Post Mother's Day Prayers for the Brokenhearted

As a follow up to my recent blog post "Are You My Mother", I wrote about the gift of honouring motherhood and all those who "mother" us throughout our journey of faith. There is much to be happy about on the topic of motherhood. At the same time, it is important to pause and reflect on the angst Mother's Day brings forth for many: both spiritually and relationally. If we can learn how to mourn with those who mourn and help each other be more authentic with the pains of life, we'd realize we all walk with a limp. Especially as mothers.


Mothers day (or other holidays we celebrate as rote) isn't always "Happy". 

Let us be mindful to be empathetic towards those experiencing grief, in relational pain or experiencing darkness or depression as a result of the topic of motherhood. Let's pray for those who are experiencing great sorrow as a mom, or reflecting on the concepts of motherhood without resolve at this time:

Mothering Grief

Below is intended to be an encouragement for us to support those who are brokenhearted in their mothering journey with suggested resources, scripture verses and prayers:

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Father God, we pray for the moms who have lost children through miscarriage, the stillborn experience or abortion. Only you can comprehend the pain and sorrow of losing a child.  (One resource that helped me tremendously in this area is "I'll Hold You in Heaven." It modelled intense grace amidst and hope amidst the mothering journey of grief and travail.)

"For those who have lost a child to death, Jack Hayford provides compassionate answers to troubling questions such as, What happened to my baby after it died? Will I ever see my baby again? Will I recognize him? what happens if I&rsquo've had an abortion? Does God have a reason for letting my child die? God's Word shines with hope in the dark night of human pain. God showed his tenderness when David lost the child he had with Bathsheba shortly after its birth. In his pain and grief, David spoke the word of revelation and a reassuring word of God's truth(2 Samuel 12:19-23). The freeing truth of the Word of God promises that, like David, you will hold your child again in heaven."

 

 

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Dear God,  I pray for those who are turmoil today as a result of broken relationships. May they find peace amidst the storm and to allow God to nurture them deeply as they cry out for peace.  (I recommend Lisa Bevere's book "Nurture" as it spoke hope into my mothering journey and other relationships I held dear).

"Nurture (verb): 1. To give tender care and protection. 2. To encourage to grow, develop, thrive, and be successful.
This beautifully describes what God's daughters so desperately need. In this heartfelt work, Lisa explains how women of all ages must awaken and restore their capacity to give and receive nurture. The need for this indelible force is far more urgent than we know. Is it possible we are too busy surviving to assure that the vulnerable among us thrive? Are we too guarded, wounded, and afraid to open our lives to the nurture of others? What can be done to reestablish this language of the feminine heart? It is time women are healed and empowered."

 

Dear God, I pray for the mothers whose children were taken from this life too soon with addictions that rob, kill, steal and seek to destroy their lives as well as those moms who have lost children through disease/sickness, accidents and horrific tragedies as a result of living in a fallen world. I know you don't directly cause evil, or find any joy in seeing Your people suffer so. Please help us to understand what to do when tragedy or some sort of evil strikes our loved ones. Help my unbelief. Take my anger and use it for something good. This burden is just too heavy to bear. (I recommend resources from authors like Carol Kent, who wrote "Tame Your Fears", "Unshakable Faith", "Unquenchable", "When I Lay My Isaac Down" , "Between a Rock and a Grace Place", or "A New Kind of Normal" to encourage anyone, especially parents when faced with many of life's setbacks).


The world will not experience the fullness of a perfect happy Mothers Day until perfect love and the fullness of truth, grace and supernatural unity are fully realized in the heart of mankind. May our hearts break for what breaks the heart of God.

Healing for a mothers heart, family, world.

Oh God, Give us the strength to believe that you will heal the brokenhearted. We pray for the injustices plaguing the globe where we see helpless, hopeless mothers and daughters, women and girls who are in dire poverty, experiencing exploitation, abuse and neglect of varying kinds. The #metoo movement is a wake-up call for our world to be filled with courageous men and women to stand up and be the voice for hope and freedom- fighting the good fight to create a world where humanity is renewed and restored in healthy relationships.  

