Daddy

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I haven’t been here in ages.

A friend’s family member passed. The viewing was this weekend.  This cemetery in Nectar, AL was just down the road from the funeral home as the proverbial crow flies.  My daddy is buried there. I was 12 when he passed.

Daddy worked two jobs, ran for elected office on a national level and was involved in his church and community.  He was laying pipe while on his second job when the accident happened.  The second job was his fledgling construction company. He was laying pipe  in order to bring city water into our community. I can remember going with my mother,  siblings and a car load of kids she kept to collect water at the spring when water went out at the house.

Daddy was using a backhoe to dig the pipeline. He put the machine in neutral and stepped off. If he had turned the digger off it might not have happened. His pant leg caught the gear as he was descending the backhoe. This put the machine in gear and it rolled over him.

I didn’t get to say my goodbyes. Over the years, I have worked on my “daddy issues”, consequently. In my twenties, I wrote him a letter. It was most freeing and healing.

At his grave site there was no regret. No “if onlys” or ” might haves”, “should haves”, “could haves”, etc. There was peace.

I am not sure why I went. A few memories came to mind while standing there.  My Daddy was a handsome 6’3″ blue eyed man with dark hair. Seems like it was black. I was about six when my 5’5 ish  grandmother looked up at him and with a pointing index finger, informed him he was not too big for her to spank.  In the momentary silence which followed, I wondered what Daddy had done.  Then they laughed. Whew! Daddy was off the hook.

That was it…until this morning on the way to work. I was reflecting on my visit when a memory years after Daddy’s death came to mind.

My sons were maybe 5 and 2. Grandmother wanted to take us all shopping. Anxiety kicked in. Two active boys were about to go shopping with their great-grandmother who didn’t understand why they might find that boring and behave accordingly. Friends and family who knew of the impending excursion called to encourage me to go and try to have a good time.

New clothes put away and two exhausted boys down for a nap. I was pooped. The same family and friends called to inquire how “it” went. We all lived through “it”.

Later that evening, when the boys’ dad was home,  I was able to have a moment to myself and ask my heavenly Father just what that shopping trip was about. The answer came: You want a daddy. My reply: Again? Old thought patterns came flooding back.  I didn’t stay too long on those old trails. My heavenly Father interrupted. Quite unapologetically.  He simply said, “Call to me.” I was breathless. What if…  Again he entreated, “Call to me.” Deep breath. I called. Silent tears fell.

The boys’ dad was relaxing in the recliner in the den. I heard him get out of his comfortable position. I tensed. I knew if he came into the living room he would ask what was wrong. I would say nothing was wrong. He would wonder if it was something he’d done. I would say no and it would go downhill from there. Instead, he silently sat beside me and just held me. Through my sons’ father, Father God met me in my overwhelmed and exhausted state.

I will always need my Abba, Papa, Daddy, Father God.  How about you?

~DPH~

 

TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

The genesis for this blog is birthed from a recent conversation with a friend whom I love, admire and respect. Aspects of our conversation centered around Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 18:20. Our conversations tend to get me thinking…

 

 

Prayer is life’s breath to the Christian. It connects us to Father God in the most personal and intimate of ways. The are several ways to pray,which is for another blog. We are instructed to do so without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Jesus and His spirit are our basis/means (Hebrews 7:25; John 16:13).

Prayer is life’s blood to the Christian. It has been said, “God does nothing but, in answer to prayer.” (John Weslely).  Jesus’ own instructions are not IF you pray but, WHEN (Matthew 6:5).

We are further instructed to pray in our prayer closets in Matthew 6:5. After my conversation with my friend, I liken  it unto the holy of holies where it’s just you and God. It is for and with an audience of one ultimately because of intimacy.

In Matthew 6, the religious leaders were abusing prayer and Jesus introduced the importance of being aware and valuing to whom you are praying. He introduces what we know as the Lord’s Prayer after this teaching. So, praying privately is vital to the life of a Christian. It is foundational. And  after my most recent friendly conversation, I would propose it is the first step before praying in a group. If we don’t know how to talk with God in a personal/intimate way, we just might not have any substance to draw upon when we pray in a group.  The power, the fuel, the training comes one-on-one with Father. And that takes T.I.M.E.

