What Are You Complaining About?

Standard

 

“the only person who faced a unique situation in the history of the world is Jesus Christ. To my knowledge, no one else has been crucified to pay the price for the sins of man.”

 

Tonight I met a woman who is afraid that her young adult daughter is going to commit suicide because of personal struggles. Another friend has a family member battling with addiction and the loss of custody of her children. Another is facing a round of returning cancer, still others have debilitating diseases, are facing divorce, financial burdens, job loss and a multitude of other problems which they may not even share. Have you ever looked around at those in your life, not people on the news, not the ‘friends of a friend,’ but those who are personally in YOUR life and stopped to be thankful for what you have? No matter what our situation is, it never takes long to find someone else with a situation that is worse than ours. The unfortunate ones, however, are those who find themselves in a set of circumstances and spend incredible amounts of time either; trying to be martyrs because of what they’re going through or simply complaining about it.

How would you feel if you tried to teach a child a lesson that would benefit the rest of their entire life but all they did was grumble about it? This lesson would alter their entire existence. It would change the way they looked at themselves and others, the way they encountered their fellow man, it would improve their quality of life because of the insight that they would gain but instead of accepting the challenge they just moaned in protest? A handful of words come to mind; brat, spoiled, undeserving, ungrateful, just to name a few. Yet, for some of us, EVERY time God hands us a challenge that will help build our character into being the utmost person that we can be what do we do? We whine.
God directed Moses to lead His people out of Egypt; a move that would not only take them out of bondage but change the history of the world. What did they do?
“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!” (Numbers 11:1-4)
They acted like everything they had experienced in Egypt had been wonderful and that the food they had been given was free; forgetting that the food they ate required their own oppression to obtain. In each instance God provided what they NEEDED but how often do we complain about not getting what we WANT? If we each look at our lives and at what we complain about in the average day:
The kids aren’t getting ready on time. I’m tired. I have to fix breakfast, no one ever recognizes what I do in a day, no one appreciates me, the traffic is bad, the kids need money for something last minute, my husband has to work late, he forgot about plans we made, the dog just destroyed my favorite plant, the sink is stopped up, the this, the that…and we know these things happen because any one of us can log on to Facebook or any other social media and read in MULTITUDE a list of complaints that our friends and family have in their lives on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. It’s like all they have to do is update their status with the latest catastrophe in their life…forgetting to set the trash out in time for pickup. The first thing to remember is that while our lives are unique our problems are not. Most everything that any one of us has endured has been a challenge for someone else and like it or not we are NOT the ONLY person to ever face that particular problem. As a matter of fact, I think it’s safe to say that the only person who faced a unique situation in the history of the world is Jesus Christ. To my knowledge, no one else has been crucified to pay the price for the sins of man. Yet some of us want to act like no one else has EVER had a flat tire on the way to work or locked their keys in their car.
Every obstacle in our lives is a learning opportunity from God; no matter how small. Perhaps He is trying to teach you patience with the kids or compassion with your husband. Maybe He is building your endurance of small stressful problems so that you will be able to handle something bigger later on.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. “ (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Unfortunately, instead of embracing every encounter; we complain. We complain when we have nothing to fix for dinner with a freezer full of food. We complain that we have nothing to wear with a closet full of clothes. I’ve seen women complain about their husbands working late while others just wish their husband could find a job.

 

In ALL things there is a path of gratitude available. It’s up to us to choose that path and all too often we lose our way by taking the express route to the Land of Complainability. What road are you on? All to often, as Christians, we want the blessings of God but not the lessons from Him. We want those things that are easy to deal with but nothing that challenges us. More importantly to remember is that it’s not just whether or not we SPEAK our complaints but what we are harboring in our hearts. It’s one thing for our Twitter followers to know that we’ve stopped grumbling about our day but God knows how dark our hearts are with resentment. If you’re on the wrong path and one of these Christians who is waiting for Jesus to come back in order for all of your problems so that you wont have to, here’s a bit of advice: suck it up. God has the afterlife covered; He needs to prepare you for His use NOW. Oh and NO COMPLAINTS ALLOWED!

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

Wal-Mart Witnessing

Standard

There used to be a running joke: How does God talk to poor people? “Attention Wal-Mart shoppers…” Growing up in Arkansas Wal-Mart was a staple for daily life. You didn’t need to have company over, just head to Wal-Mart and you were sure to bump into a half a dozen people that you knew. You could have your visit and didn’t even have to clean the living room.

