It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

by Michele Mann

restaurant-person-woman-coffeeWe met for an early (but not too early) breakfast. We chatted and laughed in between sips of caffeine ( because mid-morning is still morning). We discussed husbands and kids and ailing parents and busy lives. We talked about the struggle of trying to juggle an endless to do list with maintaining healthy relationships with Jesus and our husbands and our kids. She briefly mentioned a couple of struggles she was walking through, and then quickly added, “But I’m okay.” I nodded and listened for a few more minutes as she slowly stirred her coffee. She had to scoot out for an appointment, so I prayed for her and she darted out the door.

As I watched her leave, my heart sank. She most definitely wasn’t okay. She was drowning in the abyss between desire and expectation and reality. I’ve been there. It’s a hard place to live—made even harder when we fall prey to the lie that we have to hide our heartache. I’ve gone about my days with a placid smile and a sorrowful heart. I’ve said all those things a follower of Christ is supposed to say when life gets hard like, “God is faithful,” or “God’s got this,” or “God is good.” When all the while my mind and heart are wrestling with doubt and fear and wondering if God is really there, if He really cares. I want someone to tell me it’s okay to not be okay. I want someone to remind me that God is okay with me not being okay.

When I am in that dark and desperate place my mind wanders back to a trio of siblings. Three whose hearts were knit with each other and knit with the heart of the Messiah. They loved well. So well, in fact, that Jesus spent as much time with them as He could when He walked the earth. He made their little house in Bethany, just a couple of miles outside of Jerusalem, His getaway. Even Jesus needed a quiet place to reflect and rest. And the siblings loved hosting Him. They knew He was the Savior of the world, but to them He was also a cherished friend.

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The Resurrection of Lazarus – Wilhelm Kotarbinski

So on that dark day when their brother became ill, the sisters knew whom to call. They expected Him to rush to their side. But the days passed and there was no sign of the Savior. Mary and Martha sat vigil by Lazarus’s bedside waiting, waiting for Jesus to come. But He did not. Lazarus took his last breath and the sister’s wept and mourned and still no Jesus.

Four days after the sisters laid their beloved brother in his tomb, Jesus arrived. Martha, the sister who was rebuked by Jesus for chiding her sister for sitting at His feet, was the first of the sisters to find Jesus. But Mary, the one who poured out her precious perfume at the feet of Jesus and sat at His feet and listened to Him for hours and hours, stayed home.

Martha met Jesus with words of a tested, but steadfast faith. “Lord if you had been here, our brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” But Mary sat at home in her grief. Her heart broken. Her eyes swollen with tears. Why had He waited so long? Why didn’t He save Lazarus? Mary was awakened from her anguish by her sister, who took her aside privately to tell her the Teacher was here and was calling for her. Mary quickly got up and made her way to him. Through her sorrow, she made the same statement to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But she could not utter words of faith, her broken heart wouldn’t allow it. At that moment, Mary was at the end of herself, and was raw before her Messiah. She had no words, only tears. Jesus did not chastise her lack of faith or judge her honest words of despair. He did something so tender, so kind, so beautiful. He wept.

I’ve often thought back to this encounter when my heart is broken. What was it that broke the heart of Jesus? Was it simply His compassion for Mary? Was it His heartache that she had to suffer such agony in this sin-sick world? Was it His sorrow over the reality of death? Was it a combination of all these things? Whatever the reason, the comfort comes in knowing Jesus understood Mary’s pain and cried with her. And like Mary, when I come to the end of myself, I allow Jesus to reveal His glory. Mary found she could be real and raw before Jesus and He didn’t condemn her, He wept with her. He understood her pain and the depth of His love was revealed in more beauty and power than she could’ve ever imagined.

As time has passed, I’ve prayed much for my friend. I let her talk and encourage her to be honest before God. I tell her it’s okay to not be okay. I tell her it’s in those deepest, darkest, end of ourselves moments God is able to be to us exactly what we need Him to be—our Rescuer, our Redeemer, our Friend. Because it is not in our strength or our ability or our talent that we are made strong—in God’s strange, absurd, upside down world—it’s in our weakness, in our lack, that we find God is all we need. And He is okay with us not being okay. In fact, He welcomes our broken hearts.

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Gratefulness

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

A challenge for today:

Starting today, document what you are grateful for. You can start a Gratefulness Journal recording at least one thing a day for which you are grateful. Or you can join the Instagram #100daysofgratitude phenomenon. Whatever you choose, if you are faithful to it you will find that having a grateful heart will change your perspective on life.

