Mothers Day 2018

Mothers Day 2018

Nitsa: Well good morning! It’s Mother’s Day, and ladies, you guys are being honored for all that you do, all that you’ve done, and all that you will continue to do; because no matter what place in life you are, we can agree that a mom’s job is never done. It just changes with time. You know, before I was a parent, the picture in my mind I had of being a mom was a little unrealistic. It was more like a glorified aunt. I pictured frolicking in the fields and laughing all the time, and being buddies and playing. And now, 10 years and five kids into this, I’m thinking I was a tiny bit off, you know? In my “glorified aunt” picture, I had a very one-dimensional representation of what mothering was or is. And though there have been many fun days and sweet memories and indescribable joys, I’ve had moments of eye-opening, jaw-dropping, dying-to-oneself experiences. How can one prepare for the endless cleaning or the interrupted conversations, the discipline and the broken sleep? No one prepares you for sleep deprivation. I’ve had many adult tantrums because I was sleep-deprived; I had been woken up so much. Have you ever heard of the parallel between a mom and the Incredible Hulk? This is true, it’s good. Bruce Banner doesn’t want the Hulk to come out, but if he’s triggered, he can’t stop him. Well, this is how it is with moms. After too many nights of broken sleep, whichever poor, innocent victim comes in my room to wake me beyond my capacity, they’re going to see a different side of me. And it’s not pretty. It’s not good for them and it’s not good for me.

 

Well, this morning I want to start off with a reminder of a very familiar story. It’s the story of Adam and Eve. Here is the order in scripture. In Genesis 2:20, Adam was alone, and there was no suitable helpmate. And in 2:22, God creates Eve. In Genesis 3:20, the man called his wife’s name Eve and said she was the mother of all the living. In Genesis 4, Eve conceives and gives birth to her first son. Now the name “Eve” itself means “life giver” but isn’t it interesting that she is called the “mother of all the living” before she ever even conceives a child? I point this out because God gives women innate motherly instincts whether we are biologically a mother or not. Women carry specific attributes of God whether we bear our own children or not. God made women to focus on relationships, which causes them to be caring, and nurturing, patient, tolerant, loving, especially with children. You see, mothering is wrapped up in God’s design of women. And today we get to share stories of women who dared to step out in obedience, using these God-given attributes, these mother-qualities, to change the course of history; for themselves, for their family, and for another in need.

 

I want to begin by sharing with you about a woman who became a spiritual mother to me. Twenty-one years ago, I gave my life to Jesus by my now-husband, who for this story broke my heart. I was 21, and up until I had met my husband and he had invited me to the church, I lived a very worldly lifestyle. But I was drawn to him for his steady and faith-filled personality. And we dated for about eight months, and I really tried hard in that time to kind of pull my life together and set it straight. But, we were very unequally yoked, and so my faith was immature and it lead to our break-up. Well, in those months of dating, I had a few encounters with God, but I wasn’t really sure I was going to continue to come to church. You see, though I had technically given my life to the Lord, I struggled with what that really meant and what the cost would be. Well, after the break-up, I was a mess, and I had come to church that very next Sunday. I sat alone, because none of my party friends were going to come to church with me, and I didn’t have any church friends at that time. I sat anxious and not really knowing why I was there. And when it came time for the altar call, I went forward for prayer because I needed God go do something, even though I didn’t know what. Well, Linda Hoffman was the person who prayed for me. She was kind and she was comforting, and she told a funny story that related to me, and it broke my anxiousness. After we prayed and talked, she invited me over that week for coffee, and I accepted. And I did go to her house, and we did have coffee. We also cleaned and watched her kids as I told her about my life, as she told me about God, and we talked about the future. You know, this was not the Linda most of us know today. She wasn’t the head of Women’s Ministry at a big church. She was a mom of three kids, she was a teacher and a wife. She didn’t have the time or capacity to say, “Let’s go to the coffee shop, and you can tell me all your problems.” And honestly, I’m so grateful she didn’t. I spent the next few years living life with her. She was upfront with me early on, saying if we were going to meet regularly, it would involve her kids, errands, projects, but I didn’t care. I would’ve worked hard in those days, because Jesus was there and I knew it. In those years, I watched Linda parent, cook, clean, play with her kids. I learned she was not good at checking her gas gauge because we ran out of gas four times that summer; on the freeway, very dangerous, scary (laughter). I watched her talk with her kids, and her neighbors, Pastor Mark, all the while she was leaving an impression on me, for how I was going to do things different in my future. How many of you have heard the saying, “Things are more caught than taught”? Being near her in the everyday allowed me to paint a picture of God’s design for women, for family, for a mom, and it showed me a way more gracious and unconditional love than I had ever known. Linda encouraged me and she loved me right where I was. She didn’t have an unrealistic expectation of how quick I should become a Christian. As a matter of fact, I still cussed when I hung out with her, and I still wore provocative clothing, and I still struggled with authority. I remember one time saying, “Why does everybody care what Pastor Mark thinks?” And he was like, gasp! I had no idea my perspective was off. And I have apologized, and he has forgiven me, and we are good, tight. To give you a picture, a full picture… I had a biological mother who loved me and took care of me and clothed me and fed me, kissed me goodnight. But what I didn’t have, where my void was, was a mom who could teach me about the things of God. Linda was my missing link to the Creator. You see, she taught me about God, prayer, devotions. But she also taught me about even deeper, foundational things, life-changing things: like how to accept my weaknesses, how important it is to forgive, and that loving beyond my ability was possible. Linda taught me about Jesus. And when I think on those years, they’re still some of the sweetest years of my life. There we are, 20 years ago (photo shown). Linda didn’t pick me, and I wasn’t special, because God is the One who appoints times and places. Linda simply desired to please her Heavenly Father, walking in obedience, using her innate motherly qualities. Linda loved me into the Kingdom of God. This is not biological. This is a spiritual love.

