Happy Daughter’s Day!

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What’s an apple got to do with anything, much less Father’s Day?  It has everything to do with it.  And I do mean every thing.

God wrote this post on the tablet of my heart back in April, right about where I left off on the blog.  But I saved it for June.  I’ll cover May later, so in the meantime, can you walk backwards with me to April and beyond?  We won’t trip, I promise, as long as we’re both holding onto each other—and to Him.

I just recently shared with a group of ladies about my first Women’s Bible study I attended at my church over a decade ago.  I was a newlywed, married to the sweetest man on Earth (and the first kid I met when I moved to my hometown the summer after fifth grade).

I was clinging to the end of my 20’s, had been a Christian since the age of seven, but I was still broken.  By the end of the study, my leader gave me a porcelain apple that God told her to give to me, along with His words—that I was the apple of my Father’s eyes.

She had no way of knowing that I’d come from a broken home and still carried issues because of it.  But He did.  And yet—He called me daughter.  It’s just a small slice of what all God has done, but He used His Word and His women to be a healing place for a hurting girl.

We’ve been planted in that House ever since, over in neighboring Baton Rouge. But it’s growing about as fast as my girls outgrow shoes, so we’re planting a campus in our hometown of Denham Springs.

Fast forward to Easter weekend, when our church held its first service here at a local park.  A park that was this former Miss Denham Springs’ prior stomping ground and playground. My childhood home was to the left and across from the park, and the trailer we had to move to at the end of my senior year was just to the right of the park.

So on Easter Eve, early on Saturday morning before I went there to pray, I drove by both, with Jesus riding along.

And over twenty years later, I drove down Eden Church Road, turned onto Eve Street, passed up Genesis Street and Garden Street, and then stared at my old street sign.  I’d never thought about the name, yet there it was.  Apple Street. And that first Women’s Bible study came flooding back.

What a picture of God placing His church and His cross smack dab in the middle of our difficulties, and surrounding us with a Father’s unfailing love. 

And talk about timing. Just that week I’d been asked to lead the future Women’s Ministry.  So sitting there at the intersection of the past and the present, I could hear my stammering words flung up to God, “Are you suuure? I mean, if I were you, I’d pick the flawless, shiny one, without all the bruises and the mealy parts.  You know, the perfect one.”

But I knew the rebuttal.   He already picked The Perfect One, and when we trust in the tree of the cross, we don’t have to be.

“OK.  I get it.  Finally.  But what do I say?  What do I tell them, the women you lead me to lead?”

Then I looked up to Him and to the “sign” that He gave, and pictured the smile of a Father, and heard the soft whisper to my own apple cheeks, “You tell them everything.  Everything I’ve been to you.  Everything I am to you.  You just tell them about me.  Everything I am.  And Who I AM to them: a Father.  And who they are to me: daughters—who ARE EVERYTHING to me.”

So what’s an apple have to do with Father’s Day?  Absolutely EVERYTHING!

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8. 

Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Matt. 9:22 

And how I love being with fellow daughters and women—at the well.

For more Father’s Day/Daughter’s Day reading, check out last year’s post here: http://christiehughesatthewell.com/2014/06/16/hes-your-daddy/

I wrote it then, but I finally get it now. Happy Daughter’s Day!

Thank you for joining me here.  It would sure bless me if you’d subscribe to my blog, and I hope to bless you right back with a GIFT–a free printable. (Just scroll to the bottom or hop over to the sidebar to subscribe.  The free printable for a Sonshine Box will be in the confirmation email.)

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How to pack light for a heavy trip

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I love to travel, but I hate to pack.  We just returned from a week-long getaway, and I bet I crammed three weeks of stuff into a week’s worth of play. I never pack light.  It’s just not me. But the problem with packing is that what you pack, you have to carry.

So as we’re traveling around, we’re also lugging around way more than we need. And far more than I should be carrying.  Especially with these pesky herniated disks I’ve got.  The uninvited stowaways that slow me down, even without my bags. That leave me fed up and worn down at home and away.

This week after huffing and puffing from the unseasonable cold of Louisiana, I sat down on one of God’s red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.  Surrounded by the golden glow and rustic warmth, I still carried a chill inside.  In the midst of physical pain, whirling thoughts of the “what if’s” crept in to steal a breathtaking view.

What if this is it? What if the healing never comes?  What if the prayer goes unanswered?  What if I heard Him wrong and I didn’t get it right?  What if He changed His mind?

And then I slowly unpacked a well-placed, God-given, feather-light message.  Sitting on a rock that hasn’t moved.  And yet even more, we stand on the immovable Rock of Jesus, who’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He stands the test of time in the middle of our own time of testing. He doesn’t change His mind.  He still heals.  We still hear, and He still draws near.

I pictured a life lived lighter.  Without all of those stowaways.  And while I’m waiting on His healing hand, maybe He’s waiting on my white-knuckled hands to move as well.  To relinquish a few things.  To let go of past mistakes, to unzip regrets, unfold disbelief and then hurl them over the edge.  Standing tall and peering over to watch them fall splat before pulling out the light layers of obedience stashed way at the bottom. They look too heavy and hard, but they go on light and easy.

With empty hands poised and ready for a heap of blessings, I look up.  To clouds of white fluff kissing a sky of serene blue.  My mind floats back to those God has used to spur me on in my faith. To grandparents’ prayers.  Back to when God lit a flame that has yet to dim.  And when He sent me straight to the well of His Word for a life-long friend.  Back to when cancer took her body, and Jesus took her home.

With head in the clouds, I think about the heavenly welcome party for my mom nearly a blink ago. How they all went home empty-handed, but with spirits filled to the rim with love and faith. That’s how I want to live here. Letting go of life’s luggage.  With grateful hands held high.