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The blog article today is written by YOU! We’ll all chime in too! In the “Comments” box below please share at least one thing you are grateful for today or this week. Let’s have a flood of replies to remind us all that there is much more to be grateful for than we may feel we have. Sometimes the worries of life and the struggles of relationships and the fears about the future keep us so bound up we lose sight of all we are truly blessed with!

So whether it is Thanksgiving day you read this, or a week from now when things are settling down, as the old hymn tells us “Count your Blessings, Name them One by One!”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Family “Get-together”

by Dena Green

You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Psalm 128:2

When we want to catch up with friends or family, what do we usually do?  We plan a dinner date or a cook-out or special meal at our home.  We celebrate holidays, birthdays, or special events with meals together.  When was the last time you invited the members of your household to a meal at your table?  TV off, cell phones and electronics put away, out of sight and hearing distance.

In the Bible,  many times we see Jesus having meals with people.  Meals with his disciples, his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  It is part of our Biblical heritage as meals together are mentioned all through the Bible.  God gave feasts for his people to observe “together” in remembrance of Him. Important things took place at meals.

Meals together are so important for a family. It is a time when we can teach our little ones table manners and how to act and behave at the table. They can see you pray as a family over a meal and realize the importance of giving thanks to the Lord for all he provides for us.  They learn concern and compassion for other as each person or only one shares something about their day, good or bad.  It is a place to connect as a family for a few minutes out of the day and for the kids to share with mom and dad about anything on their minds.

pexels-photo-48607Is meal time always pleasant?  Absolutely not!  Many times when our children were younger,  we came to the table and had tears and frustrated parents and moody teens.  Meltdowns occurred because they didn’t want to eat.   Big brother picked on little sisters and little sisters annoyed their teen siblings.  Some days, we wanted to throw in the towel and give up.  But many, many more times we came together and had belly laughs over something funny.  We laughed just because someone else was laughing and not really sure why.  We took time to pray for an upcoming test or a classmate going through a rough time. We prayed over family issues or a sick loved one.

Your meal time may not look the same as other families’, but find what works for yours.  Be deliberate and persistent. Don’t feel overwhelmed or guilty.  If you don’t feel you have time, start with just one meal and work toward it becoming a habit. This is an important investment in your family and the dividends will be well worth your efforts.  Even secular studies report the positive benefits for a family that connects during at least a couple of meals each week. Check out this Washington Post article.

As a mom, I fought against distractions and activities to have meals around our dinner table as a family, and we managed to get together at least a few times each week in spite of school events and other activities. Even now, with older and two married children, we try as often as we can to catch up with one another with a meal at our house.  We have the best times together! If you feed them, they will come!

Psalm 127:4-5  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 

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Wanted

by Blaire Stephens

OK so what is it? You know, that thing, person, place that keeps you from experiencing God? For me, many times it’s all three. I go throughout my day questioning where God is, what He’s up to, or to be perfectly honest, am I even hearing Him? I get so wrapped up in where He has me instead of who he has called me to be in that place where He has me. Why is that? Well on different days there are different answers to that question. You know what else? Regardless of my answer to that question, who God is and who He sees me as DOES NOT CHANGE (Malachi 3:6).

The grace that has been given that the Creator of the universe (the one who knows my faults, my “secret sin,” the sin I try to convince myself I don’t have) sees me as blameless! Seriously? After all I have done and the person I try so hard not to be, He still sees me without fault? Don’t take my word for it, because quite frankly that could be the worst decision you ever make in your life. Let’s look together and let the realization of His love swell up inside of us.

Colossians 1:19-20 says it pleased God to live in Christ so that we may be reconciled with Him. God doesn’t just put up with us or tolerate us, HE WANTS US!

Colossians 1:21-22 says:

“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him WITHOUT A SINGLE FAULT.”

The fact of the matter is that as a child of God I was evil but now…now I am called holy. I was not able to be looked upon by the Father because of my sin and now… now He has brought me into His presence, not because He has to, but because He wants to. Deep within His heart He longs to be with me and for me to be with Him. He not only wants me in His presence, but He provides a way. And then again, He doesn’t only provide a way, He leads me in just so everyone knows I’m His and He loves me! Song of Solomon 2 :4 says “He escorts me to the banquet hall; it’s obvious how much he loves me.”

