Monday, September 25, 2017

A Tender Heart

What does it mean to have a tender heart?


When you've been hurt a lot, you tend to build walls and harden your heart.  When you can't trust anyone, you build walls.  It's a defense mechanism.  Sometimes we just want to be safe.  We get so tired of giving our heart away to people and then have it stepped on and crushed afterwards.  It's a terrible feeling, and so then you say "I won't do that next time."  So you learn to stop trusting people.  You start to harden your heart so you are not hurt like that again.

But not trusting anyone is a VERY lonely feeling.  I get it, sometimes it's nice to be alone.  But to feel alone all the time doesn't feel good at all.  We're social creatures, we weren't meant to be alone.  You want to reach out.  You want someone you can really trust.  You want someone who really cares about you.  Maybe, you just want someone to talk to, or someone who will listen to you.

We weren't made to have hardened hearts.  God gives us a heart of flesh, not stone (Ezekiel 36:26).  Are we going to get hurt sometimes?  Of course, there's no way to avoid getting hurt.  But having a tender heart also means you care for others.  You have compassion for others.  You have empathy for others.

I'll admit, there have been times where I actually asked God to harden my heart, weird right?  Like He's really going to do that!  I don't ask for that anymore though.  I realize that with love comes pain.  You can't love others, but not feel any pain at the same time.  If I want to help other people, I have to have a tender heart.  If I want to show people the love of God, I have to have a tender heart.  Jesus had a tender heart while he walked on the earth.  If Jesus had a tender heart, shouldn't we as followers of Christ have tender hearts as well?  You know he had a tender heart because he had compassion for people.  He loved them more than anyone ever could love them.  I mean think about it, he died for all of us because he loved us.  His heart melted like wax (Psalm 22:14).  If this is the heart of Jesus, then we as followers of Christ need to have a heart like that as well.




Saturday, September 23, 2017

The End of the World

Well, it's September 23, 2017, supposedly the day Jesus comes back.  No matter how many times the predictions are wrong, people are still trying to predict when Jesus is coming back.  I find this absolutely insane to be honest.  In the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36:




"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven, or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows."




Jesus himself doesn't even know when he's coming back!  How the heck does a person know when he's coming back, but he, himself doesn't even know when he's coming back?  How arrogant must we be to think we could know such information that he doesn't even know!  During Biblical times, if someone was found to be a false prophet, they'd be stoned to death!  Yet today we see many people telling false prophecies and they don't even apologize for it.  Instead, they make a ton of money and best sellers (John Hagee anyone?)!  You have no idea how much this ticks me off, and dare I even say, it makes God angry too?  If you want to be famous and have a ton of money, you just have to make a false prediction of when Jesus is coming back (or when you're being "raptured (I do not believe in the rapture btw)") and people will donate you money and you'll have a best-seller right there!  If God is going to give you a message, it will NOT go against his Word.  I don't talk about my dreams much because they're very personal to me.  If I have a dream that I believe came from God (which is rare), I believe it's from him because the message coincides with Scripture.  If I had a dream where God told me Jesus was coming back January 29, 2039 (I just put in random numbers, lol), that would not be a dream from God because Jesus said not even he knows when he's coming back!  Anything that contradicts Scripture is not from God, no matter how strongly you may feel it is.

I've had "end of the world" dreams, but I know that's all they are, just dreams.  You may say, "Well, Allie, you don't have the gift of prophecy that's why!"  I don't have to have the gift of prophecy, nor be a scholar to know that these dreams aren't from God.  It's plain and simple.  Can dreams have messages?  Sure, but ones that predict the end of the world?  Nope.

Even though it's HIGHLY doubtful that Jesus will be coming back today, that doesn't mean we should be foolish either.  I think we should live our life every day as if Jesus is going to return that day.  He may come back then, or he may come back another day, we just don't know when he'll be back.

I know I often feel torn when it comes to the subject of Jesus coming back.  I mean, I want him to come back, I want to be with him after all, and I want the world to see him for who he really is - a king!  But at the same time, I know there are a lot of people in this world, people I even know, who are going to have it really rough when he comes back (and that's to put it VERY lightly).

So what do we do in the meantime?  First, we pray about it.  We pray and ask God to help us live a holy life here.  We also ask him to give us the courage to speak about Jesus to others.  This is very difficult, believe me I know.  Even though I enjoy talking about him, I get very nervous about it too.  I'm often plagued with thoughts like "What if I turn them further away from God?  What if I say the wrong thing?  What if I present him in a way that isn't true?"  Do you have these thoughts as well?  It can be a bit crippling.  So ask God to give you the courage to speak up, and the wisdom for the right words and attitude to say them.

