He is a Father to the Fatherless

A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.     Psalm 68:5

I was cleaning my bathroom a few days ago, and since this is a task that doesn’t really require much brainpower, my mind began to wander. There was a song that my daughter wanted me to hear. It was a song by a popular band entitled, “Colder Weather”. It’s a song about two people who can’t seem to get it together because he is always gone; on the road. It made me think of my dad. He’s been a truck driver his whole life. When he and my mother met, she was waiting tables in a truck stop and though they were never married, they lived together and ended up having me. But because his being on the road further complicated an already complicated situation, she left him before I was a year old. And she left while he was…on the road.

Fast-forward many years to find me; a little girl/young girl who had never met her biological father. I don’t really remember how old I was when I first became aware that I didn’t have a dad. I do remember one time, when I was about 4, referring to my mom and my oldest sister as my parents. I remember that like it was yesterday. Maybe that’s when I started realizing something was different about my family. I’m still not sure. But nonetheless, somewhere along the way it became evident to me.

I did have a step dad. He and my mother met when I was 4 and married when I was 7, so he was the only father I ever knew. Although he provided for us, he wasn’t much of a safe, inviting, and soft place to land. In fact, I remember being afraid of him the first time we met. He was big and strong with a gruff, intimidating presence that seemed to loom over my 4-year-old frame as if he were 7 feet tall. Of course he wasn’t, but it felt that way to that little girl.

As time went on, we meshed and grew into a family…a DYSFUNCTIONAL family, but, whatever. I wouldn’t call our home a happy place to be. There was always arguing and yelling and cussing. But in some strange way, the man that probably always had a hint of regret that he took us on (me and my mom) became one I would look to as my dad. It’s safe to say that I never felt affirmed by him, although I do know now that he loved me. Looking back and as a parent myself, I can see him as a real person with his own childhood that he probably wished had been different.  I can look back and see hints and traces of his parental protection, love and concern that he kept hidden behind a domineering and controlling exterior. I can also see now, all of his emotional baggage from the hurts in his heart, abuse he suffered and the loss of his mother when he was a young boy. For whatever reason, he couldn’t risk the vulnerability that showing honest love requires. So, there I was, little girl without her birth daddy, living with a step dad who didn’t know how to do the job of “daddy” either.

Fast forward again to present day. I’m 43 yrs. old, married for 25 years with two adult children ages 22 and 21. I find myself very passionate about parenting and family matters and how those things have an impact on our society as a whole either positively or negatively. I love the topic of parenting and have always approached it from a two parent perspective, until recently when I was asked to be a part of ministering to the single mothers in our church. Feeling certain that this is something the Lord is telling me to do, I said yes.

I began having some doubts about how I was going to talk to these ladies about parenting from a single parent perspective. The closest experience I have to compare would be when I was working full time, my husband worked full time and went to school full time for 5 years starting when my youngest wasn’t even a year old. I felt like a single mom at times, but that doesn’t even come close to what these moms experience day in and day out. What a lame example to hold up to these women in an effort to try and say, “I understand.” Truth is, I don’t understand. I still had financial support and emotional support at the end of every day. The whole purpose of my husband being gone was because of his love for and commitment to giving us a better and more stable financial future. Yes it was hard doing dinner and baths and laundry and housework and discipline and everything by myself on a daily basis, but I knew my husband would walk through that door every night…even if wouldn’t be until 11pm or midnight most of the time.

I do want to go back and say that I do have a lot of good memories of my step dad though. He could be very funny and witty and wow!…what an amazing cook he was. But I had to choose to remember those things for they were a key part of my journey of forgiveness toward him, which was the key to my emotional healing. Just a few years ago, I became a first hand witness to how much that forgiveness was really more for me than for him. This complicated relationship with a man that hadn’t been in my life for years had not culminated in our reconciliation here on this earth like I had hoped. Because he pushed everyone who truly loved him away, he died alone and there was no one to claim his body,so he was cremated by the state. We claimed his remains and held a ceremony. There were only about 12 of us there. I can say that because of the gift of forgiveness that I had given him years before in a letter, where I explained that I would choose to remember the good things, I was able to sincerely and freely celebrate the life of a man that no one else cared to celebrate.

