A Dad’s persevering love

truth
Some of life’s most profound moments can happen in the most ordinary of moments. Like the time my entire life’s truth came undone in the kitchen last year.
I always believed I was unwanted.
A nuisance. The wrong gender, that my dad had wanted a boy and I was a disappointment.
Instead of the son I believed my dad longed for, he got a daughter as his only child. A fair skinned, freckled strawberry blonde daughter; he often shortened my name to Chris, only furthering this belief.
That afternoon at my kitchen table, decades of the wrong thinking came unraveled like a cozy sweater.
Warm and comfortable, but with one loose yarn, the entire thing came unraveled until I was free and understood the truth about myself.

I sat at an angle across from my dad as we sipped from our coffee. We were enjoying the slow-paced afternoon with coffee in my kitchen.

“Dad, do you remember that time that I was staying the weekend with you in Florida, when I was five or six years old, and we were both sick all weekend?”

Seemingly out of nowhere, as I stirred my coffee, a memory of this had flashed before me. “Yes, I remember that. I’m not sure if it was the flu, but you weren’t staying the weekend. It’s when you lived with me in Baton Rouge.”

I quickly shook that off, perturbed. “I never lived with you. I always lived with mom.” My parents divorced when I was very young, and I don’t have any memories of them together as a couple. My earliest memories are always with mom, and living with her.

Dad insisted. “Christi, you lived with me. You don’t remember?” Whatever, Dad. I wanted to know more about this sickly weekend and why we felt so bad. “What happened? Did we have food poisoning?” Dad persisted and asked again if I didn’t remember living with him, which I didn’t. I wish he’d stop saying that!

“Christi, I thought you knew. I thought you remembered. Or I would have told you and talked about it. I never brought it up because I didn’t want to bring up painful memories. I figured if you wanted to talk about it, you’d ask me.”

WHAT?! I sat there, stunned. “What?” I felt as if the world suddenly stopped spinning on its axis. Time had stopped for me. Again, I demanded, “What are you talking about?”

My dad, now over seventy years old, is gentle. He placed his hands on my knees and leaned in. “Christi,” He said my name, as if to stop the surreal experience that had my fragmented memories falling from the sky and bring me back to the present moment. “Christi, do you want me to tell you again what happened?”

 

He explained the early years of my life. My parents had separated when I was young as I’d remembered, but somehow I’d permanently altered other facts in my memory. I had, in fact, lived with my dad for some time.

He had custody of me and after a few years, before I was five, I moved back in with my mom and my new little sister.

I’d completely blocked this out of my memory.

I sobbed with relief as the truth washed over me. “You always wanted me.” He hugged me as I cried. We cried together as he patted my back, “Yes, you have always been my girl, I’ve always wanted you.”

“I never believed that. Now I know. You WANTED me. You FOUGHT for me. I MATTERED to you.” The tears were not from sadness, but more of a filling up that was happening in that very moment in my soul.

I pulled back and looked at my dad. “Do you realize that I’m forty-five years old, and my ENTIRE life I’ve believed the lie that you never wanted me? That you thought I was a nuisance and a mistake and you wished you’d never had me?”

We hugged and talked more. He assured me of the love that he’s always had for me, however imperfect. I felt as if I was walking on air for the next several weeks as I would sing-song to myself, “My daddy loves me. My daddy LOVES me!”

And for maybe the first time, I actually believed it.

 

As this reality has sunk in, the deeper reality of God’s love for me has permeated my soul and mind too. He is a Father, yet a perfect One. His love has persevered when I have believed Him to be mean. He has pursued me and fought for me. His love is costly.

Ordinary Miraculous Moments

No matter our relationship with our earthly dad, or lack of it, our Father God sees us, loves perfectly and powerfully. May we all let this truth sink in so we may live it out.

Healing prayers

God

Have you ever prayed for healing? Maybe you asked God to heal you, or a loved one.

Whether it was a silent plea to what felt like the air, or universe, or whether it was a prayer read aloud from the scripture, you can know that God hears and he cares.

Maybe you, like me, have battled disappointment with God.

If you have prayed earnestly and he didn’t answer your heartfelt requests, it can feel as if God has forgotten or forsaken you.

I know, as I’ve felt that way many times over the past several years.

Four years ago I began having a severe tremor that I’d never had before, and an increasing amount of terrible migraines. If I’m honest, I had never empathized with migraine sufferers before that. The searing pain along with sound and light sensitivity can be maddening and is debilitating.

Soon there were more symptoms. Electric type shocks in my hands and legs. Double vision that made it dangerous to drive, so my friends and kids began to drive me to do errands. My balance was off and I could be quite clumsy and have difficulty standing at times.