I have met people in ministry who really had no business being in ministry.  You have to have more than a heart for God to be in ministry.  You have to have a heart for people as well.  There is a lot of darkness in the world, and there are a lot of people trapped in that darkness.  If you're in ministry, you have to have the desire to want to rescue those people from the darkness.  Of course, only God can truly rescue them - but he can use you to help them get into the light - HIS light, not your light.  That's the thing about ministry, it's not about you, it's about him!  It doesn't matter what kind of ministry you're in, it is to bring him glory and to bring people to him.  



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Suffering Pt 2

Not too long ago I wrote an entry on suffering - or rather what our response to suffering should be.  I will admit, lately I've been wallowing in self-pity.  Why does that keep happening to me?  Why haven't I learned from my previous experiences that this will keep happening if I don't change?  Circumstances seem to keep repeating over and over again like this cycle that never ends and it is destroying me.  I want to end the cycle, but I can't figure out how.  Sometimes I wonder if God is really listening to my cries and sees my tears.  I get so tired of the same issue occurring over and over again.  Even though I know there are those who suffer more than me, I still think to myself, "It can't get any worse than this!"  Of course, when I hear about other people suffering, it ends up humbling me.  I realize then, even more so, that there is suffering greater than what I go through.

Last night I went to a Ratio Christi event at Kennesaw State University on the Problem of Evil.  The speaker used a video example of my friend, Nabeel Qureshi, one of his final sermons.  In case you didn't know.  He was diagnosed last year with stage four stomach cancer.  He went through a lot of suffering with this and died this past Saturday (09/16/2017).  One of his final sermons he said that he could not find any worse suffering than to be crucified by the people he came to save.  This hit me like a ton of bricks!  I mean really consider what he's saying here.

The whole reason Jesus was born, was to die.  He came to save people from their wickedness.  He came to save those in prisons of darkness.



The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

Isaiah 61:1



In order to do that though, Jesus had to suffer.




He was despised and rejected -- a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief."

Isaiah 53:3



Then he took our punishment.  He was beaten to a pulp.  Flogged to the point his organs were probably exposed.  He was nailed to a cross in his wrists and feet.  He basically drowned to death from fluid filling up in his lungs (that's why blood AND water came out after the guard stabbed him in the side to check if he was really dead).  We get the word "excruciating" from the word crucifixion.  It was a very shameful way of dying.

I remember earlier this year, I was extremely sick and we weren't sure what was wrong with me (we still don't know completely what was wrong with me then).  They always have a difficult time finding my veins in my arms (they were trying to put an IV in my arm).  I asked them why they didn't just put the IV in my arm where the veins are most prominent (like in the wrist area), and they said it would be WAY too painful, and they used the word excruciating.  It made me think about how painful it must've been for Jesus to be nailed in his wrists.  If a needle would be too painful (which btw, I absolutely HATE needles), can you even imagine a nail?  We're not talking little tacks for nails, we're talking 4-5 inches going through your wrists and feet!  Jesus went through all of this - to save the very people crucifying him - ALL of US!  That's right, WE crucified him.

No matter what kind of suffering we may be going through (and by no means am I diminishing your suffering), it cannot compare to the excruciating, painful, shameful, humiliating, death of Jesus.  Everyone has their own wars they go through, but we cannot fight them on our own or we will lose the war in the end.  Jesus understands our suffering because he's been there!




We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne.

Hebrews 12:2





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fat-Acceptance Movement

This entry might be a bit more political than what I usually write, but we'll see how it goes.

There is a movement growing in the US called the "Fat Acceptance Movement."  I get where they're coming from.  A lot of people who are on the heavy side are often looked down on in society.  They're made fun of for being large and called lazy.  I remember being made fun of for my weight growing up.  I was called fat, "fluffy", even a whale for my weight.  I was also made fun of for the way I'd eat.  I wasn't even fat back then.  Sure I was on the chunky side, but for most of my life I thought I was fat, until eventually I just gave up trying to get healthy (even when I was healthy) and just allowed myself to get where I am now.  I get it, I really do.  People, especially girls, are bombarded with images of thin models and beautiful celebrities all the time.  Girls are always comparing themselves to other girls, trust me, I know - I am one after all.  All girls want to look pretty, I don't care how tomboyish they may be, they want to look good.  Often times people will treat a large person as if they're less than human.  As a large woman, I do see some people look at me with disgust.  It's humiliating and degrading.  I get it.  Fat-shaming is a TERRIBLE thing and should be stopped immediately.  BUT there is a movement out there which I do believe is lethal - the fat acceptance movement.

