Fighting Dirty For The Ones We Love

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. 6 For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.…

When was the last time you fought dirty for the one’s you love? Or for an enemy? I’m not talking cheating, I am talking about getting dirt under the nails, sweating, and digging deep into all you’ve got and then giving some more. Valuing that spouse who has hurt you deeply. Treating the bully at work with kindness. Fighting dirty is not based upon changed behavior, it is deeply rooted in who Christ is in us!

We love because he first loved us. God didn’t just give us a list of do’s and don’ts, pat us on the back, and send us on our way. He was and is involved in creation! So much so, that at just the right time, while we were still sinning he came to earth in the form of a human child. He experienced sweat, he had splinters in his skin, and scars on his back from loving us. He knew our struggle with temptation. He knew we were oppressed, and he knew our depression. He fought dirty for us!!

Depression, suicide, hopelessness is a dark and dingy place, because hopelessness is wrapped in lies about our identity and the character of God. I was once smothered in those lies. My son died in those lies. How do we counter such a devious and destructive attack that often begins when we are children?! We battle by getting to know the character of God and acting on the hope he offers to us.

I didn’t know God. Scripture is like sitting across from God and hearing him tell his side of the story. Prayer is a constant conversation (both speaking and listening) with God. Fellowship with other in process believers encourages, challenges, and brings me out of my shell. This is my foundation. As a result, I can’t sit idly by and put on blinders to the suffering of others. I have my hands in the dirt of humanity. Be all in because God was all in for us!

 

Let me know your story in the comments. How can I fight dirty for you!?

Testimony Tuesday: Jesus Teaches me to be Vulnerable

“I came that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus. (Paraphrased from John 10:10)

What does a full life look like? Do you feel anywhere close to experiencing life with the deepest breath? What does it take to reach out and embrace this full life God offered through Jesus?

Vulnerability.

Sit with that word for a while. For many of us it conjures up heartache, broken relationships, and loss. In fact the very definition and synonyms don’t paint vulnerability in a very pretty light. Vulnerability translates into weakness, gullibility–open to attack. I spent much of my life trying to shut down my emotions so that I didn’t feel vulnerable. I still got hurt. But, I have learned that vulnerability opens me to love, faith, joy and hope. I am not disappointed in these results.

Recently Brené Brown reiterated in her research, why vulnerability is so worth the risk. I contend, it is crucial in turning the page on depression! It is through vulnerability that I am able to move through grief and not remain stuck. And when I do get stuck, I have stopped allowing myself to be vulnerable! Seems illogical doesn’t it? But think about vulnerability in military terms. To take new ground, often we have to scale enemy cliffs (Normandy) or venture into no man’s land to take out enemy fire, or risk great losses to end a war. Vulnerability may contain loss, but it also swells with love, faith, and hope. Becoming vulnerable has resulted in the greatest gains I have in my life.

When we give ourselves over to sin after sin, that’s not vulnerability, that is foolishness. Resulting in, guaranteed loss, and depression, because it separates us from the love of God. Been there, done that. Wise vulnerability is trusting that God wants good things for me, and will do all he has planned for my life, despite my circumstances and losses. Scripture backs the purpose of vulnerability again and again.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to help you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have complete boldness, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20

Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24

Can you hope in your vulnerability? Can you open yourself to love, joy, peace and hope. Strangely enough my children are advent symbols. Not in the correct order, but each of them are candles, lighting my journey of faith, and teaching me vulnerability in Christ is gain. God used Jonathan to convince me of his overwhelming love. Joy, (miscarried) taught me about finding joy in the midst of sorrow, Daniel is my promise for a future, and Natalie is hope. Each lesson has its great challenges, but there is no doubt that I am able to love, have a deeper faith, and NEVER LOSE HOPE!

My 1st step into vulnerability was to admit I had made a mess of my life and ask, “What can you do with this, God?” His response, make himself vulnerable on the cross to save me. Where will you start?

 

 

Prayer Closet

There is a secret staircase I

spiral down, when the front

stairs feel too exposed. In

the darkness of fledgling hours

I retreat. Tracing your love notes

with heart, soul, and mind. Sipping

the earthy tea of you testaments. Conversing

together like old friends. Turning over to you all that

I am.

Allowing sunrise to color in the black and white outline

of your form. Loving because you first loved me.

A Hug is a Powerful Weapon Against Evil

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

st. francis of assisi – 13th century

Fireworks in my Grief

Today is my wedding anniversary. Losing Jonathan on the 1st could have overshadowed our anniversary if we had not been intentional about turning our pages from the beginning. Each year brings new delights for our anniversary because we took those first painful steps to celebrate our marriage. We both felt numb, but we made it to the baseball game we had planned to see for our anniversary. Last year we returned to West Virginia to visit family and friends. We celebrated our anniversary with homemade peach cobbler, the delivery and reading of the Declaration of Independence and exploring our friend’s farm and museums. This year we celebrated with friends and family around food and fireworks. Next weekend we head to D.C. for a rally on The Mall.

There will always be difficult days in grief, things are not as they should be, but there is still a lot of life to live. I choose to watch with awe, the spectacular fireworks of God’s love and maybe even squeal with delight as he surprises me in my grief.

 

Dogged by Cynisim: Loving People More Deeply

John 15 The Message (MSG)

11-15 I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

While cooling down after biking yesterday, I met a man walking his dog. When I asked to pet the dog, he explained that the dog was a police dog and he was unsure how he would react. He told me about the dog, clearly sharing his love for the animal. His current belief is that dogs are so much better than humans because they don’t lie to you, or let you down. A thinking, at one time, I would have agreed with.

