Crummy

I am one of those people who, 8 times out of 10–or maybe 9–when I feel crummy, I look crummy.

As a bonus, other times, when I don’t feel crummy, but just tired or preoccupied, I have the uncanny ability to look crummy then, too.

It wasn’t long into my relationship with Ben that he got to see one of my crummy days.  I’m not very good at hiding things like that and, if I’d had to wait until we were married to show him what I look like on those kind of days, he would have had to propose to me, well, actually about two days after he met me.

Guatemala.  4 a.m.

The funny thing is, I hadn’t planned to take a shower.  Walking around looking crummy stopped bothering me years ago.  But I’d had my first “date” with Ben the night before at a restaurant with everyone else on the mission trip, and I was afraid of what he would think if he saw just how crummy I looked at 4 a.m. without a shower.  So I did take a shower.  I even put on minimal makeup.  I was pretty proud of myself.  4 a.m. is pretty early to do this kind of thing.

I still remember the fateful moment when we all met up in the hotel lobby and I said something to Ben like, “Would you take a picture of me, even though I look sort of crummy?”  (Yes, I was flirting pathetically, but that’s another story.)

He said,

and I quote,

“Sure.”

WRONG ANSWER, Ben.

Because I’m me :), I did tell him that was the ‘wrong’ answer.  I told him the socially apropos  answer was to say, “Teej, you don’t look crummy!  You look great!”  That joke became the icebreaker in our relationship, and the beginning of a beautiful realization that Ben could see me–even when I didn’t look (let’s be honest) great–and love me anyway.

Back in the states, when we started long-distance dating (he in Pennsylvania and I in Missouri) I realized I had a big weight already lifted off my shoulders.  Ben had already seen me on a mission trip.  He already knew what at least somewhat crummy looked like.  And he still wanted to date me.  What a relief!

Over the next several months, I gave him ample opportunity to see what really crummy me looks like.  He even got to see what my hair looks like after snowflakes fall on it.  (Not like it does in the movie, girls, let me just tell you.)  And it seems totally fitting that, just a couple weeks after our honeymoon, I caught the flu and he got to see an even worser, really very crummy version of me.

You know what?  I am so relieved that Ben sees the crummy me and still loves me.  If I had to hide when I was tired, sick, or just too preoccupied with writing to look beautiful, I’d be in real trouble.  As he can tell you, I’d have to do a lot of hiding.

You know what?  I am so relieved that God sees the crummy me, too.  It’s the most terrifying thought in the world at first–but when I realized His grace for me, it became such a relief.  No need to hide the pieces of me I’d never want Him to see–He already knows.  No need to run for the hills anytime He comes near–He’s already seen.  No need for vicious anxiety attacks in the turmoil of wondering if He loves me–He already does.

This is grace, and it is grace at it’s best: while we were still crummy, God loved us.  And this isn’t the kind of crummy that comes from not showering or having the flu.  This is the kind of crummy that’s the very filth of our souls–the very truths about ourselves that we know would drag us into the pit of Hell.  It’s those things that God knew–and He loved us still.

If you have been hiding from God, the time to hide is over.  If you have been running from God, the time to run is over.  God already knows you.  And, most importantly, He already loves you.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

Thanks to Max Lucado and his story about Salty in He Chose the Nails.  See it here.

Published in: on April 23, 2014 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Carebear Necklace and Giving Homemade Gifts (that really look homemade)

Do you remember those gifts you used to make as a child for family?

little girl with  cutter make a christmas tree cookie

There was the endless supply of far-too-tiny potholders.  The gingerbread Christmas tree ornament.  The clay dog I made that I was told (allegedly) looked like a pig.  The paper rug.  The snowman out of a soup can.  The yo-yo mini-quilt.  (Really, I didn’t make that for anybody because I didn’t like it–home economics project–but my mom paid me $50 for it because she said it was like a $50 yo-yo vest in a boutique.  Ah, moms.).

And then there was the Care Bear necklace.

