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Archive for the ‘Teen Challenges’ Category

A few years ago, my mother’s heart was stretched, torn and worn in a teen challenge. Teen Challenges are a journey, both to the teen and the parent, a faith journey, an unconditional love journey. I created 27 Unconditional Love Rules during that journey to help keep me loving, believing, speaking faith and hope.  For the last few months, I’ve wanted to whittle those 27 Unconditional Love Rules into a leaner, stronger presentation to encourage other mothers facing Teen Challenges to not give up hope in God’s plan for their teen’s life, to walk and talk faith when there is no evidence to support that faith, and to love unconditionally when no merit for it exists.

Introduction

Unconditional Love, True Love, lives in a real world, with real challenges and other real emotions. It is incredibly beautiful Unconditional Love. But it takes lots of strength, courage and faith. A little humbleness, too. A little taking the back seat sometimes and a lot of never giving up! Unconditional Love is all encompassing. It loves your husband, your children, your friends, God – even strangers. I would not want to live without it.

Even when someone does something expressly against your wishes, like dump the chicken noodle soup down the side of the sink without the garbage disposal, does not wear their seat belt when driving without you, or gets a tattoo, Unconditional Love loves.

Unconditional Love sees your child (whether little, teen or grown), spouse or parent through God’s Eyes.

If you cannot see it now – ask Him!

He will show you through His Eyes!

It is life changing!

Changing how you think, the words you use, the feeling in your heart, the expressions on your face!

Believe me! It is liberating.

Kind of like God handing me His glasses with Hope and Faith Lenses

letting me see

what God sees

and

it

changed

everything

Unconditional Love knows how I love is not determined by success or failure
Recognizing that sometimes failure is the biggest step to success,
resulting in my needing to step back,
take my hands-off
hold the tears inside
staunch the fear that tries to rush out with a mental and emotional tourniquet
choke off words that do not need or are not ready to be said
believing that failure is sometimes the gas to the engine of success

How do you  know when you are loving unconditionally? Unconditional Love is like invisible ink. While the invisible ink is made visible by heat, another chemical or ultraviolet light, unconditional love is made visible by uncomfortable situations resulting in pain, disappointment, anger from another’s behavior. So how do you know when you love unconditionally? When you are uncomfortable, don’t really want to, aren’t feeling it, but choose to love anyway – then you are loving unconditionally.

PPPPSSSSsssssssttttt. . . . Unconditional Love – the God-kind of Unconditional Love is not reserved just for your very favorite people. It is a type of love that is like a Spring Rain, showering on everyone who comes into contact with you.

Unconditional Love is found in a Mary Poppins-Bag-kind-of-heart that is deep enough to fill with love for as many people, not as it can hold because the Mary Poppins bag is bottomless, but for as many people as you choose to love. It is priceless!

Unconditional Love grows, and groWS, and gROWS and GROWS

over days, with months, years

in sunshine and storms

if we let it

if we don’t hoard it

Then it grows, re-seeds, spreads like buttercups in a field

Unconditional Love is a choice.

Choose Unconditional Love

  1. Unconditional Love Rule #1: The Greatest Sacrifice of All
  2. Unconditional Love Rule #2:  Tear Ducts Required
  3. Unconditional Love Rule #3: Always Finds A Way
  4. Unconditional Love Rule #4: No Condescension Allowed
  5. Unconditional Love Rule #5: Wait with Grace
  6. Unconditional Love Rule #6: Drags Unwilling Feet
  7. Unconditional Love Rule #7: No Complaining Allowed
  8. Unconditional Love Rule #8: Releases
  9. Unconditional Love Rule  #9 Stops Talking
  10. Unconditional Love Rule #10: Meets Others Where They Are
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A few days later, life going on with an additional heart-beat to our family, I stand behind my kitchen counter, reaching to this amazing heavenly Father again. Challenges don’t stop rolling just because a prayer was answered, especially with a house full of boys to men growing into independence.

I see the challenge, like a barreling stone, bigger than me. I don’t chastise myself that I didn’t see it sooner, or solve the rolling of it sooner. It is what it is. Don’t think I’m flippant or irresponsible. I used to beat myself up for not knowing things before I knew them – until God took the baseball bat I was beating myself up with out of my figurative hands.

Life just burps up challenges from likely and unlikely places.

But God isn’t just interested in turning baby girl for a safe delivery (see previous post) – He’s interested in a teen boy struggling to find his place in a new school, though we had only moved away 2 years before returning.

God is not surprised by any of these challenges. He’s just waiting for us to turn these challenges over to him.

This teen son with an innate joyful spirit is not feeling joyful lately. Once I asked, “Have you prayed about it?”

He responded, “God knows what I need.”

“But God’s not like your mama who bursts into your problems unasked. God’s not like that. He waits for your invitation,” I answered.

“Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
O Lord, save the king!
May he answer us when we call” (Psalm 20: 6-9).

And so I ask and I pray, interceding through prayer, asking our Father, once again, trusting in His name, that He knows what is needed in this challenge and has already set the answer rolling from His throne, the saving might of His right hand moving to protect one of His beloved children, whether it is turning a head, pointing to an opportunity, turning an attitude, or holding us to stand. It only waits for the asking.

I am awed that He, God, the King, Emmanuel, Jehovah, I am – wants me to ask

Father, I didn’t have a parent who knew how to intercede, that they could come to you in prayer for their children in their growing-up struggles. I found you at 7, held on tight and didn’t let go. But even I didn’t know I could come to you for help, that you were there to pick me up, comfort me  – for the big and Little things, little and Big- though I reached out for you I didn’t realize I was the King’s daughter because of Jesus.

But I know now, Father, – who I am to you and who my son is to you. I know that you want me to come to you – to intercede for this son who is struggling, who feels isolated, no connections, no place here – no real home – and I intercede, stand in the gap for him, beseech you to bring him friendships that will lift him up when he is down – and open his eyes to see that friendship, that in this next 1.5 years until he graduates – that home is restored in his heart, that he recognize comfort, belonging and warmth here.

You know what he needs, Lord. You know what is really going on in his heart – and, as the daughter of the King, your daughter – not the fatherless orphan I was growing up – I ask you to work in my son’s life, restoring that which was lost.

The challenges – do they ever really stop? Have they ever really stopped – big and Little, little and Big? If you chronicled all those challenges from today backwards – what would you find?

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (Corinthians 3:18).

Maybe we are transformed from glory to glory challenge by challenge.

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