Friday, November 28, 2008

Just a Little Something...

Just a little something that has been rolling around inside me for a while now. Something that is in my thoughts daily. Hourly. Sometimes more.

My eternity is sealed. There is nothing that can happen that can steal my salvation. Nothing that can take it away. I can choose to give it up, but the events, circumstances, and trials of this life can't take it. However. The way I respond, the way I live, the way I handle these things can and probably will impact others. Impact them to the point of changing where they choose to spend eternity.

I need to carefully consider and weigh my responses to life. Because really, it's not about me.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank You.

Today, I was thinking about what I'm most thankful for. The thing that came up the most, and the strongest, on this day, was initially my church. I honestly believe that a person can be saved, love God, serve Him, and go to heaven without ever setting foot in a church. I also believe that doing so would be very, very difficult. And I do not know if I could do it. But thankfully, I DO have my church. My wonderful, fabulous church. It's not perfect, nor is it the "best" one in the world. Well, in my eyes it is, but realistically I know it probably isn't. Anyway... I'm so thankful. And then I got to thinking a little more.

There is a family. This family has a mom named Mary. A dad named Harlyn. A girl who is my age, named Amanda. A girl a few years younger, named Abigail Rose. This family brought me to my church. The first time. And lots of times after that. I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." I thank God they did.

Then I got to thinking about how they ended up there. And realized something. This awesome, amazing, miraculous thing that was my arrival in this church, was born out of tragedy. A terrible, sad, horrible event. An event that has changed the life and perspective of so many. It could have derailed them. It could have been the end of faith for many . But it wasn't. They made it. They survived. They laugh. They smile. They love. They live. Without him. Without that special boy. I know only a fraction of what they must live with, regarding that event. And only a fraction. But I also know that I am grateful, and eternally so, for them. Grateful that they did not become bitter. Grateful that in the midst of sorrow and heart-wrenching pain, and what must have been (and probably still is) a million questions that have no answers, they reached out. They didn't let it stop them from ministering. From helping. From impacting. Me. My life. And so, I am thankful. For them. For Billy, who touched my life so deeply without ever meeting me. And thankful to God, that He gave them the strength for this journey.

I may come back tomorrow (or today, later) and rewrite this, to make it more coherent, more... fitting. More expressive and articulate. Or I may just leave it as it is.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Not Me Monday. (I'm NOT Batty)

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home. Mostly by me. Or... maybe it's only uttered by me? Hmmm... regardless. MckMama is currently witnessing the miraculous birth, life, and healing of one youngster affectionately known as MckMuffin. Or, in the real world, Stellan. Stellan is living proof that miracles do indeed happen. The fact that his heart is still beating today, is a miracle. The fact that his mom, dad, sister, and brothers have not had to say "good-bye" to him is a miracle.
Stellan's mom, "MckMama," hosts a blog carnival. It is called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is a great way to be real, honest, and open with strangers from all over the world. I invite you to read mine, and read MckMama's. On her blog, you'll find links to all sorts of Not Me Monday participants. I think you'll enjoy it. I know I sure have.
  1. I am not sitting here at 1:30 AM riding yet another adrenaline high. Because I did not just get hot and cold flashes as I watched our cats find yet another bat in our house. That's ridiculous.
  2. If our cats did just find another bat, I surely would have dealt with it myself instead of forcing my sleeping husband to get up and capture it.
  3. I am not having a hard time sleeping because of that adrenaline high, and I am not considering using food as a natural sedative. Because eating this late is bad for my metabolism.
  4. I do not have to force myself to get up in the morning to call and schedule yet another operation for endometriosis. If that were true, I wouldn't be trying to hide the guilt I secretly feel about it.
  5. I did not just spend more than 24 hours in a drug-induced haze because of the pain relievers I need to take to be comfortable.
  6. I am definitely not sitting here pretending I cannot hear a bat flying around in the house, searching for bugs. That would be absurd - if I could hear that, surely I'd do something about it. Right?
  7. I am not trying to figure out a way to trap all of the bats in our house without paying any money to do so.
  8. We do not have a bat trapped in our half-completed ventilation system. If we did, we wouldn't have used cardboard and duct tape to do the trapping.
  9. I do not jump every time I hear a sound that sounds like a bat. Because these bats are certainly not driving me... well... batty.

