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Posted on Oct 17, 2016 in Devotional, Love, My Crazy Family, Parenting, Spiritual Life, Wisdom | 3 comments

A Good Father?

A Good Father?

When I was a senior in high school, I got caught with beer in my car at after prom. Seriously. Me. Beer. Did I drink beer? Nope. I still don’t. Nasty stuff. How anyone can stand it, I don’t know. But nevertheless, it was my car, my friends, and beer. I knew about it, allowed it, and got caught. The principal had to call my parents in the middle of the night. I was pretty sure death would result from my sin. Either that or every single privilege I enjoyed, including the car and the beach trip I was planning with those friends after graduation, would be taken away from me.

Shaking in fear, I walked into my dark house that night, wondering what punishment was waiting for me. I expected all the lights to be on, my parents furiously pacing the floor.

Instead, they were quietly laying in bed, just like always. As I tiptoed in their room, wondering what type of new torture this was, I saw my dad’s arm go out and beckon me toward him. Slowly, I walked toward that arm. He pulled me in closer. Then he pulled me down onto the bed. Instead of yelling (or killing me), he just hugged me tight. As my fear melted away, I began to cry. Somehow I managed to blubbler out the story: I’d agreed to let my friends bring beer because I wanted them to have fun. They’d said they were unable to let loose, dance, and have fun without it. It had never occurred to me that I could get in trouble for it. I wasn’t drinking and driving. I wasn’t drinking at all.

My mind often goes back to that night. My parents taught me a valuable lesson in the middle of what must have been very frightening to them. They said that a person shouldn’t be dependent on alcohol to have fun. If a person can’t have fun without alcohol, they have a problem. I’ve always remembered that lesson. A nice glass of wine with a fine meal is a different thing than the inability to enjoy oneself without it.

Beyond the alcohol though, another issue strikes me. I learned a lot about a father’s love. He could have raged at me, punished me extensively, or demanded that I stop hanging out with those friends. He didn’t though. He trusted that I’d learned my lesson (I certainly had) and let it go. He treated me tenderly, and he treated my friends tenderly too.

There’s a worship song that’s very popular right now, “You’re a Good, Good Father.” The first verse says,

I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper 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.

Like my dad, my husband is a good, good father. He is the one who scrambles out of bed in the middle of the night at the slightest cry of a child. He answers their cries tenderly, holding them, rocking them back to sleep, and sometimes really irritating me. Why does he have to be such a softy? Can’t he command them to go back to sleep? But he doesn’t.

Not everyone has such a good father. Many fathers are callous, hard, and ready to pounce on their children at the least provocation. They yell and issue commands, not taking the time to listen and understand. And some fathers simply abandon their children altogether, or are so evil that the child would be better off if they did. Into the mess of this world, we have this beautiful song about our Heavenly Father. HE is a good Father, no matter what our earthly fathers are like.

So why is it that so many of us, myself included, run from this good Father when we sin? Why is it that we avoid God when we are ashamed of ourselves? We have a good Father who loves us fully.

He beckons us with open arms, welcoming us into His embrace, even when we have sinned woefully. He wants to hug us, talk to us about what happened, and help us learn something from it. He wants to deepen our relationship, not push us away.

I see it at times in my own life. When I feel deeply disappointed by the way things have turned out, so different than what I thought God had in mind, I struggle to embrace Him. I feel a little like an angry teenager, arms crossed, back turned to God. I haven’t left Him by any means. I’m still leaning against His throne, and I don’t want to leave. But I am so hurt and disappointed, I don’t think I can crawl into His lap right now either. Constant questions plague my mind. Did I do the wrong thing? Is this somehow my sin? Am I missing something? And I’m facing outward, away from Him, because I’m watching so expectantly to see what He will do next.

I have a good, good Father. Surely He has sent an answer, an unforeseen blessing, and it’s making its way up the road to me now. But I’m very near-sighted, and I can’t make it out yet. But I’m watching.

2016-03-27-11-52-05How much better could I watch from the perch of His lap? If, like my tiny daughter does so freely with her daddy, I could crawl up there, grab hold of his shirt and snuggle down, knowing without question the comfort and security I would find there, wouldn’t life be so much better?

