My Grace is Sufficient

I AM A GOD WHO HEALS.

Those are the first six words I read from my daily devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

And they got my attention.

But what awakened my spiritual slumber are the words in the last paragraph: I rarely heal all the brokenness in a person’s life. Even my servant Paul was told, “My grace is sufficient for you,” when he sought healing for the thorn in his flesh.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Wow! So that must mean that no matter how mighty our faith or how shiny our halo, we’re not always gonna get what we ask God for.

As a kid, I had faith; lots of faith. Or, at least I thought I did until a boy accidentally broke my glasses as we were horsing around on the church bus.

Great! What am I gonna tell mom and daddy who can barely put food on the table let alone buy another pair of glasses? What am I gonna do? I’m as blind as a bat without them.

So, with all the faith a ten-year-old could muster, I pressed my glasses together, squeezed my eyes shut, and prayed,  “Lord. You gotta fix my glasses. You can do it! I know you can!”

You can imagine my disappointment when I opened my eyes and realized my glasses were still just as broken as they were before I asked God to magically put them back together again.

As a child, it didn’t matter that it was just a pair of glasses. They were broken and I knew and believed with all my heart and soul that God had the power to fix them.

But He didn’t.

And when the family walked side by side with my sister down the church aisle to pray for her healing, we had faith that God could do it. Yet, cancer claimed her life anyway.

But God healed my brother years ago from a heart condition caused by rheumatic fever and my baby brother from a bowel obstruction immediately following the pastor’s prayers when he came to the house. He even healed my mother right before she was wheeled down to surgery. The X-ray proved the mass was gone!

I don’t know the mind of God; why He heals one person and not another. But I do know that no one has the right to tell anyone that healing doesn’t come because of a person’s lack of faith.

I saw this happen once when a group of Christians gathered around a young woman with MS slumped in a wheelchair, scolding her for not having enough faith to get up and walk! And I was so proud when our assistant pastor marched his small, indignant frame toward the holier than thou group and boldly put an end to their vicious bullying.

In my own life, like those broken pair of glasses, God doesn’t magically put my brokenness back together. It’s been a long, painful, drawn-out process of anger and frustration, of jerking away and running back. A roller coaster ride of failures and victories, tears and laughter, sadness and joy. Walking the green mile through depression, anxiety, and fear. A never-ending cycle of I’m okay, I’m not okay and maybe I’ll never be okay.

Yes, the struggle is just too much at times. But, it’s through the grueling struggles, not the instant healing that God reveals His endless love and care and mercy toward me. It’s through my quiet times with Him and the tears rolling down my face, and His light shining in the dungeon of darkness, revealing my weaknesses, my stubbornness, my fears, anger, and rage; all the prickly, painful thorns that keep me dependent on Him. Without those struggles, I may never know how much God wants me for Himself. I may never know His love and protection. And I may die not ever knowing a father’s love.

So, the way I see it, healing is not healing if it separates me from God; If it causes me to develop a doctor-patient relationship where the doctor heals and the patient doesn’t need him or her anymore.

It’s horrifying to think that everything I ask God for would sever our relationship if He gave it to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Go to Church or Not Go to Church

It’s Sunday morning. A few years ago, I would be putting on makeup, fixing my hair, slipping into my Sunday best, grabbing my Bible and heading out the door for church.

But, like I said, that was a few years ago.

As a kid, mom never had to fight with me to go to church. I wanted to go. Like, taking a bath and washing behind my ears, it’s what I did. It’s who I was. Besides, anywhere my mother went is where I wanted to go. I even begged her to let me go with her when Oliver Green https://en.wikipedia.org held revival tent meetings in our community, promising to get up in time for school the next morning.

I got saved when I was five. Got baptized when I was seven in a freezing cold creek on a freezing cold Easter Sunday morning in Landenberg, Pennsylvania. Jokingly I tell people my sins were frozen when I got baptized.

I can’t remember a time growing up that I didn’t go to church or Bible School or Christian Camps or revival tent meetings. Regretfully, for reasons unknown, I never got to go with mom to the Billy Graham Crusade back in the ’50’s.

Yet, here I sit this cool, Sunday morning, drinking coffee on my messy, cluttered back porch having church. In my pajamas. No makeup. No spiffy outfit. No congregation. No choir. No entertainment. No preacher behind the pulpit. No Bible on my lap. Just me and God and the birds and the squirrels.

