The Greatest Sin of All Isn’t Unbelief or Disobeying the Bible

myfullemptynest:

“… if God is love, then the ultimate sin we can commit against God is to not love others.”

Originally posted on Ed Cyzewski :: Freelance Writer:

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I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about Matthew 25. It strikes me as one of the most important passages in the Bible because it describes a striking scene where the true followers of Jesus are separated from the false followers. Perhaps something about my “closed-set” evangelical background draws me to this scene.

My particular fascination has to do with this: Evangelicals, based on Paul’s letters, teach that the righteous are saved by faith, but this passage teaches that we’re saved by what we do.

Jesus doesn’t welcome people because of what they prayed or believed. He welcomes those who gave food to the hungry, visited the prisoners, and clothed the poor.

I don’t want to necessarily create a false dichotomy here. Of course real, genuine faith is confirmed by our actions. In fact, the word we translate as “believe” is the verb form of faith, which means we’re…

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On the life of Alli~

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALLI! I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday, even though it was 28 years ago. Truly one of the best days of my life – the day I became a Mom. You started me on that wonderful journey. I cringe to think of all the mistakes I have made across your lifetime. Yet, I am grateful beyond belief for the woman you have become. Your dad and I are so proud of who you are. Our prayer is that God will be with you in midst of all life has to offer, and that you will always embrace the joy and peace that only He can give. You are an amazing, compassionate, intelligent woman. I have said it before and I will say it again, you inspire me, and make me want to be a better person. Thank you for the gift you are to our family.

We love you!

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From a Dominican mission trip a few years ago.

From a Dominican mission trip a few years ago.

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My kids with my Mom & Dad

My kids with my Mom & Dad

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Alexandra

Alexandra

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Daddy's girls

Daddy’s girls

A night at the ballet

A night at the ballet

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

A servant's heart

A servant’s heart

Brothers :)

Brothers :)

Beau

Beau

Cooking together

Cooking together

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So, MY SON IS GETTING MARRIED!!

Meet Samuel. s-28

He is about to embark on a new adventure!

With Sarah.

Samuel & Sarah’s great adventure…. began somewhere on a beach in Seattle.

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On why my husband does what he does #ImmigrationReform

“Mr. Smith,

I am writing to you today in appreciation for your wonderful help towards our case. We were all very fortunate to have found you. I will forever be thankful to you, for giving me the opportunity to get what I’ve always wanted; A piece in mind.
One thing I did learn throughout this whole process is to always stay positive, never give up. I have to admit I did go through some doubts, luckily everything went very smoothly and I’m proud to say that you helped accomplished that.
Having been able to see my parents with the joy that they felt is everything I could ever want. My parents needed that, and they needed it badly. Not only for them, but for my sibling also. They feel so secure now, its unbelievable how much something like that can change you.
Send my regard to *Mrs. Smith. She must feel so proud of you for helping others the way only you can.
P.S. We are planning a family trip this year.

Thank you,”

*I am!

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On turning 55 ~ tomorrow

Yep, that’s my new number. Rather surreal.

This morning I was thinking about life, and the life and death of Kayla Mueller. This young woman had spent the past several years serving ‘the least of these,’ in a part of the world that is in dire need of any and all humanitarian efforts. One family member said, “She did more good in her 26 years than many do in a lifetime.” When I flashback to age 26, I can honestly say I was living a fairly self-indulgent lifestyle. Yet she, at 26, had an undeniable passion to help those who are suffering. Read more about her life here: KAYLA. **She was half my age, +3. I’m unsettled.

Today I’m almost 55. I need and want for nothing really. I know there are people throughout the world, for which anything I have or do today, would be considered a luxury for them. In that spirit, just in case anyone reading this was wondering what to get me for my birthday, may I recommend a donation to: The Lamb’s Refugio or World Relief :)

So thankful and grateful for the gift of love from my three (now adult) children, who even today, take my breath away with the beauty in which they live and serve in the world. I am also especially thankful for the love of a good man, who after 34.5 years of marriage, still calls me his bride.

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I do love him so.

Here’s to another 55, and to bringing more love into the world any way I can.    :)

< That’s us. :)

 

 

Always thankful.

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On #ImmigrationReform or the lack thereof ~

Many view reform as building longer, higher walls, and deporting the lot of ‘them.’ Newsbreak: that does not even begin to solve the problem. Painting a simple picture, is far from helpful or accurate.

Some time ago, and more than once, Congress took action. (Shocking, I know.) Under the guise solving a problem, Congress actually made the problem greater. A problem cannot be solved in a vacuum. That is why comprehensive immigration reform is crucial.

