Who Is The Best Father?

Many of you have read my Tweets and my other Post on my daughter’s challenge to process the fact her father is not around. At times it has been more than heartbreaking for me. So I can’t imagine the hurt she feels. I’ve diligently relied on God to take the place of her biological father. It was a stretch for me to grasp this as an adult, let alone a child. But I’ve tried to be consistent in encouraging her in her time of need, sadness, or joy to look to God as her father.

Well…. It’s starting to pay off and I can not be more thrilled!!! Slowly, she has started talking about God more specifically, not just in general terms or on Sundays after church. Here’s what Emma’s shared with me in the last week:

  • While watching some movie on TV (clueless as to what now) she announces,

Mom, I love God for 4 reasons:
1. Because He loves me.
2. Because He sends angels to protect me.
3. Because He gives me hugs.
4. Because He’s always there for me.

  • John, Emma, and I were sitting at the table eating dinner. Jacob was in time out for yelling at me and semi-punching me in the arm. This is not typical behavior for him, but unacceptable nonetheless. John initiated the time out, also very unusual. But he wanted to talk to him about the respect and treatment of women, especially me. At the table I told John, this was an example of why he needed a father-figure in his life. Time out was different coming from John versus me in that particular situation. Surprisingly, Emma jumped in on the conversation.

“Do you guys know who the best father is? [long pause, as John & I stared at her, then each other] God is. He’s the best Father we have.”

  • In another conversation this week, Emma and John were discussing a visit we made to The Carter House. John was giving a tour, so Emma & Jacob walked up on the porch to get his attention. John told Emma he was so happy to see her that day. She leaned in and whispered in his ear,

“Did you see the angel on my shoulder?”

  • Each night when we pray, I ask God to send His angels to help comfort her when she wakes at night. It’s been a struggle for her to stay in her bed at night for a few months. She wakes up frightened and comes to me in the middle of the night wanting to sleep with me. It was happening even when she shared a bed with Jacob. We’ve tried several things to help her sleep through the night, including eating a bit later to make sure she has a full belly. Since praying for the angels, she has stayed in her bed more often than not.However, when I tucked her in last night I was caught off guard as she told me her angel was sitting on her side table. According to Emma, her angel is purple and small. But she is very powerful and can protect her against anything. She likes the same hand lotion as Emma and she goes to sleep when Emma goes to sleep, but she stays all night long. Even better, we all have an angel in our room to protect us. At the end of our prayers, she asked if we could pray to the angels. I said, “No, we don’t pray to angels Emma. We only pray to God.” Her reply….

“Oh right. I forgot. We don’t put anything in front of God.”

I was shocked and asked her where she learned that. Her reply….

“You taught me Mama.”

Wow! My sweet girl gets it!

Thank you Father.

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When Missing Daddy, Call On Your Father

“I miss my daddy,” Emma cried.

I’ve heard this more and more over the last month. I guess it is a matter of timing. They haven’t seen him since our trip to Hungary in July. Well, except for about 10 minutes mid-October when he Skyped with them.

The last time he spoke to them was the 3rd week in November. He called mid-December, but the kids were with my dad. He said he would call there, but I’m not sure he did.

That has to weigh heavy on a little one’s heart. Most of the time, I’m sure they just go about their business of life – going to school, church, play dates, family movies, etc. But it’s in the quiet times or times when they get hurt that his absence seems to be more than apparent. This is when they cry out to a father that does not listen.

It’s especially rough during the holiday season. We get photo Christmas cards depicting bright, smiling families – complete with a daddy. They also know they are going to spend time with their daddy at Christmas. And I remind them so it will relieve some of the tension of ‘when’. Then you get questions like this:

“Is daddy coming back to marry us mommy?” Emma asks with such innocent hope in her eyes.

It burns me up! I flood with emotion: anger, frustration, resentment, sadness. I hurt for them. Still. You would think this gets easier over time. But it doesn’t. When your child is hurting it really doesn’t matter if they are 4 or 40, you hurt with them.

For a long time, I didn’t know what to say to the “missing daddy” statement. My standard answer was “I know”. What else is there to say?

“He was a crappy husband and is even a crappier father.”
“What else is to be expected from such a self-centered, ego maniac.”
“It sucks to be you!”
“You’ll be missing him the rest of your life, get used to it.”

There are no words.
At least I thought not.

Then I remember the wonderful book of Isaiah and some of the lessons I have learned this past year and a half. Painful but reassuring lessons that have given me a peace like I have never known. So now, I have a new reply.

