Dear Mom, (Six Letters Everyone Should Read)

Dear Mom,

Thank you. I cannot begin to express what you mean to me and how you have so completely impacted my life. I remember when you lovingly and carefully put band-aids on my scraped knees. I remember when you showed me grace and kindness even when I said hurtful things. You have clothed yourself with strength and dignity and have set an example to follow. You are not perfect, and that is okay. I am sorry for unfairly expecting you to be. Even in your imperfection, you have allowed God’s perfection to shine through in your life. I remember how you used to read the Bible to me as a kid. Thank you. You did that because you knew that His Word does not return void. Thank you for telling me about Jesus, and how He loves me even more than you do. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being my mom.

Dear Single Mom,

You are a hero. That word may get thrown around too much in our society now, but it is completely true in describing you. You have had to fulfill multiple roles and carry burdens that no one should carry alone. Thank you for doing your best. You have sacrificed and lived out the true definition of selfless love. Your care and attention have always been enough. You are both strong and precious, independent and wonderful. Just please remember that you are not alone. You might have been alone before, you might have been forsaken before. But our God promises to never leave and never forsake. Trust in Him, lean on Him. He will not fail you. Your love is not in vain. You sacrifice is not in vain. Thank you for everything you are and everything you have done. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Forgotten Mom,

You feel abandoned. You feel forgotten. You feel unloved and unwanted. It is hard to think of many other greater injustices. Your hurt and pain are real, but they do not have to be what defines you. You did not fail. You are not a failure. You did what you could. You may have made mistakes and have regrets, but that is not your identity. You are Mom. You are still Mom, just as you always have been and always will be. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loving and lovely. Thank you for your unchanging and unconditional love. Find your comfort in the God who gave you your child. Find your peace in the God who made you and who made you a mom. Trust that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to those that are in Christ Jesus. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Childless Mom,

Words fall astonishingly short. Your heart has hurt for so long now. You wish that you could have exchanged your life for that of your child. You would have if you could have. But here you are forced to continue to move forward. You are brave. You are wonderful. You are to be honored. Don’t lose heart. There is hope. There is hope that is found in Jesus that you will, one day, see your baby again. Let that be your joy. Let that be your peace. Lift your eyes and know that your help comes from the one who knew your babe while they were still only in your womb. Know that that same God has a wonderful plan even when, especially when, you cannot see it. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Not Yet Mom,

You have clothed yourself with strength and dignity each time you walk, with your head held high, into yet another baby shower that is not your own. Your heart aches with frustration and anticipation. Please continue to trust God. His timing is perfect. He made you exactly the way that you should be, in exactly the time you should be. Trust Him to give you a little one in exactly the way, and in exactly the timing He designed. You have demonstrated time and time again that you are worthy, kind, gentle, caring, compassionate, devoted, graceful, generous, patient, and overflowing with love. Do not lose heart. You have already blessed so many, and one day you will be the best and biggest blessing to a baby. To your baby. Thank you for wanting to be a mom.

Dear Spiritual Mom,

You don’t have kids, but you have a lot of kids. This life that you live, whether by your choice or not, has still been designed. God has used you to impact so many. You have been the shoulder to cry on, the smile to encourage, and the ear to listen. You have used your life to point others to the God who has carried and sustained you. You have sheltered your spiritual kids and filled the gaps left by others. You have shown selfless and unconditional love even when it wasn’t your responsibility. You have been an example to follow, and a woman to be celebrated. Your commitment to, and trust in, your savior has encouraged and inspired. We need more like you. Thank you for being a mom.

 

Share this with a deserving mom.

The Importance of Dads

I want to eat at McDonald’s?

Ok, let me back up and explain.

The other day I was driving, and a McDonald’s commercial came on.

Now, commercials are generally very annoying. Whether they are on T.V., radio, or YouTube, advertisements are normally very frustrating for me. It’s not just because I don’t like having products shoved in my face, although that is a big part. But, even more so, Ads usually use silly stereotypes and lowest-common-denominators in order to make their sell.

But this particular commercial was different. In a very subtle but important way.

It began with a mom whispering to her baby to go back to sleep. Then the dad’s voice enters and whispers, “Hi honey…” he then goes on to tell her about the “amazing” new breakfast sandwiches he got and how they were such a great deal.

So far, it’s a very typical commercial. I actually thought I knew what to expect. My prediction was that they would both take a bite and loudly mutter “MMMM, so good!” and then the baby would wake up crying. After which the mom would huff in annoyance, “it’s YOUR turn now.”

My prediction was only half-correct. The couple did, in fact, enjoy the sandwiches so much that the baby did wake up crying. But then, the commercial took a surprising and pleasant turn.

