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Baker’s Joy and the Body of the Church

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we may be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links.)

Happy Monday Morning!

Before I write my main blog, I wanted to share an amazing product that I discovered this weekend. My girls had a softball fundraiser where they sold over 50 loaves of Strawberry Bread and Banana Bread. Wow!

Needless to say, 50 loaves sold = 50 loaves to be baked! We had a lot of baking to do, so I decided to try something different while we were picking up the 20 lb bag of flour and 10 lb bags of sugar at the store. We always make such a mess flouring pans, and then some of it sticks to the bread and it just isn’t very pretty.

Well, we decided to try this product:

 


Bakers Joy Cake Pan Spray 2 Pack
and what a difference it made! One can was enough to flour 57 bread pans (we reused the pans) and we still have some left over. The bread rolled right out of the pan — no sticking and no ugly white residue. If you’re going to be baking anytime soon, I highly recommend the
Bakers Joy Cake Pan Spray 2 Pack. It made our baking lives much easier.


Recently I was asked to write some short introductions/devotions for a ladies’ retreat at our church. The theme for the retreat was  Jesus, the anchor for my soul. 

I started reading about the different parts of a ship, and how they relate to each other. When I came to the hull, the body of the ship, of course I began to think about the body of  Christ.

I’ve grown up in church, volunteered at church, and been a paid employee at church at different points in my life. Having done all that, I’ve had plenty of time to observe the best and worst days of church members and ministers.

So many people have been hurt by members of the church. How is that possible, when the first commandment of Jesus is to love? The answer is simple: because the church is made of of sinners; just like you, and me.

The Hull of the Ship

The hull is the watertight body of the ship, which protects the cargo, machinery, and accommodation spaces of the ship from the weather, flooding, and structural damage.

While not majestic, like the ship’s sails, or easily recognizable and symbolic, like the ship’s wheel and anchor, the hull is the body. It holds everything else together.

Just as the hull holds and protects the ship’s parts, the body of Christ, the church (that’s us, folks), holds and protects its members.

I  Corinthians 12:12-14; 24-27

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

24 …But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Often I find myself forgetting that I am part of the body, and that each of you are part of me. If someone irritates me or gets on my nerves, I may be quick to internally lose patience or criticize, not remembering that I am criticizing myself at the same time I condemn my brother or sister; because they are part of the whole; part of MY WHOLE. We are both part of the body of Christ.

I will never forget one day at the beach when I was playing with my kids. I started to run after one of the girls to splash them when my foot came down hard on a shell, which broke off into my heel. I immediately fell to the sand and cradled my foot, applying pressure and gritting my teeth. My family ran to check on me, to see how they could help.

Soon, the pain receded enough that I allowed my husband to pour clean water over my foot to check the wound. All I could see was a black spot. It still hurt, but I was determined to enjoy the day.

We eventually went home and got cleaned up. My foot still hurt, but I figured it was just bruised. I am good at ignoring things that I don’t want to face. A week went by, then a month, then a year. My foot hurt off and on, and sometimes I limped and other times I just bent my foot to walk on the side or to tiptoe.

Finally, the pain grew, the spot enlarged, and I began to run a constant low grade fever and generally feel sick. I went to the podiatrist and he told me that I had what looked like a broken rock or piece of shell in my foot that had gotten infected.

Fortunately, he was able to remove it (along with a rather large chunk of infected flesh) from the bottom of my foot. There was no permanent damage other than to our bank account and my pride, as I hobbled around in a big black boot for another six weeks.

My foot, or rather my feet, balance and hold together my entire body; yet I had ignored them because they didn’t seem to be as important as my mind or heart. I’d hobbled around at less than full capacity, because my body was injured.

Because I ignored the pain

Because I ignored PART of my body, infection set in and spread, causing symptoms to affect the entirety of me. I couldn’t function at 100% spiritually, mentally, or emotionally, because my body was sick, physically.

Like the hull protects the body of the ship, WE, as the body, protect each other through the strength of Christ. We are encouraged to build each other up to meet EACH OTHERS NEEDS (Ephesians 4:29), not ours alone.