Image

 

 “I didn’t, however, expect God to catch me in the parking lot in the form of a little old man.”

A few months ago my husband, daughter and I returned to the United States after living in Europe for a time. I have to admit that getting back to a land with Wal-Marts was pretty exciting. Of course it wasn’t Wal-mart itself that I was looking forward to but merely the convenience of shopping and I must admit that I love being able to stop in real quick to pick up what I need. So this morning, I didn’t think twice about pulling in to pick up food for our furry babies. I didn’t, however, expect God to catch me in the parking lot in the form of a little old man.

As I was walking across the parking lot out paths crossed and he said “Good morning.” I smiled and greeted him with the same. This was the brand new Wal-mart in our neighborhood so he said “I really like this Wal-mart.” I stopped and responded with some (what I thought) would be a quick passing retort but I heard my little voice. You know the one that whispers “you need to stop and let him talk.” Forty minutes later we shook hands and parted ways.

We went through a gauntlet of topics from his military experience, his cooking group, gardening in the area where we live (and the challenges of it), a lady friend that he helps because she has medical issues and all the while that he was sharing I started hearing an almost audible voice in my head saying “ask him about Jesus. Ask him if he knows me. Im testing you.”

I should explain that about an hour before I had a talk with my daughter as I was dropping her off at school. Every morning before she leaves the vehicle, I place my hand on her and pray over her and her day. On this morning I sensed something was wrong and she shared that she’s embarrassed by my praying over her. She was afraid that one of her friends would walk by and see, perhaps she would get made fun of or kids would give her a hard time about her faith. We talked about that it can be hard to be a Christian. Sometimes we have to face those who question our beliefs or who don’t understand but ultimately, those around us will not determine our eternity. Christ will.

Mark 8:38 tells us that “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Those are tough words to an eleven year old facing peer pressure (especially when kids can be harsh). Now I had to hear my own words as I was standing in front of this man, whom I will most likely never see again, and realize that it’s not always easy to ask someone if they know Jesus or even mention His name. As he spoke about the things that he does to help take care of his friend, I told him “that’s selfless sacrifice and that that’s what Jesus did for us. “ It was like I felt a whoosh of relief and Christ saying “that’s a start.” My parking lot friend was receptive to my comment, we spoke a little longer then we both had to be on our separate ways.  

I left him not feeling proud of myself but more of a sense that I had passed a little test and was clearly reminded that being bold in faith isn’t always easy. Oh it’s easy to preach to friends and family who know our faith or who have similar beliefs but it’s a totally different experience to have the courage to mention Christ to a stranger. Today was a reminder that while I am not be embarrassed about Christ, that wont automatically make witnessing effortless but it’s essential that I work on being able to step out of my comfort zone if I expect to teach my daughter to do the same. In the end, I just have to keep reminding myself of Isaiah 55:11 “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” If we use our speech in a manner that allows Christ to be glorified and exemplified through us, it will not return empty. 

Just As You Are

Standard

There was a time that I would look around at my life and wonder “why me?” Few are aware that I grew up in a completely emotionally abusive then later physically abusive home. I loved my dad dearly and respect him for a lot of things except the way he lived during my younger years. I didn’t understand why I had been born to such a person. I didn’t understand why I had a mom who wouldn’t stand up to him. Why she would let me (and herself) be treated in a way that no one should ever be subjected to. I didn’t understand why it constantly felt like no one cared. I was so sad, so miserable and so incredibly lost that I just wanted to know; why?

Years after my mom died, I had been shuffled through a couple of different homes and was back at my dad’s house. I had a new step mom and what I thought would be a fresh start but my dad wasn’t ready to change which meant my life wasn’t going to change yet either. An elderly woman that lived up the country road from us simply took mercy on me. I don’t know how she knew what I was going through or how she knew that I needed her but like an angel, she did. She started taking me to church with her every Sunday morning. Every Sunday morning I would climb into her pickup truck wearing the one skirt I owned and away we would go. For those few hours a week I wasn’t being yelled at. I wasn’t being ignored. I wasn’t being told what a bad kid I had become. I wasn’t being told I was lazy or stupid or anything else that could add to the crushing of my spirit. For those few hours, I had refuge in God’s house and in His house no one hurt me.

