Family Sticks Together

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls entitled, Nana’s Love Notes

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Hi my sweet Grandgirls,  It’s Nana coming to you out of some deep thoughtful places.  As I raised your parents, my desire was to parent them in the ways of the God I surrendered my whole life to. As you know I came to know Jesus when I was fifteen years old.  My home life was anything but Christian.  It was insecure, filled with turmoil and it messed with my sense of security, identity and purpose.

It was so clear to me that Jesus ways were totally opposite of the world.  Do you see that too?

Jesus changed my life!  I knew that Jesus died for me … for me!  I surrendered everything to Him. Before I was a lost child trying to find my way in the world. I was hearing messages that confused me, tempted me drew me in.

After accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my life was bent on pleasing Jesus and glorifying Him with all that is within me.  Do I fail, yes!  Do I receive conviction and great sorrow when I sin, absolutely.  Do I repent, yes, because my heart is broken when I grieve Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

One of my deep concerns, as I raised your parents, was that my kids would not get the significance of His death and His claim on their life.  It is a concern I have for you too.

I considered the vast difference in their home life in comparison to my upbringing. My kids were surrounded with love and support.  Would they know they had a big hole in their life .. a hole that only God could fill?  Would they see the great sacrifice Jesus made in order to claim their heart, their lives, their everything?

It occurred to me today that growing up with support and love does not have to take away from the fact that Jesus died for you and wants your all.  Though you are surrounded with love, you also face trials of many kinds.  Living in the world brings with it many opportunities to see the world for what it is.  Self Serving, Deceptive and Empty!

You have each other. I delight in the bond I see between you. 🙂    I have watched you all struggle with the world, I have seen your pain. I have seen you give in to the world’s philosophies and prayed God would draw you back. But I have also watched you soar like an eagle as you choose to magnify Jesus with your lives. I cannot begin to tell you the JOY it brings to my heart when I see you walk away from sin and choose Jesus.

You, who have turned your eyes upon Jesus, have been changed. I see it and you shine brightly.

There is a grave responsibility for you ‘older’ girls.  The younger ones are watching you and they are learning, believe me they are.  They need you, they really do!  They love you and they desperately want to look up to you.

When Jesus died, he did it to set us all free from sin. I know each of you have learned this as you have grown up. When we receive Jesus .. Our life is not our own ..  It is no longer ‘I’  big capital ‘I’ but Christ who lives in me.

“God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.” I Corinthians 7:23

The world you are growing up in is filled with messages that are opposite of what Jesus teaches. Are you seeing the difference between God’s kids and those who have chosen to live the world’s way?  There are not many who choose Christ – so those who do stand out, they are different from the rest.

FRIENDSHIPS

When my kid’s were entering their teen years I prayed for God to send them godly friends.  I pray the same for you. When I refer to ‘godly’ peers, do you have someone in mind? Let me encourage you to know this person and pursue a friendship. Here’s why:

“He who walks with the wise will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

and

“Do not be mislead, Bad company corrupts good morals.”  I Corinthians 15:33

GOD’s Word

I pray you spend time in His word because in it you will find purpose, peace, direction, fulfillment and great Joy.  His word is LIVING and it is HIS word to his children.

The Psalmist shares the heart of God’s child:

My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (Ps. 119:20) Not a popular thought in a world that hates rules, eh?

“Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them” (v. 129).  Convinced that His word is life, we willingly, gladly submit to His ways.

The greatest gift I can pass down to you, my beloved grandgirls, is to point you to Jesus through his word.  If you say you love him, you will obey him.

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Eccl. 12:14

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” John 14:23a

“If you love me, keep my commands.”  John 14:15

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  Matthew 10:38

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” Romans 12:2

I pray you will take up your cross and follow Jesus and never take for granted or reject the one who died to give you abundant life. May you chose Christ every time and soar like an Eagle.

That’s it for today girls.  Remember, I am your Nana! For better or for worse, I love you fiercely, I pray for you always.

Love,

Nana

 

 

 

 

 

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Love Cups Need to be Filled

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls entitled, Nana’s Love Notes

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Good Morning Girlies,

In this post, I’m opening a piece of my heart to you. It is a piece that I tucked away in the recesses of my mind.  Today, the Lord brought it to a conscious level so I could remember a small yet significant piece of all He has done for me.

heart-broken

I grew up in a family where affection was not given. I never felt loved as a child.  My parent’s had so many problems and their problems were the focus in our home. Heated arguments were ‘normal’ and they took place on a daily basis.

