Tag Archives: childhood

When the Tables are Turned, is it Abuse… or Righteous Anger?

The table was shoved over in a fit of rage when I was around eight. There’d been a bit of squabbling at the table, as happens between eight-year-old and four-year-old kids, but nothing out of the ordinary. It came as a complete shock. It was apparently the last straw; the one that broke the camel’s back. The flimsy card table in our tiny Italian kitchen was suddenly flipped over. There was a scream, and tomato rice soup was flying everywhere. What just happened? Our entire lunch was on the floor; the table upended on its side. And suddenly it was silent.

As I surveyed the red creamy soup splattered all over the walls and in puddles on the floor, we began to cry. My little sister started yelling, “My tooth! My tooth!” In a flurry of activity, we ran to kneel on the floor beside her and look into her mouth. Fear. Had the table smacked her in the face on its way down? Then, suddenly relief, as the discovery came… “It’s a piece of rice! It’s just a piece of rice!” 

I guess it was the relief, because it surely wasn’t joy, that brought the nervous laughter. Suddenly we got the impression it was not so bad after all. In fact, it was all quite funny. But it was actually only funny, because we were trained to believe it was so. The brainwashing had set in long before. I knew what to do. I was supposed to laugh along; make light of the situation. That way no one would get mad… and I wouldn’t get into trouble. And then we could all put a smile on our face and pretend it had never happened. 

What was that after all? Was it abuse, or was it righteous anger?

Well, let’s compare it to another scenario from a time long before. Instead of little kids bickering at the kitchen table, there were money changers in the courts of God’s Holy Temple. And they weren’t innocently sitting at tables eating their lunch. No. They were sitting at tables exchanging foreign money. And instead of having a little argument to top it off, merchants were also selling sheep, cattle, and doves to be sacrificed. Instead of children facing an angry woman, the merchants and money changers came face to face with an angry man… an angry man who just happened to be the Son of God! 

Jesus didn’t shove a flimsy table of food to the ground; he shoved multiple tables, scattering tons of coins: here, there, and everywhere! If that wasn’t frightening enough, he created a whip out of cords, and sent the animals running hither and dither from the temple’s courtyard! Merchants and money changers were in his Father’s House, and Jesus was mad as a hornet! Did you know that Jesus yelled too?! “To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market’ ” (John 2:16 New International Version)!

What was that after all? Was it abuse? Or was it righteous anger?

Well, if you had to choose which situation to witness, which one would you pick? I know which one I would choose. For the silver lining is in knowing that my Savior is good, and perfect, and pure. Though the scene with Jesus was extra dramatic, I would have surveyed the whole scene with peace, instead of anxiety. I would have sat on the sidelines knowing that his corded whip was not for me, nor the righteous anger, nor the disciplinary action. I also wouldn’t have been forced to fake laugh, and pretend I was okay. This is because my confidence is in Christ. My Savior knows what he is doing, has a purpose for it all the time, and it is always good.

I can see myself as a small, skinny eight-year-old girl, about the age of my daughter, sitting on a wall in the courtyard. I’m watching Jesus; glad that he is clearing the temple of the bad guys. I’m sitting in my ratty brown robe, barefoot, swinging my legs against the stone wall, waiting for him to finish his work. I can hardly wait for him to toss down the whip and head over to me. Everyone is gone; the merchants, the buyers, the money changers, and the animals. It’s just me left.  As he comes towards me, I bow my head, but it’s not out of fear. 

It’s out of reverence. It’s because I know he’s getting ready to pull me into his comforting, warm embrace of unconditional love. My head is down because I know his hand is going to touch the top of my curly auburn head, and he’s going to say, “I love you, my child. There’s nothing to fear.” But I’m not afraid anyway. And when I look up into his beautiful, dark face, and smile into his kind, brown eyes;  I nod my head. I can’t talk, because I’m overjoyed. But he understand me. He can read my mind. He knows I’ve remembered. He knows that I, just like “His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17).

Prayer: 

Dear God, turn the tables in my life. Where I am weak, make me strong. Cleanse my mind of the lies I was taught as a child. Fill me with The Holy Spirit, and open my eyes to the truth. Instead of bitter anger, help me to continue to forgive those who have sinned against me, just as you have forgiven those who have sinned against you. Remove the deceit from those who have become blind to the truth. Bring instead, wisdom and discernment, to those who seek Your Face. 

Years later, I’m on fire for You, Lord. My speech, and my body have experienced the shaking strength of righteous anger, and in it I did not sin; just as you my Savior, did not sin in the temple courtyard. I am zealous for you, Jesus. I’m zealous for others to make their home with you in Heaven. It consumes me, and I don’t care if the world hates me for it. Even if I’m the only one left sitting in your courtyard, I will wait for you to come get me. I want to live in your house forever. I want my home to be wherever you may be. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for your eternal love. 

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11).

Related Posts:

PAST PATHS… AND OTHER THINGS TOO PAINFUL TO MENTION

SHE’S A LITTLE RUNAWAY: A JOURNEY FROM REJECTION TO ACCEPTANCE 


Pretty Ponies? A Mother’s “Short Tale”

Yesterday, my daughter asked if she could give one of her ponies a hair cut. We had given a trim to one of her My Little Pony pets before, so I agreed. I reminded her that the pony’s hair couldn’t grow back, and gave her a small pair of scissors, and a piece of cardstick to set underneath.

My daughter returned to ask if she could give another pony a hair cut. “I guess so,” I agreed, while casually mentioning that if she later decided to sell some of her ponies at a yard sale, the other little girls might be looking for long manes and tails. She nodded her head, and then we both shrugged. Who cared about a yard sale? They were her ponies now, and she had a bunch of them. She skipped off to take them to the pony salon; and snip, clip, and shampoo their colorful locks into new hairdos.

After about a half an hour, my normally cheery, confident little girl came into my room, downcast. “What’s wrong, little one?” I asked.

