Monday, October 31, 2005

Losing a Child

A friend alerted me to a family who just lost their 8 year old son yesterday to a rare form of ADEM (encephalitus), after what appears to have been a 4 month battle.

Please bless the Keyser family with your prayers in your heart and on their guestbook by clicking on the picture of Matt Keyser (link has been fixed). Thank you!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Scriptures of Peace

Psalm 4:8
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 85:8
I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly.

Psalm 119:165
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

Proverbs 3:31-32
Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.

Proverbs 16:7
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Romans 12:17-19
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.

Hebrews 12:14-15
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

As I've eluded to, I've been going through a bit of turmoil with a certain person in my life (no, not Randy...this time, lol!). And while it is not resolved, and probably will not be for a long time, I have really turned to the Lord and asked Him to be my guide in handling this situation. And I recently looked up scripture on peace, and the above is what I found. The last two scriptures, especially, were my voice of reason in how I've handled this. And I've found that rather than act how I want to at the moment, which would be not positive at all to say it mildly, I've had the opportunity and the time to do it biblically by praying and looking up scripture. And I can honestly say that the way I have acted towards the extreme lashing out this person has acted upon me, has been nothing less of love. And the opportunity for this person to back down and allow me to forget all of it and let it go is there should this person indeed back down. And believe me, I have humbled myself in such a way that would never have been possible without Jesus, and felt a grace and peace about it. The old me would be crumbling right now. The new me can allow this to not consume me, and still live life as if no turmoil existed. How do people live without Jesus?

Friday, October 28, 2005

How much do you love the Lord?

Tonight at Gina's worship night, a story was told. In an oppressed country where freedom of religion was/is non-existant, a man asked a woman in a crowd of people who the one true God was. And she answered Jesus Christ. The man threatened to behead her 5 year old child who stood next to her if she did not take back her answer. The woman looked at her child, and the child told her that it was ok, she would be with Jesus. The woman did not back down. So right in front of the woman, her child was beheaded. When all was said and done, the woman picked up her child's lifeless body and prayed over it. When I heard this story, I went in the back room to the next worship station, and just sobbed at the mental picture of this woman losing the child that had been in her for 9 months, that she had nurtured, loved, and embraced for 5 years. And to picture the horror of seeing this precious child she had worked so hard to keep safe, killed in front of her, it was too much to fathom.

I love the Lord. But I cannot claim to be this strong. For I also love my children more than my life. And when I say I would lay down everything for the Lord, I know I am lying because I could not lay down my child's life. Do whatever you want to me, but do not harm my children for my decisions and life. The Lord is supposed to come before everything, even your own children who were given to us by the Lord himself. And while I want to be so obedient to the Lord, I know I could not do this.

But what I can do is the little stuff. And in a lot of ways, I'm not even doing that. There are people out there dying for their religion. There are people who must practice their religion in total secrecy lest they be found out and murdered or imprisoned. There are missionaries being slaughtered, there are Christians being tortured, there are wars breaking out because of the fire religion places in the hearts of people. But me, on my comfortable side of the world, have times when I don't speak of God because I make the decision that the other person doesn't want to hear it. I pray to God everyday, but do not thank God for blessings aloud in mixed company. I listen to Christian music, but will turn it off or turn the station when I decide the other person doesn't want to hear it. I have made the decision for other people to not be enlightened by my Lord. I have taken away their opportunity to hear something they need to hear. I have not asked them if they need prayers, or just tell them I'm praying for a difficult journey they are going through. I have taken away their rightful blessings, and kept my Jesus to myself.

Today my daughter and I were talking about religion. She didn't know other religions existed besides Christianity and Judaism. But she is very in tune when her peers turn out to be Christian. She'll mention that so and so mentioned God, and they were at school on the Jewish holiday, so they must be Christian. I told here that there are many different religions than Christianity where someone prays to God, but doesn't celebrate Jewish holidays. And she asked about it, and I told her some religions off the top of my head. And we talked about how it's sad that a lot of people don't believe in Jesus, because the only way to get to Heaven is through Jesus, by believing in Him and following His ways. She asked me what that meant, to follow in his ways. I told her that meant to show people love, to let go of anger and show love even when someone is very mean to you. I told her to be a Christian didn't just mean to believe, but to help those who were less fortunate than us and to share the word of God. And that by doing so, we aren't doing something huge, we are doing what we are supposed to do as Christians. And somewhere in the conversation, Summer said in all earnestness that she wanted to share Jesus with everyone she knew, so that they could all go to Heaven too. Oh, to be a child in Christ!

