7500 + 8600 + 6200 = 22,000

NO     IT     DOESN’T!

I’m working on reading through my Bible in 3 months. I did this once before, the first 3 months of 2014. There was great benefit to it that year, even though as I was doing the actual reading I recognized I wasn’t getting too much out of my speed read. . . other than the supernatural benefit God undoubtedly bestowed on me for this act of worship. And it WAS an act of worship because I was surrendering my time (1/2 to 1 hour each day) to learning about Him. The external benefits were seen throughout the rest of that year.

In July of 2017, another time I was reading through the Bible, albeit at a more leisurely pace, I came across some verses that gave me pause.

Any time I read “through the Bible” from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22, I struggle with the last 3 books of the Pentateuch. I enjoy Genesis and Exodus, but when I hit Leviticus I experience more than a bit of trepidation.

Well, last week, I had made it to the 4th book of the Pentateuch, Numbers, and I was in chapter 3. Where I noticed my own notes from July of 2017. I hope you can read my chicken scratch.numbers 3

 

In case you can’t, I’ll summarize. 7500 (v22) + 8600 (v28) + 6200 (v34) = 22,300 . . . not 22,000 (v39)!

God created everything. He created numbers. He created arithmetic. He certainly would have no trouble adding up a group of three 4-digit numbers. Would he? Maybe he was rounding off? But no, He didn’t do that a couple pages later in Numbers 4:34-48. So what was going on in chapter 3?

In 2017, after reading this and making my chicken-scratch notes, I moved on, chalking the addition mistake up to something I wasn’t supposed to understand. See Psalm 131. You know, like why did God create the devil?

As an aside, I will sometimes use this question as a way to rate preachers who come across my path. If they answer this question when put to them with “I don’t know,” my respect for them increases exponentially. How could anyone possibly know the answer to that question? Pastor Gary, you are the first one to come to mind. Thank you, and God bless you, for answering this way. You and your wife are tremendous blessings to me and everyone who has the pleasure of knowing you.

So, for whatever reason, God allowed a mathematic mistake to appear in the New Living Translation of the Bible. (It is also present in the NIV and even the KJV and OJB).

This time (2019) though, I noticed in my footnotes regarding verse 28 the statement “Some Greek manuscripts read 8300; see total in 3:39”.

An explanation! One I didn’t even notice during my speed read in 2014.

Although this appeared in the footnotes and not in the actual text of the Word of God, in some ancient Greek manuscript, the addition was correct!

Okay, that’s enough of the Aspie moment. . body soul spirit

 

1 Thessalonians 5:23 I am a spirit. I live in a body. I have a soul (of which the brain part sometimes goes off on weird tangents as seen above). God generously fed all three this morning!

 

I heard 2 great sermons by 2 wonderful ladies. It was during the 2nd that the germ of the idea for this blog started growing in my mind.

The first sermon was practical, addressing how to worship God in one’s body. The phrase bodythat stood out to me was “don’t react; respond.” Since I heard that same phrase recently from my counselor, it jumped out at me.

My mouth is a part of my body. When the stressor hits, my mouth almost always reacts rather than responding. This doesn’t just hurt the person with whom I’m engaging; it inflicts a deep wound on me. There are enough people and things to wound us in this world; God help me not be another!

It was suggested that before responding (not reacting), one engages the brain (soul) and think “What would Jesus do?”

When do I actually take the time to do this? Practically never. No, actually never. That has to stop.

Father, I pray right now, no matter the situation, help me to respond rather than react.

The whole sermon, even the Children’s Moment, focused on how to worship God in practical ways. Thank you, Barbara, for allowing yourself to be used by the Lord in an act of worship.

The 2nd sermon was a spiritual feast, focusing spiriton worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth and some ways this might look. Some of these ways are more difficult for me than others; but if we boil it down to its lowest common denominator “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) it becomes very clear what type of worship God desires from me, from you, from anyone who loves Him and seeks to honor and glorify Him. Since we were each uniquely created (Psalm 139:13-14—although this verse does not use the word “unique” if you read it carefully, I think you’ll agree it must mean that. God is Creator and supremely creative. Why would He create any two of us exactly the same?)

Thank you, Wendy, for allowing yourself to be used by the Lord in an act of worship.

The 3rd experience was a ministry to my soul, but it was not a sermon. It was God soulspeaking to me directly in several different ways. Don’t you love it when he does that? He certainly doesn’t have to, but He does it because He loves us so much and desires intimate communion with us.

There was an altar call at the end of the service, the first part of which was for those desiring salvation.

The 2nd was for those whose repeated prayers for a specific need were seeming to go unanswered.

Anyone who knows me at all knows the vast majority of my prayers focus on one thing. It may not be the right thing for them to focus on, but God created me to be this way. Who am I to go against that?

There were already elders and deacons waiting at the altar to pray for people, but I felt God telling me to ask my beloved sister, Paula, to go forward and pray for me. She said yes, I grabbed her hand, and away we went.

We both started crying almost immediately, but the words she prayed were exactly what I needed. . . AND . . . I suspect they may have benefited her as well.

