Posted in Blog, Encouragement/Motivation, Faith & Religion

‘Tis the Season for Writer’s Block

Due to my brain being preoccupied with decorating, and wrapping, and visions of sugar plums, I am suffering with a temporary case of writer’s block.  I’ll keep this one short and sweet, so all of you can spend more time enjoying your prepping and planning, too!  I’d like to share why Christmastime is so special to me, and to embrace this season of giving, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the giving heart of God.

We all know that God gave us the ultimate gift, when He gave us His One and Only Son as a living sacrifice on Calvary.  That is no little trinket or stocking-stuffer!  However, the “season” of giving began long ago with three kings who also had giving hearts.  There is some confusion about birth dates and about whether or not the Three Wise Men should be a part of our holiday nativity display, but this isn’t that kind of blog post.  Suffice it to say, this is the time of year that most of us celebrate the birth of our Savior, and the three kings who wanted to find baby Jesus to worship Him and lavish Him with gifts of love and adoration are a big part of that story.

I’d like to say that the example the three kings set for us is the reason I like to bestow gifts upon my children at this time of year, but that just isn’t my truth.  Remember, I did not grow up in a Christian home, and although I knew that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, that’s pretty much all I knew.  I grew up with the magic of Santa, and reindeer, and overflowing stockings of goodness.  Until my mother remarried, we weren’t very well off. I found out later in my adulthood that she would often have toast and hot tea for dinner, so I could have a full meal. But for as long as I can remember, my mom made Christmas the most magical day of the year for me.  Somehow, despite being a woman of very little means, lots of beautiful, wonderful gift boxes covered in bright, festive wrapping paper managed to suddenly appear under our tree every Christmas morning.  It didn’t stop when she remarried, either… it may have gotten even better!

Because of my sketchy memory, I obviously don’t remember specifics.  I would assume that very few people do remember specifics from that age, save for the really special Christmases when a shiny new bike would appear or perhaps that beautiful new baby doll.  But it isn’t the specifics that really matter to me.  It was the feeling I got.  That feeling of joy and excitement that made its way from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.  It wasn’t just on Christmas day that I began to feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it was ongoing throughout the entire season itself.  Everyone seemed a little more joyful, there were festive lights everywhere, and it was a pretty big deal back then to see cartoon specials on TV at nighttime!  Even the songs on the radio were jolly, and to this day, I’m ready for Christmas music as early as the first day of Autumn! 

It wasn’t so much the gifts under the tree that I wanted to pass down to my children, though that was a big part of the magic for me, but it was the spirit of Christmas.  It was that build of excitement and the feeling that all was right with the world.

I followed in my mother’s footsteps, and every Christmas morning, brightly wrapped packages were strewn from under the tree to the tops of the living room furniture.  (I had three children, after all.)  It was so exciting for me that I started our own tradition of letting the girls open up one little gift on Christmas Eve simply because I couldn’t wait for morning any more than they could. 

Although their Mom and Dad surely contributed to the piles of wishes-come-true every Christmas, the really “good” stuff always came from Santa Claus.  The one or two really big, exciting things that were the desires of my girls’ hearts were always from Santa, and that’s not to say that they didn’t know the true meaning of Christmas.  We were always sure to tell them the story of Jesus’ birth, and our oldest, who was about five or six at the time, went as far as to leave a note for Santa making sure that even he knew that Christmas was really all about Baby Jesus, and Mary, and “Jofess.”

One of my favorite images that floats around this time of year is of Santa Claus, hat in hand, kneeling down beside the manger where Baby Jesus lay.  Even Santa was giving honor where honor was due!

But in my mind, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t let my kiddos feel the magic that I cherished so dearly growing up?  I know there is a debate among Christians about whether or not letting your children believe in Santa is just like lying to them.  I suppose it is, for all intents and purposes, but this isn’t that kind of blog post, either.  Suffice it to say, there really was a Saint Nicholas long ago, so I didn’t really see any harm in keeping his spirit alive.

