Polka-Dot Love

15 08 2015

As a parent, I came to appreciate the uniqueness of each of my seven children. Their little personalities were varied, their needs different from child to child.

I could not offer a one-size-fits-all kind of love or attention to them. Each one responded to different styles or interactions..the Five Love Languages, and all that. Part of my role as their mother was to figure out what each one needed, then supply that need.

As adults each of us have ways by which we best feel love. We have a heavenly Father who knows how to best meet that need, and He does so. His ways of communicating with us are as varied as the number of people in existence.

He’s a good Father.

When children are adopted, they come with ‘baggage’ from their family of origin. The challenge for the adoptive parents is to overcome what the child ‘knows’ about a father and/or a mother, for his or her concept is often skewed. When the new parents are patient, gentle, and persistent, the child comes to accept that they are loved, and slowly replace what they thought they knew about what a mom or dad is, with the new reality.

This can be a lengthy process, one that tears at the hearts of their new parents until breakthroughs begin to occur.

Right after my second birthday, I was adopted by my new step-dad. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in winning my heart – only in winning the imagined competition against my father. Sadly, he didn’t want the ‘trophy’ (me), that came with ‘victory’.

Kids aren’t equipped with the mental ability to understand that a parent is broken, and unable to love…so they call what they receive “love” and believe their experience to be the true definition. The rest of their life most will continue to define love by what they learned from their father.

As most are wont to do, I superimposed the treatment I received from my ‘dads’ over what I expected from God. I wrote about my experiences her: Unlock Your Shackles

When God adopted me, He ‘had His work cut out for Him’, as they say. It’s been a lengthy, slow process, but His love never fails and His patience is enduring.

At first I trusted Him not at all. He persisted, though, and has used methods that are unique to me in order to win my heart. This blog is filled with such stories: pink shoes, heart-shaped rocks, a gold lambskin jacket, provision when we had no food (for six months!), heart-shaped potatoes, and so forth.

While this looks like He panders to my materialism, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My love language is not shopping!

Being Spirit in nature, He cannot wrap me in His arms, stroke my hair, or hold my hand. (However He did dance with me one day! See: Shall We Dance?) Consequently, He’s been creative in the ways He communicates His love to me. Each of the things listed came with a special lesson for me to learn about what a good Father is like.

Severely put off by what I believed about fathers, this unlearn/re-learn process has taken decades. Because He loves me and wants me to be secure in Him, He’s gone out of His way to demonstrate His goodness.

When others’ experiences with Father differ from ours, we must guard against undoing His work. What offends our senses may be merely because the experience was not meant for us. Unless their ‘take-away’ twists God into a heinous creature, we do well to rejoice with them in their breakthrough.

God knows how to best reach every one of us. He relentlessly pursues us and teaches us just how good He is.

As a kid, I was fond of polka-dots.

As an adult, I am fond of His polka-dot love for me…specially and deliberately designed to melt my heart.

He’s a good Father!

*Oh, the three verses I promised to share will be in my next post. 😉





By Faith, Gerbil…

11 06 2015

When our three-year-old granddaughter showed up on Friday with her swimsuit and goggles in her arms, I knew one thing for sure:

There was a pool in her future!

She had been asking Grandpa for one, suggesting that he take his truck so she could get the box home. This went on for a couple of weeks.

On Friday, she changed her tactics. Instead of asking to go to the store, our little Gerbil (affectionately so nicknamed for how she sounds when she speaks – too cute!), told Grandpa that she would take him to the sale. Now, who can resist a sale!

She returned home with her parents later that night, undaunted by the fact that her ‘prayer’ was still unanswered.

We marveled at her faith, her persistence – and her calm assurance that she would receive that for which she asked. No temper tantrums, no whining; just patient waiting.

Impressive for a three-year-old!

You know what happened next:

We went shopping on Saturday for a wading pool!

At the same time, I’d been asking Abba for a writing table; a dedicated place for my laptop where I could be with my hubby while I work. Like Gerbil, I was patiently waiting.

That same Saturday, Wendel said, “Hey. Why don’t we go find a writing table for you.”

Out of the blue, just like that.

“You know,” he said, “we could learn a lot from Gerbil. Instead of taking the car, let’s take my truck. That way, when we find your table we can bring it home with us.”

Following Gerbil’s lead, he took a step of faith.

(Or would it be called a “drive” of faith?)

