Monday, June 29, 2009
I had a root canal done on it 15 years ago. It seemed fine until about 3 years ago. Long story short, I found out that not only did I have infection in one of the root canals of that same tooth, but also that it had been eating away at the bone.
So I went and had another root canal done. More fun. The tooth again seemed fine until a few months ago when I was brushing my teeth and noticed that the bone near that tooth was hurting. Back to the dentist I went.
More x-rays were done, still more infection was found and another root canal was needed. Fuuuun. You’d think that would have taken care of it. He cleaned out those roots like he was the Roto-Rooter man. But the bone still hurt. So I trudged back off to the dentist again, where it was decided that the crown would be replaced.
As the dentist began to remove the crown I heard all kinds of crunching sounds and he stopped and asked me to smile as wide as I could. Then he sat back and said words that you don’t want to hear from your dentist: “I’m sorry, but your tooth was cracked and broke. You’ll need a $1500. bridge. Or if you’d like to go the “luxury route,” (sarcasm mine) you can pay over twice as much for an implant.”
But first, the infected, cracked and broken tooth had to come out. That was no less fun than any of the three root canals. This tooth had given me problems for 15 years and it wasn’t going to stop now. As the dentist started to try to remove it, it just crumbled into little pieces. He had to use a drill to get it out, and he had to remove it one root at a time.
It was a very tedious process, but finally the tooth was out. The crater-sized hole it left has to heal for about another month before I can be fitted for the bridge.
And here’s the funny thing: almost every time I go to floss, I start to floss that tooth until I realize there’s only space there. Even though that evil tooth has made me go through 3 root canals, caused infection to the point of wearing away bone, may have caused damage enough to give me headaches on the side of my head, and a painful time of having it removed and the healing that goes along with it, my brain still thinks it’s there and wants to nurture it and take care of it.
That was the long, scenic version of saying this: how many times do we go through the time, sometimes years of prayer, painful trial and error, two steps forward and one step back, to finally be rid of some sinful attitude or behavior, knowing the pain that it’s caused in our lives, only to forget that pain and try to go back to it and nurture the sin again? Sounds weird, but we do it.
How many times have we, for example, asked for the ability to forgive someone, and then we do, only to later dredge up that anger again, harbor it, think about it, and even feel justified in holding onto the grudge again?
Now, I won’t have problems trying to take care of that rotten, phantom tooth once the hole has been replaced with a brand new, clean, unbroken, perfect bridge made just for me.
God does the same thing. Whenever He says in His word to “put off” something, He always follows it up with a “put on.”
“But now also put off all these things: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, shameful speech out of your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8)
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender feelings of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another and forgiving yourselves, if anyone has a complaint against any.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
So, to use the example above, when we forgive someone, we have to put something in the place of that anger and unforgiveness we once had so that the unforgiveness doesn’t slip back into our hearts. Even if the person you have forgiven is not a person you would ever have a relationship with because of the nature of the offense or their sinful lifestyle, you can still replace the unforgiveness with agape love.
Not that your forgiveness and love are saying, “what you did is okay,” but we are told to forgive because forgiveness heals our hearts. And agape love, the love that is a choice, the unconditional kind of love is a love that can only come from God. It is a merciful and gracious love that comes not from our feelings, but from our spirits, which have been reborn in Christ - the same love that God loved us with when we were yet still sinners. We can let Christ love them through us.
And once we allow God to pluck from our hearts that unforgiveness, that anger, that bitterness, and replace the holes that are left with His love, we won’t as easily go back to where we once were: harboring and nurturing a sin that only leaves us broken and in pain.
I’ve had to do this myself. I’ve had to forgive people that in the flesh would be completely impossible. But God’s power is enough to forgive and to love the unloveable.
The best way to do that is to start praying for that person. Ask God to give you a love for them. Pray for their salvation or for their reconciliation to Christ.
Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.
Friday, June 26, 2009
1 18.5 oz. pkg. white cake mix
2 cups boiling water
2 4-serving pkgs. Jello
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare, bake and cool cake mix as directed on pkg. for 2 9 or 8-in. round cake layers. Place cake layers, top sides up, in 2 clean 9 or 8-in cake pans. Pierce cake with large fork at ½ in. intervals.
