iBelieve

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

The Armor of God – The Belt


I grew up with twelve years of Catholic education and every year, I had to wear a uniform. As I got into high school, the uniform relaxed a bit, as I was only required to wear green-colored pants or skirts with a modest top that coordinated with the chosen green hue. Wearing a uniform was an outward testament to my educational upbringing and anyone in those days knew I was affiliated with the Catholic school system.

As Christians, we are instructed in Ephesians 6:10-17 to wear another uniform. This uniform is called the Armor of God which includes a belt, breastplate, feet coverings, shield, helmet, and a sword. I will have a short series of posts regarding each uniform article. Today, let’s review the BELT.

Our waist can be an example of the truthfulness of bad eating habits. By increasing the intake of carbohydrates and sugar while neglecting exercise, we see our waist expand. Pants fit tighter and we shop for stretchier fabrics to ease discomfort from less stretchy material. The truth is, we gained weight.

On the other hand, some people find it hard to gain weight due to high metabolism and need a belt just to hold up their pants. I was super skinny up until my mid-30s and found the belt to be an important wardrobe accessory.

As part of the armor of God, the belt he asks us to wear is the belt of truth. Back in Roman times, the belt wasn’t used as a way to hold up pants like we envision today. The belt had spaces to hold swords (which we will get to in a later post) and it also allowed strips of armor to hang from it for more protection. What is truth anyway?

In John 14:6-7, Jesus gives us the definition of truth, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” The way we get to know Jesus is by reading the Bible. He lays everything out for us that we need to know about Himself. Before opening the word of God, the Bible, I suggest you ask God to equip you with the ability to understand His truth. Regularly spend time with him in Scripture and in prayer.

This belt of truth protects us against the lies and deceptions of the enemy. Scripture does not mince words and states that Satan is the father of lies. In John 8:44 it reads, You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Even in Genesis 3, the devil appeared as a serpent and operated in half-truths to get Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. He is witty enough to twist the truth to cause people to stumble away from God’s truth.

Put on the belt of truth to prevent from falling prey to the devil’s lies. If we don’t have an understanding of the truth, the rest of the armor is useless. As hungry as we may be for carbohydrates and sugar, may we be that hungry for the word of God to expand our knowledge of Him.

 

Worldview


I live in a city where streetlights drown out the beauty of the stars in the sky on a clear night.  I have to drive to an open field if I want to watch the full moon rise and to the beach for an unobstructed view of the sunset.  On warm summer afternoons, I would sit on a blanket in the grass and observe a simple one-inch square of space in the grass and admire all the little things going on that I usually step on and take for granted.  I am thankful for the opportunities to view the majestic handiwork of God however big or small.  He is to be praised for all he has created as it was created in love and for our enjoyment.

Looking in the mirror, I can see God’s handiwork in me.

I told my husband, a three-time kidney transplant recipient, that the fingerprints of God are all over him.  He never thought he would live past the age of twenty and not to reveal his age, he is well past twenty and very blessed to still be here.  He is God’s handiwork.

What is mankind that you, God, are so mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

I love watching videos where they point the camera at some random street corner in some random city and pan the camera back to reveal the neighborhood, the city, the state, the globe, all the way to the universe where earth looks like a tiny star as if we were looking up at the night sky away from city lights. At that farthest pan out, I realize how small I am in the scheme of things.  How small we all really are. At this moment I realize we are all the same; we are the handiwork of God.  I wish people everywhere could expand their worldview and see the handiwork of God.

As God sits on His throne in the heavenly realm, he knows the number of hairs on our head and he hears the prayers we whisper.  We are not minuscule to Him.  He loves his creation and is mindful of the human beings he created.

Look for opportunities to view the stars on a clear night, watch the moon rise from a field, and head over to a beach to watch the sunset.  Know that God is wading through all the obstacles we place in His view from us just to get a good view of His creation too.

God loves you, friend.  May God’s blessings be more noticeable to you in this new year.

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory in the heavens.  Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?            Psalm 8:1-4

 

 

Late Night Visitor – Missing Someone I Never Met


I get to know people more by observing them because I believe their actions speak louder than words. When all someone has are words, then the consistency of the words speak to their character.

In the 10+ years I have been blogging, I realized early on that there is a blogging etiquette. One doesn’t write a blog, hit send and go on with their day. No, they search out topics of interest and find other bloggers that inspire them and subscribe to their site so they can keep up with the postings and comment on the writing.

Early on, I was impressed with a group of bloggers who were taking a “Post a Day Challenge”. I was too far into the year to begin the year-long challenge so I read and subscribed to some Christian bloggers that touched my heart-center with their words.

