Makings of a Hero


All of us have at least one person we’ve looked up to at some point in our lives. I imagine what defines a person as a hero for people is as unique as we each are as individuals. 

I find myself drawn to both the character and intentions of those I admire and think of as role models.

Amy Carmichael is one of my most favorite historical figures, but she’s not well known by many. She bravely fought against both the stereotype of women in her day, as well as health issues. She discovered within her the deepest love for children and she gave of herself continuously, against the advice and concern for others– for the Glory of God. Her testimony is an incredible example  of faith and trust continuously met and blessed by God and His graceful provision.

Mother Teresa is also one I look at as maybe the most genuine and self-less person in the history of our world. She set out in obedience to God to treat every person, whether they agreed and reciprocated or not, with the love and kindness God continually poured into her heart. She held strong to her convictions and the path before her even when she didn’t feel God with her. 

Rosa Parks is also a dear favored role model I’ve chosen. She didn’t set out to be defiant or troublesome to her haters. She was true to herself, and she held her ground even when it got dangerous for her, because she had a need. Had she not gotten on that bus and sat down out of weariness, I wonder if she would have survived that day? Maybe we wouldn’t know her name or be influenced by her beautiful character. The world would have unknowingly suffered a tremendous loss. History would have been shaped a bit differently. 

Martin Luther King Jr. What can I say about him that has not already been said? He demonstrated Jesus as he was surrounded by nothing but hatred and animosity for one of the dumbest reasons in our world’s history– skin color. I have no doubt God rose him up. We are hard-pressed to find anyone today with the immense, pure character of a child of the Living God.

Having said that, I do recognize one who now has the mantle of Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. His niece, Dr. Alveda King. She has the same mindset of saving as many from hatred and death as possible– with a desire to protect the unborn, dispensing the truth and fighting against the stronghold abortion has taken over our nation– her specific focus girls, women and babies withing the African-American communities. Her heart, efforts, and tenacious focus have marked her as one of the few true heroes of our country, especially within our culture today. May God continue to bless and protect her destiny and ministry in full abundance of His grace, mercy and provision. Such a tremendous woman, and it saddens me that so few actually recognize her or her true character. 

These are my heroes. There are a few others, but these have influenced my life the most.

What Makes You Feel Loved?

God won’t make anyone feel loved by Him that doesn’t want to.

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There are so many thoughts and ideas bouncing in my head right now, like molecules of water being heated. I have a renewed excitement about this topic because of  nightmare I recently had.

I could easily say much of my past was like a nightmare. Not all of it, I have happy, content feelings and memories, too. But, feeling loved wasn’t descriptive of me for many years during my upbringing, or as a result of my first marriage ending with my being rejected. That was the subject of my recent nightmare. I was trapped in a triggered memory of the sudden cold-heartedness and rejection from my ex-husband, within a deep sleep.

The amazing thing for me is, I had forgotten that feeling completely!

The dream was a near paralyzing experience for me, until my youngest woke me up. Reality soothed my heart, calmed the terror that had re-awoken in my mind.

Feeling unloved is the ultimate torture and torment. It’s cold fingers grasp at our heart and attempt to choke the life out of us.

Feeling loved is like the sun’s light warming your back when the surrounding air is harshly cold.

I have experienced that warming light, when the man I’m married to now proposed to me then traveled thousands of miles to join me in marriage, and his continued acceptance of all I encompass. Faults, mistakes, different views and experiences, he has forgiven me time and again and looked past things my ex-husband and so many other people have judged me harshly over.

Because of where I have been, I am able to appreciate where I am and this gift of precious love I have been given. I get to give it in return, too. That excites me!!

I experienced love’s warming of my spirit as I rejected my old ways and began following the path Jesus trail-blazed for us all. The way to experience His love for us all, is through the acceptance of Jesus and all He encompasses. There is no other way. Once experienced, every myth of God not existing fades into dust. Nothing can compare to that completeness that fills the void deep in our hearts.

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Just as a womb is within a woman that can only feel completed by a baby safely growing within it, there is a place, a void, within our heart that can only grow and be filled by God. To reject God is to seal that void, embracing the cold where His love does not extend.

