Get Real!

get real

I’m inspired by a recent conversation with a friend about how we so desperately want to just get real. We crave getting real with each other and with God. There is such a stigma about admitting what we struggle with….

I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church. This was a blessing. But, I was missing a major ingredient to the Christian journey until my early 30s. I went through the motions and was taught to obey a certain set of rules that my brain was told to understand, but my heart was clueless as to why??

I’m thankful for the foundation that was set for me as a child and I don’t blame anyone for my misunderstanding. But, I am eternally grateful that God answered my cries for more as an adult. I had religion and wasn’t overly sold. Something was missing and my heart was aching for more. Turns out, I was missing the relationship part. Relationship is where it gets personal and real. Relationship changes everything.

I visited other churches in hopes that I could find what I was missing. I was willing to change churches just to find it. Thankfully, through a Twelve Steps for Spiritual Healing class offered at our church, I found exactly what I was looking for. Women who struggled like me. A small group of women willing to get real about their issues. We had issues with the church, issues at home, issues at work, issues with ourselves, issues with God. Issues that needed somewhere to go. It was through this group of women, that God started His healing and I opened up to a whole new experience with Him. I believe He led me to this group. I also believe this is why I have a strong passion for women’s ministry now.

As an adult with daughters of my own to raise, I still don’t understand some of the rules we were raised with. There are some I don’t follow anymore. I understand the importance of obedience. I understand the value in seeking the truth. I understand the gift of the Sabbath. But, I had never fully grasped the grace and unfailing love that Jesus has for me. It’s still hard to comprehend. I can only attempt to dish it out as quickly as He pours it in. There is POWER in the Holy Spirit. There is WISDOM in His word. And, there is unfailing LOVE in His sacrifice.

Going to church strictly out of routine can turn into as much of a crutch as not going at all. I didn’t go for years. It felt like more rules to me….I was missing the love factor. The acceptance factor. The grace factor. The “why” factor. Feeling God’s presence in my life and getting to know Him personally has changed everything. Now, I crave going to church because I get to surround myself with people who struggle (like me) and are seeking (like me) and long to worship (like me). That is such a blessing!

Last week I was sitting in my youngest daughter’s Sabbath School class and they were reciting their weekly memory verse. It was John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”. In high school, my head would have translated that verse as “oh no, another verse about following more rules that I don’t understand in order to be loved”. Now, I see how His commands are there BECAUSE He loves me and wants what’s best for me. I want my daughter to desire to obey Him because she is certain of His love for her, not because it’s the only way He will love her. Huge difference!

Thank you, Jesus, for wanting us to get real with You! What a relief and joy it is….

Daddies and Daughters

daddy

This is the best list that I’ve come across to explain the importance of how much daughters look to our daddies for love in the form of approval, acceptance, grace, tenderness, and direction. We CRAVE it. Our earthly fathers have a tremendous responsibility in shaping our hearts for the future. We look to you first for acceptance and approval (especially when we mess up). We look to you to determine our self worth.

Before we learn to seek and look to our Heavenly Father for our sense of worth, we look to YOU. This is why we tend to turn to men that treat us like you do for comfort and eventually marriage. This is why it is SO important when we are young for us to truly feel your love. If you get the privilege of raising a daughter or stepdaughter, learn to love her in her language (it’s probably different than yours), show her how to be treated and what to accept and not accept from a man, fess up when you mess up (this teaches us that humility is honorable), and tell her how beautiful she is (alot)! She will ALWAYS look up to you. She will learn about who God is to her by the way you treat and value her. She will ALWAYS love you fiercely.

Here is the list:

1. How you love me is how I will love myself.
2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer, I need to know you value me before I can understand my true value.
3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to her or not.
4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don’t understand it, so talk to me.
5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.
6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality of men.
7. Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.
8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.
9. How you talk about female bodies when you’re ‘just joking’ is what I believe about my own.
10. How you handle my heart, is how I will allow it to be handled by others.
11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.
12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard myself from men who are not.
13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more than dress size.
14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having a strong voice is acceptable to you.
15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is wrong with it.
16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.
17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you if you do.
18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.
19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a boy can do.
20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.
21. How you treat our dog when you think I’m not watching tells me more about you than does just about anything else.
22. Don’t let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.
23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I need it so much to understand healthy touch.
24. Please don’t lie, because I believe what you say.
25. Don’t avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I’m not worth fighting for.

“It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now MATTERS for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.”

This is priceless information. So true!

He Loves Me THAT Much?!?

mothers love

Something about becoming a mother opened my heart to the love of God like never before in my life. We are all told when we are contemplating or expecting our first babies that we won’t be able to imagine the love we’ll feel when we see our baby for the first time. It’s true and it’s also true when they tell you your love will multiply with the next one. Our love doesn’t split it half, it doubles. It’s hard to imagine that we are even capable of that kind of love. A mother’s love is true love, no doubt. I’ve also come to know, as the rest of you mommies have, that our love grows every day for our babies. How does it continue to increase? How can we love them more today than the day we first laid eyes on them? Once again, it’s true and it’s hard to explain. Just tonight, I felt like my heart might burst when I kissed them goodnight. It’s a crazy love.

I remember standing over Abby’s crib one night when she was just a baby with tears in my eyes trying to contemplate my love for her, just trying to understand it. In that tender moment, I heard God whisper “I love her more.” That brought more tears. How could that be? He loves my baby more than I do?? I was overwhelmed. Thank you, Lord, for loving her! Take care of Her, Lord! Why did you trust her to me? I don’t know how to do this, Lord! All these thoughts and questions came like waves and so did the tears. I was overwhelmed with the fact that He could possibly love her more than I love her. I was still just trying to process the love I had for her.

Over the next few days, He continued to speak to my heart by telling me “I love you that much too.” But, I would argue and dismiss it. No, Lord, it’s not possible. Just love my baby, that’s more than enough. All I could think about was His incomprehensible love for her and I was so grateful! Slowly but surely, He continued to pursue me…….the mommy. Could it be true? He kept telling me “I love you that much too.” We would go back and forth with each other. Lord, if You love her more than I love her, does that really mean You could love me that much too? Really?? Do You really love me THAT much?!? His answer was a resounding “YES.” That’s not just a game changer, that’s a life changer. I’d never felt that kind of love before. It is unexplainable, unconditional, and unfailing. It’s not a love that we can argue with or dismiss. It’s the love that we crave.