Impossible

Impossible

“Ignorant” is actually the appropriate denotation – the definition of the idea that No One gave us all the things we have. That Nobody made all the things we see… But the word I prefer to use is, “Impossible” (Matthew 19:26.) When I look at the reward – the children – that God gave us to foster in the present darkness of our time, I know that only God could have given such unmerited gifts (SEE, Psalm 127:3.) Only God could have made these people. If I had been asked what I wanted them to look like and be like before they came, they would be a little less wonderful than God made them.

My son asked me yesterday: “Is it bad if I don’t believe there is a God?”

I was dead (Ephesians 2:1.) Grace gave me the opportunity to be alive. Sin (disbelieving God and the subsequent disobedience) severed my connection to God, who is the source of real life – spiritual life. When Adam believed the devil over God and then disobeyed God’s warning – that death would come from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – he fell from grace (SEE, Genesis 2:17.) All of creation fell with him, including me. But God had a plan for that; He has a plan for everything (Ephesians 3:1-10.)

His plan was to send the part of Him whose job it is to communicate wisdom with us. So, the Word (Jesus) came in a body like mine, because the Father in heaven wanted us to “see” Him (Romans 8:2-4; John 1:13-14.) God the Father wanted us to hear about how to be free from my former slave master, sin (John 14:7-9; John 12:49-50.)

It was the grace of love that brought Jesus to us, so that His sacrifice could pay the debt of unbelief and disobedience into which, the devil encouraged Adam to enter. The broken flesh of Jesus is the answer to the consequences of sin in fallen bodies – sickness, weakness, dying young. And the blood of Jesus is the way by which God forgives transgression (deciding to disobey) and sin (the act of disobedience.) The blood of Jesus washes us clean, so God no longer even remembers the sin that broke our bond with Him.

Jesus coming, suffering and dying on my behalf, before being resurrected and being witnessed alive, is the grace of God – the opportunity to be forgiven (healed, freed, and made alive.) But the way to accept God’s offering is faith (SEE, Ephesians 2:8.) My belief in the truth of the message preached about Jesus made me alive, gave me God the Holy Spirit to advise, teach, and comfort me, and made me a child of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:14; John 14:16, 26; I John 2:27.)

So, my son’s question was blow. A big blow with a big bat…

It was a gut punch, because: Not believing in God is more than bad. Without faith, we are still orphans, outside the refuge of the only One who truly loves us. God is the only One who loves us, knowingly: knowing how we’ve secretly blown it; knowing our bad habits; knowing our evil thoughts; knowing what we will do wrong, how we’ll blow it again, and that we’ll continue in some bad habits. Knowing all that, only God truly loves us and remains close. God is the only One who will never leave us, even when many or all others turn their backs (Matthew 28:20.)

This is why it’s so important for my son to know: Yes, there is a God. Everything good that you have was given to you by Him. Nature generates awe within us when we can quiet the distractions and absorb it. And everything science reveals and takes note of in its Journal of Discoveries was ordered and set in motion by the wisdom that He created (Proverbs 8: 22-23; SEE, Genesis 1-2.)

I think we all have to confront the question: Is God real? Is God good? Why am I here?

The itch inside to have answers to those questions is more than natural, but also spiritual. And there is no lasting joy or hope without knowing that the answers are: Yes (God is real.) and Yes (God is good.)

Amen.

Faith

I was in the shower thinking about Stephen King. He used to be one of my favorites, a reading obsession. Listen: I still highly, highly recommend his book, “On Writing” for writers. But I started reading a collection of his short stories recently, and it was kind of meh, for the most part. It’s me, not him, I think. I’ve changed, I guess. But I cannot take away from his role in my development and love of reading and writing. He taught me so many words, because I always had to have a dictionary handy in order to get the full view of his stories.

What he added most to me is the understanding of what it means to be a writer – what it looks like. Being a writer, he taught me, is like a lot of practices: It can be as simple or complicated as the person doing it. It’s a journey, and a journeyman chooses when he’s finished with the work. Along the way, he picks up tools and wisdom and style.

But pertinent to this particular post, is a view of God I’ve picked up by reading Stephen King’s work. It’s not ignorant of God, but there is a slant that I would call negative and atheist in nature. Proatheist may be more accurate as a description.

