Father of the Fatherless

It’s sad but true; many moms are serving in dual roles, as mother and father. Divorce happens. Some fathers, though outside of the home, are supportive and involved. The numbers of those who simply walk away, abandoning their children, is staggering. Fatherless children, confused and hurt, face many challenges throughout life.

Feelings of insecurity and trust issues are common. Having no good role model for a father of their own, they often repeat the mistakes of the past generation. As a result, their children suffer; once again, mom has to carry the sole responsibility of parenting. There is hope. The cycle of failure can be broken. We must place our trust in the Father of the fatherless.

“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land (Psalms 68:5-6 NKJ).” God’s word comforts those who feel lonely and unloved.  If mom shoulders the entire load, the Everlasting Father waits to lift her burden.

Tag Team

Brothers and sisters often are involved in pushing and shoving, which if left unchecked can escalate into wrestling matches with no holds barred. Frustration has Mom on the ropes but she holds her ground and serving as referee often sends them to opposite corners for time-out. In many instances, a mother of several children might secretly wish she could call in relief as one involved in tag-team wrestling.

As children of God, we wrestle with evil forces; experiencing weakness, we might be tempted to throw in the towel. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 NKJ).” In times of discouragement, we can depend on God to step into the ring.

God’s Spirit abides within and yet at the same time is always walking by our side. He never leaves us in the clutches and we honor Him each time we call out to Him for rescue. The boldness of believers of the early church was not due to any natural strength but because of each one depending upon the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain them. The next time you feel down for the count, call out for re-enforcement. The Holy Spirit will win the match!

 

 

 

 

Cookie Cutter Creations

Preschool age children love to get their hands in Play-Doh and cookie dough. They roll it, pound it and squash it when they get mad. Mommy ads to their fun when she puts cookie cutter molds into their tiny hands; youngsters now have the excitement of creating favorite shapes.  The tikes laugh with glee when they see that they have created an exact copy of animals, Christmas trees, stars or snowmen.

As their mothers or grandmothers, we must guard our hearts and minds. We must not conform to the molds of our godless society. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2 KJV).” The Creator places no cookie cutter into our feeble hands; He writes His word upon our hearts and watches to see its transforming power in our walk with Him.

52 Little Lines with Big Benefits

The weight of our words carry the very power of life and death in their grasp.

We have the ability to make or break the little lives that have been entrusted to us.

But sadly, and too often, hurtful, thoughtless, harsh words tumble from my lips.

And sure enough, it is my precious children who see and hear the worst of me.

I’m positive there is a filter malfunction in there somewhere.

So when I stumbled upon this brilliant collection of phrases – all designed to help make your “child feel great”, I promptly printed it out and stuck it up on the side of my fridge.

I look at it frequently.

And it makes me smile.  Because it makes my little ones smile.

And then I thought…how silly to keep this all to myself {assuming, of course, that the hundreds of people who have already tapped into the beautiful heart of Janel Breitenstein, don’t read my blog}.

Choose a couple from the list each day and be intentional about seeking out opportunities to encourage your child’s heart, and breathe life into their sweet spirit.

Photobucket

    52 Things 

    1.       The way you (insert action) is such a perfect addition for our family. God knew just what we needed when He gave us you.

    2.       I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me for (insert specific action)?

    3.       I forgive you. And I won’t bring this up again, okay?

    4.       I want to hang out with just you tonight. What do you want to do?

    5.       Thank you!

    6.       Yes, there is food in the house.

    7.       I trust you.

    8.       I can’t believe how (insert positive adjective) you are. I can’t imagine the plans God has for you!

    9.       I saw how you (insert specific positive action). I’m so proud of you.

    10.   There’s money on the table for you.

    11.   I believe you.

    12.   I’m proud of you. And even if you weren’t so fantastic, I’d still be proud.

    13.   I know you and I haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye lately. But I want to let you know that I accept you whether I agree with you or not, and I’m committed to working on our relationship so we both feel understood and secure.

    14.   I got you this, just because.

    15.   Lately I’ve really seen you grow in the area of (insert character quality), like when you (insert specific action).

    16.   I admire you in (insert specific area). In fact, I could learn a lot from you in that area.

    17.   That was a really wise choice.

    18.   Snow day!

    19.   You’re really growing into a young man/woman of character. I can’t tell you how exciting that is!

    20.   I remember when I (insert vulnerable moment). I felt so (insert description). I don’t know if that’s like what you’re going through, but it was a tough time for me.

    21.   No matter how royally you mess up, I’ll always be glad you’re mine, I’ll forgive you, and I’ll love your socks off.

