Her Song

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This is where I spend so much of my time. I work here. I create here. I socialize here (media-wise). It’s my spot. That’s why there’s so many things on the mirror.

There’s phrases or Bible verses that move me…

There’s a picture of someone special who’s no longer here…

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There’s a card from my husband that makes me happy…

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Something from my son’s holiday shop at school…

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And then, there’s this…

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I just love the message of this. And it moves me today. It causes me to think before I open my mouth. Because really, do I have a song? Or do I just have an answer…

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3

Honestly, for so long I thought I had the answer. That’s why I opened my mouth. It’s reflected in my son here lately when I try to tell him something. He cuts me right off and says, “I know, I know.”

Amazing thing is He always knows.

Just like me. For once upon a time, I thought I knew it all. So I spoke it all.

Unfiltered…

This morning, though, I pause. And I contemplate God’s people who went before me. Like the children of Israel who were delivered from slavery. They saw God’s great power and believed. Then, they opened their mouths in song.

To God.

For Him.

About Him.

Praise.

They sang, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted.” (Exodus 15)

Then, there’s Mother Mary. She saw God’s great power when He filled her with His mercy and grace… fruit in her womb. And she was blessed for she believed. And like Israel, she opened her mouth in a hymn of praise.

To God.

For Him.

About Him.

Praise.

She sang, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Then there’s me. For so long, I opened my mouth because I thought I knew something. But today, I pause.

I wonder… do I have an answer or a song? And if it’s simply an answer, then I think I should hush up. Because no one wants to hear a know-it-all, right?

Rather, people want to hear something lovely. Songs of redemption. And deliverance. An hymn of praise…

To God.

For Him.

About Him.

Praise.

That’s what people want to  hear. It’s what they need.

Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous ones; praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the LORD with the lyre; make music to Him with a ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song to Him; play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout. Psalm 33:1-3

https://pamandersonblog.com/2013/12/14/hail-mary-full-of-grace/

i am woman

She said, “Do you demand respect? Or do you earn it?” And my heart thudded as her voice boomed out through the sanctuary. It was February of 2013 and my insides screamed out YES! Let them have it! Because I burned inside. Anger and wrath ignited. All directed at the opposite sex, of course. The male population. Or more particularly, the male population within the very traditional church I found myself.

The speaker used Titus 2…

In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. v. 3-5

She used Ephesians 5:25 as back-up. If husbands would only love their wives as Christ loves the church, then women would respond more willingly. Or submit. And in my ignorance, I thought the message was for all the men surrounding me who sat in pews. However, the longer her voice droned on, the more uncomfortable I felt.

And thirty-two months later, I know why.

Because those words weren’t meant for their ears. They were meant for mine. The question was directed at me.

God said, “Do you demand respect? Or do you earn it?”

And in looking back, I’d have to say I demanded it. I felt it was deserved. Along with honor. But none of that was coming my way. Not there. So I picked a battle and chose my side. And I stood for women. More particularly, women’s rights in the church.

Yes, that’s what I chose.

Listen to me!

 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12

Today I have absolute clarity. It has to do with respect. See, when I left home at 19, I didn’t have any. I didn’t possess one ounce of self-respect. And to compound matters, after only five short years away I managed to do everything I could to lose the respect of those who knew me. No details necessary.

But one day, I met God. I wasn’t even looking for Him. Eventually, I learned to call out to Him. And five years ago, He talked back. Through Scripture… words specific to me. Yes it’s true, God heard my cries. He listened, and miraculously, He answered.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

God sent me back to my hometown. I asked and asked and finally, in His infinite mercy and grace, He gave me what I desired most. And after settling, He spoke again and again and again. Revelation to revelation and glory to glory. I swear, the fall of 2011 was one of the most wonderful times of my life.

Because God listened to me. And I listened to Him. A relationship was formed.

I am woman

I wanted to share what I knew. I was simply on fire and wanted other women to feel as I did. Because what a discovery. The fact God really is real astounded me. Before God, it was empty religion. I merely sat in church and went through the motions. I followed rules and did all the right things.

Thus, I didn’t have much to say. No voice at all.

