Amish Man Finds God

The following is the testimony of a man named Eli Lee. Eli was raised in an Amish community, but he found the teaching to not be in line with God’s Word.

I don’t know Eli. Never heard of him till today. But I believe I will meet him, and all others throughout history who have put their trust in Jesus as Savior, someday, in heaven.

Here is Eli’s story:

. . . . . .

From July 11, 2017

I was born and raised in the Amish culture. Growing up, I don’t ever remember desiring not to be Amish. I sincerely thought that being a part of the Amish was the only way I would have a chance to go to heaven one day.

When I was twenty years old, I married my wife, Leah. God then blessed us with eight wonderful children.

As an Amish man, I was very zealous about my religion and tried my best to live according to the rules and what I understood of God’s Word. I was involved in enforcing the excommunication of several people in my community because they claimed they could be sure that if they would die, they would go to Heaven. These people believed that salvation had nothing to do with following the Amish rules, which was not a permissible way of thinking.

My dad was a bishop, so it was very important that all his children remained loyal to the religion; we did not want to disgrace him. Every morning and every night, my whole family would get down on our knees, and I would read the mandatory prayers out of a prayer book just like my dad had taught me to do. I was doing well until I got sick at the age of thirty.

I became so sick that I couldn’t work. My wife and I spent all our time and resources over the next three years trying to figure out what my medical problem was, but the doctors and hospitals were unable to figure it out. I finally gave up on the doctors and told my wife that there was no point in continuing like this. If I was going to die anyways, I didn’t see the point of doing so in a way that left a large amount of debt for my family. For this reason, I quit going to my appointments.

We had a small home business that manufactured wood products. Since I couldn’t work and had to rely solely on hired help, the business began to go downhill. As a result, our finances were getting tight. One day, after realizing that we only had enough food in the house to last a few days, I went out and tried to work despite my health condition. I overdid things and ended up sick again and in bed for a week.

A few days later, my wife had to run an errand, so I was lying on the couch alone. I realized that I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried out to God and told him that I didn’t understand what was going on. I knew that His Word said that He would take care of his children, but I didn’t feel like he was taking care of me. Because of this, it made me begin to question whether I was his child or not.

I continued talking to God and gave my wife and children to Him. I told Him that I would trust Him to somehow take care of them because I was physically unable to do so and could not bear to continue seeing them go hungry. I also gave my business into His hands. I asked that He either make it become successful again or “run it to the ground,” so I could quit worrying about it.

As far as myself, that day, I asked God to forgive my sins, and then I begged Him to take my life. I told Him that I was tired of living and felt worthless here on Earth. I did agree that if there was still something He wanted me to do on this Earth, I would be willing, but I would need patience to endure whatever it was that I needed to go through until I got to that point. I asked that He put His Holy Spirit in my heart, so that I could better understand what His will was for my life.

As I finished up my prayer, I cried myself to sleep.

When I woke up a couple of hours later, I got off the couch and felt so light that I had to look down to make sure my feet were on the floor. I also felt an incredible peace like I had never experienced before. I knew that God has heard my prayer and that I was now in unity with Him. I realized that He had forgiven me of my sins, and that He had given me salvation.

At the time, I did not know what being saved was, but I knew deep down that I was born again. I also knew that God had given me salvation as a gift, and that it was not something that I would receive at the end of life only IF I followed the rules of the church well enough like I was always taught.

Later that same day, I walked to the neighbor’s house, who had a phone with an answering machine. As I was checking my business messages, I saw that one had come in. The message was from a customer, who wanted to order about $7,000 worth of material. I immediately began to weep and worship God because I now knew that not only had He forgiven me from all my sins and made me His child, but He had also taken over our business and finances.

Something else happened that day that I was totally unprepared for. The Holy Spirit now lived in my heart, and He immediately began working. I kept thinking about the newfound salvation that God had given to me as a gift. I knew that if anyone would find out that I now believed in this way of faith, I would immediately be in trouble with the church; this thought troubled me.

I had an unrelenting urge to know God better and to know God’s heart, though, so I pushed those fears aside and started reading the Bible more than I had ever done before. As I read the Bible, the Holy Spirit gave me understanding, and I began to gain meaning from scriptures I had never understood before.

The more I read, the more inconsistencies I found in the teachings of the Amish church. Now, instead of the Amish teaching me, the Holy Spirit was teaching me. It was so refreshing to receive insight from the Spirit, but again, it troubled me because it kept pointing out more and more errors of the religion that was so dear to me.

It soon became evident that there was a big cross road ahead for me. If I kept believing the things that the Spirit was revealing to me, I knew that I would get in trouble with the church. And, on the other hand, if I continued believing the things I was taught by the church, I would have to be disobedient to the Holy Spirit. I didn’t dare to talk to my wife about the turmoil going on inside me either because I knew that she would immediately get scared and run to the preachers to tell them about what I was believing. Then, I would be excommunicated and separated from my family.

After some time, I became deeply distressed. One day, I fell on my face before God and said, “God, I do not know what’s right anymore. At first, I had been convinced that I was hearing your Holy Spirit direct me, but now I’m not beginning to question if maybe it was Satan’s voice I was hearing instead. I have no one to talk to because I have lost confidence in the Amish preachers, but I need to know if this is you that is teaching me these things.”

As I continued with my prayer, I told God about a man I knew in the city that was a Christian counselor. Even though I didn’t know if this man was truly a believer or not, I knew that God could make even a donkey speak, and God laid it on my heart to visit and give it a try. I trusted God to put the words that I needed to hear into the man’s mouth.

I called the man’s number and made an appointment to go see him. I intentionally made the appointment at a time I was delivering things to my customers, so no one would know that I had gone to talk to him. I had convinced myself by this time that he was going to tell me that Satan had deceived me and that I needed to return and believe what I was taught from childhood. I just couldn’t imagine that God would want to have me choose my newfound faith and chance being separated from my wife and my children.

