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GOD’S LOVE STORY: From the Mother of the Groom

GOD’S LOVE STORY: From the Mother of the Groom

IMAGE 25 - Luke and Brianne

Anticipation intensifies. The guests rise in silence. All eyes focus intently on the chapel doors. Beads of sweat form on my son’s forehead. His heartbeat escalates with each passing second. Glancing at me, he gives a quick love wink. Within seconds, I feel my betrothed of twenty-eight years grasp my hand. His gentle touch calms the nerves surging through my body.

Within seconds, flashbacks of my son’s life flood my mind. Faded memories seem like yesterday. For twenty-six years I prayed for this very moment. Deep within, a tender praise ignites, “Thank you, God! She is the bride you picked for our son. They both love you with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Their purity is a picture of Your design for marriage. Bless this covenant of marriage, this union between You and Your children. “ Tears of joy cascade down. Contentment captivates me like never before.

The music fills the sanctuary. Anxious hearts anticipate the bride’s entrance. Heads oscillate back and forth between the groom at the front of the chapel and the doors at the back. The song begins its crescendo. The doors slowly open and there, standing before the bridegroom, is his bride.

I quickly gaze back at my son. To my amazement, I catch a glimpse of the image of Jesus as the bridegroom waiting for His bride, the church. My son’s look of anticipation reminds me of Christ’s return and His love for the church. A snapshot forever imprinted on my heart. A thankful heart connects my soul to God.

With each step, the bride narrows the gap between her and her beloved. For a brief moment, tears distort my son’s vision. His heartbeat plays a love song for her only. The bride’s father places her hand in my son’s palm. An immediate rush of joy overwhelms the onlookers. God’s love envelops the couple. God’s presence overwhelms the guests. His blessings pour out in the midst of this covenant ordained by Him.

All at once, I recall Song of Solomon 1:15, Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful. You have the eyes of a dove. I sense my son’s love, desire, and commitment for his pure, innocent, and beautiful bride. I am captivated by God’s love story being displayed. I sense Jesus proclaiming to the guests, Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful… My heart pounds, and once again tears well up.

Finally, a kiss seals the covenant, and the pastor presents Mr. and Mrs. Luke McDougal. Running hand-in-hand down the aisle, the couple’s joy shines brightly. Showers of blessings fall from heaven. God’s love story washes over all who witnessed this pledge between a man of God, his bride, and God–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

PRAYER CHALLENGE

Begin praying for God to unite your child or grandchild with His chosen spouse. I started praying for their mates while my children were still in my womb. I asked God to draw this special one to Himself and for Him to prepare each for the other. As parents, our goal is to raise our children to love Jesus with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Pray for them to choose a helpmate who has a passion and love for Jesus. It is so much fun watching God puzzle their lives together.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God. For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

–Isaiah 61:10 (NKJV)

PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES

PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES

IMAGE 10 -Peanut Butter sandwich

5:30 a.m. A loud noise electrifies my body. Without a peep, I reach for the snooze button. Ten minutes later another blast jolts me into motion. With my feet firmly planted on the ground, I make my way to the kitchen. Oh, the blessing of an automatic coffeemaker. Still not fully awake, I notice the clock now reads 5:45 a.m.

A pleading prayer immediately pours out, “Lord, it’s another day filled with routines— kids to get ready for school, breakfast to make, dogs to feed, lunches to create, buses to catch, homework to remember, athletic shoes to pack, notes to sign, and whatever else I’m forgetting. And all this has to be done by 6:30 a.m.! Please, help me have a positive attitude this morning.”

After waking the children, I take another sip of coffee. I hear a small rumble from the bathroom, which ignites into a roar. What are they fussing about this time? Thankfully my words of wisdom quickly extinguish the argument. Of course, they know from past history it is to their advantage to heed my warning… if you know what I mean.

