Thursday, June 22, 2017

Grandma Moses Steps Out

Moses parting the Red Sea
From the beginning of his life to the end, Moses was a man of faith. God had a plan for him that was much bigger than he could have ever imagined.
Let's take a quick look at the life of Moses.
Moses was born at a time when the children of Israel were living in slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh was so threatened by the growing numbers of Israelites that he put out an order to have all the male babies killed. Moses' mother put him in a basket in the river where he was found by the daughter of Pharaoh. Pharaoh's daughter raised him as her own in Egypt. But that did not change the fact that Moses was a Hebrew.
Fast forward 40 years. Again, 40 years - a time of testing followed by a period of blessing. God heard the cries of His people under Egyptian bondage and told Moses that he would be the one to lead them out of captivity into a Promised Land - a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses felt completely inadequate and told God that he was slow of speech and tongue. God took what was in Moses' hand, his staff, and his mouth - God would use both. Moses needed to obey God and have faith - to trust Him even in his weaknesses.
Moses went to Pharaoh and asked that he set the children of Israel free. And of course, Pharaoh did not. Even after God sent 10 plagues to Egypt, Pharaoh's heart never softened. The final plague though, the death of all Egypt's firstborn, broke Pharaoh enough that he agreed to let the Israelites go. But of course, once again, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued them with his entire army to bring them back. The Israelites were stuck at the shores of the Red Sea and had nowhere to go. If they went forward, they would drown in the Red Sea. If they went back, they would be captured by the Egyptian army. The only thing that would save them was a miracle from God.
Moses stepped up in the middle of a hopeless situation and told the Israelites to stand still and watch as God went to battle on their behalf. As Moses lifted his rod to the sky, God parted the Red Sea, and the children of Israel were able to cross on dry land. What an incredible sight that must have been! Millions of Israelites crossing the Red Sea with columns of water being held up on each side of them. God provided a miraculous way of escape for them. 430 years of slavery and bondage have now become a future of freedom.
Amazing story, right? But why am I talking about Moses today?
Because Moses is my hero. His life was spared because God wanted to use him.
I desire for God to use me. 
Even in his lack of self confidence and his inability to speak, God spoke through him.
I desire for God to speak through me.
Even though he had only a rod in his hand, God used it.
I desire that God use my gifts and talents for Him.
Even though he faced insurmountable obstacles, God miraculously delivered him.
Through every midnight, and every valley, and every Red Sea, God has delivered me.
And even though he knew that God instructed him to follow without knowing where he was going, Moses obeyed. And he trusted.
That I, like Moses, will always have the courage to follow God's leading and step into the unknown.
I feel like Grandma-Moses. Today I am announcing that I am leaving the safety and security of the life I have known for the past 17 years. I am moving to Chicago.
Millions of souls
Yes, it's true. I am following after what I believe is God's next step for me in this journey of life. I am following after my heart. God has opened a door of opportunity for me, and I feel that this is the time to walk through that door.
For more than 20 years I have worked 2-3 jobs to provide for my family. God has strengthened and sustained me through the years, but honestly, it has been exhausting to say the least. I am proud of the fact though, that all 5 of my children have followed this example and also value a job well done. My youngest child graduated from college 2 years ago, and I have remained in my home and jobs even though none of my children have lived near me for the past 5 years. I have felt isolated and alone.
Two of my adult children live in Chicago - my son David, his wife Brittanica, and 3 of my grandbabies, as well as my daughter, Heidi. I want to be near them. In addition, David and Brittanica are starting a new church plant, VIVE Church Chicago, which will launch in September, 2018. I want to be involved in this new church. I want to be close to my children as we work together in life and ministry. Plus, for the first time in forever I will only work one job. Hallelujah!
Truth is, though, I am scared. I'm nervous about leaving my comfort zone, my "cocoon." Facing a huge life change with all of its "what if's" and uncertainties and adjustments.
So I, like Moses, am pulling my self together, gathering up all of my courage, and I'm stepping into the waters of my future. My Red Sea. I will trust and obey. I know that God will part the waters for me and will do miracles on my behalf. The same God who has miraculously provided for me in the past is the same God who will provide for me now. Because in the end, it's not all about me. It's about the many, many souls out there who are hurting and who need to experience the truth of God's love. Precious souls who need deliverance from bondage. This is more important to me than my comfort and security. 
My heart is full knowing that I will be closer to family. But I am also praying that as I go into this land of the unknown, that it become a Promised Land for me, and for many others! I'm giving God what's in my hand - my rod. My prayer is as I write, and as I speak, and as I make new friends, that God will use my life to touch and encourage many. I desire to birth ministry to help provide basic needs - shelter, food, clothing - to families in need. Especially single mamas. To give them dignity, respect, safety, and encouragement. Life. To provide community to the lonely. To give people Jesus.
So, dear friends, thank you for reading today. And thank you for praying for me in the coming days and weeks of transition. Please pray that God will lead me to the perfect little home where joy will be plentiful and friends will be welcome. And if any of you are in the Chicagoland area, please visit me!
Once again, thank you for your love and support. My heart is greatly encouraged by your friendship. Let's all have the courage to have faith, trust God and "step out."
All my love,
May The Lord bless you and protect you.
May The Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May The Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.