All around me were people who talked about Jesus and His love and how He loves us no matter what we had done and that we couldn’t earn His love by doing anything. He would give it freely. Coming from a home where I couldn’t do enough to win favor it was a hard concept. Unconditional love? Couldn’t be. Everything has a catch and everything has to be earned and there was no way someone, especially not God , would love me the way I was. I was an awful kid; ask my dad. He would tell you! Week after week Ms. Betty would come to pick me up and week after week I would go, not because I was becoming “religious” but because it was an easy escape; little did I know the seed was being planted.

Looking back, I see that a tag team of people had been placed at that little county church for me. Ms Betty never asked me to explain bruises or why my face was red from crying when she picked me up. We both knew there would be no easy answer and no easy escape so instead she just loved me and took me in as often as she could. Ms Barbara (my Sunday school teacher) never cared that I had on the same skirt week after week or that I asked stupid questions because I just didn’t know who the people were in the bible that she was talking about. No one cared that I never had a dime to put in the offering plate and Ms Dorothy (the pianist) didn’t care that I couldn’t follow the music of a hymn to save my life but I loved to sing when she played for the choir. My best friend (who may have not known that I thought of her as my best friend, my only friend at the time) didn’t care if I had name brand clothes or looked a certain way when I sat by her. Most of all, no one cared why I was coming to church, they just cared that I was there.

It took months for God to work on me. I was only 15 but my heart was hardened and I wasn’t about to let anyone into it who would just hurt me more or who I would disappoint, especially not Jesus. I knew if I blew it, the way my dad said I blew everything else, I would find my bottom on a speeding train to hell (at least that’s what I thought). So week after week, then month after month I would sit in the same pew, in the same spot (in a different dress by now though because Ms Betty had hand sewn one for me) and I would listen. I would listen to how much Jesus loved me. How much I needed to repent. How much He wanted a relationship with me. With ME? Jesus? Jesus wants a relationship with ME?

Finally one Sunday morning, I have no idea what the sermon was, I have no idea what was being said. I only know that Jesus said “Just as I am…thy blood was shed for me.” With everything that was so wrong with me, Jesus was calling me. I stood up from the same spot, on the same pew and I gave my life to Jesus. A week later I was baptized in the little creek that ran alongside the church. No one from my family was there but it didn’t matter. My church family was and Jesus assured me that was all I needed.

Now, some 20+ years later, I look at my life and still wonder why me? Why did Jesus save ME? How did I become so blessed to be born into a country that I can worship freely and be introduced to Him without fear of threat? How did I become so blessed to have an incredible husband, a beautiful loving daughter, a home with plenty of food and everything we need in abundance? Why me? As I question, I am reminded of John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

May have life abundantly…I gave my heart to Jesus and in return, He gave me life and let me have it abundantly. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as the one and ONLY son of God, if you haven’t made that decision to open your heart to Him, just know that He’s there waiting for you too. Just as you are.

The WHOLE Story

Standard

“God doesn’t want just part of our brokenness; He wants our WHOLE story.”

 

Throughout my life I have been faced with various problem areas that needed to be “fixed” at one time or another. Once I became a Christian I slowly began to understand that I could turn all of my faults and flaws over to Christ. I knew that it was in His plan to mold me into the person that He wanted me to be. So began a two decade give and take relationship with Him. I would give over my failing of the moment and then I would take it back. Or I would give Him one area while I kept a strong hold on others as if I had control over any of it or as if I possessed the power to make the changes needed on my own.

It wasn’t until I heard an Army chaplain speak on the topic of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that something finally ‘clicked.’ She said that God wants us to be “whole” in Him. It was if a floodgate opened. At that moment the Holy Spirit convicted me and it was a revelation that I had never known. Most of my life I had tried to prioritize all the things wrong with myself and deal with them. I asked God to lead me with one specific area at a time, thinking that if that one part were taken care of then I would be okay. I would give time to that for awhile and when that didn’t work (or it wasn’t on my own schedule), I would justify “well maybe it’s this part that needs to be worked on instead”. Never once in all of that did I understand it’s not about healing just one aspect of what we struggle with. God wants it ALL. He wants us to be WHOLE in Him.

Whole (adj):  Entire – complete, including all parts or aspects, with nothing left out; unbroken – not damaged or broken

Can you imagine living a life that is complete? As in all parts “with nothing left out?” Feeling not one single part of your life unbroken? WHOLE? I couldn’t. It was beyond my comprehension to be a living version of what Christ intended for me to be. Previously, I accepted that the only time I would feel at peace about myself would be when I reached heaven. Yet here I was being told that I could start obtaining that NOW. HERE. ON EARTH! The catch? I had to surrender it all to Him to fix for me. I could no longer hold on to certain elements of my life as my own to restore.