She lowered her head, and her voice slightly trembled, “I don’t think I want to give my ponies a hair cut anymore.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because…”

“How many ponies got hair cuts?”

“About eight…”

“Ohhhh!” I laughed; “Well that’s a lot of ponies. But that’s okay, because you have a lot of ponies. But that’s probably enough ponies getting haircuts.”

But I knew. I could feel the guilt, anxiety, and self-condemnation clinging to her; because it was all too familiar. I was immediately brought back to my childhood; where everything I did was wrong, every mistake was shameful, and no bad choices were forgiven.

NOT MY GIRL, DEVIL! NOT MY GIRL!

“Wait!” I grabbed her skinny little self and folded her into a hug. “Look at me,” I coaxed. She looked up with sad eyes. Her huge, teary eyes displayed a rainbow of colors; just like her little ponies. “Did you have fun?” I asked. Her head nodded up and down. “Do you like their haircuts?” She nodded yes, again. “Then that’s all that matters, Honey!”

I pulled her close into me, and said “Let’s pray…” But she was already bowing her little head, because she knows Jesus brings comfort when Mommy prays. My hands started at the top of her own long, curly, tangled mane. As I prayed over her soft, sweet head; I combed my fingers all the way down to the bottom of her hair, which ended at her waist.

I renounced guilt, anxiety, and self-condemnations for my daughter, in Jesus’ name. I told the devil to go “sit on a tack” in the name of Jesus, and that he was not allowed to steal her joy. I thanked God for my beautiful daughter and her endlessly creative imagination, along with the ability to try new, exciting things. I asked God to fill my daughter with His Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. I asked God to replace her sadness with  joy and peace.  I thanked God for my little girl and her love for animals, including ponies. I asked God to bless her future and all that it entails! 

After praying, I gave her a kiss, and she ran off to play. It was GONE! The sadness, the worry, the doubt… it was all GONE! That’s because I have the power and authority in Jesus Christ, to intervene on behalf of my daughter, and tell the devil to get lost. I can only do this because of who I am in Christ, and my daughter knows she has this same power and authority within her too.

The situation had not changed. The hair did not miraculously grow back.  But what did change, was the lies. The lies weren’t there anymore. They had been prayed away in the name of Jesus. The devil had lied to my daughter, and tried to ruin her day, by deceiving her, and stealing her joy. I was not fooled by his tactics. We had been here before when the devil had lied to her about her artwork mistakes.

NOT MY GIRL, DEVIL! NOT MY GIRL!

When our children are struggling with a  spiritual attack, the silver lining is that we parents who battle for our children, are already promised a victory! We don’t have to play or put up with the devil’s games; but we must pray, and fight back in the name of Jesus! There’s a battle for our children’s spiritual well being; so saddle up, and giddy up! The Bible says we win the race!

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”  (Phil. 3:14 New Living Translation).

Make your decisions, and ride your race without fear! 

15 Ways to Receive a Mother’s Day Blessing, even if You don’t have a Mom, or are Hoping to be One…

So many hearts find Mother’s Day to be a time of sadness and despair, instead of gladness and delight. Many have lost their mothers due to cancer or old age. Some have been abandoned or abused by their mothers, and are no longer a part of each other’s lives. Some have never known their mothers. No matter the reason, not having a mother leaves one with an empty hole; an ache to be nurtured, a desire to be treasured, a wish to be guided in godly wisdom and unconditionally loved.

Still others hearts are left feeling an empty spot, because they are aching to be mothers. It hurts when desire runs deep, and a woman has so much love to give and yearns to share it, yet it remains unfulfilled. It may be another miscarriage, a long struggle with infertility treatments, or an adoption process which is taking way too long.

But the silver lining is that there is hope for each and every woman; those who do not have a mom to love on them, and those who do not have a child to love. And there is hope for the precious mothers who have loved and lost their children too; children who are waiting in Heaven for their mothers to be reunited with them one day. As we wait for God to fully heal our hurting hearts, we can find joy in serving and loving the mothers who need us…sisters in Christ.

For God works in miraculous ways. As God blesses us, He uses us to touch the hearts of other sisters in Christ. NEVER give up on God; He knows exactly how to bless each and every one of us in His good and perfect timing! He can also fill up every empty spot that no one else on earth can… not even a mother.

Here are 20 ways to receive a Mother’s Day blessing, even if you don’t have a mom, or are hoping to be one…

  1. Bring a meal to a new mom who just had a baby. Stay and hold her baby so she and her husband can eat your delicious meal. In the meantime, get your baby cuddle fix!
  2. Volunteer to pass out carnations to all the moms at church. Seeing their smiles, are sure to make you smile too!
  3. Find a mom who treats you like her own child and give her a gift with a thank you card, telling her how much she means to you.  Or, send a card to a mom you admire, and tell her why. You’ll make her day with the unexpected.
  4. Offer to babysit for a friend who is overwhelmed. Bring a new game or toy with you. Play with the children while she runs errands or takes a nap upstairs! She will never forget it!
  5. Tutor a child in a subject where your mom friend is bumping heads with her own child. Mom gets a break from homework patrol and can bake you all some cookies while the math gets completed!
  6. Volunteer for a soup kitchen. Filling the need for hunger is one of the most important jobs a mother will ever have.
  7. Send some encouraging bible verses to a mom who is struggling with depression. Romans, chapter 8 is a great place to start:  “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1 New Living Translation).
  8. Bring flowers to a Sunday School teacher who loves and treats the children as if they are her own.
  9. Sign up to lead Vacation Bible School or to help coach a kids’ soccer or softball team. It’s a chance to use mom skills which can benefit the whole team!
  10. Look into fostering or adoption. There is an incredible need for children to be loved. So many need emergency care, and many more need forever homes. Sometimes God delays pregnancy, because he wants to gift a mother with more than one child. Many women enjoy the amazing experience of both adopting a child and going through a pregnancy! After all, God has adopted us as sons and daughters through His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s plans are amazing!
  11. Thank God for the moms who have been significant in your life. Maybe one of them has even led you to Christ! Ask God to send these mothers a special blessing, in the name of Jesus. Reach out to some of them and let them know you are praying for them.
  12. If you have a grandmother, give her a call to tell her how much of a role model she has been in your life. A personal phone call is a great gift, especially in these modern days of emails and text messaging.
  13. On social media, ask for prayer requests from your friends who are moms. Let them know you would like to pray for them during Mother’s Day Week.  Ask them to message you with their prayer requests.
  14. Take one of your friends, who is a mom, out to dinner one night. Make an effort to really listen to her challenges about being a mom. Offer to pray for her.
  15. Visit a nursing home, and read a book to an elderly mom, or to someone whom might need the loving touch which a mom would bring.

