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Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’

Debbie, Josh, Michelle

I have received many wonderful Mother’s Day Gifts from my three children—and I have been grateful for each one.  But they have given me gifts they didn’t even know, and those have been the best of all.  I’m sure I could think of dozens, but here are 7 life-changing presents from my two daughters and my son.

1.  Gratitude

I never get over that God would entrust these little lives to me.  As Debbie and Michelle were born, and as Josh came as a 9-year-old, I have found myself overwhelmed that God gave me such gifts.   And as they have grown up, I have realized what transforming gifts they have been.  Thank You, Lord.

2.  Humility

I knew parenting would be challenging, but I had no idea how totally inadequate I was.  On the days of their births, and every day since, I have been over my head.  So humbling.  Gratefully I have had family, friends and books to help.   But most of all, God has been there every step of the way, giving wisdom, encouragement, strength, love and everything else I have needed.  The humility, of course, is still in process.

3.  Selflessness

I had children later in life, and I thought I had, for the most part, grown out of my adolescent self-focus.  But when I took Debbie, my lovely first child, home, I discovered I knew nothing about selflessness.  Any newborn takes more time, attention, care, patience—everything—than you can imagine.

But Debbie had 24-hour colic and rarely slept.  She required all of me.  For several months there was almost no opportunity for me to focus on myself.  Thank you, Debbie, for taking me giant leaps forward in learning to get over my self-centeredness.  Still growing, of course.

4.  Forgiveness

We all make many mistakes in our parenting.  I have made more than my share.  A few years ago my husband’s radio program was doing a surprise program on our family.  They asked  each of our children what they had learned from us.  Michelle said, “From my mom I learned to ask for forgiveness.”

You see, Michelle approaches life differently than I do, and too often I tried to squeeze her into the mold of my life.   So I often had to ask her for forgiveness.  Which she generously gave.  Thank you, Michelle, for forgiving and for teaching me to ask for that mercy.

5.  Perseverance

Rearing children is a long process.  Though supposedly we have completed our assignment in 18-22 years, those of us beyond that know we never really stop being mothers.  There are many normal days, frequent times of celebration and rejoicing, and always some difficult days.

Because Josh came to us from a difficult situation, he brought with him many challenges.  His challenges, of course, became ours.  We and he had many hard days and hard years as he grew out of that troubled boyhood into the man he has become.  Thank you, Josh, for helping me to learn to never give up, to be tenacious, to persevere.

6.  Prayer

I knew how to pray.  I had been a child of God, and serving in ministry, for many years when my first child was born.  Of course I knew how to pray.

But as each child revealed my inadequacy and my weaknesses, as their needs required more wisdom than I had, as life for all of us included pain and trial, I have learned to go to my Father.  To tell Him how I feel, to express what I think I—and my children—need, to pour out my heart, to beg and plead, to thank Him.  I find my prayers are best prayed with open hands—not holding on to my demands, but allowing God to take out and put in His best answers.  Thank you, Debbie, Michelle and Josh, for teaching me to really pray.

7.  Love

Of course we love our children.  As we carry them for 9 months, when they are first placed in our arms, or if they come to us some other way, we are amazed at the intensity of the love we feel for them.

But life tests that love.  Especially when they aren’t always lovable.  When they are whiny and crabby.  When nothing you do satisfies.  When they are disobedient, even defiant.  When they make increasingly bad choices.  And especially when they yell hateful words at us and reject us and what we stand for.

When those things happen—and they did—God reminded me that unconditional love , by definition, keeps loving no matter what they say or do, or even if they don’t love in return.  Thank you, my wonderful children, for being God’s instruments for me to learn to receive and live out His unconditional love.

Debbie, Michelle and Josh, thank you for being God’s good gifts to me.  And as each of you has entered into this wonderful parenting and journey, may God surprise you with the transforming gifts those children will be to you.  I love you.

What about you?  What gifts have others given you?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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At Rest by Pablo Picasso

REST.

That was my word for this year.

I have prayed, rested, listened, read.  And I am still seeking to discern what all God has been saying to me.

One very tangible outcome of my focus on REST occurred mid-year.  REST became the theme of the annual June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.  For two months leading up to our day on our knees, I wrote mini-devotionals on REST for our community.  I thought I knew where I was going with each one, but God had something specific and different to say with each one.  I have been deeply ministered to by these simple sources of REST.

I am posting the introduction here, followed by links to the other articles.  Though they are written to those who love prodigals, each of us will find REST in these truths.

Take the Day Off

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

Are you tired?  Weary?  Need a break?

When you love a prodigal, it is often easy to say “yes!” to those questions.

Our minds are exhausted trying to know where they are and what they are doing, and striving to find something that works.  Our hearts are so weary from the battle, the confusion, the loss, the fear.  Even our bodies are tired—depleted from conflict, sleep-deprived, worn out from going to and fro looking for help.

God says, “Take the day off.”

He is a fan of rest!  He rested after creating the universe.  He provided a day of rest for us.  In fact, he commanded us to rest—he said everyone in the home, including the animals—needs to take a day off and REST!  He even required that the land get a year off every seven years.

I think God is really serious about REST. And I believe this is the theme he has given us for the 2011 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.  It is just over 9 weeks until June 2—9 weeks for us to prepare to do major battle for our very loved wanderers.

Our first focus will be on finding rest for ourselves—our bodies, our minds, our spirits.  But we will also talk about praying rest for our prodigals.

Just think how weary they must be as they fight against us, against their demons and addictions and against the eternal God.  Perhaps some rest for their souls will give them the will to abandon the fight they have chosen and walk a different path.

Our theme verse is Jeremiah 6:16:  “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Over these next 9 weeks I will send additional thoughts on REST.  Be seeking the Lord for yourself and for your prodigal.

With love and grace,

Judy

Here are the links to the rest of the devotionals on REST:

Rest in His Presence

Rest in Repentance

Rest in Release

Rest in Giving Thanks

Rest on the Right Road

Rest in Obedience

Rest in Perseverance

Rest in the Promises

And finally, here is one more post, previously unpublished:

Rest in Forgiveness

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

I still remember the night he lied to me on his way to spend the night with his girlfriend.

The terrible things he said to me in his great drunkenness.

The night he and his high friends frightened our house guest into her room.

And when he stole from his sister.

The lies, the drinking and drugs, the stealing—they happened a lot.  There were consequences, but there were also God-given grace and mercy.

But those specific events—they have been harder.  I have forgiven them many times.  I put them behind me and move on in peace.  But then something triggers a memory, the pain resurfaces, the anger returns.  And once again I need to consciously extend mercy—I need to forgive.  He, of course, knows nothing of this ongoing battle over past offenses.

Unforgiveness is exhausting.

Eventually our prodigals need to know they are forgiven for all they have done—though usually that need comes after they have made some kind of turn around.  We are the ones who are being worn out and worn down when we are not able to forgive.  But what about consequences?  Yes, there will be consequences.

But we must forgive them—and in that forgiveness we will find rest.

Conflict by definition implies lack of rest.  Conflict, being wronged, the ongoing battle: all of these bring offense, something we hold on to, grievances we embrace.  And that grasping will surely exhaust us.

God has given us the key:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

So, is there something you are holding on to, a wrong from your loved one that you have not forgiven?  Take it to Jesus. Consciously forgive.  Then the door is open for peace.  For conflict to dissipate.  For REST.

In His mercy, Judy

Where have you found rest?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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