Group praying would be the other side of this coin and also important in the life of a Christian. I think of Niagara Falls. It is powerful. Even forceful. So it is when we pray with one or more in the name of Jesus in Spirit-led prayer.  All those water droplets form a stream. A stream forms a river(s) and forms Niagara Falls.

The power of corporate prayer, strengthened/undergirded by individual prayers, is magnified when we take a look at Heaven’s response. Worship is the 24/7 occupation in Heaven (Revelation 4). Except.

Just after the seventh seal is opened, heaven falls silent for about 30 minutes. At this time scripture tells us:

Then another angel with a golden incense burner came and stood at the altar.  And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake (Revelation 8:1-4)

Did you catch it? Worship is 24/7 in Heaven from eternity past to eternity present. It’s been going for a few eons at least.  But, when it’s time to pour a full bowl of prayers of the saints back onto heaven in answered prayer…heaven growns silent.

I have a suggestion. Start posting prayers on social media. But,first, search scripture for God’s heart on the matter. Then go into your personal prayer closest and craft a prayer based on the verses God places upon your heart and impresses upon your mind. Write out a prayer Then pray that prayer for several days; weeks even. Let it really marinate in your spirit, soul and body. Then gather a few folks and see how they are praying. Craft/Write that prayer and pray together for a while. Then, post that prayer on social media. Wait on God. Remain in prayer. See if John Wesley knew what he was talking about.  Could it really be this simple?

~DPH~

 

 

THE LAWNMOWER

THE LAWNMOWER

 

The meandering water cooler conversation took an interesting turn Monday. The typical discussion centers around weekend activities like sporting events, seeing family, resting, hobbies, on-going projects around the house, travel and so forth.

The weekend of one compadre` captured my attention. Her husband had gotten a hit on his ad offering a lawnmower for 100.00. It needed some tweaking to get it up and running again.  A gentleman from several counties over arrived Saturday to investigate. After kicking around deflated wheels and other parts, they shook hands and traded phone numbers. The new owner took his mower and left.

Her husband came in the house. He was not too forth coming on the details of the hours-long conversation or how he sealed the deal. So, as wives do, she pried. Imagine her surprise in discovering they lost money on the deal. He gave it to the man free of charge…

Once she fully understood what “free” meant, she asked a most logical question: “Why?”

The elderly gentleman’s son was a preacher. His son adopted a young boy. As  boys do; he grew. At some point, I can’t recall how, the adopted son killed his adoptive father. This man had chosen to take this child as his own. To rear this boy as his own. He signed papers. Paid money. Fed and clothed the child. Gave him a roof over his head.

The preacher’s father and boy’s grandfather now visits his grandson in prison…regularly.

The husband couldn’t charge the grandfather a penny after hearing that story.

Later in the afternoon, the grandfather called to ask his new friend a question. Seems he needed some wisdom. The grandfather asked the husband if he thought it would be okay with God if he missed church that Sunday. Visiting hours occurred during the worship hour on Sunday. He would be allowed 15 precious minutes with his grandson.  My workmate’s  husband assured his new confidant the Lord wouldn’t mind.

It was a divine appointment and got me thinking.

How like God is that grandfather. God had a Son. Though His Son willingly gave His life for mankind (John 3:16-17), it cost the life of His Son, nevertheless. Through that death He (God) was able to reach out to us in a way which had never been possible before. He was able to extend love, compassion and mercy to us at a level which had never existed. We haven’t earned it. We don’t deserve it. Neither does that grandson. But, by the giver’s freewill these graces are extended.

That grandfather’s faithfulness to demonstrate the love, compassion and mercy of God to his grandson painted a vivid picture of what God did through His Son, Jesus, for me.

