Positive Thinking for Christians

August 28th, 2015

Rainbow

I’ve been thinking about theology lately, after reading Tony Jones’ book, Did God Kill Jesus?, which goes over different views of the cross which the church has put forth over the centuries.

On top of that, tonight I wrote reviews of two books (not posted yet), one called At the End of the Ages… The Abolition of Hell, by Bob Evely, and the other Life Loves You, by Louise Hay and Robert Holden.

I will attempt to explain how my thinking about these three different books came together.

First, Did God Kill Jesus? pretty drastically criticized the “Payment Model” explanation of the crucifixion. And I agree with that criticism.

But I don’t want to sit in judgment every time I hear the gospel preached. Surely it’s enough to be glad that the gospel is preached? And surely for those who feel burdened by their sins — they can find comfort in the fact that Jesus’ death certainly paid any debt accrued.

However, I’m still uneasy about starting the gospel message with sin.

And At the End of the Ages affirms me in my belief that God isn’t sending anyone to endless torment, that hell is for correction, not punishment, and will be emptied out at the end of the ages, when every knee will bow at the name of Jesus. I believe that the gospel message is about God’s great big enormous LOVE.

So then, reviewing Life Loves You, I’m struck by how positive and life-affirming it is — and all about love. And it’s not even from a Christian perspective! But shouldn’t it be Christians who are affirming how loved everyone is? Shouldn’t we be meditating on God’s love for us rather than agonizing over our own sinfulness?

And that reminds me of a pet peeve I have. I’m on the prayer team at my church, and we plan regular Prayer and Praise meetings. The leader goes by the old ACTS acronym — being sure to include Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

I’ve found I’m not comfortable with the Confession section at a Prayer and Praise night. I hear people analyzing and agonizing and finding ways they don’t feel they’ve done all they should. Is this even helpful? Is this how we should focus?

And then I wonder — Does this flow from the Payment Model of the cross? We feel that sin needs to be paid for. Yes, Jesus paid it all on the cross, but we go with I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I’ve heard it preached that we should “keep short accounts” with God and be sure we don’t have any “unconfessed sin.” Is that really how we want to focus?

Why can’t we be the ones focusing on how Life (that is, God) loves us?

I think everyone has fundamental questions of whether they are lovable, whether they are worthy, whether they are good enough. We all have parts of ourselves that make us feel ashamed.

And you know what? God loves us anyway! Deeply and truly! He crafted us and loves the unique people we are. “He knows that we are dust.”

Even in the Old Testament, the Psalmist pointed out God’s love (Psalm 103):

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

I just don’t believe that God is keeping an account of our sins at all. I don’t, actually, believe that sin must be paid for. What’s important to God is where we are with him now. Are our sins keeping us from him? Are we acting like a toddler throwing a tantrum in a corner who won’t accept any loving overtures from our father? Then by all means confess that sin and come back to God. He loves you!

But don’t you think you’ll live a better life if you’re focusing on God’s love for you rather than the ways you’ve fallen short?

If I truly feel loved by God, I don’t need to satisfy my longings in sinful or hurtful ways. If I truly believe that God is “a rewarder of those who seek him,” I don’t have to take shortcuts to get what I want. I won’t fall into discouragement or despair. And it’s ever so much easier for that to overflow to others.

But if I’m focusing on the ways I’ve fallen short? It reinforces that fear that I am unlovable and unworthy. Not true! God knows my failings, and loves me anyway.

And look! The book of I John, which includes the verse about confessing your sins, has some of the most wonderful passages about how much God loves us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Dear friends, now we are children of God,
and what we will be has not yet been made known.
But we know that when he appears,
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself,
just as he is pure.
— I John 3:1-3

Yes, the focus is on God’s love — and from that hope, we’ll more naturally seek to be pure. God’s love is a positive motivation.

God is not angry with us! He is not keeping track of our sins and which we’ve confessed.

If a sin is keeping us from God now, by all means confess it! But know that your Father is not going to hold that against you.

Why should New Agers be more positive than Christians? Louise Hay and Robert Holden recommend you saying in your mirror, over and over again, “Life loves you.” and “I am ready to let life love me.” It’s amazing how healing that is.

But don’t we believe this is true? “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us!”

