Why I Share

After I was healed from terminal breast cancer, I had something like post traumatic stress disorder. I felt like I had been through a war, and because I was on the winning side, I was supposed to just rejoice and get over it. I’ll never know if this was real or perceived, but it affected my speech, heart, and focus.

Now I think most things like that are actually my usurping the Holy Spirit. He provides us with experiences that can and should be shared. It’s the enemy who wants to shut us up, to hide the glory the Lord deserves. And to create fear in speaking aloud, which ultimately causes us (or me, at least) to analyze many things within ourselves, without the input of wise counsel. Now that I’ve started speaking more of these issues aloud, I hear how stupid they sound. Maybe that’s one reason I was led to write all this out.

Ephesians 4:15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”

So, at the start of this journey through redemption, we have a book by that name. The Lord had already been doing a work in me to get me excited about caring for really broken people. I’ve met a lot of them who are dealing with cancer, but there are other problems out there, too. I met a young woman who was on a great trajectory after years of drug use and living on the streets. She went into a great treatment facility, got clean and saved, and was living for the Lord. When I spoke to her, this stuff was clearly real. It wasn’t just self-control that was helping her keep it together. She was free!

Somehow this girl didn’t end up with the external support that might have been helpful for the transition between the safe and awesome treatment facility to the dangerous and tempting real world. Within months Yaacov and I watched as she fell back to her old ways. It was disheartening for her, for her family, and for the kingdom of God, and as a behavior analyst, and recovering “fixer”, I obviously wanted to save the world with a transition plan for the treatment facility to use!

Isaiah 58:11“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

But that wasn’t the Lord’s plan or the right thing to do. His perfect plan was so much BETTER! Around that time led me to a ministry called Redemption Groups, which our church was about to start training leaders for. I thought the ministry was intended for people like that girl I described, who need more help than the church is currently set up to provide. But it turns out these groups are much more than that. They are one way He leads us all into a deeper communion with Him. And we can’t get closer to Him without recognizing the sin and lies that we are steeped in, building a bigger divide between us.

I talk about this ministry and about the book a lot because the Lord used both to speak to me and to change the entire trajectory of my life. He redeemed me from my own sin with His Word (for the billionth time), through this journey. But there’s no magic in the book or the techniques used in the group. They are led by the Holy Spirit, and that is where the true power is. For example, He brought that girl who I mentioned back to Him, and she didn’t even go through a Redemption Group. But I am so grateful for the way He has helped me see Him, and to see me, through it all.

Proverbs 12:26 “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.”

So, in this “Redemption” trail on unceasinglove.com,  I’m going to journal the growth, changes, and struggles I’m learning through being a leader and being a participant with this ministry. It doesn’t have much to directly do with cancer, which might be why people are reading in the first place, but it has to do with real issues that are applied to all aspects of our lives. He’s using it to make me a better person, better mother, better servant, primarily because it’s making me get real with the truth about who I am, in all my filthy hypocrisy. So, I’ll share the details because we’re all going to either heaven or hell, and either way it all relates to the truth about God. To Him be the glory forever! I don’t want to fight for privacy or hope to blend into a wall when it comes to my problems. I want to grow and to share the cool ways the Holy Spirit and Word of God are making that happen.

Jeremiah 17:7-8  But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

My Ongoing Redemption Story

“And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” 1 Corinthians 1:30

What? I can’t believe I’m typing this. Okay, I can’t believe I’m typing anything at all! This is my special, special, special, uninterrupted and uninterruptable “God time”. I get up early–except when I’m feeling lazy or, you know, sleepy–and worship the Lord while the rest of the house is asleep. At this point, if I don’t start my day with Him, it shows. So now if the kids dare to get up early and try to get my attention, they truly know it’s not worth it. EVERYONE is happier when Mommy has spent her morning time with the Lord.

Anyway, I have been praying for over a year now for help with writing…the book about my healing from cancer has been a disaster…I feel stupid and irrelevant continuing to blog when it’s not about cancer, and I don’t have that anymore! So, not much to say there, but don’t feel peace about closing it down.

The point is, the Lord told me and confirmed a zillion times to write, and I have tried to obey, tried to push through the block, tried to wait it out. I tried to ignore the call, and nothing seemed right. But what do you know? This morning out of nowhere He told me! I MUST write my redemption story. On here. Starting now. I’ve tried to no avail to get it on a separate page on here to keep it separate from the normal content but it’s not working.

