Thursday, May 5, 2011

America Vs. Osama bin Laden

I climbed into bed Sunday night and heard the announcement on the news. It was 10:30 pm, and the President planned to address the nation soon after. I said, "Do you think it's something about Libya?" My husband thought they might have found Osama bin Laden. He often calls the twists in movies long before we get to them, so I was not surprised to learn moments later, he was right.

Tears streamed through thoughts of lives lost, patriots who toiled and sacrificed and fell ill of the effects long after that day, soldiers, families missing loved ones. That sunny morning gone dark, we all watched blue sky erupt a second time on our office television, fire and ash consuming, tall towers collapsing, September 11th, 2001.

I remember that day, Americans running from the towers, jumping from floors too close to sky, later speeches at Ground Zero, the I-can-hear-you-and-the-rest-of-the-world-hears-you.

I remember awkwardly voicing thanks to firefighters, police officers, and military heroes, amazed by their bravery and the glaring beauty in humankind, great lengths scaled in order to rescue, aid, love.

I remember my desire to participate, sending tiny offerings of thanks and love to the troops overseas, praying for incomplete families tangibly torn apart by 9/11. Devastated yet grateful, we all basked in the unity of being an American.

This execution causes that slice of history to surface again.

Just a few nights ago, tears spilled down me, single source of evil fallen, one ambassador of the kingdom of evil perished. Lovers of freedom and justice cried "Victory!".

We learn of the mission, the end result death, and we respond. Our unity promptly dissolves, and we attack those who respond out of different emotion. People hail from ends of the spectrum, from satisfaction and vengeance to preaching love-not-war.

I take it all in and wonder, what am I to think? What I think about this will determine how I feel. I look to the Holy Bible, it's become my primary source. The Bible gives me so many points to consider, it's not a wonder this book never gets old.

The Bible says to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me; why wouldn't this apply to Osama bin Laden, self-proclaimed hater of Christians and Jews? He lived a purpose-driven life, his purpose to wipe out as many believers in Jesus Christ as possible and to influence his own disciples to do the same.

But this last decade, I don't guess I prayed at all for Osama bin Laden to come to Jesus. Did you?

The Bible is also full of murders, wars and wipeouts, beginning with the first brothers, the flood. I hate the wars, hate that this world seems to require them, hate the hating and killing. This life is short--can't we coexist and live these days out beautifully? It seems mankind is incapable of this as a whole, incapable of living without sin and death.

And now I remember why we are incapable of living without sin and death. We were this way from the beginning, and it hurts.

So where should I land on this issue, Osama bin Laden's death? Days later, I continue perplexed. I see no reason to tell anyone else how to respond to it. It seems a bit dishonest, blind even, to harp on people's initial reactions, to try to prove their raw emotions wrong.

We have responsibilities as Christians, but do any of us truly know how to turn the other cheek? I've heard my inner Mama Bear roar a few times, my little loves mistreated. I've thrown too many mature, adult-looking fits when my husband or children failed to consider me. I hardly think I know how to turn the other cheek.

Pray with me?

Lord Jesus, Teach us to Love great-big God-Love. Make us one in spirit and purpose. Grow in us the humility that considers others better than ourselves. Change us to have the selfless, serving attitude of Jesus Christ. Draw us toward You to such a great extent that we don't try to put on these attributes alone. Make them flow out of hearts in love with You. May we know You well, Father. Teach us where to "stand". In Your name, Amen.  

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:1-5, NIV

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Home's Cool But So Is School

Early in my adult life here in NC, I met a family who homeschooled their children and went on to have six kiddos. SIX! I couldn't believe seemed like so many, long before the days of 19 Kids and Counting. They were the coolest people too, totally in love with Jesus, and totally normal, at least in my opinion. They still homeschool numbers 2 through 6, while their oldest has graduated Homeschool High and moved away to university.

Unfortunately, I said it out loud then. I could never, would never, would never even WANT to, homeschool. Oh my word, it's SO not me....

