Questioning God

I’m not going to ask you to answer this question out loud, because I want you to sit back comfortably. I want this to be a peaceful moment for you. But I’m also going to ask you to prepare yourself, because sometimes questions we’re asked give rise to sparks of discomfort. You know, the kind that makes us want to get up, leave, and avoid the question. Now I’m going to ask you to take a quiet moment and search your soul for your answer. This moment — right now — is between you and God. Your Father. Your Confidant. And the Keeper of your soul. This moment has nothing to do with anyone else sitting around you. It’s all about you and the One who loves you. And you know what? Questions can give rise to proof.

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Here comes the question…

Have you ever wondered if God is real? Even for a split second? 

You know, that momentary feeling of doubt where you find yourself wondering if God truly listens and if He truly loves and if He’s really there. I know there have been moments when you felt like or still feel that you’ve not been a recipient of His affection or His presence. Or maybe you’ve felt like you didn’t need Him. (Side note: we’ve all done that). Yet you find yourself looking for proof because sometimes you wonder if He really is there. Part of you knows you need something or someone greater, and if you were completely transparent and honest with yourself you’d admit that you’re still wondering. Still seeking, still wanting authentic love, and everlasting hope.

I am going to get boldly vulnerable with you right now. I admit I’ve had moments of doubting God, wondering if He was real. Usually because of painful situations He was allowing and I didn’t understand why He thought it was okay for me to be hurt. I mean I’m strong, but I am not invincible.

Hurt happens. But so do miracles.

Decades ago, my sweetheart boyfriend of several years broke up with me for another girl. It shattered my heart and I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong or why he chose to leave me.

Several months later, he asked me to marry him.

I replied joyfully, “Yes!”

Or there was that moment, where I lay in bed after three miscarriages, facing my fourth. Lying there per doctor’s orders for six weeks, hoping I wouldn’t lose this one.

My precious son was born months later.

Or there was that unimaginable doctor’s visit, where I learned that I had something wickedly wrong inside of me. I doubted. I doubted God was real. I doubted God was near. But the more I doubted the more afraid I became. And the doubt-fear cycle escalated. I don’t like panic and neither does God. It was time for me to face that brain tumor head on. (No pun intended). I had no idea then what God was going to teach me during my near-Heaven experience. But wow. 

What I learned is how real He is and how authentically He loves.

Moments of doubting God’s authenticity or His presence are part of the human condition. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t faced these kind of thoughts. But God understands us in spite of our weaknesses and doubts. He knows how to cradle and hug even during the most tender or raw, heart-draining moments when our arms are stretched out, begging for mercy and comfort. We might think we are wearing thin, cannot go on, and are not sure if He’s really there.

But I promise you, He is real, and always present.

So we can learn to redirect our doubt. Miracles still happen, right? 

Precious child, miracles are whispers from Heaven, proving that God is real.

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We’ve heard of others blessed by them, but may not have experienced one ourselves, leaving us questioning, “Am I worthy? And is God really here?”

Precious child, stop for a moment. Put every thought aside, and envision that you and I are sitting at a kitchen table right across from each other. Now take your hands hidden under that table, lift them up, and stretch them across the table. I am doing the same thing. I don’t know you well, and you don’t know me well. But in God’s presence we’re going to get vulnerable. We are going to ask Him to draw close. And if you don’t feel comfortable asking Him to sit with us, I will ask Him for the two of us.

Take my hands and look me straight in the eye.

Precious child, I am looking at a miracle, right now. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (quote inspiration – Psalm 139:14). You are precious. You are loved. You are wanted. And you are worthy.

God is real. 

And if you are still doubting, look around you. If you are sitting in a room with nothing alive in it other than yourself, go outside. Look around at the trees surrounding you. Look up at the clouds in the sky. Stop and listen. It could be the voices talking, the birds singing, a dog barking, or a child laughing. These motions, events, and scenes are all clear evidence that God is real. He was real yesterday. He is real today. And He will be real tomorrow.

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Now close your eyes for just a moment.

Oh no. If you keep them closed you won’t be able to finish reading this.

