Worth

Lemonade Sitting on Arm RestRecently I began a Bible study with my oldest daughter and a few of her friends. At our first meeting all I had were Bibles and notebooks for the girls, but no Bible study book or even a topic.
My prayer going into this study was that God would reveal what these girls most need to build their faith, to understand that they are daughters of the King, and what it means to have God as their Heavenly Father
After our breakfast of pancakes, we took our PJ clad selves to the sofa. I began by saying, “I’d like this study to be more than just about the length of your skirts and dealing with boys. I’d like to really grapple with Scripture together. I’d like to grow in our faith together. So what do y’all want to study?”
Their answers blessed me. They said they wanted to understand
• Trust because they struggle with it
• What it means to be a quiet and gentle spirit.
• Modesty – not clothing but how it relates to their hearts
• Respect for themselves and others
• Words and how we handle our mouths being a reflection of what is in our hearts.
• Value – They asked about measuring their value…weren’t they worth something?
YES!!!
Aren’t we all trying to determine our worth?
As I begin to ponder our value in God’s eyes, I’m astounded how loved we are. I know I shouldn’t be…really, because I know the God I serve and love, but I am nonetheless taken aback by His tremendous love for me.
Today I kept thinking about the fact that God knows my name. The Creator of the universe, the Maker of all things, knows my name by heart. It is written on the palm of His hand.
Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:15-16
Not only does He know my name, He knows the number of hairs on my head…even as they collect on my shower floor.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30
He knows everything…absolutely everything…about me and loves me still.
The amazing fact that Jesus was willing to die for me while I was still a lost sinner is enough to confirm to me I’m valuable. Worth enough to die for.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
The conversations I’ve had with these precious girls has revealed a deep need in their hearts for real answers…for the ability to ask deep questions and seek difficult but honest answers. Each girl comes from a different life experience and situation. Each girl is different in her personality, her approach, and her needs. I’m ready for that. God has softened my heart through adversity. I understand more what it means to suffer, what it means to doubt, and what it means to struggle. I also understand the beauty of peace in the midst of challenges, joy in the midst of suffering, and hope in the midst of heartbreak.
My prayer is that God will speak through me…that He will open their hearts to the healing and hope that only Christ can offer. I’m so flawed…my poor daughter knows that intimately…and such a mess. Yesterday was our third meeting and my youngest daughters were just plain awful. I ended up dealing with them upstairs while the teenage girls waited downstairs. I was in tears…mostly frustrated and sad that my hopes for the morning were quickly deteriorating into a mess. But as is always the case, God redeemed the time. They were gracious as I tried to pull things together.
Again, I was reminded that, no matter what, God has the situation under His control. It might look terribly chaotic and hopeless to me, but some way or another He always makes delicious lemonade out of my lemons. Maybe that will be what I offer for drinks next time…lemonade to remind me to share that God does indeed always make good out of the difficult.
I’m honored to be able to go on this journey with these girls. How blessed to know that the waters run deep in their hearts. That they desire deeper knowledge and deeper faith. I’m excited to dive deep into the Word and into their worlds. I pray God will speak through me. That these girls will understand that they are worth far more than any costly jewel, that they are precious, and the apple of their Father’s eye.
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings… Psalm 17:7-8
And I’m thankful that as I seek out answers to their questions, God will be revealing Himself to me as my Husband and Father as well.

For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. Isaiah 54:5

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Ducks in a Row? Nope…not even in the same pond.

