Category Archives: learning curve

18 years, 4 months, 3 days

I don’t normally remember until at least midday.  I can be sitting in front of my computer all day, writing checks, invoicing customers and generating receivables and payables.  All of these things include seeing the date many, many times.  Because we got married at Christmas time, we celebrated our anniversary on Valentine’s Day weekend.  Both of us were guilty of not remembering, and neither of us cared.  There were even times when we realized our anniversary had passed, and instantly called the other as soon as we recognized our faux pas.  Oops.

Today was different.  I recognized the upcoming date a few days into December.  I’ve been waiting for it to come; and for it to pass.  I held my tears, kept busy and felt like I had eaten a giant stone all day.  You know that feeling, when you’re not hungry or thirsty but know you should eat?  Drink water?  Fill your already full gut?

Today would have been 19 years.  Once upon a time, it felt like such an accomplishment and a massive blessing.  Now, it feels like we didn’t even have a chance.  What’s 18 years, 4 months and 3 days in the scope of forever?  How is it possible I don’t have forever with the man who gave of himself daily?  Forever didn’t last very long.

Now?

I wish I could take everything I once knew about life and lock it in a closet.  These things:

  • Jeremy and I were each other’s everything and would always be, forever.
  • Our children who we adored knew our marriage and lived inside of that marriage; learning about love and truth and honesty and hard work.
  • We would never be apart, through thick and through thin, better or worse, sickness and health.
  • LOCK IT AWAY!  Before life happens and it’s too late.

It’s too late.  It’s now on me to move forward, this insolent life notwithstanding.  It, and everyone, expects me to move forward.  To get on with my life, stop pitying myself, stop spending so much time by myself.

How do I do that?  How do I make the choice to live again without him?  How can I possibly move in any direction?  I would be moving without him – what the hell?  Why would I want to?  I miss my husband who is gone forever.  I miss every single thing about him.  His smile, his snicker.  The way he walked, how he prayed over our dinner table and in our bed at night.  How he gave me a hard time about nothing and everything.  I miss his eyes, his strong arms and giant hands.  I miss his shoulders to lay on and cry on and rest on.  I miss his words and his voice, but especially his laughter.  I miss being held by him, feeling safe with him, walking side by side, hand in hand, always.  I so desperately want to hold him again, to be held by him.  My heart continues to break, every day.  Every night in my dreams, it breaks.  As long as I’m home, my heart is breaking.  Our house isn’t our home without him.  It’s empty, it’s callous, it’s dark.

What will Christmas be like without him?  The love of my life, my husband of 18 years was always the one working while I took care of Christmas.  The familys’ gifts, food, planning, decorating, cards, business gifts and cards, employees’ gifts and parties, etc.  The best part of all of it was Jeremy was there to enjoy the entire day.  He could just show up and be grateful and proud of me for taking care of it all.  His resting and relaxing and being with us was the best part of all of it.  Now?

Caitlyn Jenner and My Chemical Dependency

Before you begin, please take a moment to read this entry.  I need to remind you that I am writing about varied topics; controversial subjects in the church is my poison of choice today.

Yep, I’m one of the 17 million people who watched the Diane Sawyer/Bruce Jenner interview and all 8 episodes of “I Am Caitlyn”.  Out of curiosity?  Intrigue?  Boredom?  Nope.BRUCE-CAITLYN-JENNER-SPLIT-618Concerning Bruce Jenner, I’m of the ‘in-between’ generation.  Too young to have my own memories of his Olympic days and too old to know him as a Kardashian.  While I can’t attest to knowing of him through watching the ’76 Olympics (I was a one-year old), I do remember him from the Wheaties box and television commercials (those two might actually be one and the same, as I have no idea if I actually consumed Wheaties in 1977 as a two-year old J).  As a child, I knew Bruce Jenner as “The World’s Greatest Athlete”.

As an adult, I’m aware of his marriage to Kris (Kardashian) Jenner, his role on the TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and his adoration of his children, both real and step.  My knowledge stems solely from binge-watching at my BFF’s.  About once a year I visit her home and we spend a day chilling on the couch – snacking, surfing and selling our souls to the Reality TV gods.  She’s a DVR whiz and we can watch days’ of shows in just hours, all while our children enjoy their own binge-watching and freedom from us, upstairs.  Cuz what respectable mothers would allow their children to watch crap TV?  Certainly not us – we will watch crap in privacy, thank you.  I have seen enough of the show that I recognize him as Former Olympian and Gold Medalist, Former American Hero, Former Husband x2, Former Celebrity and Current Kardashian.  Whatever that means.

