Lord, I Want More Than Crumbs!

“It’s his nature that provides us with revelatory insights that influence our whole identity and personality.” Graham Cooke

crumbsRevelation is heaven’s food for our spiritual nourishment. The Holy Scriptures reveal the full expression of himself that God desires to give us.

Matthew 15:27 records an incident when a Canaanite woman, born outside of the Abrahamic covenant, begged Jesus for the healing of her demon-possessed daughter.  At some point the Spirit of God had opened her mind to the reality of God’s beneficence and power to heal. Her request of Jesus reveals the earnestness of her hunger. Recognizing the fact that Jesus was Hebrew and she was not, she identifies herself as lesser in privilege yet willing to get any “crumb” he offered.

At first, he responds to her that he has only been sent to “the lost sheep of Israel”, the children of God who are deserving of his nourishing bread.

But she persists and eventually says, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

This scripture is rich with revelation…insights that communicate to us God’s nature and intents. The two that strike me from this passage are his use of the metaphor “bread” to answer her request for healing. Notable as well are the state of her hunger, her parental need, and her persistence to pursue. These last items can be applied metaphorically to our lives today – the divine hunger to delve into the depths of Scripture in order to encounter God ourselves and see our loved ones encounter him as well. Crumbs provide temporary relief. It’s as if the woman was saying, “If my daughter can just get a day’s reprieve from her oppression, I’ll take it…I’ll take a crumb!” But we know, as a human being, she’d want to full loaf of bread.

We learn much from nature as well as God’s natural laws that govern the functions of life. Physical hunger pangs compel us to eat. I believe that we have spiritual hunger pangs as well that compel us to wonder and to chew slowly on Scripture, savoring each nugget of truth in order for every fiber of our beings to draw from Divine life.

In Matthew 15, Jesus uses the metaphor of food when speaking of healing. But the healing from demonic oppression that the woman’s daughter received was not physical, although I believe we can apply physical healing into this revelation. In this particular story, not just the daughter was healed. The mother was too. Certainly the daughter’s healing within that hour was spectacular for her and those who knew her. However, both mother and daughter received mental and emotional healing, cultural healing and the healing of their identities. Jesus’ answer to the mother’s request and his compliment about the completeness of her belief let her know that God is no respecter of persons when it comes to belief. Christians today understand this because when we are born again we become grafted into the Abrahamic covenant and its enumerable blessings. We get to “belong” based on our “belief”. Every human being is a creation of God. But not all are children of God. Belonging and being accepted by God as his child innately transcend our need for societal and cultural identity. Furthermore, Jesus’ posture – answering her request, giving her attention, ignoring the disciples’ recommendations to send her away, healed her emotionally and mentally.

As a Canaanite, she would’ve been conscious of the stares of the disciples, yet she mentally pushed through because the Holy Spirit had spoken to her that their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, was different. Both mother and daughter had been encumbered by the sorrow, frustration and fear that the demon-possession brought.

How did the demon possession manifest? This is a point I cannot help to mention. We know from other passages in the Gospels that demons could bring physical and mental and emotional ailments. (Matthew 4:24; Matthew 9:23, Matthew 17:18; Mark 5) It really doesn’t matter whether the daughter had a demonically influenced disease or mental weakness because all of these situations cause great suffering. Nothing is too difficult for God. His “bread” is to give healing.

In another post, I intend to discuss the warrior-like persistence of a woman. The mother did not run away at the disciples’ suggestion. She held on tenaciously to a truth that she knew in her innermost being. Like a mother lion, this woman used the revelation of God’s goodness to pounce on and destroy that which was stealing the fullness of her daughter’s life. This revelation, like raw meat, she held in her teeth and would not. let. go.

God designed a woman’s body to naturally feed her unborn child through the lifeline of the umbilical cord. Revelation is our umbilical cord.  The mother first received revelation of God’s desire to heal. Yet she hadn’t received the next revelation that God actually wanted her to have more than crumbs. He gave her what she requested based on the revelation she had received up to that point.

