Category: Family Room

We are Adopted Children

This post is in honor of National Adoption Day, which is every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.


We were born strangers and orphans, yet God adopted us.

adoption-1057639_1920He said “…I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters…” 2 Corinthians 6:18

He is “…a father to the fatherless…” Psalm 68: 5, 6

In Him “…the fatherless find compassion.” Hosea 14:3

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans…”  James 1: 27


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“Those who accept Christ… are not left as orphans, to bear the trials of life alone. He receives them as members of the heavenly family; He bids them call His Father their Father. They are His “little ones,” dear to the heart of God, bound to Him by the most tender and abiding ties. He has toward them an exceeding tenderness, as far surpassing what our father or mother has felt toward us in our helplessness as the divine is above the human.”

 

adoption-177427_1920“Christ loves the heavenly beings that surround His throne; but what shall account for the great love wherewith He has loved us? We cannot understand it, but we can know it true in our own experience. And if we do hold the relation of kinship to Him, with what tenderness should we regard those who are brethren and sisters of our Lord! Should we not be quick to recognize the claims of our divine relationship? Adopted into the family of God, should we not honor our Father and our kindred?”  The Desire of Ages, page 327


I am grateful to the Warner family for sharing their photos with me.

 

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Let Me Serve You

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There was a time, when my children were in their teens, that I disliked them.


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I disliked their arrogance.

I disliked their entitlement.


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I disliked their work ethic.

I disliked how they ‘took advantage of me’.


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I loved them, but I disliked a lot about them.


Being a homeschooling family meant that I was with them almost 24/7, so there were lots of opportunities to be upset with them. My bad character reacted negatively with their teenage stuff and like the woman in proverbs, “I tore my house down with my own hands.” Proverbs 14: 1

I thank God that he let me realize my response to their behavior was creating more problems than their attitudes. Because of that I prayed and prayed for help. And God gave it in a very strange way. He inspired me to ‘serve’ them. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

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So, I literally started serving them. When they irritated me, I would serve them their food at the next meal. Since our habit was eating buffet style, they found it strange.  

 

“Why are you serving my food? ”

“Oh for no reason, I just thought I would serve you and make you happy.”

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Dishing up their food became therapy for my irritable spirit. I first started offering their food to them hiding a resentful heart, but as I continued acting out this principle, my feelings changed. Soon the things that had bothered me, didn’t. I actually served them their plates in love.

It is strange how doing something because the bible says so changes us. Choosing to do them good strengthened a spiritual muscle that I was able to exercise when they were doing things that vexed me.

After a while, I confessed my tactic. They were surprised.

“All those times you served our food, you were actually frustrated with us?”

“Yes, but God changed my heart and now I serve you just because I want to.”

So all these years later, sometimes I like to serve my adult children their plates of food.  When I do, they grin and ask, “Are we irritating you?” I am so grateful the Lord took a problem I could not solve and changed it into a happy memory.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.”  Psalm 30:11


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The Sixth Love Language

Be careful…

Watch your step…

Slow down…

These are warnings all parents say.

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I believe warnings are the sixth love language. They are like lighthouses that guide us through stormy seas. Revelation 3:19 says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten…”  We admonish our children because we love them, just like God loves us.  So why is it that if we give a child $20 they appreciate it more than if we give them 20 cautions?  It could be human nature and a distaste of censure or it might be an overabundance of the gift.

What is your love language?  Some feel loved when words of affirmation are spoken.  Others feel loved with quality time, physical touch or gifts.  I feel love with  acts of service.  But if my husband started doing everything for me, that very important expression of love would become repulsive.  I think that is the primary reason why our children grow weary of the sixth love language.  We over do it.  I know I do.

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I worry and fear when I see where certain choices tend to.  I caution them because I want their road to be as smooth as possible.  Like God, I want them to have “peace, and not… evil, (I want them to have) an expected end.”  Jeremiah 29:11.  But I have had to learn to take my cue from God.  He gives warnings, it is true, but the greater part of the bible is full of promises and encouragement.  An informal source says there are over 3500 promises in the bible.  And I am sure those are just overt promises. I doubt they include promises that are couched in stories and parables.  Even without hard statistics, it is easy to see that God’s favorite spoken way of expressing love is words of affirmation.  He warns and corrects us in measure, but affirmation is poured in torrents.  And these promises are the very things that provide our ‘expected end’.

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“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”  2 Peter 1:4


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To My Grandchildren, Grandparent’s Day 2017

For Grand Parents Day, I want to share a letter I wrote to my grandchildren.  I believe it echoes the heartfelt message most grandparents want to share with their grand-kids.

Dear Ari, Gabriel, and Addy,

I am so happy I was able to see you. On Friday night when I said that listening to you sing about Jesus was the second best thing that had happened to me all year, I meant it. I have no greater wish than that you love God.

As I have been thinking about your visit, it has come to my mind how blessed you are. During my whole childhood, I wished I could have had what you have in your home. When I was seven years old, my father left our family and I saw him a total of about 8 times between then and when I got married. After he left our family, he moved to Florida and did not visit or call us on the phone. I did not really get to know him until I became an adult.

