when pictures come alive

I’m in a theology class right now and we are reading through J.I. Packer’s Knowing God.  I about came unglued when I read through chapter 4 — because he started to go down a path in which he summed up that all art and all crosses and statues and whatnot are forms of idol worship.  I kept my seat-belt on long enough to read a few pages into the chapter and then momma had to take her seat-belt off and “go there.”  (who else just heard your mother in your head say “don’t make me come back there!”) 

As it turns out, Packer was just writing from a time and place with which I couldn’t necessarily connect.  He was kind of an absolutist, and I’m … SOOO not.  After our fearless and amazing teacher walked us through where he was coming from and what he meant — I understood it better and put my seat-belt back on.

As it turns out – he has a point.  We can turn just about anything into an idol that takes the place of true learning about Jesus and God.

  • the mom who checks her cell phone every 1.4 minutes for any kind of adult social connection she can get so she doesn’t go postal on her kids — maybe she should be checking her bible every 1.4 minutes
  • the Christian who plasters her house with decorative crosses but hasn’t cracked her bible since….. ?
  • the Christian who fixates on a drawn picture of Jesus <— this is a not-so-subliminal message about what’s to come in this post

Why am I even “going there” you ask?  This is why…

Last year, I attended a women’s conference and got to listen to and worship with MercyMe.  They sang The Hurt and the Healer — which was written for me.  Ok not really, but really.   You can read about my entire experience during this song, here.  In fact, please go read it before you continue.

You didn’t go read it.
Go read it.

Are you ready for this?  My amazing friend Meena captured Jesus reaching for me — she took my words and turned them into a sketch.  Here it is:

http://meenamatocha.com/

http://meenamatocha.com/

You can see what other cool things Meena has created on her website — she’s simply amazing!

So for me — this isn’t idol worship.  For me this is a moment in time when I could feel Jesus’ presence so tangibly that my mind created a picture of Him reaching for me.  This picture hangs right above my sewing station in my office — not so I can praise the picture, not so I can fixate on the idea that Meena’s interpretation is exactly what Jesus’ hand looks like…

This picture hangs where I can see it to remind me that it’s my job to stay connected to Jesus … to learn all that I can about Him so that when I am  moved by worship music, or an awesome testimony, all of those details about Him come together and move me spiritually in a way that only He can do!

So yes – I fully admit that I got all defensive when I read Packer’s words about idol worship.  I might have even stood up, banged my chest a little and hollered, “you want a piece of this?!?!”… but I can see now that it was all because Meena’s drawing means SO much to me and I was ready to go to blows with anyone who was going to try to tell me that having this drawing was wrong.

As it turns out, J. I. Packer wasn’t trying to tell me I was wrong in having this sketch.  He was trying to tell me that the sketch should always lead me to read MORE about Jesus instead of letting the sketch and that moment in worship be the end-all-be-all.  Packer is concerned that people let their faith end with the crosses on their walls — or the crucifix their grandmother’s gave them back in the day — or the picture of Jesus they saw in a book.

Ok Packer… I get it now.  And I apologize for going all chest-thump on you.

Do you have something in your possession that either keeps you stuck at a fixed point in your faith or pushes you to want to learn more about your faith?  I would LOVE to hear about it!

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quit focusing on the drought

drought-weather

I’ve been quiet for awhile now.  No blog posts and very limited Facebook posts have come from me.  That’s always a sign that something is wrong.  If Ann isn’t talking or laughing — something is very wrong!   My precious friend pointed out in a text that she was worried about me because I saw no humor in her text message …and that my friends is a sure sign that I’m in a dry place.

We had two incredibly rough months – November and December.

  • 4 illnesses
  • 4 ER visits (one of which was out of state)
  • 1 puke virus in the middle of nowhere, Arkansas
  • 1 car accident and all the associated fees
  • 1 rental car and all the associated fees
  • multiple migraine headaches
  • a cracked windshield on the OTHER car
  • the heat went out (which is actually a hilarious story for another time)
  • Dallas had an ice storm = brutal body pain when that sucker moved in
  • and oh — Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas … er something like that

Here’s the deal, y’all… none of these things killed us, maimed us, bankrupt us, or caused us to hate each other.  But the final straw for me was the stomach bug in the middle of nowhere Arkansas.   Remember in the Looney Toons cartoons when that one feather would dance so elegantly on-top of the TNT handle and then BOOM — Wiley Coyote was toast! It was sort of like that for me.

