A Father for the Fatherless — How it really works

10537040_10153125381214097_5653480763681563782_nIt was just us three. I was twenty three, my son had just turned one the week before, and my daughter was two and a half.  Carter was taking his first steps, and Kaylee was the motherly encourager. I tried to keep their father involved when our brief marriage ended, but he eventually just dropped out completely.  There they were, the cutest, blondest, happiest little toddlers. I was so proud to call them mine, and I couldn’t figure out why someone wouldn’t want to call them their children. They were obvious the cutest kids in the world.  To me I thought most people would give anything to have kids this cute, and this great.  But there they were — fatherless. The big milestones were hard for them. Kaylee started going to preschool at four, and started asking “How come everyone has a dad but me?” Carter didn’t notice the absence at first, because he was too little when he saw his biological father last, but the void missing was obvious. It was only a waiting game until he started feeling the hurt of an absent father.

Nothing hurts more than watching your children’s father completely abandon them.

sad“Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalms 68:4-5

What a beautiful passage. It has the warm fuzzies. A promise for the fatherless — but that doesn’t pay bills, tuck the kids in, or show up for the father-daughter dance.

I taught my children that even if they didn’t have a father here with them, that their Heavenly Father was all they needed, and He in fact was a better father than any mere human.  I wasn’t sure how that would work. But I believed it, and I seized the promise, and held on to the promise faithfully for fulfillment.

The fulfillment came.

The fulfillment came in ways that are unexplainable to us. We didn’t really have a choice but to believe and seek our Heavenly Father’s care. Suddenly the Father appeared as he mowed our lawn through the hands of a caring church member. The Father appeared when I didn’t haven’t enough to pay rent — through a friend, tithing the exact amount to me in the name of the Father. The Father supported us by providing washers and lawnmowers through the hands and feet of His church. The Father provided us with peace, comfort, and stability by showing us housing far below normal pricing. The Father  took care of us in so many ways — daily!

We talked about it together. I remember telling Kay and Carter that God mowed our lawn, sometimes they would object, but eventually they learned to lean on their Father for their needs. They started saying things like “Wow mom, isn’t God so sweet to us?” They still had a hole from the absence of an earthly father, and the hurt was and most likely always will be there, but they have been able to experience God’s goodness, and the qualities of a great father through Him.  While at a bon fire with some friends, it was told to me that Kaylee explained to some of the kids “Well, we don’t have a dad…” Carter abruptly cut her off: “Yes we do, God is our Father!” Quite a beautiful disaster!

A few years ago, Kaylee had her heart set on a Barbie doll house for Christmas. The doll house had an elevator. The doll house was about $250 and about $200 out of budget. She wanted that doll house so much. I was broke. I was struggling to get by, and like any parent, I would have loved to give her the world. She talked about it for about a month.  I would tell her every time that although I would love to give it to her, she would not get it for Christmas.  She is very empathetic, so she would bring it up, and then explain how she knew we couldn’t get it.  I almost started to get mad after a month of hearing about this stupid, over-priced Barbie house. I asked her to stop talking about it — it was out of the question. About a week before Christmas, I was driving home from picking up my kids after work. It was dark, I turned the corner about two blocks before our house. It was trash night, I needed to remember to put mine out on the curb. My lights shown on a trash can, a recycle bin, and… A Barbie dollhouse with an elevator!!!! It was in perfect condition waiting to be taken away the next morning by the trash men. Of course I immediately pulled over and loaded it into my car (or rather balanced it halfway inside the trunk of my car for the rest of the short way home).

I was so overwhelmed with joy, and provision. I saw on Facebook later that night someone had purchased a Barbie house a bit smaller and it took them hours to assemble. The Father assembled ours before dropping it off for us. What a good, good Father!

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
Matthew 7:9-11

996704_10154420442464097_2685115542443039281_nNot only does our Heavenly Father supply all of our needs, but He loves us so deeply that he provides the things we don’t need.  He is a picture of the most beautiful, caring, selflesslove.  He gives us what we wouldn’t even think to ask, He knows the desires of our hearts, He loves us.  Psalm 104 is full of blessings that He has showers us with. Two verse that really touch my heart are verse 14 and 15: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”  We don’t need wine, but He gives it to us to make our hearts glad.  Oil was used in a way that we use makeup today — to make their face shine.  Another gift completely unnecessary, but because God loves us so deeply, He provides as a true Father does, and then beyond, healing our hearts, and cradling and protecting us through hardships.

Today, Kaylee and Carter are cared for by their Heavenly Father. One of the ways He has blessed them is by providing a new earthy father.  Through their season of fatherless-ness, they have experienced closeness to the Father, what it is to be cared for by the perfect provider.

As our perfect provider cared for us there were many instances when He would miraculously drop provisions off for us, such as the Barbie doll house, money, clothing, or other needs. Other times He used His hands and feet, the Body of Christ, the church.  Romans 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” I charge you — no, Christ charges you — be His body. If anyone calls themselves children of God, let him show it in his reflection of His image. Let us be the hands and the feet of the Father to the fatherless, and so fulfill the commissions of Christ.

