A Tribute To The Dads–Because You Just Do Some Things Better

thumb_IMG_4979_1024There are some things a Daddy can do like no one else. It used to annoy me that I would do exactly what Jon did only to get a much less enthusiastic response. I remember especially the devastating moment when Kieran, at five years old, excitedly announced, “Daddy just taught me to ride a bike!”

Never mind that I had spent five days in a row running breathlessly down the street hanging on to him. Never mind that I cried more than he did when he fell off and scraped his knee. None of that counted five minutes after Jon went off with him, gave him a shove on his new bike and called out, “Now pedal!” Daddy did in minutes what I could not in nearly a week of dashed hopes and tears.

Over the years, Jon has stopped doing some of these things because the kids have grown too big. Others he still does no matter how big they are or how much they think they don’t need them anymore.

Some Things Daddy Just Does Better (I’m not saying we moms can’t do them, but in our house, Dad just has a special knack):

  • Give pony rides that rival a circus event.
  • Carry toddlers on his shoulders for hours to give them a better view.
Daddy and Avielle

Daddy and Avielle

Daddy and Samara

Daddy and Samara

 

  • Dance with his girls standing on his toes.

 

 

 

 

 

Kaila no longer needs to stand on her daddy's toes, but sometimes still does.

Kaila no longer needs to stand on her daddy’s toes, but sometimes still does anyway.

  • Give the biggest, best bear hugs.
  • Watch the same Disney movie over and over and over again.
  • Tell jokes that make his kids laugh out loud.
  • Come home to a chaotic mess and bring it peace.
  • Make his daughters feel like they are the most special girls in the world with just one look.
  • Be ridiculously goofy no matter who’s watching.thumb_IMG_5061_1024thumb_IMG_6751_1024
  • Empower his son to treat all women with dignity and respect by seeing how Dad treats Mom.
  • Teach his daughters what to look for in a man.
  • Turn boys into men.
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    Jon and Kieran (at 5).

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    Jon and Kieran (at 20).

  • Make his daughters feel beautiful, and loved, and treasured.
  • Pass on an appreciation and respect for heritage.

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    Commercial fishing in Alaska.

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  • Make all of them feel safe in the worst of storms.
  • Teach his children that nothing is more important than them–no job promotion, no amount of money, no “stuff”.
  • Release them to become all they can be and encourage Mom to do the same–who otherwise might clutch them for dear life (of course, not yours truly ;)).

To those without a daddy like this here on earth, I believe you have One in Heaven who assures you that you are the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8) and that “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

To my children’s daddy, thank you for doing so many things better than I can.P1020532

To my own Daddy, thank you for showing me how to find someone like you. You will always be my greatest hero.

My Daddy

My Daddy

And to all dads, ones who have it good and ones who are struggling, thank you for trying to do what only you can. You are the most incredible man in your children’s lives, whether they say it or not. You may feel under-appreciated, but you are always needed.

Happy Fathers Day Every Day!

(This post was pulled from the archives and updated. See original article from June 2014.)

 

Modern Day Idols

The Bible is not short on stories of worshipping false idols and gods, but it seems so foreign to us. We do not erect golden calves in our yards or worship little “g” gods, so it is seemingly easy for us to escape disobeying the first of commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.” We proclaim, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It appears to be a piece of cake to uphold commandment number one, well, until you look up the word god with a lowercase “g” and it means idol.

Idol [ahyd-l] noun:

  1. an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
  2. Bible. an image of a deity other than God or the deity itself.
  3. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion:
  4. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as a phantom.
  5. a figment of the mind; fantasy.
  6. a false conception or notion; fallacy.

If we read the first two definitions, we would usually still be innocent of idolatry, but there are four more definitions. This is where I get tripped up.

Recently a friend shared a testimony of the healing and restoration God has done in her family. Her testimony started with her earliest childhood memories of abuse and her desire for a family. It reminded me of my own lifelong desire for family. I had not thought about that in a long time since I now have a husband and five children. It helped me hear that someone else from an abusive family had the same desire, it made it seem more normal. I am sure we are not the only ones either.  Have you realized how the enemy always wants us to think “we are the only one who (fill in the blank)?”

I did not think much more about it until the next day after I dropped off the last of the five kids for school on Monday morning.  I was driving home and as I thought about always wanting a family, the Lord, as only He can do, gently spoke to my heart, “You have made it an idol.”  Ouch!  He was right since childhood I had an idea of the family I wanted and it was the opposite of the family I had, which is not a good basis to define family. I was not wholeheartedly seeking Him and His desire for my family I was building my own, thank you very much!  You know what I was not doing such a good job.  Anytime we try to do it our way instead of His, well, it just does not go well.

