Let’s be Christians

My blog about heaven, or rather my fascination with it, seems to have struck a chord. (Heavenly daze) We are all secret heaven junkies! Who knew?

That is really one of my favorite things about this blog. When I write something that resonates with me, and I hear people tell me they thought they were the only ones who felt like that, it just makes my day. I love learning that I’m not alone in my quirks and idiosyncrasies. It makes me feel less alone in my weirdness.

I think that’s what the devil absolutely loves to do. He makes Christians feel alone. He divides and conquers. We think we’re the only one that has this issue or that problem, and there’s a whole crop of people out there who are struggling with the very same thing and yet feeling totally isolated. We walk around carrying pain and frustration and instead of reaching out for help, we cower in dark corners and try to win the battle alone. That should not be so.

I say we beat the devil at his own game and be more open with each other about our weaknesses. I’m not saying let’s all air our dirty laundry for the world to see, but let’s be willing to say, “Hey, I have a problem in that area and I need some Godly advice.” None of us have it together across the board, of this I am quite sure. But we can offer each other help in specific areas that we have conquered or just happen to be very strong in.

As iron sharpens iron, let’s help each other, let’s love each other and forgive each other, let’s bear one another’s burdens instead of judging each other’s burdens. Let’s be Christians.

Hey, what a novel idea!

So I’m going to keep sharing my thoughts and ideas, my hopes and my screw-ups. I’m going to continue to fight the good fight of faith, knowing that it is a battle and in every battle, there are set-backs. I’m going to quickly repent when I mess up and I’m going to trust in God’s everlasting forgiveness.

Thank you for walking this road with me and for helping me realize I’m not the only goof-ball out there.

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Heavenly daze

I’ve been thinking about heaven a lot lately. Not that I’m ready to go there at the moment because I certainly don’t want to go prematurely, but I guess that dude in California got me thinking about the Rapture and I have to admit, I am fascinated by all things regarding the Rapture.

Now, I fully knew that Jesus was not coming back last weekend, but I can’t lie, I was secretly hoping He would. I know I haven’t finished the job He’s called me to do and I know that every person hasn’t heard the Gospel yet, and we have much to do, but I just can’t help being excited about how amazing heaven is going to be.

I read this book once called, “My Dream of Heaven,” by Rebecca Ruter Springer. I came across it after my brother-in-law went to heaven unexpectedly and prematurely, and that was the first time in my life that I had lost someone very, very close to me who was still in the prime of their life. In fact, Paul wasn’t even in his prime yet, he was only 29 years old.

During those first few painful months after his death, I read everything I could get my hands on about heaven, I was so hungry to visualize what he was doing up there and what it was like. My father-in-law said many times during those days, “Thank God, heaven is a real place,” which brought comfort to all of us. I realized then that I didn’t ever think of it that way. I was never forced to think about someone I dearly loved being up there. Heaven was sort of just a concept, an idea, but not a real place that was real and tangible; a home for people who I had known and loved, a place that would eventually be my home.

Anyway, this book detailed the author’s supposed trip to heaven during a time of grave illness. The story she told was mesmerizing. For the first time, I had a vision of what heaven was like. I had a context in which to place my brother-in-law. I no longer imagined a foggy, not really there sort of pseudo-world, an empty forever-ness that was indescribable and mysterious. I had a vision of a world exploding with color and light, and sparkling glory.

The way she described meeting her family members, they way she detailed the rooms of her home, the way she described the trees and flowers and grasses, the colors and the smells and textures, I was totally hooked. I became a heaven junkie.

I have reread the book several times and it always fills me with hope and excitement about what awaits me. It hurts my brain to try to imagine the concept of FOREVER, and the thought that this life on earth is so unimaginably short compared to the eternity of heaven. I can’t imagine where heaven will fit all the people. I can’t imagine going to heaven without my dog. I can’t figure out the whole marriage question in heaven. I can’t figure out how you can build a gate out of a single pearl. What kind of gargantuan oyster would that require?