Cereal is the breakfast of choice––quick and easy! Realizing time is running short, I begin making lunches. In the process, this thought runs through my mind, “How many peanut butter sandwiches have I made over the years?” The minute this thought exits, another idea surfaces, “What if I begin praying for my children as I make their lunches? I can use these peanut butter sandwiches as visual reminders to pray for each one.” With a twinge of excitement, I grab the bread, knife, and jars of peanut butter and jelly. With a large glob on my knife, I begin to pray…

“Lord, just as I spread this peanut butter on the bread, may You spread Your Word on my children’s hearts. Give them an excitement to spread the message of Jesus to their friends at school. And as this jelly brings sweetness to the sandwich, may Your Holy Spirit sweeten their relationships with Jesus. Like these two pieces of bread that cover the peanut butter and jelly, may Your love and protection cover my children’s lives. Finally, as they eat these sandwiches, may they experience the taste of Your spiritual nourishment throughout their day.”

Immediately, I realize God responded to my early morning prayer for a positive attitude. Humbleness fills my heart, soul, and mind. A song of praise comes from my lips as I give God the glory for His presence and for answering my prayer.

PRAYER CHALLENGE

Are you in need of a fresh perspective and outlook for the day? Ask the Lord for encouragement throughout your daily routines. Look for ways He spurs you forward and answers your prayers. Oh, how precious it is when we leave the details to Jesus and watch Him change our hearts!

So I opened my mouth, and He (God) gave me the scroll to eat. Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. –Ezekiel 3:3

Excerpt from My Prayer Chair by Carla McDougal


Order your copy of My Prayer Chair…

Paper Copy (English or Spanish):  Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Reflective Life Ministries 

Audiobook: Amazon Audible

TO MOM WITH LOVE

TO MOM WITH LOVE

 

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As moms, we long to connect with our children. A hug. A smile. A laugh. It’s funny how moms continually push the memory recall button––I remember your first step. Remember the vacation when you… It seems like yesterday when… Do you know what I mean? In my opinion, if doctors could x-ray a mother’s soul, they would find it full of sweet memories and unconditional love for her children.

When God opens a window to our children’s souls, we experience inexpressible joy. Just a glimpse beyond the physical, a quick view of their spiritual growth, spurs us forward. I must share the following story with you…

When Carly Jo, the youngest of our four children, was a senior in high school, she read her English essay to me. The love and wisdom poured out on an 8 x 10 piece of paper overwhelmed me. May the Lord bless you through Carly Jo’s heart of love…

“Love, it’s more than just a word or statement. Love comforts the lonely. Love feeds the hungry. Love saves a life. A child without love is like a heart without blood. How can children know how to love, if they’ve never been shown love themselves? Parents are the vessels used to show real love to their children.

Typically, a child’s first words are “mama” or “dada.” Oh, what pride a parent experiences when they hear these words. Parents make the difference in a child’s life. Involved parents are dedicated to teaching their children wisdom as they grow in life. They are there for them when they scrape their knees, for soccer games, piano recitals, and theater performances. They help their child realize she is a priority and special. Parents teach their children how to make wise choices early in life.

A parent’s love helps nurture the child’s life. But, ultimate love comes from the Father above when He gave His son Jesus to die for us and redeem us. He has such unconditional love; our human minds can’t fathom how deep and how wide His love is for us. He will never leave nor forsake you. You may leave Him, but He will always be waiting for you with open arms. Allow God’s love to shine through you as parents. The ultimate gift is God’s love.” – By Carly Jo McDougal

Tenderness enveloped my heart and soul. This essay reminded me of God’s love for His children. Our Father God expresses His love to us through His Word, almost as if He writes love letters on the tablets of our hearts. The Bible is filled with encouragement, affirmation, and confirmation of His love for us. In fact, the book of John opens the door to understanding God’s ultimate love gift–Jesus.

Again, praises flow. In her teenage heart, Carly Jo recognized God as the ultimate giver of true love. His truths abound throughout her essay.