When we returned to our seats, she told me that while we were at the altar she had heard these words from the Lord.

“They are yours.”

They are yours?

Why would God tell me that? They are not mine. They are/were only on loan to me; they belong to God.

I asked her to clarify; was “yours” the pronoun He used? Are you sure it wasn’t “Mine”? (meaning God’s)

No, it was “yours”.

I pondered this as I drove home from church, and the germ of this blog grew into a small seedling.

And I realized those words were truly for me. The issue/need doesn’t belong to me. The need itself belongs to God. Whenever I’m feeling stress concerning this need; in other words, just about every day if not every waking moment, I am to remind God (like He needs reminding) “They are Yours!” How freeing! This burden it much too great for me to bear. It is not too great for my Father!

Of course, I’m not really reminding God of a thing!

Thank you, Paula, for allowing yourself to be used by the Lord in an act of worship.

I’m reminding myself. I’m renewing my mind (incidentally, the title of Barbara’s sermon was “Renewal”).

So, I’ve now come full circle. Which means it’s time to close. By close, I mean proofread, edit, add some stuff, take away some other stuff, re proofread, re edit, and in maybe an hour (it actually wound up being about an hour and a half) or so submit this for someone to read. . . and . . . hopefully benefit from &/or be inspired by.

God bless you.

Failer?

Last night was my granddaughter’s 5th birthday party. After the birthday festivities concluded, the oldsters congregated around the dining table for some games and laughter.

One of the games was called Quidditch (but that couldn’t have been the name because I just looked it up and that is a sport in the Harry Potter movies, but it was something like that) and involves making sentences out of word cards you are dealt. Like in the more familiar game of Scrabble, word choices can be challenged.

My son played the word “failer” of which another player and I were skeptical with me commenting on it after the play. He gave a definition of “one who failed”.  I reminded him the correct word (according to current grammar dictates) is “failure”. I didn’t challenge the play since it was late and I was tired, but his step-mother did. She won the challenge as the word “failer” does not appear in the Webster online dictionary she used.

Failer

But I was thinking about these words this morning as I was driving home from church having just heard 2 exceptional sermons. The main point I got from the first, at the Methodist Church, was that we should follow God’s plan for us–even if it may not appear logical, or even if we don’t feel like the logical person for such a plan–especially if God himself has told us this is his plan for us. The second sermon, at OACF, had several main points, but the one I took home was that when our hearts are troubled we can crawl up in God’s lap.

Well, my heart was troubled over something that happened recently. As an Aspie, it is difficult for me to envision myself being on God’s lap held securely in his arms of limitless strength and gentleness. But I know he created us in his image, so he has a lap and his arms have unlimited strength; and, like always when this scenario is mentioned, and I need it, I tried to envision it and even feel it, with modest success.

Then I remembered (or more likely he reminded me) of a time shortly after my dad’s death when the pastor of the church I attended at the time enfolded me in what I can only describe as a “bear” hug. It is what I refer to as a “squeezy” hug to my grandchildren. It’s my favorite kind of hug, but it is the sort most men, or women, for that matter, will not give to a woman; and in today’s world, I can certainly understand why. I later found out his wife had told him I needed one of the hugs like he gave his children and grandchildren. I was so grateful to both of them because it had been at the time something essential to my soul.

This is the kind of hug I think God gives. It is not a sideways hug. It is not a perfunctory placement of arms around another person in a half-hearted embrace. It is not a cautious hug given with a fear of being rejected by the recipient. It is not something that lasts a fraction of a second and not a fraction of a second longer.

 

It is a perfect hug.

 

I cannot feel it physically, but I have learned to feel it in my heart. It is especially necessary that I receive these hugs on occasions when I feel like a failure.

I was feeling a bit that way this morning. Yes, even after just having heard/received two life-affirming, soul-refreshing sermons.

Then, while still in my mind picturing being on God’s lap and in his arms, I realized. . .

. . .even though it may seem like my mind was skipping around like a feather tossed by a wind. . .

I like the word failer much better than failure.

As Rory put it, failer is simply someone who fails; in other words, everyone.

Whereas failure could be applied to a situation, it is a word which should never be applied to a human being’s character.

Sometimes I could be called a failer; but I am not a failure, never have been, and God has never called me this.

Nor are you a failure, dear brother or sister. According to Revelation 12:11, you are an overcomer. Most of the time to achieve an overcomation (another word I made up several years ago but like a lot), one must experience failures (not a person, just an experience) sometimes a lot of them, before success/victory.

Do you think I can request a new word be added to the dictionary?

Why Do You Believe?

WHyRead:

1 Kings 10:1, 6-9 & John 20:24-29

In the story of the Queen of Sheba, the queen comes to a belief in God because of the biblesmighty works He had performed in Solomon’s life and the immense wealth with which Solomon had been blessed.

In the story about Thomas, first Jesus miraculously appears in a locked room, inviting Thomas to touch his marked body (so he wasn’t a ghost!), The scene concludes with Jesus saying, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I have neither achievements nor great wisdom like Solomon. Neither do I have wealth and all the things it can buy. And, unlike Thomas, I have never been in the presence of the crucified and risen Jesus in the flesh. So I am one of those people who have not seen and yet have believed. So are you. Jesus tells us we are blessed!