Dude.  I was dry.  I had nothing left to give myself, my family, or my friends.  No laughter.  LOTS of sarcasm (and probably a little cussing if I’m going to be honest here), and a pretty constant stream of … well … self-pity.

Where was God in all this you ask?
Well, had I kept Him at the forefront of my mind I don’t think TNT even would have been in the picture, quite frankly.   Know what I mean?

Here’s where I went terribly wrong…
I stopped making time to pray, to read from my bible or devotionals, and I kept thinking to myself, “well, now we have had 3 things happen – so nothing else will…. ok, now there have been 4, so we are good… um, make that 5… 6… OH FORGET IT!”  I put myself in the dry place.  I did it to myself, y’all!

God never promised that we wouldn’t go through hard times.  So what in the world made me think that I was exempt from them?  Especially after a set number of problems… “Ann Skaehill, you’re next… let’s see… you’ve had 1,2,3,4,5,6… oh, you’re good.  No more problems for you.  NEXT!”  That’s SO ridiculous!  But I thought it.  I really did.

I love these verses from the book of Jeremiah:

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,

   with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

I am such a visual person that I can SEE this picture — I can SEE the tree planted by the water.  I can SEE the roots reaching with all they have to get to that water.  I can SEE their carefree nature because they aren’t concerned about the drought.

And I can SEE that I did not do that when I needed to the most.  I just sat there and withered.  Every now and then someone would try to show me some water and I turned my nose up at it.

After identifying my droughtiness, I signed up for a class through my church where we are really digging into hymns and the stories behind them.  Our precious leader, Gwen, opened with a sweet prayer that felt like a BUCKET of living water was dumped over my head.

Now I can’t get enough.  I can’t get enough hymns and prayer and reading from our class book.  I can’t get enough joy and enough laughter and peace.  I don’t want the hydration to stop so I am going to plant myself next to the living water.  I’m digging in.  Yo, I was thirsty, people!

If you’re focused on your drought and you’re pushing everyone away, please please please stop and ask yourself how that’s working for you.  Because I have a feeling you’re pretty stinkin’ thirsty right now.   Get your rear up and get to that water.  Call a friend so he or she can drag you there if need-be.

 

alittleTOOMUCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often times I feel like I have too much going on in my life — too many hurts, too many stressors, too many things on my list that need to get done, too many errands to run, too many people to call, too many emails to respond to — it all feels like too much.  

And then your typical Christian would tell you to pick up your bible and read God’s Word, or go to church, or a typical Catholic would tell you to pray through the rosary.  And for crying out loud, don’t let anyone see that you’re struggling because — you’re a Christian and you’re supposed to have it all together!  Slap a Christian fish on the back of your car and make us look good!

Really?
Because if that’s the case, then maybe this “Christian” gig isn’t for me.
I NEVER have it all together!

We hear people say things like “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” – but I disagree with that.  I think LIFE will give us a ton more than we can handle, and God is just waiting waiting waiting for us to run to Him and say “Take this!!!! ALL of this!  Calm me down, God because I’m about to completely FREAK OUT over here!”  I don’t believe that God is sitting in the heavens like someone who is getting cream poured into his coffee just waiting to say “woah” when it’s just the right amount.

I think it’s our responsibility to notice when it’s too much for us – and then do something about it.  You know what your too much feels like. Maybe you’re feeling it right now and you’re “escaping” from your too much by scrolling through Twitter or Facebook.  You’re going to the wrong place – I know because I do it too.  (but feel free to finish reading before you close your browser tab!)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

The Bible overwhelms me – I don’t know where to start on my own.  So instead I go to some of my favorite Christian blogs or read my favorite devotional, or even read another chapter in a book that is helping me grow through some of my personal issues.  (see a list of my favorite resources at the bottom of this post)  When one of those resources touches on a passage in scripture that hits me right between the eyes, THEN I go to my bible and I dig deeper.  I read the footnotes.  I read the correlating passages that are written in the margins.  And then I close my eyes and pray.  