Please open them again.

Thank you.

My prayer for you today, is that you will grasp how much your Heavenly Father loves you and that you’ll understand how real He is and always will be.

Amen.

Hope in Him,

Helo

Don’t Wait To Draw God Near

Ever found yourself asking, “What does it take to draw God near? Is He always close? Really?” People who call themselves “Christians” often tell me, “He is near” — and I know I’m supposed to believe it, because I call myself a Christian too. But how come it doesn’t always feel like He’s close?

Let’s get real and transparent for a moment. All of us have faced or will face struggles. All of us question or wonder at times. I have. If we don’t seek God during those puzzling moments, doubt clouds the truth.

THE TRUTH: He is always present, always loves, always forgives, always holds onto us — when we let Him. He is real.

He is amazing.

But sometimes we don’t exhale amazing faith. Instead, we inhale doubt and it keeps us questioning and mumbling, “Where is He? Where is He? Where is He? How come I can’t see Him?”

Hmpff. Ever felt exasperated? I have.

We get caught up in things we think are important and somewhere along the way we can lose sight of what matters most. We look for love, validation, and success in this world, and discover, “Hey, this fulfillment is temporary.” The satisfaction didn’t linger long enough. It didn’t and won’t fill our vacuum. At least not in an everlasting or eternal way. Are you following me?

Beloved — walk with me for a moment.

You are loved.

You are worthy.

You are adored.

You are forgiven.

You are appreciated, redeemed, cherished, embraced, understood… and the authentic LOVE list doesn’t stop.

See, that’s how God loves: authentically.

Eternally.

Everlasting.

Unstoppable.

Unfathomably grace-filled.

So now, do you want to find God? Do you want to draw Him near? What will happen when you do?

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Pray.

Look up.

If tears are flowing, that’s okay. He captures tears of joy and sorrow all the time.

Ask Him to hold onto you. Ask Him to listen. And if you feel like He isn’t near, ask, “God, where are You?”

It isn’t that hard to find Him. He doesn’t play “hide and go seek.” I think, at times, we do. But you know what? He already knows exactly where you are. All the time.

Beloved, slow down. Step away from the chaos and busyness of this world. That to-do list can wait. That worry needs to be set aside. Time with God is more important. Look up. Close your eyes and call Him near.

There He is!

He’s been there all along.

Beautiful, amazing, outrageous, authentic, assuring, unwavering, steadfast…. LOVE!

God is real.

You found Him!  He’s been holding onto you and loving you all along.

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Okay, this worked. But will it work every time? Will He be there even when I feel grumpy, unworthy, selfish, stubborn, alone, or wayward?

Yes.

I’ve learned drawing Him near works every time — when I make it a habit — setting aside distractions. Turning to God and turning away from my fears and preoccupying thoughts draws Him near in a contagious, outrageous, and captivating way. Then drawing Him close turns into an automatic tendency. An automatic reaction. Loving the One who loves us like no one else can is hard to give up. Now that’s one contagious Love. 

Then we want Him close all the time.

Okay — got it?

Time for reinforcement. Time for repetition. Time for authenticity. Time to let go of our own agenda.

Draw Him near — at times over and over again — and finally hear or listen to His voice. Beloved, “I WILL NEVER LEAVE NOR FORSAKE YOU.” (Hebrews 13:5). See, He IS always with us. He does not abandon us —  though at times we turn our back on Him.

Friend, time to turn around. 

The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Now you are finished reading this. STOP. Don’t get up from your desk or chair. Not yet.

Stay right where you are. Draw Him near. Right now. And after you do, get up, and walk boldly in faith.

Time to express faith boldly…

B : Believe

O : Out loud.

L : Love Him back

D : Deeply

L : “Love You, God!”

Y : “You are there, all the time!”

Beloved, He loves you.

Hope in Him,

– Helo

 

The Sweetest Love Letter

Did you know that the Bible is the sweetest love letter ever written? It captivates, it directs, it comforts, it unleashes hope, it validates, it defines redemption, it uncovers grace, and it reveals a love like no other. 

