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Archive for the ‘Mommas’ Category

 Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Proverbs 31:28-29 (MSG)

 She, my Mama, must have read them in the bathroom; not the restroom, which was a separate little room, and anyway, she wasn’t into porcelain throne scholarship like some in our family were. The bathroom was the bathroom and laundry room. A bathtub (no shower) under the high up window where we got a weekly bath, next to the tub a sink with a mirrored cabinet you didn’t mess with, a washing machine to the right of the sink, two hanging cabinets filled with towels and washrags on the opposite wall, and two cloth hampers under those cabinets, one just for my dad’s clothes and the other for everyone else. You never wanted to open Dad’s hamper because the mixture of cigarette smoke and the stink of his socks was downright toxic. Anyway, my Mama spent a lot of time in that bathroom, not fixing herself up, but taking care of us.

I didn’t find out that she also read in the bathroom, most likely while doing laundry, until I got tall enough to reach the towel cabinets. I thought I had discovered a secret stash of forbidden literature hidden under the stack of towels on the top shelf inside. But they turned out to be boring magazines and pamphlets about parenting. I have no idea where she got them from, but they were worn from multiple readings.

I also know that Mama prayed in that bathroom, long after I had left home she told me so. I don’t think it was just ordinary prayer that happened in there, I think she languished in prayer while the washing machine went through its cycles. She knew we wouldn’t bother her while washing clothes because if you did you most likely got stuck having to help her hanging them up to dry. And we needed prayer, all five of us, and Dad as well. So, our dirty boys’ bodies got washed in there, our clothes got washed, and our souls and lives were taken before the one who could keep us and cleanse us from sin. And we could not have cared less about all three of these, except latter two when we started liking girls and clean bodies and clothes somehow became a lot more important.

I don’t know why I ended up with a great and godly Mama? I do know she was one of God’s greatest gifts in my life. But I also know she wasn’t just an accidental great and godly Mama. Great and godly rarely if ever just happen. Mama loved us in the little bathroom maybe more than anywhere else. Love, Learning, Languishing Prayer still spills out of the memory of my Mama in that bathroom, her commitment to these three shaped both her and us, her boys. How I thank God for her, and how I thank her.

Happy Mother’s Day, Pastor Hans

 

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By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. Hebrews 11:23 (ESV)

They couldn’t d it because they were normal. It didn’t matter that they had no legal standing, they were part of a minority living in constant fear, and that chances of them being found out were sky high. They knew the law, they knew they were putting their other children and family at risk, but they also knew what was clearly right and obviously wrong. So Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, did not throw their newborn infant son into the Nile but instead hid him, cared for him, fed and cleaned him, and most importantly loved him. Loving a baby, especially yours is normal, parents making sacrifices for their children is normal; it not only feels right but is right.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry (compassion) for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. Exodus 2:5-6 (NIV, parenthesis mine)

Ironically, the daughter of the Pharaoh who issued the infanticide law regarding Hebrew males couldn’t do it either. She stumbled upon the basket Moses’ parents had made for him when it became impossible to hide him any longer. A soon as Pharaoh’s daughter realized that this was a Hebrew baby she could have instructed one of her servants to take little Moses out of his basket and toss him into the current of the river. But she didn’t because it is normal to comfort and love on a crying baby.

It is normal for parents to love their children and it is equally normal for children to love their parents, we are capable of both. Yet, every day we see children thrown into the “Nile.” Few topics carry with it as much brokenness, neglect, manipulation, disappointment, twistedness and outright evil than parent-child relationships. But can you think of a better illustration of the difference love makes than a loving home and family?

No one knows more and has more experience as to love in the parent/child relationship than God. The love Jesus shows to you and me and even his enemies is no accident, he said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” John 15:9 (NIV).

For all the things God will hold us accountable what we do with our capacity to love might be at the very top, and our very first relationship in life is meant to get us started on love, grow and become strong in love. In a real relationship with God through Christ it is his love that seeks to shape us to become ever better, to be men and women, Moms and Dads, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends who continue to grow in holiness and love, who are known for love that is fearless, committed, strong, selfless, and real. For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” Proverbs 3:12 (NLT).

I believe the love, faith, and courage of Jochebed and Amram impacted Moses for the rest of his life in the most positive way. What he experienced at home had an impact on his own character, his dedication to God, his family, his people, his desire to form a society that is just, caring, and God-honoring.

It is never too late to start down the road of being a loving parent, of being a loving child. It might mean having to learn a lot, asking for much forgiveness, granting much forgiveness, and making profound changes. But I am convinced that God will help you and me to unleash our capacity to love.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man” (human). Genesis 5:1-2 (NIV)

 

Men can’t have babies, God blessed women with that ability. Now I have heard women wish that men would have to go through pregnancy and childbirth because it would change them, humble them, look at life and the world a little different, and I suppose it surely would. The mere ability to sire and conceive a child does not make one good parent, a good Mom or Dad, that takes embracing the ability and responsibilities of motherhood and fatherhood. Too many children are born every day to men and women who like part A (the conceiving activity) and have no interest in part B (the Mom/Dad responsibility). But God has always meant for A and B to be inseparable, it is our selfishness and the brokenness of our world that far too often separates the two.

