Does God Still Perform Miracles?

We don’t know why God saves and heals some and not all, but he knows why he does and that is enough for me. Faith, that feeling deep in my heart, tells me that healing doesn’t always mean life being breathed back into a body here on earth. Healing means freedom from pain, it means restoration and peace, and sometimes that only exists in heaven. And sometimes loss heals and restores those left behind.

Yesterday I sat and listened to Pastor Jason Noble speak about the power, blessing and thankfulness for a God of fresh starts.

A fresh start is a beautiful gift that allows us to join the fight, to align ourselves with God, believe in his purpose for our lives and throw our plans out the window. Blind faith takes risks. Blind faith trusts God. And, blind faith believes for miracles.

We take risks in moments of desperation, when the only thing left to hang onto is your faith and trust in God – because God wants your heart. He wants to make a way for you to come to him. Desperation finds the lost and leads them to salvation.

The pastor told us of a story of a twelve-year-old girl who was life flighted to a Missouri hospital. Her father wasn’t actively seeking the lord, but he had asked for the pastor to come in and pray. The next morning he was on his knees in tears, giving his life back to Christ. He whispered to his daughter that Jesus is a much better father than he could ever be and that he would be okay. An hour later she died.

Weeks later at the funeral the Pastor learned that this mans daughter who had died, had been praying for her father every Wednesday night at church. The children’s pastor shared that she would pray these words, “God whatever it takes to bring my dad back to you, do it.” At 12 years old. And, on this day, the day of his daughter’s funeral, her father was praising a loving and good good father.

We don’t always know why people die, especially children. Personally, I can’t imagine that loss and pain. It made me think of Olive Heiligenthal, the two-year-old daughter of Andrew and Kalley Heiligenthal. Kalley is a worship leader at Bethel Redding and a songwriter. They believed God for a miracle; they stood firmly rooted in the belief that God would wake up their daughter and bring life back. They withstood criticism, negative publicity and controversy yet never wavered in their faith and belief in God’s word that with him we can heal the sick and raise the dead.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Matthew 10:8 (NIV)

People all over the world stood with, prayed alongside and online using the hashtag #WakeUpOlive, the church as one body, united all over the world believing for a miracle. I prayed. I prayed knowing God could absolutely breathe life into dry bones if it is his will. If you have watched the movie Breakthrough, you know God is still a God of miracles, a God who saves. I know that prayer changes things, and a mother’s prayer can restore life. Not just her own child, but lives all over the world.

Whether you disagreed with the Heiligenthal’s beliefs. Maybe even questioned why their child was more deserving than another. Or wondered if suffering a loss of this magnitude had the parents thinking unclearly for an impossible breakthrough restoring life, I say, it restored life. Just like the story above about the twelve-year-old girl who prayed for her father, just like the 2015 true story of Breakthrough, Olive Heiligenthal’s story and her parents’ faith restored lives all over the world. She did not wake up, but others did.

We don’t know why God saves and heals some and not all, but he knows why he does and that is enough for me. Faith, that feeling deep in my heart, tells me that healing doesn’t always mean life being breathed back into a body here on earth. Healing means freedom from pain, it means restoration and peace, and sometimes that only exists in heaven. And sometimes loss heals and restores those left behind.

To answer the main question of whether or not God still performs miracles, the answer is without a doubt, yes!

The real-talk kind of mom.

I’m not in the parenting business to make friends, and I am okay not doing what other parents do. My children need to know that sometimes the right thing, is not what Susie and everyone else is doing. Sometimes the right thing is the least cool thing to do.

Personally, I envision my children as adults rather regularly, and some of those days are full of confidence and some of those days are frightening! I mean, let’s be honest here. Gage can cook a full meal, yet become annoyed with the task of sweeping the hallway. Cole loves to be in the mix with adults and young children, yet making him go outside and play with friends his own age – can literally open Pandora’s box. And, Gracie, she can basically do anything, and do it well, like really well – but failure, making mistakes, not understanding something, will throw her into a tailspin.

They may be teenagers today, but I’m raising more than that, I’m raising someone’s future spouse, parent, employee, friend etc. And, sometimes I think that our job in preparing them for success in these areas is forgotten.

Uncomfortable or not, I answer their questions.

The first time Gage asked as he giggled from the backseat if I liked hot dogs or tacos when he was younger, or when Gracie asked what rape was, I learned to be prepared to be uncomfortable. Gracie and Gage are two years apart, and their questions kept me (still, actually) on my toes. Some were silly, some were good, some were completely inappropriate, some I didn’t know and had to research, and some were embarrassing to answer, and took an act of god in keeping my composure. But, I did it because if they were comfortable enough to come to me and ask the question, there was a reason they were, and I had better be comfortable enough to answer it, honestly. Trust me, three teenagers keep the questions ever flowing and super awkward.

