What does being a Christian mean to you?

statue-of-liberty-crying

Is it just about church service? Do you think just because you have your name on a church roll that you have satisfied the requirements of Christianity?

Do you think your wealth has shown that you are blessed, or do you know that in many occasions wealth can be a stumbling block fully supplied to you by Satan?

Do you lord your wealth over others? Do you think paying more to your church in tithes than other parishioners makes you a better Christian? Do you think that God favors you over someone with a more genuine heart?

Do you realize that Christ died for everyone, and not just people who look like you, or have the same means as you?

Do you realize that to whom much is given, much is expected?

Do you think Christ Jesus would be pleased, or would He be grieved, by you turning your back on the most vulnerable of people?

Do you realize that there are other people who are in fact Christians that are not the same color as you? Would you be so unkind to them if Christianity was something that could be seen and worn like a piece of clothing?

If Jesus showed up at your door and He was brown and came from a country your government has told you to fear, would you refuse Him entry?

Did Jesus imbue you with the spirit of fear, enough to stifle the love that you are supposed to have in your hearts for those children of God who are suffering?

Do you understand that you and your hypocrisy, how you refuse to get along with people, to learn about people that differ from you, and your refusal to show the love of Christ in your actions is the reason behind the great apostasy?

And do you realize you will be held accountable for that?

I have experienced myriad emotions over the past several weeks, ranging from grief to outrage as I try to make sense of an America that has become foreign to me. This America, this racist, fearful, hypocritical America.

It was reported that spending on the 2016 election was close to seven billion dollars. People and corporations ponied up SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS so that the candidate of their choosing could win the highest office of the land, the presidency (and of course those campaign funds were funneled down to state elections as well). If one digs deeply enough, one could see that some of these companies that claim that paying their employees a higher wage would bankrupt them were able to pull funds from out of thin air to influence this campaign.

I have deep reservations about Trump as president. I was not a fan of his before the election, but since his inauguration, I have become even more distraught about what my fellow Americans have done by elevating him to this office. The Tweets, the recklessness, the drunkenness with his newfound power and wish to use our military like toys has me on edge. His Cabinet picks have been abysmal. The confirmation of Betsy DeVos sent me well over the top today. When I saw that Mike Pence provided the tie-breaking vote that would allow this supremely unqualified woman the possibility to dismantle public education, I blew a gasket. I got so angry I got a headache.

In one year, I applied for hundreds of jobs, and even with my Master’s degree and excellent grade point average and good references was turned down. Yet, a woman with no applicable credentials is now in charge of the educational system for millions of unsuspecting children who are dependent on adults to look past their biases and make the best choices for them. The choice today to put party over CHILDREN was despicable. The silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warrens during the confirmation hearing for Jeff Sessions was deplorable.

We are living in the twilight zone. People prefer rhetoric and emotions over facts. They tune in to news that reinforces what they think they already know. When you attempt to inform these people of the facts, they put their fingers in their ears and yell “Fake news!” I am most disheartened when I interact with individuals who claim to be Christians. I am very disappointed to see that some of these conservative so-called Christians are among the most racist and intolerant people I’ve ever spoken to in my life.

Christianity is on the decline in America. Some Christians claim their vote for Trump (who I don’t believe has EVER come out and said he was a Christian) was not necessarily because they supported his platform. They felt that there was a war on Christianity by the left. They do not approve of gay marriage or abortion. And here we are–with civil liberties being taken from us, that Constitution that they claim to love being ignored, and dang near on the verge of war with several nations. Side note: How the heck you tick off AUSTRALIA????

My two cents?

It is my job as a Christian to witness to non-Christians. First, my life has to be a living illustration of Christianity. So even though at times I am tempted to get a bottle of Hennessey like I used to, I won’t do it. Not because I am afraid that God won’t forgive me for having a drink, but because I don’t want a babe in Christ to see me buying alcohol and thinking it is okay to do. I don’t want to be anyone’s stumbling block. With God’s help I have also removed some of the more grating personality traits from my repertoire. I am not as combative as  I used to be, although admittedly I do still have a problem with swearing (road rage, SMH).

Second… I have to have a calculated approach. Part of my approach involves being on friendly enough terms with a non-Christian to even be able to approach the subject. If I have already told someone they are going to hell, that they are disgusting, that they don’t belong in America, how in the world am I going to turn around and tell them Jesus is love, I worship Jesus and so should they? Do you think they’re going to listen?

So what do we do?

