The Presumptuous Ladybug

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

Tag: God

Hope for the Disconnected Heart

I haven’t written anything in several weeks.  Somethings are hard to explain.  Somethings are hard to process.  Life isn’t an easy cake walk where you stroll along to the beat and, once in a blue moon, collect a prize just for trying.  Some roads you walk alone and it seems like there isn’t a soul on this planet who can understand exactly what’s going on inside.  It’s a messy journey and at the end of the day we can find ourselves tired, broken down and terribly disconnected from the world around us.

As a Deputy’s wife, a special needs Mother, a Christian, and a contemplative soul; I have found myself disconnected from the people in my life on a variety of levels on more than one occasion.  The result is my own internal spiral into silence; an awkward quiet where I desperately want to speak and connect and show you my heart but where instead only silence, or worse, inadequate words bounce around in the distance between us.  My quiet attempt to save you the awkwardness, and me the verification that we are walking different paths, can leave me stranded at sea while the cruise ship goes celebratorily sailing by.  The voyagers wave at me and I smile and wave back as they pass, and though I want to call out, and though I want to say, “Throw me a rope”…I can’t.  I even mutter that “I’m ok, just out for a swim.”  There are no words for deep sorrow and turmoil.  There is a hope that “this too will pass,” but also there is no explaining it; there is only silence.  There is only watching, and waiting, and feeling and silently screaming in the dark and wishing someone could hear it.

I want to be connected.  I want to be, not just seen, but understood.  I want to know that someone out there is bobbing in the waves, just as I am.  There is comfort in thinking you aren’t alone in the deep dark…but sometimes…you are.

And it can be easy to miss in someone like me.  I’m social, outgoing, and laugh easily.  I can find joy and humor even as my heart breaks.  It isn’t a mask; it is genuine joy in sorrow.  Optimism is easier to show the world, but it isn’t always the whole story and getting the other half of the story out is a much more difficult endeavor.  It isn’t me hiding; it’s me unable to communicate what’s turning inside.

So where does a heart deeply stranded and isolated find an anchor?

Where does a soul like mine grab hold when the waves are crashing and life makes no sense at all?

Where do we turn when there are no words for the brokenness?

Who can we trust?

I need to know, and maybe you need to know…

Because the looming question is…

If I let the waves take over, will I wash up on shore or drowned in the sea?

I can’t explain all of the sources of my grief here, but they do find me in multiple areas.  Some circle around, some are fleeting, and some simply take time to heal.

The really important thing is:  I do have an anchor.

I’m tied to something that keeps me from getting washed too far out into the ocean.

I’m tied to a source of strength that always pulls me back in; little by little, hand over hand until I’m safely on shore again.  Wet, soggy, exhausted and a bit beaten up…but standing on the shore, eyes on the clouds, as the sun breaks through.

I don’t have a “prayer language.” I don’t speak in tongues when there are things I can’t voice.  But that doesn’t mean I’m left without a life line to Christ or that we aren’t in communion.

For me, the greatest source of peace is right there in the torment of silence…just me and God; together in a quiet space of seclusion that no other soul in this universe can enter.

We don’t have to speak, we don’t have to communicate.  I have no words anyway.

But there is hope….there is assurance…there is the satisfaction and understanding that no matter how hard, no matter how deep the struggle within me…I am not alone.

He is there, always.

I can’t rely on people; they don’t always get it.  They don’t always understand.  They can be flaky and dismissive and hurtful.  They can leave me feeling lonelier and more disconnected than before.  And no matter how hard they try, I know…I always know…that soon they will be gone, chasing other dreams, other relationships, other friendships, other purposes, and other people.

And, I will be standing on the edge of the sea, peering into the swirling madness with God alone by my side.

No words are spoken because there is a knowing; an understanding between us…a conversation of souls in the silence.

The people, they don’t know.  We are disconnected, and maybe we can never be connected in the way I desire.   Even so, I am not alone.

You are not alone.

And there is peace there.  Peace in the knowing, in the silence, in the presence of God.  And there is comfort and tears and release and healing.

Right there in the mists of the sea, in the silence, in the storm.

Isolation, loneliness, disconnection, depression…

They can get a hold of any one of us.  But there is hope.  There is always hope.  No matter how bleak or desperate or hopeless you may feel.  There is hope.  There can be healing.  There can be rest.  There can be redemption, resolution, and recovery.

Stop fighting the terrifying waves and surrender to God.  Let Him pull you into shore; hand over hand, one day…one moment…at a time.  Stop looking to people to fill the void or bring healing; let God be your sanctuary, your peace, your anchor and your connection to life.

The hope for the disconnected heart is that we can be deeply connected to the One who created us; the faithful One who will never leave us, or disappoint us, or misunderstand us.

