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Posts Tagged ‘Teen Challenges’

He’d pulled a knife on my son, in the 7th grade hallway. Pulled it and said he was going to stab him in the back and kill him next week. This boy ran away shortly after that. He was a habitual runaway. He’d run. Come back. Start the threats over again. This cycle continued through the year. This boy was screaming for someone to take care of him, to make him go to school, to scoop his emotional self up and put him back together each day. Youth rail at boundaries – yet cry out for shepherding.

I prayed for this runaway who had threatened my son – prayed for him like I prayed for my son.

I never imagined, though, my children would consider running – ever. I thought love, healthy boundaries, discipline, encouragement, knowledge of a loving God – I thought that would immunize them to a run-away heart.

Please click over to Cause/Pub ‘s Couch Rebel Project for the rest of the story – this story of a silent epidemic in our communities and churches – just click here.

Thank you, Beck, Amy and Karin for all your encouragement to do this!

238-wideCausePub has teamed up with Blood:Water Mission to fund-raise to clean water in Africa.

For every book sold, Blood:Water Mission, will be able to provide three people with clean water for one year. Blood:Water Mission is a grassroots organization that empowers communities to work together against HIV/AIDS and the water crisis in Africa. Blod: Water Mission was founded in 2005 by the multi-platinum GRAMMY Award-winning band, Jars of Clay. Crowd Publishing for Impact is teaming with Blood: Water Mission to sell 15,000 copies of Couch Rebels . The sales from this publication will allowthem to impact 45,000 lives with clean water for a year.

What’s in the book Couch Rebels? That is to be determined now by you. They have asked for writers/bloggers to contribute about an experience that placed them outside their comfort zone. They review submissions to determine phase one of what articles/posts/stories go in the book. If your writer is accepted, you enter phase 2 where readers vote (not just click like but vote) to determine whether your article will be included in the published project.

There’s still a few more days for you to include yours – please do CausePub is accepting stories until 7/2.

Please – stop by and check mine out. Yes, I’m doing the happy dance that I made it past Phase one for 2 writing projects. If you are encouraged, please hit vote.

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“Celebrate,” he belted out, swinging his right arm in an arc, palm face forward
in a Wal-Mart aisle, walking beside his dad.

“Rejoice,” left arm, swinging in an arc, palm face forward.

Both arms held in a V – just waiting. . . waiting for the right count . . .
“Exalt the name of the Lord,” and his arms shimmied upward, reaching high, words to the rest of the song following.

Little boy singing uninhibited of His Lord, a song from his church musical – overflowing
in Wal-Mart.

My husband smiled, telling me about it – part proud, part sheepish about this boisterous, out-loud
singing of a little boys heart
celebrating the Father
throughout Wal-Mart
His dad didn’t tell him to stop, though – he let it just flow out –

an odd little smile on his face in the telling – an odd smile that I remember today, making me think it was a moment to be stored for days where faith needed remembering

little boy letting out his song
his faith song
planted something deep
with roots reaching
that wouldn’t be so hard to pull out
when the hard times came
the teen times

““For there is hope for a tree,
When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And its shoots will not fail.
8 “Though its roots grow old in the ground
And its stump dies in the dry soil,
9 At the scent of water it will flourish
And put forth sprigs like a plant.” (Job 14: 7-9)

hydrangeas2c
and something that once bloomed, was cut to the stump, like my hydrangea
when we transplanted last year
and it looked so lost, nothing but dry sticks through April, May, June, July –
“Just wait,” my husband said. “It will grow back.”
and so I waited, making myself hope, making myself believe
that we did it right
then one August evening, we saw a little green, pea-sized
on a dead-looking branch
Hundreds of days later, this Saturday morning, it stood under my kitchen window, stems and leaves growing tall, strong – not blooming yet but emerging with new life
hydrangea
My prayer to Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd, is and has been that none will be lost – and he told me in His word, and all around me –
His creation showing me His promise –
whispering it in the stories of their roots, their leaves, their blooms
My transplanted hydrangea, the butterfly bush, the knock-out rose, the yellow flowering shrub without a name – they told me the story to encourage my belief. . . my hope. . .to trust
butterflybush

the story of the root of Jesse that was cut down by the world that sought to destroy it
and yet it survived – it was as though the trees, flowers and bushes were putting on a remembrance play in my yard, daily for hundreds of days.