My prayers aren’t going to sound like your prayers.
My faith isn’t going to move and breathe like your faith.

My learning isn’t going to mirror your learning.

In the passage from Matthew listed above, Jesus talks about His yoke being easy.  I learned from Jen Hatmaker at the #reckless2013 conference that “yoke” is a term that means “specific ways or methods.”  The religious leaders were all bent out of shape about praying this way or that way, don’t hang out with the sinful people, do this, don’t do that. When disciples of rabbi’s literally followed and mirrored the rabbi, the specific things that rabbi did were called his yoke.  Hello!!!!  TOO MUCH!  It’s like trying to learn a complicated line dance for someone with no rhythm… it’s just too much.

Jesus says, “my yoke is easy” — oh thank God… literally.
“…and my burden is light” — good because I have enough burdens already!

The bottom line is that it’s your responsibility to go to God.  He is there waiting for you.  The way you go to God doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s way, or sound like everyone else’s sounds.  And following Jesus isn’t complicated. No training is required, you can just jump right in.  Following Jesus isn’t too much, it’s the RELIEF from the too much that you have everywhere else in your life.

And for the record, a Christian fish on the back of the car tells me that person knows he is a sinner and that he isn’t perfect. He knows he has to RUN to Jesus because that’s where the burden is light and I’m totally down with that way of thinking.  

Give me all your burdens… um, GO FISH!
Go Fish or Go Home!
I once saw an ichthys bumper sticker THIS BIG!

… I know …. too much.

Ann’s favorite resources:

  1. Devotionals:
    1. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
    2. UpWords by Max Lucado
    3. Verse of the Day at biblegateway.com
  2. Blogs:
    1. P31 Ministries
    2. Jen Hatmaker
    3. God Dots by Anne Watson
    4. Chronic Illness & Pain
  3. Books:
    1. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
    2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
    3. Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado
    4. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
    5. The Book of God by Walter Wangerin

chunkin’ my flashlight like I chunked punkins’

In the past 7 years, the hardest Christian concept for me to grasp has been understanding how to give God the glory and remain humble.

I’m a do-er by nature.  I don’t sit still very well.  I’m also very transparent; I don’t have much to hide.  And the things I “hide” from people are just things that would gross them out or things I know not everyone can appreciate.

I thought being humble meant I could never talk about the cool things happening all around me and in me! I learned a hard lesson in separating the definitions of bragging and letting God have the glory… uh multiple times actually.  I think it’s perfectly biblical to help others.  And I also think it’s completely against biblical teaching to let your good deeds shine for all to see.  I think that’s bragging.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  – Matthew 5:16

“Um Ann, you just contradicted yourself.”
“Actually, no.  I didn’t.”
(pretend conversation between you and me, in case you were wondering)

Jesus says to let our LIGHT shine so that they may see our good deeds – the good deeds that are meant to glorify God, not ourselves.  I have come to understand that when Jesus is IN me, I am the light of the world.  When I am not representing Jesus and glorifying God (AKA bragging), I am like one of those cheap little flashlights that you have to smack on the side to fire up the puny little light bulb.   I admit it, sometimes I need a good smack on the side of the head.

I tried on humility like you try on 15 pairs of jeans before you find the ones that fit right.  Each time I failed and I could feel myself wanting to brag.  The desire to brag never went away.  But this weekend was different.

Our church hosts an incredibly cool fall picnic each year called Punkin’ Chunkin’, and I had the pleasure of co-leading it for the second year in a row.   The event was to be held on Sunday afternoon.  Now, if you’ve ever planned a party you know that the planning and purchasing starts months in advance.  Hosting a church picnic is no different.  The set-up we did on Sunday was like putting the last few pieces into a puzzle… it was almost complete.

And then it started to mist.  And rained.  And misted.  And it was super cloudy outside.

I couldn’t stop praying, in fact I think I might have been begging in there at some point.  “God, this picnic is for your people to celebrate all you have done, PLEASE take the rain away!  I don’t need sun or anything drastic, just no more moisture!  Please bless our efforts to spend this kingdom money wisely, bless our time spent planning so that your children can embrace joy and community for three hours today! Let people see a great example of a healthy and non-judgmental Christian community here on the land you have given to us!

