Unashamed

Unashamed

There is this girl I know, she was conceived in unfortunate circumstances, raised by preachers, who did not tell her she was adopted till he was 16 years old, engaged to be married and as her father was about to go into open heart surgery. She was sexually abused not only by a young man who called himself a christian, but right inside the church walls. She was bullied and made fun of by her peers, people who didn’t even know her believed she would never turn out to be any good. Adopted at birth,  She herself suffered from infertility, for 10 years. Struggling with body issues she was bulimic for a time, just to try to conform to what she thought the world expected from her, and to fit into a family that would never love her.

It seemed every time this girl would get ahead in life, something would knock her back down. People in the churches she was raised in rarely acted like the God that she knew. Her dad, kicked out of 2 churches, himself, should of made her hate God, she herself was fired from three jobs in her life,  and each time her father was asked to leave, it was as she herself had been rejected again. How could people that call themselves Christians act like this? She not only faced emotional bankruptcy but financial as well. She lived in 5 different states, and attended 9 schools in twelve years, living in countless houses but never really having a home.

Just looking for someone that would find value in her, she searched everywhere,  including an emotional affair. She lost the only father she ever knew and loved, when she was only 23 yrs old, and became the full-time caregiver for the next 33 years to her handicapped mother. While, homeschooling all 3 of her children one being severely dyslexic she felt again she had failed and blamed herself for her child’s challenges. Early in her marriage she and her husband with one child to care for, found themselves homeless, her family has rejected her, her church has rejected her, and her own mother has even rejected her, she felt all alone.

 Exhausted and tired from all the circumstances of her life, it is no wonder that she locked herself in her house for a season and refused to leave or answer the phone for fear of what the world was going to do to her next.

She had seen a lifetime of hurt and pain that no one should see their whole life, let alone before the age of 30,  and once this girl finally got brave enough to leave the house again, she did so, but not without putting up some walls in her life to guard her from ever being hurt again. Especially around people that called themselves Christians, because all this girl had ever known was to be hurt by these so called people who loved God. This girl finally put on such a hard exterior that no one could get through, and it’s no wonder she decided that she didn’t care if the whole world would die and go to hell.

Her plan was to just follow Christ like a racehorse with blinders on, laser focus to the finish line, because suicide wasn’t an option for her but a natural death or the rapture would be her only escape. Because,  after all, God was the only one who had never left her. With her hard exterior and protective layer she soon went in straight survival mode, guarding what she said, and preferring to be alone. She was hesitant about anything she would say around others,  because all to often in this Christian world, like a puppy that would just barely stick its head, out of its cage, she had all to often been slapped back in before she barely got her nose out the door.

She felt whipped, beaten and alone. She felt unsure of who she was and what she could ever do. There was a battle raging within her of what she knew she could do, and what she felt like would be accepted by those around her in her life. Her mind tossed and turned contemplating, what she wanted to do, and what she knew she had been called to do. So all to often it was just easier to step back and do nothing. That is when again, she drew up into a shell, and just really wanted the world to pass her by.

Until one day the Lord begin to show her in her own prayer time that He had great plans for her, that her circumstances were not a punishment, but a badge of honor to wear. Not proud because of her mistakes, but a victory that she kept going and did not quit,  that she was a fighter and a winner. So slowly but surely this girl would attempt to stick her head outside the cage one more time, maybe it was just saying “Hi” to a person, maybe it was just inviting someone over. But just as quick at she stuck her nose outside that cage, she would pull it back in, for fear it would get swatted again like it had so many times before.  

Over and over again she tried each time sticking that wet, scared nose out of the cage, a little bit further each time, with the success from the last. With each attempt to let the world back in,  she would stay a little longer outside the cage, looking around a little more, till finally one day she was totally revealed to the rest of the world. She had come completely out of her cage.

All the while, her mind battling against what she wanted to do, which was crawl back in her cage and let the whole world die and go to hell, and at the same time realizing that God had bigger plans for her,  and those plans would mean stepping out of the comfort zone of that cage and allow the world back into her life. That process took well over 40 yrs and she still is working through it.

