Walking on Egg Shells

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When I was a little girl, I did not understand why Good Friday was so “good.” When I attended Good Friday Church services with my dad, everyone looked so sad and somber. I remember a cross with a statue of Jesus “nailed” to it was placed at  the top of the middle isle and people crawling  towards the cross, on their hands and knees, to kiss the statue’s feet and hands, then stand up to go sit in their pews. As a little kid, I didn’t no if Jesus died again on every Good Friday or what was going on with all the “unhappy” faces all around me. Later in life, when God opened up the Scriptures to me, I found out that Jesus had to only die once, and that He died for me. Not only did Jesus die for my sins, but He also rose again to set me free from death’s grip. Not only did He rise from the dead, but Jesus is also coming again to put an end to death permanently. I praise God, especially on Good Friday, for what He has done for me on the cross, and for  continuing to reveal His Truth to me about our relationship; Who He is and who I am in Christ..

“The death [Jesus] died, He died to sin once for all [for me]; but the life He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:10).

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people [including mine]; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him [me included]” (Hebrews 9:27-28).

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous [me], to bring you [and me] to God” (I Peter 3:18).

Another thing that puzzled me as a little girl was this whole give-up-meat-on-Friday-thing. People “gave up” eating meat on Friday and said it was a “sacrifice” in honor of the Crucified Christ. Instead of eating meat, people went out to eat and ordered lobster, scallops, shrimp, fried whole-bellied clams, salmon and other seafood entrées, along with partaking of an all-you-can-eat salad bar. But they did not get any desert, they‘ll have you know. I just didn’t understand where the “sacrifice” part came in. I wanted to shout, an often quoted Vince Lombardi quote, “What the [heck] is going on around here!”  To begin with, the whole idea of sacrifice was turned backwards. Jesus is the only one Who can and did  provide the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus already did it. God doesn’t need us to sacrifice anything but our hearts to love Him for Who He is and what He has already done for us and enjoy being in relationship with Him. If we choose to give up meat or a meal or even fast for the whole day, do it out of a thankful heart and for God’s glory and honor and praise. Instead of eating,  use that time to pray or read Scripture, go do an “intentional act of kindness” or feed someone else. Have lunch with God, feeding on His Word and a sandwich at the same time. It can be done. It’s called multi-tasking. Whatever we do, it is only between God and us.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, Who is unseen; and your Father, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:16-18).

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).

“You [God] do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”  (Psalm 51:16-17).

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers [and sisters], in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good,  pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16.)

Good Friday is a good day to meditate and reflect on all that Jesus went through on the cross for us. Some say it’s not about us per say, but it’s all about God. But, why did God send Jesus to die? John 3:16 tells us why: “For God so loved the world [us], that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I can exchange the “whoever” with your own name: Because Lydia “believes in Him [Lydia] shall not perish but have eternal life.” It is about us because God made it about us. Nothing would please Him more than to have us live with Him and enjoy a right relationship with Him for all eternity. Jesus has accomplished this for us on the cross. Isaiah 53:3-5 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed by our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

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When I look at the cross, in relation to how much I have been forgiven because of Jesus’ Perfect Sacrifice for all my sins, as the hymn writer wrote, “Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!” (“Were You There?” by Charles Turner). I can become involved in philosophical discussions and ask questions like, “What about the tribe in Africa who never heard about Jesus and the cross? What about the Hindu or the Muslim or the…” But, until I ask, “What about ME and Jesus and the cross? And until I realize how much I need God’s forgiveness, the philosophical discussions will not get me any closer to where I need to be. On the other hand, when I can identify with the woman of whom Jesus said, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little [in his own estimation] loves little,” that is where God wants me to be. Only then  can I  enjoy God’s forgiveness and grace (unmerited favor) and enjoy Father/daughter relationship with God and exclaim from the rooftops, “Sometimes I feel like shouting GLORY, GLORY, GLORY!” (from the same hymn as above).

