The Presumptuous Ladybug

A blog about Faith, Family, Life....and Anything else

Category: current events

God thinks You’re Cool- An Easter Message

Today is Easter Sunday.  As I’ve gone through the activities and celebrations of the day I’ve been thinking about the implications as well.  The concept of Resurrection Sunday, as it is also called, can be hard to grasp.  If I understand Easter as fully as I’m able, it’s even a bit perplexing…

Why would God Almighty go through torture and death for my sake?  Why does he want a relationship with us that badly?

Why are we important to God?

GOD?!

You see I find it immensely easy to remember all the reasons I have been rejected in the past.  All the reasons I don’t quite measure up.

It’s easy to consider all of the ways in which failure and lacking dwell within me.  Perhaps you can relate.

All the ways in which we are not Most Popular, Parent of the Year, Best Dressed, Most successful, Employee of the Month, Prettiest, Smartest…

The list goes on, doesn’t it?

Many of us are more likely to win Frumpiest, Hottest Mess, Clumsiest, Nerdiest, Dirtiest house, Owner of Worst Behaved Dog, Most Likely To Be Forgotten, Most Anxious, Most Spastic…

I mean….why on earth would God want us?

What is more, why would he sacrifice his life for us?  Are we really worth it?  Are we really all that great?

We kinda aren’t.

And yet…maybe we are…

I mean maybe we actually are pretty cool.

We are created in God’s image, we think for ourselves, we have the ability to believe or not believe to choose or not choose.  We can be utterly selfish or totally self-sacrificing.  We have the ability to love deeply and trust totally…

We have righteous potential and somehow God sees past all the crap and sees everything we can be and everything he created us to be; and what he sees are beautiful messes so complicated and so multifaceted that the question moves from “Why love us?” to “What’s not to love?”

We are worth it.

The lie out there is that we aren’t worth it.  That we are too damaged, too fallen, too unlovable, too dirty, to odd, too socially awkward, too silly, too dorky, too ugly, too fat, too dumb…

But…they’re lies.

Lies we try desperately to fight against when we don’t have to.

Who cares what other people think!

The God of the Universe thinks you are pretty awesome!

He loves you, he wants you, he died to prove it.  And, because he is God, he overcame death so that death doesn’t have to hold us back or keep us down.  The Spirit of Death doesn’t need to have any power in our lives.  Our souls can be free if we walk with him; if we say “Yes,” to Jesus.

He thinks you are so great and sees all your beauty, ability, and potential, all he wants is for you to want him back; for the love to be mutual.

The risk was worth it to him.

The risk of rejection was worth it!

That is how deep his love is for us…for you…

“I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays his life down for the sheep.” John 10:11

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.  Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

All you have to do is say “Yes.”

“Yes, I accept your gift of friendship.  Yes, I accept you into my life.  Yes, I surrender and will let you be my peace.  Yes, I will let you carry my burdens.  Yes, I am not perfect.  Yes, I sin.  Yes, I need your forgiveness for rejecting you up until now.  Yes, I want you in my life.  Yes, I believe.”

Are you ready to surrender?

“If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is LORD,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Believe and admit it.  Be willing to speak the name of Jesus.  Don’t hide your belief in him as if you are ashamed of him; that is all that God asks.

If you are ready to accept Christ into your life, don’t wait.  Do it now.  Then, let someone else who believes know and if you have a chance let me know so I can pray for you.

Peace be with you!

 

Egyptian Believers Know the Cost of Spiritual War

The LORD loves them.  The LORD loves his  Egyptian followers.

Sorrow builds on sorrow.  Not everyone is free to worship the way we are in America.  We take it for granted.  We don’t know what we have.

Christian Egyptians paid the price today.  The high price of following Christ in a country where Jesus is not welcome.   The faithful followers there are feeling the sting of death in a war that is both spiritual and physical.

Do we understand the war?

Do we really know the cost of following Christ?

They know the cost.

Jesus said, “You will have trouble in this world.”

And, he is right.

But there is hope because he has overcome the world.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

What does that mean when life is so fragile and the hate of other men is rampant and runs free while they take what they can?

God will grow tired of it.  He will bring it to an end one day.

He does overcome, but it doesn’t always look the way we expect it to.

He is moving hearts and his Spirit is blowing through, but don’t make any mistakes…this is war.

This is good versus evil.

This is Life verses Death.

This is God verses Satan.

This is war.

The sad reality of war is that there are always casualties.  But, those who give everything know what they are fighting for…freedom.

Freedom to worship, but even bigger than that, is the fight for the freedom of our souls.

I realize to a non-believer is seems like foolishness.  Is there REALLY a war for our souls being waged?

Yes, there is.

As a Christian I can choose to engage or not.  I can put on the armor of Ephesians 6 and prepare for the battle, or I can disengage and hide my head, bunkered down and afraid.

But God did not give us a spirit of fear.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I’m not content to comfortably forget about those suffering around the world for their belief in Christ Jesus.

So, how do we raise our eyes to the hills with determination and fight for Egyptian believers and every other persecuted Christian, with our safe, boring, self-indulgent American lives?

First, we pray.

Then we put on every piece of armor God has given us: Truth, Righteousness, Readiness, Faith, Salvation, and the Word of God.

Then we pray without ceasing.

Pray for Egypt, Syria, and all of the Middle East and Asia.

Pray for all persecuted Christians and those facing any hardship.

Pray for America.

Pray and keep praying.

And gear up, because…

This is war.

 

The Armor of God

“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18

 

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Lament for Syria

My heart is grieved by the recent chemical gas attacks on Syria.  This war has been ongoing and the death toll and horror climbs.  There is no peace and fear is an ever present reality for the Syrian people.  Then the devastation hits their home and families face so much loss that they mass bury their dead and the heartache and pain levels sore.