Oh how He wants us to get that fact. He wants us, He wants you. In your mess, in your confusion, in your stubbornness, in your rebellion, He wants you. He wants to wrap you up in His arms and show you that regardless of what is going on He loves you and wants to change the world for His glory using you.

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Loving Messy People

by Debbie Stovall

Do you have a messy friend? Or maybe you ARE that messy one. And I’m not referring to one whose house is a wreck, whose car is full of fast food wrappers, or who (like me) looks a bit wilted and slouchy as soon as she walks out the door even if she just spent 2 hours getting dressed.

I’m talking about those with messy lives. Issues. You know… A history of bad decision stacked upon bad decision. A string of divorces or jobs or financial problems. Addictions. Self-destructive tendencies…cutting, abusive relationships one after the other, binge drinking or eating or shopping. Compulsive lamenting over illnesses or a verbal barrage of negativity, complaining, whining, or self-pity every time you are within earshot. THAT kind of messy! The kind of messy that makes the friendship uncomfortable at times even though you love them dearly. The kind of messy that makes you take a deep breath as you answer their calls. The kind of messy that leaves you in tears and prayer when the call ends. The kind of messy that makes you ask, “Will she ever find her answers in Christ or will she deal with these crazy ups and downs until she’s 80 if she lives that long?!”

I’m here to tell you there is Hope for even the messiest of us!

As a Beloved daughter of the Most High you have something to offer those Messies. When they text you at 2:00 a.m. and you have no solution in your playbook to answer their question,… you still have something to offer. When they lie and manipulate and use your friendship in unhealthy ways, you still have the love of their Creator to offer them. When they get stoned or pregnant or caught in their sin, you still have the mercy of Christ to offer them. When they hang up on you and won’t listen to you, you still have something to offer on your knees to The One who is ever-listening. When your compassion and willingness to deal with them has flown out the window, you still have something to offer – forgiveness and a fresh start. The grace, mercy, salvation and unconditional love of God are what you always have to offer and what our dear Messies need more than they need a shoulder to cry on, or money, or advice, or a place to crash, or positive affirmation. 

Many of us are Messy People ourselves, struggling to walk faithfully with God. Interacting with other Messy Folks will either strengthen us or tear us down. Whether we struggle ourselves or think we’ve got it together at the moment, every interaction with the “messy” friend stretches us to our limit to love unconditionally. Sometimes we think we just can’t do it anymore. Sometimes our friend just wears. us. out. But scripture is true – when we are weak, He is strong. When we can’t, He can. And does. And those are usually the key moments in those messy relationships. When we have no mercy and grace left in our heart to offer and we’re so mad we just want to verbally bash them with the truth of their sin and failure, Father God pours into our hearts His mercy and grace by the armfuls and enables us to draw them in to a hug and bless them.

The grace, mercy, salvation and unconditional love of God are what you always have to offer and what our dear Messies need more than they need a shoulder to cry on, or money, or advice, or a place to crash, or positive affirmation. 

As we are stretched we learn not only how to offer these things, but also how to speak the truth boldly. We find our voice. As the Holy Spirit stirs up scriptures in our mind that we never remembered memorizing, we speak the truth to them in love. And then we are able to let go and to say, “It’s your choice, but you need to know the consequences.”

Messy people are challenging. But aren’t we all messy at times? Aren’t friendships inconvenient? Isn’t being REAL a hard thing to do? Giving ourselves and our time when it seems to make no lasting difference is hard. So when you’re finding it challenging to deal with that Messy friend, here are some tips I’ve found to be true.

