Deadly Cocktail

I’m addicted to strong drink.

It started when I was not yet five, a wisp of a girl with long hair and stick legs.

They took me to places I shouldn’t have been. They made me do things I shouldn’t have done. They told me things I had no business believing.  And it all felt so horribly good in a dark, evil way, that when the cup was passed, I drank it too.

I didn’t even think.

I just drank and the numbness set in and the darkness wasn’t so frightening and I was hooked.

I never saw the lies for the poison they were, smoothing over lips and tongue and entering the belly. I only saw the relief they gave.

The lies, the strong drink can become a way of life.

And then something comes along that shakes a stick at you, calls intoxication for what it is and tells you that you aren’t the victim you thought you were, you’re a drunkard.

You’ve done gone and made yourself inebriated on the stuff and you can’t stop. You’re addicted and there are no excuses.

Oh, it gets ugly alright.

It’s happened to me. And as I read Judges 6 again fresh, I see the cocktail.

Right there on the pages of scripture, there’s the deadly brew that has ensnared many and it was my drink of choice and it flows free still to anyone willing to try it. It’s the liar’s deadly mix that he’s specialized in serving up to God’s chosen people, people like Gideon. People like me.

I’ve drunk it. Not only that, but I’ve been addicted to it. Maybe you have too? Maybe you still are? Perhaps this post is for us, you and me.

Before God could use Gideon to fulfill His miraculous purposes…before God can use you to fulfill yours… He had to expose the strong drink Gideon had been feasting on his whole life. Isn’t this the way it always has to be? God shows up in our lives and it is interesting to note that what we start saying at that point reflects the stuff we’ve been drinking.

“Then Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles? But the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  Judges 6:13

Let me stop and ask you, has God shown up in your life and given you a vision for something great, something that you are a part of?

And what has been your response?

You see, Gideon’s response exposed the lies he’d been drinking. His answer to an incredible vision from God wasn’t faith but doubt.

This is the first part of the deadly cocktail: Doubt in God’s goodness.

This lie has many faucets. It doubts God’s intentions towards me. It doubts His Presence. It doubts His provision. It doubts His power. Gideon’s response reflects all these things.  The conclusion of this lie is that “God has abandoned” me.

And if God has abandoned me, I’m on my own.

Herein is the set up for the second part of the deadly cocktail, by which our enemy seals our fate and reduces us to blubbering fools, unable to live and lead the victory that God has granted.

“He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house…” (Vs 15)

The first part of the cocktail says, “God won’t.” The second part says, “I can’t.”

Yes, that’s the strong drink I’ve been addicted to. The “God won’t” and “Surely, I can’t” mix.

The mix that rolls over and says, “This is out of my league, leave me alone so I can wallow in numbness some more.”

I for one have had a belly F.U.L.L of this stuff. There’s good news for bellies and hearts made sick with this!

God’s response to Gideon is pretty astonishing if you really think about it:

“Surely I will be with you and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” (vs 16)

The antidote for the deadly cocktail we’ve drunk is “God will and I can.”

Now perhaps it needs to be said that we can only through Christ who strengthens us and that we can do only what God gives, not what we desire for ourselves. This isn’t a blanket statement to pursue either self effort or self interest.

Even so, God tells us He will and we can, for whatever purposes He has for our lives.

Have you drunk the elixir? Have you caved in to thinking you will never…. (fill in the blank)? That you can’t…..? That God has given up on you or that His power isn’t enough for your situation?

Set that strong drink aside, my friend. Take the bottle and smash it.

Pick up this one instead: “GOD WILL and I CAN” and drink deep.

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Sing and Soar

I barely get to the kitchen table and open the pages when little one sounds off.

I quickly jot down the grace of orange across sky and pause as bird stops outside the window.

She sings for a bit, then moves on.

I savor the sight of her, delaying the inevitable start of noise and chaos, wanting to suck all the life from this moment.

All during the day, I notice the pattern of the birds: Sing… then Soar.

Sing…Soar. Sing…Soar.

I think how different I am from the birds.

The bird is not concerned about being overwhelmed. She does not worry about what may be asked of her, what price may be exacted from her.

She sings and she soars.

And when her belly tells her it’s time to eat, she finds food.

Me on the other hand? I’m so fearful of the unknowns, of how I’ll handle just around the corner, that I clamp down and clam up. Yes, that’s it, I’m a clam.

I think there’s a reason why Jesus said “Consider the birds of the air,” not “Consider the clams of the sea.”

In my attempt to miss the pain, not take the risk, cut the losses, I also miss the good. Can I learn from the birds? Can I learn to just sing and soar?

