Happy Mother’s Day: The Power of the Father’s Affirmation

Zephaniah 3:16-17
“[…] Do not fear […], let not your hands be weak. 17 The Lord your God […] will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

On Wednesday evening I attended Sozo, a ministry training video series that teaches what it means to be saved, healed and delivered. This week they taught about ‘The Father Ladder’ and how our perception of God is shaped, to a large degree, by our relationship with our family.

God, Our Daddy-Father, Provider and Protector Who Delights in Us

Our perception of God whether distant and harsh or near and loving, comes largely from our earthly fathers. When our fathers provide, protect and affirm our identity, we tend to see God that way. If Daddy adores me and is proud of me, I am more likely to believe that God adores me and is proud of me.

When our fathers fail in these areas it is in forgiving them that we are freed from that misconception about God, and rediscover Him.

They talked about how many wounded women choose partners that have the same negative and abusive behaviours of their dads had. I thought about past boyfriends. I almost made that mistake. I remembered Howard, a man who stepped into the ‘Dad role’ in my life before I met Tim. I have never known a man more like Tim than Howard is. I thanked God, again, for the example Howard was in my life.

I thought back over the years to childhood… the pain, the disappointment and the deep wounds that are now healed. And then a new revelation hit me: I have never dealt with abandonment. I have always known that I felt abandoned. Awake at night, as a little girl, terrified by the shadows in the doorway, I had to do it alone. I could not cry out for my Daddy to come and protect me. In fact, I feared the shadow was his, and he was coming to hurt me. At six…seven… eight… nine… and until 15 when I left home, I could not call out to him. I was alone.

I had forgiven him for hurting me, for terrorizing me, but I had never forgiven him for abandoning me and not being my protector. No wonder I struggle to believe that God will protect me when I am in a bad situation. No wonder, when I face a difficult situation, whether spiritually or practically, I struggle to believe that He will come through for me and protect me. In that moment of revelation, I chose to forgive my Dad….. again.

The timing couldn’t have been more significant. I needed to know that right now, to believe that God has not and will not abandon me.

Jesus, Our Brother and Friend

Next we learned how Jesus, our Friend and Brother, can seem distant and hard to connect with depending on our childhood wounds from siblings and friends.

In a family with sixteen children, each in survival mode due to violence and dysfunction, wounding is inevitable. Sure, we forgive, let go, move on and understand what we all lived out of, but the scars remain for a time. Healing comes, one layer at a time.

I thought back to my wounds. I’ve forgiven my siblings and moved on. I abandoned my family the month before I turned sixteen and in the next two years they only saw me about a handful of times, if that. Then I suddenly reappeared. For almost two years I lived close to home but spent very little time there. And then I disappeared again, keeping limited contact.

I’m sure I have done my share of wounding my siblings. It was survival of the fittest, and my survival was in taking care of myself, to remove myself from the reach of my family so that I would not continue being wounded.

Now, all these years later, I love my siblings, I care about them. Still, the reality is that an element of bonding never happened under the circumstances of our home life. Again, the woman said, forgiveness is key in freeing us in our relationship with Jesus.

Finally, we learned how the nurturing, comforting and teaching mother represents the Holy Spirit and, when misrepresented, there is confusion. I heard this part of the teaching, but stayed stuck on number one and two. Not because there are not things to look and work through in my relationship with my mom. Not because there are no wounds. There are. But the first two were all I could handle in one evening. My mind was tired, and my spirit needed time to process it all.

The Father’s Affirmation

Thursday morning I intended to get several items  from the grocery store first thing. I should have slipped out at 8:30 in the morning. I was out of detergent and laundry piles were waiting. And I was almost out of cream for my coffee. But I stalled.  An hour passed. And another. Still I stalled. For no particular reason. Another fifteen minutes.  Finally, at about 10:45 I slipped out, regretting slightly my late start, but only  until I discovered that God had His own agenda taking shape.

I grabbed my items, and headed for the check out. Slipping my card in the chip reader, I saw a gentleman across the store. Howard? I squinted. (Should have worn my glasses!) I wrapped up paying for my purchases, squinted again and was confident it was Howard.

When I was twenty-one, Howard and his wife Alice stepped into my life and helped me unravel the pain and trauma of those early years. Together they showed me love, acceptance, grace and offered me hope for healing.

