My thoughts on Mother’s Day

This time of the year the advertisements and commercials are geared towards Mother’s Day. Things to spoil her and let her know how much you appreciate all that she has done for you. I have been a mother for the past 17 years and enjoy this day very much. My sons take pride in getting me a gift and spoiling me for a day, and I love it!

What I don’t love is the pressure to do something for my own mother on Mother’s Day. No where in the Mother’s Day card section is there one that is appropriate for me to give to my mother.  Our relationship is complicated and messy. Where is the card for the mother who was drunk for most of her daughter’s life? Where is the card for the mother who didn’t say anything when her husband was sexually abusing this daughter? Where is the card for the mother who is hateful and unkind?

Due to the circumstances of my past, I didn’t live close to my mother or talk to her often for almost 17 years. I didn’t like it and constantly felt guilty. After much prayer, I chose to forgive them and released my pain and suffering to God. I felt better, but nothing really changed until a year and a half ago when my father died unexpectantly. Immediately after my father died, I put my life on hold for 6 months as I moved my mom across the country and took over her finances and personal needs. As I chose an assisted living facility just 10 minutes from my family, I had hopes of a new start for our relationship. After almost 17 years apart, I now call and/or visit my mother at least once a week. When her watch stops working or her cat needs litter, I am there for her. When a holiday comes around, she is invited to our house. When she wants spending money, I deliver. If I am unable to call her back or I don’t respond to her request fast enough, she will leave me a rude message on my phone. I try to brush it off and tell my husband and kids, “that’ll be me some day,” but I truly hope it won’t be. Our relationship is not as I imagined and I often feel bitter after a phone call or visit because of the way she speaks to me.

So as this holiday approaches this year, I struggle to feel the sentiments that are associated with Mother’s Day. I can forgive, but I can’t forget.

 

Purpose or desire?

I was at an event at my church this weekend that focused on finding our purpose. How do we know what our purpose is?

 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. Ephesians 1:11-12  (MSG)

I want to hear God’s voice clearly tell me that what I think he’s telling me to do is correct. I want to know that my new passion and vision of writing a book to glorify Him and help other women is the purpose he has for me. But how do we know if it’s really God or just our own desire?

God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 MSG

I pray and ask for wisdom. I pray that my passion for writing this book is the key to my purpose. I pray to ask if the discontent I feel in my current job is God nudging me to try something new.

So fellow bloggers, I want to know what you think. Is our purpose revealed to us as a test of faith?

An invitation

I was at a retreat recently and one of the songs that the worship band sang has been in my head. “Come as you Are,” by David Crowder, invites us to drop what we’re doing and give our burdens to God. When I think about that idea, I can’t help but think about Martha in Luke 10:39-42. I am definitely more like Martha than Mary and often get caught up in the details instead of enjoying the moment.  Before I  go on vacation, I feel the need to clean my house. If I invite you over, I will surely run around for 20 minutes tidying up and cleaning the bathroom before you arrive. So this idea of “come as you are,” makes me feel nervous. As inviting as this is, surely it doesn’t really mean it, right? Youre-invited

So I look back at the the Bible. In the story Jesus doesn’t care what Mary or Martha look like. He doesn’t worry about the food. He just wants to be with them.

Isn’t that refreshing? No need to iron our clothes, straighten or curl our hair, just come as you are. His invitation to us………..

Just come.

Forgiveness- the path to freedom

One Sunday morning I was sitting in church listening to my friend lead the band in worship and although I am far from a good singer, I did my best to join in. I listen to Christian music on the radio and knew most of the songs they sang that day. My husband was smiling and singing next to me and as I scanned the auditorium I recognized many faces. When the worship music ended, I sat down and looked at the program. Before the message even started, I saw the title and could feel my heartbeat quicken. In large letters it said FORGIVENESS. As the Pastor began speaking, I felt as if a spotlig69722d4ebad0ea7969ce6a63006d2481ht was on me. Nothing else was in focus; he was talking to me. He said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14 NLT) I started sweating and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I quickly broke my stare and looked around to see if anyone was looking at me. I gave my husband a weak smile and thought to myself, “How could I possibly forgive my parents for all the pain they’d caused me? They don’t deserve it.”

I began to fidget and move around in my seat. After years of carrying my burden and hurt from a life with an alcoholic mother and abusive father, I didn’t want to forgive them. I felt that they were going to get off easy. As we walked to the car with our four sons, my husband noticed my silence, and quietly asked me if I was ok. When we got home and had some privacy I told him, “I think the Pastor was talking to me. I am supposed to forgive my parents.” I asked him, “How? Why?” He could sense that I was struggling and suggested that I go talk to the Pastor. My gut reaction was no. I said, “Then I’ll have to tell him everything.” I was panic stricken, but knew that I had to ask him how I was supposed to forgive the two people who had caused me so much pain.

