In the Center of God’s Will

I have always been one to fully live, embracing every moment for all it has to offer. But today, I have been graced with a paradigm altering revelation on this matter.


What if…..every moment of your life, every circumstance, every “cross”, every good and bad thing – was the Will of Father God for you; “ordained, arranged or permitted by Father for you” –  to teach you more of His love –  in a new or richer way than you have ever experienced His love before?

Most of my family are avid readers. We have a passion for learning.  But this morning I was reading one of my favorite theologians, Jean-Pierre de Caussade.  He said we can’t even “learn” from books alone. They are like the dough that must be leavened with the yeast of experience to become fully cooked in our lives.  We learn from the Holy Spirit – who is intimately teaching each and every one of us, in the moment by moment existence of our lives.  
 
No matter how educated you become, or how much you study in your life on any matter, even the Bible, you will always learn your truest and richest lessons, intimately constructed for your journey from the Holy Spirit, within your own heart and your life journey with other people.
 
Remember that scripture that says “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, CONCERNING YOU.”  ( 1 Thess. 5:18 )
 
Wow!
 
Could it really be true?
 
What if we maintained this grateful awareness that Father was really in charge of every detail of our lives.  If any moment we struggled with something, anything, we would consider ……..what is Father trying to teach and show me now about His love for me, in a new or different way?
 
For sure, it could make our lives more palatable and acceptable, in so many diverse ways and moments, that would otherwise unnerve us. 

Why don’t you try today and this week – tuning into and considering every circumstance as an ordained and custom-made moment for you and your growth and development as a son or daughter of Father God Himself! “And consider it all joy” (James 1:2-4)
“All that happens to a soul, abandoned to God , is all that is necessary for it.”   Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Parenting Hearts ~ Rather than Actions

It is not for us to conform our children into our own image, but to cultivate them into the unique people Father God created them to be.

At different stages of their growth and development, this takes various approaches.  You, as their parent, want to continually be connecting to the Father about His heartfelt love for your child.  I want you to understand the implications and what it looks like, with your children, to live life – from the heart.  With your newborns….all the way to your adult children.

Something occurred to me yesterday, almost like an epiphany, while talking on the phone to my cousin about her new baby.  She has read all the important and current thoughts on how crucial it is to get your baby on a schedule.  Let me tell you…my first 3 had no schedules whatsoever.  My last 7 were raised with a schedule.  And I have done almost everything one can do, when it comes to scheduling.

I believe in using schedules to assist you in helping to raise and develop your children.  I would recommend a general guideline and skeletal structure for your day.  To this day, I always have a loose schedule of what the day will look like and consist of for myself and my children.  But schedules should be general guidelines, not cast in stone.  If one of your children needs to be loved, nurtured, or assisted in any way, they are your priority.  People are not interruptions, they are our purpose, especially our own children.

When a baby cries because they simply want to be held and loved by their parent, is that a crime for us to punish or discourage, by withholding our love and affection?

If we leave a baby to “cry it out” as most would recommend today in our culture, the baby will learn to accommodate your priorities and your convenience.  But if that is at the expense of putting part of their heart on a shelf, or closing it down, so to speak, is it worth it?  Say your baby is crying and you know it is because she only wants to be held and loved by you. You have been told that to cater to that will spoil her. NO, It will teach her that to love and be loved is most important and valuable. To not “cater” to that universal and valid need, most intense in babies, will teach her to shut that down…that it doesn’t matter.

Granted, I know…there are times you must simply let them cry.  But not as the norm.  And I will hereby acknowledge, some are far needier than others. But if you will make it your goal to fill your child’s emotional cup and honor her desires for your love and attachment, while she is needing that of you…you will have a far happier and more adjusted child to raise.

Most parents make it their goal to impose all the “norms”, as they see them, of their society, culture, class, and religious systems on their children. However well the kids live up to all of these countless expectations and rules of behavior, determines how “good” and “accepted” a child is to their parents.  And even more importantly to many parents, is how well the parents themselves will then look to their world of friends, peers, fellow church members, and co-workers.

But to “parent hearts” is a much different approach than parenting actions. It is about genuinely caring about whatever your child thinks and feels.  From very early on, we teach our children that they may always tell us what they are thinking, or present to us any new information they want us to consider, but it must be spoken respectfully and with honor.  (That is our rule.)

Here is a simple fact, whether your child is a baby or 10 years old, in a very short number of years, they will be 21 years old.  If you have not connected with their hearts before they leave for college, or when they move out of your home into their own place, you have lost valuable time and influence in their most formative years.  You might still get the chance to connect at the heart level post the move out, but it usually is after they have stumbled along in their journey, or you have had a change of heart and interact with them from a new heart stance.

Don’t be afraid to take the time and energy to listen to what is going on in their thought processes, without being a negative wet blanket.  Here is a great quote of Aristotle that our family loves, “The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Know that your children will weigh and consider many thoughts, without adopting them.  You don’t want them to feel that you judge their every thought.  You really don’t have to.  Often they will come to much reason themselves, when they hear their own words from their own mouths, as they share their thought with you.

It is about creating an environment where they are comfortable expressing anything and everything, without condemnation or judgement from their parents. Even controversial things!

