A King’s Resurrection – the roar of Easter over culture

 

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There is so much noise. Do you hear it?

A pulling like the moon on the tide, darkly scooting across the earth. An undercurrent of intolerance for those who love Christ, who love God. More and more there is a cultural acceptance to bash them. And at Easter time, a growling and blatant disrespect for Yeshua – Jesus – and his lifework and ministry.

Never in history has a single King elicited such passion – both adoration and loathing.
But then, never in history has a single King come to redeem not only his own subjects, but the ones who mock him.

And mock him, they have. Internet memes, social media, and other venues for popular culture may be the latest vehicles for this derision, but on this Good Friday, we mark the day of the Crown of Thorns. We mark the event in which his contemporaries intended to make a parody of him, affixing a sign to the cross that read, “King of the Jews.” The event in which an innocent man was whipped and nailed to that cross, his body in ribbons, so that he could die a sinner’s death to bridge the gap for sinners to God.

His dying retort? Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.

And now, more than 2,000 years later, why such vitriol still spewed in his direction? Why does the very idea upset this generation so … that there is a God, and that he so adores his creation that he sent his very own Son – his flesh and blood – to die for us and draw us near while we were still sinners?

Because, in this fallen world, Jesus and his resurrection are offensive.

It offends humankind that they might require atonement. It annoys them that their deeds might be construed as “sin” at all!  The natural within us wills to live bound by appetites they feel justified in satisfying.

The same culture of entitlement that parlays that we are all entitled to all the good things in life, also tells us we are entitled to the not-so-good things…self-satisfaction at all costs. The world and everyone in it? Yours for the taking. It is owed to you.

Jesus offends people because – at the end of the day – they don’t believe they need any redemption at all. Which is nothing new, of course, as evidenced by the day of the Crown of Thorns.

We live in a time in which the credibility of all things mystical and paranormal are not questioned, but all things holy and divine (and by the way, plenty mystical) are treated with disdain. Like resurrection. Like eternal life.

So much noise.

I am not offended by Christ. You see, the stakes were just too high. I’ve seen in my own life that he not only rose from the tomb, but set me free from one as well. I’m not willing to bargain on this fallen world being my oyster. I’ve seen what my appetites can do. I am hungry for much more than this meager life, and living in this skin … depending on the turning of the tides – the lucks.

The mockery is not the only noise, of course. As the tide turns on the phases of discontent this Holy Week, and the enemy ups the ante in popular culture – the noise – you can hear the rolling rejoicing from believers all over the world that the grave holds no power at all!

Can you hear it?
With no cultural constraints, it will undulate forever, just as it has for 2,000-plus years.

It roars like the sea in the lives of those who follow Christ. Just under the surface (but deeper and more authentic than anything that has ever resonated in popular culture) the thunder rises, drowning out the drums of denial and mockery for the Savior.

Forgive them Father. They know not what they do.

Yeshua, KING OF KINGS!
It is finished.

It sounds like an enormous stone being rolled away from crypt, grinding and roaring and echoing from the empty chamber. It sounds like life.

It sounds like Easter.

Sassy Pants Diet Update

This cat totally gets what I am talking about here.

This cat totally gets what I am talking about here, and has spent many a morning at Morning Enthusiasm Level 0.

This morning, I experienced the very first manifestation that I have not consumed sugar in any form, nor carbohydrate (ok, except for that one single cheat) since March. Traipsing into my closet with my usual morning enthusiasm (level 0) to get dressed, I considered wearing yet another pair of black pants. Black is slimming. I have a lot of black pants.

But no. I don’t know what it was about this morning – perhaps I noticed that my upper thighs were not chaffing in quite the usual way, like the legs of  a fat cricket  might – that made me choose the light gray slacks. But at any rate, I chose them, even though they have never fit me. (Yes, I bought them even though they didn’t fit. Because when I buy clothes in my actual size, I fear my brain will come to accept that I am my actual size, so I buy clothes one size smaller. Hey, it makes sense. Ask any woman.)

And I pulled them up, past my fat cricket, music-making thighs. And they zipped. They even buttoned.

Now, with an unprecedented morning enthusiasm level of 3, I finished getting dressed and walked into the kitchen, all sassy-like.

