Tag: love


The #1 Misconception about Jesus


[NOTE:  This post was written last week, Monday, November 28, 2016.  However, I didn’t get the chance to post it because I ended up in the hospital that evening.  More on that later, though… I think this is an important post!]


Wow.  What a heavy title, huh?  Well, stick with me.  I think you will be as blown away by this as I was.

If you’ve read here much at all, you will know I am very much a “grace and truth” person.  Taken from this scripture: [notes in brackets are mine]

John 1: 14 ~ “And the Word became flesh [Jesus] and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father [God], full of grace and truth.”

I believe Jesus was more about love than law. Not that we should dismiss God’s law outright.  However, Jesus valued a proper balance of grace with truth, not beating people up with truth until we feel like giving them a little grace.  Not about hurting people with truth without also giving them a good dose of grace to go along with it.  He did not disregard the Law, but Jesus simply loved more than He fretted about law-keeping.  As our pastor started the sermon yesterday, he read from Matthew…

Matthew 12:1-2 ~  At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.””

He pointed out how the Pharisees’ first thought was to point out the law-breaking.  They were not concerned that these men were hungry and had no other food available to them.  Remember that another law in play here is the one about leaving behind  any plants that are missed or any grain that has fallen during harvest in order that the needy could glean the fields and feed themselves.  (Leviticus 23:22)

The first thing that came rushing to my mind is all the times, as I was growing up in a traditional, conservative Christian church, I had seen people shunned or ignored because they were not dressed like the rest of us, or because they had done things considered ‘unforgivable’ while at the same time, only moments later, hearing a sermon about how loving and kind Jesus was to all people… the drunkards and the harlots and the sinners.  How He seemed to always reserve His harshest words for those in the “religious elite”, the high priests, and the religious scholars.

As a child, this always seemed so backward, but as anyone raised in this sort of environment knows, you don’t question those unspoken rules.  That is frowned upon and discouraged if not outright disallowed!  You just don’t question things that seem to be wrong with the status quo of the church.

Even as an adult, I went along with these sort of things.  My thinking was just as convoluted as those I still love today who are so set on sticking with the man-made rules and traditions in most churches.  I thought if you didn’t dress correctly, you were better off to stay home than come to church ill-dressed.  If you had been in jail or were known to be “living in sin”/shacking up, etc, then you had best sit in the back if you dared to show your face at all.  Don’t expect to be welcomed or even greeted in most cases.

Now, I am NOT saying that we should just ignore what the Bible clearly calls sin, but you cannot claim to “love the sinner and hate the sin” if you treat people like second-class citizens and push them to the fringe, making sure they know they’re ‘not good enough’.  That was the favorite cop-out of most churches I was ever involved in…”love the sinner and hate the sin”.  In theory, this is an excellent way to live, however, if you’re not willing to actually love the sinner then it becomes merely hypocrisy.

We are to hate sin just as much as God Himself hates it!!  He hated it so much and loved the children He had created so much that He became flesh and submitted Himself to the cross to save us from it!!  The thing we have really screwed up down here is the value God places on people (love) versus the value He places on things (law).

We think God places utmost value on His law and thus, our keeping of His law, when in reality, He values people the most.  That’s us, you and me and everyone you know…and everyone I know AND all the people they know.  So the essence of what Jesus came to do was not bulk up religion, not reinforce it or endorse it but to reject it, rescind it, to show us the better way.  Religion is about the law.  We, as our sin nature tends to do, have perverted the value of the law, putting it above love and human life.  It was love that caused God to give us the law.  The law is and has always been to help protect us, God’s children, His creations.  It was never created to be a noose, a burden, a dead weight that makes us view life as dreary.  Therefore, when it comes to a situation where it is love versus law, love always wins in God’s eyes.  God created the law for man, not man for the law.  He didn’t create laws first and then people to keep them.  He created people first, and then laws they needed to protect them.

That’s not to say we can make excuses to discount and disregard God’s law.  But, as in this instance, when it comes to our well-being or keeping a law, God will always opt in favor of our well-being, which is why He even made any law to begin with.

The example that Jesus used up there in Matthew to let the Pharisees know they were seeing things wrong was of David, when he was running from the murderous wrath of King Saul and sought shelter in a temple.  He and his men were tired and hungry.  The only thing available to eat was the consecrated bread which the law dictated was only to be eaten by the priests.  In the presence of the priest, David and his men ate the “shew bread”, the bread blessed and set aside for the temple priests, without condemnation from either God or the priests.  Nowhere in the scripture does it ever indicate or mention that God showed any displeasure or outrage at what David did in this scripture.

I had NEVER caught that part of the story.  I mean, it’s right there.  Plain as day.  Jesus is telling the Pharisees that just as David wasn’t condemned for eating consecrated bread because his well being was threatened if he and his men didn’t feed themselves, that He and the disciples were also not condemned for picking grain to eat right there on the Sabbath because they  had no previously prepared food nor place to get any food that day.  It was a necessity that they eat.  As strict law-keepers, the Pharisees would have rather they starved for the day instead of sustain themselves.  To them, that law was more important than loving the men enough to let them feed themselves.  The scripture goes on to inform us that after this, when they couldn’t prove Jesus to be wrong (because that would have meant they had to say David, the man they bragged 0f having as their ancestor, had committed a dreadful sin!) the Pharisees responded by beginning to plot how they could kill Jesus.  Yeah.  Law was WAY more important than Love to them.

For Jesus, LOVE is much more important than LAW.

Why has the church or we as Christians lost sight of this today?  Why can’t we see that loving people is so much more important than harping on such unimportant things as how they dress or whether they attend church on a certain day, or what type of music they prefer to worship with or how their preacher dresses?  Why must we focus on a person’s past when there is so much potential for their future in Christ?  Why do we drive people away because they don’t fit our preferences instead of loving them as Jesus would?

