Don’t Forsake The Assembling Of ‘Ourselves’ Together

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Hebrews 10:25.

How many times I’ve heard that– especially when I’ve missed a service at some churches. I’ve lost count!

I’ve exhausted and frustrated myself trying to jump through those hoops that lead to acceptance.

What about when the assembly forsakes it’s own members?

Like me.

When my health started to betray me, and I was going through some honestly scary stuff– where was that assembly then?

Not rallied around me, listening, praying and cheering me on with encouragement.

No. It was silent.

Unless I asked for prayer. Then– it prayed, maybe laid hands on me too– and then it went back to whatever else was going on, and silence for me again.

And let me tell you– I have had need of encouragement!

When I was struggling as a kid and teen with things I couldn’t tell anyone about, I needed that assembly.

When I nearly died, a few times, that assembly has been nowhere around.

When it was up to me to forgive some deeply serious and scarring offenses so I could be free to move on with my life and follow God’s path for me, where was that assembly?

When my dad passed away, and I was numb because our relationship was so screwed up, I needed the assembly.

How thankful I am that I have that close relationship with my Redeemer. He has always given me exactly what I need, when I need it.

But– God made us to need others. The Church isn’t supposed to be like a game of jump-rope where you just jump in and hope you don’t mess up the rhythm or get hit or tripped-up by the ropes. There is supposed to be a mutual-ness to it. Not a sizing-up, or a dressing-down. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and yet it’s supposed to be all for people.

The safest place on earth.

That’s what Church is supposed to be.

I always thought it was like a hospital for the sick, a resting place for the weary, and a nurturing place for neglected outcasts. Welcoming and warm…

I’ve struggled my whole life with fitting in, or feeling like I fit in. We all have our family issues and personality quirks, along with unrealistic expectations.

But when, as a kid, I heard several congregations singing about being “The Family of God”, my mind formed certain expectations that I honestly haven’t felt are unrealistic.

I see others laughing, spending time together, helping one another out. I’ve watched from the outer courts on so many occasions, like the envious little girl watching the big kids skillfully turn the jump ropes while the confident kids jump in and sing rhymes timed with fancy footwork.

So when I heard the song about being family– well– I’ve been looking for the evidence of that.

I’ve wanted to find one where there is a healthy father- figure for me, one where the women are not competitive, judge-mental, or seem to actually ignore and look past me.

I am so tired of the Church acting like the world. Or worse.

I want to find that true Family of God.

One where the assembly does not forsake me.

One where God doesn’t speak to my spirit to tell me the Pastor is my enemy, not my friend.

This is what is on my heart and mind today.

When I Was A Young Lass

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I’m getting older. I can’t deny it. I can stop counting years when I celebrate my birthdays, but I can’t stop aging– as much as I’d like to freeze a few years at a time. And, to make things even trickier– my birthdays happen so much faster than they used to!

My birthday was a few months ago, but it’s really just hitting me now– crap! I’m a year older, again! My mind feels 20 and my body is somewhere in the waaaay-older-than-that range.

I’m at a stage where I tend to reflect back over my life, remembering what I was like when I was younger. I don’t wish I were there again, and I’m realizing I’m not even the same person I was.

For starters, I’m a mom now of kids ranging from age 7 to age 19, with my oldest being a much more beautiful and just as stubborn version of someone much like I was– but way better than I ever was.

If I were to wish for any part of who I was to be part of who I am now, it would be the endless energy I had! I’m tired now– all the time! I was designed by God to be a survivor, fighting my way through difficulties and challenges that I do not miss. I had so much energy, so much motivation to be the best version of me I could be.

I’m not the same person that I was in my younger years. Each experience and phase I’ve passed through has been evolving me in metamorphosis that happens so slowly, so deceptively simple yet intricately detailed, I can’t catch it with my eyes. Except in hindsight. Only through the rear-view of my life, rewinding the years and events through my memory.

I went through years of self-hatred, believing the things perfunctory and critical people, who’s opinions I valued as much as I value the air I breathe and the water I drink, said to me and about me. For many years I heard the words my dad said to me, and they guided me into relationships where I believed them so deeply, I allowed others to be abusive because I didn’t believe I deserved better than that. Then I would have a moment of waking up, realizing that things didn’t have to be that way at all. I didn’t have to let myself be bullied, harassed or abused.

I was evolving into an independent woman who was learning her self-worth came from my opinion of myself, and the opinions of others did not shape me or choose my path for me.

