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Archive for January, 2013

Life happened this week, as it normally does. I said and did things that were both good and bad, other people said and did things and lashed out at me because of their insecurities. I came away feeling guilt, shame, and perhaps some self-hatred.

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So, I woke up Saturday morning, and had to deal with this junk. I started by reading the Word. I turned to Psalm 139:14 and started reading, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

And then to Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

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I then looked over to the right-most column of the right most page in The Life Recovery Bible and found the following write-up [comments within brackets are mine]:

Self-Perception

“If we have lived in bondage to our compulsive behaviors for a while, we probably see more bad than good inside us. Many of us tend to see life in terms of all or nothing. As a result, we probably think we are all bad. But in recovery, we need a balanced understanding of ourself. We need to see that along with our bad points we have also been gifted with strengths. It’s not an either/or proposition. A balanced view of ourself will help us better understand our shortcomings while also giving us greater hope in our potential.

At the end of the fifth day of creation God had made everything except the first people. The Bible tells us that when he looked at what he had made so far, “God saw that it was good.” Then God created the first man and woman. “So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; …God blessed them and told them, ‘Multiple and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.’ …Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way” (Genesis 1:25, 27-31).

God distinguished between the human race and the rest of creation. He made us in his very image, with capacities far beyond those of mere animals. God was (and is) excited about us! He gave us abilities and responsibilities to reflect his own nature in all of creation. When he created us, he was proud of what he had made!

Although, we have a sinful nature [or flesh] that came as a result of the Fall, we also must remember that we were created in the likeness of God. There are excellence and dignity inherent in being human that should cause us to ponder our potential for good as well as for bad.

[The Life Recovery Bible: New Living Translation. (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1998), p.5]

I would love to hear from you. Do you struggle with self-perception or self-hatred? What has helped you in this spiritual battle against the Evil One?

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I just finished reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp today. I’ve also committed to naming these one thousand gifts in my own life. Who knows, perhaps I can find this joy that Ann talks about? Perhaps this close communion with God that I so desire, that I once had?

Ann writes this book from her heart, real, transparent, honest – which is what attracted me to it. She talks about the tragedy, loss, brokenness, and pain that she has experienced in her life.  And how she came to start naming these 1000 gifts or blessings. And how they changed her.

Ann starts by telling about how her sister, Aimee, was suddenly killed by a delivery truck. How the whole family shut their hands and their lives to the notion of a good God with the following refrain:

“No, God? No, God, we won’t take what You give. No, God, Your plans are a gutted, bleeding mess and I didn’t sign up for this and You really thought I’d go for this? No, God, this is ugly and this is a mess and can’t You get anything right and just haul all this pain out of here and I’ll take it from here, thanks. And God? Thanks for nothing.”

How many times have I thought and lived this exact same thing? Too many to count.

Ann goes on to describe how, as a direct result of this tragedy, her Mom is committed to a mental hospital and how she (Ann) becomes a cutter. How fear and agoraphobia and anxiety grip her life. How she just wanted to die.

Sound familiar? I’ve been there too many times to count.

Then, she tells of how, in a dream, God shows her that instead of wanting to die, what she really wants is to live, fully – to fully live.

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Her friend, Linda, dared her to count a thousand things she loves, one thousand blessings, one thousand gifts. And the journey began.

Ann shares of how she learned the Greek word eucharisteo, meaning thanksgiving, and charis, meaning grace, and chara, meaning joy.  And how they are related.

And how, “Eucharisteo – thanksgiving – always precedes the miracle.”

The remainder of the book speaks of how eucharisteo unfolds in Ann’s life and how she comes to find joy and close communion with God as a direct result of naming these one thousand gifts.

This is one of the few books (the only one I can think of right now) that I have been able to finish reading lately.

I highly recommend it to anyone who, like me, has desperately wanted and striven for joy and closeness with God in their Christian walk, but for one reason or another has failed to achieve them, or failed to achieve them for any appreciable amount of time.

I would love to hear from you. Do you have the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life?  The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc? How did come to know it, them? Did thanksgiving play a role in it?

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What I Really Want For Christmas

[I read this blog post from Ann Voskamp:  The Grateful Christmas Project: 7 Ways to have more Grateful Kids this Christmas and I liked it so much that I had write about it on my blog too :-]

What’s does Jesus get for His birthday? Have you ever thought of that?  Don’t we have this whole Christmas thing wrong? It’s Jesus birthday and we go out and buy everyone gifts except Him.

What if on my birthday or your birthday, every family member went out and bought every other family member a gift except me or you? I would probably be down right angry!

Perhaps we need to re-think Christmas? What if Jesus and His birthday were the primary focus of Christmas? What if giving Jesus gifts was part or the whole of our Christmas?

Ann talks about how her family started doing this about a dozen years ago or so.  How instead of giving each other gifts, they…

“It happens after breakfast, each day for the last two weeks of Advent, selecting one gift for He who is Christmas.”

… give Jesus a gift by selecting one from the various catalogs linked below:

Compassion Catalog … World Vision Catalog… Samaritan’s Purse Catalog … Partner’s International Catalog… Gospel for A

sia Catalog… Mennonite Central Committee Catalog …

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WV Australia Resource Gathering Trip - Tien Phuoc ADP: Day in the Life - TranL1051

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Our family tried this this year. We still gave gifts to each other, but we also picked a couple of gifts from these catalogs to give to the One who celebrates His birthday at Christmas.

I would really love to hear from you.  Have you ever tried what I describe above? How did it turn out?

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