10 Ways My Parents Loved Me

My dad is getting ready to do a speaking engagement at a men’s group he attends and it’s on how to love your children and grandchildren. I’m writing from the perspective of the child being loved and how that love was demonstrated in my life.

We all like lists, right? I do.

I made a list of 10 ways my parents demonstrated their love for me growing up.

1. They sometimes said “no.” I didn’t always get what I wanted when I wanted. I tried, boy did I try. I even found a note to my mom that she saved that said “please can so and so come over we won’t make noise and we will clean up.” I’m not sure if they gave in, but I remember many times no matter how hard I begged it was still, “no.”

2.They corrected me. When I got out of line, I got a talking to and paid the consequence. This taught me that there are consequences for your actions.

3.They taught me how to be orderly and responsible. I had chores and I didn’t get $5 for doing them. There was no bribery.

4. They talked with me about life, purpose, and value. I have memories of asking about the universe and other deep subjects and my dad willingly talking with me. We also would talk after seeing a movie about some of the philosophical or theological points. He taught me how to be discerning of these things as I navigate through regular everyday life. My mom always had great wisdom too. She was more practical and frank about things, a great quality she passed on to me.

5.They Laughed and had fun with me. Made music, went shopping, took me and my friends on outings. My dad would joke around with me and my friends a lot. Such great memories. Life doesn’t always have to be serious!

6. They listened to me. I never felt, that because I was a kid, that I didn’t have anything valuable to say. I always felt valued.

7. They taught me to be forgiving and gracious.

8. They taught me the value of giving and thinking of others. My mom set a beautiful example of thoughtfulness and a generous heart.

9. They taught me that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t like. Don’t whine. Sometimes there are sacrifices that have to be made. Sometimes life can be hard, but be an overcomer. Be courageous.

10. They taught me above else to honor the Lord and put him first. They prayed with me. I have memories of me and my dad praying before going to school in the morning.

They demonstrated this in their own walk with the Lord. They taught me the scriptures. I’m so thankful I have God’s word hidden in my heart because they planted that seed.

How these things have benefited me, almost goes without saying. Every one of these 10 things(and there are many more than 10) have impacted me as a person greatly.

I realize that not everyone has this story and even my story is not perfect. No one loves perfectly except God.

If you can’t relate to my story, please know that God loves you perfectly in all these ways and infinitely more.

Ultimately He is love! And God demonstrates it perfectly through Jesus.

We love because He first loved us!

Blessings and have a great weekend!

Johanna

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Rejection

I never really experienced rejection growing up as a kid, at least not on a scale that I can recall deep feelings.

It wasn’t until I got into young adulthood that I started experiencing this where it made lasting impressions.

When someone says, “no I don’t want you,” whether it’s a love relationship, friendship, family relationship. The key word is relationship. We are not robots and we live and thrive through our relationships.

And when someone says, “nope I don’t want what you’ve got. I don’t want what your giving,” It is a pierce through the heart. It penetrates deeper than most anything else.

I have recently gone through a couple of rather painful rejections, and it still stings.

Through these experiences, God has been teaching me three things:

1. It’s not about me. I’m forced to stop thinking about how hurt I am and start loving and forgiving. The broken relationships have a much bigger picture than I can ever see. God is doing something greater. He is making all things work together for good, to them that are called according to his purpose. Can I trust that? Yes I certainly can. What He says, is a promise.

2. We are created for relationships, yet there is one relationship that should be above all and that is with Jesus. Is He number 1?

3. I am sharing in Christ sufferings. Jesus was/is rejected. All of his sufferings, rejections were for us. Jesus knows this hurt, this pain, but He loved, he forgave those that rejected and hurt Him.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Over and over Jesus shows us how to deal with this. Repay with love!

I think the only way God can get through to us on a personal level is to show us a glimpse of the rejection he received/receives. He is teaching me that this is a part of my becoming more like Him.

Be encouraged! He has overcome the world!

1 Peter 4:12-13

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Thursday Reflection – Expect Comfort

Have you ever thought about the beatitudes, specifically, “blessed are they that mourn.” At first reading of the beatitudes, it kind of sounds like God desires us to be sad and have a rough go at life. These are the people that are blessed? Right? But of course if all that was said was, “Blessed are those that mourn” and nothing else after that then yes I suppose that would be the conclusion, but there is one little word, “for” –this word connects the next part which is God’s desire for us. “Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.”