One last thing. The grandfather had written a YouTube address where his new buddy could find sermons by his deceased son. The link took him to a sermon on “Aha Moments”. The text was Luke 15:11-32.

~DPH~

 

PREPARE HIM ROOM

She’s about 40 weeks pregnant. She is as they say, “ripe with pregnancy.” It seems like a life-time ago when Gabriel made a surprise visit.

The angel seemed to appear out of nowhere. Mary was stunned. Gabriel informed her she was highly favored for she had been chosen to bear the Son of God. Mary is a practical and chaste woman. How? She’s a virgin after all. Gabriel continued, she will conceive by the Holy Spirit coming upon her by the power of God.

Mary is a smart girl. She is acutely  aware of the shame, the condemning looks and ostracizing by family and friend soon to come. What about her finance? She knows Joseph is an honorable man. He will have every right to end their engagement.  In his day, engagement was as binding as marriage.

This is what God calls highly favored? At least that would have been my thought.  Not Mary.  Mary acquiesces. She is the Lord’s servant. As for Joesph, he has a dream. An angel appears to him and gives him the same news Gabriel gave Mary. He is to marry her. Joseph acquiesces. He is an honorable man.

Before he departs, Gabriel lets Mary in on some news. Elizabeth is pregnant. Elizabeth? Barren Elizabeth is going to have a baby? At her age?  Mary dashes off to Elizabeth’s for a three month visit. Mary is there for her baby’s birth.

Mary returns home with a baby bump. At three months, her baby is fully formed. He has arms, legs, fingers, toes. He can open and close his mouth. Systems and organs are functioning.

Fast forward forty weeks. Her baby, of questionable conception, is due any minute. He has positioned himself head first in the birth canal. It is likely her legs are cramping. She’s not sleeping well. She is plain tired. She might be experiencing contractions.

It is precisely at this moment  in Mary’s pregnancy she and her finance are on a seventy  mile trek to his hometown to pay taxes. Joseph is likely walking.  Mary is riding on the back of a donkey. This is what highly favored by God looks like?

When the couple arrive in Bethlehem, they soon discover there’s no room in the inn. There’s no room any where. Mary’s womb has been expanding to make room for Jesus for nine months. Now, when it’s time to give birth, there’s no room? Surely, someone noticed the girth of Mary’s waistline. Surely, they knew she could deliver that baby any second. No one was making room for Jesus’ birth. What would you have done if you were Mary? Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes…

They find a manger…a cave.  They find a feeding trough. Mary, with Joseph by her side, goes through labor in that cave. The umbilical cord is cut in that cave. Jesus took his first human breath in that cave. Mary snuggly wrapped her son , the Son of God, in swaddling cloths and laid him in that feeding trough. There was no room for them in Bethlehem.

What about you? What about me? Are we making room for Jesus? This Christmas may our hearts be overcome with a deepening understanding of his limitless unbridled love for us.May we prepare him room out of the overflow of that love.

~DPH~

 

THE WEAKEST LINK

 

A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, is an often quoted phrase which originated back in the 1700’s.  It is a truism which has stood the test of time. It is one that has been marinating in my head for a while. So, of course, I had to write about it. If for no other reason than to get it off my mind.

       

My research took me to the local Lowe’s. Chains come in all sizes and colors. Size is not an indication of the amount of weight a chain can carry or hold. A better indication of this is if the chain has been soldered.  When the links in a chain are soldered they are united/joined in a way that fuses them together without having  to melt the pieces down. Next time you are picking up an item at your local hardware store check out the chains. See if you can tell which has been soldered and which has not.

  

 

An article I read recently confirmed the aforementioned thought running through my head was indeed a topic warranting putting virtual pen to virtual paper. The author describes a normal life. One of seeing to the needs of those around them and growing in their faith sans bells, whistles and megaphones announcing all they are doing and learning. The blogger wasn’t seeking to have the spot-light on them. They weren’t developing their “future ministry”. They were attempting to be present and in the moment to minister where they were.

It got me thinking.

