Tag Archives: hope

Transparent Christianity

Several months ago, as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feeds, a certain status caught my attention.  As I read it, my heart broke.  The friend who wrote it was very upset by the behavior of a woman who was coming to my friend for help.  Apparently, the woman in need was a “Christian” and her attitude and language was in direct contradiction to whom she claimed to be.  The next part of the status is what broke my heart.  The friend wrote something to the effect of how she didn’t even bother with church or trying to be a Christian because it was people like the rude lady who turned her off to trying to be something she was not.  To make things worse, several other people wrote things such as “Christians are hypocrites! I see them in the club on Saturday night, then see them post about the wonderful Church service they attended on Sunday Morning!”  “I will never bother with Christianity, as long as I am a good person, it is all that matters.”

Now, I can go a whole other direction in as to why, as Christians, we should always conduct ourselves in a holy manner.  About how we simply cannot blatantly sin and take advantage of what God has given us, but instead, I just want to share why I am a Christian and in doing so, I hope and pray that these words may cause someone who is outside of Christ to truly explore, and think about why they too, are very precious and very deserving of what Christianity has to offer.

Mercy.  I am a Christian because of mercy.  I am aware of it each time I pray, each time I fail, each time I walk through the doors of my congregation and praise the One who gives me mercy.  Do you know what mercy is?  Mercy is “compassion or forgiveness towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”  It is, in a sense, getting away from a very deserving punishment.  Yesterday, just a day after I realized my tag was out, I was approached by a police officer in the parking lot of my kid’s school.  (And yes, my poor kids, and I were so very embarrassed to be going through this in the school parking lot.)  I was guilty.  I was breaking the law, and was very deserving of the punishment.  I explained that I just noticed the tag the day before while putting groceries in my van, and was surprised to see it well overdue.  I was baffled as to why I didn’t receive my renewal notice.  None of it mattered though, because I stood guilty.  The officer was very understanding, and told me to go park my van until I got the tag taken care of.  I was off the hook!  I was in serious trouble because of my tag and the fact I was driving without a license, because I left my purse at home.  But he let me go.  That is mercy.  I deserved punishment, but the officer walked away.Image

This very same principal is why I am a Christian.  I believe God exists and He rules all.  I believe in his son Jesus and I believe that Jesus went to the cross because of God’s love for mankind.  I believe in God’s justice, and the wonderful choice He gives to us to follow Him or not.  But even so, the thing that still keeps me in awe is the fact that Jesus chose me to save.  He chose death so I can receive mercy from the Father.  I am a Christian because I chose to accept the gift of mercy, and I am living a life of thankfulness and obedience to God because of the sacrifice.  I am a sinner.  I have my struggles and my fallouts.  I get testy with my kids, and I argue with my husband.  I get caught up in jealousy, and I struggle with my intentions.  Being a Christian does not mean I am a saint, a better than you person, or a Bible thumper.  Being a Christian means I am accepting the mercy offered to me.  Being a Christian means I try my best every day to life for Christ because he died for me.  It means cutting the ties with the sinful life I used to lead, and removing myself from situations that may tempt me.  It means I will wake every morning to be a better person because I know I can be.

Yes, I am one of those crazy people who attends each service, and each activity.      I do not go to cover up the skeletons in my closet, or to cast judgment on those who are not church-goers like me.  I go to worship the Father and be with my family in Christ.  I go to be uplifted by the Word, and learn more about what God wants from me.  I go to participate in  taking  communion like Christ asks his followers to do in remembrance of him.  I go because I am part of a family, learning and loving together in His name.  I don’t go to flaunt how great I am to the others there, but I go because I am a sinner in need of prayer and encouragement.   As a Church family, we share our struggles, our joys, our doubts, and our questions about the faith we are to have.  We admit mistakes and ask our friends to encourage us to resist making the mistakes again.  We raise our kids together, and are in each others homes often.

So you see friends, this is the life I live.  This is the Christianity that I am a part of, and I am so sorry that for some of you, Christianity, because of the examples of others, has been a smoke and mirrors act.  It simply is not. The Church is full of admitted sinners, just wanting to love and be loved.  We receive a reward that we do not deserve and we  dedicate our lives to living Godly. Dedicated Christians know life is more about just trying to be good.  We simply cannot find our way to eternity with God if we do not follow Jesus.  He gave, and we must receive, mercy cannot be given to someone who does not want, or thinks that they don’t need it.

I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of peace I have because I am safe in God’s arms.  I want that for everyone, and if nothing, I hope this blog entry will cause those of you who are not dedicated to the Lord to take a second look, ask questions, and go to the Bible for the answers.  This is who I am, a transparent Christian, with a beautiful story of grace and forgiveness.  I am  willing  to admit how much of a sinner I am because in doing so, my story reveals just how amazing God is and how if you allow Him, He can do so much more than you can ever imagine.  I am the sinner getting pulled over in front of my children’s school while other kids shout, “Look!  Our preacher’s wife got pulled over!”.    I was shown mercy when I had no reason to deserve it.  THAT my friends is what Christianity is.  A choice to give your life to God out of a knowing that you alone are not enough.  It is a dependance on Christ, a choice to abandon selfishness and live for something bigger, a love that cannot be measured.