One of the families that was helping us set up in the rain had a precious 7 year old girl and her prayer was this, “God, please stop the rain.”  I saw her resting her elbows on a pumpkin, praying for God to stop that rain.  And you know what?  He did.  Not a drop fell on us at our event.

So in the end, when people were congratulating us on a job well done guess what happened?  I knew it wasn’t all me, or all my co-leader, or all the volunteers… I completely felt 100% secure giving God the credit.  Through Him we had multitudes of people wanting to serve.  Through Him we had joy and safety and blessings.  It was for Him, and through Him, that the picnic was a successful event.

And yes, I let my light shine for all to see.
No, I did not let my good deed shine for all to see.

And in reference to the C.S. Lewis quote above, I was able to accept the compliments and the thanks from people for a job well done because it was indeed a lot of hard work and planning.  However, I was very quick to make sure that my thanks led to God getting the spotlight.

And guess what?
It wasn’t hard.
Because my heart is finally in the right place.
And my cheap flashlight is in the trash where it belongs.

 

where I saw Jesus

I went to a Women’s Conference this weekend and I experienced something I have never ever experienced before.  I saw Jesus.

There were 12,000 women all singing praises to the Lord, and I closed my eyes and suddenly it was as though it was just me and the band in the room.  Just us.  Alone.  I wasn’t aware of any other voices around me.  No one else breathing or clapping or stomping or anything.

MercyMe was the band.
They were singing “Hurt and the Healer” which happens to be my #1 go-to song on the days that my pain is eating through my patience with teeth like piranhas.  And then we got to the lyrics that make me reach for Jesus every… single… time.

“Breathe.
Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do.
With pain so deep that I can hardly move.
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on you.
Lord take hold and pull me through.”

And that’s where I met Jesus.  And then the following happened within my soul.  It was so real and so close that I could barely breathe – but not in a bad way…. does that even make sense?

I wish I could draw this for you — I’m going to reach out to a friend of mine who is an amazing artist and see if I can describe to her what I saw.  Until then, I pray my words help you realize that He is reaching for YOU too.

__________________________________________________

Jesus is reaching for me
I can see His face
His hair covers his right eye
Sweat drips from his brow
His right arm reaches over the edge of the heavens
He is reaching for ME!

His muscles are tensed up
He wants me so bad
Yet He only whispers
He never yells

Everything is in black and white
The colors of heaven must be too great
for the limitations of my imagination

I am standing up on my toes
I am jumping up and down
I reach until the tendons in my arms hurt
and I have tears running down my face

I want you too, Jesus!

He is looking right at me.
He wants me. Me!
He doesn’t care about my past.
It’s all forgiven.
Redeemed.
Wiped clean.
White as snow.

I see you, Jesus!
I hear you whispering my name!
I will never stop trying to reach you!

“You already have me.” He whispers.
“But you often forget
that I am with you.
I’m alive … In you.

“Never stop looking for Me
Acknowledge Me.
Call my Name.
Reach for me.
Always.”

My tears drip down my chin.
They stain my shirt.

“Always, Jesus.
I will always reach for you!
Thank you for being there,
even when I forget to look for you.”

don’t be a copycat…foo!

photo (13)

If Mr. T could sum up this bible verse, this is how I think he would say it,

“Don’t be a copycat, yo! I pitty the foo who doesn’t use what God gave ‘um!  Don’t be lookin’ at whut yo neighbor’s got – look at what YOU got!”

If Mr. T ever returns my calls, I’ll let you know for sure how he interprets this scripture passage.  But since he has like 27 body guards and a pit bull, I’m guessing he isn’t interested in chillaxin with me.  It’s cool.  I don’t need Mr. T, I already have peeps! (this is another perfect example of my sweet husband shaking his head and wondering if he should laugh… or run.)