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.
— Zephaniah 3:17

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
“In that day,” declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband';
you will no longer call me ‘my master….
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the Lord.
— Hosea 2:14-16, 19-20

And what’s the focus here?

Be imitators of God, therefore,
as dearly loved children
and live a life of love,
just as Christ loved us
and gave himself up for us
as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
— Ephesians 5:1-2

What, then, shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all —
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns?
Christ Jesus, who died —
more than that, who was raised to life —
is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword?…
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:31-39

Maybe it’s just me — my ex-husband really tore me down when he left and tried to convince me that no one could love such a horrible person as me. I don’t need to think about how I haven’t measured up; I’m always conscious of that. For that matter, I’m one of a big family, and have trouble with feeling even worthy of attention, trouble feeling that I’m one of many, not special.

But when I think about how much God loves me? I’m empowered to be the person He created me to be. I can shine.

I’ve only gotten started on the verses. There are so many, many more. Take a look at all the “Positive Thinking” messages and exhortations in the Bible. Yes, there are a few places where we’re told to “examine ourselves.” I’m not saying that we’re not sinners. We are. But aren’t we all too aware of that? Look at the focus of the vast majority of exhortations to believers in the New Testament. I think you’ll find it’s overwhelmingly positive.

And this is so worth thinking about. It’s worth affirming over and over:

God loves you.

Amen.

At a Loss

August 9th, 2015

Today I was reading in Luke 9 about Jesus’ Transfiguration. He went up on a mountain with Peter, James, and John. While he was praying, suddenly his face changed, his clothes became white like lightning, and Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with him.

In verse 33 — “As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.'” — And this is the part I love: Luke felt it necessary to tell us, “(He did not know what he was saying.)”

Imagine if Luke hadn’t told us that! Would people have tried to build theology on Peter’s three shelters? But the truth is: It’s pretty clear Peter was babbling.

Have you ever been at a loss like that with God? I also love that Jesus didn’t rebuke Peter. Mind you, he ignored him. And, okay, a voice came from heaven telling Peter to be quiet and listen to Jesus.

***

I’m in something of a bewildering phase of life right now.

My youngest just turned 21. This summer he’s doing an internship on the other side of the country. He’s going to graduate from college after one more semester, and is talking about moving to the other side of the country.

Of course, I’m divorced, so the Empty Nest is truly empty. And I’m having no luck even finding someone I want to date. Doubts about whether I ever will, whether I’m even dating material, threaten to surface.

And meanwhile, my oldest son has told me he’s actually my daughter — and is taking hormones to change gender.

Mind you, it was a wonderful thing that they told me this face to face — so I could know fully and viscerally that this is still my kid, still the same person whom I do and always will love with all my heart.

But I’m experiencing feelings of loss. It brings home the fact that those rosy days of being a happy family living in Germany, visiting castles — those days are completely over. (They got rosier in retrospect, by the way!) All three of “my boys” are quite different now. My kids, mind you, are adults of whom I’m incredibly proud. But I don’t live with a family; I live alone.

Now, what my mind tells me to do is embrace the present, notice all the wonderful things (and there are many) about living on my own, and be thankful.

But I’m human — and I’m at a loss about my losses.

I need God’s grace.

And, praise Him, He gives it freely.

“Lord, it’s good for us to be here. Here are my plans for dealing with the situation…”

“Sondy, this is my Son. Listen to him.”

May I listen well….

Thanksgiving Psalm

April 13th, 2015

Blossom

In my last post, I looked at the form of the Lament in the Psalms – the most common form used in the Psalms. I posted an example I wrote a year ago.

Yesterday, I thought it was time I wrote another personal Psalm. However, I wasn’t in the mood for a lament. I’d been trying to remember the bright side of being single lately, and I’d been succeeding. In fact, writing out the lament itself brought me to a happier place.

So instead, I decided to write a Thanksgiving Psalm. And I’d focus on the wonderful home that I feel was a gift from God.

Here’s the form of a Thanksgiving Psalm:

I. Introduction

I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
— Psalm 30:1

II. Call to Praise

Let the redeemed of the Lord say this –
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
— Psalm 107:2-3

III. Account
A. Crisis in Retrospect

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
— Psalm 116:3

B. Deliverance
1. I called.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, save me!”
— Psalm 116:4

2. You heard and you intervened.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
–Psalm 30:11

IV. Praise

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.
— Psalm 107:31-32

So that’s the basic form.

