The Emotional Christian

I currently finished a book that both reinforced what I have learned the last few years and challenged me to take the next step. I won’t give away the title yet, that’s for next week’s blog. But the topic this book touched on is emotional maturity.

Huh? What? Yeah, I never heard that term before either. But once I started reading this book, I knew what the author was talking about. It is something I have come to learn in my own Christian walk: the need to be honest with both God and ourselves.

More often than not, we as Christians are encouraged to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. We need to live a balanced life. But rarely are we encouraged to take a look at the emotional part of our lives or how to balance it.

I think this is because this is a subject we don’t even realize exists. We are so busy putting our lives in order, exercising and eating right, making sure we have time for our daily devotion, reading to keep mentally fit (you are reading, right?), but we seldom if ever slow down to take stock of where we are at emotionally.

Why is that? After all, we feel everyday. Perhaps it is because of busyness. Or perhaps it is because we have no idea how integrated feelings are in our lives. Perhaps it is because we subconsciously see emotions as a pediment to a stronger Christian walk. After all, mature Christians don’t get angry, depressed, or lonely. That’s too close to sin, right?

Wrong.

We ignore the stirrings inside our hearts. We do not face them. We do not acknowledge them. And in doing so, we are not being truthful with ourselves and with God. God knows how we are feeling. He’s even been there. Jesus was fully human. He wept (look at how he reacted when Lazarus died), he was angry (yep, remember when he cleansed out the temple?), he felt anguish (in the Garden of Gethsemane). Yet I think we think of Jesus being more God than man. A stoic teacher above such base feelings.

Feelings are not a bad thing. After all, God did not make a mistake when he made humans and put feelings inside of them. It’s what we do with them. But we can’t do anything with them if we don’t even acknowledge our feelings in the first place. And many times we are too busy, too scared, or too uncomfortable to take a deeper look at what’s going on inside of us.

Next week I will share the book that prompted such thoughts. So stay tuned!

Rejoice and Weep

Sometimes it can be easy to get wrapped up in my own little world. I only see my problems; I only find joy in what is going on in my own life. This past week God reminded me of the verse that talks about rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. He reminded me that I’m not an island. When I look past my own life, I can experience His work in the lives of others.

So how do I rejoice? I rejoice when a friend who has been laid off for a couple months finds a job. I rejoice when another friend finals in a writing contes. I am giddy for a friend who is taking her kids on a surprise trip to Disney World this summer (how fun is that!).

When I open myself up to enjoy the blessings God has brought into the lives of others, I find myself filled with pure and unselfish joy. My heart is light and free of envy or jealousy.

But not everyone is receiving sunshine and flowers right now. And so I also weep when those around me are going through difficulties or disappointments. I feel for a friend who did not place in the same writing contest. I weep with another friend as she shares her story of losing her little one. I sympathize with the mom who sometimes secretly wishes she were anywhere but home alone with 3 screaming kids.

When I weep with those who weep, my heart connects with theirs and I lifted them up to God. Their pain brings me to my knees. I believe that by weeping with them, I am helping them carry their burdens.

Rejoicing and weeping with others takes our eyes off our own problems. We see hope. We enjoy God’s blessings through others. We have an opportunity to comfort those hurting with the same comfort God has given us.

So this week, let us rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

Things Money Can’t Buy…

During a time when many of us are looking for ways to save money because of job loss, economy, cut in pay or a demotion, I thought it might be nice to look at the things we can have for free.

Love. It doesn’t cost a dollar or even a dime to receive a hug and kiss from my kids. Chocolate smudged lips are free. Small hands wrapped around my middle priceless. A marriage built on mutual love and respect and most importantly God, cannot be bought at the local mall. It is purchased with laughter, tears, and “I’m sorry’s”.

Beauty. I posted before on Free Beauty, but it never hurts to be reminded of all the free things God gives us to enjoy each day. I think my favorite free beauties are cold rainy days where it’s so dark the streetlights come on, the smell of homemade bread, and a clear winter’s night without a moon so you can see every star.

