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The Third Mile

If you look at my running stats, my slowest mile will always be the third one. I despise mile three. I’ve run 5Ks before but as a general rule, I don’t run three miles unless I’m in a race. I’ll run 2 or 4+ before I stop at 3. It may sound dumb but that third mile is a killer for me. I’ll be feeling just fine and then suddenly my stomach decides it would like to be on the outside of my body, and my head thinks it has a drum inside, and my feet seem to be made of lead. Worst. Mile. Ever.

Today marks the end of Mile Three since my first seizure. I can’t believe it’s been three years. Seems a whole heck of lot longer to me. And I’m not gonna lie; they have been hard years. Some days I still long to have “myself” back. Sounds weird, huh? Every time I meet a new friend, I still have the feeling that they aren’t meeting the real Kimmy and sadness creeps over me. Like they only are getting to know a partial person. Some days I could do without the constant headaches and the exhaustion.

I have been seizure free for 1 year and 4 months now. That is the most common question I get asked about my health and I really do thank God for that fact. But that doesn’t mean I feel a lot better. Some days I do but not usually. Some days I feel like a petty teenager with crazy emotions everywhere! Side effects of meds are hard, folks.

It’s not a big secret that John is my favorite Gospel. (Are you allowed to have favorites??) I LOVE that book. Last week I heard a sermon that referenced John 12:24-26. In those verses, Jesus talks about how a seed must die in order to bear fruit. And because of his death, SO much fruit would come! Verse 25 stands out to me:

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

I’ve been asked if I could go back to before April 10, 2016, would I? And the answer is no. There is so much that God has taught me about himself and I wouldn’t give that up. There are areas that I needed to grow in spiritually and I know that now. I loved my life a lot back then and it was really selfish of me. I’m glad I lost it. I have a better, more eternal view of life now.

One of my newest favorite songs is “Scars” from I Am They. The first part of it goes like this:

Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes

Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use

So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars

I love that. And it’s so true. Without having gone through all the hardship, I wouldn’t know Christ as well. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now to minister to others. So I’m thankful. Just a few verses down in our John passage, Jesus is praying and he says, “Father, glorify your name.” (vs.28) Amen. That’s my prayer also, whether Mile Four gets easier or not. 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2019 in epilepsy

 

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The Phlegmy Religion

Do you have words that you just don’t like? I’m not talking about swear words here; I mean ordinary words that you simply don’t like to use and you may not even know why? For instance, I despise the word phlegm. I do an inner shudder when I hear it, I don’t say the word, and I would probably never use it in a blog title. I also don’t like the word waft. My best friend hates the word moist. Think about it: you probably have some.

But I’ve been doing some research on a particular religion and for some reason the only word I could conjure up to describe it is that nasty word up top. (Plus whenever I hear it, I always think it sounds like someone sneezing.) Gnosticism. Don’t let the big word scare you away- until about two weeks ago, I didn’t really have a clear idea on what Gnosticism was. I knew it wasn’t a good thing but that’s about it. I went through some training a few weeks ago and I was a little shocked at how prevalent this viewpoint really is. I’ll be honest and say that most of what you are going to hear from this point on will be from that training and my research after it.

In short, clear terms, Gnosticism is a belief system that centers around man. It believes in an inner light or divine spark in every person. It places a huge value on feelings and experience and believes that a person can experience God outside of the Bible. Gnostics aren’t big on authority or institutions such as the church because they have a more subjective view of morals and revelation. Gnostics tend to be very spiritual and sometimes almost mystic.

So if none of that makes any sense to you, let me give you ways that this plays out in real life:

-Personal, special revelation has replaced God’s Word
-Morals are subjective- I get to decide what’s right for me, you can decide for you
-Experience trumps Scripture- what you feel is true and right, doesn’t matter what anyone else says
-No absolute truth- you assign meaning to things (such as gender)
-God wants me to be happy- pull the verses you like out of Scripture
-Follow your heart, you have a light that is special and unique to only you

Does ANY of this sound familiar to you?? Because it certainly does to me. And the scary thing is that some of it sounds familiar because I’ve heard it from believers. People, that scares me. This stuff is wrong and it has infiltrated God’s church! It can be tricky to catch because a Gnostic can know all the right terms and use the same phrases as biblical believers but what I just wrote above is NOT the gospel. You cannot have the gospel apart from God’s Word (his WHOLE Word) and you cannot decide that you get to call the shots. That’s not how it works.

A verse from Hebrews 2 is popping into my head right now. (May I just add that all of Hebrews 1 talks about Christ being preeminent to all? We aren’t little gods running around. Just wanted to clear that up.) Hebrews 2:1 says:

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

That’s highly applicable. How close are you, am I, paying attention to the Scriptures? Do we know it well enough so that when nuances are brought in from the outside we can quickly identify them as the false teachings that they are? I think we need to start paying “much closer attention.”

Otherwise you might get caught up in a gross, phlegmy, false religion.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2019 in theology

 

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A Part of HIStory

This weekend I had an incredible, terrifying opportunity. I was asked to do devotions for a ladies retreat and after a lot of prayer I said yes (Hey, it fit the criteria!) But I was pretty nervous because (believe it or not), I’m not much for public speaking. No one at my church thinks that is true because I make announcements all the time but they are too far away to see how much I’m shaking! I write, I don’t speak.

