Leaning Into Jesus

walking-in-the-spirit
Today I was about to step on the scale when I heard God tell me “Don’t do it.”  I was obedient.  Since the first thing I usually write in my journal is my weight, today I wrote “No weight today”.  Then God started talking to me some more.

Those words “NO WEIGHT TODAY” primarily were written due to the fact that I didn’t step on the scale.  But what jumped out at me was the other type of weight.

  1. a : burden, pressure
  • the weight of their responsibilities

from Merriam-Webster

leaningNO BURDEN TODAY.  Jeannette (my coach at Finding Balance) has told me more than once to “lean into God”, and my best friend and spiritual mentor has told me over the past 2 days more than once that God has told her I’m under tremendous stress and to simply relax in Him.  They kinda’ mean the same thing, and it sounds like God really wants me to get this.  I will not bear any of that heavy weight of stress today.

But He wasn’t done yet.  A Bible study I’m doing referred to Romans 8:6, and I happened to read the Amplified which said:  “Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever];”  Notice God says the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.  Sounds like relaxing in God to me.

water rockNext, the same study instructed me to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 which read “and all [of them] ate the same spiritual food; and all [of them] drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not well-pleased with most of them, for they were scattered along the ground in the wilderness [because their lack of self-control led to disobedience which led to death].”  In the wilderness the supernatural food (manna) and supernatural water (from the Rock) came day by day, and what came on one day was not good for the next day.  Application:  God was feeding and watering me today, but that won’t be good enough for tomorrow.

And finally, I realized the above verse wasn’t actually 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 at all; it was 1 Corinthians 10:3-5.  So I looked up the verses in 2 Corinthians, and they said “For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,”  Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ for me at this point in my life means especially all those thoughts that bring about stress.  Right now, those are most of my waking thoughts.  The only thoughts I can think that are beneficial are those from God, to be found in His Word and through other ways He communicates with me.

Can I do it?  Most assuredly not!  But when I lean into God and relax in His arms, He is more than capable of doing what I cannot.

Death & Life. . . No, Just Life

life is short, I wanna live it well

Today was Lois Byrne’s funeral.

Her daughter asked me to play the piano and accompany the soloist.  Because my mother had the flu and couldn’t, I also gave a eulogy for her.  It was all an honor and a privilege.

Lois has been in my life my entire life.  I was born on a Sunday.  My parents took me to church the next Sunday.  Lois was there.  From my childhood, I most remember her as a Sunday school teacher and Bible School (that’s what we called VBS back then) teacher.  Back in the 1960s there were quite a few of us children learning the stories from her.  When, at the age of nearly 17 I came to know Jesus personally, those early lessons were undoubtedly a part of the experience.

In recent years, I knew her as an encourager.  She often complimented my piano playing.  She would sometimes cry when I preached, and I allowed myself to believe it was because she knew she had a role in the faith I now have.  Today we said good-bye to her in the same church where she taught children Bible stories about Paul, David, Joshua, and Jesus among others.  Hers was a life well lived.  It is a life she now enjoys in perfect health in Heaven; of that I have no doubt.  When I think about Lois now I can’t help but think of the Ray Boltz song “Thank You” when I think about her walking the streets of Heaven.  When I gave the eulogy my mom would have given, I added some of my memories to Mom’s.

It was difficult being a part of the service because the last one I attended was my husband’s.  At the graveside on February 12, 2016, it was bitterly cold, windy, and snowing.  Today it was cold and windy.  I am thankful to God I didn’t have to go to the graveside; instead I went to the village hall to help set out the funeral dinner.

The church was packed out for her funeral.  The pastor is a good friend, a confidante, and I could just hear her thinking—where are all these people on Sunday morning?  100+ people come to mourn, but those same people can’t come to receive life.

Of course, many of those people do attend other houses of worship.  But our town has somewhere between 200 and 300 residents.  Between the Methodist church and the Lutheran church across the street, both would be full to capacity if everyone in town attended one or the other.

This past Sunday, 4 days ago, I attended the visitation of a young man with whom my husband and I were acquainted.  Rod was good friends with his parents.  The man’s brother attends Rod and my church in Lincoln.  Afterward, I went to visit Lois and her daughter and pray with them.  An hour later, Lois was gone.