And the babies…oh the babies and children.

How is such deep pain processed; how can they bare it?

This is NOT God.  This is Satan.

Only Satan would be so cruel and merciless as to attack children and innocent people.

He hates us.  He hates us because we are the image of God, and his work is growing and it is devastating.

My soul laments.

My heart cries out…why?

Why is it necessary?

Leave them alone!

And I’m angry and my heart aches.  A comorbidity of emotions swirling within my chest.

And I want vengeance.

I want Satan to pay for this.

Still…there is solace.

I know that God will have the victory in the end.

I know he will grow tired of Satan’s reign of terror on this earth.

I know that one day God will have his vengeance and Satan will pay.

You may wonder why God has allowed it to continue this long.  It is because he isn’t done with us.  He isn’t done with humanity.  He isn’t ready to call it quits on everything he has made.  I believe he is waiting for the remnant and for every soul to have the opportunity to specifically make a choice to follow him or reject him.  He is waiting for us to decide.

As I am writing the song “Carry Me Through” by Dave Barnes has begun to play on the Pandora station.

There’s a mountain
Here before me
And I’m going to climb it
With strength not my own
He’s gonna lead me
Or the mountain beats me
Carry me through
Carry me through

Oh Lord be gentle
I’m just a man
Please don’t crush me
And help me in

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Lord Sweet Lord
Carry me through.

 And in my sorrow, for all that this world sees, a praise for God raises up from the pit because in this place I know…

I KNOW

God WILL bring redemption.

Come LORD Jesus…Please Come.

And yet…

Don’t come just now because…I don’t want anyone left behind.

I know, and I remember again, that God is sovereign and he knows when to come.  He knows when it is time.  And, it isn’t time yet…

But I trust Him.

I trust him to bring the sorrow to an end when it is time and in that trust there is hope.

And from the depths of sorrow and through tears of a contrite heart, the words from “It Is Well With My Soul” break through.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, it is well with my soul

And the paradox of a heart deeply affected by the pain in this world but still fixed on Christ is displayed in sorrowful tears that still sing God’s praise.

Why?

Because I trust Him.

I know he sees things I can’t see.  He knows things I don’t know.  He sees the big picture and he is looking at, and taking into consideration, things I can’t understand or fathom.

I believe that he is good and that because he is good, good will prevail and that good will ultimately win.

So there is trust and praise here in the midst of sadness.

And, an unexplainable peace in sorrow.  I know Who to cry to.

Because God hears us and sees us.

As we face unimaginable evil in this world we can trust that God sees and that he will bring redemption and that he will have his vengeance because he hates this as much, maybe even more, than we do.  This is why he said, “Vengeance in Mine.  I will repay.” (Romans 12:19)

He knows.

He won’t forget.

He is loving, but he is also just.  One day, when it is time, and when God is no longer waiting for us to decide how we feel about him, he will come and the fullness of his wrath will be poured out on Satan and his cronies, and they will deserve every bit of it.

This isn’t for us to decide.  But we can make a choice about which side of the war we want to be on.  I choose God.

I trust Him.

So pray!

Pray for Syria.

Pray for refugees around the world.

Pray for hope.

Pray for redemption.

Pray for peace.

 

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

 

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Is God REALLY good?

Is God REALLY good?  And, does he actually care about the details of a life like mine?  Or a life like yours?

Maybe God cares about great people of power and influence.  People like Einstein, and Mother Teresa, and Billy Graham.  Maybe he cared about the great people of the Bible like Moses, and King David, and the Apostle Paul.  Maybe even philosophers like Plato or Leibniz, but a simple life like mine?

And is he actually bothered with making good things come out of the weakest and most difficult times of our lives?  Does he really know that finances are strained, relationships are broken, and sorrow is piercing the soul like a dagger?  Does he really care? Does beauty really come from ashes?

The Bible proclaims that God is good?  Nearly every Christian will flippantly mutter an expression of God’s goodness on any given day.  The words can feel empty and flat.  The evidence when we look around this world seems stacked against him.  Death of loved ones, tragedies, illness, killing sprees, anger, division, violence, hate, rape, war, drugs, refugees, hunger, deception, corruption, poverty, abuse, human trafficking…

Is there goodness here?  Is there hope here?

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100:5

No doubt evil persists.  We can see it’s underhanded work in the details of our lives and in the global reign of terror.  We see fear and animosity and something so sinister it’s name eludes me.

“Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.”  Job 30:26

If God is really bigger, stronger, truer, and greater, why do these things persist?  Where is he?  Where is the goodness?

When we suffer the depths of sorrow and betrayal and when dreams are broken, his goodness seems so distant, like an intangible idea that exists only in theory.

I live in a place of beauty.  A place where his handiwork seems so great.  As I gaze at the mountains before me my mind and soul is flooded with the song “How Great Thou Art”.

The shape of every river, the power of the wind and the beauty of mountains covered in glimmering snow all testify to a world handmade by God and speak volumes to the detail and care he puts into us.  And yet… sometimes life, with the breath of agony and the breaking of our hearts and the anxiety of loss, seems empty of a God who cares for the details.

Often, he feels faraway, uninvolved, and silent.  Perhaps in some distant time and space he is or was good, but goodness can feel so far removed from the place and time of our own existence.

I get it.  I’ve wondered.

Let me assure you…you ARE seen.  Your specific life, in all its glory or simplicity, matters to God.  You were fashioned and created with the same care he poured into the mountains.  No…with more care.  You are wanted, you are pursued.  You are treasured.

My heart aches as I see you in my mind’s eye struggling and hurting and suffering and feeling hopeless.  I see you in the burdens of this life grasping for a life preserver that eludes you.  Where is hope, where is love, where is goodness and where is God?