I wouldn’t be surprised that this woman got the next revelation when the Apostle Paul went and preached to the Gentiles. Having tasted the crumbs, the reality that she could receive the whole loaf of bread like the children of Israel would have been her ultimate heart’s desire.

As children of God, have we begun to eat the full loaf of bread – spiritual nourishment – guaranteed to us through salvation? As partakers of the Abrahamic covenant, we have the the right to the full loaf but have we only eaten a few pieces?  I’ll shift this metaphorOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA slightly. Let’s be hungry for revelation that we haven’t had yet! Let’s not view God’s Words as a loaf of bread where every piece tastes the same. As we earnestly pursue the written Word we get to know and experience the presence of the living Word, Jesus Christ. After his ascension, Jesus released the Spirit of God to come and be with us and in us. Let’s ask God to whet our palettes with the desire to pursue his mysteries and unanswered questions. Let’s even seek to discover more than the small doses that one Sunday sermon gives! Lord, I want more than crumbs!

Through the Holy Scriptures God tantalizes our spiritual palettes with hints that He is better than the most benevolent human being, He is more beautiful than the setting sun, and He is more faithful than the sunrise.  We cannot help but delve deeper and begin to swallow, first passages that are easy for our human understanding to comprehend, then later divine realities that answer our most difficult questions and satisfy our mysterious spiritual longings.

Humankind was created by an uncreated Being whose depths are unsearchable yet who beckons us to search.  His nature is soon discovered and as we learn how to interact with him by sitting in silent wonder, singing heartfelt praise or studying his digestible Word, we are changed. We are transformed. (Romans 12) We consent to belong to him — forever a child needing His “revelatory insight”. images

He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 13:11

 

 

Lord, fill us with wonder as we read your Word and sit in your Presence. Let us not be satisfied with all that we’ve learned so far in the Bible, from sermons or through books. Give us the excitement and courage to venture into scriptures that we’ve wondered about. Lead us Holy Spirit to know you – as much as a human being can – in all your glory! Bring us revelation today. We want more than crumbs. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Mommy or Me: Who is first?

Ages and Stages Part 4 Mommy or Me: Who is 1st? (Repost from 2014)

bw profileI think I was in my upper-twenties when the dawning occurred. “I” had become lost in the role of “Mommy”. The decision to be a stay-at-home mom cost us financially but rewarded us with the certainty that we could completely oversee our children’s formative years and we could home educate them, teaching each subject according to a Biblical worldview.

Sure, I loved strolling to the playground, attending story-time at the library, and visiting friends 3-4 times per week. But I also loved writing, playing the piano, and learning whatever I could about God.

I never wanted to forsake my “personhood” for the roles that I’ve been blessed with. As much as being a wife and mother delighted me, I knew that I had been endowed by my Creator with certain gifts, talents and missions to accomplish while on this earth.Deep within

Some young mothers get caught in the cage of “I have no time for me.” Ladies, whether we work in the marketplace, at home or not at all, we have to make time for ourselves and I know it ain’t easy. I thank God for the friends that became like family. They encouraged me to nurture my interests even though my husband worked 80-90 hours per week back then.

As moms, we can make it work. Our dreams really can come true…one day. For me original bedtimes stories became the inspiration for a fiction series that I started called The Ages of Laus Perennis. My passion for prayer, teaching and personal ministry grew as my husband and I began to attend various East Coast conferences that equipped us for future roles within our local church.

I remember playing piano for a Baptist church, sitting my one year old daughter on my lap and teaching her to keep her hands on her thighs so that I could reach around her to play the piano. Since I had no babysitter I had to make it work. 543159_570549866336064_696008493_nMany times I had to volunteer to host something in order to be a part, especially when there was no money for a babysitter. My kids would play quietly in their rooms or be in bed while a prayer meeting or bible study was going on, or the “baby at the time” would just sit on my lap.

You know the adage: “where there is a will there is a way.” Really, this is quite true. God wants us to enjoy life. Since He doesn’t want us to shrug off our motherhood, He shows us how to juggle the duties of these roles with the wonderful interests, talents and missions that make us come alive. After all, He gave us those interests, talents and missions.