My challenge is this: Try using this form, along with parallelism. (Repeat yourself!)

It’s a lovely way to remind yourself what God has done.

Here’s what I wrote yesterday morning. It’s not eloquent – just an example of how you can use this form to recount something God has done for you.

God is good.
It is always worth it to seek Him.

Praise the Lord for his kindness;
praise Him for noticing our needs and longings.
Notice the Lord’s compassion,
for He notices us.

I was abandoned and alone,
in debt after divorce,
a single mom with an empty nest,
pouring money into rent,
with a guest room that was never used,
with furniture for a family I used to have.

I asked the Lord if I should look for a home to buy,
or look elsewhere for a job?
Should I stay where I’d healed after my divorce
or look further afield for something new?

He answered to enlarge the place of my tent
and spread my tent curtains wide.

I thought I found a home—
farther from my church than I’d wanted,
but surely the best I could afford?
It didn’t have a view,
but couldn’t being nice inside make up for that?
Then it fell through, after inspections were done.
I had to start all over again.

Then I saw this place, and looked out on a lake.
The first place kept me busy
while waiting for the gift you had for me.

And every day I look out on my lake
and my soul is soothed.

I’m near my church family,
and the whole church helped me move.
Now a Small Group meets in my home,
and I’ve had more visitors than my last two homes combined.
Walking by my lake
restored my health after my stroke.
The birds and ever-changing plant growth
constantly speak of your loving care.

Father, I thank You for giving me the disappointment
that led to the perfect timing of the home you had for me.
Thank You for knowing what I needed in my life
for this time.
Thank You for giving me much more than I asked for
and always dealing with me with love.
Thank You for the egrets and the great blue heron,
the robins, blue jays, woodpeckers, and cardinals.
Thank You for the enticement to walk
and the soothing lap of the lake.
Thank You for Spring blossoms,
Summer growth,
Autumn splendor,
and Winter whiteness.
Thank You that Your gifts never run out
and You are good.

A Lament for Love

April 11th, 2015

Last year, I got to lead a Small Group going through the Psalms, using what I learned from a Psalms class at Biola University 30 years ago.

It touches my life when I try to use the ideas to write my own psalm-prayers.

The first idea is to use parallelism:
For each line, I repeat myself;
each thought, I express in another way.

You get the idea!

One of the most common forms used in the Psalms is a Lament. I’ve heard Christians list necessary components of prayer. They are usually along the lines of Adoration, Confession, Thanks, Intercession. For me, it gives new energy to try to pray in the form of a Lament.

Here are the parts of a Lament. I’ll give examples from several different Psalms. Every Lament does not necessarily have every single part.

1. Address to God

Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
— Psalm 4:1

2. Lament or complaint.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
— Psalm 13:1-2

3. Review of God’s Help (Confession of Trust).

But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.
Selah
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.
— Psalm 3: 3-6

4. Petition.

Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
— Psalm 3:7

5. Words of Assurance.

For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
— Psalm 5:12

6. Vow to Praise.

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness
and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
— Psalm 7:17

I was looking back over my journal, and a bit more than a year ago, before I briefly dated someone, I wrote a Lament-Prayer about my longing for love. Now that Spring is in the air, that raises a chord with me again.

So I offer the following Lament for Love. I know there are many out there who will echo my prayer. For those who already have a deep love in your life, let this simply be a suggestion of a form to try using in your prayers.

Hear my voice, O Lord!
I need you more than I even realize.
You know the future;
your guidance is best.
I want to follow your leading;
I want your plans for me to come to pass.
I don’t want to be swayed by my own emotions or selfishness or lust;
I want to follow your way.

Lord, I’m confused about what to do.
I’m so inexperienced, so naïve and vulnerable.
It’s been 10 years since I had sex;
my body’s longing for physical affection.
I’m hungry for affirmation,
so I will be easily swayed.
And I do feel lonely and inadequate.
Why did my beloved reject me?
I wonder if I am adequate
— and he told me I was not.
I drenched my bed with weeping
and my sobs were uncountable.
When any man is kind to me,
it brings tears to my eyes.
My heart is vulnerable
and easily swayed.

