my earning potential is ZERO

So, I got a text from a friend this past weekend.  It said…..

“please call me A.S.A.P.”

my first thought was…

“oh sh*t, who died?”

(just being real here.  I try not to cuss in front of my child, but let’s be honest, inside my head…yup, I did use those words and it would be dishonest to tell you otherwise.)

So I clicked on her number.  This friend, let’s call her SB, is someone I don’t talk to often.  Like once every 5 or 10 YEARS.  But we have mutual friends that she would get news about faster than me if something bad had happened.  So I sat there, at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, listening to the dial tone and the ringing with my heart pounding.

She answered, and was so cheerful I knew at once that nothing like *that* had happened.  Now I’m curious, what on earth was so important that she needed to reach out to me on a Saturday morning with that urgent message?  I wasn’t upset, just puzzled.

Turns out she was worried about something she had seen on my Facebook feed.  Something that was innocent on my end, but might lead people to believe that I endorse or approve of a particular person who has strong connections to Satanists, Nihilists and other agents of chaos.

Let’s stop and think about that for a minute.

Think of the courage and compassion it took to see someone in error and literally call them on it.

SB didn’t judge me.  She skipped over that and went straight to the heart of the matter – concern for her fellow Christians.  She wasn’t concerned about me.  She knows me well enough to know that I’m not personally heading down a negative path, but she was concerned for my witness and for people who might be confused by seeing links to such things on the Facebook feed of a professing Christian.

“But be careful with your freedom. 
Your freedom may cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin. 
I Corinthians 8:9″

Funny how Paul is so relevant, even today.  He was talking about the right to eat anything, but that could just as easily apply to my right to read (or mentally consume) anything.  It doesn’t give me the right to put potentially dangerous meat out there for others to consume.

I explained to SB the reason that person was even on my friends list.  A person from my childhood that I care deeply for, pray for and treasure.  We discussed ways to keep my friendship with this person intact and still guard against spreading or appearing to endorse beliefs and practices so counter to my own.

Message spoken. Message received.

It was a wide ranging conversation.  We discussed raising of our kids, our fitness agendas (or lack of them in my case) and our past friends and connections.  We even discussed the fact that she was nervous about calling me.  Which I find hysterical. She said she felt like she was calling someone famous !!!!!  On the flip side, I still get a HUGE kick out of the fact that this person who I hero worshiped when I was an underclassmen and she was a ultra-cool upper-classman is actually a fan of my writing !  So it was kind of a mutual admiration society there for a minute, which was fun.

Deirdre, get to the point.

okay. okay.

As the conversation was starting to wrap up we wandered back to the original topic of friends and acquaintances who we need to keep as friends and show them love, while still not approving of their choices.  I then made the comment that I wished my brother Stephen had made better choices and that I wished I could believe that he was in heaven.  He was such a devout Christian as a kid.  He would witness to literally anyone.  He really loved Jesus.  His faith was so strong.  God was always his first thought.  Prayer was his first answer to anything.  But then he hit the teenage years and started questioning everything.  He headed down some dark paths and he never looked back.

So when he died a couple of years ago, I started struggling with a question that troubles many people…….

“can you lose your salvation?”

I wanted so much for Stephen to be safely in heaven, that I convinced myself that I wanted it too much.  It was comfortable to think that he was in heaven, so therefore it couldn’t possibly be true.  So often in our Christian walk, Truth is difficult.  So if I believed something simple and comfortable, it had to be wrong.  Get it?  See the trap I was falling into?

Then SB said something that rocked my world.

“IF you could lose your salvation,
that would imply you could have earned it to begin with.
So,  NO.
You cannot lose your salvation”

That pulled me up short.

Most of us are pretty clear on the straightforward reading of Ephesians 2: 8 – 10

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and
this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not by works so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance as our way of life.…
Ephesians 2: 8-10”

We can’t earn salvation.  Got it.  No intellectual problems with that.

Sometimes I still try to earn it though.  I beat myself up for my sins.  Current ones (see cussing, above) and past mistakes (divorce, lies, greed, gluttony the list goes on and on and it’s not something I should share anyway).  Anyway, I fall prey All. The. Time. to the LIE that I have to be good enough to earn God’s favor.

But Guess what?

I CAN’T DO IT

I have absolutely ZERO earning potential when it comes to saving my soul.

But turning this verse on it’s head, essentially doing the math and realizing that if I can’t EARN salvation, then I can’t UN-EARN it either is something I had never really processed.

Time for School. Let’s go back to Algebra for a second here.  Math.  Yes I’m quoting math.  Never thought THAT would happen…

Properties of Zero

0 added or subtracted to anything equals itself

0 multiplied by anything equals 0

0 divided by anything equals 0

We cannot divide by 0

 

So take “a” as GRACE or Salvation.

