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How do you picture Jesus?
I have always pictured him as kind, gentle, soft-spoken and loving. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. In fact, he’d probably baptize it. In my image of Christ, He never raises His voice and never utters a hurtful word. It’s a very childish, almost psychedelic view of Christ where the only things missing are cartoon butterflies and singing animals.

Gentle Jesus...

Don’t get me wrong – that Jesus very much exists, but it’s not the ONLY Jesus we encounter throughout our lives. If that Jesus were the only Jesus we had, there would be no spiritual growth or maturity, no standards to meet, and no rules to follow. We’d be a bunch of spiritual toddlers with no consequences beyond a hand slap, and no understanding of sin beyond daddy saying “no” when we reach for the hot burner on the stove.

I have been a Christian since I was 13 years old. I have very much been babied by the Lord. I have made the same mistakes over and over again, until they could no longer be called mistakes anymore. They became deliberate, willful disobedience based on a complete lack of trust in the Lord, and overall apathy. It is easier to wallow in your problems and failures, to be saturated in your pain rather than chase it away with the Word of God. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” isn’t nearly as easy as just…giving in.

But after all of the hand slapping, tough talk, pep talks, and relatively punishment-free forgiveness, I was confronted by the Jesus with the eyes of fire. When you think about anybody having eyes like fire, you immediately think of evil, but this Jesus with the eyes of fire is anything but. If it sounds like an astoundingly fearsome version of Jesus Christ, you’re right; it is. It’s supposed to be. A lack of fear of the Lord is what creates apathy, and the deliberate, willful disobedience I mentioned earlier.

The Lord woke my husband up at 4:30 this morning and told him to write the following:

God wants us on fire for Him…NOW!
Don’t let petty arguments from Satan destroy what I have for you. How long will you be in the fire? Until you stand up for Me and shout my name from every rooftop! I am using you to show people my love and compassion. Only you can decide how long will you be in the fire. Come out of the fire! If you are battling things my Word says “prayer and fasting is the only way to remove the demons…” So, fast and when you get hungry read my Word until the shell is broken off you! There are people suffering right now because of your ignorance, let me use you!

He also showed me in a dream that we will be fed in our church when we let Him break down the walls of NONSENSE.

It started with my dear mentor confronting me about a particular sin in my life, and admonishing me that she felt like the Lord wanted me to know that the consequences were going to get worse and that I had enough spiritual wisdom and maturity to now make the right choices. I didn’t need to hold daddy’s hand crossing the street anymore, I knew to look both ways. I knew better than to get in a stranger’s van.

But if I decided to anyway, there would be consequences.
Definite, deep, painful, life-altering consequences that I could not run and hide from.
The realization of this made me angry. Even now, I cannot explain to you why, but I was filled with rage. I’ve always hated authority – that’s the only thing I can think of. Why would yielding to GOD’S authority be any different for me?

Then my husband got this message…
The cynic in me says, “Well, he must have been dreaming or something.” But the “letter” is so on target with what my mentor said…what I’ve been hearing God say in my spirit…if it doesn’t make me fear the Lord, nothing will.

There comes a time in our walk with God – if we haven’t been walking the way He wants us to – when His eyes turn to flames. There comes a time when He tells us, “I have gone over the same things with you over and over again. I will never leave you or forsake you, and I will never stop loving you. But you’ve got to make the decision NOW! Are you going to walk in my ways, or lay down and die? You are not at peace because you are pushing away the peace I give you! No, I will never pull my love away from you, but the consequences will be painful and lasting, and you will endure them until you accept my plan for your life, and understand that the only way to true freedom and healing is by FOLLOWING that plan!”

Guys, Jesus is relentless. Only a holy Lord could pursue you to the ends of the earth while never stripping you of your free will. Only Jesus can chase you down and make you face your disobedience while still allowing you to decide who is in control – you or Him.
There is no “because I said so” with Christ, and yet He will remove the things you’ve put between the two of you. If you’ve loved it more than God, kiss it goodbye.
Friendships will be splintered, jobs lost, prestige stripped away.
Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.

And still we have a choice.
Stubbornness or obedience?

Personally, I’d rather give it all up for Christ than have Him take it all away.

Choose wisely. Trust me on this one.

Hi.
My name is Julie.
I’m a grocery store cashier.
I’m not especially happy about it, but it’s a job, and a job was exactly what I needed when I first donned the black vest with the picture of the piggy on it and asked, “Do you have a discount gold card?”
There are a few things you customers don’t know about me.
In your mind, I am an unintelligent, uneducated moron who can’t get anything better than a grocery store job.
You don’t know that I got my first book contract when I was 25, or that I’ve written for magazines, or that I went to college, or got a nearly perfect score on the verbal part of my SAT’s. You don’t know that, on the side, I work as a proofreader and an editor, and being a cashier is “my other job.”
I’m not telling you this to brag, only to point out to you that I am NOT a moron.

I don’t mind when you decide you don’t want something. I can take it back.
I don’t mind when you write a check. I don’t even mind when you write out the whole thing, even after I tell you the little machine gadget will print it out for you.
Sometimes I say “Hello!” or ask you how you’re doing and you completely ignore me. Obnoxious, yes, but I can handle it.
It doesn’t bother me that much when I ask you if you would like to sign up for a rewards card, and you react like I’ve just invited you to an orgy.
I hate it when you want paper vs. plastic, but I do it without complaint.
It irritates me when you are an able-bodied person and yet you expect me to load your groceries into your cart, but I DO IT, because I’m nice.

I may be having the world’s crappiest day, and I will still be nice to you.
I’ll help you find something, do a price check, and if you’re elderly, I’ll do everything short of changing your diaper. I’m a nice person, easy to get along with, and I WANT TO HELP YOU. I like people.