I always think back to my beginning days of witnessing. I was working in Target doing overnight stock (it was actually my favorite job. I like moving. I am not fit for desk work). One of my co-workers was a lesbian and an atheist. She explained her beliefs to me and I explained mine. We were both always respectful of each other–I liked her company. She was witty, helpful and smart. She just did not believe there was a God because she hadn’t seen any proof. We went back and forth each time we worked together about the existence of God. At no point were we mean to each other despite our huge difference in beliefs.

After I had my firstborn I quit working at Target (huge mistake, but I digress). She ended up leaving the state with her partner. Several years later, she friended me on Facebook. A few weeks after that, she put up a post asking for “prayers” for her girlfriend, who had just been diagnosed with cancer.

I read several more of her posts during the following days because I was curious as to who she was praying to. To my delight, she was talking about Jesus. I remembered during one of our conversations I informed her that the people who had told her she was going to hell because she was a lesbian were wrong, and that the only sin that got one sent to Hell was denying Christ as their Lord and Savior. I do remember that she was very quiet after my response, but I had no idea that a seed had been planted.

Here’s the thing. Yes, she and her girlfriend were still living in sin. And yes, I mentioned to her instances in the Bible that referred to that. She told me that her feelings for other girls had been with her for her entire life, and I didn’t deny her that… I expressly told her I could not comment on HER life experience, all I could do was tell her what the Bible said. But I was not interested in berating her for being a lesbian. I was more interested in getting her saved and letting JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT do the convicting work required to get her to change her life if He saw fit.

I am here imploring those of you who TRULY claim Christianity–not you charlatans that wear the title and have never really opened your heart and received Jesus–to check yourselves. I am very disturbed by what I have lived these last three weeks, particularly at the hands (or should I say fingers, because a lot of these interactions have been on various message boards) of people who are claiming to wave the blood-stained banner. Christianity and racism doesn’t go together. Christianity and classism doesn’t go together. Christianity and fear, intolerance and prejudice doesn’t go together.

You fellow Christians need to get it together.

Happy (Belated) New Year!!

If you are reading this, God has been so kind as to allow you to see another year.

I’m not going to waste time rehashing 2016 or bemoaning the negative things that may or may not roll over from last year into this one. Instead, I am working on actively pursuing this year as the opportunity for a fresh start. Last year, I allowed my illness to consume entirely too much of my time. Now, I am not going to beat myself up over it, because I am used to being healthy, and suddenly being unwell required a major shift in how I processed myself, my life, my surroundings, everything. And I am still a work in progress.

The brain MRI and EEG came back clear. There is nothing I can do about that. On the positive side, that could signal that what I have is not neurological and may be more musculoskeletal. On the negative side, that means I still have no idea what is going on.

But do I feel like waiting any longer for doctors to figure out what is going on, or do I want to forge my way back into some semblance of a life? My body is going to hurt regardless, so why not have it hurt and be happy that I’ve accomplished something? I have three beautiful kids and no desire to watch them grow up from my bed.

I have been thinking quite a bit about Dad and how I wondered why he didn’t tell us how he was truly feeling, or what was really wrong with him. I know now. He couldn’t change the circumstances, so why wallow in them? Instead, he used his remaining time to be as much a help and blessing to as many people as he possibly could. I now believe Dad knew his time was limited, and instead of laying in bed waiting for death to come, he enjoyed the rest of his life. He made sure the people he loved knew it. I vividly remember when I was in the beginning of my illness and stayed the night with him and Mom. When Layla woke up in the morning (Jayden was still at school), Dad insisted I lay back down. He got Layla breakfast and ate with her. He was not feeling well himself but he wanted to do it. Once breakfast was finished he was tired and had to lay down, but yet he summoned up the strength to put forth a gesture of love toward me and my daughter.

There is no reason I can’t do the same.

Mind you, I don’t want to push myself too hard and possibly pass out or be too spent to be productive the following day. But facts are facts. I am grossly overweight and I don’t like it. I have to get up, get moving, and get cooking. I have been doing research and have a plan to put into action.

With that being said, my very attainable goals for 2017 are:

  1. Grow in my relationship with the Lord. I can never do enough for Jesus.
  2. Finish my novel and get it published. It is shaping up nicely and I am actually pretty excited about seeing the finished work myself. I am having difficulty narrowing down publishing options, so that will be a project, but I’ll get it done.
  3. Lose at least forty pounds and maintain it.
  4. Be a better and more attentive wife and mother.

Whatever your goals are, I pray you reach them. I hope that growing with the Lord is one of them!

Still undiagnosed, and fighting depression.

