you would never know the difference, they were that good.  I found that I wound up using twice as much kefir as milk.

Here's how I did it.  You can add, delete, and substitute as you like.  You can leave out the cheese and garlic, roll them out and cut them to have regular old biscuits.  If you don't have kefir, you can use 3/4 to 1 cup milk.


2 cups flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus 1/8 tsp.
1 cup finely shredded cheddar jack cheese
1 T. granulated garlic, plus 1/2 tsp.
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk kefir, unflavored
1 stick butter, not softened, divided

Sift flour.  Measure 2 cups sifted flour into small bowl.  Add baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt, then sift again into a large bowl.  (Some salt will remain unsifted, just dump it into the bowl.)  Cut in 1/2 a stick of cold butter with pastry cutter until butter and flour are well combined.  Mix in garlic, then mix in cheese.  Slowly stir in kefir until you have a nice sticky biscuit dough.

Drop dough in large spoonfuls, a little more than 1/4 cup of dough for each biscuit, onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 14 minutes at 400 degrees, until they're just cooked but still quite white.

When almost finished baking, melt other half of the stick of butter in a small dish, sprinkled with 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic, and parsley if you wish.  When biscuits come out of oven, brush them with melted butter and return them to the oven to bake until they're golden brown.  Set the timer in 2-minute increments each time.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I'm listening to a fantastic sermon by one of my favorite preachers, Voddie BauchamTheir church is going through Romans, and what Pastor Baucham has to say about chapter 12 has just been swirling and whirling around my brain and heart for months now.  The sermon is called No Room for Personal Vengeance.  Please please listen to it.

One thing that occurs to me as I listen is that the following point by Pastor Baucham is valid, whether we're talking about American Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers they've just eliminated, or if we're talking about brothers and sisters writing each other off over being blinded to our own sinfulness and hypocrisy. 

The point:

There is an ugly hypocrisy in considering my own sin worthy of forgiveness but deciding that someone else's sin is worthy of wrath. 

Whether that person be someone in my own home, someone in my neighborhood, someone in my church, or a terrorist in Afghanistan.  Whether we like it or not,
God does not have a scale on which He qualifies our sin.  

There are not levels of Hell.  

Without Christ in my heart, I would go 
to the same Hell as Osama bin Laden. 
 (So would you, by the way.)  

Know why?
Because apart from Christ, our sin is no different than anyone else's! 

My sin of disrespecting my husband in front of my children is viewed as IDENTICALLY SINFUL to our holy and righteous God, as the sin of using an airliner loaded with innocent people as a missile!  It is not God who has decided this sinner is worse than that one.  It is human petty selfishness and self-righteous haughtiness that has placed the sliding scale fee on forgiveness.

How quickly and easily we forget the thief on the cross!

Find a verse in Scripture where God says to the victim of an injustice, "Go ahead and desecrate the body of that Philistine you just killed in my name.  You're the victim and you deserve to do it."  Or, "Yes, this person has treated you shamefully.  You don't have to go fix their dishwasher for them, even though they desperately need the help and you're capable of giving it.  If you've decided they're undeserving right now because of their treatment of you, why then of course let's go by your standards instead of mine."

You won't find it. 

What you will find:

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.  On the contrary; "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Romans 12:17-21

"Do not say, 'I'll do to him as he has done to me;  I'll pay that man back for what he did.'"  Proverbs 24:29

"It is mine to avenge;  I will repay.  In due time, their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."  Deuteronomy 32:35

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from him."  Proverbs 24:17-18

There are SO many more.  So. so. many.  And trust me.  I've tried like crazy to avoid them.  So what do you think He keeps immersing me in for 6 months?  Yeah.  It's been crazy up here in my head.  But I'm thankful for the lesson.  God is gentle with me when I don't deserve it.

I'll end this with one of the many profound statements I heard in this sermon (giving God all the glory for the wisdom He's given Pastor Baucham):

"You just remember that when that day comes, and Christ exacts revenge on sinners, your posture will not be of one with a raised, clenched fist, saying, "Get 'em!  Get 'em!  Get 'em!"  But instead, your response will be of one who falls to his knees, as you see Christ exact revenge on others that He should have exacted from you.  And you will recognize that the One Who is exacting the justice is the One Who was stricken, smitten and afflicted because of YOUR SIN.  You will not - you will NOT - in that moment rejoice in your own vindication, but you will only rejoice in the vindication of God."  -- Voddie Baucham

I shudder and am rendered speechless. I am overcome with the knowledge that it is my sin that put Christ on the cross.  Without Christ in my heart, I stand before God no better than what human society would consider to be the vilest of creatures, most worthy of the world's hatred and deserving of His wrath.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh amen. And amen again.

Sarah Mae over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee has posted something so timely, I had to share it with you.

Yes, God makes our roles clear.  Yes, His expectations of us are clear.  Yes He did take our current culture into account when He penned His Word.  No, our current culture has no bearing on what God expects of us.  No, we don't get to shake other women by the collar and judge them for not living up to our expectations. 

When God is ready for someone to deal with an issue, God will touch that person's heart.  If we travel through life showing Christ's love, maybe that person will be drawn to us and ask how we "manage."  But if we travel through life smugly pointing fingers at that person?  Mmmm-hm.  No bueno.
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