I wouldn’t trade motherhood for the world! I’m a strong advocate of parental rights. I love having so many children and I love their wide age range. It isn’t always easy, but I applaud God for the choice He made for my life.

What opportunities are waiting for you? What doors are open but you haven’t noticed them? Being an author, intercessor, friend, gardener, DIY-er, home chef ( I LOVE to invent recipes), songwriter, worship musician, Castle TV show junkie, and home educator enables me to be fully me.

We are better parents when we give ourselves time and attention, not by neglecting our kids or spouses, but by heeding the wisdom of our Father.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Father, Your desire is to continually guide us, for our desire to be satisfied in scorched places, and for our bones to be strong; so that we will be like a watered garden. (Isaiah 58:11) As we faithfully fulfill our family roles and spend time with You, show us how to use every deposit that You’ve given us, that You may be glorified and we may be satisfied.

Perfect Parent? Not!

Ages and Stages Part 5 Perfect Parent? Not!

(a repost from 2014)

15577863_653198091555495_855300141_nIt’s great to see the reception that this blog series, “Ages and Stages” has received.  The 4000+ views tell me that we, as parents, desire a sense of camaraderie and affirmation. We will never be perfect parents, but we can always be perfecting our parenting.

I wasn’t sure what to write for this last post, but sure enough a few conversations with my adult children brought to light a subject that all parents need to face at some time: wounds of the past.

Once my children became young adults I hoped that opportunities would become available for them to reconcile anything in their past that caused them struggle. I didn’t want them to carry baggage of childhood rejection or adolescent confusion into their adulthood. While we don’t have to do anything to guarantee our children’s physical maturity–nature does that—we do need to do a few things to guarantee our children’s emotional maturity.

Conversations this past week with my adult children were hard. To hear the stories of fear and loneliness; rejection and unclear teaching about relating to the opposite sex; and self-imposed isolation and emotional suppression shocked and saddened me. I never knew. This may seem hard to believe since I am a home educator who is pretty much around her kids all of the time.  How can a child be lonely in a house full of people?

Physical proximity does not mean emotional intimacy. In our culture we bond via internet and texting. Those on the other side cannot look into our eyes and see the reality of our souls. Another cultural challenge is our frenetic lifestyles. We can be so busy! I’ve learned that more often than not, we must take the time to knock on our child’s or teen’s door, and enter their world.  We need to talk – no, listen to them, expecting at first to be met with the phrase, ‘I’m fine’. But we must keep knocking and making ourselves available; not just to be cheerleaders at sporting events or ballet recitals, but to be shoulders to cry on and hands to pray with.

Unfortunately, most of us did not get this as children and teens. We entered parenthood with handicaps and didn’t even realize it.

Long ago, I heard someone say that we can only do the best we can and we must trust Jaredito 3God to fill in the rest. This is the truth. We are not perfect. Hopefully we will tell our kids that when they are young! Aging as a parent has to do less with our numerical ages and more with our emotional health. Do we react or do we respond? Do we admit when we are wrong or do we play the blame game? Do we suppress our own emotions and deny our own weaknesses, or do we present ourselves as clueless and thankful grace-recipients on a journey to learn how to love well.

Blessings to you and your family! Thanks for reading some snapshots of my life as a parent who is learning as she goes.

Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Malachi 4:2 But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.

Lord, You are Jehovah-Rapha, God our Healer. Heal the minds and emotions of our children so that they can move forward into the next stages of their lives without hindrance. Comfort our aching hearts as we acknowledge our failures and mistakes over the years. Remind us of Your promise that healing, restoration and satisfying life come to those who humble themselves before You. We love You God and we are thankful for Your tender mercies.

When Silence Screams

Restlessness. Distractions. Chatter. We don’t know how to be silent anymore.
But Silence desires our attention.