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View from the Fish Bowl

It is amazing how quickly your life and everything in it can change in seconds.  For me, my life was sent into a tailspin as I exited off of the interstate and onto Country Club road headed for home.  It was a Monday, and I was thankful to be coming home from a busy day at work.  I was looking forward to lying down in a cold, dark bedroom before we headed off to the church building for our annual VBS.  My head had been pounding, and Tylenol was calling my name.  As I approached the stoplight, I felt as if I was lunged forward as something that felt like a baseball bat came crashing down on the back of my head, my vision blurred, and things became to spin and grow dark.  I looked back, just sure that I had just been rear ended by the vehicle behind me, but much to my surprise, there was nothing there.  My ears began to ring and the pain in my head throbbed uncontrollably to the hurried beat of my pulse.  I thought about exiting my car in the middle of traffic to beg for help from the pain, but I composed myself as much as I could, and drove myself the half mile to my front door step.  My legs hurt and the pain in my head was sending me off-balance, I fell out of the car, got down on my hands and knees, and drug my numb body up the steps and onto the cool bedroom floor.  Jake immediately came to my rescue, and helped me up onto the bed as he tried to figure out what was wrong.  I tried to push through the pain to talk, but it was so unbearable, all I could get out were faint whispers.  He rushed to the medicine cabinet to get my migraine medication, and as he did, I began to go crazy.  I knocked things off the dresser and tried to lay beside the toilet and the wall because of the coolness of the tile and the toilet bowl.  I began to frantically rip off my work scrubs and pull at my hair desperately reaching for relief.  Jake handed me my medicine, and as soon as it hit my mouth, I began to vomit uncontrollably.  By this time, our friends had arrived to take the girls on to VBS so Jake could care for me.  He scooped me up and we made our way back to my car and he drove me to the local ER room in El Reno.

Sitting in the ER was unbearable, it seemed to take forever and the staff was giving my husband a hard time about rushing me in for a “headache”.  Sitting in the chair, my senses were failing me and my vision had just about given out.  The nurse called my name, and as I tried to stand, my hand began jerk as I reached for a rail that wasn’t even there.  I began to hallucinate about going down a steep set of stairs and my body collapsed from underneath me.  The cruel, cold words that could have been the last words I was to ever here on this earth were ringing in my ears, “Miss, do you want to be seen today or not?”

I began to go into full body seizures on the waiting room floor and was taken into the ER to determine the cause.  The staff began to bully Jake about me being a drug addict, and seemed to care more about calling me out, than fixing the problem.  They tied me down to a gurney to control the spasms from the seizures and took blood to check for drug use.  As they were performing these tests, my blood pressure was building dangerously in my body.  A sister in Christ had come from an ambulance run and noticed Jake in the hall, she rushed to my side and began to re-examine me , knowing that I was not a sad victim of drug abuse.  She checked the things the others neglected to, and found that my blood pressure was at a near fatal 310/190.  I was on the verge of stroking out, and she quickly administered medication to get the pressure under control.  From there, they stabilized me enough to send me to the ICU at Mercy Memorial in OKC.

From there, the doctors fought to stabilized me further, and asked my husband to make the call that he had dreaded, “You need to call the family in, she may not make it.” He made the call, and friends and family began to rush in  to support Jake, and be by our side.  The 48 hours after my collapse in the ER have been erased from my memory, but during these 48 hours, doctors struggled to find the cause of my episode, and Jake was overwhelmed with love from family and from our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Jake never left my side, and his mom, my amazing mother-in-law, never left his side.  I pulled through what we found out to be a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by an aneurism that had busted in the back of my brain.  In the x-rays, the spot that had leaked out was no bigger than a small cotton ball, but it had caused enough damage and pressure in my head to almost kill me.

I spent a week recovering in the ICU department which was known as the fish bowl.  It was in the shape of a semi-circle, with the nurses station right in the middle, the front of my room was solid glass and it was very open and exposed.  Friends and family from several congregations and different youth groups flooded in to support us and to offer their help and prayers.  Sitting in the fish bowl, I had the honor to witness three amazing kinds of love between myself and my husband, the love of my family in Christ, and the love of my Heavenly Father.

My husband was such a comforting presence during my darkest hour.  When my eyes opened, he was there, either holding my hand, or he was found kneeled at the foot of my bed, head bowed in reverent prayer to our Father.  He handled all of the visitors and phone calls and was patient as he discussed the foggy details of what had happened.  He protected me from over stimulation by keeping others visits brief, and comfortable.  In between the visits, we reflected on our love and expressed our gratefulness for each other and for our love for our girls and the love for our Father.  Agape love between a man and a woman was ever present in the fish bowl and our vision of loving one another was renewed and redefined.  I am forever thankful for my husband and for his dedication to the Lord and his dedication as a husband and a father.

