Tag Archives: grace

You’re Thankful for WHAT???

Long. Difficult. Discouraging. My Crohn’s journey has been all of this and more. But this week, I actually thanked God for my Crohn’s Disease.

Trust me, I know you’re thinking “what in the world?” right now and I get that. I was too at first. But I’ve been studying and praying a lot about issues in life. I’ve seen how being weak and having to depend on God’s grace has taught me to not be so much thinking that I could do it all myself. That’s my personality. Just tell me I can’t do something and I’ll prove to you that I can!

I came to the realization that the convenience and comforts of this life were far more important to me than I wanted to admit. I was so focused on having a “dream come true” life right here and now that I wasn’t really planning on the eternal life spoken of so much in the Bible.

Do I wish I get could get through a day without pain? You better believe it! No more fatigue, anemia induced hair loss or plaguing side symptoms of Crohn’s Disease? Of course! But I already have that promised to me. There are a lot of other folks out there that don’t have any hope whatsoever. They look at the crazy mixed up world around us and think this is all there is. And that’s a pretty pathetic outlook on life.

So I’m going to quit spending so much time praying for healing and understanding why I have to suffer with Crohn’s and focus instead on the fact that I know of a future without Crohn’s. I know of a future without death, suffering and pain. And it’s about time I shared this hope with others who need to hear it.

Pity party over. Time to spread some good news. This isn’t all there is. You can have more. It’s yours free because of something called amazing grace!

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Filed under Crohn's Disease, Spirituality

The Forgiven Restaurant

There is a saying that goes something like this: You fool me once, shame on you; you fool me twice, shame on me. No one likes to be snookered. Those who have been burned once often make sure they can’t be burned again. Who can blame them? I was determined not to get burned twice – at a “terrible” restaurant.

I have been a vegetarian for more than 20 years. I can assure you, that unless you lived in some “pocket” of vegetarian population, there just weren’t many options for vegetarians 20 years ago in restaurants. Grilled cheese or Mac&Cheese are good fail safes for most, but since my body can’t process cheese (thanks to Crohn’s surgery), I had even less options than other vegetarians. The last thing I needed was to eat at a restaurant that insisted on penalizing me for getting my dish without the meat.

That’s exactly what happened one day at lunch with my coworkers. I asked for a salad without the meat. I’m willing to pay the full price still, I just don’t want the meat. The server told me I would have to pay an upcharge for the change. Seriously? You guys can use that meat for something else and I’m going to pay you to do that? I bit the bullet and ordered the salad so my friends and I didn’t have to find another restaurant on our already short lunch break. But the restaurant made it on my list of places never to return to service.

About a year ago, a “Get Healthy Marshall” program came to town. Many experts came talking about the health benefits of a simpler, plant based diet. The Mayor of Marshall, Texas, was all for it as he had seen his own health issues improve after adopting a more healthy lifestyle. Several restaurants in town went public with offering special menus to be in accordance with the new “plant strong” lifestyle. And it is very popular in Marshall, Texas!

Karl and I went for lunch today. To the “terrible” restaurant as they are now on the list of establishments offering a healthier fare. I went with full knowledge that a “better” restaurant down the street was available if this terrible restaurant still tried to penalize people for being vegetarians. The options were few. Other restaurants have a lot more plant strong offerings, but it was delicious! The atmosphere was perfect for our lunch and the service was spot on. When paying for our meal, I told the owner about giving her restaurant a second chance and being glad that I did.

When she heard my story, she admitted that whoever had insisted on charging me extra for leaving off the meat was probably someone without much food service experience and who didn’t work for her for very long. She was grateful that I had given her restaurant a second chance and thrilled that we enjoyed our experience there today.

I walked out of that restaurant having no desire to carry a grudge about what had happened in the past, and thankful for grace. I gave that restaurant grace and a second chance. But God had given me grace, extended forgiveness to me when I was unforgiving toward others that had harmed me. God reminded me that I’ve had my share of second chances.

Was there a risk that I would have gotten “burned” again? Of course. Life is full of risks. But God risked everything to extend grace to me. I’m glad He prompted me to extend grace to this restaurant. Besides the beauty of forgiveness, I tasted one of the best veggie sandwiches ever!