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My Workspace

Even if the Lord hadn’t told me to write this, I would have loved to share it. I’m not actually thinking of my initial redemption story where I got saved from hell, although I’ll probably cover it. I’m referring more to the story He has brought me through over the past year. The story of a self-righteous old lady trapped in the body of a thirthysomething mother. This person who had been through the ringer and was only aware of the little things she needed to change to be more holy. The one who no one understood, or could understand, so was exiled and left alone to scramble around for safety.

While I was looking inward for strength, I got knocked down a few more times and finally stopped bothering. I hid in the cleft of a rock and tried to call it home while and didn’t dare to hope I’d be rescued.

But…as I wriggled to get comfortable, the cleft of that rock turned to face me. I saw the face of the Lord God Almighty, who never leaves me. He guided me back into the light and shines His face upon me.

I love that He told me to write this before the story even began. I love that He gave me the opportunity to share it online, where there is someone who will be encouraged by it. And I love that my story didn’t end with what I learned from cancer, that I know now there is no such thing as having “arrived”, and that this story of redemption has not ended for me. Or for you.

To Die or Not to Die: That is NOT the Question

It’s been about five years since we heard the answer to the question Yaacov and I had never thought to ask: “Am I going to die of cancer?”. The response was certain. Death was knocking at the door, loudly. It banged in rhythm with my heart. It was louder than the voices on the other end of the phone as I shared the news with loved ones. It pounded furiously through every word of each prayer, demanding attention as we sought the wisdom of the only One who can rescue us from earthly death or from eternal wrath. The only One who really understood every bit of what we were going through.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:15-16

Death colored every conversation that Thanksgiving, and later cast his dark shadow over each Christmas carol and gift. My mind became a kaleidoscope as the reality of my impending exit reflected off each sight, sound, thought, memory, and perception.

I’m so different now that I can’t get a good understanding of the way I used to see and think about things. But I know He moved me from constant sadness and terror into deep faith. By the time the Lord miraculously removed the cancer from inside my bones and my lungs I wasn’t even surprised that He had done it. I remember thinking, “Of course He did, He IS GOD!”.

I wish I could end the post here. It’s almost Thanksgiving, I haven’t posted in forever, and I want to glorify Him with my words. But the truth is, some sinful, idiotic part of me rose up around the time He healed me. And it would serve to boast in myself if I didn’t admit it. My faith grew like never before, but so did my pride. How can that be? My God, my God, how I have sinned against you! Stolen your credit, took your mercy for granted.

It was like I conveniently forgot about my weaknesses and decided I had earned His favor or delight, and that was why He healed me. I started thinking I had been strong, but in reality I was as weak as a person could be. I forgot that He rescued me because I begged Him like crazy to do so. Because I was scared to trust Him with my kids. Because I was scared to die. He healed me because I have more to learn on earth, more to experience, more to grow in. Somewhere along the line I got the impression that it was about my awesomeness. That I would be so good for the kingdom work on earth that y’all needed me down here. Yes, at some point between funerals of other women who died of breast cancer, I found myself standing up straight–because I had been chosen, selected, found worthy to be on earth. I had arrived!

Shame fills me now, as I drink in the humiliation. It’s like I danced and sang my way through a graveyard of godly people, rejoicing that I was on earth. And the joy of getting what I wanted was nothing compared to those who truly get to rejoice in heaven! THIS world is the one fading away. THIS world is where hopelessness reigns, where evil lies around each corner, if it isn’t already stuck to your shoe. Death can’t chase us there, it has been defeated once and for all!

“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”–I Cor 15:24, 26

I am so embarrassed by my sin, I kind of want to throw up. But I don’t want to carry it anymore. I don’t want to leave it unconfessed on here, leaving the appearance that the pride that might have colored previous posts had gone unnoticed–or unwashed by the blood of the spotless lamb. He has been graciously revealing it to me over the past year, and there have been many times I need to wear a “No Trespassing!” sign, because it’s been exciting, excruciating, exhausting, and exhilarating all at once, and even an extra hug would send me over the edge.

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all our uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:25-26

So this is a new, better year for different reasons than the last five. It’s not about life and death anymore. I am still healed by His mercy, still rebirthed in the blood of Christ. But I am even weaker now. Weaker physically because I have a lot of bone and joint pain. Weaker mentally because I’m still working through this “new me” business. And, with much more excitement, I declare: I’m weaker in pride, weaker in my own abilities, weaker in my independence. Because He is teaching me to appreciate His glory, so I can see His majesty and power at work. And I have a front row seat!