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To know Jesus as only “ the Man of Sorrows” is to know only a part of Who He is. The writer of Hebrews tells us “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2). Jesus’ joy came from knowing He would soon be with His Father, and that is what motivated Him and gave Him strength to do His Father‘s will. When Jesus walked the earth,  He did not live His life as a monk or guru living  high on a mountain top, away from the maddening crowd, living a life of solitude and continual meditation, in search in search of the meaning of life and the truth behind all things. Jesus knew the meaning of life: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…[and] Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37a, 39b). As far as finding the truth, Jesus is the TRUTH (John 14:6). Jesus exuded true happiness and was empowered by the TRUE JOY of His Father.  Jesus enjoyed life. He enjoyed people. He enjoyed telling stories; sometime humorous stories. He enjoyed parties. In fact, Jesus was the life of the party! Jesus desires us to enjoy life as He did. Jesus epitomized Nehemiah’s instruction to the people of God, after they had found the lost Book of God‘s Law, read it and were reminded of their utter sinfulness. They must have behaved like the people at the Good Friday church service I described above. Instead of weeping, Nehemiah instructed them to, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the JOY of the LORD is your strength” (8: 10).

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Jesus enjoyed celebrations. All you have to do is read about His first miracle performed at the “Wedding in Cana,” recorded in John 2. Jesus and His disciples attended that wedding feast. When the hosts had run out of wine, Jesus’ mother Mary said to Jesus, “They have no more wine” (verse 3). Jesus responded, “Dear woman, why do you involve Me? My time has not yet come” (verse 4). This is purely my own opinion (I not a theologian), but I think Mary saw a twinkle in Jesus eye (Sons have been known to lovingly tease their mothers on occasion.). Why else would Mary say to the “waiters,” “Do whatever He tells you” (I’m just sayin’). Jesus honored His mother’s request and turned panic and embarrassment into joy and jubilation. He not only turned water into wine; He turned water into the best wine. Some theologians try to say the wine was of the non-alcoholic variety, but I don’t think so, and you don’t have to be a theologian to come to that conclusion. Verse 10 records the “master of the banquet” going to the bridegroom and saying, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This was not Welch’s sparkling grape juice! The religious leaders of Jesus’ day mistakenly called Jesus “a glutton and a drunkard” (Matthew 11:19b). They had no idea Who Jesus was. Jesus was the Word of God . John 1:1-3 states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” Jesus was able to enjoy all He created. He enjoyed eating food and drinking wine because He knew that they were Gifts that were to be enjoyed and not to be abused or taken for granted.  Jesus the Word “…makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate – bringing food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make His face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” Unlike the religious leaders of Jesus’ time on earth, or some religious leaders in our day, Jesus is no “party-pooper.”

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Jesus enjoyed eating at people’s houses.  In fact, one time He invited Himself over to the house of Zacchaeus, a hated tax collector. Jesus dined mostly with people at the bottom of the societal totem pole. That gave Him the reputation, according to the religious leaders, of being “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19b). This time the religious leaders were right. Jesus explained his friendships this way: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the [self] righteous, but sinners.”

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Jesus had dinner at the house of Mary and Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-41 and John 12:1-3).  In Luke’s account of one of their get-togethers, Jesus tells Martha to basically take a “chill pill” and relax about the “many things” that have to get done and just enjoy the “better” thing, like her sister Mary was doing. Jesus did also dine with the Pharisees (Luke 7:36-50 and 11:37-54). The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were the only groups that Jesus made nervous. In Luke 7, they became embarrassed and downright indignant when a woman came in and started washing Jesus feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. They were appalled when Jesus accepted her “unconventional” form of worship as an act of  sincere love and repentance by forgiving her of her many sins. In Luke 11, the Pharisees once again became unnerved when Jesus did not wash his feet before the meal, a ceremonial tradition everyone whose in-the-know must do. This really set Jesus off and He blasted them for their hypocrisy and lack of compassion.