God has declared that I can literally not add one single thing to my salvation.  That means I am the ZERO in this equation.

ZERO literally does NOTHING to the equation. Zero can’t add anything to the value.  Zero can’t remove anything from the value. Zero can’t multiply or divide the initial value.

GRACE is completely UNCHANGED by anything the ZERO (me) can attempt to do to it.

just dwell on that for a minute.

 

not to be trite, but

MIND BLOWN.

So now I know.

My brother Stephen is in heaven.  I know this to be true, because I know my salvation is true.  I can’t earn it.  And Stephen couldn’t UN-EARN it. No matter how hard he tried.

wow.

you have no idea what a blessing that surety is for me.

So thank you SB.  Thank you for reading my stuff.  Thank you for pestering me into writing again.  Thank you for seeing God in at least some of what I write.  and Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and reaching out to me to deliver TWO messages from God this past weekend. I am humbled and honored to be cared for by someone like you.

and I’m ever so glad to have ZERO earning potential.

 

Advertisements
hello, my name is mud.

hello, my name is mud.

I realized something today about humanity…..and by extension, myself.

I am mud. We are all dirt. (it’s an analogy, work with me here, okay?)

God gives rain.  (“bad times” negative experiences etc…)

God brings sunshine. (good times, successes, mountain top experiences)

Seeds are planted in our lives by encounters with others and by reading God’s Word and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

But those seeds need rain and sunshine to enable them to flourish.

If not for the rain, nothing would grow.

That growth has to happen for anything good to come of us.

We are the dirt.

We are not the plant. God planted the plant in us, the dirt men and mud women.

Nothing we do, nothing we are, is any good without God. This gets really simple to understand when we fully realize our dirt-ness.

Have you ever managed to make anything nutritious or yummy out of dirt?

Nope, I didn’t think so.

You can make good things GROW in dirt, but the dirt itself is not yummy.

Not. One. Thing that I do has any value apart from God.

Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

There is nothing I as a dirt-woman can accomplish that has any value. But the plants, the seeds, the rains, the sunshine, the growth….these CAN Bless others and be used for God’s glory.

 

don’t wait

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

just read that sentence and you can hear the song in your head.  Or if you can’t, click on the video.  Enjoy.  I’ll wait.

 

A concept that resonates with just about everyone.  We all get it.

Somewhere in the world, it just turned 5 o’clock, so its okay to let loose, party and perhaps consume an adult beverage or three.

Fun idea,  and not too difficult to understand.

Now I want you to consider applying this concept to a Bible verse.

yes, a Bible verse.

Lamentations 3: 22 & 23 (ESV)  to be exact

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is your faithfulness

 

How many times have we heard people say “His mercies are new every morning” and mentally applied it like this:

“wow, I really messed up today, but tomorrow I can start fresh”

“ugh it’s only 9:47 a.m. !  Today has started off horrible!  So glad tomorrow will be better”

Why wait?

The earth is round.

You are on the earth.

the sun is coming up SOMEWHERE

so

DON’T WAIT

Claim it right now.  His Mercies are new right now.

You don’t have to wait till tomorrow for the Faithfulness and Mercy of our Living God.

This is one thing it is okay to be impatient for.

 

 

 

plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.

 

 

one day, one story

One day, one story

Testimony. Relatively small word with a huge amount of baggage. Movie sized baggage. I think that all too often that baggage squashes a lot of us and keeps us from sharing our very real, very worthwhile testimonies.  Even I have said it….“Oh, I don’t have a testimony, not like “the cross and the switchblade” or Tim Tebow, or Beth Moore.”  Nothing big like that.

This is where I think Facebook could actually be good for Christians. Forget about having a screenplay-sized testimony….Try telling what God just did in your life in the last 24 hours. Or 24 minutes. Make it short. To the point.

You don’t have to twitter about it, speaking of it as it happens in a play by play. Most times none of us actually recognize a happening as significant until days later anyway. But put it out there.  share.

Don’t be stingy with your testimony. God is alive. You are alive. God is in your life. Therefore, guess what? God JUST did something in your life. Period. If you tell me He didn’t, I’ll tell you you weren’t watching.

So what’s my testimony been recently?

Well last just week,  24 hours changed my life.

Or more accurately 24 hours changed my PERCEPTION of my life.

1 week ago today I was awaiting the results of a thyroid biopsy. I was at work. I was covering the front desk. The one place where you REALLY don’t want to get caught making a personal call.  ahem….

But my cell phone was dead. And that’s the number the nurse had for reaching me. So I dug out the phone number, picked up the front desk phone….and made a personal call.