God is here.  God is there.  In his quiet, unassuming manner he is with you and with me.  He wants you, he is waiting for you to want him back.

Join me in a writing series as I explore who God is and the depth of his goodness and the truth of his deep love for you and me as I dig into the question: Is God really good?

Author: Jacqi Kambish

*Side note:  I post every other week, typically on Mondays.  I believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word and my posts on this subject are made with the assumption that God is real.  Feel free to believe as you want, but please know that my intent here is not to debate God’s existence but to build on that belief.

The Parenting Game- Level: 3 Year Old!

I was sitting with my son assisting him with a Mario Brothers video game when it occurred to me that parenting has some similarities.  Parenting is full of pitfalls, obstacles, and opposition.  At the same time, it’s fun and adventurous.  In this parenting game there are no instructions.  Sometimes you arbitrarily get “leveled up”, possibly without even feeling like you passed the last level.  There’s no rhyme or reason; all I know is that every time I think I have the game figured out, I get leveled up.  My current level: 3 year old!

My 3 year old daughter is insistent when she wants something.  That something is usually a cookie.

Recently, my little Flower bounced around the corner of the kitchen, her eyes bright and hopeful.

“Cookie, cookie, cookie, cookie…”

My mind was reeling.  I couldn’t formulate a coherent thought except for “cookie.”  I absently walked to the cupboard and found one.

“Cookie, cookie, cookie, cookie…” she continued, a bit too eagerly.

“Wait…didn’t I already give you a cookie?”

Oh yes!  Yes I did!  Not 15 minutes ago.

Or maybe…maybe she’s had a few cookies….

I was stirring the skillet of dinner thoughtfully.  Yep! It was all too clear now.  My little opportunist had eaten three cookies already.

“No more cookies today,” I said gently.

Her little eyes welled up and tears started pouring out and she began to wail.

Suddenly, I knew I was standing before a 3 year old boss in this parenting game.  I crossed my arms and looked at her unsympathetically.  Defeat boss became a pounding rhetoric in my head.  I must beat the boss and stop those tears.   And of course, there isn’t any reasoning with a 3 year old so other tactics are necessary.

In this game, there are no actual rules.  You may “level up” at unexpected times, but you’re just as likely to get stuck on the same level, repeating it over and over again with no sense of why you can’t overcome the current obstacle.  Sometimes you try something different just because and shoot aimless arrows into the sky hoping something will change.

Level 3 year old is both fun and frustrating.  My daughter’s persistence and inability to deal with disappointment can be overwhelming.  At the same time she is funny, sassy, independent, and confident.  Traits I love about her.  Something I realized is that she responds best to love and compassion and…sympathy.  Even when she doesn’t get what she wants because what she really wants is to be heard.

Parenting at every age presents its own challenges and difficulties.  I won’t always do things perfectly and some of my kid’s tactics and manipulations work now and then.  Some “levels” I can barely survive.  The thing is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Parenting is an adventure full of puzzles, twists and turns, and laughter and love.  And also…learning!

So, the next time that adorable little face attempts to manipulate me into four cookies before dinner…I’ll be ready!

 

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.”  Proverbs 1: 5

 

“The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:9

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Not Every Valentine’s Day Gift Sparkles- ditch expectation and disappointment

Valentine’s Day is upon us and I’m doing something I want to do…all alone.  The best gift my husband could have bestowed upon me is happening now at our local CLIMB café.  I’m sitting in a quiet corner, writing and sipping a hot cup of coffee.

When Valentine’s Day rolls around on the 14th my Husband and I will send the kids to school or the babysitter’s and head to work.  At the end of the day we will arrive home tired; dinner will be left overs followed by homework with our Sweet Pea.  There will be a bedtime routine of pajamas, brushing three tiny sets of teeth, and a bedtime story.  If we are lucky, we will spend a few quiet moments together cuddled on the couch with a cup of tea and each other.

When I venture a look at Facebook, I will find the feed full of fancy dates and bright, shiny gifts on display in boisterous contrast to the quiet routine I will experience.  It’s not because my Husband doesn’t care, but he is relieved when I let him off the Valentine’s Day hook and release him from the expectations and pressure.  Still…there is a temptation there.  When I see the sparkles and special dinners and roses…the power to steal my happiness lies in the undercurrent of ingratitude and envy.  Suddenly jealousy and discontented emotions rise up from the corners of my mind and I hear the lies of the enemy speak with venom into my heart; for a moment, I want those things.

A younger version of myself did want those things.  The fun night out, the thoughtful expensive gift, the dozen roses and loads of sappy expressions of his love.  Yet, the practical side of me could never quite fully enjoy them.  The money has always been tight and there are more practical everyday things I really need and want.  The kids have needs, the bills need paid, the car needs fixed…  For goodness sake, we are still recovering from Christmas!  Is it all necessary and does it answer the real question that rises up within me:  Does he still love me?

You see, the one day a year that is supposed to highlight and celebrate the love between two people has the power to create doubt and dissatisfaction in the relationship.  The symbols of love flashing on the computer screen mock the insecurity within me.  And yet, do I really doubt the love of the man who gave me his heart simply because my ring isn’t as sparkly as the one my friend has?  In my mind, I can hear the instant retort, “it isn’t about the gift, its about the thought.”

Is it?

Because prior to Valentine’s Day, I can list a thousand ways that my Husband loves me in his quiet, un-flashy and sincere way.  Every day he goes to work and every evening he comes home, he loves our kids and makes time for them, he supports me in all my endeavors, even the ones that make him roll his eyes and he laughs at my quirky jokes.  My husband takes his turn with dishes and laundry and lets me sleep in.  My Husband tells me I can shoot for my dreams and if it costs us every penny we have he won’t regret supporting me; he loves to see me succeed.  My Husband is a good man.  And no amount of fine jewelry or fancy things could prove that more than how he spends his every day.  I have to ask myself if all his efforts are really worth nothing on the one day  my friends are flashing their enviable gifts in my face?

