Have you ever needed a miracle?

Uncategorized

Have you ever felt like you needed a miracle?

There are days when we all need hope, or feel inadequate.

If that’s ever been you, then you’ll want to take 33.5 minutes to listen to this podcast episode with my friend Dr. Cindy Anthis.

Click to listen to Episode 2

You’ll hear about Usman. This is the image with the barbed arrow in his heart before surgery.

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Below are the spear and arrow that were removed from his chest.

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This is Usman after his surgery, with the Anthis family and the hospital chaplain.Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 6.39.27 PM

 

Below is the Anthis family. Joel and Cindy have been married over 25 years, and these are their four children at their son Austin’s wedding last summer.Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 6.48.39 PM

Cindy is the doctor on the right. They are transporting a young Haitian boy that lost a limb in the earthquake.Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 6.40.02 PM

This is the helicopter that Cindy said was terrifying. She’s living proof that you don’t have to be brave or adventurous to be a part of God’s plan, just willing and available.Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 6.40.14 PM

A Dad’s persevering love

truth
Some of life’s most profound moments can happen in the most ordinary of moments. Like the time my entire life’s truth came undone in the kitchen last year.
I always believed I was unwanted.
A nuisance. The wrong gender, that my dad had wanted a boy and I was a disappointment.
Instead of the son I believed my dad longed for, he got a daughter as his only child. A fair skinned, freckled strawberry blonde daughter; he often shortened my name to Chris, only furthering this belief.
That afternoon at my kitchen table, decades of the wrong thinking came unraveled like a cozy sweater.
Warm and comfortable, but with one loose yarn, the entire thing came unraveled until I was free and understood the truth about myself.

I sat at an angle across from my dad as we sipped from our coffee. We were enjoying the slow-paced afternoon with coffee in my kitchen.

“Dad, do you remember that time that I was staying the weekend with you in Florida, when I was five or six years old, and we were both sick all weekend?”

Seemingly out of nowhere, as I stirred my coffee, a memory of this had flashed before me. “Yes, I remember that. I’m not sure if it was the flu, but you weren’t staying the weekend. It’s when you lived with me in Baton Rouge.”

I quickly shook that off, perturbed. “I never lived with you. I always lived with mom.” My parents divorced when I was very young, and I don’t have any memories of them together as a couple. My earliest memories are always with mom, and living with her.

Dad insisted. “Christi, you lived with me. You don’t remember?” Whatever, Dad. I wanted to know more about this sickly weekend and why we felt so bad. “What happened? Did we have food poisoning?” Dad persisted and asked again if I didn’t remember living with him, which I didn’t. I wish he’d stop saying that!

“Christi, I thought you knew. I thought you remembered. Or I would have told you and talked about it. I never brought it up because I didn’t want to bring up painful memories. I figured if you wanted to talk about it, you’d ask me.”

WHAT?! I sat there, stunned. “What?” I felt as if the world suddenly stopped spinning on its axis. Time had stopped for me. Again, I demanded, “What are you talking about?”

My dad, now over seventy years old, is gentle. He placed his hands on my knees and leaned in. “Christi,” He said my name, as if to stop the surreal experience that had my fragmented memories falling from the sky and bring me back to the present moment. “Christi, do you want me to tell you again what happened?”

 

He explained the early years of my life. My parents had separated when I was young as I’d remembered, but somehow I’d permanently altered other facts in my memory. I had, in fact, lived with my dad for some time.

He had custody of me and after a few years, before I was five, I moved back in with my mom and my new little sister.

I’d completely blocked this out of my memory.

I sobbed with relief as the truth washed over me. “You always wanted me.” He hugged me as I cried. We cried together as he patted my back, “Yes, you have always been my girl, I’ve always wanted you.”

“I never believed that. Now I know. You WANTED me. You FOUGHT for me. I MATTERED to you.” The tears were not from sadness, but more of a filling up that was happening in that very moment in my soul.