Pearls of the future - Chicagoland and beyond.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Dads, Hold Open the Door

Baby Teresa holding my dad's hand as I take my first steps.
Happy Father's Day, dads! 
We pause today to celebrate you, to say thank you. Thank you for the sacrifices you make daily to lead and provide for your families. You are the first glimpse we have of the love of our Heavenly Father.
We need you. We mamas need you. As children of all ages, we need you. We need your strength, your playfulness, your work ethic, your guidance and wisdom, your discipline, your presence, and most of all, we need your godliness. You make us feel safe and secure as you seek God in everything you do. You make us feel loved.
We want you there in the delivery room when we're born. We want you to take us to church and teach us how to pray. We want you to play with us on the floor when we're babies. We want you to teach us how to catch a ball. And how to swim. And how to ride a bike. There when we're sick. We want you at our first T-ball game. We want you to hold our hand and walk with us on our first day of school. We want you to take us to father/son banquets and father/daughter dances. We want you to protect us from bullies. We want you to teach us how to drive. We want you to let us know when the influences from friends are not healthy. We want your counsel as we are making career choices. We want you there on our wedding day. At the birth of our children. Not only do we want these things, we need them. We will never stop needing YOU.
But what if we don't have the love of that kind of father?
Yes, that's a very hard question. I am aware that this day is especially hard - hard for single mamas who feel overwhelmed, hard for children who just want to have their dads in their lives no matter how imperfect he may be.
And I completely understand these feelings from experience. The adorable little picture at the top of this post of me as a baby with my dad is one of the only pictures I have of him. My dad helped teach me how to walk, but he was not there to teach me how to live. His addiction to alcohol robbed both him and me of a lifetime of memories, love and relationship. Because of that, I struggled when I was younger with trusting the love of a Heavenly Father. How did I know that He wasn't going to leave me also? Thankfully God's love has chased after me my entire life. He has never failed me. I have learned that I can trust God fully.
My children have also learned to trust in the love of their Heavenly Father in the absence of their father. God has loved them perfectly and has fathered them completely. God has also brought into the lives of each of my children wonderful, godly men who have served as mentors and role models. Especially for my sons. God provided exactly what each son needed at exactly the right time. And because of this, I am honored to say that my sons have grown into amazing men of God who have learned, and continue to learn, that God can be trusted. They love God, their wives, and their children. They work hard. They are faithful. I'm proud of them. I am forever grateful - to God, and to those men.
Two of my sons are married and both have very young families. I honor them today on this Father's Day. They love their wives completely and humbly seek God's guidance daily as they raise their children. They are striving to represent to their children the love of God so that these babies will never doubt their value or the "realness" of their Heavenly Father. They are giving their children the best possible start in life. Lives that will be whole and secure as they begin learning lifelong lessons of the nature of God. Lessons that also serve as reminders to us all.
They will understand from birth . . .
that God longs for relationship with them and that He is thrilled when they come to Him with all of their needs, for all of their lives, just as newborn babies.     
Jason and newborn Evan.

that they don't need to clean themselves up first and have everything perfect before coming to the Lord. He will help them. He just wants us to come to Him.
David and newborn Johnny after first bath.
that God loves them, and us, wholly and unconditionally and smothers us with love.
Kissing the face of perfection.

that our Heavenly Father is happy when we come close to Him; we don't have to be afraid. 
Snuggling with daddy - touching his face. Relationship is born.

that they see themselves in the faces of their children. In the same way, God smiles when He looks at them, and us.
Like father/like son. Love at first sight.