Just as an old home goes through a restoration process brick by brick, we have to undergo a transformation as well. It doesn’t all magically happen at once. It starts with rebuilding the foundation then slowly begins to reach until the entire structure is like new. Unfortunately, we can’t get in a hurry about any of it. The roof can’t be replaced until the support beams are secure. The drywall cant be hung before the electric lines are run and although each area may have been intact before the project started, if it wasn’t able to produce at it’s fullest capacity then it cant be completely utilized. If you cant use two faucets at once because the hot water heater cant keep up or if you blow a breaker every time the hair dryer and ceiling fan run at the same time then the homes purpose of use isn’t being optimized. As with each of God’s children; He wants to be able to use us at our best but in order to help us reach that point we have to allow Him to bring us to our utmost.

Everyone has a story. We all have problems, mistakes, sin, bad decisions or obstacles beyond our control that have broken us, our paths and our spirit. When we become Christians and seek a personal relationship with Him, God doesn’t want just part of our brokenness; He wants our WHOLE story. He wants the parts that hurt the most, cut the deepest and wants us to reach beyond the surface so that when the restoration is finished no part will have been untouched. I’m finding that this process isn’t easy. It means facing demons from the past that have been tucked away. It means admitting to mistakes that I would rather forget and let disappear but the truth is that I know in order to be rid of the pain that hinders me I have to face that which I fear the most. I have an assurance though. As I face all of my past, all that I see “wrong” with myself I know that I am not alone. Titus 2:11-14 tells us “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

This stands as a reminder to me that, while I can’t do it alone, through grace I can be the woman that God intended and I can live in peace with my whole story. I’ve shared before that I’ve been moved to begin sharing my testimony. My life as not many know it. It’s through my transparency of things that have happened and things that Ive done that I am reaping the rewards of being freed from the damage that has been done. The wounds are becoming shallow and the burdens being lifted as my WHOLE story is continued through my writing, I encourage anyone who may be experiencing the same to have the courage to let go and let God work in you too. The calm that follows is liberating.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25

Are you up for a challenge?

Standard

With the weekend approaching I look forward to time with my family. My husband and daughter will be home from school and work and we can take advantage of relaxed time to enjoy each others’ company without the constraints of the weekday responsibilities. Another thing that I look forward to about the weekend is our time of worship. Our family spent time living overseas because of my husband’s work and we lived in an area that simply couldn’t offer us a home church like we had known while living in the states. Before then I hadn’t realized how much I took church for granted; not only having a church on just about every corner but having churches that spoke a language that I was fluent in. During our time abroad, my husband fulfilled his role within our household as spiritual leader. In addition to his secular job, he’s also an ordained minister so it’s safe to say he had a little practice and was prepared to lead his family in worship. Even so, we all felt the distance between ourselves and God so once we returned to the United States, one of our first priorities was finding a home church.

There’s just something about being in God’s house with likeminded children of His and being given an opportunity to simply worship our Savior that energizes the spirit. This past service I looked around and noticed all the empty seats. It reminded me of a sermon that I once delivered during a Children’s Church service. As Sunday morning approaches I’d like to share what I told the kids that morning.

My lesson wasn’t to the kids that day. Instead, I chose to talk to the empty chairs. I asked; “Empty chairs, why are you empty?” The response was “ We are empty because people were out late last night, there’s a sports event on tv today, there are plans for cookouts and picnics. We are empty because shopping trips are planned or because this is an only day to sleep late. We are empty chairs because people chose to go into work to get things done that weren’t completed during the regular work day, homework didn’t get finished on time, tests weren’t studied for, the house isn’t clean, guests were coming over or there simply wasn’t a desire to fill us. Mostly, we are empty because no one asked anyone to join them in church. “

At that point the kids and I had a candid discussion about how hard it is sometimes to ask our friends to join us at church. Maybe we’re embarrassed, maybe we don’t live close enough to give them a ride, maybe we aren’t sure of their faith, maybe they’ll think it’s dumb or won’t understand why it’s important, maybe we’re just afraid to hear “no.”