Our pastor has titled this series “Reeds and Wicks” and the message yesterday “Why Christmas is Not a Religious Holiday” using this scripture, also in Matthew:

Matthew 12:20 ~ “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”

We are those bruised reeds, the ones broken and rendered useless to the world…the wicks that are so low in the wax that we are barely able to hold the tiny flame and people will soon throw us out because we don’t produce enough light.  Jesus repairs us, He makes us whole, He pours out the excess wax snuffing out our flames, He provides a use for our bent and bruised reeds.  Where the world calls us worthless, Jesus calls us worthwhile.  He gives us purpose and perspective.  He loves us even though we’ve been stepped on or are almost to the point of drowning in the wax.  He rescues us from our lowly state and not only uses us, cleans us up and gives us a purpose, but He loves us more than anyone ever will.

How can we trivialize Him by confining His love inside laws that don’t always apply?  When we use the law of God to withhold the love of God, we misrepresent God!  Rather than asking, like the Pharisees, “Is it lawful?”, we should ask “Is it loving?”  God’s love draws in those whom God’s law has cast out.  God cares more about sinners than their sins, and more about lawbreakers than broken laws.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to endeavor to do the same.  Lord, let me love like You do!

Blessings,

G~

 


mommy: one word that can contain the world


mom and me- my first Christmas 1967

It’s that time of year again.  Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday.  I can’t imagine what my friends go through who have lost their mothers or perhaps don’t have the most loving moms.  I am so thankful for my mom, even though she can drive me up a wall at times.  She is the most giving person I know and she’ll kill herself trying to do for you, almost to the point of being ridiculous.  I have a hard time keeping up with her or getting her to “behave”.  She isn’t able anymore to work circles around everyone like she used to so I try to get her to take it easy.  She’s getting a little better at it, but let one of us girls (me or my sis) get sick and need help and she goes crazy.

mom and me- my first Christmas 1967

I have always been the opposite of her.  Sometimes on purpose and sometimes not!  She’s always superbly coifed and dressed to perfection while I am only comfy in jeans and tennis shoes.  She is always worried about how everyone else perceives her (and us) while I usually couldn’t care less.  She tends to be a nagger while I am more apt to take a less confrontational approach.  She’s one of the only people on the earth who I love fiercely and want to strangle at the time time.  Ha ha!

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me about manners and etiquette, for taking care of me all the millions of times I’ve needed you, for not killing me when I deserved it.  For supporting me in your own way as I became a mom and did things completely different from you.  Thanks for the kind words you have said or written about me to others that you probably don’t realize I know about.  Even when I have been heartbroken over problems between us, I have always been thankful for you.

I pray you have an amazing Mother’s Day and EVERY day.  I pray for you improved health and a closer walk with Jesus as we plod on into the future together as a family.  I pray blessings on you each and every day!  I love you, Mom.

me and mom 2010


mind. blown.


First, Tommy came home Saturday night excited that a friend of his, the man’s family at least, were going to go to church with us!  I don’t really know any of them other than to wave, but knew there was a lot of addiction and just ‘life-struggle’ in the family.  They really need Jesus!  So we’ve just always tried to be lights, just living for Jesus in front of them, ya know?

It’s sad when people get so beaten down by life, the disappointments, the abandonment, the betrayal of it that they become hardened to the idea that love exists anywhere anymore.

living for jesus
Especially when you present some “ancient guy” Who’s supposed to love everybody the same and besides that…“didn’t he die already?”  sigh

So yeah, by the time we were getting ready for bed though, the mom texted Tommy through his friend’s number saying that she was “just going to take everyone to my church”, but thanks for the invitation.  I could tell it upset Tommy. He said that the reason they had come out (as Tommy was in his truck getting ready to leave — he had taken some auto stuff over there for the guy to paint) to ask about church was that the young teen boy, the mom’s son, I think, “has questions and wants to go to church.”  The son was just there for spring break, he normally lives with his dad.  I have no clue what sort of relationship there is other than that.

We knew they had never gone to church in all the years we’ve known them so I’m not sure what church she was calling ‘hers’, but then again, Tommy said they were both (the mom & dad) pretty buzzed by the time he left.  He said they’d started on the beers soon as he got there and, the best he knew, that was the regular evening routine.  I don’t know, but anyway, he figured that was part of the text and still said he would come pick them up, that they should go see what it was like at our church and we were sure they’d really like it.

There was no response after that.

We got up earlier than usual the next morning because Tommy had decided we’d go over there anyway and maybe if, by chance, they were up getting ready, they’d just go with us or if not, we could get them to go.

We were ready to get in the truck when he realized that he had forgotten to put Samson up.  Samson, (look in my photos down there to the left) is our big, cuddly, laid-back chocolate lab.  We’ve had him since he was just a few weeks old.  We learned pretty early on that he has no sense of direction after him following another dog off a couple different times and us getting a call that he was 4-5 miles away somewhere.  Bless his little heart.

So we have always kept him on an underground fence.  He’s been on it so long now that he knows exactly where the boundaries are and he will not cross.  I mean, seriously!  I tried to get him to walk down to Corey’s with me a couple weeks ago.  I took his collar off, walked across and he just sat there, quivering.  I called and I begged, but he wouldn’t budge.  I even tried to sorta push him across but he would have none of it!

Samson has a dog house inside a chain link dog run and that’s where he goes at night.  By this time, it is habit and normally, if Tommy dawdles later that Sams thinks he should, or he’s just hungry, he’ll bark and let us know he’s ready to go to bed!  Ha ha.

Tommy had worked all day Saturday in the shop with both his dad and Casey and then after taking the stuff to be painted out there and talking to his friend awhile, it was later than usual for him to come in.  He’d stopped and picked up some supper for himself and sat in the recliner to eat.  I didn’t realize he hadn’t put Sam up so when he was soon snoring loudly, I just let him sleep and went on to bed.  He seems to sleep a little better sitting up like that and can be hard to wake up, so when he’s sleeping soundly like that, I just let him sleep there.

Back to Sunday morning, we came out to leave and Tommy realized he hadn’t taken care of Sam the night before.  We called, expecting him to come running, but no Sam.  I walked around to the front porch, even though it’s unusual for him to stay out there unless it’s sunny, but nope.  Not there either.

lost pets

We only have a smidge over an acre here, so it’s not like he had a lot of other places to go.  So Tommy went out into the shop, calling Sam as he opened the office door.  No Sam in there either.  While he did that, I walked around behind the shop, which is about the only other place he could have been out of our sight.  I feared I might find him sick or injured because that’s the only reason he wouldn’t come when called, but he wasn’t there either.

