I wish I was a runner.
I wish I were thin, in great shape, confident, and an overcomer of muscle cramps, blisters and the urge to quit while running a marathon. Wow! Wouldn't that be great…?
To overcome obstacles in the midst of a long race.
To work through the tough routine of training.
To endure muscle cramps and blisters to complete a goal!
I wish I had that endurance.
What does it take to run with endurance? Hebrews 12:1-3 says: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin which so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, scorning the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Oh my. How many times have I lost heart recently?
How many times have I felt weary, drained, spent?
How many times have I let the "sin that so easily entangles" get the better of me? Plenty!
Usually, I have a bottomless pit of perseverance - so where did that jar of clay go?
How is it that I can focus on my problems, worries and concerns so much that I forget what Christ did for me on the Cross?
Have I ever run a race for such a long distance that I would continue until I finished - no matter what?
Have I ever thought about running a race that I would give up my life for another?
Have I ever considered sweating drops of blood for another?
Have I ever fixed my eyes so intently on Jesus that I don't fear the future?
Scott Peck wrote the book The Road Less Traveled years ago, and the very first line in his book says: "Life is difficult."
Life has to be difficult? Whaaat? Why not enjoyable, fun, wonderful?
Well, that's what you get once you realize that there are obstacles in this life and that life is a long race, not a fast sprint. Once you realize that there will be difficulties along the path, life is not nearly as difficult.
Yep! That's correct. Accept that LIFE IS DIFFICULT. And, simply acknowledge that there will be troubles, trials and difficulties in this life - then, it is not nearly as disconcerting.
Jesus said: "In this world, you WILL have tribulation." Seriously?
Did you sign up for tribulation? Trials along the way? Obstacles too difficult to manage on a human level? I didn't.
My rose-colored glasses made me think it would be enjoyable, fun, and wonderful. Purely Pollyanna-style!
But, guess what? Sometimes, life IS fun, wonderful, exhilarating.
However, there are and always will be roadblocks that crop up. Furnaces and air conditioners break. Cars need repairs. The washer and dryer need to be replaced after 18 years. Lawn mowers get tired and quit. Obstacles DO get in the way - hassles that repeat themselves until you want to quit. Remember our lovely computer technology? UGH! We baby boomers can't cut it some days. (Why can't technology be truly "intuitive" and guess what I am thinking? Haha!)
And, guess what else? Jesus said after the fact that there will be tribulation in this world: "Take Heart! I have overcome the world!!!" (John 16:33)
Whew. There IS a ripcord! There is a solution to our problems. God has given us a brain to use, to plan, to manage and to learn how to overcome these issues that make us want to quit. But, we also wear ourselves out before we realize we don't have to run on empty! There are ways to solve the debacles and hindrances along the way. There is help along the way. There is an answer to our dilemma. There are ways to overcome all the hassles that come our way. It's called surrender.
Stop fussing, stop fuming, stop becoming distraught! Stop and ask the Creator of the Universe to calm your fears. Ask Him to ease the pain. Ask Him to show you how to manage your money better. Ask Him where the next step should be on the job hunt. And, then, in your emptiness and exasperation, find a loving, caring, incredible Savior that wants to be your guide. Each day. Each step of the way.
Our race is to be run with perseverance and endurance, not on empty by ourselves. NOT in our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." He's there, waiting to hear your voice. He's waiting to show you the way through the tribulation, through the trials, through the obstacles. We all hope that He will take away the cancer. Take away the heart attack. Take away the grief. Take away the fear.
But, listen to what He says: "Take heart! I have overcome the world!" He will walk every step of the way with you - through each frightening diagnosis, through each rough moment in a marriage, through each loss of a child, through each bankruptcy and through each and every doubt.
Is life magically wonderful at all times? Absolutely not. But it IS do-able and it CAN be enjoyable with the Savior at your side. Trust Him to help you run with endurance. Today.
Pam Spencer has always had an interest in Stress Management and graduated with her Master of Liberal Arts with an emphasis on Natural Health and Wellness from Baker University. Pam teaches Stress Management at the Women’s Employment Network in Kansas City, MO, and loves using her skills to help less fortunate women. She has taken her life experience, interpersonal and organizational skills from these stressful years and has developed a DeStress with Joy attitude and uses this philosophy in her approach to life. Pam has a passion to share this gift from God to teach others how to DeStress with Joy and live life to the fullest.
I was my daddy’s girl.
He had a way of making me feel special. My dad also had a way of teaching my siblings and I life skills without us knowing that’s what he was doing. He invited us into his projects. If he was painting the house or fixing holes in the wall, we were standing next to him holding tools and taking directions. Over the years, we picked rocks out of the pastures, painted the cabin, finished a basement, laid acres of fencing - the projects were countless and we kids were included for all of them.
When I bought my first car, he taught me how to change the tire AND the oil.
When I moved out on my own, he gave me a set of tools. I still have them.
He took care of me and made sure I knew how to take care of myself. (He also gave the best foot rubs ever.)