The more I think about heaven, the more questions I have. And I guess that’s just the way it’s going to be for a while.

I know this, heaven is real. Heaven is more amazing and wonderful than we could ever imagine or anyone could ever transcribe onto the pages of a book. I know there is no sadness, no pain, and no death for eternity with Jesus. I know that however many accounts of heaven I read, the actual place is even better.

Baby Jax

My baby boy will be turning ten next month. How can this be? Didn’t I just give birth to him? Didn’t I just feed him and bathe him and sniff his little head? I stopped and sniffed the Dreft in the laundry aisle at Wal-Mart yesterday. Have you ever done that? Please, say yes. Tell me I’m not the only one suffering from “Kids growing up too fast syndrome.”

We used to have little plastic golf clubs all over the backyard and now we have a weapons cache and ammo in every kitchen drawer. I used to trip over blankies and binkies, now I trip over batteries and Nerf paraphernalia. Even his dirty laundry used to smell sweet. Now it’s heinous, and that’s putting it mildly.

So much has changed in these ten years; it’s mind-boggling. And the years just flew by like a blur. Happy times, sad times, exciting times, all rolled up into the decade of my son’s life. He was born in 2001 and here it is, 2011. We live in a different state, we have a different president. We have new technologies; amazing things like iPods. Can you imagine having an iPod in the 80’s? I’m still working out the kinks from carrying a giant boombox on my shoulder.

So much is different. I can’t imagine what things will be like in another decade. I don’t think we’ll be living on the moon yet, but I’m quite sure we’ll have scientific advances in the next decade that will astonish me. The older I get, the less I can even keep up with how fast things change. I thought I would be a kid forever. And now, even my kid is growing up.

I look forward to the day he comes home from college with a bag of laundry and a hug for his Mom. We’ll sit at the kitchen table and he’ll tell me about what he’s learning, tell me about the girls he’s interested in and I’ll shake my head at him with happy disbelief. When we stand up, I’ll look up into his face and see his scratchy whiskers and remember how incredibly soft and sweet his skin used to be. He will kiss the top of my head just like I used to kiss his and I will smile and thank God for this precious gift.

Busted

I got sent to the principal’s office today. The scary office lady came and got me and I had to walk out of class in front of everyone and they were going, “Ooooo, you’re in troubleeee!” My heart was racing and my palms were sweating. My mind searched desperately to think of what I could have done to incur this horrible spotlight of fear and shame. I was clueless, I was speechless, I was dumbfounded.

Actually, my Dad just asked me to lunch, that was all. But I had you going, right?

He did get on my case though, and rightfully so. You see, he reads my blog and he understands me well. So he puts two and two together and presto, he knows something’s up and we need to have a little chat. My Dad is the best.

So we sit down and he says, “I read your blog this morning.” I knew at that precise moment what was coming. And in truth, it was absolutely what I needed to hear at that moment. The Holy Spirit is always right on time, and He knows what we need, even better than we do . . . much better than we do, actually. He knew I did not need to be coddled and hugged and told, “Oh, honey pie, I’m so sorry you’ve had a tough time, here, let me buy you a toy.” But I needed a, “Pull your head out! Nobody wants to hear your sad story. Decide to be happy, decide to rise above your circumstances, decide to win!”

You see, I’m a fighter by nature, and I had decided to curl up in a ball and let life beat me down for a while. And the Holy Spirit and my Dad were kind enough and loved me enough to point it out to me.

The Bible says He chastens those He loves. (Hebrews 12:6 and Proverbs 3:12) I was definitely chastened and I got my act together in a hurry.

God doesn’t deal with each of us the same way, we are unique individuals. But I know that if we earnestly seek Him in the midst of our struggles, He will be there to lift us up and help us through in the way that works for us. God gets it right every time; His perfect love never fails.

Joy comes in the morning

I had a kind of down day today. No particular reason, just felt yucky and heavy. It may have been hormones, it may have been my breakfast back-firing on me, who knows? By mid-morning I was really pretty down in the dumps.