God won’t make anyone feel loved by Him that doesn’t want to.

This husband didn’t appear to be what I thought I needed, when I met him. It turns out, my initial assessment was wrong. Had I stubbornly followed that instead of giving him a fair chance to show me who he really is, I would have missed out of sharing life with the one who makes me feel loved.

I knew life without God’s love, as well. Had I stuck with my old ways, I would have missed out on finding out the deep reality of the difference His Love makes. I had no idea how cold and empty I was, until I accepted Jesus. It is exactly like night and day.

I feel loved by being accepted. I feel love by being heard. I feel loved by being cared for. I feel love by being forgiven. I feel love by being included. It’s by these that I am confident I am loved. I feel all of these in my relationship with my husband. I feel all of these in my relationship with God.

What are yours? What makes you feel loved?

How Can We Identify With Jesus?

A woman sat at His feet and poured her very best, most expensive bottle of perfumed oil over them. She had just finished washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair.

Another woman had been talking with Jesus at the one well everyone in that area had to use, then ran through her town, shouting with happy excitement. He was a stranger to her, and political correctness would have Him not even acknowledge her. He knew things no one could, and told her He knew she was living with a man she was not married to as well as how many times she had been married before. Even with that knowledge, He still talked to her, told her how to get Living water.

A man, cursed with life long blindness, looked around with a new perfect, clear view. Jesus had just picked up some dirt, spit in it, and rubbed it over the man’s eyes.

Jesus grew weak after walking through a crowd of people. Why? Because of one woman, compelled by desperate belief in the miraculous healing that coursed through Him propelling her to humbly, quietly just touch the hem of His robe. She didn’t want to disturb Him, but knew in her heart of hearts He could fix what money and doctors could not.

Most often we look into the recorded happenings of Jesus with the expectation that we can identify with the ones who interacted with Jesus. We expect that Jesus will identify with us, after all He left perfection to be born as we are, and live as we do.

How can we identify with Him? How many times have we experienced anything like He did?

We expect we should be the focus of His attention, that He can understand us and make excuses for where we lack. We expect that He will reach out to us with love, kindness, healing, forgiveness and understanding.

Jesus told His friends, the ones who followed Him and half-heartedly listened to His wisdom and truth, that one who broke bread with Him would betray Him. We always look at Judas as the betrayer. He sold Jesus out for 30 silver coins. But, what about Peter? Peter also betrayed Jesus, and throughout recorded accounts, Jesus felt a closeness with Peter that He did not feel with many. Yes, Judas betrayed His life, but Peter betrayed His heart, His loyalty, His trust. Can we identify with Jesus? Or do we most often put ourselves in the shoes of Peter, with all our explanations and excuses for His behavior? He was afraid for his life, after all.

And Jesus was dying on the cross in Peter’s place as Peter denied knowing Him 3 times.

Jesus made it clear that if we deny Him before men, Jesus will deny us before His Father.

I think it’s pretty clear: that is a touchy area with Jesus. He has made His terms crystal clear: if we sincerely value Eternity with Him, we need to cling to Him, no matter what. Eternity with Jesus is the reality that needs to remain the focus and purpose of our earthly lives.

As the saying goes: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” _ C.T. Studd

It seems apparent to me, a big chunk is missing from American Christianity– identifying with Jesus. Our culture is so far removed from everything His life on earth was immersed in. His Heavenly mindset. We worry about the things He told us not to worry about. We place vanity above sacrifice. We love ourselves far more than any of our neighbors. We let money be our “master”. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought, about our “rights”, our “privileges”, what we “deserve”.

If we ever identify accurately with Jesus, we will come to that sobering realization– what we have deserved was exactly what He took in our place.

Death on the cross.

Because of Him, we no longer deserve that, because He broke the curse of death that was on all mankind until God rose Him up from the grave on that third day.

We have rights because Jesus made the way for us to. We have rights because God created us to have them. We are given privileges through what Jesus has done on our behalf. Because He is mediating on our behalf even now as He sits at the right hand of God the Father, we now have God’s favor on us. It’s never been in and of ourselves we’re granted the abilities to become privileged, or have them bestowed upon us.