We all want and need comfort, and God knows this. Do we expect it from Him? P.B. Power said, “Man’s expectation is generally a prelude to God’s action.”

Live in expectation of his comfort to us that he values, and desires for us. He longs for Eden to be restored for us one day as much as we do, but we must look to him as the primary source and way.

I’ll leave you with this scripture to take with you as a promise. Expect it.

Isaiah 51:1-3

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness

    and who seek the Lord:

Look to the rock from which you were cut

    and to the quarry from which you were hewn;

look to Abraham, your father,

    and to Sarah, who gave you birth.

When I called him he was only one man,

    and I blessed him and made him many.

The Lord will surely comfort Zion

    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;

he will make her deserts like Eden,

    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.

Joy and gladness will be found in her,

    thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

Thursday Reflection – Rights or Obedience

The scripture I was reflecting on today was Philippians 2:5-8 (Msg)

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

We all know our rights, but what are those really?

America says, we have rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

If you get arrested, you are read your rights. You have the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.

Some think education, and healthcare are rights. What about I have the right to do what I want with my body.

The big one I hear screaming is “EQUALITY!” Equality of gender, income level. Fairness.

Go back and read the scripture above, where does any of that fit in? Rights, equality, fairness.

What I see is Jesus gave up all that and lived in obedience.

We don’t like the word obedience as much as rights, equality, and fairness. It just doesn’t have that little ring that our ears like to hear, yet obedience is what is required of us, but obedience is not a bad word. It’s a loving word. We confuse obedience with another “O” word. Obligation.

Obligation says, I have to, even though I don’t want to. Obedience says, I love, therefore I will.

I’m no saint. I struggle. Sometimes I cry out, “Lord, it’s not fair!! Don’t I have some kind of rights?”

Or I’ll turn my nose up and say “but Lord, I don’t want to!”

This happens more than I’d like to admit, but God is gracious with me. His mercies are new every morning,

What is God asking of me, of you, of the church? Are we listening? Are we being obedient? Or are we reading our rights? Are we concerned with equality? Are we drudging along in obligation?

Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

He also said, “deny yourself and take up your cross.”

His way is so much better than we can even fathom. Trust Him!

The next section in Philippians says,

9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Our obedience will also bring us great rewards! We will one day wear a crown!

Blessings! Have a wonderful weekend!

In Christ,

Johanna

Thursday Reflection- Eternal Tax

So….I am taking a break here as I do my taxes. Yes I’m one of those that procrastinates and waits for the automatic extension. I’m a heathen!!

Let me tell you how much I hate doing taxes. I’m self employed and they make it pretty hard on our kind.

Heaven certainly won’t have taxes?! Or will it? We will be giving everything back to God for his glory and loving every minute of it.

REFLECTION-

I was thinking about the verse, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

Clearly, Jesus was making a distinction between the kingdom of this temporal world and the kingdom of God. We have obligations in both. One of the hardest things is to balance that distinction and to not get caught up in just seeing the temporal.

It is very important to pay our earthly tax, but how much more our eternal tax?

In what ways are you contributing your eternal tax? Are you procrastinating and filing an extension? Are you cutting corners, trying to find those loopholes? Are you slipping behind on your payments and feeling like you’ve got a mount of debt.

I’m guilty of all those, but God is gracious! He paid the debt! We can rest easy. His burden is light!

On the other hand, God’s grace is not a license to be careless and negligent. I think it’s a good idea to examine ourselves, and do inventory over how giving we are of our resources, time and talents for the glory of God! It’s all His to begin with anyway.

Lord help me to not be selfish, stingy, and greedy with what you have given me.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Now back to those earthly taxes. 🤪

Johanna

Thursday Reflection

I’d like to try something on every Thursday. There are so many godly people that I have met through this blog, I thought it would be nice to interact more. I would love to hear thoughts on different biblical and theological subjects.

I realize we are a forgetful people and we need to be reminded and encouraged by our Christian brothers and sisters. God never meant us to do it alone. I know we have our home churches and I am so thankful for that, but for all of us introverts, this is a real comfortable way to interact. hahaha!

So for today the reflection/question is:

Joy and happiness are not necessarily synonymous. We can have happiness and feel a great joy, but we can have joy and not necessarily feel very happy.