But that girl doesn’t hide in her cage anymore, afraid to stick her nose out for fear it would get smacked because she isn’t good enough. That girl, now looks back on her past, not with shame,  but with gratefulness of what the Lord has brought her through, that girl realizes that she is a child of God, and no matter what man may do around here, or think of her, it doesn’t matter, because God is her ultimate authority and He calls her His child.

Oh! Does she still battle with the fact life would be easier, if she just stayed hid in her house and let the rest of the world die and go to hell. Sure she does! But she also realizes that the very reason she was created, and the reason she had to walk through what she did, was because she needed to know there was a God that could bring her out  and there are many that she needs to tell of this goodness of God.

So when you hear  this girl talk about how shy she really is, when you hear her say she really prefers to be alone, believe her. Don’t be shocked when you see her laughing in a crowd or sharing with a group of people. Remember at those times, what the Lord has brought her from. Understand that the girl you see today has not always had this freedom. You need to know that there is still a battle that rages within her.

But also know that she has drawn a line in the sand and she as decided that she refuses to allow her feelings to abort what God has called her to do.  And I know all this, because that girl is me!

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25, But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV

The Butterfly Effect

This past week was Easter Sunday, not only is it the day we remember the resurrection of our Savior but, it is the day that my life was changed. Oh! Not directly but indirectly. You see probably 70 plus years ago a young couple ready to throw their marriage away decided to give it one more chance and go to church before they filed for divorce. They said “If this doesn’t work we are throwing in the towel and this marriage is over”. That Sunday the man walked down that aisle at the end of the service and so did his young wife, neither one realizing the other had done so because,  if my memory serves me correctly of the story I heard, It is because they refused to sit together that Sunday.

But when they got up from that altar, they looked  at each other and knew their lives would be different because they had given their lives to Christ. 70 plus years later, we can all look back and see,  not only their lives were changed, but God used those two broken individuals to impact the lives of many people over the 40 years the couple were in ministry. That couple was the people I called mom and dad. The two took a baby into their life unexpectedly when my birth mother couldn’t raise me. They taught me that Jesus loved me from birth. All I have ever known is the love of God,  because one couple decided to give God a chance in their marriage. That small decision had a generational impact not only on me, but my children and now my grandchildren. Had they not made that decision I am confident I would not be who I am today. Nor would my children know about a loving God and my grandchildren would not know that there is a Jesus that loves them.

I wonder, what one small choice would you make that would make a generational difference on your family? Is there a choice you have already made that has changed your world? Maybe you don’t think,you are that important,  or nothing you would ever do make that big of a difference.

I have to tell you, you are wrong, in fact there was a study done called the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

Just like my parents giving their heart to Jesus and surrendering their life to Him, had an eternal difference in my life, so does it have an effect on my kids and grand-kids, as well as every person’s life.  Just like me writing this article, to every person my kids and grand-kids lives touch, their choice, affected a larger change many years down the road. Not only did their giving their lives to Christ make a difference in their lives, but they went on to help others. Everything we do,. Every choice we make, every decision made  has a cause and effect.

Recently, I was re-reading the letters of condolences that was sent to our family when my mother passed away,  almost 7 yrs ago now, and when I read this one , it reminded me of this fact

Many years ago, on the Bowlus Center stage, a little lady limped onto the stage, sat on a stool and sang “When He Was on the Cross, I was on His Mind”. That song personalized His death and sacrifice for ME. That lady was Doris and I will never forget her even though I never met her.”  

See,  I don’t know this person who was so kind to write this on the website condolence page of the funeral home where my mother’s services were, but even at 70 something years of age, as my mother who could barely walk with a cane at the time,  decided to sing a christian song at a community talent show. Many would of written the old lady with a cane off, but all those years ago, she submitted her life to Christ and decided she would serve Him and tell others about Him till her dying day.  She stood before a community of people from all different walks of life and beliefs and again, made a difference.

As you go about your life this week, how about you think about what choices you are making and where they are leading those closest to you. Let me encourage you, if you don’t attend church weekly, start by making that difference in your life. Find a bible believing church and make sure you are there and take your family with you. Begin to make it a habit every week, where you can learn more about God and tell others what He has done for you. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past, what matters is what you do from here on out.

