Being a Believer During Times of Uncertainty

You haven’t heard from me in over a week and considering the excitement I had over the “25 Days of December” series (I promise I will get those last two posts out!!!), this is kind of weird, right? Right. It is. That’s because I haven’t been myself the last week and a half or so. And to be honest, I haven’t been myself…for the past 15 years.

I confide in my parents, sister and some close friends, but really I don’t share much about it because I feel kind of crazy. I feel like a hypochondriac. It’s my health (or lack of sometimes) and I have no idea what causes it and have yet to find a doctor who knows either. This time I won’t stop at “I Don’t Know.” I am on a mission to find answers.

Because this is a faith based blog and my number 1 goal is to always be transparent with my readers, I want to share with you that I am struggling. I am struggling to find a balance or an answer.

Are you lost yet?

Starting in 6th grade with SEVERE constipation (sorry for the TMI) and growing into more symptoms and -more often- ever since then….. I have had my fair share of ER visits, doctors appointments, tests and uncertainty.

In 2007 I experienced my first big episode since 6th grade. I was dizzy, would fall asleep driving (we are talking about driving just across town), had chest pain, heart palpitations and shakiness. The doctors did tests but found nothing. I was healthy and normal.

Again, in 2010, I experienced a few months where I was super dizzy almost passing out, having hot flashes, chest pain and heart palpitations again. The doctors ran even more tests and did find some irregular heartbeats and put me on some medicine…..that made it worse. To the point they couldn’t find my pulse in the ER. After that visit with my doctor where his face turned ghost white because he admitted he gave me too high of a dose – I stopped all efforts to see a doctor and GAVE UP.

In 2014 after our honeymoon, I found myself in the ER because I literally could not walk. Severe constipation again.

With each pregnancy my symptoms would reappear and get worse. It was very hard to work or even get ready in the morning due to the dizziness. I would go into the doc or ER and they would give me fluids and send me on my way.

In 2015 I was pregnant with our son and had the “normal” me symptoms of dizziness and hot flashes, added some spider veins and severe itchiness but I was pretty used to it and tried my best to make it through.

Towards the last few months of pregnancy I just felt like something wasn’t right. I sat in the OB office and bawled, telling her how I really didn’t feel good and requested she recheck my due date or do an ultrasound or something! She said she would not change my due date and refused me an ultrasound. Let me just add in that she had pushed it 2 weeks out from the original one which meant 2 more weeks of this horrific pain! I even went to the ER feeling like maybe I was in labor or something and requested an ultrasound. They refused me one there too. I got desperate enough that I called my previous OB who was no longer delivering and asked for his advice. After a long chat on the phone, he so selflessly offered to assist in the c-section. Boy did he save my life!

Come the day of my scheduled c section……we found out in the middle of surgery that I had a hole in my uterus big enough to deliver our son out of without an incision!!! Right then and there, I promised myself that I would no longer ignore my gut feelings and I would demand answers when I didn’t feel right! It’s a miracle our son and I made it out not only alive, but with NO complications. Praise God!

Following this experience I fell into post partum depression. For a few months- but it felt like YEARS! Terrible. I lost all interest in life and my family. I also had spinal headaches and had to get a blood patch that was very painful and pretty much locked up my back for a few days. I couldn’t move. I also had my tubes tied, when they found that my uterus was attached to the lining of my abdomen with scar tissue making for a longer surgery. But we made it out ok and I was ok with that!

I had also started back to work and noticed my vision wasn’t the 20/20 I had always had. Signs were starting to get blurry. I went in and got a prescription and some new glasses, only after a week of trying to get used to them they just weren’t working. I went back in to try and correct the prescription with no luck. I returned the glasses and have just dealt with the blurriness when it shows up. It is not all the time. I also had an episode at work where all of a sudden I just couldn’t handle it. I sat and cried and felt shaky and disoriented and dizzy and was sent home.

After recovering from that whole ordeal, life was great! I felt like myself again! In fact, feeling very optimistic about the future! In between “episodes” I always feel great. I feel like I can take on the world!