What if a missing link weakens a chain? What if, because of the no-where-to-be-found joint, the chain itself becomes unuseful. Continuing along the twists and turns of the tracks my thoughts run on, what if the soldering of that link was incomplete?  It might look sturdy, even strapping, but, when put to the test it would be found lacking, wouldn’t it?

When a link goes AWOL, its absence is noted almost immediately. Its presence is integral for the chain’s purpose and function. Each coupler supports the others.  The chain is strengthened when each link is present and accounted for.

I am guessing you are getting the analogy. When we are missing in our communities, homes, work places and other spheres of influence our absence is felt. When we are seeking to develop “our” ministry, careers, etc. over being present where we are, our absence causes a ripple effect across all those spheres. Opportunities are missed to grow and develop not only personally but, to help others do the same.

I am seeking to be present. I am finding it challenging. I know what I want and how it will look when it arrives or least … I think I do. Being present allows for sweet surprises along the way. If I am AWOL, I will regret missing those serendipitous moments. Guess how I know.

How do we stay strong and present and not become the weakest link? Great question. Here’s my heart’s response:  The LORD our God is One. Love the LORD your God, with all your heart, soul and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.

Join me, won’t you?

~DP~

 

RACHAEL’S STORY

I  had the privilege of walking with Rachael through a portion of her journey. I am honored to call her a friend. Redeemer is my favorite word for our God. She is truly an ornament of His splendor. DPH               Read on…

 

I never was good at relationships.  I had a lot to hide. I held people at a distance, afraid if they really knew me they would be disgusted, appalled, shocked and want to run. I was overly-concerned with what people were thinking about me.  Looking back, I was always striving to please and give an impressive presentation of myself suitable to the person I was deceiving.

I didn’t know who I was. I hated the woman I had become.

When I didn’t measure up to people’s expectations or even worse, my own… I would plunge myself into condemnation.  A shame so deep that it kept me in a cycle of addiction and performance for over 20 years. I couldn’t breathe. The panic and anxiety related to failure had stolen my breath. I was lifeless and looked like it.

Almost two years ago, I was at that place again… Smoking, drinking, homosexual, hopeless, suicidal, addicted, lying, stealing, trying to maintain, barely surviving and completely desperate.  I was headed for jail or rehab again. That’s usually where I ended up.  I just wanted to die. I would imagine and plan my death.

I believed in God. I was raised that way.  I was a Christian who couldn’t find God when I needed Him the most.  I remember laying in bed night after night crying out to God, sometimes begging in desperation and sometimes mad as hell. I tried everything to get His attention.

I heard in Job that if you cursed God you would die. I did. I didn’t die… at least not the way I thought I would.

Rock Hobbs from Transformation Ministries told me about a lady coming to speak to the prison ministry teams and recovery groups at Church of the Highlands and suggested I come hear her.  He said he could introduce me and maybe I could talk to her about what I was going through.  I went.  I was high and weighed less than 100 lbs.  This beautiful woman got up and she was glowing. She was excited about God. She was just on fire!  She gave her testimony about how God had radically saved her and delivered her from a 26 year addiction to crack and a life of prostitution.  And… How He had given her a vision to have homes for women in addiction and bondage to teach them how to live and be on fire for Jesus.  I could feel hope being birthed in my soul and tears started pouring down my checks.  She said, “If He can do it for me, He can do it for you!”  I believed that and I wanted it more than anything.  I met Dawn that night. The next day she said if I was serious about getting help, then I could come back to Daytona Beach with her and live in her Radical discipleship home for women.  I said, “Yes.”