“I know. I know you miss your daddy. And I know that sometimes you feel sad and confused. Sometimes the people we love make choices that we don’t understand. It is confusing and sometimes it hurts us. But I know your daddy loves you very much. And you know what else? God loves you even more. God is our Father in heaven. He is my Father and your Father. He is our Father because He created us and loves us more than anyone else ever, ever will. He will always take care of you and be there for you to talk to or ask for help anytime you need it. He is with you always in your heart.”

I often go on to talk about how Mommy loves her and is always here. We talk about Mr. John and Papa, my dad, being there for her too. But I guess that thing that I want her to get, that I never did as a child, is that she is not alone. God is our Father in heaven and He is with us always. She doesn’t have to long for the love of a father because she has it already. Maybe it’s not in the way other kids have it or that she expects it, but it is there.

Always Emmanuel

Confession, Perseverance & Faith: My Full Circle Moment – PART 3

This blog is about my life. The new one I am creating moment by moment. This post is three in a series of four. It is intended to accomplish one thing and one thing only: It is about setting the record straight.  It is about me letting go of the fear that I have held on to for years and getting naked in front of the world. It is about drawing a line in the sand for myself. It is about confession and perseverance and faith.  Here’s what I figured out thus far and shared in my other posts:

Part 1 – Confessions

  • The Problem:  I make men my higher power.
  • The Result:  Emotional bondage and failed relationships.
  • The Root Cause:  (Here’s the kicker)  I have never fully believed or accepted that GOD IS ENOUGH. 

Part 2 – Perseverance

  • I’ve been working on physical perseverance successfully.
  • I’ve been working on spiritual perseverance with little to no results.
  • You can dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s you want, but until you let go of some of the things you know are not right and embrace some of the truths that are, you may just not get the results you are expecting.              

    Take me, I'm Yours!

    And that’s where FAITH comes in…

     

     

It’s taken me a long time to continue this series because I didn’t feel like I was far enough in my journey to write about it. Faith, that is. The last 6 months of my life have been as enlightening as they have demanding. Connecting to God in a real relationship was a challenge.  I kept doing all the “right” things. I prayed every day. Read my devotional every day. Went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Yet the experience of having a real relationship with Christ was not happening. Why?

 

After attending Crosspoint Church  and hearing Pete Wilson’s series on SYNC (a series about what to do when you are out of sync with God) I began to understand that wanting Christ to form in my life completely had a lot more to do with my ability to trust than checking the boxes of “right” things. Where I was in my spiritual life was a direct reflection of my faith in Christ. 

 

 

 Definitions

Faith – Confidence or trust in a person or thing; Belief that is not based on proof.

Trust – Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, etc. of a person or thing. 

 

As adults I believe we become jaded from the pain and suffering we experience growing up. Everyone has their heart broken. Everyone has lost someone special due to tragedy or illness. Everyone has experienced loss or failure in some form even when we have asked God for help. Those moments are critical in defining how we trust God. 

 

  

We have to choose to believe that although God can give us our desired outcome, He may choose not to. It is our active expression of faith when we choose to believe He is a sovereign, loving and capable God regardless of the outcome. I use the word active because it requires personal effort, engaged participation. This is the essence of trust and faith in God.

 

Knowing that God CAN ___, doesn’t mean He WILL ___, and I’m OK with it.

 

Doesn’t the bible say to come to Christ with child-like faith. Why? Obviously, we become disenchanted adults as this sinful, fallen world dishes up its ugliness to us on a platter and tells us to enjoy. But a child learning to walk will fall over and over and over again, but they keep getting up. What has happened in the past is irrelevant, whether it was last week or 2 minutes ago. They will continue trying to take those first few steps.  That is an active expression of faith. (personal effort, engaged participation)

 

When I realized I wanted to really establish a solid relationship with Christ in my life, I started completing my to do list of right things as well as asking God to take charge of my life. Yet I’m doing things that do not relinquish control. In essence what I was really saying was:  

 

  

“You can have ALL of me, EXCEPT this one little piece I still want to manage.”

 

Then it becomes easy to feel that God isn’t speaking to me or helping to guide my life choices. So stage two of denial sets in and I can say: “God, do with me what you will. In the meantime, I’ll be over here distracted by this little piece that I’m managing.” I was not only distracted by it, but I was also not willing to give it up and let God be enough.  Even if God was speaking to me, trying to guide me, I would have never heard it because my mind was elsewhere.

 

How can God do His God-thing with me in the way doing it for Him.

 

What was I so scared of?  The answer to that question didn’t really matter because there was only one thing I had to do. Give it up! All of it, just not the parts that were easy. It’s a bit like being an alcoholic. Drinking a glass of wine does not make you an alcoholic nor does it make wine bad. However, if you cant put the bottle down and walk away it means at a minimum you have a problem and most likely it’s bad for you.  Does that make sense?