Then about 5 months later, I was taking a marketing class at the local college and started to get a headache. No biggie. Ok, that’s a lie. The headache got so bad. I started to get super shaky and disoriented. I tried to drive the 30 mins home but made it 5 mins, stopped on the side of the highway and called my husband. I had no idea what was going on! A whole list of symptoms I won’t bore you with sent me to the ER where they pretty much just blew me off and prescribed me Dramamine for my dizziness. I am calling this episode a panic attack for lack of any other information from doctors on what it could have been. I felt like I had a heart attack.

Now here we are – 4 months later and I am having new symptoms along with old ones and feeling so unlike myself I’m at a loss. I am getting clumsy, knocking things over and mis-aiming when I go to grab things. I have flushing in my face where I turn bright red and have a burning sensation. I feel like bugs are crawling on my scalp. I am freezing all day then having night sweats at night. I am dizzy pretty much 24/7 and having a hard time remembering what I’m doing. I have tingling in my back and severe itching in my right leg from the knee down. I have headaches often and fatigue. I am usually passed out on the couch by 8 pm.

I am waiting on insurance to go through any day now so I can start seeing a new doctor and get to the bottom of this. 15 years is too long to suffer and have zero answers. These “episodes” are getting more frequent and adding on more symptoms and all I really want is to be healthy so I can take care of my babies and husband and write this blog like my heart is hungry for!

Now maybe this is a mistake on my part, but I have been doing a little research. I confided in 2 friends – one who got diagnosed with Lyme disease recently and another who just got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis last January. I have researched each of these diseases and many like them and started looking into my family tree. My grandfather on my dad’s side suffered from Spinal Atrophy, which doctors thought was MS due to lack of MRI’s back then and I have very few memories of him using a walker, most memories are of him in a wheelchair. From my research, what he had is genetic.

Because this is a faith based blog and my number 1 goal is to always be transparent with my readers, I want to share with you that I am struggling. I am struggling to find a balance or an answer. Do I continue to dig in, research and find answers? Or do I have faith, like I am always talking about in my posts? Do I trust that God will heal me and cease all efforts to find answers? Does God want me to find answers so that my story can be a testimony of faith and healing for others? I am honestly in a period of uncertainty and I would love your grace during this incredibly confusing time. I have a deep, deep passion for this blog and all of the studies and posts that are part of it. I want to continue to bring hope to others through the story telling of my experiences and the transparency through which they are told. Please pray for me and our journey together as believers.

MUAH!! Thank you all.

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 23

Good Morning lovelies! I hope your day is off to a great start! If not, join the club haha. My day today is actually going well, but I have my share of bad days! When I get a chance, I take advantage of those days and use any spare time I may have to study, read a good book, look at inspirational quotes or get outside! These are all things that lift me up, I hope you have discovered things you can turn to as well!

Let’s get started on our study today! (Yes, Jeannie, I am behind by one chapter! Whoops! God sees my intentions right, lol) I can’t believe how much goodness is in the Word!

Main points for today are:

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!
  • Be humble
  • A promise is a promise
  • Look at the big picture
  • The outside is no representation of the inside
  • Stop blaming the generations before you

 

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!

Matthew 23:1-4 (The Message): “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.'”

This hit me hard. The way this scripture compares being a hypocrite to putting a heavy load on someone else’s shoulders but not volunteering to help with the load, was big! I think to the lessons I try to teach our children daily. They are good lessons, and sure they should try their best to follow them……but do I try my best to do the same things I am asking of them? Or do I put great expectations on them and expect them to figure it out themselves? Do you see the word “disciple” in “discipline?” Guilty! I pray that I am constantly reminded of my job as a mother, to first and foremost be a disciple to our children.

  • Be humble

Matthew 23: 8-12 (The Message): “‘Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let Him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them- Christ. Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.'”

I LOVE the very first line. “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that.” We are ALL following the same Teacher here. There may be students in class who are better at giving reports or some that are better at running the camera, but we all have the SAME TEACHER. In the end, we are all held accountable for the same assignment and have the same expectations regardless of our natural talents. Some people thought math was a breeze, others really struggled. The ones who were naturals could become tutors if they wanted to help the others, but they did not become the teacher just because they were quick learners.

I also, love the part that says, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant………But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” I have become so passionate about the power behind just being yourself and being unashamed about being human. The people you are afraid of, have simply just learned how to put on a bigger show. They are just as broken as you are.

  • A promise is a promise

Matthew 23:16-22 (The Message): “‘You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: ‘If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.”‘

Good point. God is watching no matter where we are or what we are doing when we make a promise. We are held accountable after that. No excuses as to why that promise didn’t count.

