Wedding Witness

I was truly blessed last weekend, watching my grandson Ryan and his now wife Maddi share their vows. A new journey began and I was fortunate to watch it unfold.

As I’ve gotten older, I appreciate those milestone moments — graduations, weddings, births — even more. When it comes to my family’s milestones … wow, the words are indescribable.

The weekend was perfect. I got to visit with my middle son and family on the bookends of the trip. I “roomed”with my oldest son, sharing our lives and plans face-to-face. I spent time with my two daughters and six of my grandchildren and two of my great-granddaughters. Sunday’s breakfast was a non-stop plate of pancakes, bacon and sausage with a houseful of samplers from one to 72 years old and included 11 adults, a half dozen kids and two dogs.

It was a weekend of laughter and joy!

The wedding itself was picture perfect. Maddi looked beautiful in her flowing white gown. Ryan looked handsome in his tuxedo. It’s hard to believe how fast 24 years have flown by. The weather cooperated, despite rain Friday and Sunday. The ceremony was moving with a great Christian wedding message and meaningful music. The reception hall was creatively decorated; the food was tasty; the band was engaging. What a joy it was watching my granddaughter, great-granddaughter and adopted granddaughter taking center stage with their dancing outlasting the millenials. What energy! There was plenty of time for visiting with the newlyweds and others from Ohio I have come to know.

The only tinge of sadness for me is my late wife wasn’t with me to share the weekend. But I know she was there in spirit and with be with the couple throughout their lives since her wedding ring diamond was incorporated into Maddi’s wedding ring.

I’m turning the rest of this post over to my daughter Deanna, mother of the groom. She looked  gorgeous, by the way, and displayed so much of her mother’s grace. Here are some of her thoughts.

“I’ve been asked so many questions about the weekend’s festivities. First, everything was perfect. Seriously. Maddi knows how to throw a party. Every detail was thoughtfully carried out and if you have an event you need help with, you should totally hire her. ⁣

A few people asked me what my favorite part was. It’s hard to answer that because it was all so great. The music was original. The service was unique. Maddi’s dress was elegant. Her girls were stunning. Ryan and the guys were handsome. The reception was beautiful. The cake was scrumptious. The band was unusually good. I could go on and on. When I say it was the perfect day, I am not underscoring that statement. ⁣

I will admit it’s hard being a boy mom — for a plethora of reasons, but it is refreshing to welcome their brides into the family. I really desire to be a mother-in-love and someone the girls don’t roll their eyes at and simply tolerate. My vows to them go something like this:⁣

I vow not to be pushy or nosy. I will trust your judgment and know that you’ll share everything you want to share.⁣

I vow not to show up on your doorstep unannounced. I know how annoying that can be and I will not intrude and will respect your space. ⁣

I vow to support you and to stay out of the middle. I’ll always be here as a listening ear and will offer advice when you want it. I will be your biggest cheerleader along the way, and if I need to have words with the boys, just give me the sign… ⁣

I vow not to tell you how you should do things. My way isn’t the only way. We can learn from each other.⁣

But most importantly, I vow to pray for you every day. I prayed for you before you even met my son. Why would I stop now? ⁣

I’m so blessed God chose two wonderful women to marry my guys and I am excited to see how He moves in their lives.⁣”

All I can add is — Amen!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

 

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Midweek Mirth

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is non-Christians think we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we.

The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God.

So, let’s smile a little!

I know we just celebrated Mother’s Day, but here’s a few thoughts to remember Mom … just because we should every and any day!

Mother’s Dictionary

     Bottle Feeding: An opportunity for Daddy to get up at 2 a.m., too.

     Defense: What you’d better have aroun’ de yard if you’re going to let de children play outside.

     Drooling: How teething babies wash their chins.

     Dumbwaiter: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

     Family Planning: The art of spacing your children the proper distance apart to keep you on the edge of financial disaster.

     Feedback: The inevitable result when the baby doesn’t appreciate the strained carrots.

     Full Name: What you call your child when you’re mad at him.

     Grandparents: The people who think your children are wonderful even though they’re sure you’re not raising them right.

     Hearsay: What toddlers do when anyone mutters a dirty word.

     Impregnable: A woman whose memory of labor is still vivid.

     Independent: How we want our children to be as long as they do everything we say.

     Look Out!: What it’s too late for your child to do by the time you scream it.

     Prenatal: When your life was still somewhat your own.

     Prepared Childbirth: A contradiction in terms.

     Puddle: A small body of water that draws other small bodies wearing dry shoes into it.

     Show Off: A child who is more talented than yours.

     Sterilize: What you do to your first baby’s pacifier by boiling it and to your last baby’s pacifier by blowing on it.

     Storeroom: The distance required between the supermarket aisles so children in shopping carts can’t quite reach anything.

