Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Term of Endearment, Why I call God Papa

     I have had a couple of people comment on my calling God, Papa.  For some I am certain it is a name that could bring up painful memories.  It could also be a name that brings up memories of joy.  It was the name I called my grandfather, a man who really did not know how to show affection or speak of his feelings, a man who did not model relationship. It was not my grandfather who inspired this title, after all he didn't know how to be relational.  It was God. Here's my story....

     I spent many years in the church.  I knew of the holiness of God.  I was taught early on to reverence Him for He is holy.  It is an vital part of His character.  I had respect and awe for God, but what I didn't have was an intimate relationship.  I knew Him as God, the Father, the all sufficient, all holy God of the universe.  I knew I could approach His throne, yet I struggled to  feel "at home" in His embrace.

     As He began to change my heart and show me how to enter into His embrace I knew I needed a name for Him that brought intimacy to me.  Father was too impersonal and strict for me.
Daddy was what I called my earthly dad.  God seemed like a title.  I needed something that was personal and intimate, something that spoke of relationship.  I wanted to bridge the gap in my mind of knowing God as Holy, yet wanting to see Him as swallowing me in His embrace.  I struggled to see myself up in His lap, engulfed in His arms.  So I went to Him and asked Him what I could call Him.

    One of my all time favorite movies is "A Little Princess".  What I love about that movie is how deeply she was loved by her father.  There is a particular scene in the movie that speaks to me.  Her father is leaving for war.   He has provided a beautiful room for her to stay in while he's gone.  Her favorite things are brought in and placed throughout.  He has even bought her a special doll that he tells her to hold onto and hug until he returns.  Everything she would need is there in that room.  She runs, jumps up in his lap, a smile on her face, a twinkle in her eyes as she listens to her father tell her what to do when she feels afraid.  She takes his face in her hands and turns it towards her and says, "It's OK, Papa, I'm going to be fine." She then begins to trace his face with her hands as she looks in his eyes.  He says, "What are you doing, memorizing me by heart?"  She says,  "No, I already know you by heart."  

      What I love about that movie and that particular scene is that it gives my earthly eyes a picture of my spiritual reality.  I am my "Papa's girl".  I am invited up into His lap where He looks deeply into my eyes and tells me of His deep love.  Immediately I knew this was the name I had been looking for.  So I began to choose each time to call Him, "Papa."  It has become my term of endearment.

      Yes, I know in the deepest places that God is the Sovereign, Most Holy Creator of the universe.  And because of His holiness that makes me holy, I am now able to rest in knowing Him as "My Papa".

      Please know that when I use the word "Papa" it is out of the utmost reverence for my Abba.
When you read what I write and see Papa in there, think of it as a term of endearment, instead of a title.   It is my affectionate name for the one who loves me more than my mind can completely understand.  I invite you into my journey with Him, and our endearing times, because I want to 
tell the world of my Papa and how deeply He loves....

     Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father.  Galatians 4:6



Friday, April 18, 2008

Love Letters

  I love a good love story.  Nathaniel pursues Cora in “The Last of the Mohicans”.  Lancelot saves Guinevere, riding off in the sunset on horseback.  Adam and Eve alone in the garden walking with God in the cool of the day, aware only of each other and their God.   There’s something about a good love story that stirs my heart.

      We are living in the greatest love story ever told.  So much of life around us distracts us away from the realization of how deeply we are pursued and loved, but that does not lessen the facts.  The bride price has been paid, we have been chosen, we are loved with an everlasting love.  Do you see Papa’s pursuit of your heart each day?  

      When I met my husband he was in the Coast Guard stationed on board a ship in Virginia  while I was in a small town in Tennessee.  It was before the time of e-mail, and free long distance.  There was not much access to the phone so our main communication was through letters..............

     To finish this article, please join me at the Internet Cafe:

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Invitation will come

Sometimes putting into words what Papa is speaking to my heart is difficult.  It's like I have certain pieces of the puzzle but find myself contemplating where they fit into my life.