You have a chance to make “ the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” You can create a butterfly effect in your life. The truth is you are everyday anyway. Why not make it a positive one. See because, the sensitive dependence is only good conditions, it is bad too. If you choose to abuse alcohol or drugs your kids and friends see that and it has a negative affect sometimes for generations. If you choose to gossip or treat others unkindly, you are teaching your family how to to treat others.

So if you are going to create a butterfly effect in your life anyway, Why not do it right. Show up Sunday at a church somewhere and give your life to Christ decide you will live for Him, no matter what,  or go ahead right where you are now and tell Christ you want Him to come into your life, and forgive you of your sins, just like you would talk to me you can talk to God right now.

This can be the beginning of a generational effect for all those who come after you or you are around. Now get into church Sunday and begin to make a life that will forever be a blessing to others, like my parents,  we can make a difference and the bonus is, You’ll go to heaven too!

10, 2 and 4 Baby

10, 2 and 4 Baby

I have always been a night owl and hated going to bed. I think it is because I was afraid I would miss something. I remember my mom used  to call me her 10, 2 and 4 baby because I would wake up at 10pm, 2am and 4am. I think I finally wore my parents down because, by the time I got to be a teenager  my father made me a deal and told me that as long as I got up the first time he called me in the morning. I could stay up as long as I wanted at night. So as soon as I would hear my dad call my name in the morning I would jump up out of the bed as quickly as possible calling back to him “ I am up! I am up!” just so he would know that I was up,  and I wouldn’t have to go to bed early the next night.

 

I will never forget one night, as a teenager, my parents let me have one of my friends spend the night. About 2am we decided we were hungry so we started cooking. Of, course my parents had long been in the bed but I didn’t think they would mind. So, my friend and I looked in the refrigerator and discussed what were were going to have and we debated about eggs, but went with something else. I don’t remember what we decided, but whatever it was must’ve started smelling good, because my dad showed up from the other end of the house, in the kitchen half asleep and as he opened the door to the hallway that  separated the kitchen/family room from the rest of the house, he hollered out at us “ I am gonna break you from sucking eggs” and with that my friend and I looked at each other and said “ I thought we decided not to have eggs?” as we burst into laughter my dad turned around and went back to bed. I still believe to this day he must of been talking and walking in his sleep.

 

Of course, it was a weekend,  so I didn’t have to get up early the next day. But that didn’t stop me from making sure when my dad did call, I was right out of the bed as soon as I heard his voice the next Monday when it was time to go back to school.

 

All that got me thinking, Do you have your ear tuned in listening for your Heavenly Father’s voice? Are you looking for His return and ready to go as soon as He calls?  The bible tells us that Jesus will return one day to take us to heaven, but He will only be taking those who are looking and living for Him. The bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ESV

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

 

I don’t know about you,  but I want to always be ready to go when the Lord returns. I want to be listening for His voice. Just like I was listening for my father’s voice when I woke up every in the mornings. I wanted to be ready and not late because I knew if I missed it, there would be a consequence to pay. Just as there will be if we miss Jesus return.

 

But how do we make sure we won’t miss HIs return? Well, Romans 3:23  tells us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”It is as simple as A,B,C  Admit that you are a sinner, (Romans 10:9-10) Believe in Jesus Christ and Commit your life to Him. start, going to a bible believing church, start making Him a part of your everyday life, by talking to Him in prayer and letting Him talk to you through His word.

 

It is only when we know, Christ then we will know His voice. We can’t hear Him if we don’t know His voice. I knew my daddy’s voice and I listened for it. We need to listen for our Heavenly Father’s voice so not only when He calls us to heaven, but every day He talks to us too and has a plan for our life and that plan is more than give your life to Him and go to Heaven.

 

There is something He has planned for us everyday. He wants us to be a part of our everyday life and has a mission for us here on earth before He comes back. For some it is to love others that can’t be loved, for some it is to give more to help others, for others, it is to make a difference in someone else’s life. We won’t know what He has in store for us until we get to know Him and we can’t get to know Him until we surrender our lives to Him and choose to follow after Him.

 

See, I knew  my daddy I spent time with my daddy, and I did everything I could to please my daddy. So, the question is, do we do the same for our Heavenly Father, If you haven’t I highly suggest that you do because you don’t want to miss His voice when He calls you to come to heaven. I think you want your answer to Christ to be the same as mine to my dad “ I am up! I am up!”

