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The Empathetic Psalm

Did you know there is a difference between empathy and sympathy? Yeah, I didn’t either (nor had I really thought about it) until a couple years ago. It was around that time that my best friend (Natalie) found this video which, you really should watch:

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I’m going to let you in on a personal secret. Whenever Natalie or I are having a particularly bad day, we will usually whisper to the other person, “It’s dark down here.” We both know the reference and know what the other person needs.

It’s been pretty dark lately. There hasn’t been any big, terrible event. I’m just flat-out depressed. I feel numb, emotionless, and worn. When other people say they are running on Jesus and Coffee they usually laugh, but for me, that is dead reality. No joking.

Psalm 88 is one of the unusual and rarely read Psalms. It’s not like the others. It doesn’t start out with the author in pain, despair, or depression and end with him full of hope. It actually starts and ends pretty much the same. I would really encourage you to read the whole thing but here are some snippets of it:

“I cry out day and night before you” 

“For my soul is full of troubles and my life draws near to Sheol”

“I am a man who has no strength”

“You have put me in the depths of the pit”

“I am shut in so that I cannot escape”

“O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”

“I suffer your terrors; I am helpless”

And on it goes. You read that and tell me that the author didn’t struggle with depression. You read most of the Psalms and tell me that. It’s pretty low.

But when I read these words, I feel empathy from men that lived thousands of years before me. Men who firmly believed in God’s perfect will but struggled with their hearts and minds. The author even admitted (I love this) that God was loving, faithful, wonderful, and righteous in verses 11-12 of this Psalm but only to say that he wouldn’t be able to tell of these things if he died.

It’s even encouraging to me that this Psalm doesn’t end the way all the others do. We don’t like to sit in darkness and depression and we DEFINITELY don’t like to sit with others during those times. But sometimes that’s where God has placed us or those around us.

Sometimes empathy is asked, not sympathy. Sometimes life is more like Psalm 88 than Psalm 89.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Hello New York

Do you ever have those times when you think of a blog idea and then that wise voice inside your heads say, “Uh, bad idea…better not.”? But the idea nags and nags and eventually you find yourself at your laptop typing it out in spite of the wise voice? That would be this post.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about righteous anger. And I’m a little tired of it to be honest. I understand where Christians get this from. Ephesians 4:25 says (quoting Ps.4), “Be angry and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your anger.” And so you hear often about how you can be angry and not sin and I even heard today how sometimes we are commanded to be angry. People will use Christ as an example and talk about how he cleansed the temple and how God gets angry.

ENOUGH. I looked through the Bible and as far as I can tell this is the only verse that even comes close to “commanding” anger. I can quote several for the opposite. I also can’t think of a single time in my own life that my anger didn’t lead to sin, whether that was actually an action or just thoughts. I think for humans it is very hard to be angry and not sin. So let’s look at this verse in its context (the whole chapter would be best but for space…):

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph. 4:25-32, emphasis mine

I find it really interesting that immediately after saying, “Be angry and do not sin” the Bible warns us that anger gives the devil an opportunity in our lives. It further tells us to put anger and bitterness away from us and to be tenderhearted (not an American trait for sure) to each other.

That being said, I really do understand what believers mean by righteous anger. Being angry at the things that anger and grieve Christ. But I think we use it as an excuse WAY too often. Anger can easily lead to sin and bitterness which is why Ephesians says that all anger should be put to rest at night.

Why all the angry talk? Most of my good friends have been really angry recently. New York’s decision to allow abortions up to birth has blown fuses in believers around the country. And they haven’t been shy about expressing it.

Before I continue, let me outright declare that I am pro-life. I despise abortion and it kills me to no end. I volunteer with my local pregnancy center. I believe all life is God-given, is precious, and worth fighting for.

But I DO NOT believe in hating those that believe otherwise. I have been utterly shocked by my friends’ responses to New York. The sarcasm, bitterness, and rage has been rampant on social media. A good friend of mine commented on Facebook about a New York senator, “There will be a place in HELL for you!” and I sat there in shame as I read it.

This is not righteous anger. This is rage leading to sin. This is hatred and bitterness, all of which the Bible clearly condemn. How we have responded to this event tells unbelievers whether there is hope in the church (and in Christ!) for them or not.