Down at the house, I started learning about a relationship with Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit.  I wiped the slate clean of my mind and heart from everything I learned in Christian school, college and growing up in church. I asked the Father to teach me about His love for me. I began to die.  Sometimes it was instant and sometimes it was a process.  I’m still dying… it is so ugly and beautiful at the same time.  I can tell you I was instantly healed from all my addictions and had no withdrawals, which is a huge miracle.  The Lord started renewing my mind in His presence and with His word.  We spent a lot of time on our faces, hands and knees in the living room at 6am just listening to worship music, soaking in His presence and letting Him lavish His love on me.  It was different than anything I had ever heard of or tried.  One morning, in His presence I had a vision of Him. The Father was holding me as a baby, probably about a year old.  He had my head cradled in His hand. He was washing my hair with His other hand, and then He took a cup of water and rinsed my head. He bent down and kissed me on my forehead. Then my nose. Then right on my lips.  He said, “You don’t kiss other people’s babies on the lips, only your own flesh and blood.  You are mine!” That completely changed me.  That was my first time getting wrecked, completely undone in His presence by His touch and voice.  All of a sudden in an instant He was real and I was His.

As my old self continued to be exposed in order for it to die, my true identity began to come to life.  The Father started showing me how I am a precious, princess and all He wants is for us to spend time together.  He relates to me. He gets me.  He knows everything about me and has always been there and will be.  I am in awe-struck wonder of His love for me.  He has taken the limits off what He can do!  I have seen Him heal mental illness, addiction and restore families that were “beyond repair”.    He does miracles on a daily basis and impossible things are “normal” for me, as His beloved daughter and heir.

In Florida, I have a PIN number which gives me entry into every prison in the state.  I have ministered to the women on Florida’s Life Row ( death row, renamed by Dawn Adkins and the Holy Spirit).  God is so good!

I believe God has brought me back to Birmingham for Freedom.  Not only am I a carrier, but I am contagious.  The Father has some precious little ones here who are bound by addiction and performance and He has heard their cry, just like He heard mine.  He has given me a vision to open a home here so that women can have an intimate relationship with Him and learn how to live, “On earth as it is Heaven

 

A Bow in the Sky

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I didn’t want to go. I was following what I sensed was a gentle holy nudge. As I parked my car, I noticed a small crowd had gathered just outside the building I was dreading entering. They seemed to be delighting in something just over my shoulder. I turned. There it was. A beautiful view of 3/4 of a rainbow. A young friend informed me of its size. I immediately recalled His promise found in Genesis. Rainbows always remind me He is faithful to His promises. Seeing His bow in the sky never fails to be a serendipitous surprise.  He promised.  I gasped. I always do. I sensed He was up to something. But, what…

I entered the meeting skeptical. I have been to many of these types over the years and thought I knew what to expect. I even mentioned my years of experience to the pastor leading this gathering. As the evening’s events came to an end, the three folks sitting at my table chatted a bit. The lady to my right confessed she was 70. She didn’t look 70. I can only hope I age as well. She confided she had been in church most of her life. She recently realized she and Jesus didn’t know one another. She had just become a Christian and this was all so very knew to her. I could relate to her story. My own story is that of a recovering Pharisee. I was in church and a real good person but, I didn’t know Him. Knew about Him but, didn’t know Him. Walked an aisle at nine but, didn’t surrender to His wooing until my 30’s. Life is definitely messier now but, so much more joyous, loving and free. The young man to my left had just met Jesus. He was fully delivered of addiction the night he came to Jesus. Said he could feel the chains falling off of him. He and I shared similar giftings and personaltiy traits… God love him. He tends to have the gifting of speaking the right word at just the right time. Kind of prophetic, if you will. My new young friend who informed me of the size of the rainbow earlier, popped over to oooh and awe over the few pictures I captured of it. She also shared with the young man and myself she had been drawing rainbows all week. I mentioned how cool it was that God painted one for her on the canvas of His sky. She gave me a big hug. One of several I received from that 9 year old young lady. She also pointed out what I was calling purple was actually lavendar. The young man beamed, looked me in the eyes and commented, “The rainbow means the storm is over.” I knew, that I knew, that I knew in that moment I had indeed followed the holy nudge of the Spirit of the One True and Living God to that meeting. His words washed over my dry, weary and parched soul. My eyes began to puddle up to the rims with tears. I thought they were going to overflow their boundry and run down my cheeks. It was the “now” word I so needed to hear.

