Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bathing Suites and Cellulite Cream: One Woman's Horror!

It's spring!  I LOVE spring!!  I love the flowers; I love the newness of life that happens with the plants and animals; I love the smell of fresh cut grass and the birds singing in the trees.  It brings to my mind God's renewing spirit that refreshes us each and every day if we let Him.

However, it also brings with it a horrendously depressing aspect as well:  bathing suite shopping.  

There are two items I hate shopping for above all else.  Bathing suites and jeans.  I foolishly attempted to do both yesterday.  The ending result was teary eyes and shoulders being slumped in defeat as I walked out of the THIRD store empty-handed!  I could go on and on about what I hate about shopping (starting with the mirrors that I am CONVINCED department stores get from carnival fun houses) but I won't.  

I admit I was shocked that I felt so defeated because I PRAYED before going shopping.  That's right!  I prayed because I every other time I have gone shopping I have experienced the same self depreciating thoughts and mind sets.  I was like Hello, God, I prayed about this and I shouldn't be feeling this way...are You there?

Then I heard the song "Everything Glorious" by David Crowder Band.  Some of the lyrics say, You make everything glorious, You make everything glorious, You make everything glorious and I am Yours.  What does that make me?

Wow.  I sat straight up in the car seat and said out loud, "I am GLORIOUS!"  

Then I thought about my attitude towards my body.  Of course there are things that I would like to change.  I don't like my wide hips or my ample back side but God says that He knit me together.  When I think of someone knitting I picture someone with extraordinary patience.  I see their needles working intricately to make knots and connect them together to make something beautiful.  And that is what God has done for me...and for YOU.

Who am I to look at His creation, His masterpiece and criticize what I see?  If the fault is mine (and I'll be honest:  it is!) then I need to take better care of the body He has so thoughtfully and carefully made for me.  If it is a feature that is beyond exercise then I need to reevaluate my attitude.  If my Creator pronounces me beautiful then I. AM. BEAUTIFUL!  

Society tells us we need to be slim and trim, have cute little noses, impossibly big boobs and have just the right clothes.  But God tells us that we need Him.  I am going to stand in agreement with my Maker and declare myself beautiful!  I will pray about ways I can be more responsible and improve the condition of the body God has made for me but I will agree with God and not the world.  

We are fearfully and wonderfully made!  It is time we acknowledge this truth and start acting like we believe it!!  

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in  my mother's womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  ~Psalm 139:13-14


Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's All In the BLOOD


(part of) MY JESUS by Todd Agnew
...Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died

He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church

The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!

I have begun to notice something disturbing.  When I say "disturbing" I mean it gives me chills to think about.  It started with a showing of a clip from the crucifixion scene in The Passion of the Christ where many people left after being told what they were about to see.  Later I heard the song My Jesus for the first time.  Today I saw a comment on Facebook that said a picture of a beaten, bleeding Jesus hanging on a cross was "inappropriate" and it should be replaced with a peaceful, praying Jesus.

Why do we want to clean Jesus up?  Are we more concerned with Him being PC than His sacrifice?  Do we understand what He did for us?  Do we really GET the fact that it should have been each and every one of us on that cross?

Yes, the images are gruesome.  I agree, it is hard to watch.  But I also believe it is something we need to be reminded of!  Daily.  DESPERATELY!  

In a society where we are too busy justifying our sin instead of turning away from it we need to realize the intensity of the love that Jesus has for us.  We need to come face to face with His blood and know that is MY salvation that soaked the ground and stained it red.  He paid the price I was meant to pay!  We need to see it as it was:  harsh, brutal, bloody, cruel and humiliating.

If we wipe away the blood, we take away the purpose.  If we clean up the cross, we take away the redemption.  Do we not realize that the cross was His destination all along?  He loves us enough to pay the price, no matter the cost.  All so we could go free.  All because He wants us to spend eternity with Him.  1 John 4:19 tells me, "We love because He first loved us."  And yet, we don't want to think or be confronted with images of the expression of His love.

I'm not even sure it is the graphic nature that bothers us.  For some, I am sure it is just the graphic nature of these images.  But for most of us, I think it makes us feel guilty.  I know it does me.  It makes me feel guilty about the way I live.  It makes me feel guilty about the things I put before my Savior.  "When I survey the wondrous cross" I come nose to nose with my ingratitude and lack of devotion.