little duck

You know that old saying about getting your ducks in a row? My ducks aren’t in a row…in fact, I’m sure my ducks aren’t even in the same pond.
I really want them to be…at least in the same pond. Golly, I don’t care about lines. I was never particularly fond of staying in the lines anyway.
But as a single mama I think I might need some lines drawn…some boundaries established.
Lately I’m recognizing a decidedly annoying trend with my children…stepping, no make that leaping across boundaries. My room, my bathroom, my closet, my clothes, my makeup, my socks, my shoes, my jewelry, my papers, my pens, my desk, my computer, my drinks, my snacks, my stuff…all seems to be fair game. No one bothers to ask…no one bothers to put back…no one bothers to thank…but it all sure bothers ME!!!
I got myself into this particular pond. I jumped in when my husband left. I allowed my children to sleep on my floor, my oldest daughter to share my bathroom, and my kids to use whatever they needed out of my stuff. I didn’t do much more than request that they take care of the things they borrowed and put them back properly, but I didn’t really offer consistent consequences unless you count my exasperated nagging as a viable consequence. I wouldn’t because it was a clearly ineffective consequence.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the little things like borrowing without asking, it’s the big stuff like irresponsibility, disrespect, and laziness that need to be addressed more diligently by me. This is my opportunity to show my children that I take my responsibility as mom seriously, that I desire to respect the Lord by raising His children well, and that I will be persistent in my efforts to train them.
Being a single mom, it’s easy to make excuses for letting things slide…little things. Those silly little things become scary big things quite quickly. I’ve been experiencing that lately. In not training my children well in the little things, I have not equipped them well to deal with the big things.
So here I am…frustrated and a little bit fearful but ready to make some changes. Ready to jump into an altogether different pond and push all my kids in too…whether they want to or not. A friend of mine keeps reminding me that sometimes the best things we can do for our children are the things they least want to do. Amen to that.
Praise God that He is the God of second chances…in life and parenting. I’m praying more diligently, seeking wise counsel more conscientiously, and holding to my convictions more solidly. BUT I also know that my strength to do those things is totally and completely rooted in Christ. I know myself and I’m tired, weak and exhausted. That’s why God tells me:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Ahhh…rest, easy yoke, light burden…why would I not accept that offer?
With God I know I can make changes in my life and the lives of my children. With God I know that we can become a family that treats the blessing of each other and the material blessings we have with respect. I believe that God is going to do great things in my family…I know that He has faithfully shown me things that need to be dealt with not because He wants to crush me with regret, but because He wants to show me His love and grace as He restores our family.
That new pond…it’s beautiful. There’s even a Lifeguard who delights in watching us splash around together…in a line or not!

Lord, please give me the ability to lay my burden down and pick up Yours. I know I will be challenged daily, I will struggle, but Lord, You are faithful and loving and You will provide all that I need to meet each day with peace and joy. I’m thankful that You show me what I need to work on, what needs to be done, but Lord I’m even more thankful that because of You I am not measured or valued by what I accomplish in a day or how well I do anything. I am Your daughter and I am loved because You made me. Father, please help me raise my children well. Please enable me to be strong, consistent, gentle, loving and graceful with my children. Just like you are with me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

SHARING SOME THOUGHTS ON ROMANCE

I’ve been learning a lot about love lately.  Loving my children well.  Loving my friends well.  Loving my family well.  Loving my Lord the best.  And especially how the Lord loves me.

When I was looking up verses on love, it was amazing how many times God uses the word steadfast to describe His love for us. 
 
The word steadfast means “fixed in direction, steadily directed, firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, unwavering, firmly established, firmly fixed in place or position.”
 
What was the synonym that grabbed you the most?  For me it was unwavering, but resolution came in a close second.  Unwavering is a beautiful word because to me that says that no matter what God loves me.  I imagine it like a tree standing in the midst of a hurricane and defying the wind and the storm simply by standing upright.  God’s love is not impacted by what I do or say or think, or anything I have done, said or think or anything in the future.  That is beautiful to me.  That word resolution reminds me that God has decided to love me steadfastly regardless of me.  He is resolved that I should be loved by Him.  His love is steadily directed at me.  There is never a time when He withholds His love from me. Wow!  No matter what, He loves me.  No matter what, He loves you.
 
Read Psalm 136 and see how much God wants you to truly understand how steadfastly He loves you.  I have included part of it…He says it 26 times – once in each verse!  He wants us to know His love is unwavering, unending. 
 
Dearest, He loves you relentlessly!
 
I pray that today you will grasp how deeply and steadily God loves you.
 
Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.

To him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever.