  1. Love them with a God-love. Human love can be self-serving, conditional, too merciful at times, and even mean when people don’t act the way we think they should. First Corinthians 13 teaches us about God-love.”…If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
  2. Set boundaries with them. This is NOT a cruel concept. It is Biblical. In scripture God gave His people boundaries for their land and tribes. The garden of Eden had boundaries. Even Jesus displayed boundaries in His actions – He did not minister to, nor heal, every single person around Him, and He often left them just as He had found them except with a choice to live differently. When I was a young married mom of four I protected my family time even when engaged in a mentoring relationship with a Messy one. She knew she could call me 24/7 with an emergency, but I wasn’t available for a gripe session at 3:00 in the morning when she was drunk. No, I wouldn’t get matching tattoos (even a small one!) because it went against my convictions for myself. Yes, she could spend the night on Thanksgiving evening and enjoy the holiday as a part of our family since her mom was partying with her boyfriend. No, I wouldn’t taste this alcoholic drink they love (once again – my convictions!) or go to questionable places to meet their friends. Yes, I will invite you out to lunch and pay at times, but I am not a free ride for you when you have been irresponsible. The list could go on (‘cause those are just some of the things that really happened), but you get the picture. And you have your own list that you have had to or are needing to set boundaries on. Check out the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend for more on boundaries.
  3. Remember their real need is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Be less focused on their outward circumstances and more focused on their sinful heart needing the Redeemer. We fall into wrong thinking when want to give advice and “fix” these Messy ones. We will not stop them from drinking or shooting up or lying or sleeping around or smoking (or whatever else) with our wise reasoning and brilliant words. The only thing that will permanently change their messy lives is the salvation of the Lord. A transforming encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ will heal their messy broken hearts and put them on the path to cleaning up their messy habits and messy lives, just as Christ has redeemed and cleaned up our messiness.
  4. Pray. Pray with them. Pray for them. Let them know when you are praying for them. Pray for yourself as you deal with them. Pray silently for yourself in the moment as you don’t know what to say next. Pray aloud with them in the moment so they’ll know what is being spoken on their behalf. Pray for their family and people who impact their lives. Pray scripture with their name inserted. When you wake up with them on your mind – Pray! Prayer walk their neighborhood, dorm, work, or school. Pray against temptation for them. Pray for their protection. Pray for their mind, situation, finances, character, job, relationships,… anything that God brings to your mind. But most of all pray that the day of their salvation will come soon!
  5. Speak truth, speak scripture to them. Your words are kind and helpful, but sweet friend, your words have no eternal power! But scripture does! Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
  6. Treat them as a friend, not a project. People sense when we aren’t being real. If this person is your project, they’ll know it. If you are on your knees for them and heartbroken over them they will sense that too. So relax and enjoy your times together. Sometimes those days will be deeply spiritual, but other times shared laughter or cooking a favorite meal together strengthens the bond and lets them see your love and know they can trust you because you really care. Don’t be self-protective. Love them even if others don’t understand. Don’t worry about what people think.
  7. Bless themSpeak sweet, pure words of blessing over them whenever God reveals something to you that they need to hear. It may be nothing more than, “God will redeem your pain and make something beautiful from it.” (For more on the Blessing of people as we see it in scripture, read Genesis 48 & 49 or check out The Blessing Challenge or the book, The Blessing by Gary Smalley & John Trent.)
  8. Mentor them. Some Messy people are already believers like many of us, but they may not have had the guidance to grow up in Christ. They need you to disciple them, mentor them, mother them, be their “spiritual doula.” First, ask them if they are willing to be mentored. Explain what you mean if necessary. Then set up a regular time to meet each week for discipling them. Choose a Bible study or plan to read through a book of the Bible together explaining Christian principles as you go. Your goal in mentoring: 1) to teach them how to apply the truths of scripture to their lives and 2) to be open with them where they can see a Christian living out the Word in everyday life. (They don’t need you to be perfect!) If you don’t have a Bible study you like for mentoring them in the basics of walking the Christian walk, check out my friend, Iva May, her blogs: Iva’s blog and CBT Blog , and her discipleship materials, especially W3: Women, Worldview and the Word. (NOTE: Only disciple other females. The messy male co-worker you want to help…just don’t go there! I’m warning you gently. Unless it’s your son or brother, don’t get into intimate interpersonal relationships trying to disciple a male. Find a godly man you can recommend to do the mentoring.)

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love…. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,…” from 1 John 4:7-21

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Resolve

by Tracy Hacker

Two years ago, our pastor asked our congregation to petition God for a word for our families for the year. I did as he requested, and my word came. I was hoping for a word like “boldness” or “wisdom” or “change,” maybe even “joy,” instead, my word was “resolve.” Webster’s Dictionary defines resolve “to make a definite and serious decision to do something.” My favorite definition is one I heard a pastor give several years ago “stick-to-it-ness.” This has proven to be a much better definition!!

Over the past two years, I kept thinking this word might change or maybe God would speak another word, but the word He kept giving was “resolve.” To be honest, I had a hard time understanding what I could do with this word. Would God give me a platform or a circumstance for this word to come alive? Instead of a platform, He has given me a daily stage for this word to show up in my life and has given me plenty of opportunity to learn to live it out! I have found myself at times asking God for guidance and praying for the pexels-photo-131979meaning of this word “resolve” to sometimes just get me through the day. You may be like me in that the everyday tasks seem to be overwhelming some days. The mundane tasks that seem so unimportant. The laundry that never seems to stop. The dishes that seem to “always” be in the sink. (Did I mention that 8 people live in my house?!) Fingerprints  seem to be on everything, smudges on my front door, and toys on the floor. God has used these things each day to show me exactly how my “resolve” would be used. Those tasks that seem to be insignificant in the big scheme of things are sometimes where our “resolve” is tested the most.