To teenage girls, twenty-somethings and even some in their thirties, it means he is relevant.  To my parent’s generation his relevance once was, and his American legacy still is.  The rest of us don’t have any real affection for or familiarity of Bruce Jenner’s life journey, yet the media and our news feeds believe we want to, we need to.  To know his story.  To feel his pain.  To listen to that journey.  To know why this man who had (has) it all needs to get more out of life, to be something different than what he has been – what he was born as.  Different than who was createdI, too, want to be something different than how I was created. 

I have Clinical Depression.  It is likely I was born with this condition as my mother, her mother, my grandma’s mother and even my father dealt with debilitating depression.  In addition to being genetically influenced, I was sexually, physically and mentally abused as a young teen.  In addition to being abused, my father died suddenly when I was 17.  My teenage son went through a difficult time that involved cutting.    My husband was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and we spent 47 days in the hospital while he had round-the-clock chemo treatments.  We were basically separated from our children during this time, as we were an hour and a half away from home.  The first night we came home his mother told us she was diagnosed with Melanoma of the liver – it had spread throughout her entire body, and she passed away 6 weeks later.  We buried her, then moved to Denver for my husband’s bone marrow transplant, again being separated from our son and daughter.  He was sick and hospitalized for weeks at a time, then finally came home on hospice.  We then decided to shut down our successful business that we had run for 8 years, using his disability insurance as income as well as paying latent business debt.  My sister’s family moved far far away to California after living only an hour and a half from us.  A close ‘friend’ of ours (albeit she disappeared when Jeremy got sick) accused us of being lying, cheating assholes; that we have used other people’s money to remodel our home (my brother and sister-in-law put in a new floor for us after tearing out the nasty, old and worn 13 year old carpet ruined by pets, greasy muddy drivers and mechanics and regular ol’ wear and tear while Jeremy was on hospice.  Word got out and I guess she assumed we used our vendors’ money to completely gut our house to ‘fit our lifestyle’).  Most recently, Jeremy passed away in May, so I am now a widowed mom to our 17 and 11 year old kids.

I have plenty of reasons to be depressed, on top of being born with skewed circuitry, low serotonin levels and a small hippocampus (not a college for hippos, but the base of the brain).  However, being clinically depressed with depressive situations does not necessitate suffering.  Being born with jacked up wiring and sluggish neurons does not mean I just accept it as is.  Who wants to live every single day feeling worthless, useless, burdened (and burdening), lost, sad, lonely and out of place?  And even further, who would ever insist that I must – just because I was born that way?  That I shouldn’t be treated and medicated?  Counseled?  Maybe even changed?  Who would suggest that I cope with my mental illness without these things?  That I power through, learn to deal, accept myself because that’s how I was born?

No one.

But Bruce Jenner?  He must power through, learn to play with the cards he’s been dealt, accept himself for who he was born as.  After all, that’s who he was created as.  A human being who identifies as feeling like a woman and having a male body.  Suck it up, Buttercup.  It’s who you are.  Too bad.  Don’t change who God created.  You have no business doing such a thing, you fame-whore.  And at 65 years of age?  Why even bother?  You’ll be dead soon anyway.  You’ve suffered most of your life already, why can’t you just continue?  God doesn’t make mistakes.  If He wanted you to be a woman, obviously you’d have a vagina instead of a penis.  Just like if God wanted me to be sane and stable, able to raise my children and give to my marriage, I would have the proper and intended brain chemistry, giving me the mental and emotional capacity for love, patience and selflessness.  Wait, what?