My mother worked two jobs. She worked at night as a singer in New Jersey and didn’t get home till 2 AM. She was always sleeping when we left for school and then she was at her other job when we returned from school. That meant we never got to see her. Besides that she has a mental illness that prevents her from really loving others, so I grew up without feeling loved by her. She didn’t play with us, so I learned that adults don’t play with children. If you notice, I don’t often really play. That is because, I never saw a grown up playing with a kid when I was little. But God has helped me and I play more now than in my past.

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I am so happy when I see how loving and loyal your father is. I know he will never leave you. He will always find ways to be with you no matter what life brings. He always protects you and he provides a good home and life for you. He is busy with his work, but he always makes time for you.  I have seen him do it in so many ways. He also makes things fun, by changing them into games. He listens when you have something to say. He tells you great stories. He plays with you. He encourages you to be the best you can be. You are so blessed to have a father like him, a father who loves you.

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I am especially happy when I see your mom. She does things I never did when my kids were little. Remember, I never learned to play with grown-ups when I was small, so I never really spent much time playing with my kids. But your mother takes time and plays with you. I think that is so wonderful! She colors with you and does crafts. She spends a lot of time just enjoying your company. She really likes hanging out with you.  Your mom is also a great champion. That word does not only mean the winner, like a sports ‘world champion’. That word also means, defender. A champion is someone who will always make sure no one hurts you. Your mom is a great champion for you. She will battle anyone who would want to hurt you. Many kids don’t actually have someone who will champion them. I didn’t when I was small. I am so glad that I can be confident that your mom will always be your champion. You are so blessed to have a mother like her, a mother who loves you.

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When I think of all the blessings God has given you in your parents and in your family I am convinced that He has great plans for you. I grew up a used and neglected child, and He has given me a blessed grown-up life. I did my best with my children, and their lives were better than mine; but I still made many sad mistakes; still God is using all my kids for His cause. And now I see how God is working in your lives and He has given you much more than I ever had, or could provide for my own children. I hope you will take advantage of the many blessings He has given you and live every day looking at them. Being happy is about being grateful for what we have. When we are ungrateful, we are unhappy. My sweet children, choose to be grateful and be happy.

I love you more than you will ever know, Grandma.

 

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Moses’ Prayer, part 3: I Cannot Bear It

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There have been parenting moments when I realized I could not continue being a mother.  Not because of the pain in dealing with a child’s illness or trauma, but because of my deficiency.   It has happened during the aftermath of situations in which my weakness left wounds in their souls.  In those moments, reality exposed the truth that I was unfit for the job.  The problem was I could not carry the load.  I held the expectations and as they slipped out of my hands I knew I failed my children and God.

But the failure did not come from lack of trying.  It is just that for me, motherhood is not a doable thing.  You see, from the second they are conceived these lives need selfless love.  And I have a selfish heart. The good I gave them was not sustainable and sometimes it wasn’t even good.  My narrow heart easily grew weary in well doing.  And like Moses I have said, “Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant?  And wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? … I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.”  Numbers 11: 11 – 15.

IMG_0589 (1)When Moses cried that he could no longer nurture his millions the Lord said, “Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”  Numbers 11: 16, 17.

The lever that lifted Moses’ burden was people who shared in his work.  Motherhood is a cumbersome proposal and every mother needs help.  It does not matter if it comes from kith or kin.  It only matters that they love her and her children.  I once had a baby sitter who helped.  Mrs. Fischer prayed for me.  She loved my sons.  She encouraged me with Isaiah 40: 31 – “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  God put His Spirit in her and through that oblation, she helped me carry my burden.

Now it may be that you find yourself low in the ability to offer selfless love 24/7, but somewhere in your life, God has someone whom He will endow with it.  They don’t have to mother your children as often as you do, but they can share in the work.  As in Moses’ case, your help might be someone you already know, or it might be someone who is on their way.  And even if no human hand helps, God feels the weight, so “cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee…” Psalm 55: 22.  And if you know a mother, be Christ’s hand in her life. Lift her burden so the children will be well loved.  “But Moses’ hands were heavy… and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady…”  Exodus 17:12.

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“If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though (we) …are so obstinate… pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.” Exodus 34:9

 

 

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Moses’ Prayer, part 2: They’re Gonna Stone Me

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Our children sometimes see us as the enemy.  Their opinion may be based on fiction, but the lie cuts deep in their soul and ours.  What are we to do when we hear…

“You are the meanest person I have ever known!”

“It’s all your fault!”

or

“You just don’t understand me!”


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I know perfectly well what I want to say.  I want to answer…

“Obviously, you do not know many people!”

“Right, the consequences of your foolish choices are my fault!”

or

“Oh, I understand you. I know you are

 not getting your way and throwing a little temper tantrum!”


But experience has taught those answers don’t help.  They only deepen the wound.  Restraint in the face of unfair accusations is the best course of action. But I have never had to face a certain complaint.  It is the one that says…

“You wish I was dead.”