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***Amendment: After a mere 15 minutes of additional sleep, we have once again deposited a flying fur ball outside. Which begs the questions:
1) How many ARE there in here?
2) How did I get so blessed as to have a husband who can quickly and fearlessly capture and release these things less than a minute after being woken up?

So. It's 1:00 AM. In the last five days, I've had way too many surges of adrenaline. So has my husband. You see, we don't have drywall in the majority of our house right now. This means that as the bats are seeking winter refuge, they are coming in here. Not just our attic - although that IS where they are entering. If we had the upstairs finished, they'd stay in the attic and we'd be none the wiser. That's not true though. So... I feel like we're on a tape that just keeps repeating.

Today we dealt with another bat. Again. This one got stuck between a bucket holding tools and the nailer for the drywall that will eventually be going up. He (or she) was TICKED. REALLY, really ticked. To the point where, as we were trying to figure out how to capture it, it sort of shut down and gave up. We scared the poor, furry, brown thing that badly. My husband the bat capture master deftly deposited it into a Cool Whip container while I provided... um... moral support. There was no actual contact between bat and human, and the kids ... er... kitties... never figured out EXACTLY where it was, so they're safe too. We released the bat outside. And I marveled once again at the notion that an animal that is less than three inches from nose to tail can have wings that spread almost a foot. Just cool. And they really are cute, at least in my book. If only they didn't have the potential to carry rabies.

SO. Having had a middle-of-the-night adventure involving much too much adrenaline, again, I am awake. And planning to go downstairs, get some cereal, and take a nice hot bath.

By the way, I'll be scheduling surgery in the morning.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dog In The Basement.

Tonight, I said to someone at church (with no intention of being clever or funny - it was just my tired brain expressing itself), "There's a dog in my basement. Well, more a puppy than a dog."

Blank stare from them, followed by "Why is there a dog in your basement?"

"Because there was a bat in the bedroom at 5:00 this morning."

Of course. Why ever else would there be a dog in my basement (at 9:30 tonight)? They should have thought of that, right?

On another topic. Today is one of those days that's gotten me thinking. About kids. About family. About what children will be part of the family that Derek and I have. What will those kids look like? Will they be blond like me? Darker like him? Will they have a big Greek nose and funny Norwegian toes? Blue eyes that twinkle with mischief, or brown ones wide with wonder? Will they be boys? Girls? Both? I used to think those things. Ask those questions. But...

There are children in my heart. Special ones. One is our little girl, Anna. When we lost her, we didn't have testing done and we don't actually "know" that she is a girl. But, there are some things that are stored inside a parent's heart, and the knowledge that she was a girl is one of those. We chose her name carefully. Annaliah. It means depending on grace. Because if we are to have hope, to not be bowled over by the fact that she's not here with us, we need grace. We are utterly dependent on it.

Another is a special little boy. His name is Nicholas. He's got parents who don't want to teach him about God. But he knows. He knows who Jesus is. That he died on the cross. That he rose from the grave. That He loves little Nicholas so much. That if Nicholas asks Him, He will come in and be the Lord of his life.

Another is a special one. One my husband and I prayed about. Were prepared for. Ready to adopt. Ready to bring in and graft into our life together. This child isn't with us, either. This child is with the woman who gave him or her life. We see this child from time to time, and it tugs at my heart each time.

The rest? I don't know. Yet. But they are there. Sparkling brown eyes. Almond shaped ones. Shiny black hair. Skin the color of chocolate.

I think about them during this time of year. The time of year when family is the topic of conversation. The focus of so much. And my heart, it aches. It longs. It hurts. Cries. I feel somehow incomplete. And yet... my heart praises. I am so thankful. I am so blessed. So very, richly, specially blessed.