It seemed like a week of death because right in the middle of those, yesterday, February 7, was the 2nd anniversary of the date Rod went to be with Jesus.  Next Wednesday, Valentine’s Day and this year Ash Wednesday, would have been his 58th birthday.  When I checked Facebook last night, there wasn’t a single mention of him.  Not even by me.  Life goes on, but he is not forgotten; I know he is not.

To say I miss him still is an understatement.

Like Lois, he poured so much into my life, albeit at the other end.  And like Lois, he probably didn’t even realize it.

Before I met him, the life I lived was that of one who was just going through the motions.  I was attempting to live for God, had been doing so for years, but there was no overcoming.  I was looking forward to heaven, but there was no enjoying life in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).  My children were nearly grown, and I was scared to death that God was going to leave me a broken person, useless, no longer relevant in any way, unable to find victory in any area of my life.

He did not.

He loaned me Rod for a few precious years.

Rod loved me, a person utterly unlovable, unworthy, insignificant, at least by any person who was not related to me and was not God.

Rod loved me; even while God was using him to bring healing and rejuvenation to my soul, He also used him to help restore my body after a serious battle with cancer a year and a half into our marriage.

Rod loved me.  Even after 6 years of marriage when he was finally beginning to see I wasn’t always the “blessing” he had proclaimed me to be in the first year of our marriage, but I was a real person with some serious flaws, one being an extreme distrust of just about everyone.  My favorite nonbiblical quote is one by Shakespeare, “Love everyone, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

I had good reason to be distrustful.  Rod had more reason than I; yet he continued to love.  Me and everyone else he met.

My negativity never rubbed off on him.  Laughter was his primary expression.

More than one person has suggested to me that God placed this angel in my life for 6 years to help me become me, the me God created me to be.  It sounds right, but how can it be?  Rod was a wonderful person in his own right; his ministry had to be more than that.

When we married at the ages of 48 and 49, I believed we would live out the rest of our lives together; and I intended to make sure those years were the best ones of Rod’s life.  I hope they were.  Aside from the years my kids were born, they were certainly mine.

Now that he’s been gone from me for 2 years, I find myself fearful (fearful? she who wrote a book entitled Fearless in Euroclydon? she who knows there is a verse in the Bible regarding fear for every single day of the year?) at times of reverting into the person I was before Rod came into it.

In addition to the fear, there’s the apathy.  I recently read a blog post by a writer who believes apathy is the greatest hindrance to walking out the Christian life.  Another teacher shared the same thoughts.  And, with the prayers of my dear husband on my behalf no longer wafting up to God daily, I feel that very thing attempting to make its insidious way in.  Apathy seems akin to stagnation.  Both are death.

Yet, in the funeral of a dear saint of God, there are many reminders of the life of God in the midst of death.  Apathy can’t withstand a life lived in faith because faith is the opposite of death; faith is life.  Today more than one person testified they’d never heard Lois complain, not about anything, ever.  Rod lived life with such joy, as he lay in his casket I observed that the funeral director couldn’t completely get the smile off his face.

Lois and Rod both exemplified the faith life; if either of them ever experienced apathy, I never saw it.  They lived their lives well to the very end.  They lived life which death cannot defeat.

O death, where is thy sting?  Some believe Shakespeare said that, too, though others say not.  Not having read him, I cannot say for certain one way or the other.

I have, however, read the written Word of God, and He said it first through the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church chapter 15 verse 55.

Death has no sting.  It is the beginning of life for those who know Jesus.  For those of us who remain, it brings the good memories and encouragement of a life well lived.  “Life is short, I wanna’ live it well.”  Line from Live It Wall by Switchfoot 2016

Perfect Isn’t a Thing

In my quest to memorize the chapter of Romans 8, I last memorized verse 5:  For those who are dominated by their sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

romansTime for verse 6:  So letting your sinful nature control your thoughts leads to death, but letting the Spirit control your thoughts leads to life and peace.