And got the “bad news” 

Funny really. The cancer had been there for years. I just didn’t know about it. What is it about “knowing” that changes how we see everything? I don’t feel any different. But there is an endless refrain in my head right now (the is the uncensored truth I’m about to share here. Not a piously edited version)

“I have cancer. Holy shit! I have cancer. Does it show? Can I feel it? Is this really happening? I have cancer. Cancer. Cancer…….really? I have cancer. Did you know? Does that person know? Does it change how they feel about me? Holy shit! I have cancer”

I’m not kidding. That paragraph up there, or some variation of it, has been running through my head almost continually for just over a week now. Hopefully it will go away eventually. But for right now it is a constant buzz in the back of my brain.

Why am I blogging about this? Hang on. You’ll see.

So I told my boss. She came up front to sub for me so I could go to my office in the back, make medical appointments and call my husband. Did that. Set the appointment with Dr. Amy Chen for March 24th (which was then a week away). Called Martin. Told him the news. Managed to laugh about it. Told him not to tell anyone yet. Especially don’t put me on the church prayer list.

Then I went back up front and told my boss that we were going to have to wait another week to find out what kind of impact this diagnosis was going to have on me, on the staffing situation at work etc. I also mentioned that I had asked the appointment staff at Dr. Amy Chen’s office to keep me on a “hot list” and call me if anything opened up sooner and I would drive right over.

I managed to tell my mom in a way that made her laugh ( I hope).

This is the point at which I changed my mind about the prayer list thing. I knew there were loads of people who would want to know so they could pray. But notifying all those people by personal email was just too much to contemplate, so….I posted it on facebook. Yes, the support poured in. But that wasn’t the point. I allowed participation in my life and when God moved just a few hours later, I was able to post that too.

Just before the end of the workday I called the appointment scheduler for Dr. Amy Chen’s office back and they said that an appointment had just opened up for 9 a.m. the very next day. I practically shouted “I’LL TAKE IT!”

And then immediately got on facebook again and was able to post the praise that God had worked out the timing and moved my appointment up.

How is that a testimony? It allowed me to demonstrate, in a tangible way that I truly believe God watches over our real lives and makes these types of things happen. And it gets better….

When I met Dr. Chen the next day she was wonderful, professional, reassuring and very likable right off the bat. But it gets better…One of the things I had written on my form when I checked in under the “what do you want to talk to your doctor about today” heading was “U.S. Adult Nationals (figure skating) in 3 weeks”

So we got to the normal end of the appointment, just about the time you expect a doc to shake your hand and leave. We’ve covered all the normal stuff after all, she has other people to see. When what does she do? She sits down, looks at me and says, “So, you’re an ice skater. Did you know I skated when I was a kid?” Then she proceeds to tell me stories from her time as a child skater and eventually we talk about the scheduling of my surgery, how it will impact my work and my skating. It was such a huge relief to be able to talk to a surgeon about recovery and have them already understand about skating. What it entails, how to return to the ice without endangering the surgical site etc.

Once again, I got to put a post up on facebook that demonstrates, by example, that I know God cares about each of us and knew that Dr. Chen was the right surgeon for me, not just because she is skilled, but because of her personal background.  We have a personal God.

These little bits of my life that get lived out in public ARE my testimony. The little things that will eventually add up and make someone who has known me say “why are so okay with this? Can you tell me more?” Whether they ask me, or someone else, the seed is sown.

To me “testimony” doesn’t mean telling people the GOSPEL in its entirety. It means living a life that causes them to one day ask for more information.

Live that life. One piece at a time. One day. One story. One Moment. One shared thought. Where people can see it, so that one day, they will ask for more.

One day.

One story.

One life.

One seed.

 

 

 

I can’t handle this!

“my life is rough right now, but I take comfort in knowing that God won’t give me more than I can handle”

I’ve seen this concept popping up a lot recently in statuses on facebook, twitter, google+ and it keeps cropping up in conversations as well.

Frankly it makes me want to scream.

NO!

I don’t care if Mother Teresa of Calcutta said it, it is NOT BIBLICAL.

God promised to give us MORE than we, as frail, fallible, fickle human beings could possibly handle.

Why?

So that HE could step in and show off HIS DIVINITY.

His POWER in our weakness

His HEALING in our extremity

His MERCY in spite of our biggest messes

You will ALWAYS be struggling against an overwhelming flood of something in your life.  But  you can trust that God is Good (I John 1:5) and that your purpose in this life is not to show off your own ability to get through the struggles but to point to your savior and say HE is the reason I got through it.

God wants to give you more than you can take so that everyone around you will see you weather the storm…and then they will ask HOW.  How did you get through that?  and you can quietly point them to your Lord.

crying it out

I’m talking to parents here.