When I read this verse is makes me cringe — which typically means there’s something I’m doing wrong or there’s something that I know I could be doing better.  Here are the top 3 ways I interpret this verse and see myself screwing it up:

1. BUY IT: Ads are everywhere.  Even on people’s clothes.  Buy this!  Feel GREAT about yourself and buy yourself this new pair of jeans … because you’re worth it!  This technology will make your life so much better!  Don’t miss this show, everyone is talking about it!  Buy your kids this expensive brand of athletic clothes – even Pro Athletes are wearing this stuff!

    • “Don’t copy the customs and behaviors of this world…” —> riiiiiiiight.  So, don’t buy a new car when mine starts to smell like a tween boy (and all of this little friends too)?  Don’t go get those jeans with the bling on the pockets so I look like every other cute mom in town?  Don’t get my TEN year old son an iPhone even though his entire middle school is filled with kids who have iPhones, iPads and everything else?  Sigh.  But…… I don’t want to be WEIRD!
    • Are you a Christian?  Yeah – you’re going to be weird not simply because of what you believe, but because of how your beliefs are telling you to live.  Tithe 10% of your income.  Give until it hurts, and then keep giving.  Feed the hungry.  Serve the poor.  Love your neighbor (yeah, the weird dude with tats and a Mohawk).
    • So are you doing these things or are you copying the customs and behaviors of this world?  I know… I have work to do too.

2. EVERYONE thinks this way!: I am completely disappointed in myself because I am about to do exactly what I said I would NEVER do when I was 13.  I’m about to quote my mother.  Can we have a moment of silence please?……  Thank you.  My mom used to say, “Why would you ever want to be like everyone else?”  Dangit.  She’s right.  Clearly with this demented sense of humor, God never created me to be like everyone else anyway.  Do all your friends say, “I’ll pray for you” but they probably never do?  Do they judge the moms who aren’t blinged out and talk trash about them behind their backs?  Do they talk about “that kid” and shelter their kids from her instead of being the weird one and trying to reach out to her parents?

    • “Let God transform you by changing the way you think…” —> But I like how I think.  It has worked for me for all these years, so why change now?  Has it?  Really?  You never feel guilty after you gossip?  You never wonder what the frumpy mom is really like?  You’re proud of teaching your kids that they are better than everyone else because they “never” have behavior issues?
    • Are you a Christian? We already discovered that you’re going to be weird – so deal with it so we can move on.  I’m waiting….. DEAL!   Ok, I can see it’s going to take awhile for that to sink in so let’s just keep going.  When you change the way you think, and what you deem important in your heart, your behavior will instinctively follow.  If you’re a Christian you should be constantly picking apart the things that Jesus said … why?  Because you’re a FOLLOWER of Jesus Christ!  If you follow Katy Perry, you know everything about her —- right?!?!  So why don’t you give Jesus that same amount of attention???  He tells us how to live by God’s life rules, but it’s up to us to let those rules change the way we think.

3. If only I could see God’s plans!:  I’m so sick of everything going wrong!  What is God up to?  Why is this happening?  Why can’t my husband find a job?  Why does my kid have ADHD?  Why…. why…. WHY?!?!?!

    • “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” —> FINALLY, I can know God’s will for me!  It’s about time.  Wait, what?  I don’t get to see the whole plan? Well that’s not very good, or pleasing — and it’s far from perfect.
    • Are you a Christian? Reading the bible and going to church aren’t going to solve all your problems… but here’s what will happen.  The way you think is going to change.  You won’t be able to help it.  Jesus will be seeping into your soul like a gentle rain over dry, cracked soil.  And here’s where the good happens — you feel His presence.  And then the pleasing happens —- you learn to shush it up so you can hear when He whispers to you.  And then the perfect happens — you obey and find that He loves you so much that you can hardly believe how much He loves you.

And then … all the customs of this world?  They don’t matter to you anymore. The blingy jeans?  You could care less.  That frumpy mom?  You hear God calling you to talk to her and find out what’s happening in her life.

It’s not about what you wear, what you have, where you live or what you drive…  it’s about who you know and who you follow and who you are striving to become.

I know Jesus.
And that’s who I choose to follow.

there’s doo-doo on my cape

photo

It’s not easy to keep healthy boundaries when you’re a healthy human being, statistically speaking.  It is 200 times harder (remember, I never exaggerate… ever) to have healthy boundaries when your physical abilities are already compromised.