3. Stir 1 cup of the boiling water into each flavor of Jello in separate bowls 2 min. or until dissolved. Carefully pour 1 cup of Jello over 1 cake layer and then pour the other cup of Jello over the other cake layer. Refrigerate 3 hours.
4. Dip 1 cake pan in warm water 10 seconds. Unmold onto serving plate. Spread with frosting. Unmold second cake layer. Carefully place on first layer. Frost top and sides. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve.
2 ¼ cups sugar
9 large egg whites
1 ½ lbs. (6 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 ½ teas. vanilla
1. Put sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are very warm to the touch, about 4 min. Transfer bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on high speed until fluffy and cooled; about 10 minutes.
2. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add butter a few tablespoons at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
3. Beat on lowest speed until air bubbles diminish, 3 to 5 min. Use immediately, or refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days. Before using, bring to room temperature; beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until smooth.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Now how could you say no to a face like that? This is our Lhasa Apso/Shih Tzu mix, Jake. He’s our third son. We love him to death even though he really isn’t what you’d call a dog’s dog.
If he actually does catch a glimpse of a cat roaming our backyard, (most times a cat can walk through our backyard completely secure in the knowledge that he’ll go completely unnoticed) he’ll take a couple of bunny hops towards it, get distracted and go lay down; same thing with chasing a toy. He might bring it back to you a couple of times, but after that he’s just bored.
We actually had to teach him how to bark. I read once that there’s something in the genes of Shih Tzus especially that keeps them from being natural barkers. So soon after we got him when he was a couple of years old, my husband embarked (ar ar) on teaching Jake how to bark.
My husband would get a little dog treat and tell Jake to ask for it. Poor thing. He’d open his mouth, kind of hop a little, but nothing would come out. So (picture this), my husband would say, “ask,” then he’d bark, showing Jake how to make the sound. It would take Jake a few tries to warm up the ol’ vocal cords.
The first few times nothing but air would come out, then a little grunt, then finally, a bark. Yay, and there was much rejoicing! And then Jake would get the treat. This took several practice lessons before he got it down, although even then he really didn’t bark all that often. He’d usually only do it if he wanted a treat and then only if you told him to ask. Or when he wants to come inside. He’s extremely insistent about that.
So the other day, I was sitting here at my desk working when all of sudden, right next to me, I heard a very loud bark. I look down to see this:
Now, knowing Jake’s aversion to barking, I knew something was up. Plus, I looked down at that furry, little snaggle-toothed face and my heart just melted. So I got up from my chair, knelt down, gave him a big hug, and asked him what he wanted.
Now, Jake usually only wants two things: food or to go outside. I had just fed him so I didn’t think that was it. So I started walking to the door, knowing that if that’s what he wanted he’d chase after me. And he did.
And here’s what popped into my head: if my love for a little dog would compel me to immediately listen to his cry and do whatever I could to find out what he needed and help him, how much more does the Heavenly Father hear the cries of His beloved children and do whatever is within His good and perfect will to answer those prayers?
But for some reason, either we forget or we become insecure about the incredible amount of love that our Lord has for us, and we question whether or not He is hearing us.
Know that He hears you.
When we call He is right there with open arms and a heart full of love. And He will answer those prayers in the very best way and in His perfect timing.
So this week, a week where I have especially felt the attacks of the enemy, I am thankful for the reminder that my God loves me immensely and that He has heard every one of my cries and that He is working on answering them, even if I don’t see it right now.
How are you thankful this week?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
"Though I may not wear the garments of princes,
You are my portion, you are my portion, Lord.
For you clothe me in your righteousness,
You are my portion, you are my portion, Lord.
Though I may not sit at the table of kings,
You are my portion, you are my portion, Lord.
For you feed me from the abundance of your hand,
You are my portion, you are my portion, Lord."
by Darrell Evans
Thursday, June 18, 2009
"Was that the same nose you broke as a child?"
"Now doctor, is it not true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases he just passes quietly away and doesn’t know anything about it until the next morning?"
Q: "What happened then?"
A: "He told me, ‘I have to kill you because you can identify me."
Q: "And did he kill you?"
"Was it you or your brother that was killed in the war?