Now. You might still be hung up on the dog and the bat. Let me explain.

Last night was one of those sleepless nights. I was still awake at 5:00 this morning. I heard a bat. Flying. Emitting it's clicking call to find dinner (there is no dinner. It's too cold for bugs right now). I heard my cats in a herd behind the bat, pursuing it around the upstairs. I heard them all come in the bedroom. Watched the bat hit the ceiling and fall, as it attempted to evade leaping flying feline fury (say that fast, sixteen times). In a frantic rush to remove the cats from the bat, and subsequently contain the bat, I started grabbing and tossing them out the bedroom door. I miss-judged my grip on our biggest and bestest, Furbis. He bit me. Hard. I earned it. But still... it hurt. Still does. By 9:00 AM, it was getting redder. And hurting. By noon, it was starting to appear somewhat infected. Off to the doctor with me.

While out, I found a puppy. A six month old (approximately) puppy. A hound. She was so sweet. And good. And potty trained. And knew sit, stay, lay down. Of course, I brought her home. NOT to keep! To find her human. I had a first and last name, and the dog's name. No phone number - the one on the hand-written tag was no longer in service. I started calling area vet clinics, asking if they treated the dog or had any ideas. Finally, one said that they didn't, and they didn't have any information on the owner, but they did know the owner's dad. They gave me his number. After a lot of phone tag and an 11:00 trip to doggie's home, little Vivienne has been returned to her home. She was quite happy being with us, but seemed even happier to be at her house.

So. There you go. The reason there was a dog in my basement is that there was a bat in my bedroom. Of course.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ka-pum Ka-pum Ka-pum...

That's what my heart's doing right now. Probably Derek's too. The hearts inside our four furry kids' chests are also beating with more... enthusiasm... than they normally would.

What's that? You want to know why?

I'll tell you. Tonight (or last night) was a night of insomnia. I am not sure I ever actually DID fall asleep... at least not that deep, relaxing, restorative sleep. But that's a whole other post for a whole other day. Or maybe for no day. Whatever. Either way... I was finally starting to dose, when I heart the pitter-patter of little feet. Not human ones. Soft, feline ones. Then the unmistakable staccato of a bat. Not a hunting, flying, happy bat. An angry, cornered, scared bat. I sat up, bleary eyed, and looked. All four cats were wildly bouncing around one small, brown, furry object. With wings.

I woke my husband. This was a two person job. I threw a shirt over said bat, to subdue and calm it (most wild animals feel much better about life in general if you put a heavy-ish object over them which also completely obstructs their view). I started tossing cats out the door. My beloved Furbis, the 15 pound epitome of catness, bit my arm. Hard. It hurts. I'll probably call about getting some antibiotics for it just to be safe - I've got to punctures that are very deep, a couple more not quite so deep, and one that just barely broke the skin. Experience says that cat bites don't generally fare well, though.

So yeah. I'm STILL awake. It's been one of those nights. And now, once things start opening up, I need to make some calls. One regarding antibiotics. One regarding procedure for the bat - do we get it tested? By whom? (Right now, it's in an ice cream bucket with a lid. On our patio. I'm not feeling charitable towards it). If my cat, who IS vaccinated against rabies, happened to have bitten said bat before I removed said cat from the room, and then bit me, can that transmit it to me (after all, I have not gotten a rabies vaccine for myself, since I tend not to lick wild animals)? One of those questions I wish I had the ability to ask my doctor. Who, by the way, still needs your prayers. (Go back a little ways, to the entry where I talk about Jim).

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Me Monday...