What if we started running toward God when we sin? What if we cry into His arms, pour out our sorrow, share our frustration and disappointment openly? Our good Father can handle our pain, and He knows exactly what to do with it.

A good, good Father is exactly who we have. No matter who our earthly fathers were, or are, we can rest in the embrace of God.

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Posted on May 7, 2012 in Marriage | 2 comments

On (Not) Missing My Husband

On (Not) Missing My Husband

At Sedona, March 2011

When Rick and I were dating, we lived 7 hours apart from one another.  We saw each other every few weeks for long weekends.  A couple of times we were together for about 10 days straight.  When we were together, we spent every waking minute together, so there wasn’t the same kind of dating relationship that many people have – only seeing one another at their best for nice nights out.  But after seeing each other for our visits, we went back to not seeing each other at all for weeks, and at one time several months.

When we weren’t together, I missed him, but I found I could handle it pretty well for about two weeks.  That third week usually got harder and it went downhill from there.  When we got married, one of the biggest adjustments for me was that suddenly we were together non-stop.  On our honeymoon we were only apart a couple times for an hour or so.  Honestly, I got a little buggy.  As extroverted as I am, I am almost equally introverted, needing a lot of time alone to feel at peace and balanced.  Rick is used to be around other people all the time, so I don’t know that he had any of those feelings.

When we got back to the house, it was off-season for the farm.  Rick didn’t have much work to do and I needed help in the house, so we were together constantly then as well.  When he was offered a temporary job with a friend, I was thankful.  I wanted him helping me get the house set up and organized, but I also needed some time alone.  It was nice to have the opportunity to miss him while he was gone during the day.

Since then we’ve settled into a nice routine.  He works on the farm during the day and even sometimes in the evenings. I make a large noon meal, get the housework done, and have time for writing.  When he’s gone in the evenings, I miss him.  I wonder when he’s coming back and I try to think of how to make it extra-nice when he finally comes in the house.

I’ve been enjoying married life on the farm immensely, but I needed to see my little niece and nephew in South Carolina too.  I have a five-month old nephew and I’ve only seen him twice.  He’s growing and growing and I’m missing it.  Rick couldn’t leave the farm because it was getting close to time for planting.

So I made my plans for a little trip alone.  It was hard to tell him goodbye.  I was excited about the little blonde four-year old and her cuddly brother in SC who were waiting for me though.  When I got through security in the airport, I was greatly satisfied to be met by my pajama-clad niece who couldn’t contain her excitement and was jumping up and down and screaming.

I couldn’t sleep the first night though.  I kept waking up and realizing I was on the wrong side of the bed, trying to find Rick.  When we were dating, we talked on the phone all the time – hours every day.  It seemed we never ran out of things to say.  Since we got married, we rarely talk on the phone.  But being away from him reminded me that we still have much to say to one another, talking several times a day on the phone just like “old times.”  We don’t need the phone when we’re together.  (I’m so glad for that!  I got really tired of the phone after a while.)

On the third and final day of my trip, I woke up with a strong feeling of missing him.  I love waking up to him every morning.  So many times when I was single, I woke up and wished there was a warm, loving husband beside me.  At times, I went to bed at night aching with loneliness.

That’s why missing each other a little here and there is probably a good thing.  When we don’t have any time away, we tend to forget how much we appreciate one another.  I enjoyed my visit with my sweet little niece and fluffy nephew who just discovered his toes.  And I looked forward to feeling my husband’s arms around me when I returned.

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Posted on Jun 23, 2009 in Before Marriage Blog, Spiritual Life | 0 comments

And So the Story Goes, Part 1

God convicted me several years ago that when He does something good for me, it is a part of my testimony and testimonies are meant to be shared.  I’ve been sitting on this one for a while now and only those who are especially close to me are aware of what God did in my life between the ages of 28-31.  I don’t know how to condense this story any more than I have, so it will be posted in several parts.  We’ll see as we go along how many posts it takes…

 When I was 11 years old, a special speaker came to our church and left a permanent mark on me.  I wish I knew exactly who she was, but all I remember is that she spoke at a mother-daughter banquet.  She talked to us young women about praying for our futures.  She said our parents could pray, but we had a responsibility to pray as well.  She pricked my heart as she challenged us to pray for our future husband and children.  She gave us specifics – for healthy, godly children; for a godly husband – the right husband.  I remember thinking that if I started praying that young for those things, I would have the BEST husband and the most healthy, whole, and godly children of anyone.  And so I prayed and prayed and prayed. 