Now we were completely flummoxed!  What in the world…?  Now there was only one other conclusion, but it didn’t quite add up either:  Samson had been stolen!!  We checked to make sure the fence was working: yep, it wasn’t off or alerting due to a broken wire.  All this time, we’re making all this noise in the shop, but it’s getting later and we were determined to try to get at least the young boy to go to church with us, so we reluctantly left.

As we drove away, I began a plea for Facebook friends, most of whom are great animal lovers and told them about our missing Samson.  Many of them have met Sam and love him too, because you just can’t really help but love the big galloot.  He’s such a gentle, easy-going fella and of course, he’s gorgeous too.

Samson

Samson

So people began sharing my status like crazy and posting to lost pets groups and commenting with sympathy and encouragement and prayers.

When we got to the house of Tommy’s friend, his sister-in-law was standing on the porch.  Tommy got out and talked with her.  Apparently, the mom had talked herself out of going.  And no, she wasn’t up preparing to go that her church either.  She said no one else was up so they couldn’t go.  Tommy told her we’d be back at 10:30 and we’d all go to the 11:15 service, then.  She agreed and we left.  It was about 9:15 at the time.

We drove over toward our house, on the other side of town, and started down the roads where we’d found Sam the other two times.  Nothing.  No sign of him.  As we got closer to our house, a dear friend, Shell, called me to ask what area we lived in…she was going to drive around looking for him too.  I could have cried.  What a precious thing to do!!  I told her there was no need for her to get out when she informed me she was already leaving her house!  Bless her heart!  She wasn’t about to go back, so I told  her a couple places he could have gone and off she went.

Seriously, guys?  I have some amazingly awesome friends, don’t I?  Makes me feel SO humble and thankful!  God’s blessed me so good!

We were still driving, getting closer to our house and decided we should go turn off the fence so that if Sam did somehow wander back home, he could go in without getting shocked.  None of that even seemed feasible still, but what else could we do.  We pulled up to the shop, where the control box is and Tommy informed me he was gonna use the bathroom while he was in there.  I said fine and began checking on the Facebook activity, updating people and thanking them for the shares and concern…I was absorbed in my task so when Tommy showed up with this incredulous look on his face outside the driver’s window, I had no clue what was up.

He opened the door and said, “Look!” and pointed across the yard toward Sam’s pen…and lo and behold, there was his big chocolate butt trotting around the yard as if nothing was amiss.  SERIOUSLY!?!?  “WHERE WAS HE?!” I asked in pure shock.

“In the mower room, “ Tommy said with this monotone voice, completely disparaged.  My mouth fell open then.  Let me explain, our shop is about 30 x 60 feet with two tall garage bays, then a small office with a “people door”, when you come out of the office into the shop, immediately to your left is a staircase to our storage area, another small work bay in front of you and if you walk around and under the stairs, there’s a bathroom and at the very back, two more rooms, one of which has a small garage door where we park our lawn mower.  It’s RIGHT BESIDE the bathroom.

I was just floored.  Why on earth hadn’t he barked at all??  I mean, the boogar had not made a single sound in all the time when Tommy called him from INSIDE the shop (it’ echo-y in there, people!) nor when he got a scoop of food out for him from the tote sitting right outside the mower room door…and he still hadn’t made a peep when Tommy came into the bathroom.  He just thought, even though the chance was slight that Sam would be in there, he’d just check to be sure… so when Sam jumped up and trotted over to him, tail a-waggin’, we were just baffled!

I had gotten out of the truck while Tommy was telling me all this and Sam came over just like normal.  I bent down to hug on and scold him.  I was in the process of calling Shell to tell her we’d found him.  It was a little hard to hear her well out in the wind, but she said something about “whoopin’ his butt” and next thing I knew, she had pulled in the driveway.

We laughed and talked a bit while she gave Sam another good scolding and hugs and then we all hurried off to church.

WHAT A MORNING!  I hurriedly got on Facebook to call off the search so people were commenting back and no one made too much fun of us for finding him in the stinkin’ shop.  HA HA HA!

This morning I posted this on Facebook:

  Here’s what Geannie learned this weekend:😀
1) always check all the rooms before pleading for FB help to find you dawg. 🐶💩
2) if you still can’t find him, ALWAYS plead on FB …those people rock!💪🏼👍🏼
3) Gentle persistence pays off when you are trying to engage people for Christ. 🙌🏼
4) A bunch of stuff about my brain that I didn’t know before (& am still chewing on! Thx, P Trev -> Trevor Barton
5) 2 months is probably too long to keep a kumquat in the fridge. 😖
(I made that last one up, but I betcha I’m right!) 😂

How funny!  I was so overwhelmed by the help and concern, especially from Shell.  She went above and beyond.  I just love my sweet friends!! (she’s an Emmaus friend, by the way…they totally rock!)

Okay, so back to the collecting of guests for church…

When we got back to Tommy’s friend’s house, no one was stirring that we could tell.  We were in the process of determining what we should do, go knock, go away…what? when someone opened the door and out came the sister-in-law with a car seat and behind her a cute little blonde-haired girl and the teenaged boy.  Praise God!

We had an amazing sermon!  This series is called What Lies Beneath and it’s about how if we aren’t emotionally healthy, we can’t really by spiritually healthy either.  Our lead pastor is super-blessed with the ability to apply Biblical truths to our lives today.  He went into this in-depth explanation of how our brains work… how the neurons created connections or paths each time we learn something new.
nerves-346928_1920

The more we do OR think about those things, the stronger the path becomes.  His point was that, just like how Paul says it in Romans 12:2…

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We CAN change our lives, our thought patterns, our behaviors by changing how we think.  He phrased it “changing our minds” which, get this, is the definition of the word repent. (read down to ‘repentance’… if you look in newer dictionaries, it paints repentance as a feeling of sorrow or regret, but that’s not the original meaning!)   How amazing is it that all those centuries ago, Paul had it right.  He described the very process that our brains use to change how we live, how we act and how we think!