I hear Papa speaking to me about living in purpose vs. living in the routines of life and it can so easily become a contemplative search into what my purpose is.  There are plenty of books out there that are telling us that we were created with a purpose.  And we were.  But subtlety, sometimes the message gets twisted a bit.  Before you know it I am on a search to discover what "my purpose" on this earth is.  Suddenly I am frustrated and stuck.  What is it I am gifted with?  What is my unique version of Papa?  If I can't answer the question I begin to spiral down.  After all surely by now I should know what I am gifted in.  I am 50 years old you know.

So with journal out, I begin to talk to Papa about it.  It's not that I don't know some of the ways He has gifted me, it's that I don't know how to move out in that.  I've been longing to be that oak of righteousness that displays His splendor. I want desperately to shadow His image to others.
How do I make that happen?  Where do I step out?

Sweetly He begins to remind me of Joseph, Moses, David, Mary, Gideon.  All were minding their own business, doing their thing when Papa's invitation came.  None of them were seeking to know their purpose in life.  Their purpose came to them.

I have found that when the questions about my destiny come up, I often find myself introspecting, turning life inward and making it about me.  It's never fruitful until He turns my thinking around and reminds me, my life is not about me figuring things out.  It's about Him in me, inviting me to live in the moment, His moment. 

Moses was a shepherd, minding his own business,  when Papa appeared to him in a burning bush and invited him into his destiny.  Peter was a fisherman when Jesus walked by and summoned him to follow.  Mary, was a young teenager when the angel appeared to her and told her of her future, Gideon was in a winepress sifting wheat and hiding when he was called to be the valiant warrior.  Not one of them was seeking to know their purpose in life or the destiny they were to fulfill.  In fact all of them were surprised, and caught off guard.  Each one was invited into their role by Papa Himself.

Moses and Gideon tried to decline the invitation.  They could not see themselves following.  All Moses could see was his speech impediment, and Gideon saw his weakness.  Both wanted to send in their "regrets" to Papa's invitation.

The reality is, Papa sends out an invitation and waits for an RSVP.  I hear Him saying to me, "There's too much emphasis on figuring out your life.  "The point is, your life has a purpose and a destiny."  "It's not yours to figure out, it's Mine to invite you into."  

One day, when all the preparations were complete,  Joseph woke up and the prison doors opened for him.  He was invited into his destiny. There was nothing that he did to make it happen.  He didn't figure it all out.  He just lived his life in the midst of Papa's embrace.  When the ripening moment came, Papa called him out.

I love that I don't have to figure out what I was created for.  I need only to live in the embrace of His love.  When the preparations are complete, His invitation will go forth calling me into my destiny.  Living in His embrace includes hearing the whispers of His voice when He calls.  

"Live in the moment" I hear Him telling me.  "I will call you out".  "Listen for my call, Jewel, and just RSVP when it comes." "There is a time for everything, a ripening moment."

His invitation will come for me.  It will come for you.  It's not about us, it's about Him.  He knows the ripening moment.  Peace resides in my soul as I watch and wait, enjoying His embrace today.

"There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven."
       Ecclesiastes 3:1

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Monday, April 14, 2008

Routine or Purpose

Papa is bringing things to my mind again.  I feel a stirring of winds in my soul...something is on the horizon, what I'm not exactly sure.  But I know this, things are unsettled inside me in such a way that it is causing me to look at life and consider.  What is it I really want?  How do I really want my life to be lived out?  What do I want for my kids?

I had a dream last night.  Papa often speaks to me through my dreams.  Sometimes they are a picture,with a meaning behind them.  Not all dreams are like that but I know when one has meaning because it doesn't leave me.  There is something about it that is just a bit too familiar.

As I woke from this dream and went to Papa with it I began to see things that have been lost in my day to day living, while living the routine.  This calling of parenting is a one that you live and learn along the way.  We don't get an instruction manual that gives us 100 steps to raising successful children.  We live and learn, often by mistakes made.

