Category Archives: Jesus

Jaidin and Jesus: The Passion

I had the most touching spiritual conversation with Jaidin on the way home from church Wednesday night. I asked her about what she learned in Girls GEMS club, like I always do, and she shared her memory verse and a few tidbits from class. And then she got real quiet and said “You know mom, you should have been at chapel today at school. You’d have really liked it”.

“Oh yeah”, I said. “What was it about”?

“It was about Palm Sunday”, she replied. “About how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, and how the people were so happy to see him, so excited they were waving palm branches and laying down their coats for him. Pastor Riley brought palm leaves, and each of us got some. It was pretty neat. But then he talked about how the same people that were so excited to see Jesus  were the exact same people that a week later were yelling ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ ”

Then she said the most amazing thing to me.

“You know mom, I hope I’m never one of those people who praises Jesus and says I love God, and then turns around when things get crazy and does something like deny him, like those people did.”

Wow! I was blown away. And convicted. Because how many times have I totally been on fire for God, praising Jesus and following after Him, and then BAM! one little change in circumstances or a bad influence from someone else and my tune changes. In my years as a Christian, certainly I’ve gotten better about not being swayed by the wind or tossed about by rough seas. But I still strive to have the kind of faith that is not shaken, no matter the circumstance.

I told Jaidin that I would pray for her to always have faith, to always do the right thing and to never deny Jesus. But I also told her that there will be times when she will probably doubt, and not do the right thing, but God gives second (and third, fourth, fifth…) chances and as long as we’re truly sorry about whatever it was, He forgives us.

She said she knew that and was so glad that Jesus gave us a second chance through the crucifixion. Then she said “Do you think me & you & Daddy could watch the Passion movie?”

I hestitated, because while I think it’s a tremendous movie, I also think it may be a bit too much for an 8 year old.

“How do you know about the Passion of the Christ?” I asked

“Some of the kids in my class were talking about it at recess”‘ she said. “They said it was a movie about Jesus and that it made Riley’s mom cry.”

So I told her, “It made me cry too. I’ll talk to daddy about it. That movie might be a little too graphic for you.”

She was quiet for a minute, and then said “By graphic, do you mean real?”

Then I got quiet. Yes, REAL. That’s exactly what I was thinking.

As I drove quietly for a minute, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.

“The crucifixion WAS real. She’s asking for more than a movie. She’s asking you to help her understand exactly how much her sin cost.  To see what all sin cost. Show her.”

I was floored.

So… we’ll be watching The Passion of The Christ soon as a family, and I know that God will prepare her little heart to receive the full message of the Cross (and hopefully not not have nightmares!) If you have kids – have they seen The Passion? What was their reaction. What kind of a discussion did you have as a family afterward?

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When a Curse Becomes a Blessing

A couple weeks ago, I was asked if I would consider being the editor for the newsletter published by our women’s ministry at church. It was a no-brainer to say yes. I enjoy writing, I’m a stickler about grammar and spelling, and I’m pretty computer proficient. Sounds like a good fit right?

Then, once I’d committed, Kristen – the director of the women’s ministry said, “One of the things I’d like to implement is an article in each newsletter that highlights one of the ladies in our church. We all see each other, week in and week out, but never really get to know things about each other that are below the surface. Since you’re putting together the newsletter, why don’t you be the first woman we feature? “.  How could I say no? So I agreed. Simple enough.

Except that I hate writing that kind of thing. Or maybe it’s not that I hate it, but really that I don’t want to sound boastful when writing about my successes and accomplishments. I don’t think I’m one to toot my own horn, and I struggle to share about all I’ve been through in my short 35 years because the glory is all God’s. When I share with anyone about where my life has come from, how it’s been changed, and why I hold the hope that I do, I never want people to think that it’s at all because I think I’m such a strong, talented person. Truth is my past (and even some moments in the present) is littered with hardships that without the love and grace of Jesus Christ, I never would have overcome.

I’ve been incredibly blessed that He’s taken what at the time seemed to be a curse, and turned it around into the greatest blessing imaginable. From my sickness and suffering, I’ve been able to find my ultimate purpose.

 

Anyway – many people have asked if I ever finished the article. I did – and here it is in it’s entirety. Maybe I’ll write my memoir one day afterall…

 

Remember your teenage years? Wanting the right hair and clothes, having a crush on that special someone – who didn’t know you existed? Recall feeling awkward and out of place…all alone? Remember trying to fit in? Now imagine that you had a chronic illness that required surgery to save your life. What if on top of all the “normal” adolescent issues, you used the bathroom through a pouch on your side, because your diseased intes­tine had to be removed. How’d you like to miss your birthday party, the big game, even prom, because you were in the hospital- AGAIN! Sounds like a bad dream, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately for Kristin Knipp, this was a reality. Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 9, Kristin spent much of her childhood in the hospital. When she was 15, she had her diseased large intestine removed, leaving her with a condition called an ostomy. The ostomy is a surgically created opening in the abdomen through which doctors bring a portion of the bowel and the person then wears  a prosthetic ( called a pouch) that waste is collected in.