Ever done that thing where you sit in the hall, with the lights out and listen to your child cry?

Most parents are familiar with this as a way to try to get a child to learn to go to sleep on their own.  Learning to put yourself to sleep is a life skill that we all need.  But it doesn’t just happen, you have to learn it.  and learning is, sometimes, a pain-filled process.

I’m facing that with Ginny right now.  We used to have a pretty solid routine and she knew how to go to sleep by herself.  We were very good at the whole “never put her down asleep, always put her in her crib when she is drowsy, but still awake” thing. She learned her lessons very well and we hardly ever had to get up in the night or spend hours begging her to just please go back to sleep.

We thought she had learned that life lesson perfectly.  Chalk one up for the awesome parenting duo of Martin & Deirdre.  Congrats.  Your child has passed this test.  Please move forward.  You won’t ever have to learn this one over again.

WRONG.

Over time we let the routine slip.  Inch by inch we moved so far away from a child that puts herself to bed with no fuss that we are now living in the land of a tyrant who never gets enough sleep herself, and never lets papa get enough sleep. She crawls into bed with us in the middle of the night, she insists on a movie to fall asleep to, and papa must sit down with her to watch it.  Which leaves papa asleep on the sofa and Ginny getting just enough of a nap between 8 and 10 p.m. that when Martin finally wakes up to take her upstairs, she wakes up pretty thoroughly and either makes him read to her half the night or begs for another movie. 

Martin’s poor tired, sleep deprived soul is not strong enough to resist her at that hour, so she pretty much gets whatever she wants.

But the lack of sleep is getting to be a serious problem.  Not just for Martin, but for Ginny’s friends and playmates.  She is a crabby, bossy spoiled, violent little terror these days.

Ginny is unhappy. Martin is unhappy.  I am unhappy.  and Ginny’s friends, school-mates and teachers are definitely unhappy.

Don’t get me wrong, Ginny is also blindingly intelligent, adorable, sweet, loving and kind.  But she can go from one extreme to the other so fast it is really scary and I’m convinced that half of it is a lack of sleep.

So, we are going to try the old, “sorry, I know you don’t want to, but you have to go to bed now” routine again.

Which means her parents are going to find themselves in that hall again…listening to her cry.

Why am I telling you all this?

to make myself look bad? no.
to belittle the parenting skills of myself or my spouse? no. Martin is a hero as far as I’m concerned.
to humiliate my child? no.  she’s just being a kid.

It’s because of a song that got sung in church this week.

Nichole Nordeman’s “Why are they screaming”

We rode into town the other day
Just me and my Daddy
He said I’d finally reached that age
And I could ride next to him on a horse
That of course was not quite as wide

We heard a crowd of people shouting
And so we stopped to find out why
And there was that man
That my dad said he loved
But today there was fear in his eyes

So I said “Daddy, why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why is He dressed in that bright purple robe?
I’ll bet that crown hurts Him more than He shows
Daddy, please can’t you do something?
He looks as though He’s gonna cry
you said he was stronger than all of those guys
Daddy, please tell me why
Why does everyone want him to die?”

Later that day the sky grew cloudy
And Daddy said I should go inside
Somehow he knew things would get stormy
Boy was he right
But I could not keep from wondering
If there was something he had to hide

So after he left I had to find out
I was not afraid of getting lost
So I followed the crowds
To a hill where I knew men had been killed
And I heard a voice come from the cross

And it said, “Father, why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why are they casting their lots for My robe?
This crown of thorns hurts Me more than it shows
Father, please can’t You do something?
I know that You must hear My cry
I thought I could handle the cross of this size
Father, remind Me why
Why does everyone want Me to die?
When will I understand why?”

“My precious Son, I hear them screaming
I’m watching the face of the enemy beaming
But soon I will clothe You in robes of My own
Jesus, this hurts Me much more than You know
But this dark hour I must do nothing
Though I’ve heard Your unbearable cry
The power in Your blood destroys all of the lies
Soon You’ll see past their unmerciful eyes
Look there below, see the child
Trembling by her father’s side
Now I can tell You why
She is why You must die”

http://youtu.be/sRKV8Jh5IgQ is the link to the song. 

The whole song is breathtaking and was presented by a teenager in our church in a very moving way.  She didn’t sing it perfectly, she sang it with absolute participation and consequently brought the audience to tears.  The verse that really gets me is the one about God the Father listening to His son’s screaming  and having to wait for the time to be right to respond.

I know that my sitting in the hall listening to Ginny crying doesn’t even come close, but it gives me a tiny glimpse into “that dark hour”

And makes the coming of Easter just a tiny bit more real to me this year.