One day at my grandmother’s house when I was about five or six, she helped me make a necklace for my mother out of gold pipe cleaner and magazine pictures of Care Bears.  It really did turn out extraordinary, if I say so myself.  My mother wore it to church the next Sunday, which is further proof.  (Remembering that this is the same mom who paid me the $50 for the yo-yos.)

When we grow up, I think we forget a lot of times what a little homemade gift can mean–even if it doesn’t look like something that came out of a magazine, and even if it isn’t exactly what our family or friends would have made for themselves.

My father kept my embroidered blue-bunny-in-a-wagon pillow in his office for as long as he had an office–even though that little pillow looked like something that belonged in a nursery or nursing home (and even though the thread started to unravel).

Among my most treasured belongings are sketches my father did–I wish I’d saved every napkin and paper he ever drew on.

Homemade gifts don’t have to be snapshot-worthy or take the next 6 months to make.  But they can say, with childhood fervor, I love you (a lot).

. . love is kind . . (1 Corinthians 13:4b, NASB)

 

Published in: on April 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Highest Thought of All

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8b, NLT)

There can be no thought more true or so honorable, more right or so pure, or anything so lovely or admirable, as to think about the gift of Christ Jesus.

In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
 (Colossians 2:3, NLT)

If we would but embed our hearts in this truth, we would fulfill the life Christ wants us to have.

Crown of Thorns and the Holy Bible

Published in: on April 20, 2014 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Easter

My sins died on Good Friday. On Passover Saturday, my judgment was passed over. And on Easter, I rise.

Easter isn’t an egg, a ditty, a bunny, a time when you have to go to church, a new dress, or a tip of the hat to Jesus. Easter isn’t a study of the history of the holiday or even an admiration of Jesus. No.

Good Friday is when I look in the grave and see every shred–every single shred–of my sin buried forever. My sin was buried inside the body of the perfect Christ. The body that died to sin once, for all, FOREVER.

Passover is when I learn not to fear the wrath of God because I have not one sin left in my soul. There is not one sin that I must bear to show Him. All of my sin–every evil–is where on Passover? Still left in Christ’s tomb. Paid in full by HIM. FOREVER.

And Easter. Oh, Easter! Easter is when Jesus was my Grave Digger and He pulled my rotten corpse out of death. In an instant, my soul was transformed from the crumbling, crusty puke of this world to the living, breathing, heart-thudding delight of friendship with GOD. FOREVER.

This is what Easter means to me.

Is it what Easter means to you?

Published in: on April 20, 2014 at 7:05 am  Leave a Comment  

“Blank mind”?

We have a common misconception in our society that you can go in with a “blank mind” and figure things out.  But when I very briefly studied cognition in college, I learned this is simply not so.  Our minds constantly connect new information with old information, comparing, contrasting, and collaborating ideas.  So when I take a look at anything, I use everything I believe to make decisions about it.

If I read the Bible believing in its perfection, I will have an entirely different reading experience than if I read believing in its imperfection.  And if I go into the reading unsure, an immediate crisis emerges: What do I really believe?

God’s Word makes it clear: we are each responsible for how we read His Word, because we are the ones who come to His perfection with either our agendas . . or our submission.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed . .” (Luke 8:5a, NIV)

Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genius Recommendations

I remember when I first found out that itunes had a Genius Recommendations program that could read your music library and figure out what songs you were likely to enjoy (and buy) that weren’t yet in your library. Sometimes the genius worked for me and more times it didn’t, because it was based on the assumption a person would like more songs from that same singer/band or similar singers/bands.

When the novelty wore off, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to my Genius Recommendations. That is, until one day, oh, I guess a few months or so after I committed my life to Christ.

You know that feeling where you’ve looked at something dozens of times and haven’t really paid attention and then you’re suddenly like, Oh, no! ?

That happened to me.

I looked at my recommendations, and my immediate thought was, Why would itunes be suggesting such awful music to me? Clearly, this Genius Recommendations thing was all-wrong.

Or was it?

The Genius Recommendations has a handy little explanation of what it’s recommending. It says, “You have/bought music by _________” and therefore advertises another song or cd it finds similar.