If they are thinking or feeling anything, it matters to us, their parents!

We have never belittled them, shamed them, or made them feel that their thoughts or feelings are insignificant or invalid.

Because they are convinced their hearts matter so much to us, they feel very safe talking to us about anything.  Nothing is “off limits” in our conversations with our kids. We all love to bring things to the table to discuss and explore together. And because we LOVE AND LISTEN, they are much more inclined to listen back – to any input we have on any matter and allow us to influence their thinking and thought processes. And that my friends – is a mighty privilege of parenting – never to be taken lightly or abused.

Even as Father God Himself did not dictate to us how we must think, feel, and act, but He gave us guidelines and then the freedom to walk out our walks. And journey our journeys. And struggle through our struggles. Might we learn from His parenting skills?

He comforts. He listens. He loves. He affirms. He approves. He is always “there”, loving us unconditionally.

He never condemns. He doesn’t give up. He does allow us to suffer our own consequences. He always believes the best of us.

But He is not into boxed behavior norms. Look around you….consider every person you know. Every one of those personalities, with all their tendencies, idiosyncrasies and uniquenesses – HE FASHIONED EACH ONE OF US IN OUR UNIQUENESS FOR HIS ULTIMATE PLEASURE!

With only 10 kids myself…I marvel at how different each one is.  And honestly, I am crazy about each one, just as He fashioned and formed them. I am not looking at any one, wishing they could just be more like the other, or like me. I am looking at them individually and recognizing each is so different in all they will offer the world and each of the relationships they develop with others in their own lives, and their unique relationships with Father God.  These heart values are what we want to see, so that they reach their greatest fulfillment in this life.

Some of you know that I have homeschooled all my children their entire lives. My third and fourth, Samuel and Daniel, are now thriving, in every sense of the word, at Oral Roberts University. They are both making 4.0’s and Sam was just rewarded “This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in Management for the School of Business”.  Lest anyone think this is due to my wonderful homeschooling, let me encourage you with something.

If you think about it, you can recall very quickly a number of adults you know or have known, who have struggled their entire lives to learn who they are and if they really matter or have any real value. They are forever trying to “prove” themselves – not only to themselves, but to the rest of their world.

But when kids grow up – COMPLETELY CONVINCED THEY ARE LOVED AND ADORED AND WHAT THEY THINK AND FEEL MATTERS – it puts them way ahead in their lives. They are not living needing to convince themselves of this most important Truth – they already believe that Father God and their parents love them. They don’t have to waste their lives establishing that basic foundation for success. They are free to go on and live their lives and be the people they are supposed to be.

This is truly the greatest gift we can give them!

We have invested in our children’s lives with a very specific agenda. To build these foundations in them – so they may LAUNCH forth, not questioning if they are loved. We want them to know they are completely loved and accepted, no matter what! And that every person they ever meet is to be honored and respected as an adored son or daughter of Father God. We teach them to work hard, really hard.  They all carry great responsibilities and know what it takes to be their best. We use good educational materials  and we live in a real life lab, our home.  Our home is a melting pot of people – coming through it year after year, from all walks of life, cultures, and countries of the world.  And on top of all that  – we cultivate a real relationship with Father God. (I think that will be my next blog post.)

They are REAL people. They are not afraid of their own hearts, thoughts, or inclinations. And they are not threatened by anyone else’s either. They are open to listen, hear, and consider from others completely. They love freely and easily.  But they also KNOW who they are, and what their life is about.

I am not an amazing homeschooler. (My sister is though. :) We don’t seek to produce academic geniuses, or great athletes (though that happens as a byproduct of loving them unconditionally). We work with however their hearts are inclined. After seeking to develop whole and healthy HEARTS, SOULS AND SPIRITS, (That is OUR job), we rest in knowing they will be the people they were created to be. And we never feel as if we have to force any thought or any action upon them.

The more you honor your children’s hearts, from birth on, rather than trying to control them, the more they will honor yours, and everyone else’s. And this my friend, is a critical key to helping them live the richest life possible.

Cater To Or Control – Love Is The Answer

Yesterday, this question was posed to me by a family member on my Facebook profile wall, by tagging me in an ongoing conversation this family member was having with another relative of ours.  I could not answer the question in a simple sentence, because there is so much basic parenting philosophy needed here in the answer.  So, first the question, then my response.

Here it is as follows:  “Toni Lee Swain Fowler will have a Godly mother’s advice for you so I’m tagging her so she can give you the advice that you need.  Toni, Jennifer’s first-born is now a toddler, getting out of her toddler bed wanting to go join mommy & daddy every hour through the night. A baby gate now keeps her in her room but she is crying & no one is getting any sleep. With your wisdom & experience I felt led to send this to you so you can provide your loving God-given wisdom.”

Because I have been at this parenting thing a long time and had many children to experiment and prove my lessons with – I am going to present you with 2 different lines of thought, for you to choose which one you best resonates with you.

I breast-fed my first-born child for 2 years, absolutely around the clock, like almost non-stop.  At fifteen months, he was still sleeping with us and nursing all night long.  As I complained to my pediatrician, he laughed and explained to me that you can break a little one of any habit in less than 5 days. He proceeded to tell me how.

