Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The absence of a father's love


I have debated within myself for a very long time about writing this post.  I certainly would never want to shame anyone.  However, I am a firm believer that God gives us stories to use to help others.  Therefore, I am choosing to share my story in hopes that someone will gain peace by reading it.

My biological father died last March and he never once told me he loved me.  I never heard that he was proud of me.  I was never told that I was the most beautiful girl in the world either.  All of the things daddies are supposed to tell their daughters never landed on my ears or heart.

My parents divorced when I was very young and my father never seemed to take an interest in my upbringing.  

My father did not walk me down the aisle when I got married even though I asked him to.  My hope was to have my step dad on one side and my biological dad on my other side.  He said no.

About a year before he died, I received a certified letter in the mail.  It was from him.  It was five handwritten pages long and he reprimanded me for being a coward and weak.  He used Bible verses to back up his statements.  

Little did he know that Jesus and I have a love affair going.  

Sadly, my father had no idea that my heart is full of love and compassion.  Had he tried to love me, I surely would have let him.

When I found out he was dying, I wrote him a letter telling him that I loved him and forgave him.  I didn't want him to die with any guilt.  I never heard from him.

I struggled when I found out he died.  My dreams and hopes of him finally loving me died too.  I had to trudge through the muck of pain and realize I would never hear my father say he loved me.  I went through a period where I thought it must certainly have been my fault.  I wondered if I had been a bad daughter.

Jesus walked with me throughout the entire process.  He never left me and never let me get so low that satan got a hold of my heart.  Jesus stood in front of me and let me fall on my knees in deep pain behind Him.  He guarded my heart and continued to whisper His love in my ear.  He led me to various Scriptures and songs that reminded me that He is my Father.  He continued to comfort my heart and tell me that His love is not dependent upon human love, even if it is an earthly parent.

If you struggle with a heart void of parental love, please know that Jesus's love is never absent.  His love is constant and real.  He holds His children and showers them with love as only a real parent can.  Cry out to Him and let Him carry you.  Don't allow satan to use your pain for his good.  May your valley turn into a beautiful mountain of trust and deeper love with your Creator.

I am confident that my father was unable to show love.  It breaks my heart for him that he never knew the relationship between a father and a daughter.  I am not angry with him.  My prayer is that he is being held by his Father and finally at peace.  

You are loved and cherished by your Father.  His eyes light up when He looks upon the beauty He created and He gets a tickle in His belly.  How can He not?  You were specifically created so He could love you.  Allow Him to, sweet one.  He longs to hold you and show you how much you mean to Him.

xoxo

Monday, November 24, 2014

Scripture study Printables - Week seven


Click here to print the memory card.

Jesus calls us to be kind and compassionate. Period.  That can be a tall order when we have been hurt.  Take heart because there is good news.  He will equip us with all that we need to show His compassion and forgiveness to those we would rather kick dirt on. 

This week's memory verse will help us set our eyes on Jesus and what He desires.  This week's worksheet will help us sort out and pray for what Jesus is instructing us to do.  May we be able to love others as He loves us.

Click here to print the worksheet. 

Have a wonderful week and trust Jesus to guard your heart and guide you.
xoxo

Saturday, November 22, 2014

You're invited to a party and it won't cost a thing!!



I am excited to announce that I have created a Facebook page specifically for Life with JoysI love spreading encouragement, offering practical tips for living well, and cheering people on.  It is definitely my passion.


Each day, I will post quick points of encouragement for daily living.  See???  It's a party for your soul! :)


All you have to do is head over to my page and click the like button.  My posts will show up on your Facebook feed.



I invite you to click here to head to my page.

I am looking forward to connecting with all of you on the new Life with Joys Facebook page.

Love and blessings to all-
xoxo


Friday, November 21, 2014

Love letters to hurting hearts



It's official....the holiday season is upon us.  I went to the mall today to pick up an item and everywhere I looked, I saw Christmas.  My ears perked up as I heard Jolly 'Ol Saint Nicholas.  I am a Christmas season kind of gal. 


I relish in the weather, the sights and sounds, and the goodness that flows from people's hearts.  I love reading and studying Jesus's birth and what it means for me. 


As I was thinking about all things Christmas, it hit me that so many people feel stressed and lonely this time of year.  Some people worry about where they will find the funds to buy presents.  While others dread spending time with family.  Some feel lonely over the death of a loved one.  While some are reminded of strained relationships and ache for things to be well.  Some are struggling with a diagnoses.  While others are heart broken as they watch a loved one deteriorate.


The reality of all the pain hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wish I could talk with every single hurting person and share love.  While it wouldn't take away the pain, I could let them know someone cares.  Since it's impossible to talk with every person who is struggling with the holiday season, I decided to write love notes to all them.