 

Children are blessed when someone takes on the responsibility of mothering and fathering them, conversely their lives are much more difficult without either, in fact far too many children never see the light of day wherever and whenever A is divorced from B. B (a Mother’s and a Father’s heart) seeks life, abundant life for their children and children in general. Did you notice in the scripture above that God made people male and female, with the ability to reproduce, to be Fathers/Dads and Mothers/Moms and that God blessed them as such. I can’t help but think that God meant for that blessing of his to continue, for them to be blessed together, for their family to be blessed, their children to be blessed, for their grandchildren to be blessed, for generations they would never see to be blessed. Ask yourself, “How important is mothering and fathering the way God has intended it for blessing to flow from generation to generation?”

 

Having a baby changes a woman’s body, being a Mom changes her heart. Pregnancy will leave stretchmarks on the body, parenting will leave stretchmarks on the heart, the mind, and the soul of both Mom and Dad. Having a baby is a nine-month process, being a Mom or Dad is lifelong. From what I am told and what I have observed, pregnancy and birth is challenging, uncomfortable, and painful. From my own experience I know that being a parent is challenging, uncomfortable, and often painful far longer. How many tears wept for their children will run down the faces of Moms and Dads and drip to the ground around the world today? How many oceans could be filled with the tears of Moms and Dads shed throughout the ages? On the flipside, how much goodness, how much joy, how much blessing will be dished out today by good Moms and Dads? How much blessing has the world seen and experienced because of women and men who have been willing to be Moms and Dads, who care enough to fully engage, who dare to dream blessing for their children, their children’s children, the children of our world. I challenge you to never divorce A from B, to make up your mind to be all that God has enabled you to be in regard to children, to be someone who funnels life and unloads boatloads of the blessing of God.

 

Happy Mothers’ Day. To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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I need my Momma,” was the frequent, often sobbing request of one of our children.

Once, in the middle of the night Susie poked me awake and said, “It’s your turn.” So I crawled out of bed to tend to one of our “cute,” screaming treasures. The moment she saw it was me and not her Mom she demanded, “I want Mommy!!!” needless to say, things deteriorated from there.

On his way into this world our first child got his head stuck in the birth canal. After 24 hours of labor ordeals Susie was still holding it together remarkably well, even when the doctor told her that it’s time for a C-section she didn’t crack, but when her Mom came into the room she broke out in tears because sometimes you just really need your Mom, your Mommy, your Momma, your Mama. Everybody ends up needing a Mom sometime.

God called my tuckered out Mama home over 26 years ago, I can’t tell you how much I still feel her influence, how much I still miss her, that there are moments when I so wish for her. I believe that’s good thing, it is a testimony that she got her mothering right, that she blessed her boys.

I wonder if my Mama felt the same way, there were incredibly difficult things that came my Mama’s way after her Mom, Oma, died? I imagine so, because Oma was every bit as good at sowing Mama blessings as my Mom was. She was committed, selfless, loving, and godly; the kind of Mom you look for when you need comfort, hope, encouragement, direction, and love.

The very best thing my Mama lived out and passed on is her dependence on God, because in life there are things that rock and overwhelm even the best of moms, sometimes you just need God, his love, his wisdom, his strength, his guidance, his comfort, his touch, his presence.

My Mama is a precious and keeping memory, but God through Christ is a present and eternal reality. My Mama loved us well, God loves me better still. My Mama is an abiding blessing, God is the one who gave her to me. My Mama knew how limited she was and how almighty God is. My Mama had dreams for her boys, none more important than for us to walk with God. My Mama knew her mothering was important, she also knew we needed to learn to yearn for and lean on God’s presence more than her own. Only God can say, Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for I am with you; my rod and my staff, they comfort will comfort you” (Psalm 23:4).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27 (NIV)

We are told that from the time Jesus was born his Mama, Mary, did a lot of “pondering,” a lot of wondering, being amazed at this child and what God was doing (Luke 2:19). I think a lot of people have wondered and pondered with her. Think about it. A baby, a child is amazing in and of itself, but some kids take it to extraordinary levels. Some are geniuses, some are monkeys, some are sweetness personified, some are “Lausbuben” (rascals, they give their Mama’s not much time for pondering but lots of reasons for worrying. If you’re wondering how I know- just trust me), and one was God incarnate. That’s the one Mary got. Can you imagine a toddler, grade schooler, teenager, young man who never sins? What kind of difficulties did that cause in the home, with his siblings?

At age 12 he went missing. When his worried parents finally found him he was confounding the brightest, best educated minds in Jerusalem. What surprises me is that they didn’t get on him, they didn’t whoop him (they whooped kids back then). By that age his Mom and Dad obviously thought he had very good reasons for whatever he did. At twelve I didn’t have good reasons for a lot of things I did and was on a path of having fewer and fewer good reasons for whatever I did.

