Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year in Review

I don't know why the text color is off. It's late, and I can't fix it. I hope you're able to read, and I apologize for any inconvenience.

If you've read the
LETTER I wrote in my previous post, you'll understand why I'm looking forward to 2016 and why I'd rather not look back on 2015.

One of the exciting things that happened this year was the publication of my first book since cancer:

Sales have gone well, and I've been happy with it. It's a historical, Christian romance. You can click HERE to find out what it's about.

Then there were a lot of overwhelming things that took place this year that pretty much left me without words, which is why I didn't write. My oldest daughter got married and moved out of state. I miss her terribly! I visited my dad in prison, and he met my youngest daughter for the very first time (I hadn't seen my dad in twelve years). Even got to see my grandma who lived in another state and passed away a few months after our visit. So glad I got to say goodbye to her.

There were also several events that made me feel unsafe. I lived in Holland for thirteen years, and I felt safer there than I do here in America. How sad that this "land of the free" is intolerant of people of faith, that Americans are killing other Americans, that the LBGT agenda is being taught to our children in public schools, that ISIS is on the rampage in other countries, and that so many nonsensical events and beliefs are being thrust upon so many (and we better not voice our opinions for fear of being politically incorrect), and God is basically left behind and forgotten in society, being tossed out with the trash. I wrote a post on gay marriage, attempted another on all the persecution believers have been suffering from money-hungry LBGT folks, but I couldn't post any of it. I couldn't bring myself to share the deep sorrow and discouragement I was feeling. Why dump that on others? But now I've shared it in a letter to both Christians and LBGT people. Hope it's not too heavy-handed.

Finally, a month or two ago, my oldest daughter (who's married and far away from me, *sniff*) shared something that gave me peace and hope. It was a reminder I desperately needed, and I hope it will encourage all of you. Allow me to quote what she posted on her Facebook page:

"In light of the recent events in this world I found this calming and was left in awe:

'14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good Romans 12:14-21.'"

Thank you, my precious girl, for sharing God's word and a passage that we ALL need. This is a good way to close out the year and start anew. Whew. I'm ready to go!

May God bless all of you in this upcoming new year! And may we all find peace in Him and His word, and keep in mind, this world is temporary, we're "just passing through."

2 Corinthians 4:18 "So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A letter to Christians and the LGBT community

I wrote this post the day after the law was passed in the Supreme Court, and I've been siting on this for a LONG time, unsure if I should even share my thoughts on the matter. But I finally decided to go ahead and share, so here goes nothin'...

When the Supreme Court of the United States passed “a law” forcing all States to embrace LGBT marriages, fear overtook me. I know God tells me not to be afraid because He is with me. But shamefully, I’m still afraid. I lay down at night in fear. I wake up in the morning fearful. I fear for all Christians in the “land of the free” and especially for the future of my kids. What’s crazy is, if the LGBT movement lost this case, I would still be afraid. 

For the first time in my life, I’m afraid to live in America. Isn’t this the country everyone is trying to get in to? Why in the world am I so afraid?

You see, when I lived in Holland (and I’m actually having thoughts of going back!), gay marriage was passed there a long time ago, and you know, I wasn’t “fearful.” Gay couples weren’t attacking Christian business owners who refused to serve at their weddings. In fact, I never heard of anything like that happening in Holland. Perhaps no one running those businesses were Christian? But here, in the land of the “free,” Christians are being taken to court, are being fined, are being threatened with jail time, are being accused of being “bigots!" Seriously? What would our forefathers think? They must be rolling in their graves! But what's even more important is what God thinks about all this.

The LGBT folks in Holland weren't afraid of Christians, nor did they get their "feelings hurt" because of their beliefs. They just wanted to be allowed to live the way they desired, and went on to do that. Period. And honestly, it’s their choice. Yes, LGBT is a "choice." Our heavenly Father would not condemn something that we have no control over. When it comes down to it, God has given us ALL freedom to choose, whether it’s “righteous” or not. Revelation 22:11, "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy."

So . . . what's my problem?