Why can we believe this quote of Jesus, spoken 2000 years ago? How do we know anything, much less everything in the Bible is true? How do we know that upon which our faith is based is worth that faith? If we don’t know the answers to these questions, how reliable will others consider our testimony, or our story of our faith walk thus far?

Listen to these quotes from a couple guys with far more wisdom and education than I.

C S Lewis said: “Nearly everyone I know who has embraced Christianity in adult life has been influenced by what seemed to him to be at least a probable argument for theism.”

A W Tozer: “The Bible is not addressed to just anybody. Its message is directed to a chosen few…Some believe and some do not; some are morally receptive and some are not; some have spiritual capacity and some have not. It is to those who do and are and have that the Bible is addressed. Those who do not and are not and have not will read it in vain…As the pillar of fire gave light to Israel but was cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, so our Lord’s words shine in the hearts of His people but leave the self-confident unbeliever in the obscurity of moral night.”

Some come to Jesus through the heart. The heart has two extremes: love and fear. Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe that hate is the opposite of love; fear is.heart From those 2 opposite ends of the heart, Jesus reaches in. I came to Jesus because I had a desire to know and show love the way I saw in believers I met in a tiny store-front church in 1978; I know of others who came because of fear of judgment and hell.

brainOthers come to Christ through an intellectual experience. Most of those are people who could be called apologists or those who make reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine. People like C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.

All ultimately come to experience faith in both theirs heads and hearts after saying “yes” to the promptings of the Holy Spirit at which point the spirit within them, dormant to this point, springs to life and they are “born again”.

How does anyone reach the point of accepting Jesus? 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “God chose you”. You may feel like you chose him, either via one end of your heart or the other or through your head, but. . . He chose YOU.

chosen

How does this make you feel?

It makes me feel really special, even when I read elsewhere in Scripture that he “chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, (I especially like that one because that pretty much sums up all the others) so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God”

If you’ve ever experienced bullying, chances are it was by someone considered by society to be “smart”, “strong”, “elevated”, or “popular.” But don’t start thinking here is your chance to get revenge. God loves those people, too, yes, even bullies, and should they choose to accept His invitation into His kingdom, they, too, will be considered chosen.

1 Peter 2:9 states that in addition to being a chosen people, “we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, so that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

That all perhaps explains the “how” of why you believe; but what is the why? Have you ever thought about it? How do you know that you know that you know Jesus lived 2000 years ago, died a torturous death, rose from the dead after 3 days, and is alive today just waiting for the Father to give Him permission to come take his believers to the wedding feast?

There are many reasons I know he is real.

  1. There was the time he stayed in the chair by my bed when I was in the middle of my 2nd hospital stay for colon cancer.
  2. Another time I was crying to him desperately wanting an answer to the question “what is my purpose in life?” His answer: “Your purpose is to glorify me.” This was about 15 years ago during a time in my life I didn’t see there was any way I could do that. Now, not only do I know it’s possible, I’ve received confirmation of this being my purpose over and over again. Indeed, I’m attempting to do that through the words you are reading.
  3. Another great example is him allowing me have Rod McDougall in my life as my husband for 6 years. Through that human man, God did a great deal toward restoring me to the person he originally created me to be. Do you think I would’ve been able to speak in front of groups of people of varying sizes at the end of 2008 (10 years ago)? Would I have been brave enough to write this very intimate blog to whomever chooses to read it? Neither was at all likely.

Why is it important you know why you believe?

Our country in the year 2018 is not just a post-Christian country, it is now clearly a divided country as well. The reasons for this are varied, and I doubt anyone could ever begin to explain all of them, but they all boil down to one major fact – we made the choice to take God out of our country, in some cases, even out of our churches!

The pastor at the church my husband and I attended was (and is) driven by a passion for evangelism, both here and abroad. The church takes several missions trips each year. But two of the biggest functions are here in America. Family Fun Day is in July, an event to which the community is invited for free food, games, and entertainment along with some fairly valuable giveaways. The caveat? To win the prizes, individuals must stay for the sermon which is the last event of the day. And in November, just last Sunday in fact, they hosted the community Thanksgiving dinner to which everyone is invited, free of charge, not just the destitute, but everyone because really, everyone, if they don’t know Jesus, is destitute in the worst way.

I raised my children in church. They know who God and Jesus are and it would be impossible for them to ever forget. As my son frequently reminds me, I had them in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. His statement that we were in church for 4 hours on Sunday mornings, though, is a slight exaggeration.

Do you know that there are people, principally millennials (a group into which both my children fall), who don’t have a clue who God or Jesus is and believe that the Bible is akin to Grimm’s Faerie Tales?

grimmUnbelievable. But shockingly true. I’ve heard of missionaries from other countries saying that America is now their mission field and it is one of the most difficult to harvest.