Whether you are hoping to be a mother because you are struggling with infertility, have had multiple miscarriages, and didn’t get to even hold your babies, or are fostering or waiting to adopt; Jesus says you are blessed.

Whether you have had an abortion, and regretted it, and repented and asked God for forgiveness, and are now making your way past the guilt and self-condemnation with Jesus by your side, you are blessed.

Whether you’re a mother who has gone through the trauma of having birthed, raised, loved, and lost your child or children, and face the devastation of their death, which no mother should have to endure; Jesus says you are blessed. He died on the cross while watching his own mother pour out her heart of tears over his suffering and his death.  Jesus understands, and He is The One who will carry your burden and help you through your profound grief and suffering.

For Jesus loves us all: whether we are barren or fertile, orphans or claimed. If you are poor in spirit because of anything having to do with motherhood, especially mourning;  Jesus says you are blessed!  For the silver lining is that God is watching over you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it; God loves you and He wants to heal your heart and take away your pain. For God’s own beloved Son, Jesus, proclaims your blessing in The Beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Matt 5:3-4

The confidence we have in Christ of knowing we are blessed right where we are, in the midst of our deepest heartbreak and heartache, is a reason for hope. If we trust God, we can believe Jesus when he says we are blessed. It means he is taking care of us even now as we weep, and that he will provide blessings of joy for us both here on Earth, and up in Heaven.

Pray for whatever it is you seek regarding motherhood. If you want salvation for your mother, ask God. If you want truth to be revealed about your relationship, pray for it. If you want healing for your hurting heart, because you miss your mom in Heaven, pray to God and ask Him to comfort you. If you want to have a baby, pray for it to happen. If you want to adopt a child, ask God to lead you to the child who is waiting for you. And if you are among the blessed mothers who have a broken heart, because your child left this earth before you did, my precious sister in Chris;  ask Jesus to comfort you, strengthen you, and give you joy, rest, and peace. He loves you!

My own story involves four years of infertility, so I was already praying for a baby. As we started infertility treatment, since I was getting older, I decided to prayed for twins. So why was I so surprised God gave them to me?! When they were were born 2-1/2 months premature, I prayed for their very survival; I prayed for them to live. God heard my prayers, and He helped my babies to hang on, and to thrive! When one of my twins almost died at the age of three, God heard me pleading for his life, according to the will of God. God spared his life, and I’m forever grateful. God had a plan for my boys to grow up together.  God has brought my children through severe illness and traumatic injuries. God kept my daughter alive when years later, it was time for her to be born, and my doctor found the cord wrapped around her neck. I needed an emergency C-section. Many people were praying for my baby girl, and God brought her to us in perfect condition! Praise The Lord!

I don’t have all the answers to why things happen the way they do, but I do know that prayer is powerful, and that God has a perfect plan for His own children… all of us!  Keep trusting God and pursue Jesus through it all! Remember, you are blessed!

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jer. 29:11


We are NEVER alone or without hope, in Christ Jesus. God will heal us, show us joy, give us love, and provide us with everything we need! 

The Heart of a Child Seeks Wisdom

Last night, while praying with my family, and discussing the Proverbs, my seven-year old daughter reminded me that she wanted to read the Proverbs too! Convicted, I realized this was the second night in a row that she had mentioned it to me, and that I had not included her when I had invited my family, friends, and readers; to read a Proverb a day during Lent. Though we were reading her bible stories, I had not thought about taking her on this journey of gaining wisdom through my favorite book of The Holy Bible: Proverbs.  

My heart was touched by my child’s yearning to grow even more in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. She wanted to learn more about God’s promises,and His commands which protect us, and keep us from going down the wrong path. I read a few to her and explained them, while promising to find her a children’s book of Proverbs, because she also likes to read by herself. My young artist’s eyes lit up, as her little fingers reached for the thin pages of my coloring bible, as she realized she could also draw and color, while reading her way through the scriptures. I realized I needed to get her a coloring bible too!

I was filled with joy, as I took in the truth: Even with all my imperfections, my child is watching me walk with Jesus, and making the choice to walk with him too. Our family found out she knew Jesus, and already had a relationship with him, while she was yet only the tender age of three years old. My daughter showed a gift for discerning and understanding scriptures, forgiving easily, and  comforting others by perceiving their pain, along with ability to melt it away; even before her preschool years. She has wisdom beyond her years, and it is not credited to me; it is because God has given her these beautiful gifts. I marvel at them, just as I do at the gifts he has given to my twin boys, who are now young adults, and just as I see gifts within the children of my friends, and the children who have attended my Sunday school classes. 

The Proverb I read to my daughter last night happened to be: “These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance–for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise” (Prov. 1:4-6 New International Version). Never assume someone is too young to follow Jesus, for the innocence of children is clean and pure. They don’t have the dirt and lies of the world to spoil their view, so they can see truth and love more clearly. Share God’s wisdom, truth, and love with a precious child today! 


“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:1-5 New Living Translation).

