Two Heal Better Than One

“I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

How often do we exhaust our energy on those who matter least and push away those who matter most in our lives? Why is it when we’re most broken we isolate ourselves instead of allowing the love of Christ to glue us back together through the support and encouragement of our loved ones? Why do we believe we have to walk through our toughest moments all alone?

I’ll tell you why-Because we believe the enemy’s lies. We allow the lie of pride to make us stubborn and refuse to admit we need help. We allow the lie of shame to make us feel unworthy of help. We allow the lie of pain to shutdown our hearts vowing to never love again. If we refuse to love again, we can’t possibly receive love either. We allow our past mistakes to haunt our present and prevent the idea we could possibly have a victorious future. The truth is, pride, shame, unworthiness, hearts of stone and haunting pasts do not come from God. Do you know what does? Forgiveness, healing, redemption, restoration, unity and fellowship.

In Isaiah 61, he tells his readers in verse one; “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me…He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon starts off verse nine with “Two are better than one.” He continues in verses 10 through 12 with this passage: “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” If those passages aren’t convincing enough, check out this passage from Genesis. After God created Adam he decided this; “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Adam had Eve. Abraham had Lot, Sarah and Isaac. Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan. The two spies had Rahab. Ruth was gifted Boaz after God took the life of her first husband. Mary and Joseph had each other. Jesus had His disciples. Paul had Timothy and Titus. You and I have people too. But the people God has anointed to bind up our broken hearts can’t do so if we push them away. They especially are limited when you or I exhaust our energy on our enemies or busyness and make little time to connect with them.

If you have a stressful job with a toxic manager and you allow yourself to be consumed with frustration, how much energy is left at the end of the day for your family that’s waiting at home? If you have a toxic ex who knows exactly how to entice you into an argument, how open is your heart to even engaging in a conversation with another that fosters love and encouragement? If you’re walking in a state of rejection keeping a tally of all the times you’ve been dumped, how can you possibly recognize someone who genuinely shows an interest in investing in you? The answer to all of these questions is-you can’t.

We only have so much energy and our attention spans are only so long. If we are exhausting ourselves fighting with our enemies, fretting over things we cannot control or walking with rejection like it’s our best friend, then there’s no room for those who truly care about us, for those with sincere hearts, to step in and bind up our brokenness. God can fix us on His own. He doesn’t need any help. But if that’s what His plan was He wouldn’t have designed families, friendships or marriage. He wouldn’t stress the importance of togetherness or anoint others to heal. He certainly wouldn’t have said “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew‬ ‭18:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I’m guilty of isolating myself because of fear, pride and shame. I’m guilty of exhausting my energy on useless arguments with toxic people and having minimal leftover for those I love most. I’m even guilty of walking in a spirit of rejection and closing myself off to love. I’m mostly guilty of crying out for His healing, begging Him to bind up my broken heart but pushing away the people He uses to do it. If you’re focusing your attention on the wrong people and pushing away the right ones-then my friend, you’re guilty to. Guilty people get a conviction but this one is a convicted spirit. There will be no condemnation.

We have a Heavenly Father who chooses forgiveness and is a God of multiple chances. It is never His desire for us to live wounded. In fact, Isaiah tells us in chapter 53 verse five “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.” ‬‬It is His desire to cleanse from all our sin, break the chains of brokenness and restore us in His redeeming love.

Confession is the key. In order to be redeemed we’ve got to come clean with ourselves and Jesus about the lies we’ve believed. We must tap into His superhuman strength in order to walk away from toxic relationships. We’ve got to ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to be able to accept love. If we refuse the love of others, that love given becomes seed that lands on hard ground and is never planted. Healing and wholeness is an intentional choice that involves refuting the enemies lies, letting go of past mistakes, exposing old wounds and allowing others to come in administer a spiritual first aid that is bound in love, affirmation and redemption.

