I’m the one Jesus loves

When reading through the Gospel of John (one of my favorite books in the Bible), l always laugh at John calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loves”. My first reaction was to think he was sounding rather arrogant. I figured he was a young guy and a little self-centered (not that all young people are self-centered ~ but I certainly was). The statement sounds almost exclusive to him.

John 13:23 (NIV)
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

John 19:26 (NIV)
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”

John 21:7 (NIV)
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

John 21:20 (NIV)
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was looking at it the wrong way. I would like to postulate that maybe John understands God’s love better than anyone. Maybe, we all should be identifying ourselves as “The one Jesus loves”. I think that once you completely comprehend the love of Jesus, you should feel how individually you are loved and how you are all loved at a level that we can only be described as “the one Jesus loves”.

If I understand the love of Jesus as described in the Bible, then the number one descriptor I should use about myself is “I’m the one Jesus loves”…we all should. I know it’s tempting to say “We are the ones Jesus loves”, but I think Jesus loves us each so deeply at an individual level, that we each do stand out in His eyes, so we shouldn’t water it down. Another step in getting to know who I am in Christ.

Love,

The Blogger Whom Jesus Loves

Church hunting…sort of

This post is very personal, and more about a process I’m going through right now. It may not be that interesting to everyone, but I needed to put it out there. I needed to make a public statement (this will make sense if you do read the whole thing)

Our church has been going through a lot of change. The church I have been going to since 1999 has been dying a slow death, and now a larger, more successful church (that is busting at the seams) has come along and partnered with our church to merge.

“Merge” sounds like a sweet word, but the truth is, it has been hard. I have this piece of paper in my office at home that says I’m a member of SHCC. It is no longer valid. I can’t just walk into the new church and swap it for a new membership to Westgate Church. I am now taking a class to get to know my “new” church. I am becoming a member of a new church.

In this process, I started to think about whether I would choose this church if I had just moved to town. I felt like maybe this is how I should be approaching this. I didn’t choose this church and I felt like it was choosing me. I felt I didn’t have control of my path (it’s always fun when you try to take control…it’s almost like you can hear God laughing).

The hubby, the youngest son and I decided to visit some different places to see what was out there. We visited a few very different churches that all had beautiful music, great sermons, and wonderfully welcoming people. Some fit us better than others. One really felt like “home” for me. This only made the struggle to choose worse.

At the same time, with all the changes, I was feeling disconnected and useless in my “new” church. Youth small groups were put on hold to give people time to adjust, and even though I needed the adjustment time, it made it hard to feel useful. I went to the youth pastor and his wife (two people I trust deeply) with my heart in my hands.They asked people in our youth staff to pray for me.

In the following week I was showered with love from all sides by people from my “old/new” church. People I have volunteered with for years came forward and were connecting intentionally with me and making sure I was being cared for and prayed for. It was a hurricane of love.

Even though it has been a tough choice, I am choosing this new Westgate Church. I want to be with the family I have been with for 15 years. I want to worship next to my son, who wants to choose Westgate as well. I want to continue to work with one of the best youth staff I have ever met. I want to hang out with some of the coolest teen girls I have had the privilege to mentor. I want the hubs and I to sit together on Sunday and know we are in family unity and that we will worship together as a family.

What if God Doesn’t Exist?

God exists.  I believe He does.  But my son recently asked me, that if God didn’t exist, would I want to know (I think Nick was collecting info for a project at his Bible College).  My answer was yes.  I never explained myself and he never asked for clarification, but I’ve been pondering this for a few weeks.

Some people describe Christianity (or a belief in any religion) as a crutch.  They say it’s to pacify some kind of fear of death.  If my belief was for that purpose, then I would be getting Christianity ALL wrong.  As much as I don’t fear death (I didn’t when I was an atheist either), I think belief in Jesus makes my life much harder.  I would want to know if God doesn’t exist, because I could really cut back on some hard things I now choose to do in my life that are based on my belief.  First and foremost, I could spend every weekend free of commitment to my church family…sleep in, watch football.