But one day, He spoke. To someone as insignificant as me. And that was miraculous. That God would look down from His throne and speak to me in the midst of an ordinary life was remarkable. Noteworthy. So, I tried to share. Because if it happened to me, it could happen to other women.

So I wrote manuscripts and endeavored to lead women’s Bible studies. I wanted women to discover what I had.

In the midst of all this revelation and glory, we joined a church. A traditional one. And at first, I was eager to share. I reached out immediately and there were quick dividends. For within months I was asked to read Scripture at the women’s Sunday. It was that February service in 2013 when I heard the Titus 2 talk.

You know, my spirits were dampened even before I heard that woman speak, though. It was after I’d told a couple of gals I wanted to lead a women’s Bible study and learned I wouldn’t be able to. There was a two year rule in place and it didn’t sit well with me. Because, I felt I knew so much. And had so much to say. Important things. Meaning, I was important.

I blurted out,  “I can’t just sit here for two years.”

Well, turns out I did. It goes back to the respect thing. And only in looking back can I see what I did. I rolled up in that church demanding respect. I expected people to want what I had to offer. But they didn’t even know me. And because it felt like rejection, I began to feel so small there. Unworthy. In truth, I’d never felt so diminished as a woman in all my life.

And so, my light got dimmer and dimmer as another flame was fanned. Over the months, it blazed and consumed me.

I shrugged on a new mantle and adopted my battle cry.

It was, “I am woman. Hear me roar.”

the wrong fight

It’s with clarity I speak today. See, I left home feeling like a nothing. But before and upon my return, God spoke! To me. I felt so important. And when it seemed as if my church didn’t want my offering, I was offended. Highly. And an internal war raged. I wanted the woman in me to be heard.

This is what I carried into my home life. Because I wrote and wrote. With all my heart, I wanted a published book. But pure intentions became tainted by pride. Getting a book deal began to have less and less to do with God and His glory, and became more and more about me and mine.

See, a book with my name on the cover would really show those people who rejected me. All of them. Then they’d know I was worth hearing. Especially the men who surrounded me… who dampened my spirits. You know, the ones who needed to hear the Titus 2 message. Those who demanded respect.

The utter realization, though, is I’ve been slandering God in this manner. Denying my true mission in life by failing to submit to the one thing He really wants me to do. And by resisting His leading, I realize I’ve been fighting against my own family. I didn’t comprehend my stance on women’s rights caused me to lose ground in my own home.

love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands

This is what God wants me to do. He commands me to love my husband. To love my children. To be self-controlled and pure. A homemaker. Kind. He wants me to submit to my husband. And this…

All this…

I’ve been fighting.

Because my eyes have been clouded. My perspective skewed by the secular world in which I live. See, it’s society that places value on status, ego, fame, self-seeking, and the list goes on. I’ve been hanging on to this set of values. Not His.

Still.

For this is what motivates me to write when I have a pile of laundry and dinner to prepare. Not always, but often enough. Because if I could just get my name in lights, it would validate all I’ve been doing. I would be validated. Good enough. Worthy of respect. Worthy to be heard.

Because, oh how my heart skips a beat when my little alarm shows orange on my blog site. It means someone liked what I had to say.

Oh, I am woman. I do roar.

Hear me…

Please.

I’m gonna say no

Today, I choose to say no. To the world and it’s scales. I say yes to God, instead. I submit. I give. Because with all my heart, I want to please Him. I want to do the one thing He wants me to do and do it well. And that means I give place to Him by giving place to my family and my home.

Today, I embrace biblical womanhood and all it implies. I submit to my husband as the head of our household. And it’s a blessing. I am blessed because I have a good man who loves me. Just as Christ loves the church. And we have a mutual respect for each other. We have love.

Today, I choose to be the mother God wants me to be. And that means saying no to my children. I will discipline them because they need boundaries. Training. Upbringing. It’s my job. And they will rise and call me blessed.

And I will enjoy being a homemaker. And all the chores that surround it. For it’s a blessing. And an honor. It brings me pleasure to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for my family.

Yes, today is the day. I say no to the world and what it has to offer.

I say yes to God instead.

Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. 1 Peter 3:3-4 

I am woman and wife. I embrace it. And I am mother. I cherish it. Because it’s such a gift. Motherhood.