God.

God is love. (1 John 4:8).

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How is His love revealed? “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

Now that is amazing love!

Want to get to know God better? I promise, He wants you to. And the more you spend time with Him, the more you’ll fall in love with Him. And the more you fall in love with Him, the more you’ll stand in awe, understanding how much He loves you.

One way to get to know God better is by spending time in His Word. His love letter is written for you!

Remember this song? Jesus loves me this I know / for the Bible tells me so / Little ones to Him belong / they are weak but He is strong / Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me the Bible tells me so…

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But sometimes, we all get too busy to hold the Bible, open it, crave it, follow it, and spend time in it with others or by ourselves. With God and uninterrupted. I admit, sometimes I skip through its pages.

That approach has its place. While in rehabilitation following brain tumor removal, I remember experiencing odd reactions. Surgical brain tumor removal, life support and eight weeks hospitalization was an ordeal. Returning home to twenty continued weeks of rehab was not fun. Nor was it easy. I’d experience “conversion reactions” where my legs felt like they shut down and did not want to move. It was discouraging and bizarre. Apparently my brain was exhausted and not communicating well. I remember my dad (a retired rehabilitation medicine physician) telling me, “Helo, tell your legs to walk.” I thought, You’ve got to be kidding me! 

This was me then. “Hi Helo’s legs, move!” Didn’t work. So I’d sit and rest. At times for 30 to 45 minutes.

I tried the futile “talk to my legs” approach, but it lacked incentive and didn’t work. Then one day, I placed my Bible on a table six feet away from my chair. My goal: get to the table, open the Bible, read a verse at random, turn around, sit back down, and then do it again. Getting into the Word was my incentive. My reward was getting to read soothing, directive, amazing scripture. And it worked!

As time progressed, over several months, I learned the importance of spending “real time” with God. It’s a gift. Unbridled. Unmatched. Uninterrupted. Just me and Him.

And when I did, I began to learn what it means to love God. Really, truly love Him. And how much He truly loves His children. Each and every one of us.

This verse strikes a chord in my soul. It strengthens me. I invite you to let it strike a chord in you.

I love you, LORD, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1).

Time to break it down. It grips us better when we do. Don’t simply glance over it.

Stop and read each word slowly. One word at a time, until you get to His name — LORD. I recently did, and when I reached His name, with tear-filled eyes, I realized how much I love Him and why.

I repeated, “I love you, LORD, my strength.” Then I continued and expanded what I thought.

I need You, LORD, my Comfort.

I seek You, LORD, my Hope.

I want You, LORD, my Soul-keeper.

I lean on You, LORD, my Tower.

I crave You, LORD, my Sustenance.

I hide beneath Your wings, LORD, my Shelter.

I behold You, LORD, my Glory.

I trust You, LORD, my Assurance.

I believe in You, LORD, my Truth.

I applaud You, LORD, my King.

I embrace You, LORD, my Best Friend.

I wait patiently for You, LORD, my Provider.

I ask for Your hand, LORD, my Healer.

I confess to You, LORD, my Confidant.

I praise You, LORD, my Blessing.

I lift up prayers to you, LORD, my Listener.

I will share Your promise, LORD, because we all need to know how much You love.

– Helo 

But my love accolades for You don’t stop there. Perhaps because Your love never ends and neither should ours for You.

Dear God, Thank You for loving us.

Cherished friend, I invite you to take a piece of paper and write, “I love You, LORD, because ________.” Fill in the blank. Once, twice, three times, or more… until it becomes a habit. You can also fill in the blanks when you talk to Him in prayer. “I love You, LORD, because _______.”

Telling God why you love Him will reinforce your faith and strengthen the love-bond between Him and you. That’s beautiful! 

Tell yourself, “I am God’s and He is mine.”

Beloved, HE LOVES YOU! Love Him back.

Hope in Him,

Helo

Reigniting Faith

It was the Fourth of July. Sparklers were held lighting up the darkness surrounding us. Then we looked up. We marveled at the colossal versions of what we held quietly in our hands. Fireworks. Colorful, noisy, captivating fun. We were celebrating freedom, passionately.

