Spiders and Bibles…the reprise

I wrote this story in March of last year at a time when I was just beginning a faithful morning Bible study.  That morning was the perfect example of God using a small, seemingly insignificant moment to teach his truth and convict my heart.  He seems to be teaching me the same lesson in new ways this year. Enjoy.

This morning the Lord woke me early.

Well, earlier than normal…I am ex-military and am often told that my early and the rest of the world’s early are two very different time frames.  Normally, when this happens I am ashamed to say I grumble like my second grader for “a few more minutes,” snuggle tightly into my husband’s warmth and, well, tell God to bug off until my usual 0530 wake up.

I am happy to say that today I was obedient. When my eyes popped open at 0445, instead of grumbling and rolling over, I asked, “What do you have to tell me today, Lord?”

His answer? “Plenty.”

So I rolled out of bed and bound down the stairs. I broke out Charlie’s cozy blue Snuggie (these are awesome by the way) and curled up on the couch with my new Bible study (“Live Intimately: Lessons from the Upper Room”), my Bible, my pretty prayer journal that I got at our retreat in November, and an open heart and mind. And I dug in…I tore into the scripture, I madly jotted answers and notes…really one of the best quiet times I have had in years. It was awesome!

Then, just as I am pondering an additional scripture reference….an uninvited guest joins my quiet time….and, well…it wasn’t so quiet anymore…

Across the pages of John 13:7-9 walks a ginormous, hugemongous spider….I ain’t gonna lie– I went full on girly-girl.  I shrieked like a banshee and threw the Good Book as far off my lap as I could heft it, jumped up, grabbed a house shoe and proceeded to beat the tar out that spider.

Uh-Oh…metaphor for life alert.

How many times have I abandoned the shelter of the Word of God because the message was something I didn’t want to hear or see? Because in my feeble mind, I was too afraid, too immature, too….undisciplined. Oh, too many to count. Like the spider crawling across the Bible, I use fear as an excuse to run away, or worse…to squash the messenger.

I felt the sudden tug of a repentant heart.  Repentance far beyond, “Lord, I am sorry I killed your spider…and threw your book on the ground,”

but more like-

“Oh, MY GOD, I am sorry that I run from your difficult messages. From my ugly places. From the light that you shine on my strongholds of sin. Please, forgive me for lack of discipline, my lack of strength, my lack of obedience. Fill me with Your light, Your strength, Your will. I’m scared to look…but I am ready. Show me.”

What I beautiful time I had with the Lord…scary, but beautiful.

Ok…so wanna hear even more God-coolness? In my brand new, super pretty, extra girly prayer journal every even page has a scripture verse. I opened the journal to write this epiphany down.  And I see:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”- Psalm 51:10

Wow…I guess eight legged creatures are good for more than just killin’ mosquitoes afterall….

Has God showed you a life lesson through “metaphor” lately? I’d love to hear it!

Downward Mobility

“The society in which we live suggests in countless ways that the way to go is up.    Making it to the top, entering the limelight, breaking the record – that’s what draws attention, gets us on the front page of the newspaper, and offers us the rewards of money and fame.

The way of Jesus is radically different.  It is the way not of upward mobility but of downward mobility.  It is going to the bottom, staying behind the sets, and choosing the last place!  Why is the way of Jesus worth choosing?  Because it is the way to the Kingdom, the way Jesus took, and the way that brings everlasting life.”

~ Henri Nouwen

Choosing last place….

Can I do that?

Can I intentionally set my heart to choose last place? To downward mobility? To servanthood for the simply the sake of being like Christ?

I waver in my belief that I am holy enough to do this….to choose this life for me. And if I’m truly honest, on most days, I don’t choose Christ’s way over the world’s.

But then, God whispers grace and love and peace and an invitation to abide in Christ.  The encouragement that while I am not holy enough, Christ abides in me, through him I can do all things, and being a Princess in His Kingdom is far more valuable to me than being mogul in this world.