“BEHOLD!” I announced to my poor husband, who was just trying to have his first cup of coffee and read his morning Bible verse in peace. “ON THIS DAY, I WEAR THE PANTS OF YESTERYEAR!”

I suspect he is thinking, “It’s too early in the morning for this drama,” but he smiles and congratulates me.

Truthfully, it is a lot better than my usual morning drama, which goes something like this:

Slump into the closet woefully.

Try on pair of slacks that apparently shrunk in the dryer. Throw them on the floor, as I remember that I don’t put my pants in the dryer. Ever.

Put on skirt that will not zip. Grumble and fuss. Add skirt to heap on floor.

Choose a pair of black pants. Although they can be zipped up (technically) muffin top spills over waistband. When I attempt to breathe, muffin top becomes Bundt cake over top of pants immediately. Add to pile on floor.

Hate myself vehemently. Vow to buy new clothes, knowing full-well that I will purchase them in the same size as the ones on the floor – because, and well….WOMAN REASONS.

Grab pair of Fat Black Pants.

Finish getting dressed and head into the kitchen for coffee (and maybe a bagel …. what’s the point of even TRYING anymore?) and bitch to husband in high drama about how much I hate my body, while slathering cream cheese on said bagel.

Maybe cry a little, certainly spread my disdain around to my poor husband, who is JUST TRYING TO HAVE HIS FIRST CUP OF COFFEE AND READ HIS MORNING BIBLE VERSE IN PEACE!

Undeterred, he tells me I’m beautiful no matter what fits on any given day. I adore that man. I don’t know why he puts up with me, but I’m awfully glad he does.

Fat cricket legs, morning drama, sassy pants and all.

 

 

The Princess and the Plea: a Christ-follower explores true identity

 

Photo credit: Jana Greene

Photo credit: Jana Greene

I’ve been learning a lot about my identity in Christ lately. Through a series of events and sermons, experiences and words of knowledge – it has been presented to me that I am not, in fact, a sinner saved by grace, but a most-beloved daughter of Abba whose transgressions were nailed to the cross of my savior over 2,000 years ago.

It would behoove my spirit to believe that, to know it 100 percent. But I am really struggling with it. It took a long time for me – my sin-list dragging behind me everywhere I go like coattails – to accept that I am a sinner and a saint, both. …that there was any “saint” in me to be had.

I am, after all, a paradox. Like the Apostle Paul, I find myself doing what I do not want to, and not doing what I should. But I love Jesus with all my heart; it’s just I’m actually not Jesus; you would never in a million years mistake him for me.

My pastor just happens to be a man I respect very much – a man whose heart beats for God. He knocks around in the supernatural as if God had just poured it into his spirit to overflowing. That might be because God did – in fact – pour it into him. He is different; he is chosen – and humble and grateful. I want that supernatural walk, but my struggle with my identity in Christ is putting a damper on the manifestation of my faith.

I can believe – for 30 minutes in church – that I am an absolute princess, daughter of the most-high God; and as such, God sees me only through the filter of his son when he looks at me. He doesn’t see sin. God is – spiritually speaking – illiterate to my self-professed labeling. “Sinner,” “Alcoholic,” “Worrier,” “Selfish,” “Short-tempered,” “Moody,” “Judgmental.” All of these things about me are true, really. The truth is that I’d rather be all of these things, than to be “self righteous.”

For those 30 minutes in church, I will know that I am royalty – God’s own child – but I also know that – on my drive home from service that very day – I will curse at least a dozen other drivers in the ten minute drive home (under my breath if I’m really feeling holy.) I will have negative thoughts almost immediately, and ask Jesus to help me rein them in, and he will – but I will hesitate to let them go because I feel justified in thinking them. Because I have three young adult daughters (who sometimes make abysmal choices – where do they get that?)  I will worry about each of them, one at a time. Maybe I have had a lustful thought thrown in to the mix for some random reason, or entertained thoughts of how someone has wronged me, or beat myself up for a diet failure, or ….. Well, you get the picture. By the time I get home from church, I feel like a “Princess of God Gone Wild”  at the very least; certainly like a sinner, not so much like a saint. Like one of those princesses who cannot quite get the hang of it, or worse…makes the royal family look bad…brought shame upon the throne -  Apox opon ye!  That kind of thing. (My paparazzi of self-condemnation follows me everywhere, and catches every slip for the world to see…)

But what of the old adage I learned in recovery, “Feelings are not facts?” Am I living in regal-ity, or legality?