I was really blown away by how the Bible really does tell us that our regeneration, our renewal, our path to that ‘new self with the old self in the past’ after we’ve made Jesus the Lord of our lives really begins in our minds and WE must submit our minds to Christ!  It sounds so simple, but I really loved the way he explained how the brain works, how neutrons form paths and the more we concentrate on a task or thought or memory, the stronger that connection becomes.  So in the case of a bad thought pattern, the scripture 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 come into play:

 “4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

THIS is how we change our lives!  By changing our minds.  Literally rewiring our minds by filling them with the Word of God and detemining to bend our will to His knowing that He loves us and wants only the best for us, no matter how it looks to our human eyes.  (that’s a whole ‘nother post about faith and trust, I believe. 🙂 )

I’m going to link the sermon series here because as of right now, they don’t have yesterday’s message uploaded, but when they do, you can get to that one here also.  Besides, you oughta listen the Week 1 anyhows.  🙂

What Lies Beneath – The Creek Church – Pastor Trevor Barton

Wow.  Such an energizing thought and I don’t know a soul who didn’t need that!  Don’t fall prey to your thought patterns, to a negative mindset, to naysaying friends who don’t encourage your faith.  Break free!  Start by locking up those unbeneficial thoughts and replacing them with the truth of God’s Word!!

Blessings

G~


answered prayer


Isn’t it amazing when God answers a prayer? Even when we know He can, we know He has, then when He blesses us with another provided need, another confirmation, another open door…wow. How blessed are we?!

This morning, He did that for me.Read More »


love, life & how I don’t deserve either


That title though, right?

I know, I know. Super dramatic. I didn’t mean for it to be, but it’s true. None of us deserve anything good that we have.
stay married
As a Christian, I am grateful to God for everything I have. Even things like diabetes and achy, stiff joints, and headaches. Yeah, even those things.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
” give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So okay, I give God all the credit for my life, such as it is. And if it is inferior in any way, that is my own doing. I long to be all that He has planned for me and I know I fail horribly every day.
embrace contentment
I’ve posted about the things going on in my marriage…the physical and emotional struggles that I have faced personally and that my husband and I have overcome together.
long-lasting-marriage
I have been reading lately about the things it takes to make a good marriage, to build a firm foundation for a new marriage, to sustain a strong, lasting marriage.
marriage
I like to think, and at this point in my life I believe, that we DO have a strong marriage. And at thirty years in, I think we can safely say it is a lasting one. I know, I know…longer marriages have ended in the past. But not ours.

After all those years of struggling to stay together, not because of a lack of love, but the inability to be physically close and now…now, we are finally learning how to be a ‘normal’ couple. A couple who isn’t avoiding physical intimacy. A couple who can actually share everything with each other. Now that we’re finally to that point, to realize that God preserved us to this point, I know that He didn’t put us together and preserve us though all this to let us fall apart now.
marriage box
It’s hard to talk to anyone about all this. Even though my therapist at the pelvic health office has been beyond amazing in helping us deal with the physical problems and almost being a ‘counselor’ to help us learn to talk about these things, it’s hard to not have others to talk with, to not really be able to tell anyone about this stuff.

I have spent so much time trying to cover up the fact that there was a problem in our marriage, to hide that there was a void where there should have been deep intimacy. Not joining in conversations and giggly, knowing glances with other wives talking (conservatively!) about loving and being in love with their husbands.

I didn’t understand the way they really desired to physically be with their spouses because for me, that was painful. The fact that it hurt made me want to avoid it at all costs, made me feel like a failure, guilty, damaged and worthless. If I tried to just “grit my teeth” and “bear it” for my husband’s sake, it made him feel bad. It made me feel like I was letting him down. (What husband wants to “make love” to a wife who’s crying and telling him to just hurry?)

Maybe you can see why I have spent most of my adult life in some stage of depression. Sometimes very deep, very dark depression. I wondered for probably those first eight years how long before he’d just leave me. How long before he got sick of it and wanted out? Once when I was desperate enough to actually say as much to him, he let me know he loved me and he didn’t want out of the marriage.
good marriage
I was pretty stunned, but grateful…and then even more depressed. I didn’t deserve him. Later, after nothing had improved and when I got desperate enough again, I told him to go find someone else. As long as no one knew, no…as long as our children never knew (because I just KNEW other people would eventually find out) that he should find someone who could fill that void for him. Someone who wouldn’t wince and cry with pain. Someone he could actually enjoy. But we would stay together for the boys and I wouldn’t begrudge him having another woman who wasn’t damaged like me.

Looking back now, I am SO SO SO thankful to God that he never took me up on that offer. Most any other man would have done it gladly I think. If he had sought physical companionship with someone else, there would have never been any healing between us. We could have never got to the place we are now, where we’re able to be a “regular” married couple, where I could be unafraid of physical contact with the man I love most in the world. This place where we are learning to heal from the last three decades of hurt, confusion, fear and depression.
marriage-on-Christ
God apparently had a plan. If we had “fixed it” our own way, how much we would have destroyed. Much the same way that Sarah and Abraham messed up God’s perfect plan (to make a nation of Abraham’s children…when he and Sarah had reached almost 100 years of age without bearing one single child) [See Genesis 18]

When Sarah chose to not believe God when He told them Sarah herself would give birth, she and Abraham decided to “help” God with Sarah’s idea to give one of her servants to him so she could “give them a child”.

Okay, now if you’re not familiar with Scripture, all this is sounding pretty far out to you. Just trust me that back in the first century, things were a little different. People had servants and polygamy was common. While Abraham just had the one wife, it was common to make concubines of servants. The prevalent reasoning was that large families with lots of sons were necessary to maintain farms and businesses and multiple wives were needed to bear all those children.

I know. Seriously, it sounds so barbaric, doesn’t it? So foreign! But even though it was NOT in God’s plan for men to take more than one wife, as usual, mankind does what it wants and God, in His mercy, works with that.

In this case, if you will read the story, you’ll find that Sarah’s “plan” was “a success”…at least by their standards, and the slave girl, Hagar, bore Abraham a son. However, God’s plan was NOT to create His nation from Hagar’s son, Ishmael, so in a few years, Sarah did indeed bare a son by Abraham. When you read the conflict that came from this tense, at-least-awkward situation and how it has ultimately affected the world, you’ll see that while God will mercifully work through the messes we make when we jack with His plans, He does not wipe out the consequences of the jacked plans.