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It made me wonder, What if God’s children believed, loved, hoped, trusted … and made His light shine like that? You know, the kind of display igniting the sky and Heavens that no one can miss and everyone stops to take notice of. In wonder. Captivated.

Recognize this song sung in Sunday schools everywhere? “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” It’s been around since 1920! The words are simple, yet strong. Composer Harry Dixon followed the theme found in Matthew 5:16:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

Not only does this song tell the world that God’s children should want to make His love shine, it goes on to say, “Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m going to let it shine.” And later… “Everywhere I go, I’m going to let it shine… let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

But how do we keep God’s love shining? I think we need to keep it ignited by believing. Sometimes this means reigniting it. Especially in our world today where there is so much darkness displayed by lies, hopelessness, doubt, indifference, anger, and hate.

Perhaps we need to display His love by rekindling it instead of focusing on the world’s attempt to extinguish God. In case you’re wondering, our Heavenly Father is omnipresent and powerful — and will never be extinguished. Still, as His children we need to let others know how much He loves each one of us, because we all need love. Showing it to others makes that little spark turn into a light that authentically shines. Bright.

Let us not extinguish God’s presence, let’s ignite it, sharing who God is. Everywhere. With everyone. If we all made our Light shine, more people would come to know our Father. And more people would understand how much He loves them.

How do we let our light shine? 

Ignite truth. 

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6). Now this is freedom. Freedom everlasting. Through His loving sacrifice we are forgiven and made new. In Him we can find hope, redemption and grace. Unmerited yet everlasting.

Ignite hope.

Hope begins with a prayer. When hopeless, pray more. If you want to quit, by God’s grace quit giving up! Remember, God can take shattered moments and create blessed ones when we let Him handle the restoration. Look up and let God’s love captivate. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

Ignite trust. 

Trusting God with your all, means letting go. Giving it up. Letting Him take your burdens and self-imposed control. When you do, recognize that you’ve just given your all to the Almighty! Stand back amazed, because you just ignited trusting Him. That is faith unleashed. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5).

Ignite bold faith. 

Choose to believe. Igniting your faith boldly reveals something different. Something captivating. Someone different — because He is love.  A love found in no one else. It’s that contagious faith destined and determined to make a difference. It brings joy to the joyless. It’s compassionate faith not just talked about but walked. Ignite it! Share it. “Now faith is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see.”  (Hebrews 11:1).

Ignite prayer. 

Hope and faith begin with a prayer. Prayer means talking with God. And you know what is so amazing about your Heavenly Father? He listens, all  the time! In fact, He already knows what you’re going ask or talk to Him about, before you even open your mouth! He may not answer everything exactly the way you want Him to. He doesn’t work like that. He is wise. But He never closes His ear to you. So keep on praying. “Pray without ceasing.”                    (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Ignite compassion. 

Help others. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). Time to remove the spotlight focused on ourselves and reach out to someone else. Generosity will come back to you ten-fold. Promise. Give big. Give what you can. A smile, time to listen, buy the groceries for the person in front of you or behind you in line. You never know if you’ll need it yourself someday. But if you can now, go out of your way and do something kind for someone else. Watch how good it will make you feel. Especially when you expect nothing in return.

Ignite peace. 

Ever had a moment when you got angry or grumpy and someone loved you in spite of your momentary reckless behavior? It softens it right? This world needs peace. Attaining it will likely take strong and powerful God-driven leadership. But for many of us, we don’t have that kind of influence or commanding authority. We can only ignite peace in small portions. But I think peace has a contagious and beautiful component. So ignite it and know that authentic peace comes from Jesus. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Ignite love. 

The Bible says, “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14).  Wow! Love is contagious and if we all ignited love and followed this instruction, do you have any idea what a change we could all bring to this world? I’m jumping up and down just thinking about it!

Ignite joy. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).This isn’t always simple because at times life isn’t easy. But even in the midst of anxiety, sorrow, challenges, and adversity, we can find a glimmer of hope — a little sparkle. Bring God into that dark place and ignite joy! “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19).