“Resolve” is what keeps a heart going in the midst of chaos, in the middle of a storm. When the world would say “give up,” “let someone else do it,” resolve says, “God called you to this, He will keep you.” “Resolve” or “stick to it-ness” says, “I am tired, I am overwhelmed, but God has a plan.” Satan would like nothing more than to see us stop living our purpose because of how we feel, because of our circumstances. The “resolve” that God has placed within each of us gives us the strength to keep moving, to press on, to go forward even though we don’t “feel” like it, even when there is no grand stage. You may be reading this blog post right now from the sofa next to a huge pile of clothes that need folding, or maybe sitting at your kitchen table looking at a sink full of dirty dishes just over the top of your computer and the defeat has already set in for the day. GET UP!! God is too good and His purpose for you is too important for you to let the enemy’s schemes hold you back today.

God has been so faithful to show me over the past two years that part of His purpose for my life in this season is to care for the people in my home and that my “resolve” is to do it DAILY with all I have. There is no grand stage, no huge crowd to share with, just a few little faces that fill my table. Small hands and hearts that fill our house with laughter and love and are evidence to me that He sees each soul as priceless, redeemable and worth dying for. Somewhere in His grand plan is a place for me.  I GET TO serve Him. There is a place for the talents He has given me and a place for my soul to find rest and He delights in me. Resolve counts when is gets hard, when it’s not fun, when we would rather be somewhere else that does not require work, or at a movie or just sitting somewhere quiet. Resolve says, “When I don’t feel like living out my purpose today, I will move forward.” Resolve means that at the end of a long day, I can lay my head down at night and ask God for the strength to do it all again tomorrow, not the option to give up. Resolve means no retreat, no opting out. To quote one of my favorites, Beth Moore, “Let’s do the thing!!”

God, give us vision for our future, and place within us the RESOLVE to move when You call!!

“Jehovah is my strength and song; And he is become my salvation” Isaiah 12:2

 

 

 

Unrealistic Expectations

by Gina Mayfield

Recently we celebrated my daughter’s second birthday party. As a lot of moms do I began scouring the internet at party planning blogs and Pinterest to get ideas on what kind of theme to do. After a lot of searching I settled on a milk and cookies theme – cute and simple…or so I thought. I mean, how hard can it be to bake cookies and buy milk – right? pinterestlogo2With the help of ladies from work I gathered my cute containers (similar to the ones I had seen on Pinterest) and set out to plan my menu for the perfect milk and cookies party! I settled on eight different types of cookies, three types of milk, Oreo ice cream dessert and a birthday cake. Easy peasy…or so I thought.

As I was settling into the cookie baking I decided to start with chocolate chip cookies. I set out with my Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe and my mixer and went to baking. When I pulled them out of the oven – it was a giant cookie mess! They were not cookies, they were more of a cookie sheet as they had all combined together. I tried again and sat by the oven to watch – same result, tried again, same. I thought maybe it was the recipe so I decided to try another chocolate chip cookie recipe and that didn’t work either. At that point, I was losing it! It was over – I was not going to be able to pull this party off. I might as well go and purchase cookie dough. I threw those in the garbage and started on my other cookies and thankfully they all turned out well….and my chocolate chip cookies were made from cookie dough.

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As I was having my cookie debacle the Lord began to speak to me, ” Gina – you have let impressing others with your cute party make you lose sight of everything. Lose sight of honoring and celebrating your little girl, lose sight of having people in your home and entertaining them and lose sight of Me. I have called you to love Me and love others not impress others with your parties”.

I know I am not the only one has let social media make you a crazy mess! But, why do we do it? Why do we make ourselves crazy in order to impress others? Why do we let comparison creep up on us? Why do we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves? 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. We need to be authentic with each other and stop the ugly comparison game. Some people can pull off gourmet meals and smock beautiful dresses and that is ok if I cannot do that. Instead of slamming myself for not being able to do that I can thank God for the gifts He has blessed those ladies with and thank Him for the gifts He has given me. My focus should be serving my family and friends but most of all be transformed into His image.