Here’s the thing – I don’t have the brain chemistry that God intended, I have the brain chemistry that sin has ruined.  Just like you have the male pattern baldness that sin created.  God gave you healthy hair follicles, yet somehow in your early 20s they stopped functioning.  God created us in His image, yet we all know someone plagued by cancer.  Or mental illness.  Or Down Syndrome.  Childhood disease, being born with two genitals, cleft pallet, blindness, SIDS, juvenile diabetes, heart failure.  All of these are a direct result of sin.  Not the choices we make when we know we shouldn’t, but the sin that is in us and part of us.  The sin that separated Adam & Eve from God; making child bearing hard and working the ground even harder.  The sin that has interrupted and attacked our DNA.  We were created in God’s image, but sin has completely altered that creation.  It has permeated every generation and will continue until Christ returns and the New Earth is reinstated.  Nothing is as it was originally intended.  As it was created.

I depend on my counseling, my EMDR therapy, and my man-made medications and I don’t think any one of you would shame me for doing so.  My chemical dependency is what makes me function ‘normally’.  Concerning Caitlyn Jenner I truly believe God loves her just as he loves you (You think she’s fake?  Are you genuine in all circumstances?  She’s disgusting?  So are some of your habits, and at times, your character.  Caitlyn is confused and messed up.  You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.)  He created her.  In His image.  I don’t think He cares if she is male or female.  I don’t believe our souls are male or female.  They are souls.  Spirits which belong to Christ, not vaginas or penises wearing dresses or pants.  This world is so screwed up and painful due to indwelling sin – why are we adding to it by making people believe that God hates them?

He doesn’t, btw.  God. Loves. YOU.

Marriage Slippers

19 years ago I read an article in whatever magazine was sitting in the breakroom.  Jeremy and I were recently engaged, and this article was about the marital bedroom (I doubt it used those words – where am I, 1940?); my interest was piqued.

The author suggested only having things in your bedroom that pertained to your marriage.  No pictures of the kids, no refrigerator drawings, no decor from your college days or bachelor pad.  Beloved stuffed animals from your childhood?  Nope.  Pictures of you and your parents/friends/whoever?  Nada.  Pictures of the two of you with your favorite couple?  Negative.  Only things that specifically pertained to you as a married couple.

For whatever reason, this spoke to me as sound advice and I followed it for over 18 years of marriage (I say “I” because Jeremy had no part in decorating our home).  Our bedroom was our sanctuary.  Kids were not allowed to sleep in our bed, nor were they allowed to enter without invitation.  Even if the door was open, a knock and announcement of entry was required.  It was our favorite room, and we had a bedtime routine that we looked forward to every single day.  We knew that once we entered that room, we were safe to just be us.  Not Mom and Dad, not Employers, not Our Parents’ Children, or Our Siblings’ Siblings.  We were Jeremy and Michelle.  Husband and Wife.  Two Who Are One.

This article also addressed clothes being left on the floor, pantyhose (remember those?) hanging in the shower and clutter in general that accumulates in a bedroom.  How should you, as a loving spouse, react to these messes that will inevitably irritate the holy crap out of you?  Don’t.  Don’t react.  Don’t react?  Do.  Not.  React.

Um, whaaaat?

Q:  How in the hell do I make him pick up after himself deal with his mess?

A:  Pick it up and put it away for him.

Q:  I’m sorry, what??

A:  Yep.  Do it for him.  First, it will remove the irritating mess.  Second, it will be love shown.  Third, you will become a servant.  A servant of Christ.  Do not react.  Do not nag.  Do not beg or barter.  Do not yell.  Be his wife, not his mother telling him to clean his room.  Be who he wants to come home to at night.  Be who he thinks about all day.  Do not react.

Facebook showed me a memory from this day, one year ago.  It’s a picture of our cat Fiona sunbathing.  I noticed something in the picture that I hadn’t noticed before – Jeremy’s jeans wadded up next to his side of the bed.  One year ago, his jeans were wadded up next to his bed because one year ago JEREMY WAS STILL ALIVE.  His mess meant he was still present in this world, present as my husband, present as the kids’ dad, present as his sister’s brother, present as a friend.  He was present.  Here2015-10-13 14.59.27.  With me.  With us.

His bedside is uncharacteristically clean now.  There’s no water glass sweating all over his nightstand.  No piles of clothes.  No dirty dishes or empty beer bottles.  All that’s left are his slippers, reminding me of what once was.  I didn’t react.  I picked up his pile of clothes for the last time, without a peep of nagging.  God, thank you for giving me the gift of that article 19 years ago.  Thank you for acting through me to be a kind and loving wife.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Made to Crave: Replacing My Cravings

Day 3 of the Very Low Calorie Diet. hCG. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, aka The Pregnancy Hormone. (If you’re reading this and wonder what on earth I’m talking about, please feel free to use google.)