    22.   Go ahead and sleep in tomorrow.

    23.    I had no idea you could do that! You impress me.

    24.   What do you think?

    25.   I canceled your dentist appointment.

    26.   I love your dad so much! He is so (insert adjective).

    27.   I love being around you.

    28.   No chores today.

    29.   I’m so glad you’re home.

    30.   I love doing (insert activity) with you.

    31.   You are one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. I am so humbled He gave me you.

    32.   I feel so proud when I’m with you.

    33.   You handled that so well.

    34.   I made your favorite (insert food).

    35.   You know, you may not feel very (insert adjective), but God knew exactly what He was doing you making you the way He did, and it was just how He wanted to express Himself. I love you just the way He made you. And I wouldn’t have wanted Him to do it any differently.

    36.   I’m trusting that God will take perfect care of us. He’s always done it before! Can we pray together about this?

    37.   With God’s help, your dad and I will never, ever get a divorce.

    38.   That looks great on you.

    39.   If I were in your shoes, I would feel so (insert adjective). Is that how you feel?

    40.   Would you turn your music up?

    41.   You are so well-disciplined in (insert specific area).

    42.   I sent you a big ol’ care package in the mail.

    43.   That was so courageous.

    44.   Do you feel like I’m understanding you?

    45.   If there were one thing you could change about me as your mom, what would it be?

    46.   You have some real gifts in the area of (insert adjective).

    47.   Let’s go to Grandma’s!

    48.   It is so cool to watch you grow up.

    49.   Just wanted to let you know I’m praying for you.

    50.   I miss you, but I’m glad you’re having a good time!

    51.   You make me so happy just by being you.

    52.   I love you so much.

Family Life, Mom Life Today, Janel Breitenstein

I trust these powerful words will bless you – and their lucky recipients – as much as they have us!

By Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Holy Moment

Holy Moment

Our 3 year old loves Jesus.

She loves what she understands of Jesus, which doesn’t seem like much at the tender age of 3.

But it’s growing everyday as she explores the beauty of nature, learns about the stunning intricacy of the human body {her favorite bone is her patella, which she often confuses with “nutella”}, and gets a front row seat in watching God faithfully work out details of tough situations in our lives.

I’m often reminded, when I look at her and see her sweet, raw, simple faith, of the verse in Mark 10 that says “unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in”.

I totally want to love Jesus with the uncomplicated, transparent curiosity of this child.

She prays deliciously relevant little prayers, thanking God for everything from her cousin and her ‘big girl bed’ to her daddy’s safety and the fact that her “baby” brother bit her.

This kid is made of awesome.

Worship

She loves to sing.

She especially loves to sing songs about Jesus {sometimes followed up by her ‘A,B,C’s, ‘Truly Scrumptious’, or an awkwardly-placed line from the movie Madagascar, like: “you bit my butt!”}

But these photos…

they weren’t taken during a spontaneous little church service on our deck this summer.

Nope.

She was, in fact, catching bubbles…and just happened to close her eyes because the bubbles were popping on her nose and bursting soap in her face.

Didn’t expect that, did you?

But you know what…this is true spirituality.

Why?

Because it’s real life.

Simple.  Raw.  Unpretentious.  Love.  In Motion.

The bible says in Genesis 1:26-27 that we were created in God’s image, in His likeness.

That means that you and I are spiritual beings.

Rick Warren put it this way: ‘”In all of creation, only human beings are made in God’s image. This is a great privilege and it gives us dignity. We don’t know all this phrase covers, but we do know some of the aspects it includes: like God, we are spiritual beings – our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies; we are intellectual – we can think, reason, and solve problems; we are relational – we can give and receive real love; and we have a moral consciousness – we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God.”

“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. . . . We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him” {Romans 8:29, The Message}.

So, if you were to ask me – fully aware of just what was happening on top of my closed hot-tub lid, soapy smears and all – whether this was a holy moment…

Bubble Pics

My answer would be “yes”.

Wholly yes.

 

By Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

What’s In Your Bucket?

In this house

we do dishes, yes…

Dishwasher Boy

But we also do wild.  Unorthodox.

We do mistakes.

We do second chances.

And third.

And four hundred and seventy-ninth.

*thankfully*

We do silly.

We do laughter.

We do real.

We do tomfoolery.

{and plenty more mistakes}

We do “I’m sorry’s”.

{A lot of “I’m sorry’s”}

We do loud.

We do long hugs.

Lots of sweet kisses.

We do grace.

We do family.

We do us.

Perfect imperfection.

It had been a tough parenting day.  One of these days.

Actually it had been a rough week.  Ever since returning from our anniversary getaway, we had been dealing with incredibly unpleasant {see…I’m choosing my words wisely} behavior in my daughter; over-the-top whining and drama about every little thing, constant boundary-pushing, mega attitude and rudeness like we had not experienced from her before.