My family doctor and neurologist were terrific, although along the way I did see other doctors who implied that the symptoms may be psychological. Eventually, my husband went with me to the Mayo Clinic.

They prescribed a life-altering pair of glasses with a prism that helped correct the double vision. I couldn’t believe the difference and much of the time I could see clearly with the new prism glasses.

During all of this I did the fundamental things that I knew to do as a follower of Jesus. I had laid out my heart with God all of my unconfessed sin, and asked him to show me any sin I was unaware of.

I went to the elders of our church and asked them to anoint me with oil and pray for my healing as the Bible instructs us to do in James.

[James on prayer and healing]

Nonetheless, my healing didn’t come. For these years I wrestled with my beliefs of God. I had come to know God over a decade ago. I had begun to see his character through the scriptures and debunked many of the false ideas I’d had about who he really was.

I rightly began to believe that he is a good father and is always there, even when I don’t feel him or see him at work in my life. This reality stared right in the face of the reality that I wasn’t healed.

I knew and believed that God was able to miraculously heal me. Yet he hadn’t.

Enter disappointment with God. Self doubt and condemnation. Along with well-meant comments from others, this was a recipe for turmoil on my worst days. Did God forget about me? I know I deserve punishment for my sin. Is this as chastisement for something I’ve done?

A month ago I asked God again for healing. I felt a sensation, sort of a wave through my whole body. I shot up the question, “God, are you healing me?” and felt nothing else; heard nothing; sensed nothing.

Later that evening, I flipped my glasses up, then down. Up, then down. I was checking to see if my vision was healed. I wanted so badly for this to be the time. Yet I didn’t want the disappointment again. Nothing, no change.

I woke up the next morning blurry-eyed as usual. Although my vision wasn’t crystal clear, it was better without the glasses than with them! It’s been 5 weeks since then and my vision is still better! I’ve had a day when my vision was very blurry and doubled, yet it was still better without glasses.

Although I’ve still had an occasional migraine in the past five weeks, it is clear that healing is taking place in me. I stand on the truth of what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said in essence when they were commanded to bow down to a statue of God or be thrown into a fiery blaze:

God is able to deliver us from any fiery trial. Even if he does not, he is still worthy of our praise and he is good.

[The king spoke to the three] “But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

(Daniel 3:15 and following, emphasis mine.)

This is a call to persevere in your prayers. God loves you and is concerned with what concerns you.

God is good. Whether he answers our prayers the way we desire or not, his character and heart for us is good and loving. We can’t see everything and understand God’s ways, but we can trust the ancient and relevant words he has given us in the Bible when we don’t get it.

God is listening. God loves you and wants you to turn from self-reliance to relying on him when you are weak.

He is able to deliver and heal, and if not, he is still good.

 

To read more of this story in context, click here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%203&version=NIV

Thoughts

suffering, truth

Most of us have experienced things in our life that cause us pain. I have endured, survived, and thrived after pains, joys, traumas, and the normal ups and downs that are common to man.

For many years I struggled to make sense of traumas in my youth, abuses to me and to people I love. I agonized over trying to make sense and reconcile two realities that I know are true: God is love, and He was there; and there is real evil in the world and there are people who do horrible things.

I can’t tell you exactly when or how it happened, but one day I suddenly realized that I no longer was pained over these two coexisting realities. Glorious freedom and peace ensued. It’s not that I had it all figured out, but just that I made peace with the fact that I would never figure it out.

However, I am faced with the frustration of this type of thing again with physical limitations in my health. I do know that God is love. He is fully aware of my plight and cares for me. At the same time I am not fully healed. This causes me to feel as if my brain is on overdrive at times.

I know that you and I cannot make sense of evil and sickness and suffering in the world and the truth that God is real, He is present and He is all-powerful. My assignment for myself this week is to stop thinking so much and to stop trying to make sense of it all.

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Instead, I will meditate on truths that are real and unchanging. God is good.

Psalm 119:68

You are good, and what you do is good; 

teach me your decrees.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

 

Photo credit: charlottesiems.com

 

God’s love is not more or less

love, MS, Uncategorized

For some reason I tend to have a wrong way of thinking sometimes that God’s love for me is measured by my circumstances. Today is day NINE. Nine good days in a row and I am celebrating!!! Since the beginning of September, I’ve had more physically bad days than good with weird neurological/auto-immune symptoms that look like MS. I detest clichés, but they are cliché because they are true; so bear with me on the following statement: We don’t really appreciate good health until we don’t have it. Right now, I truly appreciate good health.