And God spoke to me. He told me stuff about myself that I didn’t want to hear. He broke my heart. He made me cry. He made me see into the depths of my soul. And there I sat, coffee cup in my hands, tears streaming down my face, seeing and hearing and surrendering my stubborn will to God.

I could give you a million reasons why I stopped attending church, but that would only open a can of ugly worms and be seen as blasphemy in the minds of many. And nothing anyone can do or say will ever change the way I feel and perceive the church today. And the last thing I want to hear is that you have to go to church to worship God or to even get one little toe into heaven. That kinda limits those who are bed-ridden in nursing homes, or hospice or an iron lung, don’t you think?

So please, don’t question those who don’t attend church. Question those sitting in church whenever the doors are open. Question their motives for being there. Watch what they do. Hear what they say. No one is what he or she wants people to believe they are; especially in church.

Things happened in the church I attended for over twenty years that after four years, I’m still working through the hurt, anger, and disappointment. Things that opened my eyes and made me question, made me think, made me wonder why I didn’t quit attending church long ago before it finally crushed my spirit.

People will argue that I need to be in church to connect with other Christians. Well, that’s funny because most of the time I felt as connected sitting in church as I did walking through a crowded mall.

So, there fly’s that theory out the window.

I’ve heard all the arguments, I’ve weighed all the pro’s and con’s, and I’m over feeling guilty for the choice I’ve made. I feel happy and free from the hypocrisy and pretenses I observed and adopted over the years. It’s like my brain went through a deprogramming process of what I once perceived as truth and discovered that much of it was a lie. Especially all the rules and regulations made by the church to keep its members on the straight and narrow and making a good appearance.

So today and the next day and the next, my church is my heart; the Holy Temple of God. As broken and screwed up as it is at times, it’s where God really wants to be. I think He enjoys cleaning and redecorating as much as I do. Anyway, He kicks off His dusty sandals, pulls up a chair and makes Himself at home there. And if He sees a crooked picture on the wall or dirt on the floor, He doesn’t shake His head and wag His finger in disgust, He helps me straighten it and clean it up. Best of all, I don’t have to dress up, primp up or put on my Sunday-best behavior. I just have to be me. Raw and naked, honest to the bone me.

So tell me, why should that offend anyone?

 

 

 

 

Look What’s Happening Behind My Back!

As some of you know, my husband, Buck and I have been ripping up carpet and laying vinyl plank flooring throughout the house. Thankfully we have a small house but it seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I guess that’s why it’s taking us so long to get finished. Not to mention that we don’t move as fast as we used to. https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/05/24/golden-years-where-are-you/

Before we started this mammoth project back in May 2019, I had all my yard work done. No weeds. No honeysuckle chocking the Azaleas. No limbs all over the yard. Even the lawn was mowed.

Then we tore up the house.

Then it got hot. And humid. I don’t like hot and humid and sweat burning my eyes and the sun blistering my crepey skin. So I barely stuck my head out the door. 

So while we were busy with the floors, mean, hateful weeds snuck into my flower beds and took over. Now they’re laughing at me and sticking out their tongues.

Then Buck forgot how to operate the lawnmower. And the weedeater.

And the grass began to grow.

High.

Really high.

Then arguments sprouted. Big fat, ugly arguments with tongues of raging fire and hearts of unbendable steel.

Then I wanted to move to the Netherlands.

Buck said he’d help me pack.

But, here it is, three months later and we’re still living under the same roof with the same number of teeth we started with. Together. With our two loving, nerve-wracking, confused mutts.

 

Then we began tearing up the house. 

 

Making some headway.

 

Now the den.

 

And now this!

 

I’m not complaining.

Well, maybe a little.

Okay, I’m complaining.

A LOT!

But I’ve learned something about myself during all this mess. Something that many people don’t like and has tried very hard over the years to destroy. Something for which I have felt guilty for possessing because it terrifies people and even myself at times.

And that something is inner strength. That strength that makes me get back up again no matter how many times I fall and feel like staying on the ground drowning in my tears. That strength that lets me know I’m still alive in spite of all the cuts and bruises of life.

Yes, I’ve cried. I’ve screamed. I’ve threatened to burn down the house, but I got over it.

Eventually.

So there you have a panoramic view of my crazy world. If you liked anything at all, please click that little LIKE button and post a comment. And thank you for stopping by. Next time I’ll bake a cake. 

 

 

Never, Ever Quit!

My son gave me permission to share this. He is a strong leader in our family and puts his heart and soul into everything he does. He never complains. He never feels sorry for himself. He never quits. But today, he is feeling very discouraged. He has MRSA. Not just one pustular bump, but twelve; the worst case his doctor has ever seen.

So this is what he shared with the family today:

Hey family, hope you all are doing good.  Just sharing my heart about not quitting. 

First, there is no failure in being tired, exhausted, having difficulty accomplishing a task, event, or mission and feeling like giving up or quitting.  Failure is simply quitting when you know you can do and endure more, but you trade short-term relief for long-term regret.  Quitting is the acceptable norm for our modern, mentally weak, soft, and sensitive culture–Christians included. 

I’ve trained for nearly an entire year for the GORUCK Selection. https://www.goruck.com › I have pushed my body and mind into very dark places filled with short-term pain in hopes to develop a greater threshold for the pain and suffering ahead–not just for GORUCK, but for life. 

Honestly, there have been two occasions I have felt like quitting and not attempting Selection due to all my travels and the recent infection with MRSA.  I can quit and my family will think no less of me.  My culture would say, “It’s  okay, you had good intentions, there’s always another time.”  I can quit–my body is constantly sore, at times I can barely walk, I don’t always feel like doing a 3-4 hour routine.  Sore.  Tired.  Beat down.  Mentally fatigued. 

So why do the event to begin with?  Why put myself through that much pain?  Simple:  I said I was going to do it no matter what when I registered for the event one year ago.  No matter what happens.  No matter what obstacles surface.  No matter how plausible it may be to quit.

What’s at stake if I quit now?  My word, my character, my integrity, and my own personal self-respect.  For me, if I quit, what example do I set for my family and others who believe in me?  Finishing Selection is not the ultimate goal for me.  Victory is overcoming every obstacle and opportunity to quit before the event even begins. 

When confronted with the temptation to quit ask yourself “what’s at stake if I quit?”  Failure is simply quitting in the face of difficulties when you can do and endure more than you think.  We don’t need courage when things are easy  . . . we need courage when things seem impossible!!

Family, be strong!  Be brave!  Be bold!  YOU can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you!  Be courageous!  Fear not!  Don’t quit–Finish the goal, the task, the dream, the event, whatever it is–Don’t give up, give in, give out, or quit!! What is at stake if you quit?  The better question is, “What potential impact does my not quitting have on me, my family, others, and the Kingdom of God? Regret or glory–the choice is yours.  And for me?  I’d rather die than to quit!

 

Letting Go

Parenting is a full-time job of love and patience, teaching and learning, guiding and directing. A full-time job of trial and errors, pacing the floor . . . and letting go.

From the time a mother holds her infant in her arms and holds it to her breast, the natural process of letting go begins to unfold.

At first, we don’t see it. We’re way too busy changing diapers, filling bottles, and trying to catch a few hours sleep. The mere thought of him starting first grade is a trillion miles down the road.

Suddenly, it happens. You’re not the love of his life anymore. He’s dating. He gets married. He has kids. His kids have kids. They all have lives of their own to live and enjoy and to follow the star of freedom and independence. No one has the right to interfere with that.

Unfortunately, my mother didn’t get that. To her, letting go was like cutting off her arms. I guess through her abusive childhood and failed marriages she had lost so much already that she felt she couldn’t survive losing her kids too.

So she clung to me like clinging to the edge of a cliff.

I could write a book about the emotional damage she caused, the conflicting battles and severed relationship we had and the effect it still has on me. Maybe one day my life will be what it is was meant to be, but it may never happen on this side of heaven.

That’s why I’ve worked so hard through my fears and insecurities to set my son free. Why my heart gave him permission to spread his wings and become the strong and independent man he is today. He will not be controlled, and I will never impose my will on him; to manipulate and toy with his tender emotions. To me, that is the most deadly form of child abuse. It’s emotional rape and almost impossible to recover from. I love him way too much to slaughter his spirit.

Through a river of blood, sweat, and tears of letting go, I am reaping a bountiful harvest of joy and happiness through my son, his kids, and his grandkids. And when he takes me out, which isn’t very often due to his busy and exhausting schedule, he treats me like a queen. He warms my heart and makes every moment we spend together priceless treasures that no one can take away.

For me and my twisted emotions, letting go is not easy. But I’d rather die than sacrifice my son’s emotional well-being for my own selfish desires; to try to put him in a tiny box with no room to grow. His wings are way too big and strong for that.

 

 

 

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