But this day, standing in that bathroom, cleaning and thinking of my own dad who wasn’t there while I was growing up, I remembered a time when I felt broken because of his absence. But that’s just it…the broken feeling was a memory. It no longer held me captive; it no longer consumed my thoughts; it no longer made me feel inadequate.

That’s when I realized that through all the pain of growing up “fatherless” in a way, God had truly been a father to me. As I stood there I realized, for the first time, that I no longer even wish I could go back and change any of it! What a miracle had been performed in my own life. It is a miracle that gives testimony to God’s incomparable ability as Father.

Maybe I don’t have anything to offer these single moms in the way of relating to them as another single mom who has “been there and done that”, but as one who can relate to their children as one who knows what it’s like to grow up never having a daddy’s arms to run to for either consolation or celebration. I’m the kid whose dad didn’t call; I’m the little girl whose dad wasn’t there for the father/daughter dance; I’m the kid who didn’t know what it was like to  be held on the shoulders of a man who was trusted to the ends of the earth and back with her heart. But if all that had to be so that I could stand where I am today…so be it. I can say I am content. For although I didn’t have an earthly father or daddy to rely on, I was cared for by the creator of the universe and He also holds another title that is and will always be more dear to my heart; He is a father to the fatherless.


This was a good reminder for me today and wanted to repost this.

life as I see it...

Relinquish1. to give up (a task, struggle, etc.); abandon 2. to surrender or renounce (a claim, right, etc.) 3. to release; let go

In a recent prayer time, as I first turned on my music and barely began to pray, there was one word rolling around in my mind…RELINQUISH…”Okay…” I thought. What does that mean? I decided to write it down and come back to it so I could look it up. Don’t get me wrong; I have a general idea of what this word means as many of you do, but I sensed the Lord wanting to say something more specific to me about that word at that time.

As I continued in my time with the Lord, my mind was immediately taken back to one of the most miserable New Years Eve nights of my life. It was the eve of 2005 and I was…

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Relinquish=Surrender=Trust

Relinquish1. to give up (a task, struggle, etc.); abandon 2. to surrender or renounce (a claim, right, etc.) 3. to release; let go

In a recent prayer time, as I first turned on my music and barely began to pray, there was one word rolling around in my mind…RELINQUISH…”Okay…” I thought. What does that mean? I decided to write it down and come back to it so I could look it up. Don’t get me wrong; I have a general idea of what this word means as many of you do, but I sensed the Lord wanting to say something more specific to me about that word at that time.

As I continued in my time with the Lord, my mind was immediately taken back to one of the most miserable New Years Eve nights of my life. It was the eve of 2005 and I was wearing my “best” work jeans and oversized T shirt, complete with paint drippings and an “amazing” up-do which had only taken seconds to fix, without the help of  a mirror I might add, about 16 hours earlier. We were doing a major home improvement that week. We were staining the concrete in our house. If you aren’t familiar with this process or the work involved, I’ll just say, it’s not for the faint of heart! (it turned out beautifully though!) Anyway, you can imagine our exhaustion. Kevin sent me and the kids up to the grocery store for some sparkling cider so we could “party”at midnight. He knew I needed to get out of the house.

As we pulled into the parking lot I decided, since I was looking so fabulous, that I would send the kids in. I was feeling heavy and upset about something, (I don’t even remember now what it was). I’m sure my fatigue wasn’t helping anything either, but in that moment, sitting in the car, an old hymn came on the radio. All that kept going through my mind was “surrender… surrender… surrender”. In my mind’s eye, I could see a hand, facing palm up, completely open. I knew God was showing me in that moment to give whatever it was to Him. I broke into tears and did just that. I completely turned it loose and let go of it. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember what it was, because I felt such a burden lift off of me in that moment. The kids and I returned home with sparkling cider and me, with a newly “sparkling” outlook.