And so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something I read yesterday. It has to do with all this. The role of womanhood…

Trevor MacDonald is a self identified female-to-male transgendered gay man, who’s given birth to two children since he transitioned. He’s expecting another baby in April. MacDonald explains he was born female but transitioned to male by taking hormones and having chest surgery. “When my partner and I decided to start a family, we got advice from my doctors and I stopped taking my testosterone. Because my surgery removed most of my breast tissue, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to breastfeed, but I really want to try.”

He’s accused the midwifery community of “transphobia” in The Huffington PostMacDonald argues that suggesting that trans guys who give birth are not men — but actually women, because of their biology — is “highly offensive to trans individuals because it denies our gender.” Michelle Jesse

I cried as I read the above http://www.allenbwest.com/2015/09/transgender-dad-offended-by-pregnant-women-midwives-deliver-epic-response/

And I have to tell you, I say, no. No, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too. You’re either male or female. And if you choose to have a baby, then you’re a woman. Women have babies.

Though Trevor MacDonald identifies as male, she relies on her female anatomy to carry her children. “He’s expecting another baby in April…” Again, no. Emphatically, I say it. No. Not he but she. Because motherhood belongs to the woman. Childbirth belongs to the woman.

It is a woman who carries a baby for nine months. It is she who develops stretch marks and pees twenty times a day. The woman suffers labor pains but then immediately forgets it all in the face of her infant. And she tenderly nestles her baby at her breast for nursing.

The woman nurtures. She soothes. And kisses boo-boos. She is mama. So I say No!

Do not take this away from us. Motherhood belongs to women. Birthing babies belongs to women.

Not to men.

I am woman. Hear me roar.

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A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:21

I say yes

I’ve been fighting God on this one. I wanted to be more than what He made me to be. I wanted to be more than wife and mother because homemaker just didn’t seem to elicit enough respect. At least not in my book.

So, I demanded it. Like that fateful February in 2013. I finally had my platform for I’d been asked to read Scripture. But me being me, I used it as an opportunity to be heard. It was a sermonette I prepared, not a verse. And I droned on and on. And you know what? My little boy was at home sick that day.

The evening before, Levi’s fever spiked to 103. I was so worried. I prayed and called relatives. I fretted. But the next morning, I went off to church anyway leaving my husband to tend to my son. I left my husband to fulfill my role as mother. Nurturer. Why? Because I had important business to attend to. I had to speak at church. Important stuff, you know.

So I opened my mouth but got little in return. Not the respect I’d hoped for.

Today, I know why. It’s just another step in my journey with God. And I realize I’ve been wrestling Him. Demanding that He give me the respect I feel I’m due. Thus, I’ve disrespected Him by denying His words. And what He expects from me.

But today’s another story. Because today, I say yes to Him and all that implies. Especially with regard to my womanhood.

I am woman. And finally, I’m willing to submit. I yield as I embrace my role as woman. Wife and mother. Total submission. And the miracle is, I end up finding the respect I’ve been seeking.

Self-respect returns.

Just because I said Yes.

To God.

Proof of Life

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I used to be Pro-Choice. Pro-Abortion. And to follow up with words that are sure to offend many, I chalk that up to ignorance. I chose not to know. I was uniformed and chose to stay that way. I made a decision that would affect the rest of my life without investigating what was actually taking place inside my body. But today, because I’ve birthed two babies, I know something significant about the 18th day. For that’s when the heart beats. And by 21 days, blood whose type is different from that of the mother’s, is pumped through a closed circulatory system (J.M. Tanner, G. R. Taylor, and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Growth, New York: Life Science Library, 1965). That baby has its own blood type. Individual from the mother. That baby has a heartbeat… isn’t that proof of life?
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And because it’s February, I ponder another sort of heartbeat today. See, this month is significant for it’s the month of my birth. Spiritually speaking, I turn eighteen this year. I suppose that means I should technically be an adult in God’s kingdom by now. Because in the winter of 1997, I became His child. Eighteen years ago. But for so long after becoming His, I doubted I actually was. Today, I chalk that up to ignorance. Because I chose not to know what was actually taking place inside my body. And in my spirit. And in my heart. I chose to stay uniformed. For years and years.