At night, as I tried desperately to sleep, I could not. Instead, I was captive to hateful words, accusations, and drunken banter

Many times I would intervene by pulling my little Mother out of the room as my Dad screamed, “Get her out of here!”

I have no memories of feeling special. I did not receive hugs, kisses or words of affirmation.  I wondered what was wrong with me.

During our dating years, God used Papa to help me see it wasn’t me, it was my parent’s who failed to care for me.

A huge weight lifted when I realized It wasn’t me it was them

When the Father reached out to save me, I was only 15 years old. I was lost and so alone. My life was changed the moment I received the message of salvation. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and the deepest joy I had ever known. When I heard about Jesus sacrifice, it blew my mind that He would actually give up His life so I could live eternally. “Greater love has no man than this; that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

greater-love

I had never in my life, known such love

In the Church I attended, as a young believer, the people were wonderfully warm and God fearing. They took me in and tried to love me.  I was prickly.  I did not know how to receive hugs. I bet you find that hard to believe ;).  I did not feel worthy of a hug. When someone wrapped their arms around me, my body stiffened, I could not relax to receive their embrace.

I did not feel worthy of a hug

God healed those wounds. It took time but bit by bit, His love was poured into my ‘love cup’ and it overflowed. Do you see how miraculous it is that today I receive and give hugs freely?

Since you all were tiny, I talked to you about your love cup. When you were sad, or angry or out of sorts, I asked you if you needed your love cup filled. You all delighted in those words and eagerly opened your arms to receive a hug from Nana.

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Kristin told me that she actually thought she had a coffee cup in her heart that I filled up when she needed love

Do you girls ever think about how BLESSED you are?  As I watch you, I revel in the love you have for each other. I have soaked in all of the treasured memories of you, growing up, hugging each other and delighting in time spent together as cousins. To this day, the first thing our family does when we see each other is to exchange enthusiastic hugs.

I share this with you to give you just a peek at what God has done in my life and how much He has blessed me through all of YOU!

Thank God for the love of family, girls.  Never take it for granted. Remember there are children everywhere who do not feel loved and have no one to hug them.

Spread the gift of being cherished by your family.  Thank God, and know that you are deeply loved.

because I love you,

Nana

p.s.  and as for the rest of the story … both of my parents came to know Christ and our relationship was reconciled. They are in Heaven now, enjoying God’s love like we’ve never experienced it. I can’t wait to see them again.😉

Fake Hunters Real Christians

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls entitled, Nana’s Love Notes Image result for free page divider clipart

Morning Girls,

Today, I have a treat for you.  I am sharing a heart searching illustration from Pastor Dave.

For those who are reading this blog, let’s just say, there are many miracles connected to the fact that today, as a family, we are where we are.

Only God could have brought us together in one place to worship. All of my children and their children attend Harvest Spring Lake. We are so blessed to be in a Church where we are consistently pointed vertically.

The fact that we all hear the same inspired messages gives way to some great conversations. God’s grace has worked in our lives and He has blessed us above and beyond what I could ever hope.

Without further ado, here is a message from our beloved Pastor, David Wisen:

My Second ‘Once-in-a-lifetime Hunt”

I spent Monday – Wednesday this week experiencing my second “once-in-a lifetime” “hunt”. Hunt is also in parentheses – this is not real hunting. This is a controlled hunt with a guide who puts you on massive deer that have been fed and allowed to live to old ages without being threatened by real hunters. I understand I am not a real hunter. I am a pastor, and as I sit in my stand waiting for my guide to spot deer I cannot see, my mind wanders back to the church and my concern for people who get confused and maybe misled into thinking they are real Christians when they are not.

Here are three things that every fake hunter and every real Christian knows to be true:

1. Fake hunters worry about how they are perceived –  real Christians understand grace.

As I packed for the “hunt”, I wanted to make sure I had the right gear and looked the part. The problem is, even looking the part, can I talk like a real hunter without looking stupid? Fake Christians have the same fear. Real Christians understand they will never measure up to any competency test – they know they continually fall short. However, they rejoice that although they are not “righteous” on their own, they can rely on the credentials of their Guide and his righteousness to accomplish the task.

