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Lessons Learned from my Back Surgery

black wonder womanThere is nothing like 2 months spent flat on your back to give you a new perspective on life. My world quickly went from vertical to horizontal in a matter of days when I discovered I had a collapsed disc in my lowest lumber. I found myself deeply impaired, lacking the ability to walk, drive, pick up my kids, cook or do much of anything else. I was stunned. My initial response to this news was to just keep pushing through. I treated my acute back pain like anything else in life: If I just give it the old college try I will eventually conquer it, right?

So that’s what I did!  I just kept trudging along waiting for deliverance from my pain but changing nothing about how I operated. I would rally my entire might to lift myself out of my car. Once I found myself upright, I would stand there with my head lifted to the sky for a moment, as if to beg God for one more ounce of strength.  For any normal woman, this would be a sign that somethings gotta give but not for me! Besides Wonder Woman had just come out and I was ready to defy the odds with sheer willpower.

Have you ever tried and tried and will power just wasn’t enough? I finally came to a point that putting one foot in front of the other was not sufficient and it was there that I broke. I was scheduled to make a presentation that morning and my only focus was to get there and make it happen. But the fatigue of chronic pain and the emotional toll of being totally helpless, finally had it’s way with me on the side of a road in South Dallas. I sat there in my car crying big ugly tears. There was a man parked in a black truck and I could tell he was looking but I didn’t care. My tears came from the depth of my soul where I usually store them away so no one can see. But this time they erupted from my hiding place and I couldn’t quite figure out how to turn off the faucet.

It was in that state that I cried out to God pleading for him to answer. It’s not that I hadn’t prayed for God to alleviate my pain before, I said my prayers and asked for relief every day, maybe even every hour. Even still, it was a passing prayer, maybe one in which I just spoke the name of Jesus as my prayer. This time I came to God exasperated from not hearing his response. I couldn’t take it any longer and the veneer of self-sufficiency that had masked my prior prayers fell off as I sat and wept that day.

Discerning the voice of God can be a tricky thing sometimes as He speaks to us in many ways and primarily through his written word. But it was this moment in that still small voice, I could hear the Lord say- “Go to the doctor RIGHT NOW, emphasis on RIGHT Now.” that was all the permission I needed to let go of the helm I was so desperately trying to steer. I crumbled like a toddler held in her father’s arms. I needed God’s approval to stop trying to fix my pain and get help. It took several days and 2 failed attempts to return to work for me to accept my superior’s approval to let go too, but I eventually got it there. From then on it was a whirlwind of diagnostic tests and appointments. Soon enough I found relief through surgery and I couldn’t be happier that I stopped when God told me to stop.

Maybe you are going through something, where you feel the weight of the world crashing down on your shoulders. Sometimes our trials feel like a boulder that we fight to push uphill; with every passing second and each slip of the foot its possible, that boulder could overpower you with its great force. We often wear our hands to the bone while making little progress. When someone steps in and says “let me help,” we cling to the success we’ve had; we point out how far we have come with the bolder and with the end in sight we feel that a victory may be cheapened by accepting a helping hand.

What I learned from my back surgery was this… accept that hand. Help does not make you weak, help signifies that you are strong enough to realize your own limitations.

 

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Ezra Reads the Law: Celebrating in the wake of sin

It’s been a hard couple of months for me spiritually. I feel like one of those wind-up toys relentlessly marching away with my head against a corner, moving but going nowhere. I know that God is calling me to rise above the distractions and seek him first but to my embarrassment, I consistently choose Netflix over the King of Kings and I have prioritized scrolling over the creator of the universe. It’s such a silly thing really and utterly frustrating that I continue to worship the created over the creator. This battle of the will has left me spiritually dry and utterly devastated.  I can’t declare another social media fast only to break it, so at times I just stop trying. I let the sin of misappropriation encompass me and try to tell myself that I enjoy the feeling, that I may as well stay here rather than fail again.

Lying to yourself is an exhausting practice. When I get weak enough to reach out for God’s redemptive hand I almost shy away from it because I hate my sin and I don’t want him to see it. I mourn it and an I grieve it and I keep it close.

Ezra was the liturgical scribe in the day of the great restoration of Jerusalem under the instruction of Nehemiah. It was a time of revival and change as the people had returned to their homeland after a period of exile. Their exile was the result of God’s judgment and they knew it. In exile, they had time to wallow in their sins and think about the price of letting down the all mighty God. But just because God is always this good, he allowed the sun to peek out from behind the clouds and began drawing his people back to their first love. As they picked up the wreckage of their physical and spiritual lives they ran back to the only thing that had unwavering staying power: the very word of God.

