The Ultimate Sacrifice

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I witnessed the worst and the best of humanity last night.  I was on a call as an advocate on a child abuse case.  A 14 year old girl had called the police to report her step father for sexually abusing her. This had been going on for 7 years.  Her mother had threatened her continually, if she ever told anyone she would be thrown out of the house. During the interview the young girl was asked why she decided to call the police now she said “because my little sister just turned 7 the same age when he started molesting me, I wanted to protect my sister.”

This young girl had endured horrible abuse at the hands of her step father for years, Threats from her mother, no emotional support.  Yet, the love she had for her sister caused her to risk everything to save her.  When the stepfather found out what she had done and why, he responded..”I would never touch my biological child, I have morals” really you have morals?  He was arrested and the mother decided her abused daughter could no longer live under her roof.  she would be going to her grandmothers house to live.  At the end of the night about 3am, I was sitting in the sheriffs suv crying my eye’s out and looked over and the big strapping deputy was doing the same thing.

While thinking about what a loving sacrifice this young women made for her sister. I thought about the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  Jesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He was put to death by being crucified on a cross, and his body was laid in a tomb behind a stone. He lived and then died rejected and alone. Like a rose He was trampled on the ground. Jesus took the fall and thought of you ABOVE ALL!

Jesus saw sacrifice as something beautiful because it would bring us life.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16.

Jesus’ calls us to voluntarily lay down our lives as He did–to sacrificially love people even when it’s uncomfortable or painful. What if you saw sacrifice as a beautiful word?

Just as this young girl sacrificed all for her sister, sacrificed her home, her security. This is real love.  I pray for this young women, I pray when we follow up that she comes to know Jesus as her savior.  That his transforming power will heal her heart.  I know this young women changed my life with her sacrificial heart and bravery.

 

 

 

 

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I Need Your Direction Lord

 

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I have shared many times on my blog about my divorce and it’s aftermath. These past several weeks have been a bit difficult with regard to my attitude about my ex-husband.  I shared my sadness/anger of discovering he placed a praise the Lord and christian fish after his name on our divorce decree.  Compounded by the fact, that I work with Christian women who find themselves in abusive marriages, has made it even more difficult.  I realize daily that he desperately needs to change his heart so he does not abuse another women.  Truth is, I do not miss the man I was married to, but I do miss the best friend he was for years, before we married.  It is hard as a christian, you are told to fight for your marriage, which I did while we were separated even fight while the divorce is being processed.  Then the decree is final….then what?

I forgave him three years ago, but sometimes I still get annoyed with him. Especially, when every time I need to get a hold of him, I receive angry emails from his family attacking me. He acts like I am a non-person after 2 decades together… Funny, they are never from him, he just ignores me, he hides behind his family. It is such a paradox for me, professionally, I work to educate and stop domestic violence, then knowing that I personally know someone who needs help to stop their abusing behavior.

I’ve been pondering the whole response to an ex that needs help, do I just turn a blind eye and walk away or do I try my best to make sure he never hurts another women.  If he does, is it a blood on my hands kind of a thing.  I know that isn’t exactly accurate, but it is hard to see someone you loved living with a hard heart either. Of course, I am far from perfect, and I have my own issues, and only by the grace of God do I live.

I believe that God is showing me to just give him up to the Lord, period: in an attitude of love, goodness, blessing and prayer. My eyes focused not on my life, not on my circumstances, and not on the wrongs done to me, but rather focused with laser intensity on Jesus!

The verse that the Lord continually bringing me to is Luke 6:27-28:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

It seems harsh to refer to my ex-husband as my enemy … although sometimes it feels that way. I believe in my heart that he isn’t my enemy. I think I feel like I’m in a spiritual battle with him, but maybe we are more like opponents in a tennis match—but there’s definitely no love in the score.  Which makes me sad.

“Love your enemies.”

Awww, Lord. Really?

“Love … do good … bless … pray.”

Love him? Love him. Really?

What does that even look like? ‘Cause I did that for a long time and it ended up almost destroying me. I ended up abused, used and thrown away like thrash, notified he was divorcing me by email.  Love the person who put praise the Lord and a christian fish on our divorce decree?  So I’m praying as I write because I really don’t know what that looks like.