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home. Mostly by me. Or... maybe it's only uttered by me? Hmmm... regardless. MckMama is currentlywitnessing the miraculous birth, life, and healing of one youngster affectionately known as MckMuffin. Or, in the real world, Stellan. Stellan is living proof that miracles do indeed happen. The fact that his heart is still beating today, is a miracle. The fact that his mom, dad, sister, and brothers have not had to say "good-bye" to him is a miracle.
Stellan's mom, "MckMama," hosts a blog carnival. It is called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is a great way to be real, honest, and open with strangers from all over the world. I invite you to read mine, and read MckMama's. On her blog, you'll find links to all sorts of Not Me Monday participants. I think you'll enjoy it. I know I sure have.
  1. I did not pass out at church last Wednesday. But if I had done that, I'm sure I'd remember more than random little snippets.
  2. I am not sitting here having once again forgotten that today was Monday and having no "Not Me Monday" post prepared.
  3. I do not currently live in one room of my house - the one room with electricity, communication, and walls.
  4. I am not currently uncertain whether anybody else is in my house or not. Because I'm not so zonked that I can't tell if I heard my father in law come in or not. Not me.
  5. I did not nearly wet my pants when I realized an opposum had apparently found its way into our house. I also did not choose to hide in my bedroom from the "big scary creature" currently shuffling around amongst our box forest downstairs. And if that had happened, I certainly would NOT have snuck back down to prop the door open, hoping the creature would find its own way out. It's too cold for that.
  6. I am not sitting here in my pajamas at 3:20 in the afternoon, simply because I haven't felt like finding any "real" clothes to wear. Not me.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tenacity. And Tears.

So. I suggested to my husband that maybe he should brush his teeth BEFORE he got to the point of being almost asleep. He said, "Yeah." But snuggled a little deeper under the covers. I knew that I could utilize... persistance... to get him to do it. So. I utilized it.
I said, "You know I won't give up."
"I'm aware, yes." I could hear a smile in his voice.
"Okay. Because I am persistant."
Tenacious. I have perseverence. I am not easily deterred."
He chuckled silently (I could see his shoulders shaking). "You're not deterred?"
"Nope, I'm not easily deterred."
"Well, then... are you de pee?"
We laughed until we cried. This is one of those times where living with my very best friend is so very much fun.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Family. Patience. Conflict. Prayer.

Family. I love mine. All of it. I have a big one too. Well, not big if compared to the average Menonite or Jewish family. But big compared to a lot of the people I know. There's Derek and I. In my world, this is the nucleus of my family. As it should be. He is the husband. I'm the wife. We're the mommy and the daddy, even though other people can't see our children. We're the man and the woman.

Next generation:
We have my daddy. He is married to "my Kelly." My dad is strong. He's brave. He's wise. He's intelligent. He's a Godly man. He raised me. Fathered me. Played a huge role in me surviving events that might otherwise have been my undoing as a child. "My" Kelly is strong, too. She's a good woman. A Godly one. A woman who understands what commitment is. With Kelly come my two (step) brothers and my (step) sister. They are all different from me and from eachother. All people that the world is better because of. All people I love.

We have my mom. She's a loving, passionate woman. A woman I love very much. A woman who has made mistakes and still found courage to keep on keeping on.

We have Derek's daddy. He is married to Derek's mommy. Derek's dad is a good man. He's intelligent. He's loving. He's generous. He's a man of comittment. He raised my husband. And since my husband is an absolutely amazing man, I am so thankful for that. We have Derek's mommy. She loves God. She loves us. She is... passionate. Dramatic. Intense. Greek. Definately Greek. I love her. I am thankful she's my mother-in-law. We have Derek's sister, Cari. And her husband, Joel. I love them, too.

On top of that, we have grandparents. We have uncles. Aunts. Cousins. Friends. More distant relatives. A church that is as much our family as those related by blood.

We've also been given a gift. A gift of sacrifice, giving, love, labor, patience, and much selflessness. A gift where our two daddies are instrumental. A gift that will result in Derek and I owning our own home. First home. And it will be, if not very large, very comfortable. And nice. It's been a long haul to do this project. Not fun. Not easy. But rewarding.