 

Today we get to watch three stories unfold. May you be encouraged that God has given you everything you need to mother; biological or spiritual. May you be encouraged that He is near to you, and abundantly able to fulfill every need you have. Our first story is about God using a mother to bring hope in the midst of tragedy. It is my pleasure to introduce Tommy Callahan.

 

(Video shown)

Tommy Callahan: So when I was seven years old, my dad passed away from congestive heart failure. From there, we were homeless. We went downtown, stayed at shelters. And then a couple of months later, six months later, we moved in with Kyle Morris, and his dad was dating my mom at that time. And through that, Kyle brought us to Youth Venture, and through that, we got plugged into the Bus Ministry. It would drive through our mobile home park every weekend. We were wondering what that was. And Kyle Morris told us that that was a Foothills bus and they’re the people that put on Youth Venture. So my mom was like, “Let’s send him to church every weekend.” And we started going to Lakeside Youth Venture more often, and that’s where I met Donna Clayton.

 

Donna Clayton: I became like the “Momma Donna” at Youth Venture to the kids, and we saw a great need in their family. So through the years, we got to know their story.

 

Tommy: So when I was 14, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and that was really hard on all of us. I was just wondering, “Why would this happen to my mom? Why would this happen to me?” It was right after I got back from summer camp and I gave my life to the Lord. And I was just thinking, “How is God going to do this right after I gave my life to Him?” And I was like, “This isn’t fair.” But through that, I kept going to Youth Venture.

 

Donna: So Eric and I really started talking, and thinking about it at different times, and we came together, and we felt like the Lord just put them on our hearts. And we had reservations about, you know, what do we do if mom passes, because he didn’t have, they didn’t have family. And we said, you know, how are we going to handle this? Our kids were little, too. How are they going to take it? I went back to work part-time, just the transition. We decided, we prayed about it, sought counsel on it, and we decided if his mom passes that our house will be open to them.

 

Tommy: And so, while my mom was battling cancer, Donna blessed our family with groceries, and that’s really the first time I felt love outside of my family like that. And that’s really when I felt like she was a mother figure to me and Jimmy. And I just trusted her from there on out. Over the course of the next couple of years, my mom was battling cancer, and three years later, when I was 17, she went into remission and she beat it. When I was 18, right around July, she finds out she has cancer again. And over the course of two weeks, it claimed her life.

 

Donna: We opened our home to them, and then we started the transition. We met with him, and we loved him through the circumstance. His brother was joining the Army, so we knew there was a great loss; losing mom, brother’s going into the service, he lost his dad years back, and things were just not going well.

