Ode to Dads

Happy Father’s Day!

For some of us, today is a more difficult day. It’s hard to believe my Dad passed away from colon cancer 13 years ago.

For so many years our relationship was strained, as my parents divorced after 37 years of marriage. He intimidated me because he was sometimes verbally and even physically abusive growing up.

The Lord helped heal our relationship. I know my Dad loved me the best way he knew how. It would be an honor to tell you some of the positive ways my Dad impacted my life. 

Here’s to you, Dad, just a few of your lessons for which I am thankful:

  1. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to check the oil dipstick in my old car, so that I never messed up my engine or blew my transmission. That little Ford Escort hatchback car I drove in high school–Awesomobile–burnt a quart of oil every 200 or so miles. Smile. 🙂 I loved that car and am grateful that I had it.
  2. Thank you, Dad, for providing for my needs and many of my wants. We were blessed with a house, plenty of food to eat, clothes and shoes. You even paid for my wonderful out-of-state college education. It was such a gift not to have to pay back college loans.
  3. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me to appreciate the outdoors and fishing. You even taught me to cast a fishing rod and how to bait my own hooks. I wasn’t squeamish about the worms and minnows most of the time.
  4. Thank you, Dad, for taking us to church most times the door was open. Your dedication to the Lord and His Word helped mold my faith.
  5. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to budget my money and spend wisely. I remember how you paid bills promptly and taught me how to abhor debt. I still to this day try to avoid debt, except for my mortgages.
  6. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me a strong work ethic. You worked hard at Delta Air Lines for 33 years before you retired. You liked to finish tasks you started and showed me follow through and doing what you said you would do.
  7. Thank you, Dad, for showing me to volunteer in the community and help others behind-the-scenes. You used to mow and weed eat the end of our street where no one would mow. You also mowed around the Turkey Creek bridge in Hanahan where you would walk daily. You thought no one knew. We knew and appreciated your quiet good deeds.
  8. Thank you, Dad, for trying to come to many of my basketball and volleyball games. Your presence was such a present.

Dad, I pray you can see from heaven I’m trying to carry on the Jordan legacy. Rest assured that I love my Heavenly Daddy–my Abba–with my whole soul. Thank you for loving me, Dad, the best way you knew how.

Reflect:

–What are some ways you are thankful for your earthly father?  Please comment.

–How will you strengthen your relationship with him?

Renew:

–“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” –Exodus 20:12 NIV

–“Listen to your father, who gave you life…” –Proverbs 23:22a NIV

–“The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad…” –Proverbs 23:24-25a NIV

Recharge:

–What is something you can do today or this week to honor your Dad?

–If your relationship with your father is strained, please prayerfully consider reaching out and forgiving him WITH boundaries. I reached out years ago. It wasn’t easy. I’m so thankful we reconciled before he passed away. God is faithful.

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What Was in Jeremy’s Egg?

Each time I see a plastic egg, I am reminded of this inspiring Easter story, taken from Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul. As we continue to bask in last week’s glorious Easter, may this encore story touch your heart as it does mine.

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind, and a chronic  illness all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Teresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

It wasn’t fair to keep Jeremy in Doris Miller’s class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying? Doris sat for a long time, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.  As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. “Oh God,” she said aloud, “Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’s face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-why, that’s very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.

“Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically–all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Doris decided to call Jeremy’s parents that night to explain the project to them.

That evening, she had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh, yes,” a flower is certainly sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!”

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. “My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy–your egg is empty!”

He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too!”

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”

“Oh, yes!” Jeremy exclaimed. “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up!”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

May we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and ponder it in our hearts.

Reflect:

–How would you respond if Jeremy were in your class?

–Do you demonstrate your faith like Jeremy did?

Renew:

— “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” –1 Samuel 16:7b

— “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” –Matthew 18:2-4 NIV

Recharge:

–What will you do this week to show love and compassion for the Jeremy in your life?

–How will you show your faith more clearly?

Resource:

Kempel, Ida Mae, “What Was In Jeremy’s Egg?”. Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul.

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Stretch Marks

Recently I’ve been marinating on Proverbs 31 Ministries and the tremendous way He’s growing us, in faith and in size.

It made me think of stretch marks. Yes, stretch marks.

I’ve had them on my hips ever since the summer before 9th grade, the summer when I grew 5 1/2 inches in one growth spurt. I was bumbly and awkward back then, towering over all the girls AND guys. Yes, I still am a little bumbly and awkward as a tall drink of water.

I remember aching that summer of growing so much. I felt such weird pain. Little did I know they were growing pains.

Mommas, I can only imagine the sensations you feel as that baby is growing inside of you, stretching you.

One definition says:

“Stretch marks are a form of scarring with an off-color hue. Over time they may diminish, but will not disappear completely. They are caused from the rapid stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth or weight change.”

We won’t worry about the weight change part, shall we?

As leaders it is normal to experience stretch marks and growing pains during growth spurts.  The Lord sometimes grows us rapidly, faster than we feel comfortable with.

In 2016, because of the support of our Proverbs 31 Ministries donors, more than:

  • One Million people are digging deeper into God’s Word with the First 5 mobile app.
  • 700,000 people receive Encouragement for Today daily email devotions.
  • 4.6 million people find encouragement and hope by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
  • 3,000 people are getting equipped for their ministry calling through our She Speaks Conference and COMPEL writers training.
  • 6 million women and families are hearing biblical teaching through our Everyday Life with Lysa radio show airing on 1,300 radio stations throughout the US.

These few statistics are humbling. All glory goes to God.

In the middle of “growth” is the word “OW.”

Sometime growth is painful.

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Just like a gardener prunes branches to get a tree to grow better, God prunes us and stretches our faith. He is the Gardener of our souls, tending us.

Whatever growing pains you are experiencing at home, at work, at church, or in the community, embrace the stretch marks. They are beautiful signs that God is faithful.

“I am the true vine and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” –John 15:1.

Lord Jesus, Thank you for growing our faith, for stretching us,for giving us stretch marks. Every time I look at my stretch marks, I’ll appreciate them much more. Please guide me in the growing, Lord, so I can bear the most fruit for Your Kingdom.

Reflect:

In what areas of my life am I experiencing stretch marks and growing pains?

With God’s guidance, what can you do to prepare for this new fruit that you will bear?

Renew:

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” –Colossians 1:10

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