If you’re a Christian and you study scripture often you already know that we aren’t supposed to judge others; it’s not our job to judge.  But, we do it anyway.  Often.  Need examples?  No problem…

  • we think that overweight lady is just lazy
  • we think the mother in the grocery store just isn’t a strong parent because her toddler is freaking out and cleaning the floor with his shirt and his tears
  • we think the guy who always cancels has messed up priorities
  • we think homeless people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job
  • we think that brand new teenage driver has no business being on the road

I can give you a million and two scenarios and legit reasons why all of these judgments are grossly inaccurate, but I won’t – because I bet you can come up with a list all on your own.

Our judgement of others is detrimental to our own self-worth.  Perhaps I have unrealistic boundaries and I try to do, do, do, do, do (and usually doo-doo on others in the process) because I have a nasty habit of judging others who DON’T “do.”

I would like to apologize in advance for letting you into my brain so you can see my thought process.  This always frightens my husband and he feels like he needs a helmet before we open the doors.

  1. I would love to be part of this cool new ministry at church, I’ll sign up for it especially since no one else is. I mean SOMEONE needs to help it get off the ground!
  2. The school needs parents to help sell ice cream on Thursdays?  YES – I am absolutely going to be there for my kiddo’s school, he will be so glad to see me every week!  Wait, where the heck are the other moms?
  3. I can’t believe no one else is signing up for this ministry!  I can’t do all this on my own, where is everyone? Being lazy and sleeping in? Playing tennis and golf???
  4. That mom I sell ice cream with is a total flake, she never shows up on time and she’s a complete mess when she does show up!
  5. I know honey, we need milk… and bread, and meat, and fruit… and toilet paper… but I’m SO busy serving others that I can’t actually serve my own family.
  6. Our neighbor is having surgery next week so I am going to take them a meal.
  7. I don’t have time to make a meal for my neighbor, I’ll get just them pizza.
  8. Man, I am exhausted – I don’t have time to go to the gym… I need to find a quick fix to get this weight off, then I’ll get back to the gym.
  9. “Yes, I read scripture every day!” <—- flat out lie, I don’t have time for that!
  10. Son, can you just NOT NEED ME for 10 minutes?  Do your homework on your own!  GEEZ, I already passed 4th grade, your turn!  Quit being so selfish.
  11. I just need to get away, I’m completely stressed out and I can’t handle all this anymore!  And you know what, dear husband?  YOU are perfectly capable of stopping at the grocery store too!  Seriously, can’t you see that if I don’t show up to sell ice cream that NO ONE WILL?  All the other moms are so selfish with their time.  If I don’t do it, ,NO ONE WILL!

WOAH Nelly.
Just…. woah.

I put my most important priorities last, and filled my schedule with things that were not absolutely necessary because I think I am superwoman and can save the day.  And in the end, I burnt myself out, I bad mouthed other people, and I dropped the ball on multiple responsibilities… and I did it ALL BECAUSE I let my judgement of others dictate how I was going to prioritize my own schedule.

I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t THAT important.  

If you don’t sell ice cream at the school, someone else will.  Or God forbid, they don’t have ice cream one Thursday.  I think our children will all survive.

Maybe I am afraid to say no because of the fear that people will call me lazy, or call me a flake, or un-involved, or selfish — or any of the other words I use to describe others.  It pretty much came back to bite me in the …. donkey.  I really don’t believe those things about my family – but stress jades my judgement and my capacity to love with my words and actions.

So yes, I can do anything…. but if I am doing them all for the wrong reasons then I’m going to burn myself out.

I can’t do everything … especially if I am a martyr donning a superwoman cape, expecting others to thank me for saving the day since everyone else was too lazy to step in to help.

In the process I completely doo-doo’d all over my own family — the people I love the most.  And I doo-doo’d all over my reputation as a Christian — you know, a Christian? Someone who is supposed to “Love God, and love others.”

Does that sting a little?
youbetcha

First up … change my attitude and see people the way Jesus see’s people.
Second … priority check. God first (that includes reading scripture), then family, and then everything else.
and Last … lose the cape…. it has doo-doo all over it anyway.