I woke up one morning last week and decided “today is the day”. My bff had been talking about her latest round with hCG, and apparently it stuck in my mind. For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been eating as a reaction to life. I never understood ’emotional eating’ until I began emotionally eating. It’s been a rough year. I’ve had to give complete control of a situation to God and that has not been simply done. I discovered the morning last week that it had not been done at all.

I woke up and told myself “today is the day”. Actually, a voice inside of me told me. I don’t think it was my voice. You know the one – “Why bother? You’re a crappy mom. You’re fatter than you’ve ever been. Do you *see* your chins? Your hair is nasty. Those zits are disgusting. You’re a shitty friend. You don’t have any friends. Because you’re a **really** shitty friend. Look how hard your husband works. What if something happens to him? Your kids will be screwed if they’re left with only you. You really think you can keep a business running like he can? You forget everything. It’s no wonder no one wants to hang out with you. You’re lazy. You suck.” – you know, **that** voice.

“Today is the day.” It was the day to start getting my body back in working order. It was the day to stop feeding my face for the sake of celebration, the sake of loneliness, the sake of no-one-cares-anyway. It was the day to properly honor this temple that God has entrusted to me. It was the day to stop teaching my kids by example how to run their body into the ground. It was the day to pray.

Yep, pray. Overlapping all of these other things this day was about, PRAYER umbrellaed every single one. Two thoughts were happening simultaneously. PRAYstopfeedingfaceER. PRAYhonorGodER. PRAYstopleadingbybadexampleER. Prayer was the meaning of today. More on that later…

My answers to chapter 2 of Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst:

1. The resounding fact that I have no control over my children. Oh, I can discipline, attempt to teach lessons, prepare them for adulthood, encourage them, love them and lead them in the ways of Christ. But I cannot control their thoughts, their actions, their relationship with people and God. We’ve had a tough year with our 15 year-old son and instead of reaching to God, depending on God, trusting God, I chose to control what our son does, who he talks to, what activities he can or cannot be a part of, and even went so far as to control the words that come out of his mouth and the thoughts that he is or is not allowed to think. Oh yes, I’m the parent and being responsible for my child is my job. HOWEVER. In all of this, I can only think of two times that I even consulted God as to what to do. In fact, the two times I did cry out to Him all I did was cry. A lot. I cried because I’m scared for my son. I bellowed because it hurts to see your child hurt. I bawled because everything I have done to ‘train him up in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6)’ ended up turning to crap. I yelled because I was mad at God. I was disappointed in my son. I was fearful for the example he was to our younger daughter. I was disgusted by my son’s actions, thoughts, words and plain ol’ indifference to life in general. So I cried. And cried. And probably went into the fetal position with my helplessness and overall fear. My. Son. Is. Not. Perfect. I obviously failed as a mother, so I guess I’ll go eat worms. Only in this case the worms were cake and cookies and chocolate and pastries in outlandish amounts and all of the time.

2. My need to draw closer to God.

3. I would have received God’s guidance instead of getting fat(ter).

4. I used this ‘method’ about 14 years ago and lost 40 lbs. And kept off the weight, worked out and cared about what I put in my body. For 6 years. Even to the point that I was diligent in not gaining unnecessary weight when I was pregnant with my daughter. I have never gotten back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I have still cared about food. Working out? No. I’ve totally not cared about that. But this past year, I have consciously, callously destroyed God’s plan for honoring Him with this temple He houses my soul in.

5. Moderate but longer-term approach. Although Phase 2 of the hCG diet is a rapid weight loss phase, there is a lot more to follow through with. One craving at a time – Hope, Trust, Need, Comfort, Growth, Communion, Desire, Truth.

Kind of a modge-podge of things in this blog, but if you stay with me, I will catch you up as I continue with this book.

