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We were at the beach a few weeks ago. Two of our sons and our new daughter-in-law went parasailing. As I stood there watching, taking photos, God and I had a moment – a heads-leaning together, He understanding my humor when I said, “Parenting looks just like that, especially at the independence-with-training-wheels point and the full-blown independence point.”

Without faith, I couldn’t do it with an iota of grace. Without faith, I’d be scared, hollering at them to come back where it’s safe (like, really, where I am is safer at all?), crying, and asking everyone and their brother to help, to step in, to do something, to make. them. come. back.

I might be saying things like “They could break something. . . . something I cannot fix – you know – those unfixable things that once broken can’t be fixed. . . .They’re going to hell in a handbasket. . . . . Oh, my – they’ve really done it now!” You know – those out of control, only the-negative-outcome-wins kind of thoughts.

I might have even started out this parenting gig 29 years ago with a few moments like that – because I didn’t understand faith and hope – and tied together with God’s mighty, very interested, very hands-on, I-got-the-plan-and-understand-why-this-is-happening kind of love.

I sat there, camera in hand, watching these people I love soar – beyond my control – but under God’s.

How I can feel as a parent and how I can feel as a citizen of American right now have some commonalities. I can feel fear, disappointment, lack of control over a lot of decisions, both in the leadership of our country and on our streets. I can run around trying to fix everything, bemoan the state of everything, speak failure, downfall, going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket kind of faithless prophecy. I could do that. I hear it all the time, as if God isn’t big enough to save America. It would be so easy . . . . or I can do what I’ve done these last 29 years- ask God to handle the plan. . . . believe He is bigger than any challenge.

I can “Cry out”(ask God) like the angel instructed Zechariah – and “Cry out, again”(ask God, again), per the angel’s same instructions – so that God will intercede where man cannot (Zechariah 1:14, 17).

There are many who love our Lord. If the population in America is 318,881,992 (million) and the Christian population is 223,217,394.4 – and God was willing to save Sodom if 50 righteous men – I think we’ve got that, friends. I think out of 223,217, 394.4 Christians – there are many righteous children of God for whom He would save our country. There are many in our country who have not forgotten. We need to take our eyes off those who have no faith in Him, and place our eyes on Him. I believe he is bigger than those who do not believe Him or heed His ways.

He says, “he who touches you touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

Cry out, – and, then, after we’ve cried out, we need to take a deep breath and trust – and show that trust by praising God, loving on Him with our praises. There’s a lot in our country that needs intercessory prayer – but let’s start first by seeing God’s goodness around us, praising Him in the hard rain of a summer storm, worms from a mother bird whose baby fell out of the nest and scampered to safety, sweet peaches in cream on a summer Sunday morning, the grace in a sit long and talk much opportunity of a relationship restoration, the cool break in a summer hot, 4 stools filled with boys at the kitchen counter talking big and little thing and barbecue, faith that God is bigger than men chipping away at our country’s foundation, kitchen hugs that show love never fails, God’s faithfullness in the seed-time and harvest of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, dill, lavender – and rain trees, how the smell of home-grown Spanish onions never fails to make me close my eyes, inhale deeply and smile – every summer, and that over the course of our beach holiday, one son emerged a new creation, one learned the value of sun screen – and that a parasailing adventure read, to this mother’s heart, like Miracle/Mystery faith play – a God message of encouragement.

No battle has been lost, friends. The battle is God’s – and His victory is assured. Praise Him in faith for it!

