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Christian Life

Valentine’s Day Idea: Married, Single, and Dating

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image © Sherri Robbins

It’s February… the month of love.

While so many people focus on plans and gifts for Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think about learning how to have healthy relationships and to love my family unconditionally. Unfortunately, from early childhood, I was taught that love is conditional.

From the time I was a young child and into adulthood, both my parents withdrew from me when I did not meet their expectations. Yes, my mother threatened to sue me when I let her down and I have gotten hate mail from my father, but I understand why they did it. Their dysfunctional childhood years taught them how to push people away when things don’t go the way they envision.

We are all narcissistic by nature and many of us don’t know how to change. Broken relationships all over our world are evidence of this. Our presuppositions of others and tendencies toward making things about ourselves originate from our past relational wounds. Because we don’t learn unconditional love as children, it affects the way we love as adults. I wasn’t shown how to love my husband and kids, but I’m determined to learn how. Do I fail? Yes I do, but I continue to come back to the one who can show me how, God.

So my challenge this month is for each of us to focus on our relationships. What past hurts are preventing us from having healthy relationships now? Who do we need to forgive? What behaviors and thought patterns do we need to change in ourselves? Have we strayed from the One who is our example of unconditional love?

Work on your relationships, seek counseling if you need it, and this just might be the best Valentine’s Day ever!

“Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to do both.”
( 1 John 4:21b MSG)

Christian Life

Why I Hate Santa!

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As I walked next to my son with tears streaming down my cheeks, I said the words out loud that had been echoing in my head, “I hate Santa!” It was dark outside and we were walking through my neighborhood to get home. I was wearing a long nightgown, my snow boots, and my dressy pea coat. I was a sight to be seen and lucky for me, it was dark, so my neighbors could not see what I looked like. Are you confused right now? Why would I just tell my son that I hate Santa while walking outside, dressed like a crazy woman?

As my husband and I were having a heated discussion in our bedroom about how I spent too much money on Christmas presents, my son knocked on our door and said it was an emergency. He said that one of the homes in our neighborhood was on fire. We could hear the sirens and the view from our kitchen window revealed a bright orange sky. I immediately found my coat and boots and said I had to go. My son asked if he could come with me and my husband asked what I was going to do. I yelled back, “I don’t know…pray from them.”

I was upset and crying. My adrenaline was pumping as I sprinted alongside my son, in hopes of bringing some type of peace in the midst of tragedy. All the buried emotions from our own house fire were surfacing and I felt as if I was about to explode. We had been sprinting for almost half a mile and my lungs and thighs were burning. We rounded a corner in the direction of the sirens and a woman walking past us said, “Santa will come around to the other side of the circle.” At that moment a light bulb went on in my head. In our town, the local fire department has one of their firemen dress up as Santa and ride through all the neighborhoods on one of their trucks. Moms, dads, children, and grandparents come out of their homes, as Santa waves and firefighters throw candy canes to onlookers.

For most people in our town, this is a treasured tradition that is welcomed every year. Not for me! For some reason, I seem to forget that they do this every year. When the sirens and lights arrive in my neighborhood to bring good cheer, I revisit that nightmare that happened on a spring evening in 2009. The night I lost everything I owned. The night I almost lost my children.

Maybe you struggle with post-traumatic stress or maybe you are struggling this Christmas season due to some other loss. The message of this season is hope. May the hope of God that fills me, even when I struggle with my past, also fill you with hope and peace. We aren’t made to carry our burdens alone. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus came to the world as a gift for everyone. He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Let his hope dwell in you and bring you peace.

PS. I don’t really hate Santa. It’s just how I felt that night.

photo credit: Lester Public Library via photopin cc

Christian Life

Never Give Up!

Never Give UpAs I read this scripture in 2 Corinthians the other day, I couldn’t help but think about those who are dealing with a disease, a terminal illness, a loss, or struggling with feelings of hopelessness. It also made me think about something that happened around this time last year, when I was caring for my mother, who was wasting away from A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She was at an all-time low, emotionally and physically. She did not have the use of her hands, and her legs had become too week for her to walk safely. She was completely dependent on people to do everything for her, and it was affecting her mental and emotional well-being. On one occasion, she became angry with me, saying that I never hugged her and didn’t love her. I knew this was far from the truth. I understood that she was really just blaming me because she was unhappy with her life, her disease, and her inability to function normally. It was heart-breaking to know there was nothing I could do to take away the dreadful disease she was living with.

After listening to my mother’s accusatory words, I told her that I loved her. I knew this really wasn’t about me not loving her, but about her being depressed and frustrated with her situation. I began to ask her what God had been speaking to her. She admitted that she didn’t know and that she felt very far from him. I told her that He loved her and still wanted to teach her things through this horrific disease. I told her that even though she might not be healed, God still loved her and wanted to use her to show his love to other people.

My mother wanted to give up. She was so overwhelmed with her circumstances that she had forgotten to fix her eyes on the only one who could give her hope and peace. Although her health did not improve, her perspective did, and breakthrough happened.