This is my concern: freedom of religion is being threatened in America. Our Constitution has been tossed out the window. Should that surprise me? No. People have done the same thing with God’s word, so why would they honor a document made by man? Perhaps I’ve watched too much news, and maybe it’s time to get away from it, but these are just a few cases made against fellow believers for acting on their faith that have brought on my fear:

The Bible states clearly that homosexuality is a sin (Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26-32, 1 Tim. 1:9-10). I stand by God’s word. I MUST because He is my Father and I love Him.

Does this mean I “hate" homosexuals?

Of course not! God teaches us the opposite! He teaches us Christians to LOVE!

You see, I grew up with two moms. They love me, and I love them. To be completely honest, my mom (who wasn’t my mother by blood) showed more love than my “Christian” father who was abusive to us kids and many around him. I lived in fear of my father. During my years with two moms, I was taught by my “new mom” starting at the age of 7 that I was worthy of love, worthy of acknowledgment, worthy of someone’s time. She would sit with me for hours, helping me with homework, teaching me math, teaching me reading comprehension, encouraging me in my talents. The good that came from her not only ended with her, but I got a whole new family to boot! A new grandma, who’s still my grandma today, and more of a grandma to me than my other two grandmas had ever been! I gained a gazillion aunts and uncles (well, only 11, but still, that’s a lot). It was especially wonderful because I was a very lonely and frightened child. These strangers embraced me and invited me in to their family! And I did nothing to deserve their love and attention. Does that remind you of Someone? We don’t deserve God’s love, and yet He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16) so he could adopt us as His children.

God is the only One I know who can turn a tragedy into a blessing. In this case, God loved me through my new family. God cared for me through them. God taught me how to love others, despite our differences. God taught me through them not to fear anyone who was “different” than me because they are ALL made in the image of our Heavenly Father. And since He was willing to die for them, I should be willing to do the same.

I repeat: "God taught me not to fear those who are different." A note to the LGBT community: you don't have to fear Christians! We are not out to "get you!" All we want to do is "love" you by presenting the Truth. If you saw a flood coming that was going to wipe out an entire community, wouldn't you want to warn those people of the impending doom? Wouldn't you do everything in your power to save those people? That's all we Christians are doing. Throwing out life vests and life rafts! But every time we throw one out, Satan blinds your view and makes you see "bigots" hurtling "knives." That's not what we're sharing. We're sharing the love of Christ! And in the end . . . you don't have to take hold of the raft. You can toss away the life vest. It's your choice. It's not our job to drag you to the throne of God. He wants you to come willingly to Him. So . . . here's a vest. It's up to you if you're gonna take it or not.

Yes, I grew up around homosexuals. And they are the most loving people anyone could ever meet. But that doesn’t mean I should accept the LGBT “behaviors” as “okay.” It’s sinful. God made it clear. So, I need to listen and obey Him. Note, I said, “behaviors.” Not the people. I embrace the people! Not the sin. JESUS taught me how to do that. He's not a "bad guy!" Really! 

Does this mean I’m "Oh, so perfect" and better than any of the LGBT folks? 

Absolutely NOT. Romans 3:23 says “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Note, “all” leaves no one out! We’re all sinners! We’re all screw ups! And we are all given the chance to be forgiven!

I fall into the following list. I’ve told more lies than I can count. I'm guilty of idolatry, among other things not even mentioned here. There are plenty of other passages in the Bible that have me thoroughly condemned. I'm one nasty sinner, and yet, Jesus loves me. And he loves LGBT folks too.

As you read this passage, FOCUS on the very LAST VERSE. But also as you read, be honest. Have you ever been guilty of any of these sins? And if not these, what about others mentioned in the Bible?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

We all desperately NEED Jesus! And ALL our sins CAN BE FORGIVEN!

So . . . whether you believe in Jesus or not, can you please see that whether or not you're LGBT, you are LOVED? We're all in the same boat, drowning in our sins. Can you please love us Christians back? We never went after you, never took you to court, or tried to get your money, never sent you hate mail and said we wished you were dead. And if someone did do that in the past, that wasn't us! That wasn't your neighbor who just happens to be a baker, a photographer, or a florist who tries to bring joy to people's lives. I mean, think about it. Where would we be without those people? 

