The Cone of Shame

While we were in Washington our dog Nana tore her ACL. Of course we did not know this at the time so we let her continue to run and chase squirrels, geese and anything else that caught her eye. By the time we brought her into the vet she had torn her ACL 75% and required surgery. The recovery has been much more than we anticipated and it has been a very stressful few days in our home. Though I try to tell myself and the kids that this is just a temporary deal and not our new norm, the thought of continuing as we have been for seven more weeks feels overwhelming and exhausting.
One of the things that gets me through stressful situations such as this is knowing that there will be a story or two that comes out of it. I feel it’s God’s way of “making all things work together for good” as He promises us in Romans 8:28. Though I much prefer having stories come out of fun experiences, often the ones that speak the most to others are the ones that come from the painful and stressful moments. Perhaps because they are the most relatable for in this life we shall be faced with many troubles.
As expected, Nana was sent home wearing a cone around her neck. Oh how dogs hate the cone. It completely changes their demeanor. Nana went from a happy, wild, proud puppy to a cowering, head down nervous baby. Every dog seems to react to the cone in a similar manner, which is why it is commonly referred to as The Cone of Shame by dog owners.
At first it is entertaining to see them try to navigate around the house with the cone, but after a minute or two when you see how distressing it is to them, you can’t help but feel miserable for them. You want to bring them relief from the misery. Even though it makes life inconvenient as you have to watch them the every minute to make sure they don’t start licking their wounds, you make the sacrifice because you know how desperately they need the relief. As soon as you take off the cone their disposition changes and they once again stand tall with their tails wagging and eyes that say “THANK YOU!”.
I needed a break last night so we put Nana’s cone back on. She immediately began to anxiously freak out. We tried to calm her down but she turned and walked away with her head down and tailed tucked in. It was very painful to watch and I of course caved in and removed the cone even though I knew it meant I would not sleep well that night because I would wake up every time I heard her move to make sure she wasn’t licking her wounds.
As I watched her walk with her head down and tail tucked in my heart broke as I suddenly thought of all the women in the world that walk around wearing their own cone of shame. They wear their mistakes, guilt, and shame around their necks and it chokes them and makes it impossible for them to look around and see the life God has planned for them. They go through life with their head down, trying to go unnoticed because they do not want anyone to see their shame.
The Bible is full of women that could have remained in their personal cones of shame but decided to trust in the LORD and in His words “neither do I condemn or accuse you.” Take Eve for example. She was literally kicked out of paradise as a result of the mistake her and Adam made. She could have wandered around the rest of her life with her head down bearing the shame of paradise lost. However, she understood that God still loved her. We know this because it says in Genesis 4:1 When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the LORD’s help, I have produced a man!” She knew it was God who blessed her.
Eve is the first of many scandalous women in the Bible, women that were definitely worthy of cones of shame. We have a woman who tricked her father in law into sleeping with her, a prostitute, and an adulterous- all listed in the genealogy of Jesus! I believe God did this knowing the world would be filled with women broken by their own mistakes and shame. He wanted us to know that there is nothing we can do that would ever disqualify us from not only being loved by Him, but also being used by Him.
Ladies, when Jesus hung on the cross he removed our cones of shame! He sacrificed his life, so that we may live ours to the fullest. To continue walking around with our heads hung down in shame is to say that his sacrifice was not enough and we deserve more punishment.
If you feel choked by all of the mistake sin your life I encourage you to sit at the feet of Jesus. Pour your heart out to Him and let Him remove the cone of shame you have been wearing for far too long. Not only is He willing to do it, he WANTS to do it. You can’t do it alone. No amount of good works will take it off. The only way to lose the cone is to let your Abba Father remove it. Will you sit still long enough to let him?