 that life can be fun!
Crazy love!
that they will not only teach their children how to drive, but they'll also be there to help them navigate through life.
It starts young!
 that they are perfect and beautiful and deserve only God's best.
First father/daughter dance.
that they are to respect authority, both God's and man's.
Oh, Johnny!
 And, most importantly . . .
that they will honor God first and always seek God in all things.
that they will pray with and for their wives,
Unashamedly praying privately and publicly.
that they will also pray for their children always, and take them to church from an early age.
Praying with the pastor.
 that when life gets too hard, they can rest in the arms of God. They will be safe.
Perfect picture of rest and peace.
Thankfully these babies never have to worry about daddy leaving them.
They say that chivalry is dead. Well, dads, let's bring it back. Little eyes are watching.
Monkey see, monkey do.
Dad's, please serve your families. I am writing from the perspective of a single mama who no longer needs daily help around the house, but who understands what moms really need and appreciate . . . help washing the dishes, and cleaning the floors, and changing the diapers, and playing with the children - whatever needs to be done. It speaks love to us.
Open the doors for your wife. Be chivalrous. Women are incredibly strong and capable. We can manage our homes as well as have successful careers.  We are more than capable of opening our own doors, and cooking our own meals, and cleaning our own homes, and paying our own bills, and raising our own children. And doing it on our own if necessary.  But that doesn't mean that we shouldOr that we want to. It's not God's way and certainly not His best. Children need both a mom and a dad . . . for all of their lives. Please don't let anything or anyone come before your family. Choose them first, last and always.
Dad's, as you are wholeheartedly serving your families and are modeling unconditional love to your children, you are opening the door for each of them to know God personally. And to trust Him. There is no greater reward.
And now, to all the single mamas out there - I know that today is one of the hardest days of the year for you. Whether single, or divorced, or widowed - whatever your circumstance, today reminds you of your pain and loss. What you don't have. It may be unbearable pain. Heart pain that you don't think will ever go away. I understand.
Please open the door of your heart to the love of your Heavenly Father.
Don't try to be both mom and dad - it's impossible. Just be mom. Lean in, look up, and hold on. Forgive. Pray. Trust. It will get better, I promise. I believe that God has carved out a very special place in His heart for single mamas and their children. He will hold you close and comfort you. He will protect you. He will provide for you and your children in ways that will leave you speechless. He will be a husband to the husbandless and a Father to the fatherless. He will love you personally. And He will help your children to know Him and to trust Him. God will meet the needs of your babies, toddlers, small children, and teenagers. As you keep the door of your heart open to the Lord, your children's hearts will also lean in to God and learn from Him. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. You will look back over the years and see the miracle-working ways He sustained you and provided for you - how he was a Father to your children. God will make beautiful pearls out of all the mess. He will turn the heartache into joy. Just like he did for me.
We will see that our children have grown into God-honoring, responsible adults. 
Lastly, if you are a child (of any age) and you have a dad who is absent from your life, again, I have the same encouragement for you. Keep open the door of your heart for God. Talk to Him about anything and everything. Take all your problems and emotions to Him. He understands your pain, sadness, emptiness and anger. He wants to heal you and provide everything you need. Trust Him. He will be tender with you. He cares for you. God is watching out for you and longs to have relationship with you. Thankfully, He is not distant - He is as close as your next prayer. He will never leave you or forsake you.
God is a perfect Father.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for holding open the door for us to know you and spend eternity with you. We are forever grateful for Your love and tender kindness.
Thank you for joining me today as we celebrate dads of all ages. You are my heart.
All my love,
May The Lord bless you and protect you.
May The Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May The Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.
Happy Father's Day, Jason! 
Jason with Olivia and Evan.
 Happy Father's Day, David!
David with Johnny, Jovi and Jack

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Welcome to our World, Jack!

David, Brittanica and newborn son, Jack. Beautiful!
Welcome to our world, Jack Michael Womelsdorf!
This week, my third born son welcomed into his little family his third born son. Funny thing is that Jack was the exact same weight and length as his daddy. Pretty awesome! Jack is already following closely in his daddy's footsteps which is a wonderful thing!
David, Brittanica, Johnny, Jovi and Jack. Such a beautiful family.
The new family of 5!
Johnny and Jovi already loving on their new baby brother.

Isn't it sweet how even very young children instinctively know how to care for tiny babies? Especially when the new tiny is their sibling.
The cousins first meeting. Evan and Jack are sure to be best friends. Look at those faces!