It’s very easy to pair these two up. How do you define happiness and joy, and what have be your experiences?

“The Priestly Blessing”

Numbers 6:24-26

“May the Lord bless you and protect you;

25 

may the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

26 

may the Lord look with favor on you

and give you peace.”

God’s blessings

God’s protection

God’s glory

God’s graciousness

God’s favor

God’s peace

His blessings for his children INCLUDE protection, the light of His glory, His grace, His favor, His peace.

We can’t have real peace without His blessing.

No matter what I face God will bless; protect, be glorified, be gracious, grant favor. And for this reason I can have peace.

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7

IN CHRIST JESUS is the key. God can not bless us through our own works, we are defiled without JESUS. Jesus makes us righteous so that GOD the FATHER can bless us.

Jesus is our high priest. Only through Him can we have the blessings from God that gives peace that passes all understanding.

Look to Jesus he is the source to sustaining and real peace. No self-help book in the world will give you that. In the beginning was the Word! Blessings were spoken over people as in the Old Testament with the Jewish benedictions.

Jesus is that eternal spoken Word. We can choose to receive it or reject it. Jesus is the Word!

Rooted and Grounded

Does every wind knock you down? Does every valley that you face overwhelm you?
Or are you like tree roots that stretch deep and wide? Rooted and grounded.
Are you like a tree that is thriving and getting the water and nourishment you need? Are you planted with access to streams of living water?
Or are you trying to live in the desert without good soil no living water, isolated, barren? What kind of life is this?
It would be very hard to survive these conditions without the help of our Lord.
If we have to be in the desert for a time the Lord will supply our needs.
Never quit doing good, in due season you will bear fruit.
God blesses and prospers those who delight in Him.
How do we delight in Him?
The answer is submission to his will no matter what, loving his law and letting it make a home in our hearts and mind.
The Word should not be a vacation destination for when we decide to visit, it must be a our very bedrock home that we live in every minute, every hour, of every day.
Jesus never said I’m your good luck charm to be hung on the wall or your trinket to collect dust on the shelf or your self motivation coach, or your vacation tour guide, or your professor giving you some kind of mental stimulation. These are not options he gave us. If you stoop to try to fit Jesus into anything except his rightful place which is Lord of All, the resurrected Christ, the only Way Truth and the Life, it won’t fit. You can’t put Jesus into the box of your liking. This would then not be Jesus but some created idol.

Jesus IS all and all. “Before Abraham was I am.”
“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”

We don’t choose him he chooses us!

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

I have had a lot of winds and valleys in my life recently, but I am learning to trust in Him more and more. Its not on the mountain top that our faith grows, but in the valleys. I want my roots to go deep and wide, so that I may stand firm in every circumstance.

God’s Calling Card – Heavenly Hints this Thanksgiving Day

It’s no secret about my love for the holidays, there is a feeling that comes around once a year. You can sense it with the music, the laughter, the smells, the overall more generous tendency. Like Andy Williams said, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s the hap-happiest season of all.” The holidays for me are like a home calling card, a heavenly hint. We are the only species that experience this.

Me and my husband were in the living room watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and our dog decided to get out of bed and join us in the living room. When she came down the hallway to the tune of pitter-patter on the laminate floor, we exuberantly exclaimed, “Happy Thanksgiving Sadie!” We love our dogs as you can tell. They really are a part of the family. Then my husband said sensitively as he patted her head, “This is just another day to you, isn’t it?” It is the truth, Sadie doesn’t experience that nostalgia, or longing the way we do. God placed in us something exceptional. He made us in his image.

After watching a bit of the parade, I decided to go for a jog in our neighborhood before I digest a weeks worth of calories. As I walked, taking in God’s beautiful creation, I  began to give thanks for all his bountiful blessings, I became overwhelmed with that home calling card.  I usually take my walks around this time everyday, but today was different. As I walked down the streets, there were kids riding their bikes, laughing and playing; adults waving, and wishing me Happy Thanksgiving, families in their driveways playing games.  I could feel my eyes welling up with tears; the heavenly calling card was giving me a ring. I thought to myself,  this is what we long for, this is what we hope for. We long for unity, genuine goodness, unconditional love, togetherness, no more division, no more discord, no more dysfunction, no more derision.  The beauty and the longing are not IN THE holidays themselves, or the music, or the smells or the feelings, it just coming THROUGH it. It’s a calling card to home! The beauty is in Christ. The oneness is in Him! The harmony that we long for is in Jesus. He is the source.