So today I choose the last place…the behind the scenes…the Way of Christ.

Will you choose downward mobility today?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”~John 15:4

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:13


Love and Grape Jelly (and a SheSpeaks Scholarship)

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  ~St. Augustine”

We were in a hurry.  We were late for school.  I was rushing and pushing and striving and, well maybe-just a little, yelling.  I had woken up as “Drill Sergeant Mom” and was fully committed to the role at hand.

Xander was making his breakfast toast.  Gluten-free brown rice bread with soy-free, vegan butter spread and Welch’s grape jelly.  A big, giant, brand new, (did I mention full?) glass jar of grape jelly.

“Come on, guys. We are going to be late for school! Let’s move!”

“I’m coming, Mom!” Xander exclaimed as he put the lid back on the jelly and shifted the giant jar to his left hand to open the fridge. I turned to give him the “don’t-sass-me” look, and time froze. In the painfully slow motion instant where you just know what is about to happen and are powerless to stop it I watched the giant, glass jar of jelly teeter in his hand and-

fall

to

the

floor.

The dull spl-thwack of the jelly glass snapped the space-time continuum back into full speed.  I leaped into action as I watched tiny shards of glass spray across the floor- lifting and swinging Xander and his bare feet out of the blast zone.  As I sat him down, I looked into his eyes. Tears were streaming down his face. With huge, remorseful brown eyes he looked up at me.

“Mama, I am so sorry. I have made such a big mess, and it’s all sticky and it was a brand new jar and now we’re late and it’s all my fault…”

You know what my first reaction to his repentant heart was? Was it  I can’t believe you made such a mess? Or clean this up right now? Or even an exasperated sigh and when will you ever learn?

It was none of those things.

Upon seeing his heartbreak and repentance, I melted. I immediately gathered him in my arms and held him. Loved him. Soothed him.

“Aw, Baby…it’s ok. We’ll clean this up together. Everything will work out just fine. Ok?”

Sniffing back the last of his tears as he started to calm down, “Ok…”

And then, “Mom…I love you.”

“I love you, too, Baby.”

I just want you to hear this one thing-

GOD LOVES YOU LIKE THAT.

With Mama-soothing-her-broken-hearted-baby-love.

I have lived a good deal of my life with a voice of accusation that I sadly labeled as God. Always believing that He sent his son for US to cover our sins, but, in some way never fully understanding that Christ came FOR ME…FOR MY SINS…and that nothing that I do could ever change the fact that He loves me so much that He would lay down His crown, put on our icky man- clothes, walk among us on this fouled planet, innocently die a horrific, tortured criminal’s death bearing up under the weight of all the sin that ever was and will be, conquered the grave and ROSE AGAIN (He’s alive, my friends- isn’t that the most amazing thing?)…HE LOVES ME that much- andHE LOVES YOU that much too.

The moment that jar of jelly hit the ground, and I looked into my son’s eyes and saw his despair at what he done, I felt the immediate, instinctive reaction to soothe that despair, to forgive that mess he had created, to forget it. In that moment, God changed my entire understanding of grace and forgiveness.

He spoke His word to me, “And now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..” Romans 8:1

I knew that God loved me like that- no, beyond that. That as long as I have a truly repentant heart about the mistakes of my life, God is stirred to soothe. To forgive. TO FORGET. It is the promise he makes us. I knew that the accuser of my soul was not my Lord, my Savior, but an enemy.  THE enemy.  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He speaks to us with words of love, and joy and encouragement.

Thank you, Jesus for ransoming my heart on the cross. Thank you, Lord for rescuing my heart with a broken jar of grape jelly! I love how you use the tiniest of moments to teach us truth….Keep teaching, Lord. I am listening.

What small moment has God used to teach you about His love?

This post is an entry for a full scholarship to the 2011 Proverbs 31 SheSpeaks conference. The She Speaks Conference is about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God and my heart is to serve Him and His daughters, as He leads.