We talk about everything – ev-er-y-thing!

When Matt and Cole moved in, they didn’t talk about anything, and I do mean anything. The first time Gracie talked about her period, Matt was squirming and unsure if he should run out the door, or throw up. It was hilarious because for us it was second nature. Cole had at one point made a flippant comment about being among the kids in the world with one testicle. Matt laughed it off and told him he had two testicles, and they went on about their day. Literally, went on like nothing. I was in shock, telling him he needed to check, do something, but he swore he was certain he had two testicles. In his defense I remember that Gage had two testicles from changing his diapers, and that super awkward moment when he was two or three years old and called me in during bath time to inquire as to what that dot was between his legs – it was just a mole. It was also the last time I saw that area, thank goodness! But, I could see how seeing it once would make you assume it was still the same.

Now, while Cole is now every bit my son, then the idea of asking him to drop trou so his stepmom could investigate his nether regions was not appealing to either of us and he adamantly refused to let his dad. So… with football coming up and his need for a sports physical – I did what every other mom not wanting to see that region does, I took him to our pediatrician! One uncomfortable appointment with the pediatrician later, led to an even more uncomfortable visit to a urologist, and then a subsequent surgery retrieving an undescended testicle. You want to guess who talks to me about everything now? Yep, you guessed it, Cole! And, Matt too actually.

I think before saying: “You’re only a child, you don’t know.”

In my childhood home you were raised to be seen, not heard, to be pleasant not pretentious and that respect was given, not earned. Like with most traditional norms in your family that you were raised with and despised, you counteract those in your own family life. Some households may see that as not requiring vegetables, I on the other hand require open communication. The words “you’re only a child, you don’t know, or “you are too young to understand” will never leave my mouth. Because, I wasn’t too young to understand a lot of things, and even as a child, your mind still processes feelings, and emotions such as self-worth, love and acceptance.

I’m not their mom, I’m your mom.

What Susie’s parents let her do doesn’t matter to me, aside from possibly encouraging that friendship to continue. I’m not in the parenting business to make friends, and I am okay not doing what other parents do. My children need to know that sometimes the right thing, is not what Susie and everyone else is doing. Sometimes the right thing is the least cool thing to do. It’s not going to a party where everyone will be drinking, or where a parent allows that. Sometimes, it won’t be extending a curfew just because a friends parent did. This is teaching them that it is okay to be and do different, that going with the crowd isn’t always going to be beneficial, and that thinking for their self is more important than what others think of them.

I actively choose to give them a voice.

You’ve heard the saying “oh no, I’ve done something wrong, my dad is going to kill me if he finds out” and “oh no, I’ve done something wrong, I need to call my dad” well, I could never call my dad – and I refused to let my children down by continuing that as a mother myself. That is a priority in our relationship, confidence in them knowing I’m always a call away, no matter the situation.

We as parents learn something new every day, so how does it make sense to think that while raising our children we aren’t raising ourselves as well? I try to not suppress their voice, in fact I encourage it.

Open dialogue builds confidence. I’ve never been the type of parent who thinks I know more even when I think I may. Giving them the floor so to speak and allowing them to share what is on their mind, in their hearts, in a safe environment – is colossal in developing confidence. This voice will be what protects them, asserts them, what lands that job, what saves a life, what defends themselves or a friend, what talks someone out of a bad situation and most importantly the very voice that empowers and speaks love to themselves throughout their life.

I Pick my battles.

My husband loves many things about me, but this is not one. Picking my battles and saying yes more than no, are two things he and I differ on greatly. He is a “no” first kind of parent – he even said no to the boys to going to youth group once, before he realized what they had asked. We joke that if he were offered a million dollars, he would say no without even thinking because it’s like second nature to him.

I try for the most part to live with a motto of “I say yes, unless there is a reason to say no” and it has worked. This halts a majority of lying, it fosters respect and communication, and it teaches trust. When Cole first came to live with us, I said the words “I can’t stand up for you, if I can’t trust you, and I can’t say yes to you, if you’re showing reasons I should say no” until I was blue in the face and it has changed his ways almost completely. The little things can add up, and the big things can seem so minor when you break them down. So, I’ve learned to pick and choose what battles are necessary and why I am saying no instead yes. If I am saying no just because I can, it is the wrong answer. In my opinion the more we say yes in situations, the more opportunity we have for communication, lessons, mistakes etc.

I don’t hide all my mistakes or hardships.