I didn’t get very far into telling this counselor my troubles when he surprised me by starting to praise God. After a few rounds of him praising God, I became a little irritated, and I asked him why he was praising God. He replied by saying that he was praising God because he could see that the Holy Spirit was at work in my life. I responded by asking him how he knew that this was the Holy Spirit and not Satan deceiving me.

Immediately, the counselor saw the seriousness of the situation, and he began asking me some more questions like, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” And, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ has died for your sins?” And, “Do you believe that Jesus rose again and went to heaven?”

My answers to all of his questions were, “Of course I believe that!” It was then that he got his Bible out and turned to first John where it talked about testing the spirits to see whether they are from God. He pointed out the fact that every spirit that confesses that the Jesus Christ is Lord is a spirit that is truly from God.

I soon realized that I was trying to convince him and myself that I was not being led by the Holy Spirit because of my desire to remain Amish. After I realized this, I got up and left.

Before meeting with the counselor, I had promised God that I would believe what he said. Even though a piece of me was relieved after talking to him, a piece of me was now also deeply distressed because I knew what lie ahead for me.

I went home, and I thanked God for answering my prayer. I felt much better at the time, but after about three weeks, the same doubts returned that I had before I went to the counselor. I prayed to God asking that he forgive me for doubting him, but in my mind, this was just too serious of a matter to be mistaken about. Not only did my eternal future rely on me making the right decision, but the souls of my wife and children were at stake as well.

Because I knew that God was not a God of confusion and that he was not a God that wanted to separate families, I began praying that God would begin working on my wife’s heart. I knew that I could not convince my wife to believe one way or another, but I knew that if this was really a God-led thing, He could lead and teach my wife in the same way that He led and taught me.

I agreed with God to talk to my wife about my newfound faith. I told God that if she agreed with me that salvation was by faith, then I would know that it was from God and would not doubt it again. However, if she would get scared and not believe that salvation is by faith, then I was going to throw the whole idea out knowing that it was all a lie from Satan; I would go back to believing what my father and the church had taught me.

After talking to God about my plan, I felt some peace but was also afraid of what might happen; this fear kept me from talking to my wife for about two or three more weeks.

Finally, I gathered up the courage and sat down to talk to her. I started with some of the smaller areas of indifference, and she agreed that what I said was right, so I kept talking. As I continued, I saw that she kept agreeing, and finally, I was able disclose everything to her including my belief that salvation was a gift from God by grace, not something that we may or may not receive after a lifetime of obeying the rules of the church. To my surprise, she agreed with that too!

At this point, I began weeping and praising God. I now knew without a doubt that God was truly teaching me, and that he had been working on my wife’s heart as well. From that day until this very day, I have never again doubted whether it was God or Satan that was working on me; I know that it was God all along.

My wife and I ended up spending most of the day talking about what our future and the future of our children would look like. We talked about what life might be like in the big, scary world that lay outside of the secure walls of our Amish religion. We knew without a doubt that as soon as they found out about our new beliefs, we would be excommunicated from the religion we had grown up in and separated from our parents and our siblings for the rest of our lives.

We also knew that as soon as anybody would find out, we would be bombarded by preachers and our parents about having been deceived. We would be told that unless we would repent, we would go to hell for eternity. Because of this, our plan was to not tell anybody what we believed for a couple of years; this would give us time to study the Scriptures and be able to defend what we believe.

I soon decided that I wanted to begin praying to God from my heart with my whole family. After talking to my wife and getting her consent, I talked to the children about it and forbid them to tell anybody that we prayed that way. I knew that if anyone found out that we were praying without the approved prayer book, we would be commanded to stop immediately or once again, be in danger of excommunication.

After making the decision to pray to God from our hearts instead of the prayer book, things felt a lot more pleasant; I felt that I had someone I could always talk to. I continued to pray that if the time came that God wanted us to speak up and be open about our new beliefs, that he would give us the courage to do so as well as give us the words to speak.

Even though we knew a lot of scripture from our upbringing, it didn’t necessarily mean that we knew what it meant. Reading the Bible was like taking the words of God and pouring them through the sieve of the Holy Spirit to see what came out on the other side. There were many times that I would quote a scripture, and as I heard myself saying it, I knew that what I had always been taught is not what it really meant; it had been taken out of context. I felt like I almost had to relearn what the Scriptures meant for the second time.

A few months passed. One Sunday, after church, the men were all sitting in a room visiting, and a young man started asking questions about going to heaven, about the church rules, and about the Bible. As I sat and listened to one of the elders give this young man all of the wrong answers and take Scripture out of context, I had a really hard time being quiet.

After thinking about it for a minute, I decided to not say anything and just sat back and listened instead. The young man was desperate for answers, though, and was not easily convinced because he had seen some things in the Bible that didn’t match up with what the rules of the religion said.

After listening to the Amish elder deceive the young man for about twenty to thirty minutes, the Holy Spirit finally took control of my mouth. I started asking this elder some questions about the things that he had said.

I heard myself saying things like, “Look at that scripture that you quoted; the verse before that says this ______________,” or “The verse after that says this _____________ and this ______________,” which, in most of the cases, completely destroyed his argument. I also began saying, “If what you said is true, what does this verse mean?” I heard myself quoting scriptures with references that I didn’t even know exactly where to find but that I knew were there.

Needless to say, the elder had a choice to make. He could either admit that he was wrong or try to defend himself. He decided to try to defend himself, but the Holy Spirit kept giving me Scriptures and truth to use in combat with his arguments, so his defense didn’t work. Soon, the elder became very angry and cursed me in front of everyone. Immediately afterward, everybody went home to their own houses.

That very week, the elder that argued with me went to the preachers and demanded that I be excommunicated right away. One of the preachers had been sitting in on the conversation that Sunday afternoon, and he didn’t think that I had said anything wrong.

Nonetheless, I was soon called in for a meeting, where I was asked all kinds of questions about what was said on the day of the argument. As I recalled the discussion, I was able to explain the true gospel to all of the religious leaders in the meeting.

The elder did not relent from his anger and decided to write a letter to the bishop and demand that he excommunicate me. Because of this, a few weeks later, a whole van load of bishops and preachers came from Pennsylvania, and they called me to another meeting. This time, again, the Holy Spirit took control of me and used me to quote scriptures and to explain salvation by grace to all those in attendance.