After you know you have met all of his needs, you put him in his bed and explain that he WILL sleep there all night long. The doctor told me that he may cry for an hour, but do not pick him up or take him out of the bed.  I could occasionally reassure him from the bedroom door.  The doctor said the second night would be better and by the third night – he should get it.

Well, that first night he threw a raging tantrum and didn’t let up for 5 full hours, while the whole time I cried in the other room. Then he slept!  The second night he only cried 45  minutes….then he went to sleep for the night!  And by the third night, the crying only lasted about 5 minutes.  From then on, he slept through the night in his own bed and bedroom!!  I was blown away!

After that, I allowed each baby to sleep in our bed for the first 6 weeks.  I believe they thrive so much more remaining as connected as possible to their mother.  But then I put them in their own bed, in my room.  And that is usually because my master bedroom has usually been rather far from my baby nursery.  But within several months, they do move to their own bedrooms. :)

However, after they initially get this sleeping thing down, there is a different neediness that happens in little ones emotionally.  And we have learned that it is no crime for a child to want to be with their parents, as much as possible.  And as much as we can give them that closeness, as they indicate a need for it, it will make them more secure for their lifetime.

In the case of the 3-year old, I would highly encourage an evening of cuddling and closeness before bedtime.  At least for an hour, make the child your priority.  Just focus on filling her emotional “cup”, full of affection and love.  Let her feel that she is the most important thing/person to you and that you are not in a hurry to “be done with her”.  While you are cuddling and loving her, reading to her (while holding her), playing with her, praying with her, or whatever, each night explain that you will expect her to go to sleep in her room and stay the night in her bed.

Three year olds can began to understand almost anything if you will patiently explain it to them. The trick is talking about all these difficult issues, while they are happy and you are focused on them.  Then you obtain their consent during happy moments away from the circumstance, like bed time.  You help them understand your thinking and reasonable rationale. They will usually even agree with you. Then you remind them of your earlier talk at bedtime, by making a similar consistent statement to her, like “Mercy, we love you, I have read to you, cuddled with you, worshipped with you, and prayed with you, but now it is your bed time.  After I put you in your bed, you will go to sleep”. This is very effective if you do it consistently!

Different personalities show varying levels of neediness, at different times.  We have also found that at different times they need one parent over the other.  And surprisingly enough, we have found it is the strongest temperaments and those that become the most independent, who seem to “need” us the most as little ones.  Whenever any of our younger ones indicate a need for more “cup filling”, we make it our priority.

I always stop what I am doing, whenever a child wants hugs, kisses, affections or needs attention. They are not interruptions to my life, they are my life. THEY ARE OUR PRIORITY!!!

After having 7 boys, with one girl who came second, we ended our line up with 2 girls.  Angels I might add. :) We are not nearly as “functional” or “legalistic” as we used to be, we have grown more and more relational throughout our parenthood. We enjoy being with them, as much as they want to be with us, especially in the evenings.

After all the day’s activities are accomplished, they just want to cuddle and “hang” with us.  So, in the last year or two, David and I have begun letting the 2 girls, aged 6 and 10, sleep in our room a few nights a week, but not in our bed.  It has to be approved by Mom and Dad first, not assumed.  And then the girls and I all get in my big bed together and have “girl time”.  Very sweet.

Then when Dad comes into the bedroom, he moves them onto the couch and pallet.  It works for all of us and is very special to them.  They feel extremely loved and prioritized!!  They know we love to be with them and don’t just do what we have to as parents, sort of tolerating them.  Please never let your children feel that you simply tolerate them.

As the parent, you must decide if your little one is needing healthy habits and boundaries to be established, or simply needs more of you.  Both are critical to healthy development, whole and thriving little people that then become awesome big people.

And I will add here….as children get older, contrary to popular belief, the goal is not to control them, but to “journey” with them.  Always seeking to understand their hearts, thoughts and motivations. You will be far more effective in leading them and guiding them from this place of trusted relationship, where they feel you respect them as a developing spirit, soul, and mind.

The opposite is what creates and cultivates rebellion.

I have written a few other blog post that I recommend here:

In July of 2009 (scroll down on the left column of my blog to that month.) I wrote a very full post, loaded with parenting nuggets called – “Fit Throwing Toddlers and Infants, Whining, Self-Control and Discipline”

In August of 2009 – “Be Encouraged….It’s Never to Late”

In February of 2013 – “Avoiding Rebellion – Even with your Teens – A Huge Secret to Happy Kids”