If you were to engage in conversation with one of these 20 to 30 year olds and causally mention God, Jesus, or the Bible in the conversation and they were to respond in a way indicative of their complete lack of knowledge, what would you do? Could you explain, in a way that would make sense to them, why you believe?

The easiest way is by simply sharing your own testimony.

How has God worked in your life?

I’ve given three of my reasons above. There are many more. Your reasons will not be the same as mine. You will have many, too. Many people like to journal. This blog (and the sermon from which it was derived) are simply “cleaned-up” versions of ideas in my journal.

Why don’t you make a list of the reasons you believe? Put it somewhere prominent, where you’ll see it frequently. Memorize it. Yes, it’s your life and you know it well; but can you relate your life story in a way that will be interesting and understandable to others? Practice. Practice. Practice.

What if you’re one of those rare and incredibly blessed individuals whose life has never gone off the rails and you think your story is too dull? If that’s the case—and I doubt it—God can use you to help others who are just like you, except they don’t yet know Him.

What do you do if you feel like your faith isn’t strong enough for you to be able to present a convincing argument? There are several verses that address this. Check out Matthew 17:20 and Mark 9:24.

In the latter we (and Jesus) encounter a man who has both faith and unbelief. Can you relate?

But listen! Jesus didn’t rebuke the man. He healed the child.

Neither does he rebuke or reject us for our unbelief. AND, he will still meet the need regardless of the quantity/quality of our faith.

1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

There are many good books out there on apologetics. Check with Amazon, Good Reads, or CBD and find one you think will best answer your questions.

Of course, your best resource is always going to be the Bible. The other books were written by men and are therefore subject to human interpretation and human error.

Bible Reading Plans

For the past 2 ½ years at the end of each month, I’ve placed a Bible reading plan in the bulletins used by the 3 churches. I know of at least 2 ladies who followed it religiously, even commenting if I was ever delayed getting it to them.

Starting in January I will discontinue this and instead post it to the churches’ website which is centralprairieumc.org. Even if you know you’ve probably read the Bible in its entirety at least once due to sermon and Bible study notes, it is sooo beneficial to read it through from beginning to end

If you really want a challenge, and a great start to 2019, I’m going to suggest something I’ve only managed to accomplish once in my life, in 2014, reading through it in the first 3 months.

Such an endeavor does not allow for much in-depth study, but I believe God supernaturally increases the knowledge of one who commits to this.

If you’d like to join me on this journey (it requires a time commitment of ½ to 1 hour each day, depending on how fast you can read), I’ll post that plan to the website as well. One suggestion I would make: each time you begin to read, before you begin ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the Truth to you and enable the Rhema word to become Logos word for you. I can’t think of a single reason he would say no to such a request.

homework

1. Write out your why. This would be your testimony. Memorize it so you can easily share it whenever the occasion presents itself. Ideally that would be every day.

2. Read your Bible beginning to end.

3. Add to your testimony (your why) as God does new miracles in your life.

 

Father God, Help me stick to my commitment to figure out my why. I pray You will honor that commitment by making your Word come alive to me in such a way that sharing my faith-walk story with others won’t be something fearsome but rather something joyful, that it will turn from a chore into one of my favorite things to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Falling Up

high tree top

Psalm 139:16

You saw who you created me to be before I became me!

Before I’d ever seen the light of day,

the number of days you planned for me

were already recorded in your book.

 

 

Today after breakfast I was sitting at the kitchen table, just relaxing and daydreaming before starting my day. Every few seconds a leaf would flutter gently to the ground. Some of the leaves were large, some small, some brightly colored, others more muted. I thought about how precious each was, how wondrously alive it had been just a few seconds earlier. I realized God saw each of them fall. Not just that, but he knew it would happen before it happened! God knows everything after all. Next, I wondered about the leaf itself as though it had the capacity for conscious thought. And I wondered, was the leaf clinging soooo tightly to the branch on which it lived its life only releasing its tenacious hold when it no longer had the strength to hang on?

Is that how we are as regards our earthly life? Are we clinging soooo tightly to that which holds us to this earth? Consider especially the weights, those things that hold us down emotionally and spiritually but for whatever reason we refuse to release.

And life itself. . . what of that?

Before I faced cancer, I would have said yes, I’m clinging to this earthly life with a choke-hold grip. I wasn’t afraid of death, but I was a bit afraid of the process of dying. Would it hurt? Would it be scary to be unable to draw a breath sufficient to maintain life?

No longer. I gave my book the title Fearless in Euroclydon for a reason

At the beginning of 2017, my first full year without Rod, I believe God gave me the idea of falling up. Of course, since then I see He’s given several others the same idea. Or maybe I’d seen it in someone else’s writing to start with. I choose to believe he gave it to me, and somehow the others copied me!

In my journal for 2017 (the one I lost last year—I hope someone is enjoying my weird musings!), at the front, I drew a picture of a large tree losing its leaves, but they were falling up! Toward the heavens.

And I realized that’s what God wants each of us to do. When we let go of the weak (because that’s what it actually is!) hold we have on our life here—its dreams and nightmares, blessings and curses, loves and fears, all fleeting in nature—we have nowhere to fall but up. Into his arms.