Does anyone else have a list of things they said they'd never do that they are currently doing???

A few years ago, I felt drawn to find out more about how homeschool works. I asked questions, and some of my friends even invited me in to look through their supplies and walk through their school day. Strangely, I found myself writing things like this in my journal: "I can't believe I'm thinking about this again; what is wrong with me??? I'm thinking I might homeschool, and I'm totally scared!"

I comforted my fears by only committing to one year, kindergarten. Surely I couldn't screw up my child with just kindergarten, right? After our little experiment, he would go to school and be just fine. :)

We loved doing school at home that year, and Jace excelled far beyond kindergarten, so we just moved on to 1st grade curriculum early. We added in extra library books, field trips, park dates, and community sports. We even took part in a weekly homeschool coop, so all my kids had lots of interaction with other kids and extensive opportunities to explore the world around them.

Things went so well, we did it again this year, for Jace's 1st grade and Ryder's kindergarten, even though they are both working ahead in many subjects. We have enjoyed the flexibility homeschool has given us, the extra time together for our family, being able to simplify and slow down life a bit, and all the interactions with friends, homeschooling or not. As for end of year testing, we (he) just blew that out of the water, so I can truly breathe easy.

So thus far, I am thrilled about homeschool, and while we plan to take it one year at a time, right now, I hope to go at least a few more years just like this.

But you know what I hate about homeschooling? I HATE the condemnation and judgment. Really, it comes from all sides. I've heard many generalizations made about homeschoolers, the stereotypes and put downs. And I've heard homeschoolers make comments that sounded like God kicked them in the rear and made them realize they needed to make THE right choice. As if there's only one right choice. For all.

I hate the condemnation and judgment on both sides, but if you think about it, this happens with more subjects than we could count, doesn't it? Because at the heart of us all, we are prone to judge others to make ourselves feel better. And any way you look at it, anytime we do that, we are wrong, wrong, wrong. When we realize we do that, no matter which side of the issue we land on, we can call our own selves out. We can stop the judgments, stop looking down on anyone who chooses a different path, stop assuming we know their intentions, stop.

If you ever ask me a question about homeschool, I might answer excitedly and overflow with reviews and suggestions and encouragement that you totally could do it, even if it's SO not you. You might hear from me all sorts of reasons you *might* just love homeschool. Because we do.

But please do not assume I look down on you if you choose a different route. I do not feel I've chosen the righteous way. I do not believe public schools are horrible or that we are above them. I will not be waiting for God to kick you in the rear for a spiritual awakening that must include homeschooling.

The beauty in all this is, there are several good choices you can pick from. Each educational path will have ups and downs, pros and cons, so choose the one you believe will be best for your family at this time. I know only my own experience, that of homeschooling my kids and going through private schools myself. Oh, and one little public school incident where I went to pick up my neighbor's sick child, and the office staff had lost her. But it was all a big misunderstanding, and she eventually crawled out of the cabinet she was hiding in.

That really happened, but I promise I did not decide then and there that public schools swallow poor, innocent, sick children whole. At least not for more than a couple of years, and that was long before my first child popped out of me. That was when I still believed I would never, could never homeschool.

Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall...the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
Romans 14:12-13, 17-19, NLT

Saturday, April 23, 2011

One Spring To Another

It's been over a year since I posted a word here. Just one spring day to another...the following year! On my "leave of absence", I've been mommying, reading, soul-searching, seeking God, wondering how this time flew away from me so quickly.

My sweet littlest man is now 7 months old. He wiggles and shakes his fists, squirms to move his body from one spot on the rug to another, giggles and squeals and shouts.

What a full year this has been! And while the time passes even faster, it seems, with four little people at home, 7 months to 7 years, God prompts me again to redeem the time.

At home, the easiest thing to keep up with these days is the news. I can flip it on while the kids play outside and baby sleeps upstairs and I chop carrots next to the sink. But don't you just cringe at the news anymore? It's one uprising after another, one earthquake after another, one heartache after another, it's war, and it's politics.