There is also the ongoing debate that some parents who go crazy trying to find that hot , hard-to-find holiday toy item should get the credit for all their efforts- not some old guy in a red suit who gets flown around by magical reindeer.  But I must tell you, no matter what time I had to get up in the morning on “Black Friday,” and no matter how many stores I had to travel to in order to get my hands on that one special thing, it was always Santa who had come to the rescue.

For me, it wasn’t about taking credit for making sure I nabbed the freckle-faced Cabbage Patch doll with the purple dress, green eyes, and red corn silk hair.  For me, it was about the magic that I got to feel every time I saw that look on those precious faces.  The smiles that went all the way up to their eyes.  Sometimes, a gift was so special that it brought tears of joy along with the wide, toothy grin.  Doing that for my children is what kept the magic alive for me well into my adulthood.

Why do I tell you all this?  Because God honors those with giving hearts.  I’m not just talking about the people who give to charities or put extra offerings in the collection bags at church, either. Although, yes-of course, God honors those givers abundantly! But the bible straight out tells us that we love to give good gifts to our children.  (See Matthew 7:11) God knows we love to bestow gifts upon our children, because He made us that way! He knew how much it meant to me to give my children magical Christmases, and that means it was important to Him, too. And He provided those for us more times than I can count.

One year, we were one of the chosen families to receive a large trash bag full of brand new, unwrapped toys from our church.  Then in 2009, we were going through financial hardship due to traveling back and forth to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland with a sick child.  Someone shared our story with a local Lion’s Club Association, and we were chosen to receive over $400 in checks and gift cards that were donated by club members.  Still another time, we were visiting an uncle, and without even having to ask him, he loaned us $1000 cash so we could give our children a great Christmas that year.  We didn’t have to pay him back until we got our income tax return a couple months later.

Years ago, we were purchasing a van from a different family member who no longer needed it.  The van was in like-new condition at the time, and we needed a larger vehicle for our growing family.  He was selling it to us for a fraction of what he had paid, but it was still a significant amount on which we had to make payments.   We had been paying on it for a while- at least a year or so, and it was going to be paid off soon.  One day in late November, out of the blue, he decided to not only wipe out the rest of the debt, but he paid us back, in full, for all the payments we had made up until that point!  He ended up giving us, not only the van, but God used him to give us a great Christmas, too!

There are dozens of stories just like these that I could share, and it’s not just at Christmastime, either.  When my husband lost his job this past May, he attended a men’s fellowship breakfast, which he hadn’t ever been able to do before because of having to be at work so early.  Our Pastor handed Greg an envelope, and in it was a gift from an anonymous donor who had asked Pastor not to reveal his identity.

Greg waited until we were together to open it, and when we did, we found $700 in cash!  It may sound like an odd number, but to us, it was very significant.  Greg had always remembered that the number seven meant completion, and he took it as a sign from God that he no longer had to worry about finding employment.  We knew that God had a plan, and it was a “done-deal” no matter how many other applicants there were!  Besides that, $700 was the exact amount of money we needed to pay an important bill that was coming up due before we had a chance to defer the payment because of the job loss.

God is good all of the time!  And He has so many different ways of blessing us!  God works in mysterious ways, and He often uses other people as His vessels of blessing.  Wouldn’t you love to be one of those people?  I heard in an old movie once, “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”  Even a smile to someone who isn’t expecting it can be a big blessing in their day.  Think of our poor department store workers who are dealing every day with grumpy shoppers, layaway pickups, sticky carts, and swarms of children who are begging their parents for toys as they walk through the store.   

In this season of magic and joy and giving, challenge yourself to think of a way to be a blessing in someone’s life.  Maybe even think twice about walking by the bell ringer’s bucket without dropping in a few coins.  If you can’t give monetarily, maybe you can offer your time to someone in need.  If nothing else, you can always pray for those who are less fortunate. 🙂

Give a little bit more of yourself this holiday season, and keep your eyes open for blessings that might come back your way, too!  God loves a joyful giver, and He loves to lavish gifts upon His children.  Besides this being the season for writer’s block, it is also the season of giving!  So, keep your heart and mind open to receive, because you just might be surprised to see where your next blessing might come from!  