Our world is today, several thousand years later, paying for the “plans” of Sarah and Abraham. Nevertheless, God remained true to His plan to make Abraham the “father” of His chosen people-nation.

So as I ramble through these thoughts, I am reminded that God doesn’t toss us out with the mess we make of His plan when we think we know better. He wipes off the dirt we wallowed in and sets us back on His path. He brings His plans to fruition, in spite of our meddling and gives us strength to cope with the aftereffects of what we’ve done.
bravest thing I ever did was continue to live when I wanted to die
I’m thankful to Him that my husband and I didn’t mess things up any worse than we did trying to wait for His conclusion in our marriage. We have a lot of healing to do because of our ways of “coping” all these years. How grateful I am that infidelity is not one of the things we have to deal with!

My parting thought for you is this…don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. If God can preserve a marriage like mine, He can save or rebuild yours. If you believe that He is the Almighty, do not discount His power in your marriage!

God’s got a plan. Try to stay out of His way!

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”


taking on the taboo


I’ve had a couple of discussions about it in the past couple days. I saw several posts and vlogs about it lately. I know many people who suffer with, from and through it. Heaven knows I have dealt with it enough myself.

So let’s just discuss it. I feel like maybe I’m supposed to speak about it.

Maybe you’ve figured out by now I’m talking about depression. Sadly, even in the 21st century, it’s still a taboo subject. It’s still cause for shame or at least embarrassment in America.

depressed2

I’ve shared here and other places online about my own struggles with depression. I have had discussions publicly and via private message with people about it.

[DISCLAIMER: I’m not dispensing clinical advice to you or recommending you do a particular thing. I am just sharing MY experiences, MY “what works for me”, MY findings while researching the problem. You do what’s best for you, seek professional advice first and BE WELL!]

My motives are pretty simple and very straightforward. I think it’s important for people to be aware of depression…of the signs and symptoms, of the treatments, of the facts that there are many of us who suffer with it and how it would surprise you to find out how many of your friends, family and acquaintances are living with it right now.

First let’s look at what depression actually is and what it isn’t. What I have is referred to as “clinical depression” and it’s what many of the folks who have reached out to me also deal with.

    [NOTE: Please make use of the many links I have put in this post. (the first one is in the previous paragraph!) If you don’t live with depression yourself, at least be educated enough to understand and help those around you who are living with it. I guarantee you there are more than you’d think.]

Clinical depression is that “black cloud” that sticks with you. It’s a “sadness” that you can’t explain or shake. I find that the best way to explain it to those who don’t understand is that I KNOW without a doubt I have MUCH to be thankful for,
I K-N-O-W it. But I can’t make myself be happy. And it’s not that I’m overtly sad or anxious. It’s just an indescribable inertness, if you will. A complete lack of energy, or perhaps an inability, to feel joy.

Depression

If you read all through the link for clinical (or major) depression (and I urge you to!) then you’ll see it lists the symptoms and then states “when it’s not caused by a medical condition or medication” and that’s where I depart from the medical book, as I usually do. (ha) I DO have medical conditions that can cause those symptoms. I even have a chronic disease which makes me much more susceptible to being depressed. (diabetes, to name just one) so I don’t fit “neatly” into a particular diagnosis. Lots of us don’t and that’s okay as long as you have a medical professional who can deal with that.

There are currently several types of depression recognized by the medical community. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, like “clinical depression”, “major depression”, “postpartum depression”, even PMS has its own depression called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”! That last link will take you to webmd.com’s list of these with links to more info on each of them. I’m not sure how valid some of these are, but perhaps medicine is just trying to give a name to the things we deal with all the time but never know what to call it. (for instance, on the list is “situational depression”…who on this earth hasn’t experienced that before? I’m not sure the emotions tied to various temporary events deserves a medical diagnosis, but that’s fodder for another post, right?–HA!)

Let me say that I don’t want to “push” depression and make it like so many things these days, cool or in any way desirable or something to be envied. That doesn’t make much sense I guess, but stick with me while I try to explain… Like so many things in our society, people try to put labels on various people and behaviors. Sometimes to make them ‘hip’ or whatever, sometimes to make them seem acceptable. (first thing that comes to mind is how ADD became a buzz-diagnosis so quickly and then, even though it can be a genuine problem for some people, it soon became the go-to excuse for not doing your work, not being dependable or responsible, etc., etc.) I don’t want to do that here. Depression is serious. It can be life-threatening at its worst, debilitating or at its very best, it can make living feel like a burden. So it’s not something to be trifled with in any way. I guess I just don’t want to come across as if I’m just tossing the word around and diminish the real significance of the disease.

Okay, so here, I want to share with you a video by a pastor I’ve met a time or two that I really admire. For one, he’s now an avid cyclist. (Seriously, the man’s a beast on a bike!) For two, he’s an honest-to-goodness Bible-believing man of God who isn’t afraid to speak truth. For three, he’s a loving husband and father and he also suffers from depression. I already like him, but after he posted this video on Facebook, I admired him even more. See for yourself as someone with a position of leadership and somewhat notoriety goes very public with how he struggled with and then overcame the monster that is depression: Pastor Greg Locke on Overcoming Depression

As you might guess, one of the reasons I so love this video is that he says cycling helped with his depression. Of course, not everyone can jump into this the way he did. Since I’ve been watching him for years now, I can tell you that he first got “into” bike riding when he went to the Goodwill and got a bike to ride in a charity ride. From there, apparently, he was hooked. He has since done a 3,000+ mile ride (IN TEN, that’s 10, one-zero, T-E-N DAYS!!) to the Pacific shore and also the Tour Divide, an unsupported mountain bike ride from Canada to Mexico! He’s a beast, I tell you!

I don’t foresee myself ever doing such amazing bike rides, and that’s okay. I have impressed myself enough with the longer rides I have been able to do. I’m just happy to be getting out and being active because before cycling, I was pretty much a couch potato. A long day of errands was about as much activity as this ol’ gal ever got! So, praise God that I have this activity to get me moving and inching toward better health!