The One who knows…

even in the silence.

“The LORD is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8

 

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Note to readers:  Please know that I am not advocating that you reject treatment for depression when needed.  Counseling, medication, and proper care can be essential elements for health and wellness. 

Conclusion of “Is God REALLY Good?”

My oldest daughter lay beside me, breathing deeply and absorbed in the restful sleep of safety, trust, and contentment.  Her small 8 year old body was snuggled in close to me as she slept.

I lifted my eyes toward heaven as a tear escaped.

Parenting is hard, especially when they don’t understand.  Does she really believe that I have her welfare in mind?

Earlier in the evening she had approached me with bright excited eyes, “Look what I found Momma.  Oh I love it!  Look!  Isn’t it great?”

My heart skipped a beat and sank a little.  While the object itself isn’t important what it represented is.  In my knowledge and understand I recognized it as an object of dark magic; a sinister representation of the Devil himself disguised as something cool.

She didn’t know.  She didn’t understand.

I hesitated.  Her bright eyes dimmed a bit and her brow furrowed slightly as she picked up on my lack of enthusiasm.

“I don’t think I can let you keep that, Sweet Pea,” I quietly said.

Why was I being hesitant?  How could I explain it?   It felt like I was crushing her and she had no idea why and that saddened me.

“I don’t wanna give it away!  I want it.  I love it!” Her voiced raised slightly and took on a desperate whine.  “Why don’t you like it?”  She continued as she clutched the object to her chest.

I was quiet.  Was she ready to hear it?   Could I help her understand?  The darkness in this world is larger than she can imagine.   Should I offer her a glimpse?

If I tell her…will it frighten her or empower her?

“We will discuss it later.”  I told her as I set the table for dinner and bought myself some time to silently pray.

Later had come and gone.

I did my best to explain what the object represented in a way an 8 year old could, possibly, contemplate.

But she responded with, “I still don’t understand,” in a pouty voice.

“I’m sorry.  It just has to be.  We can’t keep it.  We can’t have it in the house. I have to do my best to protect you.  Daddy and I have to make hard choices to watch over you and your brother and sister.  Please know that it is my job to protect you even when you don’t understand or agree.”

She nodded slowly as she considered my words.

“Do you believe that I will protect you?  I have to protect you and do things to benefit you even if you don’t understand or like them.   Do you believe me?”

She looked at me, sadness and moisture filled her eyes. “I believe you…but I still want it.”

I hugged her, “I know.”

She had said she believed me, but something in her eyes told me she wasn’t quite sure; the verdict was still out for consideration.  In that moment, I began questioning my parenting skills; why was she not absolutely sure?

“Can I sleep with you?”  She had asked hopefully.

“Yes.”

She found comfort in my arms and fell asleep quickly.  I did not.

“Let her believe me.  Let her believe that I have her best in mind.  Fill the gaps LORD…please fill the gaps.” I silently prayed.

Sometimes God responds with silence and I simply trust that He hears me, but tonight He responded quietly in the dark, “Do you see?  Sometimes it is the same for Me.  I have to take things away, or make choices to protect your heart and soul.  Sometimes it’s hard.  Often my Children do not understand.  I can’t explain it in a way they will be able to.  There are things you don’t know that I have to consider…  Can you feel it now?  Do you believe Me?”

I want to.

I want to believe Him when life is crappy and there seems to be no end in sight.  I want to believe Him when tragedy strikes and sorrow overcomes my soul.  I want to believe him when I see the horrors in this world…

I want to believe that He isn’t responsible and that He ultimately has our good in mind.

I do believe  LORD.

I do believe that He is working for our good and not for our destruction but sometimes…it’s hard to see the good.

My next thought immediately followed His words to me…there IS someone hell bent on my destruction and it isn’t God..  The same someone I am trying to protect my own child against.

God isn’t then enemy who is guilty of horrors we can hardly whisper, Satan is.  And, we live in a world overcome by him and his cronies.  He seeks to destroy and he’s successful.  It’s his only job: destroy by whatever means necessary.

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

The good we do see, that is God.  That is God at work in a world owned by a evil dictator who hates us.

There is war here as well.  The war of God and His people lifting their voices, hearts, and souls against the spiritual attacks of a spiritual enemy.

Satan may be a worthy foe, but in the end he won’t be successful.

The idea that God is responsible for the bad in this world or that he has turned a blind eye is a lie.  The Devil loves to blame God because he is a liar and a thief and a destroyer.

God is good.

He is responsible for the only good we see in this world.  He has many attributes and goodness is an important one.  One we need to recognize, because if He is good then He cannot be responsible for the evil that is here.