Today I met him again and told him I had been thinking about what he had said. I made it clear that I understood being let down, but I’ve also discovered that people are worth the risk. He acknowledge that he had grown cynical. Again I relate, because I struggle with this temptation on a daily basis.

I catch cynicism in my impatience with Brian and the kids, judgmentalness creeps in when I see the world hurting each other like I’ve been hurt. I expect more pain rather than more goodness. The wall, I thought torn down in my 20’s, becomes surprisingly solid when I feel vulnerable. But, brick by brick, Christ bore the weight of every wall, our cynicism and our brokenness! He declared from the cross: YOU ARE WORTH REDEEMING! God showed me last night that dogs have to be trained and sent in to rescue people from burning buildings; people  choose to go into burning buildings to save.

God chose to save us cynics. Yes I have been let down by people, but if Christ chose twelve rough-around-the-edges men as his core group and came to call them friends, people are worth risk loving.

A Double Rainbow of Presence

Revelation 4:2At once I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne standing in heaven, with someone seated on it. 3The One seated there looked like jasper and carnelian, and a rainbow gleaming like an emerald encircled the throne.

Genesis 9:13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

“Sometimes we need a double rainbow!” Daniel exclaimed after having a rough afternoon of missing Jonathan. “God really loves me.” We pulled off the road to take pictures. When our lives are filled with storms it can be hard to remember they will not last forever. We long for God to reinforce his presence, promise and provision. One rainbow, simply is not enough.

Head knowledge does not suffice when you are in prison, abused, grieving, sick, struggling deeply to overcome sin. Please hear me! Like any child needs to hear the words “I love you”, even though they may not have the feeling to match, we consistently need reminders that God loves us. We are learning to correctly interpret God’s ways and because he doesn’t operate inside our box we can interpret our circumstances as punishment. Only when we accept His love as irrefutable fact, allowing Christ to make his passion for us a part of our being, do we stop being tossed around like ragdolls when the circumstances change.

In 10 days my son dies. Those are the circumstances of July 1st. My husband is very ill. My daughter and son have dietary issues. Those are the current circumstances of my day to day. I am learning that “even if  __________”, God loves me. Look for the never the lesses”  and “therefores” in scripture, because what follows is God!

Rainbows are a never the less symbol of his overwhelming love for us. A double leaves no doubt. Scripture is filled with men and women who needed a second sign to confirm that God held their circumstances and would bring good out their brokenness. Abraham, Sara, Moses, Gideon, Joshua, Naomi, Jonah, Esther, Mary, Peter, Thomas, Paul, the list is endless. In almost all cases these mighty heroes of scripture came to a place where they obeyed God no matter what! So look for your rainbows and discover how trustworthy God is!

Love, the Remedy for Second Hand Depression

Job 30:15“Terrors are turned against me; They pursue my honor as the wind, And my prosperity has passed away like a cloud. 16“And now my soul is poured out within me; Days of affliction have seized me. 17“At night it pierces my bones within me, And my gnawing pains take no rest.…

What do we do when loved ones are giving up on life? Is there such a thing as secondhand depression? Yes, I believe that there is. Like Job’s wife, do we respond, “Curse God and die.”? I don’t think she said those things because she hated Job. I believe she had given into fear. Fear of the circumstances, fear of the onslaught, and fear of loss. She was like Ruth’s mother-in-law, telling her people to no longer call her Naomi, but to call her Marah (Bitter).  We are asking, what kind of God allows this kind of suffering?!

The last year with Jonathan was hard! His personality changed so completely that sometimes he said awful things to us. He refused medical care, and he fought mightily with a desire to give up. I was on my knees crying out to God so many times that I was often horse. At moments the fear of losing Jonathan was more tangible than God’s presence, and I struggled to love. Fear and love cannot occupy the same space; fear is a cancer, mimicking normal cells of concern so that we don’t fight its systematic takeover of our ability to love. But fight we must! I don’t mean strive and claw our way out of depression, I’m talking about LETTING GOD FIGHT FOR US. Only when I finally handed Jonathan’s wellbeing over to God could I finally love my son, come what may. Those last few months were the best they could be between the two of us.

Mother Theresa and the Sister’s of Charity ministered with love, to those often cursing back at them as they were dying. I have been studying her character for a while, and I am learning how much depression is based on control and conditions. I want to be in control and I am depressed when I am not. We want to be loved back! But oh the power to change the world, when we love from the vantage point of the cross. Are you in the midst of loving someone who may never love you back? Well God has been doing that since the creation of the world. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son. That whosoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16) That kind of love is the model for how we are to love those who are struggling with depression. Accepting His love which has no possible repayment is the cure for secondhand depression. Loving like Christ is productive suffering!

A Moment to Cry Out

“His middle name should be Patrick.” Jonathan said as I shared with him he was going to have a baby brother.

I liked the sound of Patrick, it fit well with Daniel. “Why Patrick?” I asked.

“Because your Irish, and this is one lucky baby!” Jonathan declared.

 

I have been insulating myself lately with numbness, but sooner or later the feeling creeps back in. My soul is crying out in anguish today. I miss you desperately my son. The only thing for my brokenness is to climb into my Daddy’s lap and allow him to rock me with the lullaby of scripture.

Psalm 13:5But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 69:3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.. . 13But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

Psalm 119:41 …40 Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me through Your righteousness. Vav. 41May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word; 42So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.…

Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. 4“Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.…