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I hope you watched Greg’s video. Part of what was SO encouraging to me was the discovery that someone who seemed so alive, so interactive, so “with it” would have a problem with depression. It was like LIFE-GIVING to realize that he KNEW what it felt like, knew how it felt when someone says to you, “Just snap out of it. Just trust the Lord. Just read your Bible more.” When it was all you could do just to get out of bed in the morning, IF you even did that!

And I guess that’s the most important thing I want to do with this post. I want YOU to know that *I* KNOW. If you never meet another soul who understands depression, know this… you’ve stumbled across this minuscule spot on the web, this unknown web address to this post because God wanted you to know that you are not alone. Let’s face it, that’s the only way you’d have ended up here! Ha!

Maybe, if you happen to know me in real-life or you’ve read other posts here, maybe you never imagined that I have depression. Once you start being open about it, researching and talking to others, you will find that many of us who suffer from chronic clinical depression can be the funniest, goofiest, seemingly-up-beatest (Ha!) people you know. Here’s the thing.. it’s easy to fake it for a few hours. At least most of the time. So don’t assume that someone who’s always cracking jokes and smiling could never understand depression. Often, it’s a way to cope. That doesn’t mean we’re not genuinely funny or goofy, it’s just that that part of us isn’t the strongest during the dark-cloud times and so we relish our time of being able to laugh and make others laugh, because once that’s over, the cloud is back. At least that’s how depression is for me.

Y’know, you’d think that for those of us who cope that way, since it does feel so much better to be with a few people laughing it up we would seek that out, but in reality it finally becomes too hard. It gets to be too much effort to drag myself out to be with people, to even want to be with people. The devil and my own dark place will start to tell me no one really wants to be with me. They will just wonder what’s wrong with me…why am I so pale, why don’t I have any makeup on, why am I not talking as much, etc. Then there’s the whole monologue that goes, “You’d need to shower and fix your hair. You don’t have the energy for that. It’ll be too hard to smile enough or to ‘be your usual self’ and they’ll know something’s wrong. They will think you’re weird or sick or they’ll just wish you hadn’t come. What if it gets too hard to try and you burst out in tears. You can’t let them see you cry, and you’ll probably cry. No, just stay home. It’s easier that way.”

Only a few short months ago, that conversation played routinely in my head. I stopped going to the get-togethers with some of the most dear friends I have. I’m sure they knew something was up, but I couldn’t bring myself to just say, “Hey guys? I’m hurting. I’m in a bad spot. Nothing physical, no one in my family is terminal or has died, I just feel like crud and I can’t smile anymore. Pray for me. Tolerate me if I come around– encourage me to come around because it’s entirely too easy to convince myself not to!!”

I finally just had to come clean with them. Some of the reasons were deeply personal, so it was hard to even speak them out loud. Secrets in my marriage that were decades old, but they had contributed hugely to the massive black hole I was in and at that time, I had decided to confront and seek help for that and it had stirred up all kinds of ugly. It was HARD to tell my closest friends where I was and how bad I was hurting. They still probably don’t entirely understand, but at least they have an idea now and when I say that I’m feeling “dark” and need some prayer, they are on it. They don’t hesitate to check on me and encourage me, to ask questions which are not comfortable, not convenient to ask.

So I guess my next suggestion or bit of advice for you is this…get, find or make yourself some good friends. At least one. They don’t have to be people you talk to every day or even every week. It doesn’t have to be the person you do everything with (when you DO go do something)… It just needs to be someone you can count on to see through your hiding, your coping methods. Someone who will confront you when you have slipped into dark mode.
don't give up
One last thing, there’s something even more taboo than depression and that’s suicide and having suicidal thoughts during a deeply depressed cycle. I won’t lie to you. I have been there. I’ve said before, I’m thankful to have my faith in God because I truly believe that’s the only thing that kept me from attempting to end myself years ago when the idea came to me often.

I now know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer. It took growing in my faith and becoming solidly convinced that I am worth something to God and even when I feel I’m not worth anything to anyone, not even myself, I have to trust that God’s got a purpose for me being here. A lot of the lies I tell myself are that my family would be better off, my husband could find someone without my problems, who he wouldn’t have to worry about or care for, take to countless doctors or wake from a dead sleep to feed through a low blood sugar, who wasn’t so self-doubting that I paralyze myself and need him to make the simplest decisions… I think my kids could live without wondering if their mother is crazy, without her words that come out so carelessly unintentionally causing pain to them and the ones they love. Even when those quite loud thoughts are going through my mind every single day repeatedly, I can remind myself that God has a purpose. I don’t have to know what it is because He does. I just have to trust Him.
suicide
That kinda takes the pressure off me. *ha* So if you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to learn about Him and trust Him with your life. He will keep you safe if you will just trust Him. He’s the best friend and ally against depression I can recommend to you. He may not choose to deliver you out of the dark hole, but He will be with you in it and make you strong enough to endure it.

Hebrews 13:5“…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””


He answers the pleas


I’m unsure how to tell you about this, but since I’ve shared about this here, I have to update you.

First of all, both Hubby and I really just love the pelvic health therapist. She’s an awesome lady who is passionate about what she does. She really wants people, both women and men, to understand how their bodies work. She is a Christian, which makes sharing our story with her even easier and she’s an Emmausite. She has this high-tech way to measure how strong (or weak, as the case was in the beginning) my pelvic floor muscles are and how well I am able to contract and relax. All those things are important to healthy muscle function and she’s given me several exercises that I’ve been doing at home.

She has taught Hubby how to help with stretching and even showed him some massage techniques to help me relax all the tension I hold in my neck and shoulders. Before you get all jealous about that, realize that him knowing the techniques and having had the time to actually DO any of them are two different things. Between him working late several days and then working on his talk for this weekend’s Emmaus walk (more on that later), we just have not had the time. And honestly, I won’t ask him to do it because it makes me feel guilty. So I may never get one of those massages, but at least he knows what he’s supposed to do, right? HA-HA-HA!