Psalm 46:10
Be Still and Know that I Am God

As an introvert, I can sit quietly in the shadows at a party.  That is different from sitting alone in my house with no phone in my hand, no window open to hear the distant traffic and no TV on in the background. Silence. Complete silence can be uncomfortable because I’m wired for sound. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household of four children who played instruments, a mandatory chore for some, but a pleasant break from homework for me. When we weren’t practicing the tuba, cello, piano or viola, we were playing our radios in our bedrooms. Silence arrived when everyone was finally asleep.

My current family is even bigger. I’m mother of six children, ages 5 – 25. All but the oldest lives at home and so sound is a part of my life. Lots of continuous sound.

My best friend still doesn’t understand how one of my sons can ask me a question and I don’t “hear” him. Sound. It’s always around. I’m so used to it that someone’s question just melts into the stew of busyness in the house.

Don’t get me wrong, sound isn’t bad, but it can be such a constant in our lives that we forget sometimes to turn everything off and just appreciate the silence.

In the past week, I’ve asked myself “Why is it to challenging to sit down and do absolutely nothing, close my eyes while fully awake and just be?” After all, God’s still small voice and the reality of his omnipresence is more apparent when I’m still and quiet. Sometimes it takes so long to even turn off my inner voice that I hear Silence scream “Shshsh!”.

As a former worship leader, there were times when it seemed as if Jesus had come into the sanctuary. A holy awe swept the room and silence urged our attention. But still, it was terribly difficult for me to restrain playing the piano quietly, thinking that He needed my sound in order to stay.

What He desired was 100% of my attention.

DPP_0091
Practicing silence can be an act of worship to God. Due to the variety of denominations in the Christian church, outsiders may think that some do “it” right and others do “it” wrong when it comes to service style. We’ve seen scenes of  loud “holy roller” Pentecostal churches and quiet and stoic Anglican or Quaker churches. The contrast is stark.

I’m a firm believer that God inhabits the praises of his people in song and spoken word. I believe that every believer should be comfortable “shouting to God with a voice of triumph”. Can we hear the Spirit of God say “Clap your hands, all ye peoples!” and do it?  (Psalm 47:1) But sometimes He wants our silence. “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1) In the place of silence is divine rest. We quiet our own voices because we know and we trust in the One who has all of the answers. We turn off our internal speakers, the mental lists, yesterday’s marital squabble, and the spirits of hell that seek to steal our peace.

We can and should use silence in two ways. Sometimes we need to be silent in order to actually hear what is going on within our souls. Have you ever been quiet for awhile and then you get to a place where you are forced to pay attention to the state of your soul? We can carry on conversations with co-workers with smiles on our faces and sobs in our hearts. We are good at masking ourselves. We are good at denial and suppression. Silence is helpful in allowing us to admit what’s really going on inside and then turn to the One who can make things better. At the same time,  there are times in our moments of solitude when we self-introspect and talk too much. God is trying to speak and we have our lists and wants and petitions and needs and then we finish throwing it all up, get up and resume our day with burden-laden souls. There are times when we need to be still and listen to the silence. A mysterious rest descends like a soft blanket. Reliance and devotion to God is strengthened because in our silence we are saying, “Your presence is enough.”

Psalm 131:2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Are you willing to wean your soul from the distractions and just be still? and silent? Are you ready to close your eyes and not be afraid if you, oh tired mother of toddlers, fall asleep in the midst of your quiet time with God?

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Feel the weights fall off and every atom in your God-breathed being begin to vibrate with heavenly peace.   And if God chooses not to speak in his still, small voice, welcome and appreciate His constant presence. Jehovah-Shammah. God is there.

I know He speaks in the stillness.

I believe He heals in silence.

When silence screams “Shhhh!”,  stop and

just be.

 

Isaiah 32:17-18 (NKJV)
17 The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,…

 

 

 

 

Cover Them With Your Wings

 

I love the picture of God as a bird. I personally picture him as an eagle in this Scripture:

Psalm 91:4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

I found out that mother eagles fly under their young in order to catch them on their very wide wings if they fall. What a beautiful picture of watchful care and meaningful presence as these babies learn to fly on their own.  An eagle’s wings can mirror our human life experience.  Our life experiences have given us knowledge and understand that can protect them from unnecessary danger. Predators know that they can’t get to an eagle’s babies if they are hiding under their mom or dad’s wings.