Here's the problem. Our two daddies. Both of them have very valid, and in our eyes, correct, view points. One wants to push hard, get things done, get us out of construction mode and into home-owning safe-living mode. He's smart. He can do things "right" as well as the other dad. He is impatient, wanting things done now. He wants to protect our interests. He wants to help us have the house we want. He thinks the other dad is wrong, of inferior intelligence, and is very frustrated with him.
The other one wants to meticulously complete every step. He wants to get us out of construction mode and into home-owning, safe-living mode. He's smart. He can do things well. He is almost too patient - working so slowly that progress sometimes seems to be non-existent, but also doing everything he can to make sure all is done the "right way." He wants to protect our interests. He wants to help us have the house we want. He thinks the other dad is wrong, of inferior intelligence, and is very frustrated with him.

So. We have two dads. Who used to get along. They liked each other. They enjoyed each other's company. They looked forward to contact. Their relationship was not all that strong or deep, but was easy. It was easy for us. We didn't have any warring in-laws. Now, that's not true. They don't like each other. They look down on one another. They argue. Fight. Dread being in the same place at the same time. We dread it too. We don't want to choose one. Pick sides. We don't want to get in the middle. We don't know what to say or what to do. We just know we love them both, want to know both, want to relate to both. And we're afraid of what this project will do to that. So if you would, please pray? Pray for wisdom. Pray for safety. Preservation. Pray that we would do the right thing.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Wide Awake Dreaming.

I have a dream. Not when I am asleep. When I am awake. It is just a fleeting glimpse, seen deep within my heart.

This dream paints a vivid picture. In it, my husband is laying in bed, on his back. One hand holds mine, as I lay beside him. The other rests on the back of a tiny baby girl. She's wearing a white, fleecy sleeper. Her face is on his shoulder, turned towards him. She is peaceful as she sleeps, safe in her daddy's arms. I can see her breathe, can almost feel her tiny body and smell her sweet skin.

I want this dream to come true. I want him to experience the joy of fatherhood. I long for that more than I long for myself to experience motherhood.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Silence Subdued.

I am a pretender. When I'm at my weakest, I try my hardest to appear strong. When I am afraid, I act brave. When I'm broken, I put on an air of wholeness. When something shakes me, I harden my face and appear unmoved.

I write this about me, but it could be anyone. Even you.

I do not know why I pretend. It is not as if the world will fall apart if I choose to reveal my flaws. It is not as if I can actually do anything outside of the One who created all. I have been blessed, encouraged, and helped by others who choose to stop pretending. I have comforted others when they allowed their brokenness and sorrow to show.

And still, I pretend. In silence, I live a secret life. A life where I am not as steady as the world might think. I don't give voice to secret concerns, fears, shame. I hide it. I pretend. Silence wins.

But. And this but is important. I sometimes stop pretending. Sometimes, I subdue the silence. I use the voice God gave me and I say "Help." I say "How?" I say "Jesus..." And help comes. Instruction comes. Comfort comes. But not until the silence is subdued.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My husband and I moved last weekend. We moved into the house I grew up in. Sort of. You see, every interior wall, every little piece of Sheetrock, every door, light, switch, and outlet was removed. Nothing will be the same. And yet, it's still like coming home. In the process, some artifacts have been shuffled from box to drawer to shelf to floor to box to... well, you get the idea.

One of these artifacts is a collection of pictures from when I was a child.

Now, I am going to go of on what might appear to be a wild rabbit trail. Stay with me, and I promise it will eventually fall together.

My hands. They do not look like my mom's hands. She's got long, tapered fingers. With nails that, no matter what she says, will always be capable of more "prettiness" than mine. They are not my dad's hands. His fingers are square on the end - I've always thought he could have used them to be a surgeon. His hands as a whole are strong, sturdy. Broad. Even.

Mine? The bones in my palm are weird - the outside one is significantly stunted. No problem, no reason. Just is. So's my pinky. Neither of my parents have that, but I have an uncle, my dad's little brother, who shares my stubby little pinky fingers. My thumbs are... well, reminiscent of a skinny big toe. In their shape, not their smell, silly. Big, knobby knuckles. Not the normal ones, either. The middle ones. They've always reminded me of when a pine tree is damaged, and grows a huge knot around the damage as years go by. And they're crooked. None of them straighten or flex quite the same way. My index fingers cross under the middle if I hold my hand straight out. I'm not complaining - my hands, while not suitable for modeling fine jewelry, have served me well. They are strong, they respond to my brain's commands. I use them to touch the world around me. They convey love, compassion, strength, safety, correction, healing. They are used to create. And they are mine.