  • Look at the big picture

Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV): “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.'”

A lot of people make a big deal out of tithing, and it is important. There is so much more to giving tithe though. Do you think God gives us a pat on the back if we give our weekly tithe at church but then leave and do not follow the teachings? We get so distracted, arguing about the right way to tithe that we no longer have the time to concentrate on what really matters.

  • The outside is no representation of the inside

Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV) paints the perfect picture: “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'”

Not only should we work on the inside of us instead of worrying about the outside, but we need to apply this to other people, as well. OK, we know that things aren’t always as they appear. Instead of saying “don’t judge,” let’s instead make it a point to get to know the very people we are (because we are human) judging. After all, the only way to see past the outside appearances is to really dig in deep and look at the inside. If the inside isn’t looking too pretty we have a few choices…..among them: pray for them, provide a listening ear, show them you are not judging, relate to them, break down the walls, simply be there for them, show them you aren’t leaving like other people have, or (if you must) set boundaries and remove yourself from the relationship if God lays that on your heart. I don’t see the last option being God’s first option. If we look at how Jesus behaved during his time on Earth, it was most often from grace and compassion, not hate, bitterness and envy.

  • Stop blaming the generations before you

Matthew 23:33-34 (The Message): “‘Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars, generation after generation – and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.'”

I applied this to parents and grandparents. We try to worm our way out of things we’ve done by blaming our parents. Sometimes, taking it even further and holding grudges or resentment. There is no doubt that our childhood and past play a big part in how we were molded into the person we are today. The thing we get wrong, I think, is that we are just as mold-able today! For some reason we think that we were molded and then fired in the kiln, never to be reshaped again. Only broken if we are mistreated.

If we allow our experiences, the people who surround us, The Word and most of all -God- to mold us until our last day, that is where freedom shows up. Why do we get ourselves stuck in the past. Why do we allow our past trials to chain us up? Why do we feel better if we blame it on the way we were raised or not raised? The truth is, we are humans raising humans here and that is kind of scary! lol Our parents made mistakes and we will make mistakes. That’s just human nature. God is all about forgiveness and freedom! Take the very hard step of forgiving your parents or grandparents. First tell God you forgive them and ask for His forgiveness for your grudge, then forgive yourself, then let them know you forgive them (if appropriate or possible). I think this is important even for those who are deceased (someone deceased, whom you hold unforgiveness towards). It will change your entire world, I promise.

 

 

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 22

Merry -Day After- Christmas! I hope you all enjoyed your break! I know mine was full of new traditions, quality time, missing people and new ways of thinking. I don’t know about you, but I am starting to learn about the things that really matter to me.

I had a nice walk with God this morning and asked for clarity and direction. I am so glad the new year comes right after such a busy time of the year. Getting all of the busyness out of the way and now it’s time to focus on the new year! I’m feeling less like the new year is bringing on a ton of new expectations and more like it is a chance to clean the slate, slow down and focus on the day to day in a different light. I just keep visualizing taking tiny bites each day in order to get to a day where I have eaten the entire thing. My focus this year will be balance and this series is a perfect example of that! You guys are helping me read the bible, one chapter at a time!

On that note, let’s move on to the next chapter!

Main points:

  • All are invited, few are chosen
  • Giving back
  • God of the living, not dead
  • Love God first, but also love your neighbors as yourself

 

 

  • All are invited, few are chosen

Matthew 22:14 (NIV): “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This story of the wedding banquet and all of those who were invited, spoke to me in many ways. At first, I thought how rude to kick someone out who couldn’t afford nice clothing! I see now, that the old clothes represents our old ways and showing up to the celebration covered in our old ways. God has provided an incredible celebration for us and he invites us all. However, just being invited does not mean you will be allowed to stay for the celebration. You can not show up but refuse to participate and expect a piece of the reward. You can not simply show up to church but refuse to apply the concepts in your everyday life. You can not simply boast about your salvation but refuse to put it to good use by helping others. Well, you can, but you may not end up where you were hoping. In the dark.

  • Giving back

Matthew 22:19-21 (NIV): “‘Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought Him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.'”