Do not misunderstand, I was a believer, I went to church and took my kids to church. They went to Christian school, we prayed at home and listened to Christian radio. I did not totally turn my back on Him, I just did not seek Him fully for His vision or ideal of family. I inserted some bible verses in “my” plan, but that still did not make it His. Even the Christian parenting books I read did not dethrone my idolatry. It was so subtle I missed it until He gently convicted me.

Those who pay regard to vain idols
    forsake their hope of steadfast love. Jonah 2:8

I went home and began bible journaling while listening to worship music. I was quickly drawn away by a song and knew what I needed to do.  Repent!  So, on my knees, I repented for erecting “family” as an idol, for putting my desire for family above my desire for Him. I gave Him permission to build and keep my family as He saw fit. I would love to tell you that the angels were singing and I felt differently, but I did not.  Although, I did feel a weight lifted. This is going to be a process. Watching God transform what is now His to do what He saw from the beginning. My ways, plans, ideas and dreams will have to die and I will have to seek His heart for His. It is like giving God permission to release the wrecking ball.

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Image courtesy of Surachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I made my castle tall
I built up every wall
This is my kingdom and it needs to fall
Colton Dixon, More of You

There was no value in idolizing family, my version of family actually became my own worst enemy.  It is not enough or even biblical to do the opposite of what was done in our childhood.  It sets us up for judgement, idolatry, disappointment and lots of spinning our wheels.  

“If a daughter swings to the other end of the continuum and acts the opposite of her mother, she stands a good chance of creating the same dynamics that she’s trying so hard to avoid.  The key lies in finding a middle ground on which you can stand as a loving parent with your own values.”
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Karyl McBride, Ph.D. page 125

We must seek Him for our family. He has things to say about abusive families, but He does not say do the opposite. He always gives it a more positive spin.  

He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress,and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Isaiah 32:18

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Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Psalm 127:1

Is there something in your life or heart that is held just a little higher than the place the Father holds? Would you be willing to give it to Him and let Him be your only God?  Would you be willing to trust Him with the results? He already knows if there is, but still wants us to humbly come and confess.

Father, thank You that You are a jealous God and You will not share us with our carefully erected and protected idols. You gently and lovingly guide us back to Your will and plan for us.  We can take You at Your word and trust You to perform it.  Amen.

10 Truths For Moms

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought I’d write a few truths we moms often forget. I pray you are encouraged and reminded that there is no one like you, you are enough, and that despite the hard places along the journey, you are an irreplaceable part of God’s design for your family.

1—There is no one who can parent your child better than you.

Your kids don’t need a perfect mom; they need a real mom. Or in my 9-year-old daughter’s words:FullSizeRender

Comparing yourself to others is a defeating trap—No one has it all together no matter how it may seem. Learn from other moms who do something well, but don’t think they could do a better job with your children than you can. God makes no mistakes and He gave your children the best mom ever.

2—You cannot assume all the credit for your child’s success or all the guilt for their failure.

God was a perfect parent raising His children in a perfect environment and Adam and Eve were still rebellious. A fallen world and free will guarantees there will be poor decisions that are made. We can do our best to sow in God’s word, water it in your children’s hearts, diligently pluck out the weeds that spring up, and then trust God for the outcome.

3—Great lovers make great parents.

Keep your spouse in his rightful first place and everyone thrives. This doesn’t mean you can ignore the urgent things of being a mom, but you can’t let them replace the more important things of being a wife. Give your children the gift of a mom who loves their dad even more than them. My parents modeled this well and it gave me greater security than anything else in the world. During the most turbulent years of my life, the fact that nothing I did could shake their love for one another held me steady and saw me through.

4—Your beauty is not measured by the scale or the latest fashions, but by the kindness and love you display.

Your children will likely never tell their own children one day how much they liked your hair. However, they will tell them about how you stopped what you were doing and looked them in the eye when they had a story to tell. They will recount how you used to lay in bed with them and whisper about the day.

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) reminds us, “ Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” While I’m not recommending that we pay no attention to our outward appearance, I do think we must be sure it takes a backseat to the issues of the heart.

5—Raising holy children is more important than raising happy children.