The night after we moved into the construction zone that is currently home, I came across that collection of pictures I mentioned earlier. They were on top of a box in our guest room (or what will be a guest room when it's done). The top picture showed me, wearing nothing but a diaper, petting my new puppy. I was a year old. Next picture? Me, holding my tiny black puppy in my hands. Same crooked fingers, same knobby knuckles. I was 8. I put it aside and looked down at the next picture. My heart stopped. The rest of the room went out of focus.

It was her. I was in the picture too, wrapped in the safety of her arms, reading a book. Her face beaming love at the child in her lap. But the part of the picture that was the most in focus was her hand. Her hand, holding a book. That hand looked so familiar... shortened outside bone in her palm. Knobby knuckles. Index finger curved in. Thumb resembling a skinny big toe. Oh how I loved those hands. They loved. The held. The comforted. They chastened. They represented safety and the promise of her continued presence. They were gentle as they caressed me to sleep. Strong when I was falling.

Tears were in my eyes as I realized that even if I forget the sound of her voice, the way she walked, or the curve of her smile, I will always remember her hands. You see, those hands... they are mine. A tangible, permanent reminder that she was here on this earth. And I will carry this precious reminder with me all the days of my life. The day will come when I step into eternity, either in the rapture or through the door called death. On that day, I will see my Gramma again. And until then, I have these hands. Mine. Hers. Ours.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time with God.

Do you take time for Him?

I am not proud of it, but I'll be the first to admit that there are times when I don't. I don't know how this can be. How can I go even an hour without thanking Him? Without acknowledging what He did for me, what He's doing now. Who He is? I don't know... but it happens.

But when I do find the time... have the time... make the time... it is more precious than life itself. I cherish those moments. Those special times when He speaks straight to my heart. Peace, as wide and flowing and unstoppable as a river. Joy unspeakable and uncontainable. Comfort as my heart seems to shatter in a million peaces. Warmth as cold alone tries to overwhelm. Correction as I begin to stray. Rebuke, stern, frightening, loving, when I disobey. Direction when I'm confused.

What does He say to you? Do you take time to listen? Turn off the TV, the phone, the computer? Sit in the silence and just wait? I'm not saying He won't speak if you don't do those things. I'm saying it is far easier for us, humans, to hear Him when all is still.

I've been spending more time than I'm accustomed to alone in my car. What an opportunity. In my cocoon of metal and glass, the world seems distant. It's just me. And Him. I take those moments to thank Him for all that He is and all that He does. I praise Him. I talk to Him. And I listen.

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Explaination. Request.

So. I've been "missing" for almost two whole weeks now. Where've I been, you might ask. I have been moving. And residing. In a house that I'm not entirely sure is legal to live in. Yet. We're working on it, remodelling it, and we're there now, even though it's not remotely done. It's not so fun, but... it's temporary.

God's been blessing us in many ways, and I know that when all is said and done this will definately be well worth it.

Now, I am going to ask you to pray with me. I have a friend. His name is Jim. He was riding a mountain bike with a friend of his on Thursday October 30th. He was a bit ahead of his friend, and apparently hit a pothole. He was thrown from his bicycle and hurt. Badly. His helmet was crushed. This man is one of the most intelligent, quick-witted, sharp thinking individuals I know. He is a doctor. He is a Martial Artist. And right now, he is laying in a bed in a hospital room. Barely able to speak. Only recognizing people he knows very well. Not remembering a lot of things that have happened in the last few years. I saw him Sunday. I'll be back again either today and/or tomorrow. Pray for him. God is bigger than this, and can work a miracle. And I believe this man will recover. Fully.