Bottom line:  It is much easier to go on with life as usual if "my Jesus" is a brown haired, blue eyed man with His arms outstretched in loving acceptance.  I can apologize to that Jesus.  But the Jesus that is bleeding and rasping for breath as He dies in my place will take no apology.  He demands my life; He deserves my devotion.  And that is just what I intend to give Him. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Silent No More

Every year about this time I come face to face with my past.  Every year I hear the same arguments and viewpoints and every year they break my heart.  The following subject is a touchy one and will no doubt offend some, but hopefully even if you disagree with my view, you can see the love that motivates it.  No hate or condemnation here.  I am a sister, not a judge.

"Open your mouth for the speechless, for the rights of all the unfortunate.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy."  Proverbs 31:8-9

Is there anything cuter than baby's feet?  No really, try and think of something that is cuter than that.  Here, let me help, here's a picture:

See?  How precious is that?

We would never dream of doing anything to harm the owner of those cute, chubby little toes.  However, many of us have done just that.  1 in 3 women have had an abortion...myself included.  My heart has been breaking over and over again as my thoughts revolve around this subject.  I think of my own past decisions that led me down that dark road; I think of the many women, like myself, that believe their guilt and shame is their "cross" to bear; I think of my baby that was not given the chance to live and the plans God had for her life. 

Some of the things that bother me the most are some of the popular arguments in favor of abortion.  One popular view that I have heard is that they believe it is a woman's right to decide what to do with her body.  I see one glaring problem with this viewpoint:  It is not her body she is deciding to eliminate.  The life inside her needs her for nourishment, but it is not her - the baby is another life entirely!  A life that deserves the chance to live.  My mother became pregnant with me at the age of 15.  I am grateful to her for giving me life.  I wish I had been as wise as she.

What about rape and incest?  These are despicable acts against women.  I can understand why a woman would not want to carry a child created under such circumstances.  However, I am brought back to the realization that that life was not created by her or by her attacker.  God Almighty created the life within her.  He says that He has plans for all the life He creates (Psalm 139:16).  I do not profess to understand why God would allow a pregnancy after such a violation but His ways are far above my own.  I have deep sympathy for this situation but the taking of an innocent life is not the answer.  It will not take away the pain or the memory; it will not make it go away.  It only piles another hurt on top of the other. 
Abortion is more than an issue of the taking of human life.  It does more damage than just the loss of the child.  It does lasting damage to the mother as well.  It wounds, it scars, it breaks hearts.  It has been said, "The destinies of mother and child are inextricably linked.  You cannot hurt one without hurting the other, and cannot help one without helping the other."  So many women are hurting from their decision to abort but, most of the time, they suffer in silence. 

When I decided not to give my child life, I was totally unprepared for the repercussions that followed.  I was a broken woman.  I lived in a perpetual state of darkness with a sense of impending doom.  I waited for God to strike me down for the life I took.  First, I tried to numb my senses with alcohol but that didn't work.  I still felt empty and alone.  After beginning to date my husband I tried to redeem myself with church service.  I felt a bigger hypocrite than ever. 

That one decision crippled me emotionally and spiritually.  Emotionally I was a wreck.  I could not make it through a Mother's Day or July 7th without sinking into depression.  Spiritually I couldn't function.  My view of God was as a wrathful Judge, not of a loving Redeemer and forgiver of sin. This did not make for a vibrant, growing relationship.  It seemed I was just stuck.  My husband knew of my past but he didn't know how to help me.  So I just continued to tell myself that God knew where I had been at the time and He would understand. 

Basically, my logic was severely flawed; I justified my actions to suit my own need to make my decision "okay."  But by saying that God would understand, I was saying that the God, who created the life inside me, would totally understand that I had decided to overrule His decision and terminate that life.  Doesn't make much sense when put that way, does it? 

Another thing that really hits me hard when it comes to abortion are the careless things that are said in a room full of Christians when the subject of abortion is brought up.  Now, keep in mind, the current statistic is that 1 in 3 women have had an abortion.  So, keeping with that statistic, if you are in a Bible study of 10 women then there are 3 in that room that have had an abortion.  

Now, I don't know about you, but I hold with the belief that the church is for flawed people.  I hope so, otherwise, I couldn't go...and neither could you.  As a post abortive woman and to be sitting in a room of Christian women saying things like, "I don't see how a woman could choose to kill her child," or "What is wrong with those women?"  That hurts.  There was a time when statements like this convinced me further that I could never tell anyone about my horrible secret.  I shrank inside myself and the chains got a little heavier; the cloud a little blacker.

I do understand that abortion is a horrible decision, that it is murder but would you sit in a room with alcoholics and talk about how stupid or selfish drinking is or would you try and help them?  My point is that even if we do not understand the struggle, we still need to sympathize with the person struggling.  Our words can either help or they can hurt, we need to be careful which they do when spoken.  Judgement is one of the ways Satan keeps the army that I believe God is trying to raise up in chains. 