I walked across the store, abandoning my big box of groceries. The thought occurred to me that they were paid for. Someone could walk away with them. That was a risk I was willing to take.

Howard saw me and his eyes lit up. With pride beaming from his eyes, he told me how proud he is of me. He had recently spoken with someone whose wife had attended a women’s retreat where I spoke. He encouraged me and blessed me. A second time he said, “Trudy, I am so proud of you! And I love you very much!”

I felt like a little kid again, but this time I was soaking up the blessing. There was no fear, no pain, no abandonment.

A great big Howard-kind-of-bear-hug later, I walked out the door, more empowered than a kid after eating a bag of candy and a Red Bull to wash it down!

It wasn’t until I walked away that I felt God saying, “I’m proud of you too. I sent Howard today, just to remind you that I am here. I know what you’re going through. I see your struggle. Your fears have not escaped my attention. I am here. You are loved. I bless you.”

That alone could have taken me a long way. But God wasn’t done.

At home I unpacked my groceries and had just tossed the empty box in the hall, to be taken to the garage for recycling, when the doorbell rang. There, peaking through the side panel, stood my ‘little’ brother, grinning from ear to ear. He’s thirty-five now and taller than me, but he will always be my little brother.  Some things never change.

We spent several hours together on Thursday, talking, laughing and sharing heart to heart. He’s a wonderful young man and I’m so proud of him. Proud to be his sister. Proud to be his friend. Proud of how honest he is, how authentic, how transparent. Proud of his heart , his kindness.

He told me I am easy to talk to. He shared some cool ideas he has and wondered if I wanted to be part of making them happen. Of course I do!  And then he left.

As he drove away, the previous night’s Sozo lesson returned. Jesus, my Brother… my Friend. He is as willing to interact with me, to be part of my life. I love Jesus. He lived transparently. He stood for Truth. He lived authentically. His heart is kind.

In one day two unplanned meetings, both relating to the previous night’s teaching and my struggle, had affirmed a deeper truth about God in my life.  And in that affirmation, my heart was strengthened for the battle we call life.

As I thought about this post, and it being Mother’s Day weekend and all, I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was to share right now. On further thought, I realized how much fathers hold the power to influence their daughters—the mothers of tomorrow.

This weekend, while Howard is not my Dad by birth, he did give me an amazing gift by showing me the gift of being valued. I observed how he did this with his birth daughters years ago, when I first moved into their home. He told them how beautiful they were, how proud he was of them. I had never heard a dad talk that way before but that example changed my life and shaped my expectation. I saw that I have value and should be treated with respect.

My brother gave me that same gift of respect and value. While he was here on Thursday, he told my fourteen-year-old son how fortunate he is that we can discuss sex. Understandably my son mumbled something about it not being cool, to which my brother replied that it’s very cool. He told my son that he is fortunate. While he may not have thought of it, he blessed me in my role as a mother.

I love being a mom to my kids! I thank Howard, my brother and all those who influenced and empowered me on this amazing journey!  Especially the godly men in my life who bear the image of God and represent the Father’s heart.  Through you I am reminded that God is my #1 cheerleader—that He delights in me.

God Has My Back

In my previous blog I shared a super cool story about a cheque we received, at Faith Girls Unleashed, from a donor for the unusual amount of $13.71. The uniqueness of the number toyed at my mind, like the dripping of a tap that drives you crazy until either turn it off all the way, or fix it, if that doesn’t work.

Turning it off didn’t work. I told myself it was silly. I lectured myself about the foolishness of trying to find a hidden meaning in nothing. Still, there was this persistent niggling that the number had a deeper meaning.

I tried to be biblical about it first. If it was the first book of the Bible, the third chapter and the seventh verse, then what would the last ‘1’ be? Furthermore, having checked that verse out, it didn’t hold any particular meaning that applied to our ministry. I tried several other searches, but nothing. That was my attempt to turn the tap off.

For about one day I forgot about it. And then it returned. Drip. Drip. Drip. Nagging. Distracting me constantly. There had to be a deeper meaning. I looked at the number again, as a whole. Nothing. Next, I looked at each number on an individual basis: 1. 3. 7. 1.  No real pattern. A three and a seven, sandwiched between two ones. And then it struck me. Numbers have meanings. I did the search and was intrigued by the following combination of number meanings.