So while I am disobedient in what I covet, as understanding as that is to those of this world, I, in all earnestness, want to share Jesus with everyone I know so that they can all go to Heaven too. Through my actions, through unashamed praise, through an "I'll pray for you", to a "do you know Jesus?", I will share my Jesus with the world, unashamed, because I can in a country where the religion is free.


O God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.
Psalm 109:1-5

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Fragile Christian vs. the World

"If you examined a hundred people who had
lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them
would turn out to have reasoned out of it by honest argument?
Do not most people simply drift away?"

C. S. Lewis

It appears to me that the majority of Christians are agnostic, or inactive in their faith. An inactive Christian believes in God and believes in Jesus, but that's the extent of it. God appears too far away to see their lives. And at times, God is as real as Santa Claus. Maybe in times of great need, the inactive Christian will pray, even bargain with God. But when prayers are answered, God is forgotten again. I know because I, like many others, have spent most of my Christian walk as an inactive Christian, and still feel the pull to live that way sometimes again because it IS so much easier. The difference is, being born again, I do so with a lot more guilt....

The most dangerous thing about being an inactive Christian, your faith is fragile. There are so many lies out there being told, so many ways to sway the Christian off his path. It's easy to believe that you are going to Heaven because you believe in Jesus, but you still get your life "as-is", with no accountability whatsoever. To read more on this, check out a portion of Pastor Troy's revival reports, the entry from 10/17/2005.

I came across these quotes today when researching something entirely different, and it saddened me:

    "A certain sense of cruelty towards oneself and others is Christian; hatred of those who think differently; the will to persecute. Hatred of mind, of pride, courage, freedom, libertinage of mind, is Christian; hatred of the sense, of the joy of the senses, of joy in general is Christian."
    Friedrich Nietzsche

    "What a terrible time this is to be a Christian. The churches have failed and betrayed us, and the ministry preaches hate and murder. If there is a sane and reasoning voice in the Christian church today it is sadly silent."
    Francois Arouet
    Kauai Times editorial

This is how many view the Christian church. And that's so unfortunate. Part of the reason that these views are placed on us is because of the extremist Christians who condemn rather than love. And that's so detrimantal to Jesus because souls are not saved through condemnation. But the other part is on the world, as it is hard to change one's life in a way that rids it of sin, especially when it's how someone's lived their whole life and never considered it wrong before.

When someone is preached about the wrongs in their life, but are not given the hope of Jesus first, Christianity appears just as it does in the above quotes: full of hatred and persecution.

Ok, look.. This entry is total milk and all over the place, and there is no other way to say this. As a Christian, watch your life. Teach through example, which means live your life accordingly. If you call yourself a Christian, follow Christ and share the passion. PREACH LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE. Do not point fingers. Listen with compassion. Treat brokenness with the Spirit. The most precious thing we have is the love of Jesus, and that is what we must share with the world. Sin is only stripped away with willingness, not forcedness. Do not let your Christianity become a fragile thing, and prevent those "drifting away" by your embrace.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.

John 3:17

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A time for peace....I swear its not too late

There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but joy for those who promote peace.

Proverbs 12:20

Thank you Jesus. I trust you completely, and rest in you as you do your work. May I handle whatever comes with your words still on my lips, and your love in my heart. Amen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Turning anger to peace

Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry

Psalm 34:11-15

There are times, like right at this very moment, when something happens and I just burn with anger. And I want to fight. And the most frustrating thing is, I know the Lord wants me to bite my tongue. I am also reminded that when this one person tries to stir up the good thing going, I know it is out of jealousy and insecurity. And there are times I want to use everything I have to fight back, but I hear the Lord speaking more and more clearly to me.

Crissi, let me be your peace. Rest in me. I will keep you safe. Her words don't matter. They don't strike you down. She is not your enemy, she just doesn't know. Just rest in me, don't say a word.

And humbly, I obey. And after awhile, I know the frustration will subside and once again I will be at peace. I don't need to prove my point by stooping to her level, or even prove it at all.

I feel better already.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness, Your goodness, the safety I have in Your arms. Thank You for giving me a heart that hears You, and a soul that feels You. I am forever Your child. Amen.