As I remember the injury to my foot, and the way I ignored it to the harm of my body, I am reminded of injuries that were done to me by others in the body of Christ.

Having been raised in church, having the church as my FAMILY, there have been plenty of opportunities to be hurt by others. And to hurt others, myself.

I’m so sorry if you’ve been hurt by someone in the body of Christ. And I’m sorry if you, like me, have hurt someone else. However, I am encouraged because the body, through Christ, can be repaired and can minister to each other. The body, like the hull, can once again protect and prepare the rest of the ship for the storms of this life.

Today I pray that if you are an injured part of the hull (the body) that you will forgive; that you will allow yourself to be healed and hugged and loved. That you will go forward and protect others. That you will BE the BODY of Christ.

Profile Picture Challenge

Guess what. It’s my birth week! That means it’s a week that’s all about books and lunch dates and quality time. I DO love my birth week.

We don’t do a lot of gifts around here, but I almost always get a new book or cookbook. This came in the mail today and I can’t WAIT to start cooking some new recipes!


Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

Something else that I’ve been enjoying this week is the Profile Picture Challenge on Facebook. The idea is to post your first profile picture and your most recent profile picture side by side to see how much you’ve changed since you’ve been on Facebook.

Happy Anniversary

Facebook and I will have our 10-year anniversary this week. With the exception of a few leaves of absence, our relationship is still going strong. Yay, us!

Looking back at that first picture of me with two cute little girls sitting on my lap (one obviously unhappy about something), I think we can all see that I’ve definitely changed a lot. Things happen in 10 years!

 

But what’s even more obvious than the change in me is, of course, the changes in my girls. They’ve gone from adorable, chubby, 3 and 4 year olds, to lovely 13 (almost) and 14 year olds.

You can’t avoid noticing their growth. It is obvious.

This made me start thinking: can you see my growth? I don’t mean the wrinkles or the extra pounds. Can you see my growth?

Am I a different person than I was 10 years ago, or am I exactly the same. If one of my friends, like a shortened version of Rip Van Winkle, fell asleep 10 years ago and woke up today, would they feel like nothing had changed with me? Or would they see a completely different person?

I hope I’m different.

There are some striking similarities between 2009 and 2019 for me. Both years represent some of the most challenging times in our marriage. The challenges in both years were completely unexpected. They shook our very foundations and changed the way we live our lives.

Challenges in life (and therefore in marriage) are unavoidable. So are uncertainties, inconveniences, and even crises. We can’t change that.What we can change are our reactions to those situations, and that’s what the Facebook Profile Challenge is making me examine. How am I reacting?

10 years ago I froze. I seized up. I quit functioning for a period of time. I’m not doing that this time.

While the crisis of 2019 is completely different, it’s also completely real. It started in 2018 but this time I didn’t seize up.

That’s not to say I have handled everything perfectly. There have been a couple of desperate late night texts and phone calls to close friends. There was a day of tears at the beach. There has been crying on the bathroom floor with the shower and fan turned on so no one else could hear. There have been questions and and cries towards heaven.

I haven’t been perfect, but I have grown. This is due in large part to the way my Bible has aged. That’s something I’ve thought about, as well.

If you took a picture of your Bible 10 years ago, and a picture of your Bible today, what would it look like? Would it look the same? Would it still look brand new? Could you put it back in its box and return it to Amazon or Lifeway or wherever you bought it?

My Bible looks different than it did 10 years ago, and that’s the only reason my life looks different. Words and verses are underlined and highlighted. The front cover is full of sticky notes from friends and children that I’ve worked with at church. There are tear stains on some pages and battle scars on others.

Dates are written where prayer requests were prayed. Some of those dates are followed by a second date and a short phrase where the request was answered. Others are still being prayed over and waiting. My Bible looks different.

But it doesn’t look as different as it should. If it had been used daily, I suspect that it would be falling apart. I probably would have had to buy a new one by now. It’s probably had more wear and tear over the past 3 years than in the 7 before that.