Worst Parenting Fear!

Worst Parenting Fear!

Being a parent can be one of the scariest things anyone can do. You hope to you are doing it right. You don’t want to miss your kids up to bad, because you know you, yourself, aren’t perfect, and well let’s face it we all think we are a little messed up and our biggest prayer as parents is “God just don’t let me mess up my kids”.

I remember one particular time this was heavy on my heart as a young mom. My oldest had to be in about 1st grade. We were associate pastors in charge of children’s ministries in Iola Kansas. Our children’s ministry there ran about 80-100 kids each Sunday.  We had a bus ministry of 3 buses that drove around town every Sunday, picking up kids to bring them to church. To assure the kids would come, we would go around door to door every Saturday and knock on the doors of homes in the area reminding the parents we would be coming by tomorrow to pick up their children.

Often Jeff would take our son, Lee with him on those trips. In fact pretty much every part of our ministry Lee as well as all our children have tagged along and been a part of it with us. Lee however was our only child at this time in our life so not only was our weekly canvasing the neighborhoods part of his weekly agenda, so was summer church camps. For several years we spent a month at kids and junior camps in the summer not even coming home on the weekend in between camps. Because we were Children’s Pastors, Jeff and I were counselors each week and Lee got to tag along with his dad in the boys cabins.

Wheat State Camp is 4 weeks in the summer that kids from Assembly of God churches all over Kansas come together in Augusta at our district camp ground where a different age group comes each week to play games and sporting events, have fellowship with other believers and all go to church services together in the evening. It was one of those evenings I was down at the altar crying out to God because my heart was so heavy. I felt as if I was ruining my kid’s life. I was probably about week 3 of being at camp for us and I was believing all the negative thoughts satan was running through my head that said “Lee is going to hate church” or “You are pushing our religion down his throat by keeping him here”. “What kind of mother are you?”.

As I was pouring out my heart to God that evening, with young girls from my cabin,  praying all around me. I felt God say, Looked up over to the boys side of the altar area. There I saw Lee standing with his arms raised to his Savior, tears streaming down his face. It was as if God was saying,” He is okay.” Because God knows, more than anything I want my kids to serve Him.

That kid is now 33 years old and running for a seat in the Oklahoma House as State Representatives for District 68. He was telling me the other day of how his campaigning was going. You see every evening after he gets off work and on Saturdays, he goes canvassing door to door the neighborhoods of his district.

He was actually canvassing with another candidate recently when the candidate of the same party said  “Man you are good at this!, Have you done this before?” To which my son responded “Sure have, but not for political purposes”.  See, it was all those years ago, that Lee walked with his daddy canvassing the neighborhood for the churches bus ministry that taught him how to handle himself and approach people in that type of situation. But we didn’t take Lee out canvassing with the idea that this is going to be a lesson, or with any thought that he would use it later on in life, and we never had any idea he would actually run for a political office at that age. But, it was a lesson that gave him confidence where another person might have been hesitate to knock on a stranger’s door without it.

All this got me thinking…….  Deuteronomy 11:18 – says “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds,…….. 19 Teach them to your children, speaking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your houses and gates,… “.  In essence, it is saying teach your children about God as you go about your everyday responsibilities. All too often we expect the church to teach our children or we think I’ll just wait until they are older and let them decide for themselves what kind of faith they want to accept. But that isn’t what God tells us to do.  

Proverbs also tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents] Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6 Amp) How do you train up a child, if you wait till they are older and let them decide? You don’t, this makes it plain that parents are instructed to teach their child in His ways. As a minister my dad use to say, it is better to build boys and girls for Jesus then rebuild broken down men and women for Christ. You may ask why is it better to teach them when they are young? Because we are creatures of habit. We get in good habits or we get into bad habits but either way they are habits and old habits are hard to break. I don’t know a better habit then going to church every week, reading your bibles, and praying every day.