There–posted very clearly–by every song I would never see myself buying, was the evidence that this music fit into my library: a song or album I had in my music library that was similar!

I remember thinking, Oh, I have got to fix this.

I started using my Genius Recommendations, well,differently than itunes had in mind. Every time an offensive song recommendation popped up, I got to see what in my library reminded the genius of that song and then I could go and delete it.

I didn’t always do it right away. It was hard to give up songs that I had seen as “somewhat acceptable” for so long.

Over time, my existing library got smaller and smaller, but I started buying new songs to match my new commitment to Christ. For a while there, it was very startling to go onto my Genius Recommendations and see a recommendation for some yucky song matching some old music still stuck in my library right alongside a recommendation for a worship song!

Genius Recommendations changed how I saw music.

I wonder what would happen if there was a program that took all of our behaviors in a day and recommended future actions like:

You coveted today. May we recommend: stealing.

You watched TV all day. You may also like: wasting your life.

You held a grudge today. Other people with grudges also liked: murder.

But I already have genius recommendations for my life. I have a Book that tells me where my behavior will get me on every single page, and the one behavior I need most:

To believe in Jesus Christ.

You gave your life to Christ today.  May we recommend: living like you belong to Him, starting right now.

 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:21-24, NLT)

Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Reflection from Good Friday

When you realize who Christ is, how can you possibly stand not to love Him?

Jesus Washing Feet of Man

Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid

Silent as He stood accused
Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father’s will
He took a crown of thorns

Sent of heaven God’s own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree

See the stone is rolled away
Behold the empty tomb
Hallelujah God be praised
He’s risen from the grave

–from Man of Sorrows, Hillsong

See, my servant will prosper;

he will be highly exalted.

But many were amazed when they saw him.

His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human,

and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.

And he will startle many nations.

Kings will stand speechless in his presence.

For they will see what they had not been told;

they will understand what they had not heard about. (Isaiah 52:13-15, NLT)

Arrogance

Arrogance has no place in the sinner’s heart.

How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Luke 6:42, NLT)

 

Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 6:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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April 17

April 17 marks the anniversary of when I gave my life to Christ. I was sitting towards the back of a Saturday night service at Northpoint Church, by myself. The pastor used the beatitudes to talk about the nature of Christ and I was astounded by the MAGNIFICENCE of Jesus.

At the end of the service, the pastor had us close our eyes and raise our hands if we wanted to commit our lives to Christ. He addressed each person individually (“Thank you–I see that hand.”) I remember deciding to raise my hand and open my heart and life to Jesus.

I have spent most of my life believing Jesus could never want me and that I was an embarrassment to God. That night the beatitudes showed me differently: Jesus’ heart is SO good, and His heart is for us, not against us (see John 3:17). If your guilt or shame or general disappointment in yourself holds you back from opening your heart to God, do what I did and surrender your burden to His waiting hands. He really will carry it for you and cast it down at the foot of the cross. And in exchange, He will give you the beauty of His love in a way you will never have imagined possible.

These past years since my commitment, God has taken me on such a journey as I never imagined. I have had the greatest joys and some deep sorrows, too. But the most unimaginably, incredibly beautiful part has been learning more and more about the character of Christ.

He is SO beautiful . .

Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 6:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Do we only hang out with Christians?

Do we only hang out with Christians?  Do all our friends look, believe, or act like us?

abwarten

What sort of person are you the least likely to witness to?  Who makes you really uncomfortable?  We all have those people.

They may have a different:

  • religion
  • political party
  • personality type
  • lifestyle
  • past or present, or both

Now let’s take an even deeper look.

They might be:

  • judgmental
  • hypocrites
  • bigots
  • loud and obnoxious
  • barely even there
  • very young
  • very old

They might:

  • smell bad
  • wear ten-thousand dollar suits

Whoever they are, wherever they are, one tie unites them: they need us to tell them about Christ and live in such a way that our faith is believable.

How much of your day is spent with non-Christians?

How much of your day that is spent with Christians is focused on energizing up for the time spent with non-Christians?

Christ says in Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB):

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

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