It should be a constant sobering thought as we ceaselessly pray, that as we enjoy our lives, many in other countries are being called upon to be martyred.

Not because God demands that of us, but because of that friendship with Jesus. Because of that loyalty to Him.

Because He first loved us.

Because He willingly took the punishment death had planned for us.

How can we possibly say we can identify with Him in that? No one has ever done such a selfless thing. No one has ever loved those who hated Him while He was taking our punishment from death, a punishment He never should have been given. He never once stepped into the realm of sin. He stayed outside of it, demonstrating for us how walking with God helps us also to step outside of, to stay outside of, the realm of sin and of death.

Jesus took the sting out of death that robbed mankind of eternity with God. He took it, and He now has control of that. He has set the standards. He told us that when we go to God through Jesus, we can live in Eternity. When we allow Jesus to rule and reign over our lives.

He is no dictator.

He is kind. He is generous. He is beautiful. He is loving. He shows mercy and forgiveness, consistently.

I would much rather trust Jesus with the keys to death and Hell, than the devil. Satan has our best destruction on his mind, consistently, constantly.

Jesus has our best interest at heart.

Mom 139: New Parent’s Translation

They have searched for me, my kids,

they know me well.

They know when I sit down, and when I get up to clean;

They perceive my need for time alone from afar.

They discern my going shopping and my lying down for a catnap;

They are familiar with all my habits.

Before a word is on my tongue,

they interrupt and make me forget what I was going to say.

They pull at my hem from in front and behind me,

Their hands are always on me.

Such attention is overwhelming for me,

Too much for me to process all at once.

 

Where can I go from my children?

Where can I go to flee from the kids?

If I go in the bathroom, they are there,

In the middle of the night when everyone should be sleeping, they are there.

If I get up early, they are there,

Try to sneakily eat chocolate behind closed doors, there!

Even there, they beg!

Their hands trying to take it from me, making me feel guilty.

If I say, “Surely I can have privacy in the darkness

and the quiet becomes peace around me,”

the night will be full of interruptions;

because the darkness means it’s time to play.

 

They were created in my inmost being;

I am the mother in whose womb they were knit.

I praise God because they were fearfully and wonderfully made,

His works are wonderful!

My frame was not hidden from their kicks

when they were made in the secret place,

when they were woven in the depths of my girth.

Their eyes saw as their hands punched me;

all their days were written in their baby book

hopes and promises before they came to be.

How precious are their words, and their silence!

How vast is the sum of their joyful noise!

Were I to count them, it would require I could concentrate…

I’m sure their questions have outnumbered the grains of sand–

when I’m awake, they are always with me.

 

In game and play, they slay the zombies.

They pretend to kill the monsters and vampires.

While at church they sing Jesus Loves Me;

they are learning of His precious Name.

Do I not get angry with those who are mean to them,

and abhor those who bully or reject them?

I have nothing but disdain for adults who dismiss them;

I count them as missing out on great opportunities.

My kids have searched through my stuff, and they know what I love;

they test me and cause anxious thoughts.

They push buttons of offensiveness,

but I love them, that’s my way, and it’s everlasting.

 

 

 

 

Just Tweak it!

If writing is anything like the process God goes through in transforming us, He has His work cut out for Him.

Just change this here to fit there… Ok, now shave off a bit over here.

Wait. Wait! That’s all wrong, need to put this up here as the priority, and switch these two things around over here…

Space. Need a lot of space over here.

The heart, where’s the heart! Oh, Ok, whew! Got it.

Now, some emphasis…. here!

Whoa! Can’t have that in there!

Erase!

Ok, now a little shaping here, make this thought tighter… Good!

Ok. I think we are about…

Oh, where did that twist come from! Straighten it…just…like…so…

Nevermind, just pull that all the way out.

Ok. It’s done.

It’s done!

For now.

I’ll pick up again tomorrow.

Time to get some rest.

 

Perspective

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This is my 3 year old’s toy tornado.

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This is my silicone funnel that I bought at the 100 Yen store.

Perspective.

Perspectives are like opinions: everyone has one.

Like noses.

My perspective comes from a different view of life than yours does. My experiences factor into it.

My age, where I have lived and traveled.

The jobs I have worked, the people I have associated with.

