As my body woke up from a night of slumber, so did the constant fear that rolled over and over in my stomach. I had recently completed a three minute speaker promo video and I had shared it with my family and friends, including a lot of pastors and ministry leaders. I even shared it on Facebook. I was unsure how people would receive it. I felt vulnerable. Exposed.
I was terrified of being rejected.
How would people describe your home? Friends describe my home as homey, cozy, and peaceful.
As you walk into my foyer, you are welcomed by warm, golden walls and a room filled with cranberry red accents. My plaid couch is as old as my 20 year son, and the slight fraying just adds to its personality. You can sit on that comfy couch and put your feet up on my dented coffee table. You can reach over and grab the afghan that will warm you up on a cold day.
Let’s turn on the gas logs, plug in the twinkling lights on the mantle, and light a few candles. You will hear the sound of peaceful music through the speakers, see the light streaming in through the skylights, and hear the soothing sounds of water in the fountain.
Do you remember your teenage years? Mine were 30 years ago but I remember the 90s quite clearly. Confession: the life I presented to those I wanted to please was much different than the life I was living. On the outside, to my church family and teachers at school, I was kind, helpful, a good student, a good speaker, and a youth group leader.
But on the inside, I was just as the Bible describes sinners in Titus 3. I was foolish, disobedient, envious, hateful, deceived, and enslaved to lust and pleasure. I will spare you the details, but I was not the person you would want your teenage daughter to be. I did my best to keep this side of me hidden from those I wanted to think well of me, but my friends certainly saw my rebellious side. I was not the perfect little church girl. Far from it.
This blog post is different from any I have written before. It is fiction, an allegory, a story I saw take place in my mind as I did a Bible study and looked up the word “redemption” in the original Greek language. It means, “to be purchased from the slave market of sin, totally free, never to be sold again.” Enjoy.
The day was dark and gloomy as Jesus wandered the city streets. His heart was set on a mission but He wasn’t quite sure yet of the outcome. He was fully God but also fully man, so some things were still hidden to Him. But this He knew: the Holy Spirit was propelling Him to find something. Or someone.
He headed to the market area, and as He drew nearer, He could begin to hear the shouts. It was a place of market, a place of trade, where one exchanged one’s valuables for another person’s goods. It was a place where food, blankets, and fine linens were sold, but as Jesus drew nearer, He saw that the market was also darker and more sinister at one end. It was also a market for people. Slaves. Men and women of flesh and bone, sold into servitude for their debts and crimes.
It was then that he saw her. He could see that at one time she was young and lovely, but today she was grimy and disheveled. She was bound by the wrists and feet by heavy rope that had no hope of being untied. She probably had once struggled against her bonds, but as he looked at her, he saw that hope had long fled her heart and despair had settled in. She sat there in defeat, and all around her were shouts of condemnation.
I got out of my car and hugged my friend. No, it was more than a hug…it was an strong embrace, and I didn’t want it to ever end. I typically don’t enjoy hugs (it’s a sensory thing) but on this night, I needed her hug. I needed the strength of my friend to hold the broken pieces of my life together. I needed the strength of her spirit to communicate with mine that it all was going to be okay.
We have a tradition of having my daughter’s boyfriend over for dinner on Saturday nights. On this particular weekend, he was home from college, so I planned to “pull out all of the stops” to fix him a nice, home-cooked meal. We were having chicken lasagna, filled with yummy noodles and cheesy goodness. I had gathered my recipe, looked over the ingredients, and declared that I was good to go. (more…)
Let’s start with honesty. I have a broken heart. For weeks, my heart has hurt. At times, literally hurt. Looking at my life, it’s hard to see why. My children are healthy, my marriage is sound, and the bills are paid. But lately I have encountered a lot of conflict with people. I’ve been the subject of gossip, I’ve been hurt by trusted friends, and treasured relationships are in tatters. My heart is in tatters, too.
It is hard to admit, but in defense of those who have hurt me, some of this is probably my fault. I’ve probably made some mistakes. But I’ve been following God’s leading to the best of my ability. I am sure there are things I could have done and said better. And I wish I had done it better. I’m left with a heart that is broken and friendships that are shredded to pieces like confetti. Jesus!