To those of you worried about buying gifts-
It can be overwhelming to worry about money.  You look around this time of year and commercialism is right in your face.  You long to show people you care with gifts.  You don't want anyone to know you are struggling because you are ashamed and embarrassed.  It's difficult to ask for help.  Please know that there is no shame in asking for help.  There are many people who truly want to help people who need it.  Often, the people who help understand the most because they have been in your shoes.  Churches are a great resource for help.  They offer food and gifts for children.  Also, homemade gifts are some of the best gifts out there because they are made with love in mind.  You will get through this, even when it doesn't feel like it.  God does not see your bank account and assign you a worth card.  You are worthy and loved no matter what.  Lean on Him, dear friend. 


To those who dread spending time with family-
Spending time with people who have hurt you or betrayed you can be difficult.  It is never fun to be around toxic people or placed in tense situations.  We want to run and hide from it all.  I write this as a person who has been there.  Here's my loving advice - don't let anyone steal the joy that Jesus so freely gives you.  When you are around people who drag you down, hold your head high.  Spend your time pleasing Jesus.  Focus on what He wants, rather than the hurt and tension.  Let Him own your heart, not those around you.  Also, it is completely ok to limit your time at family functions.  If the environment is too toxic, a short visit will suffice.  Do what's right by Jesus and you will leave the function with a clear conscious and a clean heart.


To those who feel lonely over the death of a loved one-
You have to grieve. Period.  No matter what time of year it is, a heart that loved deeply will ache deeply.  You are grateful for the love Jesus gave you to share, but the pain seems unbearable.  Don't deny yourself your pain.  Keep a journal and write prayers, pains, and times you feel lifted up.  Cry out to God and tell Him exactly how you feel.  Lean on Him to get you through this season with a heart that can still love and rely on Him.


Those who suffer due to strained relationships-
Strained relationships stink.  They are painful and hurt like the dickens.  You may not be in control of the strain at all.  I get that.  My biological father wanted nothing to do with me.  Right up to his death, he didn't seem to want anything to do with me.  Here's what I learned - it was not my fault.  We cannot control other people's hearts, emotions, actions, or reactions.  When someone you love has cut you out of their life, you have to rely on God.  You have to know without a shred of doubt that God's love for you is not dependent on people's ability to give love.  As a matter of fact, He has quite a tender heart for those who feel unloved.  Ask Him to surround you and carry you.  I promise with every breathe I breath, He will.
If you have created the strain, think about mending it this season.  I know it is scary.  I know you might not want to.  Oh my goodness-I fit into this one to.  It is hard putting a broken relationship back together.  It has to be done piece by piece.  Once you begin, the weight that is lifted off of your shoulders is amazing.  You will not realize the pain weighing you down until you release it.  Ask God to hold your hand and guide you in this.  He will lead you where He wants you to go.  You only have to listen and obey.


To those who struggle with a diagnoses-
I do not want to write anything that will minimize your pain and fear.  I will not tell you not to worry.  These are all emotions that accompany medical diagnoses.  I will tell you that it is ok to cry.  It is ok to lean on those around you and let them carry you.  Let them shower you in love and care for you the only way love knows how.  God knows your full story.  Trust Him that He is in charge.  Even when things seem hopeless, He is there.  When worries invade you and you can think of nothing else, remember...but God.


To those who are watching a loved one struggle with an illness-
God knows your heart.  He knows your pain and cries when you cry.  Don't ever doubt that Jesus cries.  The shortest verse in the Bible reads, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35).  You are not alone, even when you feel like it.  Your strength and courage may feel depleted.  You wonder how you will continue to show care when you feel so empty.  You wonder how you will survive if something happens to your loved one.  Take heart, sweet one, God knows.  He does not want you to feel guilt over your feelings.  He wants you to know He hears you and understands.  He does not expect you to do this alone.  Lean in and put your head on His shoulder.  Let Him comfort you and fill you back up with His love and strength.  He knows-


God created me to feel deeply.  My heart hurts at the thought of anyone struggling.  Please know that I will pray over these letters and those who read them.  I love each and every one of you regardless if we have never laid eyes on each other.  You are a child of God and we are related, sweet friend.  You are loved by your King.  Lean on Him and let Him carry you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I have a secret to share-



I have a secret to share and if I were a gambler {which I'm not.  If I'm throwing money away, it has to be on really cute shoes!} I would bet that it's your secret too.


I just want to be real and I want those around me to be real too.  Life can be hard enough without trying to be an actress all day long.  Let's take off our stage clothes and put on our yoga pants.  Let's get comfy in our skin and really live.


There, I said it!! 


Let's have a wall tearing down party.  What if we all decided to be who we really are rather than who we are trying so hard to portray?  What if we are honest about our insecurities and fears?  What if we own our failures and admit that we are hurting?