Ignite gratitude. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”                    (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Complaining is contagious but so is the opposite including thankfulness and gratitude. Time to ignite thankfulness, recognizing everything He has done and will do for you and His children.

I could keep going on with igniting so many different areas of our lives… but this article is running out of room. And I need you to get off your computer, stop reading this, and start igniting your own life.

Before you go, sing to yourself, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine….” And if you don’t have a good voice, no worries. Sing it anyhow. Sing it loud and ignite the presence of our Father our Light in this dark world.

Hope in Him,

Helo

 

Curious Faith Like a Child

Faith like a child. It starts when we’re little. We may be too young to know who God is, but we trust and believe just about everything. We’re innocent and naive.

He’s just two years old. He takes his hands and covers his face.

“I can’t see you, Mommy. I can’t see you, Daddy. Where did you go?”

He pulls his hands down and his eyes pop open. “Peekaboo, I see you!” The smile and joy on his face is contagious. Laughter and smiles abound.

“This is fun! I want to do it again!”

“Okay, son.”

He trusts that his parents wouldn’t leave even when he closes his eyes.

Later, he’ll play hide and go seek, counting, “One-one thousand, two-one thousand.” He hears footsteps and whispers to his brother loudly, “Be quiet! Mom and Dad are going to find us too fast!”

The parents now know where they are, but they want this to be fun, so they call out, “Where are you two? You are hiding so well, we can’t find you. But we will!”

Creak.

The door opens.

Dad says, “There you two are!”

Love from a father. Faith like a child.

They hid — not afraid — because they knew their parents would find them. They took them at their word. “Let’s play hide and go seek, we promise if you feel alone, we’ll find you.”

Fast forward.

They grow older and the innocent child-like trust dissipates. The world sets in. Children can  easily be distracted, fooled, and led astray — following fantasies, myths, untruths and falsities, making the truth hide. We’ve all encountered this, right?

Time to follow God. Time to “unhide” His authentic love. Time to trust like a child.

God-loving, Heavenly Father-fearing parents do their best to show their children who God is, but ultimately it will be their child’s choice to follow God — or wander.

Ever noticed how those of us who love and follow God are called “His children?”

We are called His children because no matter how old we get, if we are two or seventy-two, in God’s eyes we are still His children.

Remind yourself. “He is my Father. I am His child.”

I think it is important, no matter where we are in our faith walks, to integrate a child-like faith.

Why?

Because trusting God with our every portion with a child-like curiosity and uninhibited love is where faith begins. And grows. Taking on child-like faith is when God gets real to us.

Get curious. Curious faith reveals our amazing God.

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Look around you. 

See what God has made.

Proof God is real is everywhere! Stand in awe — like His child. I confess at times I get too busy to slow down and notice.

Pray like His child.

Remember you are His. And He is yours. Talk to your Father. Continually. Pray because He listens! Sometime we forget this. “Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24). God may not give us exactly what we want. He wisely doesn’t work that way. But He listens, answers, and provides in His timing. He is wise. And He knows how to give us joy!

Chase joy like a child. 

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Do your best to learn what faith really is. 

Faith is an unbridled gift from God. We cannot come up with it on our own. It requires: authenticity, humbleness, honesty, and trust in our Heavenly Father. Faith is not a checkbox denomination. Instead it is chasing a relationship with Him. The requirement is simple. Spend time with God and ask Jesus to be your best friend. 

Jesus encourages and promotes seeking an authentic faith with our Heavenly Father, emulating a childlike faith. He uses the example of a child. Remember a child, when still young, trusts his parents with innocence.

As we get older and think we’re wiser, we may question what faith is and if it truly is the only way to get to Heaven and live a beautiful life while we are preparing to leave.

Jesus’ disciples were young men when they asked Him, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). I think they were asking if there was a ranking system in Heaven, perhaps questioning their own worthiness.

Jesus then called a child to sit next to Him and tenderly answered, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me.” (Matthew 18:3-5).

