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Archive for the ‘Where’s the Love?’ Category

This week, the Daily Devotionals are brought to us by five women who have been face to face with the question of God’s love in the midst of trials.  It is all about real women, real life, and real Truth.

At the age of ten years old my parents separated and shortly after divorced.  I have only a handful of memories up until that age and what memories I do have are not happy ones.  My dad was physically and emotionally abusive towards my mom and emotionally abusive to my sister and me.  Following the divorce the relationship between my dad and I worsened to the point it eventually was nonexistent.

Growing up there was never any discussion or reference to God or church.  So, during my middle and high school years I coped with the divorce, rejection, and moving many times in various ways: None of which were healthy or healing.  It was in my mid twenties, when I gave my life over to Christ, that the healing process began.

For many years I tried reconciling with my dad.  I felt because I was a Christian I was responsible for fixing our relationship.  Our pattern for a very long time would be, I would call him, we would have contact for a couple of weeks maybe months, then my dad would stop all contact.  After I got over the rejection and bitter feelings I would reestablish contact and the pattern continued.

One particular bad day I prayed to God and asked Him what He wanted me to do with this relationship.  I was confused, angry, and felt like a failure.  It was then that I felt God release me from this relationship.  It was okay for me to step away and not have contact with my dad.  Almost immediately I felt a peace that I had not experienced  and nightmares that I had been suffering from stopped.  After a long absence I decided to once again make contact with my dad.  Although the patterns remained the same, I no longer suffered nightmares nor the anxiety when seeing him.  I did still feel bitterness and although I am a pretty compassionate and loving person, I didn’t feel anything towards him.  I pretty much felt like I was going through the motions.

This is where I was until just recently when forgiveness was preached at church during a Sunday morning service.  Immediately I felt convicted about my dad.  I realized that forgiveness was the piece of the puzzle missing.  All these years I was trying to reconcile but it wasn’t possible because I hadn’t truly forgiven my dad as God had forgiven me.  That day I made a conscious decision to forgive my dad.

Ephesians 4:32 states, “ Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Recently my mom passed away and my dad came to the funeral.  I was happy when I saw him arrive, but as I greeted him I did not receive the same feeling back.  My dad was cold and distant.  In the past I would have been angry, resentful, and mulled it over and over in my mind.  But this time was different.  I felt compassion for him and I saw him through God’s eyes. The walls were broken down and I could feel love for my dad!

It has taken me a very long time to get to the point I am today with my dad.   I know it has affected many relationships along the way, most importantly my relationship with God. I mentioned the walls breaking down between my dad and me; now I can also see the walls in other relationships coming down.  I am so thankful that the wonderful God we serve doesn’t give up on us.

For those of you who are struggling with a relationship, past hurts, bitterness/anger, I urge you to bring it to our Lord.  He is the only one who can teach us and show us what true love and forgiveness are. The peace and freedom I am experiencing are only possible through God.

*Want to receive the Daily Devotional blog in your email?  Go to the top right side of this blog to subscribe.  To also receive the Sunday blog in your email, go to the Given the Time Home page and subscribe.

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This week, the Daily Devotionals are brought to us by five women who have been face to face with the question of God’s love in the midst of trials.  It is all about real women, real life, and real Truth.

You have a child with special needs.  Can you share the early challenges you faced?

We knew very early on that our child was going to be unique in her needs.  At four weeks old, we didn’t know what to do with her.  She would scream and scream. People would tell us that she was just colic, but as a mom I just knew there was something else going on.

As she moved into the toddler years, she hit her milestones early but never dealt with transition and change well.   As parents, we felt like we were missing something.   Our pediatrician at the time even told us we should talk with a child therapist about parenting techniques, but we knew something just was not right.   It was very frustrating and brought a lot of tension between my husband and myself.

As an educator, I was reading a book for research about how to help a student of mine.  That, along with discussions with my neighbor, led me into seeing that there were needs that just were not being met and that our child was different but there was hope.  Our first diagnosis came soon after that, and to be honest it was a relief to finally know that we now could get some direction in how to help our daughter.

Where was God in all of this?