Can you imagine how much joy and delight Jesus brought to his Mom and Dad? Kids can do that. Of course they can tear your heart out too. One thing I wish is that I would have grieved my Mama less.

Can you fathom the sense and weight of responsibility of having the assignment to bring up the Son of God? Wouldn’t that automatically shift you into the overprotective gear? There is enough to worry about in raising children without that kind of pressure?

How did Mary end up at the foot of the cross, at the execution of her son? Did she follow him around? Did they meet up because it was Passover? We don’t know, but we do know that one of the last things Jesus did is make sure his Mama was taken care of. I wonder if she pondered that too. I wonder if Mary, who knew a lot about costly obedience to God, ever imagined that obedience to God’s will could be this costly, this painful, and so horrific? Can you imagine what was happening to her heart?

Guess who was there, looking right at him, when Jesus felt forsaken by even God the Father? Mary, his Mama. And Jesus made sure that someone would take care of her.

We are blessed by what kind of Mama Mary was. Jesus was blessed by her. Being a great and godly Mom is still costly, still requires surrender to God’s will, still involves being there, and still requires a pondering heart. Mary couldn’t do what Jesus did, but no one standing there had invested more than she.

Happy Mothers’ Day, keep investing.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

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In Honor of Billie Barnes

Can anything good come out of Oklahoma, or as I call it Okiehoma? Well, sometime in the early 1940 two girls hitchhiked from Oklahoma to California, one them was Wiletta June Clayton. She married Lowell Barnes, had children, worked, got involved in church, and eventually moved to a house they’d built in Don Pedro to retire.

Don Pedro really is a great place to live, but when Lowell and Billie moved here it had what was an obvious problem to them, no church. So they made one of the best decisions of their lives, they started one, right in their living room. When the living room got too small they moved to the one room school house where now you find Don Pedro High School. When the one room school house got too small they build the sanctuary we worship in every weekend. It is amazing what God can do when he finds obedient and ready hearts.

Think with me for a minute, How much has come to pass and grown out of the obedience of these two retired lay people? How many people in Don Pedro have heard the Gospel, have come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ because Billie and Lowell surrendered their retirement to God? How many have had an opportunity to hear and study the word of God, to find fellowship and love, to receive help in various ways because Billie and Lowell took Jesus’ challenge to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” serious?

Just a few years into this adventure of beginning our church Lowell became sick and went to glory, but before he died God in his great sense of humor brought in a young German with his family to pastor the church. Thus it was that an Okiehoman widow of a pastor and a Kraut were paired up. Billie made another decision. She decided to support me, to back me up, to pray for me, to relinquish the reigns. She knew how important that was, she understood that each member of our church needs to be faithful even when life brings hard to bear changes; she knew how essential unity is to have a healthy church family. Think about it, how much have we benefited from that decision? I wonder how often and how much I stretched the limits of her patience? Or how often she thought, “What were we thinking when we called him to be our pastor?”

I have been asked many times how and why I have stayed so long here at the Lake Don Pedro Baptist Church. It might be that Germans are not as bright as Okiehomans, or maybe it is because Krauts are more stubborn than Okiehomans. But it is much more likely that, beyond the opportunity, my family and I found love here, got to join into simple obedience to Christ, and ran into a widow named Billie who cheered for this church and us to her last breath. So what do you think? Can anything good come out of Oklahoma? Sometime in the early 1940s Billie did.

Thank you Billie, your grateful Church family and Pastor.

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My Mama has been with Jesus for over 24 years and I miss her still. This July I will be back in my hometown, Heiningen/Germany, visit her grave, and wish she was still among the living. I would love to eat some more of her cooking, for her and my children to know each other, to sit out on the veranda for Kaffee und Kuchen, to laugh and sing together, to reminisce and bask in that incredible love between us.

My Mama’s love, my love for her has not waned. It is as strong, as precious, as wonderful and beautiful as it has ever been. It has not ceased to blossom and bless. It is not a relic, not just a memory, but it is alive. I think it is so because her love was real, uncomplicated, constant, free of manipulation, and sweet – so very sweet. This love she lavished on us, poured into us, and cultivated in our hearts was not fragile, or fickle, and above all it was without fear, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, …” 1 John 4:18 (NIV).

I know this is not everyone’s Mothers’ Day reality and I know my Mama was blessed with terrific Mom and Dad herself, but the loving has to start somewhere and if didn’t begin with us we have to decide to continue the love we received. Life, health, my Dad, and we her sons did not make it easy for my Mama. She could have easily felt sorry for herself, become bitter, complained, repaid evil for evil, decided that it was time to make life about herself. But she didn’t, she chose to love, and love some more. She believed that’s what God would want her do, what following Christ meant. She was right.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV). My Mama’s love was healing, just the memory of it is like aloe vera on a burn. It brought sanity into insanity, perspective to chaos, forgiveness to bitterness and hate. She refused to add to the sins, she wanted to be part of the crew who made the pile smaller, cover up the stink, and grow flowers on the wasteland of sins. And she did, I still get to pick them every day. Thank you Mama, you bless me still.

Happy Mothers’ Day, to God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

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