An Awful Lot Of Scandal: Part I

Heartbroken by NanFe

Heartbroken by NanFe

I have a past that includes promiscuity and adultery. I believe this fact is one of the things that drives me to love Jesus so vehemently. Like He said to Simon the Pharisee, one who is forgiven much, loves much but one who is forgiven little, loves little.

Lately, though, my past has been driving me in another direction: performance-based faith. I’ve been subconsciously trying to “earn” God’s love or “pay Him back” for His gift of Jesus’ life, with my actions. All the while, in the back of my mind, is the belief that I’ll never be pleasing to God because of my past; I’ll never be worthy of His love; He’ll never be able to use me powerfully because I haven’t been able to walk the straight and narrow (like Joseph…or Daniel…). This has been a pretty crippling issue lately; it keeps me from reaching out to the people around me. It also keeps me from fully using the gifts and talents He’s given me to reflect His glory; I figure I’m not worthy, so why bother?

Well. Yesterday, I learned a very, very interesting thing about Jesus’ past.

You know how the Bible calls Him the Lion of Judah? He’s called that because He was a descendant of the tribe of Judah. Do you know who Judah was? I didn’t. I mean, I’d read about Judah before but I never made the connection that 1.) he was Joseph’s brother and 2.) he’s the man that God chose to continue Christ’s lineage. So let me tell you about Judah.

1. He participated in the plan to murder his brother Joseph. (Genesis 37:18-28) Reuben suggested they spare him by throwing him into a pit, rather than killing him. Apparently, Reuben intended to return Joseph to his father later. It’s noted in my Bible’s commentary that Reuben may have been trying to get back in his father’s good graces after having slept with one of his father’s concubines. It seems that at some point, while Reuben was not around, Judah suggested they sell Joseph because “what is our gain if we kill him and cover his blood?” So Judah was the brain behind selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver. (That’s only ten pieces less than the price that Jesus was sold to the guards for, by Judas.)

2. Judah’s firstborn son was evil. In fact, he was so evil that God put him to death! (Genesis 38:7)

3. He was not a man of his word. It’s a long story, so I’ll let you read it for yourself, if you like (Genesis 38), but the short version is, he promised his daughter-in-law something and didn’t deliver.

4. He apparently visited the local prostitutes rather frequently; this is how his daughter-in-law was able to deceive him and manipulate him into keeping his word — which also resulted in illegitimate twins!

The Bible is very clear about God’s sovereignty; He does what He wants when He wants through whomever He wants. He is not bound by man’s choices. Knowing all of that, don’t you find it interesting that He *chose* to go through Judah’s line in order to bring Jesus into the world? And get this: not only did He choose to go through Judah, He chose to go through one of the illegitimate twins birthed between him and his daughter-in-law!

If you take a closer look at the lineage of Jesus, there are some other noteworthy characters:

1. “The wife of Uriah” – Bathsheba, the one that David committed adultery with.

2. David himself, an adulterer AND a murderer.

3. Guess who else? That’s right, Solomon, the son of Bathsheba and David!

God, despite being sovereign, did not choose to keep the lineage of Jesus free from scandal. Why is that? Since God is holy and righteous, and since He despises sin, wouldn’t it stand to reason that He would use the most moral and righteous people to bring His Son into the world?? People like Joseph, who despite being sold into slavery by his brothers, did not hold it against them? Why would God CHOOSE to use people like Judah, Bathsheba, Tamar, and David? People with pasts and pretty scandalous ones, at that.

This is the question I went to bed chewing on last night. And God gave me a few insights. But I’m not going to share them with you today because it’s a question worth chewing on and I want you to have a chance to see what God would have you discover through that question. For some of you, the insights seem obvious. I will tell you, there were obvious insights to me too, but God nudged me last night to go deeper and doing so eventually brought tears to my eyes. So I would encourage you not to settle for the obvious. Sit down with God and take it a little deeper.

Mind you, there is not ONE right insight. And you may or may not come up with the same ones that I did. But I *do* think you’ll come up with More Than The Obvious if you give God a chance to speak to you, and I’m positive it will be a joyful experience.

Later this week, I’ll share what I gleaned from chewing on this particular question. I think I’ll even take the opportunity to chew on it some more.

Feel free to comment on this post or send me a message sharing the insights that God gives you. (And let me know if you’d be okay with me sharing them in my next post.)