Other things she’s had me doing is using pure vitamin E, which is supposed to strengthen and “heal” the skin in my outer hoo-ha. Sorry, I’m not as good at using the proper names for those things. (and would like to avoid being pulled up on Yahoo, ya know?!?  Sheesh!)  Anyhow, it made a huge difference in the sensitivity down there. I mean, like amazing improvement. I could hardly stand for her to do the initial exam when she used a cotton swab and had me give her a number for the level of pain I felt. Then she had me using a sustained moisture gel stuff to see if perhaps dryness was causing some of my pain.

It’s an over-the-counter stuff called Replens and after using it for a couple of weeks and then feeling a burning pain “way up high” and not so much in the walls of the … heh heh… hoo-ha, she decided I probably needed to check with the gynec0l0gist to make sure there was no infection or other thing going on.

So I’ve done that and the GYN says no infection, but everything looked thin and fragile so she gave me some estrogen cream that I use vaginally a couple times a week. It was like no big deal and she said that I should notice a difference in about a week and could probably do just once a month after the first couple weeks using it 2-3 times weekly.

That’s like, WOW!! Who knew and why didn’t those people tell me already? Like 20-some years ago?!?! Anyhow, I used the cream and a couple days later, the Hubbs and I were reading in the book the therapist recommended. It’s for married couples and is a Christian book about s#x! It’s called A Celebration of S#x. Cool, huh? It’s very educational as far as explaining those things that most of us don’t know about how our bodies work. So we read a bunch in that before going to bed. We laughed SO much because since I had a headache, Hubby did the reading out loud for us. He’s a little dyslexic and will mix up his words sometimes, so when he substituted the word “sectional” for “sexual”, I about lost it. I laughed so hard that I started the asthma going and I wheezed the rest of the time. Seriously, we had so much fun reading this book about how our genitals are made!! BAHAHA!

Later we woke up and began snugg1ing and ki$sing some and well…one thing led to another and we put some of the stuff from our book into practice. We had no agendas, either of us, but we were just enjoying being together. It was nice and something we had not done in AGES. As things went along, without being explicit, we got to a point of attempting to actually m@ke love and most people won’t understand this, but we were able to do so without any pain. That is a miracle. I haven’t been able to have actual interc*urse (I’m trying not to get picked up in some lurid Google searches!) without some significant pain in probably 15-18 years. I’m sure that seems unbelievable to most people, but that’s been my life and the ugly secret we have lived with our entire marriage. If all these years the trouble has been from low estrogen, it really is pathetic that doctors don’t ask more pertinent questions about these things and that we don’t know enough to talk to doctors about this problem.

However, I will remind you now that we did go to several doctors over the years trying to figure out why I had pain with s#x and were either told it was in my head, that I had a deformity or just looked at like we were crazy. So we DID seek help years ago, then just gave up and assumed we would just have to live with it.

Anyhow, hopefully that wasn’t too risqué for anyone, but I said I was going to be open and honest about what we were dealing with, so I wanted to also share the update, the happy update!

Now I’ll tell you that all the next day, I would intermittently be in awe that “it” had happened the night before, almost wondering if it really even happened at all, [think “Is this real life?”  LOL!] and then worrying that it was a fluke. When I shared those thoughts with my sweet Hubby, he said, “Well, if it was fluke, we will wait for the next one.”

We are praying it was not a fluke, but the beginning of a new chapter in our marriage. As the GYN said to us in the beginning of this journey, with all the time we’ve invested in this marriage, we owe it to ourselves to pursue a healthy, full intimate relationship together! I thank God that He’s working things out in this area!

Hebrews 13:4“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled…..”
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30 whole years!


Okay y’all… you’ll have to extend some grace here.  I had my 30th wedding anniversary last week and I’m just now posting about it!

weddingtoast

Yes, we were just babies in 1985.

There have been times, over the years, that it wouldn’t have taken much for either of us to just walk away.  It’s been hard at times.  There have also been amazing, awesome, wonderful times, of course.  But those storms when it seems there’s no chance of escaping in one piece can shake you to the core.

But God…  If not for having Him in our lives and in our marriage, we surely would not have made it for thirty years.  Of course, we can do nothing on our own, but we like to think we can.  We so easily forget that it’s only by the will of God that we even breathe let alone move, think, walk and talk.

I’m so thankful that He intervened so many times in our marriage.  I have always felt really glad that both Hubby and I had intact families (neither of our parental units have divorced) and have two examples of half-century marriages to look to, although… *giggle* our marriage looks nothing like either of theirs.

And we don’t want it to!  We exchange knowing looks of agreement when either set of our parents are doing something we find annoying and we’ll laugh or commiserate later that we’re SO glad we don’t “___whatever___” like they do.  I’m sure our kids have the same feelings about us and I guess that’s how life is.

We make our own lives and our own favorite ways of being a couple.

Speaking of the kids, July has become Anniversary Month around here.  Our oldest son and his wife

wedding-victory

wedding-smiles

celebrated seven years of marriage the week before our 30th anniversary, after which our youngest son & his wife

victory

Casey-Taylor-bw-reception

had their first-ever anniversary!  Yep, all within three weeks.

I’m not sure how that happened, but I think it’s kinda cool.  And convenient too in that none of us can quite forget any of the others’ anniversaries.  Ha ha!

I have to admit…I was feeling pretty bummed that we didn’t have any kind of “real” celebration for our 30th though.  I mean, that’s supposed to be some kind of milestone, isn’t it?  I sure don’t know many couples our age who have been married even half this long.  I remember having “dreams” if you will, of being able to take a cruise for our 25th anniversary, but that didn’t happen.  Not for lack of wanting on either of our parts, but for lack of funds?  You betcha.  So five years ago, we plunked down a chunk on a room for the night way high on this mountain, and it was awesome.

It just would have been more awesome if I hadn’t worried about money the whole time.  *sigh*  And here we were five years later, and once again, absolutely no funds for any kind of get-away or even a room for the night somewhere.

I was getting really bummed.  We talked about maybe going to do the Virginia Creeper trail, which is a cycling thing, and that would have been great, but the drive was so long that we’d have been killed to have driven there, ride the trail and then drive back home in one day, so we didn’t even attempt it rather than go and not enjoy it.