“But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God”–Ezekiel 37:23b

If you’re reading this and you haven’t “arrived” yet either, that’s okay. The truth is that none of us have, it’s just that some of us are too prideful to notice. No matter what you’re struggling with today, there is an answer. And there is One who will answer. He is hope, He is love, He is courage, He is power. He is Jesus, and He has arrived. He IS God with Us.

 

Redemptive Love

shawshank2.jpgIf you’re a judgmental cynic like myself, you might notice that I have included a cheesy picture to go along with the point that Love is Redemption. I had to. Because it is my picture. Because I am redeemed.

The picture is from a movie that I may never have seen. The image highlights my present state. What I see is beauty. I see:

1) Rain. I have spent my whole life hiding from the rain, to protect myself from feeling the effects of it throughout my soul. I’ve been so afraid to feel pain that I hide parts of myself to avoid the risk.

2) Dark. This guy is standing in the dark, but facing the light. The light illuminates his mannerisms, the way he releases his agony with all of himself. He passes the pain back to the Mighty One who can handle it. Who already knows all the sorrow.

3) Release. This guy is standing firm in the rain, not cowering to it. Not clinging to, or grasping at it. Just standing there, open-handed.

The Lord has shown me so much in the past week that I’m dizzy, giddy, exhausted, and renewed, all at once. He showed me (some of) my spiritual blindspots. Becoming aware of my own sin broke my spirit, but He quickly restored it, stronger than ever in Him. Not with platitudes or flattery, but with pure love. That left me dizzy, but He steadied me with His strong arms. And…He wasn’t done with me! That was just the beginning. This weekend I went to a training to be a Redemption Group trainer. I’ve mentioned them a bit on here, but basically they are spirit-led God-seeking groups in which we identify our idols, fears, issues, and their roots. These are all things we think we want to know when we’re struggling, but…it’s hard and painful. What kind of weirdo wants to know everything bad about herself?

Me.

I want it.

I found out I’m a judgmental, fake, lost, faithless monster.

And He loves me anyway.

I realized I’ve been hiding my fears behind band-aids–worldly comforts, analysis, and excuses.

Which He stripped off me, all at once.

I learned that every single time I notice a sin in someone, it’s because that’s a common theme in my own life.

And He forgave every one of those.

He’ll forgive them again tomorrow, when I’m likely to run back to my old ways.

He’ll be there, hating my sin, but loving His daughter, gently drawing me back to the truth.

I am free from the chains I stubbornly connect, day after day, to my own wrists. Chains of social anxieties and expectations. Pressures of pleasing people who will never approve of me anyway. I am free of the burdens I wrapped around myself to avoid pains of this world, and the previously unsettling stillness now resonates with the sweetest stillness. I am rejected by man, but beloved by God. I am His child, and will not try to be anyone else’s.

This song is my anthem. If it would fit on a banner, I would wave it all day. Please listen until you get to the best part: “You split the sea so I could walk right through it. You drowned my fears in perfect love…”

Those words express my feelings, but His direct words always get to the point. The most important summary is that MY NAME, is written in HIS book. I didn’t earn it, but I appreciate it, and I will live like the child He made me to be.

Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

 

Love is…Grace

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The other day I drove by another homeless man standing near the highway. I barely paused to see if I had one of those prepared bags I made with the family to disperse things they “need” (like snacks and soap), instead of things they “want” (money for all sorts of trouble they’d get into). When I didn’t have one, I kept on driving.

Sometimes when I’m with friends in public and we’re talking about the Lord, I lower my voice so people around don’t hear me. I tell myself I’m being polite. I’m actually hiding my faith.

When I’m approached by emotionally needy people, I “read” them, and the room, before responding. If I’m inclined to help or tell them about the Lord, I often squelch it if those around me might disapprove or judge me for it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that a certain family I run into needs to shower more. I wonder if they have money trouble, or if it’s a matter of choice. Once I prayed for them…out of guilt because I heard myself judging them audibly and was ashamed.

I type this with my heart pounding, but not from embarrassment of my confession, as you might expect. I’m past embarrassment, and I am aware that most people do a lot of this stuff, whether or not they admit it. No, my heart is racing from the disappointment of realizing that I am such a hypocrite.