I bless GOD every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.
2 I live and breathe GOD;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
3 Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.
4 GOD met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.
5 Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.
6 When I was desperate, I called out,
and GOD got me out of a tight spot.
7 GOD’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.
8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good GOD is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
9 Worship GOD if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.
10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but GOD-seekers are full of God.
11 Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in GOD worship.
12 Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?
13 Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.
14 Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!
15 GOD keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.
16 GOD won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.
17 Is anyone crying for help? GOD is listening,
ready to rescue you.
18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.
19 Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, GOD is there every time.
20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken.
21 The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.
22 GOD pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.
Psalm 34: 1-22

See To Save a City: Interceding for a Nation

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http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
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http://cornerstoneconfessions.com Titus 2 Tuesday
http://lauraboggess.com/ PlayDates with God
http://www.solideogloriasisterhood.com/ Soli Deo Gloria Connections
http://www.blessedbutstressed.com/ Inspire Me Mondays
http://darlingdownsdiaries.com/ Good Morning Mondays
http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/ Sharing His Beauty
http://whatjoyismine.net/ Monday Musings
http://www.shelivesfree.com/blog Make a Difference Mondays
http://afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com/ Small Wonder (formerly Unforced Rhythms)
http://donnareidland.com Mondays @ Soul Survival

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“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat-the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself is truly hidden”
(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory).

Your neighbor – in the car line,
the slow poke in front of you on a late morning
an unsaved brother
or school mate
the stranger in your neighborhood
the parent on your soccer team who
is really quiet
a political opposite
the friend inside your circle
the acquaintance whose circle you know
nothing of
the fella who lives seemingly all wrong
and the girl who lives seemingly too always right
the workplace neighbor
who doesn’t understand you
and the mother-in-law God gave you
the barista who makes your coffee
the server who spills
soup into your lap
the teacher who doesn’t understand
your child
alongside the one who does
the coach who doesn’t see
what you see
and the one who manages to inspire
beyond your child’s confidence
the easy and the
hard
your mother and father
the siblings
the “I do” man
for better for worse
in the good times and the hard hauls
through to the other side
and the children growing
and, yes, the pizza delivery man
alongside the driver of the
ice cream truck

all designed to be, next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor in the daily of your God-designed life, the holiest object presented to your senses!

“Jesus said, ‘The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these’” (Mark 12:31).

Love your neighbor means to love those God gives you through birth and marriage, those next door, around the block, along the daily by-ways, hallways, cow paths and concrete paths you set your feet on.

This intentional loving is not an instant thing, an over-night thing. Grasping how God loves is something we grow into, one love-choice step at a time.

It’s your choice, this loving – those you asked for and those you didn’t.

Grow it, nurture it – believe it!

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Linking with these ladies today:
http://www.barbieswihart.com/ The Weekend Brew
http://faith.5minutesformom.com/ Faith ‘N Friends
http://sandraheskaking.com/ Still Saturday
http://seespeakhearmama.com/ Give Me Grace
http://www.janiscox.com/ Sunday Stillness
http://www.spiritualsundays.com/ Spiritual Sundays
http://arabahjoy.com Grace and Truth
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://www.juanamikels.com/ Wednesday Prayer Girls
http://www.kristinhilltaylor.com/ Three-Word Wednesday
http://www.w2wministries.org/ Word-Filled Wednesdays
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
http://jenniferdukeslee.com/ Tell His Story
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Purposeful Faith
http://3dlessons4life.com/ Thought-Provoking Thursday
http://www.gracedsimplicity.com/ Hearts for Home
http://www.faithbarista.com/ Beloved Brews
http://tsuzanneeller.com Live Free Thursdays
http://www.prairiedusttrail.com After My Coffee

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“Through the heartfelt mercies
[forgiveness, compassion, favor, blessing]
of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace” (Luke 1: 78-79)

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Father’s Day is bittersweet for me. I rejoice that my son’s have the father I never did – and I realize more keenly what I missed and wonder what I would have been like had I a father like they have. This post is for all the fatherless daughters, whether because their fathers were physically absent or emotionally absent, this is for you.

For these daughters whose father never said, “You are mine, a gift from God, to cherish and protect,”

or wrapped you in his arms to hug away your wounds, whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others,

If your father did not  provide security or chase away the night terrors,

or missed seeing you receive your award because he was standing outside smoking a cigarette,

If you missed those Father Words, telling you you were beautiful, filled with awesome gifts – well, every daughter should have a father who thinks she is beautiful.