He isn’t turning a blind eye either and one day the Devil, who is responsible for all these horrors, will pay for it.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the LORD.”

Romans 12:19

If we can believe that God is good, then like my daughter, we can rest in His arms and fall asleep in peace; because even when we can’t and don’t understand this world, or how God is at work…

When we can’t see any goodness or feel his presence…

We can still rest in the belief, knowledge and understanding that He is indeed good, and that He has our welfare in mind.  That He really is working behind the scenes for the betterment of the one thing He cares most about…our souls.

He wants freedom, peace, love, contentment, hope and eternal life for our souls.  That life, freedom and abundance is only found in Christ Jesus.

Maybe the question isn’t “is God REALLY good”…

Maybe it’s, do we trust Him?

Do we believe Him when He tells us that He is good?

Because, if we believe Him, it changes everything.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable for you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15

Author: Jacqi Kambish

This is the conclusion of a 4 part series about God.  If you likes this post take a look at the others in the series: Is God REALLY Good?Who is God? Part 1Who is God? Part 2, and  Who is God? Part 3 (Is God REALLY Good?)

Who Is God?-Part 3 (Is God REALLY Good?)

Answering the question of ‘Who is Jesus?’ in a few sentences is about as hard as trying to explain the existence of time in a couple of words.  Nonetheless, I’m going to attempt to, at least, explain the God I’ve come to know.  Yes, I said ‘know’.  He isn’t abstract or distant, He is here with me every day.  It is said that faith is believing in what you cannot see and when I open my eyes, I see the work of God all around me.  For me, it isn’t so much a matter of faith as it is a matter of accepting what I see as the work of God.  The depth of his story is so much deeper than I can explain in 3 short parts. It is hard to stop and break it all down, please don’t take my word for it.  I hope that if you read this it will prompt you to do two things. 1) Ask God to reveal himself to you and then let Him say whatever He wants to say without preexisting notions interfering. 2) Give the Bible a chance, take a look and see what it says for yourself; see if what I write is true.

The Role of the Sacrificial Lamb

I discussed the Old Testament God with you in the last two parts and ended with this idea that God needed to do something much bigger in order to bring true and lasting redemption to humanity.  Something I didn’t mention was the sacrificial lamb.  The very nature of sin demands death as payment.  It, simply, is the cost of sin.  God established for the first humans an alternative; they could offer a sacrificial lamb to take the place of their death.  It couldn’t be the sick, filthy, lame lamb no one wanted; it had to be as perfect as possible in order to be a sufficient replacement.  In this way the lamb paid the price of sin rather than the humans themselves.  Was it what God wanted? No.  What He had wanted was lost long ago when Adam and Eve pursued their own desires over a relationship with our Creator.  Since God wasn’t ready to give up on humanity He provided an alternative, as unsatisfactory as it may have been, it worked.  The price sin demanded was appeased temporarily through the sacrificial lamb.

But the time for a temporary fix was closing.  God came to earth and entered into humanity as a baby in order to know every part of being human and, ultimately, to be the most perfect, eternal “fix” for sin. Jesus came to be our permanent sacrificial lamb.

The God who made his way to earth is not pious, or vindictive.  He did not come as an angry God or glorious God.  He came humbly.

Isaiah also tells us that the Messiah was unattractive.  He came in every way possible so as to not attract shallow flaky believers, but to find those who were willing to love him back because they came to know Him intimately and to trust Him.

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain…surely he took our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken down by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed…We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way…he was led like a lamb to the slaughter…For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors…the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.  The LORD will call you back…”  Isaiah 53-54:6

The God who came, wanted redemption and healing for our souls and He still wants that for each and every one of us.

So He came gently, humbly, and as a servant to show the world how to be gentle and humble and how to serve.

Who Are You God?

I asked Him once: “What do you want me to understand about you?  Who are you really?”  He answered me with John 13, the chapter in the Bible where Jesus washes his disciple’s feet.  The King of the Universe got on his knees before his students and gently washed their stinky, filthy, calloused, fungus feet with joy.

What the heck?  Really?

I wonder how many times He had to dump the water before he was done washing those 12 pairs of feet.

Feet are dirty, but there is some symbolism there because not only does Jesus gently wash our stinky feet, he washes our stinky souls too.

“After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”  John 13:5

He came to offer us peace.  He came to pay the price that sin requires and to offer us an opportunity to know him intimately.  He only asks that we accept the gift and not reject him.

And, no matter how much we might want him to, He can’t simply give it to us.  We have to receive it.  He isn’t the kind of God to push it on us or make us accept it.  He offers this gift, what we do with it is up to us, we have that choice.