I have so wanted to attend for many years, and love that my word sister, Ann Voskamp is offering an opportunity for scholarship to this awesome resource. If you would like to be considered for scholarship, check out her blog post here.

Renouncing My Citizenship

My friend and I were discussing her husband the other day and she made a statement that has haunted my thoughts a lot lately. Her husband was born in one country, and grew up in another country, and so has enjoyed dual citizenship since he was a child.  Recently, he sensed a call to public service in the nation of his birth, and has renounced his dual citizenship.

In the middle of her story, God smacked me witha 2′ x 4′ right between the eyes.

You have been claiming dual citizenship for far too long, He said. It is time to renounce your citizenship in this fallen world and take your rightful place in the Kingdom of God.

Back in my days of practicing Wicca, I would frequent a psychic who consulted “angels” for spiritual guidance. On one visit, she told me something that I was quite taken with at the time.  She said that I was “an ancient alien soul that God had sent to earth to protect mankind.”

What I realize now is that she wasn’t wholly wrong.  I am an alien soul- not in the ET-from-another-planet sense, but in the not-a-resident of this place sense.  I was sent here with a mission from God- to save and protect mankind through the sharing of the gospel and my testimony.  And so were you….

So today, I renounce my citizenship in this world and live fully as a citizen of the Kingdom of God! I am just passing through this place, gathering my brothers and sisters along the way.  Will you come with me?

 

 

Vision and Invitation

There is a heaviness about me today.  A fatigue that is difficult to shake off, to smile past, to focus through.  In years past I would have labeled it with a medical name, Fibromyalgia, it was my catch-all.  A place I stored all the little stirrings of my heart, body, and soul that could not be defined as “pleasant.”  That’s not to say that I don’t still have symptoms of the disease, but more frequently now, I look deeper, past the physical symptom to the underlying cause.

Today, that cause was spiritual.  A tangible disquiet filled my soul this morning and colored my world.  At first, I wrote this all off to lack of sleep.  I stayed up late last night to watch TV, but in the midst of morning worship- Pow! Right in the kisser!

Music stirs my soul.  It quiets the ongoing voices in my head that cry out, “You don’t deserve…you’re not enough…you are a bad person.” But this morning, the music was dissonant within me.  Not in the way it sounded, but in the way it felt.

Disconnected.  Far away.  OPPOSED.

I closed my eyes and tried to force myself to focus.  To wrench up the discipline to worship. As I closed my eyes, assuming a physiology of worship, God smacked me in the face.

I physically felt the jolt of it.  The image that burned into my soul caused my eyes to burst open as if from a terrifying nightmare.  The pain in my heart caused me to grow faint and search for something to hold onto.  “Oh God, what is this?”

I grabbed paper to write it down simply to get the image out of my head.  This is what I wrote.

There is darkness around me. I see a chain from the pit of my belly running out into the darkness…pulling me deeper into it.  There is a light, but it is far away and I am disconnected from it.  I struggle against the chains, but they only dig in deeper.  I am bleeding, I feel the life draining from me. When I look it’s water that flows from me.

My heart is heavy- weighty in my chest. I am sluggish and drained and chilled to the bone. Lord, this picture is so vivid…so disturbing…so scary. Help me. Give me your peace.

“FAST,” he says, “you are being pulled away. Reconnect to the Light.”

And instantly I know that this is not a fast from food, although that would do my soul good, but this is a fast from something far more integral to my life: MEDIA.

Hi. My name is Cari and I am addicted to Facebook…(nervous giggle) It sounds silly when I say it out loud, but it is true.  I have known I have a problem for a while, but recently I’ve been under much conviction to take some time away.

So that’s exactly what I am going to do. Thanks to God’s thirty second horror movie (did I mention I was a big weenie when it comes to scary images- I am, ask my friend Heather..),  I have been spurred into to action.