Protecting our children is one of the main duties of a parent. I often think of the mother bear or mother lion who ferociously attacks any predator who comes after its young. Since families are the building block of communities I can easily extend this role of protection to the Bible figures Noah and King David.  Being warned by God of mass judgment and destruction, Noah built an ark to protect his family from disaster and the Warrior King David fought to protect his people from the Philistines and Syrians in 2 Samuel chapter 8.

Google defines refuge like this: “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”

Our God is a perfect protector. We can snuggle in the safety of his authority. He is safe. No matter what you learned in bible class, you don’t have to be afraid that God will give you any disease or calamity.  Bad experiences come into our lives as a consequence of our individual choices and living in a natural world affected by the effects of sin in mankind.  Our Creator-Redeemer is caring. He seeks to rescue us and he desires to be our refuge.

57688-quotes-about-gods-protection

As parents we are quick to protect our children from the dangers without, but what about from dangers that come from within their own hearts and our own homes?

While we’ll never do a perfect job, it’s helpful to remember that our homes should be sanctuaries of safety from trouble. In our technologically advanced culture, this may mean internet safety. When they are school age it means making sure that they know how to judge character and develop healthy friendships. When they are young, it’s making sure that we instruct with clarity and patience.

Furthermore as parents, we need to take inventory of our choices, attitudes and actions. Kids are watching and listening at all times.  Is kindness and tenderness evident in our actions? Do we gossip to our friends? How much are we on our phones, laptops, tablets, etc?

Covering our children is much more than providing the best shelter possible. It’s a place where their souls –minds, emotions, physical bodies — are protected from anything that would cause a trauma or a wound that keeps them from knowing God as a safe authority figure. When wounds do come from within…from within our homes due to our rash responses or quick tempers, may we be quick to apologize and comfort.

I firmly believe that the better we know God as safe and use him as our covering and refuge, the better we’ll be able to offer the same for our own children. We can learn from the best when we remind ourselves that we too are children, under the care of a safe God who sent His only begotten Son to rescue us from trouble.

1 John 3:8 For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Galatians 1:3-4  Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Psalm 91:1-6

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord“He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]

And from the perilous pestilence.
 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

 

 

 

 

Respect the Rules of My House

stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-male-neighbors-talking-over-fence-133161437Most mornings I do a quick perusal of my Facebook Newsfeed. I came across an article that made my heart ache a couple of weeks ago. I ended up taking a few minutes to jot down some thoughts in a quick post. This “quick post” has gotten pretty high approval ratings Lol and I’ve decided to delve more deeply into the societal issues that were on my heart when I wrote the first post. Here is a lengthier, more controversial, but heartfelt cry to those who don’t want to respect the rules of my “houses”.

Whether it is the obliteration of the possibility of offense or the idolatry of sensitivity, we’ve seen a lot of attack on traditional faith values, particularly when it comes to the hot button topic of gender issues. This traditional value crosses religious lines. When it comes to this one issue, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have common agreement. It’s true that in Christianity, some denominations are splitting over this issue and they have the right to do so. Those who follow a traditional reading of Scripture disagree with the view that scripture evolves or is dictated by ever-changing culture.  Islam is not without it’s inner debates. Some conservative Western born Muslim women disagree with the traditional Islamic view of women and children as being inferior to men. The differences need to be respected, not suppressed or banned.  Right now there is pressure for churches and individuals to not teach or share their faith values because what they believe may offend someone else. In some cases, it’s being touted as hate speech or at the very least…a phobia. Tolerance, one of the gods of the early 2000s has lost it’s luster for a more sinister god, that in my view, lacks basic common sense. Instead of tolerance, society is being duped by the doctrine of compliance.