First I apply this to money, when I read it in a literal sense. Return debt back to the world who gave it to you. Return your tithe to God and His works, for He gave it to you. I also see how this could apply to our actions. Give forgiveness back to those who have given it to you. Give the cold shoulder back to those who give it to you. Now careful how you take this. I don’t mean to react out of anger as they have to you. I mean give it back. Don’t accept the anger, but simply give it back. He said to give the denarius back to Caesar, not hit him over the head with it! If someone is constantly giving you anger, gently give it back and refuse to hold onto the anger. There is no use in starting a collection of anger. Before you know it, you will cross the line between collecting and hoarding. We have all seen the devastating effects of hoarding. Just watch the television show!

  • God of the living, not dead

Matthew 22:31-32 (NIV): “‘But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but the living.'”

God does not watch the show, attend your funeral, scoop you up and take you to heaven. He is not a spectator. He is living and with us during every moment of our days. When I visualize faith and God’s will, I see movement. Like the wind. You can’t necessarily see the wind, but you can see how it effects everything it touches.

  • Love God first, but also love your neighbors as yourself

Matthew 22: 37-40 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. ‘ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.'”

We all know these two commandments and try our best to follow them. One point I wanted to bring up was on the love others as you love yourself commandment. Have you ever looked at this and wondered….what about the people who have a hard time loving themselves? This is a deep rooted issue and each person has their different reasons for losing their self esteem. Do you find it hard to love on others when you are going through a season of not loving yourself? Do you notice that when you are angry at yourself, you tend to snap at others? Another thing I wondered about was: if we make a concentrated effort to love others, will we eventually start to love ourselves because of it? It’s kind of a catch 22, huh? I think it is important to find BALANCE (my new years resolution!). If we make a small effort each day to both love ourselves and others, I think we will start to see relief!! Loving God first is most important. If we model our actions after those of Jesus while he was on Earth, I think we will start to see life making a little more sense.

 

The Other Woman: An Unlikely Hero

Yes, I’m talking about the other woman. My ex boyfriend’s (and the father of our daughter) girlfriend at the time. I can say from the bottom of my broken heart, without an ounce of sarcasm, that she is my hero. 

In order to help you understand why I consider her my hero, I will have to take you back to the end of July just three years ago. Summer vacation was coming to an end and our daughter (3 1/2 at the time), was finishing up her visit at their house. She was finishing it faster than any of us ever expected.

8 am, 9 missed calls from the police, and I was a complete and utter wreck. I had no idea where my daughter was, where her father was or if she was ok. The voicemail from the police assured me that she was in no physical harm and would be in the care of his girlfriend until I could get ahold of them. That did not mean she was ok to me. My 3 year old baby girl had been through more trauma in the last 12 hours than I can say I’ve been through in my 28 years.

After a disagreement with his girlfriend, there was a domestic dispute, a lot of alcohol consumption, and an attempted suicide. There were a string of text messages back and forth where he threatened his gf and told her he would kill himself. She was terrified to return after the domestic dispute but her gut told her to go back. As she pulled up, there he was. She ran inside to grab scissors, a knife…..anything! To cut him down. I can’t imagine the panic and terror that overwhelmed her mind at this point. 

She was successful and the rest of the details aren’t important. The important part is that she saved my daughter’s father’s life. Against any other feelings she may have been having at that time, she decided that saving a life was priority. What she doesn’t know is that she saved more than one life that night. She saved his, our daughter’s and mine. 

My daughter still has her father today because of her. I will NEVER be able to repay her for her bravery that night. Nor will I be able to thank her for being my hero. She took on the role of mother that night (and many others) when I was unable to be there. In the moments where I sat helpless at home, wondering if our daughter was ok….she was there. I’m sure that wasn’t in the girlfriend agreement. Sure, I could have held onto jealousy, resentment, anger or any of the other emotions that come with break ups. But I am here today to tell you that I LOVE that woman and I will NEVER forget the role she played in our lives. I will one day talk to our daughter about a hero of mine and how I work everyday to be even a sliver as brave as she is. There are some things in life that just totally grab your heart by surprise and take it for a ride unlike any other. This is one of those for me. My heart explodes with thankfulness each time I replay that night in my head. 