Growth

But that’s okay, because that is a sign of growth as well. My relationship with the Lord is growing. I am spending more time with Him. More time relying on Him and less time worried and fearful – although that it still something that I struggle with.

More time listening to His Word and basking in his love, and less time listening to the world and the opinions of others.

I want to encourage you to work on that profile picture – the one of your Bible. Pick it up, use it, read it, BELIEVE it. Let’s challenge ourselves to have Bibles that show we are actively participating in the battle being fought for us and our loved ones. Let’s have LIVES that look different 10 years from now instead of just pictures that look different.

I believe in you. I am praying for you. I am also encouraging you to get involved in a Bible Study group – at someone’s home, at a church, or with your family.

I participated in a couple of amazing Bible Studies on prayer last year, both by Priscilla Shirer. You can check them out here:

Discerning the Voice of God – Bible Study Book – Revised: How to Recognize When God Speaks

I’d love to hear about how you are growing, and any great Bible Studies you’ve participated in.

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links.
 

Something to Read

The latest trend in buying Christmas presents this year: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to READ. Yay!

I can’t express how much this pleases me. I love to read GOOD books. Unfortunately, there are a lot of books out there that are NOT good. It’s not just that they’re poorly written, they genuinely contain things that, IMO, shouldn’t be included in the target group that they are marketed for.

Because I am so passionate about promoting good, entertaining, uplifting (and sometimes thought provoking) stories, I’ve compiled a Christmas Book List to help you with your shopping.

In each age category I will include a picture and summary of one of some my favorite books, and list several other choices.

The links in this post are affiliate links, and we may be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links.

If you have any favorites that I’ve missed, please include them in the comments.

Thanks and happy shopping!

For the 2 to 5 year olds on your list:


The Wonky Donkey –I saw this on a display at Barnes and Noble when we were there earlier this week. I picked it up and knew immediately that it was going in the “to buy” stack. I think any 2 – 5 year old would enjoy this book about a cranky, lanky, honky-tonky, wink, wonky donkey! 😀 There’s even a website where you download the song to go with the book for free!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Classic Board Books) — Another classic for the 2-5 year old crew. Our older kids enjoyed reading this book to the younger ones and making all the noises of the swishy-swashy grass, the crunchy leaves, etc.

I Want to be a Lion Tamer — I discovered this book at an Usborne party and thought it was too cute to leave off the list. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dog walker? A vet? A lion tamer? When you grow up, you can be anything you want to be! These oversized board books for our littlest learners perfectly illustrate that the possibilities are endless!


For the 6 to 8 year olds who are starting to read chapter books:

Dory Fantasmagory — As the youngest in her family, Dory really wants attention, and more than anything she wants her brother and sister to play with her. But she’s too much of a baby for them, so she’s left to her own devices—including her wild imagination and untiring energy.


The Flat Stanley Collection Box Set: Flat Stanley, Invisible Stanley, Stanley in Space, and Stanley, Flat Again! — Stanley Lambchop is an ordinary boy. At least he was, until the night his bulletin board fell off the wall and flattened him. At only half an inch thick, Stanley can slide under doors, mail himself across the country in an envelope, and fly like a kite!


The Ramona Collection, Vol. 1: Beezus and Ramona / Ramona the Pest / Ramona the Brave / Ramona and Her Father [4 Book Box set] — Newbery Award-winner Beverly Cleary delivers a humorous portayal of the ups and downs of sisterhood. Both the younger and older siblings of the family will enjoy this book.


For the 8 to 12 year olds:

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle —

Meet Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! She lives in an upside-down house with a kitchen that is always full of freshly baked cookies. She was even married to a pirate once! Best of all, she knows everything there is to know about children.

When Mary turns into an Answer-Backer or Dick becomes Selfish or Allen decides to be a Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the perfect cure. And her solutions always work, with plenty of laughs along the way. This is the book that started it all!

Perfect for fans of Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee, this classic series is all about learning and problem-solving. Young readers will love this book.

 


Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Phoebe and Her Unicorn Series Book 1) — It all started when a girl named Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and she used it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection? Indeed they can, and that’s how Phoebe and Her Unicorn unfolds.