Into the dreams, blessings, and love that He gives.

Into the eternal. . .

funny
The verse with which I started this post was taken from The Passion Translation of the Bible which is poetically written and quite beautiful. I had to literally fight my typing fingers not to replace the word “were” in the last line with the grammatically correct “was” since the subject of the sentence is the singular “number”.

Life on the Spectrum

 

 

puzzle brain

Famous Ones Currently Living With It

There are many. Here are a few that appear on just about every list I found:

Dan Akroyd – Actor/Comedian

Susan Boyle — Award-winning singer

Daryl Hannah — Actress

People Who are Famous Because of It

Temple Grandin — Author

Historical Figures Believed to Have Had it

Abraham Lincoln — President, The Great Emancipator

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) Writer

Albert Einstein — Scientist

Famous Christians with It

Brent Hansen – Christian radio host

Perry Stone — Pastor/Evangelist

Fictional Characters appearing to Have It

We are talking about Asperger’s, or as it is now known high-functioning Autism.

For years I have suspected I am an Aspie. There are too many signs of it starting with fairly significant bullying when I was a child. I won’t go into detail on that here–maybe in a future blog. There were some hygiene issues which at the time were attributed to laziness but which recently (just this past week) I was surprised to discover are fairly common among Aspies. One of them I still struggle with to this day, but I’ve learned a workaround for it which sorta works.

As an older child and an adult, I experienced social difficulties that cannot really be explained by simple shyness. I have no trouble speaking in front of large groups of people, providing I am speaking something I have previously written and carefully edited to remove comments others would consider inappropriate. And I can do okay talking to one person at a time. groupBut bring in a third person, and I will shut down – even with my sisters whom I am closer to than probably anyone in my life. I remember one time as a young adult being in a car with both of them on the way to see a movie and them both jabbering away, and feeling a little lost because I didn’t know how to enter in.

Over the years I’ve gotten fairly good at “appearing to fit in.” I suspect the people who know and love me the best are so used to my quirks they no longer even notice them.

But. . . there are some problems with pretending to be normal. towel

“Normal” and “perfect” are 2 words which need to be taken out of all dictionaries!

Which brings up another trait of Asperger’s. We have to have alone time, much more than the average person. This is not selfishness. It is alone time.pngnot self-centeredness as many well-meaning people believe. It is an aspect of the way our brains are wired. When I was married to Rod, a wonderful man who didn’t have too many difficulties with my oddities, and no problems whatsoever socializing, he understood this about me. He didn’t believe I had Asperger’s, although his daughter did. He simply thought I’d had too many bad things happen to me and it had altered my personality. It that were true, his personality would have been way more shut down than mine. It was not. He was larger than life and loved by everyone who met him.

In the past couple years I’ve become involved with some Christian online support groups. Even with them the communication issues are readily apparent. A previous group leader admonished me more than once about my black and white thinking. I believe my current leader gets amused by my unusual way of sharing my thoughts. When it’s my turn to speak I try to get everything out in one rush of words so they can move on to someone else. After I finish speaking I will always mute myself so they can’t hear anything else that might slip out inadvertently. I don’t know how to insert myself into a conversation between the other people in the group. This group is actually very good. The women in it are super kind; they each struggle with their own things and aren’t bothered by mine.

This is not the case with other groups I’ve been in, as alluded to previously. Often when I try to communicate I usually start speaking at the exact moment as someone else, and I will let my voice fade away and not be heard. Clearly the other person’s opinion is more important.

How does being an Aspie fit into my true identity as a daughter of the King?

Not easily.

But it isn’t impossible.

Asperger’s is not a disability. Asperger’s is not a birth defect although one is born with it. It is simply a difference in the way the brain is wired. This can be a good thing.

First the bad:

It is difficult to mingle socially with other women, including, or maybe especially, Christian women. A group of women from my church is currently on a lady’s retreat. I look at the pictures they post on Facebook and think how much fun it looks like they’re having. Then I remember how hard it would be to have a conversation with any two or more of them, and I quickly remember why maybe it wouldn’t be so fun. But. . . I am no longer envious as I would have been not all that many years ago. I can enjoy the fact that they’re enjoying themselves, and I can sit out on the back deck and watch the month-old kittens playing with each other and truly enjoy that as much as what the women appear to be doing.

One big thing about Aspies is they usually have one thing they are intensely interested in, and it consumes a great deal of their time and energy. For a lot of my life, my interests were not at all productive. For another part of my life, my interests were my children and my husband. For part of my life it was learning how to get my life back after colon cancer.

The good?

Right now, with Rod gone nearly 3 years, my principal focus truly, and perhaps for the first time in my life, is on Jesus and my relationship with Him. 