 

Tommy: In the beginning, when I started staying there, I was like, “Oh this isn’t going to last. This is just for a time; they’re helping me get back on my feet.” But then Donna would text me when I came home late while I was at a friend’s, and she would be like, “Why aren’t you home? Are you coming home? You didn’t text me.” And I was like, “Was I supposed to text you?” I kind of thought, “I’m just renting a room from you.” But shortly after that, I realized that she cares for me, and that’s kind of like what a mother does to their kids. So there’s this one Christmas. It was my first Christmas with them, and Donna got me two presents. One was a Bible, which I asked for, but then I opened this other present, and it was this bag. And it felt like there were pictures in there. I opened it, and it was these pictures of me and my mom on Senior Night. I just started crying, because those were the last pictures I had taken with her. I was like, “Wow. Not only did they welcome me into their family, they care about where I came from. I’m going to stay here as long as I can.”

 

Donna: He’s been a huge, huge blessing. And I look back on, you know, when our children were like five, and six and seven years old, we had the regret of not having more children. But God knew the desires of our heart, and He blessed us with Youth Venture. And because of that, we are able to say there’s an abundance of love and joy that he has brought to our family. And I want to say that, you know, he may not have my eyes or my smile, but he has my heart. God is good, and He’s faithful.

 

Tommy: The scripture that I really held onto was Deuteronomy 31:8. It says,

 

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

(Video ends)

 

Nitsa: You know, the Lord did go ahead of Tommy to prepare a way of hope. He sent Kyle Morris, He sent our busses, He sent Youth Venture, He sent Donna. Here was a mother of two; a wife with a part-time job, serving in a ministry. And despite whether she felt qualified, she went into Youth Venture showcasing her motherly qualities. She cooked, she conversed, she loved, she cleaned, she took notice of, and she entered Tommy’s world. She tangibly represented Jesus to Tommy. And it was through the tangible that God was revealed to him. And Donna didn’t have to work Youth Venture. And she sure didn’t have to love or serve beyond the shift or beyond Youth Venture’s walls. But I’m so glad that she wasn’t limited by her expectations, and she answered the call, one step at a time. Donna was willing to join in on what God was already doing in Tommy’s life. She would’ve never guessed the blessing awaiting her, that she would inherit a son. Tommy did gain a new family, the Claytons. And he also gained the largest family he could ever ask for; he gained the family of God. Only God can bring hope and love in the midst of tragedy. We get to move onto our next story, where God redeems one mother’s dream by rebuilding the broken. I want to introduce to you Theresa Kuhn.

 

(Video shown)

Theresa Kuhn: My dream as a little girl was to be a wife and a mother. I married young, and had my babies young, and found myself as a single mom with three small children in my early 30’s. I was a mess. I was angry, I was heartbroken, I was so sad. I felt like my dream had betrayed me. And even though I wasn’t navigating life very well during this season, I knew what I wanted for my kids. I wanted more than anything else for them to walk with God and walk in His ways, and to know Him.

 

Heather Merit: I remember the night my parents sat us down, I was 10 years old, and I kind of knew something bad was coming; just the way that they sat down. And I remember them just saying that dad was leaving, he was going to move out of the house. I just remember thinking, “What’s it going to be like now? What’s going to happen?”

 

Theresa: The dad wasn’t really in the picture, as far as co-parenting. And so, within a year, I had met Don. I was drawn to his kindness and his sense of humor. He was so nice to my kids, and I really was drawn to that. He was probably one of the nicest men I’d ever met. And to this day, I still think he’s one of the nicest men I ever met about 350 days out of the year. (laughter)

 

Zack Rice: I kind of think of Don as an authority figure, and I think young boys, young men, growing up, it’s not something that you necessarily want, but looking back, it was definitely something that I needed.

 

Theresa: We were trying to blend our families, and so we began to attend a lot of seminars, we were in counseling, trying to blend our families. We had problems. I wasn’t the mother of his two boys, he wasn’t the father of my children. And so, there was a lot of conflict. And I didn’t know if we could successfully blend our families. And so, I backed out of our wedding six weeks before it was supposed to happen. I expected Don to say, “OK, we’re done here”, but he didn’t. He thought we were all worth fighting for. And I grew to admire him even more, because his response when I said “I don’t want to get married.” So, I remember having a conversation with myself, where I said, “This is so uncomfortable, to be in a relationship with someone who is like, normal. And I never had a man in my life to exhibit those kinds of qualities before.” So, I said, “OK, I’m going to stay until this feels normal. This is good for me, this is healthy, and this is good for my kids.” And we were married about 14 months later.