So today, I will choose authentic, childlike faith. I will choose to trust God with my all. I want to receive God’s unmerited favor. I will humble myself in His presence. I will not hide. I believe He loves, never leaves, and will always find me. I am not lost. I am found.

Time to follow Him — here and now — with childlike faith

Hope in Him,

Helo

 

Reflections for Father’s Day

He quickly kisses his wife’s cheek, whispering, “I love you, beautiful.” And just as he is about to leave, his kids eagerly pull on his sleeve. “Daddy, can you please play with us a little longer? Dance with me, Daddy. Read to me, Daddy. Shoot hoops with me, Daddy.” And the “Daddy” requests continue…

“Come on — please?”

Begging won’t work — even though it makes Daddy’s heart melt. They’ve tried this countless times before but haven’t figured out that it doesn’t always work. They simply want more of his attention. Why? Because they love him like crazy and can’t seem to get enough. And you know what? He loves them too. But life gets crazy hectic. And sometimes there simply isn’t enough time to love back. Right?

“Sorry kids, I wish I could, it’s time to go to work now.”

Hours pass.

Finally, the garage door goes up. Anticipation is over. The children race to the door. “Daddy is home! Daddy is home!”

It’s been a long day. He’s exhausted (and so is Mom) — but they love their bundles of joy.

He kisses his wife on the cheek again.

She responds, “How did your day go, dear?”

“Busy!”

He attempts to give her his undivided attention and love her back. He wants to give her another hug, but the kids are lovingly challenging this endeavor. “How did your….”

Question interrupted.

He’s wanted by the kids again. She needs a break anyway.

As our children have gotten older… “Daddy” has turned into “Dad.”

“Hey Dad, Can I borrow your car? Hey Dad, wanna go out and get something for dinner? Wanna wrestle?”

Wrestling is not a good idea. Our sons may take him down. So much has changed since they came into this world and he got to count their ten little fingers and ten little toes.

But it’s been a long day at work and he wants to wrestle anyway. A little pushing and shoving is fun. Right? But our boys are over six feet tall now and BIG!

I stand back watching and gasping for air — but the smiles on my husband’s and our boy’s faces make me giggle.

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My husband’s filled these shoes for years. The soles are worn. The tie is tattered and a little old-fashioned. The camera’s out-dated but the memories captured are still amazing. His pen runs out of ink. But he’s thankful for the love notes and honey-do lists. Dollars are rolled up and tied with a rubber band. His credit card sometimes feels like it’s melting. By God’s grace, he’s doing his best. He wants to be a good dad.

The hurry, the scurry. The stress, the worry. Is this all? There has to be more to life than this. The house, the car, the status, the success… He often wonders. Am I focused on what really matters? Am I a good dad?

He’s a provider, a listener, a director, a coach, and a leader. He’s stayed up countless nights with our kids. Listening. Wrestling. Laughing. Advice giving. Sometimes stern. Always doing his best to be — God-fearing. He’s an amazing dad.

When he held our first child, she mesmerized him. Awestruck, he looked at the twinkle in her eyes, then thought, Now what? Twenty-five years later, he walked our daughter down the aisle, giving her away.

I’ll never forget the question he asked me that night. “Was I a good dad?”

“Yes, you were and still are. God taught you how to love and you know how to put Him first,” I whispered.

Every night he’s said a prayer for each of our three blessings. He still does today — because he knows simply striving to be “their hero” isn’t enough. It won’t work. Those shoes are impossible to fill anyhow.

Showing God’s love means more.

Our children are blessed to call my husband “Dad.” And he’s blessed to hear it.

But being a father isn’t always easy. Gratitude doesn’t always make itself known. And sometimes it hurts when he doesn’t feel it. A father loves to hear his children say, “Dad, I love you.” If he doesn’t hear it enough, inadequacy can fill his heart. When the void starts expanding, though, if he chooses to listen to his Heavenly Father say, “I love you child,” his heart will overflow with God’s love — again.

