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Are You Carrying a Heavy Burden?

sn-fall-orchard-roadMy sweet husband Andy has a quote as the signature of his email that states, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden” –Ian MacLaren (Pastor John Watson).

I have always loved this quote. But I loved it because it reminded me to be patient, kind and understanding; other people struggle with serious issues. Other people are hurting, and that is sad for them. I need to be kind to the stranger, even if she is rude to my kids at Trader Joe’s. I need to be patient with the old woman driving like a maniac in front of me. These people are probably carrying heavy burdens.

This week, it struck me that I am now the one carrying a heavy burden. I hear the quote differently now. It’s like a quiet request to please be patient with me. Please be gentle with me. Please try to understand. Please reach out in kindness.

It’s different when you are on the other side of the quote, the burden side. It sounds more like this:

“Be kind to me, for I am carrying a heavy burden.”

I have a story to tell. I might tell you in a book one day under a pen name, or I might write a screen play. I have to tell my story because God has called me to do it. But for now, I post this as a reminder that truly everyone is carrying a heavy burden, whether it is from today, last week, or years ago.

For those of you who also carry heavy burdens, let’s try our best to bring them to Jesus. He promises to carry them for us. But in order to let him carry it, we have to be willing to hand them over and let go of the intense desire to be in control.

This expanded quote by John Watson made me tear up today:

John Watson in 1903. Section titled “Courtesy”:

This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.

He words it so well!

Wounds from the past that have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched.

Does this resonate with any of you?

If you are going through a hard time, I recommend finding a friend to talk to today. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out.

It’s OK to be the weak one sometimes, the one with the burden.

One day your friend will need you to be there too.

And if you have a friend who is going through a hard time, ask them how they are doing. Take them to tea and listen, ask questions, give them a hug, say a prayer for them.

God’s gracious hand be over you and your house today.

I hear God telling me to act now, for time is short. To write.

“So you write it down. You write it down.”

Love,

Chelsea

And thank you God for the tears that can finally fall from my eyes. I held them in too long.

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What is Heaven Like?

My idea of heaven has changed many times.

Just the other day, my daughter told me that she thinks heaven will be all puffy white clouds. When we are children, we think of heaven as flying, jumping, and sleeping on clouds. Heaven is the sky on a beautiful, perfect day, right?

heaven-clouds

Then as we get older, we insist that heaven must be a place where our pets will be, since we lost our best animal friend, and our only hope to see them again is in heaven. Heaven must be a place where my Siamese cat Shashi is waiting to greet me again.

heaven-ocean-sky

As a teen, I feared that heaven would be an endless church service, a long religious song for all of eternity. We will be forced to sing and sing forever and ever, caught somewhere between the feathers and eyeballs of cherubim and seraphim. I remember my best friend and I admitting that if that’s what heaven was like, we didn’t really want to go.

Then, in college, I decided that in heaven I would be a professional ice skater.

heaven-beach

After I settled down with Andy, matured a bit more, and studied the Bible, I realized that there is a mansion involved, and it will be humongous. It will be the best, most perfect house ever. And God’s people will be like a bride for the groom, just elated. Heaven will be better than anything I could ever imagine, which is why my former ideas of heaven as clouds, a lost pet retrieval, and endless hymn singing were so wrong.

baby-sleeping

Then we had kids, and when we held our sleeping babies, we said, “This is what heaven is like.” And when our babies were up at night, screaming inconsolably at 3:00 in the morning, we said, “God, just take me to heaven now.”

Sometime in the past few years, my idea of heaven changed again. I read through the whole Bible, and my idea of heaven became more like a new earth but without sin; more like life now, as we know it, but a perfect life. Every single creature will live in harmony, and the weather and terrain will resemble paradise … like Hawaii.  Just remove all evil, sickness, disaster, and death from the world, and that will be heaven.

Then, as I was cleaning the bathroom one day, I thought to myself, “I would take the job of scrubbing behind all the toilets in the Lord’s house if it meant I could live with God.” Then suddenly, that became my urgent prayer. “Lord, please let me live with you in heaven. I will be the one to clean behind all the toilets.”

Finally, a week or two ago, a new prayer came to me. “Lord, every day since I’ve known you has been like heaven. Because I remember the days before I met you. I felt alone, terrified, weak, without hope, without a voice, without anyone to help me. But when you entered my heart and my life, you promised me you would never leave me. You have protected me ever since that day with your supernatural presence, and I’ve been free from fear and loneliness. I have known true love and I have experienced complete healing and restoration from everything that tried to destroy me. With you, Jesus, every day has been like heaven.”