The meaning behind this verse permeates the online Bible study I’m currently doing.  Every participant in the study is trying to reach the place where the Spirit is in control (perfection).
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Today in the online webinar I learned perfect isn’t possible.  It isn’t even a thing.  Uggh!  Even for this overthinker, because my overthinking is overlaid with a tendancy to put everything in black and white, this is very hard to procsess, but . . . I will attempt to do so.

I would assume the teaching refers to our bodies (sinful natures) and souls; i.e., our humanness.  Because our spirit, the main part of us, was already complete (perfect) when it came to life at our salvation.  If our spirits were in control, we would not have to achieve perfection; it would already be present.

Unfortunately most of us live with our humanness in control, rather than our spirit.  We are not predominately led by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, it’s not possible to be perfect in this life, it is not possible to be 100% Spirit led 100% of the time.  The goal is to each day give up a larger percentage of our self (body & soul) to the control of the spirit alive within us who are born again.

There is a song currently popular in CCM called “Hard Love” by the group Need to Breathe.  One of the lines goes like this:  “It’s not enough to just feel the flame.  You’ve gotta burn your old self away”.  This is so radical.  I don’t even like feeling the flame!  Burning my old self away?  But consider:  When we let God “burn away” our old self (humanness/sinful nature) we will be free to experience life, real life, and peace of the supernatural variety rather than sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24 & 25), the only human being who ever was or will be perfect.

Note to me:  Quit trying to be perfect, let the Perfect One lead you.

Finding Balance

Although I try to keep my posts as positive as possible, I know transparency is of vital importance in benefitting anyone, especially me. So. . . here goes.

Today (written on Wednesday, January 24) was an all-out binge. I will probably put in my hand-written journal what it consisted of, but not here.

Yesterday was quite different. Felt like I walked in victory all day, thanking God for my lunch and asking him to help me stop when it was time—and He did. But. . . then I went out to Wal-Mart to kill some time before going to work and picked up ingredients for what is probably my current favorite binge. I did not binge yesterday, though.

The binge started today.

So, I guess the fail started yesterday at Wal-Mart and tonight as I sit here typing this, my stomach is about to bust out of the surrounding layer of adiposity—the large layer of adiposity; I am extremely uncomfortable physically. Because of this I am asking God, once again, to help me to turn and stating I will do my best to do so. My best in this area isn’t very good—that’s why His help is essential.

So does that mean I’m victorious since it only took me, what 29 hours from the fail to the repent. I do believe this is true repentance based on my current understanding of repentance. I’m not crying, I’m not deeply sorrowful, but I’m in enough physical pain to not want a repeat tomorrow. But at the same time, I’m scared it will happen anyway, no, probably not tomorrow, but perhaps as early as Friday.

I’m saving this until morning to post.

My plan is to rise an hour and a half earlier than necessary and spend the time with God, in prayer, Bible study, Bible reading, and meditation and to start memorizing Romans 8:5. Signing off 5:55 pm. . .
. . .
5:21 am Still in some physical pain due to the binge but of a different nature and not as intense. More like a 4 instead of the 7 it was last night.

And I caught a side glance of myself in form-fitting leggings in a full-length mirror as I walked past it. Not an auspicious beginning to my day. If I continued to walk in my flesh (sinful nature), I would be setting myself up for failure today. I cannot worry about tomorrow (Friday) because today has its own worries (Mathew 6:34)

But. . . I am still resolved to walk in the Spirit today. Yes, I saw my flesh in the mirror, but I will not be led by it. Interestingly, and so like God, my next verse to memorize in Romans is verse 5 which reads “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.”

Yesterday, I was dominated by the sinful nature. I thought about God from time to time, prayed several times throughout the day, and read about Him, but I was not controlled by the Holy Spirit. He is alive and well within me, but I chose to let the sinful nature be in control.

Today I choose to let Holy Spirit be in control. Thank you, Jesus, for sending Him as a comforter and guide.  It is now 5:31 am.

7:27 pm  Was I Spirit led or soul/flesh led today?

If I were to judge by my feelings, I would say the latter.  I did not feel particularly spiritual or spiritually insightful.  But, the Spirit was leading because there were no binges.  None.

The Lord did it!  (2 Samuel 5:20)

Devotionals

 

What do you think about them? Love them? Disdainful of them? Letting them collect dust on a shelf? Don’t throw them out yet. God speaks in a variety of ways, and today He spoke to me through one of them.