On a grander scale, I can only imagine how much it pains our Heavenly Father when we don’t love Him back or grasp how much He loves us. We don’t need to beg for His affection or tug on His shirt — He gives it freely. We simply need to follow Him.

“For God so loved the world, He sent and gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). His love and compassion are unmatched. Now, that’s one amazing Fatherly love.

So for every father out there, know this. In God’s presence you are always blessed. Always loved. Always forgiven. And always understood. You simply need to listen to your Heavenly Father say, “I love you, child.” And if you forget how much He loves you, ask Him to repeat it and you will hear Him say once again, “I love you, child.”

Ever wondered what it takes to be a strong and loving dad? One who equips his children to face the world with confidence, faith, integrity, trust, and strength? The legacy most dads want to pass down is quite admirable. But where do they draw their strength from? I think a father’s pillar of strength is found in authentic faith — real faith in our Heavenly Father, the One who instructs.

A good father…

Listens to His Heavenly Father. Repeatedly.

Humbles himself before God letting God make him stronger.

Recognizes that he isn’t perfectand unmistakably knows that when he stays in his Father’s grip, he is loved and forgiven. He chooses to do his best to honor, esteem, and follow God first.

Esteems his wife — showing his children how to love. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it.” (Ephesians 5:25).

Loves his children and points them in God’s direction, reminding them that they are always loved. Always embraced. Eternally forgiven and redeemed. “Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26); “As a father has compassion on His children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him…” (Psalm 103:13).

He ponders: I am not perfect at loving, but I know the One who loves perfectly. “Dear God, help me show my wife and children how much I adore them. I miss them throughout the chatter and busyness of my days. Life is hectic. The business meetings are long. Negotiations aren’t always simple. But I know You love me. Keep me in Your grip. On this Father’s Day, and every day, I will choose to honor and follow You, returning Your authentic love first. I will not settle for less. You are my amazing Father. You are my fortress. The legacy I hope to leave behind is that I followed your footsteps. You led the way. You showed me right from wrong. You never hid Your love from me. Sometimes I turned away, but You called me back. See, I did my best because I wanted to be a good dad. Thank you God, for Your unmerited favor and grace.” Amen.

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This is the man my children are blessed to call “Dad.” His hair is turning grey and he’s got wrinkles on his forehead, reminding us to be thankful for him and every day he is with us. He has and continues to teach us that God is our pillar of strength and Father who loves perfectly. And so today, we will appreciate him and above all thank our Heavenly Father for His love, provision, and eternal promise.

To all you fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day. To those who’ve lost your dad or never met him, I am so sorry. I am keeping you in prayer. Sons and daughters, love your dads. Wives, love your husbands, and mothers, love your sons. Today’s and tomorrow’s dads need our love and prayers.

Happy Father’s Day!

Helo

Mother’s Day is on its way!

Rewind to joy, reflect on grace

If you had a minute left with your mom or child, what would you say?

It’s taken me a while to find the right answer to that question. I have been blessed to be a mom for almost 26 years. Now, I know what I’d say. I’d look each of my children straight in the eye — and say, “I love you. God loves you more — always remember that.”

Years ago, people told me, “You won’t truly understand the challenges of motherhood until you are a mom.” Yeah right, I thought. What is there to do except have fun with my husband, conceive children, give birth, and raise them? 

At the time, I was quite naive and did not understand the complexity of filling a mom’s shoes, and her-ever changing role — until I became a mom. Yet I looked forward with great anticipation and was excited for the day when I’d get to put little shoes – like these – on my first child.

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Today, I’m rewinding… remembering joy. 

“The test is positive!” I exclaimed to my husband, Rich.

Nine months later, I’m waddling. She’s kicking, which hurts, and can’t be stopped. (Perhaps this was God’s way of foreshadowing future challenges and later independence). I’m thinking, “Hurry up, little one!” And I’m rejoicing in the little life that’s growing inside of me.

The big day came. After twenty hours of labor and an unexpected C-Section, I got to experience the joy of holding our precious baby daughter, Lauren. I vividly remember counting all ten fingers, and all ten toes, while thanking God that our child was here, and healthy. “God, thank you!” My husband kissed my forehead — then hers.