*Bible page pictured from Inspire ~ The Bible for Creative Journaling ~ NLT



Wisdom says Do Not Mock the Poor

When I was a child I was often made fun of for being too sensitive. When I was eight, I lived in Brindisi, Italy. There were breads and cheeses and fruits at the marketplace. There were beggars too, in extremely great need. I wanted money to give to the beggars, and was told we couldn’t help them all. Couldn’t we help just one? I wanted to put some lire in the cup held by the dirty woman propped up against the stone wall. I knew her life couldn’t be easy; for she had only one leg. She was a mama with a baby on her lap, and a toddler hovering nearby. From what I understood, we were not to look at them, or engage with them; we were to pretend that they were not there.

But I stole a look behind me anyway, wondering how her family would eat and drink, and how she would take care of her children if she couldn’t even walk! All I could offer to the beggars as a child, was a smile to their toothless smiles, and it was hard to do that when my heart felt like a damn about to burst from holding back all my tears.

The mocking of my sensitive soul continued as I got older. Even as an adult, I was again made fun of, for my concern over whether someone who had entered a restaurant in Washington DC, was hungry and in need of a meal. I was gauging the situation by watching a disheveled woman’s behavior, trying to discern whether my asking if she wanted a meal would be offensive to her, or accepted with relief. People who should have been guiding me all my life, laughed at me instead, joking by claiming that the woman actually worked in the restaurant; all while stuffing their faces with the overly expensive food. I was no longer hungry.

Another time, I was greatly distressed to find that the homeless, in a city in North Carolina, were being forced to wear orange vests if they wanted to ask for money or work, while standing at medians in busy intersections. While understanding that the fluorescent orange color could protect them from getting hit by cars, I remarked on the cruelty of these people having to make themselves even more visible, as if was not already humiliating enough to beg for work, money, and food. I didn’t care if they had their own camp over yonder and had “chosen” this way of life. I was angry about their plight, and disgusted with the city of Durham for being willing to pay for orange vests, when that cash could instead be used towards sheltering cold homeless people, putting warm coats on cold bodies, or filling hungry bellies with delicious comfort food.

I was mocked and laughed at for speaking my caring thoughts aloud. Unkind words were said about the homeless. It hurt my ears. When, I objected, I was told it was all “just joking.” Then why wasn’t I laughing too? I sat sullenly in the back seat, not caring two cents about being the party pooper. Didn’t anyone else care about the poor? This wasn’t funny. At. All. And I knew by then how to think for myself. I had already been helping those less fortunate than me. I had a heart for helping the poor; it was a part of me, and I was glad. “Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished” (Proverbs 17:5 New International Version).

Several years later, I found myself joyfully fixing food and serving a community meal at a local church. The poor came, and the homeless. They were hungry; in need of clothing, toys, supplies, and most of all… Jesus. My favorite part was after the meal had been served, when I could take a seat across from, or next to these broken people and listen to their heartbreaking stories. I got to know their names, pray for them, and hug them. It got to the point where I would recognize them on the street if I passed through town. One even came to the library to read books one day while I was there with my children. I was able to introduce my daughter to Miss Carol, who seemed to find great comfort in reading children’s books, so we talked about our favorites.

If these kinds of people and situations were supposed to be ignored, dismissed, mocked, and joked about; why did my heart swell with such tenderness when I had the opportunity to meet these people’s needs? Why did I feel such joy at being allowed the privilege of giving a little part of myself to hopeless, hurting people? It wasn’t the kind of happiness that comes from a perfect day, like your birthday when you eat your favorite foods, with your favorite people, and go to your favorite places. It was Holy Spirit Love for others, which fills your heart with joy and peace, because you’re fulfilling God’s beautiful, divine purpose. For Jesus came to bring life to the lost, and hope to those in despair. He lives within me, and nothing compares to being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and loving others the way he does!

And who is to say that my life couldn’t have been like their lives? What if I was the one in their circumstances? How would my life turn out? Yet, I realize now that though I never lacked for food or clothing or shelter, I was truly poor in spirit, for I lacked the nurturing, care, encouragement, support, and unconditional love; that a child needs to become a whole, happy, healthy adult. The silver lining is God knows exactly what we need. He will provide it through other people, resources, the Holy Bible, churches, or if needed… a miracle. And best of all, is God’s promise, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:13).


God commands us to take care of the poor, minister to orphans and widows, and to uplift and encourage the broken-hearted. It’s because God values everyone as part of His Miraculous Creation. You can’t be a Christian without caring for those less fortunate, for the Bible says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (Jas. 1:27)

When we become part of the family of God, we become part of God’s greater plan. I can’t help but think that if everyone obeyed God and gave a part of themselves to those in need, that no one would be poor at all, and then we wouldn’t have all these problems in the first place! But we are dealing with the fall, and sin, and broken people. Nothing will be perfect ever until we reach Heaven. But in the meantime, can’t we give a little, or a lot, of our resources to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to help those who need to know Jesus to find him?

Someone’s greatest need may financial, physical, educational, or spiritual. A person may need food, shelter, Christian counsel, friendship, a bible to read, or a ride to church. We can use our gifts from God to minister to the poor. And if we don’t have much; we surely have our prayers to offer, which bring great results and rewards. Surely, we would not want others to make fun of us during our greatest time of need. We all want our basic and greater needs met. Isn’t God a good God to notice when we aren’t being treated right, when we are made fun of for being poor, or mocked for caring about poor people? It’s insulting and unacceptable to God!

So, do not heed the lies, all you compassionate and brothers and sisters in Christ; keep on caring, giving, sharing, encouraging, and loving others! Be beautifully sensitive! These are gifts from God to share with others! For we are ALL made in His image! God will bless both the giver and receiver, and everything will be used for His glory!

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).



The True Sacrifice of Lent and how you can take part

Little hearts during Lent 

When I was growing up, there were only two main religions on the Air Force Base. You were either Protestant or Catholic; there was nothing in between. I wished to be Catholic, because I liked that the children took communion wafers. No one realized that I already knew and loved Jesus, and had it been explained, I would have rejoiced in the partaking of communion. I also liked the way the Catholics made the sign of the cross across the front of their bodies after saying a prayer. I thought it to be beautiful. What I did not envy, was the time of Lent. Here’s where the Catholic children dramatically sighed and rolled their eyes, complaining that they would be deprived of candy or soda, or both… for 40 days up until Easter! We Protestant kids would shake our heads in sympathy, as sticky popsicle juice melted down our chins and arms, on a warm spring day.