I will always believe in God.

I will always trust God.

But I am human, and sometimes my faith wavers. Sometimes I have questions. Particularly, like most people do, when things don’t go my way.

I have had plenty of instances in my past where I wanted something very badly and did not get it. Add this to that list.

I had two tests done the day after my birthday–an MRI on my brain and cervical spine and an EEG. Much to my surprise and dismay, they both came back normal. Now, most people would be confused as to why I wasn’t immediately celebratory following this revelation. That is because there is a lot riding on getting some type of diagnosis. I feel like my life is in limbo right now until it becomes known exactly what I am dealing with. Should I go back to work? If so, in what capacity? My vision is poorer. My sensory abilities are diminishing. My motor skills are suspect. I’m likely to get wobbly and lose my balance with little to no notice. How will I go to work regularly if I have no idea how I will feel any given day? What if I get another jerk manager who is unsympathetic to my health needs despite my superior job performance? What if I get a job that is stressful like my last one and exacerbates my condition? But if I do not work, how will I pay for those STUPID student loans? Because those jerks aren’t letting up on their collection efforts. Not one bit. And I do not appreciate the mere thought of  Matt having to pay them AND take care of a family of five. Maybe I wanted one more baby; should I forget about that? After all, I don’t want to have any more kids if I am not going to have the energy to actively raise them. It’s not fair to them at all. And more kids automatically means more housework and I am having enough difficulty with that as it is. The family I have now is already not getting the best of me. Adding another little person, as much as I occasionally would like, just does not seem wise.

So that is where I am right now. I have all of these questions that will affect how I go about the rest of my life in major ways. I am now waiting to see if I will be able to provide some financial support to my family or even increase my family with another baby. So although my faith in God is still there, I am wondering what is the point of keeping me in suspense like this. Here I am waiting, and in the meantime my debt load is increasing, collections and judgments against me are being incurred left and right, and I don’t feel like getting out of bed most days, let alone play an active fun role in my childrens’ lives.

I am not above getting depressed. Never have been, and won’t knock the people that do. Life is piling on me in the worst way right now, and I am feeling like I have no control over anything, and I don’t like it. This is not the life I imagined for myself and I am SUPER not pleased. I’m impatiently waiting on God to help me.

A tad panicked…

Again, I felt pretty good today, good enough to participate when my husband decided to take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese (we refuse to go there on the weekends–parents forget that it is a public space and refuse to supervise their children, and I can’t remember exactly how many times I’ve had kids climb on to my Skee-Ball machine just as I’m about to roll a ball, or try to take my tickets, etc.) and now back here for round two today. But now I am getting concerned about how good I am feeling. I do not want the doctor to see me on November 30th, if I am still feeling the same that day, and assume all is well.

The first time I saw a neurologist I wasn’t feeling half as bad as I had been. That is the problem with getting into a neurologist. I want to be seen on my absolute worst day. If this was feasible, I’d probably be diagnosed by now. They would have been able to see that I was having problems balancing and that my muscles were visibly twitching beneath my jeans. Perhaps they’d been able to hear me slur some words or see me having difficulty getting words out. Maybe they could watch me struggle to do a simple mathematical calculation in my head. Everything I said the first time I saw a neurologist was of my own record. My balance was fine, my reflexes were okay, and my strength was average. I do not want that to happen again, as weird as it may sound.

But as always God will have the final say. It’s already fixed. He has already determined what is going on with me, and I will just have to wait until it’s humanly figured out. In the meantime I am thankful for these last few days of strength, mental clarity and happiness. It has been nice to kind of feel like my old self and get a few things done. If this is how life will be with this condition, I will just have to learn to maximize my good days.

Since I am feeling pretty clear and all three of my pumpkins are in bed, I do want to read a bit of Judges. I was in chapter nine. In this chapter, we are going to see Abimelech, Gideon’s son, causing some trouble.

Recall from the previous chapter that Gideon has seventy sons with many wives. Abimelech’s mother is one of Gideon’s concubines who lived in Shechem. Here in chapter nine Abimelech schemes his way into power. He goes to Shechem to visit his mother’s brothers–his uncles–and compels them to ask the leaders of the town would they rather be ruled by seventy men (his brothers) or one man–a man who happens to be their relative, at that. Abimelech’s uncles give the message to the people of Shechem on his behalf, and seeing possible benefits in having their relative rule over them, they side with Abimelech. They give him seventy silver coins from the temple of their pagan god Baal-berith (translated to mean “Lord of the covenant”, this was a pagan god that was equal to Baal-zebub, the god of the flies), which he promptly uses to hire a gang of thugs to follow him and apparently be complicit in his power conquest. Abimelech and his posse go to Ophrah, where his seventy half brothers reside, and kill each and every one of them–or at least they attempt to. His youngest brother Jotham manages to escape and hide.