If you have any miraculous stories of God’s giving heart, we would love to have you share them! Please comment below if God has ever provided for you in an unexpected way!

Posted in Blog, Faith & Religion

Birthday Blues

Balloons    We are now just over a month away from my next birthday.  As the day draws closer, I can feel myself start to fill with sorrow.  Not because I’ll be another year older, which, let’s be honest, is a problem for a lot more people than we realize, but because it is now, and forever, the anniversary of my dad’s passing.  Actually, I could feel the sorrow start to creep in as soon as the weather changed.  I felt it come on full blast when football season started, because it’s now just a blaring reminder that my dad didn’t get to see the Eagles win the Super Bowl.

Honestly, I am well aware that there are several people who will never understand my sadness at such a loss, for he was never really a big part of my life anyway.  If you read my blog post entitled His Princess, it gives a short synopsis of why my dad abandoned me when I was a baby.  To make a long story very short, he had suffered with a debilitating addiction to drugs and alcohol.  However, there is so much more to the story- his story, and mine.

I moved to the mountains of Pennsylvania when I was twelve years old, and as I met new people and made new friends, I began to realize that I didn’t really know a lot about my past.  As my friends and I continued to nurture our growing relationships and learn more about each other, I noticed that the memories I had of my “real dad” were few and far between.

I spent most of my childhood days at my maternal grandmother’s house, and one memory I have of my dad, that is still so prevalent today for some reason, is of the day he showed up to see me while eating a dog bone.  Yes, my dad was eating a big, crunchy Milkbone.  I remember worrying that he wasn’t getting enough food to eat.  There was another time he showed up eating an apple, and I was shocked to see him down the whole thing in a matter of seconds- core and all!

I was always so excited to see him, because it didn’t happen often.  My mother would tell me of times I would be playing in my grandmother’s yard and he would walk right by me.  I would yell for him like a banshee, but he kept on walking as if he never even heard me.  Once in a blue moon he would call me to tell me he was coming to see me.  I would plant myself on the front steps of my grandmother’s porch and never move a muscle.  I wouldn’t go in to use the bathroom, and I certainly wouldn’t go in for dinner.  I wouldn’t budge for fear of missing him.  Needless to say, just because he said he was coming, didn’t necessarily mean he was going to show up.

That’s how my relationship was back then with my dad… a long string of broken promises and missed birthdays.  I never got angry with him, though.  I was always so happy to see him on the rare occasions that he did come around; there was no way I was going to waste precious moments with him by being angry.  I do remember that each time he showed up, he professed his undying love to me and promised that things would be different from there on out.  Although, they never were.

What makes this story even more interesting is that when he wasn’t living on the streets, he was staying with his mom.  My grandmothers’ houses were just around the corner from each other, so when I was old enough to realize that, I spent my afternoons wondering if he was there.  One time I even escaped on my bicycle, hoping I would remember the way to Grandmom’s house and praying that my daddy would be there.  They were both so elated when I knocked on the door that day!  (But when he returned me later that afternoon, my mother and grandparents were NOT so elated that I had done that!)

Truth be told, I didn’t care that I scared the daylights out of them when I disappeared.  I loved my dad; I had him on a pedestal, actually, and I wanted to see him every single chance I could.  I eventually learned the truth about his addiction, but I accepted that things were the way they were back then because he was very sick.

When he got clean later in life, he even found a way to come see me up in the mountains when he could.  He had lost his driver’s license long ago, and he had no car, anyway, so in my eyes, it was no small feat that he found his way to me.  He was so remorseful and admitted there was no excuse for what he had done.  He asked for my forgiveness, but I honestly didn’t think there was anything to forgive.  His actions were dictated by his drug and alcohol abuse, not by a lack of love for me.

From that point forward, we were working hard to rebuild our relationship- to make up for the time we had lost.  So, when I became an adult, Greg and I would hop in the car and take the three-hour drive to go see him in Philly.  He had fought to get clean and stay that way, and he had been living with my grandmother again, helping to take care of her.  She never gave up on him, and neither did I.  And I wanted him to have a different relationship with my children than he had with me.  I wanted him in their lives, so we did what we could to make that happen.  As they grew older, we started to have my dad come and stay with us for a week over Christmas.