My choices, my successes, my failures and my mistakes.

The societal standards for “normal.”

The media sources I pay attention to.

Those all factor in to my perspective equation.

Perspectives are molded over time, and it seems like sometimes they can become the opposite of what they once were.

We don’t even realize something is molding or shaping– let’s just be real here and say manipulating– them at times, when we aren’t paying attention.

One of my favorite phrases is, “Gain some perspective.”

How do we gain perspective? Is it something we can buy? Can we take it, or make it, or create it out of nothing?

How do we grab hold of perspective?

If I look at every person’s situation and assess they should have the same outcome I have experienced or heard about, then I have super limited perspective.

What has worked for my life isn’t going to work for everyone.

My mold, it won’t fit you.

Your mold, it will never fit my personality.

The ideas you value, they might not be what I value, and vice versa.

But, if we let that become an obstacle instead of exploring the differences and learning from one another, we lock ourselves into an unhealthy mindset.

We all have something we have passionately poured ourselves into. A job, a ministry, children, marriage, relationships, writing, artwork…surviving life

We have a perspective and opinions on how best to do things.

When our perspective and opinions don’t fit someone else, we get frustrated, and criticize that they aren’t doing it “right.”

They are weak.

Idiots.

In reality they are unique.

That’s the way we should look at people, the perspective we should gain– grab hold of.

We should dig a little deeper, and learn from their perspective.

But. Then we would have to stop talking, and…

Listen.

And that’s a bigger, time-consuming challenge than we often want to take on.

So, we wallow in our perspective, and we criticize those who don’t do things our way.

We hold our outward view with the opinion that grabs our perspective, and we misjudge what we won’t take the time to explore.

We get lazy. We get presumptuous.

We get mean.

Then we become unapproachable.

Our perspective becomes the guide we follow for our lives and interactions with others.

It becomes our ineffectiveness and lack of communication catalyst.

We stop valuing individuality, and start embracing a conformist view.

Our perspective still changes us, while it remains the same. It molds us into someone we never thought we would choose to become.

It seems the mistake we often make  is to allow our perspective to become our guide.

Maybe, just maybe, learning from other people’s perspectives is one of the keys to walking in freedom.

Some people are afraid of perspectives that differ from theirs. They don’t want to look at things they disagree with, don’t want to find the heart in the middle of different.

They don’t want to care about the reasons.

It’s the middle road that takes us to the higher grounds of life, I believe, many times.

The middle ground is hearing the heartbeat beneath all the noise, emotion and turmoil.

Find the heartbeat, and you’ll grab hold of perspective.

That’s what God hears. He doesn’t look on the outward appearance and distance Himself from us. He doesn’t see the yuckiness, the clutter, the faults and failings– the sin– and turn away from us.

He figured out a way to dive into the ugliness, and retrieve the beauty.

He sent His own heartbeat in to find our heartbeat.

He embraced the human perspective, individually and collectively.

Shouldn’t we strive to do the same?

 

 

 

Undercurrent

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We live in an “arms-length-away” society. There is an invisible barrier of protection we keep around us called “space.” We invite some people in to a closer distance, but not…

too…

close…

In our space, we have an image we put up, like a projected force field. It’s part of the barrier we keep up in order to protect ourselves from displaying our vulnerabilities. Our failures. Our imperfections. That image blurs the lines of reality to those we don’t invite past it.

We hide ourselves in it.

Our image we maintain shows what we want people to see. Self reliance. Self esteem. Self confidence.

Self.

It allows us to be in a cocoon of acceptance, socially. It allows us to hide behind pretensions and judgements we have about ourselves and about others. We can be liked, and appear to conform to standards of the boxes society dictates we should all fit within. We can keep those who don’t cocoon themselves in at a greater arms-length-away from us.

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I have no doubt John the Baptist was held at arms-length-away from many in his society. I mean, he lived in the wilderness. He ate bugs with honey. He stood by that river, just waiting for people to baptize. He recognized Jesus immediately, and begged Him to take over his God-given ministry, but Jesus recognized the call on his life. Jesus didn’t tell him all the ways he was doing things wrong. Jesus didn’t criticize John for putting people off with his bug eating ways. Jesus embraced John, and He encouraged John to continue his ministry. He allowed John to baptize Him.