I doubt many parents have had to face that statement, but Moses did…

“And the people thirsted there for water;

and the people murmured against Moses, and said,

Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt,

to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”

Exodus 17: 3


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I can’t imagine how Moses felt when he heard those words.  If it had been me, I would have answered…

“What? I gave up a good life for you and this is what you think?

Fine, I am going home.  You can just fend for yourselves!”


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But that is not what he did, is it?  What he actually did was pray…

“And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying,

What shall I do unto this people?

they be almost ready to stone me.”

Ex 17:4


That is an amazing response.  I wish I had always run to prayer when my children had been younger.  Then I would have come back to the situation like Moses…

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people…

Behold, I will stand before thee…”

Exodus 17: 5, 6

I would have returned to my children after prayer and been standing behind the Lord, and my children would have been in His presence.


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But I still have time and opportunity.  Although they are all adults, I know sometime in the future, my children will misrepresent me.  When that moment comes, I want to pray like Moses.

“If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though (we) …are so obstinate… pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.” Exodus 34:9

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Moses’ Prayer, part 1: Take Us as Your Own Possession

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I just realized that I have been guilty of child neglect. Not the kind that is defined in wikipedia…

“Child neglect is a form of child abuse, and is a deficit in meeting a child’s basic needs…”

…but the neglect of prayer I could have given my offspring.

The kind of prayer they needed and deserved.

The kind of prayer Moses offered.

 

psalm of lament 3I have prayed… yes.

I have claimed promises in their behalf… yes.

I have spent nights in prayer… yes. (Although, those all-night prayers were only a few times and because of tragic circumstances).

But I have not prayed as I could have.

 

pc11_Israel_Wang_600I have neglected the privilege and they have lacked a need.

Oh, how I wish I had forgotten the laundry because of prayer.

Oh, how I wish I had neglected the garden because of prayer.

Oh, how I wish I had rejected business, instead of prayer.

 

pray-442560_1920But today, I choose to pray.

I will pray for my children and grand-children.

I will bring each name before the Lord and ask Him to reveal Himself to them.

I will ask for circumstances that will bring them close to His side, knowing it may be pain that does so.


Like Moses I will pray,

“If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though (we) …are so obstinate… pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.” Exodus 34:9

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Face like Flint

clause-370933_1920The Bible says that character traits are passed down generationally, probably through our DNA, from “the third and fourth generation… unto thousands of them.”  Ex 20: 7, 8.  Today I wonder if I want my progeny to continue dealing with a particular trait?

My husband and I thought being brave was something to be desired.  Pat walks steadily through trials and does not complain about them.  I on the other hand fuss, but jump into problems with both feet.  And neither one of us is quick to quit.  Sometimes I see these traits in my children and I wonder if we were right.

I just watched a young man go where he knows pain will follow.  I texted him.


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I am conflicted.  I want him to keep fighting when things are hard.  Still, I want him to recognize it’s ok to sometimes crumple up in a heap and cry.  I am proud of him for going into the thick of the pain.  Still, I wish he would stop and lick his wounds.  And I am haunted by the thought that maybe this isn’t worth his effort.  Maybe this is a pain to walk away from.

Then I wonder “How the Father felt?”  He watched His Son march into the deadly battle.  He saw Him crumple up in a heap and cry.  When the pain disfigured Christ more than any other person (Isaiah 52:14), did the Father text and say, “You don’t have to do this”?  No He didn’t, instead God strengthened His Son.  He sent angels to encourage Him in the task.  And when the sorrow was the greatest, He hid His son in a panoply of darkness.  God did not give Jesus an out because the prize was worth more than the pain.  These words jettisoned Jesus forward:

“…For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. He who vindicates Me is near… Who is among you that fears the LORD… Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” Isaiah 50: 6-10.

But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied…”  Isaiah 53; 10, 11.

superhero-2503808_1920So I claim this for my own son.  I believe he will not be disgraced.  I appreciate he has set his face like stoic flint and pray the Lord be near.  And though he suffer, I know the Lord’s pleasure will prosper in his hand.  As a result of his anguish, my son will be satisfied.  In the end, I will be glad this young man chose to live out this trait we passed on to him.  Bravery is the harder path, because it is a trait born in heaven.

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Mothers of Prophecy

You, dear woman, are a Mother of Prophecy. 

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It is not something you chose, but still, that is what you are.  No less than Mary or Elizabeth you have been chosen to help children rise above the din and do great things for God.  What will you do to train your little ones so they will not depart from their way when they are old?  (Proverbs 22:6)  How will you inculcate their hearts with a love so deep that, like Waldensian youth, they would never deny Christ? 