Things were finally going so well- too well.  It wasn’t long before my dad’s poor life choices caught up with him.  He had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C first, and later, with Cancer.  I would spend the rest of my time with him just watching him wither away.

As he was nearing the end, I prayed and prayed that he would not pass away on my birthday.  My birthday was on a Saturday that year.  I remember it, because we would have gone down to see him at the nursing home that day had we not already had a college visit with our daughter previously scheduled.  We planned to drive down on Sunday instead… but that Sunday drive never happened.

I clearly remember being in the car on our way to Slippery Rock when I got the call.  My husband got the call, actually.  We both thought it was odd that my aunt would call Greg’s phone instead of mine, but I’m the one that picked up anyway since Greg was driving.  In hindsight, I guess I should have known right away why she would call my husband instead of me.  When I answered Greg’s phone, she sounded shocked at first, like she had dialed the wrong number by mistake.  She clearly said she was trying to reach Greg, but after I explained that he was driving, she said the four words that I will hear every November 21st until I’m gone from this earth.  “Daddy died this morning.”

Um, come again?  That can’t be right.  We were going to go down to see him the very next day.  I had been discussing this moment with God on a daily basis, and He knew full well that I did NOT want Him to take my dad on my birthday.

I spent the rest of the drive in shock, I think.  I don’t really remember much after the phone call.  I tried my best to pay attention to what we were being told at the various sessions we attended during the college visit, but the thing I remember the most is when my aunt called back later to ask me if I wanted my dad cremated or if I wanted to have a viewing.

Everything after that is like a blur.  When I think about that time in my life, I am plagued with the memories of things that happened right before his passing.  When we had gone down to see him the previous week at the nursing home, he wanted to walk us to the door when we left, but I said no.  I could clearly see he was already so tired from the visit, and I didn’t want to wear him out any more than he already was.

That was the last time I saw him.  I am now consumed with the thought of, “If I had said yes, I would’ve had just a few more minutes with him.”  I try to replay the last words I ever spoke to him, and I wonder if there was anything I left out.  Is there anything more I could have said to give him, and well, myself, more peace?

When we went down to see him the weekend before that, I had found that he’d been hiding pain medication in his socks.  I took them away from him because of his past drug history.  I was so afraid he would become addicted again, but who did I think I was?  I had no right to do that to him.  I had no idea what kind of pain with which he had been suffering every day.  I made his fight against cancer that much worse.  Could I have contributed to his death by not only increasing his pain, but also agitating him when I took his pain medication away?

I started writing this blog six days ago.   Usually I can get something written in an hour or so, but this one… this one was giving me trouble.  You see, the purpose of my blog is to educate, edify, and encourage.  I was trying so desperately to figure out how I was going to be encouraging, when I was in such a bad place myself.  Originally, I had planned on simply reminding you all that we’re doing this together- learning life together- and I don’t have all the answers.  But then something happened.

Until now, I had tried comfort myself by believing that it wasn’t God “taking” my dad away on my birthday, but rather, it was my dad hanging on with every ounce of strength he had left, so he could make it to see one more of my birthdays.  Until now, I was plagued with the sorrow that came with the thought of him dying alone in an unfamiliar place.  I hated that he died alone in that nursing home, and I’d been trying to picture what it was like for him to Jesus coming toward him with open arms.  But still… that imagery left me feeling like God took him away from me forever.

I know for a fact that Jesus came and took my dad to paradise, because my father gave his heart to Christ years prior.  I know it was a tremendous struggle for a very long time, though.  Whenever my grandmother or I would try to talk to him about salvation, he would just hang his head and say, “Jesus doesn’t want me.”  I couldn’t imagine anyone feeling so badly about themselves or about their past mistakes that they would believe Jesus wouldn’t want them.  How tragic to know there are still people in the world today who truly believe that.  People who don’t understand God’s nature and His unconditional love and faithfulness.  People who don’t understand the whole reason behind God’s plan to send us Jesus!