I pulled back and looked at my dad. “Do you realize that I’m forty-five years old, and my ENTIRE life I’ve believed the lie that you never wanted me? That you thought I was a nuisance and a mistake and you wished you’d never had me?”

We hugged and talked more. He assured me of the love that he’s always had for me, however imperfect. I felt as if I was walking on air for the next several weeks as I would sing-song to myself, “My daddy loves me. My daddy LOVES me!”

And for maybe the first time, I actually believed it.

 

As this reality has sunk in, the deeper reality of God’s love for me has permeated my soul and mind too. He is a Father, yet a perfect One. His love has persevered when I have believed Him to be mean. He has pursued me and fought for me. His love is costly.

Ordinary Miraculous Moments

No matter our relationship with our earthly dad, or lack of it, our Father God sees us, loves perfectly and powerfully. May we all let this truth sink in so we may live it out.

Two FRESH new ways to be an annoying Christian

Christianity

I’m good at annoying people. Sometimes I repel people from Jesus, the very thing, the very Person, I’d like to compel them to without even trying. How about you?

I was thinking that some of you may not have the gift of annoyance like I do. #blessed 

This blog is for you, dear brothers and sisters.

Here are a couple of ways that I’ve found are good at repelling people from Jesus.

Do these faithfully and you’re sure to succeed at being annoying for the cause of Christ:

  1. Use Christian-ese or churchy lingo so that ordinary people have absolutely no idea what you’re saying.

For example:

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I’ll use a conversation for a church announcement to illustrate this point.

“Ladies, if you want to be a woman of the Word, come Friday to fellowship with us. You’ll be blessed as we share time together.

Get prayed up and show up, and bring your lost friends because you are the only Bible that someone might read.”

I think this one is self explanatory.

What the heck does this mean, you may ask?

If you don’t know, then you need to get yo-self to CHURCH and start taking notes on our lingo right away so you can speak it fluently.

 

2. Love the sinner, hate the sin. I’ve actually said this. (gasp)

One of the problems with this is that I don’t see it anywhere in Scripture.

Yeah, I’m REAL good at annoying people. I’ve turned off my fair share of people from Christianity and from Jesus when I get all Pharisee-ical. See, I did it again!

That’s Church lingo for: legalist, person who looks down on others for not following the letter of the law perfectly and shuts people out for the very cause they are zealous for in doing so.

Don’t tell me you’ve done it, too? Told someone that you think they are great, but you don’t agree with their lifestyle. If this is you, maybe we can start a support group for Annoyers Anonymous.

How about if we do what Jesus did, and just love people?

Care about them and what concerns them? Period.

Right now, just as they are. Not in spite of a lifestyle, or choices. Because that’s one of the things I love most about Jesus.

He doesn’t require me to clean myself up from my sin before I approach Him, although He is Holy and could require that from me.

He wants me to turn to Him and away from my sin, but He still seeks me and you and each lowest-of-the-low person before we’ve even thought about turning to Him.

He simply loves me, and you, and the person that’s [fill in the blank] just as we each are. Right now.

He doesn’t like sin, but He also doesn’t say stuff like “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

By the way, that’s all of us. Not one of us is without wrongdoing.

When we aren’t able, or don’t FEEL love for people of a certain category, then maybe the problem is us, not them.

This is a red flag to ask ourselves, “What’s going on in my heart that I’m making Christ’s love for them conditional based on _______? (fill in the blank with behavior, lifestyle, or looks)

I don’t have the power to love people without God or without Christ in me. His love overflows from me, out to others.

Don’t be an annoying Christian. Unless you want to repel people from Jesus. If you do, these are two very successful methods I’ve used through the years.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Christine

coffeewithchristine.com

 

 

 

Confessions of a Prodigal Mom

God

Venting the ugly stuff. We all have moments or times of less than beautiful thoughts that flow into emotion.