There was a time when I thought those gifts were important, but I see it differently now.  I see what I have more fully.  And, when I doubt my Husband’s love, it hurts him.  There are very few ways I can hurt him more than to accuse him of not loving me well enough.  And, truth be told, I never really wanted those material things.  I never wanted the giant house or the pricey jewelry or the elaborate dates because what I have always wanted was, and still is, more than that.

I want a companion to dream with and walk with and face life with.  I want someone faithful enough to stand beside me through the thickest most painful years of life.  I want someone who will take up the sword and fight when we need to fight, and laugh when we need to laugh, and cry when we need to cry.  I want someone who will climb the mountain, travel the world, or stay right where we are when needed.  I want someone strong enough to refuse to give up on me and someone I can trust and cling to when I feel like walking away.  I want someone who will pray with me and for me.

Not every dream comes true.  Not everything is sunshine and roses and magical rainbow clouds and …not every gift sparkles in the sun.  There are days and periods of time that are very difficult in every relationship.    Neither one of us is perfect and we both make mistakes and misunderstandings happen; hurt and angry feelings rise up.  But, I think in the end, I actually have the best Valentine’s gift of all:  someone who takes my hand and weathers the challenges of life with me.  Someone who won’t give up when the road gets hard.  When I remember that, then I don’t need the diamonds, or the balloons and flowers, or the special gift or fancy date night because what I have is actually more precious than that.  Now that I can see it, there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be then curled up on the couch next to the gift that God has given me: a faithful and loving man.  No matter what the future brings we will hold each other tightly and face life together because what my husband has given me is the gift of longevity, and that has been the sweetest gift of all.

To the dear wife who doesn’t get everything she hoped for on Valentine’s Day, let me encourage you to search your heart for the gifts your Husband gives you every day.  Please, don’t let this be a day of division and sadness and hurt, let this be a day of remembering and a day of celebrating the things that are good and the things in your relationship that can’t be defined or quantified.  It’s ok to want to be recognized and appreciated but don’t let the enemy win this day.  Tell him to take his lies and beat it!  Then try to focus on what matters and what’s truly worthwhile.  Focus your eyes on the things that are lasting and then practice thankfulness for the gifts that can never be lost or stolen.  Most importantly, love and celebrate and remember the one thing your husband has given you that can never be purchased: his heart.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.  It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.  Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.  If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”  Song of Songs 8:6,7

Author: Jacqi Kambish

I’m Not “Enough” For My Kids And Why It’s Okay

I am not enough.

The truth resonates through my whole being.  It cuts to my core as I stare into the mirror.  I know the truth no matter what they say and no consoling or absently reassuring me with fluffy unsubstantiated reasoning will convince me otherwise.  “You’re enough” is a popular attempt to appease the wave of uncertainty that every parent feels at one time or another, but is it always true?

As I stare into the mirror I see everything that is good and everything that isn’t.  What I know, absolutely, is that I am not strong enough or good enough or capable enough to always be the person and parent that I want to be.  But the truth that comes quickly tumbling to the forefront of my soul with my next breath is the realization that I don’t have to be.  The truth is refreshing.  No matter how broken I am, or how many meltdowns I have, I don’t have to keep up the façade of being enough when I know that at the end of the day I could fill a book with my failures.  God never asked for me to be a parent by my own effort or my own enough-ness.  God never said, “Don’t worry, because you are enough and that’s all you have to be.”

My ability to be enough is not enough.  The gaps of enough-ness are deep crevices I can never fill.  What if I believe that I’m enough and it turns out to be untrue?  Will my children prosper anyway or will they need counseling later?

You see, I’m impatient and I lose my temper, I make 2 star meals, I swear when I’m angry, I’m immature, I fail to properly discipline my children at times and over discipline at others.  I get caught up in gossip, I complain, I get dissatisfied, I yell, I can be selfish, and I’ve lied.  Life can be overwhelming and the ugliness of my internal struggles can erupt and mistakes get made and then what I want gets in the way of my ability to love them enough.

Inside I feel conflicted.  Is what I want more important that what they need?  Am I really a “good Mom?”  Life is messy and complicated and can’t be controlled but it doesn’t stop me from trying when I feel overwhelmed.  My kids aren’t perfect either.  They are tiny people learning how to manage the world and navigate relationships. I don’t want to control them or force them into a quiet obedient state because we learn from the messiness and the chaos.  And yet…sometimes…in public, I can feel it rise up.  Can’t they sit still in church?  Can’t they listen?  Why are they running wild?  Why aren’t they always well-behaved angels?

At home there are other struggles.  My son has no volume control and is always making noises, my daughter has executive function issues and toileting struggles due to her battle with Epilepsy, and the littlest one wants to get her way all the time and wails when she doesn’t.  Between monitoring seizures, dirty diapers, soiled underwear, the loudness of constant noise, and a tight living space I can feel the threads of control and an element of peace begin to unravel, all the while my emotions start soaring and my patience disappears.  “Quit shouting!”  I shout before I walk to my room and shut the door for a quiet moment.  It doesn’t last.  They seem to know I’m about to lose my mind so they follow me and bang on the door, push each other for the knob and begin to fight.

I am a sinner.  And, no, I am not enough.  Regardless of my best social face and appearances, I know I fail regularly, as we all do.

The good news is: I don’t have to be enough because I know Someone who is enough.  God didn’t create me to be enough, he created me to rely on him when I’m not enough.  God didn’t fully equip me to handle being a special needs parent, a cop’s wife, or a good person because if I was enough on my own, I wouldn’t need him.