 

Heather: Being in elementary school, and junior high, and riding the bus to school, and leaving for the bus stop, and my mom was doing her devotions in the morning. So that always stuck with me that, even to this day, that she would do her devotions after we left for school, and just kind of be by herself with the Lord.

 

Sara Robbins: As an adult now, I don’t know how she did it. I have two kids, and I have an amazing husband that does everything for me, with me. And she did it by herself with three of us, and we were little. And we all turned out relatively normal. (laughter)

 

Theresa: One of the things that I’ve learned along this journey is that most days are very ordinary. We get up every morning, we go to work, we go to school, we come home, eat dinner, go to bed, and do the same thing all over again. But when you do that with God for 20 or 30 or even 50 years, it becomes extraordinary, because that’s how God is, and that’s what He does.

 

Zack: So when I think of my mom and Don, I would say the biggest impact that they’ve had on my life is just incorporating God and church into pretty much everything. And I think that’s really influenced my family now, in how we operate.

 

Sara: We enjoy each other’s company, and I don’t think every family can say that, especially with five of us. We all really love each other, and our kids see that, and I just think them praying for us and teaching us to pray for our children, that‘s just so important. It’s something that they have given to me.

 

Heather: I feel like God has taken something that was that was so broken and made it whole, and really redeemed our family, and I’m just so grateful to my parents and to God for that.

 

Theresa: A few years ago, my family had a celebration in honor of one of those milestone birthdays that I had. And we were standing in a circle, getting ready to say grace, and holding hands. And it was like time just stopped. And I’m looking at this amazing family that God has given me, and I’m thinking about how much restoration and healing He’s brought into my life and into my family’s life. He truly has brought beauty from ashes. I was reminded of King David’s words in 1 Chronicles 17…

 

1 Chronicles 17:16 NASB

Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that You have brought me this far?

(Video ends)

 

Nitsa: So what do we do when life has dealt us something that seems unbearable? The answer is, we lean into the One who created life. As mothers, we make all kinds of decisions every day. Some decisions can be insignificant, like what’s for breakfast, or who gets the front seat, who’s the winner of an argument. But of all the decisions we make in a day, there is none so important as the decision to live your life for Jesus and to teach your kids to do the same. Theresa was in a state of brokenness, and there were many things she could’ve decided in that season. But she was careful to choose wisely. She was faithful to lean into God. She wanted, more than anything else, for her kids to know, love, and walk in God’s ways. Therefore, she set the example and followed through. Devotions, church, serving, these were her priorities. And life is busy so these were decisions she made on a daily basis. She sought council on the things that concerned her, and God honored and blessed her for her intentional decisions. You know, there’s no such thing as a perfect family, and more specifically a perfect mom. There’s just good moms who are intentional with what’s before them, seeking first the Kingdom of God. And Theresa said it well. She said, “When you live life with God, that’s when the extraordinary happens, because that’s who He is, and that’s what He does.” So moms, you can be relieved that it’s not up to you. Only God can rebuild the broken, and make it whole again.

 

In our final story, we get to hear about how God is attentive to the needs of a girl on her journey without a mother. And before we show the video, I want to tell you that Brianna is going to sing a song, but you may remain seated while she does so. It is my pleasure to introduce Brianna Wills.

 

(Video shown)

Briana Wills: My mother passed away when I was seven years old, from alcoholism. And so, my household kind of broke apart. I mean, at seven or eight years old, as a little girl who now lives with a dad and a brother in a household, it’s kind of like a male’s house. One of my aunts, she kind of came along, and at that time, she had her own kids, and she filled that mother-role.

 

Aunt Lorraine: With the influence I think I had on Briana, because girls need a mother, and Briana had this hair, this big hair, and you know, dads don’t do hair. When her mom died, I just can’t even imagine growing up without a mother. And she did that gracefully. I didn’t know if their father could do it because of his ill health. But he did, and I think that Briana took care of her father, and it allowed her to grow up very fast. God knows what He’s doing. I don’t think anything happens by accident. I think she is who she is because of what she’s been through. I just am so proud of her. I couldn’t be any more proud of her.