Responding to Slander and Silencing the Motivators

Information

Unfortunately most of us have been there — we hear through the grapevine about some lude tales that have been told about us. Maybe it was something at work, or maybe it was a family member or close friend (or thought to be close friend) that went off the deep end. Hurt sets in, feelings of “why” questions of what steps to take follow. Should I go set the record straight? Will anyone believe me when I tell them the truth? Do people believe the horrible lies being spread about me now? Don’t they know me better than to believe these things? Why would someone go out of their way to defame my character? Why?

Feelings of betrayal and anger set in. Sometimes there may be motivation to go set the matter straight — especially if it is a situation at work. Feelings of hurt, shame and embarrassment. You find yourself dealing with a problem that you did not create, dealing with a tarnished reputation, wondering how far the false words voyaged.  Should you call the person that heard the gossip and set the record straight, or go on not knowing what type of damage is being done to your character.

These blows hurt. They hurt our pride, they fill us with worry, and they feed our insecurities. What if you could shout the truth from a mountain? What if you could let the whole world know what your character is like? There is a way!!! The way we live our lives daily, builds a wall of protection for us. The more we do good, love others, seek truth, and do that which is right, the less believable these tales are, when these situations tragically arise.  Building a foundation of excellent character is the best proactive way to protect from slandering, and continuing in uprightness is the best reactive method. Let you actions, and the way you live your life, shout more loudly and travel more speedily than false rumors are able to. There are times when we do need to address some issues, for example if it effects your children, your workplace, or other non-negotiables, however some times it may be best to keep your chin up, a smile on your face, and proceed with dignity.

There are different motivators for slander and false defamation of character. Two motives that seem to consistently take the cake are: 1. Jealousy and 2.Attention Seeking.

  1. Jealousy is pretty simple to understand; perhaps you are a number one performer at work, perhaps a co-worker becomes envious of the approving mentions associated with your name during team meetings — next thing you know he’s not only searching for an achilles heal, but he’s creating scenarios that never existed.  The hope is that he can lower the way you are viewed to a point where there is a level view of both of you, or that perhaps he can slander you in such a way that the he sinks the viewpoint of you to even lower than his! Although this sounds dreamy to a common slanderer — the good news is this is not usually a successful plight. man-yelling-at-woman
  2. Attention Seeking can sometimes be a bit harder to put your finger on. Generally this plays out when there is a desire for attention, and no tools to gain positive fulfillment. Perhaps an ex-lover, ex-co-worker, an ex-friend, or a school parent begins to form a habit of slandering your name. With a simple glance this can appear to be done out of dislike — they just don’t like you, so they want to be mean — however with a closer, more in depth look, the true motive can be revealed.  Let’s parallel the two motives. When someone dislikes another person generally they try to avoid interactions, and avoid any reason to communicate together. When someone is seeking attention, they will do almost anything to get it. Children start to act out to gain more attention from their parents, even if the attention is negative, it fulfills the desire to be nurtured, communicated with, and cared for. Adults (especially if that method turned out to be effective as a child) use the same method — although a bit more polished looking — find that they are able to push buttons by spreading false rumors and accusations, which in turn trigger communication from the desired source. Even though the communication is negative, they are able to get attention from the person on target. Slander is a way that many times insures a lot of attention.

So how do we silence the slander? We use our discernment. If the slander is causing problems with a non-negotiable, we follow up and set the record straight. If we are dealing with slander such as the attention seeking type, we give the method zero results. As hard as it is to swallow your pride, and walk away from the desire to “tell them a thing or two” or to “share your side of the story” the best thing possible is to starve the hungry beast. By reacting to the attention seeking slander, you are giving the slanderer a success! They taste sweet victory and are sure to get another bite by firing off again.

How do we deal with the betrayal? We turn the other cheek. We forgive seven times seventy.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek,turn to him the other also; 40if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well;…”

On the night of the last supper, Jesus knew who was betraying Him. He knew where the false loyalties were. He picked up a basin, filled it with water, and began wiping the dirt off Judas’ feet. He humbled Himself. He lowered Himself below that of His betrayer. He served, while setting an example of true humility and beautiful selflessness. We are to be wise as serpents, gentle as doves, and as humble and selfless as Jesus.

Stress, Anxiety, Panic

1475973_10152423323564097_804826418_nBeing a single parent with 100% custody comes with a lot of responsibility.  Sure, there are people that help out, but ultimately no one cares or invests to the level of a parent. I find myself responsible to pay the bills, unable to tag team in the raising and disciplining of my children, and without support when I just can’t take it anymore. I have found myself in positions where I had worked a seventy plus hour week, had to choose which utility bills to pay vs which ones I could stretch out until the next pay period – no child support here, no idea who I would be able to find to watch my children while I work, short on sleep, a messy house, no clean laundry… and the list goes on – not to mention the judgement I have faced from others. These things that I face seem to have no resolution other than enduring until my children reach adulthood. I feel as though I have been robbed of my motherhood, and missed their childhood. It used to be a regular thing to carry a diaper bag slung over my shoulder, one sleeping toddler in each arm, and trek across a block or two of parking lots to my apartment at two in the morning – just getting home from work.