Fast-forward 15 years to the summer of 2002 and you’ll find me at age 26, still single.  I had been given several opportunities to get married and had declined them all because they were not what I had prayed for.  I was holding out hope for the man who was sent directly by God to me with no question and no compromise.  Then a series of unfortunate events occurred and exposed the weakness of my faith, causing me to lose even more faith in church leaders than I already had.  I had what might be called a crisis of faith.  It’s not that I lost my faith in God; it’s more that I began to seriously question my own standards and whether my faith was actually “faith” or if I was some kind of narcissist who believed she was special and should have the best of everything.  I wondered if, in reality, God just expected me to use my common sense and instincts to find a good man and marry him – rather than wait for some “Divine appointment” to occur. 

I ended up falling in love with a guy from church who was a good, solid, Christian man.  He was financially responsible, funny, professional, intelligent, well-educated, and honest.  We were friends for several years before we dated.  I had never been romantically interested in him until one day a switch flipped inside me and I suddenly was.  I couldn’t explain the switch and thought it must be from God.  After a year of dating, we got engaged and began pre-marriage counseling.  It was then that we realized that we weren’t actually a good match for each other.  It was extremely painful, and we tried really hard to make it work.  He thought it would be fine to keep dating indefinitely and continue working on our issues.  I thought if we were going to keep working at it, we might as well do so married.  At an impasse, we broke up.  To say my heart was broken in a million pieces is not overstating things.  I was devastated.  I was now 28 years old and no closer to my goal of marriage and children. 

During the time that we were trying to work things out, I got very sick.  I ended up in the hospital with what they finally diagnosed as mono and severe tonsillitis.  I was physically weak for about a year following that sickness.  At the same time, nearly every one of my closest friends moved away.  The cost of living went up dramatically and my salary did not, leaving me so financially strapped that I began selling my furniture and anything I didn’t absolutely need in order to pay bills.  I sold my beloved VW Jetta and drove my parent’s old, beat up Chevy Corsica.  On top of everything else, things at my job suddenly turned sour. 

I had worked for the same company for six years and loved my time there.  I had been in my department for three years when my boss retired.  The woman who replaced her didn’t get much training and struggled to manage the department.  I tried to help her, teaching her everything I knew about the job.  I liked her and thought we had a good relationship, but somewhere along the way things changed.  She suddenly turned on me and found something wrong with everything I did.  For four months I was under a vicious attack, but nothing could be found against me so I maintained my job and had the support of her superiors.  But a person can only take that for so long.  It was extremely humbling.  One of the most painful things about it was that my co-workers, who I had been very close to over the years, were forced to turn their backs on me to preserve their own jobs.  Only one of them stood with me. 

I had also been very active in my church for several years.  We had a Sunday school class of 400-500 people (crazy, I know…) and I was the volunteer social activities coordinator.  We did all kinds of fun things and I loved it.  We were led by a dynamic preacher who was an assistant pastor at the church.  He ended up leaving the church due to moral failure and that blew our group apart.  Many stopped attending the church and our social network basically disintegrated. 

I was at the end of my rope.  This was the winter of 2003/2004 – one of the darkest times of my entire life. 

But the good news is that something positive always seems to come out of those dark times.  I had always kept journals, but during that especially difficult time, it seemed I couldn’t get through a day without writing.  I wrote page after page, pouring out my feelings and discovering that I was able to figure things out on paper a lot better than in my head.  As I wrote, it often felt like a Divine hand was guiding me and the words that came to the page were from some other place inside of me – a place I couldn’t find any other way. 

It was during those times of journaling that I gained the courage to do what I knew God had called me to do.

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