Nabeel Qureshi states it well in Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus:

“But how can Allah be just if He “simply forgives’ arbitrarily?  God is not arbitrary.  He is absolutely just.  How would He be just if He forgave arbitrarily?  No, He cannot ‘just forgive us if he chooses’.  The penalty for my sins must be paid.”

Jesus paid the price.  But He didn’t stay dead.  He is God after all.  And death cannot hold God hostage.  I worship a loving, compassionate God who defeated death for our sake because He loves us so intently, so deeply that He refused to let sin have the final say.  He refused to give up on us.  And, He hasn’t given up yet.  He is waiting…

Waiting for you to decide if you believe him or not.

He is a good God.  He does care.  He cares deeply.  Much more deeply than most of us realize or can even fathom but sin has a place in this world and the nature of sin is death and destruction.  The knowledge of good and evil isn’t so wonderful after all.  Satan knew what he was doing that fateful day when he deceived Eve, but God isn’t to blame for that, selfish ambition is.

We live in a cursed world far from the world it was intended to be, but the good God who created it intends for restoration and ultimately He will have it.

If we trust Him and believe what He says then we can also see Him at work in the details of our lives.

And, there is nothing arbitrary about it.

 

Author: Jacqi Kambish

This is the third part of a series “Who is God?” and part of Is God REALLY Good?  Take a look at  Part 1 and Part 2  of “Who is God?” if you want.   Please know that the conclusion of Is God REALLY Good is due to post in two weeks on Monday, May 8th, 2017.  Feel free to share any thoughts.  

The Dichotomy of Hoping Your Kid Has the Flu

I know it seems odd.  I know it doesn’t make any sense on the surface.  But, I am sitting here waiting to get my daughter, Saydi, tested for the flu and desperately hoping that she has it while at the same time wishing she was well.

I’m sure it will say she does but I’m waiting to hear it.

As a Mom of a child with special needs there are so many factors and so many things to consider.  What separates me from the parent of a typically developing child is the fact that right now, the flu would be a relief.

While other parents lament the confirmation that the flu has hit their home…I am hoping for it.

It’s a funny place to be.  It feels a bit unnatural and odd as I pop my knuckles and sit impatiently in anticipation.

Let it be as simple as just being the flu.

Because, if it isn’t the flu then it’s something else; and likely something that will leave a wake of defeat and sadness.

She just started the fourth and last of the clinically proven medications intended to treat her Epilepsy.  The previous three weren’t successful treatment options.  Here we are on the final medication, holding our breath that this is the one that will do the trick, but the question still hanging in the air is, will she tolerate it?

Saydi getting her 24 hour EEG and MRI before her confirmed diagnosis of Myoclonic-Absent Epilepsy.

It comes with a long list of possible side effects and she has recently experienced them in volume.  I keep waiting for her body to quit rebelling but it’s been a long month.  With each new weekly increase in the medicine we face the risk that this will be the dose that puts her over the edge; as has happened before.  Flu like symptoms and a fever are signs that her body is responding poorly and that she isn’t able to tolerate it and are suppose to be reported to the doctor.  The complication of the situation is enhanced by the fact that the actual flu is spreading through town like wild fire.  So, which is the true culprit?

My mind keeps trying to run the scenarios and prepare me for the worst: a negative flu test.  While the hopefully optimistic side presents it’s own logical case in my head.  I shift uncomfortable in my seat and toy with my cell phone, absently turning it between my fingers.  My other two healthy children are rolling along the doctor’s office floor, a form of play that sends my mind reeling:  How many germs are there on THAT floor?

I’m don’t want the flu per say, I’m longing for the lesser of two evils for my daughter while expecting the rest of us stay well.

“The LORD has this…either way.”  I silently tell myself, “It will be the flu…it’s most likely the flu.”

The space in my head is a lonely place.  How many other parents are sitting there waiting for a diagnosis of relief?  Or a diagnosis of the lesser evil?  Am I really at a place where I’m hoping for the flu?

How does a Mother contend with the reality that she hopes her kid has the flu?  It seems a bit uneven, monstrous, unbalanced…

But life isn’t balanced.  It’s a crazy whirling twirling ride that doesn’t slow down.  It doesn’t ask your permission or if you have the funds in the bank or whether or not you have the emotional stability to process what’s before you, it just happens.

So…how do you find the happiness in the brink?  Where does peace find footing?

Can you live in optimism when the world around you seems to press down so hard your head spins?  Can you find the hope when you’re out of options?

There is a case for “yes.”

There is peace even in the chaos.  A slow dance in a gentle wind…

The breeze of hope and redemption is a constant rhythm by which my life is secured.

The flow of joy within me is the outpouring of a soul intertwined with my Savior.  When the craziness rises up and the fire burns out of control, I can stand, not because I am not afraid, but because I know that my salvation and hope and goodness is found in Jesus.