You, see He doesn’t care that my brain is wired weird. In fact, I think maybe He even likes it, especially jesus loves menow that I’m focused on Him. Black & white thinking, overthinking, talking to myself (or is it thinking out loud?. . . or . . . am I actually talking to Him when others think I’m talking to myself?) don’t bother Him at all. If the words I speak to Him don’t come out exactly the way I intended, do you think His feelings might get hurt? Of course not. For one thing, He is perfect and therefore, cannot get His feelings hurt. Then there’s that little thing about Him knowing what I’m thinking and feeling before I say it or even before I think it. No, my Aspie quirks doesn’t bother him a bit.

One more reason to love Him!  i love jesus

Another advantage: I have to pray really, really hard before I speak at such events as Walk to Emmaus, churches, and book signings; otherwise, who knows what might come out of this mouth? People are not as understanding as Jesus, and they have no way of knowing that what I’m saying is not always what I mean to say. Sometimes I’ve had the delightful experience, usually at Walk to Emmaus, of having God actually take over when I’m speaking. You can’t imagine what a blessing that is on so many levels.

Another one: Truly great friends. I didn’t have my first non-relative best friend until I was 48 years old! But she was wonderful! She had Alzheimer’s so she could not remember any of the crazy things I said. The other good friends I’ve had have also been exceptional people; they have to be! That includes my sisters. I know of many sets of sisters who aren’t friends at all—they’re more like enemies. My sisters and I have always loved and supported one another.

God puts the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). For His reasons, he decided to wire me up with Asperger’s, so he knew I’d need the exceptional sisters of Jessie Alice and Jamie Jean, born when I was 1 and 5 years old. I will always be grateful!

Diagnosed at last! One month ago, I received the diagnosis of Asperger’s (also known as high-functioning Austism) along with PTSD & BED from my counselor. By the way, both of those can result from Asperger’s and the social fall-out from weird wiring.

Look at this statement I just found on http://www.lifeonthespectrum.net/blog/?page_id=1001 and wow! this whole blog is FANTASTIC!

Some other great websites:

http://www.aspergerministry.org/

http://christianaspie.com/

“I am no longer a failed normal person. I am a successful aspie.” And I would add to this “loved by Jesus!”.

Neuroplasticity — The Brainy Word for Re-“new”-ing Your Mind

renew

So here it is, 3 o’clock in the morning, got up to use the restroom 30 minutes ago, looked at Facebook, where a mentor had posted an interview with Dr. Caroline Leaf. I got back in bed, finished listening, and was unable to go back to sleep. Then I realized; I can’t sleep, might as well get up and do something. This.

who switchedI first became acquainted with the work of Dr. Leaf at a Walk to Emmaus several years ago when a co-worker gave me a book of hers called “Who Switched Off My Brain?” Although I found the book fascinating, its subject matter was way beyond anything I was able to assimilate in that season of my life.

Tonight when I saw a post by Cyndi Benson of Grace & Strength where she mentioned Dr. Leaf, it was like God was whispering “Here are two women you greatly respect joining forces, so to speak (although I don’t think the two have actually met), Cyndi’s post was a You Tube video of Dr Leaf being interviewed by a popular pastor. I’m sharing it here. Give it a listen–you won’t regret it.

—————–

One of the most amazing attributes of God, at least to my way of thinking, is how He makes things line up in my life at exactly the right time. Of course, Psalm 139 explains this very well. 2018, and the latter half of 2017 have been my “season of enlightenment” for lack of a better way to put this. the forgotten

Perhaps the beginning was even earlier, say the end of 2016 when I start reading “The Forgotten Way” by Ted Dekker. He is a Christian writer principally of fantasy fiction and is really into neuroplasticity.

 

Let’s look at this relatively new (at least to me) word:neuro. Its definition is “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.”

Then consider Romans 12:1-2 “1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

If this isn’t an excellent example of science catching up with God, I don’t know what is.

And God’s timing!

In 2011, the year I believe I received the book by Dr. Leaf, I was not at a place spiritually or emotionally to receive the information. God knew this (Psalm 139, verses 1, 2, 5, 6, 16, 23 and 24), and He knew I would be, at least partially, in 2016, 2017, ad 2018.

That put me on the path to obeying Romans 12:1 “presenting my body as a living sacrifice as a true act of worship” in taking these baby steps onto the path back to rediscovering the person God actually created me to be.

Through the Grace and Strength program I became cyberfriends with founder Cyndi Benson and one of her coaches, April Lindsay. Next came Finding Balance and the work of Constance Rhoades (founder of Finding Balance), Dr Megan Osborn (co-creator of the Peace with Food app!), Jeannette, Bethany, Christine, and the girls in my Thursday afternoon group all of whom have imparted a wealth of knowledge into my life. All of this because God allowed me to experience some little bothersome something called binge eating disorder.

This led to my decision to seek out “good” counseling. Now, I have attempted counseling in the past, each time a traumatic event occurred; i.e., my divorce, my father’s death, etc. However, I came away from each of these with the impression the therapist was operating under her own agenda rather than a sincere desire to help others.

This time, my search led me to 2 individuals. The first I only saw one time and developed an immediate rapport with her. Unfortunately, circumstances with her health only allowed the one visit. But this encouraged me to not give up, and I found my current counselor, Jolie. She is trained in both DBT and EMDR, and is covered by Medicare! Hallelujah!