Anyway, during my thinking time in that shower, I tried to take the puzzle pieces of what I was picking up and cobble together the creed – the tenets of the Proatheist View of Christianity as best I could gather and outline them.

Atheist Victim Mentality

The devil and demons exist, but God does not. Or, He is indifferent, judge-y, and/or changeable. Evil and “good” (fortune) are random – like drive-by attacks that may hit “bad people” as easily as “the innocent.” 👆🏾This thinking justifies/makes logical the popular YOLO/Live for Today cultural perspectives: If, no matter what, “blameless” people are at the whims of fated drive-by’s and demons, without God to care (even if He exists to see); why wouldn’t a person be a little meaner? More selfish? Intentionally resistant to limits/restraint – moral or otherwise? Survival of the Fittest and Me First makes sense, right. Go for yours!

☝🏾 But, humans are not blameless regarding the state of our world, this earth. We have made and continue to make choices – to sin. And the heart of all sin or, I could say, the rotten core of it is: Disobedience to and rejection of the truth and identity of God. 

He loved and loves us, because He is God. And He isn’t a liar, to be doubted and denied.

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

Romans 3 (New American Standard Bible). We all know or sense that this world is broken. But it isn’t an unfair viral attack perpetrated against “good” and “bad” people, randomly; it’s the result of free will – a consequence of the worst choice. But there is a cure by the grace of God, who not only exists, but cares – deeply.

Faith in Jesus Christ saves us – justifies us and makes us righteous, bringing us into God and Him into us.

Your Blueprints

The plans in question 👇🏾 are a blueprint – intricate, thoughtfully-devised ideas for how to construct something, devised and memorialized by God…for your future, your life.

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (New American Standard Bible.) When my OB told me that my insides are totally healed, with my incision being almost totally undetectable, I realized something else: Knowing the truth about Jesus Christ is like getting the “game on” report from your doc; it doesn’t mean there are no pains or, that the discomfort is over.

But what it does mean is: Whatever pain you’re having, whatever pain you will have…will not tear you apart and is not slowly killing you. You just have to get stronger and build yourself back up according to the truth – that your foundation is perfect.

And in the realm of faith, No matter what your circumstances are or, how things look; the truth is that God has constructed and devised the blueprints of our lives for good things, for hope and a future… our circumstances are like the weakened core I have to rebuild and the pain I am still working through.

But I’m healed in my body. Inside I have God, and He has good plans for my future…no matter what it looks like or feels like now. 

That’s why the Bible teaches us to walk by faith, not by sight. We can’t see the things that God has planned for us, like I can’t see the insides that my OB says have healed. But I believe him.

I believe his Creator, too. 

You are a Choice

I’m up again – late at night with the demons the devil sends to plague me: guilt and doubt. By day, it’s distraction and discouragement – via tv and children. Children, because it’s summertime…

Spiritual attacks of the enemy, or maybe it is the mind of flesh, not set on things of the Spirit, encourage alienation in my soul – more precisely, the suspicion of alienation. Abandonment. And comparison. 👈🏾These try to dilute the confirmation of God and His love for me, which He displays in many ways – victory over strife and bad habits (giving up when it looks hard or, losing my temper)…

I look at my oldest, who is at the confusing and trying beginning of many changes, and I realize how hardened I am to spiritual things when it comes to parenting (Exodus 9:12; Ezekiel 36:26; I Samuel 6:6; Exodus 7:3; Hebrews 3:8; Isaiah 6:10; Acts 7:1.) That aspect of me should be called, Jay of Little Faith… Because I don’t know in what other realm I could see my husband and me pouring more (investment) into something (the future and training of our babies) and yet, doubt little or any good will come of it.

2954 183RD ST., Homewood, Illinois 60430
“Weeding & Watering” by Jay Jones – August 1, 2015

In the same way, I struggle to believe in the value of…well, myself  – even though God chose and called me. He made me on the sixth day of creation. I can tell other people, but in the case of Jay Jones, It’s hard to keep my very visual mind stayed on the truth: I am like a butterfly 🦋 God made my wings uniquely beautiful, unlike any others. All butterfly wings are magnificent, but they can only be seen by others – especially that is, not by the butterfly. Yet, my mind swerves like a magnet toward the ways that I’m not as good or, might be better than…another butterfly.