Peace. So many times we can look to our savings accounts or 401k’s for peace and security. We diligently save for those unexpected rainy days. The problem is money can disappear. The market crashes. Unemployment lasts longer than the six months saved up. Cancer strikes and the medical bills strip you down to nothing.

I’m thankful peace doesn’t come from finances. Instead, peace comes from knowing that God is in control and nothing takes him by surprise. He holds us in his hands, even when our bank account gives out 🙂

Salvation. You can’t buy God. You cannot tithe enough, you cannot give enough to missions; you can’t give to God what he does not already have. Instead, his gift of forgiveness and freedom are freely given to anyone who believes in his son Jesus. We can be free from guilt and shame because God provided a way. Salvation is for both the rich and the poor.

There are times I become so focused on the stuff that costs money that I forget how much I have that’s free. Hopefully this post has been a reminder to you as well 🙂

Book Review: Tales of a Dim Knight

Dave Johnson, a mild mannered janitor and superhero lover, finds a box one night inside the FBI building he cleans. Of course, he opens the box. Inside is an alien symbiote who attaches to Dave. Through their connection this alien gives him almost any and every power he could want.

Tales of the Dim Knight follows Dave as he uses his powers to save Seattle. Unfortunately, super hero powers do not translate into a good marriage and family, something Dave learns almost too late in this spoof of the super hero world.

Strengths: There are far too few super hero books with a Christian worldview out there. As a lover of the super hero genre, I am glad to see a couple making it to print. Tales of a Dim Knight is full of corny humor, larger than life characters, and nasty villains. I read this from another post and agree with this person’s assessment: Tales of a Dim Knight reads like a comic book without the pictures. If that’s your kind of story, then this is the book for you.

Weaknesses: I will admit it took me a couple chapters to get into Tales of a Dim Knight. I had a hard time connecting with Dave and his family. Dave’s obsession with superheroes was almost too much for me. But then the story mellowed out and I was able to connect more with Dave.

One other thing that I had a hard time with was the Christianity in the book. To me, the Christians and the church felt cliquish and preachy at times.

Do I recommend Tales of a Dim Knight? If you enjoy light humorous books with a super hero touch, then yes.

Check out what others are saying about Tales of a Dim Knight:

3/17/ James Somers http://www.jamessomers.blogspot.com/

3/20 and 3/27 David James http://newauthors.wordpress.com/

4/1/ April Erwin http://www.projectinga.blogspot.com/

4/3/ Phyllis Wheeler www.Christian-Fantasy-Book-Reviews.com

4/4/ Noah Arsenault http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/

4/4/ Sarah Sawyer www.sarahsawyer.com/blog

4/5/ Tammy Shelnut http://www.bluerosesheart.blogspot.com/

4/6/ Timothy Hicks http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com/

4/7 Joan Nienhuis http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com

4/8 Carol E. Keen http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/

4/11 Morgan L. Busse https://morganlbusse.wordpress.com

4/14/ Emily LaVigne http://southernfiberreads.wordpress.com/

4/15 Chawna Schroeder http://chawnaschroeder.com

4/22 Frank Creed http://afrankreview.blogspot.com

4/28/ Beckie Burnham http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com

5/3/ Amy Cruson http://the160acrewoods.com

 

For more information on Tales of a Dim Knight, click here. If you want to find Tales of a Dim Knight on Amazon, click here.

 

More about the authors Adam and Andrea Graham:

Adam Graham is a multi-talented author known for his wit and poignancy. His political column appears on Pajamasmedia.com and Renew America. He also has short stories published in the anthology Light at the Edge of Darkness, and in the Laser & Sword e-zine. He hosts the Truth and Hope Report podcast, as well as the Old Time Dragnet Radio Show, Great Detectives of Old Time Radio and the Old Time Superman Radio Show. Mr. Graham holds a general studies Associate of Arts degree from Flathead Valley Community College with a concentration in Journalism. He tweets at @idahoguy, @dimknight and @radiodetectives.