     Temper Tantrums: What you should keep to a minimum so as to not upset the children.

     Thunderstorm: A chance to see how many family members can fit into one bed.

     Top Bunk: Where you should never put a child wearing Superman jammies.

     Two-Minute Warning: When the baby’s face turns red and she begins to make those familiar grunting noises.

     Verbal: Able to whine in words.

     Whodunit: None of the kids who live in your house.

     Whoops: An exclamation that translates roughly into “get a sponge.”

And now for the bonus …

One Solution

A teenage daughter couldn’t muster the will power to lose unwanted pounds. One day, watching a svelte friend walking up the driveway, she lamented, “Linda’s so skinny it makes me sick.”

“If it bothers you,” Mom suggested gently, “why don’t you do something about it?”

“Good idea, Mom,” she replied. Turning to her friend, she called out, “Hey, Linda, have a piece of chocolate cake.”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: When we go through hard times we often ask “Why?” but all we need to know really is “Who”… Who is walking right by our side.

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I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Bullying. It’s a popular topic these days … sometimes leading to tragic consequences.

I came across a book recently that deals first-hand with bullying, although set back in the 1970s. I Don’t Want To Be Like You by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta chronicles her struggle with bullying from age nine through high school. It was written hopefully to show young girls — or anyone who is being bullied — that it’s not the “end all”.

While the pain and angst was real, I took something entirely different the book — Maryanne’s resilience. She learned to live with her “YOUniqueness”, steadily building her own confidence to pursue her dreams despite the put downs. Attending seven different schools in two counties over a 10 year span and living through both her parents and  grandparents divorces contributed to the bullying since she was constantly the new kid. It was during these times, she decided not to follow the herd mentality.

Maryanne was “punk” before punk became popular, and she tended to migrate toward gothic/alternative rock. That penchant for Queen, Freddie Mercury, The Sex Pistols, The Jam, The Clash and PIL led to a number of confrontations. Her first recollections of verbal bullying included being called “dog”, “scumbag”, “space cadet” and “whore”, but she was more fearful when someone threatened her with words like they were going “to beat the shit out you” or “ruin your pretty face.” When you’re the smallest and skinniest kid in the  classroom, it’s more terrifying because of the state of anticipation you’re always in. No kid should  live like that — back in Maryanne’s day nor today.

Ironically, it was her love of music that grounded her and gave her confidence. While others were going to dances and  football games, she was off at clubs in Greenwich Village, NY. She was able to parlay music and writing into a career where she interviewed almost every musician she ever wanted to meet and was on the  guest list countless times. She has written three books and edited or ghost wrote 15 others. Why? She may have been embarrassed and hurt by the bullying, but she never played the victim.

Her message to those being bullied is simple. “You  are not the embarrassment. The bullies are. There is nothing embarrassing about being singled out for being different … Just keep being yourself. I always say be YOUnique!”

She also cautions the bullies, “Hating someone for being different is shameful and disgusting.”

And she lived happily ever after!

I give the book five stars for tackling an age old question that still has relevance today — perhaps more so. Her message is letting bullied kids of all generations know life isn’t always that way. It is an inspiration and invitation to those feeling down and depressed to make their own “beautiful way in this world.” Make a difference!

I Don’t Want To Be Like You, Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta. Paperback, 82 pages. Published Sept. 7, 2018 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1726273261 (ISBN13: 9781726273268)

The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and at select Barnes & Noble stores.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: We cannot start over, but we can begin now and make a new ending. — Zig Ziglar

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Cherokee Indian Legend — Fatherhood

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of passage?

His dad takes him into the forest — blindfolded — and leaves him. The youth is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not take off the blindfold until the ray of sun shines through it. He is all by himself. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night he is considered a man. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience. Each lad must come into his own manhood.

The legend states the boy was terrified. He could hear all kinds of noise. Beasts were all around him. Maybe even some human would hurt him. The wind blew the grass and it shook his stump. But he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It was the only way he could become a man.

Finally, after a horrific night, the sound of the night disappeared. He could feel the warmth of the sun. He removed his blindfold. It was then he saw his father — sitting on the stump next to him — on watch the entire night.

We are never alone. Even when we do not know it, our Father is protecting us. He is sitting on the stump beside us. All we have to do is take off our blindfolds.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: A person can fail many times but he is not a failure until he begins to blames someone else!

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Family

First, let me begin by wishing all our moms a Happy Mother Day.

As I was thinking about Mother’s Day, it dawned on me God could have populated this world countless ways. We could have all come into this world some other way other than by a mom and a dad. Because God is God, there is no limit to the ways He could have populated this planet. But God chose family as the best way to do it. So, the day we are born, we are born into a relationship with a mom and dad, a grandma and a grandpa, possibly other siblings and other relatives.