That is my starting place but I have tools as well; coping tools and mechanisms that help me process and face the difficulty.

Prayer, music, the wind, dancing, and of course, writing are emotional outlets for me that help me face the storms.

The LORD is in them and they remind me that he sees me and hears me and loves me and my children.

I know I am not alone in my special needs parenting.  I know that there are others who understand the difficulty of hoping for one diagnosis over another or those who face the burden and heartache of a child with an un-treatable illness.

Perhaps at times we seem strong, but for me, there is only facing the darkness one step at a time and putting my eyes on Jesus so that I know where my strength comes from when I feel weak.  There is only a whispered prayer.  There is only experiencing the power of the wind and remembering that the same God who created it cares about our situations.  There is only dancing through the sorrow until a smile can’t be wiped away.  There is only swaying to the sound of a musician belting out the emotions I can’t express or eliciting them from their instrument.  There is only writing so that you and I both know we are not alone….

The door swings open and the nurse steps in.  Her face is a bit downcast as she relays that my oldest daughter indeed has Influenza Type B.  The nurse sits near me and begins to relay the options and what to expect.  I hear her and yes it’s unfortunate, but inside I’m relieved that my child has the flu; a diagnosis that means we are not out of treatment options for her Epilepsy yet.

In the diagnosis of flu…there is still hope.

Hope that her long term future will be a better one.

“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off”  Proverbs 23:18

Author: Jacqi Kambish

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!

 

Who is God? Part 2 – Is God Really Good?

God of the Bible

The story of God continues with the birth of Cain and then Able in Genesis Chapter 4. Now sin and death have entered the picture and each boy comes into the world and develops different hearts and different desires. They still have access to God through the strained relationship their parents have with Him but Cain was self-indulgent and tried to pull a fast one on God, and God, knowing his heart, was not pleased. Cain got angry because God found favor with his brother Abel but not with him. God, like a parent, came to Cain and essentially said, “Why are you angry? If you make good choices and do the work you are able to do, then I would be happy with you.” (Genesis 4:6-10)

Cain found different solution, kill Abel.

A logical choice clearly.

God, knew that Cain was guilty of murder and Cain was forced to leave and become a wanderer.  Cain eventually married and had children, but, because Cain was not faithful to God that is where his story ends. Those who ventured off became their own master’s but they also missed out on the promises and blessings God intended for them. The Bible follows the story of those who were faithful to him.  And through their stories of faith, struggle, rejection, and redemption the story of God is also told.

After Cain and Able, Seth was born.  Seth was faithful and so the story of God continued to the next generation.  The population continued to grow and with growth came more people who rejected God while the faithful grew smaller and smaller in number.

THE FLOOD

That bring us to Genesis 6 and the flood. The people in the world had grown so selfish and prideful that they fully rejected God and his heart was grieved. But the real reason for the flood was something beyond that. God didn’t simply flood the earth because he was sad that he had been forsaken.  Genesis 6 tells us that the “sons of God” (angels) saw that the “daughters of men” (human women) were beautiful and desirable.

Then guess what happened?!

The angels started sleeping with these beautiful human women and impregnated them.

Ok, I know it sounds outlandish, but we are talking about the story of GOD! An all-powerful supernatural being…

Anyway, the angels slept with the women and got them pregnant and they had children who were half angel and extremely powerful and also immortal. These are referred to as The Nephilim. They were big shots and heroes so to speak, unfortunately, they were also “evil.”

Perfect!  What could possibly go wrong?

Super strong, evil immortals leading the people of earth.  Seriously, if you were God wouldn’t that be a little bit concerning to you? I’m just asking because I can see why this was a problem.

At that point God’s heart was so filled with pain at the wickedness of the people that He wished He had never created humanity. He decided that the only thing he could do was wipe the world out.  The people were wayward and wicked and following evil immortals and the world was getting pretty rotten pretty quickly.

This wasn’t what God wanted.  I’m convinced he put it off as long as possible and only turned to this option when there were no others.

But then, God saw Noah.

And, as it turns out, Noah was from the line of Seth and was a good man despite all the wickedness around him.

Is that not cool, or what?  Noah…from the line of Seth, who happened to choose God…

God saw Noah and saw that he was blameless among the people of his time. This does not mean that Noah was perfect, but he was walking with God the best he could. God saw his heart and had mercy on him.  This isn’t just for Noah because remember, God loves to be in relationship with us and Noah was still seeking God and so his story continued.  Noah built the ark and he, with all his family got in, and God sent the flood waters.