I ask these questions and have no answer.  But I know someone who does.  He is the same teacher who taught Daniel’s mother how to train him. (Daniel 1)  He is the same guide who led Joseph when he was separated from home influences. (Genesis 37)  He is the tender father who comforted Little Maid when, as a very little girl, she was abducted from her family. (2 Kings 5) 

Thier mothers were Mothers of Prophecy.  They all had a prophecy pointing them forward. Daniel and Little Maid’s mother’s had the prophesies of Isaiah and Jeremiah.  Joseph’s mother had Abraham’s vision of the horror of great darkness to guide her. (Genesis 15).  And you have Christ’s own words saying, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the teats that never nursed… for if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23:27-31.  As surely as the Lord provided prophecy and instruction for those mothers, He has provided the same for you. 

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“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.”  2 Chronicles 15:7


Recognize that the success of childrearing is God’s work.

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“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness…  And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof… Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words…” Zechariah 8: 7,8, 5, 9


Rest in the knowledge that it is nothing you do that saves your child, it is all God’s work.

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“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?  But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.  And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.” Isaiah 49:24-26 


When you get discouraged because you keep falling into your own parenting weaknesses, remember God’s mercy.

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“Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.  Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.  I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness. Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity…because He delighteth in mercy.  He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. ”  Micah 7: 7-9, 19


When you are pressured by people who call for your energy and attention, tell them that you have a free pass to neglect certain things.

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“I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” Nehemiah 6: 3


If you are the mother of a wayward adult child take courage.

“Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.  And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.”  Jeremiah 31: 16, 17


If you lament the fact you never bore children, you are still a Mother of Prophecy. 

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“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear;…for more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.  Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes: for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles…And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Isaiah 54: 1-3, 13


You, dear friend, are a Mother of Prophecy…

Ordained by God to Learn Love and Teach Love to all those under your charge…

whether they be children born of blood…

adopted by love…

or bred from spiritual like mindedness. 

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Hope’s Psalm

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 I told my friend Hope about a great sorrow and she strengthened me with psalms and prayers.  I am so blessed by her understanding and experience.  I think you will be too.

 Dear Rose
Psalm 23
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“The Lord is my shepherd…”  His sheep hear his voice, BE LISTENING…

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“I shall not want…”  I have learned the secret to being content; it is that my Father will never leave me or forsake me…

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“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…”  Life is exhausting.  Stop, rest, and WAIT…

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“He leadeth me beside still waters…”  Be calm, peaceful, and serene…

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He restoreth my soul…..But it’s not instantaneously.  Be patient while HE WORKS…


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“Yea, though I walk through…”  I ain’t staying here sister! I am going through; THIS IS TEMPORARY…,
“…the valley of the shadow of death…”  Right here; right now stinks.  It’s a life and death battle…

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“I will fear no evil…”  Fear is a choice.  God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind… What time I am afraid, I will TRUST IN HIM…

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“For Thou art with me…”  “Fear thou not for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee, yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

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“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…”  Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord,  “I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I WILL SAVE YOUR CHILDREN.” Isaiah 49:25

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“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…”  He’s preparing a feast of joy and love with all who will COME…

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“Thou anointest my head with oil…”  He bathes my mind with truth and reason…

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“My cup runneth over…”  God is not stingy He is already redeeming this situation.  And He will continue to bless more than we can think or imagine… Though it tarry wait for it… Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord… It may not come in our time frame, but IT WILL COME…

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“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”  My legacy will be like God’s.  When I pass through a room, a situation, a conversation, goodness and mercy are the blessings and impressions I will leave behind me…

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“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever…”  My Father has my room ready, and one for my precious husband, and children and… and… and…

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We have these precious promises, and He is faithful who promises.
It’s a statement…
A fact…
You are greatly loved.
“Give” this to God for the night and get some good sleep.
He never slumbers or sleeps.
Hold fast, for this is the patience of the saints.
Keep the faith.
God’s got this.
Hope
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1 Corinthians 13 Paraphrase, 2017

 

brawlin-betties-1197374Though I have learned to speak with grace and don’t yell at my young peole like I used to, my changes are empty if I don’t have enough love to be gentle with a rebellious and erring young adult.

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And though I can explain with biblical reasoning why his choices will only lead to sorrow, and though I have life experience to back it up; if I still fall into fear and anxiety about his course of action, my counsel means nothing.

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And though I gave up the accumulated dollars of twenty years income to become a homeschooling mom, but can’t communicate to her that I love her more than the cost of her bad choices, the salary I sacrificed is wasted.

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Love suffers with the prodigal as the natural consequences of their rebellion bears fruit.

Love is kind and does not say, “I told you so,” when they meet disappointment.

Love does not resent the pain it carries because their bad choices affect me personally

Love does not nag the prodigal to try to get them to see the error of their ways.

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Love does not respond in anger when the prodigal blames me for all his problems.

It rejects the thought, “after all we have done for her, this is how she repays us?”

Rather love’s concern is in supporting the prodigal so she can get past this season of life with as little collateral damage to herself as possible.

Love keeps calm under duress.

It does not get lost in the drama of loving a wild child.  Instead, it seeks happiness outside of the volatile relationship.

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Love is not blind to the reckless choices the prodigal makes.

It is not complicit in his folly.

Rather, love gently speaks the truth about the rebellion, while still rejoicing in the good things about her child.