1 = One God; God (the Alpha & Omega) the beginning; the only; whole; complete

3 = Time: past, present, future;

7 = full; satisfied; complete; to have enough of; Spiritual Perfection

1 = One God; the only; whole; complete; God (the Alpha & Omega)

Our ministry, at Faith Girls Unleashed, is a faith-based ministry. We invite God into the pain of the past so that we can find healing in our present, and move forward with hope for the future. In Him we are made whole again, complete and fulfilled, regardless of what the past has been.  Always, in all things we bring our experience full circle and our focus back on God.

Pretty cool! An affirming discovery, to be sure!

Could there be another meaning? That as a long as we make God our focus—our beginning and our end—and give Him our past, our present and our future, that He will provide and our ministries needs will be met?

I can’t explain why the significance of this number persisted until I found this fascinating meaning. Was it a message from God, or possibly a message from my friend—maybe even both?

I am encouraged by the reminder that God is interested in my life and that, hidden in an odd number, is the message that He is my Source, my Provider.

God has my back. In Him I am whole and complete—all my needs are met.

When God Sends a Note

 Every now and then, something so unbelievable happens that it leaves my mind reeling and my spirit completely humbled. Not humiliated, humbled. Today was one of those days.

I pulled the stack of envelopes—mostly junk and flyers—from the mailbox. Quite a large stack for a Monday. A few bills. A yellow envelope with tickets to an upcoming fundraiser. A few ‘preapproved credit card’ offers. Yeah. Like anyone on planet earth needs those!

And then it caught my eye: A pretty envelope, a little angel in the bottom right hand corner, addressed in neat handwriting to our ministry, Faith Girls Unleashed. The envelope was quite fat, like it had a lengthy letter inside. Curious, I opened it before pulling away from the mailbox. Inside the envelope was a wad of papers, neatly folded. Maybe a story… I get those from time to time and it’s always an honour. Maybe a testimony of some amazing freedom experienced at a conference. I slipped the envelope back into the stack and headed for home This was no ‘road side’ read.

Immediately after I pulled into the driveway, I opened the envelope again. If it was a story or a testimony, the driveway would be the perfect spot to read it, away from the hullaballoo of five children and ‘life’. Unfolding the first bundle of papers, I discovered another neatly folded note containing a cheque. Amazing! I had not even started fundraising yet.

I read the note before I looked at the amount. It was from a young woman with whom I had been meeting with, from time to time, ever  since she attended a Faith Girls Unleashed conference. The note read:

Dear Trudy,

I know this isn’t much, but I am praying and believing God will multiply it supernaturally.

I want you to have this to go towards you need… for your next project.

Thank you so much for the work you are doing.

(donor name)

As I read the note, tears started to fall, my hands trembled and my chest got that feeling of ‘fullness’ that comes when God whispers our name.

 Her cheque was a gift, an odd amount of $13.71. It was her investment into the ministry dream that God has given me—her seed of faith that God will open doors for the ministry go further, and touch more lives. In the memo line she had written: Isaiah 54:2. I looked up the verse and found this promise of provision and growth:

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
   stretch your tent curtains wide,
   do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
   strengthen your stakes.”

 Because of confidentiality, respect, and simply for her protection, I cannot share details of her story, but what I know is that she probably gave everything she has, almost literally, if not literally. I know the sacrifice her gift is.

It was only a few years ago that she fled a life of violence and abuse, to spare her own life, choosing life on the streets for some time, as a safer alternative. Now that she is healing, I see her reach out and bring the love of Jesus to other people in practical ways, even returning to the streets to let others know they are not forgotten. She struggles to make ends meet, still she gives generously.

The gift I received in the mail today touched me deeply, and is a reminder that God also gives generously, sacrificing heaven’s best for us. It inspires me to trust God’s plan, to have a young woman invest so generously into God’s call on my life, and believes this much in the ministry He is doing through us.   

I am humbled, honoured, blessed and encouraged, knowing that God doesn’t ask us to do what He has not already provided for. He goes before us and makes away—though He does not usually reveal it in advance—and then invites us to join Him in His dream for our lives, dreams that go beyond anything we could ever have hoped or imagined without Him. Our part is to listen to that inner voice–His voice–and move courageously into the unknown. And every once in a while, He sends us a note or a cheque, as a reminder that there is even more ahead.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a tent to extend, stakes to strengthen, and curtains to stretch… God has plans and I don’t want to miss out on the exciting next steps!