A New Beginning

After the flood, God got to start over, so to speak, with humanity. God decided to set up an exchange of promises with Noah. Start fresh with these humans and “make an agreement” kinda thing. So basically God told Noah, “Here are the new expectations for remaining in relationship with Me. Take care of the earth and the animals. By the way, you are welcome to eat the animals now,” (which makes sense since the vegetation would have been water logged and probably covered in mud). “I give them to you to eat just as you have always had plants to eat. And you will rule over them and they will fear you.”

Rule 1: Take care of the earth. Rule 2: You can eat the animals but don’t eat meat that has lifeblood in it. In other words, don’t be savages and eat or drink animal blood.  Rule 3: Don’t murder each other or there will be consequences. (Genesis 9:6).

So we went from 1 rule in The Garden to 3 rules post flood.  Three rules to follow, and actually, the first two aren’t even really rules per say, more like expectations that are to be upheld.  I don’t think God was being unreasonable here.

Again we see that God remained with the people who were faithful to follow and worship him.  God loves all of us, but he doesn’t promise blessings to those who reject Him.  This also does not mean that those who follow God are perfect but they are covered by his grace and able to remain in relationship with him.

THE POINT of the STORY

The rest of the Bible really, is about how God sought and found those who wanted Him. It is the battle of sin and the grip it has on our souls verses our freedom and peace with God. It is the story of the Israelite people; how God blessed them or withheld blessings when they were most sinful. It is the story of God’s heartbreak over their continuous rejection of Him despite His love for them. And, it is the story of his relentless pursuit of faithful people.

But, we can’t stay faithful and we fall away so easily.  Redemption seemed out of reach.  We needed a permanent solution.  Sin came into the world and it was messing everything up.  It needed conquered once and for all and only God himself could bring a permanent redemption and bring light to darkness, life to death, and relationship to brokenness.  But it meant doing something big…really big…

Author: Jacqi Kambish

This is Part 2 in the series “Who is God?”  where we are exploring the goodness of God.  Stay tuned for Part 3 due to post on Monday, April 23, 2017.  Feel free to go back and view the other parts of this series Is God Really Good? and Who is God?- Part 1

Who is God? – part 1 (Is God Really Good?)

As I was thinking about how to tackle to subject of whether or not God is really good, I realized that it would probably be a good idea to explore who God is.  How do we know if he is really good if we don’t know anything about him?  I can’t claim to know all the inner thoughts of God.  Heck, I am still growing and learning about God myself.  However, we do have one source to go for answers about what God actually thinks. That source is the Bible.  So, here is the story of God according to the Bible.  (This is a paraphrased summary so I encourage you to go read for yourself and test my words.)  There is a lot in the Bible, but here is a hint: in the end it’s really all about Jesus.

Genesis 1 starts us off with the beautiful and spectacular story of creation.  God delicately creates and forms the universe, the land, the sea, the creatures, and the first humans.  This is the start of everything.  And everything was good and beautiful and perfect.  But, God wanted more than perfect creations, he wanted (and still wants) relationship.  In Genesis 2:15 God gives Adam a rule. One rule. One little rule that was to be obeyed. That one rule was: Do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I believe they had a rule so that they had the opportunity to choose whether or not to love and trust God based on their own heart’s desires because… true love is a choice.  That was it; one rule and total freedom in paradise otherwise. They were also given one responsibility: Take care of the animals and the garden.

The trouble began when Adam and Eve could not follow that one rule (Genesis 3). Great! They had one rule and they broke it. Unfortunately, the punishment was spiritual death; sin entered the human soul and we were separated from eternal and personal interaction with God Almighty.

Oops!

Our bodies also became mortal. God had tried to warn Adam and Eve, telling them that eating the fruit of that one tree would result in death, but they wanted to follow their own desires and what they desired was to be their own god.  What Eve wanted was the wisdom of God, what she and Adam failed to hear and understand was that the knowledge of both good and evil came with a very steep price.  Up until then, they had only experienced good.  Rather than trust God they listened to Satan, who made death seems like something desirable.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”  Genesis 3:6

Sin then produced a punishment and it stunk, but God still loved them just as he still loves us.  Except, after that the relationship had changed. Instead of walking beside and talking to God daily, God’s friends could no longer be in his presence.  Sin created a separation that could not simply and easily be undone.  While we frequently may consider the feelings of Adam and Eve in this and perhaps see God as a temperamental and unfaithful friend who removed himself, the truth is that God was deeply saddened by the choices the first human’s made.  The people he created to share life with chose to pursue their own desires rather than his friendship.  What they coveted was something out of reach while they remained obedient to the one rule God had given them.  And, although the rule was to give them choice, it was also there for their protection.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37

You see?  God will not force himself into your life.  He will not demand your obedience, or love, or friendship.  He simply puts himself out there.  What happens next is up to you.

Are you willing?