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Filed under Community, Health & Wellness, Healthy Lifestyle, Spirituality

The Grace Covenants (Yes, plural)

Prosperity Gospel.

These words can frustrate a sincere preacher of the Word faster than my psychotic relative’s mood can change (actually, I have more than one psychotic relative, but that’s just my opinion). Sure everyone is going to sign up for your religion because all you have to do is pray to God and the blessings come!

Want a shocker? That’s the Old Covenant. Now unless you aren’t familiar with all this Christianese, let me explain as best I can. God called a people to be His special people. He would give them His precepts and decrees and He would, by His grace, live out these precepts and decrees in the lives of His people. They would serve Him and He would bless them so much that other nations would come running – wanting to know about Israel’s God. That was God’s first plan of using one people to draw all others to Himself. The Old Covenant.

The funny part is, there are many Christians today who don’t want to have anything to do with God’s precepts and decrees. After all – they claim – those were nailed to the cross. We want the new covenant. We shouldn’t have to keep some outdated law. We’re post modern! Okay, fine, take the second covenant. You know the one where Jesus says, take up your cross daily and follow Me. Heard of that one? Kind of flies in the face of that fake prosperity gospel, doesn’t it?

So we have a bunch of folks out there that want to party like the 1st Covenant and not have to worry about the rules like in their version of the 2nd Covenant. Pretty crazy, right? What am I saying? God tried it the blessings way first. He tried to reach us in the pocket book. What did we do? The Bible says God’s followers began to think all these blessings were their own doing and sometimes even attributed them to other gods. So the blessings were taken away. God’s people repented and got back in line. The blessings came back. Over and over again God dealt mercifully with this stubborn people. That’s the Old Covenant.

The New Covenant? Since God’s people wouldn’t stay on the blessings train, He brought out good works, self-sacrifice and service. Die daily to self and follow Me. You won’t have the blessings of this life, but you will have the assurance of the life to come. Others will see your good works and glorify God in heaven. It won’t be untold riches now attracting the heathens into our ranks, it’s our good works of selflessness.

Here’s the amazing part – it’s still the same thing. It’s still grace. We can’t die to self daily and serve others any more than we could keep every decree and precept in the Bible on our own. It has always been and always will be by God’s grace. Folks before the cross had to have faith in what God said He would do and those of us after must have faith that what God did is enough to cover our sins. Either covenant, either way, it’s still saved by grace through faith.

 

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Filed under Spirituality

A Tale of Two Funerals

In the past two months, I have attended two funerals at the same church, with the same nice funeral home folks from down the street and the same congregation and community. But the funerals were vastly different.

Same church, same desire to love God and serve Him with their whole life, but the two men who passed away had one major difference. One led with truth and the other led with grace. The Bible has a lot to say about truth and grace. The truth will set you free. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. In John’s gospel account, he says we were able to catch a glimpse of the glory of God in Jesus – full of grace and truth.

After spending time devouring God’s Word, it seems that we need both truth and grace in our lives. From reading at the beginning of all things, in the book of Revelation, to the beginning of our little part of it on Planet Earth, in the book of Genesis; the truth is that we screwed up. We disobeyed God and brought much suffering upon ourselves and a curse upon humanity. But Jesus led with grace. He already had a plan in place to save us.

Two funerals. Two different men. The man who led with truth, had a few people say some nice things about what he had done to serve others. Those attending the funeral were scattered around the largely empty church. The man who led with grace? His funeral was packed with standing room only, even in the balcony. So many people shared stories amongst themselves about the impact this man had made in their life. Relationships were healed that day as folks saw a living demonstration of grace and healing.

Two men, two funerals, two outcomes. Lesson learned: we make a better impact for God when we lead with grace.

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Filed under Community, Spirituality

The Numbers Game

It was a disappointing visit at the doctor’s office today. My numbers are up. After receiving trial medication for Crohn’s Disease four weeks ago, my numbers are expected to go down. I did see some improvement, as did my husband. We were both excited about what the next few months would hold and then last week – I hit a major bump in the road.