What I am trying to say is that I am familiar with an overwhelmingly stressful amount of responsibilities. These are not the things a typical twenty-three year old American female faces – but I was facing them. So how are we to deal with stress? What about worry? What is it that triggers panic, gives us anxiety, and straight up scares us to death?

I can’t do it anymore.

I will never be enough.

I am going to get an eviction notice.

I am going to mess up my children’s lives.

I am falling short of the pinterest housewife.

I am not making the six figure income the other fathers are making.

I can’t stay awake.

I am suffering physically because:

I don’t have time to take care of myself.

I don’t have time to be a mother, a father, a provider, and a housewife.

I can’t go to the gym because:

I can’t afford a babysitter for pleasure.

I am alone.

I have no one that cares for me.

I can’t do this anymore and I definitely can not last until they are 18.

I will be lucky if I live until 40 with this amount of pressure on me (Yikes that’s not very long!!!!!)

All these worries. All these stresses. Many are legitimate. All off the seem hopeless, and all of them have something in 60457_10150095322499097_1982694_ncommon. They all start with the same letter, the same word. “I.” Recently I had the epiphany that these stressful moments are merely what I have labeled “selfish attacks.” There are so many concerns that seem like they are ok to have, but ultimately if you take yourself out of the picture, how many of them are really left? The crazy thing is that we don’t even have to be concerned about ourselves. We have all that we need through one source. I would never put my children in harms way. So why would my heavenly Father do that to me? I remember coaxing my little Carter to jump into the pool years ago. I can hardly keep him out of the pool now, but there was a time when he would be brought to tears at the thought of jumping in to me. I had him. There was nothing to worry about. Mommy would catch him – and never let him drown. Carter was worried that he would die. I had to convince Carter to let go of his worry, and give his worry to me. His job was to move forward. My job was to catch him. He had nothing to worry about – that was my job. Carter had to stop thinking about himself and all his worries and focus on my direction.

There is Rest

1001754_10152039268089097_219248586_nPsalm 55:22 proclaims “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you.” Over and over the Bible tells us not to worry. Matthew 11:28-30 records Jesus’ precious words; “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Nowhere are we told to worry. In fact, we are instructed quite the opposite. We are told again by Jesus in Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” There is one more precious gem I must include from Matthew 10:29-31, straight from the caring lips of Jesus “ Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?[b] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

When we do as instructed, we are never to worry. He will take care of any needs we have.  My God will supply all my needs. Our earthly concerns are essentially centered around ourselves, and our own selfishness. When we stop focusing on ourselves, and start focusing on greater things – loving and serving others and glorifying the one that takes care of us – our stress vanishes, our anxiety ceases to exist, and our panic is starved to death.

Do not worry my friend, simply rest in His care – have peace knowing that His grace is sufficient. He is more than enough.

Sweet Talk and Google Malfunctions

angry-phone-woman

“Just so you know, I think about them all the time, and I miss them.”

“Ok.” I responded.  It was the safest response I could come up with. I have heard this before a few times. I miss them, I love them, I made the biggest mistake, this time is different. It gets old, and I tend to be a bit sarcastic, realistic, and harsh. In fact, this was the perfect opportunity to tell him all about actions speaking louder  than words, what a real father is, give him that deserved verbal lashing, and grin as I walked away leaving him to drown in his own blood that I had just shed… Instead I put on my smile, “ok.”

I thought tonight I would rant about being wise, not falling for empty words or empty promises.  Maybe steal that line from one of my favorite poets “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and all he could whisper was sweet, empty nothings–
which meant nothing!” Maybe something about being “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Nah, forget that, how about we just focus on the shrewd serpent part, those doves are pretty over rated anyway.

That’s when Google started acting up. I like to look up some Bible verses, inspire myself reading similar topics that I either passionately agree or disagree with… Well, the wrong verse came up: “love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Ha! Wrong verse, bad job Google, plus I don’t love him so that doesn’t apply to this situation.

whispers: “Love your enemies…” grrrrrr

Another Google error found me paging through my Bible, landing in Luke 6 starting at verse 32 – red words. Jesus basically tells us that even really terrible people love those that love them, but we need to love others, give to others, and make sacrifices even when we know that we will receive nothing in return. He then goes on to speak the ever famous “Judge not least you be judged.” Hmmm… I was more in the mood for flipping tables and braiding whips…

Let’s be serious here, what does this guy actually deserve? How can I effectively protect my children and myself from him? What would make me feel good? What does he have coming for him? What about justice? “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”  “Be merciful just as your Father is also merciful.” Luke 6 started sounding more and more beautiful. When we can view those that wrong us, through heavenly eyes, we can see ourselves, and understand a fragment of the immense forgiveness the Father has gifted to us. Just as we are created in His image, we are called to forgive as He forgives.

 

 

 

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:22

*I would encourage you to read Luke 6 – especially verses 27-38.  Here is a link if you are looking to save page turning. 🙂  http://biblehub.com/niv/luke/6.htm

 

© 2016 Leah J. Dillon
Website by Cyentist