Monday, October 24, 2005

What Would Jesus Do?

I came across this book when I was doing a scripture search for an entirely different blog entry, just by chance. Click on it to get an idea of what the book is about. Looks like a worthy read. I'll let you know.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Peace in trying times

Forgiveness. This is the hardest thing. Oh, and compassion, too, even when you don't particularly like the big Ex you're supposed to show compassion to.

But the LORD said to me, "Tell them, 'Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.' " Deuteronomy 1:42

How fortunate that I have the Lord who calms my anger and keeps me silent in times that I need to be. I used to be consumed by rage, and it only caused me distress and never satisfaction. But this week I had peace in a very trying time, and I know that I am right with the Lord. How unfortunate for my constant enemy who does not know that peace, and how much easier for all of us if he only submitted to what he knows is right in his heart.

Lord, thank you for your mercy and compassion you show me, giving me a model to follow. Please continue to mold my servant heart, allow me to let my thoughts match my actions.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Comments on comments

When did religion get so difficult? As kids we are told that Jesus loves us, told some Bible stories, and accept it all at face value. But as we grow older, and we realize that there is so much more to religion, plus add in the fact that we soon discover that (*gasp*) not everyone believes the same thing we do, it all gets more difficult. Then there are different analogies to the same stories, and soon we wonder, "Was God saying it as it is, or did He mean something entirely different?" And while I love church and I love my homegroups, suddenly we have to be clear on what's right and what's wrong, and some things that you never even thought of being wrong in your life are suddenly huge sins you are committing. And with the whole politics of it all, it makes you wish you were a little kid, being told that Jesus loves you, and letting it be as simple as that.

Comments on comments....

Brian- I am in total agreeance with you, and believe everything you've stated.

Liz- The only thing I disagree with you is about that sign. No, it doesn't say "God hates homosexuals", but I feel it might as well. The reason for that sign is to shock people into seeing what's going on. And I believe if a gay person saw that sign, he would basically see it as "God hates homosexuals". If you see a list of things on a sign for sermons: pornography, then abortion, then homosexuality, what are people supposed to think the topic's about? I really do believe that there are people out there who are definitely offended, and this can affect their choices when it comes to religion and the church.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My Jesus

Ok, I was inspired. Get comfortable.

When it comes down to my struggle these past few weeks, a lot of it is anger. But a lot of it was blind anger. I read the Bible, and I believe the Lord's words in it. I know that there is truth. But when I see a sign like the one in the front of my church, I seethe with anger, knowing that many are reading judgment from that sign, and seeing that sign as further "proof" that they don't belong in the church, and they don't belong in God's family. And having heard some Christians and their judgment of the more obvious sins as if they don't sin themselves, I don't blame those feelings I am imagining they are feeling.

But I've had a lot of time with the Lord, and a lot of time in counsel with others over this issue. And I've been encouraged to write about MY Jesus, the one I feel when I wrap myself up in His love. So here goes.....

My Jesus is an ever loving Lord. And He loves ALL His children. My Jesus knows more about you and me than we know about ourselves. He knows why we do the things we do, for He created us as we are through the situations we have endured. He has shaped our lives to be good at some things and not so good at others, but all for His purpose. I believe He has power over everything, and that every little thing has a purpose. I don't believe that my Jesus makes mistakes.

My Jesus sees our judgments of others as a waste of time. We are all sinners. Not one of us is perfect. For us to look down on others is hypocritical, as we all have our own struggles and failures. My Jesus rejoices when love is given, when compassion triumphs, when sacrifices are made for the good of others, when we give more of ourselves than is comfortable. My Jesus rejoices when we look past the sins of another, and accept them as a member of His holy family. My Jesus sees sin as a sin, none greater, none smaller, but all sins that He can forgive when we let Him. My Jesus looks past our sins and sees our hearts.

I believe that more people are going to get to Heaven than we think.

My Jesus is not some distant mystical creature, my Jesus walks at my side. Sometimes He whispers to me so that I have to be still to hear Him, sometimes His words are so loud and clear that I can't miss them. Sometimes He is silent, allowing me to profess my love or scream my anger. My Jesus lets me be real with Him, and does not prohibit me when I just don't understand "why". But he never fails to show me "why" eventually, and I have become a better servant because of His faitfulness.