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
— Psalm 147:3

A Note to the Brokenhearted:

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If you are hurting, know you are not alone. When someone in your family, friend group or sphere of influence asks you how you are doing, don't be tempted to brush it off and reply- "Oh... Fine", thinking or believing the lie that no one cares, understands or wants to carry your burden with you dear one. Most importantly, reach out to your Creator.  Scream, pray, cry, journal, allow yourself to deeply lament- don't hold it inside. God can take it. Actually, scripture tells us that heaven collects the tears and prayers of God's people. (Revelation 5:8). We may not see answers to prayer on this side of heaven, but we will in the life everlasting.

 

Thank you, Jesus. You can and You will wipe away every tear

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
— Revelation 21:4

Are You My Mother?

P.D. Eastman's book Are You My Mother?  was read countless times in my childhood among many other Dr Seuss classics.

In this memorable story, I was introduced to an adorable baby bird who was lost and desperately looking for his mom. Once he hatched, he fell out of his nest and his instinct was telling him to look for his mom, but he had no clue what she looked like! He comes across many other animals. Are you my mother? The dog says no. The cow says no. The cat says no. Even the machinery said no. Eventually, the little bird is reunited with his true mother after much searching. 

There are deep lessons and analogies to be learned here. We are so much like that little bird.

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  Are you my mother?

I'm writing this blog on Mothers Day. I felt a nudge to write on the theme of Mothering for many years and recently spoke on this topic at a women's retreat in Manitoba. So before I start my day to celebrate my own motherhood, as well as the incredible moms and women in my life who have mothered me, I pause and reflect on the angst this day also brings forth for many: both spiritually and relationally.

In my own journey of faith, Mothers Day often brought deep sorrow more often than not because I spent many Mothers Days apart from my own mother (& mother in law) as I lived long-distance from them. As a young momma myself, I struggled with the what ifs and the "woulda-shoulda-coulda" thoughts as my idealistic tendencies were crippling my ability to fully embrace Mothers Day.  By focusing on what I didn't have (family supports who live in my own city) and the imperfections in me and earthly mothering expectations, I let myself down. I struggled with fully embracing my motherhood for many years as a result. Condemnation, guilt and oh, right: comparison- the thief of joy. 

There was a time when I was in a season of deep lament, but I knew that God is speaking when three unrelated individuals said to me within one week:

 

"Have you ever related to God as your mother? 

I gasped.

 

"Is this theological blasphemy? Is this OK to even consider? How can I relate to God as both Father AND Mother?" These were the many thoughts were racing through my mind. I was raised, taught and practised my faith by relating to God solely as my heavenly Father. I'd relate to Jesus as my friend, Savior, and brother and to the Holy Spirit as Counsellor, the one I'd draw upon for wisdom.

 

I was both intrigued by the question, and yet somewhat fearful.

 

Because of my innate curiosity, I'm drawn to this concept of God as our both Father and Mother, metaphoricaly and for some, they embrace it literally. In my wrestling soul, I could just feel the religious watchdogs putting me through a microscope to somehow slander me if I even entertained the feminine attributes of God along with the masculine. In some religious practices, that is quite normal. In Christianity, many are divided on the topic.  In my formative leadership journey, I was introduced to the varying perspectives over the years in the Church of Egalitarian and Complementarian theology with extreme perspectives of both "sides" where others don't hold such definitive views.

There are numerous translations of scripture that contradict one another when it comes to passages pertaining to the root word (Hebrew/ Greek) meaning of gender-(including a woman's role and interpreting some of those in its cultural context.) I've held that tension as a woman in leadership and have had many discussions in that regard which I continue to process. But the simple notion of allowing ourselves to be open to new concepts that haven't been openly taught from the pulpit can perhaps feel like fear.  But as a dear University professor friend of mine reminded me, that felt fear it is more often than not Cognitive Dissonance that we are experiencing. We are meant to grow and challenge the status quo. Think outside the box and be open to God reaching us in unexpected ways.

 

It's so easy to live in fear of scrutiny.