Talking about love always reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Love is:

Patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice in wrongdoing, rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Am I patient with God’s dealing with my situation and my ex? Am I kind in the face of my ex’s attitudes, accusations and actions? Am I rude when I could choose to be kind? Do I insist that things go my way regardless of God’s plan? Am I irritable and resentful? (Ugh. Definitely.) I do not believe I rejoice in my ex’s wrongdoings, but maybe I do a bit when it’s me trying to justify my angry response to him. Do I rejoice in the truth?  I hope so.

But in this circumstance, do I bear, believe, hope and endure all things? Nope. I wanna cry and hide in the corner. I want to yell and argue and fight with my ex, telling him how much he hurt me and the children.

Who am I kidding—I can’t do those things! Love like that? That’s not logical.

But when has God called me to do something that He hasn’t enabled me to do?

Once again, I’m gonna have to rely solely on Jesus. After all, He has given us “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).

And I’m going to need the Lord in my life, because not only am I called to love that man, but to do good, bless and pray for him.

 

But what is my role in the meantime?  Am I you supposed to sit around and passively wait for more persecution? No, the answer is to become aggressive with good. When wicked behavior is running rampant, it feels like it is in control. However God’s Word tells us that good is more powerful than evil. God does not say that doing good to others will help us tolerate their evil. He says that we can overcome it. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Light overwhelms darkness. Hope triumphs over discouragement. Love casts our fear. It is our task, in the face of evil, to offer good. Why? Because good invites repentance.  I pray he repents, before it is too late.

Consider Romans 12:20 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” The phrase “heap burning coals on his head” referred to awakening the conscience of another. With good, we can melt the heart of evil with burning shame. Constantly repaying evil with good holds a mirror up to the perpetrator reflecting only their evil; in some cases this will bring about a change of heart.

I believe I will pray for God to enable me to live the way God desires me too!

My Sweet Joshua, You Are Married Now!

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My sweet Joshua,

I have shed a few tears over the last few weeks. They’re a mix. A mix of sadness that one of the greatest parts of my life has come to an end – mothering you. But also a mix of joy. I’m so proud of you! As a mom, my job is literally to work myself out of a job and watch as you move on to start your own family. Despite my very flawed parenting abilities, you’ve turned into a pretty awesome young man.

It’s all done. This big, beautiful job of mothering you. C-o-m-p-l-e-t-e.

I hope you never grow tired of hearing me say, “I love you.” When I say those three little words they speak volumes. 

I’m sure every mother says at one time or another: “I can’t believe how fast the time has gone,” but it’s unbelievably, heartbreakingly true.

On your wedding day, I was thinking how grateful I am for the privilege of being your mom.  How your life will change in the next few years.

As a mother, you wear your heart on your sleeve. Literally, it’s as if a part of you is walking around on this earth outside your body. 

Since you were born I’ve prayed about this day – God answered my prayer.  Her name is Ezmi.

Once you met Ezmi you knew that she was the one. You were each other’s first love.

I will miss our long talks. So much. But those hopes, dreams, complaints about your day, etc., are now meant for long talks with her.

As I watch you fly away I will always be here waiting for you. My home will always be a place of acceptance and forgiveness and love.

Always remember this:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. Eph. 5 25-30

It’s time for me to let go. It’s time to let another woman know you and love you in a way that goes much deeper than a mother’s love. That’s kind of hard to say. But it’s true.

I’m not going to be the first one you turn to anymore.

So don’t come to me before you go first to God and second to your wife.  I’ll always be here to support you and love you, but I’m way down the list now. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  God’s ideal is this… a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.  (Matthew 19:5)

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Yep, hard for me to read but it’s true and it’s God’s perfect plan. Ezmi comes first. Before me. Always. I know you’ll always love me and I’ll always be close, but she is your priority.

I never thought I’d rest from mothering. Never thought I’d stop worrying over you. Thinking of you. But this morning I am joyful in realizing today is the day. And I will rejoice.  I will be glad!

Today is the day to rejoice in knowing you are a man who loves Jesus deeply.  A man who walked the first 28 years of his life close to Christ and often apart from the crowd. Because you held the hope that this day would come. And it would be worth the wait.

