Tag Archives: Jehovah Shalom

Chair of Thanksgiving, Single Mom Style

I have a dear friend who has a Chair of Thanksgiving where she faithfully meets with Jesus each morning.  A pretty, decorated basket next to her prayer chair is filled with her Bible, journal, pens, highlighters, a box of tissue and note cards to write encouraging Scripture to others to remind them to be thankful as well.  I admire my friend’s discipline and her commitment to meet with Jesus daily, to talk with him, listen for Him and thank Him.  I’m a bit envious that she has the luxury of doing all this from the comfort & quietness of her special chair.  My friend, however, is NOT a single parent.

I am a single mom and My Chair of Thanksgiving is portable.

It’s a white wooden chair at my kitchen table with my family.

It’s a swivel chair at my desk.

It’s a patio chaise on my back deck overlooking our Colorado skyline.

It’s a swing in a nearby park, a boulder on a hiking trail, a bicycle seat, a bench on a firing range–anywhere I’m fortunate enough to hang out with my kiddos.

It’s the front seat of my automobile, sometimes on the passenger side while my teen drives and I thank God for nerves of steel.

It’s a stadium chair at my son’s sports events.

It’s a cold, stiff chair in a doctor’s office.

It’s a sofa in a counselor’s office.

It’s a beach towel on a sandy Pacific shore.

It’s a window seat 33,000 feet above & between majestic Colorado & Alaska mountains.

And anyone who’s ever been a single mom desperate for a few minutes of solitude will understand when I say sometimes my Chair of Thanksgiving is a toilet seat!

My Chair of Thanksgiving is portable because my Bible tells me that I am to never cease giving thanks…

“Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:17-18

As a single mom, I often struggle with ingratitude.  Some days I don’t feel like giving thanks.  It’s easier to feel sorry for myself, having to parent solo for the better part of 14 years, than it is to say “Thank You, Jesus”.   But when I begin to consider Who it is I am thanking, my gratitude takes on a whole other dimension even as a single mom.

As a woman who parented 18 children through birth, fostering and adoption, I’ve learned that I can be thankful because:

When I feel alone Jesus is “Immanuel, God with Us”.  His presence never leaves me, no matter how lonely my heart feels Jesus is always here with me.  He sees every tear and He holds my heart.

When my world is full of chaos, juggling schedules and homework and carpools and sport practices and doctor’s appointments, He is my “Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is peace.”

When I am exhausted and desperate for rest from all those mothering responsibilities, God is “Maon & Machseh, My dwelling place & refuge.”

When I struggle to make financial ends meet, God is  “Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides.”  My children may not always have what they want, but He faithfully gives us all we need.

When my heart breaks from hurtful things my kids say about me & to me, God is my “Magen, my shield,” to protect me from the arrows of young, uncensored mouths.

When I am overwhelmed in the spiritual battle for the hearts of my children, God is “Yahweh Nissi, the Lord my Banner “ who goes before me in battle and protects us.  Confident of His protection, I can fight any battle in His power & prevail in His strength.

When my kids try to push me around and I just don’t feel that strong, He is “Metsuda & Migdal-Oz, my fortress and my strong tower.”

When I am overwhelmed with guilt at all my failures, mistakes and motherly imperfections, He is “Jehovah Rophe, the God who heals.”, healing my mind and my heart, allowing me to forgive myself.

When I am confused about right decisions to make for my children, He is ”Rabbi, teacher” who shows me the path to follow.

When I am discouraged and feel I can’t keep going, He is “Miqweh Yisrael, the Hope of Israel, the God of Hope”.  Hope that steadies me in fear & trials, not because everything in life is picture perfect but because the God of Hope can be trusted in every situation.

Finally, When I am tired of being single and I long for a husband, Jesus is “Nymphios, my Bridegroom”.  I am married to my Lord.  And I can give thanks that my husband not only loves me deeply & unconditionally, He doesn’t leave the toilet seat up.

In this holiday season, I encourage you to embrace your Chair of Thanksgiving, wherever it may be.

Seeking God in Storms

In an excruciatingly painful season for Jesus, He desperately needed time to Himself, space to grieve.
 
Reading in Matthew 14…Jesus sought to seclude Himself on a boat immediately following the murder of His dear friend & cousin John the Baptist.  His efforts thwarted by crowds from nearby towns, thousands with needs & expectations swarmed the shore crying out to Him.  Despite His own personal agony Christ’s compassionate heart compelled Him to spend the day teaching, healing and serving the masses.  By nightfall, He and the disciples gathered up 12 baskets of leftovers from feeding thousands.  The day expended, the disciples departed at His request and Jesus finally seized time alone to pray. 
 
Can you picture this?  Jesus, completely exhausted after a lengthy day of meeting others’ needs, withdrew to a hillside for time alone with God.  Far into the night He sat at the feet of Abba, poured out His heart, pressed in to hear from the Father, drank from the cup of God’s hand, laid back against Him to rest, listened to God’s heartbeat.  He tarried there for hours drawing strength, renewing His peace. Matthew 14:25 indicates between 3-6 a.m. Jesus returned to His disciples and found them in a boat battling strong winds and choppy waves.  In the midst of a horrendous squall Christ calmly walked across the water. 
 
The Lord’s day began with an emotional whirlwind of His loved one’s death and ended with a fitful tempest at sea.  Yet between the two storms, Christ intentionally accessed all He needed to not only endure but to bless others.  He pushed the pause button on His life’s demands to seek Jehovah Shalom…the God of Peace…and because of this He walked in confidence, in strength and in complete peace even in the midst of atrocious upheaval. 
 
The storms of life are torrential at times.  Loved ones battle cancer, finances dwindle due to lengthy unemployment, children rebel, spouses betray, depression demolishes the will to go on, sickness and pain ravage bodies, violence devastates women & children, drunken drivers end innocent lives, soldiers come home missing limbs or in body bags.  Storms rage all around us.  In those moments of utter despair when we feel we can’t go another step, God whispers to us,
 
“Come away with me to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31
 

Even in His own time of profound sorrow Jesus was aware of the suffering of others around Him.  He showed great compassion for them, serving them not out of duty but from the recesses of His heart.  After meeting the demands pressing in from every direction He renewed His strength by stealing away to a quiet place to rest a while in the arms of the Father.  His was not a passive few moments of small talk with God but a prolonged outpouring of His heart and an expectation that He would hear from God and be renewed.  Rather than becoming overwhelmed by His circumstances, Christ was overwhelmed by the love God lavished on Him in those moments of seeking.
 
In my quest to become more like Christ, I pray I’m mindful that time to care for others is a gift.  I pray for compassion to serve them from the depths of my heart even as I am grieving my own painful circumstances.  Matthew 14 reminds me the key is intentionally spending soul-satisfying time alone with my Father, to cast all my cares on Him, listen expectantly for His voice and drink from the cup of His hand just as Jesus did, overwhelmed by His love, bathed in grace and peace.  In seeking Him I am able to stand even in the midst of the most harrowing storms.

 “And you shall find me when you search for me with all your heart…”  Jeremiah 29:13