For now, I will leave you to your chewing. ;)

 

The Cure for Anxiety – Part II

via Google image search

I have long used Psalm 4:8 to help quell anxiety at night, as I’m falling asleep (that seems to be when it hits the hardest).

I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.

It helped a lot of the time, but there were also a lot of times it didn’t help. This morning, in my Bible study, I learned that part of the reason it didn’t always help was due to a lack of context for Psalm 4:8.

Didn’t I mention earlier that context is everything? ;)

There’s a verse that comes before Psalm 4:8, that I was previously oblivious to:

You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and new wine abound.

Wow.

After the season we’ve come through (unemployed and living with my parents for 10 months with 95% of our belongings packed away in a storage unit during that time), I have a brand new understanding of joy. Despite the hardships we experienced over the last year, God literally poured joy into our lives the whole time. There was always something to be thankful for; numerous times that He displayed His powerful provision and gracious compassion. I spent a surprising amount of the past year filled with exuberance and gratitude! How weird, right? But it seems the tapestry of trials is God’s favorite backdrop for displaying the power of His joy. Coming out of this past year, I am more aware than ever before of the “tiny treasures” that He has peppered my life with:

  • hot water and showers
  • tea with cream and sugar
  • my bright and adorable children
  • internet access
  • a smartphone
  • video games
  • a comfy bed
  • more than 5 outfits to choose from
  • nail polish
  • the beautiful landscape of New England
  • the crisp and cheerful air of fall turning into winter
  • tv shows that make my husband and I belly laugh together
  • music
  • a variety of textures and flavors in food
  • books
  • sparkly things
  • and the list goes on!

Dwelling on these types of things on a daily basis has increased my joy such that, I don’t freak out when things go wrong (the check engine light is on in my van right now), and I’m more peaceful, calm, and content.

Despite the increased sense of peace and experiences of joy, however, I still suffer nights when my anxiety is extra-tenacious. Last night, it was fear of my children being taken from me while they sleep. I was exhausted after a long week of unpacking but that didn’t stop me from getting out of bed two different times to check the door locks and then to check the window in their bedroom. The second time I crawled back into bed, I breathed a fervent prayer to my Heavenly Father to “please quiet me with Your love”…I knew I wasn’t going to fall asleep without His help that particular night.

My time in God’s word today expounded on this issue for me, pulling two different areas of my life together — the joyful part and the anxious part — and sewing them together beautifully.

You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and new wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.

It’s not just focusing on the Lord that keeps me anxiety-free; it’s also soaking in the joy that He has graciously poured into my life! This is where the aspect of mental discipline comes into play — a pivotal part of managing anxiety. Trusting in my Heavenly Father’s goodness and sovereignty is a huge part of the battle, but the other part is taking ownership for what my thoughts are about.

Can I make an embarrassing confession? Last night’s anxiety was my own fault. My husband and I watched a show together that made a reference to a “classic” horror movie. Against wisdom and sound judgement (and mind you, the Holy Spirit definitely nudged me on this one but I ignored Him), I looked up this horror movie on Wikipedia. Right before bedtime. Really. And of course it involved sweet babies and helpless mothers. So you can make a very educated guess as to what my thoughts were about as I was trying fruitlessly to fall asleep!

Last night, Psalm 4:8 was not sufficient to bump my train of thought off the tracks and my JOY was derailed.

God’s compassion never ceases to amaze me; He didn’t let me suffer long. He answered my prayer last night and not only quieted me with His love before sleep, He continued the process in our time together this morning. “Here,” I could hear Him saying. “This part is important and it would have helped last night.”

It’s not the first time I’ve received the gold nugget of truth that my thoughts are a powerful component of anxiety but for some reason, it hit me anew this morning. God is merciful and ever so kind to me, teaching me this lesson over and over, in a myriad of different ways and I think this time, it’s going to stick.

I have a hunch tonight’s sleep will be even sweeter…

I am broken. Always.

Broken Flame by Thien Bao

I remember attending a meeting at a church several years back and woman there making the comment, “We are all broken!” And in my heart, I rebelled against that statement. We are not broken, I thought. Jesus has healed us!  I was right in my thinking; but I found out this week that I was also wrong.

Jesus has healed us. But we are broken. Always. On this planet, in this flesh, we are broken.