Pain levels soared up again and the rules are: they count the last 7 complete days of your pain scale diary. The two weeks prior to that were awesome! But the week they scored was my worst week. What it means: if my numbers don’t improve in 4 more weeks, I’m dropped from the study. Even if I’m feeling some improvement and grateful for it, it has to fit in the parameters of the study at the exact time they give. I see why they have the rules they do, but in the end, no one likes to be playing the numbers game.

I could have another great 3 weeks and then the last week before my next appointment could ruin it all. Like many instances in life, one bad episode ruins the whole program. One delicious apple is ruined by finding that half of a worm in one bite. So the progress of Sharon the guinea pig is measure in the final week. It is what it is and it will be what it will be. I will trust God at this point to see me through.

In the meantime, I’m gong to reevaluate areas in my life where I may have inadvertently put others into a forced numbers game. I’ll try to take a look at the whole picture, not just one isolated bump in the road. I think they call that grace.

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Filed under Crohn's Disease, Health & Wellness

Application

I listed to Matthew’s well thought out and just a bit emotional reasons as to why it was incredibly wrong for Greta to leave her nice “church” socks on the front porch. He proceeded to say that if he were the parent that if she continued to ruin her good socks he would have her pay for the next pair of socks.

I simply had one question for Matthew in response – “Just like I make you pay for all of your new pair of jeans because you wear holes in the knees?”

He said he couldn’t help it, he was forced to do it at school. I responded that Greta doesn’t come home with holes in the knees of her pants. Well she’s not in 5th grade! My response, she is in 4th grade as you were last year and you got holes in your knees last year too. There wasn’t much else to say after that.

It seems that Matthew was having trouble with grace and application. Kids are kids. Matthew plays hard and gets holes in the knees of his pants. If I stifle that, what else might I stifle? So we have to iron on some patches, it’s not the end of the world. Greta has a personality of friendliness and giving – so much so that she doesn’t take time to put things away properly before the next act of giving and friendliness. If I stifle that, what else might I stifle?

But to Matthew, he saw the rules in his mind as only applying to Greta. He didn’t see how his judgmental rules would apply to himself as well. I suppose it is the same with adults. We also struggle with grace and application. We only want the rules to apply to others, but we want grace for ourselves. Perhaps Matthew will figure it out eventually. In the meantime, I tell myself that holes in knees and misplaced socks are not the end of the world. At some point in time, Matthew will outgrow wearing out the holes in the knees of his jeans. At some point Greta will “catch on” to the instructions of neatness and tidiness that so far haven’t had the impact we have hoped for. I will keep giving instruction and I will keep giving grace, as God gives it to me.

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Filed under Family, Parenting, Spirituality

The Discipline of Confession

Through the marriage seminars my husband and I present, I’ve learned a lot about personality types and the differences between men and women and the way they think, act and react. From the study of my Bible, I see that God knows our personalities and puts them to the best use if we are willing to surrender (of course He knows us because He created us). However, God is clearly not limited by our personalities. The good news is that we don’t have to be limited by our personalities either. Yes, it is good to know our basic starting point on how we perceive and relate to life on a daily basis, but because of the grace of God, we are not limited to only that.

Why is this important? There is one very strong personality combination – which Mark Gungor, of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, refers to as the world’s strongest willed people. Is there a place for the world’s strongest willed people? Yes. Are these people often misunderstood. Again, yes. So what’s the big deal? Confession.

You see, some of the strongest willed people refuse to say they are sorry or admit wrong. That’s just not in their mojo. You’ll find Sasquatch in Atlantis before you get one of these folks to admit they were wrong and apologize. The burning question of the day – if I can’t apologize to a fellow human being that I have wronged, how can I confess/apologize to¬† God?

Well Sharon, I have nothing to worry about, because that’s not my personality type. Great! So you practice confession on a regular basis then, right? Perhaps all of us are in need of a little more grace, not just the strong personality types, to soften our hearts and cause us to be willing to admit wrong and apologize. Why is confession so important? Because a contrite/broken/confessed heart God will not despise. He has promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just. He will forgive and cleanse.

You know that chafing you feel because you know you wronged a family member, but you don’t want to admit it and eat humble pie? God can cleanse away that chafing feeling. Confess, because He is faithful and just. He will forgive and cleanse.

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Filed under Spiritual Disciplines, Spirituality