As you go about your Thanksgiving today, take notice of the heavenly hints,  God’s calling card and give thanks for He loves you with an everlasting love!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Johanna

“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” C.S. Lewis

A Fairy Tale Truth. What?

I just recently finished a journal by a wonderful Christian author, John Eldredge, called the “Journey of Desire.” If you want to awaken your heart to depths that you didn’t know possible this is the book for you. It was not an easy journal to go through. It’s not one you can rush through by any means, but it is so worth it! I am sure I will do many blogs in the future based off my expedition through this book, but for today it’s fairy tales.  Who doesn’t like a good fairy tale? If it’s not a fairy tale, maybe it’s your favorite movie. I remember my dad and I always talking about movies after we saw them and how it touched our hearts, and what about the story moved us.

Fairy tales evoke longing in my heart. The following are 4 examples of stories that have touched my heart and why.

CINDERELLA – For me, what stands out and calls to my heart, is here we have a girl who is forced in slavery, she remains true and loyal and comes out victorious having all her dreams come true. She is singled out by the prince himself. What is so amazing and touches my heart as being noble and something to attain is even in her slavery she remained content. She had a peace and joy about her that no one could steal from her even her wicked step mom and step sisters. Wickedness can hardly bear that kind of peace and joy. They tried so hard to rob and steal her of it, but despite her circumstances she remained good-hearted Cinderella. I can draw so many theological and biblical principles from this. We are victorious through Christ. We can do all things through Him who gives us strength. Remember the apostle Paul talked about being content no matter the circumstance. He could find real joy even if he was in chains. What is the enemy trying to steal from us? Our joy! Remember the evil step mom, she couldn’t stand Cinderella’s joy. We could view Jesus as our prince in our grand design. He loves us with an everlasting love and has called us by name, rescuing us from slavery and bondage. We are set free!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – Belle(Beauty), she shows the human capacity to be able to see under the mask and see a person for who they are not what they look like by outward appearances. This is a noble quality–not to judge a book by its cover. The beast on the other hand has a different story to be told. The beast has to learn to get over himself, stop looking in the mirror with judgment and disgust, so that he can allow people to love him just as he is. He has to let go of his ego and pride. For me, I have a little of both beauty and beast complex. I relate with Belle in that I generally want to see the good in people. I want to be gracious, but the truth is I relate more with the beast. Sometimes I want to isolate and hide and this makes it very hard to open up to people and allow myself to be vulnerable. It’s not about me. The beast in me wants to make it about me. I catch myself feeling shame. Isn’t this the nature of the conflict as a Christian? We have been made new in Christ, but we still wrestle every day.

FRED AND GINGER – When I was a teenager something drew me to this fantastic silver screen couple. I was so captivated by the way they were so in sync. Every move they made dancing together was if they were one not two. I was hypnotized by it. It really was like perfection. The truth that comes out for me here is we long for total oneness, perfection, paradise. This in a way shadows that for me. When we are in Christ we desire to be more and more perfected to be fully in sync with him and one with him. As He moves we move in sync with him. No battle, no struggle. Just effortlessly following his lead! This is no fairy tale, we will one day be fully restored.

WIZARD OF OZ – Lastly is one of my all time favorites! I watched this so many times as a kid and as an adult that I can literally recite the movie line for line. Just ask my husband! He has heard it maybe not to his delight. LOL! Anyway this movie is about a girl seeking adventure, wanting more, her heart is bursting with desire, and she is going after it. You know the story. Once she gets out on her adventure, she soon realizes that her desire is for home. She longs for home. Her adventure and what she was looking for was not somewhere over the rainbow. As you know most of the movie is trying to get home. How many times are we trying to seek out adventure to fulfill our happiness and longing only to find out that it doesn’t suffice and we are left with a void, saying just get my home. We as Christians,  this life is a little like wandering around in Oz, it’s not home, and we long for our real home. Jesus is our guiding light through this alien land. He is helping us through it and soon and very soon we will be home.

What is speaking to you? Fairy tale? A movie? A song? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Blessings to you all! Have a blessed weekend!

Johanna