I have at least half a dozen—probably closer to a dozen—different devotionals in my library. Jesus is Calling, Pearls of Great Price, Starting Your Day Right, among others, and I have read daily devotions from each of them on various occasions, sometimes even from more than one at one sitting. I also have a couple I receive as emails.

Earlier today I read a blog by someone who had issues with devotionals in part because they sometimes take Bible verses out of context. I respect this particular blogger; she is spiritually wise, and she makes me think.

A minute ago as I sat down to write, I saw My Utmost for His Highest on top of a stack of books next to my computer and picked it up. The focus verse for today is Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”

This goes along well with an online Bible study I just became involved in which advises against following our own plans to solve our problems. Rather, we lean into God or turn to him.

In previous years, I have been taught that repentance requires tears and brokenness. Undoubtedly, turning from our own will and intellect and looking to God does require brokenness, even ultimately coming to the end of one’s self, but I don’t believe God always requires the production of tears before He will consider a heart repentant. In the right situation that even seems like it would be kinda’ fake. Don’t get me wrong—there are those who cry easily, and tears in those individuals could show true repentance. Even one who doesn’t cry easily may sometimes be overwhelmed by the magnitude of God’s love for her in spite of a willful and sinful heart.

So I did some research and found that the Old Testament word for repent is “sub” which in today’s jargon is a shortened form of the word substitute. Think of when a benched athlete is replaced with a sub. Perhaps the player being benched is wiped out, perhaps he has committed too many offenses to participate in the game well. It doesn’t mean he is no longer in the game. It only means he needs a sub.

I need a sub. I need to turn. To God.

God is talking to me, telling me to forget my own plans for salvation from bad habits. These plans have never worked and have little likelihood of working in the future. This was taught in the online session last Tuesday of my Bible study. “Forget your plan.” “Lean into God.” I didn’t understand it. How can this bad habit be eradicated without a plan?

My overthinking brain tries to plan everything! How can God expect me to give up this plan? Surely I will fall into total abandon to the sin.

God is stronger than my plans. God is stronger than my sin (bad habit). God is wiser than my intellect can begin to comprehend. So today, this minute, 10:54 am on January 22, 2018, instead of thinking about my plan, I turn to Him, sub my plan with my Abba Father, and I will be saved.

Father, I pray that everyone who reads these words, including me, would remember that this turning is not a one-time thing; it must be done daily, hourly, minute by minute, and even moment by moment. I pray we take captive every thought produced by our mind, examine it, store it or cast it away, relinquish our plans, and turn to you.

 

One Car, Seven Miracles

miracles
rear damageMiracle #2:  December 2016, Raspberry Shortcake after being rear-ended, while at a dead stop waiting to make a left-hand turn, by a small white car with an impaired driver going full speed.  The car had been following me on the 2-lane state highway for about 5 miles.  Watching in my rear-view mirror, I noticed right away there was something wrong since the car was weaving all over the road.  At first, I thought it was going to pass me on the shoulder.  Then it pulled back in close behind in me in the correct lane.  Over the next few miles the car would sometimes return to the shoulder and sometimes veer into the other lane.  More than once this nearly resulted in a head-on collision.  I continued my drive home praying this would not happen.  As I approached my turn, I considered not turning there but going on to the next small town and taking the long way home.  But this would still mean a left turn somewhere and a possible stop.  So I put my turn signal on and started to slow for my turn.  There was oncoming traffic, and I prayed the driver would not attempt to pass me.   I could see in the mirror it was not slowing down; it was rushing at me much too quickly.  I considered driving off in the ditch, but my car is a stick-shift with a small engine, and I didn’t think I could generate enough speed to get out of the way.  Even if I did, what if she chose to follow me into the ditch?  So I prayed for safety for both of us and braced for impact.  It’s amazing the things that goes through the mind in what had to be a length of time of a second or less.