But after 12 years of wavering and doubting, something happened. I felt a thudding in my chest. It was my heart. But this was a new heart beat… a pounding so hard, I could feel it throbbing through my ears. And inexplicably, I was moved to act. Prompted by God, this heartbeat was followed by movement. Physically. Just like the babies that grew within in my womb, I did the same. The miracle, though, is this happened outside the womb. Proof of life. Proof that I was actually His. Proof I was alive in Him.

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So today, I ponder the importance of February. A month of more than one birthday. Or anniversary. For it begins with the conception of my new life in Christ 18 years ago. Followed up 12 years later by a heartbeat. His heartbeat inside me. Proof of life. And then after another four years, this blog was birthed in February. Two years ago, I began to pour out my heart for all to see. Some things written can only be explained by God. Because it was stuff I had covered up for so long. Old stuff. Despite my intentions of keeping some things hidden, they bubbled up to the surface anyway. Unexpectedly. Prompted by Him. God. My Creator. My muse.

And so, here I am today. It’s my spiritual birthday and I ruminate over all these things. And you know… it occurs to me that this blog has been kind of like a sonogram. Because for two years now, it’s monitored my spiritual movement. Everything’s recorded. My ups and downs. My progress. My heartbeat. Time spent developing in His womb. I can observe the labor… when pangs came closer and closer together. That was the time of my delivery. See, it was just over a year ago when I was delivered from my past. I felt reborn. Shiny and bright. A new creation.

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

So here I am in the month of my spiritual birth, and I consider my life up to this point. And what I do. And why I do it. And the blog is one of those things considered. Why write? Two years ago, it seemed clear to me. And I marvel at my words and my conviction…

Yes, I am a regular woman called many things. But the most important title I have? Child of God. I am His child. And although I became His sixteen years ago, I am just now learning what this means. And that’s the whole purpose of this blog. Because if I am just now figuring out the basics so many years later, I just have to wonder… are there others like me? Ordinary we may think ourselves, but I am starting to see, life does not have to be that way. Our lives can be extraordinary, and yes, interesting. Because God is in our midst! February 2013

God in our midst! I wanted others to know what I did. To experience God like I had. To feel what I felt. God in our midst. But today, I see things a bit different. See, rather than Him being in my midst, I feel as if I’ve been in His midst. I’ve been in Him. In Christ. In His womb. He’s been making me this whole time. A new creation.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Yesterday I came across a picture. As always, Facebook is a fount of information. But I have to say, this picture stopped me in my tracks. It was breathtaking. Well, at least to me. In truth, some will be offended by the following image. But I find it beautiful. Stunning. Because it is the picture of new life.

newborn-baby-christian-berthelot-c-section-cesarPhoto by Christian Berthelot

This picture shows truth. New life is messy for a baby doesn’t come out of the womb all clean and smelling like powder. And the thing is, it’s the very same with us spiritually. For God’s children don’t come out of His womb all clean and smelling like a rose. In fact, they come out quite messy. They need cleaning up. And the process can be lengthy. For some, it can take years. Like with me. See, I was His child for seventeen years before I felt new. And clean. Shiny and bright. The making of me took place over a prolonged period of time. And in fact, He’s still making me…

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It’s through these February musings, I understand what a gift my daughter Annabelle is. In more ways than one. See, her middle name is significant. In fact, I’m quite sure God’s the One who blessed her with the name of Wynn, which means holy, blessed reconciliation; joy and peace; fair, pure. And in blessing Annabelle with this lovely name, He in turn blessed me. Eight days after hearing her heartbeat. Eight days after encountering His grace with regard to my past, I received a new name through the daughter I carried in my womb. Annabelle Wynn. Blessed reconciliation. She became my proof of life. Confirmation that I am in truth His baby girl. Just as much as she is my own. I carried her in my womb and He carried me in His. God in my midst? No, for it seems as if I were in His midst instead. For He’s been all around me this whole time. Encompassing me. Making me over. The created by the Creator. A new creation.