At the end of the meeting, the head Bishop told me that although he couldn’t really say that what I was saying was not true, he knew that it was not the way that our forefathers had taught us. I asked him what he was going to believe, what he knew to be true or what the forefathers taught him. He responded by saying, “Our forefathers taught us that we cannot leave this kind of talk alone, because if left alone, it causes much disunity and division in the church. So we don’t know any better than to do what our forefathers have taught us. If you are not willing to let go of your ideas of salvation, we are going to have to excommunicate you.”

I told them that there was no way that I was going to agree to the idea that it was not the Holy Spirit that had saved me and that was teaching me the truth, because if I did, I would be blaspheming the Holy Spirit. They then excommunicated me and my wife, since she too stood by my side and believed in Salvation by faith alone.

After the bishop quoted his memorized speech and a scripture about giving us over to Satan to destroy our flesh, I looked at them all and said, “You have taken it upon yourselves to fight against the Spirit of God, but I’m going to pray for you.” With that, they all hung their heads, turned around, went out to their buggies, and left.


This testimony has been published with permission from the owner.

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Exhaustion

That feeling of wanting to tell people about the things that are troubling you because maybe someone who is reading it can relate and not feel so alone themselves, or maybe someone could offer hope, but holding back the details because the echo of “who cares?” rings on in a mocking tone…

Knowing that few to no people read my blog, I am relatively safe to go with my first feeling and do some venting.

My blog here on WordPress is not like the dreaded Facebook where any one of 560 people might suddenly decide to post a rude comment to make themselves feel superior and knock me down a little further.

Why do I have such volatile people on my friend list in the first place? Well, they don’t show that side at first. It’s not until they get to know me more that they see things about me that they dislike and they feel safe to blast me.

Wow, does that ever sound familiar. That was the case with the ex. He seemed so nice at first. And he sure saw a lot about me that he disliked. I did him a favour and removed my reprehensible self from his presence, but he took it as an offense and did all he could do to punish me for leaving.

Of course, that is far in the past, yet he and his new wife retain an interest in keeping tabs on me. They find out about things I write on my Facebook timeline when it is set so supposedly only “friends” can read it. I don’t write anything I wouldn’t want to be read by them, but it is strange that they get my news without being on my friend list.

Apparently, someone on my friend list is an informant.

I must be important!

Sometimes I don’t feel like being so visible, so I retreat to another Facebook account that contains a smaller number of friends, none affiliated with the ex and co.

They all might read this, too.

I don’t care.

On an unrelated note, today I drank too much coffee. I had three cups. Normally, I have one or zero cups. It is late in the evening. I want to sleep but am too caffeinated, so I am writing here.

And today was emotionally exhausting.

That is all I will say about that.

I wish some really nice person would read this and message me with an offer to come take me to a cabin in the wilderness for free, telling me the only catch is that I produce at least 200 pages of my book draft before they will return to bring me home.

The really nice person could give me a day to pack. I’d bring my laptop, my journals, a toothbrush, toothpaste, some clothes, and some food.

The really nice person would come pick me up, drive me to the cabin, and then drive back to my house to care for my kids while I am gone. They would be a patient and loving soul, able to coach my family on the importance of initiative in doing chores, explaining to them how much it has been killing me to be the manager and executor of far more than a mother should do, and that if they don’t lighten her load considerably, her next departure will be permanent, as her strength will have expired and death will claim her.

I am tired. Maybe my mind will slow down and I can sleep.

Tomorrow might be better. Or worse. Who knows?

(And yeah… Who cares?)

Exercise Routines of a Mother of Seven

I posted some pictures of my abs in an internet forum. A few ladies wanted to know what my exercise routine has been to get to this state after seven children. Well, personally, I am not happy with the way I look, and my post was intended to ask what I can do to get rid of waist fat. Maybe I’ve become a victim of Barbie Doll mentality, and probably shouldn’t worry so much about it, but I do.

Maybe some of what I’ve done will work 1000x better for others with a propensity to have better results. My legs are long, which cuts in on the amount of space between hip bones and rib cage, so I can’t expect to have a small waist. Still, I do want it a bit smaller.

Before I ever had any kids, I was into aerobic workouts. Since after I graduated from high school in 1985 and no longer had the “ten-miles-uphill-both-ways-barefoot” walk to keep me fit (truly, it was more like 2 miles downhill on the way there, and of course uphill on the way home), I started going to local gymnasiums where someone would lead a 30 minute workout in the late 1980s. The cost added up, though, and so I eventually put together cassette tapes of my own favorite songs and worked out to music in my house.

Then I discovered free workout videos on TV. I recorded them on a VCR and did them a few times a week.

In late fall of 1990, my ex-mother-in-law sent me a compilation of workouts, which I used while caretaking a barge that fall and winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It contained a couple of workouts by Jane Fonda, some by Kathy Smith, and one by some other people who didn’t impress me so I only tried the workout once and forgot their names.

During my first pregnancy, in 1992, I walked a lot on the mud flats of Muddy River, Alaska, during low tide. In my third trimester, I brought my mountain bike up from my old house in Washington and rode it around the logging roads. After my baby was born, I waited six weeks before launching back into workouts, starting with the gentler Jane Fonda workout and eventually working my way back to the longer one.

After my second pregnancy, I got a device called “The Ab-Flex”, which was supposed to help core muscles. I don’t know if it really helped, or if it was more to do with the aerobic video tape that came with it. THAT was awesome. It worked a lot of muscles and made me sweat. Here it is on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4FJk9MRXSc

That video was my go-to, other than Jane Fonda now and then, and it helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy size and stay in shape. I used it after my third, fourth, and fifth babies, but it broke shortly after my sixth was born, so then I sought out a new copy. It seems to be rare and I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I opted for a few others. I tried a 15 minute routine by Teresa Tapp, and also one called “New Dimension” by Cindy Crawford. The latter I enjoyed very much and was able to start on it easily six weeks postpartum. It has a super gentle beginners level of about 15 minutes. The next level up is a few minutes longer but quite a bit more intense as it uses some hand weights. Then the third level is too long for my tastes, at over 40 minutes. I did it once and never did it again.

