Picture
Last weekend we had more events stacked up than pancakes at an I.H.O.P. buffet. I was drained. Despite loving the time with my family, I was more than a little relieved to kick my kids to the school curb Monday morning. (By “kick them to the curb” I mean “lovingly bless them.” Then I kicked them to the curb.)

“God is good!” I sighed to myself as I settled into an SUV that smelled like a cross between stale fries and coffee creamer.

I flipped on some country radio, content just to sing about another person’s nasty pickup truck to avoid thinking about mine. The sun was shining… I had coffee plans with some girlfriends… what could go wrong? Absolutely nothing!

Except for that phone call from the school office twenty minutes later. “You need to pick up your kids immediately,” the nurse informed me. “
They’ve got lice.

“Got Milk?” was such a great ad campaign. “Got Lice?” Not so much.

Anxiety shot through me like a senior with a prom night zit. What would I do? My husband was at work. My mom was sick. My in-laws were out of town. It was just me. Poor old ME!

Oh, and God. He’d help me get through it, right? I wanted to put my faith on that. I really did. After all, as I mentioned in a prior post, Luke 12:7 promises, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

I love the concept of this hair numbering business, but when Christ was talking about the importance of our hair strands I’m pretty certain he wasn’t referring to pulling nits out of them.

My spirits dropped. I wanted to be Warrior Christian Mama who would fiercely navigate Rite Aid, all the while reigning in feral children and spinning boxes of R.I.D. like anti-lice nunchuks.

I wanted to keep an attitude of gratitude. “Dear Jesus. Thank you for giving me lice instead of cancer.”

But that day I got a phone call from the dermatologist saying that the biopsy on my chest came back positive for carcinoma cancer. I’d have to have it removed.

“Well, it’s not like I’m going to die from that,” I told myself. What was that song Julie Andrews sang, “When the dog bites… when the bee stings?”

I blame that song for my fate when, four days later, I got bitten by a protective poodle. In addition to this, my husband made an uncharacteristic visit to Urgent Care, my daughter got the croup, and I got let go of from my three year magazine column.

Do you think God is telling me something? Perhaps something like, “I gave humans precious life. For many, it is lucky… but not for you! Forget the lottery ticket; just give more to the offering plate on Sunday.”

Maybe God is telling me to slow down.

Maybe He is testing my patience.

Maybe there is no God at all and this is just the sad reality of life that I am going to face with kids.

*Note: I don’t really believe this last statement, but when I’m exhausted and tired, I feel defeated. This is where I sometimes go. It’s at these times I write and pray and read my Bible and call any Christian I know who will bolster my faith. I am not an island. Either are you. And though I don’t know you, can you pray for me anyway? Yeah, I’m that shameless when it comes to needing God when I’m down.

To close this post, I will say that we are currently lice free, cancer free, heart attack free and I have not been bitten by anymore dogs. I might shake and spit from some Holy Spirit intervention (that would be interesting!) but it won’t be from rabies.

Maybe you’re like me. You read the Bible. You go to church. You know what you’re supposed to do, but you don’t always “feel” it. Well, either do I. But I’m still going to walk the walk. I hope you’ll join me. If you give me nits through the internet, though, I am not going to be happy. Jesus might love every strand on your head, but I will reach through the screen and pull yours out.

Until the next post, I will leave you with Philippians 4:6-7:“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

* Originally published in Joe Beam's marriage restoration blog. (almost caught up...) Photo from All Posters.

 
 
Picture
In this post I mentioned how I’m living as a “new” Christian with an Atheist husband.  I’m attempting to honor my husband in my actions, even when my feelings aren’t following suit. You know, those “I feel sorry for myself sitting with the two kids at church alone while EVERY OTHER COUPLE has their little brood in between them like baby ducks clustered between Christian Barbie and Ken book-ends” kind of feelings.)

To be clear, while my husband is “head” of the household, I hardly consider him the boss of me. Like my favorite quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and the neck can turn the head anyway she wants to.”