And that particular day, I fell apart at the seams.

And it was the furthest thing from pretty.  It was downright scary.

I failed miserably, shouting – in the heat of the moment; where utter exhaustion and intense furry collide – with such anger in my voice that my heart ached with regret as the dagger-like reprimands left my mouth.

Sure, she was wrong in behaving the way she did.

But now, so was I.  My immature, impulsive handling of her behavior simply added fuel to the fire.

I get to choose: water or fuel.

This explosive day, I had grabbed the fuel.

It was one of the most ferocious crazy cycles we’ve ever been caught in, her and I.

I modeled such poor anger-management skills that it breaks my heart to even think about.  The very heart attitude we are working to mold and transform in her was so starkly, blatantly revealed within me..and found wanting.

One of the hardest parts for me to swallow is this: I never was an angry person before this season of my life.  Where is all this rage coming from?  In 7 years of marriage, I have neverspoken to my husband in the harsh, unkind way I did to my daughter that day.  I have become a yeller.  And I hate it.

Maybe it’s simply that I was good at stuffing…and my toddler is good at digging.

Immature outbursts drenched in selfishness & impatience: 2

Tenderly delivered, grace-filled lessons in {tough} love: 0

And despite {many} apologies, my heart remained heavy.  Grieving over our exchanges.

What a horrible, ugly side of my heart has emerged lately.  And my 3 year old, tender-hearted little girl, often has a front seat.

Oh, how desperately in need of saving I still am.

How deeply I need accountability in the way I process my weary frustration in mothering toddlers.  How vital support and friendship is to surviving this rollercoaster ride of parenthood.

How very grateful I am for God’s incredible patience with me.  His ever-present mercy, grace and direction on this journey.  His faithful protection of my daughter’s impressionable heart.

So I press on.

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.”

Lamentations 3:23-23 {The Message}

What will you choose to bring to the fiery times, the heated conversations, amidst your day…?

Water

or

fuel

The choice is solely ours, friends.

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Glimpse of Glory

God is a lavish creator. He is no penny pincher or tight-wad. In creating His world He never cut corners or compromised His goals to balance books. The human body is His most amazing example of detailed craftsmanship. He constructed man using precisely the right form and substance for functional use. He also threw in a touch of color and style to make us attractive and interesting. He saved a sampling of His creation of light to add sparkle to our eyes. He drew some of the sound of His raging waters and gentle breezes to give us the ability of speech and song. Yes, He gave us much more than we needed to exist. He wanted us to flourish, to experience abundant life.

I am so grateful for His gifts of the senses. As a mother and grandmother I wanted to get every possible insight and appreciation for the babies I cradled in my arms. Not only did these senses bring instantaneous pleasure, but the memories bring them back to be savored time after time. Have patience with me as I open my baby books…

Our first glimpse of glory must be captured in the sight of a baby for the first time! The sizes of mine ranged from tiny and delicate to big and chunky. Children and grandbabies all were crowned with hair in varied hues. I am quick to admit bald is beautiful, too.  Their alert eyes, button noses, rosebud lips, and gently formed ears made the pictures perfect.

I remember the delight the first time I felt the soft baby skin of my daughter, son, and grandsons. Their skin felt almost unreal, smooth in texture, and warm to the touch. Each fold in their arms and legs waited to be explored, touched and caressed. I used my sense of touch to accurately determine a 103* temperature reading even before tested by a doctor. Creams, soaps, oils and powders were liberally applied, to capture that newborn baby aroma and fragrance. I disliked some baby byproducts found in diapers and on spit up rags; but those smells alerted me that I needed to care for them.

The sound of my children’s and grandchildren’s coo’s and cry’s were each unique and special. I quickly learned they could only communicate their needs through their crying. It served as an alarm system; and I depended on acute hearing to learn of those needs. Can words express the first time we hear laughter or the words I love you? There were sounds of trouble as well, with croupy coughs, labored breathing, and wheezing. I have compassion for those who are deaf and miss the matchless joy of hearing their children. I believe God gives more grace to those who are denied the gifts of individual senses.

How could the gift of taste be a benefit to a mother or grandmother? How many times are baby foods tasted before given to the children? We quickly learn why they make ugly faces! We must admit we sometimes wanted to eat the fruits and deserts ourselves. They are very good, but they do not come close to the taste of a baby kiss planted straight on our lips!

Another sense we must not neglect to mention is God’s special gift to the weaker sex, our intuition or gut feeling that something might be wrong. Our manufacturer knew how often we would depend on extra sensitivity to His still small voice.

Lullabies, baths in the kitchen sink, and rocking my babies are all bits and pieces of my memory. Daily routines can be stressful for parents and grandparents, but God’s lavish love uses them to shape the lives of His newest creations.

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