growth

Whose attractive image do you want to reflect?

Sitting in church on a Sunday morning listening to the message I was stopped by that feeling rising within me. I’m talking with you, my daughter…will you listen?

It’s every little girls dream to have her daddy walk her down the aisle to her waiting fiancé. Right? I’m not alone in this, am I?

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Awwww

I know.

You can tell I am his daughter – right? Daddy’s girl.

Same big brown eyes.

Same head full of thick dark hair.

It doesn’t take much to be able to tell I am his daughter. I reflect many of his characteristics.

My dream came true the day he walked me down the aisle to my waiting fiancé.

The picture doesn’t tell the whole story though. What you can’t see from looking at this photo is that he walked out of my life shortly after the courts took us from his home when I was ten years old. He walked out again after walking me down the aisle.

You can’t see that no matter what I desired, he would not pursue me as his daughter. I’m sure he is a good man. But chose not to pursue a relationship with me.

Why wouldn’t he choose relationship with me? 

I asked – when my daughter was 3 months old. I made a trip to ask him to be involved in her life and in mine. He said his priorities had been messed up. Maybe he wanted to – but didn’t seek me out. About three years later I received a call from him but by then I was angry. Heartache is real and grief has a progression of emotions that takes on a life of its own.

Years later in a handwritten, snail mail delivered note I would ask his forgiveness for my anger and the range of emotions I felt towards him over the years. I unexpectedly got a response from him. “Let’s try again.” Of course I want to try again. It’s the longing of my little girl heart & my big girl heart too.

He never followed through with pursuing a relationship with me…his daughter.

A heartache I have carried most of my life.

I wonder if you have carried that same heartache.

Maybe different circumstances than mine – But your heartache has been very real.

3 things that stood our for me as I sat in the chair – absent from the sermon:

1 – God has not left us fatherless. He himself is a Father to the Fatherless. {Psalm 68:5}

2 – God Knew us before He formed us {Psalm 139}

3 – God Chose us {Ephesians 1:4}

As I leaned in to pay attention to the thoughts flowing through my mind, the words came one by one.

Though I have long desired to be loved by the one whose image I clearly reflect, God has not forgotten me. His love and care for me is as real as my desire for a daddy. He knows me and he has not left me alone or without a father. A daddy. It’s one thing to read these words and quite another thing to let them sink into who I am and how I view myself.

My Father. Who knew me. Who is my strong tower. Who is my safe place. He is the one whose image I want to reflect. I want you to look at me and see a glimpse of the reflection of my father, God. Because I know Him, because I’ve spent time with him, because the more I do, the more I reflect His image – without great effort.

I think of  the photo of JFK – his son playing at his feet in the Oval Office. As the son of the president he had access unearned. I think in pictures like this one.

God knew me before He formed me in my mothers womb. He granted me access unearned.

I was already a Daddy’s Girl.

His Girl Not because of anything I did. And He didn’t leave because of anything I did wrong or could have done better. Nothing brings me more peace than this. Nothing helps me settle my anxious heart more than this.

My Dad – I may have his eyes, I may have his hair. But today I can say I reflect something much more beautiful than my earthly Father.

I hope as you look at me you see a glimpse of the resemblance of my Heavenly Father who has loved me since before I took my first breath.

But more than that, if you have faced heartache from not being chosen, from a father walking out of your life, or maybe a father who had stayed but not been present, there is a Holy God who is as close as your breath who made you in His image and longs for you to know just that. I hope as you stand in front of a mirror after reading my words, YOU see in yourself a glimpse of who God is just by the very fact that He created you.

He is your Father. He knows you better than you could ever imagine, your thoughts, your heartaches, your joys, your desires.

And He is pursuing us, you and I. He has and will continue to. He loves you more than you will ever know. Will you sit with these thoughts for a bit to consider whose attractive image you want to reflect?

When A Woman Finds Her Voice

“I won’t tell if you don’t!”

We never really said it, but we knew we shared the common bond. The bond of silence.

The decision to swallow our words helped us through some terrifying times and erected a wall of protection around our hearts. With an unwritten allegiance, my brothers and I stood by each other within those constructed walls.