The other woman turned out to be an unlikely hero. ❤️

I Would Never Starve My Child

Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more in the media about moms who have left their children in a freezing car/heat of the summer or children who have been neglected due to their parents being on drugs. In school we learned of children who were locked in attics and shut off from the world, never learning how to talk. As a mother, myself, I have to really give myself a pep talk before even reading these stories. They are mortifying! We post about them on social media and leave our comments on how we think they should be punished. We cry and think to ourselves how we would NEVER -ever- starve our child or intentionally put them in harm’s way. Or would we?

In light of the recent teen suicides occurring in our Colorado hometown, I was inspired to write on the matter. We have two different scenarios here. Stories of physical needs not being met and stories of emotional needs not being met. Both equally devastating.

I’m not here to put blame on anyone or show my anger towards anyone. I’m here because my heart hurts. I not only feel compassion towards the children, but towards those directly involved including mothers, grandparents, aunt and uncles, cousins, friends, their librarian…..whoever else cares for that child.

Hang in here for a minute….. There is an irony here. We say we would throw mothers in jail for not feeding their children or leaving them in the cold, without even realizing we may be doing the same thing. Starving them of attention and leaving them in the cold world without guidance. Making them grow up too early. Chaining them to their school desks and medicating them if they act like children.

What are we doing on the daily to make sure our children KNOW they have a safe haven at home, that they won’t be judged for sharing their yucky feelings, that we are all human and fail from time to time, that we serve a loving Father that will never ever leave us alone in the cold? How are we guiding them to make the best choices even when they are hard? Are we putting our phones away to look them in the eye? Are we praising them for doing hard things in life? Are we spending one on one time with them to learn about what makes them tick? Are we listening to their stories? Do we know who their friends are? Do we know the trials they face at school? Have we sat on their bed at night and asked them hard questions? Have we given them boundaries that may not necessarily be popular? Do we sit down and go over the current trends and decide if they are healthy for our children? Have we given them privacy? Have we allowed them to be children? Do we celebrate their life?

The suicide, the promiscuity, the addictions, the bullying, the eating disorders…..these are not problems, these are symptoms. A cry out for help. When adults get to the end of their rope, they can have an alcoholic beverage, go on vacation, go to counseling, drive off and return a couple of hours later. What kind of outlet have we given our children? What are we teaching our children by our own actions?

Are we starving our children?

I will be 100% transparent with you here and tell you I struggle with at least one if not all of the above things. My oldest daughter has a different father than my two younger children. I would be bold face lying if I said they are treated equally. They aren’t. I hope one day they are. I suffer on a daily basis to show my daughter the affection that I so naturally give to the other two.

*Wow, you must be thinking I am a terrible mother.*

We really need to think about the root of the problem with these children and their relationships. I have spent her entire life wondering where I went wrong and why our relationship seems to be so hard. It’s still a work in progress but I know looking back that I did not have the bonding time with her that I had with the other two. I went through my entire pregnancy and the first 9 months of her life battling against adultery and other battles with her father. At 9 months custody was put into the court’s hands. I saw my 9 month old baby for a week at a time, alternating weeks with her father. At the time, I was in survival mode and did the best I could with what I had. I felt like I did a very good job as a single mother. When she was 3 years old, we got a different judge. A female judge. She could not believe the custody agreement we had and told us, “A baby should never be separated from her mother for that length of time, ever.” I ugly face cried right there in the court room. The thought of handing my baby over every other week just broke my heart into a million pieces, and because of that I built a wall. A wall of protection. I would not allow myself to be hurt anymore and now…..6 years later, that wall is still up. I built it so strong, now not even I can break it down. I wake up everyday thinking constantly about how I can rebuild our relationship and with each interaction her and I have in a day, I try so hard to make her feel wanted and loved and safe. It’s hard. I know how important these connections are and the effect they can have on children as they grow into teenagers and young adults. I KNOW.

And I know that the mothers of these suicide victims fight a hard fight for their children. Some of these mothers have hurts of their own and don’t realize what an impact those hurts are making on their children. It doesn’t always stem from their homes, though. Society is putting up a pretty damn good fight trying to steal the self esteem of our children. From malnourished super models, to cartoons about ego and building an empire to now movies called, “Suicide Squad.” These children need warriors to stand as their line of defense on the daily and because we can’t be everywhere all the time we have to trust that people around them have their best interest in mind. What can we do to ensure that our children and their generation grow up with good intentions and self esteem? How can we help the children we come across daily? We have the power to build them up in just a few words. We can make a difference! Tel them they look beautiful. Thank them for holding the door. Thank them for playing so nicely with our children. Tell them they are doing a great job. Tell them they made you proud for what they did. Encourage them to make the right decision. Find time to invest in their hobbies. Go out of your way.