I’m learning that it’s often the little things that speak love to my friends and family most. It’s abandoning the dishes to play with my little girl. It’s making myself stay up late and watch that football game with my husband. It’s an impromptu visit to the park with friends. It’s being available.

While I’ll still try to make things pretty and creative, it’s not going to be my focus. My goal every day should be to show love to my friends and family instead of planning that Pinterest spectacular birthday party. When I am faced with the temptation to compare myself to the glories of others, I’m going to contemplate on the glory of God instead.

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Questions

by April Kyle

John 9:1-7 (ESV) – The Man Born Blind

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

jesus20and20a20blind20manThis story has been a fascination of mine for some time… well, for almost nine years now.

Watch the beginning, how the Holy Spirit chooses to lead you into this story…

The disciples ask Jesus whose sin has caused this man’s blindness, his disability. Were his parents diehard trespassers who were punished by a physically hindered son, as opposed to a healthy, seeing son?

Did he do some wrong to bring this predicament upon himself?

“Who sinned…?”

Reminds me of Job’s friends… Job knew he was clean and guiltless before his God; but his buddies couldn’t comprehend such tragedy coming by any other vehicle than that of the consequences of sin. The Bible says that Job held to his integrity. Pretty intense.

“Who sinned…?”

I said this passage has fascinated me for some years now…

I have a niece who was born with some hindrances, some restraints. She was diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome, as well as esophageal atresia – that’s a fancy word for when the esophagus and stomach do not meet. Pretty intense.

“Who sinned…?”

I remember praying for that sassy girl with such intensity, such fervor, pleading, crying out for God to work a miracle.

“Who sinned…?”

…reminding God how as a family, we stood blameless – not perfect mind you – but faithful to all God had called us to. We were trusting Him to do what He does for good people. At least, that’s what I was trusting Him to do.

You see where I’m going with this…

Good things happen to good people. Bad things happen to bad sinners. God works miracles for us good kids. He saves the tragedy, the heartache, the disabilities and birth defects for the wicked.

That’s how we think, isn’t it?

Oh my, we wouldn’t dare say it aloud, but deep down in our heart of hearts, that’s exactly what we think.

“Who sinned…?”

It’s shocking really. Jesus’ answer is really rather earth-shattering, life-altering. It rocks traditional thinking to its very foundation. Typical Jesus.

Much to the dismay of Job’s friends, Job stands blameless before them. In the end, they get the real scolding.

Much to the astonishment of the disciples, nobody’s sin has caused this blindness; nobody’s sin has deserved this punishment.

Then why?

Why is this man blind?

Why was he born blind?

Why does Job lose everything?

Why does he sit in a garbage heap, scraping his sores?

Why does my niece have Down’s syndrome?

Why does she wear scars from too many surgeries?

“Who sinned…?”

“No, guys,” says Jesus. “This one isn’t about sin. This one isn’t about punishment. This isn’t a public display of judgment.”

Then what? … and why!?

“This is about glory, God’s glory. His mighty acts and deeds. His glory. No one will miss God’s glory today.”

I’m not sure if I picture Jesus with a slight smile, a glimmer in His eye, and a “watch-this” glow on His face; or if He’s wearing that determined-to-praise-my-Father-on-the-Sabbath-rebel’s jut in his jaw. (Jesus is totally awesome.)

At this point, Jesus does something very spiritual…NOT.

He totally spits in the mud! I cannot even imagine what the blind guy is thinking. I mean seriously. Ewww.

(You know Jesus couldn’t have done it this way if this had been a blind GIRL. We would have been like, “No thanks, Jesus. I’ll pass on the spit/mud remedy.”)

Hilarious. (You know Jesus thought it was funny.)

Jesus heals him. To God be the glory. No other explanation.

You know, Job got possessions bestowed upon him a double portion. He even had more children and then grandchildren… and more. The Bible even says that his daughters were the prettiest in the land. But, nonetheless, he suffered like no other…outside of the perfect Lamb of God upon that rugged cross; no one knew unwarranted suffering like Job.

God used the wonderful doctors at Vanderbilt to repair my niece’s esophagus. She can put away some chips and salsa, and she loves pretzels. Oh that girl. But, she still wakes up every morning with Down’s syndrome.

Why?

I’ve asked that question a bazillion times…

The Answer is always the same…

Glory. God will get His glory today, and everyone will see it.

Praise be to His name!

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