parenting

Lottery Tickets and Life Lessons

How A lottery Ticket changed My Life! …………

Actually, it was the absence of a lottery ticket that changed my life…………….

I was standing in line at a local store, with my head in the clouds when the cashier abruptly asked “So are you buying a ticket?” It took a few seconds for his question to register, but the moment it did, a host of memories flooded my brain. The clerk was referring to the $600,000,000+ mega millions jackpot to be drawn Friday, but I was thinking back to one of the most vivid memory I have of my childhood.

I was out alone with my dad, and without explanation he looked down at me and exclaimed, “Jody, I want you to promise me that you will never buy a lottery ticket.” Lottery tickets ment nothing to me, so without hesitation, I made a promise that I believe altered the course of my life. Years later, I asked my dad what compelled him to ask me to make that promise and to this day, not only can he not tell me why, but he also can’t remember the incident.

When I made that promise, I barely understood what a lottery ticket was, and I most assuredly never felt the urge to buy one. With all my heart, I believe that day my heavenly Father stirred the heart of my earthly father to make that request, in order to protect me from a weakness neither of us knew I would have years down the road. Every time I pass an instant lottery machine, I think of that day. Every time I see a lottery grow and a frenzy erupt, I remember the promise I made to my dad and I praise the Lord for the gift of a parents spiritually prompted intuition. Now, thirty-seven years later, I have kept my promise and passed the story along to my kids. I have not asked them to make the same promise to me, I have never felt the Spirit leading me to do so but we have had many discussions about the foolishness of gambling and how destructive it can be. When we exit our local Drug Mart, often I will hear one of my kids exclaim to the others, “never put your money in that machine, it’s just like throwing it in the trash.” I feel no embarrassment, and I have never told them to be quiet because I know the lesson of the lottery machine trash can will be engraved into their heads, and that they will remember mommy’s story when they are tempted to part with their own hard-earned cash.

As parents, we can’t guarantee sin free, addiction free kids, by insisting they make a string of promises and vows to us, guaranteeing upright moral living, but we can vigilantly seek wisdom and direction from the Lord for each precious life he has given us. Parenting isn’t a mechanized process. My father never asked my sister or brother to make the same vow he did of me. My father never asked me to make promises to flee other sins I did struggle with as a teen and young adult. I do not know what compelled him to ask what he did, but my prayer is that the Lord would give me the same wisdom and insight for my kids. My time of teaching and instructing, protecting and building is quickly passing. Their eternity is in His hands, but He has seen fit to make me an instrument to be used to shape and mold them in preparation for the future that He has ordained for them from the beginning of time.

I pray the Lord continues to patiently mold and transform me into His likeness so that my kids see Him in me. As Gary Thomas so eloquently and wisely wrote, the purpose of my life, marriage, and family is to make me holy, not happy. My husband and I are responsible, not simply to make our kids happy, succesful, and without need, but to help maintain a sensitive heart that is willing to submit to the transforming power and authority of the Holy Spirit so He can make them holy, through God’s grace and mercy.

Will you join me and cry out to the Lord of Wisdom for wisdom? Will you choose daily to die to yourself in order to serve, teach, and train your children. May our hearts and minds be ever filled with the whispering of the Spirit. May the silence of His voice be deafening, quickly bringing our hearts and focus back to Him and the purpose and callings he has given to us through our children.

Without Reproach

A Father Who Gives Without Reproach

 I have a significant weakness that stems from verbal “abuse” I experienced as a child. Two to three times a month we took a trip to the “farm” to visit with family. I loved these day yet at the same time I dreaded them. We would romp through acres of wooded farmland with our cousins, playing in tree forts, stick forts, and old rusted out pieces of farm equipment. For a city kid, my grandparents woods was heaven on earth. I loved the farm, but eventually we had to leave the fields and return to the house and it was here fear, confusion, and dread flooded my heart. It may seem silly, but as a child I was terrified to ask for anything or use anything because to do so evoked the wrath of a very broken and sick grandparent. To “need” was intolerable no matter how simple or basic the request and consequently many times I chose to go without to avoid the tongue lashings that followed innocent requests. My siblings and I look back on these moments now and laugh, but as a child simply going to the restroom was traumatic. We didn’t know whether to flush or leave “it” floating. Then there was the ever-present TP dilemma. Did you risk wrath and use any and if so, did you dare use more than three squares? In my grandparents broken way, we were loved, but we learned early on that the love they offered was conditional and subsequently, words of reproach were heard moreoften than words of affection.

