Faith, joy

How to gain influence

I asked the Lord this question this time last year. I was working so hard to build my social media platform and blog following in preparation for shopping my book to publishers. When it comes to publishing, it’s often a numbers game. It’s exhausting and yet necessary for any kind of public platform.

But I was exhausted and found it draining to my soul, so I asked the Lord,

God, how do I increase my influence?

In total God fashion, he immediately popped back with one word.

Intimacy.

I was surprised and yet not at all shocked by his response. I didn’t quite get it, but was up for the challenge of finding out exactly what he meant. The thing is, I thought I was intimate with the Lord! Cearly, he had deeper places to show me.

To be honest, I was disappointed and a bit frustrated. You see, I’m really good at getting things done. God knows this about me, which is why just about every time I’ve had big promotions or leaps forward toward my goals it’s after he’s asked me to do nothing – like zero. I have been told the following,

  • Sit down.
  • Just look at me.
  • Who better to speak for you than me?
  • I’m going to do it and when I bring it to you, you’ll know it’s me.

That’s right. When God wants to do big things in my life he asks me to step out of the way.

So what do I do? I obey! I’ve learned that his ways really are better than my ways. Yes, I know how to do things and get them done, but what I can accomplish on my own is not nearly as significant as what He can do.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that God wants to do amazing things in our lives, but we have to work with him, not against him!

And don’t worry, there will be work ahead! When the time is right, He’ll say,

Ready, GO! Do what I’ve created you to do! Be you and watch me do the rest!

We are so much more productive when we are working with the Lord, not arm wrestling him to do it our way. Because that’s the crazy thing about God’s love, He’s not a bully and we have the choice to do what we want and how we want to…It’s just way harder and less effective.

So once again I’m looking to the Lord this year. Focusing on attention and gaze on the love of my life. I’ll work hard at the things he puts in front of me and listen and obey when he tells me to back off.

If you’re like me and wondering how to become more productive and influential, the best practical advise I can give you is to dive into the Word of God like never before. If you’ve never been a Bible reader, start now and try reading one book of the Bible, or 1 Psalm a day. If you are an occasional reader, get on a consistent plan. If you’re a lover of the Word, try a new translation.

You may not see it right away, but you’ll soon discover the change in your heart and in your perspective. Things will shift and ways will become more clear, and this time next year you’ll be able to look back and say, “hallelujah! He is faithful!”

I believe the power of your influence is directly related to your connection with the Lord. The more your mind and heart is in tune with the Lord’s, and your steps are in line with the Spirit, the less energy you have to spend cleaning up the mess of sin, and the greater your love grows.

You can’t have authority over that which you don’t love.

Love. Love for yourself, for others and for God. That’s the greatest influence one can have.

And let me be clear… That love does not need to be returned – just given. You’ll be filled as you look to the Lord – His is the most sufficient love you’ll ever know.

I bless you this year to be more intimate with Lord than ever before and watch as your love influences the world!

Joyfully,

Season

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 17 – HARK! – JBA

Today’s Christmas song lyrics are ones that fly under the radar, but have the power to literally destroy sin and death!

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born king.
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinner reconciled.

Do you wonder if God has something against you? That he holds you at an arms length and doesn’t talk to you as much as others? Or, because of all kinds of things, you just have to work extra hard for his approval. Maybe you are trying to avoid him because you’re afraid of his reaction to your current state or past decisions. There is a gap between you and God and sometimes it just feels too big to do anything about.

But, the angels in the song were right!

Hark! Listen up!

Jesus is here!! And because of him, we have been reconciled to the Lord!

He has come to bridge the gap of our sin and the holiness of God. He doesn’t come with pointed finger and condemnation. Jesus came as a gentle and humble baby. He comes to us with love. He comes to us with peace. He comes to bring us into deep and loving relationship with our Father in heaven.

God and sinner reconciled.

And the best part is that it isn’t something you can earn. Jesus did it just for you, before you even knew about it.

Are you living as one who has been reconciled with the Father? Or, do you walk around believing that there is still a disqualified stamp on your record preventing you from receiving the fullness of your inheritance?

HARK! Listen up! You are a child of the Most High, and through your faith in Jesus, you get all that is His.

Glory to the new born King!

Joyfully,

Season Bowers

Joy Bringer’s Advent

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 15 – Did Mary Know – JBA

Mary, did you know?

It’s a great song…but also an interesting question.