It is time we stopped not talking about abortion because of its ugliness and time we started fighting for life and lifting one another up!  The enemy wants us condemning one another on one side and silent on the other in order to keep us out of his way.  If there is no one to oppose him, he will continue his march against life...and he will win.  But I serve a God that sent His Son to set me free from sin and to clothe me in His righteousness.  His blood covers me and makes me white as snow.  There is no condemnation in Him.

Let us be the army that God raises up to defend the rights of the unborn.  Life is sacred.  The only One who has the right to take it, is the One who gave it.  Let us show Christ's love to those who have had abortions and let them know that He came to set the captives free!  Let my sisters be the ones to give a voice to the pain and heartache that abortion brings.  And let us BE SILENT NO MORE.

"For You created my inmost being:  You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."  Psalm 139:13-16

Monday, March 5, 2012

To Be or Not To Be Offended; That is the Question

Have you ever had a delayed reaction offense?  This has happened to me recently.    I was talking with one of my friends and she said something to me that I honestly did not think anything of at the time, everything was fine, we laughed, talked and had a good time.  An entire 24 hours later as I was vacuuming my room, this thought barges into my brain:  What is THAT supposed to mean?  And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became.  So I stewed for a bit, then vented to my husband (please tell me this is sounding familiar to some of you!) and then I stewed some more.

My wonderful husband looked at me and said these words, "You know, the only one this is affecting is you."

At first, I just stared at him.  Then I wanted to smack him.  Then I realized just how right he was.  I had let something said to me hurt me when, at the time, I didn't think anything of it.  So, why, all of a sudden, am I having this violent reaction?

Maybe this scripture will shed some light on the subject:
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (emphasis mine) 

Paul reminds us here that our war is not a battle fought in the physical realm, but one fought in the spiritual realm.  And the forefront of the fray is our mind.  The enemy will come in and plant a thought in order to create an emotional reaction.  Once the emotion is created, a lot of the time, our actions will follow suite.

We need to learn to recognize these attacks.  I could have continued to be angry and let those emotions get in the way of a wonderful friendship.  I could have continued to stew about what she said until I became bitter towards her.  Instead, I chose to hear the wisdom in the words of my husband.  My anger had no bearing on her (she had no idea I was mad) but it had a great bearing on me.  

When we let our negative emotions get the best of us, we put a boundary between us and God.  This boundary is because we are not listening to God, we are listening to us.  This is never more true than when it comes to anger.  The Bible tells us, "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold," Ephesians 4:26-27.  The devil gets a foothold when we hold onto our anger.  Anger is not a sin, it is an emotion.  It is the path we follow under the influence of that emotion that puts us in danger of sinning.

As a woman, I am prone to be led by my emotions.  I tend to follow the way I feel; and to be honest, that can be dangerous.  We say things we don't mean because we feel angry; we over-commit ourselves because we feel excited; we hurt others because we feel wronged.  When we let our emotions take the driver's seat in our lives, we are on a dangerous road.

Let us make an effort to think logically and rationally when we feel the emotional tidal wave threatening to sweep us away.  Stop for just a moment and consider:   
     1) The source of offense.  I know my friend and she would never say anything to me spitefully or hatefully in order to hurt my feelings (clue #1 that I might be on the verge of over-reaction).   
     2) Am I in a highly emotional state already?  There are those certain times when we are more sensitive (ladies, you know what time I'm talking about).  There are also certain circumstances that can lend itself to a rash reaction (when I am hungry or when I am already frazzled).   
     3) Is my reaction to this situation God honoring?  How does He want me to respond to this?  We know that it does not honor God when we give someone a piece of our mind or incite a nasty confrontation.  If there is true cause for offense we are still called to peace.  Maybe this means we have to spend time in the Word of God get a firm handle on our runaway emotions before we confront but we are always called to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our Lord.

I could go on and on and cite Scripture after Scripture on the dangers of being overly emotional but I will leave you with the one that has affected me the most:
"Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools."  Ecclesiastes 7:9

I would much rather follow the Lord's word and be wise than to forever be flying off the handle and be foolish.  I long for balance and consistency; in that quest I have found my emotions to be my worst enemy.  If we are to battle the enemy on a daily basis and WIN, we must learn to monitor our thoughts and thereby control our emotions   So, let's suite up and get out there and deal the devil a deathly blow by not giving him a foothold!!  My mind is now officially.  off.  limits!