In my case, the neck turning means showing love for my husband in my actions, not my words. 1 Peter 3: 1 – 11 states, “In the same way you wives must submit to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe.  It will not be necessary for you to say a word, because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is.  You should not use outward aids to make yourself beautiful such as the way you do your hair, or the jewellery you put on, or the dresses you wear.  Instead your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight…”

Okay that last part about not wearing jewelry and having a quiet, gentle spirit? That will truly take some divine intervention. But the overall idea of modesty and self-restraint when it comes to not being a nagging harpie? I can manage that.

The main point of this post, however, is the idea, “How does one serve two “masters” – both their husband and Jesus?

How does one find peace? On one hand, I have my husband who finds all this Christian stuff utter nonsense. And really, I can’t blame him. Selling a Hollywood screenplay seems less far fetched than some baby being born of a virgin, performing miracles, living without sin, dying on a cross and rising from the dead. Plus he did all that without internet, cable and Starbucks.

On the other hand, if this Jesus is who The Bible claims He is, how can I not totally fall in love with Him, too? (Believe me – my Rex is not much of a sharer.)

The duality of my current relationships are quite alarming. I liken loving both Rex and Christ to going for a swim in a glorious warm pool but having weights attached to my legs.

I hardly consider my husband dead weight, but the enormity of our different worldview can sometimes feel heavier than I’d like to admit. (Well, except for admitting right here for the entire World Wide Web.)

I see more than ever why the Bible urges believers to marry believers.

2 Corinthians 6:14 “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?”

The human in me does not see my husband as evil. But the lack of peace we sometimes encounter is.

I take great hope in 1 Corinthians 7: 12-16 “Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?”

I don’t know what plans God has for my marriage. But I do know this: Rex’s lack of a need for Jesus is the precise force that landed me right in Christ’s arms. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, or blaming my atheist husband, I’m attempting to thank God every day that Rex is in my life. (Most days, anyway!) My husband is a wonderful iron in refining my fledgling faith.

Today, as I finished sewing some Xmas lights into the backside of my daughter’s ice fairy costume, I scoffed at my poor sewing job. The stitches were completely uneven. None of them matched. Looking at it up close was like looking at a web spun by a very tired spider six beers in.

I thought about how my marriage can often feel like that – mismatched and uneven – dizzying with effort at times.

But then I turned the dress inside out and added the battery to the light. What a vast transformation! My poor sewing skills were nowhere to be seen. Instead, I saw nothing but beautiful light glowing through the fine mesh fabric.

Again, I thought of my marriage, but this time I saw only the beauty and wonder I have experienced due to Rex: My home, my children, a spiritual growth which will accompany me into far rockier waters than an argument over how to budget our finances.

Clearly I need to step back from my sewing job, as well as my negative views of being married to a non-Christian. When I stop focusing on what isn’t working, I can let God’s wonderful majesty shine through in glorious light.

I will never stop praying for faith. I will never stop praying for my husband. And most of all, I will never stop thanking God for how lucky I am to have both Rex and Jesus in my life. I might not get an HBO show about serving two husbands, but I’m certainly growing more than I ever dreamed possible.

And when I start to falter – when the lights of my soul start to flicker in exhaustion – God’s Word will have to serve as a battery to charge me up once again.

Anyone else out there in “unequally yoked?” If so, how are you managing?
* Published originally at Joe Beam's marriage and restoration site.The beautiful angel is my daughter, Pipsqueak. Look how happy she was with my sewing job on those lights! Guess she's looking at me through God's eyes. I'm lucky that way.
 
 
Picture
Published last Fall at Joe Beam's marriage and restoration site. I have a few more to catch up on before I'm up to date!

Halloween is just around the corner. Fortunately for me, I have two very creative children who aren’t content buying overpriced cheesey costumes from a chain store. Unfortunately for them, their mother can’t sew. I told them I’d do the best I could stitching up their thrift store treasures, but not to expect anything perfect.

“Who’s perfect?” I ask. “Just Jesus,” is the standard response.

Amen for that. For a non-Christian, such as my husband, this might sound like a convenient loop-hole. “Just slack off and don’t try your best? That’s not how the world works,” is a typical conversation for us.