I heard and felt the impact.  Then just sat there for a minute, trying to assess my injuries.  There didn’t appear to be any!  Hallelujah!  Then I went into hysterics.  Just like when my husband died, I couldn’t make my fingers dial 911.  When they finally did, the operator had a hard time understanding me until I calmed.  They had me go check the condition of the other driver.  The car was being driven not by one who had consumed too many drinks and/or drugs but by a lady a little older than me.  I didn’t smell any alcohol, but she appeared dazed.  I asked her if she was all right, and she told me she was.  The operator asked for my assessment of her condition.  I told him she was impaired, not apparently by substances but perhaps by a medical condition.  Could they please send an ambulance?  While awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel, I strongly advised the woman to go to the hospital when they arrived.  When they did, they checked us both out.  She did not go to the hospital.  The only injury I suffered was a nail avulsion to my right thumb, perhaps from gripping the steering wheel so hard at the time of impact.  Amazingly enough, neither vehicle had airbag deployment.

While I sat there waiting for the police officer to complete the report, I began to think.  Overthinking or normal thinking?  What if the lady hadn’t hit me at that precise location?  What if I’d made the choice to go on and make my turn later?  It was easy to imagine her head onning a semi or perhaps a car filled with a family.  And I thanked God that she had rear ended me!  Miracle #3:  We had both emerged from the collision relatively unscathed.

But I was worried about my car.

When I assessed the damage, it really didn’t look all that bad.  The police report estimated it over $1500, but all I could see was the crack in the bumper.  Then I noticed the hatch wouldn’t latch properly and suspected there must be more damage than I could see.  So I started praying Raspberry wasn’t totaled.  Yes, I was grateful that my life and the life of the other driver were spared, but I didn’t want to lose my car.

The body shop assured me it wasn’t totaled, and the original estimate was nearly $4000.  But once they started working, they found the floor of the back compartment needed replacement.  That took the total cost up to early $5000.  Miracle #4:  I wonder, if they had known about that damage to start with, would the car have been considered a total loss?  Perhaps.  In that case, God answered my prayer for the sparing of my car by having a large portion of the damage not be apparent until the repairs had already begun.  A couple weeks later, I had Raspberry Shortcake back good as new.

***

front damageMay 2017.  Collision with a deer.  On that same highway where the rear end accident occurred.

Miracle #5:  Again, no injuries to me.  Not sure about the deer.  Again, no airbag deployment.  Another call to 911.  Since there were no injuries, a policeman was not sent; instead, they conducted a telephone interview.  Miracle #6:  While we were talking, a man who lived in a nearby house and had heard the collision came out to make sure I was okay.  I tried to get out of the car to look at the damage.  Some of it was readily visible from inside the car, but I wanted to see its extent.  Getting out of the car was not all that easy.  The driver’s door wouldn’t open.  So I made my way awkwardly across the gear shift, and the good Samaritan helped me out of the car.

I was heartbroken when I saw the damage.  Surely, if that minor damage from the December accident had been so close to a total loss, this one would be.  The man could see I was upset by this possibility and raised the hood to look at the inside damage.  He reported that nothing appeared to be damaged in the engine compartment; there was no leaking of fluids or other obvious damage.  It looked like the damage was all cosmetic.  I thanked him but was still believing I was going to lose Raspberry Shortcake.

The body shop could not believe I was back so quickly with more serious collision damage to my beautiful car.   Miracle #7:  Amazingly, this time the estimate was less than the first time, only $3500.  There were no hidden issues that arose, and the car was back in my possession this time in less than a week.

***

fixed car

I have been the blessed observed and receiver of several miracles through this car.

The first was simply owning it!

Miracle #1:  Rod’s last gift to me.

After paying for his funeral, there was about $11,000 left.  I was driving a high-mileage car, the last in a long line of them, and was doubtful about its ability to see me through the remainder of my driving days.  My grandmother drove until she was nearly 80!  So I began to look for something small (good gas mileage), less than 5 years old with fewer than 50,000 miles on it.

Let’s backtrack a bit here.  Several years ago, there was a television show called “Psych” that my kids and I liked to watch–okay, that I liked to watch.  One of the main characters drove a little blue Toyota Yaris.  I wasn’t crazy about the color (wouldn’t neon green or sunny yellow have been better?–I never even considered a car in my favorite color, hot pink!), but I liked the look of it.  Maybe it came in other colors.  Maybe I could even afford it!  I went to the dealership and looked at that car.  It was just as cute in person, but way out of my budget.  That was a good thing because just a few years later I married Rod.  At 6 feet 2 inches and 350 pounds, I don’t think it would have been very comfortable for him.