He promised. I cried. I almost always do.

~DPH~

Wear the T-Shirt

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I attend a Wednesday night prayer group my pastor co-leads. It is open to the entire congregation. One evening, before the meeting began, two of the attendees were having a conversation about road trips. The genisis of this conversation was the T-shirt one of them was wearing. The T-shirt wearing member was asked when he’d been to a particular watering-hole out West. Surprised, Mr. T-Shirt inquired as to how this person knew. She indicated it was by the T-Shirt he was wearing.  I delighted in the innocence and lack of self-awareness of my T-Shirt wearing friend. The inquiring friend was also unjaded in her question. She was genuinely interested in his travels.

I have been ruminating over their conversation for about a year now. I find a question keeps popping into my head: “What if we all wore out T-shirts to church?” What would they look like? What would they reveal about us and who we really are? What if we showed up in them without pretense, just as we are…where we are?

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Would we be as unaware, unashamed and welcomed as my friend was? Would we feel free and invited to join in praying for one another as my friend did? Believe me, when I tell you would want this six foot five inch +/- former marine and gentle giant of a man praying for you. What story would our T-Shirts tell of where we had been? Of how we got from there to here? 

Imagine what fellowship would be like if we all wore our T-shirts to church this Sunday…and every Sunday thereafter. Imagine the reconciliations which would take place. Imagine the restorations among families, friends and fellow Christ-followers. Imagine the healings on all levels and of all kinds taking place, just because we were our T-shirts. Imagine others, from outside the church walls, showing up in their T-Shirts.  Kinda sounds like revival doesn’t it?     Imagine….

~DPH~

ASCENT

I have been walking a particular path for almost 16 months.  In March of 2016, I received a measure of healing in my knee, which needs to be replaced. My life changed for the better. I now walk, on average, 14-17 miles a week. Not too shabby considering I haven’t been able to stand, much less walk, for any length of time on that knee prior  to its healing.

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Over the last 16 months, I have been surprised by what captures my attention on the walking trail. On an excursion about 9 months ago, I noticed a bend in the path I hadn’t seen before. This week I noticed the inclines on the track began earlier than I had realized. I walk backwards on these sections. It’s great for balance and exercises a totally different set of muscles. Plus it burns tons (slight exaggeration) more calories than forward walking. So I seek to begin the turnaround in my walk where the rise in the path begins. I discovered I have been listening to my breathing to judge when to change my mode of walking, rather than observing the road itself. Consequently, my backwards walking has markedly increased … as have my thoughts on ascent.

Ascension is not for the faint of heart. It takes endurance, pushing through pain and heavy breathing and consistency. There’s a rhythm to it… putting one foot in front to the other. Or, in my case, behind me. Rising to the crest on the path of one’s journey is as unique as the gait of the individual walking it. Not all ascents are the same. Some are steep and are happened upon suddenly. These rises can leave one startled and disoriented. Others are low in grade and deceptively long in reaching their peak. Low slow-to-rise grades can leave one confused and riddled with doubt about their ability to achieve the end so readily in sight. One can second guess themselves concerning whether they should have even started their ascent. These inclines also seem to go on and on and on… Each of these thoughts can be derailing.  Slivers of pebbles of unforgiveness, bitterness, loss of hope or joy, false pride, etc. can also be derailing. Be prepared to get those out from around the feet and in between the toes ASAP.

Ascension requires a bit of a visionary view, for the crest always seems be on the horizon. It is possible to be so focused on the achievement of the goal that the process is overlooked. Oh, the things we miss when we attempt to blaze past this mile marker on the trail. Often, the sweet surprises on the way up are the sole reason for our ascent.

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As I have journeyed on this passage way for the past 16 months, I have received clarification on a few things. (Many more are awaiting their epiphanies.) Some peaks on this beaten path called life will be attained this side of heaven. Some will not. Hence the need for a long-term perspective. So, don’t get tired of doing good. At the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9). Stay the course.

~DPH~