Relationships with family members can teach us how to respond to God. Children look to fathers to show them protection, to give them financial security, and to give them their identity. I always knew I was special to my dad, but… life happens.
My heart was torn right out of my chest when my parents announced they were divorcing and daddy would be the one to move out. I was 10 years old at the time and I didn’t understand what was happening.
My protector and sense of security were gone. It would be later in my teenage years when we regained our relationship.
Even in the best families, children can believe lies and draw wrong conclusions about themselves. I grew up in a traditional church but I had no relationship with God. My perception of God was that He was real but He was busy taking care of the world. He didn’t care about little me. He had more important things to do.
I lost my identity when my daddy left. I felt very vulnerable and unsafe. Insignificant and unimportant. On top of that, God didn’t care about me.
I didn’t know then, but here was the truth: God is the only perfect Father. Our earthly fathers will let us down at some point because they are human. It took me years to realize I had a thought patterns based on beliefs formed in childhood.
Based on lies.
The enemy wants us to believe lies. He is the master of lies. He doesn’t want us to see the truth about God and who He is. Even deeper…he doesn’t want us to see who we are in Christ. Our identity is in Christ.
Now, Christ is my comforter, my protector, and so much more.
How do we change the influence of the enemy’s lies in our lives? We call on our heavenly Daddy to reveal the lies to us. God is a great revealer of what’s happening in our hearts if we’re open to it. Seek Truth.
John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.God can reveal truth to us in many ways. Through dreams, through friends, through worship songs, through teachings and sermons, and especially through scriptures. We can spend time getting to know who He is by drinking deep of the well of His living water.
When we spend time with God, we learn to discern truth from lies. And something happens when the lies are brought to light: we don’t agree with them anymore. A shift takes place where we no longer look to our earthly father for our belonging and security: we look to our heavenly Father.
It’s funny how our view on the past changes when we look to Jesus. Maybe we have harbored hurts from our earthly fathers that were just miscommunications and now we need to forgive them. For example, there was a situation when I was younger where my dad spanked me and not the guilty party. I carried that hurt for years but when I saw the truth my heart softened and I forgave him. It was only then that I remembered my dad had cried later, when he found out I had not been the one who committed the punishable act. I first had to forgive him to remember this.
I want to end by saying I think it’s easy to give fathers a bad rap. Can we also remember the good things they do?
All the things I started with in this article are the very things I shared at my dad’s funeral. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was MY dad.
This month, let’s celebrate fathers for the good they do! Your heavenly Father will be there too.
I love men…
I am not talking about a romantic love; I’m talking about a amazement at the fearful and wonderful way they are created, a fascination with the way they process and think, an admiration of their ability to have fun.
In all honesty, I don’t think I used to love men. My poor ex-husband can probably attest to that. We were young and I wrestled continually with what it meant or looked like to ‘respect’ him. Yet, at the same time, I did not trust, honor, or remotely understand him. Oh, I wanted to be protected and provided for by him - but I don’t think I loved or appreciated who he was as a man.
I grew up with a mom that felt the same way. She had been physically, emotionally and mentally abused by men. She wanted a man, but oftentimes she bashed men. My family is highly matriarchal - women rule. So, not knowing differently, I did not like or understand or care to understand the value of men. Down deep in my soul, I believed that men were out to hurt women and, at some point in life, they would inevitably abandon, abuse, or just check out.
Fast forward. I get saved and begin to grow in the knowledge and the love of the Lord. I long to be alive in who I am as a woman and raise my children to love who they are as women and MEN…yes, I had 2 sons and my vision for them as a parent was that they would live freely as MEN OF GOD.
Fortunately for me:
With God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
How did I ever get from the place of wanting to rule over men to loving men?
How oh HOW DO WE LEARN TO RIGHTLY LOVE MEN?
For me, it was a PROCESS. And, I believe it is a process that we, especially as single mothers, would be wise to engage in and say “YES LORD, be it unto me as you have desired.”
Let’s take a few steps together.
We first must realize there is something amiss in our own hearts. In all honesty, if you have ever been hurt by a man, had an absent or abusive father, or have had trust broken by a man…chances are there are pockets of mistrust, anger, rage, and even hatred towards men.
Be willing to INQUIRE of the Lord: “see if there be any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:24).
Allow the light of Christ to illuminate the hidden places where you might have been wounded – the places where a heart-infection has set in due to unforgiveness, vows, or bitterness.
Realization came to me bit by bit: I remember the one time that I fell absolutely in love with men was when my oldest son was probably 15 or 16 (that was about 10 years ago) was being quirky about something. He had a completely different perspective than I did, WE WERE NOT SEEING EYE TO EYE AT ALL. Suddenly it was like lightning struck me and my eyes were opened. I thought “I LOVE the way you see things different…I NEED YOUR PERSPECTIVE IN MY LIFE. I realized in a moment how narrow my thinking had been and how radically different my son perceived something because he was a MAN.
Confess to the Lord for sure, but go one step more (remember: we are after freedom, wholeness and making a place for men to arise) Confess to a friend, pastor or counselor that can walk with you through the process of repentance and accepting the forgiveness of God.
