The Power Of A Father

  Behind the lens of a camera, I am more aware of the story that's unfolding around me. The smells, the conversations, and the laughter are all more heightened as I watch through my not-so-secret hideout. I'm the audience surrounded by actors and I watch through a small tunnel that captures their parts now and then.   Oftentimes, a scene will take my breath away and an immediate verse comes to mind. It's true that I once had "daddy issues" – as the daughter of an alcoholic who surfaced now and then during my childhood, I longed to be the "apple" of a father's eye.  I longed to have strong arms twirl me around in those pretty dresses little girls wear and I desired a father who would make jokes about cleaning his gun before first dates. When I met the Daddy who had been present all along when I was 27 years old, I began the work of healing through the "earthly father" stuff. But good "fathering" still has the power to stop me in my tracks and take notice. Do our men realize the power they possess?  Do they know how one word can communicate their acceptance or rejection of ones who so longingly desire their approval? Do they understand how an hour trip for ice cream makes memories that will never be forgotten? In her book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Dr. Meg Meeker indicates that girls raised in a home without a father or one that is absent in some way (emotionally, physically, spiritually) have a higher rate of eating disorders, drug use, and promiscuous behavior. They're...

When We Lose But Really Win

“Mommy, will I always win?” he asks, with a glimmer of wonder blanketing his eyes. “No, you won’t always win. You will sometimes lose and really, Spencer, it’s a good thing to lose,” I answer He chews on this a moment but I can see he’s still not connecting the dots in his four year old brain. “Why is it good to sometimes lose?” he wonders out-loud, sure that his old mom won’t have a good answer for this. And I don’t. But apparently, God does. Without even thinking, I reply. “Because it’s only when we lose that we learn more about God and more about ourselves so really, in the end, we win. And when we lose, it also makes the times when we win that much more fun. Does this make sense to you?” More pondering. Just when I think he hasn’t heard me and I’ve spoken over his realm of understanding, he quietly answers, “Yes.” And there in my kitchen, on a Sunday afternoon as I unload the dishwasher, Jesus speaks to me yet again through my children. Sometimes we are going to lose. Sometimes things aren’t going to go the way we want them to go and we wither in defeat, certain that God couldn’t be on our side. But in the fire of the Refiner, those who enter in humility will never exit a loser. Ever.  In this case, we all get a trophy. Regardless of where we walk in our day-to-day, regardless of the trials we must consciously choose to overcome through His strength, regardless of how unfair we think it all can...

10 Bible Verses I Want My Children To Know

I look into their faces and hear their melodious laughter and they make me swoon. I want more than the world for them.  I want the eternal world for them. And I jolt back to my own experiences and reality.  The hurts from other women. The pain from a divorce that happened before these babies were even born.  The consequences of bad choices that are always forgiven but can still haunt me on the days I forget who I am in Him. I realize at this moment when the innocent and authentic collide, that I can't keep them in a bubble. They're going to be hurt by other women.  They will make bad choices.  I pray from the depths of my soul they don't experience divorce—but they might. Much will change as they grow older and unfortunately, it's inevitable that the innocence will begin to chip away. But what won't change?  His truths.  He was and is and is to come.  He's the same.  Always. The comfort this brings me is overwhelming. So while I believe ALL of scripture is sacred and God-breathed, there are some verses I want my kids to have memorized before they leave my nest. Ten Bible Verses I Want My Children To Know 1.  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." – Hebrews 13:5 2.  For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are...