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Today, I’m pro-life. But not just with regard to abortion. See, I’m pro-life for Christian babies, too. The ones who are still developing in His womb. See, the process can take some time. Labor can be such a prolonged effort. And as for me… His eighteen year old daughter who has grown at least a little since first becoming His… well, it’s my job to be patient. To be kind. To be encouraging. While others are waiting for their proof of life, I must not judge. And point fingers. Because if I’m not careful, I could kill a developing babe by my thoughtless words. Without realizing it, I could snuff out the new life He’s creating in the person right next to me. Because His babies take time to develop. And just as God continues to make me, He continues to make them. His creations. Because that’s what He does… He creates.

Six days it took God to create the earth and all that’s in it. On the seventh, He rested from His work. And then, there’s the eighth day. The eighth day is significant for me. It happened last February. That’s when He confirmed I was His baby girl. It’s when He gave me a new name. And He used my own baby girl to do so. Annabelle Wynn became proof of life for me.

See, we’re His children… beautiful in our wonderful mess. For in time, He cleans us up. And before we know it, we’re made new. Shiny and bright. Glorious. Reborn in His image.

So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth… Genesis 1:27-28

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=7G7PD7NX

 

Who’s the bad guy?

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I feel heavy. This morning when I woke, my head ached and my legs were leaden. No wonder as I’m heavy with child, this coming Monday to be 40 weeks. That is if she hangs in there till then. But with the progression of morning, rather than sleepy aches and pains diminishing, I found the heaviness to escalate. So much so, it eventually made its way to my heart. Thus, I find today I’m not only heavy with child, but also heavy of heart. And when I tried to pray, I could do nothing but weep…

They said to me, “The survivors in the province, who returned from the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned down.” When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned… Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah wept, too, when he finally heard the news. See, he was the King’s cupbearer and must have been somewhat isolated from everything that was happening in his homeland. He had to have been in a bit of a protective bubble from the outside world as he resided with the King of Persia. For he had a pretty cushy job in comfortable surroundings. But in the course of time, his brother arrived and Nehemiah asked. How’s it going? And when he heard of the broken down state of his homeland, he cried. Nehemiah was heavy of heart. So much so, his face reflected it. The king even asked, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” That’s when Nehemiah found the courage to speak up. He said, “Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” He was braver still when he made a request, “Send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.”

And here, I see the similarity between me and Nehemiah. Because we cry for the same reason. When I finally heard the news of my homeland, I could do nothing but weep. See, I’ve been in a protective bubble. I have a cushy job as I work from home. My contact with the outside world has been minimal. And I’ve been so busy. And so preoccupied preparing for my joyful arrival, who is imminent any day. I’ve been living in my own world… until this past week, that is. Finally, I was caught up, all preparations complete. And finally, I was laid up as I reached maximum physical capacity, all energy sapped. So this week, I rested. There’s been a lot of couch time. And with what’s happening in our country today, in addition to what’s going on globally, naturally the news has become the focus of my attention this past week. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

Last night, I dreamt of protests. No wonder as Ferguson is flooding the news. I’ve been feasting on what the networks feed me, and I found that I made up my mind. I made a decision based on the media. I decided who the good guy is. I judged who the bad guy is. This past week, I’ve become so upset and stirred up and self-righteous that I lost sight of the most important thing. There is a mother. And there was a son. I saw her picture on the internet first thing today, and my heart broke. For her. She lost her son. And no matter what happens in Ferguson, she will live with the loss of the boy she loved. And so, I was halted. By her tears. And mine.

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Oh, this week I’ve been full of tirades and speeches. I’ve ranted about what’s just and fair. I’ve been full of what’s right and wrong. For I thought I knew. This one’s the bad guy and this one’s the good guy. And isn’t that the basic question? Isn’t that the reason for the protest. The world has already decided. This one’s good and this one’s bad. This one’s right and this one’s wrong. And it doesn’t stop with only the two persons involved. It’s ever more far reaching than that. More questions arise. And so, lines are drawn. Anger is fueled. Love is taken out of the equation and hate is perpetuated. And the whole world focuses on this. Ferguson, Missouri. The whole world forms an opinion. Each person is right in his own mind. Each one knows what is just. And fair. Every single one of us knows. We all think we know who the good guy is. And who the bad guy is. And we draw our lines, form our opinions and walk in the way we think is right.