Six weeks after my seventh baby was born, I worked my way back into the Cindy Crawford DVD. That first routine is also nice for when I got out of the habit of working out for several months. I’d do it every other day for a couple of weeks and then start on the next level.

I forgot to mention that in 2001, after my fifth baby was born, I discovered Leslie Sansone walk videos. I got a couple of those and loved them. I also was using a stair-stepper machine at home, with computerized programs. I’d put on a headset, listen to music for a half hour, and stair-climb. For about 15 minutes of it, I’d also use hand-weights of 5 lbs each.

In 2012, I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD called “The 30 Day Shred”. I hated it, but I challenged myself to stick with it for 30 days. I documented my experiences throughout in a blog: https://ificandoityoucanprobablydoit.blogspot.ca/2012/03/level-1-day-1.html

I now have settled in with Leslie Sansone walk DVDs. My favorites are “Tone Every Zone”, the strength sessions of which I do with 6 lb and 8 lb hand weights; “Mix & Match Walk Blasters”, which is ten different ten-minute segments you can pre-program on your DVD player (I do three at a time, but sometimes four); and “Walk It Off In 30 Days”. The latter is the most intense Leslie Sansone workout I have ever done and I really like it. I also use 6 and 8 lb weights for the strength session, which is 30 minutes long, and I use 3 lb weights for the 30 minute cardio workout. I guess we’re supposed to alternate days, but I usually end up doing it more like 4-5 days a week rather than 7.

Oh, and walking. Walking is something I can’t overestimate as being important. A good quick pace for a half hour, with a few hills thrown in, feels so good. I started mixing it up with running last spring for HIIT (high intensity interval training). I’d do 25-30 minutes of that out in the rolling hills and winding country roads near my house, at least 3 times a week, plus extra walking just for fun, depending on where I felt like going.

Last fall, I bought a used treadmill for $50. I enjoy it, but it is in my un-insulated basement, which is very cold in winter, so I didn’t use it at all in December, January, or February. It’s great for doing HIIT workouts with a headset full of music, but not nearly as fun as being outdoors.

Of course, diet is important, too. In 2009, after my seventh baby, when I got up to 180 lbs, I was having a hard time losing the weight. Cutting calories and doing my usual exercise routines weren’t helping me get below 160 lbs. I had several other health concerns, too, and so I went to my naturopath. He told me to do the anti-Candida diet. The gist of that is to cut out all sugar – an addiction that is tough to break, but so worth it – and also I couldn’t have all kinds of other things I’d habitually eaten. Finally the weight started coming off. I got back to 120 lbs within eight months.

I am now 130 lbs, at 5’6″, but want to get back to 125, which has been my norm for the past decade or two, except for a few times when I dipped to 115 during some severe depression and heavy stress – I don’t want to be depressed and underweight, though.

I’ve been trying the ketogenic diet, and although I like the foods that are involved, I’m not having much success in losing the ten pounds I gained this winter. I’ve lost four pounds since starting in January, now three months ago. Maybe because I am 51, I need to accept 130 as the new 120? I hope not.

I guess that’s about it. I am looking forward to getting back into HIIT outside as soon as the snow and ice are gone around here.

Behold The Man Upon The Cross

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Jesus Christ having lived and been crucified is an established historical fact, verified even by secular historians. The question, though, is why did He suffer such a cruel death?

The short answer is (and if you say this yourself and believe it, you are saved): “He died for me, and He did not stay dead.”

That is a loaded statement, but those who want to know more will find out. For the long answer, read the Bible and talk to God about understanding it. He wants you to know Him.

Other than the Bible, which admittedly can be hard to understand when one is new to it, the best book I have found for explaining the whys behind Jesus being crucified is Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morris. It is available online for free in .pdf form, but I prefer a book I can hold in my hand.

Anyway, I am getting away from the intent of today’s blog entry, which is to share an article across which I stumbled yesterday.

The author mentions the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. I, too, wept as I watched it in a theatre in the early part of 2004. The thought “He died for me” made me turn my face away and bury it in my hands. I could not view the depicted agony. I already knew the why behind it.