As a parent I have rules to protect my kids, they still have a choice whether or not to trust me and obey or to do what they want.  Frequently, when they choose to pursue their own desires there are consequences.  Sometimes those consequences hurt and create broken relationships and loss of trust.  This is exactly what happened for Adam and Eve and their friendship with God.

Despite that, God still wanted Adam and Eve to know him.  Throughout history, God has pursued redemption, healing, and reconciliation with humanity because regardless of the brokenness, God still wants relationship with us…even in our sin and sorrow; every part of us.

Why?

Because God is good.

This is the God that I know.  A God who wants each of us and pursues us even to our death beds.  A God who was willing to sacrifice everything in order to create lasting and permanent redemption.  A God who forgives the worst of sins and betrayal.  God…almighty and supreme…still wants you and me.

Is there anything more spectacular than that?

“This is how God showed his love for us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

1 John 4:9

Author: Jacqi Kambish 

This is the second post in a series titled: “Is God REALLY Good?”   The first post may be of interest to you: Is God Really Good?  Also stay tuned for “Who is God-Part 2” due to post on Monday, April 10, 2017.

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.

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

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 

Making Time for Quiet Moments

Author: Jacqi Kambish

I had a bad attitude the other day.  I felt worn out, overstimulated, and like things were out of my control; which I hated.  To top it off the weather was probably the worst of the season.  A few weeks ago we had snow and freezing cold temperatures.  Then the temperatures soared and the snow and ice began to melt during the day and then froze again at night.  A week or so of that and our yard was filled with icy, mud puddles and dirty snow.  Following that, we had a winter storm warning, but it didn’t snow, it sleeted.  Icy water pelted me in the face as life forced me to go outside.   I think the combination of sleet, ice, and mud at the same time is awful.

By the end of the day, I could feel my agitation growing.  The kids sensed it too.  That’s why they got into the car slowly, fought over who gets to buckle first, and asked for a snack every 5 seconds, even though they just had one.  I think they just wanted to stomp on my last fleeting nerve…. Or maybe they were just tired and sick of cruddy weather too.

Once home, I let the kids pick a movie to watch after dinner.  The wind picked up and a loose cord of Christmas lights flapped against the house in a sporadic rhythm.  Something was blowing in.  I felt it on every level.  My bones ached, my attitude spiraled, and the kids created chaos by bouncing off the walls and yelling at every opportunity.

Later, while the kids watched their movie, I sat down at the kitchen table.  Why was my attitude so crummy?  Was it really because the weather was bad?  Or was it because I was inconvenienced by the errors of the day which were heightened by the annoying weather?  Maybe it was the overwhelming feeling of endless tasks to be completed, the realization of bills I forgot to pay, the dwindling bank account, or the long week at work.  Maybe it was having to drive two hours each way in bad weather just to get supplies for Christmas events, parties, and celebrations…  At the bottom of my grumpiness and wrong attitude, I felt worn.  I realized that, in the busyness, I had neglected the most important thing in my life.  Rather…the most important person.  I’m not talking about me.  I‘m talking about God.

Those quiet moments I spend with my Creator are critical; but as my day fills up those moments get chipped away into nothing.   The thing that brings restoration and fills up my soul, dwindles away until my attitude is a swirling, whirling, sleet pelting, storm of misery.  I need time to be quiet and listen.  I need time to be still.

I realized, in that moment, that it’s time for rest.  It’s time for me to fight back against the mayhem and chaos by finding those quiet moments and anchoring myself to them.  The presents will get wrapped and the treats will get baked.  And if they don’t…is it really that important.  Must there always be cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and pretty paper on every gift in order for it to be Christmas?  Does the house have to be spotless?  Do I really need all my ducks in a row to celebrate and worship Christ?

I woke up the next morning to find the yard covered in a few inches of fresh white fluff.  The sun glimmered off the snow in the best way possible.  It was beautiful, and everything was still and quiet and peaceful.  I sipped my coffee and reflected:

What if the storm of the night before hadn’t raged within my heart?  Would I have realized that what I deeply need is closer connection with the One who can calm the storm and bring peace to my worn soul?

The quiet doesn’t last.  The kids fight and yell and bounce off the walls.  They tattle on each other and beg for a snack 1.5 seconds after every meal.  I get overstimulated by lights, noises, people, and expectations.  The dishes pile up and laundry gets done, but never put away.  Messes get made and I get tired.  The endless scurry and hurry of getting everyone out the door in the mornings and off to bed at night are a revolving door.  Sometimes life just feels like a whirl wind of chaos.  The difference is, if I make God a priority and cling to him when life feels stormy and overwhelming, then I can have peace and rest for my soul…even in the midst of chaos.