I do need him.  I need him because I am not enough.  I need him to fill the gaps in my life and in my parenting and in my relationships where I fail.  I need him to infiltrate my heart with his love.  Love that overcomes and perseveres and finds peace in the chaos.   We learn through our mistakes and the more I realize I am not enough, the more I rely on God and the more he is able to fill the gaps until what is lacking in me is much harder to see and much harder to perceive.  Not because I have done anything good, but because the Author of all that is good is at work in me.

I can’t make myself a better parent or a better person.  I’ve tried.  Telling myself that I‘ll do better next time doesn’t work.  The darkness within me always comes out eventually and the depth of my selfish heart is ultimately revealed.  I know I am not alone either because…

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Thankfully, God isn’t done with me, just as he isn’t done with you.  God has been at work within my heart and soul for years and he hasn’t given up on me.  No matter how big of a spoiled punk I can be, he keeps up the hard work and keeps molding me into the parent, wife, and woman he created me to be; the woman I want to be.  I may not be enough, but God at work within me is enough.  He can fill in the gaps of my love, my parenting, and my relationships.  God isn’t trying to control me, he is trying to shape me into something beautiful.  I’m going to stumble and fall and fail, but I trust and pray that God will come along side of me every step of the way; and while he guides me and grows me, he will clean the slate and bless my family and create “enough” where “enough” is lacking.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

 

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Thanks for Stopping in

Hi!  Thank you for taking the time to stop by.  This week I am on hiatus due to family illness.  Please check in next Monday, 2/6/2017, for a new post about being, or not being, “enough”  and God’s faithful work in us.

What Obnoxious Friends With Opposing Views Have To Offer

The Presidential Inauguration is fresh on the hearts and minds of everyone.  Emotions are running high and the United States holds her breathe as we’re launched into unknown territory.  In the heated social media discussions and personal interactions, it may be tempting to put some people on hold, or altogether abandon any interaction with them from this day forth.

I get it.  And, politics isn’t the only subject matter to disagree on.  Sometimes it can be hard to understand how other people can see things so differently.  Opposing views can make us feel angry  and uncomfortable, and some individuals can be obnoxious with their opinions.  It’s, certainly, much easier to mingle with people who share our values.

Still, there are reasons to hang onto those friends whose opposing views are undeniable.  Some of my most beloved friends hold completely different views on life, relationships, politics, and religion.  It isn’t because I hold my tongue, although I can when needed.  And, it isn’t because they hold theirs.  And yes, sometimes it gets uncomfortable and, sometimes, we make each other angry.  Even so, they’re invaluable to me.

Why keep people in my life who can boil my blood now and then?  Simple. They have so very much to offer.  I love all of my friends for different reasons.  Of course, it is easier to hang out with people who get me.  I have friends who can make me feel uneducated and uninformed.  Sometimes I am uneducated and uninformed!  Then there are those who understand my point of view because they share the same convictions and I don’t have to explain anything.  They already get it and that’s refreshing.

Regardless, despite being uncomfortable and, at times, irritating, the friends who think differently stretch me so much farther than I could be otherwise.  Those who ask questions and challenge my views, get me thinking on a much deeper level.  Often, they bring information to the table I didn’t hear before and they offer insight from life experiences that are unique to them.

I’m drawn to people of differing views who are also respectful, courteous, and knowledgeable.  I’ve had many “ah ha!” moments simply because I listened to someone I didn’t agree with, and they listened to me.  Trust me, leave it to someone who has thought about the issue more than I have to set me right!  My friends and family with different views can certainly take me down a notch, reveal the shallowness of my own ideas, and take my pride for a spin.  But guess what, its ok!  Sometimes it’s necessary.  I’m still learning and as long as they aren’t hell bent on hurting me just to hurt me and their approach is kind, then I can swallow my pride and hear them.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”  Proverbs 27:5, 6

However, I don’t appreciate people who throw stones and resort to name calling.  I don’t care for people who attack me on a personal level just because we disagree.  Neither am I receptive to the ideas of someone who is insulting and belittling.  I’m not talking about engaging with trolls and people on my social media feed who resort to accusations and smearing rather than sound arguments.  But, those who can offer insight, expand my world view, and share in differing ideas because of their education, life experience, and convictions while remaining respectful and understanding. I am more than happy to have a conversation with those friends.

I want to hear their views.  I want to understand.  I only have enough time and brain capacity to learn so much at any given point in my life.  My ideals are bound to draw me toward certain conclusions, and I am able to admit that at times, I get it wrong.  We all get it wrong sometimes.

That doesn’t mean every discussion results in finding common ground.  I’ve had conversations in which the other party and I, are left with nothing but awkward silence between us as we soak in the realization that we have nothing more to say to each other because we are still as polarized on the subject as we were when we started the conversation.  The thing is, I always learn something.  Some convictions just can’t be altered.  Some core beliefs can’t be compromised.  That doesn’t mean I can’t learn from the conversation.  There are always opportunities to grow in understanding and in compassion.

Hearing other ideas and empathizing with where they come from and where they started and how they developed doesn’t’ mean you always land on the same conclusion.  It does mean I can walk away more aware, better informed, and more loving toward that person and their view.  It is very easy to make judgments about people and ideas we do not understand.  But, I believe that most people are driven by ideals they find good and necessary.  Disagreeing doesn’t make them the enemy.  It makes them different.  Different isn’t bad, it’s enlightening.

We don’t have to agree with every belief we encounter, but we do have to love people for who they are and where they are in their lives.  Yes, it gets ugly sometimes.  Yes, it gets heated, but mutual respect and love can overcome those feelings if we care more about the person than about making a point.