I am not always good to my Jesus. Sometimes I ignore Him. Sometimes I am blatantly disobedient. Sometimes I tell Him that it is just too hard to follow Him, and that I am taking a "vacation". I believe I sadden my Jesus when I do this. I believe He misses me, and it's at these times when I try to ignore the things He places in my path to draw me back. But when I've come to my senses and come back, my Jesus rejoices and blesses me.

And what about the sticky stuff, the stuff I'm afraid to write about so publicly? How about the stuff that comes easy for me.

My Jesus is sad about how far we've gone with the images we see on TV, and how casually we exploit our bodies. My Jesus is sad when we kill our babies inside of us, and claim it is our bodies to do with what we want. My Jesus gave us bodies to house his Holy Spirit, and is sad when we disgrace them by giving it up so casually and/or promiscually to others. And I believe that even with these sins, my Jesus embraces us and calls us His own.

And then homosexuality.

This is such a hard issue, and the one that I struggle with the most. This issue I have been pretty ambivalent towards, not wanting to take a vocal stand on either side of the fence. But with this upcoming sermon, I've come to the realization that I need to be clear on all my beliefs instead of "whatever goes". And I think that this realization that I must have beliefs and stand strong in them angers me most of all.

So here goes. I have seen the most beautiful loves between homosexual couples. I have seen loves that I have longed for, where there is real respect and understanding, and a unique bond. Having been in an abusive relationship where I was constantly ridiculed, broken in body and spirit, stepped upon, lied to, and disgraced, I have looked at the nurturing and equal relationship between two female friends of mine....and have been jealous. And I have also seen how those of the homosexual community feel left out of God's family because of who they are, and have decided to just not believe in anything because of it. And it is even more sad when I have seen extremists in the news spewing hate to these people, excluding them even more from God's family. And I think THIS makes Jesus sad. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality. I do not discount it. I know what God's plan is. But I do not believe that my Jesus would ever withhold His kingdom from someone because of who they love. My Jesus IS love. He revels in it, shares it, craves it, creates it. My Jesus is an everloving Lord. That is the beginning, and that is the ending. My Lord is LOVE.

My problem with the sign in front of my church is not so much what it's about, but how it's said. I believe it is using more shock value rather than sharing the gospel to get people in our doors. And it has the power to turn yet another person away from a love that is so amazing, from the love of our Father, Jesus. But as someone pointed out to me, it could also have the power to invite at least one person into God's family, and for that one person it would all be worth it.

I have heard that the sermons from the past couple of weeks have been powerfully moving, have been life changing. And ironically enough, I am unable to attend every service this month....except for the sermon on homosexuality. I have been struggling with whether I'm going or not, and my first response was to boycott all of them. But the Lord has been tapping on my shoulder, whispering that I need to go. And I don't know if it's for the church's benefit or mine. Will I be going and hearing judgment, or will I be hearing love and acceptance regardless of sin? I have come to so many of my own conclusions about what this sermon is to be about, and how non-believers will be even more turned away from God and the church, and how "wrong" all of this is. But I have no idea. So I must see for myself, with an open mind, and lots of prayers that I am dead wrong in what I'm uneasy about.

But I still don't like that sign.

Prayers before I go to bed....

I'm still here. And the Lord has been working some stuff out inside of me. But I'm not ready to blog it, as I'm still unsure about it. I need a lot more time with the Lord, and more time to write in this blog to capture it all down. But I will be blogging it all soon. And I want to thank those of you who have reached out to me about this struggle, and encouraged me without any judgment or your personal beliefs. You all know who you are, and I love all of you.

But tonight I need prayer requests. There are a lot of things that I have been praying for, and I need help in my prayers as they are big ones.

Please pray for me and my ex-husband, that understanding will take place and that priorities will take precedent (i.e. OUR CHILDREN and co-parenting them). Pray that peace will overcome his pride and anger, and that I will be strong and compassionate. And pray for my children, that they will be comfortable in both of their homes, and that they will grow to be strong Christians with an ear and a heart for God, and successful despite the statistics of growing up in a broken home. Please pray for Lori and healing, and for her family, too. Please pray for healing for Donell's son, Coradon, who just had oral surgery. Please pray for all those suffering from the earthquakes, the people who are still alive but lost in the rubble, for those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, and for all who have lost everything they have to the destruction. Pray for those still going through the nightmare of the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and now Hurricane Stan.