The first few years of my child’s life, my husband and I were not walking with God.  I was a believer, but had turned away from our Lord, and my husband was not a believer.  It was incredibly difficult.   Because we were struggling with how to deal with a special needs child, we often were so emotionally exhausted that we didn’t communicate.  We slowly started to drift apart and were at the point of not talking except for essentials.  My husband called me one day and said that he needed some help – he wasn’t happy and was ready to pick up and leave our daughter and myself.  Coming from a divorced family, this was the one thing I was adamant I did not want to happen to my child.  I turned back to the Lord and asked my husband to go to church with me.   God was at work and within a few weeks my husband had prayed for salvation and I had recommitted my life to the Lord.

As we continued to learn more about the difficulties we were facing with our child, and how we were going to have to endure the daily ins and outs of parenting with her, I turned to scripture.

I would start and end many of my days by reading these verses.

Isaiah 40: 29 – 31, He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

It was and is often the one thing that gives me peace and strength.   At times, when frustration sets in, I cry to God asking him why?  Why did he choose us for this child?  How can I help her when I don’t know where to go?  But he always shows me the way, usually when I am on my knees and just giving it all to him out of frustration.

How have you seen God’s love shine through this challenge?

Whenever my husband and I sit back and look at our life and the challenges we face with our special needs child, we are amazed at how God has used her to move us closer to him.  Even now we can see how he has orchestrated our lives so that we would be prepared to help her. The more we became involved at church, the more we saw God’s hand at work and his love being poured out onto us through his people.  Having a special needs child has forced us to rely on God.

Your child is a dear and unique creation of God.  How have you seen God use your child to bless others?

There are many ways our daughter blesses others.  Because of her needs and understanding, our daughter often encourages her peers who are upset or sad. Her patience with other children amazes me.

We know that God has a special place for her in his kingdom, along with all children who have special needs.  Even though we may not understand why she has the challenges she does, God does.  And our understanding of her needs has allowed us to help others.  Because of her difficulties, we are better able to empathize and understand what other parents are going through who may be in the same situation.

*Want to receive the Daily Devotional blog in your email?  Go to the top right side of this blog to subscribe.  To also receive the Sunday blog in your email, go to the Given the Time Home page and subscribe.

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This week, the Daily Devotionals are brought to us by five women who have been face to face with the question of God’s love in the midst of trials.  It is all about real women, real life, and real Truth.

You faced a tough challenge in your childhood…what kind of questions did that trial prompt in your heart?

How can God be a loving God when your mother and your aunts are suffering from a disease no one knows about?

In your trial, what happened to your faith?

So you pray and keep praying and then one day you make the decision that God isn’t who He said He claimed to be because at the young age of 8 your prayer for healing has not happened and by age 11 you are sure He is not going to answer your prayer for them to be healed.  

How did God reveal His love to you in your trial?

God meant it when He said that He loves us and would never leave us. “Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)  Only I was hurt and filled with anger. I look back and see God had His hand there for me to be guided, not crushed.   I just took His hand and walked with Him.  I had given Him every reason to disown me, and He was still faithful to give me strength.  Even when the trials come today (I have battled cancer this past year) I can see His strength carry me forward.  I sometimes get His peace but other times I just have His ear to pour out my confusing life and displeasure at how it is turning out.  And the greatest gift during trials is to know He is God and His will is the best, not mine.  It is good to finally rest and admit that to Him freely without conditions.

What has God provided for you during your present trials?

Nothing compares to the Lord’s Word.  I start reading the Bible in a place I have an interest and then challenge myself to know what it means.  Also, over the years God used people to help my struggles.

What would you share with a friend who might be going through a hard time?

God filled me with peace and then wisdom…not my will but God’s will be done. I may not agree with the end result but His strength is a reminder of Who is in control and Who has all the answers.

*Want to receive the Daily Devotional blog in your email?  Go to the top right side of this blog to subscribe.  To also receive the Sunday blog in your email, go to the Given the Time Home page and subscribe.

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This week, the Daily Devotionals are brought to us by five women who have been face to face with the question of God’s love in the midst of trials.  It is all about real women, real life, and real truth.

Tell us about a challenge you have faced?

Married and with a young family, my husband and I found ourselves unemployed and back in school.  We were in a major financial crisis.  The savings we had eventually dwindled to nothing. The bills still needed to be paid and the kids still needed to eat but it was months before graduation and we were not sure how we were going to make the ends meet.

What happened to your faith during this hard time?