Today, once again, I witnessed the utter shambles created when all discretion is taken away from Immigration judges. A father of young children, their sole support, is refused bond because there is no discretion. This is a man who will now lose his job since he will be incarcerated until his hearing date, 3 months from now. Meanwhile, we will all be supporting him and his family. There is no moral or ethical reason for that other than Congress tying the hands of the judges. One small example of the ridiculousness of it all. 

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On being grateful for #Lyme

phoca_thumb_l_b1It was a long and frustrating process leading up to my diagnosis of Lyme disease. My doctor’s best estimate is that I had Lyme for 3 to 4 years. Over that period of time I had many strange and bizarre symptoms. There were times when I wondered what was happening to me. Sam was probably beginning to think I was a hypochondriac. I was beginning to wonder! Just before being diagnosed, I thought I had done a thorough enough internet search to know that I had some type of autoimmune disease. Of course one of the things in the back of mind, could it be cancer? No weight loss here, especially without even trying, so I pushed that thought away. Considering my age, some symptoms I simply figured were a part of this stage of life. Self-diagnosing using the internet can be dangerous. :) It was a bit worrisome. I had been to my doctor many times over those 3 – 4 years as well. She was patient with me. She ran blood tests. Tests for Lyme. Tests for autoimmune and who knows what else. She was sympathetic, yet baffled.

Somewhere in all of that, my heart developed A-fib. I was often dizzy, extremely tired, my heart raced and at night it felt like it was pounding out of my chest. That kept me awake. Consequently, I was not sleeping well. One day I went again to see my doctor, specifically because of all the heart craziness going on, plus I had the worst headache of my life. She found my heart was beating over 180 beats a minute and my blood pressure was elevated. She calmly told me she needed to call an ambulance and that I needed immediate emergency medical attention. I thought she was over reacting. That day began a 5 day hospital stay. It took them that long to get me back into sinus rhythm. A few months later I required a cardio ablation. All this terminology was new to me. Looking back on what I know now, my A-fib was likely a result of my Lyme disease. Regardless, I would rather have a Lyme diagnosis than so many others. It was actually a relief to simply have what seemed like an accurate and viable diagnosis. There was finally light at the end of the tunnel. Although I had no idea how long that tunnel would be.

Some of my other symptoms over the years included extreme nerve pain when anything put pressure on my right knee, even slightly. That came. Hung around for awhile. Then left. I also had what can only be described as pain from someone sticking me with a pin. That happened at any time of day or night and all over  my body. Sometimes at night I would throw the covers back thinking something must have bitten me, but there was never any thing there. Was I going a bit crazy? That symptom came. Hung around for a while. Then left. I also had muscle fatigue, even though I wasn’t working out. I had no energy for that. I was so frustrated thinking, “how can I possibly be this out of shape.” The final straw came when the fatigue was so bad I could barely muster enough energy to do much of anything. I googled ‘extreme fatigue’ and decided, so this is what peri-menopause is like. I would drag myself to Sam’s office and sleep half the day on his sofa. With the dizziness, lightheadedness and fatigue it sometimes was a bit scary being home alone. I finally came to the end of my rope and went to see another doctor whom I had seen in the past. He has an integrative practice and doesn’t accept insurance so unfortunately that is not my first line of defense.

We had a long talk at that doctor visit about everything that had been going on with me over the past few years. That, along with my blood test markers, including markers for Lyme disease and various auto immune diseases, gave him a 99% assurance I had Lyme disease and that I had had it for quite sometime. That day I learned the main blood test for Lyme is only accurate 30% of the time. The longer you have had the disease, the less likely you are to get a positive result. There is other testing you can undergo, but it is cost prohibitive. I was good with his 99% assurance.

The past year has been information overload. I have learned that Lyme disease is rampant. There are many people walking around with an auto immune diagnosis when in reality they likely have Lyme disease. There are literally hundreds of possible symptoms for Lyme. Many symptoms present as a whole lot of other possibilities. Symptoms may come and go, and come back again. That’s normal with Lyme. It is a hard thing to diagnose without a positive blood test or an actual sighting of the telltale circular rash. Many people never even knew they had a tick bite. That was me.

I started my treatment one year ago next month. I am happy to say I am much better now. So much better. Sometimes I think the side effects from the antibiotics are the worst thing about it at this point. In about 5 months I’ll begin the ‘maintenance’ portion of my treatment. I will hang in there with treatment to the bitter end. There are days my gag reflex kicks in at the thought of taking so many pills. My doctor told me that he has had patients who drop out of treatment when they begin to feel better. Lyme then takes off again with a vengeance and they are back to day 1 of treatment. I will not be a drop out.