I had already done what I knew to do, I had prayed and asked God to help me, I had asked Him to lift this heaviness off of me, I rebuked the devil, I prayed in tongues. I covered my bases.

On top of feeling crappy, I was struggling with the article I was writing; it wasn’t flowing as easily as I’d have liked, so I decided to take a break and go out for a little walk. Sometimes I take a “creativity walk” to clear my head of the fog and get the ideas flowing again; a trick I learned from my uber-editor, Michele Chiappetta. You can read her hilarious and sometimes-over-my-head blog here. My Lord, that woman is smart.

As I walked, I checked out Facebook on my phone and scrolled through the status updates. Would you believe that someone had posted a verse of scripture that absolutely touched my heart and gave me the boost I needed to get my tail back to my desk, pull my article together, and finish my day with a bang?

The scripture was Psalms 42:5 in the Message Bible: Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God-soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.

Can you believe that? It really made me chuckle. The  phrase down in the dumps actually had gone through my head all morning! God is so cool.

I read that verse several times, thought about it for a little while, and then I told the Lord, “I fix my eyes on you and soon I’ll be praising again!” And I thanked Him for always taking care of me, no matter how insignificant my issue may seem.

As I lay here in my bed with my child and my 90-pound lug of a dog, I am thankful for my life. I am thankful for my friends and family who love and support me, and I am thankful for my Lord who promises me that joy comes in the morning! (Psalms 30:5)

Little daggers

I wrote a few weeks ago about our power source being trust in God. (You can read about it here.) Well, I have an addendum to that blog, and I think this also is crucially important to our success in life. Forgiveness.

A powerful thing, forgiveness is.

When someone hurts me, I draw back from them, I retreat because I’m hurt. After I process the hurt for a while, I tend to get mad at that person thinking, who are they to do that to me? How dare they? I’m mad at them now and they owe me an apology. Then those thoughts multiply and have babies and pretty soon I’m imagining ways to torture that individual. OK, maybe that’s a little extreme, but you get the point. The hurt just grows.

Now, instead of just being on the receiving end, I’m actually contributing to the problem, making it worse. It’s bad enough that they hurt me and I feel that pain, but now I’ve short circuited my ability to GET OVER IT. I’m contributing to my own pain.

Who am I hurting? Only myself. Does the person who hurt me feel my little daggers coming at them? No. Do they see they have hurt me and owe me an apology? No. Do they go on with their life and forget anything ever happened? Yes.

I think we are under the impression that other people think about us much more than they really do. Keep in mind, people are pretty much caught up in their own lives to worry about ours!

I’ve heard it said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Nobody is getting hurt except us. Letting go of those hurts frees us up to move forward and grow. How well I know that it’s much easier said than done.

How do you forgive someone? How do you let it go? By an act of your will . . . and a step of faith.

For me, I have to make myself say the words out loud, “I forgive them.” I usually add, “and I bless them in Jesus Name,” just for good measure. The Bible says we are supposed to bless those that curse us, right? I want to make sure all my bases are covered.

I may not feel like it the first time, I may not feel like it the first 20 times, but eventually, my feelings catch up to my decision to forgive. And that’s really what it boils down to right there: You have to make a decision to forgive, because you’re never going to “feel like it.” And the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Hurt happens, none of us can escape it. But we can keep it from imprisoning us.

I’m no super-mom

I have to admit, reading Proverbs 31 is really intimidating to me. That woman had it together! She made clothes and farmed land and made her husband and children proud. Am I doing that?

Yes of course we live in a different world today, but am I doing comparable things? Do I put my hand to the spindle and keep my lamp on at night? Do I do enough for my family? I guess only they can answer that.

I don’t know how to make our clothes and grow our food, but I sure do know how to go to the grocery store and the mall. I don’t have maidservants. Oh, how I wish I did. But I do have an every-other-week housekeeper who I pay well and thank God for. I do have a great job so I contribute some to the family income.