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With everyone but the religious leaders, Jesus lightened up the room and everyone was relaxed when He was around. No one felt like they had to walk on egg shells or a tightrope and act a certain way. For instance, Jesus disciples felt free to pick grain when they were walking through the grain fields, on the Sabbath, because they were hungry. Why else would you pick grain?  They were probably walking and talking with Jesus and didn’t even realize they were picking grain and popping the kernels in their mouths, just like you would eat popcorn at the movies. Jesus brought out the best in people and helped them to relax and see God as their loving Heavenly Father and not like the ogre some had made Him out to be.  For the Pharisees, picking grain on the Sabbath was a NO-NO. This also enraged Jesus because the Pharisees were misrepresenting His Father. Jesus told them, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would have not condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:7-8).

Jesus loved children and enjoyed having them being around. Matthew 19:13-14 records, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” I wonder how the religious leaders related to children. Maybe they were like W.C. Fields who famously said, “Get away kid, you bother me.” Children were precious to Jesus. I can almost see Him playing with the children. I wonder if they have dreidels back then.

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Jesus was known to tell a humorous story or two to teach an important truth. In Jesus’ time, listening to stories would be like watching TV today. People needed to use their imagination more and picture, in their mind’s eye, what was being said. Try to imagine and picture what Jesus is saying in this story: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41-43). I can see Laurel and Hardy doing this skit. What about this one; picture it: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24). Then Jesus was quick to point out, after He had the disciples’ full attention, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

On this Good Friday, let us reflect on what Jesus has done for us on the cross so long ago. Let us praise His Name and have our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And let us be filled with joy, Jesus’ Joy, as we look forward to Easter (Resurrection) Sunday. Many of us will be pealing colored hard boiled eggs on Easter morning. When we peal our eggs for breakfast, let’s be reminded that Jesus swept the egg shells away: “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12). Let us live our lives with the joy of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, until He comes again. Maranatha!

A peaceful GOOD Friday  and a JOYOUS RESURRECTION SUNDAY to you all!

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It’s How I Roll!

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 If you ask anyone who knows me, you would find out quickly that I am not a middle-of-the-road kind of person. God made me to be an all-or-nothing kind of person. When I’m involved with something, my whole heart is into it; whether it is rooting for the RED SOX, studying the Bible concerning a specific book or topic, learning about food and wine pairings, or grilling a steak to perfection. Whatever the activity, I give it my full attention. I tell people, I work hard…when I work, that is. If all this is true, why on earth am I being pushed by my youngest sister down the middle of the road, in a small beach community, on the Oregon Coast? The answer is simple. I am left-handed.

Being a southpaw, I have trouble following rules that do not make any sense whatsoever to me. That is why I started this blog. I do not have to worry about the length of my posts or what I am writing about or who is reading. I am free to write however short or long it takes to get a point across. It‘s very freeing to be able to be myself in the posts I write. Anyway,  my two sisters and I were sightseeing in this small village of summer cottages on the beach. It was a  cold and very windy day in the month of May and no one else was around except for a few other sightseers and not a bit of traffic. In order to see what we could see,  my youngest sister would have to push me through the sandy beach with much difficulty or use the paved road that was easily accessible and would provide an easy and smooth ride for both rider and “driver.” When my sister with the camera suggested riding in the middle of the road, my youngest sister and I looked at each other and looked at the sandy beach and smoothly paved empty road and said, “Why not?” We were on our merry way,  providing a few smiles for a few passerby’s,  to see the beautiful Oregon Coast and interestingly styled cottages that reminded me so much of Cape Cod, except for one. Jane and I had a delightful time visiting our youngest Sophie who lives so far away.

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I also don’t do so well with following every “jot” and “tittles” of a recipe. To me cookbooks and boxes filled with favorite recipes are really starter books and suggestion boxes. My sister Jane is the same way. She often makes “never-to-be- eaten-again-so-you-better-enjoy-it-now chilli or stew or barbecue sauce or you name it. I have a recipe or “suggestion card” for making a chicken dish that keeps growing and growing. I got this recipe from a friend of a friend. This is the original recipe (I gave it its name) :

“Choked-Up Chicken Under Popeye’s Ranch”

1. Place uncooked chicken breasts or thighs or legs in a large casserole dish.

2. Place marinated artichoke hearts in between the chicken pieces (marinade is optional).

3. Cover chicken and artichoke hearts with flesh uncooked spinach.

4. Pour Ranch dressing on top to cover all the spinach.

5. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes for boneless chicken and one hour for bone-in chicken (Time varies depending on the oven used).