To him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

To him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and the stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;…

Loved Me Even More

I wrote this poem when I was serving as a short term missionary at a women’s shelter in Maryland about 22 years ago. (Could I really be that old? That’s nuts!!) God had met me exactly where I was at that time…serving Him and yet struggling with so much. Now, I read it and find that it is still very much the relationship I have with God. He is still so very loving, gracious and merciful to me regardless of my struggling. The only thing that has changed is an understanding that there is nothing that I have done, am doing, or will do that will change how much God loves me. He loves me completely already…He cannot love me less or more than He does at this very moment! Thank you Father!

I brought my heart before the Lord
With hands outstretched
I began to lay it at His feet
He quickly moved and gently stopped my descending heart
He brought my heart up
Higher than I imagined it could go
And smiled with mercy in His eyes

I tried to bow my head in shame
For why did I deserve this
I only deserved my pain
But, He took His hands beneath my chin
And raised my face to feel His shining glory
How bright and warm it felt
On my dark, cold face

I dropped to my knees in amazement
Of His love and kindness
But nothing could prepare me
For the moment my knees hit the cold, hard floor
God dropped too
and offered me his hands
I felt His scars and knew He felt mine too
And loved me even more.

Leaving is Not an Option…This Family is About Staying

no exit picThere is something profoundly painful about a child saying they want to leave. It cuts to the core.
I know that when my children say things like, “I’ll just go live with Dad,” or “I’ll just go live with insert name” or even “I want a different mommy,” it’s more about being frustrated than actually leaving…at least I hope so.
Lately two of my children have said those words to me. It causes me to gasp inwardly. The pain is acute. I believe this falls into the category of you hurt the ones you love. Again, at least I hope so.
Children can use words frightfully well to hurt, and they certainly know the words that push the most buttons. Oh how I wish they wouldn’t push this button. It hurts too much.
My teenage daughter said it last night. She’s in a tough spot in lots of ways and I know I’m a safe place to vent, but dang it, ouch! It hurts because it means I’m not enough…just me being mom isn’t good enough. And instantly I go to just like me being wife wasn’t good enough…I know that those things aren’t necessarily true, but they are thoughts I have…thoughts I need to take captive.
Maybe for children of divorce this is a “weapon” in their arsenals? It would make sense. It’s a stronger version of pitting parent against parent.
When my daughter uttered those words I didn’t respond. I didn’t know what to say and I feared I’d just start weeping buckets if I opened my mouth. Thankfully I was driving so I kept my eyes on the road. And I prayed.
I don’t want my children to think that leaving our family is actually a viable option…a reasonable option. It’s absolutely not. Their father used that option with disastrous results for all of us. I refuse to let this be a generational sin…it will stop with him! So what do I do?
I know my first course of action is to pray and pray hard. And I need to trust God. Trust Him with my children and their future.
And I will try to hold my tongue and my temper. And I will listen. And regardless of how unkind my children are, I will love them. Regardless of how tired I am, I will love on them. And I will model that love is a choice…a choice to stay regardless of how you feel or what you want to change or not change.
Maybe I need to share openly with my children about how their comments hurt? I’ll have to think about that one. Maybe I need to tell them gracefully and gently that leaving is NOT an option. Period. Ever.
And I definitely need to remember that my children are hurting. That my children are confused and scared. Just like me Lord, they long for life to be different. I pray that my children will find their hope and strength in the Lord and Him alone and that they know with certainty that their Heavenly Father will never leave them nor forsake them. (Joshua 1:5)
And no matter how often they declare they will leave me, I will not leave them.
Father, my sweet children are living such a different life than I had hoped and planned. We’re all struggling. God, I need wisdom to do this well. I need strength and patience I don’t feel capable of exhibiting. Father, I pray that you will protect my children and guide their decisions. Please reveal your love to them in unexpected and amazing ways. Please help them to know that you have a wonderful plan for their lives and that the struggle is doable with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Offering and Receiving

I’m so thankful I was asked to post something for www.familymatters.net — this is my first official post!  I hope you enjoy it.  I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing forgiveness is to those of us who have been hurt and heartbroken because of someone else’s actions and for those of us who mess up daily…actually isn’t that all of us?  I pray that you will see the great gift forgiveness is to receive and to offer.