But when you curse at me because I put too many cans of cat food in your bag – when I very deliberately try NOT to overload bags and make them too heavy – that’s different. My name is Julie. It is NOT “f**king ass.” Get it right. If I didn’t desperately need my job right now – because the economy sucks and I’m not getting hours at the “main job” (the one where I don’t have to deal with the general public – yay!), I would have spewed out one of the many clever comebacks I had brewing in my brain for the rest of the evening.

All I’m saying is, be nice to the dumb grocery store cashier, because you never know who might be the only person who knows CPR when you’ve been hit by a car, and you never know when that cashier might just be a writer who someday writes about what a complete nutcase you are…and earns money off of it.

And if you haven’t had a new hairstyle since 1983, you smell like you smoked an entire carton of cigarettes in the car on the way to the store, and you resemble a parolee from the local county prison, you might want to think long and hard about who is the “ass.” Hint: IT’S NOT ME.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

‘Sup, 2009?

Welcome to the New Year. Was it good for you, too?
We spent New Year’s Eve laughing, eating, and playing Apples To Apples. (We also played an ill-fated round of Trivial Pursuit: Pop Culture Edition, but we won’t talk about that…) We rang in 2009 with sparkling apple cider and some intense prayer. We prayed a hedge of protection around my 17-year-old nephew, who is going into the Navy this summer, and my troubled 15-year-old niece, as well as Scott, whom you regular readers know has a number of health struggles.

I would say that Christmas 2008 was the best Christmas we ever had. Due to my employment status (or lack thereof) we spent a good 2 months worrying about not having enough money for Christmas, but, in the end, money and presents had almost nothing to do with it. Knowing that this was my nephew’s last Christmas before going into the military made it extra special, and the fact that we got to pray over him with so much intensity was a blessing. The kids have a psycho mother (diagnosed as such), and a recovering drug addict for a father. In a sense, we helped raise them. I know it sounds melodramatic, but we’re seriously going through some empty nest syndrome. We’ve had the kids every Christmas since we got married. The idea of one of them being far away is a little much for us to take in. Sometimes reality sucks.

The fog of bipolar appears to be clearing, at least for now, and for that I am grateful. The “friend situation” and the beauty of the holidays forced me to look around and see that I am lucky…fortunate…blessed to have friends that call me to the carpet when I misbehave. Nothing sucks like getting caught in sin, but… as Pastor Doug used to say, “Sometimes it’s good to get caught.” (And sometimes, I think, “What does he know?” But I gotta admit, he’s much wiser than I am.) I have a lot of friends, which is a major switch from how I grew up. I think I had two friends, maybe. To have a GROUP of people to choose from blows my mind. It’s a good thing. God is good.

I don’t really have any New Year resolutions, they’re more like life resolutions. Lose weight, have some breast reduction surgery (not kidding!), write another book or two or twelve, decide on a hair color, strengthen my faith, think of Jesus as soon as I pop out of bed, that sort of thing. You know…learn how to be a good friend, a devoted wife, content wherever I am, and thankful for everything I’ve got whether big or small.
Hmph. I’m not sure I could accomplish all of that in a year. 🙂

I always liked the line that Morgan Freeman (a.k.a “God”) said in the movie “Bruce Almighty”: “No matter how dirty something gets, you can always clean it right up.”
Well, Jesus can.

Here’s to a deep cleaning in 2009.

NY 2009

Another Day

It’s 12:23 a.m. and I’m blogging, even though I have to be at work at 8 a.m., and it takes me 40 minutes to get there.
I had some sort of stomach bug today, or maybe food poisoning, I don’t know which.  I came home from work and slept for 3 hours and now I’m wide awake.

The friend situation appears to be over with.  She said her peace, I babbled mine.  We’re still friends… whatever that means.  I am not good at being friends, apparently.

I am just not good at it.  I’d like to get better.

For now, I’ll settle for getting through the next two days.

Good question, great article.

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1863220,00.html

Been Awhile

Hello readers… that is, if I still have any.

I know it has been a long time since I wrote.  To be honest, I just haven’t had the desire.  I had a speaking gig the first week of October, and for some reason after that, I totally burned out.  I’ve decided to try and get back in the swing of things.

I am still working as a proofreader and, more recently, I’ve started working as a grocery store cashier.  Believe it or not, I like cashiering better than I ever liked being a data entry clerk.

I know this is a very short blog, but I promise there will be more coming.  Just wanted to let all of you know that I’m still alive, and writing.

Alive

The fog has lifted and the depression has parted, and I am now walking between the waves and functioning like a normal human being should.  I got so much work for Shaunti done today.  I had creativity, as well.

I made the executive decision to go off Zyprexa and back on Seroquel.  My depression had spiraled out of control while I was on Zyprexa.  Some days I would get up in the morning, plop myself down in my favorite chair and just stare off into space.  No motivation, no creativity, no nothing.  Just trying to figure out why I’m alive and what my purpose is here.

I hope I feel this good for my speaking gig on Friday.

Last Sunday they had a healing service at church.  Scott and I went forward for healing.  I went up for my diabetes, specifically, but I told God to heal anything He wanted.  Now, I’m a terrible over-eater.  I’m hungry a lot of the time, and I am an emotional eater.  I am nervous as all heck about Friday, and normally I’d be pigging out.  But ever since Sunday, I have had very little appetite.  I feel good – I don’t feel like I’m sick, but the desire to eat constantly has simply vanished.  I even tried to eat when I wasn’t hungry (a litmus test for God’s healing, I suppose) and I couldn’t eat.  Maybe this is how God wants to heal me of my diabetes – by helping me to eating more healthfully.

I’m not going to question this to death, I’m going to accept it and claim it as God’s hand on my life.