Love shoulders the prospect of watching a son lose everything,

Still it believes that God can save him.

It hopes in complete restoration.

Love recognizes that sometimes the prodigal will remain broken;

and while living according to conviction, it reshapes boundaries to be able to maintain contact with her.

Love doesn’t quit when all looks hopeless.

Pleading with the prodigal will fail.

Rationalization will be futile.

We may not know how to help them,

But when their story is played out, they will hopefully have learned something.

When my child was born, I wrapped him in hopes and expectations; but as he grew I had to put those away.

Right now her future is dark to me. But someday this will all be explained.

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Then I will see how God worked His grace in our family.

But until then I abide in…

Faith for God’s saving promises…

Hope of His providential power…

and

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Love for my wayward child.

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1 Corinthians Paraphrase, 2015

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It doesn’t really matter that I follow the rules of effective communication when speaking with my husband.  If I do so in an unloving manner, my words are useless.

And if I warn my children that their choices won’t yield good fruit and chide them when it happens, I have taught them nothing.

And though God answer my prayers, removing mountainous problems, if I remain unloving, I am nothing at all.

And though I pour all my energy into serving my family, yet I keep score about it, my work is insignificant;

Love patiently endures and is tender hearted.

Love isn’t jealous.

Love doesn’t brag and isn’t proud.

It is never coarse; is not self serving; neither is it irritable or suspicious.

It sorrows for unrighteousness and sympathizes with truth.

It silently bears all things.

It is buoyant.

It expects the good.

It braves all things.

Love cannot be driven out: predictions shall fail, language will come to an end, and science will become useless.

Right now my ability to discern my own weaknesses is incomplete and my capacity to appreciate God’s saving power is limited.

But when I am glorified my partial understanding shall vanish away.

When I was immature I talked, felt and thought immaturely.  But when I grew up I put away those things.

Similarly, right now I only know about God by what can be seen through a dark mirror, but then I shall see Jesus face to face:

Right now I can understand a fraction of His love, but then I shall understand it as fully as He knows me.

So, I remain expecting these three gifts, faith, hope and love, and the most excellent one is love.


 

This was originally published for Valentines Day 2015.  I thought I would publish it again. Hope you enjoyed it.

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The Power of Love

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Being a mother has taught me so much about love.

It’s incredible how this concept changes after having children. 

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Before I had children, what I thought was love was really only a strong feeling of fondness.

But every day I realize more and more the extent of the selfless, continuous effort that is entailed in this word.

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True love is a shameless testament of God’s beautiful character. 

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The “soft answer that turns away anger: and the “love that suffers long” are sometimes so difficult to live out when dealing with rampaging little humans, but it builds a home after God’s own heart. 

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From the world’s point of view, money is power, but from the Christian standpoint, love is power. Love has a strong, celestial, transforming ability over the human heart, because it is a gift given directly from God’s doting hand. 

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The home can be a place filled with divine affection.Peace, harmony, happiness and warmth are the building blocks for instilling love into the fibers of the human heart.

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Every good and loving act should be celebrated.

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Like growing plants thrive with nourishment, love, when cultivated, will grow in the heart. 

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Give your children the upper hand against their stubborn dispositions by surrounding them with a loving home atmosphere.My name is Alicia, and I am the mother of three beautiful little girls. 


familyMy family is my life. I created a blog, The Modern Biblical Family to share some of my stories as a parent, wife and daughter, and hopefully spread some love and encouragement along the way. God blessed me with a uniquely twisted sense of humor because he knew there was no way I would get through it otherwise!  But I believe that LOVE is the biggest factor in building a Godly family.  My hope is to share the incredible beauty God has shown me throughout my life. Things have not always seemed great from the inside looking out, but even through the tough times, God has always been able to make shining jewels from the wreckage in my life.

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The Back of His Head

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It’s 10 p.m.


I’m tired, but sitting up in bed.  My son is in bible-school on the opposite end of the country.  We can’t talk face to face. He has no regular email, and his cell phone reception is horrible. So far our conversations have consisted of a few sentences before ending abruptly. The school live-streams their vesper service at 7 p.m. California time. That’s 10 p.m. in the east coast, where I am. It’s a two hour meeting tonight . It’s an excellent message, but I’m not giving it my full attention.  I’m watching the program so I can see my son!  There he is! I smile when I spot him in the audience.  Oh, and he’s wearing the shirt his sister bought him just before he left.

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I keep listening and watching the back of his head.


It makes me happy to just see him.  I’m thankful he’s there. I can see him letting God lead his life and it’s exciting.  I love him so much. I am proud of his perseverance, his courage, and mostly I am grateful for his seeking after God.  We all really miss him.  I miss him.  To our home, he’s the fizz in the spritzer and the sprinkles on the whip cream!  Which explains why I’m awake when I should be asleep – I just want to see him a little bit longer. As long as he’s on-screen, I can’t turn away.

 

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I’m not lonely or alone.