With the brothers out of the way, the leaders of Shechem and what is apparently a neighboring city, Beth-millo, call together an assembly and make Abimelech their king.

Side bar: We see that word “Beth” a lot, don’t we? From what I understand it is a Hebrew word that means “house”. Beth-millo is translated to mean “house of earthwork”.

Back to the story. Jotham apparently has not gone too far, because he has heard of Abimelech’s coronation. In response, he climbs to the top of Mt. Gerizim (recall this mountain from Deuteronomy, when the Israelites, after crossing the Jordan River, were required to build an altar upon Mt Ebal and then set the blessing on Mt. Gerizim and the curse on Mt. Ebal) and shouts down a parable (which I didn’t understand right away, I admit):

“Listen to me, citizens of Shechem!
Listen to me if you want God to listen to you!
Once upon a time the trees decided to choose a king.
First they said to the olive tree,
‘Be our king!’
But the olive tree refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing the olive oil
that blesses both God and people,
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
 
“Then they said to the fig tree,
‘You be our king!’
But the fig tree also refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing my sweet fruit
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
 
“Then they said to the grapevine,
‘You be our king!’
But the grapevine also refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing the wine
that cheers both God and people,
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
 
“Then all the trees finally turned to the thornbush and said,
‘Come, you be our king!’
And the thornbush replied to the trees,
‘If you truly want to make me your king,
come and take shelter in my shade.
If not, let fire come out from me
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’”
The trees are taken to represent the people of Israel, especially the leaders. The people decide to choose a king. They first approach the olive tree. Olive trees were of extreme importance because they produced fruit and, you guessed it, olives. Olive oil was used for cooking, medicinal and spiritual purposes. The olive tree may symbolize Gideon, who if you recall, refused to be Israel’s king, instead pointing to God as their leader. The fig tree is next. The fig tree also has an established purpose–producing fruit–and could possibly stand for Gideon’s sons, or some other righteous men among them. The grapevine also has a well-needed purpose, and is thought to possibly mean the priests, who also refuse to be king. Finally, we get to the thornbush, which is Abimelech. The thornbush is lower than trees in position/stature and has very little purpose. I personally have tangled with a thornbush before and I tell you, it was not a pleasant experience. But I digress. This parable is about power and purpose. Each of the trees knew their purpose and was happy to fulfill its purpose even in the absence of a title and authority over others. However, the thornbush covets undeserved power over those it cannot rule. Abimelech would have had no power had he not gotten rid of his brothers, who were content to govern their people, not lord over them.
Jotham admonishes the people to consider whether or not they have acted in good faith by electing Abimelech to be their king. He reminds them of what his father Gideon did for them. He also acknowledges that the major reason the people thought to make Abimelech king was due mainly to nepotism. Jotham is kind enough to tell the people that if they acted in good faith and honestly felt Abimelech would make a good king that he hoped they would find joy in him and vice versa, but if not, that fire would come out from Abimelech and destroy the leading citizens of the two cities, and that fire would come forth from the two cities and in turn destroy him. Knowing he is not safe and fearing his brother (for obvious reasons), Jotham escapes and goes on to live in Beer.
In a move that I’m sure is no surprise, Shechem rebels against Abimelech. If there is nothing I have learned in this almost thirty-five years of life, it is that sloppy starts result in sloppy finishes. I have never seen a neat and tidy ending to a situation that started out foul. With the way Abimelech ascended to the throne, by killing his own brothers, it comes as no shock that there would be some issues, amirite?
We have fast-forwarded three years. God has sent a spirit about the leading citizens of Shechem and the rebel against Abimelech. The Bible tells us exactly why God has allowed this to happen–this is punishment against Abimelech for what he did to his brothers. Hopefully he enjoyed his three years of rule. Hopefully it was worth it, because it is going to come to a screeching halt.
The citizens who supported Abimelech only three years ago after he killed his own brothers now have set an ambush for him on the hilltops and robs everyone who tries to pass, but someone warns him. Yet dissent grows more widespread. A new troublemaker by the name of Gaal, identified as son of Ebed (shrugs) moves to Shechem with his brothers and wastes no time stirring up controversy with the leaders about Abimelech. At the annual harvest festival which is being held in the temple with wine flowing freely, conversation against Abimelech intensifies. Apparently  Gaal is a major instigator here (vv 28-29).