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**I was sorting through old posts, and realized that this particular one never got published. It has been sitting here, unposted, since July. But I am posting it now.**

Something that I think about often is forgiveness. I'm not saying that I'm this person who's had an exceptionally difficult life, or that it's some great accomplishment of mine to forgive. I'm just saying that in my life, I've had my fair share of it. Both given to me and given by me.

Matthew 6:14-15 sums it up for me. I've put it in a few different translations below. Because each one says the same thing, in a slightly different way. Perhaps one will speak to you?

In the Amplified Bible, it says:

For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

In the Message Bible, it says:

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

Finally, I like the simplicity of the New International Version:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

This, to me, is plain. It is simple. It is concise. Forgive, if you want to be forgiven. If you don't want to be forgiven, then don't forgive. There have been people in my life that I struggled for years to forgive. Events, actions, decisions that tore me up inside. Forgiving these people wasn't for them. They lived their lives completely obvlivious to my unforgiveness. My anger, my hurt did nothing to make things right. It did nothing to change them. All it did was alienate me further from my God. Hurt, betrayal, anger - those feelings stayed with me as long as I gave them home. They threatened to destroy my life. They seeped into every area, every facet of my existance. In forgiveness, there is freedom. By forgiving, I'm not absolving them of responsibility. That can be done ONLY by God. And they are, ultimately, ONLY responsible TO God. But by forgiving, I am absolving myself of responsibility. I no longer need to do anything about it. I quit my job as burden-carrier. Sometimes, I find myself picking it back up. That's when I need God's grace to lay it back down again.

Let's switch angles just a little here... and look at it from the perspective of the sinner. I've sinned. I don't like that I've sinned. But I have. In the last hour? Probably. In the last day? For sure. I am not always honest. I sometimes am lazy. I don't read my Bible or pray as consistently as I should. I battle pride and selfishness. Get the picture? These are just the "inward" sins. The ones that others don't usually see. I'm saved. I have the Spirit of God inside. I, more than so many I know, should be able to resist temptation. I should be able to lead a spotless life, right? And yet, I don't. The next passage, taken from The Message Bible (Chapter 5, verses 20 and 21), says it quite well.

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life -- a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

The part that's hard though, is what exactly forgiveness means. Does it mean forget it? Does it mean pretend it never happened and openly trust the person again? Does it mean you can't let it influence future choices or actions?

Well... I see it like this. There are some things which simply cannot be forgotten. At least not by our own natural strength or ability. And as far as pretending it didn't happen and openly trusting? Let me ask this: Imagine you know someone who spent twenty years drinking themselves drunk every single day, nearly dying from the toxic effect on their liver. They got sober ten years ago. Would you leave them in a room alone with an open bottle of vodka next to a glass? No. Not unless you wanted them to fall. Same with forgiving, I think. If someone does the same rotten thing to you over and over, don't put yourself in position for it to happen again. Forgiveness should not be confused with foolishness.

That said, what IS forgiving? It is letting it go and giving up resentment. Don't hang onto the bitterness or hatred - they don't do anything to or about the one who hurt you, and they certainly don't help you. Unforgiveness hurts only the person who is refusing to forgive. It has no real impact on the unforgiven.

When you forgive, you are releasing that person from any obligation to "make it up to you." It's not based on anything they have or have not done since, nor is based on their words or promised future actions. It is an act of trust. It is saying, "Lord, you forgave me. Of everything I have done wrong. Ever. And everything I will do during whatever time I have left. I didn't deserve it. This person that has done wrong may not deserve my forgiveness either. But, I will not harbor resentment. I am choosing to not expect them to "pay me back" for what they did. I am choosing to trust you to set things right. I am trusting that you are big enough, and love me enough, to carry me through this hurt. To cool the flames of anger. To dry my tears. Still my trembling, fearful heart. And I am trusting you, that You will keep Your promise to forgive me for all that I have done. This person is not perfect. He or she is flawed. But so am I. So just as I have been granted mercy, I am granting it."

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