10 Things you may not know about me ~

1.) IN all my busyness, I  diligently protect enough “margin” (time alone with God and my family) in my life and days to live deeply at peace and stand still on the inside – no matter how much all spins on the outside.
2.) My soul finds Ultimate pleasure in the many dimensions of God I encounter and experience through every human I am allowed to cross paths with!!
3.) My deepest heart ache goes to children who are not properly loved. I wish I could take every child in the world – who isn’t/wasn’t lavished and adored and love them myself – even as much as I have been allowed the privilege of loving my own ten.
4.) I drink deeply of God directly through the sun. And a full moon. And all of nature.
5.) I have never lived “inside the box” and don’t want to be put in one when I die. I want to be cremated and thrown back into the ocean. Or for that matter, save a step and throw me overboard from a ship. But into the ocean….where I have spent so much of my life longing to be.
6.) I thoroughly enjoy drinking, mostly wine, but have NO desire to get drunk! I have drank regularly since I was 16, except when I was on ORU honor code. And I have never been close to drunk.
7.) I enjoy cigars – especially in my most sacred prayer times. (Goes back to native american indian ritual).
8.) My 5th generation back grandfather was Pushmatahaw – the greatest Choctaw Chief. (I even have a Choctaw name – Montema Yukpa. It means “Joyful deliverer of that which is sacred.”)
9.) My great-grandfather, Earl Jessup, co-founded and named the Assembly of God denomination.
His son, Charles Jessup, my dad’s father, was a great healing evangelist of the 20th century. He began tent revivals with the biggest tent Barnum and Bailey had ever created. He had the first hospital that combined prayer and medicine. And Oral Roberts and Elvis Presley both claimed him as their role model. (But I praise God for Oral Roberts and how much farther he actually took the Goodness of God!)
10.) I honestly believe the passionate and Victorious love of God is bigger and greater than any of us have ever begun to understand and in the end that GOD’S LOVE will win bigger than anything we can wrap our little minds around.

Forgiveness – The KEY to YOUR WEll Being ~

I wrote a blog post recently on forgiveness and had a friend come to me and implore that I go into more detail and how to really walk out forgiveness and what that looks like. She said to me “You live it so naturally that you don’t even have to think about it. Some of us need more instruction on how to really forgive.” I was a little surprised and asked her how she knew that about me. Her answer contained so much wisdom. She responded “Because you have so many close people in your life and people are just messy. And yet you walk in a joy and love that I know only comes from living in a constant state of forgiving.” Wow…..she was right!

So, let’s talk about this a little, shall we?

I have often shared the quote “To not forgive another person is like taking poison (yourself) and thinking it will kill your offender.”

To forgive does not mean to forget.

Do you think Jesus could have forgotten the Cross? That was the greatest act of forgiveness known to man.

Inherent in forgiveness, are also lessons learned. It is ok if we choose (wisely) not to trust a certain individual again or limit that person’s presence in your life. But when we forgive, we let go of the offense. We let go of the hurt and the pain and the “YUCK” associated with that person or situation.

Someone asked me last week, “how do you know if you have really forgiven someone?” And I asked “Really forgiven?  Your blood pressure doesn’t rise when you think of them or see them.” Your heart doesn’t beat faster and you do not get a PIT in your stomach. That is when you know that you have quit giving yourself the poison.

Truth is – I learned a long time ago that I would rather live free and at peace with everyone – myself, my God and everyone else in my life – than be tormented. Because ……..I LIKE TO BE HAPPY. It is a gift I give to myself. I do whatever it takes, every hour of my life, to feel good deep down to my core.

 

Unforgiveness and judgements – toward myself or another – are the fastest and most effective way to torment myself and feel all muddy inside.

 

And forgiveness does not mean internalizing things so deeply you simply ignore it or refuse to think about it. IF it is someone close to your daily existence, I highly recommend talking things through with that person. Even if you need to write a letter to get all your thoughts down on paper. It is always worth hashing thru to be at peace with the people in your life. But then you must allow the person the chance to respond. I most often discover, that person has a point of view shockingly different than mine and it is valid. Some humility makes this entire process far easier.  LISTEN. AND BE TEACHABLE.

 

But if the person is “beyond” talking to, for any reason, than you process this out 100 % with the Lord Himself. Crying is one of the most beautiful healing tools that Father God gave to us. I am not promoting making or forcing yourself to cry. But when you have the urge……please……CRY.

For as you let the tears flow, they literally wash away pain and hurt and help you to relinquish all that you are trying so bitterly to hold onto. They also cleanse that toxin from your body that is most responsible for every sickness known to man, especially cancer. AS you cry and release all that pain, then the Father is able to come in and comfort and heal and help you in a supernatural way to love and forgive, like only HE can. Crying empties you of all the negative, while preparing the vessel to make a place for God. Then please call out to Him to come and meet you and replace the hurt and pain and all that muck with Himself. I promise He will do it, if you simply give Him permission and ask Him.

 

And if you can not cry, then either tell or write every single thing you want to say and every point that you have to Father God. Then be still and turn your heart toward Him and ask Him, give Him your permission, to come in and replace the hurt with forgiveness and to give you His perspective. He tells us “To be still and KNOW that I am God.” This is when you need to be still and KNOW your God. AFter I dump the contents of my heart and thoughts and feelings to Him, very honestly I might add, I always be still and look to Him and expect Him to meet me and change me and tweak me and make the differences in me that only HE can make. And He is sooo good at making, if I will allow Him to.

I have come to believe that most people are really doing the best they can do at any given time, considering all their circumstances. People, and all their choices, habits, and mindsets come about because of all they have been through. (Remember this particularly about your own parents. And how they were brought up by their parents. )  

Everyone needs mercy. Grace. And compassion. You think about the things you wish people would give you more Grace about. Have you ever thought  “if they just knew about something or another.”