We went to a consignment shop and looked at every table. They didn’t have what I was looking for.

I finally decided that I could ‘make do’ with one of them if we took the shelf off the top. We were looking it over to see how difficult it would be when the owner of the store came to see what we were doing.

After we explained, she said, “Did you see the drop-leaf table over there?”

Over where? We’d looked at every piece of furniture.

Or so we thought.

Sure enough, hidden in plain sight, was exactly what I was looking for.

It’s amazing what we can learn from a three-year-old!

It was fun to watch my Father reward the kind of ‘faith that asks with expectancy’ for both my granddaughter and my husband.

While this lesson “in the natural” was great – we all got what we wanted – it will no doubt encourage faith in weightier, “spiritual” matters as well.

Assurance of the thing for which we’ve asked is important

– especially when we know that what we’ve asked is in God’s will.

There was a matter for which I prayed with expectancy for years. As time wore on, however, my prayers became rote – I prayed less often, and more because I “ought” to, than because I anticipated the fulfillment of my request.

This is a dangerous state of mind. Doing so can cause us to miss out on the gift when it comes.

Like Zechariah, it can seem like too little, too late. We’ve lived with the stigma of barrenness for so long that it’s become familiar; comfortable.

Instead of gratitude, bitterness erupts.

That was my situation this year. Even though God spoke (Behold I am doing a new thing…Isaiah 43:19), and there was no denying the ever-enlarging abdomen of the forthcoming birth of the answer to my long-forgotten prayers, my response was less than gracious.

I’d resigned myself to the status quo. It became a ‘badge of honor,’ and for some absurd reason, didn’t want to give it up!

Much of the year was spent unraveling the multitude of lies I came to believe when God tarried (by my standards 😉 ) in moving on my request. Even though my request was being fulfilled, in my bitterness I nearly ‘aborted’ His gift, then considered putting it up for adoption. I came to believe that I didn’t want it anymore.

I was angry! At my age?? Really? Why couldn’t You have done this when I was young enough to fully enjoy it??

(No, I am not pregnant!)

You understand what I am saying? Sometimes the thing for which we ask seems like it would have been better ‘delivered’ when we were younger, more agile, and had more time to enjoy the benefits of the fulfillment…careers, relationships, etc.

I love that even when we’ve given up, God is faithful to do that which He has promised.

All that to say this:

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry. ~Habakkuk 2:3

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. ~Romans 8:25

When we patiently wait with anticipation – especially when everything tells us that it’s hopeless – our names are added to Hebrews 11:

By faith, (your name here!)…





But Now I See

10 06 2015

(This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, Born Blind).

We already looked at the story, so let’s see what we can glean from it.

Standing before the Pharisees stood a man who was once one way (blind, in this case), but had an obvious change (could now see).

Because the healing did not take place inside their ‘box’ of who may heal, when they may heal, how they may heal, and whom is ‘worthy’ to be healed, they refused to see Jesus in action and glorify God.

Instead, they wanted the man to admit that he had been healed by a demoniac…and give glory to God.

Does that even make sense?

It’s a good thing that only took place in Jesus’ day – not now.

And I would never be so foolish as to attribute God’s work to Satan…right??

Right?

When my back was healed at the age of 19, it was through a member of a church we’d been taught was ‘suspect.’ Demonization was supposedly rampant there.

What was I to think about that?

I flip-flopped between glorifying God for healing me – and repenting for attending ‘their’ Bible study for many years; a couple of decades, in fact.

(Oh, and there was a second time I was healed through the prayer of pastors from this same church. See Freakin’ Miracles. Do you suppose God was trying to teach me something??)

Even today, animosity toward this particular congregation is intense. “Demons are at work there,” I often hear.

~ Like demons steer clear of every other church in town – and only ‘attend’ that church!

It occurs to me that demons are more evident there…

…because Jesus is there.

Didn’t demons manifest whenever Jesus arrived on the scene?? (What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time? Matthew 8:29). They didn’t come with Him. They couldn’t remain hidden because He was there!

{This is a new thought for me, by the way. Yes, I still struggle to ‘see’.}

Miracles happen there.

All the time.

We Pharisees stand back and demand proof: reports that certify what was true about the person (i.e. blind), and what is now true (20/20 vision).

I say ‘we Pharisees,’ for I have been guilty of this myself. I want proof of the healing from a ‘reliable’ source, for I cannot ‘see’ it myself!