“Who is Abimelech?” Gaal shouted. “He’s not a true son of Shechem, so why should we be his servants? He’s merely the son of Gideon, and this Zebul is merely his deputy. Serve the true sons of Hamor, the founder of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech? If I were in charge here, I would get rid of Abimelech. I would say to him, ‘Get some soldiers, and come out and fight!’”
One thing I’ve noticed in these Biblical stories is that there is always a spy or a gossip in attendance. Word of this conversation gets back to Zebul, the leader of the city, and he is angry. He sends messengers to Abimelech that this Gaal and his brothers are stirring up the masses and he needs to do something about it. He suggests that Abimelech and his army come out at night and hide in the fields and attack the people in the morning.
Abimelech follows this suggestion, splitting his men into four groups in different areas around Shechem. When Abimelech and his men come out of hiding, Gaal is standing at the city gates (possibly hungover? Idk. It’s an interesting thought). Gaal spots the men approaching, and ironically enough, our friend Zebul is right there to further set the trap. When Gaal exclaims “Look, there are people coming down from the hilltops!”, Zebul, knowing good and well who it was, says, probably nonchalantly, “It’s just the shadows that look like men” (v. 36).
As Abimelech and Co. approach Zebul can’t keep up the shadow charade. Gaal again says that he sees men coming, and finally Zebul turns on him: “Now where is that big mouth of yours? Wasn’t it you that said, ‘Who is Abimelech, and why should we be his servants?’ The men you mocked are right outside the city! Go out and fight them!” (v. 38).
And it’s ON: Gaal and the leading citizens of Shechem vs. Abimelech and Co. By the end of the first day of battle, it appears that Abimelech and Co. are ahead. The next day, it also appears that Abimelech will be victorious. The people of Shechem go into the fields and prepare for battle. Abimelech divides his men into three groups and sets up an ambush. When they see people beginning to come out of the city, Abimelech and his men jump up and attack them. They storm the city gates and effectively prevent the men from getting back into safety in Shechem, cutting them down in the fields. This battle ensued all day before Abimelech was finally able to capture the city. He killed the people and leveled the entire city. He then scattered salt on the ground, a practice that symbolically identifies a city as uninhabitable in the future.
The leading citizens of Shechem have been safely housed in their living quarters in the tower of Shechem. They have heard what is happening and run to the hide in the temple of Baal-berith. I wonder if they thought they would experience some protection there. Regardless, Abimelech has gotten word that the citizens are hiding in the temple, so he leads his forces to Mt. Zalmon where they chop wood. They pile the wood up against the temple and burn it down with the citizens still in there, killing approximately 1,000. It’s still looking like the odds are in Abimelech’s favor here.
He goes on to capture the city of Thebez. However, there is a strong tower in Thebez, with the entire population of the city hiding inside. The people have barricaded themselves inside and climbed up to the top. As Abimelech prepares to set fire to the tower, a woman on the roof drops a millstone from the top of the tower onto his head, crushing his skull. That must have been a strong woman, because from what I understand about millstones, those joints are heavy.
abimelech
Abimelech does not want the added humiliation of having been killed by a woman, so he asks his young armor bearer to kill him. The armor bearer obliges him by killing him with his own sword. Upon seeing that their commander in chief is dead, Abimelech’s army promptly disbands and returns home.
This was God meting out punishment to Abimelech and Shechem for their crimes. And it was not pretty.
After Abimelech’s death, a man named Tola of the tribe of Isaachar comes seemingly out of nowhere and serves as Israel’s next judge. In chapter ten we read that he judges Israel for 23 years. Succeeding Tola is Jair from Gilead, who judges Israel for 22 years. Not much is said about him either other than he is apparently a very fruitful man, having thirty sons who rode thirty donkeys and lived in thirty towns in Gilead which were referred to as Towns of Jair. After his death, the Israelites face an eighteen-year period of oppression at the hands of the Ammonites as a result of slipping back into their pagan god worshiping ways. The oppression begins with the Israelite tribes to the east of the Jordan and also crosses over to include the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim.
The formula is the same. You already know what is going to happen. The Israelites cry out to the Lord, he reminds them of their failure and suggests they go ask their pagan gods for help, they plead and plead until God is fully grieved by their misery. As God is softening, the Ammonite army is camped and prepared for battle against the Israelites, and they say among themselves that the next person to lead them in attacking the Ammonites will be the next leader of Gilead. In chapter eleven we see that our next warrior is Jephthah, a great warrior. His mother was a prostitute, his father Gilead.Gilead’s wife had several other sons who forced Jephthah off their father’s land, not willing to give him any share of it because of his prostitute mother. Jephthah fled from their persecution to the land of Tob and found a band of hoodlums to follow him.