The first will lead to the last, but the last will not lead to the first. There are more gadgets and opportunities today than ever to eat up our time and our attention, and your children will convince you that they need them all in order to be happy. Don’t buy it (literally)!

Happiness cannot be achieved with more things or more activities. Remember that true joy can only be found in serving God and serving others. That won’t happen miraculously when they are adults if you have not purposed to lay the foundation now. Teaching them to Invest in eternal rewards and in people will always reap a greater blessing than investing in more stuff.

6—Self-care is not selfish.

Properly caring for your body means you can more properly care for your family. A mama is supposed to be like fresh water pouring into her family, but she can’t do that from a dry well. This doesn’t mean a daily spending spree at the mall or weekly spa treatments. It means taking the time to nurture and care for your own heart, mind, and body. Eating well, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and spending time in activities that rejuvenate you are vital for both you and your family.

7—You cannot do it all and that’s okay.

The laundry will never be done, the floors will always need to be vacuumed. This is not a reflection on your parenting. Productiveness as a mom cannot be measured by a to-do list but by the silent unseen sacrifices for the sake of those you love.

When you are feeling like what you do doesn’t matter, remember this from Andy Stanley:

“You greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”13166076_10209419439273723_1325231446447934723_n

8—You are not invisible.

God sees you and all your sacrifices even if it seems no one else does. Those rainy day snuggles with the same book, the 1000th peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the umpteenth time you’ve kissed an imaginary boo-boo will reap a harvest one day.

All those ordinary moments that seem so insignificant will one day string together to make an extraordinary life.

9—Prayer fixes a multitude of sins.

The word says, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). It is God’s love for us that prompts Him to hear our prayers and move on our behalf. Are you blowing it? He knows, and He’s not moved to condemnation but compassion. Ask Him to fill in the gaps and cover all your sins and He will be faithful to do it.

What is it you’re in need of? Do you need wisdom? Ask Him and He promises to give it “liberally and without reproach” (James 1:5). Are you scared for a wayward child? Ask Him to protect your child and to give you a “word fitly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11) when the opportunity arises. Pray for and over your children believing that we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2).

10—It’s never too late!

No matter where you are in the process, so long as there is a breath to be taken, God is at work. If your family has fallen apart and in need of repair, I have good news for you: Every family is a fixer-up family and God is in the construction and remodeling industry. There is no problem so big that God cannot solve it.

His redemptive work on the cross stretched behind and ahead, so we should expect no less from Him in our families. What has fallen into decay, given to Him, He can rebuild. What Satan has robbed, He can restore. What we have torn down, He can redeem. He is the great rebuilder, restorer, redeemer, and He waits for us to hand him the ashes of our lives so that he can give us beauty in return.

What other truths have you learned along the way? I hope you’ll scroll down and share them.

 

Is Your Plate Too Full?

It was only Monday morning. I woke up an hour before the alarm, and my brain was already racing through my mental to-do list. Going back to sleep wasn’t going to happen, so I slipped out of bed and began to tackle the day.

hand-565588_1920By the time the kids got up, I was already in high gear and wondering how I’d ever get it all done. A quick assessment allowed me to cross a few things off and move a few others to another day. But those days were already crammed and I was afraid I’d end up not getting to it altogether, so worry began to press in. There are bills to pay, appointments to make, lessons to teach, calls to make, and…

The intrusive voice: “Mommy! Did you hear me?…”

Really? Can’t they see how busy I am? “WHAT?” I snap.

“I just didn’t know if you wanted me to make you eggs,” came the convicting sweetness of my 11-year-old.

UGH!!! Guilt is now heaped on top of busy-ness and worry, and I feel like poop. So I soften outwardly and crumble inwardly. “No thank you Honey.”

I grab the phone to make what should be a 3 minute call that turns into 30 and by the time I’m off my heart is racing, my brain is full, and my emotions are about to leap off the sanity edge.

And it’s only 8:30. I grab another cup of coffee and plunge further toward disaster.

Have you played out this same scenario with different characters? If so, then let me tell you, it doesn’t have to be this way. These moments are our little reminders to reassess our priorities, re-evaluate our schedules, and re-tweak (or as in my case—overhaul) our to-do list.1

I wish I could say I did all that on Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday were near repeats before the ah-ha moment kicked in. By then, I was in panic-mode. I went to bed exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, and irritated with everything and everyone.