Now, here is the article, published just yesterday by Greg Morse, Content strategist at desiringGod.org

~~~~~~~~~~

On Good Friday, we celebrate the saddest day in history.

Blood streamed down his face. Massive thorns stuck to the head of their Maker. Groans of agony came from the mouth of him who spoke the world into being. The soldiers beat him. They flogged him. They tortured him.

As he inched through the streets of Jerusalem, his cross pressing into his lacerated back, many shuddered at him. The face of God, which Moses could not look at and live, could no longer even be recognized as human (Isaiah 52:14). Women hid their children from the bloody mass of flesh before them. Men taunted him. Soldiers clubbed him. Angels shrieked in horror.

Every prophecy about his suffering was being fulfilled. By judgment and oppression, he was taken away. His sheep scattered when their enemies struck him. One of his own sold him and betrayed him with a kiss. He found no rest as they beat him, spit on him, and mocked him through the night. In the morning, he gave his back to those who struck him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard.

He stepped forward to Calvary as a lamb to the slaughter.

His Love Was Rated-R

I remember the first time I watched The Passion of the Christ fourteen years ago. The sight of Roman ninetails sinking their claws into his back seemed to pierce my soul with Mary’s (Luke 2:35). The blood. The screams. The anguish. I could never again thoughtlessly tell others that Christ died for them. The scene forbade cliché. It was grizzly, ghastly, gruesome — rated-R.

I rarely cry, but as I watched Jesus shed his blood all over the Roman courtyard, I could not help but weep. As they held the nails over his hands and feet — his mother watching him — every swing of the hammer pierced my heart. Only the heartless could watch unfeelingly. Has there ever been a more tragic scene?

I did not consider his wounds enough. I did not weep over his suffering as often as I felt I should have. But how does Jesus respond to me, and people like me, who take Good Friday to grieve over his unbearable sufferings? Two thousand years ago he said to those weeping for him that day, “Weep not for me; weep for yourselves.”

Silence on the Set

Of the many horrors of Calvary, one that was especially acute was the shame of it all (Hebrews 12:2). His was a public execution. The condemned usually were naked. To add to this, the prophecy reads, “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads” (Psalm 22:7). It is one thing to suffer; another to do so before a whole nation as they ridicule you.

But mockery was not the only sound made on his behalf. A host of women trailed behind him, lamenting the expiring prophet. They followed Jesus’s drops of blood — as so many of us do today — with drops of tears.

But upon hearing their sobs, Jesus, battered and broken, turned his face towards them and spoke these gracious, yet shocking words: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).

This part of the passion didn’t make the movie.

On that first Good Friday, Jesus turned to his loudest sympathizers — those who are not cursing him, mocking him, but wailing on his behalf — and silenced them. He commands their tears escort him no further. He opts to press into the night without their mourning.

Weep Not for Me

Jesus did not need their tears two millennia ago, and as unpopular as it may be, Jesus does not need our tears today. And this fact owes to us seeing his passion through the eyes of faith.

Weep not for me, he said. As if to say,

I am saving my people. I have prayed, tender souls, and know my Father’s will concerning this cup — shall I not drink it (John 18:11)? My hands willingly grasp this wood because my food is to do my Father’s will (John 4:32, 34). And his will is glorious: he sent me to serve and give my life as a ransom for my people. My body is broken, and my blood is spilled for you (Luke 22:19–20). Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Do not weep over the labor pains that give birth to your salvation and unshakable joy (John 16:20–22).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am not a helpless victim. I am a warrior-king with thousands of angels at my beck and call (Matthew 26:53). One word from me and this horror would end. One word from me and Rome would be destroyed. One word from me and all would be eternally condemned. But I was sent to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17). Trust that no man — or army — can steal my life from me. I lay it down of my own accord, and I will take it up again (John 10:11–18).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am conquering. You see my heel being bruised and you mourn — but look through the eyes of faith and see the serpent’s skull trampled (Genesis 3:15). Although I walk as the Lamb, I conquer as the Lion — the predator, not the prey, will hang on the cross (Revelation 5:5–6). I am a King who shall rule the universe from a tree. And I shall make this cross my scepter. As they lift me up, I thrust my enemies under my feet as a footstool (Psalm 110:1). My triumphal entry is followed by a triumphal exit. Why should you weep over my hour of glorification (John 12:27–28)?

Weep not for me, as if to say,

Sunday is coming. I have said repeatedly that in three days I shall rise (Matthew 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:18–19). Although today is full of unutterable darkness, unimaginable pain, unthinkable terror, Sunday is coming. My Father’s perfect hand is crushing me, evil men are murdering me, my disciples have fled from me, but truly I tell you, Sunday is coming. Joy is set before me and empowers me to endure. A crown awaits me. An endless celebration awaits me. My blood-bought people await me. Eternal glory awaits me. My Father awaits me. Weep not for me.

Weep for Yourselves

Jesus does not stop their tears completely but redirects them: “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” God’s wrath will soon visit the people for their sin. The nation that rejected her Messiah — not Jesus — is to be pitied.

“Behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’” (Luke 23:29–30)

“Weep for yourselves,” as if to say,

I can bear my cup, but you cannot bear yours. Rome will kill your children before your own eyes. The beast you conspire with today will surround you tomorrow. Your anguish will be so severe that it is better to collect these tears in a bottle to save for that dreadful day.

My sufferings will end at death; yours may not. Many of you will cry for the mountains to cover you, but that can only spare you from the judgment of Rome — it cannot spare you from the judgment of God. The hounds of his justice do not stop at death. He is God of both the living and the dead (Acts 10:42). Vengeance is his; he will repay (Hebrews 10:30). And it is a fearful thing to fall unshielded into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Weep for your sins. Gentle daughters, useless are the tears that fall on my behalf because of suffering but never fall because of sin. Many weep over my suffering, but not the sin which caused it. The horror you see before you is my becoming sin for my people and bearing the wrath they deserve, that they should have my righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). If you weep, better to weep over the lust that hammers the nail deeper, the lie that sticks a thorn in the brow, the cowardly duck that makes a gash upon me, the prideful strut that keeps me upon Calvary’s path.

It Was My Sin

