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.

Two FRESH new ways to be an annoying Christian

Christianity

I’m good at annoying people. Sometimes I repel people from Jesus, the very thing, the very Person, I’d like to compel them to without even trying. How about you?

I was thinking that some of you may not have the gift of annoyance like I do. #blessed 

This blog is for you, dear brothers and sisters.

Here are a couple of ways that I’ve found are good at repelling people from Jesus.

Do these faithfully and you’re sure to succeed at being annoying for the cause of Christ:

  1. Use Christian-ese or churchy lingo so that ordinary people have absolutely no idea what you’re saying.

For example:

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I’ll use a conversation for a church announcement to illustrate this point.

“Ladies, if you want to be a woman of the Word, come Friday to fellowship with us. You’ll be blessed as we share time together.

Get prayed up and show up, and bring your lost friends because you are the only Bible that someone might read.”

I think this one is self explanatory.

What the heck does this mean, you may ask?

If you don’t know, then you need to get yo-self to CHURCH and start taking notes on our lingo right away so you can speak it fluently.

 

2. Love the sinner, hate the sin. I’ve actually said this. (gasp)

One of the problems with this is that I don’t see it anywhere in Scripture.

Yeah, I’m REAL good at annoying people. I’ve turned off my fair share of people from Christianity and from Jesus when I get all Pharisee-ical. See, I did it again!

That’s Church lingo for: legalist, person who looks down on others for not following the letter of the law perfectly and shuts people out for the very cause they are zealous for in doing so.

Don’t tell me you’ve done it, too? Told someone that you think they are great, but you don’t agree with their lifestyle. If this is you, maybe we can start a support group for Annoyers Anonymous.

How about if we do what Jesus did, and just love people?

Care about them and what concerns them? Period.

Right now, just as they are. Not in spite of a lifestyle, or choices. Because that’s one of the things I love most about Jesus.

He doesn’t require me to clean myself up from my sin before I approach Him, although He is Holy and could require that from me.

He wants me to turn to Him and away from my sin, but He still seeks me and you and each lowest-of-the-low person before we’ve even thought about turning to Him.

He simply loves me, and you, and the person that’s [fill in the blank] just as we each are. Right now.

He doesn’t like sin, but He also doesn’t say stuff like “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

By the way, that’s all of us. Not one of us is without wrongdoing.

When we aren’t able, or don’t FEEL love for people of a certain category, then maybe the problem is us, not them.

This is a red flag to ask ourselves, “What’s going on in my heart that I’m making Christ’s love for them conditional based on _______? (fill in the blank with behavior, lifestyle, or looks)

I don’t have the power to love people without God or without Christ in me. His love overflows from me, out to others.

Don’t be an annoying Christian. Unless you want to repel people from Jesus. If you do, these are two very successful methods I’ve used through the years.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Christine

coffeewithchristine.com

 

 

 

Jesus in a corner

Christianity, Christmas, Uncategorized

Sometimes we put Jesus in a corner. Or an attic.

I find myself doing that sometimes, literally and figuratively. I was ALL happy with myself three days after Christmas when I took all the decor down and put almost all of it in boxes.

Since I’ve de-glittered the house, and still had packed up boxes of Christmas decor out in view, I’ve thought about how we treat Jesus sometimes.

I packed up my nativity scene from the dining table and had Baby Jesus tucked safely in styrofoam. You could still see him because I didn’t put away the styrofoam completely in the box for a while.

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I’m missing a piece, but I don’t think anyone noticed this Christmas. The most important Person was in the scene….Jesus.

After I procrastinated a couple of weeks, I taped up the tired Christmas tree box and put it all the way in the back of the attic. We won’t need it for 11 months, and I wanted it out of the way.

I wonder how often we do this with Jesus in our lives. We have seasons and times that we give Him the spotlight. He’s the focus, the reason, our everything. We may give Him full and complete access to every part of our hearts and lives.

Little by little, though, sometimes we put him in a corner. Subtly.

It doesn’t happen on purpose. At first.

But when we begin to struggle with anger, or disappointment, or hurt, we may shun Jesus a little because we don’t want to forgive. Or we don’t want to face our part and change. Or we want justice, and that feels right.