You probably know more about yourself and understand the reasons that you do the things you do and respond/react to things like you do, than anyone else knows about you.

If you simply sought to administer the same Grace and Mercy you always wish others showed to you, you would be much closer to a real life of walking in forgiveness and peace.

 

John 20:23 tells us that “Whatsoever sins we forgive are forgiven and what ever we retain, WE retain.” Whatever you do not forgive, you take on that “spirit”. We had a friend whose daddy was murdered by his business partner. This man could not forgive the murderer, but became consumed with murdering him for years. He became such a vivid murderer in his own heart. He lived daily with the torment of wanting revenge and to murder the murderer. That spirit of murder stole all that was good from him for many years. When he finally stood at gunpoint, with his gun at the man’s head, God spoke to him and released everything within him and he dropped the gun and bawled. He was finally set free. He forgave the man and became free of that spirit of murder.

When we forgive, WE become clean. We are set free. It has nothing to do with what the other person deserves, or asks for.

I used to be a counselor in a world renowned cancer center. I would spend 10 hours in one week, with one person, in intensive counseling. (I even had the wife of the president of the World Health Organization come in from Rome for this treatment.) What I learned was Almost every single cancer case was rooted in horribly valid and seemingly unforgivable offenses that had rotted the core of this person and had become the biggest thing they fed upon in their souls. Or occassionally it is something smaller, that the person just can not forgive.

 

To not forgive not only robs you of all peace, it it the biggest detriment to health. I will even go so far as saying – a heart that continually forgives and seeks peace benefits your health and is more important than even what you eat. To maintain your own heart attitudes and be at peace literally feeds your cells LIFE AND VITALITY.

Science has discovered that everything has frequencies. And the frequency of Love literally heals your DNA. While the opposites destroy.

 

Give yourself the greatest gift you can give yourself – Choose to be someone who always chooses to forgive. Always walk it through authentically, because your body will not be fooled. Somethings are much harder and take more time to forgive. 

BUT YOU CHOOSE – 

THAT YOU WILL FORGIVE 

THAT YOU MAY BE SET FREE!!!

Eternal Perspective ~ Miscarriage

I lost a baby girl 19 years ago today. Her name was Angel. We still remember her and honor her on this day, because she will forever be a part of us and is here for all eternity. I want to share here what the Lord spoke to me so clearly 10 days after she parted from me. In hopes to encourage another one of you who has been through this.

“Most people view a miscarriage as a loss, because a life has been taken. But I want you to view this as a privilege, to have made and carried this baby for my eternal purposes that you know nothing about yet. I wanted a “Fowler child” and chose not to take one of yours that you already know and love. (We had 4 at the time.) Whenever you think of her, you may rejoice! For you WILL be with her for all of eternity. And you may call her Angel.”
It did not occur to me until 17 years later to ask the Father what the purpose was in His wanting her. As soon as I asked, He answered me. His answer blew me away. And I realized anew, how much He has plans and thoughts behind every single thing that happens
His purposes are always true and good and we CAN TRUST HIM!!
In 10 days, I will celebrate another baby girl that I lost, 8 years ago. Every life should be celebrated and learned from.
And now today….You celebrate every person in your heart and life that you still share this dimension with. And those who have passed on – focus on the joy of eternity with them.

Crisis of Faith~

Though faith can move a mountain, if the mountain does not move as you so desire, that does not mean it is because you did not have enough faith.

One of the greatest fallacies that Christians fall prey to is believing that because they have done all they know or were told to do, as scripturally instructed, God will perform to their scripturally or personally based expectations. When He does not comes through, this causes a “crisis of faith”.  This happens in most believers lives, at some point.

As one who has walked with the Lord for over 40 years, I will tell you – most unfortunately – that often times……GOD…..DOES NOT….do what I want or expect!

He does not perform and do things the way(s) we know or think He should, or as any good parent would do for their offspring.

Trust me, I have had it out with Him on this very point. Asking why He can not parent and provide for us at least as well as I would my own children?

Can anyone relate?

You may feel that is a bit blasphemous, but He and I have this really honest thing going.  I know that He is not challenged by my questions.

What I have learned is that He is the only one big enough to always be trusted.  EVEN WHEN WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND HIM!  And more often than not, I will just tell you – we can not begin to wrap our little minds around His greatness or His methods.

He ALWAYS has a plan and it is ALWAYS for our best. I have walked long enough and real enough with Him to become convinced of this with all my heart!  And that takes walking through a lot of crap!!

Oftentimes, we feel that God speaks a word to us, and then does not do what He says He will do. I want to suggest – God does not lie and you did not mishear Him.
The variance here is that we think we know what He meant by what He said, but the reality is that we do not.

When you are believing till the end that God is going to heal your loved one of cancer, because He told you He would, IN THIS LIFE, and then he dies…..

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TO THINK??

I have been intimately involved in this very scenario a number of times. Makes me want to bawl even now. But I watched the Father bring these men to more wholeness and trust with Him and in their lives while they were ailing, than they ever came to before their sickness.