If your father did not carefully help your mother choose your name and rejoice on the day you were born and every birthday afterwards,

Who did not stand between you and danger,

Who received your shabby chic gifts with careless disregard, saying your handwriting too small to read your stories,

Who never treated you like a princess, or the world’s greatest softball pitcher, or the next Jane Austen because your dreams just never entered his mind.

Never tucked you in or taught you to pray,

Who never said, “I believe in you” when the world did not,

Who left it up to someone else to teach you how to drive a stick shift with manly patience,

Who did not rejoice in your marriage or was there to hold your child in his arms when he was born, to be a doting grandpa who would say, “Don’t talk that way to my daughter, boy.”

Who never said, “I love you,”

If you had an earthly father who did not father you, I encourage you to ask our creator, our Father, our God to fill that empty void, to open your eyes to the true daughter-ship that you have in Him, your rightful place in His family. Brokenness through rejection is NOT God’s plan for you.

“But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour” (Matt 9:22)

God will be that Father you never had. He gave you great gifts that unfurl within you at just the right time He created you beautiful (Psalm 139).

He rejoiced the day you were born and on the first day you sought Him out – “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8)

He knows the needs you have before you ask him (Matt 6:8) He wants to know what is going on in your life. He wants to hear every rambling word, every detail, every thought written in your heart no matter how small.

He not only takes care of the night terrors but the life terrors as well “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalms 34:4)

He is a father who not only provides but is like the father who stops by and fixes your sink when your husband’s out of town, who checks in on you when one of the kids are sick. “And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1)

Stop swinging your arms like a small child fighting someone bigger. You waste your energy. Let Him stand between you and danger. He wants to fight your battles. It is like He is telling you, “Step back, little one. Be take deep breaths. Stop shaking. Wipe your nose on your sleeve. Be still. I’ll take care of this for you” (Exodus 14:14).

The first thing I want to do when my spirit soars is to throw my arms around his neck for a massive father-daughter hug that I have spent my life reaching for, believing for.

Dear Father, I thank you that you called me away from a spirit of brokenness and rejection. Father, there are days here that I miss the tangibleness of an earthly father who loves me, but I pray that you will open my eyes to the relationship you offer me. Open my eyes to how you help me through the day. Help me to overcome what I do not feel or see – but have by faith and hope. I want a father/daughter relationship abundantly alive and real. Replace emptiness with Father Words and Father Memories. Help me to live that. Thank you Jesus your great sacrifice so that your father could be mine, too!

(I feel like telling a story again. If you haven’t heard it, grab a cup of just-right coffee, sit a spell and read a bit).

When Hope Grace was born, great expectations were cast forth, hearts leaping in expectation. Much was expected of Hope.

Her sister Faith Grace took to teaching her the facts of their Father and his Kingdom, and her other sister Charity Grace taught her about love.

You could find them in the cottage’s orchard: Hope looking to the goodness of God, grew strong, standing on the shoulders of her sister Faith, hands reaching to grasp hold of her other sister, Charity dangling upside down in the fruit tree.

These 3 Graces, Faith, Hope and Charity were born powerful, beautiful, full of potential, and were never seen one without the other.  They set about their Father’s business, ministering to their people. Their community welcomed them, knew them well, some more intimately than others.

Together, they cared for people who faced big and little challenges. No person was too insignificant, no problem too little for their ministering hands and feet. One reason was because of their Father who provided unlimited resources. The people knew their Father, the King, through the Graces.

But as the days grew in number, and as Faith, Hope and Charity went out into the world, the world snapped and snarled at them, wearing away at them, trying to diminish them, to topple them.

Hope wobbled, on the shoulders of Faith, threatening to let go of Charity.

Year after Year, the community who had relied on the 3 Graces, started taking them for granted, stopped visiting with them, refused welcome in their homes. Some no longer believed in the Father because they couldn’t see Him.

Where Faith had strengthened them with the promises of their Father through hard times, people now wanted evidence. They no longer wanted to believe without seeing first. The words of the Father held nothing for them, and so Faith faded.