I am writing this to let you know that I am taking a hiatus from social media and television for the next few weeks.  It’s not you…it’s me J , but  I promise I am not breaking up with you.  I do know that I need time to get back with my God, to soak up his words for me instead of what my friends in Florida are doing. To get my head back in the clouds so to speak.

I have scheduled several posts for you to enjoy while I am exploring God’s invitation to spend more time with Him, so in all actuality, you will be getting more posts from me that usual- how’s that for a little time apart, huh?

How about you? Do you need to lay something you do down so you can get closer to God?

Will you do that today?

Share it with us in the comments and let’s pray each other through this time of centering…

Life Lessons from Tweezers…

I grab the tweezers and lean in close to the mirror.  Bracing for the pain, I stretch the skin taut and        take a firm hold on the stray hair- and then *pluck*!

OWWWWW! Man..that one smarted!

Let me just say before I jump into the life illustration, the woman who told me “the more you pluck,    the thinner and less likely your eyebrows are to grow back” lied through her teeth! But I whole-heartedly believed her because, well…

To read more and find out what I think habits have to do with plucking, come on over to www.carikaufman.com!

Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire

Recently, I ran across a woman who wrote a memoir about her life as a Christian witch.  As a former Wiccan, this caught my attention.  Escaping the Cauldron is an open and honest look at the world of the occult and how Christian’s are being drawn into that world.  It is a fantastic resource and a fascinating read. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a friend or relative who is involved with or drawn to the supernatural/occult. Below is an interview about her book and what she hopes to achieve through it.

What is the book about?

The book is part testimony of how I went from committed, albeit legalistic, Christian for twenty-nine years to witch, medium, and ghost hunter for eight years before God restored my faith and life. It details my personal struggle with trying to be “the perfect Christian” while being drawn to the Occult from childhood. The book is also a Biblical study that examines the current pop-cultural interest in the occult (in particular ghosts, hauntings, and mediums) and how this interest is affecting Christians as well as their beliefs about the supernatural.

Why call it Escaping the Cauldron?

This is actually the first book in a series, What Christians Need to Know about the Occult. It is a series of collections written from my former experiences as a witch, medium, and ghost hunter. This book is primarily about ghost hunting, mediumship, and the paranormal but I chose “Escaping the Cauldron” as the main title because witchcraft was truly my entry into the arena of occult interest and exploration including such things as divination, psychic ability, spirit guides, mediumship, ghost hunting, etc.

What do you think is the most important chapter of the book?

I think there are many important chapters but “Spiritual Warfare” and “How Should Christians Respond?”are the two which take everything discussed in the previous chapters bringing it all together, helping the reader understand their authority in Jesus Christ and leading the way to a ready defense for any kind of paranormal or supernatural event they may experience in their life as a Christian.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope to inform and equip Christians with information about the occult. Additionally I pray the church will begin to acknowledge the presence of the spiritual world around us and listen to people who come forward with stories or claims of paranormal experiences without dismissing them immediately. When the church refuses to listen or offer any Biblical assistance, many people are forced to seek help elsewhere. This generally means seeking out ghost hunters, mediums, and psychics. I also hope to encourage Christians who may be questioning their faith to seek a deeper relationship with God, especially if they are stuck in a form of legalism. Our answers truly can be found in Jesus Christ.

Where is the book currently available to purchase?

The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon. The book is also available in paperback and e-book editions at my blog site: Kristine ReMixed at www.KristineMcGuire.com and Lulu Publishing.

How are you available to the Christian community?

I write a daily blog, Kristine ReMixed at www.KristineMcGuire.com, on a variety of topics including faith, marriage, prayer, spiritual gifts, and the occult. I also work with my husband through Big Fish Ministries at www.BigFishMinistries.com, ministering through speaking with him at church and para-church events about marriage, facilitating seven day or special event prayer rooms, helping the homeless, etc. I am also available to speak at any youth, women’s, or church events on a variety of Christian topics.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the author in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.