Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fathers Heart

Mal. 4:6 (NLT)- His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Break my heart for the things that break yours. That’s always been my prayer. Lately the Lord has been answering my prayer and I’ve opened my heart and allowed Him to break it. I’ve been weeping with a broken heart, but He’s shown me today that it’s nothing compared to what my sisters have had to go through. It’s nothing compared to what these young boys have had to go through. So today I’m just a fountain of tears, broken for the things that Jesus’ heart is broken for. Heavy on my heart and I’m not sure what to do with it. So, I do what I always do when my heart is heavy- I write.

My heart is going out today for all of the unsung heroes that no one writes about. No one makes a movie about them. No one see’s their pain. No one see’s them working day after day, coming home completely exhausted and just getting started with their children. I am crying out and broken today for my single mom friends. I see you. I see you trying to make a life for you and your children. I see you going to school and working to better your life. I see you trying to be a mom and a dad. I know you don’t have enough money to provide sometimes just for the basic necessities. I see your heart breaking when you notice the other dads with their kids. But more importantly, I want you to know God sees. And his heart is broken too.

Let me just start by saying this. I have had more conversations this month than I can count on two hands. Here are just a few of their stories. They are my heroes. One of them shared how her son said, “Mom, will I ever have a dad to play sports with me or take me hunting or fishing? I’m in high school and I feel like my time is just passing me by.” Another single mom friend desperately wants to get plugged into a Bible Study for women but needs a place for her boys. Another mom told me she would love to have her boys learn about stuff like hiking, fishing, and camping & guy stuff.  Another friend said her sons’ dad lives out of state, but when he comes into town, that he doesn’t even come to see his own son. A different friend said that her kids’ dad has never had a relationship with her kids and this summer said he wanted to see them. These kids opened their hearts up with the hopes of starting that relationship with their father. He came and only wanted to see their mom and never even had intentions on building that relationship with them. He said IN FRONT OF THEM, “Coming out here was just a waste of my time.” When he left they wept with a wound so deep, grieving for the father they never had.

I asked. Break my heart Lord for the things that break yours. “You know not what you ask,” He answered. I almost couldn’t leave the house today. My heart was overwhelmed, not only for my dear sisters, but also for their children and the thousands of children that are out there crying out. Not sure what to do with this pain. One little boy in my son’s class makes up doing stuff with his dad- I believe it’s because the desire is so deep, and he hears all the other little boys talking about what they get to do with their dads. He wants it so badly.

My heart cries out for all the kids that see kids like mine with a daddy to go fishing with. I see it in their eyes. When they have Daddy-Day at school and their daddies don’t show up. This happened once in my son’s class in Colorado. It was Parent-Day. All the kids had their work lined up on their desks. The kids had worked hard all week on their special projects. One little girl bragged about how her daddy was going to come and she couldn’t wait (her parents were divorced and she lived with her mom). Time passed and the teacher quickly realized her dad wasn’t coming. The little girl started to cry. She blurted out to her teacher, “But my daddy said he was coming. He promised.” The teacher held her and rocked her and told her how beautiful her work was.

My heart cries out for these boys when they see all of their friends going camping with their daddies, and they wonder why they didn’t get picked to have a daddy. When they wonder in their little hearts if they just weren’t enough, if there’s something wrong with them. God’s heart is broke. This was not His plan.

There are so many things my heart shouts today. It shouts, “Dads, please, step up and be the man and father God has called you to be.” My heart screams, “Will you be the one to break the cycle of absent dads in your family?” “When will you seek out help and counseling and stop seeking out the desires and selfishness that wraps itself around your heart?”

And oh my goodness, my heart just wants to tell these little ones, “You are enough, it is not your fault, you didn’t do anything wrong.” “You are so loved by your heavenly Father and I am so sorry on behalf of all of the dads that just can’t seem to figure out how to be there for you.” I am sorry; you are right, it is not fair.

And for all of my friends that are reading this that just stopped by thinking it was just another lighthearted devotion from me, can I ask for your prayers? Will you pray for all of our unseen heroes out there and for their children? We know that we have hope in God. He can restore and heal the broken-hearted.

And second (and this is big)- will you pray for our family? God began stirring something over 20 years ago in my husband’s parents’ hearts for a Ranch called Fathers Heart Ranch. That vision was transferred to his sister, Faith. And that vision has also been transferred to us. It is a huge need out here. We would love to have a place for father/sons, Mother/daughters, and kids that would normally never get an opportunity like this. We would love a place for boys to be mentored by men. To have a ministry in our church called Fathers Heart. We could provide a place where one Saturday a month these godly men could volunteer from our church to fish with them, swim, hike, ride horses, and speak into their lives- make deposits, pray with them and encourage them to keep going and fight the good fight. We would love to have a place that would provide resources for families- speaking, training, DVDs, and videos- to strengthen these families. We want to be an extension of His hand, reaching out to His kids.