Do you know, that one time my professional role model claimed that I am the “nicest person” he’d ever met? At the time I thought I didn’t tell people about it because I was “so humble”. But in reality, saying it out loud would have blasted my ear drums with an audible lie. I might be nice compared to some of the lost in this world, but I’m truly nothing compared to the One I should be compared to. The righteous One. The holy One. The One who would never have supported my letting a person think that about me. You know who I’m talking about, right? The One who did not come into the world to judge it but to SAVE it?!?! (John 3:17).

Sweet Jesus, let us see it! Let us understand our hypocrisy! Let us know your glory so we recognize our sin!

It’s not just me. I’m not the only one who drove by that homeless man. I’m not the only believer who lives in this world and, let’s face it, lives of this world, while trying to bring Jesus along with us. Instead of setting the example of being drastically different, the way He was, instead of daring to stick out like a sore thumb with our radical love, we redefine His call, our faith, our God, to fit into this world. Our churches are run by business models instead of the Holy Spirit. Decisions are made by pursuing common sense instead of faithful prayer. “Love your neighbor as yourself” turns into “Love yourself as your neighbor”, or “Love yourself, your family, your close friends, and your acquaintances, in that order’.

I can’t stand being like this anymore. I can’t stand myself. I can’t fathom the idea of watching a hidden video of myself from today and one from 15 years ago and seeing that the only thing that has changed is my appearance. I don’t want to fit in, I don’t want to keep up with traffic, or follow a flock of dingy sheep who are meandering around without their shepherd. Do you? Really, is this who you want to be?

No matter how many bad breaks I think I’ve had (out of my own control), I still think my own “successes” are because of my own awesomeness. I forget quickly how much grace upon grace has been lavished upon me, to keep me from being one of those with awful circumstances. If I hadn’t been born into a family with good education and means, I could have been unqualified for a good job and college, then a few more tragedies could have landed me on the streets. Or I could have been born in a country where the gospel isn’t shared, where human trafficking is a way of life. Just a degree or two of separation keeps us all from many different courses of life, and many of us aren’t as fortunate as others. I can’t worship the God who saves at the same time I look down upon those who He hasn’t saved yet. Or looking down on those who are already Christian brothers or sisters but whose circumstances aren’t as blessed as I am. Or–I seriously can’t believe that any human being has done this, including myself–looking down upon others who aren’t as “cool” as we might desire. Basically being a pagan bully who uses more self-control and wears a holy disguise. All these are like serving two gods. Or worse.

The perfect Savior, who IS LOVE, came to earth to make God known to us, and will continue to do that so the love God has for Jesus will be in us (John 17:26). If His perfect love is in us, we must show the same thing, even if it is the undeserved grace that He gives us, to the other people on earth who He loves so deeply. I pray for that love to reign in you today, and in this world until the new heaven and earth are created!

 

 

 

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Love is…Suffering

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Julie Marchio and me last year at a cancer fundraiser, a few months after her diagnosis. She passed away this month.

This is one of those seasons with lots of people suffering. Specifically with cancer, but that’s likely because I’m a magnet for people with it. The picture here is of my beautiful friend, Julie Marchio, who passed away this month. I met her through Dr. Crooms, who put us in contact so I could be an encouragement to her. Julie believed she could be healed and sought it. By the time I met her, she had renewed her faith in Jesus, and saw Him as the loving savior that He is. She was always positive, always faithful, always full of love. Her liver failed when I had the flu, and I didn’t see her at the end. I know she still had faith but I don’t know if she was brokenhearted about not having been healed. I prayed that she had a deep peace about it and expect that she did. I don’t know how thrilled she was with having to suffer or having to leave her boys before she felt ready. I don’t know why God answered our prayers for my healing differently than He answered hers. But I have more peace about it all than I used to. I am more confident in the sovereignty of God, and of the joy of heaven than before.

Part of my new confidence is because, we studied Revelation this year at Bible Study Fellowship. It was the best Bible study of my life. Completely amazing. Every week brought something new, my perspective changed. My love for the Lord swelled, appreciation for His people skyrocketed, understanding of His glory grew…my interpretation of our suffering teetered, but my faith still soared.