I realized later that it wasn’t a matter of God not being able to forgive my dad, but it was a matter of my dad not being able to forgive himself.  He had asked the Lord to forgive him, but he just wasn’t able to accept the forgiveness that God so freely gives.

Finally, FINALLY, after years of prayer and prodding, he was able to forgive himself and accept God’s grace and mercy and sacrifice!  As if that weren’t enough to cause us all to rejoice, my dad was later baptized.  He was baptized at my home church, in fact, just one short month before his death.  He had been up to stay with us for a week, because we had been trying to extend his visits to more than just once yearly at Christmastime.  I was glad he was here, too, because he wasn’t doing well at all, and I truthfully didn’t think he’d be able to make it back up for Christmas that year, anyway.  I was right.

I had finally gotten my dad back, and then, in the blink of an eye, I had to let him go again.  I had spent my childhood crying after his sporadic visits because I never knew when I would see him again.  After his death, I cried because I knew I never would.

I mentioned above that “something happened.”  Something happened to change my perspective about this whole situation.  That something was my daughter and son-in-law who came over one night to watch the 2018 film I Can Only Imagine.  My daughters and I saw it in the theaters when it first came out, and I bought the DVD as soon as it was released.  It was still in its packaging when Brittany and Will came over that night.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the film adaptation of the story behind Bart Millard, of the band MercyMe, and how he came to write the most-played song in the history of Christian radio.  According to, not only Wikipedia, but also the information given to us in writing at the end of the film, the song I Can Only Imagine has been certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and as of April, 2018, has sold over 2.5 million copies.

Bart wrote that song for his father, Arthur, who had physically and mentally abused him all his life, but who later found redemption in Christ and became a new man.  Arthur was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and according to the storyline in the movie, had refused treatment.  The film depicts the journey that Bart and Arthur took together as they worked to repair their relationship.  In one of Bart’s journal entries, he wrote, “I finally have the dad I always wanted, and now he’s being taken away.  How is that fair?”  Oh my, how I could relate to that!  And I was tortured by the reality that my dad had overcome a horrific drug addiction just to later be taken by cancer.

When Bart’s Memaw, referring to her son, asked Bart, “Can you imagine what he’s seeing right now,” the seed was planted, and I Can Only Imagine was born.  Until now, whenever I listened to that powerful worship song, I would try to envision what it would be like for me to see Jesus.  What would my heart feel?  Would I dance for Jesus, or would I be still in awe of Him?  Would I sing hallelujah?  Would I be able to speak at all?

Since re-watching the film and reflecting on how closely Bart’s story resembled my own, I began to think of the song differently.  I began to think of my dad’s final moments differently.  Instead of dwelling on the belief that my dad died alone, I started to wonder… what was it like for my dad to see Jesus?  After such a hard life and even harder death, what did his heart feel when Jesus came for him?

I can only imagine… what was it like when Jesus walked by my dad’s side?  What did his eyes see when the face of Jesus was before him?  My dad wasn’t alone; he was surrounded by God’s glory.  Did my dad stand in the presence of Jesus, or did he fall to his knees?  Either way, I can now envision Jesus picking my dad up and wrapping him in His loving arms, taking away his pain, once and for all.  I can envision my dad’s body being whole again- a smile on his face.  I can envision his soul being whole- a smile in his heart.  For the first time since my dad’s passing almost four years ago, I can imagine him, arm in arm with Jesus, smiling at me as if to say, “I’m okay.  I made it, and I’m OK.  It’s time for you to be okay, too.”

It’s time for YOU to be OK, too.  Whether you’re someone who mostly resembles Arthur Millard or my own father- bound by guilt and shame, or you’re someone who mostly resembles Bart and me- suffering with pain and loss, Jesus wants to set you free.  There is no greater joy than the joy that comes when you give your heart to Christ.

When you let Jesus come into those broken places that only He can soothe, a divine healing takes place.  Even writing this blog post was cathartic for me, and it was no accident that the unwrapping of that DVD was carefully planned and calculated by our Father in Heaven.