As I think about Mary, my heart is stirred. We only have a glimpse into her heart, mind, and life, and the rest is, well, unknown.

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” – Luke 1:26-28

How did she feel about her arranged marriage? What did her heart long for? What was she doing the moment Gabriel came to her? I imagine she was in the middle of chores; fetching water, cooking, or cleaning perhaps. Maybe she was daydreaming about her upcoming marriage, or meditating on her favorite psalm.

He calls her favored, but did she know that? Did she feel or believe that she was favored by God – set apart? I imagine that she was a young woman of purity — in heart, mind, and spirit. She knew the Lord, and he knew her. She was obedient and faithful, but this was a real moment, and Mary was a real girl….

“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.” Luke 1:29

I love that we are privy to this reaction! When the Lord calls us favored we often don’t see it. We are not judged by our initial reaction, the Lord gives us so much grace to process in our humanness. She was confused and disturbed, not by the angel’s message (he hadn’t told her the big news yet!), but by the label, favored.

She wasn’t favored by the world’s standards. She was a poor servant girl who didn’t have much going for her, accept the thing that really mattered – her heart was pure.

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” – Luke 1:30-33

In this moment, the angel reveals to her that the her baby will be the King! But did she know more than that? Was she able to process the full extent of what he said? Like most of us would, she had a hard time getting past the reality of her perspective and current life situation…

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” – Luke 1:34

No matter how big our faith, or our love for the Lord, we can’t help but assess our situation from our own perspective. We want to believe but often we cry, BUT HOW, GOD!?

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” – Luke 1:35-37

God is so faithful to meet us where we are and provide for our every need. Mary wasn’t punished for her questioning – he answered her. The Lord even provided her with someone to link arms with – someone who was also in a miraculous situation. He thought of everything. He is so faithful.

“Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” – Luke 1:28

There it is again – a pure and faithful young woman. Trusting, obedient, and even though she probably didn’t completely understand, Mary was going to walk forward through the fear.

And there was plenty to be frightened of!

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.” – Luke 1:46-55

Mary was not perfect, but she was chosen to carry the perfect one. We will never know all she knew and when, but we can learn from her story.

Like Mary, we are chosen to carry the perfect one. All it takes is a willingness to believe and receive him into our hearts.

We can trust that God is doing things in our lives far beyond our capacity to understand and all it takes is a, Yes, Lord.

And finally, we need to hold loosely the gifts the Lord gives us. Mary was given Jesus, but only to give him away. The gifts we receive from the Lord aren’t just for us. They are for us to bring him glory by giving them away to others.

Today, my prayer is one of gratitude. Like Mary, I rejoice that the Lord has taken notice of me, and you, and given us the gift of Jesus.

And in case you haven’t been told lately, you are favored by God!

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent

 

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 13 – What Color Is Your Christmas – JBA

White?

Black?

Red?

Green?

Blue?

Let me explain.

For many of us, our childhood Christmases were red and green and sparkling with hope and possibility. Bright lights twinkled with our heart’s desire. The smell of food and the sounds of laughter are carved into our memories and all it takes is one sighting of the infamous red and green combination to bring that feeling to the forefront of our hearts.

But at some point, for many of us, the colors have changed.

I’ll never forget the year that not one, but both of my grandmothers were in the hospital….and no joke, same hospital, same floor, a few rooms away from each other. Talk about a grey Christmas! My parents and I spent both Christmas eve and Christmas day going back and forth between their room trying to bring as much cheer to the gloomy situation. Of course, the hospital’s cafeteria was closed so we ventured out to find an open restaurant to have some kind of Christmas dinner. The truck stop we found didn’t help to bring any color to the moment….Just grey and very sad.

I don’t have to go into too much detail to tell you about when Christmas was black. Fresh divorce, living alone, no family (almost all recently diseased), and ugly crying all day on the couch.

There have been times when Christmas has felt more green than anything. A few years ago, my husband and I found ourselves both unemployed, penniless and totally at a loss as to how to pay rent or any of our bills, let alone provide even one gift for our girls on Christmas morning. We were thankful that our daughters were with their mom that year so we didn’t have to disappoint them with our financial reality.

You’ve never seen two more downtrodden people than my husband and I on the couch all day on Christmas with no kids, no money, and no cheer…only silent prayers and football on tv. But just like the Lord in his faithfulness, a friend of my husband stopped by late at night on Christmas day and gave him a card to thank him for helping with some personal fitness goals. In the card….$500. The friend said, “please use this money to bless your family.” He knew nothing of our situation. We were able to hit the stores early the day after Christmas and buy each girl a few things so that when they came back to us that night, we had gifts under the tree (and money left over to get groceries).