Confess to your sons when you realize the truth (and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance you WILL realize). Confess to your daughters when you realize you are not behaving in a way that a godly woman behaves.
Holy Spirit, give me eyes to see where I have not walked in the light in this area of my life. Give me grace to walk in humility as you teach me the right path. Show me where I have missed the mark so that Your name can be glorified in the marriages of my children. Empower me from the inside out to raise up a generation that walk in freedom of who they are created to be as men and women.
we are making a place in our lives for our sons, fathers, and men
to step into the fullness of who they are as men of God.
I know this is HARD WORK but it’s worth it…THEY are worth it.
This will certainly keep you humble. Allow friends the privilege of sharing in love when they notice you operating in a way that is unbecoming to a woman of God. Of course, that means we need to be in relationships with others who are either pursuing righteousness, or are ahead us in the journey.
I long for generations of men of God to arise. But that means I have to be faithful as a woman to walk in the fullness of my role, my call, and my identity as a woman.
LETTING THE MAN JESUS LOVE YOU
Jesus had to love the uglies right out of me.
"I will plant a new heart and new spirit inside of you. I will take out your stubborn, stony heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26 - The Voice)
Jesus loved me in every one of the desperate places of my aching soul. He stepped in and revealed His love and fascinated my heart.
This is the longing of His heart; to LOVE us.
He died so that we might know how much He absolutely loves us…
NO ONE has ever died for me (or for you) before
THAT’S LOVE and that was the love I needed to know
As Jesus began to love the hurt, broken and rebellious places, my ability to love increased. I fell deeply in love with Jesus first. As my love for Him grew, so did my love for the things and people He loves.
Jesus loves MEN. He created them to be different than us. When men arise (just as when women arise), and when the glory of the Lord manifests fully in His SONS and daughters, THEN “the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea”. (Habakkuk 2:14)
Ladies, let’s let the Love of God consume us so that we might learn to love men into their rightful places as sons, brothers, and fathers.
My earthly father passed away when I was 10 years old.
He was in and out of my life when I was younger and battled his own demons. I don’t have that many memories with him. He loved me to the best of his abilities, though.
Isn’t it amazing how when we have a relationship with the Lord we can oftentimes look back on people in our past and look at them differently?
My father was not always there physically, spiritually, or emotionally but he loved me the best he could. He was far from perfect, but it was the best that he knew how. The loss of him left me fatherless.
Or so I thought.
I remember being about 4 years old and asking Jesus to make a home in my heart. It was on Easter and I was at my grandma’s house. They had Easter specials on T.V., and at each commercial break they would have a pastor come out and lead his audience in the sinner’s prayer. I accepted Jesus during every single commercial break.
God became my Father. At an incredibly young age I knew He was protecting me. He was guiding me. Through the constant conflict of my home life - through my confusion, and through my insecurities as a small child - He was my Father.
As I got older and into my adulthood, I learned more and more of what it meant for God to be my father. Prayers as simple as “Our Father who art in Heaven” impacted my heart.
I saw how my Heavenly Father encouraged, guided, guarded, loved, protected, lifted, and provided for me. I saw time and time again what a good Father He was. And although I did not see that in my earthly father, God showed up in my life and reminded me Whose I was.
I am a daughter of the King.
I am a daughter, and God is my Father.
I truly started to learn what it meant to be a daughter again. Knowing that allowed me to learn what it meant to be a woman, a friend, a sister, and mom; but I had to first rediscover what being a daughter meant. A daughter who would run to her Father in times of sadness, in anger, in confusion, in frustration. I could lay it all out there and know that He would catch me every single time I fell.
Now, I am a co-parenting single mom to two precious little boys. Their dad is active in their lives, thankfully. But… their father is not perfect and he never will be. I am so glad that my children have the same incredible Father I do.
I want to instill in them the understanding of having a Heavenly Father.
A Father who will have compassion on them. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:13
A Father who will provide and take care of them. “Look at the birds of the sky: they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?” Matthew 6:26
A Father who blesses them with every spiritual blessing. “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” Ephesians 1:3
A Father whose kingdom will come. “He said to them, ‘Whenever you pray, say: Father, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come.” Luke 11:2
I am raising future fathers. I want my boys to see those truths in God so that they will become image-bearers of their Heavenly Father, even as earthly fathers. Someday they will imitate what they have learned and my largest prayer is that they will see Jesus and imitate Him. Not even that they will imitate what I am doing… but that they will learn to hear the voice of the Father and they will follow and replicate His words and actions.
Mommas, God is the Father to the fatherless - “God in His holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless and a champion of widows.” Psalm 68:5.
He is the Father to us.
He is the Father to our children.
Whether you are co-parenting with your children’s’ father or not, fret not… God hears you. He sees you. He wants you to invite Him in to Father you.
Sometimes as moms we forget that we are also daughters.
You are a daughter.
You have a Father in Heaven who wants to give you good gifts.
This month, while we reflect on Father’s Day, I pray that each one of you will receive the love of the Father that is waiting for you.