Now, more than twenty-five later, I still struggle to ask for things I want, or to let others know when I need help. For years, you could put me in the midst of a company buffet or seminar dinner and by nights end I would leave with an empty belly. I have been to lavish banquets with my husband and had server after server approach me offering the most amazing foods, yet been unable to accept their offerings, though my stomach silently grumbled it’s protest with each plate I turned away. It wouldn’t matter if others around me, including family, are helping themselves to exquisite food, because I would still find my hands hand frozen by my side. The reproach I endured during my childhood days on the farm can paralyse and render me unable to accept “gifts” being offered no matter who is offering them.

A while back, the Lord brought this verse in James 1:15 to mind.

If any of you lack wisdom,

let him ask God,

who gives generously to all,

without reproach,

and it will be given him.

What an amazing and glorious description of a loving Father’s heart toward His “needy” child. I am covered by the love of one who is moved with compassion by my needs. He revels in the opportunities my weaknesses provide Him. He delights in showing himself strong, loving, and capable when I am not. This is the true and perfect love of a Father and parent.

God is working in my heart to transform my view of how a parent responds to the needs of their children. My needs and my requests are met without reproach. I am the daughter of a generous Father who is anxious and ready to give when needed and to gently correct when misguided. He never chides or reproaches me when I come humbly and obediently seeking goodness, righteousness, faith, meekness, power, and wisdom from His hand.

How about you? Do you struggle to be transparent? Are you afraid to be vulnerable and needy before Christ Jesus your Father? Has pride joined forces with insecurity like it did in my life, rendering me not only afraid to ask, but also to proud to admit when help is needed?

Bringing It Home….

Sin breeds and replicates itself in the lives of sinners who resist, flee, or refuse the transforming prower of Christ. Can you imagine the horror and disgust that overwhelmed me the day I heard my grandmother’s voice slip from my lips in response to a simple request from one of my children! I froze in horror and marveled at my selfish response. Oh how I wished I could reign in those unkind words, ment to ensure that my child knew just how inconvenient their request for a cup of water was at that moment in time. “Oh Father forgive me!” was all I could mutter. All my son wanted was a glass of water. He was thirsty, there was no sin, no disobedience, no rebellion in that request. He was simply asking me to be who I was, his mama, the one who is responsible to protect, comfort and provide for him when he can not. Jody, you know what it feels to be punished with cruel and unkind words simply because you had a need! O Lord be merciful on my wicked heart! All Jess wanted was for me to watch her jump on the pogo stick. My beautiful little girl, simply seeking the delight and praise of her mother but I quenched that desire to please with harsh and uncaring words. My Father never sleeps, he never slumbers, and He is never too busy to delight and take pleasure in me

Praise be to God for His mercy and His power, that transforms lives crushed, scarred, and burdened by sin and guilt. Praise be to God that He loved me enough to chastise my heart, not because of need, but because of sin. Praise the Lord for do-overs and second chances, and especially for the unconditional love and forgiveness found in the heart of my children. May I never provide a reason to extinguish that love and forgiveness!

Mom’s, our children are gifts, and we are instruments in the hands of our redeemer. Much of what they learn of Christ their Father will come from our lips and from our actions. As we learn to boldly seek the face of our Father, without fear of chastisement and rebuke, may we also strive to project the same love and care we have received from him.

My prayer is that the Lord would continue to heal and transform my heart, giving me the freedom to seek Him when in need able to ask without fear of reproach. My prayer is that the Lord would humble my proud heart so that I would not hide from my weaknesses nor the love of those he has sent to help me. My prayer is that I would learn to be like Him, reveling in the opportunity to die to myself so that I might serve and love others. My earnest prayer is that my life would be a true reflection of the Father, who has redeemed, saved, and loved me, and that His love would draw others to Himself!