Think about this-When you or I sustain a physical wound that is beyond the capabilities of peroxide and a band-aid, we seek out medical treatment that may involve stitches or other more intensive care. The same is true for emotional and spiritual wounds. These wounds are way to hard to fix on our own. We have to seek out comfort and godly companionship so these wounds can be permanently closed and we can walk in wholeness again. God wants to use your spouse or future spouse, your family, and your best friends in Christ to bind up your broken heart. Stop fighting with those who seek to destroy you. Instead, turn your attention and spend your energy on those who seek to restore you. Allow them to pray with you and over you. Allow them to cry with you and hold you. Most of all, allow them to love you as Christ designed them to.

James 5:16 is the perfect ending for today’s post: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Find the ones God is has sent to bind up your broken heart. Open your arms up to them, break down the walls you’ve been hiding behind, be transparent and let them pour out His love into you.

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The Wisdom of Motherhood

“Hear the instruction of your Father; do not forsake the law of your Mother!”

Proverbs 1:8

Today was Mother’s Day.  An obvious choice for a sermon, the minister preached on Proverbs 31.  However, the surprising theme of the message was not about women being the Wonder Woman described in this chapter (a woman most Christian women have compared themselves to more than once and most likely felt they could never measure up to-myself included.) Today’s theme was about wisdom and honoring women of valor because they are very wise women.

I was raised by a single mom.  When I read Proverbs 31 and compare it to my mom, honestly she measures up far better than I do.  If you read Proverbs 31 in a literal sense, my momma brings her husband (and others) good, not harm all the days of her life.  She knows how to select fabrics.  Growing up she sewed clothing for me and my dolls (we had matching outfits).  She made me dolls and crocheted versions of Care Bears.  To this day, she raises Alpacas and uses their fiber to make many beautiful things.  She is a very creative and talented woman.  I have never shared this passion with her and the only sewing I can do is repairing loose buttons and using iron tape to hem things.

“She gets up early and tends to her household.”  My mom was always the first one up, making sure my brother and I were ready for school or church and getting us to where we needed to go on time.  (Me-I’m always running late and my kiddos and I leave in a rush most days. In fact, today I woke them up late and they ended up having Hershey’s bars for breakfast and we were still two minutes late for church.) I am the first one up but I like to ease into my days enjoying the quietness of the morning while drinking a cup of coffee, some days reading my devotionals, other days reading a book.  My kids do get fed nutritious meals on a daily basis so don’t misinterpret the Hershey bars for breakfast statement.  That was a rare occasion and the chocolate bars were leftovers from the S’mores that were made at last night’s bonfire.

“She considers a field and buys it”-my mom has owned several homes and maintained them well.  She grew a few vegetable gardens and even knows how to can food items. She could make noodles from scratch.  I have no desire to own my home.  I tried helping my daughter grow a garden last year and I believe we managed to produce 2-3 tiny green tomatoes.  Nothing else bore any produce.  I do not have a green thumb-another thing I simply am not passionate about either.  I don’t think I’ve ever even attempted to make noodles from scratch either.

Something from Proverbs 31 my mom and I do have in common would be verse 20; “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”  My mom always had an open door for displaced people and stray animals.  Okay if I’m being honest, I was the kid who brought home every stray animal I came across but she never told me I couldn’t keep them. At one time, I had six pet cats (this was obviously before I discovered that I am in fact, allergic to cats-Ha! Ha!)  My friends always knew they were welcome in our home.  In fact, some spent time at my house when we weren’t even home.  There were many occasions that family members, for various reasons, lived with us.  Her generosity instilled in me a passion to someday be a key player in implementing homeless to housed programs throughout my country and God willing, all over the world.