My prayer for you on your special day was simply that you keep your eyes on God and love Him first with all your heart, mind and soul.  I pray that you and Ezmi would understand and feel God’s deep support. That in hard times you would cling to the truth that God is for you. And I want you to know that I am always for you. And just like God, there is nothing I wouldn’t give up for you. Nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for you and to support your marriage.

I love you.

I’m proud of you.

I’m grateful that God walks beside you and carries you when you’re far away.

My love forever,

Mom

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8 31-32

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Love Covers

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Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1Peter 4:8

Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”
The apostle is talking about interpersonal relationships. As believers we reflect the love of God by forgiving others.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7). Another way that love covers over a multitude of sins is choosing not to take offense at everything. Some sins against us are not worth confronting. Personal slights, snide or mean remarks, and minor annoyances can be easily forgiven for the sake of love. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” If we are patient, not envious or self-seeking, we are much less likely to even take offense. Acting in love means we put others before ourselves. Love can cover a multitude of sin in that, when we act in true love, we are prone to overlook minor offenses, tolerate the provocations, and forgive the sin.

Important to note:  Love does not cover over a multitude of sin by sweeping matters under the rug. Some have appealed to the forgiving nature of love in their attempt to hide indiscretion. For example, rather than report child abuse, a church might cover it up. This is not what true love does. Love protects by helping both the victim and the offender (thru restoration and true repentance), and it also strives to prevent further offenses.  But there are still consequences of sin.  Love covering sin also does not mean we disregard our own emotions or ignore our personal boundaries. We cannot “cover” sin by denying that it hurt us. We cover sin by acknowledging it and then extending the forgiveness God has given us to others.

 

 

 

Teaching Your Children To Love God

 

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Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. 

Let’s face it Parenting is hard. It’s really hard, it is a full time job. We live in a day and age that is extremely busy and hectic and full of distractions. But, there is in my opinion no greater joy than being a parent.  Our children are, first and foremost, an incredible blessing from the Lord. Psalm 127:3 refers to them as a heritage and reward. God instructs us to be good stewards of the blessing and heritage He has given us. He shows us in the above scripture just how we are called to raise our children.

The family is under attack in this country.  I don’t believe there has been a time in my lifetime when there has been such an attack on the home as there is today.  From broken homes, the TV shows and movies of the entertainment industry, there is a concerted effort to destroy the home as God has ordained it. 

There should be no question in our minds that Satan wants to destroy the family.  It has been the core of our society all these many years.  There should also be no doubt that he has been successful in many areas of our country and the world. 

I believe that the key to life and how to preserve our families is: to love God.  This is the key to Christianity, the whole story of God’s redemptive love.  The cross, the resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s will, the preaching of the gospel throughout the whole world, believing and obeying the gospel.  All of this is summed up in the love of God.  All of this is simply a way by which God has made it possible for us to love Him. 

This is why it is vitally important for parents to teach our children thru instruction and by our example to Love God. Since it is true that the most important thing in life is to love God, and that everything else flows from that, if you had one wish above any other, would that wish not be that your children would learn to love God?  Of course, it would be.  In the verses that follow, beginning with verse six, we have four steps clearly outlined that must occur in a home if children are to learn this greatest of all secrets: How to love God.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children….”  Here is personal instruction — imparting knowledge about God to your children.  This means teaching them scripture, because it is the Bible that teaches us and informs us about God.  Here it is declared the responsibility of parents to instruct their children in the revelation that God has given to us about Himself.  No one can truly love God without knowing Him.  Thus, the first step in teaching our children how to love God is to teach them to know Him. That means teaching them what the Bible says about God.