Ages 10 and up:


Kristy’s Great Idea: Full-Color Edition (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix 1) — Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are best friends and founding members of The Baby-sitters Club. Whatever comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbors, prank calls — you can count on them to save the day. Baby-sitting isn’t always easy, and neither is dealing with strict parents, new families, fashion emergencies, and mysterious secrets. But no matter what, the BSC have what they need most: friendship.

 


How to Avoid Extinction — Since the death of his grandfather, Leo’s number one chore has been to chase after his grandmother who seems to wander away from home every few days. Now, Gram’s decided to roam farther than ever. And despite his misgivings, Leo’s going along for the ride. With his seventeen-year-old cousin, Abbey, and an old, gassy dog named Kermit, Leo joins Gram in a big, old Buick to leave their Pennsylvania home for a cross-country road trip filled with foldout maps, family secrets, new friends, and dinosaur bones.

How to Avoid Extinction is a middle-grade comedy about death and food and family and fossils. It’s about running away from home and coming back again. For Leo, it’s about asking hard questions and hopefully finding some sensible answers. As if good sense has anything to do with it. Against a backdrop of America’s stunning size and beauty, it’s also about growing up, getting old, dreaming about immortality, and figuring out all the things we can — and can’t — leave behind.


The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1): Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy — In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.


For the Teenagers on your List:


Okay for Now — 2011 National Book Award FinalistAs a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.”

In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon’s birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

 


Eragon: Inheritance, Book I (The Inheritance Cycle 1) — Perfect for fans of Lord of the Rings, the New York Times bestselling Inheritance Cycle about the dragon rider Eragon has sold over 35 million copies and is an international fantasy sensation.

Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.
Eldest (Inheritance Cycle, Book 2) (The Inheritance Cycle), Inheritance Cycle 4-Book Trade Paperback Boxed Set (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, In (The Inheritance Cycle)

Pre-order the newest book in the Eragon series and save 20% — due out 12/31/18!


The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia (Volume 1: Eragon) (Inheritance Cycle) — A wanderer and a cursed child. Spells and magic. And dragons, of course. Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia.

It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective.

 


Impostors — Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . two edges of the same knife. But Frey’s very existence is a secret.

Frey is Rafi’s twin sister-and her body double. Their powerful father has many enemies, and the world has grown dangerous as the old order falls apart. So while Rafi was raised to be the perfect daughter, Frey has been taught to kill. Her only purpose is to protect her sister, to sacrifice herself for Rafi if she must.

When her father sends Frey in Rafi’s place as collateral in a precarious deal, she becomes the perfect impostor-as poised and charming as her sister. But Col, the son of a rival leader, is getting close enough to spot the killer inside her. As the deal starts to crumble, Frey must decide if she can trust him with the truth . . . and if she can risk becoming her own person.
Uglies: Uglies; Pretties; Specials; Extras


The Rule of Three — One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters. First book in a trilogy.


And Finally, Something for You 😉


The Masterpiece — New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.

 


A Woman’s Place: A Novel — They watched their sons, their brothers, and their husbands enlist to fight a growing menace across the seas. And when their nation asked, they answered the call as well. Virginia longs to find a purpose beyond others’ expectations. Helen is driven by a loneliness money can’t fulfill. Rosa is desperate to flee her in-laws’ rules. Jean hopes to prove herself in a man’s world. Under the storm clouds of destruction that threaten America during the early 1940s, this unlikely gathering of women will experience life in sometimes startling new ways as their beliefs are challenged and they struggle toward a new understanding of what love and sacrifice truly mean.


It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered —

Life often looks so very different than we hoped or expected. Some events may simply catch us off guard for a moment, but others shatter us completely. We feel disappointed and disillusioned, and we quietly start to wonder about the reality of God’s goodness.