There were many years of blue Christmases where nothing sparkled because without my mother and grandmothers, I couldn’t grab hold of the hope and promise that was supposed to be celebrated.

But then there was the yellow Christmas. Christmas day 2011, the day I met my future daughters. Hope and light came back into the picture. I never thought it would happen that way, but the Lord knew. I was given the best Christmas present ever…a family of my own.

And now, after a kaleidoscope of Christmases, I can honestly say Christmas is now red. It’s full of love, warmth, and truth. I’m able to see and celebrate the reason for the season. I am struck by the power of my Savior’s love and I marvel at the beauty of God’s great plan.

What color is your Christmas?

White: peaceful and pure?

Blue: painful and lonely?

Green: full of financial strife?

Black: hopeless and dark?

Whatever color your Christmas, the truth is, all color is beautiful. No matter what color, you have permission to feel and be just where you are. But, if I may, as one who has been through the many colors of Christmas, let me encourage you with this. It will change. Your black Christmas will not be black forever.

The colors are endless.

At its core, Christmas is full of color. The black of the world in turmoil, desperate and in need of breakthrough. The shining yellow star of hope piercing through the darkness. The white and pure Savior who was born to bring peace to the world. And the red love that was poured out from the throne room of heaven to a world in need.

Whatever color your Christmas, be encouraged and remember, a beautiful rainbow doesn’t exist without all of them.

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 12 – Makin’ A List – JBA

Making a list, checking it twice…..

Ok, I get that this song is in reference to Santa, but I was just asking what the Lord what he wanted me to write on today and those are the lyrics I heard.

I am not going to write about being on the naughty or nice list…although I am a very good girl. Today, I feel led to write about our wish list.

Do you have a wish list?

Mine was not a family of Christmas wish list makers. I am an only child and my mom never needed a list to know what I wanted. She was a professional gift giver – especially to her one and only daughter. So, I’ve always found it odd when people make lists of what they want and give it to others. Que the personal epiphany! Maybe this is why the Lord wants me to write on this today! (Welcome to my external processing! This is really happening as I write this!)

I’ve had a problem over the years asking the Lord for what I want. A few years ago the Lord called me to dream again. You see, I had lived my dream – dream job, marriage, house, etc. I had it all and then it sort of turned. There was another side of it all and it didn’t turn out to be what I thought. So I gave the reigns over to the Lord, thanked him for fulfilling what I thought were my dreams, and surrendered my life and dreams to him. I said,

“You dream for me now, Lord. Whatever you have for me, wherever you want me. You have full permission to do anything with me and my life.”

And thus began a few years of surprise after surprise:

  • Getting my Masters of Divinity in Seminary
  • Meeting and marrying my husband Kris (in 10 weeks!)
  • Becoming a mother to 3 daughters
  • Moving to another city
  • Becoming a pastor

I could have never dreamed these things! They were so far off my radar that it literally took the hand of God. So, as I settled into these new roles, I began to hear the Lord say,

“It’s your turn to dream.”

BUT HOW, LORD?! My new life was so far beyond what I expected I didn’t even know where to start.

The Lord is so patient with us. In a kind and gentle way he encouraged me to just start with something.

“State your dreams.”

So one night, I thought real hard, closed my eyes and squeezed out, “Lord, I want to go on a missions trip with my husband.” I felt like I had just dropped a bomb and waited for the fallout.

THE NEXT DAY….isn’t God crazy like that…..THE NEXT DAY WE GOT A CALL! Not only were we invited to go to Mexico with a group, it was all expenses paid, AND (here’s the kicker) the guy had thought of inviting us the night before AT THE SAME TIME I WAS PRAYING! Glory!

I think the Lord gets such a kick out of doing this to us. That began a series of me stating a dream, and in an instant, him making it happen. I was shocked! He kept saying,

“Dream bigger, Season!”

But it was hard! I felt like I couldn’t dream too big. I had lived a great life. I had gotten all the things I thought I wanted….was there room for more?!

I was under the false impression that we can only experience so much goodness until we meet some kind of Christian quota and we can’t have any more or it would be bad.

WRONG!