Now Gilead is being persecuted and they need Jephthah’s help. Apparently the people know of Jephthah’s skill, because the elders send for him. Of course Jephthah is not willing to completely let go of the past and possibly sacrifice his life for the very people who had shunned him, would you? I’d be salty too. When he is asked for help, Jephthah replies in verse seven:
“Aren’t you the ones who hated me and drove me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now when you’re in trouble?”
The elders repeat their plea, and tells Jephthah that if he leads them in battle they will set him over all of Gilead. Here is Jephtah (v. 9):
“Let me get this straight. If I come with you and if the lord gives me victory over the Ammonites, will you really make me ruler over all the people?”
I’m curious as to what Jephthah’s motives were right here. Do you think he sincerely cared or do you think he was salivating at the possible idea of winning the battle and ruling over Gilead, which would give him the opportunity to exact revenge against his people? I mean, he was only human. I don’t blame him. (I picture him as kind of looking like James Dean, IDK why).
Once the elders promise that Jephthah will be ruler, he agrees and they formally make him ruler and commander of the army. Jephthah’s first act as commander is to send a message to the king of Ammon asking him why he is fighting against Israel. In short, the king of Ammon is fighting over a piece of land that he believes Israel stolen WAAAAY back when they came out of Egypt. He demands that the land be returned. Jephthah, who obviously knows his history disagrees and sends a message back to the king of Ammon explaining why he is incorrect: It was the Lord God who gave the Israelites the land in victory. The Israelites hadn’t stolen anything (the backstory here is when the Israelites had asked for permission from several kings to pass through their lands and were denied). Jephthah goes on to remind the king that his people have kept things given to them by their god Chernosh, so why should they be expected to return something their God gave them? Finally, Jephthah (who would have made a great lawyer–he covered all bases with this argument) asks in the three hundred years that the Israelites have been living in the land that is in dispute, why has the king never tried to get it back before? He tells the king that it is HE who has been wronged, since the king of Ammon attacked them without even having had tried to recover the land peaceably before then.
The king of Ammon disregards Jephthah’s argument. I’m sure you know a battle is a-brewin’.
The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jephthah and he goes forth to form an army. Interesting that the Spirit wasn’t already upon him. Perhaps God was seeing what Jephthah would do before he poured the Spirit out upon him? Maybe now God is confident that Jephthah is going to do what he is supposed to? I don’t know. Either way it goes, Jephthah’s connection with God is growing as well. He makes a vow to the Lord that if he is victorious in battle against the Ammonites that he will give whatever comes out of his house first when he gets home to the Lord as a burnt offering. As we shall soon see, this is a terribly rash vow with dire consequences.
Jephthah defeats the Ammonites, and when he gets home the first thing to come out of his house is in fact his daughter. She is playing a tambourine and dancing with joy. Jephthah is devastated–she is his only child. He tears his clothes in anguish and informs her of the terrible promise he has made to the Lord. His daughter is obviously a young woman of outstanding character, because she doesn’t seem to be angry with her father, nor does she try to keep him from upholding his vow (vv. 36-37):
And she said, “Father, if you have made a vow to the lord, you must do to me what you have vowed, for the lord has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me do this one thing: Let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.”
Some people wonder if Jephthah took his daughter, laid her over some fire, and sacrificed her as a burnt offering. Come on now, you know God wouldn’t go for that. The most logical explanation of what became of Jephthah’s daughter is that she was relegated to a life of Godly servitude, kind of like a nun. This is why we should always be careful of what we promise to God, and our promises should be personal. We should never include the life or existence of any other person or thing in our promises. I know people joke around and say things such as “on my momma” or “I swear on such-and-such”, but things like that have to be taken seriously. Look at the calamity that befell Jephthah. His daughter may have had plans for her life. Maybe she wanted to marry and have children. Those plans were dashed and Jephthah had no other children to carry out his bloodline.
And now I am exhausted. Prayerfully I’ll be well tomorrow. I love Judges.