 

Letting go of everything meant there was really no one else to rely on other than God, no where else to turn except to God. This was my active expression of faith in God. (personal effort, engaged participation) 

 

“God, YOU are enough, you really have ALL of me, I am Yours, and I am listening.”

 

What happened next was more than amazing.  Tune in for Part 4- My full circle moment.

Living on a Prayer..

Well, actually I’m waiting on a prayer, but since I’m gearing up for the Bon Jovi concert next week with girlfriends from high school (i will post pics with the big hair), the music has been on the brain.

Really I’m waiting for a prayer to be answered.  This past Monday I interviewed for a job that I really, really, really want.  It’s nothing like I’ve ever been involved in from a work standpoint. It has the awesome potential to use my business skills in a ministry operation that will allow me to go on a mission trip annually.  It sounds too good to be true.  But they said they would be making a decision on Monday afternoon and it’s Friday and I haven’t heard anything.  I even sent a follow up thank you.  Nothing, nada, zilch! Uggg!

The house offer has been in negotiations for almost 2 weeks.  It’s an adorable 1940’s cottage near downtown Franklin, not far from 5 Points.  And it’s really close to the offices of the new job!  Fenced in backyard for safe play, really nice neighbors, 3 beds, 2 baths in the Frankling Special School District.  It’s perfect.  It’s been rehabbed enough to make it cute, but still has a ton of potential to take it to the next level.  I love rehab! Check out my pics! This is what I did with my rental house last Oct. This is what it looked like before. (For future reference, plaster walls with a window in the shower, not a good combination) It was so much fun!

So, back to the purpose of the post – prayer!  Some of the changes I’ve been making in my life have involved learning to let God lead me in His direction instead of mine is not an easy task for me.  I’ve been pretty self centered in my life when it comes to my way or His way.  My way has won thus far and it has proven to be wrong for the most part. 

So what changes does one have to make to let God led.  There are several that I’ve come up with for me.  Let’s call them the 3 P’s – Purpose, Prayer, Patience.  Read on…

  1. Purpose.  It is why I keep Jeramiah 29:11 on my blog.  It is to remind myself that God has a purpose for my life.  I am not defined by being a wife or a mother.  Those are wonderful things, but I am more than Jacob & Emma’s Mommy. I am uniquely made to dream big and excel when I do my best to fullfill God’s purpose for my life.  Jer. 29:11 reminds me that He intentionally provides for me.  It is not a crap shoot. It is with divine intent.  Here’s another verse that I love, Phillipians 4:9 MSG – God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. There are a ton of verses just like this found in Max Lucado’s book YOU! God’s Brand-New Idea, Made to be Amazing. (could you tell I was reading a Lucado book?)
  2. Prayer. I’ve had to change the way I pray significantly.  During my early 20’s I usually prayed with my head in the toliet or laying on the cold bathroom floor. I’m not joking here. Most often I prayed when I was sick or drunk. My prayer was: If you just get me through this…. I’ll…. This is survival prayer. During my early 30’s my prayers turned to things I wanted, like a family. My prayer was: If I can have this…  I’ll…  It really wasn’t prayer, it was a negotiating session.  Learning to let God lead requires one to go with His will not yours right. So my prayer this week has been: God please allow me to have this experience if this is where I am supposed to be and where You can use me.  That’s a really, really hard prayer for me given how much I want the job and my prayer history.
  3. Patience. The last P is patience.  Another really, really, really hard thing for me.  I’ve been waiting since Monday afternoon to hear something about this job. And for over a week to hear something on the house.  Can I tell you how much I have bugged my family & friends?  I haven’t heard anything, I’m going crazy, I probably didn’t get it…. Blah, blah, blah!  I’m not a person who likes to wait for much of anything.  I’m a doer, an executer, the one who people turn to to get things done. At least that’s what my references told me when I was asking them my strong points. The executer is not fond of waiting for others. The executer takes matters in her own hands and does it herself.  It’s more efficient, it’s faster and typically better. Yeah, patience is a trait that is one of my weakest. My premature kids taught me I’m in control of NOTHING!!  I’m having to go back in time to the NICU with the twins and recall what it felt like to just breathe, pray and wait and to know it would be ok. Just breathe, pray and wait.

What does all of this tell me?  It tells me this…  If I want God to really lead my life, I have to know that He has purpose for my life, pray for His will, and be patient while waiting to receive it.  It may not be this house and it may not be this job. And if that is the case, then what He has planned will be better than either one of these.  Just keep the faith & remember to breathe.