Who do you tell your most hideous, soul-bearing junk to? When your gut feels tied into knots, or your thoughts and feelings are more complex than a knot of hair that’s got gum stuck in it…

I pour out my heart to God. Cry the ugly cry that has more snot than tears. A guttural cry that comes from the deep place.

The sobs that rack my body, they overwhelm me and it feels like I’ll never stop, yet it’s over just a few minutes later.

I’m spent, yet raw with emotion. I find relief, knowing that He already knew the hurt, the frustration, the sadness that was there.

He didn’t need me to tell Him, but when I did, a knotted place in my soul emptied out and made room for hope.

My mind cannot comprehend His vastness, His great love, or what He could possibly be accomplishing through my life, and yet I know for certain that there is something.

This is my psalm to Him. Crying out, emptying all of my angst to Him, then looking up with expectant hope.

Yes, there is joy amidst the sorrow. For He is good.

 

Strabismus surgery

God, Uncategorized

I’m having eye surgery tomorrow. So what, you ask?

  1. Please pray for me and for my surgeon for a successful outcome.
  2. This is an opportunity for me to be a voice for the goodness of God, even when circumstances aren’t so good.

For 3-4 years now, my vision has been impaired. Often times I cannot drive or do my regular activities because of it. Even so, I believe NOW, more than ever, that God is faithful and good.

One year ago, my eye doctor said that the impaired eye muscle was inoperable. This spring it has healed to an operable state, and I’m a good candidate for the strabismus surgery that I’m having tomorrow.

Did you catch that? God, in his infinite wisdom, has answered my prayer for healing. From inoperable to operable.

What are you praying for and waiting for God to answer?

Will you trust in His goodness if He doesn’t answer the way that you are asking?

Whether my vision is impaired or not, God is seated on His throne.

Whether my vision is impaired or not, He is loving and merciful.

Realistically, I shouldn’t even be alive, much less having a full and incredible life with people I love and an annoying vision/migraine problem.

Yet here I am.

Photo on 3-30-16 at 9.21 AM

Here I am, alive, in spite of destructive choices, addictions, in spite of trying to kill myself when I was young, and years of depression.

All because of Jesus and His mercy to save me and free me.

I’m praying that the strabismus procedure will be successful and that I can ditch the glasses for good.

But even if not, I will still praise and worship the great God who loves me and gave His life so that I could be saved and free.

Not problem free, but free from bondage. We may never be problem free.

If your circumstances don’t ever line up the way that you desire, do you believe that you can have the abundant life that Jesus offers us?

 

If you’ve ever been broken: Kintsugi

suffering, Uncategorized

Are you broken? Suffering, hurting? Going through a trial and wondering how it could all work out okay? If you feel that your situation may be beyond repair, then consider kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery:

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The 400+ year old Japanese art of kintsugi (golden repair) or kintsukuroi (golden joinery) is a pottery repair method that honors the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing, not hiding, the break.

An art form born from mottainai – the feeling of regret when something is wasted – the cracks are seamed with lacquer resin and powdered gold, silver, or platinum, and often reference natural forms like waterfalls, rivers, or landscapes.

This method transforms the artifact into something new, making it more rare, beautiful, and storied than the original. source

broken-wood-fired-tea-bowl

Wood-fired broken bowl

wood-fired-bowl-kintsugi-repair

Wood-fired bowl restored with gold

source

I am broken. Yet God has put me back together and mended the broken spots.

If someone were to look at my life before I surrendered my life to Jesus, they would have simply seen broken shards, like pottery in the picture above.

You would assume that these broken pieces were useless, and not fit for repair. You would throw them out, without further thought, and even be responsible in doing so.

Some pieces of my life were thoughtlessly or maliciously broken by others. There was rejection, abuse, and degradation.

Some of the fractures were caused by my own doing. Self-harm, bad choices, self-loathing, and destruction.

No matter how many tiny pieces of shattered fragments were scattered along my life’s path, God has filled in the missing places with His healing resin, His presence and peace.