Butch Dean, Wordsmith’s Desk, is one such blogger that hit my sweet spot talking about the love of the Lord and many well-written stories of his past. His wife, Bonnie, also blogs and her site is called Memory Bears by Bonnie. When Butch hit send, Bonnie was right after him and their blogs showed up in succession in my inbox.

A post from Butch came on Thursday, October 22, 2020 and strangely one from Bonnie did not follow in my inbox. When I read the post titled, I’ve Changed My Address, it made me cry. Butch had his son send out his very last post that was beautifully and creatively written. He let his readers know that he is now face-to-face with the God he so lovingly had been writing about.

I get to know people more by observing them because I believe their actions speak louder than words. When all someone has are words, then the consistency of the words speak to their character.

Godspeed Butch. May the peace of God fill the hearts of Bonnie and all who loved Butch.

The Traveling Banana


I have good intentions, but those good intentions are only good if acted upon. Read more…

Meager Offering


I often feel like a five loaves of bread and two fish sort of person. I don’t have much, but when I hand it over to God, He can do miracles.

When Jesus heard that John the Baptist, his cousin, was beheaded, He boarded a boat to be alone. I can only imagine His thoughts about John. After all, he was preparing the way for Jesus by baptizing people. He was given the honorable task of baptizing Jesus.

John suffered a horrible death. His work on earth was done.

The crowds may not have realized the relationship between Jesus and John. They may not have known why Jesus pushed off shore for some alone time to grieve. What they did know about Jesus was his ability to heal. So they chased after Him and when He saw them, He had compassion on them and went ashore.

Jesus often told people around those whom he brought back to life, such as His friend Lazarus, to feed them. Jesus spent a good portion of the day healing and reviving those who sought His attention on that hillside.

It was time to feed the crowd that followed Jesus that day. To me, this indicated new life and giving His people strength to go forward to show others who may be nonbelievers, how to believe.

A young boy, who happened to be nearby, packed a little lunch for himself that morning not knowing he would be handing it over to Jesus. He had a meager offering of five loaves of bread and two fish and Jesus blessed it, multiplied it, fed the large crowd and had left overs.

What meager offering do you have to hand over to Jesus today?

I often feel like a five loaves of bread and two fish sort of person. I don’t have much, but when I hand it over to God, He can do miracles.

If Jesus healed you or a loved one, restored a sour relationship, or has given you peace over a situation out of your control, grab a bite to eat because you have been given new life. Celebrate and give God the glory He so deserves.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Mark 6:41-44

Late Night Visitor – Grief Meter


When you enter the hospital under an emergency situation, Read more…

Motherhood


I could only imagine what motherhood was like so I planted a garden.

I dug into the earth with my shovel and pushed it as deep as I could with the help of my foot buried inside a steel-toed shoe. Mindfully in the moment, I heard the melodious crunching sound the shovel made as it sliced into the dirt hitting buried rocks and matured roots from past plantings. The sound exhumed memories of watching my dad dig up space for a garden in the backyard when I was a kid. I dug shovelful after shovelful of earth and flipped it upon itself and worked the soil into a place of new beginnings.

Backyard nesting and oh, that fresh dirt smell.

As I made my way down the aisles at the garden store, I found a large selection of Knockout Roses. I felt like I was peering into the hospital newborn nursery window as I looked at rows and rows of rose bushes. Each rose similar in species had a unique look. I reached down and gently pulled out the one from the group that resembled me and put it on my cart. As a new mom, I was sure to gather together the potting soil and nutrients my budding plant would need to flourish in the space I had prepared.

I dug out a space to fit the rootball and added weed-killing plant food to the hole. I talked to the new rose bush, attempting to ease its fear of change leaving the pot it was grown in and introduced it to my yard. I loosened its roots so it could feel its way into the new space and feel at home too. I filled new soil around the root and pressed it into the earth. Wearing a new mother’s glow, I knelt down next to the rose and said, “Welcome to my yard; welcome to my life! Enjoy your first refreshing drink of water from the garden hose.”

This was a process repeated five more times.

I observed mothers who put their all into raising their offspring. That selfless act was revealed in the maturity of their children at an early age. In a similar fashion, I put in a lot of time and energy into warding off weeds so they would not interfere with the growth of my roses.

My garden was spoiled.

I fertilized and watered and the sun was my daycare provider. Here they are a year later! Oh, how my babies have grown!!

1st Birthday

I could only imagine what motherhood was like, so I planted a garden.

Psalm 144:9-14 (NIV)

I will sing a new song to you, my God;
    on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
    who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword 11 deliver me;
    rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
    whose right hands are deceitful.

12 Then our sons in their youth
    will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
    carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
    with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
    by tens of thousands in our fields;
14     our oxen will draw heavy loads.[a]
There will be no breaching of walls,
    no going into captivity,
    no cry of distress in our streets.