I had a visit with her just yesterday, and she has given me homework assignments each week that are simple and will put me on the path to re-”new”-ing my mind.

Then tonight I see this video. . . you see the connection? One other really cool thing about this video, it became readily apparent to me that Mr. Furtick is an overthinker, and neither he nor Dr Leaf seemed to think this was a bad thing; in fact, they spent some time in somewhat convoluted conversation concerning thinking (overthinking?).

Finally, bringing all of this into pop culture, at least relatively “pop” culture: The Band Sister Hazel released their album “Fortress” in 2000 which included the song “Change Your Mind”. This song was featured in the closing credits of the 2000 movie Bedazzled, a Brendan Fraser comedy. The lyrics “If you wanna be somebody else, if you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself, if you wanna be somebody else, change your mind” fascinated me. In 2000, I was newly separated, learning the ropes of single parenting, and wondered how do I “change my mind.” Now it’s happening, and I’m excited not just for the result but perhaps even more the process.

https://binged.it/2QqLYHc

Now to go do some re-”new”-ing. . .

The Woman at the Well

woman-of-samaria-at-jacobs-wellAlthough the Bible is called the Word of God because every word in it comes from God, in many Bibles every word that Jesus spoke is written in red ink. The 4 gospels are full of red-letter words, and they appear elsewhere in smaller quantity.

There are several instances where the red words of Jesus are interspersed with black words spoken by one or more people. Among all the one-on-one conversations Jesus had, one is longer than any other.

  1. This conversation was with a woman.
  2. The woman’s name might have been Mary (in fact, her name was not given, but it could have been Mary). Side note: Whenever I think of Mary’s in the Bible, I always think of that poor woman at Jesus’ tomb in Matthew 27:61 who is called simply “the other Mary”. Maybe the woman at the well was the other Mary.
  3. She is probably just about the last person anyone living in that time would have imagined Jesus speaking with.

Something else you might notice about the Bible and every other book. The writing does not go clear to the edge of the page. There are white, blank spaces at the sides, top, and bottom of each page. Sometimes there might be footnotes, but even then, there will still be a blank space before the very edge of the page. There are spaces like this at the edges of this blog. These are called margins. You probably don’t even pay any attention to them, do you?

Margins are defined as being the edge or border of something, or the area outside the space where the action occurs. So, when a person is described as a marginalized individual he or she is someone on the outside looking in. This person lives in a place of loneliness. It can be a place of despair. It may be that no one even really notices the person.

The woman at the well, although clearly of at least average intelligence for a woman judging by the conversation she had with Jesus, was a marginalized person.

Was she born that way, destined to travel the road of life emotionally and spiritually alone?

I can see 3 possible reasons for her to live in the margins of life.

First, she was “the woman at the well”. So, yes, to some degree for that time in history she was marginalized simply due to her gender.

Second, she was a Samaritan, marginalized by her ethnicity. Again, born that way.

Lastly, she was living an immoral lifestyle.

Jesus was known for doing the opposite of what the religious leaders expected of Him. The Apostle John illustrates this fact through this account perhaps more clearly than any other.

Why was Jesus in Samaria?

It was the shortest route to his destination, and the reason John even mentions this becomes clear as we read further in the account.

Why was this such an odd thing? The Bible tells us Jews, particularly the religious Pharisees, tended to avoid going through Samaria at all.

To understand this, you have to go back nearly 1000 years. Although the trouble betweenisrael the Israelite tribes started all the way back in the days of Jacob (Israel), it was after one of Solomon’s servants rebelled against David’s son that the northern kingdom broke away. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained, and if you read 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles, you will see that the southern kingdom was maybe slightly more faithful to God than the northern kingdom, and thus existed for a longer period of OT time. The capital of the southern kingdom was Jerusalem. The northern kingdom had 3 capitals, of which the last was Samaria, and its people came to be known as Samaritans.

The traditions and religious practices of both kingdoms were still in existence in Jesus’ earthly time.

Jesus was of the southern kingdom—the Samaritan woman (and other Samaritans mentioned in the NT) are from the northern.

If you think about it, analogies can be made between the interactions between the Jews & Samaritans and the racial tensions and religious wars taking place today.

Jesus and the woman at the well are 2 people who should be enemies but instead have a deep and lengthy conversation.

Why did Jesus stop at Jacob’s well, in particular?

He was tired.

Jesus was at this exact location at this exact time because it was a shortcut to his destination — and he was tired. Those are the logical explanations.

But faith and logic often are not the same thing. Sometimes . . . they are opposites.

What was the ultimate result of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman?

Verse 39 “Many of the Samaritans believed. . .”

The first of them was the woman at the well.

She had been married 5 times. Since women were not permitted to divorce, that means 5 different men had divorced her. The reason could have been as simple as the husband tired of her. That still happens today. Whatever the reason, she had been rejected 5 times. My guess is her self-esteem had to be about nil after all that. It’s little wonder she was not married to the man she was living with at the time!