Ultimately my God’s opinion of me pulled me out of some very dark places mentally and physically– certainly spiritually. He views me far differently than any human, and not at all like my dad did.

So– as I reflect back over my youth, and covet the energy I used to have, I wouldn’t want to change the path I’ve been on. There are situations and circumstances– and people– I do wish I could have avoided. But they helped propel me in many cases in the direction I followed, which led me onto the path I now walk with Jesus.

Forward is now where I need to set my view, with Jesus being the window I look through. I believe our world is speeding up to the end, that Jesus will be returning, and I need to get myself ready.

Now, instead of looking back over my younger days, I will focus on the child-like faith Jesus told us we need to have. I don’t have to give up youth, it’s just evolved into a different form now.

Mark 10:13-16 (NLT)

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Unavailable

Usually I make myself available for others to talk with, to help with their online businesses, to help their friends with their online businesses…

It’s rarely convenient for me. But I value people and sincerely want to help others succeed.

I’m seeing how little that is actually valued beyond the moment it happens, so I’m stopping that part of my friendship offering.

If I kept a journal of friends and family seeking me out first to talk with and spend time with because they genuinely enjoy my company, because they take an interest in what I am interested in– it would be full of blank pages.

I have become that person that is an afterthought to everyone. I’m the convenient one to ask to buy things, or help get someone through some sort of a bind– as long as I don’t ask for the same in return.

I’m the person who has no value outside of political opinions. And if mine don’t match yours– I am valueless.

I’m the mom expected to help in the nursery or with the kids at church often, to pay my “dues” since I have kids– and if I don’t, I’m the mom everyone gets upset with.

I have been a giving person because I want to be. I can’t remember the last time I was given to. I rarely ask for advice or help– especially when I need it, because I already know I will be hard-pressed to find it.

I often say yes just because I know too well how it feels to be told no.

Well…

Now it’s going to be no.

No more helping online parties. No more sacrificing sleep to listen and be there for someone across the world. No more taking up someone else’s interests just to spend time with them.

I am right now feeling exactly how empty giving of myself has made me.

I am now unavailable. I doubt it will be noticed or that I will be missed.

Someday God will also be unavailable. Seek Him while He May be found– because instead you may find Him unavailable and at that point it will be too late.

3 fingers pointing back at myself at that reminder.

One Size Fits… Um No

I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?

Except that’s never how it’s taken.

If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.

The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?

Well, no. It won’t.

Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.

Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.

Because it’s the Living Word of God.

It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.

God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.

Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.

I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.

His ways are so much better than mine.

I’m A Mom

Maybe you can relate–

Do you know who I have to talk to on a daily basis? My kids— one who can on occasion be opinionated while challenging everything I say– makes me feel like I’m the stupidest person on earth because I never know what I am talking about. I have my husband, but he gets busy or involved with his own stuff and doesn’t always even hear me. He tries, but he can’t stop doing his own stuff just because I want someone to talk with and do things with.

Some days it would be nice if I had a friend who didn’t stop talking to me when I start talking about me. Who’s there for *me*, not just me for them. I don’t need problem-solving or advice, I don’t need to be ignored until it’s convenient to talk because something is needed. I need a consistent friend that does not expect me to always initiate or to give until it hurts while agreeing with everything they believe politically/religiously and then wait until they get around to getting back to me after they just drop off texting. Or gets offended and doesn’t value me enough to work things out.

I am far more isolated than most realize or care to know, I guess. But— pay no mind to my irritated rant— I’ll go back into my corner and look at the news–

That’s what I feel like saying sometimes.

I don’t know if this is common, or just me. It’s pretty much always been my life. I think if someone else stepped into my shoes, they would get back out really fast.

My life itself is really good. But that friend issue– it’s a lonely place.

Thankfully when I start to feel sorry for myself, God reminds me that He always provides what I need. I always have just who I need in my life when I need them. Then they move on or get busy with their own lives, or just step back because they don’t much care for me. I’m used to that– life goes on.

I’d be surprised if anyone really does relate.

It would be a nice surprise, though.

The Ego and the Communicator

Have you ever been in situations where people glean off of your success, and get embarrassed by your failures?

Have there been people who change their treatment of you based on your performance or appearance?

Are there those in your life who have attached their ego to their expectation of you, and then communication becomes this one-way street where even if it’s physically impossible you are expected to elevate them? And if you fail– if you try to signal or explain why you are unable to– the transmission of pertinent information is incomplete or ignored?