Flash forward to today. One of the words used to define the word “relinquish” is “surrender”. Isn’t it curious how all of these years later, He has to tell me the same thing, AGAIN??? Not to mention all the times in between? There are so many things every day that we think we need to hold on to so that WE can fix it and WE can worry about it and WE can figure it out and WE can deal with it…I know I’m not the only one…RIGHT? But there is a better way. A MUCH better way.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30

28 …“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I like the part that says, “and you will find rest for your souls.” Another way to think of the word “soul” is your mind, your will and your emotions. That is our “soul” realm. And isn’t that exactly where we get “burdened” down…in our mind, will and emotions? That’s where the heaviness is. Jesus said that if we will surrender, or relinquish those things that bring us down and make us feel heavy, that we will find rest for our souls 🙂

I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds good to me! Sometimes we get so used to carrying all that stuff around and we become accustomed to the weight of it. Kind of like wearing roller blades, or roller skates. You get so used to them, that you don’t realize how heavy they are…UNTIL you remove them! Aaaahhh… What relief! How lightly you walk once those things come off! You feel as if you are walking 10 feet off the ground!

How much MORE does our Savior want to do the same for us because He loves us 🙂 When I give (I mean REALLY give) something to Him, I actually feel lighter.

I’m reminded of one other scripture in 1 Peter 5:7. I’ll quote it from the Amplified version of the bible.

7Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him], for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

Both of these scriptures are invitations to roll our burdens onto Him. This is the part that requires trust. I remember an old saying, “Let go and Let God.” I encourage you to do that with whatever it is you are facing today, because He promises that you can trust Him with it. Relinquish and surrender the weight of your worries, trusting that He will refresh your soul.

 


You Are Not Your Reputation!

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

I had settled into my seat for the evening and was chatting with others around me. The room was alive with the energy of a thousand women who had been anticipating this night for weeks. This was our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Event. Although it was something I usually looked forward to, it was different for me this year. I was preoccupied with a personal issue, but was trying not to get lost in my own head. And then, the worship started.

I sang along, knowing and loving each song. I knew the presence of God was the only cure for my injured soul. Rejection had come to my doorstep like an unwanted solicitor, and as usual, its persistence threatened to persuade me to give in to the pressure of a hard sell.

My situation started a few weeks earlier, when a woman, whom I had only spoken with a few times, had completely misconstrued a conversation between us and made a false accusation about me. Her story couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, the truth was the complete opposite of her story. But I had no idea there was even a problem, until I was called to meet with two women who informed me. These women, whom I had respected, were leaders.

As everything unfolded, I became aware of the false accusation against me. It was as if I had unknowingly been placed on trial. Before I even knew it started and in my absence and without opportunity to defend myself, a jury of two women had reached a verdict. The court had been adjourned with the rap of the judge’s gavel and I was pronounced guilty. In addition, I was now relieved of some of my regular volunteer activities, which I loved. I was so hurt and wounded.

As I was reprimanded (in a very polite way), I was instructed about how I should have “believed the best” about my accuser. Yet they seemed to dismiss the fact that after having been acquainted with me for years, they had not given me the same consideration. Being lied about was bad enough, and now, betrayal would be the crowning cherry on top.

I was doing my best to push through this situation with an attitude and heart that would be pleasing to God. But I still felt justified in my anger. After all, I had been misrepresented and completely misjudged in a situation where I had done nothing wrong.

As I began to worship, “Silent Night“, which is one of my favorites, began to play. I began to ask God to show me…what had it REALLY been like in that stable the night Jesus was born? It was too easy to resort to the familiar images of the little nativity scene where the cows are lined up and everything appears orderly and fairly clean…but as I asked Him that question that night, I began to see a different picture. I realized that Joseph was probably a little frantic as he attempted to make a place where his wife could give birth. He had to clear manure out of the way and somehow get the animals to move.