I could honestly say, with all my heart, God raised them up whole in this life. Not in their physical shells, as we so desperately desired.
But they left this realm of existence WHOLE. Not perfect mind you….just healed and whole in their relationships with their Father God and others.

And may we all seek that wholeness and trust – above everything else. Because it is the most important thing in this life journey.

If you feel that Father God has told you something and then “dropped the ball”, seek Him and find out what He meant, beyond your mortal understanding.

I still do not understand WHY the Lord let my Daddy die 18 years ago. He left 16 grandkids, who needed him in all the tremendous uniqueness and love he offered as a grandfather. Not to mention, his wife and daughters and the entire rest of his world. He loved like no one else I have ever known.

But I know God raised him up whole. Why not physically…I still don’t know. But I do know with all my heart, ONLY AS I TRUST MY FATHER WILL I WALK THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH ANY PEACE.

Our human tendency in severe crisis is to run away from God. I have learned to run to Him, with every single conflict – from great to seemingly minuscule. I am brutally honest, with both humility and respect, and pour out the contents of my heart and mind completely. Then I “be still and KNOW my God”. Then I wait on Him to come to me and either speak a word or give me peace and understanding, that passes ALL my mental understanding or thoughts.

But as I wait on Him to make the difference in me that I need to survive – HE comes through with understanding and peace!!!

He is Faithful!

He is always there. He always “catches” me. Strengthens me. Develops me further. Makes the differences only He can make. And I go on….feeling more HIS than ever before. This Struggle works out to be my greatest security in all the world. Rather than lost in an abyss, totally swallowed up in darkness and hopelessness, which is where we find ourselves when we run away from Him, I find myself held in His bosom, protected, loved, and cherished.

Sometimes Father God gives us the answers we cry out for…sometimes only peace, sometimes with understanding. Sometimes the answer come immediately, sometimes not.  But isn’t trusting Him and walking in His peace worth more than everything there is.

As we try to wade through this life, inevitably having to deal with STUFF we would have never chosen for ourselves, those we love, or anyone else for that matter, let’s step into the journey of life with the Father in a constant renewing state of trust as the foundation of that relationship.

My Father is big enough to carry us. He weeps with those of us who are weeping. He loves us beyond anything we could ever fathom. We have nothing or no one greater. And HE IS ENOUGH!  I have personally and intimately discovered, through all that life can throw at me- HE IS ENOUGH!!!

PS. If you are journeying with someone who is fighting for their life, may I offer a suggestion. You stand with them until the very end, on all the scripture you can, and believe with them for their supernatural physical healing. I know God raises people up from their death beds.  But should He choose not to, have the talks you need to have and prepare for what could be their end.  It will come at some point in this life, so that is not wasted energy and does not show “lack of faith”.  It was a tremendous regret of my family that we did not prepare for God to move differently than we thought He should.  And we lost both my father and sister, never talking about “what if”, or saying any kind of good-byes. Only believing for physical healing in this life, til the last breath.

PSS.  Life is our greatest gift!  Along with Jesus Christ!  But consider everyday, with every person you love, an ultimate privilege.  Never, ever take lives for granted.  We are not “owed” another day with anyone.

 
 

Christian Perfection ~

Recently I read a line from one my favorite theologian, Henri Nouwen, that so resonated with me. He said “The goal is human wholeness, not divine perfection.”  I loved that because I have long believed that there are two kinds of people in the world – whole and unwhole. No one can reach or attain perfection, even if you spend your life trying.  You can become whole, but there is such a difference between whole and unwhole.

 

And this is what I have been contemplating a lot lately. FOR EVERYONE GOES THROUGH STUFF!!! S____T HAPPENS!  Some from our own choices, and sometimes we are just simply victims.  But the difference that makes or breaks us and determines our wholeness or brokenness is how we process through these unwanted things that happen to us.  Primarily…….DO WE FORGIVE?

 

For example: David, my husband, and I can interact with a 60 year old man, who acts and relates just like a 17 year old boy, and we know that something tramatic happened in his life at 17 that he never worked through. He never grew past it into adult WHOLENESS.  He chose not to ever forgive.  Thus…he never matured past 17 emotionally and relationally. We see this reality all the time.

 

Where a person, especially a young person, is encouraged and allowed to “process” through the trials,  struggles, and wounds authentically and is encouraged to forgive, they can come through Whole. Wherever we do not forgive, we get stuck! Forever…..but we don’t see how it defines our unwholeness.

 

We know a number of families going through a divorce. We have coached the parents on being real and talking through everything honestly with their children.  When the kids know the real truth of why their parents are getting a divorce, then the kids honestly can share what all that they are feeling and ask questions, process their reality, and then be walked through forgiveness. Which the parents will probably be having to learn at the same time.  For we can get through ANYTHING in this way.  And come through as stronger adults.

 

But whenever children are not allowed to talk and process with real information about the crisis, of any sort, they are left broken. Usually if information is withheld, they will make or create their own inaccurate stories, and often blame themselves.  Unfortunately… for their entire adult lives. Until they learn and choose forgiveness.

 

“To not forgive is like you are taking poison and thinking it will kill the other person, that wronged you”.