Our faith actually grew during this trial.  That isn’t to say there weren’t down times.  Like when the car died.  Or when Christmas came around.  Money issues are very hard on marriages.  I think it is one of the top reasons people end up in divorce.  We knew that if we were going to make it through the hard times still married we would need to do it with God’s strength and that helped us to run to Him instead of running away from our faith.

In the day to day reality of dealing with unpaid bills and trying to figure out what we could afford to buy at the grocery store and just praying the kids wouldn’t get another ear infection, it was really hard to “feel” God’s love sometimes.  But deep down we knew we were on the right path for our family and our future, and so we figured with His strength we would power through the hard times and be better off in the end.  Our church was very important to us during this period of our life.

Do you know why God allowed a financial crisis in your life?

We had that trial because He had something to teach us.  He allowed us to struggle so we would learn to love Him better and learn to love each other better.  We had to.  We had no choice.  We couldn’t do it on our own.  It certainly was a time of learning the difference between what we need and what we want.  We learned to pray for God’s protection.  We learned that at the moment we are weakest, He is strongest.  We learned that He provides.  We learned to be humble and ask for help.  We learned what a blessing it is to be able to give to others. We missed having that and now that we have plenty again we truly enjoy being generous with others.

What would you share with a friend who might be experiencing similar trials?

I would tell her to cry out to the Lord.  He will hear you, He will help you and give you strength and see you through this hard time.  It is not fun!  But you will come through it stronger if you lean on the Lord for strength.  Don’t you DARE give up.  Trust His love for you even in hard times.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

God’s Word is true and I have seen some of His good plans for my future already come about.  You can see it in yours too as you trust in Him!

*Want to receive the Daily Devotional blog in your email?  Go to the top right side of this blog to subscribe.  To also receive the Sunday blog in your email, go to the Given the Time Home page and subscribe.

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This week, the Daily Devotionals are brought to us by five women who have been face to face with the question of God’s love in the midst of trials.  It is all about real women, real life, and real truth.

Will you tell us about a hardship you have faced?

Trials come and go, but the hardest trial I have ever experienced is having grown up in a broken home.  My parents were divorced when I was three. Unfortunately, their relationship was so bad that visitations with my dad ended when I was only five.  My childhood was very unstable, and I still face the ramifications of from it.  My mother remarried three times.  At the age of twelve my mom married my second stepfather and we were moving for the eighth time.  Yikes!!

What role did faith play during this trial?

Through the years of all this instability, my only saving grace was the Lord, who I came to know at the age of seven.  I was visiting my grandmother and she took me to a neighborhood event.  It was there that a precious group of college kids told me about Jesus, and I asked Him to come into my heart.  I was also extremely blessed to attend a small private Christian school from when I  was seven years old, until I was eighteen.  (How that came to be is another story that involved my first step dad.) God had a plan for me, and at the time, I was often unaware of His role in my life.  God provided for me through the love and support of the Christian teachers and staff at the school and church that I attended. Their guidance and stability gave me the tools I needed to be able to make good decisions in the future.

Proverbs 16:3 says,  “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.”

How did God help you through a challenging childhood?

I believe my life could have turned out in shambles without all of the great role models that God blessed me with.  It was ultimately the love  of Christ working through others that taught me the perspective that I have today.  Never doubt the positive effect that you can have on a child.

Today, I live a blessed life that is very rewarding.  I have a healthy marriage and family.  I consider it a blessing to have experienced such heart ache.  It left me in a place where I couldn’t see any other paths to take.  I have a heart of compassion because of my experiences.  I’m also pretty humble.   I see people for who they are, not for what they are. I chose a profession that involves helping others because I can see the importance in it.

I have been rewarded for my hardship with the wisdom that God knows best.  I have no doubts.  My life is far from perfect.  But I have the peace that passes all understanding. His Word is a tool to help us live our lives the way that He intended, for our own good.

What would you tell a friend struggling through her own hard times?

I would say, “Fake it until you make it.”  If you are feeling like everyone else “gets it” except for you, keep marching on like a good soldier.  Seek His goodness by staying around other Christians, learning about His word, and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!  You will not be sorry!

Matthew 7:7 reminds us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and it will be open to  you.”

*Want to receive the Daily Devotional blog in your email?  Go to the top right side of this blog to subscribe.  To also receive the Sunday blog in your email, go to the Given the Time Home page and subscribe.

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