Lysa TerKeurst understands this deeply. But she’s also discovered that our disappointments can be the divine appointments our souls need to radically encounter God. In It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa invites us into her own journey of faith and, with grit, vulnerability, and honest humor, helps us to:

  • Stop being pulled into the anxiety of disappointment by discovering how to better process unmet expectations and other painful situations.
  • Train ourselves to recognize the three strategies of the enemy so we can stand strong and persevere through unsettling relationships and uncertain outcomes.
  • Discover the secret of being steadfast and not panicking when God actually does give us more than we can handle.
  • Shift our suspicion that God is cruel or unfair to the biblical assurance that God is protecting and preparing us.
  • Know how to encourage a friend and help her navigate hard realities with real help from God’s truth.

 

I sincerely hope that you have found something on this list that you will enjoy, and that will make your Christmas shopping easier! 

Please let me know what you think, if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned…and feel free to include your own favorites, as well.

Thanks, and happy reading!
Ayme

 

 

Wild Gratitude

As the month of November opens, we will be seeing a lot of posts about gratitude;

and that’s a beautiful thing: sharing our personal stories of Thanksgiving in a way that will hopefully encourage others.

I’m going to write something a little different though, something that explains why I sometimes don’t express gratitude….and how and why I’m working on changing that.

Wild Gratitude

I love the phrase wild gratitude. I love to picture it and imagine it and feel it and express it – to be wildly grateful, almost crazy with gratitude! What an image of how gratitude should be given – wildly – instead of how it is so often given – negligibly or grudgingly.

I am sitting here this morning thinking about the times in my life when I have been wildly grateful. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them. I am grateful for so many things: food on the table, a house to live in, working a/c and heat.

But wildly grateful? That implies a meeting of a need or want that you have been desperate to fulfill.

When I held my children in my arms for the first time, I was overflowing with gratitude. It wasn’t expressed by jumping up off of the bed and bouncing off the walls, but I was so full that I couldn’t contain it – gratitude leaked out of my eyes and flowed off of me in waves as I looked into those tiny faces for the first time. I am still wildly grateful for my girls.

 

I have expressed wild gratitude through a gasp of startled pleasure when I received something or someone unexpected. My love for my husband is something I did not expect to have. Finishing college, finding an extended family in my church, lifelong friendships that point me towards the Lord. For all of these I am wildly grateful.

Then I think of all of the times when I haven’t expressed wild gratitude. There are too many to list but one sticks out in my mind; the time that God supplied the diagnosis and treatment for my oldest daughter as she was dehydrated.

It sounds like a simple diagnosis but she’d been sick for six weeks.

What started with a stomach virus lingered in lethargy and constant headaches. She lost weight. She didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything.

We took her to the doctor, twice, and they drew blood and ran tests and still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They implied that I was worrying too much or that she was acting lazy to get out of chores, not taking into account a mother’s knowledge of her child’s personality or the fact that the child was missing out on a lot of things she’d looked forward to for almost a year, simply because she didn’t feel like participating.

Desperation

I remember the quiet desperation I was feeling. The nights I alternated between prayer and terror.

Then I remember the nurse practitioner who came to our house. I remember his diagnosis and my surprise and, quite frankly, a small amount of disbelief.

Dehydration. Not some strange and rare disease I’d never heard of or a terrifying one that I had. Not something that was going to require a long, drawn out cure and travel and more testing and long nights in hospitals.

Dehydration.

A prescription that included IV fluids, rest, more fluids, and some ibuprofen. A cure that had a visible difference in less than an hour.

WHY wasn’t I expressing wild gratitude?

I think a similar example and an explanation is found in the Bible. A group of people who were healed, yet only one expressed his gratitude freely and openly.

Luke 17

Do you remember the 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus in Luke 17? They were all healed, but only one came back to thank Jesus.

Do you think the others were grateful? I do! Leprosy was a disease that separated individuals from their families. They were required BY LAW to move away and live in colonies with other diseased people.

Lepers couldn’t work or participate in society. They were banished and shunned as their bodies became disfigured with the rot of their disease. They couldn’t hold or hug or even touch anyone else.

So when Jesus, the Son of God, took the time to heal them do you think they were grateful? If they were, then why didn’t they come back? Why didn’t they all jump and shout and dance and proclaim to the world that they were HEALED and FREE?

One did. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Thank you!