So I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to do these devotions on. I had 5 sessions and a varied audience. I asked several people what they thought and I kept getting the same answer- tell your story. So that’s what I did.

I told the story of my life and how God’s grace was woven throughout it. Pretty much what I’ve written on here. I was amazed at the response and the conversations that I was able to have simply because I opened up.

And at some point it hit me- that’s something people crave: openness. We really have a desire to be honest and open with our struggles but so many things prevent that! Either from bad past experiences, fear of judgment or consequences, or simply a fear of being vulnerable to other people, we hide things that we are struggling with.

And yet this weekend, I found a wonderful group of ladies affected by my story and willing to open up to me. It takes one person sometimes to kick down the walls and find the common things we all struggle with. One person being honest for everyone else to be honest as well.

Through that simple honesty, I was able to share Christ. I didn’t open up any theological book for my devotions this weekend. I didn’t need to. I needed my Bible and my Backstory (like the alliteration there?) and it was simple and effective. Every believer has that. You don’t need a seminary degree to share the gospel with others. All you need is a willingness to be obedient and do it.

I’m glad I said yes this time. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2019 in evangelism

 

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Pointing to the Cross

Well, happy 2019 folks! I’ve been seeing tons of posts about New Year’s Resolutions, year-end recaps, and goals for the next 365 days. It’s funny how one tick of the clock changes how people perceive the world and makes them want to live differently.

Speaking of which, I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to hear my 2019 prayer request so I won’t keep you sitting there much longer. It’s a little…different.

I want to learn how to evangelize better. Maybe this sounds really weird to you. Here’s the thing. I think most people walk away from interactions with me thinking that I’m a really sweet, responsible girl and I HATE that. I want people to walk away from talking to me having heard about Christ. I want the smallest of conversations to point to him and his incredible work on the cross.

I’m not talking here about going on a huge mission trip or anything like that. I mean everyday life. I’m talking about my neighbors, the guy who owns the gas station down the street, my co-workers. These are people I encounter all the time and know that I’m a quote (emphasis on the quote) “good person” but have I actually shared the GOSPEL with them??

To be honest, sometimes I clam up. Either out of fear that I will sound preachy, superior, or unsympathetic, I don’t mention Christ when that’s really what I’m thinking. I’m tired of overthinking things and not letting what he has done flow out of me.

And here’s what I know: We are commanded to be ambassadors for Christ and to spread the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20) But I was also thinking this week of the verse that says:

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48b

I think most times that verse is used in relation to money but as I thought about it I realized that the most precious thing I have been entrusted with is the gospel. How will I use what has been given to me?? I want to be like the faithful and wise steward. We don’t know when Christ is returning and I want to be burdened for those that don’t know him and make the most of the time I have.

That’s my heart’s cry for this year. I know practice will make it more natural. I’ve got some other things up my sleeve too. 🙂

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Day! Do you have anything specific you are praying for this year?

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in evangelism

 

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The Contentment Prayer

Is there some kind of award for posting so much in December? Because there definitely should be. Pretty sure this is a record for me. I usually get so busy and posts go out the window. I guess I’ve just been inspired! (People who have been reading the December posts scoff…)

Anyway, if you have read this post or maybe this one…you know that I do something at the beginning of every year. I don’t really make New Years’ resolutions but I pray for a specific thing for God to teach me each year. And I pray for it all year long. Usually it’s an area of weakness that I know I have and I want to work on it through the year.

This year, I was praying for contentment. My life has changed a lot in the past couple years and I knew I wasn’t really happy with it. I felt restless in my walk with the Lord and what he wanted me to be doing with my life. And so on January 1st, I prayed. And I didn’t stop. I also did some studying on contentment and talked with mentors.

*sigh* I had grand plans for this post. I keep a pretty thorough journal and I wanted to go back through it and see how God has worked this year. There have been times when I was going through something and I would be frustrated and suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh! This is about contentment!” And my whole perspective would flip because I could SEE God teaching me. So I picked up my journal to read through it (which is something I never do.) Wanna know how far I made it? January 7th. Sometimes God’s lessons are hard, people. And even though I’m beyond grateful for them, it was painful to read back over it so soon.

I learned a lot about Paul this year. I wanted to know more about this guy who could be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) so I studied him a lot. And one phrase continually stuck in my head. Paul says that he had learned to be content. I think I’ve come to realize that contentment isn’t what I thought it was. Contentment isn’t something you ARRIVE at, it’s a continual process of learning. Your situation changes and you learn to be content over and over again and the reason you (and I) can do that is because

Christ. Doesn’t. Change.

There it is. I’ve preached the gospel to myself more this year than any other and even though my life has drastically changed, funny thing, God hasn’t. He is still the same as he was three years ago, ten years ago, 2 thousand years ago. Knowing I can rely on that is a HUGE source of contentment.