“My teenage years were trying, for sure. There’s a certain stigma attached to going to the bathroom ‘differently’, and when you’re a young person, that stigma seems magnified. It’s very isolating”, says Kristin. “For many years I asked ‘why me?’. I didn’t know Jesus back then, so no real answer ever came. In fact, the lack of answers, coupled with recurrent surgeries and medical trials, led to one very bitter young lady. I was mad- mad at my body, mad at my circumstances, and mad at God for allowing it. It wasn’t until I was 17 that things slowly began to fall into place.”

At 17, Kristin attended a summer camp for teens that had ostomies and other bowel and bladder diversions. For the first time, she met other kids that had experienced illness, surgery, and the same struggles she’d been facing. Finally, she didn’t feel alone. This camp, called Youth Rally, was ultimately the vehicle through which Kristin was introduced to Jesus.

“My second year as a camper, I met a young man who was also a Crohn’s patient and an ostomate. We were drawn to each other – initially because of teenage hormones and young love, but after camp ended and we returned to our respective homes, we maintained our friendship and I began to realize that we had a special relationship. Every time we talked, he offered me hope regarding whatever circumstances I was facing, and assured me after every conversation we had that he was praying for me. It wasn’t long before I realized that the thing that drew me to him most was his relationship with the Lord. In 1997, I visited him and his family in Tennesse, and it was there that I attended my first ever church service, and gave my heart to Jesus.”

It didn’t take long after welcoming Jesus into her life for Kristin to recognize how God had placed His hand on her  long before that moment, and had been weaving a tapestry that on the under side appeared messy and disheveled. But now that she could see it clearly, through spiritual eyes from God’s perspective, she began to see the answer to her “why me?” questions.

Kristin has returned to Youth Rally for the past 12 years to volunteer as a counselor and offer hope to teens facing life with an ostomy.  Volunteering with Youth Rally brought to Kristin’s attention the lack of support and resources for young people living with ostomy surgery, especially young adults, and in 2005 she founded YODAA (Young Ostomate & Diversion Alliance of America) a national network for young adults living with ostomy or diversionary surgery. Eventually the organization joined the United Ostomy Associations of America(UOAA) as an affiliated support group, and YODAA is still growing strong today.

In 2006, serving while serving UOAA as National Conference Planning Chair, Kristin was approached by the organization’s president about running for a national board of directors position. Kristin knew that it was something she was called to do.

“My life had come full circle”, she says. “At 15, receiving an ostomy had felt like a life sentence. Now, I was in a position to share my experience with an ostomy with others and let them know that it is indeed a LIFE sentence. Life is the key word. An ostomy gave me back my life, and this was my opportunity to use my experiences to change the course for others facing the same road. This was a significant answer to my WHY from so many years ago.”

 

Kristin threw her hat in the ring for the election, and was installed as the President-elect of UOAA in 2007. She served in that capacity for 3 years, and in January 2010, began her term as President of the organization.

“ While serving UOAA as president, I had the opportunity to travel the United States and abroad and use my God-given talents to work to improve the lives of ostomates around the world.  I’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill for legislation important to those living with an ostomy, I’ve been to Mexico and seen the plight of ostomates in foreign countries who have little or no access to specialized care and ostomy supplies. I’ve been honored to serve on a selection committee that extends scholarships and awards to people who’ve made a ‘great comeback’ from ostomy surgery, and have been blessed to be a spokesperson for several campaigns aimed at eliminating the stigma that is attached to ostomy surgery. God has granted me the influence to affect change and the responsibility to help others along their journey”.

Kristin now works for a company that makes specialized undergarments for people that have had ostomy surgery, and feels incredibly lucky to be able to combine her vocation with her avocation.

“Every day, I have the opportunity to minister to someone who’s in need of a little hope. It’s not traditional ministry – I don’t work at a church and I don’t have a title, but I have the love and grace of Jesus Christ in my heart, and I’m able to share it every day in the form of knowledge and encouragement to help others along their journey. My WHY has been answered, and no longer is Crohn’s disease or an ostomy a curse. It’s been my biggest blessing.”

Televangelism (and mushrooms) make me sick…

I’m home sick today. ( Mushroom pizza for dinner last night. Mushrooms don’t *usually* bother me, but I haven’t had an obstruction in almost a year, so I guess I was due. Curse the ostomy gods!)