The way of Cain…

cain and abel

On August 15, I penned in my journal the following question, “Who’s the Bad Guy?” And I contemplated all the following: Jihad and Hamas, ISIS and Israel, and of course, Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. And so, I went to my frame of reference. My guiding light. My moral compass. I sought God’s word. Through Hebrews I meditated on pursue peace with everyone and let brotherly love continue. And there, I realized God gives warning about two particular souls… He gives us examples of who not to follow. For in reading about brotherly love, the words of Cain echoed in the chambers of my heart, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And so, I pause at Cain… the firstborn murderer. The first bad guy.

1 John 3:12 says, “We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil…” Cain murdered because he was angry. Furious. And it was there, right where fury originated, that God cautioned Cain. Sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it. But Cain didn’t. He must have fed on that fury. He must have fueled that fire for he led his brother into the field. He attacked him. And then, he then killed him. 

“What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!” Genesis 4:10

God called out to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” though He already knew. Abel’s blood had already cried foul and God heard it. So I’m not sure why God asked where Abel was. Perhaps He posed the question in order to prick Cain’s conscience. Maybe He simply wanted Cain to realize the gravity of what he had done. Where is he… the one you killed? Or, was God giving Cain the opportunity to take responsibility for his actions? But I don’t think Cain did. Because I find his response to be kind of flippant. “I don’t know… Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I his guardian?”

And so, Cain is a bad guy in my book. Obviously. He was a cold-blooded murderer and God says to not be like him. But wait. Just. One. Second. It’s there in 1 John 3. Yes, God’s warning. God’s words. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” And so, the way of Cain is a little less clear to me. It’s not so black and white. Not so easy to discern. For God says hate is as bad as murder. And isn’t there a time to hate? Can’t hate be justified?

Bitter Stew…

Esau and Jacob

On August 15, I began in Hebrews. That’s where another bad guy was illuminated through the pages of Scripture. His name was Esau. God’s words are clear, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble by it, defiling many. And see that there isn’t any immoral and irreverent person like Esau who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal.” What made Esau so bad? He’s called godless. And honestly, I can empathize with him through his story. I felt sorry for him. It began with stew.   

He worked in the fields one day and so, when he came home he was hungry. He asked for some of his brother’s stew, but rather than just graciously serving him, Jacob wanted something in return. Give me your birthright. And Esau did. A foolish thing to do, but Jacob isn’t so innocent in this scene. And later, Jacob tricked their father into giving him Esau’s blessing, too. Jacob got Esau’s birthright and blessing. Oh, the injustice. How unfair! When I read about Esau crying to his father, I cried, too. But see, here’s the thing. Esau stewed over what was done to him. He nursed a grudge. He comforted himself thinking about the day he would murder Jacob. And though we read about the brothers later meeting and reconciling, I don’t think Esau ever let go of what Jacob did to him. It’s in Hebrews. Esau never repented. Meaning, he never changed his mind, or heart, about the way he felt when he lost his blessing. He wanted to murder Jacob. And perhaps over time, furious thoughts of murder ebbed to a slow flow of simmering, bubbling hate. But the fact is, the spark ignited the day Esau feasted on Jacob’s stew never went out. Oh, the flames may have lost their intensity over time. But time just made the coals burn hotter. Hate is what Esau passed on to his offspring. 

The proof? Obadiah’s prophecies against Edom, Esau’s line. Destruction because of the violence done to his brother, Jacob. See, Esau’s line stood aloof when Jerusalem fell. They didn’t help when strangers captured the city. God said they were just like the forces who attacked. For they gloated over Jerusalem’s calamity and fall. They rejoiced. Because in their minds, wasn’t this justice? Remember what Jacob did to Esau. He tricked and stole. And so, when Jacob’s descendants went down, Esau’s lineage felt justification. The sweetness of Jerusalem’s fall went down smoother than the bitter stew Edom feasted on. That hateful concoction… it simmered on low and never went out. That old, old issue never fully went away. The one that flooded their hearts and mind again and again through the years.

Yep, it’s clear. Just as Cain is a bad guy in God’s book, so is Esau and his lineage. There’s no denying it… we’re not to follow their ways. And so, again, I ask the question, “Who’s the bad guy?” For today, with everything that’s going on in the world, who exactly is the bad guy? Can I glean enough knowledge and insight and discernment from God’s word to judge on my own?