This chicken casserole has been a favorite of mine for years and it also has grown through the years, with the addition of ingredients such as, mushrooms, diced ham chunks or bacon bits, sliced red or green peppers, different kinds of Ranch dressings and grated parmesan oregano cheese. It can be eaten with pasta or rice or artisan bread, with a nice buttery Californian Chardonnay or tart Australian Sauvignon Blanc. If you only like red wine, maybe a light and fruity Oregon Pinot Noir might go well. You’re just going to have to try it and see for yourself.

Doing things differently, such as wheeling down the median of a traffic-free road or stodging up (in a good sense) and making food more interesting is how I roll. This is how God made me. God has also made me a lover of His Word. The Bible is my road map to how I want to live my life and who I want to live my life for. This is also an example of how I do things differently from the world at large, but this is also who God made me to be. I am not a theologian, nor do I pretend to be one (as some do) on TV. I can only tell you about what I see in reading and studying God’s Word.  God teaches me who He is and what He has done for me and what He continues to do.  He has taught me about the time His Son Jesus rode on a donkey in the middle of the road to Jerusalem, but it wasn’t a sightseeing trip. Luke 9:51 tells me, “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.“ In Luke 19:37 it says, “When He [Jesus] came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” The people expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government, but God had a different plan. Instead of changing the government,  Jesus  rode into Jerusalem to change my heart by dying on the cross for my sins and for the sins of all who believe that He is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). A old hymn says it best: “And in my heart I find a need for Him to be my Savior. That He would leave His place on high and come for sinful man to die – You count it strange, so once did I, before I met my Savior” (from “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust).

The people back then and even now do not realize how insidious sin is and how it has created a great chasm between God and mankind. Jesus taught about this in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus talks about the separation between Lazarus who is in heaven and the rich man who is in hell. In Jesus’ teaching, Abraham answers the rich man’s request “to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue” this way:  Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed…” (Luke 16:24-26). No doubt Jesus was thinking of Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His Face from you, so that He will not hear.”

It is not  popular to talk about sin, but I know how it is a reality in my life. I know how selfish I can be. I know how self-centered I can be. I know how unkind and insensitive I can be. I know how ugly words can spill out of my mouth, even when I tell myself not to say them. BUT GOD sent Jesus to save me from myself. The apostle Paul says it best in  Roman 7:15,24-25: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!“ This is what I believe with all of my heart. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday” to die for me and for you on Good Friday, and He rose again three days later, on Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, so the we can live for Him now and forevermore.

I still sin, but Jesus teaches me how important it is to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others as He has forgiven me. My desire is to be more like Him all that I do. Sometimes I do and sometimes I fail miserably.  I John 1:8-9 says: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

The word “Christian” means different things to different people. For me, when I say I am a Christian, I am saying that I am a person who loves Jesus and I am grateful beyond words to Him, for dying on the cross for  my sins and “bridging” my way back to God.  (The “Bridge Illustration”  is in a booklet used by the Navigators, a Para-church group. When I first became a Christian I would read the prayer at the end of the “Bridge Illustration“ and also the prayer at the end of the “Four Spiritual Laws,” a booklet put out by Campus Crusade for Christ, another Para-church group. I would pray them every night, just to cover the bases and make sure I was right with God. I did not know, at the time, about the “no-trade clause“ that Jesus gives His “sheep“ (followers):  “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are One“- John 10:27-30.)  As a Christian, I know in the depths of my  heart that Jesus is “the Bread of Life”(John 6:35) and He has satisfied my soul’s famishing  hunger. Jesus is where I go to drink the “Living Water” and He has quenched my spirit’s unquenchable thirst. Knowing Christ has called me “out of darkness into His Wonderful Light” (I Peter 2:9). If some people think this is an unusual way of thinking, especially in the 21st Century, so be it. I am getting used to being “comfortable in my own skin.” Besides, I am left-handed after all and being different is how I roll. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

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I Have Pics!

