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

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.

 

 

i am worth it

Today has been a great day.

 Does it have anything to do with a lunch date I have planned with a friend that I haven’t had a real chat with in a little over a year?  Well, yes, it will be fun.  But that’s not why I’m happy.

 Could it be because I got a good night’s sleep?  Um…no.  I didn’t get a good nights sleep.

 Could it be because today is Wednesday which means that I’m just a little bit closer to Thursday and the ice rink?  Perhaps.  I do seem to be living my life these days pointed like a hunting dog at the rink schedule.  But, no, that’s not why I’m almost euphoric today.

 Maybe it’s because someone complimented my writing yesterday?  I love knowing that someone likes what I write.  It is very affirming, but no, that is not what is making me grin from ear to ear.

 Is it because I’m enjoying a strengthening relationship with our neighbors?  As our girls get older together and enjoy each other’s company more and more I’m finding that Ginny is not the only one with a girlfriend next door.  Liza is creative and energetic and quirky.  She loves the Lord and is a real joy to be around.  But, that is not why I bounced in the door at work today.

 Beth Moore.  Could it be that getting back to studying God’s word in a format that I really enjoy is what is making me so giddy?  No.  I enjoy Beth’s style of teaching, but that’s not it.

 Free tickets?  A dear friend just offered us free tickets to a show Ginny really wants to see.  But that’s not why I’m thrilled to be alive today.

No, the reason I bounced out of bed this morning, even short on sleep, just happy to be alive and ready to smile at the world…is Jesus.

 You see a thought occurred to me.  For too long I have let the price Jesus paid for my soul be a burden to me.  I’ve felt a crushing weight of obligation, remorse for every lash of that whip and prick of thorn that my sins have personally added to His pain on the cross.  But for some reason, that image has fallen away for me recently and more and more I am seeing the price Jesus paid for me as a testament to how much I am worth to Him. 

 The infinite creator of the universe knew that I was worth saving. Me.  Deirdre.  He looked at me, and then checked his agenda and said, “yup…I need her to do ______fill in the blank___________ for me.  She has just the right weaknesses to show the world My divine strength.  How much is it going to cost to ransom her?  …….alright.  That price is right.  We. Will. Pay. It.”

 Why am I happy?  Because I am finally absorbing the idea that God declared me worth it. 

 He looked at you and had the exact same conversation with the rest of the Trinity.  God felt that you were worth it. 

The price was right. 

Now what are you gonna do about it?

 

 

blessings rain down

After talking in my last post about the job loss, I figured it was about time to tell you how blessed I am in my new position.

I am working again.

Have been since the first week of February.

The hours right now are a bit hard on my family (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most weekdays plus Saturdays) but it is deadline season in academia and we knew it would be like this. 

but I’m happy.

Am I happy because I’m back at Emory?  Well, yes I am thrilled to be back at  Emory University.  It feels like coming home.  I have been here for over 10 years after all.  I even got my old parking space back.

Am I happy because I enjoy my actual job?  Well, yes I do like my job.  I work in Student Financial Aid and it is inspiring to get to be part of the process that allows kids who couldn’t otherwise afford it to get to come to this great school and be a part of Emory.  Some of them are the first people in their whole family to even go to college. 

But the real reason I am happy is very simple, though it is hard to explain without sounding hackneyed and corny.

I am happy because I am convinced to the depths of my soul that I am sitting right where God wants me to be.  

and that, even on this rainy, yucky Monday morning makes it easy for me to say

 “Thank you Lord for this pretty day.  Bless me to be a blessing to someone day”

wanting the microphone

I’ve been wishing for a chance to speak publicly about some recent events in my life, and at the same time I’ve been ashamed of that desire.  Part of my southern upbringing is to suppress all hankering for publicity.  So every time I caught myself wanting to speak up about some recent blessings I would firmly squash the desire by telling myself that it was rude to brag.  But what I was failing to comprehend was that the publicity I wanted was not for myself.  I don’t want to brag on my own accomplishments. 

I earnestly yearn to brag on my God. 

The God who brought my family through the struggles of infertility. The God who abundantly blessed us during both my husband’s layoff and my recent job loss.  The God who has showered me in loving mercies during a time that most would see as a severe trial.  Sure, I do have a public forum.  I write a blog, but most of the folks in my church don’t read blogs and I find myself wanting  my congregation, my home church to hear about my God and the wonderful things He has done for me.

Even the psalmist had this same longing.  Look at Psalm 116:17 – 19

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the LORD
I shall pay my vows to the LORD
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people
In the courts of the LORD’s house
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem
Praise the LORD!

So, in an effort to break out of my overly-southern, rigidly-polite heritage and offer public praise to my Lord, I now submit a sacrifice of praise in the form of a psalm.   I’m not a poet, so forgive me if this is a little rough.  It is from the heart and that is all I was trying to accomplish.

When I cast myself down and wept
Lain down on a bed of sorrow
You comforted my heart
Your peace, O LORD flooded my mind

When I wandered in darkness,
angry and filled with bitterness
You sent words of comfort
you gave a song to my throat
and fierce joy to my limbs

My God will fight my battles
You allowed earthly powers to triumph over me for a day
but granted me the grace to look
mine enemy in the face and
bless Your name

My oppressor has acknowledged
You O my God.
The power of Your hand has been visible
even unto him who has struck me down
You caused him to weep
in bitterness and to bless your name
You have allowed my oppressor to see
Your favor for me.
He has witnessed the outpouring of
Your blessings on my house and my lands

O LORD my God
May Your name be praised
May my speech and the labor of my hands
Be nothing more than a window to You
Protect me LORD from everything
except Your Glory.

May I never cease to sing Your Praise.

Try writing your own psalm to God during this Lent season and see what happens.

enough

okay, enough dwelling on the lost job thing.  I’m done with that.  My new reality is the job hunt, and my joy in life right now is being with my family in this gorgeous fall weather.

We have taken in a few fall festivals, county fairs, local parks and of course spent plenty of time in our own back yard with our neighbors.  Here are a few photos of Ginny enjoying this concentrated family time.

picking tomatoes

cherry tomatoes, right off the vine, make a yummy snack

 

a better view of the garden.  We will do a bigger one next year….

papas garden

the tomato vine that took over the world

That arbor is for a cherry tomato plant that went insane in terms of growth.  It was growing up over our hedges, so Martin created an arbor. Every time we walk under it, Ginny gets to pick any red tomatoes and eat them right then and there.

 

fun with camera angles

Mama & Ginny looking up at Papa

 

at the little gym

Papa, Ginny & Mama-Altie at the Little Gym

coolest girl in school

you wanted something?

ponie rides

Ginny's first ever pony ride

bunny!

okay, I know it LOOKS bad, but honestly Ginny was NOT strangling the bunny.

pumpkins

the Pumpkin Patch at the Family Tree Nursery Fall Festival was in the sun, so we went inside to find a place where we could get a good pic without making Ginny squint into the sunlight

Many people would say that we are now poor, but I look at these photos and can’t help but be aware of just how wealthy I am in the things that matter.  We do indeed have

Enough.