I watched The Passion of the Christ each year for four years — being moved every time to tears — all while I was not truly born again. And I thought myself better for crying, as if my sins would be passed over if I had tears painted on my doorpost. It did not take a regenerate heart to weep over the sufferings of Jesus — our world is full of unbelievers who cry over sad things — but it did take a regenerate heart to mourn over what I rarely really mourned over: my sins (James 4:8–10).

And those who witnessed Jesus’s execution two thousand years ago didn’t see their sins in the cross either: “Who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” (Isaiah 53:8). The horror stayed “over there,” while they remained innocent bystanders. They missed the point and beauty of the cross. They cried and cried, but had not love. Until we can truly sing, “It was my sin that held him there, until it was accomplished,” we weep for him in vain.

We should weep indeed at the foot of the cross, but not with pity. With faith. Those tears don’t dry up the Monday after Easter. Those tears mourn over the sin that nailed him there. Those tears sing over him as our conquering King. And those tears celebrate his death until he returns.

Encouragement for Writing

The following is a comment written to me by my friend Chad in response to one of my blog posts (this one: Giving Up On Writing) . I found it so encouraging that I decided to put it in a document, highlighting a few points in Amazinga font, with the rest in Adobe Garamond Pro font, and to print it out and put it on my desk, so I can refer to it until it becomes ingrained. I also wanted to share it with others who might happen to find my blog. May it bless you as it has me.

“I felt like encouraging you to write at your leisure, and don’t let anybody dictate rules about that – not even you.

I’d suggest sitting down to write as often as you get the time, but notice that all I said was sit down to write I didn’t say actually write necessarily, nor create an obligation to write and then feel lousy if nothing happens.

I’ve received that same advice (with more detail) and it’s the closest thing I’ve done to being something enjoyable and productive. Notice again, that I didn’t say it was enjoyable and productive – just the closest thing to it that I’ve tried.

It’s enjoyable more often than not, though.

It’s also enjoyable more often than it’s productive, and that’s an important piece to ponder, should you desire to do so.

One hint I can give you is that when I sit down at my desk, I’m not creating a law to follow; about accomplishment of any kind. I’ve learned that that never is a positive experience and rarely if ever produces anything, positive or not.

But what I do, instead, is first, enjoy a tiny little pocket of orderor quiet, as it’s commonly known. It usually takes a while for my brain to reach a state that I can call quiet. But when it does I just give myself license to enjoy it.

With God.

Praying and writing are not things I separate very often.

Then I just decide that I’ll write or I won’t.

I ask God, but I don’t strain.

I just enjoy a moment with Him, and I let it go where it goes, and if I happen upon some part of that time that maybe could be written down, then I start.

Without expectations.

That’s the important part.

Peace is vital to the process, therefore laws and expectations are antithetical to it.

Since you do have a specific project in mind, maybe you can still just write whatever comes to you, and stay loose, and maybe you wander into your project, or maybe what you write spontaneously turns out to form an unexpected element of the main project? Or maybe it jars a memory loose that’s relevant to it, or maybe it inspires something unexpected… who knows? Not us, so why form expectations? It ruins the enjoyment, and it stifles creativity. It may never have anything to do with the book you’ve planned, but it may stand on its own as something you and others value for decades to come, and yet more, it may form the basis of a main project that you hadn’t previously even considered. But there’s only one way to find out what it’s going to be….

Prayer for me is a great way to enter the writing process, and writing is a great way to enjoy God. So I combine them, and I trust Him to lead the proceedings. And when I approach it that way, it’s much more peaceful and much more enjoyable, and more often fruitful – and in more than just one way. And if something is not enjoyable, and there’s no gun to your head, it’s not worth doing in large part because the fruit (product) won’t be as good as it will be if it were an immersive, transporting experience for you, to create it.

Well, that’s my opinion, anyway.

Maybe you’re already doing this but lack the time to engage in such pronounced dissociation, or maybe you’re a different enough personality type that it’s not your thing (although I highly doubt that, from knowing you to whatever extent I do!).

Maybe, however, there’s some use you can make of something or other I’ve said – that’s what I hope, anyway – but either way, I pray you find time, inspiration, and most of all, enjoyment, in the desire and effort to produce, and in the process itself.

Can’t go wrong if ya pray for someone, no matter the quality of your advice! ☺

PS I apologize for the disjointedness and rambling, but I didn’t prepare and I didn’t edit. I rarely do in contexts like this – though folks may occasionally wish I had done! ?”

Biggest takeaway for me is this:
“Peace is vital to the process“.

Amen, so much amen, and aaaaaaaaamen! Yo!

Mom’s Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Mom’s Whole Wheat Bread
(Yield: 6 loaves)

3 cups hot water
2 cups non-hot water
1/4 cup honey
2 TB pink salt
16-20 cups fresh whole wheat flour (freshly ground makes all the difference)
3 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup millet
1 egg
2/3 cup olive oil
4 TB Saf Instant yeast
1 more cup of water

1. Put 3 cups of hot water in Bosch mixer bowl. Add the honey and salt. Turn on mixer till honey and salt are mixed in. Add 2 cups of cold water.

2. Add 8 cups of flour. Mix till just combined. Let it sponge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Put 1/2 cup of hot water in a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Melt in 1 tsp honey. Add 1/2 cup cold water. Add the yeast. Stir it in. Let sit for 15-30 minutes, till it rises to top of the measuring cup. If it doesn’t rise that high, or it sinks, the yeast has failed and you need to repeat this step with new water, honey, and yeast.

4. Add the yeast mixture to the Bosch. Mix together briefly on speed 1.

5. Add egg, flax, millet, vital wheat gluten, and olive oil. Mix together briefly on speed 1.

6. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing between additions. As the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl, feel it to see if it is too sticky. Add flour in 1/4 cup increments till the dough feels right – not sticky, but not dry and flaky.

7. Knead on speed 1 for 6 minutes.

8. While the dough is kneading, oil the pans with about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of olive oil in each, plus a tiny dab of soy lecithin (about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp).

9. Dump the dough out onto the counter. You’ll need to gently turn the bowl until you can pull the dough hook up, and then the whole bowl will release easier.

10. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. You can use the kitchen scale or just eye it out.

11. Roll out each dough piece to a rectangle approximately as wide as a pan and 12-14” long.

12. Roll up each rectangle tightly, and pinch it closed on the ends and the front seam. Try not to let there be any big gaps or else air bubbles will form in the rising and cooking.