The ever growing Womelsdorf family. We are beyond blessed!
Something wonderful and magical takes place in the days surrounding the birth of a baby.
We are reminded once again of the incredible strength, courage and selflessness of women as they bring new life into the world. New mamas labor for hours, they don't sleep for weeks/months, they tend to their baby's every need without thinking of themselves for a moment, and they want the very best for their child from the first glance.
May we all be like a new mama and selflessly serve those around us.
We all look at a baby, especially a newborn, and are awestruck at how beautiful and precious they are. They are perfectly helpless and depend on the care of a loving family to keep them alive. They never worry about their next meal - they know that mama and daddy are never far away and will feed them anytime/anywhere they are hungry. They wholeheartedly trust.
May we all be like a newborn baby and trust that our Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally will feed us, sustain us, and meet our every need.
Babies are new and fresh. They have no past - only a future. They are little sponges and soak up the world around them. Babies represent everything that is pure and innocent in a world full of perversion.
May we all strive to shield ourselves from anything that would cause us to not live up to our full potential.
When a baby is born, family and friends come from near and far to celebrate the new life. Everyone wants to hold the baby and smother him with love. Newborns absolutely bring out the best in us. We become loving, giving and encouraging. Everyone surrounding the family wants to help in any way possible in the days of adjustment following a birth. And new moms and dads receive the love and help with joy.
May we all be willing to humbly receive help from others when needed.
For those of us who are grandparents, the pride we feel when we watch our sons and daughters becoming moms and dads is indescribable! To watch our "babies" raising their babies and serving their families selflessly - well, it's joy upon joy upon joy.
Maybe we did something right.
While this post is to celebrate the new addition to the Womelsdorf family, my prayer is that we can appreciate the life God has given each one of us. Life is meant to be celebrated and enjoyed. Let's live the life that others want to follow. During times of blessing, let's be mindful to thank the Lord for His love and grace given to us without measure. During times of transition, pain, uncertainty and doubt, let's remember that just as a mom cares for her young, so will God care for us and provide everything we need.
Babies don't worry about tomorrow, so neither should we.
Thank you for celebrating with our family this week. My heart is full.
All my love,
May The Lord bless you and protect you.
May The Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May The Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.
My precious little pearls.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Trouble Inside the Bubble

Butterflies are so lucky.

Here's why. (Humor me while we explore the life cycle of a butterfly.)

Butterflies go through a complete metamorphosis which includes 4 stages:

First Stage:  The Egg
Butterfly eggs are usually laid on plants.
Second Stage:  The Larva (Caterpillar)
Caterpillars do not stay in this stage for long, and all they do is eat.
Third Stage:  Pupa (Chrysalis)
This is the really awesome stage where the rapid transformation is taking place.
Fourth Stage:  The Adult Butterfly
The butterfly emerges and has one purpose - to reproduce.
Metamorphosis: A change of the form or nature of a thing into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means; change, alteration, conversion, reconstruction; a great change in appearance or character.
Pretty fantastic, right?
I wonder if caterpillars know when they form themselves into a pupa that they are going to emerge a completely different, beautiful creature? While it may look like they are just resting, the old body parts of the caterpillar are going through a complete and remarkable transformation to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly. All of the forming and changing has taken place in secret. Inside the safety of the pupa - the "bubble."
Which is why butterflies are lucky. They know their destiny. A few weeks in the pupa, and Ta-Da! - a beautiful butterfly is born. 
Humans are not butterflies. We are transforming continually over a lifetime. And not in secret.  
We all go through many transformations in our lifetime, and usually it's in front of everyone in our world - our family, friends, coworkers. They see the good, the bad, and the ugly. We don't have the luxury of wrapping ourselves up into a tiny, little chrysalis where we can go through some of life's most painful transformations privately. It's essential for us to have the encouragement and support of those who know us best and love us most when we are going through the natural process of growing in life. They are there to watch us stretch and grow and follow our dreams and fly! To chase after what we feel is our God-ordained purpose in life. Our destiny.
But what about when our "bubble" is actually hindering our growth?
I like my bubble. It's safe and convenient and comfortable. "Trouble Inside of my Bubble" for sure! I live in a safe community, in a safe home, with a safe church, and safe jobs, and safe friends, with a safe future. Get the picture? God brought me to this city, this place of safety, 17 years ago. I believe His purpose was to train me and prepare me for a future purpose - a destiny much bigger than myself. I am happy here and ever so grateful for every friend and every situation! I have experienced growth and passion for people that I don't believe would have ever happened had I not moved to this wonderful city. Once again, God has fashioned beautiful pearls in my life.  
I have changed. I have grown. I have been transformed into a new person.
Over the past several years, God has placed a dream in my heart to reach outside of anything I believe I can do on my own to touch and help the lives of many, many women just like me. I have a heart to help, and right now it's just a dream. But for it to become a reality, I will need to step outside of my comfort zone, my bubble, and follow the direction where I believe God is leading me. To fly. It will require me to say, "Bye-bye, Bubble!"
Am I willing? Yes.
Can I say no? Yes.
Will I? No.
Is it hard? Yes.
Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
Within the next few days, I will be announcing what I believe is God's direction for my life in the coming days, weeks, and months. All of the details are certainly not worked out yet, but I am excited about the future. Excited about the things God can do through me that will have eternal impact. This butterfly is ready to emerge from the bubble and reproduce.
A butterfly wearing pearls. 
Thank you for sharing this time with me. You are my heart.
All my love,
May The Lord bless you and protect you.
May The Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May The Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.