The Lord has taught me that it’s his joy and delight to give good gifts to his children when we connect to him and are in line with his heart. It’s the same with our own kids. When they earn our trust with what we give them, they can have more.

I have come into a season where the big dreams I have stated to the Lord are really coming true. It’s taken a lot of trust, patience, prayer and deep connection with Him, but it’s all real and it’s all happening on His time. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As I write this, friends, it’s for two reasons.

First, I want you to hear what the Lord is saying. It’s time to dream. And for some of you, it’s time to dream again. He wants you to know that he cares so much about your old, dusty dreams. He loves to make them a reality! All it takes is a turning to him! That’s the thing. In all this that I’ve gone through, he’s asked me to rely totally on him and not try to make my dreams happen on my own. That’s been so hard!! When I asked what I needed to do for these things to become a reality he simply said,

“Look at me.”

He wants you to lean in. Cuddle deep into the arms of the Father and rest. Tell your daddy in heaven your heart’s desires and watch what happens.

The other reason I am sharing this with you is for my own development. I hear the Lord saying, again,

“You’re not done, Season. Dream bigger.”

Dream with me friends,

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent

Faith, joy

Just another day

As I was driving to pick up my daughter, I didn’t want to be in the car one more second! I drove almost 100 miles that day but never went farther than 3 miles!  3 MILES AT A TIME AND LOGGED 100 MILES!!

Here’s what it looked like…

3 school drop offs

1 kid back home because she was too sick to go

To Work

Left work to go to, Dollar store, drug store, post office, 3 different grocery stores

Back to work

2 school pick ups and drop off at home

Back to work

Home from work

Took 1 kid to youth group (back at work)

Picked up kid from youth group (at work)

Back home

It was a good day, don’t get me wrong, but it was certainly a day full of running. As I got up the energy to get back in the car to, once again, head back to work to pick up my daughter from youth group, I made the conscious decision to be filled with gratitude. But in all honesty, it was 10 pm and I was battling weariness from the day. It would have been easier to be focused on the negative, but I’ve been there and it doesn’t actually help. So instead, I began to thank the Lord for everything in front of me.

Thank you Lord for,

-my car!

-the gas in my car!

-the ability to drive

-street lights that work

-pavement to drive on

-drivers on the road who obey the rules

The list went on until my daughter got in the car. At the same time she hopped in, my phone notified me that I had a FB message. It was a direct message from a gentleman who goes to my church. I had never received a message from him and seeing that it was 10:15 pm, I was curious. He told me that he felt led to send me a song….As we pulled into the garage and my daughter got out of the car, I clicked on the link to listen to it.

It was an old gospel song….I mean old! I had never heard of it, but as it played I started to laugh.

Just another day that my Lord has kept me, yes it is
Just another day that I've been in my saviour's care, yes it is
Wanna say he threw his loving arms all around me, yes he did
And there I found peace and joy right there

Another day, I've been working in Gods vineyard, oh yeah
Another day, you know he kept me by his side, oh yeah
He said I know just how hard you've been laboring, mm hmm
He said I want you to sit down and rest a while 

I replied to the gentleman and asked when he thought to send this to me. He told me he felt the Lord nudge him with that around 10 pm….right when I was being grateful to the  Lord for the little things! Thankful for just another day!

How sweet is the Lord!? He was so faithful to meet me in that praise and gratitude. He was generous to encourage me as I chose to focus on the small stuff when I really wanted to focus on grumbling about my crazy day of driving and non-stop and, frankly feeling very much unappreciated.

God is so good! He sees us!  He knows us! He even uses other willing servants to deliver sweet messages of love to us.

When you are weary and the desire to grumble and complain gets overwhelming, choose gratitude!  Even if you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, try being thankful for the mundane, the laws of nature, or even the simple (but powerful) heartbeat inside you.

The truth is that the Lord does everything with JOY. There is never a moment when God gripes about you or feels anything other than delight over you. Let’s partner with the Father and turn grumbling into gratitude.

Grateful for just another day,

Season 

Faith, joy

Broke and holy?

I LOVE a bargain….can I get an amen?! For me it’s even deeper than that. I REALLY LOVE to get things on the cheep. I mean, I don’t want to buy it unless it is under $20, but $10 is even better! It shocks me at how much things cost, and when you know you can find it (or a version of it) for less, why pay more!? Isn’t that some store’s slogan?  I mean really, why pay more?!?!