13. Cover the loaves with tea towels and let rise for 30 minutes. They should get to a bit above the pan sides. Don’t let it rise much more than 30 minutes or they will flop when baking.

14. While loaves are rising, get the oven temperature up to about 350. If using wood cook-stove, approximate as best you can, and adjust the cook time accordingly.

15. Place loaves in oven and bake for 28-30 minutes if using a gas or electric oven – watch it if using wood-heated oven. Could be done in as little as 20 minutes if it got too hot, or longer than a half hour if not hot enough. I wouldn’t put it in any lower than 300, though.

16. Remove loaves from oven. Take them out of the pans and place on cooling rack/cutting board. Mist them on the tops and sides with clean water. Cover with tea towels. When cool, put in bags. These store very nicely in the freezer for several weeks.

Inadvertently Offending

I feel absolutely crushed when I realize I have said something that was taken the wrong way – or my wording was with insufficient care and failed to get its intent across – and caused someone to feel offended. Ugh! I apologize and wait until they assure me they now understand and all is fixed.

Sometimes, though, I don’t get that assurance.

It is an awful feeling, whether it is between a friend and me or between a stranger and me. All the more careful am I thenceforth about what I say.

I wonder, if I were less sensitive to the feelings of others, how I would instead react. I guess that is the way a lot of the arguing souls are in the comment wars I see on social media? Hardened? Not caring how their words are received, as long as they get their say?

I know what it is like to be argumentative, rude, and outspoken, as I used to be that way, more in my childhood and teen years, toward people who were rude to me, or with whom I disagreed. I didn’t back down. I had to one-up them and show them how smart I thought I was.

Gradually, though, I changed. Life experiences changed me. Choices changed me. Pain changed me. I absorb perhaps more than I should, but that, too, is a choice.

I am far from complete, and that is evidenced by my still screwing up and accidentally hurting others, causing pain that is penultimate only to the pain I feel for having caused theirs.

Is this what love is?

Is this what love is, Lord?

Is this the way Your love is?

To possess and be possessed by

Something so immense

That it cannot be pounded down into words

That are comprehensible by mortal man,

But by the pounding of two hearts in harmony

The definition is felt between them?

Will love be made clear

When at last we are in Your light,

Where no shadow hides even the nuance

Of joy from the one who needs to read it,

Where every colour and texture of sunset

Sings an endless harmonized song

Never fading to darkness?

The longing for closeness

After long last completed,

Incorruptible,

The taste having turned into fullness

Which satisfies yet appetizes the spirit

Endlessly,

With joy You have yet to reveal?

Can we know what Your love is

Apart from having known love on earth?

Or is it as foreign to us as is heaven

To eyes which have not yet seen?


~ unearthed from a draft I wrote some time ago

Wasting Coffee

I have heard it said, “Don’t waste your time with crappy coffee.”

I agree.

However, I wasted some time finding a good cup of coffee.

In the summer of 2017, finally allowed to go home after 19 days of evacuation, my family and I were trying to get out of Prince George. The shorter route still had a long section closed due to the forest fires, so we had to take the long way home – 7 hours, instead of 3.5.

I wanted a good cup of coffee to start my drive, but the nearest decent cafe was in downtown PG, 20 minutes away, whereas we were out in College Heights, just leaving my third daughter’s house after saying goodbye.

I had a Tim Hortons gift card, sent to me by my second daughter, and so I took the family to the nearby drive-through to fuel up on treats. I decided to give Tim’s coffee another chance, even though I had a disliking for it. I ordered a small coffee with two honeys and three creams.

I took one sip and scrunched up my face, saying, “Bleah!”

It tasted like there was no sweetener in it at all. I drink coffee for the taste as much as for the perk, and if it ain’t sweet, it ain’t good.

“I need to find some real coffee,” I said.

One of my sons suggested Starbucks. I squinted at him from the driver’s seat and said, “Ewwww?”

“Come on, Mom,” he said. “Give it a try. It might be better than Tim’s.”

“I dunno,” I said. “I had it once before and it was gross.”

“Just try it,” he said.

I went for it. While in the drive-thru lineup, I spotted a garbage can and asked my son to take my Tim’s coffee to it. He got out and did so.

I ordered a coffee with two honeys and some cream. When I took my first sip, the same “bleah” came out of my lips.

On our way out of town, we stopped at a 7-Eleven. While the kids took the dog for a walk, I went straight to the nearest trash can and put that Starbucks coffee into it. Then I went in to 7-Eleven and loaded a cup with my old standby: half full with dark roast, topped up with English toffee cappuccino, amended with four International Delight hazelnut creamers, and cooling it slightly with three of the 18% half-and-halfs (half-and-halves?).

As I walked out of the convenience store, I thought, “If I’m going to drink crap coffee, it might as well taste good!”

At home, I feel good about sticking to organic beans that I grind fresh before each cup, sweetening only with stevia, and cooling it off with cashew milk, but on the road, it seems that 7-Eleven has the best brew for my tastes.

I’m not usually one to throw food away, but those first two coffees were NOT good. I know a lot of people like them, and some might gross out over my choice of 7-Eleven java, but it’s a matter of taste.

Another blog entry with little to no point, but I felt like telling that story.

Interpreting My Dad

Some of my kids used to take my Handycam and record silly videos with it, designed for me to discover later. One such video from several years ago has become famous within my family and among a few friends. In this blog entry, I attempt to interpret the inside jokes that formed the basis of this skit, borne of the various childhood stories and vignettes I’ve told my kids. After you read this, watching the video should make more sense.

It starts out with my daughter, CJ, depicting me as a child saying, “Hey… Hey, Tracy! Broooookennnn chimmmm-neeeeeeey.”

Then CJ switches headwear to denote Tracy and says, “Oh, Christine, you know that makes me scared!”

First off, I never call my sister Tracy, unless I am talking about her to someone else. When I address her, though, it is ALWAYS “Trace”.

Now that we have that cleared up, here is the story on the broken chimney.

When I was four years old, and Tracy was three, we were walking through the back alley from our old house on East 7th Avenue in Vancouver, BC. We were with our dad, heading up toward Victoria Drive, to pick up take-out at Chicken Chalet. On our left, there was a church building with a gym in the back. It had big black letters up high on it that said “GYMNASIUM”. I think that was one of my first big words to read, as I could see it from my back yard, three lots away.

That one evening, we saw that the chimney on the back of the gym was broken. Pale red bricks were smashed and scattered onto the ground. It appeared that a car must have recently crashed into it.

Later that night, after our parents said goodnight to us, my sister and I were talking quietly in our beds. I mentioned the broken chimney. My sister sounded all freaked out as she said, “I don’t like that!”