Even now, there are hurting places that don’t make sense to me. I am sure, because of the kintsugi type of work that God has done before, that it will result in something more precious, even though I cannot yet see it.

You may feel beyond repair, but you have a Great Potter, God, who says that you are surely not, and your pain will not be wasted.

If you and I submit our hearts to God, He will restore and mend our broken places. He will ensure that our suffering has a purpose and our lives will be a beautiful display.

Will you allow God to come in to those broken places? Like kintsugi, your life and story is even more beautiful and has more value when it has been restored.

Kintsugi is a process. At first, it simply looks like what it is, broken pieces glued back together. It must be refilled with resin and sanded several times before it’s ready for the gold dust to illuminate and beautify the scars.

When we allow Jesus’ presence and peace to come into our broken places, He will redeem them and our lives will gleam with the gold of His healing touch. Our pain need not be wasted.

Just ask Him to come in, and He will.

 

Christine

 

 

 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Isaiah 64 says:

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Read all of Isaiah 64 here

 

 

Women of the wailing wall

God, Uncategorized

th-2

We are all different, from several generations.We are the women of the wailing wall.

We are rich and we are poor. Worn hand-me-downs and crisp new trends. Some young and vibrant, some with weathered skin and silver hair, like me.

Although we are diverse in every way, we come in solidarity for one purpose.

To seek answers from G-d.

Purposefully I stride, in my trousers, with large handbag in tow. I pause to grab Torah, the very words of G-d, and slow down as I approach the wall.

Old and feeble, but strong in prayer, beseeching for my granddaughter.

She breaks my daughter’s heart as she is lost and tries to find herself.

I weep, sobbing softly for my daughter’s pain, and cry out for my granddaughter to change her course

To come back to the place that she knows is true.

My heart bows low in reverence though my posture remains standing.

My hands shake as they always do. I gently roll up the message that I’ve scrawled out with my request, tenderly and firmly sticking it into a crevice in the wall.

My lips move as I pray and silent tears fall. My cares and anxious thoughts of the day seem to fall to the ground with each tear.

I look up in thanks. Thankful to the One who hears. The One who sees. The One who cares. I bow my head and smile, then gently walk out backwards.

IMG_5037

 

Post Script: I wrote this in July when visiting Israel and going to the Western Wall. I was struck by the variety of women that I saw.

Eastern and Western worldviews, from every socioeconomic group and age. Yet many seemed so earnest in their pursuit of an answer from God.

I was struck by the thought of each woman as an individual; each woman had a story, a prayer that they earnestly prayed and wrote, putting the prayer requests into the wall’s nooks and crannies.

I saw many women crying. Some quietly and reverently, some alone, and some with friends or loved ones. I imagined a woman, weeping with expectant hope that God would answer her fervent prayers for her granddaughter.

She is the woman I wrote about.

Christine

Living Out The Journey of Your Calling

Christianity, mission, Uncategorized

Do you feel like your life’s calling is a mystical thing?

Maybe it’s a very simple, practical thing that we can all do, every day, no matter where we are on the globe.

God calls us to Himself. The rest is geography.

fullsizerender5

Keeping it simple and practical.

Be with Jesus.

Know him.

Love him.

Allow yourself to BE loved by him.

When those things happen, we will be compelled to evangelism, and to service.

But first we must BE with Christ. Geography will be less of an issue.

I’m convinced that there’s not a wrong answer of geography when we’re truly abiding in Christ.

This watercolor was inspired by this video on Calling by Propel Women.

Living Out The Journey of My Calling

Thanks. Sometimes it’s not fun getting to that.

gratitude

GIving thanks for a trial and difficult time in life? Nope! I’m not that spiritually mature, and not sure that I ever will be. I’m a regular person who runs like a maniac to avoid any pain at all cost.  The last two and a half years have been the most difficult years of my adult life, and I couldn’t run from them as I have gone through some intense health challenges. However, I can definitely say that I learned to give thanks in the trial and in the painful circumstance.