It is essential that our children know that we make mistakes, that we do not have everything figured out and that sometimes in life things go badly. This is where they see you work through those hard times. Especially if your mistake is with them, they need to see you take responsibility of that, to not let pride keep you from being an example. Taking ownership, compassion and making amends are key factors to healthy relationships. You are who they will mimic when life gets difficult. If all your children ever see is sunshine and roses, what are they going to do when it rains, and that flower dies? They won’t just be ill prepared for the real word, but chances are they’ll feel like their childhood was a lie.

Parents who tell their children, “do as I say, not as I do,” aren’t giving their children enough credit. Children, especially teens still see, still know and still will most likely do as you did because that is natural. You can’t say don’t, then do it, and expect them to simply listen. That is where communication comes in, the “why” before the mistake is sometimes the magical deterrent. Also, personalizing the mistake, showing them that all humans makes mistakes, and that nobody is perfect, helps too. There is great power in saying I did this…, and this happened…, it was bad because…, I wish I hadn’t because it cost this… or caused this…, so when I say don’t – it is because I don’t want that to happen to you. You’ll have much better odds that way, versus just saying “because I said so.”

Religion vs. Relationship with God.

The greatest blessing of my childhood was being taught about God. As you become older and see the bigger picture in life you also see that all the answers you need are in the bible. Being raised catholic left a bad taste in my mouth in that not all things made sense, and being forced to believe what my family believed didn’t feel right, so I made a goal to not force a religion but instead introduce a relationship with God.

Going to church now more regularly, when they are old enough to understand what a relationship with God means is important, it shows that someones struggles may not make sense to us, or be visible to us, but that we still love them without judgment, just as God does us. It shows that we will have difficult times, but we are never alone. They are old enough now to ask questions, to put his scriptures into daily life and to see what true forgiveness means. That God, forgiveness and love all are part of the bigger plan.

Age appropriate responsibility.

Teens right now get drunk to hang out and have fun, have sex to be accepted and do drugs to numb and escape life. I want my kids to see that you can have fun without having a drink. That sex is more than how to “feel” loved and to live a life that never needs to be numbed or escaped. Their life can already be difficult with a variety of outside factors, but adding in these variables, only causes worse situations. There are reasons you get a license at sixteen, it is to get to a job. There is a reason you can’t drink until twenty-one, it allows brain development. And, there is a reason you wait to have sex until you’re married, because it creates an emotional and mental connection, it seals a covenant and promise and because it causes children!

Do I think that my children will wait until they are 21 to have their first drink, or until marriage to have sex? The drinking – no, but will I try and explain the importance of why they should until I am blue in the face? Yes. Teens these days are in a rush for everything which takes away the excitement. If you drive at twelve, what fun is sixteen? If you drink at fourteen, what fun is twenty-one? If you have sex at sixteen, and meet the man/woman of your dreams at nineteen, what are you giving them that is just theirs? With age becomes responsibility and if we rush these, the lessons are nullified in a sense. It is okay to hold hands before you kiss, to practice before you excel and to take small steps before a giant leap.

The truth is…we lie.

I think I speak for most parents when I say we are pretty damn near perfect! I mean, who are we kidding here? If we do lie, it is completely for your own good and protection… or is it?

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Okay, so the truth is we do tell white lies to our children in hopes to prolong the innocence they possess and to encourage make-believe and fairy-tales. White lies about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and that minions and oompa loompas totally exist in a world of chocolate covered scientific laboratories. Or, that one day prince charming will ride up on a white horse (or black if you prefer), sweep you up and all your worries will wash drown the drain, along side some calgon…and maybe a glass of wine, when you are thirty and still living at home playing with barbies, because you will be mommy’s sweet baby princess forever...for-ev-er! Oh wait, I got swooped up in those white lies again, dang it!

The truth is we flat out tell “whoppers” and sometimes it is for our own humor and selfishness. What are we going to do when our children get old enough to know better? I am lucky in that my daughter being two years older than her brother – helps with cover-ups. Wait, that sounds bad…but it is true.

In my jewelry box you will find an assortment of items, not just jewelry. In this particular case, my son was looking for something, and pulled out a small plastic baggy filled with baby teeth. As soon as I saw him holding them, I couldn’t move…and when I heard him ask “Mom are these my teeth?” I couldn’t mutter a sound. I just stood there thinking to myself, CRAP! Now, what? and looked at him. Then, my daughter swoops in and saves the day with a whopper all of her own “No, Gage, those are moms teeth from when she was little, but she probably has yours somewhere, cause you can buy them back from the tooth fairy – for memories!” Breathing now and able to speak again, I laughed and completely lied through my teeth and the bag of the teeth she was holding, and said “Yep, what your sister said!” Should I be worried or proud that she came up with that on her own? I don’t know, but while I ponder that thought here are some whoppers, white lies and fibs that parents use to get us through, and the truths that lie behind them.