 

Briana: And around that time, I was going to school with my friend Jeremy, and he had a Youth Venture shift on Wednesday nights. And I didn’t really have anything to do, so he was just like, “Come with me and you can just hang out.” That was my very first time stepping into Broadway Youth Venture. Some transition between my sophomore and junior year, I decided I was going to become a Junior Staff, and then that summer camp that I became a Junior Staff, Danny Eslinger had paid for me to go to summer camp because we couldn’t pay for it ourselves. So after I went to summer camp, I knew that I needed to join a small group. There was one night where this lady named Christine came to my small group, and the next small group we had, my other leader just didn’t show up, and so she became our small group leader. When she took over our small group, she took it to her house right now, which is like a super beautiful house. But when we first went in, instantly I was like, “This is not like a house, this is like a home. This is like a family’s home.”

 

Christine Bailey: So, I was really unsure about how to lead a group. I didn’t understand what the cost would be to me, to my family. I had a small business that I was helping to run, I had two kids in elementary school, I had a husband and a very active life. And I wasn’t sure how much time I could commit to. And I think it was pretty quick after that, that Briana asked me to mentor her, to be with her, meet with her. I had no idea what that meant. I had no idea, again, what the cost would be. But, I felt like that’s what I was there for, and I needed to step out and try it. And that really was the beginning of an amazing friendship.

 

Briana: After I graduated high school, I joined the college band, and then when I was old enough to actually be on the Worship Team on the main stage, I did that, and I played drums and would go back and forth between drumming and singing. And it was kind of unfortunately still something that was prideful. At that time, on a Sunday, I was worshipping, and I heard this voice. And I was just like, “Oh my goodness, who is singing right now?” And I looked up, and I saw Melinda Botticelli for the first time.

 

Melinda Botticelli: There was a time at a purity conference where I had asked Briana to lead worship, and it was just her and her guitar, and the Spirit of God fell. And so after worship was done, I went up to Briana and encouraged her in that, and she said, “That’s so funny because I was just thinking today that I’m done with worship.” And, I was struck by that, and I was taken aback by that, and I again encouraged her. And it’s beautiful to see that where the enemy has tried to steal, kill and destroy in all of Briana’s life, that her desire to make God known has been louder. And to now see her where she’s allowing God to bring the Kingdom through her is just remarkable. It is encouraging to me, it’s beautiful to watch, it’s sincere, it’s honest, and I am so blessed to be a blessing to her.

 

Briana: Habakkuk 3:17-19 is one of my favorite verses, and 19 says,

 

Habakkuk 3:19 (NASB)

19 The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.

(Video ends)

 

Linda Hoffman: Amen. The Lord says, “You enter My gates with thanksgiving and My courts with praise”, and we just want to thank you, Briana, that you held fast to the gift, and you kept pursuing the Lord, because we enter through you and the rest of the band. Thank you guys so much. Briana chose that song to sing, and I love the words, “He’ll finish what he begun, that His thoughts are higher than mine, and that He’s in the waiting.” She said that again and again, because He’s in the middle when you cannot see the end. And all these videos and Nitsa, were all people in the middle that were asking if God was going to be there. Did He see them? Would He love them? Would He have what they needed for the hour? And God didn’t show up in a dream and say, “Here I am, I’m really here, I’m really Me.” He just burdened somebody else’s heart who knew His name, and was listening to Him, and brought them into care in His name. And not only was both the one that was in need and the giver that benefitted from this plan of God. I’m Linda Hoffman, for those of you who don’t know me. Nitsa started out her story talking about coming here to the front and getting prayer. Mark said something that always stayed with me; Mark said the answer to every problem, part of the answer is more love. Now everyone in those videos had a problem that had to be overcome by faith and patience. The scripture says it’s by faith and patience that you inherit the promises. All of life is about overcoming some kind of a problem. And there’s a lie or a truth that’s offered, and then there’s a struggle inside of yourself about what you’re going to do about that thing. And when truth is embraced, that counterfeiter, that lie, loses its power. And truth is usually embraced because somebody with love and kindness opened the door. And I think about Tommy, he lost his father and his mother, and now he’s alone. And he’s asking the question, “Where do I belong?” And Theresa, the lie that’s there saying, “You messed up, you screwed up your family.” And she’s trying to figure out, “What do I do? Will God help me through this?” And Nitsa is trying to find out, “Are the answers here in the church or is this the last Sunday I’m ever going to come to this place?” And Briana, “Who is going to mother me? My dad needs to be taken care of, do I have what he needs?” So when Mark said part of the answer to every problem is more love, when you look at God’s definition of love, it starts with “love is patient.” That means, you have to endure something longer than you ever intended to be in that particular fight. It’s kind, it’s gentle, it involves self-control. You have to stop yourself from doing something you feel like doing. It’s long suffering, stays in for a long time, it never keeps a record of wrong. This is what love is. So Nitsa said she had all the basics to live, she didn’t need those, but her knowledge of life was failing her. So she came up here to pray, and I just, “There’s a girl, all alone, someone should pray for her.” That’s all that was in my mind. She just had so many questions, so when I invited her over for coffee, and I had a three-year old and two young teenagers, and I was teaching, I didn’t know what I could offer her. But, you know, the Lord says just take one day at a time. I can do coffee one day. And so, all these questions she started asking and considering going back to the life that she knew that she was comfortable with, she was kind of waiting for someone to say, “Come and rest here with me and my family.” And, I had no idea the depth of her background or her hurts. No idea of how she grew up, so she watched us like a hawk. She had hundreds of questions, she would say, “Why did you do that that way? Why do you talk to your neighbors?” I’m thinking, “People talk to neighbors, don’t they? I mean, I don’t know how you grew up…” But she’s watching all these things, and I’m explaining why God said to do what He did, and we didn’t do it perfect, but it was not like what she was used to. Mark had another saying, he said, “You do what you learned in your family of origin, until you see a family who does it different.” And she saw the difference. She saw Mark is a father, a husband’s tender love toward his wife, and to his children.