The way of Pam…

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Truth is, I’m the bad guy. Because I’ve smugly sat here in my comfortable home and judged the entire world by simply listening to biased reports. I hear one thing, and think one way. I hear another, and am steered the other way. All the while, my rage has been fueled. I’ve been feasting on pots of bitterness that have been simmering for way too long. I have been so irate over the unfairness of the situations I’ve seen. I’ve been angry. And yes, there has been hate in my heart. Hate. For love has been snuffed out through my self-righteous attitude. And God says if you have hate for your brother, you’re no different than a murderer. I’ve been walking in the way of Cain feasting on Esau’s stew this past week. And from a week’s worth of broadcasting, I think I know. Right and wrong. Just and fair. But I don’t.  I don’t know everything about what’s happening. And because I live in a small, secluded, safe town, there is no way I can possibly fathom the reality of what those on the outside are dealing with. I haven’t a clue.

There is a war today. It’s right here on our home soil. Our walls are broken down. And this morning, I cried as if I had lost a loved one. It was the picture of a mother. Her tears. It was a reality check. See, in the heatedness of recent activities, I lost sight of what really happened. A woman lost her son. What of her?

And so, my eyes are opened. I see the real war begins right here in my home. It begins with me. It’s the battle that rages in my heart. It’s the one of love vs. hate. And sometimes, hate wins. As it advances through the chambers of my heart, love is diminished. Until there’s none left. And the hate makes me a murderer. It makes me divisive. I draw lines and project all the things I stand against, rather than the things I really stand for. Like peace… blessed are the peacemakers. I rant about the bad guys or the enemies, but this itself makes me one of them! And what does God say, but to love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you. And so, He calls us to love. For love covers a multitude of sins. Especially the sin of hate.

Yes, this morning I felt heavy. So heavy. Now I know it was the hate. For I had been feasting on divisiveness. But it was the eyes of a mother who brought me to my senses. It was her heartache that made me realize the truth. I’m the bad guy. And so tears that began over the state of my nation turned to tears for me. And a wordless prayer for my country turned to prayer for me, the enemy. The persecutor. For in my own way, I had been murdering and pillaging. Though I had no words to offer God, He knew. And afterward, it was as if He said, “Where is your brother?” And in truth, my brother is everywhere. He is Michael Brown. And he is Darren Wilson. I am my brother’s keeper. And that means, I am to love them both. God help me.  

 When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. Then they screamed at the top of their voices, stopped their ears, and rushed together against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” Acts 7

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Annabelle’s Announcement

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This flower appeared on our azalea bush a day or so ago. I didn’t pay much attention at first, assuming there were others. But last night, Jason pointed out there’s only one. He also reminded me that the bushes had already bloomed earlier this Summer. So really, it’s unusual that this one bloom came back. Thus, we wondered… is it her flower? A sign of what, or who, is coming our way. And in admiring this pale, blush colored blossom, I have to think yes. It’s hers. For this is the color that adorns her walls and bedding. It’s definitely Annabelle’s flower.

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I’ve been pretty busy lately as this past Summer has been a season of preparation. See, I’m preparing the way for the new life that’s about to enter our world. Her name is Annabelle and for now, she resides inside me. I keep thinking any day, but alas, my womb continues to encompass her. She is surrounded by me. And so, I find new ways to prepare every day. Her room was done a month ago, so I moved on to filling her dresser drawers and closet with clean sleepers and every adorable outfit you can imagine. When the clothes were done, I moved on to sterilizing bottles and nipples. And then packing her bag, eagerly anticipating the big day as I bustled along. My thinking the whole time was, it could be any moment. And if I were to judge by yesterday’s sonogram, I’d say she’s overdue. She should be here already. But God’s timing is perfect, and Annabelle will arrive when the time is right.

And so, perhaps Annabelle’s announcement may seem a bit premature. Isn’t it customary for birth announcements to go out after the baby arrives? But this morning, her impending arrival is all I can think about. And so, I’m ready to make the announcement. Annabelle is coming. And I want her message to go out to the world.