I could stop giving large chunks of our money to causes to help others.  I could stop letting others use our stuff (like our home or our cars).  Because of God, I share more than is sometimes comfortable, because I believe He owns my money and my things. I pray, and I feel God dictates that I use the things He’s given me to help others.  Not only does He ask me to share, He wants me to do it joyfully.  It’s hard giving up what you work for and sharing your space with others with a giving spirit.  I’m learning to do this.

I could hold a grudge and get revenge.  I know that getting back at someone can sometimes give you satisfaction.  Letting things go is not easy.  When someone hurts you, you feel in your heart that getting back at them will give you some kind of justice.  Trusting God with that justice, and learning to love when you are hurting is a HUGE challenge for me.  As a believer, I have had to pray through many hurts and learn to forgive.  I’ve had to give up on opportunities to “get them back” for what they did, and just let things go.  Years can go by, and I have to let go all over again.  It’s really not easy to live in forgiveness.

I could hate, swear, get drunk, eat like a glutton, be sardonic, exclude people, mock weakness in others, gossip…all without guilt.  I know some of you are thinking that I’m not the type to do these things, but I think I am very capable of all of it.  Sometimes, deep in my heart, I think it would be easier not to use kindness.  It would be easier to yell at people (like in traffic).  I would probably find humor in making fun of others.  I wouldn’t have to dig deep to find extra grace for people who rub me the wrong way.  As I follow Jesus, I find myself challenged to often bite my tongue.

I could spend more time at my leisure.  For 12 years I have been working with teens because God called me to do so.  I go once a week for Bible study (which takes me 1-3 hours to prepare for), twice a month for large group gatherings, once a month for Youth Staff meetings, countless Starbucks dates with teens wanting to share their heart, and much time in prayer. I have to show love, even when a student is making bad choices and breaking my heart.  All of this is a challenge and it would be easier to stay home and hang out with my friends at my convenience.  God calls me to care for His teens.

So, yes, if God doesn’t exist, I would want to know.  Then again, all these things have blessed my life on a deep level.  The crazy thing is, I don’t know if I would understand the blessings of grace, giving, and caring if I didn’t know God.  It is through the way He challenges me to do these things that I have learned the joy in them.  It is through the challenge to be more like Jesus that I find joy in things I probably wouldn’t care about if there were no God.

 

Resolution Check In ~ Oct 2014

The year is coming to a close and my New Year’s resolutions are close to complete (if not complete already).  Some, like most people are just not happening as planned.

  • I will complete 2 quilts

I started working full time for the first time in 18 years (M-F, 9-5) and I have less time for these fun projects.  I still want to finish at least one of my quilts.  Let’s see if I can do it by Christmas.

  • I will finish my read through the Bible that I started in 2013

As I said last post, I’ve achieved this goal and now I’m planning on reading through the New Testament in French.  I’m slowly making my way through Matthew right now (It’s wonderful).

  • I will exercise at least 5 days a week (unless I’m sick)

OK, so new plan.  I started running over a month ago.  I mostly do interval running (spaced out with short walks in between).  I won’t be working out 5 days a week, but I’m running 4 days a week.  It fits in with my work schedule and I love it.  I feel that I can choose not to be too legalistic with my resolution and realize that what I’m doing achieves the idea behind my original goal.  In fact, I would say I’m healthier with my exercise than I thought I’d be, so I feel this one I can check off.

  • I will lose 50 lbs.

I have lost 59 lbs.  I can definitely check this one off!  My real goal though is 70 lbs.  11 more to go.  In 2 more lbs. I’ll reach my healthy BMI and no longer be over weight, which, given I started as an obese person, is pretty great.  AND I’m feeling pretty great.

  • I will post a non “picture blog” at least once a week.

I think I’ve only missed a few days this year.  This goal has been a blessing in disguise.  I love to write, but have a bit of the procrastination bug.  By having this deadline, it forces me to be accountable to myself.