So I had a desperate, late night cry session with the Lord over my too long to-do list. I was plagued by my inconsistent involvement in the girls’ schooling and by my not being “in the moment” with my family. I asked God how in the world to accomplish it all. After all, there is just one of me.

Can’t anyone understand that? I can’t do it all!

And there it was: Truth in five words.

I can’t do it all.

And thankfully I don’t have to.

And in that moment of clarity was the scripture, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36) My children are intricately linked to my soul and I knew the Lord was telling me I was tending too heavily to the wrong areas while neglecting the one I know is to be my focus–my family.

What the Lord convicted me of is this: I can work tirelessly in many arenas and even achieve “success” through them, but unless it is what He has purposed, it will have little value and come at a cost.

You see, when you gorge yourself from a plate that is too full, you lose the ability to truly taste anything and you have two choices. You can stuff yourself until you’re too bloated to enjoy any of it (and likely end up vomiting a big mess). Or you can choose a few things to savor more fully.

So, if awareness is the first step, what’s next? For me, it’s getting a clearer picture of my priorities. I haven’t done that yet, but I hope you’ll check out 3 Steps To Putting First Things First and together we’ll learn how to take a few good items off our plates to fully enjoy the best.

I’d love to hear about how you manage all that’s on your plate. Please comment below some strategies you use or if, like me, you struggle to reign in your to-do list.

Hugs,

Rita

Burning Red-Hot Anger

I am so grateful to have Jessica Lederer share on here today. Jessica is a gem. She is a beautiful and sincere woman, wife, mother, and friend. So I was thrilled when she accepted my invitation to post for Mothers With a Mission. She shares openly what most are afraid to speak of, and I know you’ll appreciate her candidness and transparency.

12363267_10153687550415734_377748452145311748_oI consider myself a blessed mother of 5 amazing children. My oldest will be 8 in a couple short weeks and my youngest celebrated a year of life on the outside on Christmas Eve. Life is chaotic, messy, unpredictable, and a hoot everyday.

BUT there are some days when burning, red-hot anger explodes from inside like a volcano and all I can do is holler at the bystanders to take cover. The kind that makes my kids call me “Hulk Momma”! Can you imagine! THIS has been one of those weeks!

Coincidentally (NOT) I am doing a Beth Moore Bible study called The Patriarchs. Wanna know what we are talking about–BURNING RED-HOT ANGER. Day 1 was Judah and David’s burning anger. It may surprise you to know they were burning with anger at their own sin; they just didn’t know it yet. Conviction? You bet!

The Bible talks of God’s refining fire and how He uses it to purify us and test us. Praise GOD my faith has proved steadfast, but unfortunately sometimes so does what He is trying to purify me of! That leads to the flame burning hotter. Unlike the LORD’s refining fire, my burning is the farthest thing from purifying as possible, no matter what I tell myself in the heat of the moment!

My burning is a rage I didn’t even know was possible! Any others out there know what I mean? It is what only those closest to me get to witness. It is shameful and NEEDS Jesus! Most of the time it comes from a place of a loss of control. It is never necessary but somehow I can’t get myself to CLOSE MY MOUTH.

In sharing my battle with other moms, I’ve found that despite the enemy convincing us we’re the “only ones”, many moms routinely fight their anger.

So what do we do when those situations occur? Well I can tell you what I do.

PRAY. PRAY. PRAY. HUMBLE. HUMBLE. HUG. KISS. LOVE. APOLOGIZE. PRAY. PRAY. PRAY.

  • Pray for the Lord to forgive me. Confess what I’ve done.
  • Pray for the words to speak and that The Father would stand in the gap and cover my loved ones from the repercussions of my sin.
  • Pray for the Lord to convict my spirit and allow correction.
  • Humble myself and go to those I’ve hurt and without rationalizing or explaining, just ask for their forgiveness.
  • HUGS and KISSES and I’m sorrys. LOTS of hugs and kisses.
  • PRAY some more. Ask for a Word, a promise, something to hold onto when life gets me red-hot.
  • Believe the LORD for the forgiveness He has given me, accept His Grace, and His Help.

Sometimes the circumstances may seem like they justify the outburst but believe me there is a better way. One day I will find my way there every time, but for now I’m still on the journey. Oh how I pray to be more tender and gentle! Especially with my little ones. I hope it encourages you in your journey to know that you are not alone if you have ever had “that moment”.

Let’s pray for each other whether this is you or not. Let’s ask the LORD to help us. You may not know the name of the momma you are praying for but the LORD does!

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.