So much suffering, but the Lord prevails. May we all remember all we have, and just how fortunate we are. God bless you all.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Revealed, or Restricted?

So, I'm having this inner conflict with my church, and it's just all out consuming me. And I have been encouraged to speak up about it, but I haven't made that step yet. And the reason is because I am so passionate about this conflict that I'm afraid that I will either burst into tears, or I will not be effective in my words, or I will get more angry than is acceptable. But mostly because I am just plain chicken. But in the meantime, I am in utter misery.

I love my church. I have had many great experiences in my church. And my church has been there for me countless times when I was in need. I love the people who go there, I love the pastors, I love that it is so kid-friendly and my kids are thriving there. But this conflict I am having is giving me doubts as to whether I even belong there or not, and tempting me to start exploring other church options, even though my heart still lies with this church.

I am being so consumed by this that I dread church activities now. I dread having to set foot in the building. I am shutting Jesus out in this church because I'm enraged. Last night, I must have had 50 dreams, 49 of them being over this issue. I got no sleep, as I woke up feeling sick after each one. But Jesus revealed Himself to me in one of my dreams, and let me know that we are all God's children. ALL OF US. And he accepts and loves all of us. That's about the point that I finally fell asleep for good with a new sense of relief and peace, and got to sleep a whole hour before my alarm went off. I'm still finding that dream a little surreal.

This morning my car was blocking my sister's car in the driveway, so I needed to move it before she could go to school. The radio station was set to K-LOVE, and the very first thing I heard, plain as day and not cut off, "Is a conflict with your church keeping you from going to church?" My mouth dropped. It went on about how church is not perfect, and to not let a problem I am having affect my faith.

I'm not sure what that means for me. I'm considering taking a month long break from church, though not from faith at all. But at the same time, I'm wondering if it is important for me to be going to church right now because of this conflict, because I am drawing an awful lot of conclusions right now. As it is, I have two days to make my final decision for this week.

Lord, please guide me in your will, allow me to be able to hear you despite our imperfect ways. Let no one be turned away from your love and peace. And please guide those who may inadvertently be causing just that.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bonding Relationships With the Chilluns

I am currently taking the parenting class at Hope Chapel SR, and it has been a multitude of information. And the more I am taking it, two things are occuring: I am super proud of the things I am already doing with my kids, and I can see many areas that I need to work on to be a better mother.

This last week I had to play catch up with the first two courses, and was allowed to bring the videos home and view them on my own time. This of course meant that I saved them until the last minute. Last night was the class, so I watched teh first video on Tuesday, and the second just hours before the class. And along with these videos are questions to be answered by me, and by my kids. So I was really scrambling.

One section of the series really made an ipression on me. It is titled "8 Keys for Building Relationships that Bond". These 8 Keys are:
-Unconditional Love (that your child is secure in your love, even when you are angry)
-Focused Attention (undivided)
-Eye Contact
-Scheduled Time (dates with your kids)
-Ongoing Communication
-at dinner together
-at bedtime
-shared experiences (vacation, park time, sports TOGETHER instead of just watching them play team sports, etc)
-Meaningful Touching (hugs, tickling, wrestling, cuddling, etc)
-Have Fun Together
-Pray Together Often

When I read these, I could honestly say I did 4 of these things very well. My kids know I love them, as I tell them every day, as well as by the way I hug them often, etc. We do have ongoing communication by all the ways listed. We talk in the car, we read books every night. We always eat dinner as a family. And I do believe we have fun together.

But that leaves 4 of the areas that I am failing at. On the way to my parenting class, I finished up my homework by talking to Summer about these 8 keys, and what she feels I need help with. We went down the list one by one. Unconditional love-ok. Sheduled time-this is a problem. Then she stopped, and asked if she was going to get in trouble with being honest. I laughted and told her that I was taking this class to be a good mom to her. Bless her heart, she told me I already was a good mom. I told her that I just wanted to be the best mom I could for her, and this class was helping me.

So she told me that I needed more scheduled time with Lucas and her because it seemed like I was always working, or checking my email, or just busy with something else. And when I brought up the third and fourth points - focused attention and eye contact - she said that sometimes when she was talking, I was listening, but not hearing. I'd be distracted. The rest of the things were fine, until we got to "Pray Together". I pray all the my head. I have been very private in prayer, as that has been my life-long habit, as it is my mom's. So my kids are not really learning about prayer through me. But then Summer and I got on the subject of prayer, and she let me know that she also prays all the her head. So this is just a classic example that kids do learn by example. And it also surprised me that she was praying, and let me know that she is soaking up some of the things I am teaching her.