I could go on but I am guessing you get the gist of the kind of mom I was blessed with and the fact that I am fairly opposite of her.  Doesn’t make me a bad mom.  Just means I parent differently.  My kids still learn the things I am passionate about and what I am not skilled at teaching them, I rely on others to teach them.  I’m secure enough in my mothering to recognize my strengths and weaknesses and to no longer beat myself up when I make a mistake.  I don’t like to cook and my kids know that.  But they love my sloppy joes and pancakes.  They also know that I love to baking and think I make the best homemade frosting in the world.  My son thinks I throw a football like a girl but he knows he can count on me to throw a football, play catch or shoot hoops with him if he asks.  My daughter is incredibly liberal (not how she was raised) but she knows she is allowed to speak her mind.  In my home we have an open communication policy.  You are allowed to say what you’re thinking knowing that you will be listened to.  But, you must then allow the other person to speak and give the same respect of listening to them, even if you do not agree with what they may be sharing.  There are days they may get a candy bar or even cookies for breakfast but my fridge is always stocked with healthy food choices and I spend 1-2 hours every other week doing food prep to ensure the healthy snacks are easily accessible for all of us.

But as I learned today, Proverbs 31 was not written to be a list of super hero traits we moms must aspire to be.  As pastor said today, “Proverbs 31 may be the final chapter of wisdom.”  He continued by explaining that “wisdom is the ability to live life skillfully.”  Later he stated that “being a Proverbs 31 woman is not about being perfect, it’s about learning to live life skillfully.”  When we learn this, we become women of valor, women of wisdom.  He suggested a great way to gain wisdom is to “Read and Plead.”  This means reading a chapter of Proverbs daily as well as seeking God and asking Him for wisdom.  He quoted James 1:5 (If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”) to back up this suggestion.  He also explained how God in His infinite wisdom, references wisdom repeatedly as a female character.  God made women to be a source and example of wisdom.

What I walked away with today is this; the best thing I can do for my children, myself and to honor God, is to walk in His wisdom and to strive to be a woman of wisdom.  Proverbs 3:18 describes wisdom like this, “She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” This is definitely a verse I am going to meditate on and strive to be.  Hearing that verse this morning instilled a desire to be the tree that is so rooted in an unshakable faith that my children or anyone who encounters me can feel blessed to take hold of because they see Jesus through me and gain wisdom by knowing me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers who are moms.  I pray your day was blessed and that this post reminds you of the amazing mom/mum that you are.  I pray this post inspires you to measure yourself to wisdom only and to seek God for an increase whenever you feel lacking.  I also pray that you stop measuring yourselves to the literal version of the Proverbs 31 woman and embrace the woman you are, exactly as God made you.  Jesus did not gift us all to be seamstresses, grow luscious gardens or even to be morning people.  But whatever gifts He’s given you, use them for His purpose and glory and shine like the amazing gems you all are.  In case you forgot how valuable you truly are, Proverbs 31 tells us we are more precious than jewels (vs 10), that we surpass excellency (vs 30) and that when we fear the Lord, we are to be praised (vs 31.)

Heavenly Father’s Day

Tomorrow is the day we in America celebrate the men who are dads.  For some that is their biological dad.  For others it may be a grandfather, uncle, step-dad or honorary dad.  Still for others it stirs up feelings of disappointment, abandonment or sadness because they’re dad is either gone or not a positive part of their life.

For those who are struggling with not having a dad I want to bless you with this encouragement from our Heavenly Father in hopes that it will fill your hearts with peace, comfort and even joy.

In His word God promises to be the Father to the fatherless.  (Psalm 68:5.) He again reminds us of this in 2 Corinthians 6:18; “And I will be a Father to you, And you will be My sons and daughters,” Says the Lord Almighty.” There are also numerous verses that describe God as our “Heavenly Father.” And more that call us His sons and daughters or refer to us as being adopted as His children.  No matter what relationship you have with your earthly father, and some may not even know who their father is-God is your Father and you can know Him in this capacity/be adopted as His son or daughter when you accept His own son, Jesus, as your personal Lord and Savior.

Some reading right now may be asking “How do I accept Jesus as my Savior?” What does that all mean?  Well some believe you have to pray something called the “Sinner’s Prayer” where you confess your sins, confess Jesus as God’s son, confess that you believe Jesus died for your sins and rose again and invited Him to live in your heart.  There’s nothing wrong with that prayer but there’s a lot of human formality to it.  The Bible tells us this is how we become children of the One True God.  “…Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household [if they also believe].” (Acts 16:31)  In John 10:9 Jesus Himself tells us “I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever]…” And Romans 10:9 is even more direct with this; “because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” To put it simply-salvation (becoming a child of God and securing eternity with Him) means confessing and believing that Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins and conquered death for you and for me!