SO

Hello, New York. Hello, abortion-minded women. Hello, post-abortive women. Hello, men that have been hurt by abortion. My name is Kimmy. I am a believer in Christ and I stand on the truth of his Word. I am pro-life and therefore I believe every. single. life. is precious. You might not agree. You might be hurting from a decision made in your past or you might be contemplating a big one right now. Whatever the case is, YOU need Christ as much as I need him. He gives the hope and life that you are so desperately missing. And I am sorry if Christians have ever made you feel unwelcome. You are welcome here, with me. Let’s talk.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2019 in politics

 

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It’s Lent for Me

Two nights ago I was laying in bed exhausted. But I was thinking and one thought just kept coming to my mind. “Lord, I wish it was Lent.”

Which is a totally weird thought for me. Growing up, we didn’t celebrate Lent at all. In fact, I secretly thought that the only people that did anything with Lent were Catholics or super legalistic people. I didn’t even really know what it was to be honest.

So you can imagine my surprise when I became an adult and found out that quite a few of my friends give up things for Lent. Still didn’t really understand it….but I came to the simple conclusion that it must not be a Catholic thing after all. It was a mystery to me honestly.

Last year I decided to do some research to figure out this whole LENT thing. I found out that it was the time period between Ash Wednesday (hmmm…wonder when that is…) and the Saturday before Easter- 40 Days. Which represent the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. And that a lot of believers use that time to give up something from their life and focus on Christ instead. Of course it can be something legalistic (like most things) but it doesn’t have to be.

So I decided to give it a try. I thought of something I wouldn’t want to give up but would probably give me more time to spend with the Lord. *Netflix* Annnnddd…I hated it. Truly. It’s not like I watch a ton of Netflix but I didn’t realize at the time how much my brain used a stupid baking show or Andy Griffith to wind down before bed. And at the time I couldn’t do much reading so I felt trapped and stuck. But I did it for the 40 days and decided I didn’t want to do Lent again. Great attitude, right?

You may be wondering then, why I was wishing it was Lent the other night? Because deep down, I wanted to be done with social media for a while. It was just one more thing for me to keep up with and it was wearing me out. And I know that isn’t the purpose of Lent, to give up something because you are done with it. But inside I was thinking that people would understand more during Lent. They wouldn’t think I was weird or crazy. I KNOW it’s pride, people!

And even as I thought that to myself, my…small…inner rebel spoke up and asked, “Since when did you start caring so much about what people think?” HA!

Inner rebel for the win, I’m off social media. And it’s such a relief. I expect I will miss things and my blog stats will plummet and I. Don’t. Care. When something isn’t drawing me closer to Christ, out it goes. Christ stays, but the world doesn’t.

So right now I’m just sitting here enjoying my early Lent. How about you?

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Let Me See Redemption Win

I woke up this morning feeling the epitome of one of my favorite songs. So much so that I listened to it on my drive to work:

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

(Worn- Tenth Avenue North)

This week has worn me out, friends. I’ve been filling in for someone at work while she’s on vacation and let me tell ya, I thought I was pretty confident in her workload until she wasn’t sitting there watching me do it anymore. Suddenly moving big chunks of money around without guidance became stressful. I made (and fixed) mistakes all week long. I’ve felt a little lost and forgetful over stuff I think I should remember.

I’ve also been in several long meetings and working on things I’ve previously committed to. I don’t have phone service throughout the day where I work so my phone gets bombarded with texts as I drive home. Yesterday by the time I got home, I had 21 unread messages and that was just since lunch time! None of these were, “Hey how are you doing today?” type messages. All of them required some sort of action or decision from me. And people wonder why I turn my phone off sometimes.

So this morning when I woke up, I felt worn. Another line in that song particularly stands out to me. It says, “I’m worn, even before the day begins.” I feel that way every day so I identify with that on a very deep level. But even more so today.

As I was driving to work, freezing because my car can’t beat this kind of cold, I came around a turn and this view hit me:

You probably can’t even see it, but there is a beautiful sunrise and right in front of me, a faint rainbow. I could even see the other side of it. And softly playing on my radio was a song about God’s faithfulness. I breathed a sigh. Yes. Thank you, Jesus, for the reminder.

Yeah, I’ve had a crappy week. But not all of it. And yes, I’m stressed and overwhelmed. But that doesn’t change who God is or what he has done. He is constant and faithful. To ALL his promises. I was reminded of the flood and how he has kept every. single. one. of his promises before, since then, and will continue to do so for eternity.

What song did I listen to on my way home? Another favorite:

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope

(Living Hope- Phil Wickham)

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2019 in encouragment

 

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The Idols of Life

If you don’t live in Ohio (or northeast US for that matter), maybe you don’t know that we had a wonderful, huge snow storm come through this weekend. It was great. Everything was closed, no traveling, the works. Which for someone who LOVES snow, that means that I spent the days with friends: sled riding, watching movies, playing games, and making waffles. It was superb.