My "mom" believes that out of the entire population 99.9 percent are good people. People who deserve honor and respect, people who just need to be loved. And she often quotes the passage (even though she's not a Christian), "Love your neighbor as yourself." Yes, those were Jesus' words, the words we Christians LIVE by (or SHOULD anyway). Why is it we can have peace with each other, while we still have our differences? Could it be because we're putting this verse into action?

LGBTs preach tolerance and love. Will you please love us Christians too? Will you please treat us the way you wish to be treated? Will you please PRACTICE what you PREACH?

To those Christians who are afraid like me, here is a passage that gave me comfort:

Psalms 34:7 
"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Misconceptions about the Bible

I would like to clear up some misconceptions about the Bible.

You see, so much is “done” in the name of “God.” So many are hurt, killed, murdered, or whatever in the name of some religion (namely ISIS at the moment), and since I’m a Christian and believe in the Bible, I feel compelled to share with you what IT (the Bible/God, our Creator) actually says about how we are to treat one another.

When someone asked Jesus what the “greatest commandment” is, here’s the answer He gave in Mark 12:30-31, “… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

These verses are the crux of how a true Christian should behave. Anyone behaving otherwise, is not portraying how Jesus taught us to be. Period. And the fact that this commandment originated from God Himself, tells me what kind of Person He is: all good and all loving. 

As it says in 1 John 4:8 

“The one who does not love does not know God, 
for God is love.”

If someone claiming to be a “Christian” commits an abominable act in the name of God, please know, they are doing something despicable in God’s sight. 

So, whether or not you’re a believer of God and/or the Bible, and especially if you DO believe, let’s try to love one another.

Matthew 5:44, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." 

One last thing, I may be throwing around scripture, but that doesn’t make me any more “perfect” than the rest of us. 

That’s why we ALL need Jesus.

Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, 
that He gave his only Son, 
that whoever believes in Him 
should not perish 
but have eternal life."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Do We Love?

I bent over backwards, upside down, and inside out for them . . . and it still wasn't good enough.

Have you ever done something (and/or many things) for someone and they turned around and complained that, although you did A-Z (that's assuming they even acknowledge A-Z) they wanted a little more of Y, and "Why-oh-why didn't you do Y?!" They claim you must not love them. Don't care enough for them. And on and on their complaints run, not just to you, but into the ears of others.

Do any of you have people like that in your lives? (I'm talking about adults, not children. E-hem.)

Well, I do.

These are folks who hurt me. They hurt me so much, I'd rather not have them in my life. But I have no choice because they are . . . FAMILY.

Ever since cancer, my tolerance level has shrunk significantly, and I'm also running low on patience. These people don't care about me and what I need or want. I discovered this during cancer. Even when they were faced with my life-and-death situation, they couldn't see past their own needy selves. Discovering their lack of "love" was really quite devastating to say the least.

So, I cried out to God, "What do I do? How do I handle these people who don't know how to love?"

That's when God revealed His answer to me through His Word. It was pretty simple, really. I mean think about it. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins it was "while we were still sinners."

Romans 5:8 
"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

God loves us despite the fact that we can't give enough of anything in return. This made me realize that every time I was doing something for my family member(s) and not getting something in return (even if I had a "right" to it because we are family, after all), I wasn't really loving them. I wasn't loving in the true sense of the word because I had expectations.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says love is not "self-seeking." Translation: love is not "selfish."

Was it selfish of me to expect to be treated with kindness and gentleness while I was pretty much dying? No. That wasn't selfish. What's selfish is the fact that when I got better, I realized that these individuals simply didn't have the capability to love me the way they "should" and that made me MAD. That made me want them OUT OF MY LIFE. Why put up with someone who truly doesn't care? Seriously. The easy way out would be to simply cut them off. After all, don't they deserve it if they kicked me while I was down?

So . . . the next question is, why was I loving them? Why did I do good things for them when they needed it? Why was I there? Why did I bend over backwards, inside out and upside down to make them happy? It was because I loved them. And naturally, I "expected" to be loved back. I had EXPECTATIONS. If I do A, B, and C, they will do X, Y, and Z.