No, I’m not talking about March Madness! Although, that would be an excellent guess if it were not for the World Baseball Classic this year. With the WBC, Baseball Spring Training games, Bruins and Celtics games, I just don’t have time to fill out a bracket and follow the college basketball games. But you never know; I might just fill one out at the last minute. Old habits are hard to give up.

This is a message to all my loyal blog followers: I have pictures in my posts, and I have corrected the typos and added a few more thoughts to all my previous posts. Check out the New and Improved Version (not to be mistaken for the N.I.V.) of lydslookonlife, free of charge. You just have to “google it”!

While I still have your attention, please let me share a few verses to one of my favorite Psalms with a photo of the “Glacier Potholes”, in Shelborne Falls, Massachusetts.

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,

though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

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Who’s Who? What’s What? Where Am I Going with This?

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Everybody I know knows about Sesame Street. We have either watched it on TV for our own edification or watched this educational programming with the children in our lives. Sesame Street ranks up there with (1600) Pennsylvania Avenue, (Monopoly’s) Boardwalk and Vatican City (Pope’s residence), and maybe Yawkey Way. In fact, most children would know that Big Bird lives on Sesame Street and not have a clue to where the  U.S. President or the Roman Catholic Pope reside.  Most of us are also familiar with the jingle which is used to teach children to look for differences in groups of objects to increase their visual acuity and discrimination (the good kind) skills. For example, it is very helpful to be able to pick out good apples to eat and throw away the rotten ones. The song goes like this:

“One of these things are not like the others,

One of these things just doesn’t belong,

Can you guess which thing is not like the others

By the time I finish this song?”

Looking at the photo of the four females (above), what would your answer be to this song? Okay, you’re too smart. I am the only one wearing sunglasses over my eyes. Oh, that wasn’t your answer? Maybe it’s that I’m the only one with a GREEN MONSTER Boston RED SOX shirt on, so I must be the only RED SOX fan in the photo, right? No, that’s not it either? Then, what could it be? Could it be that I am the only one in the photo who looks disabled and is in a wheelchair? All these answers are correct, including the last answer: I do have cerebral palsy and I am in a wheelchair. But if that’s the biggest difference you see, you are missing out on a lot. If you conclude, from this photo, that I am the only one with physical struggles, you would be incorrect.

The photo of the four friends does not tell the whole story. From this photo, you are unable to see that one woman struggles with vertigo and acid reflux now and then, another lives with basil base arthritis and high blood pressure, and another manages life with cervical radiculopathy (pain/numbness down the arm and fingers) and bursitis in the hip. From this photo, you can’t tell which person(s) survived a first bad marriage and is now happily married or which of the four lost her first child through miscarriage. You can’t know which mom(s) have a child who have suffered a life-changing car accident and, as all good moms do, is now helping her child to cope and live a happy life.

These things I have shared are not meant to depress you, but help you realize that what we see is not the whole “picture.” Knowing the differences between apples and oranges, cold and hot, safe and unsafe is very important. But, when it comes to people, recognizing our similarities is more important than labeling people as different from us. We all have struggles, both physical and emotional; we all have pain in our lives, both physical and relational; we all are getting older and our body parts are not working as well as they used to. Most of all, we all need a Savior Who understands our deepest pain and Who can lift us up from our deepest despair. That is why Jesus came. That is why Good Friday is so GOOD and we celebrate and rejoice on Easter – RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

Isaiah 53:3-6 describes Jesus in this way: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus came to be one of us. He experienced the pain and suffering we experience. He knows the suffering that comes with being ridiculed and rejected. He knows what it’s like to be broken, crushed and in despair. He knows what it’s like to be tempted by the evil one (Matthew 4:1-11) If anyone know our deepest hurt and our greatest need, it’s Jesus. While He walked the earth, Jesus was still God, but He was also fully human. In reading through the Gospels, I learn that Jesus was hungry (Mark 11:12), thirsty (John 4:7), and needed sleep (Mark 4:38). In the most quoted Bible verse when one needs one in a hurry, I learn that “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Jesus’ humanity is profoundly displayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before His suffering and death (Matthew 26:39-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46). The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus as “sorrowful and troubled“ and “being overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” The Gospel of Mark records Jesus as being “deeply distressed and troubled” and His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” The Gospel of Luke says of Jesus, “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane tells me it is okay to go to God with my questions and when I am overwhelmed with life’s troubles, because that’s what Jesus did. Having questions and being overwhelmed is not sin in and of itself. It is what we do with our questions and feelings of being overwhelmed that may result in sin. We may choose to stay angry at God for our life’s circumstances and we may even run away from God and the circumstances by using various means such as, abusing alcohol or drugs or food or people, or we can choose what Jesus chose to do. Jesus obeyed His Father’s will: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient onto death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