It is a battle to keep the wheel straight, my tires on the narrow path, hands at 10 and 2 🕙🕑…still managing to keep my hands light – in the rest of Christ.

My job is to walk up to and through fear – onward, doggedly…fueled and fed by Jesus, believing even when I don’t, and taking one more step toward His good plan and will for my life. Using all He’s given me that I can see; what I don’t yet perceive; and, everything He is curating. I love that word, curate. Its essential quality is: To have been chosen with care for a peculiar reason known and prepared for in advance. On purpose.

God is doing something in me. In you. With purpose

And His plans for us likely affect others, falling into place necessarily, like dominoes – as we interact with the wider world 🌎 as well as in our more parochial spheres of influence – among our friends and family.

As a writer, it’s true, however it feels late at night, as I’m soaked with anxiety or, as I’m clawing out of my soul to escape the distress of family infighting and my sense of failure as a mom… I know it’s true that God made me and every storyteller, external processor, host and hostess, etc., to touch others. To influence. To encourage. And to confirm that we are not alone, mostly, because God is among us.

As a mom, friend, sister, and writer who is also a Christian – having eternal life and freedom through faith in the name of Jesus Christ – I know another, more important thing: God can be in us, so that we live from and because of Him.

And that’s a million times better. Even at night. Because the dark is not dark to Him. And even during the ducking, dodging (and sometimes, piercings) of arrows by day. Because nothing can be against whosoever God is for… 👈🏾 Pray excuse that grammar.

I haven’t read my Bible in a while. I should do that tomorrow…and work on my screenplay.

Friends Disappoint

I’m feeling all the feels, I guess… Feeling like friends think I’m stupid or, a doormat – neither of which is a good thing to think about your friend.

It’s hard to experience people in whom you’ve invested and in whom you’ve given of yourself – going beyond your comfort zone in the doing – taking you for granted. You don’t like to think people are along for the ride when it’s fun or free or beneficial…but “busy” when situations ask them to invest. In you.

At the same time, I have a friend who seems to want to reconcile…without dealing with the issue(s) that caused the break. She wants to play nice and sweep all the ugliness under the rug, I guess…

I really like it when things can be fixed, when they can come back together – because everyone involved really wants that to happen. I just think confrontation needs to happen first. I’ve had friends throw me overboard. Then those same friends show up with a life jacket…in a yacht. And while I appreciate them coming, I’m not done wondering: Why did you throw me from the boat in the first place?

Is that not nice to say? Well, I think that if something breaks, we need to know how and why. Furthermore, I think we need to discuss ways to keep that from happening again – a breakdown of civility and thoughtfulness and patience… We need to figure out how to give each other the benefit of the doubt and how to treat each other as equally valuable.

Isn’t that what friends do? That’s what I want my friends to do.

I don’t want friends to put down their tools and take breaks while I’m still hard at work – pulling weeds and doing the necessary maintenance of showing up and reaching out that it takes to be a good friend. And, I don’t want my friends to stop communicating with me, because it gets hard… Have you ever heard the saying: It’s not the crime; it’s the coverup?

When it comes to close relationships like friendship, it’s not that I can’t accept 1) Friends needing breaks; 2) Friends not being able to do what they say they will do; or 3) Disappointments in general. No. My issue is with the behavior and communication surrounding these things. We need to talk about what’s going on inside of and around us, so there’s clarity and certainty between us.

And I feel like everyone in the relationship has his or her own weight to carry. We all have stuff. We all have things. We all have emotions that can get messy and interfere with healthy interactions. Of course! But we still have responsibilities – toward every relationship that we care about. The responsibility to communicate honestly. The responsibility to invest and be more than hungry receptacles of care and attention.

Some of us need to learn to use the calendar 📆 app on our phones 📲 I mean… Some of us have greater gifts and strengths than remembering dates and planning events – like me 🙋🏽‍♀️ But we can choose to excuse ourselves or, compensate for our weaknesses. And then, some of us simply need to learn to apologize.

I was watching one of the animal documentaries that I love and learning about what it takes to be an aerodynamic flyer. It takes a great set of wings or strong flapping or air streams – stuff that will help you get up and stay up. Things that create and sustain lift. Everything that comes against flyers as they gain speed, we can call drag. Jesus Christ is the ultimate Lifter, but we can be friends who are lifters. Or, we can become a drag.