"The youngest son, the twenty year old, how old is he?"
"Were you alone or by yourself?"
"Do you have any children or anything of that kind?"
Q: "I show you exhibit 3 and ask you if you recognize that picture?"
A: "That’s me."
Q: "Were you present when he picture was taken?"
"Were you present in court this morning when you were sworn in?"
Q: "Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated ?"
A: "By death."
Q: "And by whose death was it terminated?"
Q: "Do you know how far pregnant you are now?"
A: "I’ll be three months on November 8th."
Q: "Apparently then, the date of conception was August 8th?"
Q: "What were you doing at that time?"
"So you were gone until you returned?"
Q: "She had three children right?"
A: "Yes."Q: "How many were boys?"
Q: "Were there any girls?"
"Mrs. Jones, how many times have you committed suicide?"
"You don’t know what it was, and you didn’t know what it looked like, but can you describe it?"
Q: "You say the stairs went down to the basement?"
Q: "And these stairs, did they go up also?"
Q: "Do you recall approximately the time that you examined the body of Mr. Edington at the Rose Chapel?"
A: "The autopsy started about 8:30 p.m."
Q: "And Mr. Edington was dead at that time?"
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
So this week I'm thankful for the staff my Shepherd used to keep me from falling: a video of a young woman named Rachel, speaking in front of hundreds of women about her terminal cancer and her faith in Jesus.
Rachel was recently diagnosed with cancer for the second time. The first time it was breast cancer and this time the cancer is in her bones and liver and it is spreading. Her doctors give her 6 to 14 (I believe she said) weeks to live. She is married and has young children.
Her message helped me to gather in my mind all my own suffering and, once again, give it purpose: to draw closer to my God and to glorify Him. Is there any greater purpose in the world?
Thank you, Lord. And thank you, Rachel, for sharing your trials and the wisdom you've learned through them. You have fulfilled your purpose.
The video is 55 minutes long, and I promise you won't regret the time spent. You can find it on her website, Death is not dying.
Update - Rachel went home to be with Jesus on July 2, 2009. Please uphold her family in your prayers.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
I’ve noticed that for the most part, the closer I’m feeling to the Lord, the more intimate my name for Him is.
When we haven’t spoken in a while, it’s “Father.” And that’s not bad. He is my Father and always will be. But when we’re tight, like this, (crossing my fingers) then He’s my Precious Lord Jesus.
When I need healing, He is my Jehovah Rophe, the God Who Heals.
When I need to know that He sees me and my broken heart, He is my El Roi, the God Who Sees Me.
When I have need of things that only He can supply, He is my Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord Will Provide.
When the enemy whispers in my ear that I’m not good enough, I remember that God is my Jehovah-Tsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness.
Are you calling on the Lord? Are you right by His side?
He never moves away from us, but we can certainly move away from Him. I hate it when I do that. But the great thing about God is that He’s always only a prayer away.
All we have to do is call on His Name, and He has many, and He is right there.
What are you calling your God these days?
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
But see, they were smart. Our countertop is a granite wannabe that has some brown and black splotches on it that acted as a camouflage for them, allowing them to sneak in undetected until at least a dozen or so had made their move into our kitchen, successfully finding their way to some plate of half-eaten food that had been left sitting on the counter. I’m convinced that they would strategically find their way to a black spot and sit there quietly as a human walked by so as to go unnoticed.
I got to the paranoia stage where I’d think I saw one of those buggers on the counter and I’d stand perfectly still, slowing my breath so as not to be heard and then stare, waiting for it to move, only to realize I was staring at one of the black splotches ingrained in my countertop.
We did our detective work trying to find out just exactly where they were coming in, but we could never figure it out. They were just....there. We'd find them in our microwave, way up on top of the cabinets and in the pantry. We threw away numerous boxes of otherwise perfectly good cereal, which they price now like it contains flecks of gold.
Then they decided to move to our bedroom and bathroom. I found them once climbing up an inside wall. Where they came from I still don't know. Every evening they would march in their organized little rows up on the top of the shower enclosure and down into the shower. I could almost hear them whistling the theme from Bridge on the River Kwai.
In desperately trying to keep a clean space on my counters to prepare food, I became slightly obsessive about using Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner to wipe them down before, during and after food prep.