We locked eyes, and I whispered, “I love you.” It was as if a miracle was born. God was the Creator, and I got to be the means by which He brought new life into the world. I felt such joy! That joy happened almost 26 years ago.

Then, there was deep sorrow. There would be joy again, but in between… I had three miscarriages. I cried tears of sorrow and longed for another child – loss hurts. Yet during that sorrowful time, I began to see that God restores broken hearts. He loved and comforted me through the pain. I learned to cherish every “first” moment as a precious gift – first smile, first steps, first “I love you, Mommy and Daddy!” Also, God gave me compassion for others who have lost children. If you have experienced that grief, I am so sorry.

About 20 years ago, I cried — tears of joy. This time, God gave us a baby son, Jordan – strong-willed then, and still determined today. Doctors thought that I’d miscarry him, but apparently, God had a different plan. Jordan’s birth was another miracle.

Then, sorrow returned. I had a fourth miscarriage. Why again, God? This hurts! 

When I prayed, asking why, He again comforted my heart. Remember – I love you. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In hindsight, I can see that He was emphasizing the miracle of life – of a child being born. Cherish life my friend!

17 years ago – another miracle, another season of joy – our second son, Austin, was born. My pregnancy with him put me on bed rest for several weeks; now, he jokes, “Mom, I was putting you on vacation!” Thank you, son! I didn’t know then, that this rest was a blessing. Now, with teenagers, (as much as I love them!) – I don’t get much “vacation” time!

Slow down. Rewind and count your blessings, Helo — you are blessed to get to be a mom.

I came so close to leaving — for good — too soon, and not getting to watch my children grow up, attain milestones, make me laugh, keep me up at night, leave the nest, and walk down the aisle. I’m thankful to be here, watching all these blessings.

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Friends, don’t fast-forward and worry about loving your children. Rewind to joy. Remember blessings. When I remember hearing my children’s first cries, I cry as well – tears of joy. I marvel at the miracle of life and remember how capable God is, and how much He loves us. We moms need to remember that our children ultimately belong to God. They are His children first, and ours second. We need to trust Him to take care of them. Even when we aren’t capable, God is always capable of loving, protecting, guiding and transforming. He is the Father of their souls.

I am not perfect at being a mom, and loving my children — but He is. He teaches us how to love. Being a mom, with so many roles, can be difficult. We want and strive to be a Christ follower, wife, mother, daughter, sister, caretaker, cheerleader, prayer warrior, counselor, cabdriver, housecleaner and manager… and more! Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, as if we aren’t measuring up. “God, can I rewind and try again?” 

Have you ever felt that way? I have. I’ve wanted to be a better mom — saying, “Tomorrow, I won’t make the same mistakes! I’ll say more “I love you,” and more “I’m sorry.” That’s when God reminds me of His love and forgiveness – His grace. 

He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Forgiveness makes way for grace. I can’t – and don’t have to be – perfect, because there is grace enough through Jesus to cover my weaknesses and to love perfectly, on my behalf. Jesus saves by grace through faith, and He is enough.

His grace gives us joy. We don’t have to be “perfect” moms, and our children will never be perfect either. If I had just a moment left with my children, I’d whisper with joy, “I love you, God loves you more.” And I’d remind myself – “I am, was, and will be a good mom — never perfect — but good is all I need to be.”

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On Mother’s Day, the only gift that I really want to unwrap is, “Mom, I love you.” At the same time, I remember, God loves me like no one else can. His love reflects in me – and prayerfully, hopefully reflects in my children’s hearts. There is no perfect mother, and there is no perfect child. But in God our Father, there is love, forgiveness, and grace enough for us all. Remember that there is prayer – trust Him and cry out to Him! There is also joy – life itself is a beautiful, miraculous gift.

Here is a prayer that I have prayed, and in which you are welcome to join: “Dear God, please bless the mess in my home. Please give us grace to cover our imperfections — help us to lift one another up. Remind us to love each other with grace and forgiveness.” Amen.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Helo