I know it isn’t easy.  I have to work at it and set aside specific time in my day that I refuse to give up.  More than that, I have to change my mind set.  Prioritizing quiet moments with God isn’t just about setting aside specific times, but it’s also about allowing God to be a part of every moment and calling out to him when I am falling into the spiral of craziness.  It’s not delegating him to a corner of the day but including him in every moment.

Christmas Hope for Seasonal Blues

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Know what I hate about winter?  Everything. I live in the Colorado mountains and I get the full winter experience.   I hate the frigid bone chilling mornings, I hate the windy face numbing afternoons, and I hate the arctic nights.  I hate that stepping outside means navigating around dangers like impalement by icicles, hidden patched of slick ice, frostbite and other drivers on the icy road.  The cold seeps in and a gloom begins to stir within me and a bit of despair rises up.  By the time May rolls around, I’m struggling to find a glimmer of goodness to hang onto.

It is there though…the goodness and the light and the warmth.  It’s hard for me to see it when the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or other mental illness are threatening at my door, but it is there and at the very root of the goodness and light, is my faith.

I can see that there is beauty in the bitterly cold snow.  The way it gleams off the trees and shines back at me with the reflection of the sun.  It is breath taking.  And it isn’t so different from the way the light of God’s Son reflects back at me from other believers.  Their smiles, words of encouragement and prayers…they lift me up.  They remind me of the hope I have in the true Light of Life, Christ Jesus.

And hope is everything.  That’s why I love the Christmas season so much.  There in the midst of the shortest, darkest days of winter are the bright lights, festivities, and merriment of hope and light.

John 1:4-5 says that “In [Christ] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The light shines in the darkness….

I realize that the Christmas season is hard for a lot of people.  I regularly offer prayers for those tormented by memories and emptiness and loneliness. But for me, as I struggle through the short days and cold temperatures and fight against the gloom, Christmas is a bright reminder that the light still shines in the darkness.  No matter how horrible and dark and evil this world becomes.  And, I need that reminder.

There are times when the grip of depression cuts too deep and the hole feels too dark.  It’s in those times that I have needed help on a physical and spiritual level.  I know I’m not alone.   I want to assure you that it’s ok to see a doctor and it’s ok to ask friends and family for prayer and help if you’re there.  When I am in the depths of despair, I know that I can’t hold myself up and I need Christ to bring healing to my soul, faithful friendships to lean on, and sometimes medication to stop the downward spiral.  My war with depression isn’t new and I have seen some very dark days.   I believe that addressing depression takes a whole mind, body, and spirit approach.  Believe me, I know the struggles are real and no amount of fluff can wipe them away.  I need my mind and body to be well, but I need my soul to be well also.

I know what my body needs.  It needs the triad of good nutrition, good exercise, and sometimes medication to stay balanced.  My mind needs truth and goodness and scripture to think on and sometimes counseling. As far as my soul goes, looking to the joy and hope of Christ and clinging to that truth offers freedom; and a reminder that God is good and is present and that he cares.

I believe in Christ Jesus.  I believe that he came to earth as God incarnate, lived through every experience of man, and that he is deeply moved by the hardships we face.  When life is crushing, I believe in a good God who works as our Defender and offers peace to the weary soul even when I can’t feel him at work.

The God of all creation, the GREAT I AM, has made Himself fully known to us!  And, at the very end of it all… good ultimately overcomes all that is wrong and evil and the chains that bind can be broken.

It is easy, in the misery of life, to believe the lyrics from ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’:

“And in despair, I bowed my head ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men,”

The good news is that in the dawn of faith, the Spirit of God filters through our muck and…

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead, nor does he sleep, the wrong shall fall, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.”

In the end, hope does prevail and peace and goodwill come near.  We can still rise from ashes and sing.  A bud still breaks through the snow and a gleam of light still touches the earth.  Good still overcomes.

In this Christmas season, may we put aside the crowds and shopping sprees and controversial debates long enough to recognize and proclaim the goodness of Christ.  Let our hearts and lives shine as brightly in the darkness as the bulbs on our homes and trees do.  Even in a dark, cold, dreary winter season, may we find hope and joy and peace in the Light of Life.  When the depression of our mind threatens to steal our joy, let us fix our eyes on what is good and be filled with awe.  Then, let us seek the intervention we need to get back on track.  There is good to come.  Let us remember that, for Christians, this season is about worshiping a perfect and loving God who had mercy on us and who gently pursues us because he loves us deeply.  In the difficulties, let us cling to hope.  Let the lights in our homes be a reminder of the Light that has come into the world.  Let our attitude and actions be a reflection of all that is good and noble.  If not for yourself, then perhaps for souls like mine that need to be reminded sometimes – the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not (and cannot) overcome it.