But you, O Lord, have been with me in the wilderness.
You have lavished your love on me.
You have made me feel loved;
you have held me in my most pained moments.

Please, Lord, give me wisdom!
Show me the way I should go.
Bring a man into my life who loves you truly
and who knows how to be affectionate toward me.
Bring someone who will want to serve you together with me,
and make it clear this is from you.

Surely your plans for me are good, O Lord.
Your lovingkindness is inexhaustible.
No one is as trustworthy as you.
Your faithfulness endures forever.

When You bring a great love into my life,
I will sing thanks to you.
I will tell the world how much you have done;
I will sing of your kindness.

Living in the Present, Gratitude, and Contentment

April 10th, 2015

Bloom

A few weeks ago, I was thrown for a loop when my son told me he’s applied to graduate a semester early, next January instead of a year from June.

That should be great news, right? But then after a couple days it hit me: I’m living alone now, but then I will be truly alone. My older son hasn’t even visited since he graduated from college.

Since then, it’s occurred to me that it could be worse: He could move back in with me. But my main thinking was that with all due respect, married people who complain about Empty Nest Syndrome don’t have a clue what a *truly* empty nest is like.

So I was having trouble thinking that way, and I’ve written about that already. But I thought it was funny what finally snapped me out of it and had me happy and content and joyful: I cleaned my bathroom!

It was the day before Easter. It was my day off, and I was having a super-productive day. As I cleaned my bathroom, I couldn’t help but notice how *much much much* more pleasant this task was than it used to be when I was married.

There’s a verse in Proverbs about how when the ox is gone, the stable is clean, but from the strength of the ox comes an abundant harvest. Married people reading this, the ox is well worth it! I don’t argue with that for a second.

However, as a single person, with no ox in the stable? Well, why not rejoice in the clean stable?!!

A wise teacher, Christel Nani, has pointed out that a good way to live in the present is to practice gratitude. When you’re thankful for the present, you’re not filled with regret or nostalgia about the past, and you’re not worrying or wishing for the future.

I think besides being grateful, we can actively enjoy things that we won’t be able to do so easily if our circumstances change — like clean the bathroom!

Later that same evening, I played Brahm’s Requiem — about Resurrection — and sang along to the alto part. I could sing as loudly as I wished, and it didn’t bother a soul. I could pour out my heart in praise to God, and not worry about bothering anyone.

Today’s my day off, and I decided to enjoy my wonderful lake. I walked around it and took some pictures of the beginning blossoms. I love my condo-by-the-lake. The truth is, if I ever marry again, I will probably want to live somewhere larger. It’s perfect for a single person, and fits my son well when he’s in town — but if my family were bigger, I’d probably want a bigger place.

So I am thankful that *today* I can enjoy the benefits of this wonderful home by taking a walk and enjoying the blossoms.

Tonight, I’m going to go to a gaming group and play some Eurogames. I love doing it, but it does take several hours on a Friday night. I love hanging around super smart people and exercising our brains and having a great time. Tonight I’m looking forward to listening to an audiobook during the long drive there and back, as well.

And the truth is, if I were in a relationship, I might not want to give so much time to this activity I enjoy so much. While I’m single, though? No problem!

A couple of years after my husband left me, someone made the mistake of complaining to me that her husband didn’t give her sex often enough. Oh my, I was angry with her! Please don’t remind me what I’m missing! By the same token, though, married people, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that your spouse won’t necessarily always be around. There are some wonderful things about having that person in your life today, even if they aren’t perfect. And who is?

So that’s my reminder to myself for today. To help with contentment — rather than thinking about what you don’t have and wish for, especially look for things you are privileged to enjoy *now* that you won’t necessarily be able to enjoy if your life changes.

I Am Not Alone

March 26th, 2015

I attend a Small Group of folks from my church who get together and talk about our journeys. We’re currently going through John Eldredge’s book, Waking the Dead. The book is talking about spiritual warfare and how demonic spirits try to get a foothold by getting you to make agreements with them.

Now, I think of myself as good at avoiding negative self-talk. But as I’ve become aware of this, I’ve noticed negative statements about myself which I’m tempted to believe.

I think one tip off that the suggestion might be of the devil? It often comes with the word, “See, . . .”