I imagine this one returning to say thank you. Can you picture it? Did he just stroll back to Jesus to say thank you? I don’t think so: I see him sprinting back, shouting, rejoicing, and when he met His healer, his gratitude so overcame him that he threw himself at Jesus’ feet! That, my friend, is some wild gratitude.

But what about the others? Jesus gives us a clue to their lack of expression (and mine) when he tells the leper who came back your faith has made you well.

You see, when Kate was sick I was so worried. I couldn’t believe the answer was simple. I couldn’t believe that I deserved to have this child healed simply while others suffer for so long. I lacked faith. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I think maybe it was the same way for the nine lepers who didn’t return. They knew they didn’t deserve healing. None of us do. They were grateful, but doubtful. Like Thomas when he first heard that Jesus had risen, he wanted so desperately to believe, but he doubted. His faith wasn’t mature enough to overcome his fear. He knew he didn’t deserve it.

Undeserved.

And you know what? I, and the nine lepers, and Thomas? We’re right. We don’t deserve the healing that God has provided for us. We don’t deserve the simple gift that we just have to receive. But God gave it to us anyway.

So that’s what I am thankful for today; the gift given that was undeserved. And that’s what I’m working on: unreservedly accepting the many gifts God gives me and believing that they are real and true and for me. Not because I deserve them, but because He loves to give them.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, may we all be wildly grateful this month and always.

 

 

My Struggle for Control

Before I was born I had already lost 2 siblings. I don’t mean they went missing, I mean they were gone. They’d died.

One was a miscarriage and one died when she was 2 because she had a hole in her heart.Again before I was born, my 2 surviving older brothers were diagnosed with the disease that, through complications, would take their lives: type 1 diabetes.

 Obviously, none of these things were something that I could have changed had I already been born. Even if I was the oldest child and some type of a medical prodigy, I couldn’t have cured all of their ills. I couldn’t have stopped this from happening.
 
But from the way it affected my life, you would think that I alone decided the number of their days and the way that they spent them.
 
My brothers were 14 and 16 years old when I was born. I was a bit of a surprise. I was also well loved, encouraged, built up and…we might as well admit it, a bit spoiled.
 
Okay, a lot spoiled. My childhood pediatrician said I didn’t have 1 mother, I had 4: my mom, my dad, and my 2 older brothers.
 
While my brothers picked on me, teased me, and harassed me, they also took me to the fair, won prizes for me, captured pets in the woods for me, and brought me my first kitten. I adored them.
 
I was 17 when Jim died. I was at school when they took him to the hospital. If only I’d been there.
 
I later graduated and, almost against my will went away to college. I didn’t like being away. Oh, granted I also left a boyfriend at home, but that wasn’t the main problem.
 
The problem was that I wasn’t at home to control things. To make sure that nothing else bad happened. So I quit school and came home.
 
Actually, I quit making friends, quit going to classes, quit doing homework and quit being granted a scholarship…..and then I came home.
 
I was embarrassed and ashamed; but I was where I thought I wanted to be. At home. In control. So that nothing else bad could happen.
 
And that’s the way I continued to live my life for years. For YEARS, y’all. If I was just THERE then nothing bad could happen.
 
So I stopped pursuing my goals…actually didn’t even take time to think about them. My only goal was to control everyone and all of the circumstances around them…so that nothing bad would ever happen again.
 
Well, you can guess how that turned out. People don’t like to be controlled. I lost friends and boyfriends and finally a marriage.
 

But I still thought that I needed to be in control.

 
Eventually, I got married again to a pretty awesome guy. He’s patient and kind and there’s not much that bothers him. And with this awesome guy came 3 pretty great kids.
 
This made me so happy. More people that needed me to help them, protect them, keep them from all harm. Because that’s what I am supposed to do, right?
 
Eventually we added 2 more little girls to our family. And that’s when I broke. Up until now, I’d been able to at least keep some semblance of sanity about our lives. Now it was all gone.
 
Because now I ALONE was responsible not only for creating but for caring for, supporting, providing, loving, nurturing, educating 2 tiny people that I loved more than I ever thought was possible.
 

So I stopped sleeping.