 

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One example: Living through the tension a few years back when the Shack was released. When talking to people of various backgrounds, it was interesting hearing a variety of responses. Some were deeply moved by the analogies of the Trinity throughout the book or movie. Some were upset by the mere thought or suggestion that a mothering attribute could be a part of the Trinity alongside fatherhood characteristics.  From Catholics to Protestants- Pentecostals, Lutherans, Mennonites, Baptists, Anglicans etc. who are among the 30+ thousand types of denominational forms of Christianity in this broken world,  Some continue to live deeply entrenched in tradition versus truth and extreme patriarchy is their normal. Others have empowered women but in the process disempowered men where extreme feminist stances have backlashed to strip away the truth of true biblical equality. It is a travesty that we don't explore this injustice together and right the wrongs of religious pasts. God is family. His family made up of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, male and female birthed out of our original design. One called to live empowered with love and respect for one another's complementary equality in our unique diversity. I thank God for the many churches who seek balance but also freedom in this area. I'm incredibly grateful for the many leaders and pastors who are champions of women in our communities, business world, faith sector and leadership realms.

As mentioned, one of those leaders spoke into my life to consider relating to God as Father AND Mother looked deeply into my eyes and spoke life. He knew how deeply I cared about being in line with scripture in my quest for restoration, desiring to be bold but being careful not to be a wingnut, he quoted scripture from the book of Isaiah:

“As a mother comforts her child, so too shall I comfort you” 
— Isaiah 66:13

From that moment, I was open to the notion of relating to God as my perfect parent- who is both a Father and also has Mothering qualities through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is One.  I can just imagine the Trinity as family conversing together before mankind was created as it was recorded in Genesis 1:26-27: "..Let us make mankind in Our image. So in the image of God, He created them male and female." and Jesus cried out in John 17 for us to be One. Not just the men who were disciples of Jesus, but all men and women who follow Christ are to be one. We need the Spirits help to take us under His (or Her) wings and allow the Helper to help us, the Counsellor to counsel us and to love the Spirit of Wisdom like a sister. (Proverbs 7:4)

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We all need mothering and fathering in our lives. Yet- Truth be told, our family of origin will not be completely what our soul aches for and no earthly person- dad or mom can totally fill our every need. I cannot be the all in all for my daughters. But what I can do is provide a place for security, to be known/ significant, to experience love and acceptance. I cannot impart what I first don't possess. We need the complete picture and characteristics of God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to even attempt to provide such stability in our mothering relationships.

 

Dear God, Thank you for giving me the gift of mothers in my life and I give thanks for the many gifts you have given to me as a result of being a mom. It has helped me know you and your character in a profound way.  Continue to show us wisdom, grace and empower us with your nurturing presence, with gratitude. Your daughter- Jodi


Click on the links below to read other scriptural references to Father God as a mother, or with "mothering" characteristics:

Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear who seeks to protect

Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle

Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth

Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother

Isaiah 49:15 God compared to a nursing mother

Isaiah 42:14 God as a woman in labour

Psalm 131:2 God as a Mother

Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 God as a Mother hen

Luke 15:8-10 God as a woman looking for her lost coin


P.S  Not every mother sees Mothers day as "Happy" Click here to read "Post Mothers Day Prayers for the Brokenhearted" (posted May 14th 2018)

Betrayal and Beauty (Out of the Ashes)

Easter's promises of hope, joy, and peace are preceded by Good Friday's solemn message of pain and suffering. Raising four daughters over the last 25+ years and celebrating Easter throughout their lives, I remember how difficult it was to explain to them as little girlies why the death of Jesus was "Good." They get it now, but it was so very tough to explain back then. How do you really explain to a precious 5-year-old the betrayal of Jesus (Through one of His own disciples Judas) which led to brutal humiliation, torture and a slow and painful death on a cross? 

We don't really get it until we personally understand that it was our own sin (among all the sin of the world)  that caused it, but while we were still sinners- Jesus died for us.  It was prophesied hundreds and thousands of years before Jesus died in order to make forgiveness of sins possible for us all. Betrayal didn't have the last word, Beautiful redemption did. I wrote about this "Betrayal by a Friend" recently too. (Click here to read).