I am seeing some mistakes made.  In my dream I was in an auto shop place waiting on my husband to call.  My kids were there with me, as well as some other kids.  I walked out the door and noticed a fire across the highway.  It ignited and in seconds was sweeping throughout the land.  It was a consuming fire, that in seconds ignited everything around it.  Was it coming towards us?  I told the children to stay put while I went to check it out.  On my way back to my children I got lost and couldn't find my way. The more I tried to find my way the more I was turned around and confused.  Frantic I was going from place to place asking directions to get back to my kids.  Finally I came upon one place that knew where I had left them and the woman gave me directions.  Then, I woke up from my dream.

With journal in hand I went to sit with Jesus.  I woke up with this feeling of abandoning my children, leaving them alone, and I realized that somewhere it was a reality, not physically, but emotionally.  For years my children needed me.  Every hour of the day from wake-up to bedtime was their's, except for naptime.  I was always on call.  Life demanded much with 5 kids in 10 years.  Would I ever get to the place where they didn't need me?  And then they started growing up and not needing so much.

Fast forward 10 years and you find me where I am today.  My oldest is 21 and overseas.  My youngest turns 11 this year.  Somewhere in the process of them moving into more independence
I have lost my way, not abandoning them physically but somewhat emotionally.  I haven't checked out, just gotten distracted in my own world.

As Papa has been pruning and restructuring me and my home I see that somewhere I got lost and distracted.  Life is so full of routines that I can find myself in robot mode, just going through the motions of the day.  In allowing my children to not need me I moved too far off the course.

It's never too late to go back.  A wrong turn is only a wrong turn when we don't go back and make the right turn.  So this dream has taken me back.   I want to be there present, involved and interested in the things that interest my children.  How easily the distractions have come.  How easy it is to get caught up in the things of this world that call out to me.

Today I heard Jesus ask me  if I was living in routine or with purpose.  I knew the answer.  Routine.  It's what life dishes out.  He told me something I'd never heard before.  "Routine is the "world's way", "Purpose is the Spirit's way".  The world lives in routine, while the Spirit lives in purpose. I asked Him how to find the way to living in purpose and He told me,  "It's quite simple." "Just do like I did." "Ask Papa each day what He has for you and go do that."

 As the woman knew the directions to get me back to where my children were in my dream, Papa knows the way to get me back in my reality.  My heart cries out to Him, take me back to that place, Papa. Turn my gaze into living a life of purpose, not routine.

I want to borrow a quote from Lori's blog, which is really a quote from Max Lucado's book, "Just Like Jesus".  "Thank you for the night's rest.  I belong to you today."

It really is as simple, as Jesus told me.  Waking up each day with the thoughts of belonging to Him, asking Him what He has for my day isn't difficult.  It's just making the choice and choosing the focus, fighting the distractions, that can be difficult.  

So what about you.  Jesus is asking.  "Are you living in routine or purpose?"

"Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."  Ephesians 5:15-17

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Papa gave me a gift

Papa, gave me a gift today.  He allowed me to have an article in The Heart of the Matter online magazine for home schoolers.

Here is an exerpt from the article:

After spending time asking God what He wanted for her life, our oldest daughter came  and told us that she believed God wanted her to go to public high school.  She felt God was asking her to be a light in the darkness with her peers.  It was her petition that caused us to seek God’s heart regarding this request.  We had never considered anything but home school, so it was a challenge.  After several months in prayer  God came to us with release and peace.  She entered public  school in 10th grade and did beautifully.

      God often speaks to me through pictures, much like Jesus did with the parables.  He sears them in my mind, with a message of truth attached.  On one such occasion He used a picture with Hannah.  

      Hunched over from the weight of her backpack Hannah slowly walked up the driveway.  Upon entering the door she remarked at how heavy her backpack was, hurting her shoulders.  She asked me to  pick it up and feel how heavy it was, so I did.  I could barely lift it.  It was overflowing with every book she owned for school.  Did she really have that much homework?  No, she didn’t need all the books, in fact, most of them she didn’t need.  She hadn’t wanted to go to  her locker so she brought them home.  Had she made a quick trip to her locker her load would have been lighter.  She had carried more than she needed.