Fast-forward a few years. Fred and I have moved into what the world calls, The Empty Nest. But, I choose to call it, The Place of Rest. Even now, questions arise… Did we equip her for the real world? Will she keep Jesus the center of her life, even in college? Again, God hears my cry, Lord, help all my children to enter the real world armed with Jesus’ love, wisdom, and truth. To love Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

God gives us, as parents and grandparents, the privilege to pray for our children and grandchildren. Our priority should be to pray for them to have a real, personal relationship with Jesus. To help them grasp the role of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity. All in one, yet individual. All the same, yet with different roles. Pray for our families to desire to live sold out for Him. In return, through prayer, our labors of love strengthen our own faith and trust in Jesus.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Do you long to see inside your children’s hearts? Ask God to open a window to their souls. Watch for ways He offers you a behind the scenes view into their lives. Be their prayer warrior throughout the day. As you clean up their messes, wash their clothes, or sit in carpool lines––pray for their relationships with Jesus. This labor of love strengthens your own walk with the Lord. And don’t forget to praise God, not your children, for their spiritual growth. Let them always hear and observe you giving God the glory for all He is doing in and through their lives.

Does not wisdom cry out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: “To you, O men I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.”  –Proverbs 8:1-7


Excerpt from SOLD OUT: Live for Jesus, by Carla McDougal

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries & Executive Producer of the movie STRONGER

Author of My Prayer Chair, Reflecting Him, & SOLD OUT

BACK IN SESSION – PRAY

BACK IN SESSION – PRAY

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My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep. they will speak to you. – Proverbs 6:20-22

Excitement’s in the air. Anticipation rises. It’s that time of year. School is Back in Session.

Who can forget their child going to “big school” for the first time? I remember that bitter-sweet day. I always knew the time would arrive, but nothing prepared me for the moment. Fear slowly replaced trust in God. As a result, my thought life spiraled out of control. Suddenly, God’s gentle and quiet voice spoke loudly to my heart…

Your child is first MY child. I ask you, as his mama, to be his Prayer Warrior. I call you to first love Me with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Teach My Word diligently to your child, and talk about Me when you sit in your house when you walk by the way when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

From this point on my focused changed. I asked the Lord to replace every worry or fear with a prayer. I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me to be my child’s prayer warrior and let him know how I am praying for him throughout the day. Peace and confidence in the Lord prevailed. Not because of anything I did, but all because of Jesus!

Like a bird in flight the elementary school years soared by. In a flash, junior high arrived and seemed to merge into high school. Then in a blink of an eye my children were off to college.

Where did the years go? Thoughts rush in… Did we teach them enough? What should we have done differently?

Taking these thoughts captive, God reminded me of what He taught me when my children were younger and away from home… to be their Prayer Warrior. Praying for them brings comfort, peace, and trust in the Lord. Year-after-year I find my prayers evolve, yet remain the same…

  • Elementary School – Will he make a friend? Will he eat all his lunch, or just the cookies and chips? “God, help him to love You with all his heart.”
  • Junior/Senior High – Will he make the right friends? Is he paying attention to the teacher? “God, help him love You with all his soul.”
  • College – Will he make some forever friends? Is he making the good life decisions? “God, help him to love You with all his strength.”
  • Adult – Will he allow Your Light to shine in him in the workplace? Will he put you in the center of his life and marriage? “God, help him love You with all his mind.”

Throughout the years, God taught me to pray for my children on a daily basis. He opened my eyes to a vital fact – as our children face life tests, moms face their our own set of challenges. Below are a few life lessons I’ve learned along the way…

  • To pray over my children no matter where they are in life.
  • Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit prompting when I pray for my children.
  • Continually pray for each child to love Jesus with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
  • Finally, to let them know I am praying for them each day. This is one of the most inspiring and encouraging ways to spur them to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus.

PRAYER CHALLENGE

Take advantage of this new Back in Session season. Do you need a fresh start? Where are you in your relationship with God? In my Bible study, Reflecting Him – Living for Jesus and Loving It, I encourage you to find Jesus in your everyday activities. He is there for us twenty-four hours a day, and He wants to hear our everyday prayers. Call out to Him on behalf of your children. You may be the only one praying for them!

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

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