Most people are allowed– even forgiven– for their mistakes. Most first-world people are afforded the the right to individual successes and respected with reciprocal dialogue.

I bear the scars of being crushed by expectations and egos of others. I’m not sure why that has been the case for me.

I’ve recognized how I’m treated differently when I fall short of getting them some glory versus when I hit that mark head-on.

People exhaust and overwhelm me. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and I believe God is opening my eyes to help me break free from unvocalized and unadmitted rejections I’ve experience far too often.

God’s glory is not attached to my perfection when the world’s spotlight singles me out. He’s not embarrassed when I fail, nor is He prideful when I succeed. He is always consistently the same with me, my relationship with Him isn’t affected by me except where I allow it to be. He never moves away or towards me because I perform perfectly or I miss it by any length.

My whole life I’ve born this crushing weight that I have to say things just right, I have to play every note perfectly, I have to openly be supportive, embracing and encouraging of specific people, while being given little– sometimes nothing at all– in return.

While I am hard on myself, I often take cues from the responses and reactions of others to me after I fall short of where they expect me to land. My mistakes and successes somehow get tangled in with the egos, even pride, of others.

I believe God used my very public mistakes yesterday to open my eyes to this so I can begin to walk in freedom from crushing expectations.

I hope He also helps others to start giving me what I need in every situation. I do see a turning point, I just hope I can use that to shed this chain and fetter people have used to attached me to their pride-success balance.

Maybe then people will no longer exhaust and overwhelm me.

Foolhardy Judgement

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How many times do we hear something and jump to a conclusive opinion without actually looking into things for ourselves?

Examples I see everyday are critics of Christianity, political opponents, public school supporters against home educators, race criticizing race, Christian critics of anything secular… I’m sure you can think of many I haven’t listed here, there is an endless supply of judgement that is both uncalled for and unnecessary. But we sure do value our opinions!

I once, many years ago before the internet saturated me with knowledge, said I thought the POW/MIA flag was some sort of American Indian symbol. Of course my husband– then friend– sarcastically corrected me. Yeah– I was that ignorant! He had to tell me that it actually means Prisoner of War/Missing in Action. I was deeply ashamed, but I had never even seen that flag before.

I used to judge table top games, such as Dungeons and Dragons as demonic and evil because Jack Chick made a tract about it that seemed like facts. But, the facts are– it’s nothing more than socially creative story making and acting out the different characters. Sure there are millions of directions it can go– just like any fiction novel. But, I don’t think he wrote a tract about The Lord of the Rings. D&D is so much like that, and Christians miss out because they refuse to investigate what it really is. https://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp If a person is swayed to leave Christianity because of a game, there are far deeper issues involved. More than likely they never actually gave their lives over to Christ.

Being confronted with my having badly judged a book by its cover woke me up to how easily I can fall into that trap of not looking into things before forming an opinion– judging what I actually know nothing more than the appearance I see.

It shocks me every time I hear people who have never enlisted in the military talk about the military being soldiers at war, killing innocent children with no accountability. That’s actually the opposite of what I’ve known for more than 20 years in military life. I’m sure it would surprise many critics to know military life is like everyday life, but super structured and strict. There is far more accountability in the US military than in any organization– especially of size and scope– in the world throughout history. Certainly far more than in our current government! But, don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself. Do some research, interview military members, Veterans, contractors– even enlist for yourself!

Critics of our military sometimes falsely accuse it as blindly going along with whatever is commanded. Obviously they don’t realize each member has the responsibility to not obey a constitutionally unlawful order. The military is beholden to no person, no political party, no cause. There are core values instilled within each member. Core values unique to Americans and our 1st world allies.

While there is purposeful misinformation out there trying to sway people to specific sides of various issues or keep people from knowing what’s actually going on, there is no excuse for not researching the facts. The easy way is to not challenge sound bites and points of agenda for what we want/hope to be the truth. The responsible way is to dig deeper and find the truth.

For the past 10-12 years I’ve noticed how historical facts are being changed to paint a different picture than actual reality. I’ve seen things disappear off of the internet, I’ve caught the main news sources passing on false information, lying, and even staging events to mislead people watching to trick them into a political point of view or support some cause.

In this day and age of purposeful deception, it’s imperative that we take on some form of an investigative role. No one likes to be fooled, and no one likes to find out they are reacting in a foolhardy way.