I have been on multiple antibiotics in every protocol I have undergone. Not everyday. Lyme treatment uses what is called a “pulse regimen” which means on and off in a specific pattern. I also take about 10-15 supplements every day, twice a day, to boost my immune system and to help counter the awful side effect of the antibiotics.  With Lyme it’s important to have a doctor that specializes. FullSizeRender-1Main stream medicine often does not treat Lyme effectively. Even with health insurance it is an expensive proposition. Not necesarily due to the doctor, it’s more due to the cost of the antibiotics and supplements. I have been so blessed to have Sam with me all along this journey. It had often been overwhelming and he keeps me calm and organized. He is my in-house drug pusher. So grateful for him. Considering all the possible diagnoses out there, I am grateful for Lyme. It was a great relief to have an answer.

This is the lowdown on all my protocols, therapies and supplements:

Remove processed foods, gluten, dairy, GMO and refined sugars to avoid undue stress on the immune system. Exercise up to your ability along the way. Sleep. Take baking soda and Epsom salt baths 3 times per week. Infra Red Sauna 30 minutes 3 times a week if possible. Dry brushing & massage are also helpful.

Take high potency, good quality multivitamin, chlorella, ALAMax to support liver and kidneys, Floramend probiotic, ProOmega with GLA, Tocomin SupraBio, MethyProtect & ACZ Nano. These are taken 2 times a day, every single day.

My 1st protocol consisted of Omnicef, Minocycline & Septra on Monday, Wednesday & Friday for week one. Repeat those for week 2 and add Flagyl on Thursday and Friday. Week 3, no antibiotics. Repeat 2 more times.

My 2nd protocol was for Lyme & Bartonella and consisted of Omnicef, Rifabutin (super expensive – I bought it from Canada at a huge savings, but still expensive) & Septra. Repeat for week 2 once again adding Flagyl on Thursday and Friday. Week 3, no antibiotics. Repeat 2 more times.

My 3rd protocol was the same as the 2nd only I had 2 weeks off in between meds and only repeated it twice. A bit of a reprieve.

My 4th protocol is for Lyme and Babesia. I forgot to mention earlier that Lyme has several little parasites of sorts that attach to it. They also must be attended to. This protocol consists of Omnicef, Malarone, Septra, & Artemisinin. Two of which are anti-malarial drugs. Those are all on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for week one and two with Flagyl again in week 2 on Thursday and Friday. Week 3 is no antibiotics. Repeat 2 more times.

My current protocol is the same as the 4th for the 1st 2 weeks. The 3rd week I add Coartem on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest of that week and the following week I am off antibiotics. This is repeated 3 times. See why I need Sam to keep me organized?!

Next is the “scrubber” phase. I don’t know exactly what that will be but I understand it is quite intense. It should scrub any last remnants of Lyme and ‘friends’ out of every corner and hiding place. Lastly, the maintenance program. It will last 6 months to one year, involving some antibiotics for one week each month and then the rest of the month off. This is to catch any stragglers. So, the rest remains to be seen. I will be so thrilled to be through this tunnel. Although the light is already getting brighter. I feel so much better…in spite of all the side effects of antibiotics.

I really am grateful.

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On Selma, MLK, Obama, Ferguson & Racism*

IMG_0740I grew up in a small town in Central Michigan. I am not sure if we had any African Americans in my elementary school. I don’t remember anyway. In middle school we moved to an even smaller town. I do remember one or two black families in my high school. We were all friends. I do not remember any  discrimination whatsoever. There had to be interracial dating, but it was not anything that was deemed unusual in any way. At least that I remember. People were people. I am not saying we were ‘colorblind.’ It was just that color never entered in to the equation.

Off to college. In a small town in Illinois. I had a couple African American friends. We have not kept in touch over the years. I had a white friend who grew up in a ‘black’ area of Indiana and she was afraid of black people on some level. It seemed uncanny to me. I didn’t really pay that much attention to it though. I was very uninvolved and unaware of much outside my little world. I didn’t really pay attention to politics or world events. My own little world was too important. I am not ashamed of that. It is what it is, but it seems so weird to me now.

Fast forward to marriage and kids and all the ways that can distract from life outside our four walls. We attended my father-in-law’s church which was very diverse in the city of Washington, D.C. I worked for a government agency and worked with many African Americans. Later we became foster parents to several minority children over several years. If we were to dissect that period of our life we may be able to pinpoint moments of racial discrimination. None of it was ‘in your face.’

We traveled a lot as a family. We also went on mission trips to many impoverished areas of the world. Our kids had exposure to diversity in a way I never did until I was much older. For the longest time they referred to people as either peach or brown if they were describing the details of how a person looked. Life moved along and our oldest left for college followed 3 years later by our second.  During their senior and freshman years respectively it was also a presidential election year and their first opportunity to vote for President.