We can have assurance here that although we run and sometimes stumble in our faith for an audience of One, we are rallied on by an audience of many.  Are you carrying baggage that slows you down?  Are you like me, heavy-laden waiting years for an answered prayer?  Take heart, rest on the Rock, and move in close to the hand of grace.  And then Shhhh….listen.  Can you almost hear them? The roar of the clapping crowds?  Look high and listen up.  That’s your cloud of witnesses cheering you on!

If you know someone who needs this reminder, SHARE with the one you love!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt. 11:28-30

 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 1:20

 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

In need of target practice to reach your goal?

Micah bow and arrow

Here’s my lesson on how to reach a goal with a whole lot of target practice.

The dawn of day has yet to crack, the chickens are still snoring, and I awake to the sound of rubber slamming glass at record high speeds.  Snap. Donk!  Snap. Donk! Again and again. “What in the world?!” I say as I run to the kitchen.

And there she is.  Brown hair, bright eyes, and every bit of bushy-tailed. A brand spanking new 5-year-old holding her brand new bow.  And not the girley-girl, big bodacious hair bow kind. I’m talking about the real deal. Her current weapon of choice. All pearly plastic with suction cup tips.

“What are you DOING?!” I ask and glare with stinging, sleep-deprived eyes.  Doe-eyed but willful, she responds, “I just can’t even help myself from shooting it, I just love it so much! I gotta get that circle!”  Pause.  Now for the kicker.  She adds, “And YOU gave it to me!” No, she didaaant!  But wait a minute, I sure did. I gave her the bow AND the gumption.

“Oh, girl,”  I sigh. She’s got me, but even more, He’s got me.  Point made. Right on target. What a picture.  Scotch-taped to the window.   I’m sleeping while she’s aiming.  And she ‘aint stopping ’til she gets it.  She’s got an early morning date with destiny.  A big red dot ready for her mark and her initials carved right in the center of fear and failure.  They taunt and they tease.  Then she shuts them up and smacks ’em down with the end of a well-aimed suction cup. And then again.  And again.  She’ll aim dead center for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So where’s your mark?  What’s your big red dot?  Write it down.  And you plaster and paste it for your eyes to see.  Visualize the target day in and day out. Whether it’s a goal, a quota, a number or theme.  A yearly resolution or a daily devotion.  Believe more.  Then doubt less and fast fear. Give them up, lay them down, and pick Him up.  Have a CROSSbow moment.

How are you gonna hit the target? You’re going to use the gifts He gave you.  And if what’s on that list, that goal, that number, is for your good to display His glory, chances are, He’s the one who gave it to you in the first place.  And He gave you the gifts to get it done.  For first place.  And while you hold them in your hand, you remember that He’s got your initials engraved in the palm of his.

My girl’s aiming for a red dot on a window. I’m aiming with God’s red letters shot straight to the heart. Now you give it all you got.  And you got this. Because He has you.  He’s got you in His sights, and girlfriend, He plays for keeps. He aims to win. Your heart and those all around YOUR circle. Pull back, hold steady, aim high.  But look straight ahead.  Don’t turn to the left or the right.  Eyes on the circle and the prize. Now let it go. Whoosh!  You got it!  Now keep going.  Again. And again.

Practice Reminders: (Again and again. And again.)

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakuk 2:2

Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…Deut. 8:18

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

See, I have engraved you in the palms of my hands…Isaiah 49:16

So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deut. 5:32

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:14

Micah target

 

Still in Need of Training Wheels

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“Thank God for training wheels!”  That was my recent exclamation when my little speed racer took her first topple on wheels.  Her confidence and pride are reluctantly recovering now.   She’s skittish of turns and her hope is more hesitant.  But it’s still there.

What she’d really like is for me to walk alongside her, hold onto her handlebars, and never let go.  Truth is, today on her 5th birthday and every day after, I’d kind of like to do that as well.  Then I’m reminded that I can’t ride it for her.

But I sure can relate.  Most days I’d like for God to ride this life out for me, too. Yet He allows me to do the heavy peddling, while He guides and steers the way.  When I let Him.

All the while our sweet Heavenly Father keeps His hand securely on us. Even on days when it seems as though He might’ve taken it from us, we can trust that it’s just to show us how to use the strength He’s given us.  To put faith to peddle and muscle to might.  Here is where we regain our confidence and our grin, all the while trusting in Him.

Besides His hand and His presence, I’m also learning to lean on what I overlooked before.  The training wheels. Steady and true.

Much like my daughter, I didn’t pay them much mind. They’re hard to see and easy to miss with eyes locked on shiny new paint and sparkling streamers flowing from  handlebars just calling your name.  And when she took that hot-pink wonder for a spin, she was too busy looking up, mindless of what steadied her.

Isn’t that what we do as well?  When we’re riding high, full speed ahead, we pay little mind to what steadies us. Until we’re halted. Until we fall.

I think God uses ‘training wheels’ to coax us back up and get us back going.   As I fly through life,  caught up in the sparkles or down in the dumps, I want an awareness of the sturdy support He provides through those that uphold me.  The friends. The family.  The ones that encourage and assure me, when I’d surely topple on my own.

With texts and calls saying simply, “Just thinking of you. Keep going, don’t give up.” And the prayers that I didn’t even ask for.  That I’ll never even know about. Until I need them.  When I almost fall, but don’t.

Pulling over to the side now for a thankful pause.   Lord, help me to see those that fade into the background to help push me forward in my faith.  Bless them right back.

And If you’ve put motion to my wheels and helped me with your prayers, check your phone.  That’s me texting you.  Just to say thank you (TY in texting terms).  From the top of my head, through the bottom of my heart, and down to my peddling toes, thank you.