Then I began to think about Mary and the birthing process. She, like all other women in that day and time, gave birth with nothing to alleviate the pain. She felt everything and experienced much pain and probably cried out many times because of it. Everything about that birth was as human as any other birth that ever was before or since, with only one difference. The child being born that night was as much God as He was man, but no one knew it. Some would even make the choice to disbelieve it.

I began to think about that. This Jesus who lived in heaven, came to earth and was born as one of us. This scripture came to mind:

who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.             Philippians 2:6-8

There I was, standing in a room full of women, worshipping this amazing God who created the universe, and I’m hit with the reality of what it really meant for Him to be born into such humanness. Here He was, the Almighty God, being born in the form of a man. He would receive no accolades, no praise, no recognition for who He really was. He knew that He would one day be

“misrepresented and completely misjudged in a situation where He had done nothing wrong”… (sound familiar?)

As I worshipped, I was no longer aware of the wrong that had been done to me, or the way I had been misunderstood or how my heart’s intentions had been wrongly judged.

As the Lord revealed these things to me, I knew He was asking me to examine my heart… Was I willing to become a person of no reputation? Was I willing to forfeit the accolades that I thought should be mine? Could I go unnoticed for a good deed or a job well done? Was I willing to remain stable, even when others had wrong opinions about me when I didn’t have the opportunity to tell my side of the story? Was I willing to surrender what others thought of me, fully to Him, and let Him be my vindicator and the “righter” of someone else’s wrongs towards me?

God began to show me that I am not the sum total of what others think of me. He measures me much differently. If Jesus were only what others thought of Him, then He would have been nothing more than a lying, heretic…yet we know that He was the Word made flesh that came to live among us. In light of that great sacrifice, just in coming and being born, the act of emptying Himself and becoming one of us, I couldn’t respond in any other way, than to surrender everything that had weighed me down. Suddenly, I was free.

Now, I realize even more, the importance of surrendering this whole reputation thing; for it is only when I am willing to lay it down, that I am positioned to be fully submitted and obedient to God’s direction for my life. When I come to places of being resistant to obeying God, I find it’s because I’m too worried about what others will think of me. This strongly indicates that I’m putting my reputation and the opinions of people before God.

After a life long issue with trust, I’ve realized something. I no longer have to trust people. You read that correctly. I don’t need to trust the people in my life as much as I need to trust God with the people in my life. When I am fully surrendered to Him, He can change the hearts of those around me and take care of everything that concerns me. So remember…you are not your reputation.

 

 


In Him…In Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.    2 Corinthians 5:17

Just recently, my family and I went on a 7 day Caribbean cruise. It was amazing to see the blue water and beautiful scenery. We even got to see dolphins jumping and playing out in the middle of the ocean. It was so much fun to see them out in the wild like that rather than in a tank at Sea World.

One of the ports that our ship visited was Cozumel, Mexico. We spent the day at a beautiful beach. Our son and daughter parasailed and rode wave runners…but there was another interesting activity that we saw also; water ball walking. The picture above gives you a pretty good idea of what it is. We looked at that and immediately began to think of the negatives about such an activity; getting hot and sweaty, feeling closed in, having to touch the sweat of the people who had been in there before you! Yuck! As you can probably predict, we didn’t participate in this particular “sport”.

We enjoyed several hours there and then headed back to the ship to shower and get ready for dinner…the food is dangerously good on those ships! Anyway…I haven’t given that “water walking ball” any more thought, until today. Now let me go on what might seem like a rabbit trail for a minute, but I promise I will come back to this ball thing 🙂

Over the last couple of days I have really been thinking about God’s grace and the law, which is what we would refer to as “The Ten Commandments” Now I don’t have time to go into a full-blown lesson on the Mosaic Law and the grace of God. I don’t comprehend it fully myself, but I would like to touch the tip of the iceberg for a moment.