After the baby cried the very next thing heard was the dad’s cheerful voice announcing, “It’s my turn!”

And, I know it was just radio, but the way that the line was delivered made it so that you could hear the dad smile as he said it.


Alright, maybe I spent too much time analyzing a fast-food commercial. But the message that I got from it was this: dads do love and care for their kids. It’s a message that many advertisements over the years have failed to convey.

Are there men that would rather just sit on the couch? Yes. Are there men that are selfish and lazy? Yes. Are there men who are aloof and unwilling to learn how to parent? Yes.

But not all dads are like that. Mine wasn’t.

(By the way, that STUD in the picture is my dad and the adorable baby he is holding is yours truly.)

Our culture has done a pretty good job at minimizing the importance of fatherhood. So much so, that the problem has become somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Boys are taught from an early age that being a “dad” means; sitting on the couch eating Doritos, enduring the nagging wife, being inept at changing diapers (or any other simple task for that matter), and generally ignoring your family. It’s time for the dumb-goofy-uncaring-inattentive-lazy T.V. “dad” to come to an end.

We need to celebrate good fathers who absolutely dote on their children.

Shout out time. I have known and been close friends with my brother-in-law for a bit over 9 years now. In all those years knowing him I have never seen anything, or anyone bring him more joy than his son. His face completely lights up when he holds his baby, and it is truly awesome to see his love and affection. He is a good dad.

Fatherhood is so important because it is something we all are impacted by. Even if we aren’t dads ourselves we all have been affected by one, or by the lack of one.

And if you fall into the second category there is good news. There is a perfect, wonderful, loving, and caring heavenly father who loves you with a love beyond your comprehension.

There are a few things that we all should remember:

To Dads: Children are a blessing, (Psalm 127) and you have an incredibly important role in raising them, (Proverbs 22:6) love your wives, (Ephesians 5:25-37) and lead by example. (Deuteronomy 6)

To Boys/Men who one day hope to be dads: Be the kind of man that God would have you to be today (Ephesians 6:11-18) and trust in God for your future (Proverbs 3:5-6) also see all the verses above.

To those hurt by lousy dads: realize your heavenly fathers loves you, (John 3:16) and that He is faithful, dependable, merciful, and loving. (Psalm 86:15)

To those with godly dads: praise God for them and follow their examples.

To women looking for husbands: look for men with character who exemplify the above qualities, and who will love God more than they love you.

To wives: pray for your husbands and encourage them in godliness.

To all of us: let us continue to grow closer to Jesus and allow our heavenly father to continually correct us because he loves us. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

 

The Community Standard

We need each other.

This is a crucial thing for us to remember in the midst of a culture and media that would tell us “we are more divided than ever before.” Maybe the media’s statement is true (probably not) but either way, we still need each other.

The church ought to be the premier example of what a good need-each-other community looks like. We, as the church, haven’t always been that shining example. We can do better.

Mankind was created to live in community because (have I said this yet) we need each other. It is pretty undeniable that human beings crave community. We hate being lonely, and we can’t “do life” all by ourselves (no matter how much we might try to deny it.) We hate being alone because we were not created to be alone.

A good and healthy community was God’s plan for human beings from the very beginning. God said, in Genesis 2:18, “it is not good that the man should be alone.” Both men and women, being made in the image of the Triune God, need a community to support and be supported. Without some sort of healthy community, we all suffer.

The Church (When I talk about “The Church I am talking about both local churches and the Universal Church as a whole that is comprised of all believers worldwide.) should not have to suffer in this way. A lack of, or an unhealthy community should be the least of our worries. We ought to understand the great and amazing gifts that we have been given- each other.

The Body of Christ should, and needs to be there to encourage one another, (1 Thess. 5:11) comfort and pray for one another, (Gal. 6:2) look after one another, (Phil. 2:3-4) and love one another (John 13:34-35).

When the church focuses on doing these things and caring for one another in these ways other people will begin to take notice. Jesus’ prayer in John 17:22 was that “they [followers of Jesus-i.e. the church] may become perfectly one so that the world may know that you [The Father] sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

Our community with one another as believers is our strongest form of evangelism. This community-evangelism serves to remind us that the Family of God (those who put their trust in Jesus alone for Salvation) was intended to be open to all and ever-growing.

Our communities (churches, small groups, friend groups, Bible studies etc.) need to be a place where believers can love and support one another while growing in their faith as well as a place where non-believers can observe a healthy and biblical community that ultimately points to Jesus as Savior.

Another incredible reason why we need to focus on our community health more is that each of us, as individuals, has so much to offer. Every single person who has put their trust in Jesus has a God-given gift. These gifts (spiritual gifts) are given for the building up and strengthening of the church. And, as we looked at earlier, when the church is strong and focused that means good news for the spreading of the Good News.