  The Way of the Cross

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Good Friday this year, I participated in the “way of the cross” walk with hundreds of men, women, and children with 14 stations of the cross. Our own version of the Via Dolorosa of Jerusalem in the downtown core of Saskatoon as scripture is shared, prayers offered and reflections on what the cross of Jesus meant or should mean for us today with Justice issues, the call for reconciliation, ecology, race relations, dignity of life, the health of the family etc. With freezing temps, my hands, and feet still were frozen, but my heart is warm and full of gratitude that day. 

Organizers of the Way of the Cross walk asked me to address the topic of "Commodifying people" in the context of sex trafficking  (As a representative of Hope Restored Canada), asking "How often do we, like Judas, commodify human beings? " (Click here to read that statement)

I found it very moving to walk among the diverse people of faith as we personalized the scripture of Jesus' way of the cross to our own modern day injustices and the call for truth, justice and grace to prevail in all areas of society.

It was a humbling moment to read from Luke Chapter 22 verses 47 and 48 reflecting on the betrayal of Jesus:

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’
—  Luke 22:47-48
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How often do we, like Judas, commodify human beings?

My prayer was as follows: " Let us pray that we end our betrayal of the millions of people sold in the world every day for selfish desires. We pray that with God’s empowerment, compassion, discernment, and wisdom we might come to know these people who have been objectified and take action to secure their dignity. We pray for all victims and survivors who experienced the life by choice, coercion or circumstance as we pray and contend for the freedom, dignity, hope, and restoration of all. We pray for a day when sexual exploitation will be eradicated and that we might acknowledge the intrinsic worth of each person with honor without normalizing control and manipulation. May this begin in our hearts, extend to our families and seek to engage the world. Amen."

Many of us know the story of Jesus's betrayal, but have you ever wondered WHY Judas betrayed Jesus? The Bible doesn't give us a clear look into Judas's heart and full intentions, but we can reflect on the story of betrayal knowing full well that eternal beauty did, in fact, come forth from that deceitful act of betrayal. (Click here to read "Betrayed by a Friend")

As a little girl hearing the story of Judas betraying Jesus, I'd get so mad and angry at him. Now when I hear the story of Judas, I reflect on my own humanity and reflect on how I've betrayed God through poor choices in my life.  I've betrayed people in my life knowingly and unknowingly through my thoughts, words, and actions. The painful reality is that I have been betrayed by many throughout my life as well. You, my friend, are also not exempt from betrayal,  it is the story of our sin-laden, lonely, desperate for meaning/  broken world. 

 

But God.

 

Out of the Ashes We Rise

 

 Painting by  Ramona Swift-Thiessen Art  "Out of The Ashes we rise!" 

Painting by Ramona Swift-Thiessen Art "Out of The Ashes we rise!" 

This beautiful painting is by Ramona Swift-Thiessen Art entitled "Out of The Ashes We Rise!" Currently gracing my home, she chose this title as a declaration of hope for new and brighter tomorrows for women and children rescued from human trafficking or slavery of any kind. They have been used and abused and betrayed by so many throughout their lives. Our Creator understands that pain ever so deeply.

These verses come to mind when I gaze upon this powerful painting:

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations....The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.

— Isaiah 61:1-4, 11

At Eastertime (or any season of life)- there is Hope.

And Hope has a name.

The One who gives beauty for ashes

-Jesus. 🙏🏻

 

(Click here to read the Global News story and Click here to view more pics.)

Betrayed by a Friend

Betrayed by a Friend

I remember my mom saying to us kids: "Even Jesus wouldn't invite his enemy (Like Judas) to his birthday party"- trying to convey the truth that we cannot trust all people and to ultimately know who your enemies are.  I didn't quite get what she was trying to say when I was younger, but I do now. Yes, Judas was a part of Christ's 12 chosen disciples and I believe Jesus did truly love all of them and believed in their full potential. But ultimately, Jesus is not responsible for the evil Judas allowed into his own heart to cause the betrayal. 

