What’s In A Name?

name above all names

I am bad with names. Last summer we visited our former church and I had to ask a friend her name. I think I was bright red, but I’ve learned it’s better to admit my flaw than fake it. “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember your name,” seems more appropriate than, “Hey you,” or “Good to see you, friend, uh, buddy, uh . . . person.”

It’s more embarrassing when I’m working at the library. I can’t check out books to the wrong patron, so feigning is out of the question. While there, I’ve had to confess to facebook friends I don’t recall their names.

The other day I asked a gentleman, for probably the eighth time, what his name was. I apologized for not remembering. Graciously, he stated, “That’s okay. I always tell people, ‘If you meet me and forget my name, it costs you nothing. But if you meet Jesus and forget His name, it costs you everything.’”

I loved his response for several reasons. First, it put me at ease. Second, and more importantly, he found a way to mention Jesus in a non-threatening manner. If I were not already a believer, I may have paused to consider Jesus—who He was, His purpose, and why his name is well-known.

In reality, my name is inconsequential. Jesus’ is not!

Even famous people are only talked about within certain cultures and for a minimum number of years. For example, how many Americans can name all the previous Presidents? A small percentage. And if we traveled the world and took a poll, the number who knew the names of all the U.S. Presidents would drop significantly. Yet Jesus’ name has been remembered and talked about for more than 2000 years. Why?

Not because His name is unique, but because He is unique. And His name represents His Person.
Jesus . . . Messiah.
Jesus . . . Savior.
Jesus . . . Redeemer.
Jesus . . . Emmanuel.
Jesus . . . King of Kings.
Jesus . . . Lord of Lords.

So, go ahead, forget my name and who I am. It will cost you nothing. But don’t forget Jesus’ name or who He is. It will cost you everything! And, in the midst, cordially introduce Him to others.

One last note: I have not forgotten that gentleman’s name . . . and I don’t think I will.

Advance to 40 second mark on Brian Regan video for “name” humor.

Lessons from Ann Voskamp

Lessons from Ann Voskamp

I couldn’t shake it. A pressing weight. A suffocating feeling. A sense of doom. I searched myself and found nothing. No recurring sin in need of repentance. No tragedy or trial. No unordinary change. Yet the tears flowed and the cloud hovered. I prayed. I debated antidepressants. I prayed some more.

After a few weeks, I made a phone call to an old friend. She listened and prayed. While we couldn’t pinpoint a cause, we chatted about solutions. She recommended a book entitled, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I can’t say enough about this book. The writing itself is beautiful. I felt as if I was engulfed in a sea of flowers and being led in a delicate dance, with God as my partner. She whisked me away to another world; only her elaborate descriptions were of ordinary, everyday things. A story about her boys splashing in a puddle moved me to tears. For that matter, the ornate statement of faith on her website caused me to fall to my knees. (read it here)

In the book, Voskamp describes her journey to record one thousand gifts God has given and continues to give her on a daily basis. She articulates how God changed her during the process. He transformed her thinking and outlook simply by helping her search for His gifts in the smallest details of life. “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?” (p.94)

So I took pen to paper. I opened a new leather-bound journal and stretched my writing skills to the limit. I began looking at the world around me with new lenses. My senses came alive as I purposefully sought after God’s precious gifts. I can’t say I reached one thousand (at least not in writing), but I can say something changed. Simply choosing to look for blessings helped dissipate that hovering cloud.

To read Ann Voskamp’s list you need to obtain her book (yes, do it!). But I will give you a glimpse into my journal.

  • Gift 1 – God’s Grace – without it there is no hope
  • Gift 7 – Colors – they make life more interesting and invoke various sensations
  • Gift 10 – Movement – it’s renewing and used for expression, it pulls me up into the world of the living
  • Gift 11 – Words – strung together on a page to draw me in and take me away
  • Gift 12 – Words – sung to a musical background to portray a message of hope, to bring a tear
  • Gift 13 – The Word – life breathed
  • Gift 14 – A Child’s Heart – broken for a lost world
  • Gift 19 – My sister who laughs – hard – at my ridiculous quips
  • Gift 23 – Prayer – an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life
  • Gift 26 – Five beautiful ladies + one gathered around a picnic table eager to feast at Your table – to learn from each other, laugh together and uplift each other’s souls

coffee cup

  • Gift 27 – A non-judgmental arm draped across my shoulder as the tears flow
  • Gift 28 – Truth that takes hold, penetrates, heals.
  • Gift 63 – A disposition of thankfulness even as I feel ill, sick to my stomach, and out of sorts.

Although I now only record gifts periodically, I see the world differently, better. Even today I stopped to enjoy the bouquet of deep red and yellow tulips God left for me in front of the Lutheran church. Thank you, Lord.

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10 Things You Should Know About PMS (for Men)

Confusion Meter

For ease of writing (and reading), I assume you are a husband married to a wife who possibly probably experiences PMS on a regular basis. However, this information can be applied to any and all women, such as sisters, mothers, girlfriends, etc.