Jesus knows exactly how it is to be one of us, because He was human in every way, except He was without sin. Being without sin, Jesus was able to do what none of us could ever do – pay for my sins and atone for the sins of all those who believe in His Name. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21).  Through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead and His promise to return, Jesus has given us a new address, way better than Sesame Street or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or Boardwalk. Our new address is not of this world! Jesus said to His disciples (including us), “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

Now, for “the rest of the story” of the Photo of the Four Females: It’s really a photo of two pairs of sisters. My sister Jane is on my right (your left) and Kathy and Fran are the sisters standing behind us. We took a “road trip” to the “Bridge of Flowers,” in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, because we all enjoy flowers. We are all RED SOX fans. We are laughing in the bottom photo because the person who took the picture said, “Say YANKEE!” (It was either that or throw him over the bridge.) After visiting the “Bridge of Flowers” and the “Glacier Potholes,” we went for a wine tasting just over the border in Vermont, because we all enjoy wine. We then went to the Whately Inn, back in Massachusetts, for a birthday dinner, because it was my birthday and because we all enjoy eating. Before heading home, we went to Richardson Candy Kitchen, in South Deerfield, to buy a few treats for home, because we all like REAL chocolate. So, you see, we four have many things in common, that do not show up in a photo. Most of all, even though we are two pairs of sisters, we are four sisters in Christ (who are also of Polish ancestry)!
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“Blessed is the mighty king who sits beside the weakest man

and thinks of all their similarities.”

(from the book, “The Singer”)

– Calvin Miller

A Place of Belonging with People Who Believe

towel and basin

My name is Lydia G. (a.k.a. “The Lyd”). I started attending  my church (CC for short)  in 1973 and met Jesus as my Savior and Lord at that time. In 1976, I became a member of  CC. While going to college at HCC, AIC, and SC, I was able to attend my church, which I considered as my second home, at least once or twice a month.  For many years during my college days, I read through the Bible in a year from different translations. I also attended adult Sunday School  and attended many weekend retreats for college students, sponsored by CC and various college Para-church groups. Throughout the first decade of my Christian walk, I grew like a weed in my love for Jesus, His Word, and His body of Christ at my home church. The people there demonstrated the love of Christ to me and accepted me into their fellowship with open arms. They saw me from the inside and valued me as the person God made me to be. My cerebral palsy was never an issue with them. I have attended Bible studies at the church and in various homes and I have also led Bible studies in my home.

In 1981, CC sent me out as one of their indigenous missionaries to a Christian missions organization which served children and adults with disabilities and inner city kids, by providing a residential school and summer camp programs to teach and nurture them in the Lord. CC supported me financially and prayerfully, as I served at CBF for six years. CC members, youth groups and pastors also came to CBF to serve as work crews and to help with retreats and the summer camp programs. It was an honor and privilege to be called to be a missionary sent out by my home church.

When I came back to my “old stomping grounds,” and after taking a one year Bible correspondence course in two years, CC called me to serve on the Deacon Board. After two years, the Deacon Board chose me to be the Moderating Deacon to organize and lead the deacon meetings, in which we discussed meeting the various needs our members and regular attendees. This consisted of “who does what” in the areas of setting up and serving communion and other special church services and gatherings within the church. It also involved helping those within the congregation who needed financial assistance in the areas of food, clothing, utility bills,  and visiting people who needed encouragement and a listening ear. Most importantly, we prayed for the church body. I served on the Deacon Board for six years (This means, I survived six weeks of organizing and setting up 6:30 a.m. Holy Week services and breakfasts!). During my deacon tenure, God taught me how to be a servant to my brothers and sisters in Christ at CC, who I consider my family in Christ. It was truly an honor and a privilege to be called to be a Deacon at  my home church.