After all, what ‘proof’ is there in a life that has been transformed? Doesn’t that evidence seem a bit flimsy? 😉

I gather my robes tighter to my body, lest I be ‘tainted’ with their delusion

…and actually see Jesus at work before my very eyes.

This is a strong indictment, Lord. One I needed to hear. Thank You for revelation – which changes my identity (from Pharisee to one-who-sees), and not just information – which changes a few thoughts in my head.

Whoa – that last paragraph was very helpful. I’ve pulled back from Bible study out of fear that I was merely adding to my ‘database of knowledge’ so I could more accurately decide for myself what is good and what is evil.

Now, who would want me to believe that lie? 🙂

I see that very often through study I receive revelation that alters my identity in, and what I believe about, Christ, bringing me into greater alignment with Him.

Very cool.

Thanks, Abba!





The Playfulness of Abba

27 05 2015

When I prayed in March of 2014, I had no idea what God would do with my request! It was during Jim Bailey’s Legacy class. The prayer was something like this:

“Father, you came to heal us, to give us sight, deliver us, and set us free. Would you look under every rock, and overturn every stone in our hearts? Leave no place untouched by Your Spirit.”

Okay, we asked God to search our hearts. No big deal, right?

The next month, life was leveled by a series of events that left me in a broken heap, with little faith left in God. I didn’t talk to Him, and certainly didn’t want to hear anything He had to say.

During Legacy, I met Cheryl Stasinowsky, a very gifted counselor. We’d gone to coffee once during the summer. When life fell apart, I realized that our meeting was orchestrated by God. He’d opened a door before I knew I had a need. I had enough sense to step through it.

In September I began to meet with her every week. It’s been a difficult, although fascinating journey.

At the same time, kidney stones made themselves known. Gall stones as well. If you’ve ever had either, you know that they are not fun.

Week after week, Cheryl and I would address another stronghold within me…and I would pass a kidney stone, or two, or three! Not in the usual, painful way, though. I could feel them at the base of my kidney, then feel them drop down the tube into the ‘holding tank’. That was weird!

For the gall stones, I found a homeopathic remedy online – and it really worked!

Each time, after the Lord took down a stronghold, stones were ejected!

Abba was, indeed, looking under every rock and overturning every stone.

However, during this period, I also developed a massive kidney infection. It annoys me to have to go to a doctor to tell me what I already know – just so I can get an antibiotic!!

She did her fancy tests, and confirmed: Kidney infection. I took the written prescription and headed for the pharmacy, then went home to wait until it was ready to be picked up.

By the time I returned for the pills, the infection was gone.

Completely gone!

It seemed silly to take pills for something I no longer had, so I stuck them in my drawer, knowing that I’d probably need them at a later date.

Fast-forward to last weekend.

By Thursday night, the packing was done and ready to be loaded into the car for our long weekend at the coast.

Friday morning I woke up with strep throat and bronchitis.

Great, I thought, I’m going to sleep away our vacation.

I’ve had to go to the doctor while we were out of town (kidney infection!), and it cost almost $600. I didn’t want to do that again.

Our doctor was on vacation, so a quick stop for a prescription was out of the question.

“Oh, Lord. What am I to do?”

The unused medicine came to mind. Where had I put the pills? That was several months ago.

After I found them, I looked up the medication online and discovered that it was also used for respiratory infections and strep throat.

Woohoo! By Saturday I was feeling much better.

On Sunday afternoon, we sat on the gravel beach at Dry Lagoon (just north of Trinidad). The waves were slowly advancing, for high tide was on its way.

Our quest: agates.

I’ve been reading Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge who said that you can tell a great deal about an artist by his work.

Since I was holding a handful of stones, I began to really look at each one. I realized that in my hand were more than 20 different types of rock!

I began to share what I’d been reading with my husband, and said, “This beach is evidence of the extravagance of God. You know, God could have given us one type of rock, one type of grass, of bush, of tree, and even soil. He didn’t have to give us a variety.

“After all, He didn’t spend millennium in the lab trying to figure out an ecosystem that worked. HE decided how it would all work together. He is the originator of the ecosystem…and, therefore, is not limited by it.

“Yet, He chose to give us such a diverse and interesting planet on which to live. By His work, we can see how amazing He really is!”

“WAVE!” my husband yelled, grabbing for his backpack.