In other words, there is a segment of society that wants me to change my house rules to comply with their worldview. Right now the attack has begun with houses of faith and houses of self-enterprise. I pray the day never comes when the attack comes to your personal house or mine. Why, oh why can these various “houses” just be respected for having different worldviews and left alone? Let’s be neighbors and respect each other’s individual intellectual property when it comes to belief and speech. I learned the importance of this at a very young age as a young black girl living in a mostly white suburb.

When I was young, we lived in a community with a mixture of Jewish people, Catholics, and Protestants. It was okay to acknowledge the differences and not be insulted or offended. I learned that my 4th grade buddy Jonathan’s family ate matzah and didn’t believe Jesus was God. His mom let me try matzah. I didn’t like it. He invited me to his birthday party at the Jewish Community Center. I was the only black person. Despite feeling a little overwhelmed by the cultural differences, I was ok. Jonathan and his family liked me. We played together almost daily, trying to figure out how to sell our “furniture” that was made from sticks and Ohio buckeyes. No one back then got afraid, indignant or nervous that one of us was going to proselytize the other. My few Catholic friends also had some different beliefs. I went to a mass once and decided at eleven that I liked my faith better. My friend wasn’t offended. It was normal to respect differences of opinion. It was fine for each of my friends to think “our” way was the best and not be offended or feel discriminated against. I’d never expect Jonathan’s mom to serve me ham, just because I like ham. When in each other’s houses, Jewish, Catholic, or Protestant, we knew to respect “house rules” even if we didn’t participate or personally agree with them. We never got offended and thought that the “house rules” were discriminatory towards us. It was our choice to go to that friend’s house or not. 
I miss that era. If people come to my house, house of faith, the business I own etc, they should respect me and the “rules” of my houses. It’s their choice to come or not. We can still be friends even if we don’t agree with the tenets the other’s faith, lifestyle decisions, or worldviews. We can do what my friends and I did as kids: know there are differences and not be offended by them. We don’t have to take their differences of opinion as an affront to our well-being. I had one childhood friend whose “house rules” were uncomfortable to me. Therefore I didn’t go into her house. We played outside.
I hope in this present era that my house, your house, our individual houses of faith, self-employment venues etc will be respected for their “house rules”: tenets, beliefs, worldviews. I don’t like the taste of matzah, You may not believe that Jesus is God. There’s no reason for offense to be taken, just understanding to be offered.

Do you remember the adage that you learned as a child, “Respect your neighbor’s property”? My parents instilled in us an understanding that while we share a neighborhood, each property line distinguishes boundaries of ownership. My small four street neighborhood right outside of Shaker Heights, Ohio had a block party one summer. It was a wonderful experience! I remember zooming down the street on my bicycle with kids that I knew and some that I’d never met before. We shared food and fun. However, an unspoken rule remained as I looked around. No one, but no one stepped onto the lawn or driveway of another property owner. We stayed in the street, the area that belonged to us all. I was impressed.

If a person goes into a house of faith, whatever the spiritual tradition, there is an unspoken rule, or understanding, that you now comply with or respect the “rules” of that house. I can’t enter a mosque and expect to be served Holy Communion. I can’t go into a Muslim country as a woman and expect them to let me roam freely without a burka. That would be rude.

Private businesses, schools, churches and homes reflect the values of their founders or owners. None of us wants someone else to come into our home or business and tell us that we have to never eat peanut butter because someone with a severe nut allergy may come over.

No civil authority has the right to censor religious doctrine or individual speech. There is a divine boundary line between state and individual. What is deemed private should never be violated by the ever-changing court of public opinion.  We have a divine gift to believe what ever we perceive is Truth. Our lives reflect this Truth each day in our lifestyles and words. No state or law has the right to make us comply with something different. Traditional faith values as well as other worldviews deserve mutual respect. We do not have to agree with each other’s “house rules” in order to live as neighbors.

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neighbors Leslie Oshana and Marilynn Taylor(glasses) talking outside their homes.