As their belief in the Faith waned, so, too, did their Hope wane.

Hope’s belief in the provision and protection of her Father during life’s challenges was discredited by some people who said things like, “I hope the water comes for the green beans, the potatoes and the wheat, but I don’t believe it” they’d say in a hope-isn’t-really-real way, scoffing.

Some would say, “I’d like to hope his fever will break and all will be well – but, well, that isn’t how I believe.”

Sometimes, they would slander Hope saying, “Hope? If you believe in fairies – but that isn’t real life – they have no Father that can help me.”

And, in many hearts, Hope was cast out.

Without Faith and Hope, the spontaneous goodness of Charity’s unconditional love and kindness was no longer trusted – and they stopped inviting her into their homes, tried to put a price on her, to sell her.

Though many cast aside Faith, Hope and Charity – the 3 Graces did not leave them or abandon them.

They continually returned, calling to the people in the streets, knocking on doors, whispering on the night winds.

Faith would call out, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

For you see, Faith, Hope and Charity are “not frail and perishable” but live “perennially” (O.E.D., 1 Peter 1:3). Rejection is just a starting place.

Charity’s heart so loved the world, that she could not give up pursuing The Father’s people.

Ever steadfast and determined, many invited them back into the cottage of their hearts, sat with them to know them. Faith taught truth about the Father and what He wanted to do in their lives. Hope focused their minds and hearts on the goodness of God, and Charity showed God’s abundant love and the need to share that love with others.

When the rains didn’t come, or sickness fell, or financial famine came, Faith said, “The Father will take care of you. He said so” reminding them with His words:

 ”The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it”
(Psalm 65: 9b).

And Hope showed them how to trust, to wait with hearts leaping in expectation:

“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope” (Romans 15: 13)

Charity loved them with the Father’s love, showing them how to love during challenges:

“Love[Charity] never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up” (1 Cor. 13:7)

If you look closely into the garden of a neighbor’s cottage, you might just see the 3 Graces: Hope standing on the shoulders of Faith, hands reaching up to grasp Charity’s bounty and pass it down.

Maybe you have discredited Hope, Faith and Charity. Said you don’t believe them about their Father. Maybe you need a heart-to-heart with the 3 Graces. Invite them into the cottage of your heart to live perennially.

Maybe they are already in the cottage garden of your heart, Hope standing on the shoulders of walking Faith. Hope encouraging your Faith to keep on walking, keep on standing, to not give up, Faith keeping hope grounded in truth, while hope reachings toward a comforting, God filled with His kind of loving Charity.

I Believe
I trust
My heart leaps in expectation
of His Great love

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Even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
~Isaiah 46:4

the more I choose
to love
the more unconditional
love becomes

the bigger I love
the more I understand that God’s love
is bigger than anything I
can imagine
and in the big-ness of God’s love
I see that mine is just a shadow of
a heart’s capability

I may love graceless
and awkward
in an eye-rolling kind-of-way
without rhyme-or-reason
archaic to some
unrealistic to others
sometimes like a hug too tight
sometimes love just right

sometimes love poured out
to a teen
a stranger
or someone who doesn’t want
to see truth
it may not even
look
like love
because sometimes love says, “no”
and setting healthy boundaries
in the short-term creates uncomfortable
moments
incongruous to utopian love
living

to those who court
who-you-are love
my love
may not be worth
knowing
receiving
experiencing
but God’s love bends deep
to reach low and pull high
those on the outside
of cool, in-the-world-know

all I know is that love
designed to hold fast
never comes back empty

sometimes it feels like
a grandfather holding his granddaughter’s hand
in a slow summer afternoon walk

like a grandmother holding a new grandbaby close
savoring a remembrance mingled with the soft touch
of feet so fresh from God

God’s kind of love
broke open my heart
to choose to love
all he sends across
my daily
to love better by loving
unconditionally
and in the loving
believe God
loves us so
that he will carry you and me
even in our weaknesses and frailties
even frazzled and worn
from the wear and tear of the world
he makes and he bears
he carries and he saves

how do I know?
because my father says so!