God loves me just as much on my bad physical days as He does on these good ones. God’s love for me on my wallowing-in-self-pity-ugly-cry-days is not an iota more or less than on a great day like today. Today I power-walked around neighborhood lakes. It was glorious! However, I am reminding myself of this truth: God’s favor and love for me today is no greater than on my days when I could do nothing but lay there on the couch.

God is love. He is always love and always good. The depth of His love and concern for me is never dependent on my circumstances.

What if we really believed what God says?

Christianity, freedom in Christ, love, new creation, religion

Have you believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? That He died for your sins and mine, that He was raised from the dead, conquering death and sin? If so, we can walk in a glorious reality. So often we don’t, though. Do you find yourself just shuffling through life, or maybe racing through it? Same old stuff, different day…it shouldn’t be so!

What if we really believed what God says? What if we not only believed it, but knew it, deep down in our soul?

If you and I believed and knew God’s lavish love for us, then we would act and feel differently.

What if we really knew and believed that we are made new when we are in Christ; how would we think and what would we spend our time doing?

What if we were truly free from caring about what others think, and only concerned ourselves with what God thinks about us?

Maybe our lives would be more compelling and maybe we’d walk in the freedom and abundant life that Jesus promised us.

The apostle Paul illustrates this in a tangible way that is challenging. Remember that before he was Paul, he was Saul of Tarsus, murderer and zealous persecutor of Christians. Imagine that there must have been times that he would reflect on some of the horrible deaths that he had been party to. Surely that would invoke guilt or shame from anyone. Instead, Paul had a radical change of heart and behavior. He went on to be a missionary and wrote a large portion of the New Testament, including many letters to other believers. What’s really mind-blowing is the way Paul describes himself in the introductions that he gives in these letters. I think if I were Paul, I probably would have started my letters awkwardly, something like this: You probably remember me, I used to be a murderer. But don’t worry, I’m not gonna try to kill you or anything, I just want to talk to you about Jesus.

Instead, it seems like Paul was able to grasp the reality that God had made him into a completely new and different person. Paul didn’t define himself by his past, as significant as it was. Check out the first few verses of Romans and how it seems that Paul knew and believed God.

Here is how Paul describes himself:

a servant of Christ Jesus,

called to be an apostle and

set apart for the gospel of God—

He goes on to describe Jesus in his introduction:

who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David

who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.

Don’t you love that Paul is firm in his belief of who he is in this introduction, and then he introduces Jesus? Powerful! So I want to believe and walk in this truth, that I am a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, may you believe it too!

God, help me believe you. Help me know you more.

The lavish love of God

love, Uncategorized

I’m the first to admit that I cannot comprehend the love of God. In spite of that, every once in a while, I will get a glimpse of the lavish love that He has for you and for me.

There’s a young single woman that I have a very close relationship with. A few months ago I was concerned about a romantic relationship she was in. We had a great talk about how she was feeling toward this guy and where it might be headed in the future. For some reason, I candidly asked her, “Are you having a sexual relationship with him?” When it popped out of my mouth I held my breath. Then she answered that no, they weren’t. We moved on to other subjects and had a great time together.

Fast forward a few months, and she called me one afternoon. After the niceties of greeting each other, her tone suddenly changed and she began to cry. Over and over again, she repeated, “Please forgive me, I have sinned against you. I am so sorry, please forgive me.” She sobbed as she repeated this over and over. My heart gushed with compassion and love for her. After this went on for an uncomfortable amount of time, I told her, “Whatever it is, whatever you have done, I love you.  It’s okay, I love you and I forgive you. No matter what. Just tell me what it is that you’ve done.” Then she told me, “I’m pregnant. I am so sorry,” and she continued to cry. Then I joined her in crying as I was feeling so much love for her, and it hurt for me to hear her in pain. Besides that, I know first hand what it’s like to be a young woman who is pregnant and unmarried. I know that the road she is journeying is not an easy one.

Later I thought back many times to this phone call. Could it be that God gushes with love for you and I, as I felt toward this beautiful girl on the phone? It truly didn’t matter what she was getting ready to tell me. I truly felt that no matter what it was, I would forgive and love her. When I think about how finite and puny my human love is compared to God’s, it blows my mind.

Recently I’ve recognized that it’s hard for me to accept God’s great love for me. I know that I don’t get it, but I want to! I have started asking Him this week to help me accept His love, to understand it, and to experience it. I tend to think too much inside the box on this, as if somehow God were like me and limited in His ability to love. Then I remember that He is love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8