How can a Christian be a Democrat?

God is good!

For the past few days I have experienced a marked decrease in the symptoms of The Mystery Illness, enough to where I have been able to get out of the house and make something of myself. It has been an interesting weekend weather-wise… but that is Michigan for you. On Friday it was a perfect 74 degrees with clear skies, allowing me and my kids and niece to spend some time outdoors. We ate dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and stayed outside at Mom’s house for awhile, playing basketball. Yes, I played BASKETBALL! Nothing formal, seeing as though there wasn’t a court or hoops or anything, but it was fun to kid around with my husband and the little ones. And it was even better not to feel like garbage afterward.

I pushed myself again on Saturday and then kind of paid for it on Sunday. I was all too pleased to get back into the house of the Lord, and had an enjoyable time in Sunday school. I started feeling a bit crappy during Sunday school and had a full-on wind-down as I like to call it during services.  I probably should have left but my kids were singing and I wasn’t about to miss it. I kind of crashed a bit after service was over. But at least I made it through the entire thing.

bum-meme

It has also been interesting, and not in a positive way, to see the changes going on in America since the election. Actually, I do not think “changes” is the correct word. America has always been racist. It was built on racism. From the days when Europeans decided the Native Americans were so insignificant as to push them off their land, even to the point of wiping out entire tribes, and then decided Africans were so inferior that they could be caught like animals and forced into servitude, there has been racism. What has obviously been happening is that it was, at one point, less politically correct to be so out and about in terms of expressing one’s racism. After energizing the most divisive presidential campaign in history, racist Trump supporters have let those of us know exactly what they mean by the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Admit it. America was great for you when minorities knew their place and were happy to simply accept your privilege and keep our mouths shut. Now we’re demanding equal rights and some of you don’t like it. KEY WORD IS SOME.

That is not to say that Clinton supporters have wholly clean hands. No, there have been some who have been causing trouble. But what I have seen from those who are behind Trump is that they have identified with him because they are afraid that their privileged status is going to the wayside. In the year 2020 the racial makeup of America will change and White males will no longer be the numerical majority, although they still wield great economic and social power. Biased media has added to the dumbing down of America to where people can be presented with facts but would prefer to accept rhetoric. I have engaged with several individuals over the past few weeks and been positively baffled by their refusal to be educated beyond their stereotypes about minorities, all the while they are conversing with one who defies said stereotypes..

What enrages me the most is how so-called Christians are blowing bad breath on Jesus. You cannot tell me that (if you’re truly a Christian, and I question these people, but the Bible tells me I cannot judge and only GOD truly knows whether one has accepted his Son or not) you can read and DIGEST the words of the Bible and still be hateful. I fully expect other Christians to respectfully tell me when I am out of alignment with Christ, as we have the power to either attract people to or repel them from the faith. With that being said, when I see someone that fully claims Christianity act so disgustingly, I get personally offended and call them out on it. Hypocrisy is keeping people out of the kingdom of heaven.

In some instances, my beliefs mirror what would typically be on the Republican side. I do not approve of abortion, but I understand that there are circumstances where a woman would have to make an excruciating medical decision to have one. I feel that an abortion is abhorrent and I pray I never get into a situation where my life depended on the possibility of sacrificing my unborn baby. But who am I to say that I would go through with a pregnancy that might kill me or one where my baby is guaranteed not to survive? As I mentioned before, I am a rape survivor, and I faced the possibility of being pregnant with my assailant’s child. I would not have terminated that pregnancy, but that decision is my own. I guess I feel that as awful a procedure it is, we have to understand that there are reasons for it, and even if it is completely outlawed women will still have them. Women need to feel safe coming to their doctors for guidance. The rate of abortion has declined steadily since 1980. How do we keep it going down? Easy access to birth control, sex education in schools, and making sure families can support children. Republicans consistently block possible legislation ensuring these things. I am not interested in the hypocrisy of caring about the fetus but not the baby. Abortion measures for them are more about controlling women than a moral choice in my opinion.

Christians have to remember that each person will be held accountable for God for their life choices. In the meantime we need to be doing everything we can to get more people to turn to Christ. But we also have to remember, per our Bible teachings, that not everyone is going to accept the Gospel. That doesn’t give us the right to hate them. Christian means “Christ-like”. Our Christ did not have hate in Him. There is simply no place for it in the Christian life.

Yet I have seen so-called Christians post hateful and incorrect memes about how, now that Trump is president, lazy people will have to work for their benefits (I kindly informed them that the vast majority of people collecting benefits, save for the disabled, elderly and children, DO have jobs that simply do not pay them enough, and that their disdain should be for multi-million dollar corporations that pay their workers peanuts). So-called Christians are applauding instances of Muslim and Latina women being harassed and told, despite being legal Americans, they will be deported. I cannot keep track of all of the videos I have seen of White Americans slinging racial slurs and threats at a member of a minority group. Yet we are supposed to unite behind Trump as president? I think not.