She drew her water at noon, the hottest part of the day. Possibly she had once drawn her water at the same time as the other women, the more normal and comfortable hour. Maybe the other women had scorned her which led to her eventually going to the well at a time she would not be judged. Yet Jesus, a man, a Jew, and a completely sinless human being, deigned to speak to her without contempt.

They discussed the differences between the water in the well and the water Jesus had. Since the well was “Jacob’s Well”, and Jacob was considered the father of the northern kingdom, this was considered the best water available. Yet, Jesus said the living water he offered was superior. If she drank of it, she would never thirst again.

The woman wanted this living water. She didn’t want to keep going to Jacob’s well every day at the hottest hour of the day. Jesus told her to go and get her husband, even though he knew she didn’t have one.

The woman was honest, and Jesus spoke, knowing everything about her, stated the facts of her life he knew would capture her full ate attention; but. . . there is no indication he was condemning her for her lifestyle.

Then followed a discussion of the proper place to worship with Jesus stating there is no one place to worship, all that is required is the attitude with which it must be done, that being in Spirit and in Truth.

Lastly He revealed to the woman that He was the long-awaited Messiah.

All these things together kindled the fire of the woman’s faith in Jesus.

Then the disciples showed up. They were surprised not to see him talking to a Samaritan or one who practiced immoral behavior, but to see him talking with a woman.

This brings up something interesting I noted when researching this.

bible skinny

Nearly all the translations read that the disciples were surprised only because he was talking with a woman. However, The Message translation/paraphrase, a current favorite of many people, reads as follows: “27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.”

Most of the other translations say nothing other than “a woman”, and none say anything about the disciples’ countenances.

The Passion Translation/Paraphrase (one of my favorites) reads: “27 At that moment the disciples returned and were stunned to see Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman. Yet none of them dared to ask him why or what they were discussing.”

Again, the translator was taking some liberties. The “Samaritan” in front of woman is not too much of a stretch because they were, after all, in Samaria. But “dared to ask him”? Were the disciples really that afraid of Jesus?

Here are a couple other translations:

KJV: 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”

Mounce Interlinear:

27 Just then his disciples came back. kai epi houtos autos mathētēs erchomai.

They were astonished that he was talking with a woman ; ho · kaithaumazō hoti laleō meta gynē;

however, no one said to her, mentoi, oudeis legō,

“What do you want?” “tis zēteō?”

or to him, “Why are you talking with her ē, “tis laleō meta autos

This is why we Bible readers must be careful when using a contemporary version of the Bible. Although the creators of The Message and The Passion Translation were more than likely correct in their speculations, they are speculations because they are not found in the Greek text.

Whatever the case, as soon as the disciples showed up, the woman left so quickly she forgot her water jar. Or. . . Maybe she thought she would no longer need it? She had, after all, just drunk of the Living Water.

A couple chapters earlier, in John 2:23, we learn of the first Jewish believers who had been at the Passover. The woman at the well became then in chapter 4 the first non-Jewish evangelist of the Good News when she asked “Could this be the Messiah?” Could this have been aa rhetorical question, asked to whet the appetites of those already thirsty for the Living Water?

Meanwhile, back at the well the disciples were trying to get Jesus to eat something. He told them he had food to eat of which they knew nothing. The disciples, humans, were thinking with their human minds that someone had brought him something to eat. But Jesus responded His food was to do the will of His Father which was to harvest the crop for eternal life. This harvest started with the Samaritan woman and the scythe extended to everyone she came in contact with.

She was such an unlikely first evangelist!

Or was she?

1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us “But God chose those the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise; and God chose the puny and powerless to shame the high and mighty.” So, although it may have seemed like Jesus was at the well to take a shortcut and because He was tired, He was actually on a divine mission. It doesn’t sound like He ever even got a drink of the water from Jacob’s Well.

In fact, His true reason for being at the well is found in v.34 “to do the will of God”. Since Jesus is God, He’d already known since “the beginning” about the woman at the well and what her purpose was to be.

This gives me hope. I have no letters after my name; I have and am nothing to make me of high societal standing. The woman at the well was clearly a marginalized person of her time due to her gender, her race, and her lifestyle. I have often felt marginalized, and I suspect some of you have as well at one time or another. How wonderful to know that we are the people God can most easily use for His glory and to know we have each been given a place in His grand plan from “the beginning” (see Psalm 139:16).

I’ll end with this “This is the transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95. (This is an apocryphyal story, but still useful for illustration.)

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT’S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.

Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

The Samaritan woman tried to argue with Jesus. When she realized that He was her lighthouse, she changed her course.

Ask yourself: Am I arguing with Jesus about the any of the circumstances of my life? When we drink His Living Water, and as long as we stay within His light, we can be sure that we are not off course.

prayFather, I pray for the weak and powerless ones, the marginalized, remembering that these are the ones it is easiest for you to use for your glory. Help them to learn of, accept, and internalize the true value You place upon them. The details of Your plans for our lives have been known by You since long before we ever drew a breath. Quench our thirst with your Living Water. And help us to look to our Compass, our Lighthouse for our direction when it’s too dark to see our feet in front of us. Be the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. Amen.