To Have and To Hold

 there was a woman… 

 

She was married to a wonderful man and had a handsome son and two beautiful daughters.  The man was a hard worker and an even harder working full-time college student.  The 3 children were all in elementary school and loved their parents very much.  The woman kept diligent watch over her children and took  marvelous care of her husband, supporting him in his work, his schooling and his dream;  his dream to become a minister.

One day, the woman and the man engaged in a heated argument.  An argument that, 15 years later, they no longer recall.  This argument lead to hurt feelings, broken hearts and foolish choices.  Choices that devoured the rest of their lives.  Apparently, the man was not always kind and was prone to angry fits – fits that left the woman feeling tiny and worthless.  His frustration,although justified, was out of control and violently expressed.  Over the course of marriage she had forgotten that her worth was in Christ, not in her husband’s treatment of her.  The man had forgotten his first love, Christ, and in defense of his family responsibility, loved himself more.  He made himself feel big by making his wife feel small.  The woman had enough.

Other men made her feel appreciated, important, attractive and one-of-a-kind.  A job made her feel worthy, necessary and valued.  Spending less time with her children gave her a sense of freedom – freedom she had never experienced before.  She liked feeling free.  She enjoyed doing whatever she pleased.  Earning her own money gave her satisfaction.

Eventually, she found the real love of her life.  She had a child with her love – glorying in the stark difference between him and her previous children.  The woman lost weight, colored her hair and let her ex-husband move their children across the country.  Now THIS was the life God intended for her!  Finally!  After so many years of wasted time, wasted love and wasted energy, she was finally where she belonged…

Until she wasn’t.  Again, she had married the wrong man.  She had lost so many more years to someone who treated her like crap – just different crap than before.  Surely if she moved on to this other guy…oh, that wasn’t it either.  Three marriages and three divorces later, she still has no idea of who she is or who she’s supposed to be.  But each time she moved on, she was certain it was God’s plan.

Or was it her plan, wrapped in god wrapping paper?

How many times do we use God’s written word to justify the means to an end?  Looking up verses that “speak” to us, “calm” us or even “prove” His will for us?  How can God be telling us we’re on the right track if we’re blatantly moving against His guidance?  How can we be sure it’s God telling us to divorce our husband when we’re already involved in another relationship with another man?  (Oh yes, this the woman did also.)  How can we know?  Where are we getting our advice?  From friends who have made the same stupid choices, or from those who have suffered through and come out on the other side?  Does God give us permission to right a wrong by doing another wrong ourselves?  Or does He expect us to keep our promise

To have and to hold,
From this day forward,
For better, for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
‘Till death do us part.

 What do you think?  Leave me your comments below.

A Man Who Will be Missed

Click here: Randy Larson’s obituary

I have ordered a wreath for the service, and for Judy to preserve afterward. Here is what I wrote on the card and a pic of the wreath:

Judy and Gabe –

We are so sorry to hear of Randy’s passing.
As you well know, he had the power to
change lives and influence purpose. Randy
set a high standard for not only learning,
but for living as well. We pray for God’s
peace and comfort in the midst of your
sadness.

– BHS Alumni and the Burns Community

Please forward this info to anyone who might be interested. If you would like to contribute to the cost of the wreath you may do so by PayPal-ing my email address (mmechels@gmail.com) or by delivering a check or cash to me in person.

Order Total

Sympathy Wreath – Preserved: $49.99
Standard Delivery $11.99
Morning Delivery $9.99
Rush Delivery $4.99
Care & Handling $2.99

TOTAL: $79.95

So sad – I encourage everyone to leave a note for Judy and Gabe at the bottom of his obituary.

Life and All It Brings with It

Wow.  What a freaking summer.  It seemed as though things were never going to calm down.  Here’s a rundown for ya:

May 16: Grandpa finally gave up the ghost and went to live with his Lord!  Yay for him!, crappy for us.

May 18: We seriously got hit by a tornado.  An F2 tornado.  According to the Fujita Scale of tornadoes, here’s how an F2 is classified -Considerable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light object missiles generated. They aren’t a kiddin’.