“So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men and women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” Nehemiah 8:2-3

Imagine holding an ice cold coke on a hottest of days? Not the one in the can, but the real deal, the glass bottle with its curved silhouette appears to have been made just for your hand. There is something about the desperation and joy  you experience as you hear the sound of that fresh fizzle rising to the top. I’d imagine this is the scene of anticipation unfolding as God’s people had returned from a spiritual drought only to find God’s word pouring out like a fountain head in the middle of the desert. They sat and the drank up the sweetness of God’s word, fulfilling a need they had almost forgotten.

Yet its possible for sweetness to turn sour in one’s mouth before one has even had the chance to savor it. When the devastation of your disparity sets in and you realize how trivial your own lustful desires have been in light of our Great God. All of a sudden the exhilaration of drinking from the fountain of living water turns to shame. This is exactly what happened to the Israelites that day as the measured themselves up and realized just how low they had fallen .

“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping and they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:9-10

Have you ever observed the exact moment when you have broken someone’s trust? It’s a gradual change that begins with their eye and slowly takes over their entire body. It’s as if someone turned on a switch of sadness, or rather they turned off a switch of joy. What was once sacred becomes broken, what was once delightful becomes scorned and your relationship is left hanging in the balance. It’s a gut wrenching and devastating feeling. And it’s the feeling we all bare when the Holy God looks upon our sins.

But this is what blows my mind about the grace of our God.  In a time of mourning and despair, as the Israelite come to terms with what they have down,  in walks the Lord, full of grace,he lavishes on us mercy as he gives us chance after chance after chance. He doesn’t tire of our failure and in the midst of the Israelite’s grief  the Lord speaks through his prophet, ” Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Do not grieve! not only that, but in the wake of your sin, celebrate and throw a party! Eat choice foods and sweet drinks! Can you feel the tension of their fear and dread breaking? In the midst of their chastening the people respond to God appropriately by grieving their sin and The Lord steps in as a Father scoops up their crying child, and says no, don’t cry, celebrate.

We serve a good God, one who is long suffering, and ever so patient. One who is full of good gifts that we don’t deserve and one who would rather anoint our wounds and rejoice in our dependence on him, then brandish the punishment we so justly deserve.

The Lord is telling us in light of our brokenness, in light of our sadness, in light of us having fallen short that we are not to grieve, because he cloaks us in his own joy to strengthen us. “Do not grieve…For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The joy of the Lord, as in the joy that belongs to the Lord, is the substance in which we find the wherewithal to look at our sin bearer in the face, knowing full well that we have disappointed our savior, yet we dare to dance instead of grieve we dare to worship instead of weep and we dare to be strengthened rather than defeated.

I walked in service last night with my tail between my legs as the old folks would say. Weary of my own lack of desire to align myself with the Lord and aware of the triviality of my sins I waited expecting to mourn, yet the Lord lifted my head and said, no, here take my joy be strengthened by it and savor it because when a sinner returns home we slaughter the fated calf, we pull out choice drink and we celebrate!

 

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Racial Divide and Disney on Bible.org

 

moana

On June 16, 2017, the world learned of the verdict, not guilty, in the Philando Castile case. My social media was a cascading uproar of comments hurled from both sides of the issue. While my job is not to persuade you concerning the facts of this case or many others like it, I believe it’s fair for me to say that you could understand the overwhelming helplessness that beset me amidst all of this. Once I finally got my bearings, I came up to take a breath yet another swell of water broke over my shoulders. I watched as an unarmed man was punched in the face and kicked to the ground on a routine stop. He was just a teenager. I let the water consume me until things went dark…

Read the rest by clicking the link below

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/racial_divide_and_disneys_moana

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Racial Divide and Disney on Bible.org

 

moana

On June 16, 2017, the world learned of the verdict, not guilty, in the Philando Castile case. My social media was a cascading uproar of comments hurled from both sides of the issue. While my job is not to persuade you concerning the facts of this case or many others like it, I believe it’s fair for me to say that you could understand the overwhelming helplessness that beset me amidst all of this. Once I finally got my bearings, I came up to take a breath yet another swell of water broke over my shoulders. I watched as an unarmed man was punched in the face and kicked to the ground on a routine stop. He was just a teenager. I let the water consume me until things went dark…

Read the rest by clicking the link below

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/racial_divide_and_disneys_moana

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Should your Women’s Ministry drop the self-esteem talk- featured on bible.org

I hate opening up about stuff that’s embarrassing but when it may bless someone else I am down 🙂 share, like comment here is a quote from the article- “My search for value also created a  deep divide between my sisters in Christ; instead of assets to my personal walk, I saw other women as benchmarks that either challenged my worth or affirmed it because I personally devalued theirs. ”

Click link below to view full article

 

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/should_your_womens_ministry_drop_the_self-esteem_talk

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Marriage: Jumping with both feet on Bible.org

Hey there! It’s been far too long!  Here is a post about marriage straight from my heart. It may challenge your conventional thought but I thought it was worth a second look.  Click below to read the article and let me know your thoughts.

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/marriage_jumping_with_both_feet