I think really, it was a play going on long before I heard it, read it, watched it – since before I was born, even before Eve took the bite of the apple – the play, the chorus was in creation.
butterflybush2

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1)

God does not forget the roots planted deep in little boy hearts

His word tells of the salvation story of the root of Jesse who died on a tree so that we may live

that He came to die to save us
to save us from missing it
walking away from it
losing it
getting lost from it
but the root remembers
and wants to be found
by
Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd,
who pursues
every
lost lamb
who pursues to bring
every root back into the light
shoot through the darkness
into the light
to leaf
to bloom
to become as He designed

butterflybushc

Looking at those sticks last year – it was a chorus in my yard – a message of hope
to rejoice in the pea-size
to do the dance of joy over that pea-size dot of green
and wait
because growing to bloom takes God time
and today – its leaves are bursting green

If you have a teen/young adult who is struggling with good choices – remember the seeds you’ve planted, the roots that have grown deep – God remembers – remind Him, stand in faith on them – just because you don’t see the evidence of them does not mean they are not there.

Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd, though, is already pursuing, searching, working to restore – you might not see it – but He does.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

Little boy and little girl voices bursting in faith songs in Wal-Mart aisles are not forgotten by Him, the God who is my Shepherd.

Unconditional Love # 19

Unconditional Rule #10

Unconditional Love #26

Top 10 Unconditional Love Rules

The Runaway’s Hope in a God-Made Ladder

Still Counting Gifts with Ann at a Holy Experience:

    1. sharing Sfogliatelle over Friday lunch with my husband
    2. 6 a.m. Tues/Thurs workouts outside at my house with a friend
    3. compliments on the work-ethic of my sons
    4. 2 boys deciding to apply for phlebotomy training and the other radiologic technologist because they do not want to take the traditional route through college
    5. my second son and his girlfriend standing beside me in church
    6. and coming to the house to grill afterwards and sit talking over the table
    7. rain fall, rain drops on an at-home day where I can just be blessed – rain is like God saying to me, “Slow down. Relax. Just let it wash your spirit clean.”
    8. each random smile from each random son – at the top of the stairs, across the dinner table, laying across the porch settee, arms wrapped around the puppy – in the rear view mirror – each makes my heart smile right back!
    9. evidence of Jehovah-Raah pursuing each of my sons – evidence of the holy shepherd leading them home

 

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robin2ccMy senior’s graduation over, out-of-town family packed up and returned home, photo video for the soccer team done, I was at the end of myself.

Some children you cheer over the finish line, some you drag – both fighting for independence in their own ways. 3 down 2 to go.

I wandered through the house retrieving knitting projects set aside mid-winter, stuffing them in an overnight bag with clothes for the weekend, my pillows, my camera and computer. . . and I left. . .

Needing to empty myself of the stress, to recalibrate, to find within myself the fire and desire to continue this mothering journey with zest, joy, fire, energy and vision.

I drove 4  hours to my aunt’s house where she met me at the gate, and we just wrapped each other in a big hug – we hadn’t seen each other since December.

We sat on her porch

where we drank coffee in the morning

where I walked Zoe, her fluffy bundle 2 miles each morning in the park across the street

where we lunched

and watched robins and listened to cardinal calls in what seemed like a sanctuary in the middle of what was long ago small town America.

where I pulled out one of those knitting projects, ¾ of the way complete, saw a mistake and a way to make it better, because boxy vests don’t wear well on apple-shaped people – and I pulled out the stitches to begin anew

As I pulled out 15 inches of stitches, Aunt Joyce, she rolled the evidence of my mistakes into a colorful yarn ball.

This getaway was like a sieve, allowing the unwanted inside material to fall through slots big enough to let the bad out – small enough to keep the good in, separating the dross from the gold, the wheat from the chaff.

We hunted through nurseries on busy intersections and dirt roads, found yellow and blue baptisia. We dug some holes and planted new, dug up some old, yellow evening primroses – enough to take home for one or two abundant spots.

Bought angel stars from our favorite bakery

smelled perfume in a shop

And we sat

just sat together

graveyardThe morning before I left, we visited the grave yard, where grandmother and grandfather are buried, and her husband – and the ladies who played bridge weekly with my grandmother – and remembered the year it snowed on Memorial Day at Long Run Park where we were picnicing for Grandmother’s birthday – that was about 46 years go, maybe 47 – when my cousin and I had been whisked into the back of somebody’s car, given a plate of fried chicken, green beans and bread and told to hurry and eat – while the aunts, uncles and cousins and siblings had to face the surprising blizzard – my cousin and I sat carefully guarded from the harsh elements.