************************************************************

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When my first son married, I sent a question to the parents and grandparents asking, “When you said, “I do,” what is something you ended up doing, something you’d never imagined, that brought you great joy. I turned the answers to those questions in, “What are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life” (Poem 1). To listen to Frank Sinatra sing the song that inspired this project, click here. My second son married this week with family coming from all over the country – from California, New Jersey, Kentucky – and inbetween – to celebrate. I did the same project with them. Let me tell you, I fell in love with my daughter-in-laws family when I read their answers. This is their poem:

What are you Doing for the rest of your life? Poem II

What are you doing for the rest of your life, Beautiful,” he asked.
“Spending it with you,” she smiled, smiling his favorite smile

Dreams, Expectations, and Love
reshape, re-form
as the rest of your life unfolds

Papaw laughed, saying, “We didn’t know nothing when we got married”
but their house filled up,
creating their own love equation:
1girl + 1 boy + a set of twins
equals 12 grandsons
Who thought a house
could hold so much love?

“Packing and unpacking the good-stuff
about 20 times over 45 years,” mused Papa Bill.

“Savoring the slow grow
from Switzerland to Cape Cod,
France to the New Mexican Mountains,
the slow grow of a life-time of family,
Grandpa Leo, like a story-teller said,
when one day a precious granddaughter
chased butterflies through wildflower
fields
and, in the watching,
I saw the most beautiful
flower
of them all.

“I learned that miracles come in threes
A lifetime is full of blessing,”
explained Granny.
“That love shares
toothpaste
and dreams
growing
so much bigger than your imagination
daily, weekly, yearly
there is always more love
and the idealistic star-gazer matured
understanding.”

“A house on the water filled with grand
children
who ever thought visits could mean so much?”
Queried Grandma Doris
“Weekends, vacations, any time
kayaking, fishing, water skiing and big
waterfront bonfires with those I love so much
roasting marshmallows and listening
and loving every moment

How does I do  make scraps for love story pieces?
Somehow, it does – and out of it comes
garden tulips, little Dutch girls
and farmer boys, soccer balls and
all things Papaw from trucks, tractors
and Apple Tree Swings quilted
and wrapped tight around
so many little shoulders
like hugs and love,” explained Nanny.

“My happiest Days?
A Mama’s Trinity:
babies born,
college graduation,
and weddings,”
misty-eyed Grandmama wistful explained.

His mama gladly
put girly, girl dreams aside
to find joy in boys and their toys:
Whoever thought snuggle-buggles and Nerf-Gun Wars could bring so much joy
Learning to hug
in all the love languages,
the huggable language of each son!
Challenging each other to love
To God’s beard and back

“Who knew?” his daddy said.
“Wiffle ball,  sock wars,
and Friday Three Stooge
Night
could be so much fun,
or watching soccer
under the moon and the sun,
while walking out with each son
the plumb line of dream building”

“Hide-N-Seek
in the dark,
boys sitting on kitchen counter-tops
telling stories big and little,
little and big
and laughing,  a joy unanticipated over 35 years ago,”
his Aunt Sherry said added.

“Rooms filled
with yellow paper
birthday
Stars,” her mama said determinedly,
“every year,
every birthday.”

Who knew how important creating
an environment that grew
a strain of independence
in a three-year-old breakfast-maker
artist, speaker, singer?” said her father.
“Who knew how important that would
become to me, to be an encourager of
independence for you to be
you
following a path all your own
forged with your will,
designed with your brain
out of your own heart
which led you to a volley ball court in Tennessee
where a boy lived who loves you true

What are you doing for the rest of your life?
You really haven’t a clue
about the wonderful details and moments inside the plan
God has in store for you!
Big and Little
Little and Big

I never imagined a son would make me feel so tiny!

I never imagined a son would make me feel so tiny!

(To see the first What are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life, please click here.)

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