 

She saw the problems that we encountered. Our family-scheduling problems, she could sense when there was tension between Mark and me, the laughter and the fights. I mean, she was right there watching. I remember one day, Neil and Brice were playing a board game, and all of the sudden, Brice stands up, and I know, he looks at me, and then he looks at Neil, and then he looks back at me, and I’m thinking he’s going to kick over the board, and he turns to Neil. Well, we had a rule first. We would be kind, and if you weren’t kind, there were consequences. And three words you couldn’t say was, “stupid”, and “shut up”, and “idiot”. And if you said any of those words, you just went to your room for 10 minutes to cool down, and you came out and apologized. So Brice is standing there, and then he looks at me and then he looks at Neil and says, “Shut up you stupid idiot!” And Neil starts counting that; shut up, stupid, idiot, that’s three times 10, “You got 30 minutes in your room!” That’s how Neil learned math in our house. But she’s watching this, and she’s realizing there was discipline, there were rules, there were consequences, but there wasn’t beating, and there wasn’t shaming, that life was about doing dumb things and forgiveness, and how it all fit in. My surprise was the unexpected benefit of bringing her into our life. She was fun and funny, we laughed so much. I’d just be making dinner, and she’d grab something, “What do you need chopped?” and she’d start chopping it. I’d be folding clothes and she’d start folding. One time, Mark said, “You shouldn’t make her work so hard.” I’m thinking, I’m not really making her, she just does it. She just starts doing it, and she just became a part of us. And it was the truth of God’s Word… He takes the solitary, and He places them in families. She wasn’t alone and lonely, and my burdens were being lifted. We were enjoying life together. So the Kingdom of God was invading her perspectives. And that’s what we’re going to ask, for God to invade your perspective, right now. So Mark says part of the answer to every problem is more love. And Theresa said some things are worth fighting for. So, our first responsibility is to our family, and then to whomever God brings in. If He looks at your family and says, “You’ve got enough love for another one”, you saw that in the videos… so, somebody in your realm needs more love. So I’m just going to ask you to close your eyes right now, and we’re just going to ask the Lord. He said, “Come boldly before my throne to get help and great mercy in time of need.” So I just want you to ask the Lord, who in your family, in your circle, needs more love right now. You need order and peace and you need more love. Which one, right now, needs more of your kindness and your gentleness and your patience? Maybe it’s a parent, a lonely kid, one that’s just having a hard time. Lord, how do I give this one more of Your love? Is there a record of wrongs I need to just lay down at Your feet, Lord? It’s hard down here, Lord, and I need your help to figure this one out, so I want to give you my weakness; my confusion that leads to anger, my yelling. And I just want to humble myself, Lord, and I want to receive Your promise of new strength, to do this thing you require of me. I will love in Your name.