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heaven-daughter-2

heaven-daughter-3

. . .

Heavenly Here With You, the sequel to the novel Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, is coming soon.

. . .

What is your idea of heaven? Serious, funny, or bizarre comments are welcome, as always.

Thank you for reading!

*Photos courtesy of Shannon Renee Photography and Andy Rotunno

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Towards Life or Towards Death

marisa-santiago-model

An amazing Bible professor at APU once said something in a lecture that really struck me. It went something like this: The enemy always tries to lead us toward death, and towards the things that will destroy our lives. God always wants life, and he leads us towards the things that make us more alive.

I wish I could remember his exact words, but there you have the paraphrase.

I heard these words of truth from my Bible professor at a time in my life when I was having a lot of thoughts about death. In my young adult years, before I was married, I heard the thoughts in my head almost every day:

I’d be better off dead.
My life is worthless.
No one would even care if I never existed.
They’d be better off ifjust weren’t alive.
I just wish I were dead.

I was not a super-depressed person who couldn’t function in everyday life, although sometimes I could see myself becoming that way if I wasn’t careful. Instead, I was an involved, straight-A student who enjoyed meaningful friendships and lived life to the fullest.

But I had these thoughts all the time, especially after I would get in a fight with my mom, or when I would not live up to my own expectations of myself.

I finally came to realize that I am a creature that can think about and even believe things that are not true. Not only that, but I am a creature that can hear things that do not come from my own mind or from God, but from a dark place.

If this were true, and these thoughts were false and not from God, then the world would not be better off if I were dead. My family would not be happier if I was never born. I didn’t need to die in order to solve my problems.

Lies. I could identify them as lies. Wow, I just heard a lie. That is not true. I just thought something that is not true.

In the first years of my marriage, I would hear things like this:

We are a mismatch.
We are not right together.
I’d probably be a better fit with a man like (my friend’s husband) because he is more like me.
Andy and I are too different.

Lies. For a while I listened to the lies, but soon I was able to identify them. That’s a lie. Nope, that’s a lie.

Most recently, I have been hearing things like this:

My house has to look perfect before I can invite anyone over.
I can’t go anywhere in public, I look ugly (fat and pregnant).
People probably look at me and think I’m disgusting.

Narcissistic lies.

I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a crazy person, because I do have a point. If you are having thoughts that lead you toward death, destruction, or isolation, you are free to identify them as lies, reject them, and claim the truth.

My life has value. I’m not worthless.
God has given me life for a reason.
I married my husband because he is a man of God, not because we are a perfect fit.
I am a beautiful person.
Life does have a purpose. Your life has a purpose.

Are we in danger because of the growing narcissism in our culture?

I watched a very sad video in May that you probably watched as well. It was the selfie video of the young college student who went on a shooting rampage in Santa Barbara. As I watched the video, I was freaked out because it was so creepy to see and hear a person talk about killing innocent people, but also because this young man believed the lies he was hearing in his head. He said things like,

“Humanity is a disgusting, wretched, depraved species. If I had it in my power, I would stop at nothing to reduce every single one of you to mountains of skulls, rivers of blood. You deserve to be annihilated.”

Death and destruction

and, “I have been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires. All because girls have never been attracted to me.”

A very sad conclusion.

If we allow ourselves to listen to and believe the lies that bombard us, we are in danger of destroying our own lives and possibly the lives of others.

Who has the authority to discern truth from a lie?

When Jesus was tempted for 40 days, he was bombarded with things from the devil that were partially true but not from God. Jesus knew what was completely true even when he was tempted by other things that were sort of true.

If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.
Worship me, the devil, and I will give you authority over all the kingdoms on earth.
Throw yourself from the top of the temple and God will send angels to attend you–if you are the Son of God.
(Luke 4:1-13, paraphrase)

The enemy went so far as to use scripture to try to convince Jesus to listen to his voice, worship, and obey him.

Partial truths can also be totally wrong and deceptive.

The Holy Spirit, the guidance of God and the Bible, wisdom and knowledge, and the path toward life: these are the authority by which we can identify truth from lies, right from wrong, life from death and destruction.

“There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”
2 Timothy 3:1-4

In the midst of the death and destruction we see these days, remember the life-giving truth.

Your life has value.

God has given you life for a reason

You are a beautiful person

Your life has a purpose

 

 

photo credit: marisa santiago

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