Jesus didn’t keep John at arms-length-away.

The woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, she invaded His personal space. She touched His feet with her tears and her hair. Can you imagine everyone’s reaction to this societal misfit, this outcast? Can you imagine anything like that happening today? This was a woman who was so grateful for being forgiven, so deeply thankful for being accepted and valued , that she gave her most expensive possession to be used to wash the feet of the One Who gave her Good News. Jesus didn’t cringe. He didn’t get prideful and verbally attack her. He didn’t get embarrassed and try to silence her or have her removed from His presence. He didn’t chastise her for her appearance.

The religious leaders did.

Does our cocoon of societal acceptance keep us from recognizing the calling God has placed on others who don’t follow our ways, look or act like we think we would if we were them? Are we focused on what we judge as being wrong?

Are we a slave to society?
Do we serve Self? Or do we serve God? It doesn’t seem like we can serve both 100% at the same time.

Relevant

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I watched a movie last night that was relevant to my life. I identified with the main characters in a way I find I often don’t identify with many people who cross my path. The movie was Moms’ Night Out. I am a mom who doesn’t get out much at all, after having been an independent woman in the work force.

Relevant topics of conversation aren’t always easy for me to find. People just don’t have time or energy to relate with me, I think.

When I was a little girl, I was bit by my aunt’s pet cougar. There aren’t many experiences in life that are relevant to that. I have never met someone who got bit in the head at the tender age of 10, by their aunt’s pet cougar. I don’t blame people for being shocked when I mention it as a bit of trivia from my past. I guess I can’t blame people who think I’m making it up, either. I once had a hairdresser look for the scars in my scalp when I mentioned being tender-headed, and the cause of it. She found the scars, right where I told her they were.

I was abused as a child. I, sadly, often find someone who that is relevant to as well. God has adapted a spontaneous, Holy Spirit led, one-on-one ministry with young women through me at times. I’ve seen the yuckiness of my past help me identify with and encourage someone else. That has made my experiences have relevance in a good, helpful way.

When I was a teen, I nearly died from alcohol poisoning. I was almost institutionalized from waking up in the hospital, screaming that I just wanted to die, and to leave me alone… On occasion, that becomes a relevant testimony.

I am a female Veteran. My job was in Civil Engineering. It can often be  difficult to find some way to get that to be relevant in any conversation.

I spent some time in the desert during my military enlistment, living in a tent. It was a difficult assignment, and I left there changed and aware of weaknesses I have hated about myself. Not many relevant conversations spring up out of that experience.

I play and teach the violin. That becomes relevant when someone is interested in lessons, or would like me to play with a church band, or for a special function. On occasion, I meet someone else who plays violin, too. Or used to play, that’s more common.

I’m a military spouse, and we have spent most of our marriage living overseas. Except to a few people here, that isn’t relevant to most.  I’m also a stay-at-home, home educating mom of four. Who can identify with the unique struggles and challenges I’ve had to face head on? More importantly: who is able to listen and encourage me when the stress, monotony, and the opportunities to continue to prove my flexibility to the always changing military plans, take their toll on my patience and motivation?

I was in Japan when the earthquake hit 3 years ago. My husband was deployed, and I had a newborn baby and three other children to be responsible for. I came face to face with my limitations, my mortality, and the incredible responsibility of my children. God covered us in those weeks, He protected us, and family heading towards us on a cruise. I am still aware of being shaken to my core. Not a relevant topic for most.

I have health issues  no one else can relate to, and doctors can’t find the cause for.

I have been told my experiences are intimidating to others. I don’t know what to do with that. I can’t go back and not have them, they have been used to mold me into the person I am today.

I have had experience after experience, most lack relevance with others. In some ways that has made me uniquely strong. In other ways, it has made it difficult for me to relate to others. I don’t find conversing an easy thing most of the time.

My life has been uniquely designed to have no option except to run to Jesus.

Rely on God.

Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Because, there has only been one place my help has come from. Only one place encouragement, that fits my special situational and experienced needs, can come from.

My help comes from God.

He makes Himself relevant to my every need.

In Him, I have been made

Relevant.