I am very thankful for my friends who share their views, in love and respect.  When I get it wrong, they help me see the other side.  And when they get it wrong, I help them.  It is a mutual give and take with openness, honestly and, above all, mutual care for each other.  I’ve been guilty of letting misinformation and the wrong voices sway my thinking.  If not for my friends who can respectfully voice, “That’s just not true,” I’d still be walking in those wrong ideas.  We have so much to learn from each other but we have to hear each other out.  I’m not perfect, and neither are they, but we can encourage each other in the things we agree about and learn from each other when we disagree.  And, ultimately, we can learn to love each other better if we humanize the opposing views.  The only way I know how to do that, is to hear the other side of the story.  There is always two sides.  Sometimes, the other side isn’t as backwards and crazy as we first though.  And when it is, well….

…try not to let it turn you into a troll.

Let’s practice hearing each other.  Let’s practice mutual care and civility.  Let’s practice appreciation for the people who expand our world view, even when they’re obnoxious and frustrating.  Let’s practice learning from each other.  Let’s practice respectful discussions.

I don’t want to lose my friends just because we see things differently, and I hope they don’t want to lose me.  I can’t see beyond my own experiences and understanding without access to other ideas, and most likely, neither can you.  Let’s keep navigating the issues together.  Let’s keep talking, because I don’t want to get stuck in my own unchallenged ideas; that’s a dangerous place to stay.

“Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find thevknowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:3-5

 

6 Easy Ways to Reduce the Spread of Seasonal Sickness

Winters in Colorado are very cold.  It isn’t uncommon for temperatures to stay below zero all day.  That means everyone is bundled up, homes and businesses are clamped shut and, heaters or fireplaces are blasting.  It also means very little fresh air and the perfect conditions for germs to do their worst.  It’s nearly impossible to avoid being sick at some point in the season.  However, believe it or not, there are some ways we can avoid getting every sickness that rages through town and ways to keep from spreading it once we do get sick.  I know it seems like common knowledge but it really isn’t.  Here are 6 simple ways you can stop the spread of seasonal sickness.

1. WASH YOUR HANDS!

Ignaz Semmelweis made the case for disinfecting via washing your hands way back in 1847, so the case for washing is pretty substantiated.  I know when you’re in a hurry and there is just so much to do it’s hard to find time to perform this task that literally takes two minutes, but…do it.  It’s not that hard really.  My three year old can independently wash her hands and she can barely reach the sink on a stool.  Speaking of which, teach your kids to wash their hands.  I know it’s a long laborious process but they will get it and eventually stop being the little petri dishes they are right now.  As a side note: washing with water alone is not effective.  Washing doesn’t kill the bacteria.  When you use soap, it creates a slippery surface on your hands and washes the bacteria away, therefore, soap is essential.  So is washing for 1-2 minutes to give those germs times to slip into the sink.

Look, bottom line is, washing really cannot be stressed enough.  If you, or your kid, have been digging in the dirt, hanging out in public places, have used the bathroom, or are about to eat…WASH YOUR HANDS!!!  I cannot for the life of me fathom why an adult would not wash their hands after using the bathroom; especially, a public bathroom.  Washing hands keeps illness breeding bacteria and viruses from entering your body, it also keeps you from spreading your illness to other people.  That’s just common curtesy.

2. STAY THE BLEEP HOME!

Few things rile me up as much as people who are sick and can’t seem to stay home.  Equally obnoxious are the people who take their sick kids places.  Seriously, it isn’t cute that your sick child is cuddling on your lap because they were vomiting earlier this morning and feel like crap.  Also, telling people to keep a ten foot distance doesn’t make up for the fact that you dragged your kid out into public in the first place.  Neither do I appreciate or empathize with the Mom who brought her fever ridden, rash-y kid to a party because it wouldn’t be fair to the healthy sibling if you all stayed home.  Use some creative reasoning to find a solution or perhaps introduce your kid to the very real life emotion called disappointment.  Eventually they’re going to experience it anyway.  It might as well be within the safety of your home and loving arms.  Exposing my kid to your kid’s hand, foot, and mouth disease in the name of avoiding disappointment is no laughing matter.  Well…. I’m not laughing.  Neither is any other parent.  The take home is this:  if you, or your kid, have thrown up, had diarrhea, a mystery rash, a new onset of symptoms, were oozing green slime from their nose, or have had a fever at any point in the last 24 hours, do not go anywhere.  If you desperately need that ginger ale then please…send a friend!

3. COVER YOUR COUGH

I recognize that a cough can hang on forever and you really can’t stay home and stop life for 6 weeks at a time, and neither can I.  You can, however, cover your mouth with your elbow or a hanky.  Covering your mouth helps keep the germs you expel while coughing from freely bursting into the air and landing on whoever happens to be within reach of your infectious cloud.  A simple and easy act of consideration can keep the cough from spreading.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen grown and capable adults in public coughing their heads off with zero regard for anyone in their vicinity.  Honestly, I kinda want to shout, “What’s wrong with you?”  And coughing into your hands just guarantees that the next person you shake hands with will get what you have.

4. DISINFECT

After the unavoidable cold or flu bug has ravaged your home, do yourself and all your future guests a favor and disinfect your home.  Yes, it takes some effort but the effort is worth it.  Some germs can live for weeks at a time in which case they are able to re-infect your family over and over again, as well as any visitors who enter your home.  The infamous norovirus has been shown to remain active even in adverse conditions.

Go ahead and use a real disinfectant at these times too.  I’m a big fan of all-natural cleaning products and minimizing chemicals in the home, but sometimes Lysol is necessary.  It’s ok. It probably won’t be the undoing of your family, however, it may keep that nasty bug from resurfacing in your home in two weeks.