Salvation makes you a child of God but studying His word, talking with Him through daily prayer and building your faith by walking in obedience to Him is what grows your relationship with Him and opens your heart to knowing Him as your Heavenly Father.  When you grow this wisdom in your heart you will learn three very important things:

1) God’s love for you is unconditional and everlasting! (“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”‭‭ Jeremiah 31:3)

2) God will never leave you nor forsake you! (“…for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.”  DEUTERONOMY‬ ‭31:6‬)

3) God is your true Protector and Provider! (“He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, And under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.” ‭‭PSALM‬ ‭91:4‬ and “…my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”‭‭. PHILIPPIANS‬ ‭4:19‬)

For the dads out there who are engulfed in their children’s lives fully dedicated and devoted to raising their children, thank you for your commitment and love to your children.  To those who weren’t gifted with this kind of dad or who’s father is no longer living, I pray this post blesses you and draws you to either pursue a relationship with God or if you’re already saved, draw you deeper into the knowledge of Him as your Heavenly Father.  Abba, which is a word used to describe God, means “Daddy.” So start by praying to Abba daily and see how your heart grows toward Him when you view God in this way.

I want to close with the lyrics of Chris Tomlin’s song, Good Good Father. This is a song I resented until last summer when I had to make the difficult decision of emotionally detaching myself from my biological father who had broken his sobriety and gone back to drinking.  It was just after Father’s Day that I mailed him a letter informing him of my decision.  A week later I found myself at a Christian festival hearing Chris Tomlin perform this song live and where I felt God release the chains that had hardened my heart toward seeing God as my Abba.  With a rush of overwhelming freedom I raised my hands up and worshipped my Father as tears streamed down my face.  It was His emotional healing at its best.  I pray these lyrics bring healing for those who need it also.  God bless.

“Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night And you tell me that you’re pleased And that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide But I know we’re all searching For answers only you provide ‘Cause you know just what we need Before we say a word
You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

’cause you are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways to us

You are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable I, I can hardly speak Peace so unexplainable I, I can hardly think

As you call me deeper still..Into love, love, love

You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a Good, Good Father (you are perfect in all of your ways) It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are And I’m loved by you (you are perfect in all of your ways) It’s who I am, it’s who I am it’s who I am…

My August Son

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 139: 13-14 NIV

When I was fifteen-years-old and completely frustrated with my two-year-old brother who would not stop walking across my board game, I looked up at the ceiling and yelled, “IF YOU’RE A SMART GOD, YOU WON’T LET ME HAVE CHILDREN!”  As a little girl I loved playing house and had many baby dolls but as a teenager, I never liked babysitting, never had patience with small children.  That impatience readily increased with having three younger brothers who are 14, 16 and 20 years younger than me.

That all changed in my twenties.  First, God moved me into children’s ministry and I fell in love with a fantastic little toddler named, Andrew.  He and I spent many evenings in the church nursery watching Muppets while his mom attended whatever class was being offered at the time.  That little guy could turn any bad day into a happy one in just a few short moments of silly interactions.  In 2001, I quit working at that church and moved out of state.  Unfortunately, I have no idea how my toddler buddy has grown up.

When I was twenty-five, during a routine exam, my doctor discovered some health problems that only surgery would fix.  The day after my surgery I learned I only had a 50% chance of ever having children. It was at that moment I recalled that exasperated prayer of a selfish 15-year-old girl and I prayed that God didn’t take me seriously then and would gift me with children.  Two years later, He gifted me with a beautiful daughter.  Twenty-one months after she was born, I gave birth to her baby brother.  After that I had two more surgeries that reduced my chance of pregnancy down to 0%.