We know that according to Romans 3:20-22 that no one is made righteous by trying to keep the law, (by trying to be perfect), but that the reason the law was given was to prove to us that we can’t keep it and to make us aware of our sin. The reason? So that we would recognize our need for a Savior, (Jesus) and so we would come to understand that true righteousness ONLY comes by trusting IN HIM, IN CHRIST as our Savior; not by DOING a bunch of good stuff. You may be wondering why I keep italicizing the word righteousness…I did it again. The reason is because I want to tell you, in plain English, what it means. That fancy word “righteousness” means nothing more than “right standing” or “right relationship”. So when the bible says that no one is made righteous by trying to keep the law…it just means that no one will reach a place of “right standing” or being in “right relationship” with God by trying really hard to be “good”or by doing “good” stuff. It’s impossible. There is nothing wrong with doing good stuff, but we can never DO enough to be perfect or take care of our “sin” problem. If you could, you would have already done it! If you’ve ever told a lie or sassed your mother or father, or stolen a piece of candy, or even wanted what belonged to someone else (their position, their power…or even their purse!), then you’ve failed at keeping the law…or being perfect…now it seems pretty hopeless, doesn’t it??? BUT…I have good news!

Jesus came and lived a perfect, sinless life, keeping every point of the law, because He knew we couldn’t do it. This was God’s plan. Jesus then became our substitute on the cross when He, knowing no sin, became sin for us and took the punishment of that sin, “so that we could become the righteousness of Christ Jesus” (2 Cor 5:21) To become the “righteousness of Christ Jesus” simply means to come into “right standing” or “right relationship” with God…IN HIM. That’s why Jesus said,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.            Matthew 5:17

Back to the ball…(I know it seems crazy, but stay with me)

We immediately looked at the negatives of being in the ball, but we didn’t look at the benefits. While in the ball, I get all of the advantages and get to take on the identities and properties of the ball. I can defy natural laws of physics as long as I stay in the ball. If I try to walk out on the water on my own, I will sink immediately. If I am in deep water, I can only keep my head above the water for as long as I have strength to tread water, but when my strength runs out, I’m going down. However, if I’m taking a walk in the ball, I’m going to glide right over the top of that water. Twenty men could shove it under the surface of the water, but it would just pop right back up again! Shoot, if I get tired, I can lay down in the ball and rest and still stay afloat. If the water gets rough and the waves get to high, without the ball, I can easily be overtaken by the waters that surround me and threaten to push me under while tossing me to and fro, leaving me at the mercy of the storm and impossible to breathe. BUT, if I am in the ball, I may be tossed around, but I will not go under and I can stay on top of the storm and ride it out. Though it may be scary and I may not have much control, I’m cocooned safely inside until the storm is over.

The same holds true for us in life if we are IN HIM or IN CHRIST. We may get tossed around, but we won’t go under. We may get tired, but we can have “peace that passes understanding”(Phil 4:7) and lay down and rest if we realize that we are IN HIM! When we decide to depend on our SELF to get through a tough situation, our ability to stick it out is only as good as our human limits and human strength. But, if we remember that we are IN CHRIST, then we can trust the scripture that says, “I can do all things through (IN) Christ who gives me (HIS) strength.” Philippians 4:13. If we feel that life has us down and we just can’t go another round, remember, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 When we are IN HIM, we have benefits and advantages that we don’t have when we are on our own. We will still encounter hard times, but being IN HIM is like a shelter from the storm. No longer do we have to live under guilt and condemnation because Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST Jesus.

Begin to really think about these truths and let them begin to permeate you. See how many of these scriptures you can find that talk about who we are and what we have when we are IN HIM. You can even go to google and look up “In Him Scriptures”. The next time you begin to feel as if you don’t measure up or that God must be displeased with you, or that you don’t know how to make it one more day, go to the Bible, meditate on these verses and get a visual of the water walking ball and remember that you are IN CHRIST and that nothing can take you under!