We announced yesterday that we are stepping down as the Children’s Pastors at Good Shepherd Community Church. This has been something completely soaked in prayer since the beginning of this summer (2012). Our heart is still for kids and families (and we LOVE our kids here at this church). Our pastor and staff have been completely amazing and we could not be more honored and humbled by their support. We are not leaving our church (we love it here), we are merely moving into a new area of ministry. It’s definitely stepping out of the boat for us. Sometimes we want to know exactly what it’s going to look like, how it’s going to work and where the finances are coming from. But sometimes God will place a dream on your heart that’s bigger than you. And after a period of preparation and much prayer it requires stepping out in faith. I am so thankful to my in-laws who have laid the foundation for SO many years and have had their hearts broken for this way before us.

I believe it’s the Fathers Heart. I truly do. Pray for everything to fall into place, pray for favor, pray for more than enough in the area of finances, and that we would be able to hear from God for every step we need to take- we cry out for wisdom and are very careful to not take any steps without His guidance and direction.

Thank you for listening to my heart, Celeste

Mother Teresa was once asked how we can restore peace to our world. Her answer was simple: “Go home and learn to love your family.”

Encouraging Yourself in the Lord

Young woman reading bible

There are very few things more harmful than to expect from another human being what only God can supply. Ken Davis

Have you ever had one of those mornings? You know what I’m talking about. Your kids know what I am talking about. Let me start off by telling you about my morning. Actually, let’s back up a few days. First day of school- I was over prepared (so proud). We left way early. Everyone was at peace. Day two was about the same as day one. I had pre-packed their lunches the night before. I laid out their uniforms. I packed their P.E. clothes in their backpacks. I put their names on their water bottles for P.E. I knew what I was making for breakfast and had all the ingredients needed to make pancakes. Day three was pretty good. Then came today. Day Four. I should have done a laundry load with uniforms, but I didn’t. I should have gone to the grocery store the night before, but I didn’t. I should have purchased my sons uniform shorts like I was going to- but I didn’t. I should have at least pre-packed lunches (then I would have realized our food shortage) but, you guessed it, I didn’t! And as you can only imagine, I had one of those mornings!

I awoke (thank goodness had my quiet time or who knows how bad it could have been!). I quickly realized we were out of milk for cereal and eggs for, well, eggs. My pancake recipe called for eggs, so that didn’t work. I was out of fresh fruit, so I resorted to yogurt. Complete with pre-teen attitude and all, “ugh, yogurt mom?” Yes, hunny, yogurt- eat it! (Of course, said in love. Ha!) My 8-year-old son Joel was wearing shorts that obviously were not his size and came near his ankles, but luckily, a belt kept them intact. I then decided to rummage through the dirty clothes to find his one pair that sort of fit (suck it in baby!). Then comes the assembling of the lunches. I always put in 5 items- drink, fruit, small sweet item, chip, and main item like sandwich. Today, I wasn’t out of everything (thank you Lord!) but I did have to make Nutella sandwiches & peanut butter and jelly, which I’ve already done this week and we’re only on day 4 (and also comes with no shortage of pre-teen attitude, “A sandwich again?” God bless her). So finally, 8:00 comes and we are ready to run (literally) out that door. We heard the train and that’s never a good sign because that means we have to wait an additional 7-10 minutes if the train is coming. And wouldn’t you know it, but as we opened the front door (no joke) it started raining cats and dogs (not literally). What’s worse, my van is old and both (yes, both) of the door handles are broken off of the kid’s sliding doors. Stay with me here. We were nothing short of a comedy scene for the average observer! So thankful God isn’t posting this one on Youtube! The kids ran out. I also ran out to click unlock on key ring, and then run back in to look for their rain jackets. The kids ran back in, and I ran out and yelled, “it’s unlocked, go!” But usually they have to climb over the driver seat to unlock the sliding door to the back- let’s just say, we were all a little wet and frazzled by this point! And just like Humpty Dumpty, it felt as if my morning had come tumbling down. And then as I drove, I said, “wow, what a morning!” And my kids didn’t even need to say a word- their silence was loud enough. Then I prayed for their day as I always do on the way to school, but included myself in that prayer today.

So, back to my original question, have you ever had one of those mornings or one of those days? I think we can all answer, unequivocally, shout it from the rooftops, yes! Unfortunately for Humpty Dumpty, there was no one that could put him back together again. But fortunately for us, there is!  I know for some of us we have days where we would like to hide under a rock, and just see if we could start all over again tomorrow. But I want to challenge you today, just as I have had to challenge myself. What if instead of crawling under a rock and just ‘hoping’ tomorrow gets better, what if we crawled under The Rock and put our hope in Him? Psalms 18:2- The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalms 31:2- Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Truth is, we all go through stuff, whether self inflicted or others inflicted. We are humans, imperfect, living in a fallen world. I am not here to show people that I live a perfect life, because I don’t. I am here to show people I serve a perfect God who is more than able to meet my every need. I know sometimes when we’re going through something our first impulse is to look to people to meet those needs. We scour the blogs, Facebook, and Twitter searching for something to hold on to. And don’t get me wrong- God uses people. I believe God uses their writings and scriptures posted as a source of encouragement, but I also believe God would want us to look to Him for ourselves (not always depending on other people). That we would know for ourselves, not just because of someone else, but for ourselves, that we would taste and see that the Lord is good and that He truly is who he says He is. Hebrews 5:12- You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s Word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.