Jesus is pretty clear when He says “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26) He doesn’t give us room for excuses: But Jesus, I have to go to school with these people, I have to work with them, what if they make fun of me? There’s no room for reasoning, He tells us not to be ashamed of Him. This is an easy lesson to teach to kids but what about adults? How easy is it for us to knock on our neighbor’s door and invite them to church? What about our boss or the new guy in the office? What are OUR excuses that we hold on to that keep us from filling up the empty chairs in church?

I grew up in Arkansas where a Saturday afternoon Razorback game in Barnhill Arena would draw 10,000 screaming fans. Fan with painted faces and big plastic pig hats on their heads yelling “Whooooo Pig Soooieeee” like there was no tomorrow yet when came to being in church Sunday morning yelling for the salvation offered by Jesus Christ, the pews were bare. It’s okay to support and encourage our favorite teams but should we not also be excited about the grace of God without fear of embarrassment or worry of what others will think?  

Image
God wants His house to be packed with His children. “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23) So here’s the challenge that I posed to the kids that day: Between now and your next worship service find just one person to invite to church. If they need a ride that you can’t provide contact your church office. I am willing to guarantee that there will be someone who is able to pick them up.  God isn’t asking you to lead His people out of Egypt. He’s telling you to lead others to Him. Step out beyond your hesitations so that His house may be FULL! 

WHY!?????

Standard

If you’re a parent, or have ever been around a child for any length of time, you’ve most likely heard a conversation like this:

“Go clean your room.”
“Why?”

“It doesn’t matter why. Just do as you’re told.”

The result is usually a frustrated kid who doesn’t understand why he or she has to clean their room or follow through with any other responsibilities like feeding the family pet, picking up toys, doing homework, bundling up for cold weather, etc. From the parent’s perspective they could take the time to explain the reasons why if they chose. For instance; a clean room means a healthy environment in which to live. You won’t hurt yourself on toys in the middle of the night, you won’t step on anything resulting in broken toys, no trash or dirty dishes mean no science projects growing, fewer allergies and a made bed will help prevent dust and allergens on your bedding. Not to mention peace of mind of having a clean room, knowing where your things are, protecting the things you love by maintaining a special place for them, etc. As parents we COULD do that EVERY time we are faced with the question “Why” but usually, we just want the kid to follow directions without questioning the details. We know that eventually they will learn their lesson and come to understand why they should follow through with the life’s little lessons that we present to them. We expect them to trust that there IS a reason without having to fall into a five minute lecture outlining the specific results of every task they are asked to perform. Right? Just do as you’re told because having all of that explained to a five year old isn’t going to increase their desire to pick up the legos but stepping on those hard little plastic pieces enough will teach them “Hmm maybe I should pick those up.”

Ever wonder if that’s how our Heavenly Father sees us? As that little kid who keeps asking WHY every time we’re presented with having to do something that we don’t want to do? We seem to have this notion that knowing the REASON behind the lesson will make the lesson easier when the truth is we’re not going to want to go through it with any more eagerness than when we were still in the dark. There’s a new Mercy Me song that says:

“Why?
The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from the explained“

All too often, just because we know the why, doesn’t make the pain suddenly go away. Our trials are just as painful, our hurt just as deep but instead of accepting that God not only has a purpose but a purpose that has our best interest at heart we kick and scream like little kids demanding that we deserve an explanation for what we’re having to do. As parents, we want our kids to trust that we know what’s best for them without being second guessed on our every move. We want a close relationship with them so that they know we are never going to ask something of them that we don’t believe they can achieve and we don’t set expectations so high that they have no chance of reaching them. We are their parents and we love them. Sound familiar?

I spent years asking why my mom had to die when I was just thirteen. Then a few years later wondered why my dad was taken as well. I wondered why I didn’t have that picture perfect childhood, loving parents who would nurture me and prepare me for life. Now that Im older, I can look back and see that if those things hadn’t happened, if my earlier years hadn’t been such a struggle then not only would I not be who I am today but would not have been able to help others along the way because of my experiences. Nor would I appreciate the life that I have now without having those years to compare it to. I wasted a lot of time being hurt over my lot in life and in the end, none of the whys mattered. God used every single event in my life to help mold me into the person I was destined to be in His eyes so that He could use me in the intricately designed plan that He had designed.