 

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, for your own wholeness and peace of mind.  Not because the other person “deserves” it, because they usually don’t.  But you do this so that you may be WHOLE.

And this is one of the greatest life lessons, that you can ever teach your children.  For when a person forgives and can let go of a hurt, they can “move on”. 

 

“Whole” people choose to deal with today’s situation, talk it through, work it through, and move on.

 

Broken people have a very difficult time forgiving or simply dealing with whatever current situation is at hand, without pulling in all sorts of other baggage, that seems unrelated to the current situation.

 

They can seem very “complicated” to deal with.  For in their heart of hearts, it ALL goes back to that original hurt they can not forgive.  At this point every additional hurt accumulates and is blown extremely out of proportion.

 

Do yourself, and every one in your life a favor, and choose to live a life of forgiveness.  Process through whatever hurts you need to.  Ask the Father to reveal to you the original root wound, and any other additional hurt you may have hidden from yourself.

 

Write a letter to Father God, or another person, but at least be honest with yourself.  And after you talk it all through, with God, yourself or another person – THEN CHOOSE FORGIVENESS.

 

THAT YOU MAY LIVE WHOLE!  God wants us to walk in the freedom of wholeness. He is not waiting for your perfection. Jesus was PERFECT, and his redemption has already accomplished THAT for you!  Praise be to God!!!

 

The blood of Jesus and His righteousness is what makes you perfect before Father God. And only that!! NOTHING else!

 

Your wholeness depends on your ability to forgive, as you walk in HIS forgiveness.  You may have to continually ask the Father to “Perfect His strength in your weakness.”  And I have found, He loves and He runs to answer that prayer of yours.

Who They Really Are!

I am one of those “seize the day” kinda people, who seeks to live each and every moment to the fullest. My Daddy showed me, with his life,  how to swell and fill with all the breath, love and glory a moment could hold until your soul could contain no more, without bursting.
But this morning I got a new angle/revelation on love and relationships, that spans time. I was calling my 23 year old son-man Samuel, and as the phone was ringing, my soul traversed his lifetime. I was thinking of him for not only the amazing man he is today, in this moment and hour, but remembering the angel he was at 3 years old. The budding responsible man he was becoming as a preteen boyscout. When he first began playing football and the drive and determination he has always had, that just keeps growing.
And then under all that tough, incredibly strong man that he is – cherishing the heart and soul that has always been right under his skin.
I then jolted with this entire revelation. (all before his voice mail came on.)
I do that with all my children. They are never to me, only who they are at this moment in time. I am always cognizant of their entire package – from whence they came and all the ways they have developed and grown. With a world of potential out there in front.

Then I realized the Father does the same towards us!!  He is NEVER hung up on who we are at this moment, but so embraces our total package. He is always aware of every drop of where we come from, even the details we are unaware of. Things that effect us like generational ties or bondages or heritage. AND He knows where we are going. He has so much more tolerance, if you will, for us than we ever could.
He gets us! He knows us. He accepts and embraces us.
HIS LOVE IS TOTAL AND COMPLETE!
I just began crying, overwhelmed with the understanding in a new way, of Father’s love for me, for us.
So, if someone you love is “stuck” in a hard spot, remember the sweet little boy or girl they used to be. Recall a time that what you saw and knew was soo positive. That is WHO they really are. That soul still resides in them. That is who you are to respond to…to help them find their way home.
So often, life really messes with our very souls. But under whatever hurts and hard times we must go through, our basic soul remains.

May we learn to cherish and cultivate the good in one another’s souls, and make that our focus, above any aberration we may see today.

Marriage Encouragement!

I have talked with so many couples lately who are struggling to stay together, or even live together anymore.  I wanted to share a few thoughts David and I have learned along the way, that keep us really liking each other, a lot!  You are all familiar with the statistics about divorce, even about Christians, and how they are at least as bad as the non-Christians. 
Well, of couples who genuinely pray together and get down and be honest before God and with each other, only 1 in 1,250 get a divorce!  The wild thing is – how much Jesus really does make a difference in our lives, whenever and wherever we let Him.  And how few of us let Him, often enough.
Whenever people ask me the “secret” of a good marriage I tell them, “to the degree that you let Jesus be Lord on your throne, rather than you, choosing His ways and His love and forgiveness over your own petty ways, that is the degree of success you will have. 
But to the degree that you are truly the ONE on your throne, ruling and reigning over your life as you feel and see fit, it will really stink. I hate to admit this – but it is completely true. And David and I experience enough of both, to know fully well the huge difference.

When we are on our own throne, rather than letting His Lordship rule over all, then it can get really stinky. When He is allowed to rule, and we ask for His love, that we do not possess in and of ourselves, then we rise way above our ugly selves and it is a beautiful thing. Some hours He rules and some hours we rule. And we have learned many times the hard way, to put Him back on the throne, when WE have replaced His Lordship with our own.  
First, I will admit that David and I are both fiery, intense and passionate people. We recognize not all couples are.  More power to those of you with those laid back “phlegmatic” personalities. That more naturally cultivates a more peaceful environment. I have to really work at that and do. :)
But so many people we have talked to who divorce, tell us they never really fought when they were married. We don’t believe that is necessarily healthy.  People who live closely and share life intimately are going to disagree and rub each other wrong, some more frequently than others. THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE A BAD MARRIAGE! 

