Category Archives: My Father’s Daughter

Daddy’s Girl

Have you ever run across a talk show featuring an episode on parent child reunions?  The viewing audience, after hearing the personal story of the individuals to be reunited, is offered an up close and personal front row seat to the first smiles and touches of two people who had for various reasons up until that point been separated from one another.  Everyone claps through their tears, the host wraps up the episode with a huge smile and fond farewell, the climatic music de crescendos and everyone goes home.

The guests which were the focus of the show are now left face to face and heart to heart with someone who they were intended to have relationship with all along.  This causes them to feel close on one level; and yet they must now walk through the motions of establishing those elements of true relationship perhaps eventually, emotional intimacy.  The heart’s longing for that which “should have been” mixed with the reality that relationships are not built in a day must make for an interesting journey.  I’ve often wondered how those two individuals proceed with their relationship after the excite of the re-unite.

Although I always remember believing in God, it wasn’t until I was twenty-one that my heart was eternally reunited with Him.  Much like the excitement, music and lights were the initial days of  my salvation.  My entire life had been impacted by the weight of a single decision.  In a moment, I went from condemned to saved,   guilty to forgiven, tainted to pure and victim to over comer.  Never again would I be alone or unloved.

That God shaped hole within was experiencing the first tastes of what had always been intended to fill it.  It wasn’t until that point that I was able to  realize the insufficiency of previous substitutes.  The introduction to my Savior was glorious and I reveled in His peace that transcended my understanding, joy that was my strength, mercy that was new every morning and love that held no limits.  It was a sweet, sweet time.

And yet, life goes on.  The warm embrace of salvation and the New Birth held firm but the daily reality of life quickly came back into view.  I was now face to face and heart to heart with a Savior whom I did not know.  As I was mentored in truth I quickly learned that this was a relationship that required more than the acceptance of my Savior…it required the offering of my heart to my Father.  Faith, trust, and obedience were apparently key and this is where I struggled.

The facts were, I had never known a Father’s love.  Those things that we all think of…Daddy/Daughter dances, strong arms to rescue you, protection, safety, unconditional love and affirmation…these had been the furthest thing from my personal experience.  From the time I was two until I was fourteen each man within my life, to include my biological father, my stepfathers and my grandfather had taken their turn as thieves to steal from me sacred things that were not ever meant for them.  Sexual, emotional and physical abuse were what characterized my relationship with anyone I had ever called “Father.”  Control, manipulation and fear summarized my experiences with those whom I had called “Daddy.”

And so, for a long time, my way of loving the Father was simply to allow Him to love me.  Like an infant who  is overly tired and has nothing to give, it was a good day when I could rest enough and trust enough to simply allow Him to hold me and offer me comfort rather than flailing about in life consumed by my own misery.  Each time I was willing to become vulnerable enough to spend time in His presence, seek His face and hear His voice, He was abundantly faithful, gentle and patient leading me ever so slowly into those deeper places of intimacy with Him.

After years of relationship trust came more easily.  He taught me through everyday life that He was faithful, trustworthy and true.  As  He was faithful to continue the good work that He began within me, binding up my heart and making every broken place whole; the scales of fear, mistrust and suspicion fell from my eyes helping me to see my Father clearly.  Like with most relationships, it was our time spent together that made the difference.

Perfect love really does cast out fear (1 John 4:18).  Once free to love Him we grew closer at an accelerated pace.  I learned that only I determined the limits on how close we could become.

Daddy/Daughter dances, strong arms to rescue you, protection, safety, unconditional love and affirmation?  Yep…I know them now; Praise you Father I know them now.

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Draw Near

The worst types of illnesses for little ones seem to be tummy related.  Those unpleasant issues mixed with a “snuffy” nose –as it has always so been called in our house because of the large burnt orange elephant off of Sesame Street- make for long days and even longer nights in the life of the parents of a child who has “come down with something.” With no ability care for or tend to their own needs, it seems that at these times they just leak all over, and occasionally erupt from one place or another.

I remember feeling helpless in those early years with my first child, burning up with fever, crying nonstop. All ability to soothe her misery seemed futile.  Cycling through the motions of rocking to swaying to walking, hour upon hour we together would find only pockets of sleep to ease our weariness.  My sweet husband, seeing how miserable she was and how exhausted we both were stood idly by wishing that there was something he could do to help either one of us but settled in the knowledge we had previously learned; when the baby was sick she wanted her mama-no one else would do.

Occasionally we would find merciful respite when the medicine would kick in and ease her symptoms enough that she could rest.  Knowing that to lay her in her crib would be self defeating due to the prior explained snuffiness, gently positioning her upon my chest I would lay my head back against the recliner. In what seemed like only moments we would both be awakened by a snot induced cough that would trigger her gag reflex causing her to vomit.