I was familiar with deferring to the voice, stifled by fear. The one that held the power. My first lesson in this subject came at the age of five. If you tell, they will not believe you. And they may never let you come back. Back to visit the pony with the silky flowing mane.  And so, the lump in my throat grew large, larger than life for a young girl barely school age. I loved the pony. I swallowed in silence. I will not tell.

It wasn’t the first time I had been rendered speechless.

These childhood classrooms provided curriculum–educating me early. The lessons learned provided a legend for the map I would navigate through life.

Until…God beckoned me to begin voice lessons. The journey to finding my voice began. One lesson at a time he began to teach me how to use the voice he gifted me. A new classroom.

In her soon to be released book When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Overcoming Life’s Hurts and Using Your Voice to Make a Difference,  Jo Ann Fore invites us to allow God to be the one who gives us a voice. The one he intended for us to use as he gifted us our first breath.

Cover When A Woman FInds Her Voice

 

“Whether you need emotional healing or are looking for tools to help others, When A Woman Finds Her Voice offers practical hope, straight talk, and insightful biblical truths that lead you to find this healing, and then helps you lead others to do the same…”

Her book is available now for pre-order. Grab yours NOW and begin the journey to finding your voice.

 

Pizza JOY

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It may look like its just a pizza but it’s much more really. It is somewhat of a tradition. No – I don’t prefer to eat this pizza by myself, but with a younger friend whom I have been blessed to call friend for almost ten years now.

She KNOWS how to custom order a pizza. On occasion I have texted her from Cootie Brown’s Restaurant to ask for the list of toppings.

It’s that good.

I had a conversation with another friend recently about how mentoring rarely if ever is one sided. It was a healthy debate between us.

Both people in the relationship are offered opportunity for growth in the time spent together. My relationship with Melissa is a relationship that has grown us both personally and in mutual relationship with one another over the years.

There have been times I have had to humble myself and ask her forgiveness for not handling something well. Worse yet, if I were to totally expose myself, for not being completely honest in my conversation with her. Concerned how it might be received, I wasn’t willing to risk being authentic with my answer. She was gracious and chose to forgive.
We stretch one another.
We compliment one another.
We grow one another.
If we are willing.

God puts us in classrooms which become catalysts for the lessons He desires to teach us. Not always comfortable. Not always what we expected. But He offers them as a place to learn and grow through.

I am thankful for those who have made my life full to overflowing for having been in the classroom with them. In my life, to walk alongside a younger woman is to desire to show her Christ in all things – through relationship. It’s not just about teaching from the scriptures but about living them out in relationship with others in a way that impacts. Yes – if we are both growing – we are both impacted.

Who knows what the next ten years will look like. Maybe by then each of us will have our PhD!

What do YOUR classrooms look like?

JOY of New Growth

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Day 24

It happens year after year. Yet somehow it’s like the first time every time for me.
The excitement of watching the new growth of spring pop through the hard ground brings anticipation.

All through the fall and winter I let go of the beauty. I miss it. It’s hard to remember and trust that though the stems are completely cut back, pruned, and nothing shows above the ground, that new growth will take place in due time. In God’s time.

In times of lessons it feels as if there is no purpose. No work taking place within me.
I become weary. He tells me to come to Him. To take his yoke upon me and learn from Him. Matthew 11:28.

At times I’m tempted to question why i have to come back to this lesson again. Why cant I just get it? When I see the stems burst forth through the hard ground it reminds me of the work God is doing within me, when I don’t even know it.

All things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purposes. Romans 8:28.
Even the times of pruning and pending darkness. God is working to bring glory to Himself.

He can be trusted. I am reminded by the stalk of the soon coming Iris. I can’t wait to come back and share the glory of the full grown bushes in the peak of the season.
God knows every high and low we face.
Nothing escapes Him.
He is always at work.
All creation answers to Him.
All creation praises Him.

And I will take JOY today in the darkness of this most recent season, that brings forth evidence that He was at work all along.

What do you need to trust Him with?