After having to replace our air conditioner system (lighting hit it) and then just the week before our anniversary, our water heater broke, saturating the carpet in our bedroom and adding another big expense we couldn’t afford… we just didn’t have any extra money for anything big.

I had spent the week being really sad over it to the point I just didn’t want to do anything.  However, the day arrived, a Sunday, and my best friend from high school, who I hadn’t seen in probably 10 or more years, who has recently moved back here with her newly-adopted TWO YEAR OLD son!!!  She was coming to our church and wanted to see if we could meet and at least sit together.  Of all days for this to happen, on our 30th anniversary had to be a “God thing” because this sweet lady was my one and only “bridal party”..my maid of honor!!!  How cool is that??

So, we got to meet her adorable little guy, visit for a bit, then we took off.  We’d gotten a coupon for a free appetizer at a restaurant we like, but there’s not one near us, so before I even knew what he was doing, Hubby was on the interstate and all he’d say was we were going to eat.

We drove 100 miles away, found the restaurant and had a great meal.  By this time, God had worked on my sour attitude and I was just enjoying time with my husband of 30 whole years.  I began to think about how hard-working and caring he is.  How he’s encouraged me to try harder and do more than I ever would have attempted myself.

30yrstogether2

Later, we stopped in a couple of surplus home goods stores and bought a few little items, found a gorgeous duvet cover with shams for our king size bed for just $18!!  Then we walked through the other place, that was more for builders I guess.. it had furniture and decor and we saw some gorgeous items that gave us some inspirations for future improvements on the house.

Then we went to a couple of health food stores and he helped me pick out meals for the coming week.  His request, saying “since it’s our anniversary”… LOL! is for me to start eating better.

*sigh*

Well, okay.  So, we ended the day at Whole Foods, where we ate a slice of “wholesome” pizza and drank his ever bottle of kombucha tea (which I’ve been thinking about attempting to brew myself)kombucha-WF

and then stopped at the Walmart at home to pick up some batteries we needed and I bought us a selfie stick.  See?

selfiestick

This is the photo I sent to the kids showing them how techno-savvy their parents are.  HAHAHA!!

And so, our 30th anniversary came and went and left me with a sense of satisfaction.  I am sad that I’ve wasted so many years being dissatisfied with things, life, people, myself… but I am doing my best to change things now.

And I’m looking forward to reaching our 50th anniversary and yes, still hoping we might have a bit bigger celebration by that time.  But if not, I know that’ll be okay too.

We have each other and we’re happy.  That’s enough.

Philippians 4:11-12Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”


first thing’s first


So, folks… at long last, I had my first appointment with the pelvic health therapist.  (in case this is the first you’re “hearing” about the PHT, see this post)

Hubby went with me.  He made sure he’d be able to go with for this first appointment.  At first I was a little disappointed because it seemed the therapist, who I really liked by the way, was only telling me things I had already discovered or come to the conclusion of myself, ya know?  Things like that my pain probably grew worse because of a sort of conditioning.  Duh!  Like that the injury from my childhood had something to do with the pain.  Really?  That the muscles in that region are extremely tight.  Ya think?  That it took a long time to get in this shape and will take a long time to retrain the muscles.  I figured as much all by myself.

Thank you, lady.  Really.  I mean, as I said, I liked the therapist.  She knows her stuff.  She understands how all the muscles and nerves in that area work, how everything is connected, how it responds and she knows what to do to retrain my ill-trained muscles, how to get to the point that being intimate with my husband isn’t painful, something I wish to avoid, traumatic…well, you get the point.  As the gynecologist who referred me to this therapist said, we’ve been in this marriage, pain and all, for almost 30 years.  We deserve to have that part of our marriage be good.  I can’t imagine how that would feel.  Not having that burr, that pain or that untouchable area of our relationship be something that’s actually good.  Good, people!  I can’t imagine it.

Anyhow, so I go back next week for a session of biofeedback to see how my muscles are working, how they react in certain situations, how they are at rest and in use.  She mentioned using progressive dilators to help stretch the muscles and probably some ultrasound therapy on the perianal muscles, which seemed to be the tightest  area of all.

Sorry.  Now the internet knows about my most intimate problem.  But you know what?  I’ve lived all these years without ANYONE to talk to about this stuff.  Without being able to tell how much I have hurt, physically and emotionally, because a vital part of my marriage relationship was nonexistent.  Never able to discuss how, in those times when my depression was at its worst, much of it was a direct result of feeling non-functional in this area of my life, of feeling broken, deformed, useless.   How I have felt entirely guilty for it, for how it affected my husband, who I love dearly. because I couldn’t fulfill the most basic part of a marriage relationship.  And get this…he stayed faithful to me in spite of this.  How many men would do that?  Very few, that’s for certain.  So you see, I am beyond blessed in this way, in spite of how frustrated I get with other things about him.  I need to be more thankful.  I need to show my appreciation for how committed he has been to our marriage.

Great.  Now I feel even more guilty, if that’s possible.  *sheesh*  Of course he has his faults, don’t we all?  But this particular thing, well, it is BIG, very big so that most men would have walked away decades ago.  Most men but, praise God, not my husband.

I’m just asking him, and you too, I guess, to be patient with me while I go through all this.  Besides the physical therapies and changes that I’ll be dealing with, there is a virtual Mt. Everest of emotional stuff to wade through as well.

I know most people cannot fathom how this feels, how it is to have lived my whole life and not have ever felt good about the intimate part of my marriage.  Almost THIRTY  YEARS’ worth of marriage!

Will this even work?  Will my body ever be able to be intimate with Hubby without pain?  And even if that’s possible, will I ever be able to get my mind to cooperate?  How will this work between the two of us?  I already feel as if he is expecting big and fast changes as it is.  He assures me that’s not the case, but it’s still there in my mind.  My mind is like, “He HAS to be impatient for results!”   I find myself wondering if the “want to”, which has been non-existent or at least VERY weak for years now, will that ever come back?  How do I flip that switch after all this time? What if the switch doesn’t  work anymore?  What if it’s broken beyond repair?  What if it’s GONE???

I know, I know.  That’s not evidence of faith, is it?  I need BIG help with that, so if you think of it, please pray?  Thanks.

Hebrews 11:1“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”