How is this lethal?

When a large woman is told all sizes are beautiful and there is nothing unhealthy about being large is deadly - literally.  There are A LOT of health problems that come with being large.  At 284 lbs I can tell you, I have A LOT of health problems, and I know it's not just me.  A large amount of fat can cause problems on your joints (I have arthritis in both of my knees - I'm only 27 years old!).  You are at risk of diabetes (I'm pre-diabetic).  You are at risk of a heart attack and heart disease.  I mean think about it.  The more weight you have to carry (like at my weight, I weigh as much as two grown adults), the harder your heart has to work to pump blood in your body.  I am constantly afraid my heart is going to just stop because it's had to work too hard.  There are many other health problems too, such as even a stroke.

Don't get me wrong, no one, and I mean NO ONE should be called ugly for being fat.  A person should NEVER be called ugly whether they are fat or not.  I know there are people who are thinking "Don't say the f (fat) word!"  Look, we need to call it what it is.  As someone who is fat, I know we need to call it what it is - fat and unhealthy.  Weighing the same amount as two grown adults is fat.  You know what?  I'm not offended with the fat word because I know that's the truth.  If you are morbidly obese (which I am), you need to accept it for what it is.  BUT, don't leave it there.

Now, just because someone is fat, it doesn't necessarily mean they're lazy.  They could be very active in fact.  They just happen to have an eating/binge problem.  For me, I'm addicted to eating, which my therapist actually said I have an eating disorder.  It does not make me lazy (though I could be a little more active), it means I have an eating problem - that if not dealt with could literally kill me.  I was called a pig and a polar bear not too long ago, though it didn't bother me.  I know I'm fat, and I know it's something I have to work on, and I am working on it.  Last fall I was at 296 lbs, and the reason it's been taking me so long to lose more weight is because I keep getting sick.  I also have a poor diet in general, and I am working on that too.

If your BMI is off the medical charts (like mine), you need to lose weight.  Talk with a doctor to see how much a healthy weight should be for you (trust me, they know the body A LOT better than you do).  At my height (5'7") I should weigh around 140-150 lbs (that's a 130 lb difference!).  I have a LONG ways to go, but if I'm going to care about my body not for how it looks, but for my health, I need to commit to it.

Your body is a temple, treat it like so.  Take care of your body.  I imagine a temple, and all the binge-eating I do and unhealthy food I eat (including portion sizes) are prostitutes I'm allowing in my temple!  It's time to kick those prostitutes out!  A temple is holy, treat your body as such.

If your feelings are hurt, I'm sorry, but I really am coming to you out of love, even if it doesn't seem like it.  It's out of love because you shouldn't allow anyone to abuse you - including abuse from yourself.  There's a difference between accepting yourself in a healthy way and accepting yourself in an unhealthy way.  The healthy way would be to accept the way you were created to be.



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

Psalm 139:14



The way God made you is beautiful, you were created in His image.  But when you don't take care of your body in a healthy manner, you are abusing the beautiful person He made you as.

I know it's not easy getting healthy.  As someone on A LOT of medications, it can make it more difficult.  A lot of medications can actually make you gain weight.  But that just means you need to work harder and be more determined to get healthy than maybe an average person.  You CAN do it - with God's help and with the support from others.  You don't have to do this alone.  Accepting the problem is probably the biggest hurdle.  The next thing to do is follow out a plan.  For example, I weigh myself on Wednesdays and Sundays, and instead of focusing on the losing 130 lbs goal, I focus on losing five lbs at a time.  Then do it!  Have smaller portions.  Eat healthier foods.  Exercise.  We can do this!



Monday, September 18, 2017

Nabeel Qureshi




Two days ago, I got the news that Nabeel Qureshi had passed away.  He had a year-long battle with stage four stomach cancer.  He never gave up though, he fought until the very end.  Not once did he point the finger at God and say "YOU did this to me!  This is YOUR fault!"  Not once did he renounce his faith in Jesus Christ.  People know him most as a Muslim who converted to Christianity and from his book "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus."  He was doctor turned apologist (someone who defends the faith).  He was a very close friend of my parents, and he was my friend too.