The 21st Century brought many trials, both nationally and personally. My dad suffered a stroke two weeks prior to 9/11. The whole nation was in shock and things would never be the same again because of what happened on that day.  My family had the additional shock of the patriarch of our family, who was taking care of our disabled mom, now becoming severely disabled himself, and my family would never be the same. During the last years of my parents’ time on earth, my sister and I moved them in to live with us, so that we could care for them. My dad passed away in 2003 and my mom in 2010. Not having to care for them any longer and knowing they were now in the presence of the Lord was a great comfort and relief. 2011 was a year of rest. It was an honor and a privilege for my sister and me to be called by God, no matter how heart-wrenching a time it would be,  to take care of our parents, with the help and prayers of my church family.

I thought 2012 would be a time to catch up on the things I had put on hold, while my parents care took top priority. .However, 2012 began as a year of tremendous struggle for me, physically, emotionally and spiritually . I suddenly had the time to realize that I could no longer do the things I enjoyed doing. I could no longer walk without a walker, then a wheelchair, or safely cook for myself. Getting dressed was more of a struggle and took longer because of the brace for my right ankle and another for my left knee and carpel tunnel syndrome in my dominate hand . I was having trouble sleeping, staying “regular” (which reminded me of my mom’s painful struggles), and I had no desire to eat (which was not at all like me). There were also the heartbreaking struggles of good friends dealing with cancer, good friends leaving the church, my next door neighbor dying, as well as others I grew to love and appreciate. Also, someone who I deeply cared about  was having trouble being successful in a new endeavor . Without my parents to care for anymore, all these concerns flooded my mind and they became too much for me to bear. BUT GOD used my sister and her oldest son and two dear sisters from CC and the church elders laying hands and praying over me and, yes, medical intervention and very compassionate nurses and doctors to get the help I desperately needed. It took nine months, BUT GOD never let go of His grip on me and the people He put in my life never doubted or gave up on seeing the “real” Lydia coming back from a very dark place. In retrospect, God used this dark time in my life to help me accept being served. It is truly humbling to be in a place where I need others to serve me. It has been a learning time, realizing how much I need God to sustain me and how much we need each other to pick each other up when life is sometimes too hard and we fall into a pit of despair. Raising each other up, encouraging each other and being willing to wash each other’s feet and be washed is what a church body does for one another. It is an honor and a privilege to be a member of the body of Christ at my home church.

And guess what happened in 2013 (starting in October, 2012)?! The “REAL” Lydia is back. God has brought me back from a very dark place with the help of my sister, my nephew, a caring medical team, and my dear CC family. After a time of God refining my faith in Him, while taking care of my parents and then going through a deep depression of my own,  I am back with a greater understanding of suffering. I have a better and deeper grasp of how God uses suffering,  in all of its many forms, to accomplish His greater purposes in me and in His Church. I care deeply about CC and it grieves me to see the suffering we are presently going through. I care deeply about the people of CC who are my Family of God. That is why I have accepted the call to be on the nominating  committee to recommend elders and deacons to serve our church.  I believe God wants to use me and the other members of the team in the healing process God desires to bring us through. God never gave up on me. He gave me my spiritual brothers and sisters at CC to show me how much He loves me through their example of Christ-like love for me. In like manner, God will never give up on us, His body of believers at CC. I will never give up on my family at CC, unless God wants me to go somewhere else or He takes me Home to be with Him. My desire as a member of the nominating committee is to work alongside rest of the committee and the congregation to find more servant-leaders who are “feet-washers” and will use their spiritual gifts to serve Christ and His body at CC.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped  a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him…’No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall not wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’…When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s   feet. I have set you an example that you should do what I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’” (John 13:3-4, 6-9,12-17).

In Humble Service to Jesus and His Church,

Lyd