And lo and behold, I discovered that the cleaner was akin to an acid bath to these tiny little nuisances. The moment they were sprayed, they instantly died in a puddle of chemicals. So Lysol Kitchen Cleaner was dutifully kept under the kitchen sink, and even sometimes left poised, ready to use on the counter, so as to keep them from disappearing into thin air the moment I left my post to retrieve my weapon of choice.
We kept scouring the property trying to find their little hideout. We even called a professional (and I now use that term loosely) exterminator, who came to the house not one, not two, but three times trying to halt our little plague, but to no avail.
Oh, our little army would lay low for a week or two, and we’d rejoice that our personal version of the end times was over. Heck, we’d even throw caution to the wind and slide a box of cereal into the pantry without storing it in the plastic storage containers I purchased for them.
But they always came back.
I googled how to kill ants or something similar and found that they could actually be killed by sprinkling dry Malt-O-Meal cereal on the ground.
What the heck.
So I sprinkled that along the side of the house by the kitchen and near our bathroom. At first it didn’t seem to be working but after a few applications and some desperate prayers for mercy, they seem to be…dare I say it….gone!
It’s been a number of months now and I do believe they’re history. Thank you, Lord!
So right now I am thrilled, relieved and oh so thankful to be able to cook without the thought of sharing my cooking space with anybody. Except the husband. And the kids. And the dogs. They can stay.
Okay, try not to push each other as you stand in line to leave your comments about what you are thankful for this week. :o)
Monday, June 8, 2009
Jeremiah knew what he was saying when he said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)
I’ve just recently had that experience. Again. The grief of being made aware of what’s been going on in my own heart for so long is hard to bear. But the hatred of the sin is good and necessary in order to have the desire to turn from it. And conviction always comes wrapped in the sweetness of God’s love to soothe and comfort and reveal that the spiritual sight into the pit was for a good purpose: because the Lord desires to heal me. He wants to remove that which would tear me down and take me away from relationship with Him and replace it with more of Himself. And that can only happen as I become aware of the sin, repent of it, and let God remove it from me.
When I posted the 3rd installment of The Long and Winding Road, I said that the Lord told me at the beginning of the previous year that that would be a year of healing. And indeed it was. But it looks like I’m going in for round 2.
Ding ding. Let the blood, sweat and tears fly.
It seems I was angry at God about things for which I was really angry at people - lots of people through a very long and winding road of a life. And now that God’s healed the relationship between the two of us, I can move forward in letting God heal my heart of the pain now knowing where it really lies.
As I look back on the last year I can see the beauty of God’s plan and why He’s done it this way. There was no way that He could heal my heart of anything until our relationship was healed first.
That is the way of all things in a Believer’s life. The Vertical Relationship must be right before horizontal relationships can be made right. The heart can’t move forward until it moves with God.
Mind you, I wasn’t even completely aware of how much healing my relationship with God needed. I was skipping along through life thinking things were okay. Not perfect, but not that bad.
A couple of days after I got back from the retreat that I talked about in part 5 of The Long and Winding Road, where God had poured out His grace and mercy on me, He once again spoke to me through a song, telling me He wasn’t finished yet. This time He spoke through a band I’d never even heard of before, Sanctus Real. (It’s #10 over in my playlist.)
I heard those words and though I felt a little puzzled by them because I thought God had just done the healing that He wanted to do, I knew God was speaking to me again.
I can’t praise God enough for what He’s done for me, how He’s been there for me, and how much He loves me. And when your spiritual eyeballs get turned inward, He’ll do the same for you.
Jesus is our Shepherd who goes running after His little, lost sheep.
God is our Heavenly Father who protects us and provides for us.
The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, our Teacher, our Counselor and our Prayer Partner.
What else has He been for you?
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
But I woke up this morning thinking about Mel Gibson. No, not like that. I was thinking of a recent interview I saw him do on The Tonight Show. Mel talked about his impending divorce from his wife of 20-something years and the fact that they've been separated for the last 3. He admitted that he'd done a "hatchet-job" on his marriage and he was willing to take the blame for its failure.
Then he confirmed the rumors not only that yes, he is dating that beautiful woman people have seen him with, but yes, she is pregnant with their baby.