Hmmm.

What if the blood of Christ were powerful enough not only to save a wretch like me when I first believed, but cover all of the transgressions I am yet to be guilty of? What if I was royalty enough to cut off the coattails, leave the labels behind, and – and a daughter of the Most High God – accepted the supernatural to overflowing?

While these things sink into my spirit, and begin the (often long, treacherous) journey to my brain, I ask God to help me struggle less and trust more. And wear this crown that sits on my head ever-so-wonkily just now. And ask for him to see me through the filter of his son as I learn to be righteous in Him, and not in self. I want to knock around in the supernatural, overflowing with the same love and grace for others that has been given me.

Help me understand my birthright, God. And until I understand, hold the paparazzi at bay, in the name of your son, Jesus.

Amen.

Not Like Them

The Beggar's Bakery:

I’ve never reblogged anything before, but this piece is by a good friend and fellow writer who just “came out” as the mother of an addict. It is brave, heartfelt, and succinctly expressed. Please pass it on.

Originally posted on LIZ LOGIC:

Have you ever said these words?

I’ll never do that. I’m not like them.

Or maybe you’ve said these words to your kids:

Over my dead body! Like hell you will! I don’t care if EVERYONE ELSE is doing _____ or going _______, you’re not– you’re NOT LIKE THEM!

Oh these bitter words, how I’ve eaten them, choked on them, and even had my share of second helpings.

I used to think if I was a good enough mother, a “good enough” Christian (not possible) or worked hard enough, my kids would turn out A-OK!   I did it all: work, raised my kids, did a zillion activitities that were a testimony as to how I was involved. You see, I was like you. I cared. Oh, how I cared.

I prayed over them. I loved them. I discussed right and wrong with them. I gave them freedom to make their…

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My Fat Pants Fit! (and other excitable statements)

SALAD

 

And it came to pass that she did not think of Munchos *every hour of every day, and her spirit learned to recognize that chocolate was – in fact – not necessarily the only means of spirit-soothing. And in that day, she did no more dread Romaine instead of Big Mac, but did so feel slightly feel slightly less like Jabba the Hut when dressing in the morning, as her pants did not cutteth her in half.

* But only every other hour

 

Today is Day 8 of “clean eating,” and the truth is that I do feel better. I am supposed to do 30 days, which – in theory – helps reboot my mindset about food.

Although my body feels better, the psychological effects come in lurches. For example, last night -  in a fit of seemingly random stress -  I  announced to my husband that I could eat a whole bag of chips all by myself at that very moment; that I wouldn’t even share with him.

“And,” I said, for dramatic effect. “I would lick the greasy, salty remnants out of the empty bag, after I ate it all myself!”

I really could have done that, but instead I just bitched about not being able to, and the urge passed. My husband, knowing my penchant for both bitching and the dramatic, just listened and lets it pass. He is so much saner than I.

For the hundredth time in the past week, the parallels between this 30-day program and my sobriety came to light. In a stressful moment, I wish I could obliterate. In reaction,  I do one of two things:

A) The healthy choice: Dig out my recovery tools – affirmations, prayer, mindfulness, admittance of powerlessness, and ask God for help. Examine why I desire to obliterate.

B) The less-than-healthy choice:  Gripe about why I cannot handle food, alcohol (it keeps going….fill-in-the-blank) with said substance like a regular, “normal” person, until the craving passes. And then examine why I desire to obliterate.

I am working on making choice “A” my default, but working is the operative word here.

Progress, not perfection.

I am also working on acknowledging the results of my eating regimen. Fussing about having to do something does not cancel out the effects of following through and not doing it. Successes still count, even if my attitude isn’t so peachy.

Instead of focusing on my Munchos/chocolate dietary deficit, I am going to give thanks that my (fat) pants fit!  I will give myself props for fighting the good fight,  and embracing the Romaine (figuratively, not literally. That would just be really weird.)

And ask God to soothe my spirit when I am stressed, on Day 8, Day 30, and for a lifetime; to help my mind stay “re-booted.”

And in that day ….

She shall enjoy the occasional chocolate as a treat and not a staple, and she shall rejoice in God’s bountiful creation of the components of the Hershey bar, and useth moderation in imbibing in the works of thine hand.