He knows me better than I know myself, and He knew what I needed when I began to write this post as an outlet for my pain.  The earth is God’s footstool, yet He is El Roi, the God who sees me.  He also sees you.  He loves you, and as the Author of your own redemption story, He wants to take you into His arms and heal those broken places like only He can.  Let Him in, won’t you?  And if you have already given Him your heart, give Him your pain, too.  Just imagine being surrounded by His glory.

To hear the life-changing chart topper, I Can Only Imagine, click here.  To purchase your own copy of this movie that I believe everyone should own, click here.  To learn more about how to give your life to Jesus and let Him heal your heart, please visit my Jesus and You page.  For the first time since my Dad died four years ago, I can truly and wholeheartedly smile with joy and gratitude when I think of my dad’s final moments, and I thank you for taking this journey with me.  God bless.

 

 

Posted in Blog, Faith & Religion

He Sighed

When I do my scripture reading and devotions, I like to journal a little bit about what I read.  A tip I received from my mother based on the method her Sunday School uses, is to use the acronym SOAP.  S is for the Scripture verse(s) that spoke to me from that day’s reading.  I always write down the passage and the reference.  O is for Observation.  I write out my reflection on the passage.  I briefly journal about why it spoke to me and what I think God is trying to tell me with the passage.  A is for Application.  After I think about what the verse(s) meant to me, I write out how I’m going to apply it to my life.  What did I learn from it?  What can I do differently based on what I learned?  P, of course, is for Prayer.  I always follow up my morning reading with a short prayer regarding everything I wrote.  If it’s something I need to improve on in my own life, I ask God for help.  If it’s something that newly occurred to me, I thank God for the revelation.  You get the idea. 

I may not be the quickest reader when it comes to Scripture, but my goal is not to get through the Bible as quickly as possible.  I like to take it in “chunks” and really digest what I’m taking in as I read.

As I was reading my daily scriptures the other day, I was thinking about what I was going to write about the passage, because it was a rather odd portion that happened to stand out to me on that day.  I wondered how I would “reflect” on this particular part of the passage, because this time it was only two simple words that really struck me.  The more I wondered how I was going to reflect on them, however, the more I actually began doing it.

The specific verse was Mark 7:34, where Jesus was healing a deaf man with a speech impediment.  The verse reads, “Looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said, ‘Ephphatha,’ which means, ‘Be opened.” (NLT)

The two words that caught me here were He sighed.  Every word that comes from God is important, so the fact that He wanted us to know that Jesus sighed in this moment is not irrelevant, and I was trying to decipher what was going on in Jesus’ mind at the time.  Why do people usually sigh?  Was Jesus bored?  Frustrated?  Feeling defeated?  Tired, perhaps? 

I tried to picture it in my head, and I read the verse again.  “Then, looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said…`Be opened.”

Then I pictured myself doing the same thing.  I physically- literally- tried out different types of sighs until I found one that felt right.  I don’t think Jesus was getting tired or frustrated.  Or maybe He was; He was human, too, after all.  But if you read the passages around that particular verse, you’ll see that He had been healing people all over the place.  He didn’t mind, of course.  Jesus came to bring healing.  However, down in verse 36, we see that “Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more He told them not to, the more they spread the news.” (Mark 7:36)

Now isn’t that just like us humans to do the exact opposite of what God tells us to do?  But did Jesus get angry?  Nope.  Did He stop healing people because they didn’t listen?  Nope.  Now… isn’t that just like our God to keep on giving even though we didn’t do what He asked of us?  I believe that Jesus sighed because He already knew that everyone was going to keep spreading the news.  I wonder if He sighed as if to say, “Come on, Dad.  We’re on.  Let’s do it again.”  It was inevitable that He was going to heal this deaf man from Galilee, and it’s a given that He was going to keep on healing the masses, because that is Who… He… Is.  He is our loving healer, who is still healing people to this very day.

I think this little story gives us insight into God’s character.  As a parent myself, I often like to look at God from the perspective of His child.  I know that God is also my friend, my brother, and many other wonderful things.  But when I think of God as my heavenly Father, it helps me to remember His patience, love, mercy, kindness, and faithfulness.