Healing and true connection all begin with humility. The more you are willing to soften your hearts and be real with yourselves, each other and your God, the further you will go with one another.

Realize this journey of life, you chose to do together. And sometime we simply bring out the worst in each other. But whenever you choose to remember that you are on the same team and put yourselves back on each other’s page,  therein truly melts the need to be defensive or simply vying to be understood. You both choose you want to understand each other, and yourselves, as seen and known by the other.

YOU EACH MAKE A CHOICE THAT YOU WANT TO GROW AND MAKE THIS ALL WORK AND BECOME ALL THAT YOU WERE MEANT TO BE INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A COUPLE.

David and I have worked through so much MUCK with the Holy Spirit being our only counselor. The bible refers to the Holy Spirit as our Counselor. In our day and time of therapist of every nature, not many access Him for that purpose. But we would come together and get down on our faces and both cry to the Lord, being honest about how we felt and thought, giving both the chance to fully vent and then we would lie still until the Holy Spirit  came and lead us what to do next. IT WAS BIZARRE! we did that for a year and a half, all the time, as we travailed through our hardest year and a half ever. (about 15 years ago) And HE ALWAYS MET US!!! The Holy Spirit would melt our hearts and let us see truly into one another’s hearts and use us to facilitate healing in each other’s lives and make us feel that we were on the same page. WE were in this thing together!

Whenever you choose to share hearts, and it should become a regular endeavor, you may begin with prayer and just ask the Father to give you His love and understanding into the other.

Decide you want to truly KNOW the other’s heart, as well as sharing your own. 

Then one of you completely speaks your heart and mind on one subject, while the other truly listens. Then person 2 shares, and gives their honest feedback. It really helps if you can stick to one subject before going on.  Make notes as you go if need be, so as not to forget the things you want to come back to or rabbit trails you need to pursue at the end of this present discussion. Talk until you cover it all – as much as possible in one conversation, or taking weeks to get through it all or even months, since it took a long time to get here. 
IT IS WORTH TALKING THROUGH EVERYTHING. If it matters to either one of you, than it matters to the both of you!

Go into each “session” with each other honestly wanting to understand and get on each other’s page, more than you ever have. I promise it is so fulfilling and empowers you both and feels so good and right.

Your biggest goal here is to understand each other’s hearts, feeling and perspectives. There is joy in this journey. Every time you get in a mode of defensiveness and self preservation – YOU WILL NOT LIKE WHAT HAPPENS.  Step back, take a time out and come back into the ring with humility – to learn of the other and from the Holy Spirit. 

Hear each other out completely without interrupting. And then give the other time to fully respond. Rememmber – to choose not to forgive is like taking poison and thinking it will kill the other person. If you want to be truly free, you choose love, forgiveness and understanding. Pray continually for the Father to show you His heart toward the other. You will love what He gives you, I promise.

For you see………God is never looking at either of you and shaking His head and wondering “when will he/she get their stuff together??”  He gets you. He knows you and He is crazy about each of you and just the unique ways HE made you both.  And He already knows all the dynamics of you two as a team and how you can complement each other and become only good for each other. And He is more than willing to give you that, if you are only willing to learn from Him.

God has told me He can do whatever miracles are ever needed to make any relationship new and beautiful, where BOTH people are willing to learn and grow. I promise………it is soo worth it. Give each other a chance, start over, become each other’s friend and closest confidant and watch the deep fulfillment and joy He will bring.

And laugh together as much as you can!!!

I have heard the health of a marriage can be measured by how much fun and laughter is shared between 2 people. Learn to laugh at yourselves and delight in one another. Even things that tend to irritate you about each other. Start just accepting as you laugh together.
In person, I can be very dramatic and intense and excited as I talk.  I get “really into things”.  I do it more with my family than anyone else.  My son Daniel told me last week I was the most intense and dramatic person he knows. (I really was surprised at that.) Well, just recently, my husband Dave has begun to make fun of me a lot, when I am going off on something. And when I am doing this is it a good thing; like I am super excited over something or tickled or happy.  And he mocks me in a way that literally lets me know he is delighting in me and my ways. Like he notices and gets a kick out of it and appreciates me. He always cracks me up and we laugh so hard at my craziness.  We have learned to laugh so much more at things that used to irritate us, as we have walked this journey of marriage together.
We celebrate our 28th anniversary this week.  I am more in love with him and crazy about him than ever before. But the truth is, he can still make me crazier than anyone else can. And I don’t even know how, but I can make him crazy too!
But we have learned to humble ourselves much more quickly now and get on one another’s page. To care about the other’s heart and seek to understand and benefit each other, as a team mate and not work against each other and break each other down.
Yes, it all takes effort, but it makes life so much richer to be in a marriage that you love, rather than one you struggle to even tolerate. Father God wants us to know and understand His love for us – most realistically through our marriages. Let’s begin to show one another more of God’s love for us – even as we are learning it.

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