I do make sure my family’s clean and fed, most of the time at least. Jaxon once told me I was the best cook in the entire world. Little did he know, I had simply followed this recipe: (Click here if you’re brave and willing to run 20 miles of heartfelt repentance.) Suffice to say, that evening I hit a home-run, but the occasional culinary failure necessitates having pizza delivery on speed dial.

But do they rise up and call me blessed? I want them to.

Whether you’re a stay-home-mom, a full-time working mom who brings home the bacon, or somewhere in the middle like me, you are needed, you are valuable, and you are a blessing.

I know I’m not the best wife and Mom in the entire world, but I believe I can be to my family. And that’s what counts. I want to be exactly what they need. None of us is perfect, I don’t believe such a thing exists, but I am taking this day to challenge myself to do more, to love harder, and to be prefect for them.

I challenge you to do the same.

U otta bin bloggin

I am a news junkie. It’s awful, I know. But I really enjoy watching some earth-shattering event unfold. When they have to break into programming, my heart skips a beat and I lean close in anticipation.

I have the cable news stations down to a science. I watch a lot of Fox News but when there’s something big going on, I go to CNN because I think they have better camera work and nicer graphics. This is a little embarrassing.

I love politics, but I do get bored with listening to talking heads constantly yammering on about liberal this and conservative that.

When I just need the day’s top stories, I hit Headline News. And when they get too opinionated, I mute the TV and read the scrawl. Or is it scroll? Let’s go with ticker. Why not?

I check the Weather Channel regularly, although living in Oklahoma, I think our local meteorologists cover our weather better. And we have the super-duper-who’s-your-daddy Doppler-XXX-9000 radar system so NO tornadoes are going to sneak up on Tulsa.

I was blogging when the Osama bin Laden announcement came through. At least, I was attempting to blog. I had a paragraph written and had round-filed it in disgust and gone to bed. I turned on the TV as I was getting into bed and I caught sight of the international brouhaha. I violently elbowed my husband awake and spent the next two hours flipping between Fox and CNN.

I love a good news story. That is all I have to say about that.

My pantry quandry

No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to fill up my fridge and pantry enough to keep the boys around my house happy. I had a friend tell me that if my fridge and pantry were people, they’d be the Olsen twins.

Rude.

I go to the grocery store all the time! I spend money, lots of money, upsetting amounts of money at the grocery store, and the fridge still looks bare. Why is this?

Lynn tells me I don’t shop like a normal American. Instead of shopping for 2 weeks of food at a time, I shop by meal, just getting fresh stuff for the meal I intend to cook.

This baffles me, because I don’t do it on purpose! I think I’m buying half the store, in fact, when I get about halfway through working my way up and down the aisles, I start to get antsy thinking I’ve bought too much. I’m mentally adding up the cart and my palms get sweaty.

Does buying groceries give anyone else anxiety? Am I just weird?

Thank God we have the money for me to go to the store and buy whatever we need, I know I am extremely blessed to be able to do this. Yesterday I filled up and washed my car, and then went to the store and I thanked God for it. But that familiar feeling hit me somewhere between the frozen foods aisle and the Cokes and bottled water aisle. I began to feel like I had over-indulged and was about to blow the bank account up. I never feel like I get the things I need in those last few rows.

Maybe I should start shopping from the other direction, that way by the time I get to produce, I will just pare it down to apples only instead of my usual, apples, bananas and oranges. Yes, that’s what I should do, start at the drug store side and I’ll have a cart full of lip gloss and cleaning supplies. Then I won’t buy food and it’ll be the perfect diet!

It’s funny, I’ve been grocery shopping for my family of 3 now for nearly a decade, and I still get nervous when I approach the check-out counter. You’d think I would be used to it.

I never impulse-buy right there at the end because I’m always fretting thinking I’ve spent too much. But I’ve never had to go put things back or just bail out of the store leaving my cart behind, praise be to God in heaven above.

Well, I think now seeing this in black and white, I am just weird.

I’m rather embarrassed that I just shared all this with you. I think I’ll go rearrange my pantry and fridge and try to make them look more full.