Jesus may be put into a corner because we begin to get busy. It is, after all, a new year. New goals, health focus, workouts, check my social media feed, work, sports, kids activities, hobbies, gotta check my phone again.

Distractions. Not on purpose, but it happens sometimes.

Sometimes giving Jesus full access to our hearts feels scary. Paradoxically. Because there’s no one more trustworthy than the One who crafted and created us. He knows the deepest parts of us, every longing and worst thought, yet lavishly loves us.

Intentionality. If you and I want to keep Jesus front and center in our lives, it will take the choice to be intentional. Carving out time to be with Him. Choosing to focus my thoughts on Him during my everyday tasks.

Brother Lawrence in Practice of the Presence of God explains this much better that I can. It’s a short and sweet, very practical read.

Will you and I put Jesus in a corner, or way back in the recesses of our heart’s “attic”?

May we people who seek Him with our whole hearts, forsaking other stuff that doesn’t really matter. May we be people who REST and soak in His presence.

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I know I was thinking this the whole time. How about you?

Confessions of a Prodigal Mom

God

Venting the ugly stuff. We all have moments or times of less than beautiful thoughts that flow into emotion.

Who do you tell your most hideous, soul-bearing junk to? When your gut feels tied into knots, or your thoughts and feelings are more complex than a knot of hair that’s got gum stuck in it…

I pour out my heart to God. Cry the ugly cry that has more snot than tears. A guttural cry that comes from the deep place.

The sobs that rack my body, they overwhelm me and it feels like I’ll never stop, yet it’s over just a few minutes later.

I’m spent, yet raw with emotion. I find relief, knowing that He already knew the hurt, the frustration, the sadness that was there.

He didn’t need me to tell Him, but when I did, a knotted place in my soul emptied out and made room for hope.

My mind cannot comprehend His vastness, His great love, or what He could possibly be accomplishing through my life, and yet I know for certain that there is something.

This is my psalm to Him. Crying out, emptying all of my angst to Him, then looking up with expectant hope.

Yes, there is joy amidst the sorrow. For He is good.

 

Love my man!

love, marriage, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! photo by Christian

I’ll be completely honest with you…I’m just excited to have a decent picture of Herschel and I together. So excited that I had to post it here for you! As our kids have gotten older, we’re able to have more and more spontaneous dates and time together. We love that we get to spend more time alone as a couple as they grow. But there’s something really fun about getting dressed up for a special date.

Company Christmas party got us out of the normal “Hey it’s just the two of us, so let’s go to Chipotle for a salad” date. I love those times. But the occasional special date night can sometimes give us a fresh perspective!

I love this man!

commitment, love, marriage

Marriage is not for sissies. Anyone who’s been married for a couple of years or more will tell you that! It took me about a year of being married to learn this. Okay, it probably only took me a month or so, because I quickly learned that it wasn’t really like Disney’s Cinderella movie where we’d ride off in our carriage together into the sunset and live “Happily Ever After”.

Here's what I thought marriage was

I was pretty shocked when we got back from our honeymoon and there weren’t birds singing in chorus as I did my chores around the house. Very disappointing that squirrels, birds, and friendly mice didn’t help me get dressed each morning. Seriously, I think I watched Disney’s Cinderella way too many times!

It didn’t take long for me to realize that being married meant I’m still me.  I still wake up with morning breath, next to someone else who may or may not have morning breath. (Let’s protect the innocent. This is not his blog, so it’s only fair to leave out any of his imperfections.) I remember devouring books on marriage because I quickly learned that I was in big trouble if I didn’t figure out how to do this thing called marriage. I didn’t really know how to be a wife. And since I am pretty selfish by nature, how would this play out? I don’t think I’ve got it all figured out now, but we usually work together in a good rhythm as a couple.

I love this man! He's a man of integrity, he's passionate and full of life. This is him teaching junior high students.

Over time I love my husband more and more, as we experience life with all of its joys and sorrows together.  In fact, I might go as far to say that when we persevere as a couple through the trials of life and difficult times, we love each other in a deeper way. Now that I’ve nauseated you with all of that, I can go back to my initial point: Marriage isn’t for sissies. The daily ups and downs of life are the reality. Maybe one of the biggest things I’m learning in marriage is love can be a romantic feeling. But love is also much, much more than that.