Please know my heart here. I am preaching to the choir. I know me (okay, that sounds weird!). I know that I can be prone to pick up the next big book, or the next best Christian this or Christian that. I wonder if God ever looks down and says, “Okay Celeste, just let Me know whenever you’re done looking to everyone else for advice, I’m here.” I believe God has blessed us with an abundance of amazing tools to ‘help’ us in our walk like teachings, blogs, books, and articles. And I will always be a fan- always.

But the question I have for you today is this- what is your source? Or, better yet, ‘who’ is your source? At what point will we seek Him first for guidance, wisdom, direction, and ultimately peace?  And usually, if we seek Him first, we see different things throughout our day that confirms what He’s already spoken to us, whether it is a scripture someone’s posted or an article that really hit home. Matthew 6:33- But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Right there in God’s Word, BUT SEEK HIM FIRST.

I am going to tell you something that might shock you, so listen closely. You are just as able to hear from God as a pastor or someone in an area of ministry. True story. Before you decide to throw out all of your Joyce Meyer CD’s and stop going to church, listen- as the body of Christ we need these people, and we need each other. Ephesians 4:11- Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers (and we could add writers, bloggers, etc.)Why, do we need them you ask? Ephesians 4:16- He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. So, in a nutshell, in order to be healthy & growing, we will always need each other. But don’t ever discount your ability to seek the Lord for His encouragement, guidance, and direction for yourself.

Ok, let’s get practical here because I’m a practical girl who needs practical steps! These are just some ways to hear from Him on your own.

1)   Time- Set side time each morning to spend with Him.

2)   Location- Have a spot where you always keep your quiet time essentials so your not wasting time on gathering items.

3)   Reading plan- Whether it’s a one-year Bible, or a book in the Bible you want to read all the way through (there are many reading plans online too). The point here is to have some direction in your quiet time.

4)   Study-There are many study helps out there that help us if we are unclear what a particular passage means. Online, Bible Gateway is one of my favorites. A commentary is used right alongside your Bible. If you’re not sure who wrote the book, or the date, or unsure of the meaning- you can usually look it up in a commentary. This just helps to have deeper meaning of the scripture.

5)   Record your journey– Have a pen & journal handy. If a certain scripture pops out, write it down. Thank Him for His Word for you that day! Sometimes it helps to have a journal to reflect back on the journey.

6)   Pray- Talk to Him about your needs and the needs of others. Just be real, He already knows us even better than we know ourselves!

7)   Worship- I like to put on praise and worship and just sing to Him. It’s amazing what happens when we just let go and give Him the glory, thank Him, and love on Him for a bit. Invite His presence.

8)   Listen- Sometimes I will just sit there after talking and be still. We need to shut the world out and get quiet before the Lord. There have been times when He comes in and just fills me up with such a peace. It takes practice to quiet our hearts before the Lord, but He will bless that time.

9)   Mediate- If you like me had your quiet time and still had a rough morning, it is ok.  Find scriptures to chew on throughout the day. Write down scriptures that remind you of Gods goodness, Gods faithfulness, God’s promises. His Word is powerful and as we meditate on His Word, it changes us. His Word changes our perspective and the way we view things.

These are just some suggestions of ways that you can hang out with Him and hear from Him. There is no set formula, no wrong or right way. He knows our hearts. I am desperate for Him and for more of His presence. I want to be a person that runs to Him when I’m feeling anxious or nervous or insecure (or if I’ve had a bad day). I want Him to be my portion; my more than enough. I want to cultivate that seeking of Him in my own life. If you’re like me, hungry and thirsty for more of Him, just know that He has promised us that if we seek Him, we will find Him. If we get in the habit of seeking Him first, everything else will just be confirmation. Are you done drinking the milk yet? Rumor has it there is plenty of meat to be had!

Lord, I thank you for the many people you have gifted in the area of speaking and writing and encouraging. What amazing gifts they have! But I do pray that you would help us to seek you first before always running everywhere else and that you would teach us how to find our encouragement in you. I pray that you would open our ears to be able to hear from you. Help us to set aside time to cultivate our hearts towards you and the things of you. Let us grow in wisdom and understanding of your Word. We will thank you Lord for your peace, for your presence, for the power your Holy Spirit in us. We love You Lord, we are hungry and thirsty- fill us up with more of you and less of this world. Thank you that you are our Rock and our refuge- and it is you who puts us back together again. Amen

 

Isaiah 45:19- I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.