Let us make a conscious decision to feed our children. May no child be starved.

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 16

We are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 and we are on chapter 16. How are you all feeling? I feel like I have gained some major insight from reading through these stories. If I am being 100% transparent with you then I will tell you that until the start of this series, I may have opened my bible a total of 10 times with the intention of studying on my own. I never did have this huge interest in reading the bible. If I ever did open it, it was in church or I was led to it from a book study I was doing. My least favorite subject in school was history and I always thought that’s what the bible was…..a huge book of history lessons. I see differently now! Every single chapter we have gone over has had some very valuable hidden treasures buried within it, and I actually find it quite fascinating trying to apply these parables, metaphors and lessons to my own life and sharing it with others!

Let’s dig into chapter 16 and see what the word has for us today. 🙂

Main points:

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”
  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees
  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed
  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

 

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”

Matthew 16:4 (NIV): “A wicked and adulterous generation lookds for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away.”

Wondering what the “sign of Jonah” is?

This link describes it well:

Question: “What is the sign of Jonah?”


Answer: The phrase “sign of Jonah” was used by Jesus as a typological metaphor for His future crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Jesus answered with this expression when asked by the Pharisees for miraculous proof the He was indeed the Messiah. The Pharisees remained unconvinced of Jesus’ claims about Himself, despite His having just cured a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Shortly after the Pharisees accused Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan, they said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38–41).

We are human and because of that we will naturally have questions. Even growing up as a Christian my whole life, I would be lying if said I hadn’t questioned some part of my beliefs or considered be open to other people’s thinking. You could probably blame this on the rebellious tendencies I have on occasion! ha! Somehow, in all of my questioning though, I am brought back by scripture or by the things I have experienced. The verses above, mentioning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (and his prediction of it!) are proof enough for me! Don’t feel bad for having questions, this just means you are a deep thinker and won’t accept ideas simply because you are told to. You can, however, rest on the fact that you have scripture and the holy spirit to back up any questions you may have!

  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 16:5-7 (NIV): “When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘It is because we didn’t bring any bread.'”

When the disciples had no physical bread for their journey, they assumed Jesus was warning them against the physical yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

You know I think Jesus and I would have been buds. He gets me! I am always thinking in metaphors and feel like people don’t understand me lol But Jesus was all the time talking in metaphors!!

In Matthew 16:8-12 (NIV) Jesus goes on to explain: “Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Remember from the previous post in chapter 14, when we talked about the bread representing teachings/service? I believe the yeast to be the intentions behind the teachings, just as the yeast is the necessary ingredient needed to make bread. The quality of the yeast, will show in the quality of the bread.

  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed

Matthew 16:16-19 (NIV): “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'”

  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

Matthew 16:24-27 (NIV): “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'”

This totally reminds me of children thinking they know more than parents. Most of the time kids don’t appreciate the lessons parents instilled in them until they are well into adulthood themselves. It’s just hard to see the situation for what it is, until it’s over and we see God’s perfect plan unfold.

Jesus wants us to have his plan in mind before our own, always thinking WWJD (to be extremely corny) before we react to anything this life brings us. So, let’s be selfless. Isn’t that one of the greatest messages behind life in general? The greatest goal we could ever have is to love like Jesus loves, putting others before ourselves and experiencing the freedom, connections and closeness in our relationships because of it! The grudges we are holding…..we may think it is making us feel better because we had the last word or we may think we have “the right” to feel the way we do but in reality, forgiving someone and showing grace towards the situation will change it faster than holding a grudge ever will. Showing grace doesn’t always mean we allow others to walk all over us; showing grace can mean setting boundaries, walking away and letting the other person know that it’s all good. That God must have had a different plan, and we are totally content with going down a different path without holding on to any anger associated with the end of this one. Amen, to that. (Sigh of relief)

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 13

Happy Friday! For many this was the last day of school for the kiddos before Christmas break, YAY! I know what you are really thinking lol You are thinking that now you will have less alone time and more 24/7 needs to be met. Let’s be honest. Because I know you still want to get your daily “soul food,” I will try to make these posts straight to the point and HOPEFULLY get them posted in the morning so you can read them with your morning coffee in peace and quiet (we can dream right)!