There are so many people who are facing difficult things right now…so many who don’t know if they can face another day. If that’s you, Never Give Up! Tomorrow your situation could change. Tomorrow a miracle could happen. For now, fix your eyes on a God who loves you and wants to bring you peace. Focus on what is unseen instead of the chaos around you. The road of life you’re on is worth it and you will get through it.

Christian Life

Blunders of Walking in the Dark

Last night I awoke at 2:30 AM to make a trip to the bathroom. This is a frequent occurrence and I am usually very good at maneuvering in the darkness of night. I can’t explain what happened or how it occurred, but I managed to nose-plant into something that knocked me on the floor. From where I landed, the inanimate object that I walked into could not be identified. The pain in my nose was severe and it intensified as I tried to fall back asleep. In fact, it hurt when I woke up this morning and has left me with a dull headache all day.

As guttural moans of agony woke my husband, he turned on his bedside lamp and asked, “Why didn’t you use the light from your phone?” It’s a simple solution, yet I was too tired and lazy to put out the extra effort to use it. Although I walked with my hands out in front of me, I still couldn’t make it safely without light. Maybe I thought I was smart enough to feel my way through the obstacles and arrive at my destination safely?

Many of us walk in darkness all the time and wonder how we land ourselves in tough situations. In the Bible, Jesus talked about following him because he is the light of the world.  The truth is, when we don’t rely on Jesus to light our lives and direct our steps, we will always end up in painful circumstances. I learned a valuable lesson last night and let me tell you… sometimes the truth hurts.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will
never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 (NIV)

Christian Life

The Product of Restoration

I am passionate about RESTORATION.

As a pastor, there is no greater joy than becoming friends with a person who is down and out, helping them find hope through a relationship with Jesus and then walking beside them as He transforms their lives from the inside out. No matter what tragedies a person has faced or how many things they have done wrong, the God and creator of the universe desires to restore and rehabilitate.

This passion for restoration overflows into many aspects of my life. It is so fulfilling to take other peoples’ junk and repurpose it for a new life. My little hobby is fun and rewarding, but it doesn’t compare to what Christ can do for each and every one of us.

Take a look at three café tables I recently
made out of old barn boards and scrap wood:

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Wood donated from a friend

 Table2

Cut to random widths for the table tops

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Plywood bottom glued & screwed to the boards

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Before sanding & finishing

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Table edges were finished with a wood veneer.
Created the weathered wood effect by smearing
the wood with a cloth that was dipped 
in acetone
and black paint. Sealed with a polyurethane

and legs screwed on. ($3.50 each from Ikea)

Table6

Christian Life

I Fell Off the Bandwagon

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After months of consuming too much food, growing horizontally and avoiding a sports bra, I finally laced up my athletic shoes and went for a run. It wasn’t pretty but I know it’s what makes me healthy! My lungs burned, my heart felt like it might explode and most people could have walked faster than my uphill pace. I felt like I was in a slow-motion video, but in reality, I was going as fast as my body would let me.

Last year, I could run an 8-minute mile with little effort, plus I completed a half marathon and a 12-mile Tough Mudder. Now I can barely run a 12-minute mile without feeling like I might die. It’s amazing how quickly we can lose our physical fitness, but it’s also amazing how hard it is to start at the beginning again – gaining flexibility, stamina, speed and greater lung capacity.

As I pushed through the pain of my short 1.7-mile run, I couldn’t help but relate this to God. Many of us go through seasons of consistently attending church, reading our Bibles, praying and growing in our faith. During these times we are often filled with strength, joy and watch our lives transform through the power of God. Then life gets busy…Our schedules change…We fall out of our routines…We start to grow weary… And we find ourselves right back where we started – feeling lonely, stressed, tired, bitter, depressed, even hopeless.

Starting over hurts! Sometimes we allow so many painful things to weigh us down without giving them to the Lord. It’s like we’re trying to run a marathon after gaining a hundred pounds and developing asthma. Yes, it hurts but we don’t have to run a half marathon at an 8-minute mile pace to hang with God. We just have to lace up our shoes and go out for a run with Him. God is patient and sets the perfect pace.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. NIV

Matt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. NIV

Matt 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. NIV

Book Reviews

Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom

Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13789037-nowhere-but-up

This book was okay. I read it because I am a believer and wanted to learn about Pattie’s story. I did enjoy learning her powerful testimony. It’s a story about a girl from a broken family, who was sexually abused. She writes about her encounter with God and his faithfulness to her throughout her life. Her attention to detail about her sex partners as a teen and fighting with Justin’s dad was a bit too lengthy for me. I also couldn’t finish the last fourth of the book. She dedicates the last third of the book to Justin. I stopped reading after a story about losing Justin in the shopping mall for 10 minutes. Doesn’t that happen to almost every mother? I know it happened with my son twice, my nieces and nephews have done it to my sisters, and I’m pretty sure I did it to my mom. I just had a hard time reading about a mom doting on her son for 50+ pages about normal mother-child life and events. It just didn’t appeal to me. I do hope and pray that many people who have or are currently struggling with family issues, abandonment and sexual abuse find hope through her story. She has a great testimony that shows a very real dynamic of the ups and downs that most have with faith, as well as examples of God’s faithfulness and her journey of trusting him.