 
I stopped sleeping because a lot can happen when you’re asleep. Binkies fall out, stuffed animals are lost and oh yeah….babies sometimes stop breathing.
 
So I just stopped. I stopped sleeping for almost a year.
 
You probably think I’m exaggerating, but you should ask Johnnie how long the baby monitors stayed in our room, and how often I slept on the floor beside the cribs, and what I looked like and smelled like and acted like for a year or so after our last child was born.

Looking back now, it scares me.

 One day I came out of my stupor and realized that my children were now 2 and 3, and I needed to be a better mom. So I went to a Bible Study. Makes sense, right? And I thought it would be a good example for them.
 
It was. That Bible Study changed my life.
 
Oh, I already knew the Lord, but I’d chosen to live in a way that said I didn’t. I was living as a captive and slave to Fear. I didn’t make a move or even think a thought that I didn’t run by Fear, first:
 
Have fun! Oh, but be careful.
 
I love you. Really? For how long?
 
Your kids are beautiful. But will they even survive being toddlers?
 
You have the best relationship with your step kids! Some days. Most days I think they hate me. I don’t deserve them.
 
You must be so proud of your husband for being a firefighter. I almost throw up every time he walks out the door to go to a call. Will he come back?
 
You have the best friends! I do. They’ll probably turn on me. I don’t deserve them.
 
I wish I lived in the country, like you do. Why? So no one can hear you scream if someone breaks into your house?
 

Not a word.

Do you see what was happening here? Not a word could be said to me that I didn’t twist. I thought I was in control but I’ve never been in control. I was allowing FEAR to control me.
 
I was allowing Satan to control my thoughts. The Father of Lies and I was buying everything he sold; and paying dearly.
 
Thank God for Jesus and His ability to break strongholds. Through His word, God started speaking to me. Through His people, He started teaching me and holding me accountable.
 
I finally not only heard but listened to the truth: I am not in control, HE is. I am not in charge, HE is. I cannot change the future, HE can.
 
This has been a journey for me. A path with some setbacks and detours and quicksand; but I am on the path and I am moving. Sometimes bounding over fallen trees and thorny vines. Sometimes barely dragging through the mud; but I am moving.
 
Friend, do you think that you are in charge?
 
Are you blaming yourself because your husband or son or daughter or friend or brother or sister has pain in their life? Don’t you think you could have fixed that for them? Don’t you think that is YOUR responsibility?
 
It’s not.
 
I think some of you need to hear this tonight. Do you have a kid making foolish and painful decisions that is tearing up their life? Do you have a husband or wife who has lost a job or is sick or hurt or just plain mean? Why don’t you fix that?
 
Because you can’t.
 
That’s not your job, my friend. That is God’s job. And His way of fixing things doesn’t always look like our way. But that’s the thing.
 

Either He’s God, or He is not.

 
If He’s not, if you don’t believe He’s God then by all means, keep trying to fix things. Keep trying to control things. Keep trying to build your bubble around your people. It’s okay. I have several boards left over that you can use.
 
But if He IS God. If He really is (and you know I believe that He is) then you have to let go. Erase your outline, put down your boards, and pick up you Bible.
 
Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) And as you draw near to Him, you will get to know Him more. And as you know Him, you will trust Him. And as you trust Him, you will love Him. And that is the biggest blessing you can imagine.
 
And occasionally, you will pick up your hammer and your boards again; you will want to build that shelter and get all your ducks in a row and all your chicks in the coop.
 
I understand. I’m away from my husband tonight and I both called and texted him to make sure he’d taken his meds and then recorded his blood pressure. What can I say? I’m reforming; but I’m not completely reformed.
 
I’m still a work in progress. So are you. Even if you’ve given up on yourself, I haven’t given up on you. Neither has God. He’s just waiting for you to lay that hammer down and rest in Him, so He can do the real work …… on you.
 
If you’re struggling with this tonight, I want you to know that you’re not alone. I may know about your struggles, or I may have no clue. But if you are struggling with this, I am praying for you. Because I have been there too.
 
Sweet dreams, my friends. I love you. God loves you more.