“…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:5-7

2. Fake hunters wonder if their gun is loaded – Real Christians have the proper ammo.

I can never remember if I put a bullet in the chamber – I am constantly double-checking. My fear is when the test comes, I will not be ready. Real Christians know that when the tests of life come, they have a God who never changes, who loves them unconditionally, who will never leave or forsake us, and who is sufficient in every circumstance.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness….”  2 Corinthians 12:9

3. Fake hunters brag about their accomplishments – Real Christians brag about the    Guide.

The deer always grows as the story is retold. The difficulty of the shot increases over time. Real Christians are quick to defect all the praise to the Guide. My guide understood the movements and tendencies of deer beyond what I thought was possible. He knew to stalk a deer from an up-wind position (“Is it windy”?). Real Christians look back over their lives and see that the Guide put them in the position to have success.

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

Some things to think about next time you are stuck in a stand.

Be Ready to Give an Answer

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls, entitled, Nana’s Love NotesImage result for free page divider clipart

Hi my Sweet Girls,

I have a question for you today. Are you girls prepared to talk to an unbeliever or an atheist?  Let me share this verse with you, it’s a word from your Savior, the one who gave His life for you. 😉

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. – 1 Peter 3:15-16

I know you all watch movies.  Would you watch this movie in order to be prepared to face questions from those who don’t believe in God? This guy, Ray Comfort, is brilliant and kind and respectful as he interviews atheists.  It’s sooooooooooo good!  I think you’ll love it.

 

I’m proud of you girls and I pray you make an impact in this world.  So many are searching for purpose and for a reason to live.  Let them know there is a creator who loves them and a savior who died so they can live in victory today and forever in a home, called Heaven, he has gone to prepare for those who love Him.

Because I love you,

Nana

Finding My Father

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls, entitled, Nana’s Love Notes
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Hello my sweet Girls,

Ya’all have been on my heart today. Sometimes I get so tickled when I think how much God has blessed me with you grandgirls. You are each so unique with your own set of special gifts. You add so much interest, value, and love to the family. I treasure you!

I have a story to share with you today. I may have previously shared bits and pieces with you, but today, I’m writing it down in hopes that you will see God’s hand in drawing me to His heart.

My Childhood

I grew up in a very dysfunctional, unstable home. My parents were alcoholics and they fought all of the time.  My father had an explosive temper. We never knew what would trigger it. It was a very scary and insecure world for my mom, my siblings and me. I wondered why no one rescued me. I longed to be rescued.

When I was only fourteen, I had seen enough of life to wish I hadn’t been born. I did not want to grow up and live the life my parents were living. I felt no hope, no joy and no purpose for my life.

A Longing to Know God

One day, as I was folding clothes, I began to think about the existence of God. I reasoned that If there was a God who made the world and everything in it, there must be a way to know him.

The more I thought about it the more I wanted to know if he was real. If he was the creator, did he care about me? After all, he wouldn’t create me, throw me on this earth place and say, “Now, go fend for yourself! would he?”  Suddenly a desperate yearning welled up deep inside my heart.

Next thing I knew I was laying face down on the floor. I was crying out, “God, if you are real, I need you!  I’m afraid and I feel abandoned and all alone. I want to know you but I don’t know how to find you, will you please show yourself to me?”  I lay there a long time as the silence surrounded me.

Confusion, Disillusionment and Deep Sadness

A year later God revealed Himself to me but not before he took me through a year where he showed me that life apart from God is meaningless. That year was  filled with disillusionment, confusion, and deep sadness.

I  sought to fill the God-shaped void in my heart. The void only God could fill.

The way I went about doing that was to seek significance through popularity.  I wanted so badly to be noticed and accepted.  After observing the apparent happiness of all the popular kid’s at school, I made it my goal to become one of them.

Well, I got my wish and it was empty! The popular kids, whom I thought were my friends, proved to be extremely self-centered.  They only cared about being number one. Being popular did not fill my hearts cry for meaning or purpose.

I was consumed with emptiness.

What next?

Was there no purpose in this life?

A Friend Who Cared

As I was struggling with deep emotional pain, one of my friends, from Junior High, was observing me. Debbie was concerned when I pulled away from everyone.

As Debbie’s concern for me grew, she decided to talk to her Mom about me.  As a result of that talk, Debbie asked me to spend the night at her house. I turned her down.

I didn’t want to be anywhere or with anyone.

Debbie persisted and kept urging me to stay at her house. She would not take no for an answer so eventually, I caved and reluctantly accepted her invitation.