Disinfecting means washing and sanitizing all of the exposed surfaces.  This means walls where little hands slide, the entire bathroom, bed sheets, floors, and…pretty much the entire house.  One thing a little sickness can do, is give you that needed motivation to go ahead and take care of the seasonal deep cleaning you’ve been putting off for months.

 

5. SUPPORT YOUR SYSTEM

Taking your vitamins and eating healthy while avoiding processed sugars lets your body focus on staying well.  Vitamin D is essential in cold winter months when many of us are inside more and covered from head to toe when we do go outside.  Bundling up to your eyeballs keeps you warm but also keeps those good feeling, immunity boosting vitamin D rays from reaching you, and Vitamin D is necessary for both physical and mental health.  So, even if a multi-vitamin is too much to swallow, you might benefit from a vitamin D supplement.  Obviously, ask your doctor before you run off and follow my advice, but in general most people would benefit from some extra ‘D’.

 

6. EXERCISE

I know, I know…this is the hardest one for me so I get it.  I’m much less motivated when it’s cold, the days are short, and I just got done with a month of celebrator holiday eating, but it is a very important part of staying well.  Here again, exercise is beneficial to body and mind and will help with overall wellness in most cases.  The U.S. National Library of Medicine website states that “Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.” ( https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm).  So whether you prefer the warm indoors on the tread mill or adventurous snowshoeing in the cold Rocky Mountains, getting your body moving is a great way to boost your health and help fight seasonal ailments.

IN CLOSING:

The bottom line is this: some of us have kids or family members who are at a vulnerable age or who are already fighting other health conditions.  Seasonal illness may be a small inconvenience for you, but for others it makes an already difficult life circumstance even harder.  With a few small changes and some effort you can reduce your number of sick days this winter while also reducing the spread of germs to those you love.  If we all do our part then we can share in the fun of winter activities, festivals, and outings without sharing the misery of sickness.

A Kidnapping, A Shooting, and A Broken Heart.

Last week I tried to write about the kidnapping incident involving the disabled man, here in the United States.  Then the shooting at Fort Lauderdale happened.

I wanted to write but I couldn’t find the words.  The truth is, the kidnapping hits a little too close to home.  My oldest daughter has epilepsy and learning disabilities and encopresis.  I worry about other kids making fun of her and wonder if she will be accepted as she gets older.  Will she get bullied?  Will those who love her stand in the gap and have her back when others desire to do her harm?

My heart aches for the man who was kidnapped.  When I think about what he endured, I am horrified and filled with sorrow. I am deeply saddened when I think of him being afraid and confused and tormented.  It was a hateful, heartless, deplorable act and it breaks my heart.

And, I’m angry.

I’m angry that this happened.  I’m angry that we live in a world were these kids thought they could do this.  I’m angry that they have gotten away with lesser grievances before, and that it built up to this horrendous act.

I’m angry that our society continuously speaks out against bullying and yet we still allow it.  I’m angry that fear and red tape keeps people from stepping in and doing what is right to stop things long before they get so out of hand.  I’m angry that violent acts aren’t stopped as they occur because it can be reported, and then our hands don’t have to get dirty.

I’m angry that these kids targeted someone who is less able than they are.  It’s not cool, it’s not funny.  It’s cowardly and shameful.  It’s despicable, it’s indecent, and it’s appalling.

I’m sad too.

I’m sad that these kinds of behaviors and crimes are happening over and over again.  We act upset for a moment, but we are not so bothered that we intervene.  We are not so bothered that we stand up and say, “Enough!” when we see wrong actions taking place.  We can take a video on our phones…but intervene?  It’s so rare that when someone finally does intervene its front page news!  And, I’m not talking about rioting or beating someone up because you disagree or don’t like them.  I’m talking about intervening when someone is being hurt, bullied, or harassed.

I’m sad that we’re afraid to help each other out.  We don’t stop to help a neighbor whose car broke down, much less a stranger.  We don’t stop a beating on the street, or a coworker from being harassed by other coworkers, we don’t tell the bully to pipe down…

Keep your head down, don’t make eye contact, mind your own business…Those are the rules of society.  You might make it worse, you might get into trouble, and you might become the target…

We think if we report something, or make a cash donation to a cause then we’ve done our part.  Yet hate crimes and horrible acts continue to happen and we aren’t even shocked anymore.

This is why we love stories about heroes who stand against the odds and are willing to sacrifice themselves for good.  We desperately need heroes.

And, the shooting.

In this still image from video provided by NBC TV Local10, people stand on the tarmac after shots were fired at the international airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. Local10 and other news media outlets reported Friday that multiple people were shot. (NBC TV Local10 via AP)

I’m upset about the shooting too.  This was a terrible thing and my prayers are going out to those hurt by this event.  It is senseless and breeds fear.  The physical and emotional wounds run deep.

And, there are a good number of people who are very quick to start the controversial discussions about where to place blame.  Our country can’t even have a day to mourn before it starts in with the controversy.

Can we stop arguing for a second and remember that lives were lost, lives were ruined, and one man just threw his life away.

For what?

And, blaming guns, or mental illness or religion, or terrorists won’t bring them back or fix this.  While discussing these things in order to blame one group or another just creates more division.

What if the common denominator isn’t guns or mental illness or religion or terrorism or racism?  What if the problem is a human condition?  What if the problem, in both these horrible acts, is depravity?  Then what?  Because, that isn’t so simple to “fix.”  It isn’t even something we can fix.  That is something only God can fix within us.

It’s easy to cast blame.  It’s easy to ignore the deficit within our own souls.  It’s easy to point at someone or something else and never look deeply at our own hearts.  It’s easy to say, “That person is crazy,” and then never have to ask ourselves if we have ever been guilty of turning a blind eye.