So the things I need to work on:
-Giving my kids the focused attention they deserve, and doing things with them regularly.
Of course there are going to be times when I am busy, and that's when I need to tell them to hold on until I'm finished so that I can give them my undivided attention. Saying "Uh huh, Summer, that's nice" while reading my newspaper isn't going to cut it. And the times when I am on the computer when I could be with them and doing something with them needs to be curbed. Those things can wait until school time or after their bedtime.
-Praying together
There are the regular times during the day when we can pray: bedtime and mealtime. And these are good times to teach how to pray: Thank God, pray for others, pray for self if needed, anything else. Mealtimes are thinking God ONLY. And this gives them a guideline to follow. But we can also pray spontaneously. How neat would it be for them to witness their mommy thanking God OUTLOUD as she drives, or as she witnesses a beautiful day, etc? This would teach them so much:
-God is always there to hear us.
-God is the one responsible for all our blessings.
-We can pray anytime, anyplace.
-It can get them in the habit of praying anytime.

Loving Father, thank you for my children, Summer and Lucas. Thank you for this opportunity to learn so much more about how to raise the children you've placed in my care in Your loving ways. Thank you for a daughter who communicates her needs so plainly and clearly, even if I never heard her before. Thank you for placing a way for me to listen in my path. I am eternally greatful right now, and filled up with love. Thank you!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Woman, thou art loosed...

This weekend was our women's retreat. Our ladies from our church were selling wonderful t-shirts from their new line called "Simply Grace". I do not have a website for them, but as soon as they have one up and running I will feature it on my links. These shirts had scriptures on them, or something clever about faith, and the shirts were a girl fit, the kind that actually flatters. When you buy them, they "serve them up" in little chinese takeout boxes. It's really cute, and of course I had to have one!

I kept going back and forth amongst them, unable to choose. The first one I saw had just "Woman, thou art loosed..." It was very simple, and not as flashy as the others, but I was really drawn to it. The others were in pinks or whites, with rhinestones to decorate, and just really beautiful. This one was black with silver writing, and had three rhinestones on it. But I couldn't stop going back to it. I really wasn't familiar with the scripture, even though it was familiar to me. I finally just decided that it was the right one. Denise was the one selling it to me, and mentioned that it seemed perfect for me, as did Liz, who was also buying a shirt.

Back at the hotel room, I looked up the scripture, and this is what it said (in brief):
...behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
Luke 13:11-13

It suddenly made sense to me in my own life....

The Lord has healed me. I am that woman. But instead of a disease of the back that cripples me, I was crippled in spirit. But I am now at peace. I have been loosed:
-from the verbal and physical abuse of my husband.
-from the hurt and despair of losing my son at 32 weeks of pregnancy.
-from the daggers that pierced my soul through my divorce.
-from the hatred and bitterness that engulfed me.
-from the emptiness that took me over and made me a shell of a person.
-from the shyness and negative thoughts that held me captive.
-from the insecurity and fear of the world and its people.
-from the bad choices I made just to make myself feel accepted and loved.

In its place, the Lord has blessed me with:
-a new sense of peace.
-a willingness to make friends and be a friend.
-forgiveness, and even compassion, for my husband and his girlfriend.
-the ability to be a real mom to my kids.
-the knowledge and that through him I am completely whole, and just feeling like a whole person.
-hope for the present and the future
-a sense of pride in where I'm at vs. where I was.
-the ability to laugh and really mean it.
-true happiness.
-the chance to now be a source of hope and inspiration for others who may be experiencing where I've been.
-the joy of knowing I am accepted and loved by my Lord Jesus, and I do not need to settle for an unhealthy relationship to be loved.

I wore this shirt all weekend. Liz laughed at me about it. Yes, at 3 days, it is fair to say that it is time for it to be washed. But this weekend I wore it with pride. And after the weekend, I wore it to the Harvest Fair. The Lord has loosed me, and I am proud. And now I stand and glorify Him by living for Him, and by praising Him for His love and grace he has bestowed on me. I am that woman who was afflicted. And now I am healed. Praise GOD!