I grabbed my flip-flops and scrambled for higher ground. The ‘sneaker’ wave rolled over my pants before I could get clear.

Finally on my feet, I walked up the incline.

“Hey! We were talking about You…and nicely, too,” I said to the Lord with a grin. “You owe us an agate! Oh, all right. I know. You don’t owe us anything.”

Moving to a new spot, I looked down. At my feet was…

…a beautiful smoky agate…

…in the shape of a heart.

AbbaLovesMe

I love the playfulness of my Father!





Which Tree Will You Choose?

22 04 2015

In the Garden were two trees: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

A few years ago, the word knowledge caught my attention. It would seem that prior to eating its forbidden fruit, good and evil existed – Adam and Eve were simply unaware of it. Since the devil was around, this was certainly true. Interesting.

In a way, it seems like these two trees are now resident within us. (Work with me here. This is all new to me, and I’m not likely to put it down as clearly as I’d like! A little grace while I work it all out, okay? 🙂 )

The Tree of the Knowledge is like our old nature. The Tree of Life is like the Spirit that now indwells us.

We are free to choose our source.

When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, everything changed. God was no longer the lens through which they saw things. They became like God, all right. Thereafter, they decided for themselves what was good and what was evil.

As do we.

How do we determine what’s good and what’s evil, though? It depends upon how it makes us feel:

If it makes me happy, and I feel content or satisfied, then it is good.

If it makes me angry, hurt, afraid, or upset in any way, then it is evil.

We pass everything through the filter of our knowledge, our understanding, and our perspective – then label it “good” or “evil” accordingly.

Where this can really get us into trouble (experience speaking here), is when we are faced with a massive test.

Last year, I came up against the granddaddy of all trials. As we are all prone to do, I ran to the Tree of Knowledge to figure out how to handle the thing. I ran through my database, where I’d stored all my vows and agreements:

“No one will ever do … to me again.”

“I will never…again.”

“I’m unlovable. This is all I deserve anyway.”

My source for what to do with all the pain and turmoil was my own history. From my perspective, this was clearly EVIL.

If my heavenly Father truly loved me, He would have protected me.

Checking my database again, I came to the conclusion:

God is not good…

…at least, not to me.

Even He thinks I am worthless or He would have kept me safe.

Because my source for deciding good and evil was my limited knowledge and understanding – and a very warped lens as to what a father is like, I was nearly taken out.

I had expectations of what God should have done.

When He didn’t act according to my understanding, I was hurt and disappointed.

My own database was insufficient, so I consumed volumes of others’ thoughts and conclusions on the matter. I picked from their trees and put it on my own. For eight months, I sifted through tons of information in search of relief.

A Tree of Knowledge is like a lone redwood tree planted in the sand. 

A redwood has very shallow roots that must be intertwined with other trees if it is to stand during a storm. Alone, and in shifting sand, it doesn’t have a chance!

All the while, there stood the Tree of Life, solid as a Rock:

Abide in Me.

Ask Me.

Trust Me.

This last year would have looked very different had I chosen to eat from the Tree of Life, instead of the Tree of (my own) Knowledge. I didn’t know that I could go to the Lord and ask Him to give me His perspective on the matter at hand. I didn’t realize that He wanted to change how I viewed Him, and how I thought about what was going on.

If you hear nothing else, get this:

Our Lord is the only  reliable source for every moment of every day. Ask Him often to give you His mind concerning everyday life. You will be surprised at what He shows and/or tells you! There’s the added bonus of His peace that goes far beyond our comprehension. 😉

This, of course, brings to mind one of my favorite verses:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5,6

I’m in a new season now. My source for daily life (and not just when I get into a jam!) is the Tree of Life. I am learning to:

Cast down arguments and every high thing

that exalts itself against the knowledge of God,

bringing every thought into captivity

to the obedience of Christ.

~2 Corinthians 10:5~

All the junk that grows on the Tree of Knowledge, based on our human perception and understanding, is an argument and an high thing that exalts itself against our knowledge of God, and the only source for accurate knowledge of Him…is the Tree of Life.

Choose Life!

***

This is woefully inadequate – a topic that would take many chapters to flesh out. I hope you get the gist of what I shared. ❤

***

I’m thankful to Bob Hamp at Gateway Church in Texas for opening my eyes to what I was doing. His foundational classes are worth their weight in gold. You can find them here: http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/freedom/events/foundational-classes