Being home sick = too much time reading online. I ran across this article on clevescene.com and it made me ill ( and I thought my stomach was in knots from the mushrooms *roll eyes*). Now, I know my ultra conservative church friends may complain that Scene is a “liberal -left wing  media outlet” intent on bringing a bad name to Christianity. That’s fine, but I really think guys like the televangelists in the article have done way more to bring shame to the name of Jesus than any left wing liberal could hope of accomplishing. I’m ashamed that two of these guys resided in my state.

Reading crap like this makes me nauseated. The article is here

Grab a barf bucket prior to reading…

Brain Dump

What’s going on. In random bulletpoints. Of absolutely no order of significance.

  • We’re back from Florida. All in all, it was a good trip. Jaidin was so excited about her first plane ride, and this is the first trip to the ocean that she’ll remember (We went to Destin when she was 15 months). It rained the first two and a half days we were there, was beautiful the next two and a half, and was a rainy the last day. We squeezed in as much pool and beach time as we could and did indoor stuff the rest of the time. I’ll post the pictures soon.
  • I read an entire book while we were in Florida, and boy, was it a good one! There’d been some buzz by some friends of friends about The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, so picked up a copy before we left for Florida. I have so many thoughts on this book but couldn’t even begin to put them to words right now. But I will be posting more, because this book has seriously messed me up and challenged me in a good way. So for now all I have to say is, if you consider yourself a follower of Christ…not a liberal, not a conservative, not a Protestant, Catholic, Charismatic or whatever…but someone who wants to seek a better way of doing life…this book is for you. Check it out.
  • I just finished watching Rock of Love with Bret Michaels. I had to tape the finale while we were on vacation, but they just re-ran it right before they aired the reunion show, so I watched both. Not exactly quality viewing, but my goodness, what a guilty pleasure. What a train wreck of a reality tv show. Love it! And I’m SO HAPPY he chose Jess. 🙂
  • Learning Hebrew has proved to be quite the challenge, but I am undeterred. I seriously spent one whole day at the pool with my Hebrew for Dummies book, and I really only conquered a few words and one simple sentence. It’s really hard when you don’t have a native speaker to “practice” with. I’m going to take lessons at a local Jewish college, but they only offer the course a few times a year, and unfortunately, right now doesn’t coincide with either of those times of year. So for now it’s me, my book and the ‘net. Maybe I should get some of the Rosetta Stone software. Anybody know if it’s effective???
  • Bath and Body Works new scent Pumpkin Pie Paradise = A little slice of heaven. Can you say YUMMY? I bought the lotion, the bodywash/shampoo AND the home fragrance oil.
    pbbw1-3137664v194.jpg
  • I read an article lately about a new online dating site that caters to people with chronic health related issues. Prescription4Love.com I suppose I understand the appeal (being upfront about health related issues prevents the “big reveal” that those of us with chronic illness deal with in relationships), but as someone who has a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) and some extra baggage…literally (ileostomy), I never felt the need to limit myself to having relationships with only other ostomates, IBD’ers or people with another health “issues”. More thoughts on this later…
  • Cleveland sports suck. The Brown’…augh! The Indians are doing well (except for NOT sweeping the Yankees tonight). But I promise you, even if they make it all the way, I will NOT jump on the bandwagon. I’m too jaded. And another thing…I DON’T CARE IF LEBRON JAMES IS A YANKEES FAN!! OR THAT HE WORE A YANKEES HAT TO THE INDIANS GAME! He gets paid to win basketball games for Cleveland, which he does. Who he roots for in baseball is none of my concern. I can’t believe, with all that’s going on in the world, this is considered news-worthy. *rolling my eyes*

That’s all for now. Stay tuned…

Kathy Griffin, Petitions, Crazy Christians and Wasted Money

This morning I received an email from a respected leader in my church, asking me to sign a petition created by a group of Christian actors in response to Kathy Griffin’s off color comment during her acceptance of a creative arts Emmy earlier in the month.

Here’s a link to the article that accompanied the request: http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=276713

I’m flabbergasted. While I think Griffin’s comment was controversial, I’m not at all surprised by it. Griffin is known to make off color comments about many subjects, religion included. She’s a comic…that’s her job. Her comment doesn’t offend me. In fact, I thought it a bit witty. How many times, as a Christian, have I watched an awards show where someone gets up and “thanks Jesus” for their accomplishments, all of us knowing full well that it’s probably just lip service? (I’m not judging here…just being honest. No one knows a heart except God, but He does allow us to examine believers by their fruits). Griffin has never (to my knowledge) claimed to be a follower of Christ. Why would we expect her to be respectful of our God?

But most of all I found Griffin’s statements sad. To get up in front of a national audience and claim that “this award is now your God” is a very bold statement, joking or not, and one that she will have to answer for one day.