When it comes to politics, what a mess. Each side hurls insults at the other, gross insults even, one side believes the other is fully motivated by greed, the other by power. Noone seems to believe these public servants, at least somewhere deep down, want the good of all, want the best for as many as possible, whichever side they are on. It's all very discouraging, disheartening, scary.

What's going on in our country, the world?

At times this year, my fear held me hostage, while I held tiny baby close and begged God to protect him from evil. I read eight thick books about the end of the world, along with the entire Bible. Maybe this is why time flies by these days? In between home and school and church and friends, I read. 

I have to admit, my recent overindulgence in books came about because I felt scared. And while I struggle with fear, I know where it fizzles. Fear drives me to the Word of God and to books that help me study the Bible. I feel far more confident that God is in control and that I am His and that the end of the world may very well be near. I'm at peace with the fact that I don't get to know when.

I may be here for 50 more years and die an old lady, or Christ may come next year and all our plans will no longer matter as they once did.

Have you ever lived your life, your days, like it's not all about your little life?

What would it change for you, for me, if we lived like Jesus was coming sooner rather than later? Would many of our daily stresses melt away? Would we omit certain activities, watch less television, read more Scripture, spend more time loving our neighbors, serving? How do we FIRST seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, and what would it mean for us to store up treasures only in Heaven, not to store up anything here?

I wrestle these questions, and more, over months. I find answers, continue reading Scripture, ask more, wait for answers. I purpose not to stay busy--or entertained--just to drown out the hard questions. I want to offer Jesus more than just belief, more than avoiding the bad and filling up on good stuff, stuff that is fun and keeps us all smiles. So I ask.

How can we truly follow Jesus, with whatever time we have left here?

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.
Luke 12:16-21, NIV

Don't store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. 
Your heart will be where your treasure is.

The eye is a light for the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. And if the only light you have is really darkness, then you have the worst darkness.

No one can serve two masters. The person will hate one master and love the other, or will follow one master and refuse to follow the other. You cannot serve both God and worldly riches.
Matthew 6:19-24, NCV

Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
Isaiah 55:6-8, NLT

Monday, March 22, 2010


I think I’m right in the place where God wants me to be.

Last year seemed to be all about learning to trust, learning to place my trust in Christ, again and again and continually. It was hard, and I fell apart sometimes. But I love that I can look back and see how God was teaching me that theme.

I wonder if this year will be all about growth (in more ways than one). I know I probably shouldn’t be speculating about what God is going to do in my life this year. I should just take it as it comes, shouldn’t I? Oooh, I wish I was good at that.

I know I’m right in the place where God wants me, because I'm learning to depend on God. My Pastor spoke a few months ago about relying on God, and I realized, I have no idea what he’s talking about. I was just thankful I didn’t really “need” to hear that message.

But then we were challenged to create a little dependence on God. To take a risk, and make a commitment that would land us on the other side of the line.

In the middle of that challenge, we learned we were expecting another little one. How exciting, except that we had just decided to close the door on having more children. There were a lot of reasons that went into our decision, and it made a lot of sense to us.

But GOD is God, and I am not.

This baby growing in me reminds me of that. I try so hard to call the shots, to make the plans, to keep control. The truth is, I spend a lot of energy trying to make (and keep) my life manageable. For me.

During weeks of "all-day" sickness early this year, I had a lot of time to reflect on my life. My great conclusion was this:

My life wasn't meant to be manageable. For me.

God says His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I needed that reminder of my weakness. And my need for my Lord.

I realized that once again, pride has reared its ugly, satanic head in my life. It was pride that assisted me in thinking I knew what was best for my life. It’s my pride that enjoys saying, "I've got this. I can handle it. On my own."

But like any other sin, pride becomes a wall I’ve built between my Maker and my heart. And it's hard to recognize sometimes. It may be harder the more hard-headed you are. I mean I am. But when I offered the Lord my time with my ears and heart wide open, I felt the nudge. And I repented.