Book Exerpt from “Raising Up Jesus Followers” (my book in progess)

I’m not sure about you, but I know that when my husband and I decided to get pregnant with our first child, our thoughts were not consumed with the “objectives of parenting” or “the correct goals of parenting” or “how to raise a Jesus follower”…You may be wondering how I, the author of this book, could ever admit to such a thing! I mean it would only make sense that as soon as my children were born, I would have everything mapped out perfectly concerning how they were to be raised spiritually and their relationship with God and the education they would receive and the ballet classes they would take and the football they would play and on and on…right??? WRONG! Don’t get me wrong; we were Christian and knew that we would teach our kids right from wrong and about Jesus and always attend church together as a family, but let me just say this; my husband and I didn’t really have even half of a clue about the journey we were stepping into. We were young, ignorant and extremely over joyed about this new little “she” bundle who was on her way into our world. And then…16 months later, along came anotherlittle “he” bundle!

As a new mom, I was met head on with my inadequacies, inabilities and weaknesses. During postpartum depression, I was convinced that my infant daughter didn’t like me. Then I moved on to condemning myself for challenges I faced with breastfeeding. Once I was past that, I couldn’t seem to let myself off the hook for having difficulty maintaining a perfect house…you know, like the ones on TV??? During the preschool and early elementary school years, I dealt with feelings of guilt and failure for being the worst mom on earth. Although I was trying my best, I just didn’t feel as if I measured up. I now understand that a lot of that was baggage from my growing up years, but that’s another book all together…I think my husband thought I was crazy at times, and looking back, I can see that although I wasn’t perfect, as no parent is, I wasn’t at all a “bad” parent.

I’ve learned that we have an enemy that wants to defeat us before we’ve even had a chance to fail…so that we will in fact fail! We have fantasies (or delusions) that we are going to do everything perfectly because, after all, this child is, and always will be, perfect. Therefore, we think we will never be met with any of the challenges that correcting or disciplining children bring about. I mean, it’s only other people with their kids that have to deal with that kind of ugliness, right? Yeah, right! Anyone with a 2 year old knows how short lived that pipe dream is!  I think many new parents might have some sort of fantasy that plays out in their minds as to how it should be. Mine looked something like this…

My home and my parenting would look like a Downy commercial where perfect beams of sunlight would stream through the windows and everything would be light and airy as my family frolicked around the perfectly clean house in perfectly clean pajamas with perfect smiles on perfectly clean faces of children who behaved perfectly with laughter abounding… all while moving in slow motion…

Okay, back to reality…upon the discovery that your child is in fact NOT perfect, you are forced to come face to face with having to address those imperfections. Then comes the guilt and uncertainty and fear that you have somehow forever scarred this child, leaving him a life sentence of lying on a psychiatrist’s couch mulling over the terribleness of his parents. I can hear you out there…I know you can relate.

I say all of this from the start to let you know, that while some of you who are reading this book may be very planned, thoughtful and purposeful from the beginning of your child’s life about how his educational and spiritual training will go and what sport he will play and the career he will choose, many parents, (me included) have kind of stumbled our way into these waters, only to get out just far enough over our heads to find out that it only keeps getting deeper and that we need help and we need it fast! God does not require perfection from us in order to have success in doing a great job of bringing up our kids. In fact, I am convinced that He lets us get enough of a taste of those imperfections and how much we don’t know, so that it will leave us reaching for Him. When we are involving God and the wisdom of His word in the equation of raising kids, He will help us. We may not have all the answers, but we can know and rely on the One who does! I am reminded of this scripture:

Psalm 121:1-2

1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

I bring up this scripture, b/c the truth is, even if you do have it all planned out, things don’t always go as planned. And if you think you can navigate the road ahead of you with your own map, you’ll soon discover that you should be using a different map all together. We as parents have to turn to God for our help when it comes to bringing up these children that He has entrusted to us. The only way to successfully parent our kids is to follow the direction that God has set in His word. The main objective that He has set in parenting must become our objective. His plans must become our plans and His ways, our ways.