As people came and went with the visits, I got to witness the unique connection between brothers and sisters in Christ.  Jake and I had the opportunity to work with people from different congregations in different cities, and they all came together for one common purpose of supporting me and my family.  Many times I would wake to see one member from another congregation introducing themselves to another member and then they would join together to lift me up in prayer to the Father.  Fellow Christians were immersed in prayer to their Creator on behalf of another sister, recognizing the special and unique bond that all of us share as partakers in Christ.  They loved and revered the Lord, they loved each other, and they loved me.  There were no barriers because of not knowing another because they were there to pray and encourage a sister and a brother whom they loved deeply.  Every time I opened my eyes to see others surrounding me, fellowshipping and praying with one another, it brought peace and comfort to my soul and a sense of oneness within the Church of Christ.  They witnessed Christ’s love to me and to each other and taught me that we are all in this journey together, and we must all support and love one another by going beyond the church walls.

The final view that I witnessed from the fish bowl was the deep, unending love of my God, Lord, and Creator.  I could have met Him that day, and in my soul, it would have been ok.  I didn’t have time to fear death, it came too suddenly, and when the threat was over, all that filled my mind was my relationship with my Father and the family I almost left behind.  I feared for my husband, and for my daughters then, 4 years old, and 6 months old.   I pictured Jake being a young widower at 23 years old with two little girls to take care of.  I thought about our girls and how they would never know their mother.  I wanted to live to see Rylee blossom into a beautiful, strong, caring woman, and I wanted to see my baby girl, Kadence take her first steps and see if her hair would stay blonde and her eyes blue.  I longed to be able to carry another child in my womb  and feel the joy of a newborn baby in my arms again.  I began to realize that our lives truly are but a vapor as described in the book of  Ecclesiastics.  I always pictured myself living till I was elderly, full of wisdom and joy from a blessed life but,  that week made me realize differently.  My mind became flooded with memories of me failing the Lord and turning from Him.  I thought about the years I spent in darkness and how I could have died in darkness, but God had given me a little more time to set things right.  I reflected upon the greatest confession in my life as I confessed Jesus as the Son of God before others and was baptized into His protection and into His grace, and love.  I set things right and repented of the stagnate worship that I have become a slave of.  As a ministers wife, you are involved in so many things within your congregation that you can get caught up in the activities and lose focus on your worship.  I had lost focus, I became ensnared with the next activity to be planned or bible class to lead and lost sight of my God and my worship to Him.  This became evident as the preacher from our congregation brought communion over for me to take the first Sunday I came home.  I was still in no condition to worship with others, so he brought me the blessed communion of remembrance to partake of.  As he and my husband prayed over the bread and the fruit of the vine with me, the emotions of being a sinner stirred within me and I began to cry uncontrollably.  The love in my heart for my Savior was flowing over and I had never felt so wanted and sought after in my life.  The sheer truth of the Gospel that I have been taught and had taught was evident in the bread and in the drink.  I am loved, I was bought at a price, and I am saved.

July 17, 2006 will always mark the day of a new awareness for me.  I was shown that life is of value, and our Creator made us to love Him and to be loved by Him.  It showed me how there are no guarantees to be had in the world, but as a dedicated Christian, we do have the guarantee of Heaven.  I was shown the amazing unique love between a husband and his wife, and how I must cherish that special bond always.  The simple phrase “The Church isn’t a building, but a body of Christians” was evident through all of the calls, cards, flowers, and visits that I received from Brothers and Sisters in different congregations and how they came together to help a sister in need.  I will never forget those who helped and supported and prayed for Jake and I.  We never had to worry about the safety of our children, they were always cared for and looked after, and our home was watched over and cleaned; when I got home from the hospital, I had a hot meal three times a day made by the ladies of the congregation and people would come over and sit with me and the kids while Jake went to classes at OC.  Love was working through all of these things and my prayer has always been that these brothers and sisters may receive a star on their crown for the good works performed on behalf of my family.  Finally,  Christ’s sacrifice became even more  real to me and my devotion for Him grew in a big way.  I have a new love for my Father that is stronger now than ever and the love I feel from Him has been a peace and a constant in my life.  I try now through all of the chaos in my life to keep the focus on Him as I work with others in the Lord.  I cannot say that the focus has remained, I still get caught up in the stuff and not the cause, but I am always willing to shift the focus back when I remember the importance He has placed on me, and that I should do the same.  Again, I want to thank my  Heavenly Father, my husband, my family, and my brothers and sisters in Christ who were there for me that day and those following weeks.  You all have shown me the love of our Father, and I still pray for each of you, and especially on the anniversary of the day of my uncertainty.  May the Grace of our Lord and Father be with you always.

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