A Mother Worth Mentioning

Mother’s Day Saturday, May 7, 2016

What her eyes saw – lack and death– suddenly did not matter. Her heart saw the reality of God’s faithful and protective hand in her life.

Mothering becomes more difficult when a husband isn’t in the picture. In the past two weeks, I’ve been struck by the mother in 1 Kings 17. Her courage to believe God’s voice changed the outcome of her circumstances.

The widow was getting wood in order to prepare one last meal for herself and her son when Elijah shows up on the scene. Elijah wants some food. She lets him know that she doesn’t have enough food to share with him. In that time, it’s remarkable that she had food at all. Famine was present in the land and she was a widow. We don’t know how long her husband had been dead. The Bible calls her son “a child” later in the passage.  She was probably younger than thirty. Economically, this impoverished single mother had no hope during this drought. Circumstances beyond her control had taken over her life. Then she hears this stranger say to her: “Give me some food first and God will continue to provide for

you until it starts raining again.”

How many of you would listen to some stranger rolling up on your doorstep saying the same thing? Verse nine reveals that Elijah met the widow knowing that God had already commanded her to feed him.  We have no indication from her of this. We merely see her do what Elijah asks. She fed him first.

Her natural eyes saw lack in her home. Surely she and her son heard each other’s hunger pangs. As a mother, she’d probably been making her son’s last meal cakes a tad bit larger than hers even though she knew that death was inevitable for them both. Her visible reality shouted “Death!”  But in another human being’s words, she heard the voice of God. She trusted that God was speaking to her through another human being. Wow! That takes courage and faith.

Faith acknowledges the reality of the unseen.

I wonder if she had heard of Elijah and if so, if she recognized him when he approached her. Even if she had, it still took faith for her to believe in the creative miracle that he said would happen: the meal in the barrel would not run dry.  The oil jar would not dry up. What her eyes saw – lack and death– suddenly did not matter. Her heart saw the reality of God’s faithful and protective hand in her life.

Her supply would not fade.

I was impressed to use this passage as my Mother’s Day post. I believe God wants to calm the fears of mothers whose visible realities shout “Death!” There are mothers who may be facing crushed dreams or failed marriages. Others may be watching their children spin into the downward cycle of addiction or plummet into the merciless clutch of disease.  Many single mothers deal with economic lack. Despite the fact that the drought was to remain for a period of time, God’s intervention for the single mother of 1 Kings declared “Life!” Still, she had to trust God. What if she had turned her back on the prophet of God? What if she had not turned her eyes from her visible reality and looked into the eyes of the servant of God to see the invisible reality of God’s desire for her life? It took faith and courage to use the rest of the meal in and make three cakes instead of two.

I pray this Mother’s Day for mothers everywhere. I pray that despite our visible circumstances, we will believe in the faithful provision of our loving Father. I pray that we would be courageous and trust in God’s Word first even though we live in a culture that renounces biblical authority. Lastly, I pray that when a situation is shouting “Death!” to our faces, that we would look up and see God declaring “Life!”


My Kids Need To Grow Up!

Repost from Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I looked at the woman reading peacefully under the tree at the park. Her kids were old enough to play by themselves and by the sound of it, were having a great time. Thoughts of envy blared in my head.

I can’t wait until these two are old enough to play together”, I thought as I helped my toddler navigate the stairs to the platform. Once he was there, I ran around the playset to meet him at the slide where I waited to catch him at the bottom. A few feet away, his slightly older brother “drove” on the playground motorcycle.

A couple of years have passed since this scene at the playground. What I realize now is that the woman that I witnessed was probably having a rare but needed respite from two loud and adventurous boys.  Now, I’m in her shoes.

Every step on this staircase of raising kids has its sighs of relief. “No more middle of the night feedings!” No more diapers!” “No more chauffeuring, they have their license!” But each step also has its challenges. “Lord, help them drive safely.”  “I’m not buying you a phone. You’re too young.”

When my four oldest children were young, there was another playground we would frequent.  On a particular occasion, a mindset changing thought popped in my head. “I’ll never have this moment in time back.” I remember looking around at my kids, each born around 2 ½ years from the previous one and making a commitment to relish each moment and each stage no matter what the challenges.