1.       It’s not all in her head. It’s real.

2.       Each woman has a specific combination of symptoms unique to her. Learn to recognize your wife’s.

If you aren’t sure, ask her. But be warned, she must be approached lovingly and not during high PMS time (a term I coined to describe “the worst days”).

3.       Not all symptoms are physical. Mental and spiritual symptoms also exist.

In my last post, I encouraged women to read Lorraine Pintus’ book Jump off the Hormone Swing. If your wife isn’t a reader, it may be worth your time to skim through it for a glimpse of what she may experience.

4.       Satan will use this time of the month to mentally beat up your wife, and thus, drive a wedge between you and her.

Do not allow her frustrations or attitude to rub off on you. Listen to your wife in an understanding way and choose not to take her harsh words or actions personally. Gently guide her.

5.       This is a great time to seek God’s face.

God provides many opportunities for us to rely on Him. Ask Him the best way to love your wife during this time of the month.

6.       Let your wife cry.

Crying releases the built-up tension that may otherwise cause a fight. Tell your wife it’s okay to cry and hold her while she does so. (She doesn’t know why she’s crying; there’s no use asking.)

7.       There are things your wife can do to lighten the symptoms. Help her find what works for her. (i.e. clearing her schedule, taking a nap, taking a walk, eating less sugar and more protein . . .)

Ask your wife, “What can I do for you right now?” Or chat with your wife during a non-PMS time. Tell her you are there for her and want to help. Another tip: It may be beneficial to restrain from making any big decisions during PMS (less chance for conflict).

8.       Provide a “Stand Back 5 Feet” sign for her to wear.

Seriously, watch the calendar. Ask your wife to keep you apprised of her “schedule.” I know of one lady who marks the calendar with a star as a signal to her family.

9.       God created your wife this way for a reason.

Physical shedding of blood is necessary for new physical life just as the shedding of Jesus’ blood was necessary for new spiritual life.

10.   PMS is not fatal – you only wish it was!

Instead of looking at it as a curse, see it as a blessing! Embrace her femininity. Praise God for the miraculous way He created our bodies.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

Women: Click here to read “10 Things You Should Know About PMS (for Women).”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Things You Should Know About PMS (for Women)

1.       It’s not all in your head. It’s real.

2.       Each woman has a specific combination of symptoms unique to her. Learn to recognize yours.

I admire those ladies hardly affected by their monthly cycle. Not so with me. Almost every month “Alien Barb” arrives leaving me wondering which persona is the real me.

3.       Not all symptoms are physical. Mental and spiritual symptoms also exist.

For more information on this, I highly recommend Lorraine Pintus’ book Jump off the Hormone Swing. Click here for a link. Lorraine is an expert in PMS both researching it extensively and experiencing elevated symptoms pre-menopause. I found her book enlightening and freeing.

4.       Satan will use this time of the month to beat you up mentally.

Are others’ character flaws more irritating? Are you having a heightened number of thoughts about what a terrible wife, mother, teacher, co-worker, __________, you are? Are you more discouraged than usual because you aren’t accomplishing as much as you think you should? These thoughts may be aggravated by Satan. He knows and uses your weaknesses.

5.       This is a great time to allow God to soothe you.

For every negative thought you have, God has a spiritual truth. Search for it. PMS reminds us how dependent we are on Him and His presence. Pray and let Him comfort you.

6.       It’s okay to cry.

Crying releases the built-up tension that may otherwise cause a fight.

 7.       There are things you can do to lighten the symptoms. Figure out what works for you (i.e. clear your schedule, take a nap, take a walk, eat less sugar and more protein, etc.).

During this time of month I try not to make any life-changing decisions or have any serious discussions if at all possible. Of course, life must go on; but if you search for me, you may find me locked in my bedroom in a self-imposed “time out.”

8.       Wearing a “Stand Back 5 Feet” sign may deter others from triggering any symptoms.

Seriously, be willing to state to those you love, “Just a warning: it’s that time of month again. If I seem edgy or frustrated or easily provoked, please be understanding.”

9.       God created us this way for a reason.

Without the shedding of our blood, there can be no new physical life. Without the shedding of Jesus’ blood, there is no spiritual life. I defer to Lorraine Pintus’ book.

“As a woman, God wove into my body a sign of holy redemption. My monthly cleansing [is] an earthly picture of the spiritual cleansing of the blood of Christ. My blood [is] shed often—I [need] regular cleansing. But His blood was shed once for the cleansing of all mankind.”

10.   PMS is not fatal – you only wish it was!

Instead of looking at it as a curse, see it as a blessing! Embrace your femininity and uniqueness. Praise God for the miraculous way He created our bodies.

BONUS: PMS is not an excuse for sinning.

Men: stay tuned. My next post is “10 Things You Should Know About PMS (for Men).”

Psalm 139