Neither we Protestant, nor the Catholic children had really figured out that Lent is the 40 day period of time before Easter, when God’s children take time to repent and pray, and reflect upon the amazing sacrifice of Jesus Christ; God’s Son who willingly took our place on the cross, dying for our sins. The whole point of God sending a sacrifice was missed in childish translation, covered up by the tradition of giving up favorite sweets in order to prove loyalty and love to The Savior. Children want to be good, please Jesus, and show him that they love him. Children first need to know Jesus loves them, just as they are!

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ “Matt. 19:14 New International Version).

Lent and the Temptation of Christ

Traditions vary, according to region and religion, but traditionally Lent is a 40 day time period of reflection, repentance, prayer, and sacrifice; which begins on Ash Wednesday, and ends the Saturday before Easter, often with a special Easter Sunday feast to celebrate the risen Savior. Participating in Lent is a way for Christians around the world to recognize and remember that Jesus spent 40 days alone in the wilderness of the Scorching Judaean Desert, completely fasting from food. Yes. After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus truly went hungry for 40 days and nights to spend time solely with God, his Father, and focus God’s will for his life. This time of deep dependence on his Father would prepare him for his ultimate sacrifice, giving up his very own life to save the world from its sins.

When Jesus was at his most vulnerable, the devil came to try to tempt him. He offered up something pretty amazing; a huge glittering kingdom on a mountaintop… plus the food Jesus so desperately craved, needed, and desired. But the devil is a liar and can’t be trusted. And even if Satan would have handed it over, there was no way Jesus was accepting. His mission would be demolished and destroyed; the very mission meant to save us Christians from the burning fires of hell.

“‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”‘ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matt. 4:9-11).

Lent as a desire to draw closer to Christ 

If Jesus sacrificed so much for us, Lent is nothing in comparison, but it can give people a sense of walking with Christ, and experiencing (albeit on a much smaller scale) a minuscule taste of what Christ experienced those 40 grueling days. Though it was difficult, exhausting, draining, and seems utterly impossible; Jesus made it through. And in doing so, he was humbled, blessed, anointed, and brought even closer to God, his Heavenly Father.

Whatever Christians may choose to give up for Lent, be it diet soda, coffee, smoking, alcohol, carbs, chocolate, TV, social media, or other; let it be known that all God really wants is the sacrifice of our own lives; repentance of our sins and the laying down of our own desires, wicked ways and selfish gains. God wants us to let go of all the sin, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus! Otherwise, all our sacrifices are in vain. If one is going to participate in Lent, might I suggest sacrificing our time? Because, time given up and given to God, is time given up to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. If we spend more time focusing on Jesus, and less time focusing on ourselves; our little sacrifice will end up doing what pleases God the most: drawing us closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ! What sacrifice could bring The Holy Spirit more joy?

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).

THE Sacrifice

If you do not participate in Lent, or if you do participate, and cave due to temptation, look for the silver lining: Jesus IS the sacrifice. He already paid the debt for our sins. You don’t have to be perfect, or strive for it. When you receive Christ, your sins are washed away, and you remain white as snow. You are washed free of the guilt, fear, anxiety, self-condemnation, and lies that get in the way of your hope leading to healing, joy, freedom, and peace in Jesus Christ! Jesus paid it already for you at the cross! Rejoice! Worship him! Give him praise!

” ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isa. 1:18).

An invitation to take part in The Silver Lining Sacrificial Lent Blessing…

In 2017, Lent Season is from Ash Wednesday, March 1 to Saturday, April 15. Choose to complete some days during the Lent Season, or all 40 days. Choose from any of the sacrifices of time from below. You might want to do one of the choices for many days, or several of the choices for just a few days each. It doesn’t matter how you choose to offer God your sacrifice of time. The key is to do as The Lord God leads. You will be blessed!

Seven ways to take part:

~ Read a Proverb a day. There are 31 Proverbs in the Bible. When completed, read over your favorites for the remaining days, or choose another chapter of the Bible which you feel led to read. 

~ Journal out seven praises of thankfulness each day. At the end of Lent, you will look back on 280 blessings God has given to you! When you’re having a hard day, pull out your praise journal to remind you how much God loves and cherishes you! You may want to continue your journal after Lent. It’s a refreshing revelation to see the gifts God has given to you, penned out on paper!

– Journal out seven prayer requests each day, for yourself, and others. At the end of Lent, look back and see how many prayer requests God has answered! You will be amazed at God’s responses! Continue checking back to watch how God answers your prayers in His own perfect timing… for a reason!

– Journal out seven sins you struggle with, where you need God’s forgiveness. Each day, ask God to forgive you if you have committed any of these particular sins, again. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit, and ask Him to break down the strongholds of these sins in Jesus’ name. At the end of Lent, look back at the growth God has completed in you, and thank Him for His grace and mercy and forgiveness!

– Pray first. Ask God to lay seven people on your heart for whom to pray. Lift these people up to Jesus each day. If possible, ask them how you can pray for them, and let them know you are praying for them. At the end of Lent, ask God to show you the many ways these people’s prayers have been answered! 

– Pray first. Choose seven small acts of service to do for God during Lent. Though these acts of service may bring joy to people, they should be first and foremost, acts of service to please Jesus. There may be a couple you don’t want to do, but you will be blessed! 

~ Pray first. Choose seven people to bless in small ways. Ask God to lay people on your heart who need it most. You will be surprised at some of the people who come to mind whom you didn’t expect! 

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God bless you, in Jesus’ name. He has risen!

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Narcissistic Abuse? There’s Hope!