So I speculate that 2010 is going to be all about growth. Isn’t it great that I have a large box of maternity clothes sitting in my closet, each piece with plenty of room (for now) to grow into?

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. Proverbs 5:21-23, NIV

How blessed are all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn--Zion! God in full view! Psalm 84:5-7, The Message

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Missionary Every Day

Last night, my husband’s sister and her husband sat in our living room telling a group of people about their upcoming medical mission to Togo, West Africa. They hope to head out next spring for a 2-year term there. They are not only raising support, but also on a mission to encourage Christ-followers to be missionaries themselves.

They talked about going to the ends of the earth, to places of great darkness where people still have not heard of the saving work of Jesus. It is hard to imagine, isn’t it? There are people who have not been told the hope God has made them for and called them to.

That’s a sobering thought, and it affects my life. Do you let it affect your life? We can get so wrapped up in our own selves, can’t we?

Here in America, it’s a different story altogether. It’s a different kind of darkness. Most people know the story of Jesus. Some of us believe and live like we believe it. Many accept it as true but refuse to adjust their lives around that truth. Many reject the story, reject Jesus, reject followers of Him. Many who know the story have never really seen God’s love in action. It’s a dark world full of evil, yes.

Listening to Steve and Katrina last night, I thought for a minute about the prayers of my youth. “Please, Lord, don’t call me to go to one of those faraway places where they live in huts with dirt everywhere and always eat their food outside!” I’d been around lots of missionaries, even knew some personally. As a group, they were excited about what God had called them to. They loved the people in the faraway places. They told adventurous stories about eating cow brains and finding themselves in the middle of the jungle. Other than the precious people, it all sounded terrible to me--the dirt, the “adventures”, the being far away, and the eating outside…

Sometimes I think long and hard about all the wrong things.

I was all about the list of things I thought I would hate, and I explained myself to God just to make sure He knew I didn’t prefer that kind of life.

Yet God put me together Himself. He knit me together in my mother’s womb, and I’m not saying He’s responsible for my hang-ups. But He put together the me that feels like food eaten outdoors is full of dirt and miniscule bugs. Not that that has anything to do with missionary life. I’d guess there are gobs of missionaries who eat nearly every meal indoors. I’m just a victim…of the missionary slides stuck in my head. :)

Maybe you have hang-ups about living your life for Jesus too, and maybe they’re not quite as juvenile as my aversion to dirt. And food. Together.

Are you holding back your life from the Lord? Do you have a list of reasons tucked back in your mind, reasons why you can't live completely for Him? He is looking for people who are willing to give their lives up, to whatever He calls them to.

I am in no way discouraging the missionfield. There is great need for people to sell all and head out. I just think we have to start with our hearts again, make sure we are following Christ wherever we are, and make sure we are willing to follow Him anywhere.

Right now, I am called to Cary / Raleigh, North Carolina and its people. I have not been called to create a picture-perfect life full of things and full of social events and full of my own pleasures and indulgences. Full of ME. And I have totally lived there. Trying to figure out how to do life as an adult, my husband and I found ourselves so full of fun, our lives so full of inch-deep relationships with really great people, our home so full of beautiful things, and yet, we knew something was missing. We wanted more of Jesus. We knew God had not called us to be so self-focused.

The call on our lives is to follow Christ. It is to be Jesus to the hurting, broken people all around us. At one time, I looked around here and prayed, Who do I need to help, Lord? Everyone is so put together, they all seem to know about God anyway, what can I even do here?

Time and experience told me to look past the put together. To embrace my own brokenness and my need for repair. To remember that we can be chained by other’s perceptions of us. There is a missionfield right here. It used to be invisible to me.

Are you willing to follow Him in small ways and big ones? Are you available to obey Jesus? Are you running hard after Christ, seeking Him as if you must? Or are you simply living for you? And what you really, really, really want. And what makes you happy. I ask myself the same. May it be the former. May we rise up in great revival!