So instead of organizing protests and petitions, why doesn’t this group of supposedly well intentioned Christians put their time and effort into praying for Griffin? And I don’t mean organizing a public, self serving “prayer service” to draw attention to themselves. I’m talking about asking God, in their secret closet of prayer, to soften Kathy’s heart and reveal Himself to her.

And then there’s the issue of the $90,000 + spent on an ad in the USA Today claiming “enough is enough”? The group claims they just want to “give a voice to those who want to stand up for Christ”. That’s all well and good…except I can’t help but believe that that $90,000 could have been put to much better use feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and a thousand other tangible tasks that exhibit the love of Christ.

I don’t know…call me crazy…

Lump of Coal


LUMP OF COAL
————
Lord, I always wonder why
When bad things happen to me,
How could You allow me turmoil
And roughen waves upon my sea?

If you love me, why allow such pain
And unnecessary strife?
I thought that You wanted me to know
Peace within my life.

I know that You really love me,
I know that You really care.
I know that You work in mysterious ways,
I know that You are always there.

“Child, you are pressed upon every side,
But you’re never really broken.
I will keep My every word
On the promises that I’ve spoken.”

“In time, I’ll make it clear to you,
For now, your character I build anew.
I allow such problems to persist
So that you’ll help others too.”

“You are a special lump of coal,
There’s a reason for the storms.
When coal is put under pressure,
Eventually, a diamond forms.”

~B.G. Wetherby

Thanks, Jamie. I’m waiting on my diamond too…

A Free For all Christmas

I came across this article that so eloquently conveys thoughts I’ve been pondering in my head all week. I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. The world seems to be spinning out of control around me. So much is uncertain…things aren’t bad per se, just unsettled. I want to feel the “warm fuzzies” and genuinely want to exhibit “goodwill toward all men” in my thoughts and actions. But it’s not been easy. I haven’t been able to “psych myself up”. So I’m thankful that this article and some revelation from the Holy Spirit have reminded me that while the story of Jesus’ birth is about peace, joy, grace and salvation, it is as much about turmoil, tribulation and brokenness.

As the article says, “God didn’t prepare a pristine time where his Son could be protected and coddled!”. What makes me think I deserve a life free of difficult and sometimes scary circumstances and situations?

A Free-for-All Christmas?, by Phil Ware

Have you noticed that the Christmas season is more like “let’s get ready to rumble” than it is “O holy night”?

The midnight releases of video consoles, video games, movies, books and specialty gifts have caused rowdy stampedes. We’ve seen grown adults trample each other and get into fistfights over places in line and who got to a toy first. Yikes!

Then from many who come from the normally dysfunctional family, there is all the family baggage that gets unwrapped with the Christmas presents. Innocent statements are misinterpreted resulting in hurt feelings. Stiletto sharp innuendos are used to carve up folks who are supposed to love one another. And then fights break out because someone corrects or disciplines someone else’s child. Double yikes!

Even the pilgrimages back to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Christ are complicated by the ongoing war between Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the very place where Jesus was born. These tensions threaten all of world peace in the land where the Prince of Peace lived, died, and rose again. Triple yikes!

While there is much about the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth that is precious and touching, I believe it is also important to remind us that the Jesus story is not all sweetness and light. One of the most horrific stories in the New Testament is centered around the birth of Jesus. This story is sometimes called “The Slaughter of the Innocents.”
Jesus’ apostle Levi the tax collector records it this way:

Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted
him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem
who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him
the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. Herod’s
brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah:

A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah — weeping and mourning
unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be
comforted—for they are dead. (Matthew 2:16-18 NLT)

What are we to make of this?

The Lord himself said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed … (Matthew 24:6 NRS). We live in a free for all planet where sin has marred every level of relationships. The whole story of Jesus’ coming is tied to the real world in which we live. God didn’t prepare a pristine time where his Son could be protected and coddled!

Jesus was born into a vicious world of hate, war, struggle, and jealously. These fruits of hell would be ever-present for each step he took on the little blue planet he created. God had to use an angelic vision to warn Joseph and Mary to take the baby Jesus away to prevent his slaughter. Even from the first moments of Jesus’ arrival, even while listening to the angelic choir singing “gloria in excelcis deo”, we hear the rumblings of Herod’s jealous and paranoid bile.

So when things seem bleak or difficult or fractured in the coming days of Christmas, please remember, these are as much a reminder of why Jesus came as are the sweet sounds of angels, the excited presence of Shepherds, and the mysterious journey of the magi. Jesus came to save a broken world. He didn’t do it from afar, but from up close … in person … beginning in a manger … going to a cross … before conquering death and leaving behind an empty tomb.