As parents often times I think we negate the reality that our children are always watching and learning from everything we do and say. It is important that we keep in mind children learn what we live. I don’t care how old they are, they are like little sponges absorbing everything we say and do. So the question is what are we teaching are kids? It wasn’t our intention to be teaching Lee anything, on the days we canvass the neighborhood but we did. I also believe he has learned how to follow God by our example (habits) of going to church, reading our bibles and praying with our kids. Lee developed a relationship with Jesus Christ all his own and that has given him the foundation he needs to make good choices and why he cares enough to try to make a difference in this country.

Does he have some ideas that I have wondered about? Sure!  But the truth is we probably taught him that too. Oh! Not the exact ideas, but I believe his father and I taught him to not just go with the crowd. We have lived a life of entrepreneurship and pioneering new ideas since he was born. From being the first homeschoolers in Graham County, to deciding to start a church with absolutely no support except knowing God has called us. We have taught him to judge whatever you do to the word of God and in this day and age when there is more people just following the crowd of what has always been done or what everyone else is doing. It is not surprising, he choose to be in the libertarian party because he sees the present parties in place are not making any difference. Lee isn’t afraid to pioneer down a new path of politics and I am completely confident he will pave his own way down that path as well.  

So the question is, what are you instilling in your children and grandchildren?  What are you talking about as you drive around in the car, sit in your homes? What messages are you sending to them? The fact is, whatever you are teaching them, they will take it to the next level. They will push the limit of whatever you are doing, good or bad. Do you want your kid to do more of what you do? What legacy are you leaving?  

 

I Was Just Thinking…..

976437_10152857233020487_67834993_o           I remember when my oldest son was only about 2 or 3 yrs old, I had one of those moments where it hit me he was just growing up to fast. So, as I held him lovingly in my arms I told him (as any good mother would.) ” Lee mommy wants you to stop growing up, you are getting to big” As he squirmed out of my arms to get back to playing with his toys he complied and said “OK Mommy” I went back to what I was doing satisfied that at least for a a second I time had stood still. It was only a few minutes later he came to me with the most serious face and said “Mommy can I please grow up, can I please???” I consented and gave my approval, as if either of us could stop him.

That memory has repeated it’s self in my mind several times over the last few months as our family prepares to face some major milestones in our lives. Our oldest is getting married, and our daughter is graduating high school, and my baby is turning 16 and learning to drive. All in the matter or of about 60 days.

Oh! how I have wished I could stop them from growing up!! I don’t know why, I am thrilled at my son’s choice for his new wife, I love my daughter and the woman she has become, and Chad is an amazing young man that is going to do great things for God and is probably a better driver than either of the other two. I, the woman who’s mantra as been ” I didn’t raise them to keep them!” has been a ball of emotion. (just keep the tissue coming) LOL!!

In all of this I have been thinking, I wonder what God thinks about his children growing up? Not physically I mean, but spiritually. I have a feeling His reaction is quite different from mine. I believe He is jumping for joy has His children grow spiritually. I think He shouts and cheers like a parent in the stands at a sporting event when their child makes a point for the team. I think His chest swells with pride when we show kindness to a stranger or chooses to give of themselves and finances to others. I am confident that He counts the time as precious when we take the time to spend with Him in His word.

I guess the bigger questions is how are we growing? You know, when a person first finds Christ I have heard them called a baby Christians. But to often I have seen them stay right there and never grow. Unlike, my children as Christians it IS up to us if we grow or not spiritually. Depending on what we do, growing as a Christian is as simple as developing any relationship, it is with time. Whether you are stuck as Baby Christian, Adolescent Christian, or maybe you’re in your rebellious teenage years as a Christian. We should never stop growing in Christ.

We need to stay relevant to those around us and with a passion that compares to nothing else, we need to follow after God.

Because the reality is, there is a cheering section watching over us from heaven waiting for us to make the next point for the team. We have a heavenly father that can’t wait to spend time with us and brags about us, Because He is so crazy in love with us. Like us as earthly parents His chest swells with pride, when He sees us do what He has called us to do. He loves us so much that His heart breaks when we ignore Him, or feels we can do this thing called life, without him.

So today I want to encourage you, be His child, Make one for the team! Make your heavenly Father proud today. Because He can’t wait for you to grow up and the beautiful thing is, we never get old in Christ, we never get to a point we have reached it. We are always growing in Him if we choose and in that He is very pleased!