And as Jesus is dying on the cross, interestingly, relationships are on His mind. It shows us just how important relationships are to Christ that He would mention them in His final words. Remember the premise of this sermon series is the final words of a person near death are important words, deliberate words, words we would benefit from by paying carefully attention to. So, it would profit us on this Mother’s Day to hear Jesus’ words about relationships and make some applications to our life.

So, if you have your Bible turn with me to John 19:26-27. When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Let me set the picture for you. Jesus is hanging on the cross. Mary, His mother, is there watching the scene play out. Most theologians believe prior to this point Joseph, His father, had died. And so, in the Jewish tradition, it would be the responsibility of the oldest male child to take care of his mother, namely Jesus, and now that He is near death it is His responsibility to make arrangements for her care. And in doing so Jesus teaches us some valuable lessons.

Point #1 — If Jesus focused on relationships as He hung dying from the cross, then I believe we should make relationships a priority in our life.

You may be saying: OK, I see how Jesus took care of His mother in His final words. OK, I see how Jesus valued relationships by thinking about His mother as He was dying, but how do I go about making relationships a priority in my life?

Point #2 — Don’t neglect the importance of needing a spiritual family in your life.

Jesus places Mary, His mother, with John. Now Jesus had other brothers and sisters but He chooses to place Mary in the care of John. John is not a blood relative, but a spiritual relative and Jesus is emphasizing to us He places just as much importance on being spiritual relatives as He does on being blood relatives.

I believe Jesus is making a very bold statement. In your life you are born with relatives by birth, but once you are born again you have spiritual relatives. You need both physical blood relatives and spiritual relatives to be complete.

As a preacher I hear people tell me all the time, I am a Christian but I don’t go to church. I get my church on the radio; I get my church on the Internet; or I get my church on television. And my response is you get preaching on the radio, the Internet and TV. But you don’t get family. You don’t get relationship. And God is all about family and relationship.

The writer in Hebrew picks upon that in Hebrews 10:25 (NIV). Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Jesus did not establish a spiritual family just to give us something more to have to deal with; to add one more thing to our busy schedule. There was a survey done by Harris Polls in September 2016 that showed an average of 72% of Americans deal with the issue of loneliness. I can promise you if you are actively involved with your physical family and you are actively involved with your spiritual family, you will not experience loneliness. For those who experience loneliness, one of those two things are broken.

Point #3 — Don’t neglect the importance of attempting to restore broken relationships. In Week One of this series, we were shown the first phrase Jesus uttered from the cross was, “Father, give them, for they know not what they do.

Picture in your mind the scene as Jesus uttered those words, “Father, give them”. Jesus is dying on the cross and right below are these Roman soldiers throwing dice for Jesus’ clothing and Jesus offers them forgiveness. Was the relationship with the Roman Soldiers restored when Jesus offered forgiveness? No, because the Roman soldiers did not ask for forgiveness. They were not interested in receiving forgiveness; they were interested in throwing their dice for his clothes.

Which brings me to my point! Relationships are usually broken because one has not asked for forgiveness or because the other person refuses to forgive or both (there has been no asking and there has been no forgiving.) Unless both the offender asks for forgiveness and the one who is offended forgives, relationships will be broken.

So, Jesus as He is dealing with relationship as He is hanging from the cross, reminds me to do some self-examination. Is there someone I need to go to and ask for forgiveness? Is there someone I need to forgive?

Point #4 — As Christians we need to be quick to ask for forgiveness when we have offended someone, and we need to be quick to forgive when the other person extends an apology.

Broken relationships are inevitable because there are going to be times someone refuses to apologize and say they are sorry; and there will be times the other person will refuse to forgive. So, what are you to do?

Romans 12:18 has the answer. In the NIV it says, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Are you living at peace with everyone?

Point #5 — Don’t neglect the need to be intentional in establishing relationships. Do not allow yourself to become involved in an unhealthy relationship.

Jesus was very intentional from the cross as to where Mary needed to stay after Jesus’ death. He was not hesitant where Mary should stay. He did not say to Himself, “where can I place my momma where she will be safe.” Jesus knew His relationship with John was a healthy relationship. Jesus said, Mary, you stay with the disciple I love. I know he will take care of you the rest of your days. And the Bible confirms that is exactly what John did when it says, from that time on.

I believe we all know which relationships we have in our life that are healthy and those relationships that are unhealthy. The problem with unhealthy relationships is that they are not going to bring you closer to God but rather they are going to move you further apart. The Scripture tells us that 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV), Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.

Know what is interesting to me? You get in trouble and you don’t run to those unhealthy relationships for help, you run to those healthy relationships, which tells me we all know those relationships that are healthy and those who are not.