Because Jesus Never Ends

  It was over before I was able to really drink it in, to relish in the squeals of delight and impress the memory of joy-filled dimples and too-many-to-count twinkles in their eyes. For six weeks I had planned get-togethers, office gifts for my husband's staff, gifts for extended family and, of course, presents for my three young children and husband. We are quite aware that the season is about Jesus. In fact, we do what we do each year because we love Him. The packages were arranged under the tree after the chidren went to bed on Christmas Eve, anxiously awaiting the small hands that would rip them open and delight in what's inside.  By the next morning, it took all of 20 minutes, at the most, to open each one. Suddenly, it was over. What took me weeks to complete was finished in just twenty short minutes. In the mere blink of an eye. I enjoyed each of those twenty minutes, of course, and I was reminded of the joy I feel when I give to those I love the most. But it always seems so anti-climatic. Perhaps that is how many of the great artists feel when they complete a masterpiece. The time had been spent. The work was done. And it was over. As I reflected on this twelve hours later when I had a moment to sit down and quiet my soul, I was thankful for so much. Particularly for the fact that though we celebrate the birth of His Son at this time of the year, He doesn't change. He is the same...

Loving Difficult People “Jesus-Style”

It's dry here in the Midwest and watering our garden and flowers has been an absolute each day. We planted pumpkins for the first time this year (!) and admittedly, I had forgotten about them. They're on the other side of my husband's "man cave," hidden from everyday view but thirsty for water. When I rounded the corner, I was greeted by a patch of prickly weeds – ones that required gloves if I ever hoped to uproot their menacing stalks. Gloves retrieved, I begin to pull on the upper half of the stalk.  Immediately, I feel the thorns even through the thickness of suede gardening gloves. What I could plainly see upon first glance was nothing but thorns.  Tiny needles that hurt and wound. Reaching down to the lower part of the weed, I discover that the "soul" of the weed was much smoother. The thorns were not as sharp.  There was actually a patch of smooth and I pulled that sucker out of the ground, cursing Eve a bit for eating the apple that left the consequence of thorns and thistles. My mind jumps to difficult people.  Those who are tough to love.  Those who I must force myself to react to in kindness.  Those who are so wounded they only feel better when they wound others. Only then will someone hurt as much as they do. Their thorns are visible and their guffaws and antics usually make me put up my shield.  I want nothing to do with them because, let's face it, who needs more negativity in their lives? But what if Jesus had said...

Disabled By The Flesh

Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange “Mama, why is that man in that chair with those wheels?” His four year old voice questions, black eyes wide and lashes extending past his eyebrows. “Something has happened to him that has made him not be able to walk – he might have had an accident where his legs were hurt or maybe that’s just how he was made,” I answer. “Will he get better?” He wonders with the same concerned eyes. “I’m not sure, bud.  God can do anything but for now, he’s disabled,” I reply. “What’s disabled, mama?” He questions while adjusting the light saber in his belt. “It’s when there’s something that holds you back in some way – like not being able to walk, or not being able to hear, or not being able to see,” I answer as I watch his mind consider this. “Are we disabled?” he questions innocently.  A heavily-loaded question. I pause to consider.  How do I answer this? His words guide me to the thought that we are indeed disabled, though admittedly I have never considered myself to be so. We are disabled by the flesh. The pesky, dark, fickle flesh that makes us human.  The condition that leads to mean-spirited thoughts.  Or careless words.  Or selfish greed. The list could continue. This condition was born quite a while ago in a beautiful garden inhabited by two perfect people who chose to disobey their God. Its epidemic started when those perfect people ate a forbidden fruit and suddenly neither of them were perfect anymore.  Sin was birthed into the world. And it’s plagued us...

You Are His

“…Fear not, for I have redeemed you;    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters,    I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,    they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire,    you will not be burned;    the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD, your God,    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…; -Isaiah 43:1-3 More often than I care to admit, I forget whose I really am. I listen to the lies.  I let the spirit of comparison creep in and threaten to take down every ounce of who I am.  I allow doubts to invade my thoughts that are self-defeating and joyless and I  can so easily downward spiral from there. Because, in a nutshell, I’ve forgotten whose I am and instead, I choose to believe the lies of who doesn’t have me. I’m married to Jesus with skin (OK, he’s not that perfect but he’s close) and he’s a man who is hungry for God and yet – this has been a tough year for our marriage.  Married seven years this past summer, we have felt the stereotypical “seven year itch” that our world is so fond of labeling. This passing through the waters and rivers and walking through the fire has shaped and molded us both to be more like His Son for which I am certainly grateful. But can I just state for the record that I don’t really love to be pruned?  Of course, while I wouldn’t choose to do it again, I know...