      In an instant God began to speak to me.  “Your days are like that backpack”.  “You have things in them that you don’t need, things I have not given to you.”  “Come to me with an empty backpack and let me fill it up with what you need each day.”  “When I leave it empty, you must leave it empty.”  “Those are the days I have given you to rest.”  “My grace is sufficient for the day.”  “If the grace is not sufficient, then I am not the one who has altered your load, you are.”  As usual when God speaks to me like that I am blown away.  

      A few months down the road God began to give me more pieces to add to the “backpack” picture................

To read the rest of the article, click on the link below, and look for the article titled "An Empty Backpack".

©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd

Friday, April 4, 2008

Forgotten By God or Not?

I cannot remember how many times through the years I have felt forgotten by Papa. Over the years as I prayed for Him to come to our circumstances He didn't seem to come. I was left waiting. It didn't look like He was ever coming. Doubts rose up to the surface. I began to question my value to Him. There were even times I wondered if maybe I wasn't His. I knew the familiar verses: "Call out to me and I will answer you"; "Ask and it shall be given to you"; "The Father loves to give good gifts to His children". Many of these verses troubled me more than comforted me. I was asking, why wasn't He answering me?

I've never been very fond of waiting. I like to see what's happening or at least have some evidence that something is going to happen. But often with Papa, there are no evidences and often He leaves me waiting.

I know there are many in the scriptures who had the privilege of waiting on Papa. Hannah begged Papa for a son and waited for fulfillment. Joseph waited to be released from prison, David waited to be crowned king, somewhere around 18 years. Noah, Abraham & Sarah all waited. All were given promises, all were left waiting. At least I'm in good company.

In the study I'm doing, Jennifer Kennedy Dean talks of waiting on God. She says, "When it appears from earth that God is delaying, He is really putting the pieces together that you had not thought of. When God builds a waiting period into the course of your affairs, it means that what He is doing requires it. His apparent delays are loving, purposeful and deliberate."

Papa knows the plans He has for us. "In every situation in our lives He is engineering the circumstances so that His power and glory will be on display." He wants to do more than we can think or imagine, but often it requires a waiting period. If He had healed Lazarus, Mary & Martha would have seen Jesus heal a sickness. But in raising Him from the dead, many saw Jesus had power over death and many believed. Papa's ways are so much higher than we can imagine.

Jennifer says, "Even though it appears sometimes that prayer isn't working, the truth is God is acting in fulfilled time. The word fulfilled means: filled full. When the time is ripe, when all the pieces have been put in place, God's answer will be revealed. His concern is not time but timing. Everything has a ripe moment."

She gives the example of Moses. If you think of all the things that had to fall perfectly into place it causes you to revel in the awesomeness of Papa. It didn't just happen that Pharoah's daughter was bathing in the Nile at just the right time for Moses' basket to be nearby. Had he not cried when he did he would have stayed hidden in the bulrushes and not found a home in Pharoah's palace. He would have never been familiar with the Egyptian way of life. When all this was taking place only Papa knew that Moses would return to Egypt to deliver His people.
His ways are much higher.

It puts it all into perspective for me. So many times I have been waiting on Papa, thinking that He forgot me. All the while He has been putting things into place. He knows the plans He has for me. What I think is my best does not even come close to His best. He knows the plans.

It all comes back to trust, just like it always does. Do I trust in His higher ways?

Waiting will come again in my life. It's actually here now. May I wait this time with the knowledge that God is creating the best, setting the stage, putting things into place to reveal His kingdom here on earth in ALL my circumstances. It is the cry of my heart.

How about you? What are you waiting on? Papa is making His plans, getting all things ready in your life. After all, timing is everything.

Psalm 27: 13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

*Qutoes from Jennifer Kennedy Dean's book "Live a Praying Life"
©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd