I Didn’t Even Realize It Fully Until Now: My Kids are Adopted

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Last night my youngest daughter was telling me about the plan for the weekend. In a quick recap of how it will be going down, she shared all the details.

“My friend is picking me up after school, then we are going over here, then I will spend the night, then dad will pick me up at _____ the next day. Then we go to _______ and then ______ and then church and then we will end up back over here. Then, Sunday……….”

Right after she told me, I paused. I knew within 30 seconds I had retained nothing but the big picture. I had to ask her to repeat the entire thing again. Then this morning, I reiterated it back to her to make sure I understood and finally remembered all the details. I had it wrong in several places.

I turned to my dear one in the car when dropping her off at school and said, “You know my brain didn’t always used to be this way, right?” She said…..”um…..not really.” I was struck. Struck to the core. She was just being honest. She was not being unkind.

I said, “Don’t you remember? I used to have a sharp mind. I still do. Just not with short term memory type stuff and lots of details.”

Again….”Oh. Hmmmm.”

My son then chimed in and said “I do! I remember.” That was good – to know that some of my children know and remember that I didn’t used to have to ask them to repeat themselves all the time. But it still made me so very sad.

See, the root of concern for me is not that I want my kids to think I am brilliant, or ever was. It’s that it makes me feel that my poor youngest may feel even MORE so like she’s not paid attention to, because even her own mom “doesn’t listen.”

Communication is important, and it helps, but there’s only so much we can TELL our kids when it comes to something like this. There’s still always that dynamic at play where no matter what we SAY, they still FEEL a certain way. Add into the mix that she’s the youngest, and that’s not a good feeling. The youngest tends to feel left out. The youngest tends not to feel heard. The youngest gets lost in the mix of memories that are talked about from when she wasn’t there yet.

But the youngest is blessed in another way that possibly the older ones don’t experience as much. She is cared for by many. She didn’t have to experience the trial and error of first time parenting. She’s not stuck in the middle. She was protected and nurtured (nursed and mom stayed home longer) for a much longer time.

As a parent, we want our kids to have the benefit of having all the blessing we can provide. But it’s really up to God to do that for them in their lives. Not me. And my faulty memory and the feelings and insecurities that I can easily discern will come about in my kids in some ways because of it, are real – no doubt about that. But it’s also a very real reminder for my children not to rely upon mom for that stuff. Not to rely upon mom for significance, purpose, even security.

THAT is hard for a parent to turn all the way over to God, friends. That is HARD.

But they are not mine ~ they are His. They have graciously been given to me on loan, but He is still their ultimate and primary parent. I am supposed to care for them and I get the privilege of doing  so.

But I was never meant to replace HIM.

May God use the fact that my brain doesn’t work well to help my youngest lean all the more into Him to fill that hole that must be there in her heart and mind. When she doesn’t understand (fully) that mom is not trying to frustrate her, that she IS truly cared for, that mom wants to pay attention to every last detail that matters in her sweet life, may He give her an understanding of HIM that is far more rewarding than any she could have of mama.

I want to understand her. But I can’t fix all that is wrong in the world for her. She doesn’t complain, but this daughter tends to internalize things too. I pray that the Lord will draw out anything ugly that she happens to stuff down. That He will draw it out and refill her with even more of Him.

She loves her Jesus. For that, I am so grateful. He’s her One, True Parent. He is the ONE.

As a parent…..less of me, more of Him is hard to swallow. We want to be everything to our kids. We forget to remember, we are adoptive parents.

They are not mine. They are HIS.

My kids may feel like something that matters to them is lost on their own mama from time to time. BUT, nothing is ever lost on their One, True Father.

Least of all, one of His little ones.

“Your Father in heaven is not willing that any one of these little ones should be lost.”  (Matthew 18:14)

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A Letter to My Unwanted House Guests

Dear Feelings that cause Sin so very often:

You are ugly and mean and I don’t like you at all. You aren’t the ones who I will pray to do ugly love well with.

You try to wreck my house all the time. But it’s impossible to do, and I’m here to tell you that today. I have run out of patience with you. I do not want you here. Neither does my Savior.

YOU are excluded.

You are trash.

You are being kicked out.

You may think my house has been destroyed – you may be giggling about it too. But you are wrong. You are so very, very wrong.

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You may have been around for as long as I can remember, but none of you are have really ever been welcome here. I may have been too nice and accommodating at first, I’ll admit. But I’ve learned after 48 years of insanity (doing the same thing over and over with the same stupid result) that I actually CAN make your stay unpleasant. AND, I have a powerful ally Who CAN make you leave! I’m calling upon Him now. And He’s Here.

Yes. It’s Jesus. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

So I want to address each one of you who has taken over my house recently. You have been nightmare guests. You disrupt my sleep and the way that I move through my day. You’ve done your best to trash the place, emptied the supplies and storage closets, and caused strife in relationships.

I have a message for you: It would be a good thing for you if you’d listen intently. You see ~ the Spirit of the Lord lives here. That’s why there’s just plain no room for you.

He will cast you out if you don’t fall in line soon – very soon.

Dear Hatred and Apathy ~ You reared your ugly (very despicable, actually) head a couple of times last week. You are not pretty to look at and when you come out, others definitely notice it. It brings about condemnation and darkness. Nothing good comes from you. You need to leave now.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy”………

Dear Anxiety ~ I think I dislike you the most. You are the silent instigator in the group. The others follow suit with your actions. You go around stealing and blaming it on others all the time. You rub off on everyone else that has peace around you. You try to take over the heart, the soul AND the mind. You not only need to leave, but need to go back to where you came from and STAY THERE!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace”……

Hello there, impatience. I hate that I must greet you once again, but I am a cordial individual, in spite of the fact that you try to define my actions and reactions so very often. You were mean the other day. You are still being quite rude today. Whether you cause utter discomfort in the hopes to try to get me to make an impulsive decision or not, I WILL fight you. I WILL go to my Savior in prayer about all of these decisions. P.S. Your sick and twisted friendship with Anxiety over there needs to end. It’s not a healthy relationship and I’m ON TO YOU.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience.”

Mr. Mean Temper and Mrs.Do The Wrong Thing~ Your marriage is a match made in hell and I dislike  you immensely. I don’t quite know what ever made you think that this is YOUR house, but as for me and mine? We serve THE LORD. No one  asked you to decide how to treat the guests in my home who ARE wanted this way. In fact, you have been asked to leave time and time again.  There are plenty of places of darkness in which you could rule and reign. This is not one of them. You will continue to be met with fierce opposition if you choose to keep trying to take over. Newsflash: You will  lose.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.”

Dear Fickle One ~ You cause so much doubt and confusion. You also cause me to have to slay idols all day long. You make me rely upon self instead of the One who truly is supposed to be in charge. You may be the master of deceit – I’ll give  you that. You may veil all that you do with the idea of self preservation being a good thing. But that makes you nothing but a tempter. That is not from the One who is GOOD. You try to hide a lot. But I have seen you clearly too many times.  Sometimes you stare right back at me in the mirror through a disguise. But I have been given new eyes with which to see. There’s no hiding places left for you here. I know that the One in whom I trust and the One to whom I have faith in is unseen, but far more real than you. The truth cannot be hidden any longer. I’m on to you. I will continue to be faithful to HIM.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”….

And You Two: Abrasive tongue and Impulsive Little Wretch: You two are so irritating. You are the epitome of the “guests” who have decided to stay forever, as unwanted as you might be. You’re the ones I would call the cops on if you were actually people. You take what you want when you want it and you rub everyone around you the wrong way. You make people want to run away and take shelter somewhere, which could lead them down the wrong path. This is THEIR home. You do not have control. And as often as you must think you’ve achieved victory – it is temporary only, and it makes me want to work even harder to inflict great pain upon you. Prayer works. So does time in the Word with the Lord. You best leave now before it gets really ugly for you.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

This is what is growing inside of me. This is what is spilling out more and more every day. This is the Spirit of the Lord and He doesn’t have room for you here. It’s time to leave. And every time you try to return, He will cast you out.  It will hurt when your bum hits the curb more and more every single time, I can assure you.

He’s cleaning house. And you’re not wanted. You never were.

Oh. And by the way: We’re telling all of our neighbors as well. We hope to spread the word about you across the city, the country, and  the world. Soon there will be no where for you to run – no where to hide. You have lost. The battle has already been won.

It won’t be long until the entire world sees that. It’s going to be soon. Soon and very soon.

In the meantime, victory is already mine. Know that. Soak it in. And believe that He will show you time and time again if you ever forget to remember. He does that a lot.

His grace is enough. I’m walking in that.

Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” 

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Tattered, but True

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A couple of weeks ago I shared my thoughts with you about Ugly Love ~ that it’s what I feel Jesus calls us to ~ that it’s the main thing He has asked me to write about ~ and that there is unmistakable beauty in learning to love like Jesus does. Beauty, I say!

Loving in the midst of ugly.

I also made it quite clear, that this girl struggles big-time with loving when it ain’t easy. Know what that means, friends?

It means that I struggle with real and true love.

I struggle with self.

I struggle with pride.

I fight the desire to seek after the easy kind of love.

I want the kind that’s reciprocal or mutual.

I look for the kind that just breeds happy feel-good stuff for everyone all the way around.

The fake stuff: It tastes so good.

 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36 ESV

My dear friend Heather and I were talking about this today – this beautiful ugly love that ain’t easy to impart, receive, or walk in.  Moment by moment, day by day, even second by second sometimes; it is far from easy.

We talked about all of the things that prevent us from doing ugly love beautifully, like Jesus does. Tell me, does your list of reasons (uh-hem, “excuses”)  look something like ours?

  • I don’t feel like it today.
  • I need to be understood.
  • When I seek to understand, they won’t listen.
  • I don’t want to try to understand them.
  • My own sin got in the way.
  • Maybe that would be enabling.
  • I’m not sure which thing I’m supposed to do.

Key Word for loving in the midst of the very unpleasant and ugly = MERCY

Mercy. Compassion or forgiveness shown when it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

Did Jesus have the power to obliterate everyone around Him instead of willingly allowing Himself to be nailed upon that cross?

Does He have the divine option of telling us what we HAVE to do, instead of allowing us to choose Him or choose our own way?

Could Jesus have chosen to love only those who love Him back and do it well?

What about me? Do I have the choice to love others in the midst of that which is frustrating, hurtful, or just flat-out tragic and horrid? Am I capable of real mercy? Real compassion? You know….the kind that COSTS something to offer up?

Real love is going to cost us. Real love is not always reciprocal. Real love is often met with opposition, or even a startling, yet real-of-it’s-own, slap right in the face. But it’s no less real when that happens. It’s often far more real than the fluffy feel-good stuff. (hint: think about the cross, friends. Think about the cross).

It entails sacrifice. It means asking Jesus to fill us with His divine power and mercy. It can not be done through self, will, desire, or endurance alone. It just can’t. We have to give stuff up – A LOT.  (remember that pride thing I mentioned?)

I’ve tasted snippets of it, friends. I’ve seen glimpses of it here and there coming out of me. But the truth is, it’s not something I can say is pervasive in my life yet – the freely giving of real love when it gets ugly. I’m an inconsistent and hot mess!

Why? Cuz………

  • I fight it.
  • I talk myself out of it.
  • I get lazy.
  • I get cocky.
  • I strain for my own voice or heart to be heard.
  • I try to do it by myself
  • I’m a sinner
  • I want something in return and, oh YES, it had better be GOOD!

But I am praying. I am praying and I am taking action. I am asking Jesus to help me. It’s probably the most difficult thing I have ever prayed over in my life ~ this desire to love like Jesus. It’s by far worse than praying for patience. There’s so much surrender involved mixed with  so many flesh driven and relentless feelings. It’s a place I don’t enjoy being in at all ~ but the reward is so great.

There’s nothing ugly about that part.

What lies in your heart today that stops you from loving someone when it’s ugly and dark? Is there something enticing just around the corner that seems more comfortable…that will feed you….that tastes too good to pass up? Why not ask Jesus to help you along with me today? Ask Him to put the desire in your heart and give you His strength to choose to do ugly love in the most beautiful way possible – as a natural outpouring of His own love for us that fills us inside and begs to flow outward. Ask Him to let it spill over. Come to Him and be refilled daily so nothing else gets in the way. Know that you are not alone. That you have another friend whose heart is dark and crooked, where hidden little tempters lurk.

Jesus understands. Jesus gets it. Jesus SAVES.

It ain’t gonna be easy, friends. That’s the way of the sinner. But there’s beauty in the difficult. There’s glory in the sacrifice. There’s love in the ugly stuff ~ to be given and to be found.

  • Ask for it.
  • Pray over it.
  • Endeavor to live it.

And turn the hurts, the disappointments, the heartaches, and the anger over to Him if you are slapped for it in return. Every single day, if need be.

He loved us first, that beautiful Jesus of ours! He loves us so well, spots and all. It wasn’t easy for Him to be nailed to that cross, just as I’m sure it’s not a bed of roses to sit back and watch some of the choices we still make.

But it is real.

It’s Jesus real friends. Isn’t that where we want to be? Right in the midst of Him and His real compassion, His real mercy, His freely offered gift of love in the middle of the convoluted mess that life and love can be?

We are sons and daughters of the most High. May we glorify Him in all that we say and do. May we love one another in the icky and the sticky. May we see through the mask of surface beauty and cut through the tempting desires to get equal footing in this world with others.

No. Real love ain’t easy. And no….easy was never promised to us in the first place. But at the end of the day, we have been promised an eternity with our Savior who loves us no matter what.

Maybe…just maybe, in the meantime, we can glorify Him by asking Him to help us love one another much better.

  • In the good times and the bad ones too.
  • In the midst of joy and during trials, suffering and pain.
  • As we see Jesus there shining through, as well as when all we can see are the Horrendously Ugly warts and cracks and fissures.

He’s always there. His light WILL shine through in the darkness.

And that, my dear friends, is true beauty.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

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Annie’s Brain has Left the Building

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My brain left the building a couple of years ago, friends. And now? The building has since blown up.

I don’t really know what I mean by that statement – it just keeps popping into my head lately (what’s left of it).

I think it means something like this:

Since the brain fog ensued from the double whammy of menopause AND Fibromyalgia, this crazy one has been trying to get her brain back.  I have recuperated some of my brain capacity as I have been working on my health. Yes, SOME of the brain fog has lifted.

But just like with anything else that is lost, as we search to find it again, we sometimes find that we will never get it back quite the same way that it used to be. There’s a grief process involved in that. For me though, the outcome of that mourning has been positive.

In this, has been yet another journey peppered with lesson after lesson in my DEEPLY ingrained need to surrender control. My relentless need to find the line between surrender and acceptance has been etched in front of my face throughout the entire process. My deep-seated need to lean in on my Savior and let Him decide just how much clarity and focus and brain power I will have for the rest of my time here on this earth has been beyond clear.

That is hard. It is hard to face the clear and obvious fact that you are a stubborn control freak who struggles with surrendering everything over to her Savior.

It’s particularly hard in this situation because I still have a keen memory of how my brain used to function. Much of my other memory capacity has diminished, but not that. My brain? It was a great helper to me for decades. At the same time, I realize that it probably hindered me as well.

I had a GREAT brain, friends.

  • It was quick.
  • It was filled with so many great ideas that I couldn’t crank them out fast enough.
  • It processed,  collated, assimilated faster than anything I could even imagine right about now.
  • I was born with it: And yes….because it was my “normal” I took it for granted.

But I also let it rule and reign in my life.

So, as I said, it hindered me in some ways too. I relied upon my quick brain so much that it fed my control issues. Big time.

I could handle it all – so I thought. Actually, I was able to do quite a bit when my brain was functioning optimally. I could take it all on and get it all done. Sometimes I’d go into overload, but I could still do it all.

ME.

MYSELF.

AND I (and my big brain).

I kept finding myself trying to get my brain back over the past couple of years – struggling and straining – taking one step forward and three back – over and over again. I wouldn’t allow myself to enter into the acceptance part of the grief process. I kept fighting.

My brain had left the building. I had been operating under the assumption that all I had to do was get it back inside again.

Then one day recently I realized: I’m spinning what wheels I have left. The building has since blown up.

I have stepped outside along with my brain now and am trying to find out how to live with it. A new place. An unknown environment. Me and what’s left of my brain.

But guess what? Someone else lives there too. I can see Him more clearly now. In the midst of all else that is murky and foggy – He shines through all the more. It’s my Jesus.

  • He is guiding me more now – not my puny little brain.
  • He is shedding light in the darkness – not the clarity of my thought processes or my ability to assimilate and rapid fire all of my thoughts and human conclusions.
  • He is doing it for me ~ lighting the way.
  • And all I have to do is surrender ~ brain and all.

Yes, sometimes  I find myself missing my big brain in the face of how wimpy it is these days. Those are the days in which I realize, if I slow down and  breathe for a moment ~ I am looking for the wrong things to rely upon. Those are the days in which I am lovingly reminded that nothing in this world is more efficient, more right, more wise, more helpful, more loving, and more TRUE ~ than Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The building has blown up. It is gone forevermore. But this girl today ~ today, this girl ~ is so grateful for fresh air.

I can breathe again, friends. I have an Almighty and  All-Powerful Savior walking me through grace after grace, mercy upon mercy, truth after truth, ALL mingled with His unmistakable and divine love, on a daily (sometimes moment-to-moment) basis. Only Jesus could do that.

Only Jesus.

What have you lost that you miss sometimes, friends? Do you miss an aspect of physical or mental vitality that you once had? Do you pine away for it and feel as though some aspect of your life has been crippled? You need search no longer. Jesus can change that story for you. We can stop searching fervently for that which is fleeting and turn our eyes toward the ONE thing that actually matters! He holds our individual journeys right in the palm of His hand anyway.

He is the Author and the Finisher of IT ALL.

We are human, and as humans walking in flesh, it is natural we should miss such things when we lose them. But oh – how GREAT IS OUR GOD! In what we lose here, we find so much more in Him.

  • He makes all things new.
  • He makes everything better.
  • He truly works all things together for our good.
  • And yes….His power is made PERFECT in our weakness.

Won’t you turn it over to Him along with me today, friend? Let’s meet Jesus outside of the building that tries to pretend to offer us comfort and security. Let’s run to Him and frolick in the fresh air of who HE is! Breathe Him in….be fed by Him….revel in Him….and bring Him glory and honor, love and truth, child-like faith and friendship and worship.  AMEN.

I must be honest ~ I often do miss my big brain. But I am still thankful. I am no longer trapped into thinking I can rely upon it. I can still run – straight into my Savior’s arms. I can still see – looking to Him and Him alone. I still have confidence – that He is weaving a beautiful story in my life. And oh ~ oh how my faith in Him has grown!

Friends, I still have joy – joy that comes from knowing that I am HIS. 

I hope that you do too. I pray that you do. In Him, we have gained everything. Please. Don’t forget to remember that. You are HIS. His hands hold you. HE writes your story.

Let’s look to Him together. Him and Him alone.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

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One Small Thing

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Tonight I ponder the last 24 hours and the way my mind was thrown into a fearful loop of darkness because of one small little thing.

One small thing – a tiny, yet very sharp thorn that prickled and poked at “the fear”. A powerful and relentless prickle which could release torrents of big ugly and horrendous, crashing waves of fear that apparently still reside in a hidden corner of my heart.

Down. Deeeeeep Down.

It was really small – this thing. But small and powerful enough to do potential damage. Yes, I said potential. It’s not even real yet and I fed its power.

One small thing – like a blister on the bottom of your toe that threatens to explode each time you press forward. “Just keep going – it may pop. Then possibly relief will come. Or maybe not. Maybe infection. Maybe gore and blood.”

One small thing that, if left unchecked, has the power to spin me into full-on anxiety, and darkness.

That’s what fear does, doesn’t it? It threatens to take over. Especially if we have allowed a piece of it to stay dug down – keep taking up space inside.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of a possible negative outcome. Fear that even if the ugly thing does happen….what then?

I know what it is for me: I forget.

I forget to remember that even if the horrendous ensues – even if that fear comes to fruition and morphs into what I think could be an abominable reality – even if – my God will take care of me. I forgot to remember.

  • He doesn’t promise it will be easy.
  • He doesn’t promise it will be fun.
  • He doesn’t promise even that it will be void of pain, sorrow, or stretching way beyond what I think are MY limitations.

He only promises to work all things together for my good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i]have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What shall we fear then?

  • I should fear nothing but losing faith in my Savior and allow fear to draw me away from Him.
  • I should remember to bring my fears to the foot of the cross and nail them in where they belong.
  • I should not let fear stay for long and use it as a reminder that it’s time to press in – time to crawl up on my Savior’s lap and bask in the glory of Him.

Yes Him. The One who is truly our only armor against such stealers of joy and peace.

Him ~ His Holiness.

Just Him ~ His Goodness.

Him and His Compassion and His Mercy.

Him ~ His Love.

Just Him ~ His Truth.

Him and His Power and His Strength.

The chink in my fleshly armor is a gift. It is a gift given by my merciful Savior to remind me that such things are not protective at all.  They are flawed. They are not of Him. A thorny little present that helps me remember not to forget.

But as cracked as my heart can be and as elusive as feeling secure in this little world of ours can seem, I am kept and cared for by my One and my Only – Jesus Christ.

There is light in my little crevice right now – it has been exposed. I know the tormentor will try to cover up another little cranny from my line of vision  – it’s what he does. But the light and truth and love of my Savior is there.

He will expose all that is dark. And He will purge it.

Flesh-based armor will chink and fray. Oh yes, my friends, it will fail us. But we are already conquerors in Christ Jesus!

That’s  a BIG thing! And, oh yah……………..

Our God NEVER FAILS.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 31-37

What one small thing threatens you today, dear friend? Is it a fear of something unknown that is causing you to feel anxious? Is it a conflict, a bad news day, or a particular brand of suffering that is making a visit on the doorstep of your heart or mind today? Is a cloud following you around and you are straining to see the light from underneath it? Won’t you join me in laying it at the feet of Jesus? Ask Him to take it from you and help you to surrender it back over (daily) when and if you try to pick it back up again. He is strong enough. He doesn’t need our help. We have only to bring it to Him. He will meet us there, friends. He takes all things – big or small – ugly or not – and makes them into that which is divine and good.

Turn over your one small ugly thing over today to the One who does GREAT things! Then sit back and watch Him work wonders in your life through the beauty of surrender and the glory of just Who He Is!

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The Yucky, Icky, Gooey CRUD!!!

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I feel disgusting – reprehensible – and all around SICK. My throat is coated with junk. So is my tongue. The contents of my stomach are coming up like ravaging mucous monsters – threatening to steal my breath and destroy me. It feels like heaps of CRUD are just sitting in my stomach – it is gurgling and tossing and nothing is coming out in all the right places. (how I wish it just would). TMI? Ha Ha.

It’s seeping….steeping. What’s it making inside of my body? I’m afraid to think about that right now. My skin is shriveling up.  Dehydrated feeling from all the poison inside of me. Walking in a fog – a daze. I was nervous to talk to people on the phones today for fear of what I might blurt out of my mouth in the cloudiness of it all!

I want to recoil  – get into a little ball and wake up tomorrow and it will be gone. The Annie of Wednesday this week would emerge – refreshed, renewed.  This morning I woke up with a TOXIC food headache. Why?

It’s the yucky, icky, gooey, CRUDDY feeling. And I did it to myself on purpose!

I know this feeling – my body remembers it well. So sad – so sickeningly familiar – yet laced with the horizon of hope for the non-icky days that lie ahead of me. The days in which the yucky, icky, gooey, CRUD feeling will lift. It will be smashed. Obliterated. Killed and told to run far, far away!

Renewal will ensue. Oh, thank GOD for tomorrow.

Without going into a long story, I shall tell you how the icky entered in today and yesterday. These past two days I have had to “fat load” for a specific eating and nutrition plan phase of my treatment with my fibromyalgia and wellness doctor and the plan he has me on. Over the past three months, I have healed tremendously – PRAISE JESUS! Through prayer, support from family and friends and church family, AND this amazing program this doctor is doing with me, I have finally seen some reprieve from the horrid symptoms that have plagued me for about two years – I was being relentlessly plagued and tortured physically! But I grew much out of that ick.

The yucky, and yes – the oh-so-icky – the gooey and CRUDDY feelings dissipated these last few months. Health and healing began. Energy dared to poke its beautiful and very missed face out from down below the junk. Smiles and laughter returned without being forced. The old Annie that I have always been inside but was hidden for so long, got to come out and play.

I knew this part was coming – the transition into an EVEN CLEANER eating plan. I knew it would be ugly. And I don’t do ugly well – remember?

Honestly, I was already eating mostly (probably 90%) clean. However, it’s time to release (actually do a prison break of sorts) the stored yellow fat that is trapped deep inside from the months and years my body was hoarding it to protect itself. I don’t know what that will look like over the next couple of months, but the first two days are supposedly the hardest part because you must “trick” your body to attack fat – by EATING IT for two days!

You wouldn’t know it’s there so much – the yellow gooey and stored up junk –  but it is. About 30 pounds of it. It’s hidden deep – down in the crevices. It’s hoarding the miniscule amount of estrogen I have left. It’s holding down toxins along with it – coating it in a protective sheath – it’s a poison that thinks it’s there to protect me, friends. I know, I know – it doesn’t make sense, yet it does. Too much to explain here. Just trust me.

I was in fight or flight for a LONG time. Uninterrupted upside down-ness (yes,  I make up my own words). Roller coaster chick right here. (I hate them, by the way) Even when I found ways to hide it or hold it at bay (running all the time when I could), it was only a matter of time before nothing was going to help eliminate the repercussions of extended fight or flight status from taking their full blown toll.

Well, that moment came with a vengeance about two years ago. I have been a mess ever since. Until three months ago! Whoo Hoo.

And now – for a slice of time in my honeymoon period, this girl has been interrupted.

The lovely dream has been interrupted by a temporary, but very yucky nightmare. Yes, the icky. And the gooey… CRUD.

So I fat loaded yesterday and today and it has been U-G-L-Y. I have been primarily juicing prior to this. Most people on this program love these fat load days and hate it when they have to move toward the clean eating after that. I hate the fat loading days and am SO glad I don’t have to do it again! Did I say Hate? Abhor. Despise. Want to slaughter them.

And for that, I am thankful.

I am thankful that this “new” part of the program – the part that will be how I probably end up eating forever, is really not new for me at all. I get to return tomorrow to juice, nuts, minimal starches and sugars (if any), and lean fish and meats. I get to do that while the doctor’s natural drops work their wonders in my fat cells.

Do I have some ugly days ahead? Yep. But I won’t have the compound detox effect I would have if I’d been fat loading daily for the past year. And THAT is GOOD.

I will, however have some detox from the stored stuff that’s being released to be “eaten up” by the magic drops. Will you pray for me these next couple of months friends? More importantly, will you ponder the following rant of mine for a moment with me too?

You see…today I was thinking (oops!) I was thinking about how much this fat loading adventure reminds me of our need to get the junk out daily with Jesus. As we grow closer to him, we can start to think we have pure hearts. We can start to believe that we aren’t sinning all that much anymore, so hey – all is well in the world. It’s good to walk in the victory that He has won for us, so I am not saying we should be depressed or hate ourselves at all.  But I am saying that it really is true that sin and ugly and icky and gooey and yucky stands out more starkly to us when we are removing it daily and not letting it build up inside.

At the same time, even when we are doing that – that daily purging with Jesus – if the ick creeps back in – well, let’s just say it still hurts.

  • It still makes me double over.
  • It still reminds me of ugly and harsh and dark and painful.
  • It reminds me of burdens that weren’t meant to be carried by myself alone.
  • And yes – that yucky, icky CRUD reminds me of the beauty that is found in the removal of it.

It is alien to me now – the ick and the goo. It used to be the other way around. My body rejects it now. I am being completely honest when I say I wasn’t sure I’d make it through these two days.  Eating junk all day? Pouring it into an almost clean system (except for the stored yellow stuff that’s still in there)? This girl didn’t know if she could keep it down! I still have a few hours to go – so I shouldn’t get too cocky here!

But the point is this: I get to rejoice today, friends. Rejoice, I say! I am celebrating the fact that my body sees the bad stuff as an alien invasion. And I get to do the same thing about my sin! Even though it’s in my nature to sin, it’s no longer my desire to let it stay.

And that’s because HE lives there. And he will not co-exist with such unwelcome visitors!!! Now the yucky, icky, gooey, CRUD is the unwelcome one!

  • Reborn
  • Refreshed
  • Repurposed
  • Retrained
  • Revitalized
  • REDEEMED.

And that beautiful hope and glorious redemption? THAT is far more “sticky” than the yucky or the icky or the gooey stuff any day. It will be with me for all eternity.

How about you, dear friend? Is there something yucky ailing you today? What is inside that is foreign to your body, your mind, your heart? Is it something that needs to be removed? Do you fear the hurt that will come about if you pluck it out? Why not ask Jesus for help while the toxins are released?  He can help, you know. We have only to ask. He will draw near to us in our suffering, reveal more of Himself to us in the process, and yes – if it is in His perfect will to remove the affliction, this too, he shall do!

Nail it – nail it there into the cross. If the suffering is staying a while, draw near to Him in the midst of it. If it’s time for him to remove it, allow it and rest in his embrace – especially if it hurts. He has already won the victory against all alien and icky and ugly and yucky and gooey and unwelcome forces. You are His child. Live in the glory of his grace, mercy and beautiful redemption.

Won’t you meet him there?

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“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners,is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!  For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.  For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes -through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2: 17-21

 

Ugly Love

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I don’t need a theme for what I write about, but I have still been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I think about the fact that if I had to boil down what the main thing is that God inspires me to share about when I write ~ if I HAD to nutshell it for someone ~ how would I do that? Is there such a thing?

I don’t write that way, you know. I write what I am led to share after times I have been praying, seeking truth, teaching and wisdom from my Jesus. He always moves me and prods me what to share and when to share it.

But lately I’ve been feeling this sense of discomfort; a nagging little feeling that He is trying to reveal something to me. He is telling me there is a theme. And I hadn’t really realized it until now. I don’t yet know why it’s important. I don’t even know what His purpose is in having me identify it and share it with you, dear friends. I just know that it’s there, it IS important, and I now think I know and understand more as to what it is.

So you ~ you, my dear friends, are coming into this process with me tonight as it is happening and coming to fruition.

Here is what I have concluded so far:

Most of what I write about is about what I am calling Ugly Love.

When I write, it’s actually a process that is going on between myself and God that I am then sharing with you in real time. It’s a form of worship and communion with Jesus and that translates into fellowship and sharing with others. Yes, as the process is unfolding, I am sharing it as I type away in the hopes that you will see a glimpse of how Jesus might be working in your own life in the midst of something icky or ugly that He’s helping me to work through.

Maybe those who read through it are going through a similar process of their own? Maybe they are in a different place in their individual journey regarding similar subject matter, and something of what I share in regard to my own story will help them?

I know that when you write back to me, I learn so very much. I am so very helped and supported. I am loved back in huge ways and my own relationship with Jesus and others that He loves is deepened by the community we have in one another in Jesus Christ.

Ugly Love. Do those two words contradict one another? I don’t think so.

You see, I don’t believe that real love is the kind that always feels great, friends. I don’t think real love can be understood, felt, acted upon, exhibited, grown or shared if we limit it to something that’s just fluffy, pretty and neatly packaged all the time. That’s not what I call love, although that stuff feels good and isn’t always a bad thing.

But neatly packaged feelings are not necessarily truth. Most of the time, they can be deceitful, especially when it all crosses over into “redefining” or distorting our idea of what true love really is.

We become self-centered, and self-seeking when we live by and for that perfect idea of love, or live for comforting feelings alone. Feelings start to rule and reign when we do that, and that is rooted in self.

Self often is deceitful.

Real love is rooted in Jesus, not self. It is marked by choices we make that are in line with His truth, wisdom, model of sacrifice and perseverance, among many other things our Lord Jesus Himself exhibits as He shows us what perfect love really is.

I have a secret to tell you: His love is not the popular kind. And it’s not the easy kind, either. He loves beautifully in the midst of the very, very ugly. Without fail.

Loving in the midst of ugly…

Seeking to love regardless of how we feel about it…

Loving in the depths of heartache, turmoil, pain or discomfort…

Loving in the face of persecution, criticism, or other things that make us feel humiliated and low….

Choosing to love in ways that others don’t perceive as “loving” while still knowing it is the only kind that’s really true…

Loving in complete truth – seeking truth in complete love….

That’s an ugly process much of the time. It’s utterly ugly and oh-so-beautiful at the same time.

Beautiful, Ugly Love.

Part of rejecting Christ is seen in the rejection of real love, because real love often goes against what feels good to self. It often flies in the face of what is conventionally acceptable as “loving behavior.” Jesus clearly shows us this in so many ways. Just look at the cross, friends.

Look at the cross.

Jesus warns us that we will be rejected and hated, as He is Himself.  Why would we think that we wouldn’t be swayed, tempted, even cajoled or strong-armed into exhibiting love that complies with man’s terms, conditions and definitions of what he wants it to look like?

Man hates most anything that goes against self.

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” John 15: 18-21

Ugly love involves diving deep and trusting Him to keep us from drowning. If we do not dig down with Jesus on a daily basis into the dark and hidden crevices of our own hearts, we will never be able to do it. We have to get the junk out, so He can fill us with Himself. Then the real love and the real truth will spill over.

Then and only then can it be the real thing. Of Jesus.

Daily purging.

Daily twisting and turning and handing over that heart that’s beginning to re-harden itself unto God.

Allowing the molding to happen. Pruning is sharp and uncomfortable.

Praying for strength and grace and mercy to persevere.

Knowing, in faith, that He  has wonderful things in store for us as we yield to Him.

Resting on the promise that Ugly Love is actually a very beautiful thing.

I don’t know about you, but my heart’s muscle memory stinks. Actually, that’s not true at all ~ my heart’s muscle memory is really quite excellent!

The problem lies in the fact that it’s go-to is not purity. It’s baseline is rooted in sin, darkness and self.  There are deeply rooted and deceitful hidden corners of dark and ugly in there. Just when I think I’ve exposed them, they “grow” back again.

I have never shared this before, but before I began to write down what I work on with my Jesus on this particular blog site, I had made a half-hearted endeavor at it a few years before that. The name of that blog was going to be “Heart Checks.”

That is what the theme really is of what I write about: Doing daily heart checks with Jesus so as to draw closer to Him, learn more about Him, try to become more like Him, and share the truth and love that He continually reveals to me in that process with others.

So very often, I find that this comes out of realizing that I don’t love ugly very well. I don’t love ugly and I’m a poor lover of souls. (That’s the nicest way that I can say it).

But Jesus does. He loves ugly. And He makes beauty out of that very ugly as well!

We don’t have to be beautiful and perfect and “ready” to come to His feet in worship and adoration before He will give us His time. We don’t have to become respectable and lovely and freshly pressed before we can come to sit on His lap and take shelter under His wing.

He loves us as we are. And I, for one, am NOT PRETTY inside.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Oh, how unlike my Jesus my own heart is, my friends. Oh, how sad a state I would be in without His grace and love and truth and mercy and compassion and wisdom and fellowship and salvation and communion and friendship and divine and perfect love!!!

He loves this ugly duckling so beautiful, so divine and oh, so perfectly. He graciously and compassionately shows me every single day how short I fall when I endeavor on my own to be the greatest lover of His people.

But He also shows me how beautifully I can love in the middle of my own very ugly if I allow Him to love through me instead.

If only I will let HIM love through me I can love the ugly in the most beautiful way!

Annie, by herself? I love when it’s easy to do so.

Annie, by herself? I love when it’s convenient for me a lot of the time.

Annie, by herself? I struggle with loving when it makes me have to deal with ugly stuff – like conflict, bitterness, insults, negative feelings, the list goes on and on.

Yes, I struggle and I resist when it comes to the tormenting, difficult, hard, and oh-so-ugly love.

I want pretty love, friends. I  want hearts and flowers. I so often find myself wanting to make my own efforts to love in the kind of truth that works for ME ~ the partial truth that suits me.

And that is deceitful love. Because we all know that full truth involves ugly, friends. And I have to admit it, or I would be a liar: I don’t like the ugly.

This is the truth of my heart. This is why I know I need Jesus. I don’t love people enough. I don’t love them the way that He loves me. I fall so very short. I can’t do it. Only He can do it through me, and thanks be to God that I know this. It doesn’t stop me from messing up frequently, (most of the time, actually) but I am so grateful that I know this about myself! I am grateful that the Lord is revealing it to me. I am thankful that another theme of the story he is writing in me is about surrender. Because this girl is stubborn to boot.

And sometimes ~ just sometimes, it begins to happen ~ me seeing Jesus beautifully loving through me even when it gets really ugly ~ and then my dark heart takes over again.

The only thing I can say for that is that it helps to keep me on my toes. It helps me not forget to remember that I need my Jesus.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Friends, is your takeaway from what I share today simply that I am being self-deprecating? Are you feeling that I am living in condemnation, and that if you experience the same thing when you examine your own heart, that you ought to be thrown into the pit of hell along with me?

If so, then please hear me on this: This is a liberating thing!!! (although it is ugly to look at)

If we take a hard look at our need for our Savior and the fact that our fleshly minds and hearts can be deceiving, only then can we truly understand why we must continue to rely upon Jesus daily.

This is great news!!!

It is wonderful to be loosened from the shackles of deceit and be able to look truth squarely in the face. As ugly as it may be, it is necessary if we are to live in the light and blessed hope that ONLY CHRIST JESUS can offer us!

Our hope and power come only from the salvation that Christ has provided to us. Thank HIM that it does not rest on the condition of our hearts!

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:8

Oh how I pray for ugly love! How I pray I can love others the way that Jesus loves me in my own horrendous ugly. How I pray that He can fill me with His grace, His mercy, His desire for truth in love and heart and surrender so as to love others better!

How I pray, most of all, to love Him better!

Of course, in loving Him, I have no ugly to have to love. He is perfectly beautiful. There is no ugly in Him.

But I have to move past my own ugly in order to do that. Thank God that He can and will help me.

Ugly love is beautiful love. Whenever you may find yourself doubting that fact, if you are like me at all, you need the picture painted for you.

Don’t forget. Don’t forget to remember….

He loves US in our Ugly!

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 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11

 

 

 

 

One

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The one thing I can say about the dark, is that light is very obvious in the midst of it.

The one thing I can say about the dirty, is being washed clean makes redemption hit home harder.

The one thing I can say about intolerance, is when compassion shows up, it feels so much sweeter.

The one thing I can say – I can say and shout and scream with joy – is that to me, Jesus is ALL!!!

He is ALL things good.

He is ALL things true.

He is ALL things lovely.

Jesus IS. He is ALL to me!

He IS my One and Only – the One who never changes.

He is the ONE who is not just ONE thing.

He IS.

Jesus: He IS The Great I AM!

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

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