I have a loving husband and other precious children at home. Earlier today, I enjoyed their company for over an hour.  They all lay on our bed and we talked.  We laughed.  We discussed everything. Husband dozed off and on.  I scratched their heads and backs.  Technically only one-seventh of our family is missing, but it feels so much more than that.  Just one special person away has created an exponentially larger loss. We’re all feeling it.  My heart aches.

 

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Then the thought comes…


“Is that how it is with God and me?”  He can’t talk with me face-to-face and I’m careless about taking time to pray.  I am careless in His presence and forget to listen.  The perfect reception we should enjoy is often jumbled and I don’t hear Him.  I drop the call and disconnect. Or too often I don’t even bother to make the call at all.

 

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Does He feel like I do?


Does He love me so much that He sits and gazes through space at me?  When there is so much to do, are the angels saying, “Excuse me Holy One, you’re needed at Galaxy gazillion-seven”, to which He responds, “I know, but I’ll only be able to see her for a few more minutes before she hurries off, so I just want to stay till she’s gone”. Does He just get the back of my head when He longs to gaze at me face to face?  Is He missing me like I’m missing my precious son?

Father, Abba, I praise your Almighty compassion; Your mercy and patience.

Please forgive my impertinence and ungratefulness… my disregard of Your Holy Presence.  Give me the desire to be still and know that You are my God, my Father. Help me cut out everything that keeps me from basking in, and enjoying your presence.  Thank you for giving me precious human relationships, so I can have a tiny idea of your amazing love. Please give me Your wisdom, love and energy to nurture them.  Amen.    

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27 Days, The Post Script

Here is a little of what those 27 Days taught me.

  1. The tests showed cancer, yet God knew it wasn’t cancer.  And still:

He was close to me.

He spoke to me through His word.

He comforted me through His people.

He worked miracles through His mercy.

He did not base His help on the fact that He knew there was no malignancy.

Rather He offered grace on my perceived reality.

I did not have His insight and He took that into consideration.

He treated me not as I deserved, but as I should have been treated had I really had esophageal cancer.

And that is amazing.

2.  The Lord has blessed me with many friends, but He has given me a friend as no other;

My husband Pat…

Who carried the weight of my sorrow and did not complain.

Who carried the weight of his own sorrow and did not bend underneath it.

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Who came home from work in the middle of the day and stood strong as I cried on his shoulder.

Who put me to bed after my crying jag and let me rest.

Who then changed his shirt for one that was not soaked with my tears and went back to work.

~

Who made himself the guardian of my sleep.

Who watched me for hours, while I napped.

Who made himself a prisoner to my tiredness.

~

Who prayed every day for my life.

Who prayed all day for my life.

Who stretched his soul up to God’s throne and claimed my restoration.

~

Who cried.

Who laughed.

Who loved me.

3. The Lord uses His people to comfort and restore His own.

I kept a partial list of blessings God gave me through other’s hands.  Here they are:

Lindsey read PET scan for me.

Tony bought a book for me on cancer treatment.

Julie called and prayed with me.

Sissel wrote to me almost every morning with an encouraging verse or thought.

Maria wrote to me with bible verses and encouragement.

Anna and Iris took over Mommy’s needs with PACE for me.

Debbie  P. called me often.

Julie called and said she wanted to visit and give me a book.

Nathan offered me his settlement for the car accident, for use in alternative treatment.

Maria and Edwin purchased the Truth About Cancer for me and made sure I was able to eat organic fruits and vegetables.

Julie called again to check up on me.

The Andrew’s University maintenance department has been praying for me.

Dan, the electrician prayed fervently and was even brought to tears interceding for us.

Jamie’s wife woke up at 5 A.M. the morning of my needle biopsy to pray for me, even though she did not know I was having surgery.

Debbie G. called frequently and suggested things about how to get a diagnosis.  She even checked with the doctors at her job to get ideas.

Bill called and asked Pat how I was doing.

Eva lent us her champion juicer and infra-red machine.

Karen said she would pray for me.

Becky gave me a hug and said she was praying for me.

Eva E. said she would pray.

Julie was willing to plan Nikki’s 25th birthday for me.

Sissel and Greg looked into the name of a doctor who treated someone in California with mouth cancer and had great success.

Cheryl said she was praying.

A friend donated a large sum for doctor bills.

Lynn from M.E.E.T. Ministry was so kind. I always felt encouraged after speaking with her.

Pastor Phil and Lindsay are praying for me.

Chris said he prays for me every day.

Akeem said he is praying for me.

A friend donated funds so I could go to MEET Ministry.

Mark and Ruth have been very instrumental in getting the correct diagnosis.  Mark guided us in understanding how this should proceed and then God worked a miracle and got me scheduled for my biopsy at Mark’s hospital in less than 24 hours.

Dwayne and Alex not only prayed but supported me in every way.

Mark and Dawn are praying for me. They sent organic kale and oregano oil. I took the oregano oil when I had a post-op fever and felt better the next day.

Gabriel researched nearby hospitals, that are better in cancer treatment than Lakeland.

All my children have been praying for me.