Andrea Graham co-authored Adam’s first novel, Tales of the Dim Knight. Her short story “Frozen Generation” also appeared in Light at the Edge of Darkness. She studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University. Visit her online at POVbootcamp.com and Ask Andrea, or follow her tweets @povbootcamp.
Adam and Andrea live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho. They are members of several writers groups, including Lost Genre Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers. Adam is president of their local ACFW chapter, Idahope.

 

 

*I received a free digital copy of Tales of a Dim Knight from the authors in order to review and give my honest opinion.

New Every Morning

I love mornings. There are summer mornings where the sky is a light blue, the grass green and lush, and dew still clings to each blade of grass. The sun rises as if it’s shouting to the world that it’s a brand new day.

Then there are cold crisp wintry mornings. Snow falls during the night, leaving the world in a blanket of white cold softness. I love those kinds of mornings with a steaming hot cup of coffee in my hands and my feet perched right on top of the heat vents.

Spring mornings are filled with color. You wake up to find the tulips and daffodils have made an appearance. I was outside yesterday and found some cute purple flowers in front of my house. I have no idea what kind of flower they are, but they sure are pretty.

Autumn mornings for me are overcast; the dark gray sky contrasts with the vivid oranges, reds and yellows of the trees that line the street I live on. If I imagine hard enough, I’m sure I can smell the smoke from a wood burning stove somewhere. I break out the oatmeal that has been sitting in the back of my cupboard and make a pot full of the stuff, then serve it with a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon and cream.

I love mornings for the colors, the smells, and the sounds. But I also love mornings for another reason. They represent the start to a fresh new day. I have a new day to do what is right, to enjoy what God has given me, to take a step away from the hurt and a step towards my future.

Not all mornings are rosy and golden. Some mornings are harder than others. There are mornings when I don’t want to wake up. What happened yesterday still hurts today. But each morning that passes God uses to heal. Forgiveness is extended, the grief fades, and soon I have hope again.

Each morning is unmarred and full of possibility. It’s a get-up-and-try-it-again. A new start full of God’s mercy and goodness.

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

 

 

Hurts and Heartache

It comes in the form of a phone call, a letter, the distraught look of the doctor across the desk. You try to prepare yourself. But no matter how the news is delivered, it hits you like a punch in the gut. You reel back from the blow. Shock sets in. You wonder what you’re going to do. Life as you know it will never be the same again.

I know I’m not the only one who is or has gone through something, whether that is the death of a loved one, news that the cancer is back, or the loss of a job. And if you’re like me, you find your confidence shaken. What you once thought you believed you’re not sure about anymore. So what do you do?

As I prepared for this post, I read an article about the five stages of grief. As I read, it hit me: I was experiencing those stages. You do not need to experience death in order to have your world turned upside down. At first I found myself in denial. I kept thinking there had to be some mistake; that this was some kind of strange nightmare and I would eventually wake up, right?

But soon reality set in and I found myself angry. Really angry. I wanted an answer for why my husband had lost his job. But none came.

Then I began to bargain with God. I told God I would do anything if he would just get my family safely through this. Being a planner, I began to make plans after plans of what I would do to keep my family afloat. No matter the cost to myself, I would do what it took to get my family safely to the other side.

More days past and my plans fell to the wayside. Depression set in. I will admit its still here, sapping my heart and mind, clouding my vision. I once heard the Chinese symbol for perseverance was a heart with a dagger in it. I’m not sure if that’s true, but that is what life feels like right now. You hurt so bad you don’t want to move. But you must. Because life goes on.

The last stage of grief is acceptance. I can feel it on the horizon. But I’m scared of it. I’m afraid that if I accept what has happened, then that will make it okay. I know it’s illogical, but many times there is no logic in grief. Only deep intense feelings.

So where is God in all of this? Where is God during the hurts and heartache? I will be honest and say I don’t know why God allowed Dan to lose his job. I do not know what our future holds. And I hurt right now. But one thing I know, that in darkness there is light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5

That light is Jesus. No matter how dark life gets, it can never extinguish God. I am clinging to that promise now. And though I can’t see Him through all the pain, I know God is holding me. For if His hands can hold every star in the sky and He cares about even the smallest bird, then I know He will carry me through.