Monday, October 27, 2014

Forgiveness {Day 27 of 31}

I see that I am not alone in not keeping up with a daily post this month, where the goal was to write, something, daily. Even the creator of this challenge has said she has no guilt. Ah, that feels good!

Today, I praise God for forgiveness! 

After all, this is the hinge upon which Salvation turns, the essence of what Jesus did for us, the reason that we can be with our Father God when we pass from this life.

But, forgiveness is a two-way street. 

Even though Jesus, the One and Only Begotten Son of God, Lover of our souls, Savior of the world, has secured forgiveness of our sins through the atoning sacrifice of His death on the cross, it doesn't come without strings.

You see, we can't receive this forgiveness, if we withhold forgiveness from another person.

This isn't my idea or interpretation. It's right there in black and white in the Bible, the inspired Word of God:

"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." (Matthew 6:14 NASB).

This is hard. Especially when someone has hurt you and they are not repentant. And maybe they keep hurting you.

I am reading a book, "Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers,"  by Leslie Leyland Fields & Dr. Jill Hubbard.

The first thing in the book is a poem in the introduction titled, "In the Dessert," by Stephen Crane:

"In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."
That sums up the truth that this book contains—when we hold onto unforgiveness, it eats us up. We cannot live healthy, productive lives when we hold onto things that have hurt us. No matter who the offender is or what they have done. 

But it is so hard to let go!

That is why the gift of forgiveness that Jesus gave us is so amazing. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us so that we can enjoy eternal life with our Father God. 

Forgiveness isn't easy; but it is essential, if we want to be with Jesus some day.  Nothing someone does to us is worth throwing that away.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Freedom {Day 23 of 31}

One of the things that we often take for granted is freedom.  Freedom to worship, freedom to say what we think publicly, freedom to publish things that are opinionated in newspapers and other media; on and on the list goes.

All of these freedoms we enjoy, without fear of death or imprisonment looming over our heads.

Ask me, and I would immediately say that I am beyond thankful for that.

But am I really?

As I said, I usually take things for granted. Most of us probably do.

How many Bibles do I have in my home? A quick rough count and I come up with at least eight that I know of.

Do I read my Bible daily? Do I cling to the words as the bread of Life that they are, treasuring them in my heart so they will be available to me even when the actual pages are not?

No. I don't. Not like I should.

My sister forwarded me this video. This shows a prime example of the freedom that we enjoy in America. The young woman in this video could not take such a blatant stand in other countries without fear of tortured imprisonment or death.

Our freedom is an amazing thing. I praise God for it. I praise God for His mercy in allowing us to exercise our freedom and to make our own choices.

And I pray that we all remember the weight of responsibility that comes with that freedom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Letting Go {Day 21 of 31}

I'm participating in The Nester's Write 31 Days challenge. I haven't written every day and I'm okay with that. Because you have to choose, each day, what is worth stressing over. Not being able to write a blog post each day is not something I'm worried about right now.

My friend, Maria, who blogs at The Joyful Home, wrote a post titled The Shower Curtain, where she talks about loss and letting go of things connected to loss.

It reminded me of my own struggle with letting go.

A little over thirteen years ago, we lost a baby.

While still pregnant, I had been collecting baby clothes. I helped to manage the "swap shop" at our church, so I had direct access to all the new things coming in.  Before long, I had amassed four, large storage tubs full of baby clothes.

I justified my hoard by telling myself we needed them. They were boy clothes. (We already had a baby girl.)

Meanwhile, everywhere I went, someone was very pregnant. And all my friends who were having babies, were having boys.

Every time one was born, I felt the Lord pressing me to donate the clothes. Every time my husband and I went through them, our agreed upon donate pile was very small. So small that we felt like we shouldn't even bother with it and we ended up putting them back with the others.

One day, I had a heart-wrenching conversation with a dear friend. My clothing hoard came up.

"I know I need to get rid of them," I said, matter-of-factly.

My friend replied, "I'm glad you said that. Because you do need to get rid of them. All of them. Even those little booties you just picked up."

I sobbed like someone was tearing out my heart. It truly felt like giving up those clothes meant I was giving up the right to more children.

I got off the phone and immediately called my friend who had just had a baby boy. I told her husband that I had some clothes for them, and asked if I could come out right then (because I knew if I didn't go right then, I wouldn't go).

I would love to say that I spent time basking in the presence of the Lord after dropping off the clothes. Rather than glowing from the joy of obedience, I was puffy-eyed and red-faced from sobbing.

But I realized that the clothing had become an idol to me. At some point, my focus shifted from having clothes to put on my (hoped for) baby boy, to needing a baby boy to dress in all these wonderful clothes I had. As painful as it was to give them away, it was a turning point for me in my healing from my miscarriage.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are inany affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God," (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NASB).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

He Loves Us {Day 16 of 31}

He really knows us - deep in the inner parts that we don't show to anyone - and He loves us still.

He loves us
No matter what.

Can't quite wrap my mind around that...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

He Knows {Day 15 of 31}

I'm praising God today for His knowledge of all things.

Our dog, Daisy, has been limping for three weeks now.

We took her for a walk one morning and she was fine. A few minutes after coming home she limped into the family room holding up her left hind leg, and she's been doing that ever since.

We took her to the vet the next day, and he said it was possibly a pulled muscle. He gave us pain medicine and told us to keep her on leash so she wouldn't run or jump.

Daisy had an appointment for booster shots today, so the vet looked at her leg again. He said she has a cruciate ligament rupture.  And she needs surgery.

While on the way to church tonight, Jeremy Camp's new song, "He Knows," was playing on KLOVE, as I was praying for our dog.

This thought popped into my head, "I know Daisy. I know what's wrong with her leg. I made her."

I believe that was from God, and He was just reminding me that He knows everything. And He is in control.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Words {Day 14 of 31}

I love words.

They are so powerful. Able to create worlds, to spark emotions, to build up and to tear down.

Our ability to speak life (or death) is one way we are made in our Creator's image. He spoke the world into being, created life - and all that we know - through the power of His words.

What a privilege!

But it comes with a requirement that I often forget:

We are responsible to edify and glorify and build up each other. Our words should always be seasoned with grace and full of mercy.

One day, we will give an account of every single thing we say to and about someone.  We will be judged by the way we judge others. And most of our judging ways are exercised via our words.

And so, I praise God for Words and their amazing power. And I humbly ask for wisdom to remember that with great power, comes great responsibility.

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Days {Day 13 of 31}

Glad for this month's daily writing challenge from The Nester, whose motto is "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." She reminds me that in everything - writing included - there is perfectly imperfect beauty. And that gives me the freedom not to beat myself up for missing some days when I was sick.

I am better, although I am still fighting bronchitis. And the volume of medicine and vitamins I'm taking outweighs my breakfast bowl of cereal.

But I'm glad for today. So thankful to be a day closer to healthy breathing. And getting something done.

That is the beauty of new days. I truly praise God for them.

New days give us a fresh start, help us to mark time away from the pain of yesterday; and after a night of sleep, new days renew our hope. Or at least give us some more energy to face what lies ahead.

 Aren't you glad for new days?

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