Another aunt invited us by; she’d been working in her garden, thinning out perennials – and had some for me.

I tried to say thank you, but she just waved me away, “If you say thank you for plants given, they won’t survive.”

Aunt Joyce mused as I pulled out of her drive about how my car looked like a flower shop.

Not rushed, or should I say, not letting the chaos rush me – I took time for hugs. On the way through the county where my grandmother came from, I stopped by to give another sweet aunt a hug.

In the quiet, the spending time, the walking, the coffee, the planting – I looked for at first Shaddai, the Mighty One of Jacob – I needed some quality time with Him.

And He was there, Jehovah Shamma – just as He was there in the low, dark part of the challenges, in the emotional cyclone that can sometimes by part of raising boys to men – Jehovah Shamma – He was there in my drive, in the walking – everywhere I turned, I looked and He was there – there with me – just waiting for me to step out of the cyclone and find Him under the walking trees, in the night breeze coming through the window, as I drank coffee in the morning, in the steps of the robin.

I went to Jehovah-Raah, asking Him to not just be The Lord My Shepherd, but to be the The Lord My Shepherd to my new graduate.

I found Jehovah Rapha, the Lord that Heals physically, emotionally and spiritually – and He breathed His Holy Spirit into this spent soul

Breathing new life

Re-calibrated

For the next part of this journey

lavendarwedding6cJehovah Jireh, He reminded me that He will provide, not just the outside stuff needed for growing a family, but the inside stuff I need – like the manna He provided for the Israelites – that He gave them more than enough everyday – His storehouse is open for me – already equipped for everything I need for the next 6 years of this journey – and the journey after that. I didn’t just ask for me, though, I asked for sweet friends who need His provision, too – because I am not alone with my struggles. By my own hurting, I understand better the hurting of others, the need for others to reach with me in prayer – and I want to reach for them, too – reach for Jehovah Jireh for them, too – no one likes to battle alone, or retreat from battle to regain strength alone, either – that’s why armies are not made of one – we need to battle on together, helping each other with things like lunches, sitting together, praying for each other.

And He reminds me that He is Jehovah-Shalom, He is my peace,  my word this year– to live in it, immerse in it – breathe it in and out – until it is no longer a this-year word but an everyday, every minute word.

I came home with peace – a Shalom-kind of peace – with a Holy Spirit fire kindling my life zest, energy, and joy for this new journey stage.

I came home to these 2 boys still in the nest, a husband I love with all my heart, like a warrior flying the banner of my Lord high, the banner of my Lord Jehovah Nissi – a daughter of the King ready to charge into battle once again.

I am so glad I live under His banner.

(Still Counting His gifts with Ann – in the above are 1019 – 1034)

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butterflyd10 copy_edited-1On holiday at the beach when the sun and clouds pulled closer to my patch of earth and the tree leaves looked like patchwork quilts of oranges, reds, yellows and fuchsias – my husband and I found ourselves floating quietly by ourselves in a sea of salt.

Our boys had abandoned us for a lazy river and video games. The littlest, he’d constructed a half-hearted sandcastle – only because I said we’d needed one – and he’d not grown up enough to relish not heeding me yet.

I bobbed and my husband floated along the currents, savoring the peacefulness of it all, me not quite trusting the quiet; my husband taking it all in stride when a Monarch butterfly beat its wings up and down from shore toward us, past us – and we watched, our bobbing and floating turning to follow his journey beyond where we could see.  We watched, expectantly – and gossiped about its journey until the current pulled our attention to where we wandered – and we set to working ourselves back to align with our beach side property of chairs, blankets and bags.

In the bobbing and floating, trying to catch a good wave – both our attention was caught by a Monarch butterfly beating its wings up and down, out of the distance, past us without a pause, to the beach, straight to the Beggar’s Ticks beyond the beach walk.

We paused – wondering if this was the one that had just left – or if maybe this was one come from across the gulf.

I kept wondering what message those butterflies carried from God – Nothing ever goes to waste if we just pay close enough attention.

A few weeks ago, the message in those butterflies revealed itself like moon runes (The Hobbit).

A prayer – I don’t’ know if it was one prayer sent 2 years ago or the book of prayers sent out 15 years ago for one son – sent out on a journey like a Monarch butterfly. The Journey takes time – maybe one minute, 2 years or 15 years – but a prayer I sent out came back, like that Monarch returning – it came by answered.