As I sat in the Pastor’s office and told him about my complicated relationship with my parents, I asked him the questions that were burning me up. “How do I forgive my parents? Do I have to go see them? After all these years how was I going to even start this conversation?” My Pastor was very sympathetic and told me something that immediately made me feel better. He said, “You’re not alone.” He then explained that by forgiving my parents, I was releasing my pain to God.

My Pastor suggested that I talk to a woman in his office who had a similar past. Telling my story again wasn’t easy, but it was refreshing to talk to someone who had faced a similar past. So after all the years of keeping everything bottled up, I told my story twice in one day. After I came up for air, she gave me a hug and thanked me for sharing. As I wiped my tears, she told me about her parents and while our stories are not exactly the same, we both ended up being hurt by the people who were supposed to love us the most. I asked her what I should do. We both agreed that going to see my parents was not a good idea, and I wasn’t comfortable calling, so I decided write my dad a letter. I felt better as I left my familiar church on that sunny day with a plan to finally forgive my parents. It sounded easy enough, but I must’ve started, stopped, and reworded my letter thirty times. In the letter, I explained that he and my mom didn’t deserve my forgiveness, but that I was tired of suffering from their actions. I emphasized that I didn’t expect anything to change between us. I referenced the Bible and made it clear that the real reason that I was forgiving them was because I needed to put my past behind me. I put the letter in the mailbox and didn’t sleep for two days.  My mind raced. Did I put a stamp on it? What if gets lost in the mail and he never gets it? Will he call me? Are we finally going to talk about everything?

As I realized that it was up to my Dad to respond, a sense of peace hit me. The woman who had encouraged me to write the letter called me to see how I was doing. I responded, “I am free.” I felt that the burden of my past was finally released. As days and weeks passed by, I never heard a response from my letter to my dad, but am confident to this day that I made the right choice by sending it. Six months after hearing the message on forgiveness, my father, (age 74) died from an infection following surgery to fix his broken ankle.

I can’t help but think how different my life would be today if I hadn’t chosen to forgive.

Encouragement on a rainy day

My grandparents lived in California my entire life, and I grew up on the East Coast, so when they came to visit, it was a big deal. When I was 10, they came to visit for Christmas. It was during this trip that my Mimi introduced me to God. When it was time for me to go to bed, Mimi would come in my room at night and we would say a prayer together. I was uncomfortable when I first started talking to God and said, “I don’t know what to say.” She encouraged me to talk to God as if he was sitting on the end of my bed. I remember asking her,” How does God hear everyone’s prayers?” She explained to me that God was like a large umbrella over the entire world. All these many years later, I think of my grandmother and smile on rainy days.umbrella

The good news is that God isn’t just there on rainy days. He’s always with us, during the sunny and cloudy days. On the sunny days (when life is good), we can thank him for all that he has provided us with. On those cloudy days, we need to remember to go to him first with our prayer for guidance, direction and understanding. Looking in the Bible, God never promised us that there wouldn’t be bad days. But he did promise us that he will never leave us or forsake us. He promised that NOTHING is impossible when we follow Him. He promised that you will work out everything for our good. He promised us that His love for us is steadfast and unfailing. All we need is faith!

 

My Journey to Jesus

Jesus asks us to bring him our troubles, worries, and pain.

What would it look like if I did that?

I imagine walking on a long path to see him.

I arrive to his outstretched arms and put down my three suitcases at his feet. Woman-With-Luggage-At-The-Airp-42447106

After we embrace, he tells me that he is happy to see me. He then points to my bags and asks me to open them. Nervous and unsure, my trembling hands slowly open the first suitcase. The contents are in a state of disarray; wrinkled, stained, and dirty. He knows that this is my past. The sexual abuse from my dad, pain from years with an alcoholic mother, and my longing for love were in the bag. He doesn’t recoil with disgust as I expect and motions to the second bag. As I fold back the top to reveal the contents, they are not quite as messy. One half of the bag is folded and packed with care. There is a framed picture of my sons and husband, my Bible, and a large heart. The other side of the bag is not as tidy; there is my relationship with my mom, my self-esteem, and my doubt. Jesus smiles and invites me to open the third bag. I can’t recall what is in this bag and as I open it, I am taken aback as I see thousands of shimmering, sparking gems inside. I look at Jesus in confusion and he nods. As I look in the bag again I see mercy and grace that he promises that I will receive if I remain faithful. This bag contains freedom, joy, and the promise of a future that only He knows.