I've known him since I was in sixth grade - 14 years.  My dad (who's also an apologist) had this team who'd meet at our house called the "Dream Team."  He was one of the people who came over for the Dream Team.  That's how I first knew him, well, I guess met him.  I wasn't really involved in my dad's Dream Team and quite honestly, I didn't care about apologetics, lol.  Anyway, after we moved to another state, I didn't really see him until high school when he came to visit my parents.

I remember this one particular time, I had just gotten done with a horseback riding lesson (I think 10th grade).  He and my dad came to pick me up.  We were around 10-20 miles away from the house I think (though to be honest, I really have no idea, lol).  My dad knew how much I couldn't stand puns.  So guess what happened from the drive between the barn and the house?  Between Nabeel and my dad, it was pun after pun after pun.  I was so mad about it; though now, I laugh when I think back to that memory.

There was another memory I'm fond of too.  Right after graduating high school (about two months after), I had my first suicide attempt.  I was put on an anti-psychotic (Risperdal).  I did't know it was for temporary use, the doctor never told me!  Anyway, it caused nasty tremors in my hands.  It made it difficult to type on the computer, and especially eating with a spoon or fork.  I went to an apologetics conference in Charlotte, NC with my dad - to see my boyfriend (now husband, who once again, is an apologist) at the time.  My dad was going to let me do the PowerPoint for him in one of his sessions, but the tremors were so bad, he had to have someone else do them for me.  I saw Nabeel there and asked him (since he had been a doctor) what could be causing them.  He told me it was my medication and that the kind I was on was meant for temporary use.  He was right!  We went to my dr and told him what was happening and he took me off that medication.  It took a while, but the tremors did eventually stop.

For years I've wanted to do missions work (I did some in middle and high school and really enjoyed helping people, while also spreading the Gospel at the same time).  I've wanted to do that in Japan, but I also had a time where I thought about doing that in the Middle East too (I think only he and my husband knew that though).  I talked to him some about that through Facebook.  I talked to his wife Michelle on Facebook some too about being in the military and exercise I think (honestly it can be difficult for me to remember things after my first suicide attempt).

These are the main memories I have.  I'm sure I have some other ones, but I do have memory issues.  Some days my memory seems to be getting better, other days it seems to be getting worse.  Lately it's been the latter.

His death has been difficult for me to process.  I keep thinking "He's going to come out with another vlog and he's going to say how God healed him!"  But he's not.  There will be no more vlogs.  There will be no more updates.  There will be no miraculous healing, or will there?  He's not healed like how we all pleaded with God to be; BUT he IS healed.  He is no longer sick.  He is no longer in pain.  He is no longer suffering.  He is in the very presence of Christ!  We are sad that we no longer get to experience him alive in this life, but we are not like those who have no hope.



And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died, so you will not grieve like those with no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14



We have hope - hope that we will see Nabeel again.  He will have a joy that we can't even imagine right now - no, he HAS joy that we can't even imagine right now!  We miss him now, but one day we will see him again.  We mourn for our loss of him, but one day we will be reunited with him.  In the words of Jesus:



"I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying."

John 11:25




Saturday, September 9, 2017

Who Suffers Greater?

It's easy for us to compare ourselves with others.  We often compare ourselves with everything.  "I bet they have more money than me."  "She's so much prettier than me."  "He always gets the girls."  Do these sound familiar to you?  I know I'm constantly comparing myself with others - and I do that with everything!  But what about this question:  Who suffers greater?  I have a lot of issues, but I always compare myself and think "They suffer more than I do."  Yes, there are people who do suffer more than me, but this isn't really what you or I should think; rather what we should be asking ourselves is "What am I go to do about my suffering?" It's not so much about what we go through, but what we're going to do about it.

Now you may say "There's nothing I can do about my suffering!"  I get that, I really do.  Maybe you have that debilitating disease that you can't find a cure for.  Maybe you're about to lose your home.  Maybe you lost a child.  I'm not going to tell you that you're not suffering.  Things may seem hopeless, but there's ALWAYS hope!  Some of my mental illnesses I can't take any medications for (my ADHD, Depression, and severe anxiety).  Meds for ADHD cause worse hallucinations for people who already struggle with hallucinations.  I can't take any anti-depressants because they make me even more suicidal, and I can't be treated for it with ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) because I have a brain injury.  As for my severe anxiety, I take too many meds already so no one will give me anything for it.  Even my meds to treat my hallucinations doesn't always work.  There are times I still hallucinate.  There are times I still hear voices.  There are times I get delusional or paranoid still.  Meds don't fix everything.  Sometimes there are things we just have to live with.