Lie: When you get grounded it hurts us more.
Truth: We enjoy the quiet, and getting to watch what we want on tv.

Lie: The ice cream is all gone.
Truth: It is just cleverly hidden in another container in the freezer.

Lie: You can get pregnant from kissing or sitting in the hot tub with a boy.
Truth: We’re not stupid!

Lie: Eating veggies will put hair on your chest.
Truth: We have no idea if you will ever get hair on your chest.

Lie: The tooth fairy is off on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Truth: Mom or Dad either forgot, didn’t have ones or they get paid on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Lie: God emails me every day, I can just go check my inbox.
Truth: I am digging for answers and hope you still fear God and will tell me the truth.

Lie: If you keep making that face it will freeze like that.
Truth: It won’t.

Lie: Boy have cooties
Truth: Scientifically, girls actually have cooties.

Lie: The park is closed
Truth: We’re tired.

Lie: “Mom, what are you eating?” Answer “diet chocolate”
Truth: It’s not diet and I am not sharing.

Lie: Maybe, We will see.
Truth: I mean no, but I’m avoiding a melt down wherever we’re at currently!

Lie: If you swallow Watermelon seeds, they will grow in your tummy.
Truth: You are gonna poop watermelons. Oh wait, that’s another lie.

The truth is, that most of these are harmless and funny – which is good because I get in enough hot water for the amount of honesty and over indulging information I do share with my children. A good white lie, may be just what the kids may need these days. What are some whoppers you tell your children?

For more stories from Jessica, check out her blog at https://totallyjessifiable.wordpress.com

Note to the younger me…

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Be patient for the man that understands and expects for your children to come first. Wait for the man that grabs your hand and slow dances with you in the kitchen, to music he sings or hums. Invest in the man that never questions your worth, and makes time for you without you requesting it.  Give your heart to the guy, that when you are craving something sweet, brings you bags full of every candy you love. Share your heart only with the man, that shows he loves you, as well as tells you. Confide in the man who wants to help diminish your insecurities, and will talk for hours to make you feel better. Grow with the man that brings you flowers for no other reason than to see you smile. Appreciate the man, that shows you there is excitement in not planning, and enjoying what each day has to offer. Believe when this man tells you, that you are beautiful – because you truly are. Allow yourself to be silly with him, and enjoy making him laugh – because being friends is important too. Finally, trust the man who can admit he makes mistakes, and forgives when you do the same. Be patient, wait, invest, give, share, confide, grow, appreciate, believe, allow and trust that this man will find you – because he is worth the wait.

Loving yourself – Invites Love in.

Yesterday after sharing my feelings about a certain someone special to my friend, she wrote me something that really made me think.

She wrote : “You are an inspiration Jessica. I love how you may have had ups and downs, but you aren’t afraid to continue to love! I am more than happy for you and kiss enough frogs you are bound to find a prince.”

Instantly I thought, wait – out of everything why the hell am I not afraid to love? I am afraid to get hurt, to be left, to be cheated on – but I am not afraid to love which invites all those fears in… That makes no sense. How is my heart not hardened, bitter, and broken to all things that even remotely involve a connection with another person? Then I thought… did I really maybe kiss my last frog – could he be the prince? The fairy-tale hope never dies, does it?

Loving someone, although a risk is also a very freeing feeling – to give so much of yourself without a second thought, in hopes someone will return the love and see within you all the things you already know exist. On my way home yesterday I was thinking this over, which is something I love to do – to rehash, over think and analyze myself constantly and become my own worse critic. However, I realized that letting someone in, starting over with someone new forces you to fall in love with yourself and get to know yourself all over again.

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When you are in a relationship that has in many ways caused the loss of who you are, that has drained the existence of simple happiness, it is easy to fall into that hole that makes you think that you are worthless. Even worse when you are left – because we think to ourselves if I was worthy of love, he wouldn’t have left me. If I was beautiful, he wouldn’t have chosen her, if I could just show him I can be more, be better, he will come back. However, day after day, more and more you realize that is not the truth and not want you want. In fact, because you are worthy of love and happiness – he is gone – because he wasn’t worthy of your love.

A friend of mine told me once, “Be careful what you fight for, because one day you might wake up and realize it isn’t anything you really want anymore.”

She was right then, and it rings true now. Maybe that is why I am not afraid to love, because I know myself, what I have to offer, my heart and my desires. We all make mistakes, choices that we may regret, and we can talk ourselves out of anything and everything. Trust me, I am the best at all of these – but I have never successfully talked myself out of loving.

At the end of the day, I believe that if you love yourself enough, the fear to love dissipates. After all, a life without loving – is not worth living, and I want to love.