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As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

I began receiving gifts for Annabelle in January and the theme seemed to be feet. The first two cards portrayed baby feet and baby shoes, while the first two presents were wee little slippers and dainty pink sandals. Feet. And so, we wondered, would she be a missionary? What purpose did God already have for this little girl growing in my womb? And as I sit here today, her birth feels significant. That there’s something God wants to do through her… and so, I go back to feet. Her feet. And my feet.

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Lovely, aren’t they? My ankles have nearly disappeared and my feet are so fat I can barely wiggle my toes. So aesthetically, perhaps not so pretty to gaze upon. But when I think of what they represent, I’d say these are some of the most beautiful feet that trod the earth. At least for today. Because I bring good news. I announce the birth of my baby girl. She’s coming. And so despite my swollen size nines (or tens), I’ll continue to prepare the way… for her. I’ll prepare the way for new life, and this is what makes these feet of mine lovely.

The past few days, I’ve been thinking about another set of feet. They belonged to a man named John. I wondered if his feet became achy and swollen. Or if they were dirty or sandy as he prepared the way. See, upon John’s birth it was asked, “What then will this child become?” The answer… “And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.” John was chosen to give the people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. And when the time was right, he prepared the way for Jesus’ arrival. Though he didn’t know the exact date, he knew that the Dawn from on high was coming. He knew that Jesus would shine on those who lived in darkness and in the shadow of death… that the One to come would guide others’ feet into the way of peace. And that made his feet lovely. For John brought good news.

Funny thing, though. John’s message to the people was “Repent!” And honestly, this just doesn’t sit well today. When we hear repent, don’t we feel more like cringing than rejoicing? It doesn’t sound like good news, does it? Almost harsh. And it’s here at this point, I imagine some people may wonder what in the world repentance has to do with a birth announcement… with Annabelle’s announcement. And personally, I have to say everything. Everything. My daughter’s very name points to a message of repentance. And the thing is, I believe the name was given to her by God. Though I selected it because it means joy, I find I’ve been residing in a state of repentance instead. Ever since February, in fact. And so I deem this to be an act of God. Annabelle pointing me in another direction. 

Yes, Annabelle’s coming and her name means joy. But you know what? Through the book of James, God tells me my laughter must change to mourning and my joy to sorrow. And this doesn’t sound like good news. But you see, there’s hope. For in Psalm 30, I read that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Joy is coming for it follows repentance. It comes when you really turn from something you know you need to leave behind. Because if you hold to the thing you’re not supposed to, it kills you. It’s like poison. I know this to be true. And so, I find I’m repenting. As I turn loose of what He said to, I find I am able to turn to Him. And this prepares the way for new life. And not just the new life that resides inside me named Annabelle. For I come to life alongside her. My Joy is birthed as I prepare to birth her. That’s the very reason I picked her name… for I was longing for joy. And so now, Jesus comes to me. His arrival is right on time and He ministers to me…

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3

Jesus must have had lovely feet. For He brought good news to the poor. And He was sent to heal those brokenhearted souls. He came to comfort those who mourn and sorrow. This is a picture of repentance. And so I see it’s not a harsh message, after all. It is good news and it’s quite lovely. And I feel such hope. For I am poised to rise from the ashes. He will replace my mourning and sorrow with oil of joy. Joy. And that’s what her name means. And this is why Annabelle’s birth is so significant. She has great purpose. For her very name, and her birth announcement, proclaims the One to come. Her lovely, little feet that have not yet trod the world already prepares the way for Him. That’s what she’s been doing in my heart… preparing the way. Lovely feet. Good news.

Oh, I have been preparing. For months. I’ve been paving the way for my daughter’s appearance. But in addition, I’ve been turning. My heart has been changing as it aligns to the ways of Jesus. His ways are becoming my ways. And so, Scripture comes to life. In me. For repentance is simply this change of mind. It’s this change of direction. And so in preparing the way for Annabelle, I find I’ve also been preparing the way for Christ. While I’ve been making room for her in my home, I’ve been making space for Him in my heart. And ultimately, His way will guide my feet into the way of peace. The path of joy…

She’s coming. And He is, too. When the time is right.

“I assure you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. When a woman is in labor she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world. So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy. John 16:20-22

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