Now, with the $11,000 I started my search for the perfect used car.  I never was able to find any used Yaris’s, so I started to look for similar cars.  Something like a Honda Fit or Chevy Sonic.  Every time I found one in a pretty color, like yellow or green, it would be sold before I had a chance to even look at it.  My brother-in-law suggested I check out the Mitsubishi Mirage.  I might even be able to get a brand new one of those for the price of a used one of the others.  I was already familiar with the Mitsubishi make.  In 2001, shortly after my divorce was final,  my father co-signed a loan for a 1998 Mitsubishi Gallant.  (He passed away 7 months later.)  It had 51,000 miles on it and was absolutely beautiful.  My car at the time was a 1986 Nova which was on its last legs.  I drove that wonderful car until 2010 when it had over 250,000 miles on it.  It died, and no one could seem to figure out why.  It became the first in that succession of high-mileage vehicles.

One Tuesday I had free, I went to several large towns in central Illinois to look at some things in person.  I’d made appointments at several dealerships to look at specific cars, but at each one when I arrived the car I wanted had already been sold.  My last stop was the Mitsubishi dealership.

The salesman told me he could get me into a new car for less than $11,000.  First, we took a test drive in a red one.  It was nice but didn’t have cruise control.  I have a heavy foot at times and need that to avoid possible tickets.  Red would have been okay.  After all, it’s not black, white, or silver.  But 2 of my last 3 cars had been red, and something different would be nice.  Plus I wasn’t thrilled with the lack of cruise control.

Just a couple stalls away sat a hot pink one.  He asked if I knew how to drive a stick.  Yes, the car I drove up in was manual transmission.

So we hopped in that car and took another test drive.  I was in love.  Not only was the car new, I could pay cash for it, but it was fuschia!  I bought it on the spot, knowing that it was one last gift from my generous husband.

It has been a fantastic car, protecting me through two accidents (with the help of God), getting gas mileage of about 40, and able to hold my precious granddaughters’ car seats in the back.

Just last Friday, I took it in for its 30,000 miles checkup.  While helping me complete the paperwork, the technician told me there was a recall on the car due to the Miracle #8  airbags system needing its computer adjusted.  I was surprised having heard nothing about it, but it was free, so I told them to go ahead.

Later, though, it occurred to me that had those airbags had to be reset after either of my accidents, the estimate would probably have gone over the total amount limit.  So, by there being a flaw in the airbag system, now fixed, I had been able to keep my last gift from Rod.

Conviction or Condemnation?

identity in christRomans 8:1 There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

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A couple of years ago, I felt inspired to memorize Romans 8.  There is so much good stuff in that one somewhat lengthy (38 verses) chapter.  I am about halfway through this process.  While learning, of course, I’ve recited verse 1 over and over again.  It became quite clear to me this morning why.

Recently I allowed the enemy to place a spirit of condemnation on me.  It was so heavy, nearly incapacitating.  It began with an innocent comment of correction made by another Christian.   Although a dozen other people were present and heard the comment, I felt, probably correctly, I was the primary intended recipient.

At first, I took it as a conviction from God, and I told her so and thanked her.  Of course, part of me was hoping for a statement along the lines of “That wasn’t spoken for you” or even “it was just a general recommendation” which, of course, could have still meant the admonition was for me.  She didn’t say either of those things.

But as I stewed over it and stewed over it, I realized that the words spoken in innocence had brought a deep sense of condemnation over my soul.

No sooner had I realized this than God reminded me of what he said in Romans 8:1.  Then he told me he was pleased with me, that I was doing everything he required.  Right now that reminds me of a time in the hospital fighting cancer where a nurse encouraged me that, although I was still throwing up nearly everything I ate, was not very ambulatory, and was recovering from colon surgery at a painstakingly slow pace, I was doing everything they required of me; that was enough.  It didn’t mean that I was to stop trying to get better; it did mean that I wasn’t a “bad” or “flawed” person.