People think of Revelation as prophecies about the future, but there’s much more to it. My words couldn’t do it justice, but in fact those words the Lord inspired reflect just that– His mercy and justice . Like, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for His judgements are true and just; For He has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of His servants” from Revelation 19:1-2.

Sidebar: There’s a lot to study there about His fairness, which I think is debated by a LOT of people. So I hear…The truth is that people haven’t debated truth or basic biblical concepts around me much in years. Maybe I just hang out with too many Christians. So, if you want to hear about any more of that type of thing, I might be able to expand on here or via email, so contact me if so. Otherwise, just agree with everything I say. That’s what I do…

Besides Julie’s death, a different friend’s dad passed away from cancer this month, a friend had a cancer recurrence and three other girls I know were recently diagnosed. One friend’s chemo regimen identified today as The Day her hair is supposed to fall out. I don’t think constantly about my own journey anymore, but knowing what This Day might bring for my friend takes my breath away. My head pounds thinking back to that time. The worst manifestation of the journey. The most humiliating period of life.

My mind races between the memories: At first I thought maybe God would spare my hair so I didn’t face it and wouldn’t shave it. Then I arrogantly vowed to never wear a wig (which I but regretted many times, although I did stick with). Next, it started falling out over a period of weeks, each day brought terror and more heartache…a trip to the mall to try on hats, which was ruined because I shed what looked like hair extensions in each one. Then going away for the weekend without a brush, because I thought it was better to keep the remaining hairs matted to my scalp than to see them fall out. Making faces at Naomi as she slowly smiled and pulled that chunk of hair by my ear out… one particularly awful day I thanked God was finally ending, then as I slammed the dishwasher door shut I noticed what looked like an animal tail at the bottom. I almost screamed before I recognized my highlights throughout it. And finally, that night I spent crying for Naomi as the hairs and tears hit my shoulders. That is the blog post more people mention to me than any other. It’s the experience I share in front of an audience that I know will bring mothers to tears. And, it is The Moment of my life that I first knew the full extent of God’s love for me. His fatherly, perfect, passionate, devout, unceasing love.

Without that moment, I might not know how deeply Jesus loves me.

Without that suffering, I might not know how to love well and pray for others who struggle.

Without that cancer diagnosis, I might not know how much I want others to avoid the constant torture of hell.

I am grateful for that moment. I am grateful for my hair loss. Glad to know cancer and suffering, ecstatic to know Love. For me, suffering is love and love is suffering.

Please don’t think I’m downplaying suffering. I’m the one who still cries about hair loss, so it’s not that I’ve gone numb to it or anything. But I know that we will be better for it, and it will be over soon. Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev 22:12-13).

Not to get all preachy, but if you read that verse and by some chance you aren’t sure what you’ve done is good enough, you don’t need to wonder anymore. It isn’t. Being a good person isn’t enough. Doing good deeds isn’t enough. We all sin and the wages of that sin is death. The only way you can “earn” your spot in heaven is to get your garments washed clean by the perfect blood of Jesus. He’s the only one who can atone for all of your past sins and the ones you’ll do next. No apologies, day of atonement or animal sacrifices can make you perfect. Sheesh, I haven’t even been perfect in the half hour it’s taken me to write this post. But I’m healed. We are healed by the wounds of the only begotten Son, and He freely took your sins on the cross. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Rev 22:17) That’s it. If you understand this paragraph, you are a hearer. If you’re searching for something and water doesn’t satisfy, you’re thirsty. In both cases, Go. Go to the One who can fulfill you and drink from the living water. Literally just say the words. You won’t regret it.

 

Love is…Honest

I rolled into the doctor’s office today upon Yaacov’s request–and because I’m desperately ill. I might have the flu (I’m seriously so peace-filled though that I don’t even care), so it ended up that Dr. Perry would have to recycle the magazines I irresponsibly covered in germs. Oops. It was perfect though, because the alternative was that I could keep them and I had just finished wishing that I could take a certain issue of Family Circle home. Now, you all probably know that this blogging thing is just a hobby and no one pays me or would care what my opinions are on controversial matters, right? That means I get to share whatever’s on my heart.

Well, I know in the Christian world everyone is blogging about Target, but there is another issue I’m more concerned about. It’s not that Target isn’t a big deal, I just think it’s been covered. A lot. But I’m really surprised by this article that was actually published in the March 2016 issue on pages 101-108 of Family Circle. It’s called, “I Kept My Cancer a Secret”and goes on about three women who to great lengths to ensure others didn’t know they had cancer. It’s tragic in many ways.