I try it. Like a baby bird learning to use her wings.

The winds blow and I chirp, praises to God. Then I dive headlong into the winds.

Sing…plummet…

Caught by the Eagle on Wings and we soar.

I’ll try again.

And Again.

And I’m starting to understand. Sing…Soar.

Sing…Soar.


Unspoiled

I drove home from evening church early. The kids had reached their “point” and so I took the little ones and headed home.

I looked for stars, but there weren’t any. It was a night that belonged to darkness. The heavens were muffled with clouds.

I saw something moving in the road ahead and slowed. I approached and saw and my stomach lurched and my heart did too and I felt stunned and sick all at once.

A raccoon, on his back, shaking and trembling and clawing at the empty air, eyes wild…living his last few moments in the throes of death.

Alone in the dark.

On a cold asphalt road.

I know it sounds sappy and a long time ago I closed my heart to being sappy; but since I’ve reopened my heart to life and love and joy and pain, I guess to some I’m considered sappy again and that’s okay…but raccoon dying in such a terrible way hurt.

I felt it inside.

And I didn’t know what to do with it.

I guess I’ve never quite known what to do with pain.

Next morning I read this story of tremendous heartache, and when I pray on knees and tears for this family, I feel it again and wonder, “How do we do this? How do we live in a world of such heartache?”

Do we just pad our lives so that we don’t have to face pain? Do we seek as much comfort as possible so we don’t have to be acquainted with the real, terrible suffering of others? The poor? The oppressed? The lonely? The taken- advantage-of-ed? The ones without recourse in this world?

Or do we focus on pain, isolate it, encase it like a shrine, make it an idol? Do we think that by worshiping it in this way we can keep it at bay, as if it will do our bidding?

What if we can hurt healthy?

Pain tells us there is only one road to pursue: Be an Untouchable.

Put yourself out of pain’s reach.

The pain of rejection…”Be untouched by pleasing people.”

The pain of failure…”Be untouched by not risking.”

The pain of insignificance…”Be untouched by putting on pretenses.”

The pain of desperation…”Be untouched by not putting yourself in that position, whatever the cost.”

The pain of being robbed of dignity, voice, “rights” …”Be untouched by becoming strong. Self-reliant. In control. Independent. Become a person of means.”

The Words come then…”Not untouched, but unspoiled” … and I know that is what Jesus can do.

The simple truth? All of us are guaranteed some pain in this life and I’m tired of being afraid of it, letting that fear curl me up and close me off and I’m ready to know how to hurt healthy.

History, both world and personal, show that we will each be touched by pain and heartache. We can be knocked down by it, dragged to the stake by it, offered up as a living sacrifice on it.

But we can still be unspoiled.

Which do we really want? Untouched or unspoiled?

My friends, I know what my new choice means. I know that pain will come and shake me to the roots and do everything it can to spoil me.

But when choosing between untouched or unspoiled?… well I’m changing from the first choice to the second.

‘Cause Untouched is Impossible.

Untouched is really a deceitful lie, a temptation to curl off and close up and not engage and spend yourself and all you have trying to live a life that doesn’t really exist anyway.

Choice #2? Well it is possible. It can happen. It can be reality even when pain touches, scalds, sears, enters, and scars.

Still, unspoiled.

It’s how the early followers all died…

John exiled on Patmos

Stephen stoned to death

Matthew stabbed to death

Mark pulled in two at the legs by horses

Luke cruelly hanged

Peter, Philip, and Simon crucified on a cross

Bartholomew skinned alive

Thomas pulled apart by 5 horses

James beheaded

Little James cut in half by a saw

James the brother of the Lord stoned to death

Judas tied to a pillar and shot with arrows

Matthias’ head cut off

Paul martyred under Nero

Not one was Untouched. But all died Unspoiled.

It is Deceiver who says, “Oh, see? You must try to live a life untouched! You must fear. You must do all you can to be Untouched. Maybe you can escape it.”

And he is happy to give us his plans of escape, too.

Life and Truth says, “It’s a lie. There is no such thing as Untouched. Open your eyes and you will see. But there is something better than Untouched… It is yours if you want it.”

And I do.

I do.

Youngest one falls and bumps his head and feels pain. I give him the only thing I can and in that moment I get it. I get why deceiver wants to lure us with “Untouchable.”

Pain’s companion is Presence.

It’s what I gave youngest when he felt pain. It’s what we all look for, what we all really need. It’s what makes pain endurable.