If this is your first time joining in on the series, I urge you to look at one of the previous posts for a description of the series and mentions of the bibles I use and how you can purchase your own. 🙂

Let’s get started!

Main points I want to hit on today:

  • Not all seed planted, will survive and flourish
  • The power behind a story
  • How we gain strength by growing next to weeds
  • The importance of time and patience
  • Sometimes the people closest to us have the least amount of faith in us

 

  • Not all seed planted, will survive and flourish

Matthew 13:3-8 (The Message): “‘What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.'”

In Matthew 13:37-43 (The Message) Jesus explains this metaphor to the disciples: “So he explained. ‘The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels. The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.'”

So here it is, blunt as can be. This is scripture, not my words. The seed being planted is all of human kind. The ones being thrown out are the ones who refused to follow God and the ones who are saved are followers of Jesus. This may seem horrifying, but that’s why our job is so important. We must make it our daily mission to reach out to those around us and show them the love of Jesus. This doesn’t always mean we have to go to the street corners and preach or force it on everyone we come across. Believe it or not, people can be pulled in by the love and compassion we show. Sometimes, all it takes is us just trying to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

  • The power behind a story

Matthew 13:10-12 (The Message): “The disciples came up and asked, ‘Why do you tell stories?’ He replied, ‘You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it.'”

I know to a lot of non believers and new believers, scripture can be overwhelming and confusing. The understanding will come with time. Until then, I believe in the importance of story telling and metaphors.

To me, it is like: How does someone relate to you until you have given them a taste of something you both have in common? For example: You meet a new person and on the surface it may appear you both come from different worlds-one from a rural, blue collar upbringing and one from an urban, white collar upbringing. You remain distant until somehow you connect and start talking about your stories, only to find out that both of you have suffered from some type of sexual abuse in your past. Up until this point, neither of you have ever come across someone who understood your hurt. Now, you suddenly have a reason to relate and connect with one another.

In the same way, we can relate to the people of the bible through stories. Our world today appears to be NOTHING like that of the bible days, but in reality the concepts are the same. If you’ve been reading along for the duration of this series so far, you have most likely found that you could relate to most, if not all, of the points brought up in the book of Matthew. Right? The power of your story WILL change lives and has the power to change THE WORLD!

  • How we gain strength by growing next to weeds

Matthew 13:24-30 (The Message): “He told another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too. The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master that was clean seed you planted, wasn’t it? Where did these thistles come from?’ He answered, ‘Some enemy did this.’ The farmhands asked, ‘Should we weed out the thistles?’ He said, ‘No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.'”

I think anyone who has gone through a trial in their life, can agree that they grew from the experience. Whether it took them ten minutes or ten years to learn the lesson, they grew. My question is: would we have appreciation, faith, hope, love, endurance, strength or any of the other positive qualities we have come to posses if we hadn’t gone through some sort of trial to gain them? How could we possibly appreciate what we have if we had never gone without? How would our faith continue to grow stronger if it was never put to the test? How could we even claim to have endurance if we had never been in a situation where we were stretched past our limits? Growing along with the weeds, allows us to grow taller and stronger. If the weeds were plucked when we were still small, we would have no understanding of hardship. Because of that, we would have no appreciation or understanding of what those good qualities really meant. If we just hang in there, the weeds will be pulled eventually. Which brings me to the next point:

  • The importance of time and patience

Matthew 13:31-33 (The Message) gives two examples: “Another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it.

‘ Another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread – and waits while the dough rises.'”

In both of these metaphors, Jesus explains that great things come in time. The smallest seed, with proper care and nourishment, has potential to grow into a strong tree that is not easily moved. Also, one woman’s labor of working yeast into dough is enough to feed many, if she is patient while the dough rises. Life is a process, and for us to expect anything different is to be unrealistic.

  • Sometimes the people closest to us have the least amount of faith in us

Matthew 13:57-58 (The Message): “But Jesus said, ‘A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.’ He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.”

Matthew 13:57-58 (NIV): “And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.’ And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

The unfortunate truth is: sometimes the ones who hurt us will be the ones closest to us.