To learn more about Steve and Katrina’s journey, visit

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Luke 10: 1-3

From heaven, the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth--He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
Psalm 33:13-15

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Think About...

Being unable to cure death, wretchedness, and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things. --Pascal, Penses

Is someone you love running in the wrong direction, going astray the way “all we like sheep” tend to do?

Are you enduring the sickness of a loved one? It hurts so badly, you want to take it for them. And yet, you’re so afraid of that terminal diagnosis that lurks around every corner these days, as cancers suck the life out of people we love, friends we’ve known, invading story after life story.

Have you already lost someone you really needed? The grief still blows you away every single day, while people around you go about their lives, unaffected by your heartache.

What about the marriage you hung your hope on? It didn’t quite turn out the way you expected, did it? After the sweeping you off your feet occurred, selfishness set in. On both sides. Now your sin fights against his sin, and it can get ugly. Maybe you figured out ways to make it work, but it’s still just plain hard sometimes. Or maybe it didn’t, and now you’re on your own, reassembling pieces of a broken life, hoping you can make it work again.

Was it all you ever wanted— to be the Mommy? Or at least all you want right now. But no matter what, it doesn’t happen. Still. You wait, and you try, and you wait some more. Finally, you give up, and decide not to ask God for anything anymore. Your view of Him shifts and devastates. Something changes inside, and you fear you’ll never recover from this. Unless… But no, it’s another no, and you just stop dreaming, hoping, wishing. You go numb and protect your fragile heart instead.

Maybe you did become a Mommy, but it’s nothing like you thought it would be. You’re outnumbered, struggling, and you don’t love it the way your friends seem to. If you have time for friends anymore.

Or you could be grieving the way things turned out for your precious ones. They’re adults now, and you are still begging God to invade their hearts, or at least clean out their ears so they can hear Him. Are you heartbroken that they chose the path you warned them against? And they don’t even see how it hurts them. Or they don’t want to admit their sin and come to Jesus the way you wish they would.

Life on earth produces great hurts, pains, and concerns. Each situation above applies to people I know and care for. And even though James flat out tells us that we will have various trials of many kinds, we wanted to land just outside of his box. We wanted to slip through, unscathed by the damage.

Sometimes we don’t see the need for the prizes James offers—maturity and perseverance. Step right up! You only have to be thrown into the fire in order to win them. Your trials will leave you crumpled on the floor for a season, gasping for air, a heap of humanity seemingly broken beyond repair. BUT…you will become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing!

My mind is often earthly and unspiritual. I would not willingly step right up to that plate. I want to be safe and live the life I dream of.

I want to live a long, happy life with my sweet husband. I want to make millions of sweet memories with my three little people, and I want them to grow to love and follow Jesus. I want them to marry sweethearts who love Jesus first and love them next. I want to “get to keep” my parents around for a very long time, and I want to “get to keep” my sisters too. I want to love people and point them toward their Creator. I want to leave a legacy that I will be proud of and humbled by.

I’m entitled to none of it. I can control very little.

This is earth and not heaven. Earth mangled with sin and death, hunger and sickness. If it’s not invading your life right now, would you face it on behalf of others?

I admit, I often don’t know what to do with all the pain around me. But God is drawing me to embrace the difficulties of others, even in tiny little ways. In the past, I would not think about such things, but I’m learning to stop looking away.

It all starts with love in every day life. Love does not look away and keep going. Love does not keep all the stuff I like so much for my own personal enjoyment. Love does not run errands in a hurry, wrapped up in the cloak of my own concerns.

Love happens when I slow down, look for opportunities to show kindness, see people the way their Maker sees them, pray on their behalf, care. Even for people I don’t know.

Today God gave me the chances to care for several of His loved ones. A man sitting on a bench in the heart of Apex—the Peak of Good Livin’— North Carolina. It didn’t look to be the peak of good living for him just then, and all I did was pray earnestly on his behalf. A gray-haired woman who struggled just to get to the store and needed an open door, a shopping cart to lean on, and a smile. A mom whose kids were misbehaving, who just needed someone to understand where she was at and tell her to hang in there.