Alleluia … and pass the salad tongs.

 

Giving away two copies of EDGEWISE

Jana Greene's new release, available in both paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com.

Jana Greene’s new release, available in both paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com.

Hello, dear readers. I would love to post a blog about my continuing food issues, but I am too weak from hunger to write. Just kidding! I will post another piece a little later.

This quick post is just an invitation to enter a Goodreads.com contest going on. Two entrants will win copies of EDGEWISE: Plunging off the Brink of Drink and into the Love of God.

Just CLICK HERE to and follow the prompts to enter the contest, before midnight Thursday, April 10. Absolutely no obligation to do anything to win, but if you are the winner, I’d love your feedback on the Goodreads page! Heck, even if you don’t win, and have happened to purchase a copy  (or read on Kindle) I’d love your feedback :) I love to hear what readers share.

Thanks so much, and have a blessed day!

 

Food: a short history of dysfunction

Don't these look delicious? They were sinful, I tell you! Chocolates from Blue Ridge Chocolates.

Don’t these look delicious? They were sinful, I tell you! Chocolates from Blue Ridge Chocolates.

 

“I would try to be good, in the Puritanical sense, which meant denying my appetites. Resisting temptation meant I was good — strong, counter-animal. But the jungle drums would start beating again.” – Anne Lamott

Ugh. Those jungle drums! It seems so simple. Eat what you need, move about. Respect your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, instead of a primal casing for animal appetites. How much harder it is to live that way.
Having eaten “clean” for nearly a week (nearly a week!) it occurs to me that my eating habits come from a place of fear. Looking back, it becomes crystal clear.

Birth: 4 lbs, 11 oz. preemie. Obviously, when you weigh four pounds and some change, being a “good eater” is a good thing. No problems yet!

Early childhood: My earliest memory about food as a young child: B.O.R.I.N.G! Eating took away from my playtime. I would try a few bites of anything, but the few bites sustained me.

Mid-childhood: I had to be bribed into eating at all.  At mealtimes, I learned to shuffle food around on the plate to look as if I’d eaten more than I had. For a brief stint, I was not allowed to leave the supper table until every single bite of my food was gone. This evolved into my finding ways to trick my parents into thinking I ate, and their adding time on my sentence of sitting at the table – or even adding more food as a punishment. Food became a major power struggle issue. Not only was it boring, but now mealtimes became occasion for dread.

Late-childhood:: I earn the family nickname “toothpick legs.” Underweight, I am sick frequently.

Early Teens: Okay, I’m hungry now. I get it – hunger. Hormones aflux, the periods happen. Boobs happen, and keep happening. Fat fills in all the right places.  During this time, I start to make the correlation between yummy foods and reward. Food isn’t punishment, it’s reward! Ahhh, wait. It’s both!

I get into a twisted ritual of starving myself any time I’m disappointed in me;  of not feeling worthy of reward, starving myself as punishment. I also begin hiding food, in case I do something worthy of reward. Giving food way too much power.

Late teens: Oh,  how I love food now. I discover different ethnic foods (Greek is favorite!) This is a time of exploration -  curries and spices, cooking and baking. Nobody calls me toothpick legs anymore. I decide that I shouldn’t use food as a reward or punishment (hooray – GO ME!) but instead, eat unhindered of any rules at all. In the free-for-all. As you probably know, free-for-alls are not free at all. There is always a cost.

Young adult: I discover alcohol, and this is where it gets more complicated. I drink to excess, and frequently. Funny thing about alcohol – it is high-calorie, no-nutrient. I fatten up quickly from all the beer, wine, rum drinks, and white Russians (especially the white Russians!) and do the only rational thing an alcoholic does – stop eating with any regularity. Gotta have priorities, right? Drinking made me forget I had issues with food at all! Weight drops, as does self-worth.