Just like Daniel’s prayer sent out on a journey before it returned answered:

“‘Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I’m here to help you. . . .’?(Daniel 10: 12-14, The Message)

Oh, yes – I long ago decided – I couldn’t raise these boys with just what I had or my husband had. It is humbling to realize sheer determination cannot generate the results I want. I cannot  love my boys good enough. I cannot teach or talk good enough to save them from a fallen world. Humbling myself to the Father – saying to Him “only you can”  – and it liberated me – and it saves them.

When I sent those prayers out, “Save him” – this Father God heard – and He set out to come for me to save each of my sons.  Like in Daniel’s story – it was a journey to answer that prayer. He loves us like that – He loves my sons like that.

He came. He helped – and that prayer answered came one night  up my drive way, beating its wings up and down, up and down – and as it hit my porch steps – and it brushed against a new prayer being sent out – a similar prayer being sent out – for another son, another teen facing challenges, wanting to leave before it was time.

Long ago God told me about this son – that his mouth would be loosened – and it did – the stuttering stopped. That his ears would be opened – and we learned how he heard differently – that his mind would be freed, (I believe children diagnosed late with things like Central Auditory Processing Disorder or Dyslexia often develop patterns of frustration that need overcoming) – and then he would turn to Him and be healed.

That brush with that prayer going out knocked out the scales that blinded his soul eyes –  repentant heart revealed, eyes suddenly selfless seeing and in the seeing grieving. Self-centered emerging selfless”– an answered prayer come home.

The prayer leaving? Another teen, he wanted to check out of high school when he was 18 – and go back to the high school he went to Ky in for 2 years, check in, graduate there and in the process minister to his atheist friends.

A prayer returning brushing up against a prayer leaving.

Just like the sun can shine in a rain downpour, my heart rejoiced and cried at the same time.

Hint: from my blessings list in Butterflies and Beggar’s Ticks:

  • oceanfly

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Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work” (James 5:7)
Waiting – I was never very good at that. Learning to cook – that taught me much about timing – and that sometimes you just cannot jump to the end. The middle part, the rising part – it all fails without that.

My tomatoes and zinnia’s are like that, too – the inbetween the seed-planting and harvesting – the waiting inbetween, well – you really cannot rush it.

Parenting is like that, too. There comes a waiting inbetween, where you know you planted all the right seeds in the right ways – 4 square-kind-of-planting. Some seeds, though, require longer in-between, some shorter – but the waiting – for the harvest – oh, sometimes that is hard.

Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong” (James 5:8).

The Father, He wants us to be patient like the Father.

Patient: Persevering; constant in pursuit or exertion; calmly diligent” (Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary)

Not giving up hope

:. . . .waiting or expecting with calmness or without discontent” ((Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary)

How are you expecting? “Are you waiting without discontent? That in-between place can get mighty uncomfortable. You might not like the present state of the inbetween. Are you finger-drumming, surly-spirited, glass-half-empty, sack-clothe moaning waiting through the in-between?

Living in the inbetween – where there is no evidence of a good harvest, no evidence of the good things you planted – oh, that is hard.

How are you going to spend all that inbetween? Are you speaking hope? Walking faith? Smelling like Christ?

“Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life” (2 Cor 2:15)

Maybe how you spend the inbetween time is like the Miracle Grow to your tomatoes and zinnias?

Maybe it is how we live in the inbetween that is really the important part – the hope and faith living.

“The Master could arrive at any time. Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner” (James 5:8-9)

Sometimes, there is a need to share the challenges.

I’ve had recipes fail. My garden struggled this year. The potting shed of raising children sometimes looks more like the corn fields through Kentucky this year.

I know what I planted, though. I know the resilience of God’s plan.

Sometimes I just need friends to listen to the tale, to encourage through prayer, to see the hope of God’s plan for harvest , not to complain, not to commiserate, not to grind up the seed through a faithless pestle of words that just tear up, not hope-up.

“Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God” (James 5:10)

God shows us over and over again in the bible – stories of hope fulfilled, God’s promises ful-filled, and in Hebrews 11 – we learn of hope continued to the other side for things promised but not seen here, today, right now. Those stories are God saying that our challenges are no surprise to Him, that He is our Champion – that He will bring us through – we just need to learn to believe Him in the in-between.

What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail“(James 5:7-11)

He cares about every detail planted in the potting shed of my life, my children’s life. He is faithful to the hope and faith in Him I planted in each of my sons.

He wants me to live the in-between as though matters have been taken care of, as though the harvest is assured – and so my words and the words of those around me will be hope and faith words, cheering words, sometimes through tears and pain – but words of assurance of a harvest bountiful, complete. They will have a sweet aroma.