It went through our front yard, about 20 or so feet from the house.  The wind it generated sucked our cattle trailer over on its side (check out pics below), picked up our 5th wheel camper, plowed it through the pool enclosure and dropped it upside down in the back yard on top of the neighbor’s fence.  It took the kids’ trampoline, twisted it all to heck and dropped it in the field north of the house.  It took Caedmon’s playhouse (big, giant insulated playhouse) and threw it at the house, right through the weight bearing post holding up our extended dormer over the front porch, and through the front door.  Thankfully, the steel door behind the screen door held it back.  Two windows broke, the office’s broken through both panes, causing a little mini-tornado in my office.  Grass on the walls, glass shards stuck in monitors, water and dirt everywhere, papers ruined and scattered all around.  It also took the french doors between the office and front room and tried to rip them off the hinges, breaking the frame in the process.  The doors took the beating quite well, but the hinges are so bent that the doors won’t close.  Ripped the back window off of my car and Jeremy’s pickup, along with taking the flat fiberglass topper off the pickup and throwing it behind us about 1/2 mile south in the neighbor’s pasture.  One of our calf huts was broken, but we could only find part of it.  The other part?  1 1/2 miles south, still sitting in the creek.

We had so much crap strung all over the yard, but especially in the neighbor’s pasture.  It took 3 adults (thank you Eric & Gini) 3 hours to clean up all the remnants of the camper.  Did you know insulation gets really heavy when it’s soaked?  And it sticks really well in the ground, too.  Also, anything can become a projectile missle when powered by a tornado.  I found a paper plate embedded sideways in the hard pasture ground.  Ridiculous!

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The very next week: Audited by the IRS – for the 3RD TIME!  They have never found anything, but somehow that ‘random’ pick always picks us.  So, spent a good week getting 4 year-old paperwork together.  Yeah, that was 2 Windows Operating Systems and 3 Quickbooks ago.  Had to use Gini’s computer with XP and ’03 Quickbooks to pull all of our information up.

I seriously thought I was going to lose it.  In fact, one day I nearly did.  Jeremy and I got into this huge argument about I-don’t-even-know-what and I left for the rest of the day.  And night.  I spent the night in my car in the empty church parking lot.  I had hit a point where I felt like I just couldn’t give anymore; I didn’t have anything left to give.  Call me crazy, but isn’t that when the entire world is at your doorstep demanding attention?   I was done.

But God, through the grace of His Son and my husband, was not.  Jeremy let me vent, which I don’t do often enough.  God brought me close, where I could feel His warm embrace.  My kids still loved me (and were none the wiser anyway) and still offered their unconditional love.  My home still needed tending to, as only I can.  My purpose, though fuzzy, still rang strong and true:

Even though I don’t have it all together,

God still counts on me to show up.

To listen.  To talk.  To cry.  To love.  To be loved.  By Him and the family He has entrusted to me.  I don’t have to be perfect, because in God’s perfection I am.  He takes the little I can offer and uses it for His Glory’s sake.  The tiny bits of appreciation I show to Jeremy – God enlarges them to accolades in my husband’s heart.  The little strokes of comfort I give to Jonathan and Caedmon – He produces His love and encouragement to carry on their day.

My purpose?  To show up.  Not because I’m good enough, but because God is good.

God’s Temple

In my study time this morning, I am being reminded that God is the builder of my life – not me.  How many ways do I try to build my own life?  My own destiny?  My own self?  If I have died to sin to live in Christ, why do I try so hard to be happy?  To be productive?  To be well thought of?  Is my life about my happiness?  Is my only goal to be contributing to society?  Will I ever gain everyone’s approval?

Of course, the resounding answer to all of the above is NO.  Since when do I become the highest priority?  Did God not bring me here on this earth to bring Glory to His name?  The final questions in this morning’s study were these:

  • What ways do I reflect the image of God?
    • My unending loyalty to those I love.
    • My love and submission to my husband’s authority as a man of God.
    • My willingness to give grace and mercy to my children (again and again and again…).
    • My commitment to service in our local church body.
    • Giving credit and thanks to Him for every blessing he pours down on me.
  • What areas of my life do not reflect the image of God *gulp*?
    • My resistance to selfless living.
    • My laziness.
    • My use of unnecessary language that does not point to God.
    • My lack of communication with the God of the universe.
    • My unwillingness to turn to His word for answers.
  • Am I willing to allow God my Builder to do all things necessary to build me into His image?
    • Am I?  Am I really ready and willing to give God the okay to proceed with His plans?  Am I willing to get out of the way? Am I willing to lose myself for finding Him?  How much am I willing to sacrifice?  Enough to where I can feel it, but not so much that it hurts?  God, please work in me.  Please squeeze into my life so I have to move my own agenda.  Grow in me, that I might experience the fullness of You.  Please allow me to see and appreciate the suffering you went through to give up your only Son to save my sorry ass (I felt this was necessary.  Or do I need to work on that?).  I love you so much, and I’m so thankful to you for giving me a heart that wants to know You more.  Please, God, can I know You more?