I thought of all that and then tried to reconcile it all with the man who wrote, produced and directed the movie, The Passion of the Christ. It is without a doubt the most heart-wrenching, powerful, emotionally raw and most realistic movie -even using the Latin and Aramaic languages- ever made about Jesus Christ. I've only been able to watch it again one more time since we saw it in the movie theatre and my eyes were closed for much of the scouraging scenes and my stomach was sick for most of the movie.
That was my Lord suffering and dying for my sins.
The man who made that movie had to have poured out his heart and soul into it. He reportedly spent millions of dollars out of his own pocket to make the movie because no movie studio would take a chance on it. He endured criticism for everything from holding private screenings for certain individuals, to the opinions held by many that the movie was too violent, to the controversy surrounding his original desire to have no subtitles, to the attacks of others who claimed that the movie was anti-semitic.
But he made the movie anyway. It seemed there was a passion that moved Mr. Gibson to make that movie. He even thoughtfully chose to be the hand who hammered the nail into Christ's hand because, he explained, it was his guilt that nailed Him to the cross.
Indeed. And it was mine.
So what has happened? How has he gone from a man who so desperately wanted to tell the story of Christ's crucifixion, giving us all a glimpse into what it could have looked like for an innocent Man to be nailed to a cross for our own sins, to a man who admittedly ran his marriage into the ground, and now, before he is divorced, is openly dating another woman, and has gotten her pregnant. And he's on a talk show talking about it.
Of course everything I just wrote I thought about this morning in a matter of seconds. And the thought that lingered, that led me to the computer to write something different to you today was, what has happened to our love for God? What happened to the love that Mel Gibson seemed to have? What is happening to the love of self-proclaimed believers in Jesus Christ in this world?
How can we say we love Christ and hate our brother?
How can we say we love Christ and get divorced - something that God says He hates!
How can we say we love Christ and harbor unforgiveness?
How can we say we love Christ and go about our merry way, doing our thang, never even considering if that thing is God's will, never even going to Him and asking the Lord what His thing for us is?
Are there people left out there who still love Jesus Christ with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength and with all their mind? We don't even seem to respect God anymore. I hear Christians use God's name in vain; I hear Christians whine about having to go to church (which is anywhere believers in Jesus Christ gather), I hear Christians complain about helping a brother in the Lord.
Where is our love for the God Who sent His Son to die for our sins?
Has our love grown cold? Have we tip-toed into the world just a little bit too much? Have we been affected by the world rather than us affecting the world? Are we just afraid to look different? Are we afraid to have some of the types of attacks that were aimed toward Mel Gibson directed at us?
The Lord has increasingly put on my heart that times for all of us are going to get more and more difficult. The world is going to turn against the Christian faith more than it ever has. There is going to be a shaking of our faith, and if we're sitting on the fence when it happens, we may not know on which side we'll end up.
Please, I implore you, if you have been on the fence with your faith, one foot in the world and one foot trying to live a Christian life and yet not doing very well at either, get off the fence and get back to your first love - loving your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let's ask to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we are overflowing with His love so that it spills out all over everyone around us. Let's love God enough to desire to do His will, to be Jesus' eyes and ears and arms and feet on this earth. Let's have the mind of Christ.
Ask God for forgiveness for the sins you've been committing and for going your own way.
Love your brother.
Work on your marriage.
Forgive those whom you need to forgive.
And then lets get back to regular prayer and ask God what He wants you to do today, and then do it! How does He want you to spend your...His...money? Does He want you to take the time to tell someone, maybe a co-worker, maybe a neighbor, maybe a relative, that God loves them and sent His Son to die for them, too?
If you find that your love for God has waned, ask Him for it back.
Let us be the salt and light in this dark and lonely world. Let us be the example of loving unconditionally, not just when everything is going our way or when others are loving us.
I pray we seek to be Spirit-filled and love as Christ loved - passionately, joyfully, wholeheartedly, unabashedly, sacrificially, without thought for ourselves, but thoughts only of others and for their good.
And if you're hearing for the first time that God loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins and you want this relationship with Him, click on the How to Know God tab at very top.
"Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Hebrews 12:1-4)