Have you been abused by a narcissist? You’re not alone! Really! If you would like some links about narcissism, please message me, and I’ll send you some helpful information which relates to your specific situation. Narcissistic people all act the same way, and do the same things. This is because they are all pretending to be different (and false) personalities. They are also all involved in self-worship ( idolatry) when they should be bowing down before The Lord God, with humble, repentant hearts. Visit The Silver Lining blog, and learn how to do spiritual warfare against selfish, self-centered people. Find out how the battle the spirits at war against you! Learn why it’s so important to pray for your enemies! “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 New International Versions).

If you are, or have ever been the victim of a narcissist, you already know the damage, detriment, and destroying which occurs as a result. But the silver lining is NOTHING compares to the life-changing truths, love, and protection which GOD has for you! Also, with JESUS, narcissists are powerLESS to ruin your life! Not only that, but YOU have the POWER and AUTHORITY in Christ Jesus to go forward, heal, and follow God’s amazing calling for your life! “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?

Only Jesus can heal the deep-rooted pain inflicted by a narcissist it. Only God can reveal it! Visit and subscribe to my blog, The Silver Lining, and type ‘narcissism’ in the search tab. It’s just a fancy word for the sin of extreme self-centeredness. It will give you a head start, and hope in Jesus, towards healing and turning your life around; you will finally begin gaining your freedom in Christ! Learn how God can pick up your painful broken bits and pieces, and put you wholly (and holy!) back together again, by giving you the joyful life He meant for you to have in the first place! Why? Because God Loves YOU! “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).

I invite you to ‘like’ The Silver Lining Facebook page, so you won’t miss a single post. From there, you can easily invite your friends to join.In addition to my blog posts, my Facebook page contains crucial content by other Christian authors on the topic of narcissism. There are also more encouraging uplifting posts on a variety of topics to bring you light on your darkest days. Let’s share beautiful bits of The Silver Lining on Instagram too! I hope to see  you there! May God bless you as you pursue Jesus, and search for The Silver Lining! 💙

 

Past Paths… and Other Things too Painful to Mention

Last night, via Google Earth, I “traveled” along several paths, remembering how I’d been left alone so many times, since the tender young age of four. I retraced the steps I’d walked in solitude, in both Europe and the U.S. I was shocked at the realization of having wandered so far from home so often. In awe, I stared open-mouthed as the miles were mapped before my eyes, showing how far I’d trekked on foot and ridden my bike, with no one knowing my whereabouts. Google Earth showed me my instincts had been more than correct: It truly is a miracle that I’m even alive!

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about the normal sweet freedoms of playing Hide n Seek till dark with all your friends, and the sweaty summers of childhood sprinklers. I’m not even talking about riding your bike around the neighborhood with the wind in your hair, or roller skating up and down the sidewalks and scraping up your knees. Those were things many children from the seventies and eighties enjoyed when kids were expected to go outside and play until supper, and then go back outside and catch lightning bugs till bath time.

I’m talking about the lonesome life adventures I remember in somewhat mixed, but fine detail, simply because I have a memory like an elephant. As a four year old, in Germany, I tried to avoid the teenagers. They made fun of the younger kids and called them names. I was on the monkey bars with a friend when I discovered I’d stepped in “doggy doo doo.” I knew the big kids would jeer at me and tease me if they noticed, so I didn’t even tell my friend. I remember standing at ground level, wishing my apartment wasn’t so many flights of stairs up away up top. I kept my stare focused on one of the teen girl’s colorful toenails. It was easier if I just blended in. I’m talking about being four years old, and leaving those monkey bars behind, to accept candy from a stranger behind a tall white stucco wall. The other kids warned me and my little boyfriend that a witch lived there, but we thought she was just fine. She smiled at us and urged us to take the sweets. The candy with sprinkles won me over, and there was an added benefit; it wasn’t poisonous!

I found myself being left with adults I didn’t know well. When I was five or six, I was left with an old lady I’d never met before. Once again I found myself being urged to accept a “treat.” Though I told the woman I was allergic to peanuts, she insisted I could just pull the peanuts off of the Cracker Jacks and just eat the popcorn. But she was not pulling the wool over my eyes. I had some worldly wisdom by now, and I didn’t think peanut crumb dust would turn out well for me (I chose to stay hungry). As I grew out of training wheels, I quickly mastered the art of riding my bike. I found myself in trashed, parentless houses, with friends of classmates, who made mud pies. On the base, I rode down suicidal hills with my feet over my handlebars, praying to God there wouldn’t be a car at the bottom, because there was no way to stop (God graciously answered those prayers for me). These things happened, and more things, and other things too painful to mention.

I moved to Italy, before third grade, where I had to walk and cross several streets, including a main strada with lots of tiny, speeding cars disobeying traffic rules. My heart jumped into my throat the day a stray dog began curiously sniffing at my lunchbox. I thought about dropping the box and making a run for it, but God sent me an angel. Just as my heart was about to leap into my throat, the threatening dog suddenly turned and walked away (Thank you, Jesus!). As if that wasn’t frightening enough, I survived the landlord’s giant German Shepherd guard dog, when it got loose and pressed up against my chest, barking and salivating in my face. (I think God sent me two angels that day!). At eight years old, I escaped from a gang of ten Italian bullies chasing me on bikes, screaming at me to give them MY bike, as I pumped my skinny long legs as fast as I could. I screamed at them in Italian, calling them liars. I told them my bicicletta was a girl’s bike, and that no one else had one like it. That bike was my trusty friend for many years, keeping me company on my soul adventures.

During that same time, I was left for a couple weeks with a strange family, where the parents punished me for things I didn’t do. It was scary and confusing, just like it was when we moved onto the base. I had been learning that many parents couldn’t be trusted, and here it was no different. A man was angry with the boy who had slapped his bratty daughter on the leg with a toy. After chasing my childhood friend into a ditch, the man flipped him over his head, high up into the air. In horror, I watched as my nine year old friend landed flat on his back. I muffled my screams; would I be next if I was seen? I ran until my asthmatic lungs gave out. Police were called, and I was terrified as always, that somehow it was my fault. The military police assured me I’d done nothing wrong; they just needed to know what I’d seen. These things happened, and more things, and other things too painful to mention.