I’ve noticed lately, I keep getting the thought, “See, you’re all alone.”

It came when my toilet broke. It came when I had to call the police about a problem customer at work. It came when my oldest son had a birthday and I remembered really good times in my marriage. It comes when I think about that nice man I found on a dating site — who hasn’t been online since. It even came when my younger son told me he’s applied to graduate early.

How to fight this?

Being aware of these lies, I think, is the first step.

And the next step is rejecting the lies in the name of Jesus. And filling your mind with the opposing truth.

Deuteronomy 31:8 —

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.

And what better way to get truth into your heart than to sing it? I’m going to have to order Kari Jobe’s CD that includes this song, “I am not alone.”

While Waiting

March 21st, 2015

I was talking with a friend this week. She also is single, and she’d like to find a life partner. She wants the person God has for her. And has no idea what’s taking God so long to bring him into her life.

She hasn’t been passive. She’s done the online dating. She prays about it often.

And, yes, I’m in the same situation. No, I haven’t been looking as long as she has. I’ve only recently felt enough recovered from my divorce to have any desire to date.

But yes, that desire is there. I recently expanded my search radius (regarding physical distance) on an online dating site, and found a profile of a man who sounded like a wonderful match for me. I even sent a message. He’d last been online the day before.

It’s been two weeks — and he hasn’t been online since. So much for that. At least I don’t feel rejected, since he never even read my message.

And I have to believe that God had a hand in even that. That maybe he would not have been such a good match as he seemed from what I read. Or simply that the time is not right for us to meet.

There’s a balance between being passive and being active — and I want to find the place of trust.

Anyway, I was having my quiet time this morning, and God gave me a lot of comfort. I thought it would be worthwhile trying to share some of that comfort, trying to talk about my journey — for the sake of the other women in the same situation.

After this introduction, I’m hoping I can be shorter with more regular posts. Today some key thoughts were:

1) God is so good. And my life is so good right now.

Last night, I went to a gaming group and had a wonderful time playing board games and card games with three men whom I’m friends with, one a co-worker and a particularly good friend. He’s in a relationship, and we’ve figured out we’re not a match — but he’s still such a good friend, and gives me a male perspective on things. And he’s the first very close friend I’ve had who’s a man since my marriage fell apart (from my ex-husband being *too* good a friend with a female friend) — and I had missed that, and treasure it now.

Today I’m going to go see Cinderella with a lifelong girlfriend, and I’m really looking forward to that. I find myself singing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” — such a lovely song.

I am loving my job lately, and feel like I get to make a difference, and get to bring a lot of joy to it.

I still love my home which I bought two years ago. The small lake outside my window, and the wildlife that frequents it and the flowers that bloom around it all simply feed my soul.

I once heard Christel Nani say that giving thanks is a wonderful way to live in the present — to keep from obsessing about the past (a problem after a betrayal) or worrying about the future. It’s also good to keep from focusing on what you don’t have.

2) God has brought me through so much. It was not at all what I wanted or expected, but he has brought good out of it all.

The verse for this is Hosea 2:14 —

Therefore I am going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

Leading me into the desert was alluring me?

Actually, So Much YES. I have learned so much about the tender love of God *because* of all I went through.

3. God is still writing my story. And I can still trust him.

In the Psalms, David doesn’t pray by telling God what to do. He tells God where he is and what he’s feeling. He reminds himself what God has done in the past. And he joyfully realizes that he can trust God and that he knows what God will do is good.

As for what comes next in my life? Today I’m able to say these words with the Psalmist, which I hope will also encourage my sisters and cousins who would like some romantic love in their lives:

Psalm 27:13-14 —

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

So that’s where I am today. But this is so much a journey.

How about you? Does any of this ring true and help you on your journey?

Forgiveness, Stage Two

March 3rd, 2015

Today Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness” came on the radio.

I got to thinking that there’s more than one stage to forgiveness. You can try to clear away the anger, and you can do that — you can choose not to be angry.

But with a traumatic wrong, such as being betrayed, there’s an extent to which you have to learn all the ways you were hurt. You can’t just bury it away, or you won’t be healed. You have to uncover the lies told about you — because if you don’t, even if you try to cover them over and forgive them being told, you’re going to believe them.