When I think about my own children, I know that even when they disappoint me- or even outright disobey me- there is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.  I would never get tired of helping them, and I would kiss every single boo-boo away if I could!  (I’ve often said I wish I could put them in a bubble!)  If we feel that way in our humanness, how much more does our Heavenly Father feel that way about us?

I have this nasty habit of beating myself up when I think I’ve disappointed God, and I often refrain from asking for things in prayer because I feel I don’t deserve it, or I didn’t earn it.  If you know anything about God’s character at all, you would know that it is just absurd to think that way!  There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to earn or deserve His love and good gifts.

I mostly get this way when I know I haven’t read His Word faithfully every day.  I feel that if I don’t give Him the time He deserves, how dare I even think about asking Him for anything.  But you know what?  I have a teenage daughter who spends just about every moment of every day in her bedroom.  It’s even difficult for me to get a hug out of her, because physical touch is not her love language.  But would I ever think she had no right coming to me for her wishes and desires?  Absolutely not!  It is my heart’s desire to lavish her with the things that make her happy!

Why is it so difficult for us to believe that God feels the same way about us?  And even more so?  He created us in His image, and He is the one that put those feelings of love, tenderness, and devotion in our hearts.  If that is all true, then He must have love, tenderness, and devotion in His heart- even more than we can imagine.

I am not saying I’m an expert at this.  I still have to work at it every day.  Self-image was never one of my strong suits, and I have a bad habit of thinking I’m unworthy.  God has had words with me more times than I count when it came to how I viewed myself.  To put it plainly, He has beaten me over the head with His truth!

If you read my story and learn more about my history and upbringing, you would understand why I tend to feel unworthy.  But I’m here to tell you to not be like me!  Sometimes I wonder if God gets frustrated with me because I just don’t “get it.”  Does He sigh when He has to tell me, yet again, how special I am to Him and how beautiful I am, because I am made in His image?  Does He sigh when he has to remind me all the time that He has a plan for me?

Sometimes I sigh when I have to repeat words of affirmation to my daughters.  I sigh when I have to tell them for the one hundred twelfth time that each one of them is beautiful and special and created for a purpose.  I don’t sigh because I’m frustrated with them, and I don’t sigh because I’m tired of saying it.  I think I sigh because I’m a little sad that they don’t believe it themselves sometimes.  They don’t see what I see when I look at them.

And we don’t see what God sees when He looks at us.  Maybe Jesus sighed that day because He was sad, too.  Maybe He was sad that there were so many people with so many different ailments.  The truth is, I don’t have the answer to why Jesus sighed; I can only speculate.  The “why” is not written, just that He did it.  And maybe that’s the way God wanted it.  He wants us to take that time to reflect on His words, because each one is important.

Maybe He wants us to know that He gets sad, too, sometimes.  Maybe He wants us to realize it is His will that all should be healed, and He didn’t pick and choose who was going to have what ailment.

My “ailment” has always been my eating disorder.  Compulsive overeating- it most definitely affects my health and well-being.  I don’t blame God for the food addiction; finding comfort in food was my choice.  Furthermore, God didn’t make my abusers mess with my body, mind, and heart, and yes, I know what they did to me made Him sad.  But they did those things because God gives us free will, and not everyone is always going to do the right thing, or for lack of better terms, not do the wrong thing. 

But, how I respond to what happened is what really matters.  I can’t undo it, so I can only move forward.  More importantly, what happened to me does not define who I am.  I am created in God’s image.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am God’s precious child, and that makes me a princess.  I believe it makes God sad when I forget that or even doubt it, so I made it my mission to make sure no one else ever does.

I write this blog so everyone who reads it knows that they are loved, and they have a purpose.  Today’s blog was written so that whoever reads it is inspired to take a closer look at the seemingly insignificant words that are found in their bible passages.  God is always speaking to us; sometimes we just need to be still and listen.

What is He telling you today?  Is He trying to get your attention?  Is He gently “calling you out” because you are not accepting of His unconditional love?  Do you have trouble seeing yourself the way that He sees you?  What is the ailment that holds you back from living up to your potential and purpose?  I would love to hear about it, so please comment below!