Mid-twenties: I must get sober and eat veggies, because I am thinking about becoming a mama. I quit drinking. I get pregnant; I love being pregnant. Even with complications, feeling my baby move in my belly fills it up the way foods never did. I take prenatal vitamins and drink plenty of milk, but cannot resist urge to eat McDonalds. Once per day, I snarf two double cheeseburgers to assuage the baby and the infernal cravings she causes.
After she is born, I continue McDonald’s habit, and add several hundred more calories per day. Nursing makes me ravenous! I breastfeed my daughter until I become pregnant with my second baby – 2 ½ years. With the second pregnancy, I gave up the fast food burger  habit, but only because the new baby wants TACO BELL. I form the habit of eating firstborn’s leftovers. There are always leftovers because kids eat what they need and then go play.  Justification: This is what new moms do. They clean their kids’ plates – the leftover fries, the quarter of Happy Meal hamburger.

When I gave birth to my second daughter, I breastfeed her as well. Whew, I forgot how hungry nursing makes me! I am making sure to squeeze in a few fruits and veggies, as I feed my firstborn semi-healthy foods, but at night, I collapse from exhaustion and grab a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies. Or maybe Milanos, a comforting “treat” for Mommy only.

Late twenties: When the youngest is two years old, I wean her. I also take drinking back up, heady with the idea of having my body all back to myself to use (or abuse) as I see fit after seven straight years as a baby-growing vessel and milk machine. Adding a ” glass or two of wine” in the evenings seemed reasonable, except that it was (a) never ‘one’ glass of wine, and (b) several hundred extra calories every day. With the weight of two pregnancies still clinging to my frame, I could not eat as I typically did AND drink, something had to give…. And it was food, healthy food.

Early thirties: Okay, now I am miserable and fat. And on blood pressure meds. And antidepressants. And I am pre-diabetic. But also – at 32 – sober. For good, All glory to God, one day at a time – as long as I don’t pick up that first drink.  I tell the story of my alcoholism/recovery in my  book, “EDGEWISE: Plunging off the Brink of Drink and into the Love of God,” but from a nutritional perspective, the drinking/binge-eating had really done a number on my health. When getting sober, a person’s body craves sugar like a crazed maniac, because alcohol converts to sugar and without it….well, what better to reward your cravings – and spirit – with than actual sugar? At this stage in my life, my marriage was deteriorating, I ate for comfort in addition to craving. My body hurt, and hurt often.

Mid-thirties: The Divorce Diet. Highly effective at weight-loss and mind-loss. Depressed, I upped my smoking to two packs every day. Working four part-time jobs to feed my children, I was in survival mode. I chain-smoked, and drank  diet soda, and little else. I think I perhaps consumed 800 calories a day, because I was hanging by such a thread emotionally that I had NO appetite. NONE. Within a year, I lost 80 pounds. People started telling me how great I looked! I had NO control over a single thing going on in my life during that period, except weight. It became a daily personal challenge to eat as little as humanly possible without passing out. Damn it, I would have control over something going on! I found that if I went without even 800 calories each day (say, 400 calories) I dropped pounds even more rapidly and even MORE people told me how great I looked!

Until they starting telling me I was too thin. Toothpick legs was resurrected. And obsessed with running out of food for my daughters, I begin hoarding food again. I am sorry to say that I passed along my “food as reward” mindset to them, too.

Mid thirties: Ages thirty-three to thirty-six were a pivotal time for me. I had hit a bit of a stride as a single mom, with steady employment and a much-improved walk with God. I started having some clarity about my food issues, and – as I worked on my alcoholism recovery – became aware of the parallels. Started eating semi-regularly, gained a little bit of weight back, but still smoked like a freight train.

Late thirties:  I fell head over heels in love with a man whom I married a year later. I tried not to bring the body-issue baggage into our relationship, but of course – I did. But I was happy again, for the first time in forever! We both loved to eat, and four months into our courtship, I quit smoking completely. Again, I employed the tools of recovery to help me through the cold-turkey smoking cessation.

My appetite for life – and food – returned! My Lazarus taste buds all stood at attention and implored me to eat. And in my newly wed bliss, I decided that I must cook southern foods for my Yankee husband! Our first year of marriage was greased with butter and shortening. And it was delicious.

And now, several years (and medicines, pant-sizes, and cholesterol points) later, I am attempting to learn from the mistakes of the past – acknowledging the red flags of bingeing, hoarding, and starving in the rear-view mirror – the cost – but not changing direction for them. I am surrendering. In any surrender worth it’s salt (so to speak) there is an element of accountability.

Today, I am going to eat what I need and make those Jungle drums the rhythm to which I move about.

One day at a time.