It even makes pain worth it. “That I may know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings…”

Presence.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. When you walk through the waters, I will be with you…” See Is. 43:1-3

Instead of fearing pain, I will seek Presence… For I must walk through the valley of shadows, but I will fear no evil.

I will not be Untouched, but I will be Unspoiled.

For He is with me.


One Mina

We traveled to Texas and stayed in a room next to the couple on Viagra.

All during the night I feel sick. I feel my insecurities, my inadequacies, I wonder if my husband wished I’d take a pill.

Morning comes and he knows me so well. “I stopped being desirous of sex a long time ago,” he says it soft, and it shocks me because I know him too, but he wasn’t done. “I’m desirous of you.”

Oh how I know it. Oh how rich those words are, how full of life and love.

How he shows me every single day and how I grasp for it and why can’t I just accept it and let it shape me? Why can’t I let go of the past?

Ever since before Christmas, he’s been telling me. He’s a January birthday and he turns 40 this week and he’s been telling me what he wants for his present: 100 Days.

It scares me. I have issues. I think, “I’m not up for this,” but then I pray, “God, I want to be.”

“I want to be for him. For You. For our relationship. For me.”

Is it possible? Can someone like me find healing and grace and “energeo” for 100 Days? I mean, I’ve made a lot of progress, am still making it. But 100 consecutive Days?

If I could only believe…

If I could believe this is for more healing than I can think or imagine… if I could only believe He will take this and do above and beyond all I ask or think…if I could only believe that with God all things ~ even 100 Days ~ are possible.

I think of Ann’s 100 day calendar I’ve downloaded but not printed. { Somehow I don’t think this use for it ever crossed her mind? }

I push the thoughts away for the day, knowing I’m running out of days before THE day, and I say a weak prayer. “Help me, God. Fill in the rest of these thoughts, write the rest of this story. And please, PLEASE, don’t let me miss out because of unbelief.”

Later I go back and print that calendar…because I’m afraid of missing out on something BIG… and I put it with his birthday card. With, but not in. I’m not committed yet. I’m still waiting. Still terrified. Still praying for something.

Can I do this? Can YOU do this?

I go outside and trample more snow. I go to the edges, where there are no footprints…unclaimed territory. I walk back and forth, making long furrows in the snow. I think of the gift of this snow and all it has shown me this week and I know He is for me. “You are for me,” I thrill over and over out loud as I tramp and tread and claim new ground.

I think of the conquests Joshua led. Victory was never in question; only finding God’s strategy for each battle was essential. Relying on God, not growing self-reliant, not ever forgetting that Victory is a Person.

Strategies are tailor made and I have no clue what the strategy for this particular giant should be and I dare not go into this without a strategy from Him.

“If You’ll give me the strategy, If You’ll go with me each step of the way, I’m in. But I’m not going without You.”

I search scriptures, I cling to promises, I touch my toes in the waters. Will they part?

3 days left before The Day I do a Bible search. Is “100 days” anywhere in the Bible?

It is. Once.

At first I don’t get the connection, think it is just a grasp at straws. Then I see it.

I’ve been given a mina, 100 days worth of provision.

I’m to invest it. Not bury it out of fear. I’m to give it my dog-gone all, no holds barred, come what may.

Maybe I’m not a servant with ten minas, but I’ve been given one and will I invest it or will I cave to fear? The question is not whether I can do this or not, but whether I will see this as a gift, as something entrusted to me. And with the gift come the provisions.

One mina.

I recognize the battle is against fear and will I learn His strategies for overcoming it? Will I let Him teach me?

Hands shaking, I go get the card, the calendar. “The Lord is with me. I will not be afraid. The Lord is my helper.” I say it out lout, tasting the words, testing them. I’m familiarizing myself with the strategy. I’m going to need to know it inside and out.

I fold the calendar and place it in the card. “If God spared not His own Son, how then will He not also freely give you all things?” More strategy, spoken out loud.

I am more convinced that this is about fear and He wants me to conquer it.

In the shower I try more strategy: “Do not be afraid! I will help you! Surely I will uphold you with My right hand.” 

I know what I’ve got to do. I exit the shower and go sign the card, slip the calendar inside, and seal it. Three days of waiting in anguish, with fear breathing down my neck seems like doom.

I repent of fear. I get on my knees and I repent of the selfishness fear demands, the retreat, the inward focus.

The card is ready. So am I. Finally.

When husband comes home, I ask if he wants to open his birthday gift early.

Update**The snow is melting now, liquid love dripping. It came, a gift, and ministered. And today His mercies are new and the mina’s provisions continue…we are over 2 weeks into our 100 days!