When I look back at my first official dentist visit at age 11, like most dental appointments, it wasn’t fun. We’d had quick checkups on the military base through school, but we moved a lot, so I usually missed those. I had to get four fillings, and I was only in middle school. It didn’t seem fair (especially since I’d obediently chewed the cherry red tablets that showed you how to brush correctly). I wish I’d known about floss, because I probably would have thought it was fun. After all, I wanted braces, and needed them, but I didn’t get those either. Instead, I got head lice from constantly having unwashed hair. Dirty hair had previously been an easy fix; I was just supposed to hurry up and grab a scarf for my head before catching the bus.

The same year of the lice, was the same year of me getting embarrassed by my p.e. coach telling me I needed to purchase a necessary important undergarment. How mortifying. I thought she was being mean by pulling me aside and whispering to me, but years later I realized she was doing me a favor. As a sixth grader, I continued to ride my trusty purple bike everywhere. I even rode it four blocks away, in order to bat my talcum-powdered eyelids at a boy (I created my own makeup, since I wasn’t allowed to wear any) just because it was nice to be noticed and told I was pretty.

Teachers tried to help me in middle school. They told me I was smart and talented. They told me to enter my art and poetry in contests, and I won. When I started to go into anaphylactic shock at school, from an allergic reaction to the school cafeteria spice cake, the nurse frantically tried to help. She searched through the cabinets in vain, but sadly informed me there was no emergency medicine in the office. When help finally arrived, it came in the form of a pill, and a quick dump off at home, instead of to the hospital. I scratched in agony at the donut-sized welts which entirely covered my legs. I moaned from the nausea, and tried to fill my air with lungs. I felt like I was trying to breathe through a straw. These things happened, and more things, and other things too painful to mention.

It can be hard coming face to face with neglect and the realization of having been on your own from a young age, and the understanding that things were not what they looked like to other people. It can be lonely having to carry things you weren’t meant to be burdened with as a child. You can easily feel lost, hopeless, and abandoned when you look back at times when no one was there, and no one cared.
Sometimes it looks pretty on the outside; you’re told to quickly put a bright yellow scarf over your greasy dirty hair, you’re told to smile pretty getting out of the car at church but you want to cry because everyone was fighting and you were the target again, you’re told to care for another child when you’re still only a child yourself, and you do it because you love that child, but no one is loving and caring for you.

It’s easy to be tempted to look back and wonder where God was when you were lonely, isolated, neglected, abused, and abandoned. It’s tempting to get angry and wonder why you had to be afraid, condemned, and depressed just for being alive. It can be especially tempting to allow hopelessness in, and wonder if God will be there for you in the future. But the silver lining is God loves us, in spite of everything we’ve been through. Jesus cried when we cried, and he held us up when we couldn’t stand on our own. Jesus wants to fix the brokenness, heal us, and use it all for God’s glory! Jesus is always here for us!

I hurt about the little things. I hurt about the big things. And I hurt about the other things too painful to mention. But I have to trust that God knows what He is doing with my life, even when nothing seems to make sense. I don’t want to be that person who walks away from God, especially when He’s getting ready to do that great big glorious thing in my life! After all, He’s already done some pretty glorious things for me! God has given me a family to love, and my family loves me, and fills up the empty, broken, lonely places. So whether people are for me or against me (and believe me, there are plenty against me!) God is FOR me! He loves and cares for me, and He can teach me how to love and care for myself. God has taught me to love and care for my children the way I should have been loved and cared for as a child. How great and glorious is that? I’d rather have everyone against me with God for me, than everyone for me, with God against me! “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31 English Standard Version)

The painful things are healed by the forgiveness, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ. God has done wonderful things, is doing amazing things, and will do many more wonderful, amazing things too glorious yet to mention…

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4 ESV)

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Mama has a Sailor Mouth

“The Fourth Grade Cussing Club…” I don’t know how it really started, except that one day on the playground, I suddenly found myself a part of it…and you just had to say bad words to belong. Patti was the ringleader. I didn’t even like her; she was a self-proclaimed atheist. “I don’t believe in God,” she proudly said, with her nose in the air. But I did. I believed in God, and I believed in Jesus, and I loved them.

Somehow the ugly word came out of my mouth. I didn’t even know why. I wasn’t worried about fitting in. I had plenty of friends. Why was I even hanging around with her? But there we stood in a circle, taking turns saying words one finds painted onto cement overpasses and etched into the backs of dull gray metal bathroom doors.

A week later, I quit. I firmly took a stand. I told Patti I didn’t want to be in her stupid club, especially when the worst part of it all was that she didn’t believe in God. My nine-year-old self knew it was wrong; how she was trying to convince our joint friends about why God didn’t exist. I walked away, and the club immediately melted and dissolved into sheer nothingness.

But Patti wasn’t happy. I’d hit a nerve. At a sleepover, I awoke to her gossiping about me to two other girls. Pretending to be asleep, my ears burned, hoping that sweet Cathy wouldn’t turn against me. It was her house. Cathy didn’t talk about me, but she didn’t really stick up for me either. Patti was pretty intimidating. It felt strange and scary, lying there under the covers, not moving. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t know what to do.

Sadly, it was only a sneak peek of how people will mistreat you when you stand with your Savior. It was also a glimpse of how people are unwilling, or afraid, to stand up with you, or for you when you make a stand for what’s right and true. After all, Cathy was a believer too. Yet, how joyful it was, that I already knew Jesus at such a young age, and that he had given me the strength to break away from the sin and the peer pressure!