They were small gestures, but I believe God uses our little acts of love for others big-time. And then He increases opportunities until all we can say is Praise God! Love thrills me.

Will you look around and see who needs your kindness, concern, and compassion today?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4, NIV

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV

If you love me, you will obey what I command.
John 14:15, NIV

If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have [the gift of] prophecy,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body to be burned,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy;
is not boastful; is not conceited;
does not act improperly; is not selfish;
is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs;
finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, HCSB

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Great Need

In the beginning of my last post, I wrote about how God uses a verse I learned when I was small to speak to me today. God does not waste anything in our lives, and I just want to praise Him for that!

All the wise words poured on me in my youth did not mean so much to me then. But now, my spiritual heritage is a daily blessing. You see, it's because of all I learned as a child in all sorts of great Christian programs--and because of all I saw in my God-seeking parents--and because of all they taught me (which I only half-listened to), that when I became an adult, I wanted that kind of friendship with God.

I wanted to be a Christ follower, and I wanted to know that my faith was really mine. So I set out, trying to figure out my religion on my own. And that's just where I found that it wasn't about religion at all. In fact, religion had gotten in the way of my relationship with God. While parts of it are good, even great, it had to start with only me and Jesus.

So my own faith journey began with me knowing what a complete sinner I am. I knew from the time I was young that I needed Jesus. At the same time, I didn't KNOW that I NEEDED JESUS. If that makes any sense to you at all.

I haven't done anything in my life that most people would judge "really bad". I asked Jesus to come live in my heart when I was four years old, and He protected me from a lot of trouble. My teen years were a different story...but even then, I figured most people have a little "too much fun" during those years.

For a long time, I was caught up in the practice of judging sins, labeling them Bad or Badder. (Don't worry, I know that's not a word.) I still slip into it every now and then, but it's nothing short of wicked Pride. God makes no distinction between sins, and I have no business doing so either. When I do good, it's to His glory, and I shouldn't try to turn it into my own.

The truth is, at the heart of me, I'm sinful. I'm selfish and prideful and unloving and unkind and impatient, and more. And the only good here is that Jesus came in and changed me. Oh, I still battle with my selfishness, my pride, my unkindness, my impatience, and more...but He is the good in my heart, and when I live in step with the Spirit of God, I live righteously. But when I let my sinful nature control me, I am right back to where I began. So I--the person who was introduced to Jesus before I uttered my first words even--desperately NEED Jesus.

That's where I started to make my faith my own, at the point where I realized my great need for Him.

Where I peeled back the layers of all I knew about God and church and "religion"...that's where I found myself in a relationship with my Maker, the one who decided there should be a me.

That's where I discovered His unbelievable love for me and His desire for me to draw near to Him. That's where I figured out that the key to having a good life really and truly is found in Jesus Christ. In spending time with Him, talking to Him and listening, in studying the Word of God and letting my Father faithfully sprinkle His priceless phrases over all the needy places of my life.

I truly believe with all my heart this sentence that I wrote in my journal not too long ago after something from the passage grabbed ahold of my heart:

The key to everything in life is Jesus! Everything....

My heart breaks for those who do not believe this. Especially for those who have gazed too long at religion and missed the Christ in Christianity. And for those who are stuck on some regulation, some rule they just don't feel they can follow, or some experience they had with someone who was supposed to be a true believer. For those who are hurt after all these years by the way they were treated by a group of Christians. Or those who are doing a good job of looking, acting, or dressing like a Christian, who are satisfied with being pretty good, but are just missing the whole relationship, and missing out on knowing Jesus.

Don't let people hold you back from Him.

Don't let religion keep you away.

Dear Ones, I do hope you realize your great need for Him.

Romans 3:9-12 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."

Romans 3:21-24 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 5:6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man, someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!