1. Shame

If you look deeply into the printed words, you can see how the women were really just afraid to expose their “weakness” of having cancer. They wanted to seem strong, which isn’t the same as actually being strong.  Whether we are believers or not, we can all relate to not naturally embracing our weaknesses, right? But it’s more evidence that our society and the Word of God share very different goals. The Apostle Paul, for example, spent much of his letters illustrating the truth that the power of the Lord is seen most clearly when we settle into our weaknesses. The Redemption Groups that I’ve mentioned on here before teach the reminder that we can’t fill our vision with Him when our sight is obscured by ourselves. I will tell you any day of the week that my diagnosis was the best thing that ever happened to me, and if He hadn’t helped me lean into Him, to make me live out my weakness, I never could have made it through, or had the opportunity to receive the massive influx of love from His children.

One of the survivors in the article reported that she didn’t want people to know about the cancer because they would think she brought it on herself. I remember that my healthy vegan friend, Jessica, who died of lung cancer, feared the same thing. It’s a legitimate concern this day and age, but maybe if more people discuss it our society will eventually learn the truth. Hide it under a lampstand? NO! Maybe as a society, especially those of us who know real love, we can stop judging others by our assumptions or their past behavior and get into the moment. Let’s just love people, people.

2) Love

The next point is the theme I can’t get past, is how we are loving each other.The truth is, if we don’t give our loved ones the opportunity to support us during cancer, we are not loving them. It’s not loving to hide the truth, or to steal their opportunity to grow, learn and be blessed by the trials. It’s not love to try to rescue them from something the Lord determined was important for them to walk through. And it’s not loving to assume they wouldn’t want to know what you’re going through.

Loving someone is not the same as flattery or indulgence, either. It seems like the popular belief is that giving people what they want is love. (Could that be a contributing factor in people not believing God is loving? Because He doesn’t always give us what we want?) We rarely like the consequences that result from giving people what they want too much, yet in the moment we often do it. Yaacov and I have to remind each other that there’s a difference between blessing and spoiling our own kids, but somehow when we see kids who have trained their parents to indulge all their whims, the shock leaves us speechless. When we end up sheltering people from many life lessons, like with the need to obey, or to work hard, we aren’t being super-parents the way we sometimes convince ourselves. We might have good intentions, but that’s not always the same as loving well.

Sometimes when we make decisions like keeping a major diagnosis and treatment a secret, we can’t get past the obvious surface issues that make so much sense. But that’s why we need the Word, the Holy Spirit, and wise counsel to help us make the decisions. If we usurp that process, we end up tricked by the enemy into doing the most unloving thing imaginable in the misguided attempt to love deeply!

3) Redemption

So, we all make mistakes. We “love” selfishly instead of spiritually. We fail the same test whose content we just reviewed yesterday. We do the thing we just judged someone else for doing. I’m typing this because I don’t have it figured out yet–I’d estimate that over the past year I’ve grown closer to the Lord than ever, but still I sin as much as ever. Of course, I often think I’m so changed that my purity must emanate from my pores. Then I get knocked back on the floor and realize my gross (size XL!), filthy clothes have been mended and bleached clean, but I still rolled around in the mud again all day. If you’re a devoted believer, you’re probably the same way. Paul says, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19). That sounds oddly similar to what I moan heavenward each morning…The good news is, we are redeemed! We are awful, but He is awesome! We are sinful but He is sufficient! We forsake Him, but He forgives us!

Intertwined through the secular magazine story I noticed a victory: Despite the women’s initial desperate attempts to hide their cancer, they eventually began to share about it, and are now devoted to publicly discussing it. That is evidence of His Sovereignty. I have no idea whether or not they ever have or ever will follow Him, but He knows all that. In this case, what we do know is that they eventually humbled themselves and discovered the richness of sharing the truth. That wasn’t “by mistake”, it was because His purposes never fail. It was all part of the plan. So, they were redeemed, in spite of themselves.

No matter how many times you rolled around in the dirt today, you, too, can be redeemed. Permanently. While you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8). You didn’t earn it, and you never can. But you can spend eternity worshiping the only one who can make you truly clean. If you don’t believe that, go back to the Holy Spirit, Word of God, and truly wise counsel you just read about until you do believe it (or message me and I’ll find you some!).