Last night, I saw gaggles and gaggles of geese flying, celebrated a wedding in the midst of precious family, and as I walked grandbaby girl around, I found more acorns. Instead of 5, I picked up 7 – 7 seeds symbolizing 7 hope and faith potting-shed projects.

The acorns remind to live like I believe in the inbetween.

701) The moment, when frustration in the challenge overwhelms and I give it to God, firmly placing it all in His capable hands, trusting Him, knowing He is not surprised and He can handle the challenge much better than I can.
702) Italian Chamber music that soothes frayed nerves
703) Coffee in the morning with Italian Sweet Cream
704) I shabby chiced an old picture frame and put it on my ground-floor window at work – and every once in a while, I find blessing in what passes through my frame – students rushing to class, an evolving garden, rain spilling onto everything, a squirrel not quite hopping, not quite leaping but a leisurely in-between.
705) Coolness, the autumn kind. I know God is beside me all the time, but I always feel Him more – the clouds pull closer to where I am, the blue seems cheerier, somewhat relieved, and the coolness, it touches my cheek – and it all feels like God walking beside me.
706) Being together with all my boys for a wedding
707) Watching my soldier son walk the grandmother of the groom down the aisle, seeing his slow, comfortable smile spread across his face.
708) 4 pairs of shoes to find instead of 6, 4 belts, 4 pressured shirts and pants, 4 ties – all instead of 6 – God whispering, things are moving along as they ought.
709) Shoes outgrown and shoes still to fill – the blessing of hand-me-downs – a kind of experience that reminds me I can handle the challenges that come in those size shoes – because God has shown me He can handle it.
710) Sharing wedding tables with friend’s mothers who are now friends, too.
711) A grandfather’s prayer for his grandson marrying, filled with hope and faith
712) The blessing of beautiful places to celebrate important moments
713) Hugs from people you love.
714) Gaggles of geese, at least 7, flying across the evening sky as I carried grand-baby girl – and we both watched in delight.
715) 7 acorns on the ground, symbolizing these boys of mine, a daughter-in-law and now a granddaughter.
716) Lidia’s message at her blog, Crown of Beauty, about being an ambassador of love in the midst of unlovely situations.
717) Post-it notes reminding me of prayer requests
718) The energy that comes with feeling better
719) Sitting over a dinner table with my mother one evening – time to talk, time to laugh, time to be together
720) Sitting over a breakfast table with my aunt one morning, time to talk, time to laugh, time to be together
721) Just knowing that sometimes people are cheering you on, have got your back – and know your heart is worthy of that kind of support.
722) The littlest one, getting ready to turn 12 on the first day of fall, wanting me to sing him to sleep.
723) Knowing that sometimes, someone asking me to make a sandwich or fill up a plate, sometimes it is just someone really asking for an Acts of Service love language hug – and which it doesn’t sound like a hug or feel like a hug – it can be translated into a hug.
724) Getting ready for tomorrow, if I think of all the schedules, all the things that want to stress me out – and the list starts piling up, the Father, He tells me to set the pile down – to just step into tomorrow – to take the week just one day, or a half a day or a quarter day at a time, to not give up, to respond in love, hold on to Him and He will take me through to the end of it all.

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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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runawayshoesJacob, he followed the guileful advice of someone he trusted.
He knew better
but having practiced his own kind of trickery
Further goading into unscrupulous actions did not require much stretch
And so he deceived, betrayed, cheated those he belonged to
In the family circle

When the seeds of his actions grew too tall
He ran
Again on the advice of someone he trusted
Someone who should never have counseled
Such chicanery

He ran
Into the desert
Because he couldn’t see how to fix the problems on his own
He couldn’t fathom forgiveness
Because cheaters are sometimes the least forgiving

In the darkness of his run
God showed him a ladder
A ladder to Him
Climbing to forgiveness
to restoration
to relationship
This ladder that climbed both ways
built by a Father who loved so much
He was willing to climb down from
His Kingdom throne
to save a runaway

But still the runaway, he ran,
ran into the camp of a fellow deceiver
Where he learned deception, betrayal, cheating
Hurts
Muddies dreams
Creates problems in the victim’s life, too

Understanding dawning,
he approached the ladder of the dessert
The ladder to Him
To forgiveness
To restoration
That climbed both ways
Facing the ladder, he reached hands newly calloused
With honesty, honor, hope
to grabbed hold of the first rung,
planted a foot to climb
upward

He packed for home
On his way, God met him
Wrestled with him
And God found him finally strong enough
to overcome the past,

This man determined to be good
The selfish man who had run
Who couldn’t see beyond his wants
His chicanery
His coveting ways that led him to take
What was not his
He returned home
To take responsibility for his actions
To repent to those he cheated, tricked, betrayed
He returned home to be embraced
Forgiven
His account wiped clean
To relationship righted
All because of the ladder to Him
To forgiveness
To restoration
That climbed both ways

I bet Jacob wanted to return sooner, make things right sooner. He didn’t because he probably didn’t really believe that forgiveness was for him. He knew his track record. He knew what he had done.