I’m SO thankful for the way that God has answered my prayers this year. I do have mine for 2019 but you’ll have to wait for my next post to read about it. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in contentment

 

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A Real Christmas

This weekend I got to do one of my favorite things of the whole year. The Farm where I used to work was putting on their annual Christmas event and I got to volunteer for it. This event is great- a wagon ride that stops at different scenes where the story of Christ’s birth is told by volunteer actors. The culmination of the scenes is the last one. A simple nativity in a barn and angels singing. The gospel is told at this scene which means that all the thousands of people that come to this event have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I. Love. It. 

Friday went really well but Saturday came around and it was POURING. Torrential downpours, people. And for an event that is outside, it didn’t look like it was going to be quite as much fun that night. But I was reminded that things go on and the gospel is shared no matter the weather. And I prayed. Lo, and behold, we had practically no rain for the tours and as soon as we finished, it started to rain again. Isn’t God incredible??

But this weekend, I also had a good friend of mine say something unusual to me. She asked me why I was smiling so much and said I just looked so happy and she loved it. She said she is so happy and wished her face could show it like mine can all the time.

Gotta admit, I was kind of taken aback for a minute. I had to stop and think. Of course my answer would have been different if this person wasn’t saved but she’s a strong believer and we are good friends. I thought and just realized that somehow, seeing God answer small prayers like clear skies and being surrounded by people I love, doing something I love filled me with a joy I haven’t felt in a long time.

But I think there’s more than that. Growing up, I was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I was ALWAYS cheerful, ALWAYS singing carols, ALWAYS excited for Christmas. And that’s a hard expectation to live up to. The last two years, I have felt very depressed and numb at Christmas but I didn’t show it. I felt like I needed to be the cheerful person that my family and friends expected me to be. And I hated every minute. I hated pretending to take joy in my favorite time of year when I felt nothing. I would enthusiastically participate in every Christmas activity and then come home and cry because I felt so empty.

And this morning at church, sitting taking communion, I realized that I wasn’t faking that joy this year.

It was real.

Amidst all the pain and difficulties this year has brought, God has given me his joy for this season and I don’t have to pretend to have it. I suddenly felt so relieved and unburdened.

So if you saw me quietly crying during communion this morning, no worries, they were tears of thankfulness. Just pure gratitude as I remembered all Christ has done for me.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in Christmas

 

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Done “Being an Example”

Have you ever felt paralyzed? Hmm…maybe that’s not quite the right word. Crippled? Maybe inadequate is the best word for it. Where you look into your toolbox and realize that you simply don’t have what is needed to get the job done? Like you need a flat head screwdriver but, doggone it, all you have is a Phillips. (Because we all know you can make do the other way around.)

That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling about evangelism recently. Yeah, I know, you’re waiting to find out how my brain got here. As you may know, I started this new job which is totally different from my previous job. It is fast-paced, you get moved around a lot within the store, and there isn’t a lot of time to talk with your co-workers or the customers. I went in, prayerfully, with one goal: to share Christ with others. Very simple in my mind.

But I have found myself floundering. I slowly realized, with dismay and distress, that I don’t recognize opportunities to share the gospel! At first I refused to believe it. I mean, seriously, I just worked at a Christian facility for over 4 years. And I shared the gospel daily with my campers when I was a counselor. But that is such a controlled environment where bringing up Christ came naturally and easily every day.

I’ve been thinking about how evangelism was taught to my generation. All growing up, I was pretty much taught that if you live like Christ, people will see your example and will want to follow him. It’s very simple. Example Evangelism is what I’m calling it. But the more I look at Scripture, the less I see of that! You have to use words! You can’t just give someone the gospel by your actions (although you need them for sure); words MUST be included! (Romans 10 talks about hearing the gospel.) I feel like I was never taught how to naturally bring Jesus into everyday conversations in order to witness to others. And I’m TIRED of living by example only. I get frustrated at work because I know I miss opportunities to share Christ simply because I don’t recognize them until later.

Now, that all being said, I’d like to make two disclaimers:

  1. I realize that you need actions AND words. Both are necessary parts of evangelism. I’ve been looking at Jesus and Paul and how they did ministry. I am aware that their whole lives were testimonies. Not only did they proclaim salvation with their lips but they also healed people, lived among them, gave of themselves. My point is that sometimes I think believers almost become humanitarians because we do wonderful and nice things but if we don’t openly share Christ right along with it, then the entire meaning is lost!
  2. I am NOT blaming my parents or the church for my inadequacies in this area. I know that each person should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in him. I take full and complete responsibility and I have people at church not only holding me accountable but also helping me learn and grow.

However, I don’t know when or where this whole “Example Evangelism” thing got started but can we lay it down now? You don’t convert people (Okay, we don’t convert people at all, but ya know what I mean) by being a good example. You know what’s going to happen? They are going to look at you and go, “Well, there goes a really nice person! They don’t make ’em like that anymore!” And they will go on with their lives.

Let’s learn and teach the new generation how to boldly and naturally share Christ in everyday conversations. Teach them to share the gospel by example AND with their words. You need both. Without one, you will frustrate yourself; without the other, you will become a hypocrite to all people.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in witness

 

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