Pat was used by the Lord to get me to go to the doctor at the beginning of this whole thing.

Pat initiated conversations with Mark about the tests they were doing.  He followed up on that, even though I thought it was a waste of energy.  I am so grateful Pat listened to the Lord and not me.

Nate offered to take care of any fund-raising I have to do for medical bills.

All my family has been praying for me.

Nikki bought me an “It’s not cancer!” flower bouquet.

Sissel sent me a “We are praying for you” flower bouquet.

Even though my mother did not know about the cancer diagnosis, she knew I wasn’t feeling well and had lost weight and she called me a couple of times to tell me to eat more and to rest.

Ron and Lori have asked how I am doing, and are praying for me.

Allison and family are praying for me.

Lindsey and Tony pray for me each night.

Debbie and Mario pray fervently, even to tears for me.

Mario told Debbie some bad health news from me, so I wouldn’t have to do it.

Lindsey did research on histoplasmosis.

Daniel has been very solicitous and sits with me daily.

The McKinleys pray for me.

Andrews University is cutting trees from the front yard, which keep out the sun and decrease light in the house.

Debbie P. has been having her work friends and her mother pray for me.

Pat’s boss is allowing overtime, to help with the doctor bills.

Julie brought corn bread, a book and a card for us.

The church offered to help with travel expenses to MEET Ministry.

Yudy said she would pray for me and her friend is going to pray too.


Today, as I write this, the doctors still have no real diagnosis for what is growing in my lung.  They explain that the lymph nodes in my heart, bronchus and chest that look like cancer are just responding to the mass in the lung. They do not believe I have cancer, but they cannot say what I do have or why.

I am convinced that

“… this happened that the works of God might be displayed.” John 9: 3

And so I share His goodness with you.

That you might believe.

 

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Grandparents, DNA and Blessings

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“… I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:5,6

This commandment alludes to genetics.  It is not saying that the guilt of personal sin is passed down generationally.  But it does speak to the fact that we inherit strengths and weaknesses from our ancestors.  A University of Edinburgh study says that, “Genes play a greater role in forming character traits — such as self-control, decision making or sociability -than was previously thought… genetics were more influential in shaping key traits than a person’s home environment and surroundings.”  It seems our character tendencies result from our parent’s genetics more than how they raised us.

This genetic influence is examined in the story of Noah’s grandson, Canaan.  “Noah, speaking by divine inspiration, foretold the history of the three great races to spring from these fathers of mankind. Tracing the descendants of Ham, through the son rather than the father, he declared, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” The unnatural crime of Ham declared that filial reverence had long before been cast from his soul, and it revealed the impiety and vileness of his character. These evil characteristics were perpetuated in Canaan and his posterity, whose continued guilt called upon them the judgments of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 117

When contemplating the story, it seems to me that like all children, Canaan, received his father’s weaknesses.  His genetics provided the fodder for villainy, and he perpetuated his parent’s faults instead of becoming a transitional person.  Canaan could have looked to Noah, his grandfather, and found a reliable example to guide his life. He was not a slave to his epigenetics.  He had the power to live in such a way as to change his DNA and that of his posterity.  We all have that choice.

I learned this lesson last year, when my mentally ill mother lived with me.  During that year, I saw behaviors I had chosen to forget.  Realizing she still exercised those behaviors hurt me as much as when I originally saw them in my childhood.  But this time I also saw them as the predecessors of my own bad character.  When she raged, I saw my irritability.  When she condemned, I saw my faultfinding.  When she manipulated, I saw my need to control situations by being “good.”   I also saw my sin as more egregious, because unlike her I am not mentally ill.  I would have fallen into despair had not the commandment given me hope.  For it clearly states that God shows mercy unto thousands of generations that love Him, and keep His commandments.  It is this mercy that has prevented me from devolving into what my genes were coded to express.  It is this mercy that has blessed me and two generations after me.

I am amazed when I think of how generous God has been, because I know He has blessed my mother too.  I have seen Him provide her needs and desires even though from a human standpoint she has persecuted those that love Him.  And because of the commandment, I am sure she and her progeny have reaped the mercies the Lord promised my grandparents.

Abuelo and Abuela fell in love with God in their youth and as long as they lived their hearts were knit to His.  I always knew they loved Him.  And the way they expressed that love to me, was a buffer that saved me from a lot of the damage growing up with an unstable parent can do.   And I believe that for their sakes the Lord has spared us unto the third and fourth generation and will bless us to thousands of generations.  “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them.”  Psalm 103:17

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I thank God for my grandparents.  I hope I can be a portion of what Abuelo and Abuela were to me, to my own grandchildren.

Happy Grandparents Day on September 11, 2016.

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Drama Triangle

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Last week I wrote about how love is expressed in Triangles.