What are you holding onto?  What things do you need to rearrange so that God doesn’t have to pound His way in to your heart and your life?  Please share with me by commenting below – and let’s share life together.  Life in Christ.  Life for Christ.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?      1 Corinthians 3:16

God is good. All of the time.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I, unfortunately and regretably, am an expert on this subject. I have had so much experience in this field, I may as well have invented the entire concept. Some believe that it all started with a shifty snake in a garden, antagonized by a foolish female, who was then followed by an ill-advised male. They are mistaken. I did, in fact, design what we will be talking about – sin.

Obviously, the above is not true, but my goodness, sometimes it feels as though I could have been the cause and beginning of the most shameful act that forced the rest of humanity into consequence.

I was talking to someone a while back concerning a friend of their’s current living situation. Her friend is shacking up with her boyfriend of several years. I asked this person what her friend tells herself to make this decision okay, to which she replied, after hesitating, shrugging her shoulders, “It’s sin. We all sin. I sin everyday.”

I was somewhat taken aback at this rebuttle, given the person I was having the conversation with. She is well aware of the affect and outcome of living in sin. I don’t believe she actually believed herself what she was telling me; that sin is sin, and we are all guilty. While that statement is true, the intent behind it is not. The premise of that shallow excuse to continue on as our human nature instructs was to defend someone she loves very much; someone she looks up to, and doesn’t want to chastise, even as a friend, and more importantly, a fellow Christ-follower. I seem to recall Jesus instructing the woman at the well, who was also guilty of shacking up, to “go, and sin no more.” He did not say, “go, and take heart in the fact that your friends and family are sinning just as you are.”

When have we become so flippant in our attitude toward sin? Have we used the word so often, had it shoved down our throats by preachers and parents, spouses and siblings, that we no longer understand the result of its power – Satan’s power over us? We go about our personal lives, not even wanting to recognize the depravity of the sin nature, much less address it in ourselves, then in those close to us. But, we have to! If we do not hold each other accountable for the sake of loving that person, and because we are concerned with that person’s relationship with their Savior, we are powerless to ask and receive God’s amazing grace. Without a repentant heart, our prayers are in vain. When a friend hurts you, apologizes, asks for your forgiveness, then turns around in the same breath and hurts you again, it is next to impossible for you to feel forgiving toward them. Granted, God is God and His Son already took all of our sin upon Himself, therefore our unrighteousness is completely hidden from God. But if we continue on in our sin nature, in our iniquity, in our irresponsible decisions, what is the point of Christ’s death on that cross?

Just recently, our pastor gave a sermon dealing with this issue, and I didn’t realize at the time how imperative it really was. His main point was “Until we measure our sin by Who we sin against, we will never have motivation to change.” (That’s paraphrasing) Do we have motivation to change? Do we care that when we live with and sleep with someone out of the context of marriage, that we are making that choice to turn our back to Christ dying in our place? When we choose not to care for our bodies and minds, we are taking the only mortal life we have been given by God and intentionally trashing it? When we lie to cover our own mistakes and irresponsibility, we are flagrantly telling those around us that we can put God in a box – using Him when it’s convenient for us?

Again, I am extremely deft in this thing we call sin. It is so ugly, so demanding, so entwining, so inviting. We can’t avoid it, as my friend pointed out. However, I do believe we can choose to either engage it or fight it with every fiber of Christ’s being in us.  But fighting? Fighting is good for the soul and pleasing to God – and OH MY GOSH, do I encounter grace and mercy when kneeling before the Throne. Do you delight in your depravity, taking advantage of the fact that He has already conquered ALL sin? Or do you delight in said mercy and grace, drowning in it while praising Him for such undeserved love?