I didn’t cuss again until 8th grade. I’d moved all the way from Texas to Alaska, and was starting over…again. Swearing seemed the cool thing to do, but it wasn’t necessary; the kids liked me just as I was. I was a good girl, and a smart girl. Good grades came easily; excellent grades came with a little effort. But I began to let things slide, and then I’d brag about only getting a B or C, like the kids who announced they had failed a test, so I wouldn’t look “nerdy” for being intelligent. At home I wasn’t praised for being good or smart, so it just seemed right to swear with my friends who accepted and liked me.

I was fitting in well. Boys gave me their jackets to wear, and my girlfriends copied my purple eye shadow. My spot was reserved on the bus. No one “called me out” to fight me. My popularity grew and my bad mouth did too. Life away from home was good. But my spiritual life was not. I went to church youth group. I even brought my girlfriends with me. But I wasn’t getting the same teachings at home. I was on my own. The lies crept in, and little pieces of myself began to disappear, as sin took its place.

The cussing continued. I found dirty jokes to be funny, instead of being offended by them. It became normal to drop a curse word if I stubbed my toe. Enemies were called bad names. Sometimes friends were too…after all, we were “just joking.” In reality, I was never really comfortable with crude humor, and it began to disgust me as I got older.

However, the cussing remained throughout my high school, college, teacher and mommy years. I prayed for God to take it away. I could control it in public, but felt relaxed at home, where words would slip out in front of my family when I was angry, scared, frustrated, or surprised. My beautiful children learned the words. I tried to be careful, but apparently wasn’t careful enough. My lovely daughter, on occasion, has gently said with love, “Mommy, don’t say that.” Without judgment, she’s followed it with an affectionate pat on my back. They’ve all given me grace, this family whom I cherish, love, and adore. They understand that childhood trauma has contributed to my stronghold. So they pray for me, and I pray for them. We forgive each other, and we hold each other up when we fall.

There was a time when I would have said I’m ashamed to be a “sailor mama.” But shame comes from the devil, and I’m a child of God. I’m loved in spite of my sin. I’m washed clean in the blood of the lamb. It won’t be held against me, but I want to battle it, because it’s not of God.

While discussing a ministry opportunity with my wise pastor, he told me that uncontrollable cussing can have roots of unforgiveness. Though we were discussing how I could help someone else, it caused me to wonder how I could still struggle with cussing, especially if I’ve pursued Christ and forgiven, in Jesus’ name, the very people in my life who abused, neglected, lied about, and abandoned me. Though the necessary boundaries have been established, I continuously must forgive, and have done it over and over again, many times.

My pastor answered my question by adding that a cussing stronghold can also remain because of unresolved anger and pain; that there is more to it. This made more sense to me, especially because God helps me to control my mouth. After praying, and thinking about it some more, I told him I thought that rejection, abandonment, and abuse cause us to wrestle with fear, anger, and depression. The pain these spirits create, can cause a cussing stronghold. (A stronghold is a sin which has a strong, firm grip on you, and does not want to let go, even when you try to the right thing. Jesus is mighty to conquer strongholds.)

He told me I was on the right track, so when we spoke again, I told him I understood that all of these spiritual issues are intwined, causing great pain. Essentially, each needs to be dealt with, and forgiven, as it is revealed, so that we can be set free. When my pastor validated my thoughts, I was excited to realize God had been answering my questions and helping me to understand the entire relationship surrounding these spiritual issues. We have to seek Jesus for healing and for true freedom. Everything comes down to the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ, for salvation can only come through God’s Son.

We need to ask God why we are struggling with a cussing stronghold. We may need to forgive someone in the name of Jesus. We may have already forgiven, but there might be unresolved pain from childhood, which we may not even be aware we are carrying. We may have an everyday situation we are dealing with at home or on the job in the workplace. Whichever it is, we are not meant to battle it alone. God promises to go before us.

I constantly battle pain from the past, but because of forgiveness with boundaries, and the healing that only comes from Jesus, that ball of pain is getting smaller and smaller. I can feel God shrinking it, so that it doesn’t affect me the way it once did when the lies come blasting my way. It doesn’t mean it’s resolved, but it does mean that God has me covered because He knows the truth, and I know it too: He loves me, and I am His!

Even though my stronghold is based in past pain, I have forgiven much, just as Jesus has forgiven me. So I had to be honest and ask myself, am I presently harboring any unforgiveness? Then…it dawned on me. The person I need to forgive the most lives in my own house: my husband, who’s a bit of a sailor himself. Who else would a sailor mama need to forgive on a daily basis? Her children? Maybe for some; definitely for some. But for me, it’s easy to forgive my children; they are young and so precious. It’s much more difficult to forgive my husband, young in his brokenness, yet also precious in God’s sight. And of course, I love him, and God loves him even more! Don’t we need to forgive our husbands and wives for the little things that build up day after day, while also forgiving each other for the bigger, and more painful things that people struggle with throughout their marriages. Yes, yes we do.

I know my husband constantly needs to forgive me too. His childhood was no picnic either. We both have baggage. But the silver lining is that my husband and I are works in progress. We are saved by grace. Both of us are children of God, washed white as snow in the blood of the lamb. As we grow in Christ and forgive each other more quickly, the anger will wash away, and the bad words will wash away too. As an added benefit, our children are sanctified, and will struggle less with the strongholds that we overcome together.

Do you have a sailor mouth? Take heart! Don’t let it define you. Pursue God, ask Him to heal you of your pain, so your anger will dissolve, just as the cussing club melted away back in the fourth grade. Forgive your enemies, and especially forgive your loves ones in the name of Jesus. In doing do, don’t forget to forgive yourself. “What can take away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus” (author of hymn: Robert Lowry).

“Nor should there by obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” 

Eph. 5:4 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Eph. 4:32

New International Version

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, 

Please take away my pain, and in its place, fill me with your Holy Spirit and the peace which comes from your healing. Help me to forgive others in your name, just as you have forgiven me for all of my sins. Thank you for loving me, and for taking my place on the cross, so I can live in Heaven with you forever! 

I love you!