It has nothing to do with the fact that he ran on a Republican platform. The Democrats lean too far to the left for me sometimes. I do not think either party is correct on all the issues. If they would actually work together on behalf of the people they have been elected to represent, we might actually make substantial progress. But in the meantime, I cannot support the Republican party as it stands, nor can I support a President who has been proven to discriminate against people that look like me, who thinks stop and frisk is an acceptable form of law enforcement, and who believes that it’s okay to grab women by their genitals. As a Black female sexual assault survivor, there is too much about Donald Trump that is abhorrent for me to get behind, especially seeing as unrepentant he appears to be. I would not have been so upset had John McCain or Mitt Romney won the presidency, because although I disagreed with some of their policies (and agreed with others, for the record), I did not think either of those guys were fundamentally flawed or dangerous. Trump is, and that is why people are upset. And his flaws are echoed within some of those who have supported him. Trump has become their megaphone.

People have been ridiculing Black people for continually supporting a Democratic party that allegedly has done nothing for us. Yep, Black people historically supported the Republican party, until they flipped the script and we left the party in droves. In most elections, we are forced to vote using the “lesser of two evils” ideology. You would be hard pressed to find a Black person who truly believes that politicians have our best interests in mind. A lot of us believe that the government is too corrupt to act totally on our behalf, so we will accept legislation with positive effects that will eventually get to us-programs that will stimulate the entire economy. Name one that the Republican party has supported. It has been shown that the economy generally does better under Democratic presidents. When all of America is doing well, we benefit from that.

Let me make it plain…

I cannot get behind the current Republican party because of their hypocrisy, although I am not totally comfortable with the far-left leaning Democratic party.

republican-hypocrisy

I cannot get behind Donald Trump because of his historical racism and misogyny and current divisiveness, including, but not limited to, appointing well-known racists to his cabinet.

jeff sessions and trump.png

And I am truly disappointed with so-called Christians who are okay with the concept of other humans going hungry as opposed to contributing $36 a year to supporting social programs (WWJD?); disobeying Biblical principles on how we care for our poor and vulnerable populations (why would anyone ever want to reduce Social Security benefits or Medicare or Medicaid???); and terrorizing individuals that belong to minority groups on Saturday and then going to praise Jesus on Sunday.

thats-not-how-this-works

Just put it on paper already.

I am a tad frustrated but also feel a bit vindicated.

My Mystery Illness journey has been in full effect since January 2015. It has resulted in me no longer working and pulling back from a lot of activities that I would otherwise enjoy. It has resulted in a ton of uncertainty that makes it difficult to plan an agenda for even the next day simply because I have no idea how I will feel. I have been dismissed by a neurologist and a primary care doctor who decided they knew my body better than me, but in the meantime I have done my research, will be seeing a different neurologist and am prepared to demand a brain MRI with contrast and a spinal tap.

I stumbled upon this video today and it freaked me out. I’ll try to post the URL because I had no idea until just now that now I am expected to pay to post videos.

Spasms and Stiffness: Life with MS Spasticity

For those of you who would rather not click, this is video of a man living with MS that documents one of the weirdest, most annoying and until now unexplainable symptoms I have been having–muscle twitches in my legs, arms and even eyes. It freaked me out because it was confirmation for me that I am looking in the right direction in terms of a diagnosis. What is going on in that video is exactly what happens to me. I even have my own footage (which I am unable to upload, for whatever reasons).

I am glad to know that I am on the right track, even when doctors have attempted to convince me otherwise.

I will hopefully be in a better condition to post within the next few days. Today was a terrible day in terms of how I felt. I struggled to get the rest my body wanted (regardless of how I feel my baby still needs to be breastfed and changed and my little girl needs lunch and attention) and have been dealing with a terrible sharp headache and a neck so stiff I can barely move it. My hands feel like they want to cramp up and my fingers hurt. I might have to invest in a talk to type application.

I solicit your prayers, especially as I come up on November 30th, when I go to see the neuro.

I am happy.

It is good to be home.

I solicit the prayers of all who are willing. I am losing more and more control of my life. I am not able to drive, nor should I go somewhere unattended lest I pass out or get confused, overwhelmed and then dizzy. I am not confident handling financial matters because even if I write things down I forget where the notes are or can’t remember the conversation. I hate to have to put more on my husband but I have no choice. I almost blanked on my own Social Security number and phone number today.