How many of us, when complemented on something we have on or an item in our homes, respond with “dude, this was 10 bucks at Target on clearance!!” We all giggle and high five each other over our ability to find a steal. And it’s fun! We love to save our family’s money and still look great. We love to treasure hunt for that great piece to go on the side table in the living room and brag about it. To me it’s the equivalent of bragging about catching the big one….but it’s not a fish, it’s the perfect black sweater for under $12.

Maybe it’s because I have always been on a tight budget…a theatre actor turned pastor, both not known for the lucrative paycheck. I have petty much always worked for not-for-profit companies (churches and most theatres). There is a very different sensibility of how money is spent because the majority of that money comes from donations.

But something has come to my attention of late and I’ve really been wrestling with it. I don’t think it’s just that I want to save money or enjoy the thrill of the bargain hunt. I think there is something in me that isn’t comfortable with the idea of spending the money because I don’t believe I’ll ever have it. Or, that I don’t deserve it. It’s called the poverty spirit. Now, I’m not about to preach the prosperity gospel and claim that the Lord wants all of us to drive fancy cars and have privet jets. But what I have discovered about myself is that somewhere along the line I decided that being poor is more holy. And I love holiness. I love being set apart for the Lord. I don’t want anything to get in the way of my communion with God so I don’t embrace the things that would distract me….like money… right?! Wrong!

Money isn’t evil…poverty isn’t holy.

I’ve discovered that I have believed the lie that being poor, or living without, is more holy than having money. I’m thinking, and probably have said something like, “I’m broke for Jesus!” It’s not surprising that that notion is out there. Monks and nuns (those we often point to as the most holy) take vows of poverty. Then it most be holy!

But the truth is, it’s all a heart issue. The Lord wants all of my heart and yours. His message was never, money is evil and poverty is holy. Rather, his question is, to whom or what does your heart belong? Contrary to my thinking, spending $12 or $85 on a prefect black sweater doesn’t matter to the Lord. What matters to him is that I trust him. He actually enjoys when I treat myself to a cute new shirt…he thinks I’m adorable in it! He’s a good father! He gives good gifts to his children. He delights in us and wants us to be tethered to his heart.

I’m doing my best to break the agreement with the spirit of poverty and walk in freedom to receive all the blessings the Lord has for me. I will be cautious and steward well the money we earn or are given, but I will also stand tall and know that I’m not called to minimize my value or possibility in the name of holiness. I believe that I can be successful and we can have money all to that glory of God!

Rich with holiness,

Season

Faith, joy, Uncategorized

I’m not hanging

I love to worship. It’s a very expressive and emotional thing for me. Typically I close my eyes tight and sing loud, unaware of whatever anyone else is doing. Often I have visions of what the room may look like in the spiritual realm, or I see Jesus standing in front of me. Sometimes He dances with me. Sometimes He puts His forehead to mine and we just share a moment of tenderness and intimacy. I love Him so much.

Recently, I was standing with my hands raised to the sky and singing, “You’re never going to let, never going to let me down.”

It had been a hard week, full of attack. My husband and I know it’s because we’re about to step into a season of propulsion and the Lord has a ton of goodness in store. Stupid enemy. Same dumb tactics. So tonight, we went to a worship service ready to worship through the difficulty and be refreshed and refueled.

As I was singing my heart out, arms stretched high, and meaning every word of,

YOU ARE GOOD, GOOD, OH OH….

YOU’RE NEVER GONNA LET, NEVER GONNA LET ME DOWN

I saw that my big Papa God was holding my hands, as I was hanging, dangling over a building. But then the vision changed. He corrected me,

NO, MY DAUGHTER, YOU’RE NOT HANGING FROM ME, I’M CARRYING YOU SO YOU CAN REACH HIGHER.

The picture changed and I then saw myself being carried, held from the legs, around the knees, like one would hold someone to boost them up over a wall.

This was the reality, not the previous vision. I was not hanging. I was being lifted high. I was fully supported and free to reach as high as my Father lifted me and my arms could reach.

My worship got even louder, more free, and I began to wave my arms in a way that let the enemy know, I’M NOT HANGING, I’M LIFTED HIGH! I was declaring my freedom and confidence in my Father’s arms.

Sometimes it feels like we’re hanging, dangling from the little rope of faith we have left. That’s not necessarily bad, at least we’re clinging to our faith in the Lord! But it’s not accurate. The truth is, God’s got us. Our big, powerful, and loving Papa God is holding us, lifting us high, and encouraging us to reach with confidence. He wants us to stretch. He wants us to trust in Him and know that we’re safe. And, most importantly, He wants us to not be afraid of any attacks!