Giving The Gift Of Grace – To Ourselves

Like many, each December I begin to pray for God to reveal the one word that will be my focus for the upcoming new year. My word from 2011 was “obedience” and that one little word grew me in ways I never saw coming.  For example, pride and humility are the twin sons of obedience.  Without the absence of one (pride) and the presence of the other (humility), obedience is impossible.  So in choosing that one word, God took me through others to get to where He wanted me to go. Through this process, He pruned me of several branches that weren’t bearing fruit. While it was painful at times, the result is worth it.  I needed to rid myself of those branches and now I feel that I can bear more fruit for His kingdom through the lessons he taught while I  focused on obedience. But this year I felt Him leading me to the word “self-control.”  I read somewhere that “self-control” is listed last in the fruits of the spirit because without the other eight (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and gentleness), it’s almost impossible to consistently achieve self-control. Wonderful.  Yet another word with others that go along with it. And yet, I’m beginning to see that EVERY word I could have chosen is like this.  One of my friends chose “Love” as her word for this year.  Can we fully love without humility and kindness?  Without possessing a servant’s heart? Another one of my friends has chosen the word “trust.”  Trust is great friends with faithfulness and obedience. All of these words, these traits...

Process Not Product: The Journey Of A Bloom

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin The chrysanthemums that began to sprout last spring were just starting to reveal small buds that held the promise of a bright new bloom and we were dying from the anticipation of it all. We couldn’t remember – did we plant yellow?  Orange?  Red?  A variety?  It was one big surprise and my brood of three young children couldn’t wait to see the explosion of color. Enjoying an unseasonably warm October afternoon, we played outside and milked the weather for all it was worth, knowing that in February we would long for a day just like today. Samuel, in all of the determination of a curious four year old boy,  walked over to one of the plants and began to examine the tight bud of what looked to be a yellow chrysanthemum. “Mama, WHY hasn’t this thing bloomed yet?” He pressed, somewhat irritated with the tardiness of it all. “It’s just not ready, Samuel.  God knows when the right time will be and it’s not now but I can tell it will be soon,” I answered. Pause.  Contemplation. He began to open the small bud in an attempt to force it out of its shell hoping that it would pop out and leave a colorful bloom in its place. “Buddy, you can’t force a flower to bloom. You’ll kill the bud and then it will never bloom.  It will only bloom in its own time – it’s just not something you can force,”...

A Renewing Of The Mind

It’s official.  Pigs have flown. God’s been working on me for a while on this issue – ahem, pardon the pun. It’s time to discontinue my subscription to a certain weekly, glossy magazine I’ve loved for a good long while. Now this may not sound like earth-shattering news until you realize the relationship I once had with this magazine. As a subscriber, there was a time when I was devastated if it didn’t arrive in my mailbox on Friday afternoon.  I might have called to complain if it was delivered any later than Saturday.  I also might have needed to get a life and reprioritize a bit… Sadly enough, I vividly remember a time six years ago when my nine-months-pregnant-self was lying on the bed of our first home beached-whale style with feet propped high on a pillow and pouting because it had not arrived when it should have. As any good husband would do with a wife about to give birth any second, he promptly “went out for a few things” and returned with the current issue even though it would be delivered to my doorstep two days later. Idolatry, much? Recently, as I’ve leafed through the colorful, glossy pages of who’s dating who and who’s wearing what, I found that truthfully, I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care if Angelina and Brad were considering marriage.  I didn’t care if Kim Karadashian signed a major TV deal.  And I certainly didn’t care if the “celebrity du jour” was out nightclubbing with another young starlet. I also might need to mention that it’s not personal – it’s certainly...