I’m just saying: I don’t see why I should get my hand slapped or be spoken to in a gently patronizing tone of rebuke when I refuse to be a doormat. How can anything be fixed without an honest evaluation of the reality before us?

Is it me?

Tough Day, Friend? Let God Handle It

I saw a post on Facebook that summed up my inadequacy…and here I am. Writing to you.

It was an admonition to ENJOY today.

But… Early on, the onslaught began: One of the kids opened my door without knocking first. They don’t understand privacy yet. Then, after I asked one of the kids to ask one of the other kids to 1) start breakfast and, 2) pick up whatever was strewn over the foyer area…F I V E times…he proceeded to TELL his DADDY to start breakfast. Then he went back to his morning television entertainment. They still don’t understand that honoring and obeying their parents means they don’t tell US what to do (Ephesians 6:2-3.) And we’re inconsistent about television, iPad, and video games in the morning.

Before I came down, I got some encouragement from Christian television about resting in God – allowing supernatural peace to exist in the midst of doing life through faith, which was repeated in a Christian podcast. That felt like confirmation. Then came the yelling from the den.

That felt like chaos. Tightening in my chest and, 23 weeks into my pregnancy, tightness in my belly…

I reminded myself to keep my voice level as I demanded the presence of the kiddos. Keep this mental picture in mind: Daddy was circling. My oldest was pursuing hair things and a little chair, so I could do her hair with 8 minutes until the arrival of her bus.

I also reminded myself as I confronted a deeply emotional and tearful pair (my two youngest until this fourth child comes along): If you allow yourself to get too distracted with lots of things, that is a breeding ground for worry. When you see all these things coming at you, it’s really just one thing – the devil. And there’s always only One Solution – resting in Jesus Christ.

So, after I put the young duo in time-out on opposite sides of the kitchen table and creamed some product into my oldest daughter’s hair (keeping my eye one the dwindling minutes), I prayed aloud: “Let me see you in this situation, Lord Jesus. Let me see you in my role as mom to these kids right now.” And I looked into my middle child’s overflowing eyes and felt myself beginning to sink, like Peter on the water. But when my son gave me the dirty look he was wearing toward whatever wrong he’d interpreted, I prayed again: “In the name of Jesus Christ…” It wasn’t even a complete sentence.

It was just me looking away from the strong wind of emotions swirling around our kitchen – back toward Jesus Christ. Me. Laboring. To enter into His rest (Hebrews 4:11.)

I’ve realized that my tendency to dredge up things from the past and stack them against “my opponent” when I’m upset isn’t “a girl thing.” It’s a type of person thing, and my son displays this same tendency. I told him that I understood that he was having some emotions and that I cared about his big feelings, because I care about him. I also told him that his feelings weren’t my fault – that I hadn’t been rude to him (this morning). It wasn’t mommy and daddy who’d been destroying what he was building in his game. So dirty looks and rash (unthinking, angry) words weren’t fair to us or, acceptable. At that, a fight broke out between our two current youngest – from the breakfast bar to the kitchen table stool. Ugh!

I had to walk my oldest to the door. She presented a cool and pretty dramatic foil (contrast) to the heated accusations flying in sweet, angry voices. The bus was about to pull past our house, but the driver waved her hand when she saw us, smiling. I had to take that cool breath back to the table for peace discussions.

So many things can show themselves as completely out of our hands before the morning can even BEGIN to draw to a close: This morning my prescription wouldn’t go through. I couldn’t get hold of Hubby. I needed to get someone to help us opt-out of some refill insurance issue. And if it wasn’t resolved, like NOW, it would put my pregnancy at risk.

As I’ve said before, the devil loves us to either throw a tantrum when we’re stuck, or throw up our hands and give up; the option we have in Christ is to enter into His rest, going forward and allowing Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between what we know to/can do in our own strength, and whatever our needs are.

Bottom Line: He’s a good, good Father, who gave this momma words for her kids, brokering peace. Aaand, He got my prescription refill issue fixed. We CAN rest, y’all. It’s hard work to put our emotions and control freakery to the side – to look away from the strong winds of life, but we can. While you may not technically enjoy it, you can get a lot out of ANY day.