There is a big difference between attending a church and participating in church. A healthy disciple of Jesus will be an active participant in the body of Christ. Those who simply attend church deprive both themselves and the rest of the Body, of a true and godly community. Those who participate in church (use their gifts and serve one another) will benefit both themselves and the rest of the body.

Romans 12:4-5 reminds us that the Body is made up of many members who need each other. A true and growing disciple of Jesus is one who understands and fulfills their purpose in the church.

What would our churches look like if we were to focus more on the health of our community with one another?

Imagine just how much more impactful we would be if we were more loving, caring, and committed to one another. It’s time for the church to, once again, set the standard for what a good and healthy community looks like.

Adoption: Doctrine & Practice

“Adoption, the practice of including someone into a family who originally did not belong, has always been God’s way of doing things. “

It’s the day after Christmas, did you get that special gift on your list? I did. I got to spend time with friends and family and eat loads of cookies…that’s Christmas done right! I remember as a kid December 26th was the time that I stockpiled all my gifts and took inventory of all the cool new gadgets I had been given. Nowadays, I use the time to reflect and be grateful for all the blessings that I have. Today I reflect, once again, on the greatest gift I have ever received, a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thinking through my relationship with Jesus is always a mind-boggling experience. According to Ephesians 2, I was, along with the rest of mankind, “dead in trespasses and sins in which I once walked.” I was dead, lost, and hopeless without Jesus. However, the chapter thankfully does not stop there.

Verse 4 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace, you have been saved.”

There isn’t any news better than that! But this always makes me pause and ask the question, why? Why did God love me so much? Why did He choose to make me alive? Why am I so valuable to Him?

John 1:12-13 clears it up a bit. “But to all who did receive him[Jesus], who believed in his [Jesus’] name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” God loves me so much because I am His kid.

The doctrine of adoption can be found flowing throughout the Bible. Romans 8 says that those who in Christ are adopted as sons and daughters and are, in fact, co-heirs with Jesus Himself. God took the dead and made them alive, He took strangers and aliens and made them sons and daughters.

If you believe in Jesus Christ you have been adopted into the family of God. God’s family brings light and life, hope and peace, joy and rest, purpose and a place to belong. God loves His children and nothing has, can, or will be able to separate God kids from His love for them.

Throughout the Bible God’s children have been encouraged and instructed to care for those who can’t care for themselves. Taking care of strangers, widows, and orphans has always been a priority to God. Thankfully, history helps to prove that God’s children have taken God’s priority seriously. The first orphanages were started by believers, and despite a few missteps, Christians have always been known for taking care of others.

Adoption, the practice of including someone into a family who originally did not belong, has always been God’s way of doing things. Every day I thank God that, although I once was a spiritual orphan, He made me His own.

Alright, that was the “doctrine” part, so now here is the personal “practice” part.

Ever since our love story began in 2010, Ashley and I have shared the same mutual love for, and desire to adopt. We both always saw adoption as such a clear and wonderful picture of the Gospel by which we both were saved. In addition to that, Ashley’s own incredible story of her adoption (filled with God’s sovereignty and grace) set us on a path to “one day adopt a kid of our own.”

We are both convinced that this is God’s right time for us to go through the adoption process. For the last year we have been quietly researching the adoption, finding the right agency, applying to adopt, going to training session after training session, completing our home study, getting our “profile” together, and now here we are…waiting.

This entire process has been wrapped in prayer. It has been the farthest thing from easy. The process of adopting a child is very involved, and emotional, and expensive, and tiring, and frustrating, and…and…worth it.

Unfortunately, I am not writing this blog post to announce that we are bringing home a baby tomorrow. Rather, I am writing to ask you to pray. Pray for Baby Nelson. We have not met him or her yet, but we already are in love.

Pray that Ashley and I will be able to be the very best parents possible to him or her. We haven’t even been matched yet, but I still ask that you pray for the birth parents, whoever they may be, that God would protect them and direct their paths.

And most of all, pray that Baby Nelson will one day understand that God loves them so incredibly much that He sent Jesus to save them from their sins so that they could be adopted by Him.

In addition to prayer, you can also help us out by saving any shoes that you would normally either throw out or donate. We found an adoption grant program that actually will take collected shoes and give them to people in developing nations in order for them to sell and thus stimulate the economy. In return, we would receive grant money to help fund our adoption. If you have any further questions please feel free to shoot us an email at joshandashley2124@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for your prayers. We know that God is a great and big God who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we think and ask. (Ephesians 3:20-21) We continue to trust Him and thank Him for all that He has done for us.

 

Signed,

An adopted Child of the King