Until one day, he finally realized that he trusted God enough to go home. Trusted that the ladder of restoration, of forgiveness God built was true. It was so unbelievable – unbelievable but true.

The run-away returned home in a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hope-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen way to the see first-hand the proof that God builds miraculous ladders that climb both ways.

He learned that like God climbing down that ladder to us first, sometimes we have to climb those ladders to others, first. To say I’m sorry. To say, “Can I come home?” To say, “I want a relationship with you, like we were meant to have.” To say, “The past is nothing. It is now that counts – from today forward.” To say, “I am willing to pay the price I owe for the wrong I have committed.”

Because of that ladder that climbs both ways, God’s plan for each life can be fulfilled – beautifully, wholly, completely.

To the run-away – grab hold of the ladder’s rung – grab hold and pull yourself home. The Father, the great Yahweh, will come down and help you.

Like Jacob, you will be met, welcomed, embraced, forgiven, your hope renewed.

If you’ve ever had a child run, whether it is from your room, from your home for a day, 3 days, 21 days, weeks for months, the story of Jacob is a story you grab onto as evidence of the Hope and Faith we have in the Father. This story of loss, redemption and restoration tells us God was prepared for run-aways. He pursues them. He built a ladder for them.

The coming home – it is not about the parent heart finding peace – it is all about the runaway being safe, found. Not just relationship restored – because sometimes that is a journey. There is the physical coming home – but the desire for the emotional and spiritual coming home, the desire for whole choices and not brokenness. It is what the parent hopes for through faith.

We’ve been praying for Annie to be found this last week. She ran away. She hasn’t been found yet.

It made me remember another run-away – who packed up 2 backpacks full of possession, stealthily left, walked through fields, under fences, ripping and tearing at his bags and his clothes – to a friend who picked him up on the other side of a forest he didn’t know, filled with coyotes, snakes and other unseen things. He came face to face with truth in the darkness of the forest.

Our hearts grieved that we would have a child who would run away. He was given a choice – a choice to be respectful or leave. He left.

It was only hours – but those were awful hours. Hours filled with grief that someone we loved so completely, worked so hard to fill with good things and God things – would run away.

It happened 3 times. He was dealing with inside things, authority things. Each run-away has inside things they battle. The return home doesn’t mean the run-away’s battles are over, that inside brokenness, either by things others have done or things they themselves have done, isn’t instantly made whole. There’s a journey to a run-away’s wholeness, even to our wholeness.

Jacob’s run-away story shows us that.

Our run-away with 2 back-packs filled with possessions?  He’s on that journey to wholeness. He’s now making good man choices. He’s got a hand on that ladder, a foot raised to climb up. He’s wrestling with God – but that means he’s got his hands on God and God has his hands on him.

Jacob’s run-away journey didn’t stop when he reached family, Laban. His run-away journey didn’t end with the hand grasping the ladder. The run-away journey ended when he stopped wrestling with God, even though he was on his way home. When he stopped wrestling with God, he trusted God – trusted God to help him overcome his past.

348) I got to see the gift’s God put in Annie when she was little, being a mother-hen at Mother’s Day Out, taking care of her friend who welled up with tears every time his mama left him there. That gift of serving and loving others gives me a glimpse into the beautiful gifts inside Annie, hidden beneath these teen challenges she is facing – and the glimpsing into how God sees her gives me hope.
349) Remembering how tightly I held on to God’s mercies a few years ago, holding tight to my faith, training myself to see this precious son how God sees him – not seeing but living believing – and today my belief sees this son, a better man, a good man on that journey on Jacob’s ladder. Thank you, Father, that you
350) protected my son
351) you never ceased pursuing my son
352) faith is real
353) even when we don’t understand in the now, you will lead us through to the great reveal and until then, I want to live, breathe, walk and talk hope and belief in what I don’t see – even if it’s through tears
354) Nothing is a surprise to God!

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