Finding my Father

That night I observed a different home life from mine. There was a sweetness in the atmosphere.  My heart warmed as I watched Debbie’s Dad take the youngest kids to bed, piggyback style. After all the kids were tucked in, he made his way to his favorite chair.

Sitting comfortably, with a big black book in his hand, he turned to me. There was a world of kindness in his eyes. He spoke to me gently as he said he had something very important to share with me.

I was taken back thinking, “Who me?” At the same time, I felt an unfamiliar sense of endearment. A sense of being valued washed over me. “Who am I that he should care for me?” I thought.

Sitting in anticipation, Dad Haworth opened God’s word and spoke words of truth and life. He explained to me that God did indeed exist and He was the creator of the whole universe. I felt the darkness lifting. My heart filled with excitement and Joy … “Oh, thank you, God, you ARE real!”  

Goosebumps ran down my spine.

He continued, “Susie, God created everything and every person. He created you on purpose for a purpose.” (tears welled in my eyes and the deepest longings to know God squeezed at my heart).

He said that the Lord God is a Holy God who cannot tolerate sin in His heaven, “Oh, I knew all about the ugliness of sin – though I didn’t call it sin.” 

He opened the word to John 3:jesus-hugging16 and explained that because God so loved me, He gave His only son to die for my sins so that I could live eternally with Him.

The only one who could die in my place was the spotless son of God, He who knew no sin became sin for us. 2 Cor. 5:21.  It was Jesus in my place.

That night I could barely wait to ask Jesus to wash my sins away. I accepted God’s gift, the gift of His son Jesus who willingly gave up His life to pay the price for my sin.

He chose death on that cruel cross so I could live with him eternally.

I opened my heart eagerly to the one who had given His all to redeem me. I prayed asking God to forgive me for my sins. He did. I invited Him to be the Lord of my life.

As I prayed I felt an immediate awakening in my Spirit and I experienced what scripture describes as ,“Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

My whole world changed that night. The despair was gone and I knew I would never again walk alone. I belonged to God. He  adopted me as a daughter into His family.

My desperate prayer to know God was answered; my soul came to rest and I was fully at peace. I knew that the creator God loved me, pursued me and had a plan for my life here on Earth.

Rescued

Girls, if you ask your parent’s they will tell you that one of their favorite groups, in their growing up years, was Acapella.  I’m including a link, by Acapella, for you to hear a song that expresses my heart that night and to this day.

From a life filled with fear, despair, and purposelessness … God came to my Rescue!

p.s. Play this out loud and watch your parent’s reaction, I guarantee they’ll look at you like, What???  It will be a BLAST from their past.

You Came to My Rescue By Acapella

because I love you,

Nana

 

About Being Quarrelsome

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls, entitled, Nana’s Love Notes

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How are my girly’s today?

Did you think I forgot you?  Not on your life!  😉   Been busy with writing and book stuff, but YOU my dears, are more important than ALL of that.

Today, I’ll share a very vivid word picture through this verse:

Proverbs 21:9  It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.

nagging-wife

It’s really true girls; A man would rather live in a small corner of an attic than to live with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely, even orderly home.

I want my husband to be happy to come home.  I want him to feel that being in my presence is SAFE.

The title, quarrelsome is not something I want as a descriptor connected to me.  I looked up some synonyms for a better grasp of the word. Listen to these unattractive labels girls; argumentative, nagging, confrontational, hotheaded, combative, antagonistic, snappy, belligerent, cantankerous, scrappy.

Even though I don’t want to be quarrelsome, to be honest, sometimes I slip into that mode of behavior.  It’s not pleasant for your Papa or me.

When I see this enemy of peace through God’s lens, I realize how totally self-centered it is. Here are some attitudes that stick out of a quarrelsome spirit.

When I am quarrelsome, I’m saying, me before you. When I am argumentative I care more about being right, than about being loving. When I am obstinate I take on an attitude of superiority and become my fella’s worst critic.

Girls,  an attitude that is constantly quarrelsome has the power to emasculate a man. He may seek peace at all costs thereby taking a back seat instead of the leading role God intends.

Nagging is deflating, frustrating, annoying, unkind, and just plain wrong. “A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike;” Proverbs 27:5

Jesus is our example. He placed himself last. He gave himself up for us, he loved when it was inconvenient and he served when he was beyond tired.

Selfishness comes out of a heart of pride (as with most sins). Self-importance happens when we think much too highly of ourselves and much too lowly of everyone else.