Every year on my children’s birthdays I tell them the story of how they were born.  As unique as their personalities are to this day, so were my pregnancies and subsequently, their births.  My son’s was the hardest pregnancy, easiest birth.  After complications I suffered birthing my daughter, my only option to birth my son was a scheduled cesarean section. Although it was petrifying to be fully awake during such a major surgery, having no labor pains and delivering a child in a matter of minutes was a tremendous blessing compared to the 13 hours of labor including an hour and a half of pushing to deliver my daughter.  His pregnancy was tough-his birth was easy-but life with him has been an adventurous challenge ever since.

My son was colicky at birth.   He cried so much that there were days I didn’t even want to come home from work because I knew he was just going to cry and I couldn’t console him.  Honestly, I would cry too.  I felt guilty and helpless all at the same time.  He had stomach issues that led to multiple types of formula changes, food allergy testing at the appropriate age, and even an upper GI.  He also bounced between ear and sinus infections for several years. He was on so much antibiotic I worried he would become immune to its effects.  If that wasn’t enough he ended up with asthma, severe allergies and hernia surgery by the age of 6.  He endured allergy shots for seven years and spent many school days in the office using a nebulizer during croup season. We became frequent flyers to our pediatrician, allergist and the children’s hospital that was two hours away.  If his health wasn’t a big enough challenge for him and me, he was also diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5.

ADHD has its own challenges.  One of those was determining to medicate or not.  We tried both.  The first meds he was on he acted like a drug addict coming off a high when the med was wearing off.  The second med made him completely indifferent to anything-as if he had no emotions at all.   He was pulled off meds and for five years we tried behavior management and naturopathic methods.  By fifth grade he was struggling academically, behaviorally and emotionally.  With a resistant heart (I am a very anti-pill popping parent) he was put back on an ADHD medication.  I praise God this one is working with minimal side effects.

As he enters his final year of childhood and prepares for the teen years, I’ve reflected on how much he’s grown over the past 12 years.  In spite of his health hardships and behavioral struggles, my son is one of the toughest and gentlest young men I have the pleasure of knowing.  No matter the setback we would experience, he was taught to treat it as his norm and to persevere in spite of it.  He has a natural athletic ability hitting pitched baseballs and bumping volleyballs at the age of 3.  He is a man’s man kind of boy and loves everything that has to do with being a guy.  He even demands to have man soap for showering.  He has however been banned from Axe body spray after excessive usage caused major eye burning, choking and a literal evacuation from the house. My favorite thing about him is that his tender heart still loves to snuggle with his momma even though he’s embarrassed if I kiss him in public.

Raising him has changed me.  Having a child with ADHD requires patience that I was simply not born with.  With God’s grace though I can actually find humor in seeing his pants hanging from my ceiling fan and  finding his socks hanging from magnets on the refrigerator when he was supposed to be getting ready for school.  On days when he is super high energy, God equips me with added measures of patience as well as creativity to help him burn off his energy in a positive way.  Most importantly, raising him has taught me I am not in control-God truly is.  I never planned to have my children so close in age, but God did.  I never planned to have a son who would have multiple health and behavior issues or to be raising my children as a single parent.  But God did.  And with each setback, health scare, meltdown, impulsive outburst and hyperactive day, God’s been with us helping us through each one.  He has a huge purpose for my son and I know every hardship we’ve endured is making him into the man God made him to be.  I pray every day my son will continue to seek God and learn what his purpose is in order to effectively live it out.

Recently I stumbled up a poem I had written years before my children were born.  It was actually written during a time when I was on the fence of wanting children.  It was entitled, Unconditional Love.  These are the words from that poem:

“Although you are not born yet,

The love I feel for you has always existed.

Even though you haven’t been created yet,

I’ve always felt you growing inside of me, inside of my heart.

You’ve always been a part of my life.

When I was a child you were the baby doll I dressed up and played house                                      with.

Now that I am a woman, you are a mystery that will someday be my reality.

You are my child, my son, my daughter…”

Fourteen years ago, that mystery mentioned in my poem became a reality with the birth of my daughter.  Twelve years ago, that reality doubled with the birth of my August son.