If you’ve never had a loved one go through a medical difficulty, there is not a place in your heart or brain to understand it. I’m generally a compassionate and caring person. But as far as knowing someone going through infertility, cancer, diabetes, or any chronic or terminal illness, I just didn’t know what it felt like to go through something like that. To be perfectly honest, I was really quite glib about my questions and conversations with someone going through these things. Mind you, at the time, I felt sincere. Looking back, I think, what a clueless wonder I can be. Even with my own son, who has narcolepsy, a disease that affects him every day, I didn’t have a clue.

I am thankful that in the trial of this difficult medical journey, I have learned a deeper compassion for those who are hurting and looking for answers. I can empathize more with the anxiety of not knowing and waiting for a diagnosis, the fear of what diagnosis you may get, your family’s fear of the unknown, doctor visit after doctor visit, blood work, CT scans, MRI’s, medical bills you didn’t expect, the desperation to find answers, questions from people, no questions from people, and well-meaning things people say that through you for a loop.

My brain MRI at the Mayo Clinic last year

My brain MRI at the Mayo Clinic

Most of all, I am thankful in the trial for the constant God who doesn’t ever change. He walks with us through the valley when it’s dark and scary and unknown, and He is always there.

The sad truth is, that if I had read something like this before my own medical trial, I would have skimmed right over it. And that’s just the point. God taught me some really hard and good things through this difficulty that I only could have learned by going through it. So I’m being real and saying that I don’t like this trial and I would have rather fast-forwarded past it. But I’m thankful in it. And thankful for the God who has walked with me and never left my side.

(In case you were wondering what my medical issue is: For the first year and a half of my mysterious and sometimes debilitating symptoms, we suspected I had MS, with no conclusive diagnosis. After many, many tests, and doctor visits, we have learned that I have unusual complex migraines. They usually present themselves without a headache, but with double vision and other neurological symptoms. That’s why it was so hard to figure out that they’re migraines, because of the usual absence of headaches. I am in the process of getting the right medications and feel better than I have in the last two and half years.)

During my most difficult times of this health scare, the first year and a half, when I was so afraid of the unknown, I often recited the verse James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Prayers for healing and health

suffering

If you have every prayed for healing, and not received physical wholeness, you are facing a quandary.  There are many assumptions that flow from not receiving full healing. My previous post doesn’t take you through all of the assumptions, only straight to my acceptance. However, I believe that it’s important to de-bunk these wrong ideas that I assumed about my prayers not being answered the way that I wanted.

I have prayed, my family has prayed, my friends have prayed, and we have done as James 5:13-16 instructs Christians who are sick. We continue to pray for complete healing in my body, yet I’m not fully healed. We’ve prayed for many months, and I have no doubt that most of us praying actually believe that Jesus Christ performs healing miracles. We believe He raises the dead back to life, He makes the blind see, and the mute hear. So when our prayers aren’t answered with a “Yes” it caused me to feel several things:

1. I believed that I must not have enough faith.

2. I felt forsaken and unloved by God. It felt as if I was completely unheard by Him.

3. Deep down I felt that I must have done something wrong to be afflicted physically.

I can’t tell you that I don’t think of these things at all anymore, but something about the truth of hearing Isaiah 55: That God’s ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts resonated deep in my soul. This truth corrected my assumptions when I heard this Scripture related to our prayers for healing, and Pastor Brian answered the BIG QUESTION we all have when God doesn’t heal our loved ones. (See this post to link to Pastor Brian’s sermon)

I still struggle. Sometimes what I know in my head to be truth about God doesn’t match up to my feelings. But today I know, deep in my soul, that God loves me and hears my prayers, even when I’m not completely healed. He’s moved and listens to our prayers. You and I can trust His heart when we don’t understand His ways.