My western-brained, feminist spirit used to agree with him. After all, when I wanted to write for TV, I landed a script. When I wanted to get married, my wonderful Rex waltzed into my life. When I wanted to get pregnant, it happened on the first try. I certainly didn’t reject God’s hand in my good fortune, but I didn’t praise or thank Him nearly enough.

It’s different now. As much as I’d love to start working in TV again… as much as I’d love to write that book or make some extra cash… deep in the recesses of my soul I know that God is pruning me to live life for Him right now, not for me alone.

I’m starting to get what being Christian is all about. (But I have a far way to go. Any prayers would be most welcome!) It is not my talent that will save me. It is not how nice a mother I am. (Which many days, is far from pleasant.) It’s not about how well I clean the house or write a snappy blog. It’s about… enter my inner Bible thumper… Christ crucified.

Ephesians 2: 8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

This is a shocking and startling concept for a baby believer like myself. It’s exciting, but it’s more than a little depressing. It’s as if a part of Andrea has vanished – the fun part! The hip writer swigging the Diet Coke on the way to the set in her $200 hair cuts and designer clothes? She’s nowhere to be found. It’s like she died.

Oh, wait… she is dead!

1 Peter: 24 – 25 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.”

That’s bad news for my once triumphing ego. But it’s good news also. Literally Good News. I get to start over.

This new life I’m living, thanks to Jesus, sounds really great on paper. Except there’s this teensy weensy problem I’m having living with my husband and my new Father. It’s not always a picnic. My dear friend Farmer Tracey said it best, “Of course, it’s hard, Andrea. It’s like you’re serving two masters!”

Two masters indeed. To be continued on Friday. You won’t want to miss the thrilling sequel debating:

1. How does one sew lights onto angel wings?

2. Does Jesus really exist?

3. How can my scientific husband spend hours on end building seven by seven green L.E.D. cubes. “They’re going to make something really cool,” he promised the other day. “Perhaps a neon blinking crucifix?” I suggested. “No Jesus Las Vegas Chapels around here,” was his response.

Who can blame him on that last comment?

* Photo taken on Halloween, 2010. More to come in just a few months. God might be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow but things sure do change fast around these here parts!

 
 
Picture
I was going to write again on Monday, but I have a few of these posts in back log, so I figured I would catch you up sooner than later. Let's be upfront now: I'm kind of an instant-gratifcation gal. From what I'm learning about Jesus, He's not really an instant-gratification God. Which is, frankly, annoying. But apparently He knows what He's doing.

Ahem.

Moving on.

In
my last post I mentioned how I prayed that God would show me a sign that He’s real. That He’s not just some dude with long hair in a Bible that people follow blindly.

I also mentioned that finding Jesus in every day life isn’t the same as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It’s not some funny trick with smoke and mirrors. People who have a deep relationship say that He will make himself known.
Dear Christian friends (who are very patient with me) promise me that God can handle my questions. That I can ask him to prove who He is.

So I did. I sat in the parking lot of a mall I rarely go to and asked Jesus to give my troubled heart some peace about my son’s
Tourettes.

Then I sat down at a coffee shop in a random “I feel like it” moment and found myself idly chatting to a woman in a short hair cut who admitted she was a yoga instructor.

Which I found so odd, because I had my lap top with me, and I had just finished writing a line for my children’s book about the power of stretching and yoga.

This woman asked if I had kids. I told her I had two. But I didn’t mention the Tourettes, which my daughter is now showing signs of also, because that shouldn’t define my babies? Right? They both have such mild cases. I need to just get the heck over this whole thing and parent my kids, right?? Right?

But she kept asking about my two munchkins – my son in particular. So I told her finally, “He has Tourettes. His case is very mild. He sometimes blinks his eyes uncontrollably or coughs ten times in a row. It’s something a lot of people don’t know much about.”

She looked at me very non-plussed and said, “I know it well. My son has Tourettes. And I promise you, it’s going to be okay.”

Well I just about fell off the chair – and not because of the ten dollar overpriced L.A. sandwich.

Yo, Jesus. Thanks for the sign. That’s Valley talk for, “Thanks for listening. Like, keep up the good work!”

Do you ever doubt Jesus? Do you ask for signs? How are your prayers answered? Was this just blind luck or divine intervention?