It’s not easy to endure a struggle and have no understanding of it but neither is losing precious time and energy being angry or bitter because of our lot in life. If you’re in a place that has you holding on to emotions that are hindering your relationship with your Heavenly Father then I would encourage you to stop asking “Why” and simply go clean your room. He knows what is best for you. As Christians, we have the assurance that yes, God has a plan for each of us “and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We can also rest in the assurance of the day when the why will no longer matter.

“It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

Mothers: Be all that you can be!

Standard

A couple of weeks ago I received a letter in the mail confirming that I do not have cancer.  I hadn’t told anyone, including my husband, that my doctor had suspected it. I think my primary concern was preventing undo worry by family and friends. Instead I turned my fear over to God and accepted His will before going in for the procedure regardless of what the outcome would be.  It’s been more than two decades since my own mother died of cancer. Since she died I’ve not had a fear of being diagnosed with the disease or facing death. My concern was leaving my eleven year old daughter without her mom.

I was the same age when my mom was diagnosed. I remember going to a doctor’s appointment with her and my dad and sitting in the waiting room while they went into the doctor’s office. I had no idea why we were there. Afterwards in the car I listened to the two of them talk. My dad stopped at a car wash to wash the car and I stood at the end of the bay area with my mom. Still confused I asked “Mom, do you have cancer?” She responded with a very matter of fact “Yes.” Eighteen months later she died.

I loved my mother but I can’t defend her as a mother. She became a Christian shortly before her death but by then I pitied her more than held respect for her and once her battle was over my only comfort was that she would no longer suffer. I felt so lost. I no longer had a mom but then I didn’t have, in my eyes, a mom even before she got sick. She wasn’t one to do “Mom” things. I didn’t learn to cook from her, never learned how to iron a blouse, sew a button, keep a house clean or how to conduct myself in a manner pleasing to God. I couldn’t see it then but even through those darkest years, God not only hadn’t forsaken me but molding me through it all and the mom that He gave me was exactly the mom that I needed in order to mold me for later callings.

In light of my own childhood, the only thing I could focus on while waiting for the results of that test was “if this is it, have I taught my daughter everything He wanted me to?” I’ve always heard people say that children are a gift from God. While that may be true, Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a REWARD. Deuteronomy 6 reminds us that we are to teach to our children the commandments of God and do so diligently. I began to question have I done this? Have I taught my daughter to earnestly seek His will for her life? Have I built for her a firm foundation of faith? What about the other life lessons that I learned on my own, have I shared with her my experiences that will protect her from the same hurt and mistakes? Have I taught her skills that will enhance her life or will she been doomed to a life of Ramen noodles because I didn’t teach her to cook? When reminded that our days are numbered, the mind can be a whirlwind of thoughts; no matter how absurd or improbable.

I concluded that my life was going to change regardless of the test result and so it did. In the weeks since, I have diligently prayed for and over my daughter. She doesn’t leave my vehicle in the morning for school before I place my hand upon her and pray for blessings on her day. In the afternoons she is learning skills at home that will help her later such as maintaining a home and tending to responsibilities. She also spends most evenings in the kitchen beside me learning to cook. The transformation that I’ve seen in her is incredible. We have talks now. Not just the superficial ‘how was school? Fine’ moments but rather “Mom can I ask your advice? Mom what would you do? Mom can you help me?” We’ve talked about her dreams and how to realistically pursue them and above all, we have talked about Christ and her personal relationship with Him.

My daughter accepted Christ three years ago but I have to admit that since then I haven’t pushed much for her to seek Him and His will. I hadn’t realized how much she needed to work on her dialog with Him, that one on one connection. She was starting to view Him as the big scary guy who was going to condemn her if she messed up. I didn’t want that for her because I knew from personal experience how that felt. It’s taking time but with His help we’re getting there and through this journey I have, more than ever, realized that if I didn’t go through what I had, if I wasn’t able to recognize what I had missed out on as a kid, I would never be able to recognize what is crucial for my daughter to learn from me.

As mothers we have an obligation to “train up our children in the way they should go.” (Proverbs 22:6) If you’re a mother like I was, being lax in her role and letting teachings fall by the wayside then please let me encourage you to start where you are and start doing your job as a mother. We were not blessed with children so that we can ignore them while we play on the internet. We were blessed because our God Almighty deemed us worthy of reward. Let us all step up to His calling and bless our children by simply becoming the best mothers that we can be for them. Training and teaching them daily with the life lessons that will build them into productive citizens and followers of Christ.

In Him,

Kim