I feel badly for people who always have to appear to be perfect.  I know people who would rather eat dirt than admit they hurt.  My heart breaks for them.  Trust me, I know walls.  I have built plenty in my time.  I want those around me to know that it's ok.  Let's just be real and be honest.  When we hurt, let's not sugarcoat it.  Let's just own it, love on each other, and stand back up. 


Can you imagine how we could help each other??  I don't know about you, but I am always refreshed when I know someone is really human.  I'm not saying I want people to hurt or have bad days, but it sure is refreshing to know I'm not alone.


So in honor of the wall tearing down party, I am going to open up and share some of my fears and insecurities.  I hope they will encourage you to open up too. 


  • I worry every.single.day. about gaining weight.
  • I have been dropped by friends and it still hurts to think about.
  • I feel lonely sometimes.
  • There are days I wonder if I am doing anything God called me to do.
  • Some days I worry that I have passed my insecurities on to my kids.
  • At times, I worry my husband will be attracted to someone else and not be tickled pink when he looks at me.
Let's get this party started and really live.  Turn up the music, dance, and live for real!!  Let's be real purposeful in our real living-


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lukewarm Test #2 - Relationship or Rules?


Jesus desires for us to have a real relationship with Him.  He doesn't want a superficial relationship that consists of lip service and checking man made rules off of a list.  He doesn't care how many times our bodies sit in a church service.  Sitting in a church service does not make a relationship.  He cares if our hearts are fully devoted to Him in all that we do.

A real relationship is fostered by time together.  For example, in order for my husband and I to really know each other, appreciate each other, and deeply love each other we have to spend real quality time together.  Just knowing the other person exists will not make our relationship. 

It is the same with Jesus.  Just professing that He is real does not create a relationship with Him. 

Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Many times this verse is read and people check it off of a list.  Yep, I believe in Jesus so I'm good, people think.  However, in the original language the word "believe" is a verb.  A verb is an action.  When we truly believe in Jesus, we can't help but live for Him and about Him.  Our hearts turn towards pleasing Him rather than ourselves and others.  Our thoughts and hearts revolve around Him.

Ways to create and grow a relationship with Jesus:
  • Upon waking, give thanks to God and ask Him to guide you throughout the day.
  • Keep a prayer journal.  In the journal, write prayer requests.  When the prayers are answered, write the date and the answer next to the request.
  • Memorize Scripture.  Keep a small notebook to write a Scripture each week to memorize.  Throughout the week, you may notice God speaking to you through the Scripture.  Write these occurrences in the notebook on the page with the Scripture.
  • Read your Bible DAILY.  Take notes in your Bible.  The more you mark it up, the more it becomes yours.
  • Be involved in a Bible study.  Whether it is on your own or in a group, studying portions of the Bible will strengthen your love for Jesus.
  • Love on those the world views unlovable.  Make eye contact, smile, engage in conversations, etc, with people that you come in contact with.
  • Surround yourself with others who truly have a relationship with Jesus.  You will encourage each other.

So are you wondering if your heart is in a relationship or just checking rules off of a list?  Here is your test...

Matthew 7:20 - So you'll recognize them by their fruit.

When one is truly in a relationship with Jesus, the fruits of the Spirit pour out onto others.  The heart is focused on Jesus rather than on self. 

Galatians 5:22-23a...The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.

Do you see these fruits pouring out of you??  If so, keep growing in your relationship with Jesus.  If not, it is not too late to create a relationship.  As long as you are breathing, there is time.

Commit today to grow in your relationship with Jesus.  May He be your #1 priority always. 
xoxo

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Melt in your mouth delicious!


{Photo taken from www.savorysweetlife.com}


Yesterday my husband suggested I make some sugar cookies for the kids.  Kids??  Don't you mean you honey?? 


So I searched Pinterest and found a recipe that made my mouth water just by looking at the ingredients.  I didn't want a recipe that called for shortening.  Is it just me, or does everybody think it's gross to eat shortening??


Oh my goodness - knock my socks off!!  The cookies turned out sooooooo delicious!!  And they were super easy to make. 


With the holiday season upon us, these cookies will come in quite handy.  They would make a great gift or you could take them to a cookie exchange.  Or you could just share them with your family as you cuddle on the couch and watch Christmas movies. :)


{If you want to see beautiful pictures of the cookies, you can click here.}  

Here is the recipe {compliments of savorysweetlife.com}...

Dropped Cracked Sugar Cookies
Makes 32 medium sized cookies – Adapted from AllRecipes.com
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup salted butter
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup coarse sugar crystals or regular granulated sugar
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream together butter and sugar until it is nice and creamy.  Mix in 1 egg yolk at a time and vanilla extract.   Add flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, and salt until cookie dough is completely mixed.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl to be sure everything is mixed.  Using a medium scoop, form dough balls and roll them in sugar crystals.  Place cookie balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart from one another.  Be sure not to flatten the dough.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until the surface of each cookies have a cracked like texture.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to remain on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

xoxo