  • If I reach 100 followers, I’ll try to figure out some kind of giveaway.

Oh my goodness gracious me!  I have over 100 followers.  I will come up with some kind of mini giveaway before my next check-in for my loyal followers.  Stay Tuned and Thanks everyone!!!

Happy October! I better start praying about next year’s resolutions.

Sign That Again

My youngest son has started college. As a homeschool mom, you worry that because you keep your kids out of a classroom for 12 years, they might not adjust to college very well. In my case, they never attended any kind of school outside the home. Other than 2-3 families hanging at our house for things like a biology dissection, we really did it all at home…alone.

So imagine my surprise as I watch my youngest adapt beautifully to his new environment. He has friends in all his classes (yes, even though he’s only 16 in college). He’s currently ranked 3rd in his Calculus class and excelling in both his speech class and his Sign Language class (ok, I’m done bragging).

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This last Friday he came home from college and announced he must attend a deaf event for his Sign Language class (a class he’s been taking for 4 weeks). He said he was going to a Starbucks 30 minutes away, from 8pm until whenever (it ends at midnight, but you can leave when you like), to a deaf discussion group. I had been learning sign for two days online in my free time. I knew maybe 20 signs (I wanted to be able to communicate with him this way). Together we agreed I could join him if I promised not to crowd him, so off we went.

It was such a great experience. We mingled and signed with strangers that were so kind about teaching us new words. Jared met some of his classmates and they seemed to hit it off immediately. He found the other three 16 year-olds in his class and they quickly exchanged phone info and chatted as a group all night (both in English and in sign). I met another mom who had come with her daughter, because her 16 year old still only had her driver’s permit (they were also homeschoolers). We also hit it off.

The kids did great approaching strangers at the event. They admitted later they didn’t always understand what the people were saying, but they made a big effort and learned a lot. One girl had a sign very wrong, and instead of saying, “I’m 16 years old” she managed to say “I’m 16 lesbians” all night. They all laughed about their errors and we ended up staying until 11pm. I thought we’d last an hour ~ I was wrong.

Mardi Gras Murder Mystery Dinner

mardi gras murderYes, my friends and I are at it again. We had another mystery dinner. Once again the costumes were brilliant and we had a blast. I won’t tell you who did it, because you should really host one (and this one was especially fun).  The boxed set we bought through Amazon, and it’s called “Murder at Mardi Gras“.  We served lemon pepper salmon and Cajun catfish and it was a big hit (the sides were amazing too ~ thanks everyone for contributing).  Here are some great pictures of our adventure…(If you live near us and want to borrow the box, let me know.  All you need is 4 crazy couples and a great sense of humor).IMG_2168IMG_2165IMG_2162

No grace whatsoever

I wish,  like most times,  I could just rant and feel good about my mini tirades;  this is different.   This is a rant that really exposes one of my weaknesses and makes me look rather petty.

I have been at my church for 15 years.  We have been through many transitions.   People have come and gone and each time we have some kind of Question & Answer (Q&A) session so people can process.   I went to a few of them in the early years,  but now I mostly avoid them.

This is my problem,  people ask questions that make me cringe.  People I love, to the core,  start asking about details and minutiae that just waste time.  It makes me turn on them with mockery and very little grace.

Our church is going through one of its biggest transitions.   Another church has basically taken over our (dead) church.   This is a great thing.   Now,  the hubby and I are in a 10 week class to get to know the new church and prepare for working in leadership as volunteers.  During class, they have a Q&A time…Yikes… pray for me.

Last night I got a terrible case of the giggles as people asked things that are either, 1) what we will be learning in the class later, or 2) things that were personal questions and only apply to the asker (don’t get me started on the “just sharing” comments). I have no tolerance for this.

Some of you may be like me and think the same way,  but really I think I’m exhibiting no grace.   Some people just need to ask or share.  Some need the reassurance.

I’ll probably act like a dummy again next week.   But maybe someone will have grace for my infantile behavior.  Again, pray for me.