Either way, I felt relieved. Though that high priced sandwich didn’t sit so well. Maybe Jesus can send someone to me at a McDonalds next time. Much better for the budget.

More on Monday. For today, may you have a wonderful Sunday full of family, friends and as little housework as possible. (Well, that's my goal anyway. If any miracles want to happen during my modest little respite from work, like the gas line at Costco parting like the Red Sea, that'd be cool, too.)

* This post was originally posted at JoeBeam's marriage restoration site. Photo taken of my little Stink while camping in the Sequoias last month.

 
 
Picture
I’m the first to admit that I became reacquainted with Jesus a few years back because I had to believe in something more passionately then “There’s a God but I can’t tell you exactly Who He is.” I needed to know who this Jesus was, and what exactly He meant to me.

My “Come to Jesus” exploded when my son was diagnosed with
Tourette Syndrome – an incurable (and maddening) disorder which causes him to make uncontrollable vocal and physical movements.

It seemed so random and cruel to me. Why would my beautiful blond four year old – my “perfect” angel – be given such an odd hand of life cards? There had to be a reason. There had to be a bigger picture to all this. It couldn’t simply be the random odds of some random genetic mutation.

The atheist might point out that if Jesus loved my son so my much, why would he give him this disorder? I’d agree with the atheist, but I certainly wouldn’t live a peaceful life. As it is, I have a soul about as discombobulated as Simon Cowell at an American Idol audition high on Coca Cola and Hershey bars. (Me, dramatic? Never.)

I knew that to have joy despite chaos, I would have to hang my hat on the Jesus coat rack. It says in Matthew 10:24-33 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”

After first dismissing the idea that I never have good hair days – who cares if Jesus numbers them – I decided to go with the real message in this verse: Jesus loves me. Jesus loves my son. Tourette Syndrome might kill the dream I had for my son’s outer appearance, but it cannot kill his soul. And it cannot kill mine.

Oh, it tries. Along with a zillion other things. But even when I’m hopelessly hanging by a thread, I remember that I am here for a reason. I don’t know how Atheists don’t have heart attacks. And yes, if you’re an atheist reading me, I fully admit that I’m an insecure twit who would crack like an old woman’s face sans sunscreen. I can deal with your eye rolls, dear atheist, but I can’t deal with my son’s uncontrollable eye rolls without Jesus.

Despite reading God’s Word, I still falter and doubt. I hate that. I know I’m supposed to ask for God’s hand on my life, then follow His lead. But too often, I act first then ask Him to bless my actions.

Last month, for kicks and giggles, I decided to pray to Jesus for wisdom.

Having a husband who is an atheist – a very logical one at that – made my praying to a Jesus I don’t readily see a difficult feat at best. But I did it anyway – just like I keep buying Ziggy coffee cups from thrift stores for $1.99/mug. There’s no rhyme or reason sometimes – just pure passion and “it feels right” gusto.

My prayers went something like this: “Jesus, I’m sorry for sometimes doubting you exist. I’m sorry for being so unsure of you… of being so unsure of myself. But I kind of see myself like a baby. I know one day I will run to you unassisted – kind of like a slow motion reunion that would make an awesome Hallmark Movie of the Week. Viewers everywhere will cry as I touch your garments and sit down for cappuccinos with you.

And the residuals? I’d totally send some to your favorite charity of choice. But right now, I’m sort of crawling on my belly in this downward dog Yoga position. It’s hell on my wrists. And those hairs on my head you have numbered? They’re sticking straight up in stupid baby pony tails. Or maybe they’re rocking the Dorothy Hammil hairdo. The verdict is still out. But that spinach my mom keeps feeding me? It sucks.

And I digress. What was I saying? Oh yeah. Please give me some wisdom today. Show me a sign that I’m on the right track.”

Now some of you more seasoned Christians might point out that God does not show signs like a magician pulling a rabbit out of the hat. But remember: I’m still a baby Christian. I like shiny things! I like reassurance and pats and ‘Ooooh, Andrea, you are so cute just keep on keeping on!’ I’ll take a few miracles along the way, even if they happen at a Los Angeles mall on a rainy Tuesday morning.