That is humanity today.  We don’t step up and do the right thing because we are inconvenienced or afraid, or both.  Maybe the truth is…I’ve been afraid.  I don’t want to get hurt.  I don’t want to get into trouble.  I don’t want to bring hardship on my family.  I don’t want to get laughed at…

What a shame.

Am I really any better than those kidnappers if I let it happen and if I let fear dictate my response?

Are you?

Will you search your heart?  Will I?

Are we prepared to take responsibility for the part we play in turning a blind eye to lesser offenses simply because it’s convenient or easier?  Are we prepared to search our souls and stand against injustices and against fear itself and do what is right no matter what the cost or sacrifice?

Who will decide to refuse to sit back and watch as horrible acts unfold? Who will call on God to strengthen them?  Who will beg God to give them courage?  Who will repent of ignoring the darker parts of society, of the depravity within their heart, and of being ruled by fear?  Who will stop being afraid of the consequence of doing what is right?

I am angry and I am sad and… I am searching my heart.

I don’t want to live there in that space.  I want to lift my eyes up to the hills and set them on God and, by his grace, overcome the fear.  I want to have a heart that is repentant and compassionate and courageous.  A heart that loves others more than myself.  Because perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18- “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…”

If we are unified, we can overcome the obstacles together.  If we are unified we can overcome fear and division.  If we are unified we can overcome deplorable acts because we won’t be alone in our work.

If we are unified, and if we humble ourselves before the Lord God and repent of the darkness within our hearts, he will hear our cries and he will show us mercy and grace, and he will heal our land.

No amount of laws and regulations or fear can accomplish what the LORD can accomplish if we let him.  If our hearts are clean before him and our prayers are frequent, he will hear.  These acts that happened are evil and God can be our deliverance from the evils of this world.  But, are we prepared to trust him?  Are we prepared to let him?  Are we ready to let him change our hearts?  Because…

It starts there.

2 Corinthians 7:14- “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Timothy 1:7- “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”

Psalm 121:1, 2- “I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
Author: Jacqi Kambish 

A New Year’s Blessing for my Readers

Author: Jacqi Kambish

First, thank you for being here.  Thank you for stopping by and taking a look and supporting me.  Your presence here is felt and appreciated and even if it’s a tiny thing in your day, it matters to me.  Maybe I don’t know you personally but I definitely know one thing: YOU MATTER!

Whether or not this is your first time to my sight or you have been here before, here is what you should know about the core beliefs that are driving my writing.

There is always hope.

I am not alone and neither are you.

Life is worth living and fighting for.

Life is messy, but good.

We can encourage each other.

We can laugh together.

You matter to me, and more importantly, you matter to God.

We are here on this earth for a purpose and for a reason.

Life is messy and crazy and hard.  Life can be bleak and chaotic.  Life can be hectic and heartbreaking.  I hope that by sharing some of my thoughts and my journey that you can be encouraged in some way, whether through humor or sentiment.  Someone out there needs to know that not all is lost.  Someone needs to know that when the chips are down and things are messy…there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and that there is still hope for them.  Once upon a time…that person was me.  I had people who lifted me up, were authentic and honest with me, and who helped me find my way.   Now that I am on the other side, I want others to know the hope I have.

I can’t help but talk about my faith throughout my blog; it’s going to happen.  But my message isn’t just for Christians.  I hope that no matter who you are, you leave feeling encouraged, perhaps a little thoughtful, and maybe sometimes, with a smile on your lips.

I don’t know what kind of year you just had, but my hope for you in 2017 is that you will be blessed, encouraged, and uplifted.

Ultimately, my dear reader, I pray that in 2017 you have peace, kindness, comfort, and warmth.  I hope you have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep.  I wish for your eyes to see and your ears to hear and for you to grow.  I hope you have a heart that is soft and a soul that never gives up.  My prayer for you is that you experience the deepest love and the most gracious interactions.  May the new year, 2017, be a year in which you can look back and say, “I’ve been blessed.”

 

 

 

The Art of Division

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Division.  A powerful enemy of all men and women raises its ugly head and smiles.  There we are, once again, falling to her schemes.  Division plays a dangerous game and she intends to win.  She brandishes her sword and perfects her art.  Vindictive and ugly, she carries a sword of anger and fear.  She wreaks havoc as we lap at her pool of venom.

We accept the poisonous rage as it warms us through.  More than that, we welcomeimg_8202 it.  Rage is powerful beast and yet we face him with arms open wide.  His perilous grin broadens and with his net he gathers the entire world and gobbles us up.  We cannot see what he has done, we cannot fathom the depths of his harm.

Rage and Division walk hand in hand as they slay us and we stand against them by slaying each other.

War surrounds us and in the midst of the shot gun shells and grenades…I can’t hear you.  Can you hear me?

How can we band together, how can we circle up?  We have a common enemy but we fight against each other.  No one wins and sorrow rises up from the ashes.

Sorrow takes swift strides and her robe of sheer fabrics flow in the wake of her movement.  Her face is pressed with determination, her heavy fist falls fast against our hearts.  Sorrow is different than the others.  Her swift blows bring agony.  Her beatings are a slow death.

Who will rise from the ashes and face this triad of beasts?  Who will walk a different path?  Who will turn from raging war against their neighbor and tell Division, and Rage, and Sorrow to return to the sea.  Who will stand alone before their fury and say, “Enough!”?

Will you?

 

We preach love.

Do we really know where to begin?  Do we even know what love is anymore?

Have we become so  separated from the true Source of Love that we cannot see each other or hear each other?

 

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” Psalm 103:8

“But you, LORD, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

“[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

 

This is what we should do and this is how we should love.

Let us repent of the blindness in our hearts and start again.

Let us ask God to open our eyes to see our neighbor and to learn to love them fully, just as they are.

Lets us pray against division and  pray for unity.

 

This is what I must do…Will you join me?