I’m so thankful for the loving correction. I will worship with my arms stretched high and I will walk forward knowing I’m not hanging. I’m lifted high!

Joyful in His Arms,

Season

Faith, joy, Uncategorized

When a father says “yes”

As a parent, do you ever feel like a “no” machine? As much as I thought that would never by my parenting style, I find I say “no” a lot more than I’d like. I am not talking about the moments when a “no” is important, I am referring to the “nos” that are rooted in inconvenience to me…and I am not proud to say, there are a lot of them.

We have a child who tends to get the brunt of our “nos”. She is the one who usually swims against the tide. Now, my pastor/lover-of-all-people-who-sees-the-gold-and-calls-it-out-no-matter-who-you-are side knows that this child is created to do big things and the reason she is different from the rest is because the Lord intended her to be that way! She is mighty and beautifully unique. This kid loves the Lord and wants to serve Him in all ways. But my wife/mother of three/full-time ministry/and aspiring author side sometimes just wants that child to go with the flow! Ugh, I’m so guilty.

She doesn’t just want to go back to Belize for another missions adventure, she wants to go to Cambodia on her own. Like now.

My response? “NO! You can’t go to Cambodia, you’re only 13!” She wants to play the violin/cello/drums etc. My response? “NO! There are about five other instruments in this house. When you actually learn to play one of them, I will think about one of those.” She wants to homeschool. My response? “NO! We aren’t in a position to do that just for you. Your two sisters go to regular school, you can too.” Ugh….my heart breaks.

So, recently as we were sitting on the couch having one of our long and multi-subject conversations, my husband comes home. He had been gone awhile and I didn’t know where he had been. He throws open the door and yells her name like she is in trouble. I say, “Babe, we’re right here…gosh!”

He rounds the corner with a guitar in his hand. Standing in front of her he says, “Here you go baby, this is for you.”

She looks at him like he has six heads. “Huh?”

“I bought this for you. I am so impressed at the work you have done with your ukulele and I think it’s time you have your own guitar.” I was instantly a mess.

She says, “Are you serious, Dad?!”

“Of course, honey! I am so proud of you.” She takes it from his hand and runs upstairs and begins to play with it.

He tells me that he saw it hanging at Guitar Center and heard the Lord say, “Buy it for your daughter.” He got a smokin’ deal on it and even sold something else to pay cash for it. I love this man. My heart swoons when he wins at the dad game.

Anyhow, what comes next in this story is not a good series of events. In fact, they are very traumatic. It includes dramatic intervention physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but has resulted in a totally new life for our daughter. But it all started that night. The night a father said “yes” to his daughter.

The Lord revealed to me in the very difficult days to follow that something happened in the spiritual realm when her earthly father not only said “yes” to her desires, but even financially sowed into that “yes”. He showed me that what her daddy did for her was a direct reflection of what her heavenly Father did for her. Jesus said “yes” to her and paid it all for her to live in freedom. His was the best “yes”.

I have seen a radical shift in our daughter. She is now homeschooled, performing a lead role in a youth theater production, playing every instrument she can get her hands on, serving as much as possible at church, and learning responsibility left and right. She even chopped off her hair! She said to me the other day, “It’s like I am a totally new person!”

As parents we try to create boundaries around our kids to protect and help them…but sometimes those boundaries are more for our convenience and not for the benefit of the child. As we are adjusting to the new circumstances surrounding our daughter, I felt the need to share my heart with her. I told her that I was sorry for putting my routine and comfort above her needs. We told her that her growth and discovery of herself is far more important to us than our comfort. We also informed her that saying “yes” to her more often doesn’t mean she will always get what she wants, but that she does have a voice and it is a vital part of our family. We want to sow into her future, not hold her within our walls.

I am thankful for the grace as a parent to learn as I go. I am thankful for my husband who is the best daddy ever. I am even more thankful for my daughter’s mommy who so beautifully allows me the space to love them and who teaches me so much. And I am thankful to my heavenly Father who said the best “yes”…through Jesus.

Joyfully…yes,

Season

Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Restoring faith in humanity

I call my dad, Jerry Marshall…mostly behind his back. To his face I call him daddy, dad, daddy-papa, and occasionally, Jerry Marshall.

Two reasons.

First, that’s his name.