I’m thinking about things that maybe never even registered in your brain — but hit you in the heart.

What made me think of all this? Listening to the song didn’t make me cry. I think it’s one of the first times I’ve heard the song and I *feel* lovable. I am no longer hurt by the lies that my husband left because I didn’t deserve to be loved.

And feeling lovable again also makes it easier to forgive.

Mind you, what I’m trying to say is that it takes time and work at healing. (Ten years in my case. And the work is never finished.)

I do believe forgiveness helps the healing. But healing also helps the forgiveness.

And today, for at least the length of the song, I felt happy and lovable and forgiving and loving toward my ex-husband and thankful for the family we had and our years together — as well as excited about the future and simply knowing there’s lots about me to love. And finding someone who does will not be impossible or incredible. And I’m going to live an exciting, vibrant life, whether single or with someone who loves me.

And I am, in fact, worthy of love. And, yes, forgiveness is freeing.

Reading to Children

March 3rd, 2015

IMG_4648

Yesterday I posted about reading Fox in Socks for our library’s Seussathon. (I also read The Sneetches and Other Stories, Horton Hatches an Egg, Green Eggs and Ham, and Mr. Brown Can Moo… Can You?)

Reflecting about my long history with Fox in Socks also reminded me how completely part of who I am is a delight in reading to children.

My Mom taught us to read before we were in Kindergarten. But the fact is, with the younger kids, we older ones had a lot to do with that. I learned at a young age that the process of watching a small child learn to read is next to miraculous. And I wanted in on it.

So as a kid, I learned both that being read to is cozy and warm and loving and wonderful, and that doing the reading to a younger child is the same.

Then, of course, I read to my own sons. I married a man who had a wonderful reading aloud voice, and read to the boys as much as I did. (Did I love that about him? Did I actually fall for him when we were reading Winnie-the-Pooh out loud in a group in college? Um, yes I did.)

Now my boys are grown, so there’s no one at home to hold in my lap and read to.

So how lucky am I that I get to do this on my job?!?

Mind you, I’m an introvert. Too frequent programs burn me out fairly quickly. However, the perfect thing about it is that as a manager, I don’t do many programs myself — just enough that I still love it.

Bottom line, I get to read books to children. And I get paid for it. I am a lucky woman!

Prayer with Thanksgiving

February 8th, 2015

I haven’t updated this in awhile, and after a good sermon is a good time to do so.

I mentioned the cancer scare in my last post, but not that it subsequently got worse. I had a biopsy done under general anesthesia, and the doctor found three places to biopsy — but the results came back BENIGN. I have “reactive lymphoid hyperplasia” — basically some overgrowth of lymphoid tissue, reacting to infection somewhere else in my body. But the important thing is that it is not cancer!

Still, I think the lessons I referred to in my last post still bear thinking about.

And today the pastor preached on Philippians 4:4-9, and the part that applies to this is the part about bringing your requests to God *with thanksgiving.*

Now, I know this is the way to pray! I think of myself as good at this — but that’s an arrogance that really has no place in prayer!

And certainly, it appears I can apply this in my prayers for others. After all, if I am thanking God as I pray, that implies a level of trust — that He is actually going to work this out. But it should not imply that it must work out the way I say it should. Can I let God be God?

Last Spring, when I was leading a study in the Psalms, it struck me that David doesn’t spend a lot of time telling God what to do. He lays out his worries and his needs and his fears. He asks God to act. And then he thanks God because the Psalmist knows he will come through. He thanks God for what He’s going to do.

That might be a good model in prayer for others. Can I thank God for what He’s going to do in my ex-husband’s life, even though that’s going to be totally apart from me? Can I trust God enough to believe that, as He has brought all kinds of good into my life through the situation, He will also bring lots of good into my ex-husband’s life — even if he never does even admit that what he did was, at the very least, unkind?

Oh, how I dance around what I’m willing to hope for him! Because it’s so hard for me to admit that, just maybe, I don’t actually know what’s best for him, and, just maybe, it’s no longer any of my business.

But God loves him and knows him. And that is true of anyone else I may care to pray for.

And I am so thankful that God is in control and not me!

Take the ones I love, Lord. Walk with them on the path that is best for them. Thank You for the path on which You’re leading me, and thank You that You know what is best even for these ones I love.