Looking back, I’m thankful for some of those feelings of inadequacy, because without them, I don’t know that I would have sought God as much as I did. You see, whether or not you feel like you need His guidance to guide, you are desperate for Him at every turn. I think I knew this more than the average person, because I was so bogged down with the fear of not doing a good job. However, my two children are adults now, ages 21 and 20. We enjoy a wonderful relationship with them and they are happy and well adjusted. But the most important thing is that they both love and serve God with their lives. They both feel a strong call of God on their lives to serve in ministry as well as affect the world around them through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I don’t say all of that to brag on my husband or myself, but instead so that you will be encouraged to know that, no matter how prepared or unprepared you feel as a parent, God is there at every turn to help you navigate the course that is set before you. I pray that this book will help to serve as a tool and guide in helping you to raise up Jesus followers.


What IS That Smell???

“I’ll be back in a little while.” I told my son as I headed out the door to get a few last-minute errands done before my husband would be home from work and dinner was to be ready. I had left a pot of beans on the stove that I had been cooking for a couple of hours on a low heat so that the juices would thicken up nicely as all the seasonings and flavors came together. Along with some potatoes and corn bread and side salad, it would make for a simple but satisfying dinner. Now I know not everyone grooves on this sort of meal, but for us, we quite enjoy it from time to time 🙂 Anyway, I told my son to keep an eye on the beans and just add some water if it looked like they needed it and to call me if he had any questions. He agreed and off I went…

As I returned home and opened the door, I was met with a VERY disturbing smell….the smell of something burning! My 14-year-old son sat on the couch with his eyes glued to one of his favorite after school shows. Running to the kitchen I hollered, “Can’t you smell that???” to which he replied, “Smell what?” I guess the smell came on so gradually, he didn’t even notice that the beans had been forgotten, and as a result, all the liquid cooked right out of them, leaving them to burn up in the pot. Though I was pretty aggravated, I knew he hadn’t done it deliberately. And even though I was now wondering what to do for dinner, I was more perplexed about how he couldn’t have smelled it! I mean, that smell permeated our cabinets for a couple of weeks…every time you would open a cabinet to get a anything, here came the strong odor of…you guessed it…burned beans! LOL!

As I think back to that story, it reminds me of how we do the same thing in our own lives. We can become so engrossed in our daily lives, that it all becomes a big distraction from the more important things in life. Sometimes, we are even distracted from our relationship with Jesus. It comes on so gradually that we don’t even realize the stink of it until it’s too late! Now we may not be getting caught up in full on “sin”! But maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve spent time in His word and prayer. Maybe you’ve gotten so busy with life in general that you don’t have that time with Him on a regular basis like you used to. Maybe you’ve gotten so “self-sufficient” that you don’t think to ask Him for help anymore. The point is, have you gotten so caught up in “life as usual” that you have forgotten your first love? Revelation 2:4 Are you going through the motions, but without the passion and zeal you once had?

We can slip into the thinking that things will take care of themselves, and then, all of a sudden, we realize that there is something really “stinking” in our lives! Is it your attitude that stinks? Do find yourself feeling a little down? Are you feeling the stress of life getting to you? Are you wondering where that sense of peace is?… It can come on so gradually, that we don’t even realize how much we need Him until we have a crisis on our hands. (just like the smell of those beans) But it shouldn’t be that way. Because you see, we have no idea just how much we need Him EVERYDAY!

I’m very thankful that our relationship with God isn’t EXACTLY like that pot of beans…you see, even though there was nothing I could do to salvage those beans, the God we serve is a God of restoration; He is always waiting on us with open arms when we repent and turn back to Him. God knew that there would be things in this world that would serve as potential distractions in our lives. He knows that we have a natural life to tend to; i.e. the laundry, the kids, the job, the dishes, carpool, the car repairs, the traffic, little league, music lessons…etc. The list could go on and on. But here is a promise that Jesus makes to us.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.  Matthew 6:33                                                                       

In this passage we know that if we seek after Him first, the other things in our lives will work out better for us. We can have peace in knowing that we can rely on Him. So today, if you find yourself relating to all that’s been written, take some time to stop for a minute. Begin taking that time to tend to your relationship with Jesus, either again, or for the first time. He is always ready and waiting for you with open arms.

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith… and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2                   


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