It’s been a very long and difficult week. God, in His Sovereignty brought me face-to-face with the fact that being saved by His Son’s blood does not mean I can walk upright without falling. Yes, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me, but do you know what I learned this week? There is always a little bit of something in me that is resistant to relying on Christ’s strength. Whether it’s a Rebellious Something, which wants to have its own way or a Proud Something, which wants to prove its ability or a Doubting Something, which thinks I’ve fallen on grace one too many times…

I am a broken gal this week. While I recognize (now) that I am forever in need of Christ’s rescuing from sin on this earth, the Proud Something in me is still kicking and screaming. But I WANT to be capable of pleasing You on my own! I can’t face You if I NEED You!!! It sounds silly to you, probably? It sounds silly to me. But so true, at the same time. I am not just painting a picture of a silly, rebellious child here; I am that child.

So why am I here today? What am I trying to say? This is definitely one of my lesser-prepared posts — okay, completely unprepared. A stream of consciousness, if you will.

I suppose I’m here today to let myself off the hook — and to let you off the hook too. I’m not perfect; I don’t have it all together; I love Jesus with all my heart but I still want to sin sometimes. A lot of the time. Several times a day, I want to sin. And I can not take ANY credit for the times I successfully resist sin, because even though I may be choosing to rely on Christ’s strength, I would FALL if He weren’t there. And I can claim no part whatsoever in ensuring that He is there for me; that is all Him.

So. Those of you who keep your distance because I paint too pretty a picture of myself, come closer. I am dirtier than you think, and quite possibly dirtier than you. If I have, in any way, led you to believe that there are trophies to achieve on this walk or leveling up to be done or successes to strive for, I apologize from the deepest depths of my heart. There is only one Trophy and that is Jesus. There is only one level you have to “pass” and that is embracing Him. There is only one success to be had, and it belongs to God. He successfully reconciled us to Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you don’t believe that I am all that dirty, I will humbly muddy up a private message for you. But it’s not about me, so be prepared for a diligent mopping up with the gospel of Jesus Christ and how He has forgiven me.

*sigh* I’m still sad, inside, at just how…incapable I am of doing the right thing every time. However, I’m also thankful and filled with peace. My Deliverer is coming, and until then, He is standing by. My Jesus is mine and I am His.

10 Myths About Introverts

This is an oldie but a goodie! I’m an Introvert who’s often mis-labeled as an Extrovert; close friends are often surprised to discover that my personality-type technically classifies as ‘introvert’. :)



Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time. <–(This is not true for me– I love to get together with several CLOSE friends at once. It’s my favorite.)

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy. <–(Nevertheless, I’ve embraced the label “weird”; I know what it *really* means. ;) [It means I’m loved for me, and not for going with the flow.])

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them. <–(This is ESPECIALLY true for me, and it can negatively impact my interaction (or lack thereof) with my kids if I don’t make a concerted effort to engage…)

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
(Source: carlkingcreative.com, via dearfox)

the odd in me.

i’m odd. those of you who know me in real life know this already. a lot of you even like it.

i realized today (thanks to heather’s post over here) that i have a tendency to hide parts of myself from this blog— especially the emo or odd or flawed parts. in other words, “the parts of myself i think you won’t like”.

but the title of this blog is “being fae”. not “parts of being fae”. so i’m going to attempt to change the way i filter myself.

i wrote something similar to this a while back. i’m too lazy to look it up. but if you find the post i’m talking about, you get to ask me anything you want. ;)

i’m going to start posting all of me here. pictures i like, thoughts i think, things that are happening to me, complaints, squees, PMS—okay, maybe not the pms. ;)

for example, i like to draw stick people. i always have, for some reason. i just started a “comic” recently, and i’ve been trying to figure out what platform to host it on. but i think i’m going to start posting that here too.

so. *deep breath* here’s all of me. well, not yet, but coming soon.

and if you’re anything like me, NOW you’re thinking, “but why? isn’t that kind of narcissistic, to write about yourself and post your opinions all the time? it seems kind of self-centered and…vain…”

you’re right. it can be narcissistic and vain. (i.e. like filtering myself to make sure you like me.) but, while it is true that blogging can be narcissistic and vain (and i’ll be honest and say that i’ve BEEN narcissistic and vain in my posting on occasion), the truth is that i have something to offer, even if i’m being vain, but especially when i’m not being vain. (is it vain of me to say that?)