This post is humbly linked to Ann’s Walk with Him Wednesday where today we are talking about the Gift and Practice of Marriage. Care to join in? Check out this chocolate (with giveaway!!)


The High Place of Fear

The first indication that something was wrong was the day I saw her referral photo.

I had waited nearly three years for this day, and I reckon you couldn’t measure the amount of anticipation I had stored up, the longing, the love, the prayers.

I knew that I would love her like the others. I knew that once I saw her, I would know, like only a momma does. I had no doubts that she was mine and we were going to be just fine.

Except that when the phone rang at 2am in our temporary Hong Kong flat, and I knew it was finally the day, and when I stealthily turned on computer to open email without waking children and finally…finally….clicked “open” to the photo and saw her…

nothing.

Sad, somber eyes looked back at me. I felt no connection, no bonding, no knowing.

That is when it started. The fear. The destroyer of hope and life and love.

What if I couldn’t love her? Fear.

What if I never bonded with her? Fear.

She came home and her neediness began to show itself. Obnoxious, unbecoming behaviors, impossible demands, self-victimization and rejection, isolation and withdrawal, hyper-vigilance, strong willed defiance.

Fear uncurled in me and wisps of it came in daily doses. “How do I parent her?” “What if I’m not smart enough, wise enough for this?”

“Mommy, why doesn’t she play with me?”

Tears from little ones who didn’t understand background, only felt rejection. That’s when fear drove me to what fear always drives to…control. Or maybe I should say our best hard fought attempts at it.

__I Kings 12:26-27 “Jeroboam said in his heart, Now the kingdom will return to the house of David…and they will kill me.”

Un-beknownst to me at that point, fear…wretched, unwelcome thing that it was… had become an idol.

__I Kings 12:28 “So Jeroboam the King consulted, and made two golden calves…Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before it.

By allowing fear place and voice, by believing its big show at power, I had erected a high place and daily I carried out fear’s bidding through control.

__I Kings 12:31 “And he made houses on high places.”

The effects on my children were devastating. High places get passed down from generation to generation, don’t we all know that?

__I Kings 15:14 “But the high places were not taken away.”

I have proof of these things.

If I fear rejection, I communicate value for such, giving it “high place” status and my children will be crippled under it and will learn same and will never place themselves in situations to experience it.

If I fear being overwhelmed, asked too much of emotionally, my children will find no grounding, no security, no confidence in God as Rock, come what may. I visualize the high places I erect with my hands, my responses, my retreat. Hands over face.

Altar after altar erected to fear. Is this what I want to leave to my children?

There has to be a better way. But what? How?

“Perfect love drives out fear…” I John 4:17-18

Love drives out fear and love is perfected by abiding in Him and loving one another. Didn’t Jeroboam fail to abide in Love when he didn’t root himself in Love promises concerning him?

__I Kings 11:37-38  { God to Jeroboam }  “I will take you and you will reign over whatever you desire, and you will be King over Israel. I will be with you and will build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.”

Didn’t Jeroboam reject Precious Promises and turn to fear instead?

Why do we do this? Why can’t I get it through thick skull that cowering and retreating in fear is rebellion?

Num 14:9 “Only do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

Fear speaks lies and when I allow it, my being recoils against the Life-Commands of God. 

Adoption upturned all my parenting abilities and left my training toolbox up-ended, broken, shattered, worthless.

Left me wondering if and what I had left. No point in putting the shattered pieces together. Learn new ones. The rope of love.

~~The Love Rope is anchored in a Person, so it will always get you back home to safety.

~~The Love Rope is always as long as needed. There is no distance too far from its reach.

~~ The Love Rope is reliable. Thick. Strong. It won’t snap or break. It never fails.

~~ The Love Rope endures forever.  No deadlines or time constraints. As long as there is breath, there is Love-Hope.

There is only one prerequisite: Love-Rope has to be grasped, like a hand grabs a rope. Love has to be apprehended. It is there. It is ever present. It is foul proof.

I can only grasp it for myself. I must grasp the Love Rope!

And pray my example serves as invitation for children.

This morning I tell self,  Don’t be like Jeroboam, who failed to grasp Love and listened to fear. Even if she rejects your love, Love has not rejected you. Follow it home.

Love, be the breath in my lungs, the blood in my veins, the strength in my bones.

Adoption’s Love Promises:

“God is Able.”  {Romans 11:23 }

“This is good.” {Jeremiah 29:11}

“I am not appointed for stumbling.”  {I Peter 2:8-9}

“The desert will become the garden of God.”  (Isaiah 35}

“Love will not fail.”  {I Corinthians 13:8}

“I can do this.”  {Isaiah 41:10}