Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Oklahoma Tornado: What Can We Do?

I've had to make myself stop watching footage of the Oklahoma tornado, which tore through the town of Moore, Oklahoma like few have before.

My heart is aching for the people that have lost loved ones to this horrendous storm.

I am shocked by the devastation and images of Moore, Oklahoma, which looks like war-torn territory.

And I have inevitably asked myself, what can I do?

I. Give
Salvation Army and The American Red Cross are just two ways to give financially to the relief efforts in Oklahoma.  Maybe we could go without our Starbucks lattes for a month in order to donate to this effort. One news report even stated that The American Red Cross is accepting any volunteers that show up on site and will train them to immediately begin working with relief efforts.

II. Pray
The list of prayer requests is almost endless, but here's one we can begin praying through today:

  • Pray for emotional healing for those who have lost their parents, their children, their relatives, their friends
  • Pray for physical, mental and emotional healing for the injured
  • Pray for relief workers that will work tirelessly
  • Pray for community leaders and politicians that are assisting relief efforts, serving victims, handling media and encouraging community members to continue living
  • Pray for churches to come alongside the hurting and serve and love them well
III. Love
Continue to love others while we still have time. Today I read a moving Facebook post that went something like this:
"While ranting about my daughter 'borrowing' my shoes without asking me -- again, I saw a news report about the parents still searching for their children in Oklahoma. It really put things in perspective..."
Folks, we don't know when the next bomb or tornado or drunk driver could take someone we love away from us.

But this we know: We are here on earth to love God and love other people.

Let's do it while we've still got time.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Encouragement for My Momma-Sisters

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to share with my church family during our morning service. I was a bit nervous and didn't know how it would go over, but God gave me exactly what He wanted me to share with the mothers of our church.

I'd love to share a little sampling here for my momma-sisters that happen to attend other churches around the globe...

I. God Models a Maternal Love

God is a Spirit, not a human being -- therefore, neither male or female.

And as a Spirit, He has both maternal and maternal qualities.

Remember that popular book, The Shack? In The Shack, author William P. Young presents God, the Father as an African American woman. Now when I first met "Papa" in The Shack, I was a bit put off. I mean, God as a woman?

Well, as I searched the scriptures more, I think Young was on to something there.

Let's see what the most important book -- the Bible -- says about God's feminine side...

Isaiah 66:13 - "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you."

Deuteronomy 32:11 - "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreading her wings, taketh them, beareth her wings."

Zephaniah 3:17 - "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

This scripture conjures an image in my mind of a crying child, being comforted by her momma. The momma is rocking the baby, gently patting her back and singing a lullaby to her. And eventually the baby -- secure in her momma's arms -- remembers she is protected, she is wanted, she is loved. And she is calmed.

In each of these scriptures, God is viewed as a loving, nurturing mother. His love is paternal - protecting, providing and correcting, and it is maternal - calming, comforting and nurturing.

II. God Empowers Mothers to Love Our Children Well

As mothers, we can seek God for His power to love our children well.

God created us all for deep relationships, and only through those deep relationships -- primarily through the family -- can a child become physically, mentally and spiritually healthy and whole.

Last week, I took a 4-hour workshop with Dr. Karyn Purvis, director of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University. Dr. Purvis has extensively studied the unhealthy attachments of children born into traumatic settings -- orphanages, multiple foster homes, abuse, etc. Here's what I learned from her and passed on to my church body yesterday.
  • A newborn baby's vision spans 8-12 inches. The miraculous thing? The average length from a woman's crook of her arm to her face is 8 inches. The length for a man's is 12 inches. God created our bodies to nurture our babies from the moment they are born, so the first thing a child sees is his parent's adoring and loving face.
  • Touch is vitally important in the development of a child's psyche.
  • 67% of communication with a child is not our words, but our tone of voice.
  • Our eyes are a mirror to our child. They look into our faces to see what's true about them -- if they are loved and accepted, just as they are.
  • When we deal with the pain of our pasts, we can help our children work through their pain and traumas too.
These truths were life-changing for me. So life-changing that I've already blogged about them in another post. But I also rejoice in God's favor and grace. For when I get this role as momma wrong, He is there for my children as a loving, perfect parent to grab them into His infinite and loving arms.

Praise Him for that!