Second, he is a character. Calling him by his name helps me distinguish him from the “dad” category to the “one-of-a-kind” category. I know, you’re not surprised I am his daughter….

He’s infamous for having a pocket full of trinkets to take out and play with at any given time. These trinkets include things like magnets, ball bearings, small magnifying glasses, rubber bands, or anything small and fidget-able. There is no distinction of when the appropriate time to whip these things out would be, so they make an appearance just about anywhere, anytime.

If you drop by his house he wont spend time talking to you. He will, however, say hello and then wash your car while you are visiting.  Having a relationship with him when we live an hour away is challenging because his way of showing love is acts of service and the occasional gift (typically paying for something or handing me a wad of cash). He is a proud collector of random stuff, usually acquired from the dumpster. He makes special trips to bring us things that we may or may not want or need. Most recently we gained a skill saw and two (yes two) old bugles in their carrying cases. Never a dull moment!

Jerry Marshall also brings people home. During my childhood, my mother was always maneuvering to accommodate an unexpected stranger. When I was very little, he brought home a blind man to live with us for a few months (I can only imagine my mother’s face!). A stranger is a friend to Jerry Marshall and therefore they are extended an invitation to attend all manner of events.

Nothing has changed.

Recently, I invited my dad to come spend the afternoon with us. I knew that I wasn’t going to be home until about 2 pm so I told him to shoot for arriving at 2:30. At noon I got a call from him saying he was in town. As I reminded him of my time frame he was unconcerned and informed me that he was going to Jack-in-the-Box to eat. “Okay daddy. Whatever you want to do is fine. I will call you when I am on my way home.” About an hour later I got another call from him. This is how the conversation went…

Me: “Hey, what’s up?”

Jerry Marshall: “So, I met some nice people at Jack-in-the-Box and they need a place for their dog to stay tonight. I told them that she could stay with you. Is that okay?”

Me:  “(silence)———–ummmm, what?”

JM: “Yea, they are really nice people who are staying at a hotel tonight and they just found out that they can’t have their dog with them. She’s a sweet 12 year old wiener dog and she’s deaf.”

Me: “Dad, I don’t know these people. They are going to come to our house and leave their dog with us?! Dad…Samson is a very big puppy and I don’t want him to hurt their old wiener! What if he plays it to death!? And how do I know that they are not just trying to get rid of their dog?!”

JM: “Oh Season, it’ll be fine! I will just have them follow me over to your house.”

Me: “Sigh…ummmm, okay Dad. I will let you know when I am on my way home.”

You should have heard the battle raging in my head! I was frustrated with him, totally inconvenienced, and absolutely in love with his heart all at the same time. His love for strangers and his willingness to help ANYONE at ANYTIME put my selfishness on blast! As I pulled into my driveway there were two cars, my dad’s, and the strange couple’s car. It was a nice car so my fear that they were homeless was put to rest. As I entered my home I was met by my husband, dad, Mr. and Mrs. Beer, and their 12 year old fat, senile, deaf, and matted long hair wiener dog, Misty. Mr. and Mrs. Beer were easily in their 70’s. They were in town from Arizona to attend their grand-niece’s wedding at a winery. They were sitting on my couch with wide eyes and big smiles. We reassured them that we would take good care of Misty and they only needed to concern themselves with having a great time with their family. As they got up to leave, the elderly gentleman had tears in his eyes as he hugged my dad and said to me, “This man has restored my faith in humanity. I can’t thank you all enough.”

Wow. Gutted.

All was well. We didn’t even know Misty was in our home. She was quiet, sweet, and stayed mostly in her kennel. Thank God Samson, our 100 lb, 29 inch, six month old Irish Wolfhoud puppy was was on his best and very gentle behavior!

When Misty’s mommy and daddy came to pick her up the next day, we heard all about the wonderful wedding and family reunion. Such gratitude and joy.

As I write this, Jerry Marshall calls. I shared that I am writing about him and how his heart to help anyone at anytime has inspired me. He laughed and said “well, you don’t have to help everyone, but there are nice people in this world and it doesn’t hurt to stop and talk to them.” I then asked, “how did you even come to meet them, daddy?” To which he replied, “Oh you know, I just offered them some tacos.”  Of course he did.

Jerry Marshall is Jesus to so many. He is not inconvenienced by people. He truly loves them.  I will put away my inconvenience for the sake of others. I want to help to restore people’s faith in humanity.

Joyful,

Season