Like last week. When I sat in the parking structure and prayed to a Jesus I sometimes doubt about peace over my son’s condition.

And then I sat down at a coffee shop I never go to and found myself idly chatting to a woman who just about made me fall off my chair. (No, I didn’t start speaking in tongues. Even if I did, though, I’d call it a tic. When you’re in Tourette Land, everything is a tic. Jesus didn’t get the credit just yet.)

Tune in Monday for the conclusion!

Originally published at Joe Beam's place - an awesome marriage restoration site.

Photo republished from Stock.xchng
 
 
Picture
When I got married, it didn’t bother me at all that my husband wasn’t a Christian.

Love, kindness, a decent job and a Cary Grant jaw-line were all the tools I needed to embark on a promising future. (Some of you might scoff at my criteria, but I am willing to bet dollars to Sunday morning doughnuts that many of you got married to your dreamboat under similar circumstances.)

If I’m really being honest – because how can I grow if I’m not willing to talk authentically – how Christian was I anyway? Sure, I went to a Christian school. Sometimes I even went to church. But what did I really know about what I knew? And what did I not know about what I didn’t know? (I suppose the same questions could be asked about marriage, too.)

Cut to ten years and two kids later, suddenly Christ is pretty important to me. I wish I could say it’s because I am such a devout believer, or that the image of Jesus appears in my steaming mug of Yuban every morning. (Dude, he has way better hair than I do.)

But the truth? Life has hit me in the face pretty hard the past few years. I have to know what the point of our earth journey is? What is this talk of heaven? How can I align my intellect’s voice that’s screaming, “Oh, COME ON, did this really happen?” with my faith voice of “Anything can happen, Andrea, with God. Read the Word. Lower your own voice. Listen to God’s voice.”

Being the A-personality type that I am, it isn’t that easy. Oh, sure, I can follow anything in blind submission for a time, but how long can I keep that up? (Day 3 of my marriage? I was totally over it.) No, I can’t simply follow Jesus’ teaching as some sort of morality play I can read to my kids at bed time then turn around the next morning and continue business as usual. (Well, except for the profile of Jesus in my morning coffee. That would not be normal. Though I’d totally take a picture and upload it for you. Right after I passed out and went to my shrink.) I want to know, in a world of such uncertain chaos, that I can find peace and hope thanks to one man. My husband!

I mean, Jesus!

Jesus Christ! (No, I am not cursing. I’m making a point.) Jesus Christ is the point of this blog! Who is this man? What does He mean to me? What does He mean to my kids? And how can I follow his example of living of the world/not in it, if my earthly mate wants to live in the world, but not of it?

To put it bluntly, I am having a spiritual crisis. It’s kind of like being diagnosed with spiritual bipolar disorder: 2 drastically different views of the world from the 2 men I am supposed to align myself with most.

How can I strike that balance? What do I believe of Jesus to be true? What do I believe of my husband to be true? How can I teach my kids to follow both men’s lead if I am not 100% sure of what I believe myself?

The honest truth? I haven’t arrived at my answer. But I do know that God is calling me closer to Him. He wants me to ask the hard questions. He wants me to honor my husband for where he is at this point in his life. And He wants me to not be afraid to ask the hard questions, both of Jesus and of Rex. After all, both husbands profess to adore me and love me for everything that I am. There is nothing too big that I can’t ask, right? If they are all they say they are, they will have an answer for me.

So, on that note, here are my 2 big questions for my men:

1. Jesus, if everything is written right there in the Bible for us, why do so many of us feel confused about it?

2. Rex, why do you love Star Trek so much?

I swear, if both of those questions were answered for me tonight, I would have no need to write this blog ever again. But since I have a feeling this is a journey, I’ll catch up with you in a few days.

What about you? Are you 100% rooted in your journey, or do you have questions? I’d love to have a respectful discussion about it. And seriously, if God is appearing in your morning cup of coffee, can you please post a photo pronto!? It would save me a lot of time. Like those beans, I’d finally be really grounded in Christ. (Oh shut up. I know it’s a bad joke.)

* Originally published on JoeBeam.com - a fantastic marriage restoration website