 

Late Night Visitor – More Visitors


When I wrote my first Late Night Visitor post on April 10, 2019, I didn’t know it would become so important in my grief process and become a series of posts. If you are grieving, I hope each entry has helped you in your walk with grief as it has helped me to get it out of my head.

In that first entry, grief came to me in the middle of the night, standing next to a large suitcase and without a return ticket from where it came.

Recently grief, ignoring the shelter-in-place orders and social distancing regulations, has invited anxiety and panic into my home. They follow me around and have been known to hold my hands, whisper lies in my ear, and wake me out of a sound sleep. So annoying.

As they hold my hands, I am not able to clasp them together to make praying hands. I cannot lift them up to the heavens to give God praise and honor He rightly deserves.

The whispers in my ears I know are blatant lies, but they are said over and over and over especially when I am alone. And during this pandemic, I am alone a lot of the time; I started to believe this negative one-way conversation. As they whisper in my ear, they grip my throat in a way that it tightens and my breathing becomes shallow.

From my experience, anxiety and panic are nocturnal too. Their most active time is around 2:30 in the morning while I am sound asleep. They poke and prod at me. They continue the negative whispers in my ear and in the silence of the night, it rings louder. I lose about 1.5 hours of sleep because of their active lifestyle.

I alone do not have the strength it takes to fight these enemies. I am weak and powerless on my own when grief and its friends, anxiety, and panic, gang up on me. But even when my hands are constrained and my throat feels tight and my breathing is shallow, I can find it within me to whisper four syllables, “Jesus, help me” and I am no longer alone.

Listen to my cry, for I am in need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.

Psalm 142:6

Jesus brings His army of angels to fight these battles for me. They rush in and unbind my hands and they force the grip away from my throat.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14

I cannot see the spiritual war going on around me, but I know angels are present and God’s peace covers me like a blanket. Suddenly my hands are lifted high as my heart and mind recall what I know about my relationship with God…

I am a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  I have Jesus Christ living inside of me. My God has promised to meet every one of my needs and He is right here with me at this moment.  

If you are bound by grief, anxiety, and panic, know that you too can cry out to Jesus for this same protection.  You are not alone.

 

Late Night Visitor – Grief Does Not Social Distance


My aunt passed away yesterday on the most beautiful, blue-skied sunny day of May.  There were no clouds in her way when her spirit met with Jesus and together they soared up to heaven to meet her husband, her baby boy, and all the family and friends who have gone before her.  Her 93-year-old body has been vacated.  She can breathe, walk, run, and move freely forever in the light of Christ.

The funeral will be small, holding to the group size restrictions during the pandemic.  Not all of her immediate family will be in the same room to gather for the final blessings, but they will be near by.  The grief felt at a funeral is temporarily snuffed out by a hug; however, there will be no touching and the face masks worn will double as tissue.

I grieve with my cousins, their spouses, and the grandchildren.  From my own experience, I know the feeling of being an orphan and losing the matriarch of the family. It feels so unnatural to not be there to hug each cousin, kiss my aunt on the forehead and wish her godspeed.

    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.

Late Night Visitor – Grief and Joy


Living with grief takes a toll on one’s emotions, health, and spiritual life. There is a time to mourn just as there is a time to laugh; so I had an idea. I put grief and joy in the same room with me (with 6 feet separation and we are all wearing masks).  Here is what happened.

Grief:  “Hi Kristine, are you going to introduce me to your friend?”

Me:  “Hi Grief.  Yes, I am going to introduce you to my friend.  Grief, this is Joy, Joy this is Grief.”

(Neither can they shake hands, nor can they see a smile on each other’s face, so they nod to each other.)

Joy:  “Hello, Grief.

Grief:  “Hello, Joy.”

Me:  “Grief, Joy, I brought you two together because I need you to know that you both exist in my life. Grief, you and I were spending way too much time together and it was taking a toll on my concentration. I had some negative comments when you were at your peak, but not everyone knows how tight we have been and it just looked like I was not on my game.  I was reading the Bible one day and I met Joy.

As the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:4 it is okay that both of you are in my life.  The verse says, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”.  I don’t always want to be sad and I don’t always feel like laughing or dancing, but whatever emotion I want to feel, I need you two to respect, as well as, get out of the way of the other.  I would like to send you away, Grief, but Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world and that is why Joy needs to step in between us more often. I am hanging onto Jesus’s promises rather than settling in with sadness. Jesus overcoming this world is really good news for me because I cannot do this alone or with my own strength.”

Living with grief takes a toll on one’s emotions, health, and spiritual life.  Let Jesus in with the joy He has in store for you and watch your emotions, health, and spiritual life be rejuvenated.

 

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