But there are people I look at and think "Who am I to complain about my problems?  They have things FAR worse than me!"  I do this a lot honestly.  They easily become inspirations for me too.  If they can keep going I should too!

We all have our own battles we have to go through.  It doesn't matter who has things worse than us.  What matters is what we do with it.  I can spend all day complaining about my problems.  I can spend all day thinking "They have it worse than me, what the heck am I doing with my life?"  Or, I can focus on Jesus to get me through my battles.  It's not easy.  Trust me, I know it's not easy.  When I get really down, it's hard to remind myself that Jesus really does love me.  Just last week, I felt really suicidal.  I locked myself in the closet to keep myself safe.  But even then, I thought of different ways to do it.  I begged God in my tears "Have mercy on me!  Spare my life!  I don't want to die by my own hands!"  Eventually I asked my husband to remind me of how God thinks of me.  After that I started feeling a bit better (at least enough to not go through any suicidal attempts).  In our battles, cling to the feet of Jesus and don't let go!

Jacob got in a fight (I don't mean a fight with words, but a physical fight) with the angel of the LORD (which some believe to be Jesus) and told the angel that he would not let go until he was blessed (Genesis 32:22-31).  Cling to Jesus in your struggles and don't let him go.  He WILL rescue you in your time of need.  He will never let you go through your battles alone.  He is always with you.  Cling to Him.



Friday, September 8, 2017

It's Not Enough





No matter who we are or what we do, we cannot make it in this life without Christ.  Our lives are empty without Him.  There a lot of people who have a lot of money who even think their lives are empty.  They got the car they dreamed of, they got the house they always wanted, they got enough money to do more than provide for themselves for the rest of their lives, they have a family, and yet, they still feel empty.  We can turn to a lot of stuff other than Christ, and often times that's what leads to addictions (that's how it was for me anyway).  No matter what we turn to though, it's not enough to fill us.

The answer to fill us is so simple, yet we avoid it at all costs.  We'd rather turn to smaller, temporary joys, than turn to the One who gives us infinite joy.  Why is that?  I think sometimes it's because we're afraid.  There are a number of reasons why we may be afraid to turn to Him.  Maybe you're afraid that He's going to want you to do things that seem too difficult.  Maybe you're afraid that He's just a bunch of rules and if you break one His wrath will come upon you.  Maybe it's pride and you just think you can do better without Him.  Or maybe, and this one is personally with me, we feel inadequate and unworthy for His help.  "Oh there are people who need His help more than I do.  My problems are tiny compared to theirs.  Why would He help someone like me?"

The truth is, we really are inadequate and unworthy of Him.  We are constantly working against Him.  We think we can control our lives better than He can.  We'd rather be our own rescuer, or dare I even say, we'd rather be our own god!  If that's how you think, I've got news for you - you can't rescue yourself in life.  Take the hurricane that recently hit Texas.  There was a lot of flooding, and people who got caught in the flooding needed to be rescued.  What would happen if they tried to save themselves in the current instead of waiting for help?  They'd get swept away!  When there's massive flooding, you can't save yourself, you have to wait for help to reach you!  It's like that in life as well.  If we - imperfect people, try to rescue our imperfect selves, we will fail.  We will be swept away in the current of life.  Why do you think there are so many suicides around the world?  They try to save themselves and when they can't, they give up.  They see no rescuer.  They see no light in the darkness.

There is good news though.  We DO have a rescuer!  We DO have a light in the darkness!  Cry out to your rescuer!  He WILL rescue you!  Now, He may do it in a way you don't want Him to.  He may tell you the path you're wanting to go is not a good one.  Maybe it's that job you've always wanted and He says "This is not the right job for you."  Maybe it's that relationship (any relationship), and He says "You need to cut ties off with them, they will do you more harm than good."  I know that last one has happened with me.  Some people caused so much stress for me that I had to cut ties off with them (if you are reading this, you are probably not one of them).  This was really hard for me, I'm the type who doesn't leave people - people leave me though.  I'd rather not give up on people.  As much as I distrust people, and as much as I tend to see the worst in people, I really do try to give them the benefit of a doubt.  I guess that's why I've been in abusive relationships.  Anyway, if we call out to Jesus, He WILL rescue us.  He WILL rescue us!  Sometimes it's not immediate, but He will go through it with you.  When you fall, He will pick you back up.  He will help you finish the race.  We are not enough, but He is!

(This second video is the same song as the top one, but it's the frontman of Papa Roach singing the song at a church Easter service - personally I like this version more)