I didn’t realize it was scary to her. I dropped the subject, but thought about it for awhile.

Then a few moments later, I said, “Hey, Trace…”

“What?” she said.

In an ominous voice, I said, “Brokennnnn chimneeeeeey.”

Suddenly, my sister screamed and started crying. Our dad ran up the stairs and into our room. He picked Tracy up to comfort her. She was crying and crying, all scared. My dad was trying to find out what happened, and through sobs, Tracy said, “Christine said ‘broken chimney!'”

I was afraid that I was going to get spanked, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but giggle a little at the whole thing.

My dad didn’t find it funny in the least. My mom came in and took over on consoling my sister. My dad turned his attention to me, yelling angrily about how it is not okay to scare my sister. He dragged me by the arm as I screamed and begged for him to let me go, down the top flight of stairs, through the hallway, around the corner of the kitchen, down the basement stairs, across the cement floor, past the old wood stove we rarely got to use because it coughed smoke, and into the dark, scary, empty room with flat grey carpet. He pushed me to the floor, slammed the door shut, and left.

As I sat there crying, my dad popped the door open and yelled in, with his Serbian-accented English, “I show YOU how it feels to be scared. You stay here all night. You don’t EVER scare your seester!”

SLAM! And he was gone again.

I sat there in the middle of that rough carpet, cold, alone, and in total darkness, hugging my knees to my chin, hiding my face, crying. It felt like I was there for hours, but it was probably more like fifteen minutes. It was long enough to scare me out of ever wanting to scare my sister again.

I can’t even remember my dad coming in to get me, but how it usually went when I was in trouble – a state I was in all too often – was that he’d leave me alone for awhile and eventually return to talk to me in a calm voice, chastise me in a reasonable manner, explaining why what I did was wrong, sometimes giving advice on what to do next time, and in the end he’d hug me. That hug always made me cry all over again, albeit silently, with relief, and I clung to him.

So, that’s the bit about “broken chimney”. But it got blended in with another story, which resulted in the line, “I put you in dog house, all night, with dead bird”.

I’m not sure where the dog house came from. It might be a reference to our old black and white Sheltie, Toby, for whom my dad built a dog house. Or it might be merely an ad-lib. But the dead bird does have a story.

This was in our new house, the one my dad built for us in Tsawwassen, a suburb of Vancouver. I was around eleven years old. I wanted to wash my feather pillow, so I carefully cut open a seam and unstuffed it. I didn’t want to mess up the house with feathers, so I did it out in the carport, putting most of the feathers into a garbage bag while I laundered the casing, but a few spilled out here and there.

That evening, my dad called me to come downstairs and see something. He pointed at a few clusters of grey and white downy feathers on the ground in the carport. In a sad voice he said, “C’desten…” (That is roughly how he pronounced “Christine”). “Small burd was keel.”

I stifled a laugh. My dad asked what was funny.

“That’s from my pillow, Dad. I unstuffed it to wash it.”

My dad laughed and was relieved. He always loved animals.

It’s just a little story, but it has resulted in something my family and I often say whenever someone uses the word “small”.

One might say, “Would you like a piece of pie?”

The answer might be, “Sure. Just a small piece.

If so, it would follow with the one offering pie saying, “Small burd was keel.”

And the conversation would carry on as if nothing unusual was said.

Then there’s the part in our video where SF is pretending to be my dad driving along, talking about how when he was a kid, they played with sticks and mud. And potatoes. Supposedly he played with, or rather ate, potatoes. All day. ALL DAY.

He never actually said any of that, but the tone was about right for his basic manner. Impatient. Gruff. And he did talk about potatoes a lot. We’d be eating potatoes at dinner, and my dad would say, “I loooooove potatoes.” Just like that. Elongating the word “love”. So, that image comes to mind for me whenever we have potatoes, and I’ve told my family about it a time or two.

Then there was my dad’s frequent use of swearing in Serbian so my sister and I would not know what he was saying (though, as with most kids whose parents have a different language, my sister and I became adept at using those strings of words, and believe me, Serbian swearing is long, detailed, melodious, but nasty in interpretation.) SF made up some foreign-sounding words, but they sure weren’t Serbian. She doesn’t know how to sound Serbian, having not grown up with my dad, but her attempt sure made me laugh.

And the mention SF made of my dad saying “my old country, Yugoslavia”, yes, that was something he’d often say. “The old country” was how he referred to it.

It cracked me up that SF would pretend to be my dad turning on the radio and finding a song from Yugoslavia. That wouldn’t actually happen because:

  1. The only time I’ve ever heard Yugoslavian music on the radio was on Vancouver’s CJVB, a cosmopolitan station in the 70s, during the Saturday afternoon “Serbian Hour”, which I think was more like two hours, but whatever…
  2. My dad would not be driving while listening to that because he was usually drinking by that time on a Saturday.

Still, it made for good humour, and I also love how SF made up those strange words that don’t sound anything remotely like Serbian.

Lastly, there’s the segment at the end, where CJ is pretending to be my sister, saying, “Oh, Dad, stop singing!”

I think that part is twisted out of a story I often told that involved me, not my sister. One time, in my late teens, I was involved in a book. I sat in my room reading on my bed, and my dad barged in drunk on a Saturday afternoon (I know it was a Saturday afternoon, because it was daytime, and his only drinking times were Friday night and Saturday afternoon – one or the other each week, but rarely both consecutively) rambling on about something. I have no idea what it was, for I was engrossed in my book.

I kept asking my dad, politely, to please be quiet so I could read.

My dad would say, “Oh, sorry. OK.”

He’d walk away, only to return a minute later, picking up right where he left off.

I got exasperated, closed my book, carried it with me to the living room, and sat on the couch to read. He followed me, talking the whole way.

“Hey, Dad, I’m really trying to read here. Can we talk about this another time?”

And again, he’d say, “Oh, of course. Sorry.”

He’d walk away, and return again, starting up the talk, over and over. It was maddening. He was sufficiently drunk that I decided it was safe to get firm with him and say, “DAD! STOP TALKING!”

My dad was not the kind of person one would order around when he was sober, but when he was drinking, he was a whole different man.

That very last scene in the video, where CJ is back to her role of me, with blue swim goggles (not sure why the goggles, but I guess to differentiate from my sister, although we both swam a lot in our childhood), cracks me up every time as I can still hear “my dad” singing in the background: “Da doyyyyy… drrrrron ta daaaaa…”

Now, if you’ve not seen the video, and you want to, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjCI9LvYXys

I can’t resist finishing this with Paul Harvey’s line – hear it in his voice, if you know it:

“And now you know… the rest… of the story.”