Notice the pronouns that are used in this passage. You shall teach them diligently to your children.”  Not they, but you!  This is not the job of the Bible class teacher or the church.  It is your job!  The church cannot substitute for the parents in this responsibility.  At best the church and it’s Bible classes can only supplement what the parents teach.  We hear a lot today about the church losing it’s young people.  As a result, there are all kinds of youth programs started and “youth ministers” hired to conduct these programs.  Could it be that the loss of young people to the church is not to be blamed on the church, but on the parents who are ignoring their responsibilities to teach their children to love God? I believe, there are way too many parents who are trying to give the responsibility of teaching and raising their children to the public school system and/or to the church. We know they will not learn about God thru our public schools, in fact the opposite will probably be true. Parents (praise the Lord not all) today can be so busy “making a living” and working to provide material things for their children and themselves, caught up in the busyness of life, that they find themselves failing in the most important aspect of life — to love God themselves and to teach their children to love Him. In this scripture God places the responsibility of teaching your children to love God directly upon your shoulders.

But let me encourage you, no matter where this great truth finds you, start just where you are.  I know it’s hard not to look back and regret the past mistakes we  may have made, but we need to begin right now to apply these great principles. Even if our children are grown, we must begin right now to perhaps influence our grandchildren.  Such is the grace and mercy of God, such is the glory of His nature and character, that He will forgive us of past failures and help us to begin again (1 John 1:8-9).  So begin right now to put these great principles into practice in your home.

Eyes Of The Lord

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The cry within Jesus’ heart in the garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion was the nearness of the ones He loved. His sacrifice was driven and His obedience motivated by His longing for the human heart our hearts. In one of the hardest and most challenging moments of Jesus’ earthly life, His heart was consumed with the desire that we would be close to Him forever. That was the cry of his heart that pierced through the dark night of Gethsemane: “Father, I desire them!”

The eyes of the Lord are always on us.

God is pursuing us. He is actively, patiently and passionately wooing our hearts.

15The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
16The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. — Psalm 34:15–17

Proverbs 5:21 tells us that “a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths”  God sees it all because He’s watching.

Deuteronomy 6:18 says, “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you.” We read about Old Testament kings who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” and leaders who “did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” The eyes of the Lord are constantly looking on us and moving us toward what is good. 

1 Peter 3:12a says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer.” Because you love Christ, God pays attention to you in a special way.

2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” He’s flat-out looking for people who want to experience His strength. He’s never tired of picking out His children in the crowd.

Genesis 6:8 says that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (nkjv). What a great challenge; what a great promise. I hope that when God sees you and me, He says Get more blessing over to that child; She loves My Son! And help her; she’s following My way.

Responding to God’s pursuit of us by pursuing Him back is the purpose of life. This is what He created us for. This is the reason for our existence. Every detail of our lives He designed with the sole intention that we would seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him.

Lord, You never sleep or slumber: Your attention toward me is continually alert and loving. What amazing grace is expressed in Your attentiveness to me. It draws me to push hard toward You in obedience. Like Noah, I want to find grace in Your eyes, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Happy Birthday My Sweet Girl

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Happy Birthday JennyPenny

Today is your 26th birthday.  “Where did 26 years go?” It seems like yesterday the nurse placed you in my arms and I fell in love with you.  I knew you would be my last so, I purposed in my heart to cherish each moment, each milestone and achievement.  I have so many memories of you as a child that I hold near and dear to my heart, your enthusiasm for every new day, your huge smile, your legs pumping so fast on your little bicycle to keep up with the rest of the family.  How everytime our eye’s met you would smile, filling my heart with so much joy!

The memories I love most, Of course, are the million’s of hugs and “I love you, Mommy’s”.  Each one of those is forever etched into my heart, – they are the most special because they mean you feel loved and cared for.

I am so very proud of you Jenni and so very thankful to God for the blessing you are to me and to all those who know and love you.  The world is a better place because of you.

I love you so my daughter,
And I never cease to pray
That God will guard and keep you safe
Within His love each day.
May you be guided by His word
In all, you say and do
For all the pride of life for me
Is centered, dear daughter…
In you.

Enjoy every year that God gives you for with every passing year come more precious moments and memories and that is what life is all about!

You are this beautiful little soul.  From you, I have learned patience and I have experienced unbridled joy and such amazing happiness.  Just the thought of you makes me smile even to this day.

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby Girl…..wishing you a million more days that reflect the many blessings and possibilities you see.  Praying that God Would Protect, and guide you in Mighty Ways to His Glory.

I love you with all my heart. ❤

Love you, Mom