Ladies, that was selfishness. Even if I "deserved" X, Y, Z, it was selfish to "love" them, expecting the same in return. It's natural to have expectations, but it's not always going to happen. Even if we have a "right" to them. Think about it. Didn't we kick Jesus while He was down? Didn't man hurl insults at Him while He was nailed to that cross? Didn't we re-crucify Him every time we chose to sin?

That's when I realized I had to release any and all expectations from these individuals, and simply love them for God's sake. Love them so they could discover what love truly is. Love them the way Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, sacrificed Himself for us. I need to demonstrate that same kind of love, whether these folks deserve it or not. After all, none of us deserved God's love. Not one bit. And yet, He sacrificed His one and only Son. I wouldn't sacrifice my child for anyone, not even the best person on the planet. Yet, God sacrificed His child for the worst of us.

That tells me that I need to still love these folks. Do I always enjoy it? No. That's when I have to PRAY my heart out for God to help me see them through His eyes. And to remember He died as much for them as He died for me. He loves them as much as He loves me! He wants me to love them as He would. And I pray for Him to give me the strength to do it. I simply can't do it without Him.

It helps to have no expectations from these individuals because now when they DO do something nice, thoughtful or kind, it's a pleasant surprise. But . . . I still don't expect it even after they've given back a little. Nope. No more expectations. I no longer look for it. I do still struggle with it at times, and that's when I pray and simply do my best to shine my light. To pray for them. And forgive them even when they don't ask for it.

Lord willing, one day they'll come around to fully loving God, not me, but GOD. But that's not an expectation. It's a prayer.

Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."

Monday, February 2, 2015

I'm a Contradiction

I don't know how God puts up with me. When I had cancer, I KNEW He could heal me. I had no doubts! I KNEW IT! I just didn't know if it was His WILL. I remember talking to Him about it, saying, I knew He could cure me. And if it wasn’t His will to do it, He'd have to find someone to raise my kids, someone who would love them as much as I do and bring them ALL to heaven. If He could do that, then I’m ready to go. (Just a side note: He could have done that, you know. He is GOD, the creator and inventor of EVERYTHING, after all.)

Then . . . God healed me! Now I'm living my life!!! But there are times, I get in such a tizzy of worry and feeling overwhelmed. Today, I was driving to the store for the umpteenth time and I said out loud, “I’m overwhelmed. I have so much to do, I don’t know how I’m gonna get it all done.”

My little Chelsea (who’s seven, btw) heard me from the back seat and declared, “Take it one day at a time, Mommy. Just one day.” Then she went on to remind me that I taught her that when she’d get overwhelmed because she had to read all those words on one page. She said, “You told me to just read one word at a time and don’t look at all the other words. Just read one word at a time. You taught me that, Mommy!” If she wasn’t in her booster seat, she probably would have patted me on the shoulder as if we were “girl friends” and given me a hug.

My response: “And now you’re teaching it back to me.” She’s my blessing. God is teaching me through her. From the mouths of babes.

Before this, I was worrying about something the other day, and close to freaking out about it, then I remembered to PRAY, asking God what I should do. That’s when Philippians 4:8-9 came to mind:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, DWELL on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and THE GOD OF PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU (emphasis of all-caps is mine).

It’s so NICE to know God loves me! He answered that prayer immediately by giving me that verse. And He loves me through my precious little girl who re-teaches me the lessons I’ve taught her. I’d say this is also a blessing of homeschooling. She’s reading with fluency now. So, so proud of her! But more importantly, so glad I get to be her mother.

Thank You God. Thank You my precious, heavenly Father for letting me LIVE. Now I just ask for the same kind of faith I had over the great big ugly cancer . . . that I can apply it to these trivial things in life. Silly that I don’t, huh?

One thing I learned about getting sick and not being able to function. Life goes on. With or without you. Somehow, things get done. And what doesn’t get done . . . isn’t the end of the world. Just trust in God. TRUST in HIM. He is able!!!