At these times I would have to hand her off to her father in order to clean up.  When out of my arms her crying immediately escalated from a tempered “I am so miserable why is this happening to me?” steady cry, to an all out raging scream.

Every second I could see her reaching her arms out to me calling my name “Mama”, “Mama” through her tears seemed like a painful eternity to my heart.  I longed to hold her and bring her the comfort she needed and desired.  .

In these times I never even considered how my daughter’s illness would impact me.  Would I catch what she had?  Would I be puked on, snotted on, and potentially worse?  Probably so; it didn’t matter.  All I could think about when she was holding her arms out for my comfort was how very much I loved her and how I longed to give her the comfort that she desired.  My heart hurt because she hurt.

As a child of God there have been seasons when very much like my sick little girl my own heart symptoms have been unlovely.  I was happy to run to God when I felt strong and obedient  but in my moments of weakness, disobedience and un-loveliness, those times when in truth I needed God the most, I would withdraw my heart from Him because I did not feel worthy of His love and forgiveness.

I had to learn that I am not a better parent than my Lord.  When we are weak and needy, it is in these times that our Father longs to be the comfort that we need.  He doesn’t see us after our faults and weakness, but instead, no matter how unlovely we seem, always with the heart of a loving parent.  When we hurt, He hurts for us.  Mercy and compassion abound toward His children, especially in our times of weakness.

Father, thank you, that even in our weakest moments as we draw near to you, you draw near to us. 

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Scare Tactics

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

The smell of French fries lingered while squeals and laughter filled the air.  We were quarantined and confined behind the glass doors which separated those who must dine amidst colorful ball filled pits and twisty slides.

We nibbled on green side salads while stealing one or two of the grease entrenched goodies left uneaten by our distracted dates. The social norm of don’t talk to strangers was now exchanged for “play nice with your new friends…”

All was lovely until one mom decided it was “time to go.”  Every mom in the room involuntarily stiffened and without saying a word we collectively pooled our strength, resolve and determination as a joint offering to the mommy in question.  Together we stand, mommies of preschoolers Unite!

A novice she was not as her tactics were clearly well planned.  Having previously withheld the coveted plastic wrapped toy, she now offered it as a bribe to leave. The daughter, no novice herself, had somehow already caught wind to what was going down and as soon as her dirty bottomed feet hit the floor we caught only a glimpse as she scurried back up the impossibly steep climbing tube never intended for anyone over the age of 25 or taller than 3 ½ feet.

With raised eyebrows a forced Cinderella pitched voice that had undertones of “if you don’t come right this second you are really gonna get it” escaped from the mom. With bravado and spunk the four year old faced off with her mother through the thick plastic of the highest tube bubble and giggled.  One could faintly hear the whistling of Old Western dueling music in the background.

Desperation spread across the mother’s face.  The child was in control of when they were going to leave; she knew it, the child knew it and every mommy in there knew it.  All tact aside the frustrated mom began to lose composure.  First, counting in the ominous tone; One….two….three….  She could have counted to one hundred, the girl was indifferent.  Then “If you don’t come right now I am going to throw away your toy.”  For a second this caught a fearful glimpse but her daughter quickly decided the power in her possession was more enticing than a pint sized plastic pony. Finally, the mother, obviously infuriated and powerless had reached her limit and said in a tone indicating that she had already won, “okay, FINE, I’m leaving.”  She aloofly walked out of the door and pinned herself against the wall on the other side out of sight to her daughter.

After a minute or two the four year old looked a great deal smaller as the question of “was mommy serious” turned to the recognizable fear of “mommy was serious.”  Frantically scuttling out of the tubes and down the slide she was crying and hysterical as she ran out of the play land screaming “Mommy! Mommy!”

There have been many times when I have resembled that stubborn child, remaining in a standoff of obedience with the Lord.  In these times I am so very thankful that He never threatens me with abandonment.  Instead He is longsuffering and waits patiently for me to choose obedience…as long as it takes.  Even when my own disobedience causes me pain He comforts me and loves me through it.  Romans 2:4 states Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  I am thankful that my Abba will never leave or forsake me.  No matter what.

Father, thank you for your compassionate mercy.  Thank you for loving me and never abandoning me even in the midst of disobedience. 

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God Gauge

 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Matthew 7:24-25

It took several seconds for me to realize what was happening.  The noise and movement of what initially could have been a large truck driving by quickly escalated to a steady rumbling accompanied by increasing shaking.  Faced with the reality of what was occurring, panic rose from my stomach to my throat as I looked around my classroom at my students.  We are having an earthquake.

