shame

 

DSC_1477

A little confession for you:  I’m a try-hard Christian at times (more times I care to admit).  And then, every once in a while (about once a week) I get knocked to my knees in desperation because I simply cannot be a good girl (no surprise there, why not just learn this lesson??).  I open my mouth and the attitude and words that pour forth are shameful.  I want to be a good example to my children but daily I fail.  On Saturday my heart was rotten, I was thinking wretched thoughts, feeling the most grumbly of feelings…..Rich and I had to run errands and as I scribbled in my journal in the car, I began to cry and the words gushed out to my dear husband….he sensed the despair and recognized it for what it was, condemnation.  I was reacting to my failings all the wrong way, by condemning myself and my religion.  “What’s the point of being a believer if I have to continually struggle against myself and LOSE?” I cried, “When I discover a fault in myself, or my own faults and sin are exposed to everyone around me I feel so much shame and blame my religion.”  Then I get upset because of the time I am putting into self-evalutation and my thoughts run like this:  “You have so much pride.  You are not a good Christian at all.  What is wrong with you?  Despair, cry, give up!”

Rich, in seeing the way I was beating myself up,  encouraged me to think positively, to remember the gifts God has given to me and the very special ways he has created me.  But I couldn’t.  It was too much self-focus once again.  I took up my daily Bible reading and said, “The answers will be here, I know it.  I just need to read this.”

My testimony is this:  In whatever situation I am facing, the Lord is right there with comfort, teachings, and rebuke, if only I take up my Bible and read it.  If only I see and hear what He has to communicate to me.  He is so faithful!  This weekend I read aloud in the car about the time that God made Balaam’s donkey speak.  An angel was blocking the way and the donkey could see it but Balaam could not.  Three times he lost his patience with the animal and beat him in anger and frustration.

Rich told me I was doing to myself what Balaam was doing to the poor donkey.  Beating myself unnecessarily.  It was so funny I had to laugh.  Listen:

“What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?”  says the donkey to Balaam, and says myself to myself.

“You have made me look like a fool!  If I had a sword with me I would kill you!”  Says Balaam to the donkey, and says myself to myself.

But then Balaam comes to understand what is happening and is full of remorse, and Rich applied the passage and told me I have to stop beating my ass.  (!)

Balaam goes on to say to King Balak, who wanted him to curse the Israelites for him, “God has blessed and I cannot reverse it.”

THIS IS THE ANSWER.  Praise God in Jesus that He has saved my soul and there is NO condemnation to those who belong to Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1.  My heart sings.  He has blessed and in no way is that blessing ever going to be reversed!

Rich reminded me that what I was feeling, that wretched feeling, was my own personal fight against the flesh, which is something that ALL believers face.  It hurts sometimes, until we remember that we have the victory in Christ Jesus.

It was pretty amazing, because my testimony continues, in the mailbox that very day….we received this month’s issue of Tabletalk magazine with the main topic this month being SHAME.  Article after article, all written seemingly for ME and my heart’s struggles.  Food for the soul, truth for the doubting one.

“Jesus lived and died not only for the guilt of our sin but for the shame of our sin.”

“If we live each day bearing the shame of yesterday, and we’re worried about the shame of tomorrow, we will never experience the joys of abundant life in Christ today.  Let us lift our weary eyes from gazing upon our shame and fix our eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.”

“Shame is not the final conclusion we make about ourselves.”

“The end of Christian identity is righteousness, not shame.”

“Shame is made manifest by isolation, self protection, self-hatred, self-destruction, self-preservation, and the illusion of control.”

“Satan’s voice will lead to shame, but God’s voice will lead to glory.”

“Our shame begins to unravel as we see His dear person and know His matchless work to be our own.  United to Him by faith through the Holy Spirit, our whole position changes.  Redeemed and reconciled to our heavenly Father by the Son of His love, the basis of our true shame is dealt with and our alienation removed.”

So, my own struggle with trying hard is dealt with like everything else is dealt with, through the cross and the gospel.  Praise Jesus!  I will feel the fight at times, I will feel shame, but I am not left there….He leads me along into the glorious truths of what Christianity is all about, Jesus and His righteousness which He so generously bestows on all who believe in Him.  This world is not my home, I’m just passing through……and by grace I will say, like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

first friday picnic, baptism, and bible study at our place

Image

DSC_0024

Mat 18:20 “For wherever two or three people have come together in my name, I am there, right among them!”

 

We had about fifty people from our church family, and neighbors, come to our house on Friday for a church cook out, baptism, and Bible study.   As the hostess, I was happily busy trying to make sure the little details of the night came together (with lots of help from friends), but still made sure to take some pictures.  Rich and I hope to continue these “First Friday” (of the month) bible studies as much as we are able.  This was our very first one.

(The picture up there ^^ was when Rich was giving general information and the prayer from the front porch)

DSC_0026

We put the food on the kitchen island.  My plan was to keep the meal simple, making sure that we had a good amount for the crowd.  I made hamburgers (meat from Costco, mixed with plenty of salt and pepper, onion and garlic powder, finely chopped onion and red pepper).  Rich grilled them on our new charcoal grill. We put hotdogs down at the fire pit for people to roast.  We also served tossed salad and chips, a bowl of olives, and whatever else people brought to share (potato salad, quinoa salad, coleslaw, fruit, etc).  Our guests provided the drink and dessert.

PICTURES:

DSC_0027

Our son Jacob, with his “second parents” Chris and Caroline who live just a few miles from us.  They have two teenagers who have grown up with my older kids.

 

DSC_0028

Anna and her friend.

 

DSC_0029

Anna’s (family) dog

 

DSC_0032

Six children on the plane; there were kids swarming everywhere.   These church gatherings are great for them, because they can run wild.

43b3f7e0-5226-4d5a-84b2-6b4986bfb62d_zpsb8088591

Boys on trampoline.

 

DSC_0037

dear sweet Shannon ~

 

DSC_0039

David’s best friend from school came with his parents.  Dave thought he would be funny and photobomb this one.

 

DSC_0041

Ryan spent the night.

 

DSC_0043

Alex and Jacob

 

DSC_0046

Alex and his wife Sara

 

We were all down at the pond getting ready for the baptism when I took these.

 

DSC_0049

crazy teenage boys (except Michael; not a teenage boy, still crazy though)

 

DSC_0051

Allie, with my daughter Grace, Alysha, and baby Asher

 

DSC_0052

 

DSC_0053

Shannon, Sue, Naomi (whose daughter was baptized), and Bev

 

DSC_0054

Lydia, Barb, Tina, and Fran

 

DSC_0058

Hope and her baby girl

 

DSC_0056

They set up the sound system on the dock and we sang hymns along with John’s fabulous guitar playing.

 

DSC_0059

During one hymn I ran up to the house to get Vanessa a juice box and took this picture on the way back.

 

DSC_0064

Gary in the pond, with Stacia, who gave a lovely testimony of her salvation.

 

DSC_0066

 

DSC_0067

We were all so happy to share in Stacia’s special night.

 

DSC_0071

Rich gave a bible study down on the patio (I was on the porch looking down)….

 

DSC_0072

I stayed in the house to help watch babies and after the study was over the house filled back up again.   People ate dessert and visited while the children (and some of us adults, too) tried their best to hear The Lego Movie playing on TV.  The night ended about about 10.  Rich and I were wide awake from the excitement of the night so we buzzed around cleaning up the house together, and Jacob took this picture of us.

 

DSC_0074

It ended up being one of those nights that we stayed up talking until after midnight.  It was a great.

Thank you to all who came out, and hope to see you (and more) next time!