Looking back at my life, I can see clearly how"Judas type" people crept into my life as well.  Whether it was by my invitation to friendship or teamwork, or through their own initiation, the analogies are frighteningly similar.

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A Walk of Faith, Courage and Hope- MMIWG

A Walk of Faith, Courage and Hope- MMIWG

Over the years, I've walked to stand up against the evils of sexual abuse, human trafficking and most recently, the walk to support families who are counted among the hundreds of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (MMIWG).  It takes much effort to gather, to stand in solidarity, to be united in a cause with diverse individuals you may or may not ever see again.

Why I show up?.... I

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Our Canada, My Story

Our Canada, My Story

I've lived in Canada since crossing the border in 1990 after our whirlwind honeymoon, but it took me 20 years to take the step to be an official Canadian Citizen. After marrying my Canadian beau, I was perfectly content to be a visitor- landed immigrant, then permanent resident. Growing up in Minnesota, I was raised to pledge my allegiance to the USA, salute the flag and "Live by the Girl Scout Law". Needless to say, my American Pride was deeply embedded within.  Even after I had a miraculous brush with heaven in 1996 and truly understood that my eternal citizenship is in heaven,  (Philippians 3:19-21),  I was in no rush to become a Canadian Citizen.

But God had other plans...

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We are Created to Create!

There's a trend that has been capturing the attention of many to attend a "Paint Nite" , where for a few hours, groups come together and are coached to bring out the inner artist in us. Sometimes in studios, libraries, or over a glass of wine in restaurants or bars. Others have started up their own business like a  friend of mine who started up "Leslie's Coffee and Canvas". Fun, Fun! I ended up going to three paint nights in one year and I loved every minute of it. I found it to be a stress reliever actually...

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Retreat Recap: Restoration- Heart, Family, World!

Retreat Recap: Restoration- Heart, Family, World!

They say, do what you love. Listen to what brings you joy and do that. I have a ton of passionate pursuits on my journey of faith. One of them? I love speaking at retreats.

Last month was a highlight for sure- I had the honour of speaking at a beautiful camp north of Calgary, Alberta for their annual women's retreat. Although speaking 4 messages is a ton of work as I pour my all into it, I come away from a weekend like this inspired and renewed myself.

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Faith through the Mountaintops and Valleys

Faith through the Mountaintops and Valleys

Life is full of ups and downs, mountaintop experiences and valley meanderings too. Do you ever find yourself living in "la la land" though wanting to stay on the mountain top with all it's thrills, pats on the back, high fives and that feeling of accomplishment? I know I do! No wonder the movie musical La La Land was so popular!  If I look back on my life and look to people I admire most, we have all experienced some minor or major set backs, heartbreak, and pain. It sucked big time going through it, and many instances I wouldn't wish it on my closest friends.

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A New Year of Restoration

2017 is here whether we like it or not, we are destined to move forwards. We can't go back but only be present in the moment and look towards the future with hope. I have to laugh at all the times in my life where the turn of the year has pushed me to want me to be the best I can be, but truly- what are we measuring that ideal against?  

If you are like me, we often beat ourselves up that we didn't lose those extra pounds gained during the holidays, or read the books or passages that we'd like to or reestablished relationships like we ought to and we end up feeling like a failure.  We often set the bar unrealistically high when it comes to New Year's Resolutions! 

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Restoring Ruins

Restoring Ruins

It's good to get back to blogging again! I've taken a break from it for a few months and it was not by choice, but a forced kind of way. In the spring of 2016, I received an email from a camp director in Alberta (who was about to book me to speak at a women's retreat),. giving me a heads up on an online nightmare. She informed me that when they sought to confirm the booking, they came upon my website and was shocked that it was gone.

I was like "What do you mean,... gone?"

 The annoying reality hit me 'Welcome to the world of hacking.' As I clicked on my site, up came a page I will not soon forget. As a result, I acted swiftly to assure my site host at the time quickly took off the images, erased all my content and the cyber bug added eery music and text on my page.

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