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of your widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.” Isaiah 54:4-5

Love, Grace, and Freedom from the Cone of Shame to You All,

Jen

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How He Loves Us

I used to think the story of Adam and Eve was one of the saddest stores in the Bible. I felt so bad for them when they got kicked out of the garden. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to go from walking and talking with God to suddenly being escorted out of the most beautiful, perfect place created just for me.
The worst part was the thought of how mad God must have been at them. After telling them the list of horrible curses that were now attached to them, I always pictured him marching them to the edge of the garden, pushing them along on their way and then watching as they sulked off, crying with their heads down, occasionally looking back to see if he was watching them and possibly changing his mind. When they would look back on him I pictured him standing stone faced with a tear running down his cheek pointing straight ahead commanding them to continue wandering in the opposite direction. It was truly a heart breaking scene.
I see this story differently now. I see it as one of the many love stories in the Bible. Not between Adam and Eve, between God and us. It is a story of redemption, protection, and grace. Let me explain.
When God came looking for Adam and Eve after they had sinned, he found them hiding in the trees, covered with fig leaves. One of the first things they realized when their eyes were opened to sin was that they were naked and for whatever reason their now “knowledgable” mind told them this was wrong and they should cover themselves. God agreed, they should be covered. However he lovingly covered them with animal skins. It was the first of many sacrifices offered in the Bible. It was the first example of the blood of Jesus covering our sin.
As I was studying this I learned that fig leaves, when broken off their tree have a horrible pungent smell, and quickly shrivel up and die which would have left them exposed quickly. It is symbolic of the way man can only hide his sin for so long and then it will be exposed. The only way mans sin is completely covered is by a perfect sacrifice, by the blood of Jesus. i now picture God looking at them in their fig leaves and feeling pity for them. I now picture him sacrificing the animals, placing the skins on Adam and Eve, stepping back and saying “There. That’s better”, as he gives them a Fatherly smile.
If He forgave them and covered their sin, why did he still kick them out of the garden? That too was an act of love. Remember way back in Genesis 2 it tells us that God made all sorts of trees and in the middle of the garden he made two special trees- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. If they would have eaten from the tree of life, they would have to live forever in this fallen state with no chance of redemption. They had already proven themselves untrustworthy by eating from the tree of knowledge, how much more desperate would they be to eat from the tree of life in hopes that they could somehow undo what they have done? The only reason God sent them out of the garden was to protect them from themselves.
I was also wrong about God no longer walking and talking with them. I know this because later in Genesis 4 when God confronts Cain after Cain kills Abel. Cain begs God not to banish him from God’s presence, which means they were all still in Gods presence. This shows us that though God could no longer walk and talk with them in the garden, he still chose to walk and talk with them where they were at.
Girls, I want you to see just how he loves us! Even in our worst moments, even when we are tangled up in sin and shame, God loves us. He lovingly reminds us that we are covered by the blood of Jesus. He never leaves us or forsakes. In the times when it feels like is has walked us to the edge of the garden and pointed for us to go in the opposite direction, is always an act of love. We may not see or feel it, and we may not understand it, but God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and when you find yourself removed from what may have seemed “perfect”, you need to trust that God is protecting you.
Maybe you find yourself identifying with Eve today. Maybe you have been trying to fix and cover up your own feelings of guilt and shame. Maybe you are asking yourself if God has given up on you and set you outside of the garden. If that describes you, please take a moment to sit at the feet of Jesus. Wherever you are at, close your eyes, take a deep breath and simply pour out your heart to God. Tell him your fears, your sin, and your shame. Tell him you want to feel his presence and protection. Let him cover you in his love. He did it for Eve, he will do it for you. In fact, it is his very favorite thing to do!

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Love, Grace, and a Day in His Presence For You All,

Jen

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Got Weeds?

The other day while I was paddle boarding I noticed that I was barely moving. This seemed odd because I was paddling on calm water and I should have been cruising right along. I turned around and saw that there were a bunch of weeds wrapped around the fin and dragging behind me like streamers. “That’s weird” I thought. I didn’t even notice I went through any weeds.

I tried backing up to see if they would fall off but they stayed put. I tried whacking at them a little bit with my paddle but all that did was knock me off balance and I almost fell off. I finally had to get down on my hands and knees and reach down and pull them off with my hands. Once free from the weeds I was able to cruise ride along and enjoy the calm water.

The same thing happens to us throughout our lives. We unknowingly pick up little weeds along the way and suddenly wonder why we are moving so slow towards our goals and dreams. The weeds come in many forms. Sometimes they are the weeds of distraction that steal our time so we are always running behind. Sometimes they are the weeds of bad habits that rob us of our health, time, or relationships. Sometimes there are people in our lives that our dragging us down and hindering our forward motion.