It also meant that all the churches were closed on Sunday so my best friend and I decided to watch a sermon online. The one we watched was about idols. The argument was that although people may have a variety of “surface” idols in their life (aka: food, money, kids, clothes, cars, you-name-it), they all boil down to four “core” idols. Have to say, I couldn’t really find a whole lot of Scriptural backing for this idea but the logic was okay.

The first idol he mentioned was Comfort and the second was Approval. As he explained I really examined my heart and thought, “Nah, I don’t think those apply a whole lot. Probably sometimes.”

The third idol was Control. As soon as he said that word, I look at Natalie and said, “Weeeeelllll, this has been great but I just remembered that…” Yeah, I didn’t get away with it. She pulled me down and said that if she had to listen to her idols I had to sit through mine. *sigh*

We both know. I like control. I’m very organized and structured naturally and it gives me a feeling that I can control the world. One of the things he mentioned in the video is that people with this idol often will do everything because they would rather do it themselves and be SURE it will get done than have someone else do it. Ouch, man. That hurt. I literally winced.

And the problem with this idol is the blatant lack of trust is displays. A lack of dependency and trust in the Lord. Like somehow I can do things better than he can and I know better than the Creator of the World. But I don’t. And boy did God have to YANK that control right out of my hands in order to teach me that! These last couple of years have taught me just how little control I have. (And how much he DOES have!)

Sometimes I need a good smack…err…reminder that I’m not in control and of Who is. And of how grateful I should be for that!

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Prov. 19:21

P.S. The fourth idol was Power. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2019 in sermons

 

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Before I Say Yes

Guys, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Totally. In fact, the wagon is so far ahead of me that I’m now running behind trying to catch up, gasping for breath. What wagon, you ask? The NO wagon.

I don’t know about you but opportunities to serve and help out are like flies on a hot day. They are swarming around me. And by nature I’m very much a YES! person. That word jumps into my mouth before I can choke it down. But over the past couple of years, I’ve had to watch it. My body and brain have been through a lot and I’ve had to step away from a lot of commitments. I learned to say NO.

Until recently, that is. Christmas came around and suddenly I found myself doing all these things. New Year and my schedule is packed. How did this happen? I ask myself. Ah, I fell off the NO bandwagon. Let me be clear that all of these are GOOD things! All of them! Some of them were asked of me, some I volunteered for, and some nobody volunteered for so I…ummm… volunteered for.

An idea that’s pretty popular in my church (and I think a lot of others too) right now is to “say YES before God asks you.” I first heard this phrase in relation to missions. And I get it- really, I do. I understand the heart attitude it’s driving at. The attitude that gives up what you desire in order to obey the Lord. The attitude that made Isaiah say, “Here I am! Send me.”

But sometimes, the RIGHT answer is NO. This is a rarely taught concept in the church. I was telling my schedule to someone the other day and he said to me, “You know you don’t have to save the world every month, right?” That really stuck with me. It is okay and sometimes RIGHT to say NO to good things. I would rather do a few things excellently than all things half way. Or more accurately, I would rather do a few things excellently and not have to take a week to recover every month because I’ve drained myself of everything I have.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought it would be wise to have a plan. A decision-making plan. So I literally wrote one up the other morning. It’s pretty simple:

Before saying YES:

  1. Have I prayed about it?
  2. Does this honor and glorify God?
  3. Does this move me towards my life goals for this year?
  4. Does this conflict with any previous commitments and/or work schedule?
  5. Is the THOUGHT of this already stressing me out?

This has been SO helpful for me already! Freeing really! The first two are musts, the third is almost a must. That fourth is negotiable. My schedule is flexible but I want to stay committed to the things I’ve said YES to first. The Bible actually has a lot to say on following through on your word. (Eccl. 5:5, Matt. 5:33-37, Num. 30:1-2) So that’s important to me. That last one is a big one for me. Stress is a huge thing for someone with epilepsy and constant headaches. If just thinking about committing to something is giving me more stress, it’s probably not a good idea to do it. I’ve found the stress doesn’t go away, but usually increases. 🙂

I want to be wise with the time and energy that’s been given to me. It’s not endless (believe me, I KNOW.) So if I say NO to something you ask me to do, you can know that I’ve thought it through and prayed about it and it’s almost NEVER because I don’t want to do it. I just can’t always say YES.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in growing

 

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Delighting in the Lord (Link)

Gooood Morning! Here’s my latest guest post over at Guys with Bibles! Have a fabulous day!

Delighting in the Lord

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2019 in encouragment

 

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