When my mind is set on pleasing God, I look for ways to show respect to my husband. When I am set on getting my own way I fail at being the woman God created me to be. I also fail to love my husband and be the helpmate he so desperately needs.

So, my girls, let’s read some attributes God wants to cultivate in the hearts of His girls:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”             I Peter 3:3-4

“Gracious (friendly, kind, tender) words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” Proverbs 16:24

The best time to practice graciousness is before you marry. Learn to be gracious with your family and friends.

Remember, without Him, we can do nothing.  It is Jesus that does the work in our hearts. Don’t carry the weight of change BUT don’t ever think change is impossible. Surrender to Jesus and have faith to trust that He is at work in you, to perfect you.  Surrender and trust Him, He will bring the change that will make you pleasing to God and so desirable to the man you will someday marry.

GO to Jesus, HE longs for you to ask Him to work graciousness into your heart.

“I can do ALL things through Christ, who gives me strength.”  Phil. 4:13

because I love you,

Nana

 

Jesus in my Place

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls, entitled, Nana’s Love Notes

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Hi my girls,

I am thinking about and praying for you all today. I wish I could convey to each of you how priceless you are to me. I feel so blessed to be your Nana.

As much as I want you to grasp your value to me, I want you to know, even more, your value to Christ.

Whenever I take communion at Church, as I hold that bread in my hand, a pain stabs at my heart. Tears well up in my eyes as I think about what Jesus did for me.  Jesus, the one who knew NO sin became sin for me.

Looking down at the bread, I am grieved, yet so thankful, that His body was broken for me.

He didn’t have to do it but His unabashed, boundless love compelled Him to do it for you and for me. We would not go to Heaven if He did not give up His life, Jesus in my Place.

The penalty for sin is death. Yet, our own death could not pay for our sins. Only a sinless, spotless God could pay that price. “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Col. 2:14 NLT

As I look down at the cup I hold in my hand, again pain stabs at my heart. Why did He do it?  Why would He do it? I am so humbled. It was His Love.

He shed His blood for me, for you! His precious blood paid the price for our sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

He took our black sins in his body and nailed them to the cross. He paid the price we should have paid for our sins. He gave us spotless, radiant, white garments in return.

Though we did nothing to deserve it, He laid down His life to save ours. “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” Isa. 53:6 NLT 

There is a song I hear in my heart when I think about Jesus sacrifice for me. Perhaps you remember our Family Christmas a few years ago when we viewed this video together:

What can I give Him – Give Him my heart. What does that look like for you?

What does it look like to be wholly surrendered to Jesus? Is there anything in your life, more important than honoring the one who gave His life for you?  You can trust Him, girls. He made you, He’s a good, good Father.

My girlies, as much as I love you, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the Love Jesus has for you. Let that thought fill your mind today as you worship Him.

Allow His thoughts to replace your earthly clutches. May you be brave enough to lay it all down and be counted as a follower of Jesus!

Because I love you,

Nana

Hidden Treasures

A series of Christian based letters to my Grandgirls, entitled, Nana’s Love Notes

The inspiration for my first note comes from Proverbs 2.

“IF you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding IF you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures … then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord GIVES wisdom, he stores up sound wisdom for the upright he is a shield to those who walk in integrity.”

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Good morning girlies,

As I was reading my Bible this morning, I thought of you.  My prayer for you is the same prayer I prayed for my kids, (your parents). I pray that you will grow in your understanding of Father God and that you find your identity in Him.

When you find your identity in Christ, you are free to be ALL God created you to be.  You are a child of the King, His princess.

I also pray that our family’s next generation (YOU) will seek God and that God will use the light that shines within you to reflect His glory and His love to a very dark world.

I will be emailing you love notes to encourage you in your walk with Jesus. As I share the Love of God and the wisdom He imparts, I hope it encourages you. I also hope it creates a hunger for His word which will lead you to dig for truth as for hidden treasures.

When I was a brand new Christian (15 years old) I read the verses below.  My heart welled up with the deepest longing and I begged God for wisdom:

“IF you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding IF you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures … then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord GIVES wisdom, he stores up sound wisdom for the upright he is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” Prov. 2:1-7

“Ask and it will be given you seek and you will find knock and the door will be open to you.” Luke 11:9  Jesus

God loves you, my girls, He is waiting for you to dig for the gold nuggets found in His word. Call out to Him, He is waiting and He longs to give you His wisdom.

Because I love you,

Nana