Whatever the weeds in our lives are, God wants to help us get rid of them. Sometimes the weeds are an easy fix. Once you realize you have the weed you can easily rid yourself of it and keep on moving like I tried to do with the paddle. All you needed was the realization that it existed in the first place.

Other weeds may take a little more time to get rid of. Sometimes you need to stop what you are doing, get down on your knees, and focus your attention on eliminating the weeds. Nobody wants to take the time to address these bigger weeds. It seems like we get behind in all the other areas of life when we have to stop to address these weeds. However, the longer we let these weeds drag along, the harder we will have to work just to barely move forward, or even remain in the same place.

There is no shame in having weeds to deal with. We all have them. There is not a single person that doesn’t have weeds they deal with in their lives. The key is to deal with them before they slow you down and prevent you from living the life you were intended to live.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight (weed) that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.-Hebrews 12:1 NLT

I was paddling with my neighbor the other day when I found myself dragging weeds again. She simply paddled over to me and said “Let me help you”. She was able to easily knock them off with her paddle and we were off cruising in no time. Sometimes the best way to get rid of weeds is with the help of another. If you are dealing with some weeds in your life and would like prayer regarding them please fill out a prayer request. You can remain anonymous.

Love, Grace, and a Weed Free Day to You All,

Jen

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Sin Radar

On the way home from the gym this morning I was praying and asking God what I should write about today. I have a million things in my heart and it’s hard for me to know where to start at times.

As I rounded the curve in the road I noticed out of the corner of my eye a sheriff car parked on the opposite side with a radar gun out. Instinctively I looked down to see how fast I was going. It’s not so much that I have a lead foot; it’s just that I wasn’t really paying attention. I was relieved to see I was only going sixty in a fifty-five and I smiled to myself and thought “Ha- you didn’t get me.”

Immediately I felt that still small voice whisper “That’s how many people feel about me.” I felt sad for a moment, as if I could actually feel how the Lord feels about his people having such a wrong perception of him.

It’s true though. I have had many conversations with both Christians and non-Christians that hold a view of God that is contrary to who He is. They picture God on the throne with a sin radar gun just waiting to nail someone. They believe God hands out sin tickets in the form of lack, disease, hardships, and suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I remember a few years ago I had a boss say to me “I have had a horrible morning. I was fighting with Kelly and then on the way here I got a huge rock chip in my windshield. I guess that is what I get for being a jerk. God isn’t going to let me get away with that.” I asked him if he seriously thought God sent the rock chip as punishment for fighting with his wife. He said yes, and he was just thankful it wasn’t a bigger rock.

I tried to tell him he was wrong and that God doesn’t deal with us that way but I could tell he wasn’t buying it. The Truth sounded too good to be true and didn’t make sense to him. It didn’t help that he was raised in a denomination that pretty much taught him things like “You better watch out, God is watching you” and “You get what you deserve.”

It was no surprise to me that he wasn’t living his life for the Lord. Why would he? Why would anyone want to serve a God that might nail them with the sin radar at any moment? After all, we all know how sinful we are- even once we are saved. We still fall short of the glory of God and we still stumble. The last thing we need on top of a failure is a ticket with a huge fine.

The truth is all of our sin tickets and all of the fines that go with them were paid in full at the cross. You may experience natural consequences from your mistakes, but rest assured they are not fines being handed down from God. Jesus was nailed to the cross so that God would no longer need to sit on the throne with his sin radar pointing at us.

God still sits on the throne watching us, but it’s no longer to nail us with a sin ticket. Look at what it says in Psalm 33:13-15, 18-9:

The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.

God knows our hearts. He knows our flaws and our failures. He knew we could never pay the fines for our sins and so he sent his only son to pay the price for us. Now he looks down on us with love and when he sees us he sees the words PAID IN FULL. There is no need to ever hand out another fine.

I pray you let the Truth of Gods grace for you sink deep into your hearts as you come to a deeper understanding of his love for you.

Grace, peace, and a paid in full day to you all,

Jen

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