susan, heather, mark, sarabeth, shannon and several other people have impacted my life because they were willing to put themselves out there on a blog. i’m sure they’ve all been vain at one time or another. the good news is, God isn’t limited by our humanity; He uses us in whatever condition we’re in. sometimes i’m in good condition — humble, considerate, kind, insightful, articulate — and sometimes i’m in terrible condition — irritable, clumsy, prideful, judgmental, narcissistic.

my motivation for putting it all out there is the hope that God will use me to impact someone the way i’ve been impacted by others.

i’m positive you have something to offer, too. have you ever considered starting a blog? ;)

a revelation of sorts.

there is a profound difference in the way i put myself out there when i’m looking for affirmation from other people versus the way i put myself out there when i’m thoroughly immersed in what God thinks of me. one is tension-filled, anxiety-causing and tinted with neediness; the other is courageous, freeing and honest.

this is nothing new to a lot of people and it’s not so much ‘new’ for me as it is ‘coming to the surface’, in plainer view, so-to-speak.

i’m still hashing out how to stay immersed in God’s thoughts toward me, rather than being absorbed in what other people think of me. (what an interesting comparison! one is immersion, the other is absorption; one is being surrounded by, the other is being sucked into; one is gain, the other is loss. how fitting.)

so how do you resist the flesh-ridden impulse to be absorbed by other people’s opinions? and what helps you be more preoccupied with how God feels about you?

do you also have a tendency to project other people’s opinions onto God, as though they’re His opinions too, when you’re caught up in what others think? i do that. it makes me miserable.

zephaniah 3:17 is my current defense against needing affirmation from other people. incidentally, it also helps me be more preoccupied with what God thinks. it’s a double-whammy!

share some other double-whammy scriptures, please. :)

p.s. i recognize that walking with our incredible Creator is not all about us; certainly, praising Him and meditating on His glorious character would go a long way toward taking our thoughts off others’ opinions of us. there is definitely an element of pridefulness that plays into our tendency to seek affirmation from people. however, there is also an element of simply being created to love and be loved and the impact that a sinful nature will have on that part of us. this post is meant to explore the latter and not the former. in other words, we were created to be loved by God. how best do we prevent that from being twisted by our fallen nature into a search for “extra-curricular affirmation”, if you will? :) a verse like zephaniah 3:17 helps to re-orient our need to be loved toward the Source that will actually satisfy. i’m looking for more of that.

p.p.s. that was supposed to pe a brief clarification of this post. but it wasn’t. so here’s a brief clarification of the p.s. instead. :D

not everything has to be profound. or capitalized, for that matter.

sometimes i go days without writing here but i don’t mind. i figure, scarcity equals effectiveness. which is actually only true some times about some things and not necessarily true right now about this blog. but i digress. which is something i’m good at doing.

so i go days. and lately, i’ve been chewing on a post about holiness. but something just hit me—either i called this blog by the wrong name, or i forgot why i started it. possibly, it’s both. so now it’s time to remember.

i wanted to write about being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. i wanted to write about all of these things with the underlying current being that i am His. i’m His child, His instrument (think violin), His friend.

it seems as though, at some point, i climbed up onto a high-horse and started prancing around my made-up arena with spiritual insights and profundities. that’s not to say none of this is inspired or true; rather, i’ve lost sight of who i am and what i’m doing here. and maybe this is the root of my real-life head problems—i think too much; i never just BE. and come to think of it, i think i said something about that in my very first post…or i meant to.

digressing again. 6_6

so the point. because i did have one…*rummages* who i am and what i’m doing here. right.

sometimes it clarifies a thing to focus on the inverse of it. so let’s start with who i’m not and see where it takes us.

i’m not always right.
i’m not a guru—of any kind.
i’m not responsible for the salvation of the world.
i’m not really all that profound, by myself. it’s really the God-factor that brings that to the table.
i’m not put together or composed or even all that dignified.

what i AM is a mess. all the time, actually. and it’s silly, really, to try to keep this blog ‘clean’ and ‘presentable’. this was supposed to be a place for me to BE. period. not a place for me to just be _________. [profound, spiritual, insightful, etc]

pride has a nasty way of cramming you into boxes. little ones. cramped ones.

i’ve done it before and now i’m doing it again—i’m letting myself out of all my self-imposed boxes (and a few that were not self-imposed). you know, i do this regularly enough, i should celebrate it annually. :P

so here i am. this is me stepping out of the box. i won’t always be profound. but may i always be authentic. and most importantly, may i always glorify my God. because, after all, i am His. i’ll take that over being profound every. time.

to be continued…