I decided to write this post not just to encourage moms and dads but to remind myself of this commitment that I made so many years ago. Child #5 is now old enough to care about how I cut his hair and occasionally tells me that he doesn’t like me because he has to do school work. Child #6 has decided to pick on his older brother as much as he can. The yelling and tears are ridiculous. Sigh. Just last week I thought, “Wow, it was so easy when they were younger and didn’t care about which TV show they watched before bedtime.” I stopped and caught myself. I shook my head at the irony.

One day these two will be as old as my first four who are seventeen to twenty-four years of age.   I am familiar with the upcoming road, its challenges and its joys. But in the meantime, right now, I need to make a decision. The same decision that I made over a decade ago: “I’ll never have this moment in time back. I need to relish these moments and understand the Father-heart of God through them as well as help my little boys discover God in them. I need to thank God for the opportunity to have children and steward them.”

So now my heart is tearing up. I do love my children. SO much.  Parenting has taught me more about myself than even marriage, which says a lot! So when the bickering starts, I’ll choose to look up towards heaven and breathe in deeply. When I hear, “I still don’t like you.” I will smile ‘cause I know better. And when they hug me from behind, I’ll pause what I’m doing and receive their clutch.

Cause it only lasts for a moment.

God, help me remember that in every difficult moment, you are my very present help. When I’m tired and frustrated, give me wisdom and peace. I surrender to the way you mold my character. Help me train my kids in the way that they should go. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Push and The Pull of Raising Kids

Repost from Friday, June 17, 2016

One Saturday morning instead of running into your arms, your young daughter runs onto the couch to watch her morning cartoon. You shrug your shoulders and get her breakfast. The next week the same thing happens. You begin to notice a decrease in the amount of times that she crawls onto your lap, or nestles her head in your neck or turns to wave before heading into the school building.

At first you’re caught off guard. Then you wonder and slowly begin to mourn the inevitable ending of a stage. Finally you get used to the new norm and hope that the security you instilled in your young daughter through physical affection and verbal affirmation was consistent enough to stay in her memory banks as she journeys on the road into adolescence.

As parents, it’s instinctual to begin to push our young ones away incrementally. At first it may be mom weaning baby from the breast. Next it may teaching kids how to put on their clothes by themselves. For some dads it may be when your kids want to hang out with friends instead of go fishing or watch sports with you. Their total dependence on us must end at some point. At the same time, we don’t want to short circuit their natural need for parental covering. Sense of identity and security begins at home in the formative years. Some people believe that quality time is more sufficient than quantity time for young children. I don’t believe this. I’ve surprisingly found that even my teens actual enjoyed quantity time at least as much as quality time. The push into autonomy must occur at various points based on an individual child’s God-given developmental timetable. The push is necessary.

But then we see them adapting. And we realize that we miss the morning snuggle. Our maternal bosom or our paternal arms looked forward to “the embrace” before heading out the door to work. And we are tempted to pull these precious God-breathed souls back into us…to smell their hair, to be comforted that they are also comforted by our presence. The pull is normal.

Isn’t this similar to our Heavenly Father? He keeps his arms wide open and draws us into his sheltering presence. (Psalm 91) He delights when we come to him. He delights when we want to know more about him. (James 2:23) Relationship is powerfully precious. At the same time, our Heavenly Father tells us to go—go out and represent him in all that we do and say, especially to those people that have not yet recognized His reality. (Mark 16:15) At some point He wants us to let go of the childish stage of our faith journey and step into mature partnership with him. (1 Cor. 13:11)

A godly parent will reflect our Heavenly Father. We’ll push when it’s time for them to grow into another stage, yet desire to constantly remind our children that we adore them, that we will be safe for them, that we will always have open arms for them. The push is not to their detriment. It’s not based on our convenience. The pull should neither serve our own needs nor stifle their individuality. Rather both the push and the pull maintain the security of relationship and the value of growing up.