My favorite one is the inverted triangle.  I like to call it the Salvation Triangle. This shape expresses the story of redemption.  As I said, one angle can be thought of as Satan, the accuser.  Another angle as Christ, our redeemer.  And down at the focal point stands the victim. Satan accuses the victim and Jesus rescues him.  As Christians most of the time we stand in the fulcrum bearing the strain of Satan’s accusations. But the Bible says, Jesus is the victim. He is the lamb slain from the foundation of the earth.  He takes the accusations that are justly ours, so we can be free from condemnation.  Besides telling the story of salvation this triangle reveals a problem that occurs in relationships. The inverted triangle portrayed in human systems is called the Drama Triangle.


 

The Drama Triangle

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The drama triangle is a dysfunctional way of dealing with conflict. Each person in the drama will play a specific role. The victim or persecutor usually begins the conflict.  “The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, and seems unable to make decisions, solve problems, take pleasure in life, or achieve insight…The rescuer’s line is “Let me help you.” A classic enabler, the Rescuer feels guilty if he/she doesn’t go to the rescue. Yet his/her rescuing has negative effects: It keeps the Victim dependent and gives the Victim permission to fail. The rewards derived from this rescue role are that the focus is taken off of the rescuer. When he/she focuses their energy on someone else, it enables them to ignore their own anxiety and issues…The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault.” The Persecutor is controlling, blaming, critical, oppressive, angry, authoritative, rigid, and superior.” (Wikipedia)

Everyone has participated in this morbid melodrama, and at some point we have played all the roles.  Each time we have engaged in it, we have sabotaged relationships. I have participated in Satan’s role of persecutor, by keeping score of prior injury and accusing loved ones with things I should have forgotten.  I have participated when I rescue a victim telling them their accuser, “just doesn’t understand”.   And I have participated when I have insisted on believing I am the victim.

The odd thing about the drama triangle is that it can be built by two people.  Here is how. The victim can begin the drama, acting out his low self worth by being irresponsible.  The accuser lashes out in anger rehearsing the victim’s faults.  Guilt ridden, the victim repents using self-condemnatory language.  At which point the accuser switches hats and rescues the victim, consoling him with the fact that the offense did not warrant the emotional tirade.  At this point the victim turns accuser and berates the newly converted rescuer for over reacting. Like every bastion of sin, this triangle pulls people further and further apart.  The cycle eventually takes over the relationship leaving everyone miserable.  The only solution is getting out.


 

The Victim

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The escape is in understanding our true identity in the dynamic.

Christ paid for the right to be our substitutionary victim.  He suffered so we would not have victim mentality.  His sacrifice removes us from the triad and sets us on His throne.  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us… made us alive together with Christ… and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2: 4, 5

We don’t need to dwell on the accusations.  We don’t need to run to a human rescuer for solace.  All we need to do is mentally and sometimes physically remove ourselves from the situation and go to Jesus. He rescued Joshua (put link to Triangles) the High priest in Zechariah 3 and He will rescue us from both fair and unjust accusations.  “For thus says the LORD of hosts, …he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” Zechariah 2: 8

Automatic instinct reaches out to protect our eyes from danger.  To me this means God has a “knee jerk” reaction when we are incriminated.  His automatic instinct is to cover us with His righteousness.  We lose out on His protection when accused, because we begin protecting ourselves or casting our own accusations.  These coping mechanisms obstruct Christ from His rightful place as our Substitute and Savior.


The Accuser

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When we find ourselves in the accuser’s role, we must get out as fast as possible!   The bible says, “…the accuser of our brethren is cast down… into the lake of fire and brimstone…” Revelation 12: 10; Revelation 20 :10  That is the last place anyone wants to be.  The final disposition of accusers should be enough to help us reform, but the truth is it isn’t.  Change will only occur when we see what our accusations really cost.

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Chiding people with their failures is literally doing it to Jesus.

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”  Matthew 25:40

Jesus took on the victim’s weakness. He became their sin and feels the weight of their accusations.  When we accuse others, we stir up all His old wounds.  

If you find yourself playing the accuser, remember God has promised,  “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who… with the temptation will provide the way of escape also….”  1 Corinthians 10: 13  An escape hatch is leaving the situation.  If I play accuser I try to end the phone call, leave the room, go to the bathroom or take a drive.  I do anything to leave when I am being tempted to criticize.  I used to think it was rude to absent myself from volatile situations, but I have realized my relationship with Christ is more important than whether some human victim or rescuer thinks I am rude for leaving. So I encourage all of us tempted with a critical spirit to absent ourselves from the drama.  We can focus on Christ’s wounds.  We can envision the blood He shed for the victim and allow Him to correct their irresponsible behavior.


The Rescuer

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Lastly, if we find ourselves in the role of rescuer we should realize we have usurped Christ’s position.  He is the only one with the right to rescue people from their sins and sorrow.  But because He is so generous, He shares the joy of helping people with us.  Though we can’t really rescue anyone, we can certainly hold their hand and ask the Lord to save them.  We can support them through their struggles and point them to Christ.


 

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I am done with the drama triangle. I don’t want to do the devil’s dirty work and I don’t want to usurp Jesus.  And now that you understand this malevolent drama I invite you to exit it too.

We are not slaves to bondage, we can live in the beauty and freedom of Christ.

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“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1: 13, 14

 

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