Although the children did not know or understand exactly what was going on, they looked to me for an explanation of what was undeniably out of the ordinary.  I had to stay calm.  I knew that whatever reaction I offered them would determine their own reaction to the situation.  As they looked at me I could tell that they were trying to gauge my response to determine whether they should be afraid or not.

Seconds later with a smile and a firm tone of voice I directed them to leave what they were doing and line up right away.  We followed the other classes down the hallway and out onto the playground.  Within seconds the rumbling stopped, the shaking ceased and we all stood still.

The teachers took a moment to together breathe again, staring at one another with wide eyes as we all realized the magnitude of what had just taken place and how differently it all could have turned out.  The children, sensing that the emergency was over, chattered among themselves with excitement over what had just happened.

We headed back in and resumed school as usual.  As small children do, my class was able to quickly focus on the next task; seeing that no harm had been done they remained unscathed.  I on the other hand found myself stuck at the what if’s and what could have beens of what had just occurred. Flashbacks of scenes of the aftermath of earthquakes in other parts of the world filled my mind.  The pictures of destruction, devastation and demise of entire communities were fixed on the forefront of my heart.  I was thankful for what didn’t happen yet overwhelmed with the thought of what could have happened.  In that moment that the earthquake began I recall feeling completely out of control.  There was nothing I could do to stop what was happening and in that moment I had no idea how bad it was going to get.  I hate feeling out of control.

They say that when you are a teacher you learn from your students as well as teach them.  In that moment when my students did not know what was going on they looked to me.  It was by my response that they gauged their own.  As they were looking to me, I should have been looking to my Lord.  Instead I allowed fear and independence to rise up within me and take over as I wrestled with the best plan of action.  I had to keep my students safe, they were my responsibility, I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

God never freaks out, He never feels afraid and He never falls from the throne.  Regardless of what we face, if we will look to Him and gauge our response by His according to the truth of His Word, we will be able to handle whatever trouble may come with more peace, stability and sense than we are able in our own strength.

Father, when I feel afraid, confused and out of control help me to remember to always look to you to gauge my response. 

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God the Father and The Godfather

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Heb. 8:10) NKJV

photo by Wylio

It was the day of his daughter’s wedding.  Don Corleone sat in a dimly lit room and received individuals into his presence one by one, each beseeching him for a specific favor.  Each favor was something that was beyond their personal ability to control, influence or impact in their own strength.  It was simply above them. In their desperation, they approached the one that they knew had the power, resources and ability to “take care of it.”  The hesitant manner in which they approached hinted to their acknowledgement of both the respect and honor he was due. Upon the acceptance of assistance from The Godfather it was understood that at any future point in time he could approach them requesting the return of that favor.

A covenant was made, a promise not to be broken.  A covenant is a promise unto death and not entered into lightly.  It means, in layman’s terms, I promise that I will use everything that I have to help you and you promise to use everything you have to help me.  Each party wholeheartedly agrees to hold nothing back; it is an all inclusive agreement.  As well, the partakers of a covenant become identified with one another.  Who you are in covenant with has the ability to add much strength to your stance because anyone who understands covenant knows that they are not just engaging with you but they too engage with those whom you are in covenant with.

It was the day of His son’s death.  God the Father, seated on the throne heard His only begotten Son agonizingly ask aloud why He had forsaken Him.  The blood of the covenant had been shed.  The necessary yet painful events had taken place which now made it possible for all of mankind to enter into a covenant with the Most High God, to become partakers of the covenant that was now established between Him and His Son.

Instead of a dimly lit room, we boldly approach the throne of God’s grace.  We sit at His feet and offer him our most complicated, difficult and agonizing issues.  Realizing that we are at the end of ourselves, we approach the One whom we know has the power, resources and ability to “take care of it.”

Be assured, Child of God, there will be a time when the Lord of Lord and King of Kings calls upon you to return the favor.  In our limited, finite and humble ability to offer Him anything, all He asks of us is the willingness to offer Him everything we have, everything we are. Romans 12:1 states I beseech you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

1 Corinthians 3:9 tells us For we are laborers together with God: you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building. God loves us so very much that He allows us to work with Him here on the earth to help His will come to pass.

There is no better covenant that exists.

These hands, Father? They are yours, whatever you need, whatever you ask- I avail them unto you.  This mouth, Lord?  It belongs to you-help me to be your mouthpiece as I speak into the lives of others. Let them be Your words alone that pour forth out of it.  These feet? Let them go only where you lead; let them be beautiful to you as they carry the good news of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. 

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