Let me tell you, young people, don’t date just anyone. If they are not a believer and you are, then you don’t need to date them. Most likely you think you can get them to come to know Christ but what I see happen more often than not is they move you away from Christ.

I know what you are thinking, I am not marrying them, I am just dating them. No harm in that. But, yes there is, you don’t know that moment, that time your heart tells you you have fallen in love with him or her. And then it is too late because nothing is going to stop you from being with them. Not even the Scripture that says, Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.

Point #6 — The church when it is functioning properly looks like a family more than anything else.

Jesus says to Mary “here is your son” referring to John. And to John, Jesus said here is your mother.” John was not Mary’s physical son. Their relationship was spiritual. And so, what Jesus was saying is He saw the church He was forming by His death and resurrection as a family.

The Apostle Paul picks up on that idea in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12. In the NIV, he states, We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

He refers to his ministry to the church as the ministry of a mother and father in the home. So that tells me if you are a member of this church and don’t feel like family, we are not doing our job. If you are visiting, and you don’t feel welcome in our church home, we are not doing our job as a family because family makes visitors welcomed in their home.

Since Jesus spent His last breath on the cross focused on relationships, then we need to make relationships a priority in our life. Are you making relationships a priority in your life?

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. — Leo Buscaglia

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Morning Offering

As we build this community prayer platform, with help from the #PrayerWarriors team, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. These requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

As we approach the throne room, let’s remember to respond with faith and not fear, knowing the promises of God and His mighty hand will hold us through any situation!

Today is wedding day for my grandson Ryan and his bride to be Maddi. Lord, I ask for Your blessing on their marriage … and on all marriages. I pray they keep You in their lives as they march forward in their lives.

We thank you Lord for the successful full knee replacement surgery for Julius, but other  issues have developed and he was re-admitted to the hospital with blood clots, staph infection, etc. His wife Kim adds, “need prayer.”

Christy, 46, was diagnosed this week with colon cancer. She is a believer, so the family has that hope “that is the anchor of our souls.” Prayers are welcomed.

Andrew reports things are getting more badder (I’m tired of saying “worse”) by the day. He says he can’t move around without really heavy coughing, and nights are pretty much an evil doze and a gasping wake-up.

George asks for prayer for continued recovery and for his family in this trying time.

Susan asks to be lifted up as she is admitting her mom into hospice. Lord we know that’s a trying decision for so many. Please help them know You walk with them during the trying time.

Mark asks for need prayers for his wife who was rushed to the ER now stroke symptoms. We’re blessed, Lord, because, as George states, “God is in control.”

David broke his back and neck  in a construction accident.

Jim of Big Jim’s Walk is making some special appearances during his convalescence and restart of his Bike Across America for Addiction Recovery.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week — some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We also know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. Through Christ all things are possible. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up Ryan Maddi and all those who enter the bounds of marriage, Julius, Christy, Andrew, George, Susan, Mark, David, and Jim. We pray for the families of all those You have called home. We grieve … You celebrate. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: What you DO is today far more important than what we PLAN to do tomorrow. — Jack Hyles.

 

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Five Minute Friday — Practice

You know how much I  value this Five Minute Friday exercise … and the feeling is shared my many comrades in the FMF community. Here’s what Christina has to say, taken from snippets in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. Don’t listen to me. Listen to her.

“Five Minute Friday helped me get over being a lone ranger writer. A consistent creative community with guts and heart.”

Amen, sister! I’ve asked you to join in [you really, really should]. It’s quick. It’s easy {okay, sometimes not always}. It’s challenging. And it’s oh so rewarding. Just visit Kate’s place in the Community section at www.fiveminutefriday.com for more details and/or to visit with members of this special writing confraternity.

The prompt for the week is, appropriately, PRACTICE. The timer has been set for five minutes, so I guess it’s time to let the neurons fire up and GO

What do sports heroes, rock stars, accomplished musicians, successful businessmen and even writers all have in common?

Practice. Practice. Practice. Perseverance.

The key to success with any endeavor is practice.You have to keep honing your skills. Natural talent goes so far, but practice makes perfect. Practice makes perfect. Practice makes perfect.

And so it goes in our faith walk. We have to keep using the talents were given with the resources at hand to practice our faith, to hone our faith.

We have the tools. We all have the tools. But we have to delve into the resources. Every day is a learning experience …and we have the guide book readily available.

I sometimes  think our lives today, right here, right now, is our practice time for eternity. As we dig into our shortcomings and practice overcoming them over and over  and over again, we start perfecting our lives for something oh so much better.

So, keep practicing. You can turn that double play, you can pull down … STOP

… that Hail Mary pass, you can be ready when the Big Guy calls your number.

All it takes is a little practice.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Happiness is the best gift, given with a loving heart.

 

 

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