Along came a Senator turned President, Barack Obama. That was the year racism began to rear its ugly head for me in a way I had never seen before. Sure, judge. Call me naive. I was. I remember so vividly the night Barack Obama won the national election there were throngs of people packed into Grant Park in the city of Chicago with tears streaming down many of their faces. Young and old. Many may have never believed they would see an African American President in their lifetime. I was moved to tears. It was heartbreaking to witness the vitriol that preceded his election and has continued for the past 6 years. The level of which can only be explained by racism.

We saw the movie Selma tonight. So much has been swirling about in my head. It’s not that I was unaware of this period of history. I’m not that naive. I was only 5 when it took place and any reading about it in history class was not particularly impactful. This movie though was compelling. I was overwhelmed with horror by this poignant reminder of something that has happened in my lifetime. Not all that long ago really. I have never known or faced anything like this in my world. I have a renewed and profound respect for Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the players in this period of nonviolent protesting. He certainly deserves a National holiday day if anyone does. What a great, humble and strong leader. Such a loss to our country.

My mind then switches to Ferguson and the realization that we still have a long way to go. Racial reconciliation is possible, but there is much work to do. We all need to pick up the mantle and do what we can in our own world in any and every peaceful way we can. We cannot live in denial when the statistics are clear. It’s so easy to pick things apart and react defensively, but that is not an answer.

Go see the movie. Let it change you. If you don’t walk away with more compassion, then SMH.

*my opinions – hopefully not embarrassing to my family

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What Americans can learn from other food cultures

myfullemptynest:

I love that an Italian child’s first experience with food is probably ice-cream. Lesson learned. I’ll have to use this with future grandchildren. :)

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

Food feeds the soul. To the extent that we all eat food, and we all have souls, food is the single great unifier across cultures. But what feeds your soul?

For me, a first-generation Korean-American, comfort food is a plate of kimchi, white rice, and fried Spam. Such preferences are personally meaningful — and also culturally meaningful. Our comfort foods map who are, where we come from, and what happened to us along the way. Notes Jennifer 8. Lee (TED Talk: Jennifer 8. Lee looks for General Tso), “what you want to cook and eat is an accumulation, a function of your experiences — the people you’ve dated, what you’ve learned, where you’ve gone. There may be inbound elements from other cultures, but you’ll always eat things that mean something to you.”

In much of China, only the older generations still shop every day in the wet market, then go home and cook traditional…

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On parenting & rolling the dice :)

A friend recently shared the article 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church – it’s a good article and worth the read, yet I still felt like something fell a teeny tiny bit flat. Clearly there is no perfect formula as at times the best families have children that leave the faith and conversely, some really dysfunctional families have kids that grow into great leaders in the faith.

I am also not saying Sam & I have parented perfectly. Far from it. Our kids can each vouch for that. It’s by the Grace of God we have 3 amazing kids. See.

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The article did get me thinking and pondering again about what my top top parenting tips would be. Again, I have found my top tips have greatly evolved and have simplified over the years. I’ve decided it’s easier, for the most part, than we think at the time. We get so bogged down in minutia and tend to forget to keep the main thing the main thing.

*The main thing: Be an example. Not perfect, but an example. LIVE your faith out in front of your kids, in front of your spouse, in front of strangers, in front of your kid’s friends, in front of your neighbors. See where I’m going with this? I’ve always loved this quote from the music group, DC Talk – “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Now if your first thought is, I disagree with that being the ‘single greatest cause,’ then you’ve missed my point. My point is, hypocrisy is detrimental to great parenting. Really detrimental. If I could pick one and only one ‘top tip’ it would be this one. *This is the best way to disciple. (my opinion.)

Numbers 2, 3 & 4 are really subcategories of ‘the main thing.’

Choose to lavish your children with (2) unconditional love. Let them know in words and in tangible ways that NOTHING they could ever do would make you love them less and NOTHING they could ever do would make you love them more. Doing this introduces them to Christ in ways that fire & brimstone would never ever do. I’m not advocating no discipline or consequences, but discipline & consequences within this context looks a whole lot different.

(3) Show and lavish Grace to your children. Simply put, give to your children what they may not deserve. With children there are so many opportunities for this. :) Really, with everyone we come in contact with in life there are opportunities to freely give Grace…. no strings attached.

(4) Show and lavish Mercy. Go easy on the punishments. Don’t make idle threats of ridiculous consequences. Pick carefully your battles & just let a lot of stuff go. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Really. If you read into this one that I’m saying spoil your child, then you’ve missed my point.

Lastly, (5) pray. Pray that God works in your heart. Thank God for His unconditional love, His Grace & His Mercy. Pray for a full & clear understanding of who God is and in that way you will be a light in your child’s life that will draw her/him toward Christ.

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