God doesn’t give us all the same life journeys.  Mine has taken me down wrong roads of my own choosing and those chosen by others.  Because of this, there is much to overcome in my journey to learn to love the way Jesus does.  Chiefly is to learn to love myself the way Jesus does.  After all, the Bible tells us in Matthew 22:39 “And the second (greatest commandment) is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If one doesn’t love herself the way God does—and how can she with a giant weight of condemnation pressing upon her soul—it would be unwise to love others in like manner.  We must get a grasp of the true love of God for us.

The Bible study The Forgotten Way by Christian writer Ted Dekker, is a great means to this end.

It goes without saying that spending much time in the living Word of God is even better.

I am not condemned.

Neither are you, dear reader, if you are in Christ Jesus (as a believer).  We are loved with a love that we cannot begin to understand.

Father, help me to understand to the ability of my finite mind how to fully experience and then express your love.  Help me assimilate and then act with the perfection of my spirit, which is already complete in You, how to experience and express your love. 

Forgive my unbelief, increase my faith, and increase my love.  I love You, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Surrender

fire

Today I made a sacrifice.

I spent the morning at one of my jobs working alone on a once-a-year project.  My current favorite binge food was right there next to the computer.

Yesterday at OACF there was a prophetic word spoken that chains were being broken.  I was at the altar before the Lord at the time, and I took this as a Rhema word for me.  That the chains that held me prisoner to my stomach were being broken.

Yet here I was sitting at work 24 hours later with my go-to binge food at hand.

I started Grace and Strength back on July 26, 2-1/2 month ago.  My first month in the program I lost over 20 pounds!  Then the 2nd weekend in September, I took my eyes off Jesus and settled them on the waves (recent loss of husband, home, and worldly identity) and fell in.  That resulted in an 11-pound weight gain in 2 days!

But Grace and Strength didn’t kick me out then . . .or today when I reported to my coach my struggles continue.  I thank God for April.

I also felt God telling me to take the remains of my binge home and burn them on a sacrificial fire symbolizing my complete surrender of my will with regard to food.  I felt led to pray “Father, from this point on, may I run to you the way I ran to this food today.”  I didn’t add “Replace the pleasures derived from consuming this with a pleasant sensation or other good reason to do so.”

Then just a few minutes ago I heard Francis Chan speaking about a sin with which many Christians are judgmental.  He lumped it together with all other sins as being a problem of lack of surrender.  They way he stated everything absolutely made sense.  He stated there may be something God asks us to do that we absolutely do not want to do.  If we don’t do it, it is sin.  We MUST do it.  God is God and we are not.

So God brought everything back into perspective.  My church’s tagline is “Church of a Second Chance”  Thank God the word “Second” is just a word, and his mercies are new every morning—infinite.

Why Now?

This is not my first attempt at a blog.  A couple years ago I was encouraged to create one by my publisher to promote “Fearless In Euroclydon”.  That publisher went out of business.  The website, likewise, no longer exists.

So why revisit blogging?  Why now?

While still dealing with some of the storms described in the book, more Euroclydons have hit:  the loss of my husband to death, the loss of my home to bankruptcy, and the loss of my identity.

Whoa. . . . !  Hang on a minute there.  The loss of my identity?

Let me rephrase–the loss of my identity as I knew it.

I am no longer a wife.

My children are grown, and though I’m still their mother my role in their lives is significantly reduced.

I no longer have my own home, my own space.  I now live with my mother.  While there are benefits in this arrangement to both of us, I definitely miss my alone time and take it where I can find it

So. . .

I have thrown off my earthly identity (or was it ripped from me?) and am taking on a new one.   One that has been with me for 40 years but I couldn’t recognize it through the layers of other roles I put on myself, some good, some not so much so.

My true identity is that of a daughter of the Living King.

The problem?  The old me, Jacqueline Lisa McDougall (JLM) still wants to be in control of her life both in and out of storms.  The real JLM (Jesus Loves Me) is learning how to relinquish control completely to the Lover of my soul.  Such a slow and, yes, painful process.

At this point, I don’t plan to promote this site; that may change in the future.  If you happen on it by accident and find within my ramblings something that speaks to you, come along for the ride.  And I would love to hear from you.  My email is jacquelinemcdougall@ymail.com