Thursday, August 17, 2017

Letting Go of our Children

by Danetta Kellar

Leaving a legacy begins when we let go of our children. 

The words pierced my heart and left it to bleed. The string lights twinkled like stars above us, winking their assent to the truth spoken.

It was just me sitting alone in that immense warehouse-turned-cathedral while God’s spokesman, standing on the platform in shadow, aimed his word-arrows at my mother heart.

At least that is how it felt. Like I was the only one in the room with those sharp, true words.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I Want to Be a Mary Mother but My Name is Martha

by Danetta Kellar

I saw the sticky notes while she was still sleeping in a soft pile of pink ruffled pillows. 

Finish my Lego set today. Play the piano for Daddy. Make a school room for my doll. Color a picture for Mommy. The white notes were plastered across her bookcase like little snowflakes stuck on a windowpane. Just by her head, so she would see them first thing in the morning.

My little planner is very busy. She loves to build things, gather people together, and write books. She talks about Laura and Mary like they are her sisters and wonders aloud what it would look like if her room were a loft in a Little House on the Prairie.

She is watching me, and listening. 

I can hear myself in her, see myself in her, and watch myself in her. If I am not careful, if I do not slow down soon, she will have learned very well from me how to go and go and go, to do and do and do, making list after list after list, faster and faster, until she is all grown up and I am left wishing I had shown her how to slow down and sit awhile.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What Spills Out

by Danetta Kellar

Ravi Zacharias, in his very personal podcast Jesus Among Other Gods, (to listen, click here) shares an Indian proverb. “Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out when you are bumped.” 

He uses this proverb to illustrate his mother's strength of character on a very difficult night during his childhood. 

As I listened to his words in the car one dark night, my soul was gripped with conviction. 

Like a parade of shame, images of my own reactions when “bumped” flashed through my memory. Anger, selfishness, and pride all rose like specters in my mind, and I knew I was not like his mother. Not one bit.

Then came shame, always quick to cover our guilt so we focus only on ourselves. Behind shame comes the Party in a Box, labeled in garish letters, “PITY PARTY”. 

My real guilt was hidden now by shame and self-pity. I could get no real soul-work done in that state.

The next morning as I reflected on it again, with the fresh perspective of the morning’s new mercies, my soul condition was clearer to me. 

It is simple. Out of my heart, my mouth speaks, my body acts, my mind thinks. 

As always, life is a matter of the condition of my heart.

And thanks be to God, I can bring my heart to Him every day to be renewed.

There is hope, even for those who, when bumped, spew out all manner of foul things.

Living the Christian life is hard for some of us. Loving others, putting them first, making time for all the needs we see around us takes the kind of selflessness few of us have naturally. I often joke that my husband and mother-in-love have that gift naturally, but I have to study it, pray for it, work hard for it. It is not natural to me.

But the bottom line is this: God is what we are not. He has the power. The patience. The wisdom. The love. He offers us all that is necessary to love and serve the broken world we live in. It is not conditional upon our own hearts, it is conditional upon our willingness to come to him for filling. 

As we bring our hearts in all their lack to him, he fills them with what we can only manufacture in limited quantities. 

And for that, I will always return to him, again, and again, and again.

There may be no greater testament to me about His existence than when I see him fill my lack and make me more than I can be on my own. When I see myself bumped, and love and mercy come out, I know there is a God. For I know what is in me.

This is the power of our all-sufficient God.

Won’t you share a time when He filled you beyond your own limits and love spilled out instead?


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hezekiah’s Prayer For Families

by Danetta Kellar

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. Isaiah 37:14

Hezekiah received a letter from the most powerful king of his time, the king of Assyria. The Assyrians had left a path of destroyed people and stripped lands wherever they went. Now they were coming for Israel. They knew that dependence upon God was the source of the Israelite’s strength, and that is precisely where they attacked.

God’s enemy has sent a letter to Christian families today, warning, Do not let the God you depend on deceive you… you will be destroyed. He will not save you (37:10). 

The enemy breathes his lies in the media, in schools, even in our youth groups and churches. His victims sit as though hypnotized, listening to his threats while desperately hoping that God will, indeed, save them.

It would seem that the battle to live lives of love and honor is futile some days. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Rear Guard

by Danetta Kellar

the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12b, NASB 

I was determined to run the race. 

It was the third annual trail run, and I had run it the previous two years. This time I had just returned to running after recovering from a broken foot, and now my hip was injured to boot. I was in the poorest condition ever for the intense three-mile run up a mountain at an elevation of nearly 2000 feet above sea level. 

This race was important to me. It symbolized a mountain in my personal life that I had to prove to myself I could climb, no matter my limitations.
There are some hard things in life that we would be justified, even applauded, to abandon. They cause us pain and strain and stretch us thin and transparent, allowing others to see the ugly inside. We’d be better off if we just quit and walked away. That’s what others say, anyhow.

There is indeed a time to walk away. But there is also a time to stay. A time to hold on against the howling wind, leaning into the strain, hanging on with all we have and crying out to God for help to endure. 

There are races in life only we can run and finish lines we must cross ourselves.

For me, physically running is a spiritual, emotional, and mental exercise. I usually fix my mind on a specific Scripture passage or a pre-planned prayer focus as I raced. This time, however, I had waited and waited for the Lord to show me this race’s focus, but nothing came. Heaven seemed silent. 

That morning as I approached the starting line, I had simply prayed, Lord, I am listening. Speak to me today as I run. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hope for Grieving Parents and Children: KinderMourn

by Danetta Kellar

My daughter chattered happily as we walked through dappled sunlight that danced along the brick walkway. 

She didn’t mention the inscriptions today, but I still noticed them. I always do. My Cuddly Buddy. In Loving Memory. Will Forever Flutter in Our Hearts. World Trade Center, 9/11/01. Hope. Each brick marked a painful step someone had taken through the gates of grief, to the door of the house we now approached, a safe place of refuge to mourn and heal called KinderMourn.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When You Need to Change Your Mind

by Danetta Kellar

I went to bed with Condemnation and woke up with it the next morning

It had started in the place of self-scrutiny, with the instruments we all like to use to measure ourselves. Beauty, Success, Energy, Health, Finance, fill in your own tool. I had measured and weighed my Self and did not like what I saw. 

By the time I fell into bed I was exhausted and weighed down like an anchor chained to a shipwreck. Condemnation slipped its scaly arms around me and began to tighten its grip. By morning it had grown in strength and staked its claim on yet another day. 

My perceived failures stood around my bed taunting me, daring me to face the day with anything but discouragement. 

As I brushed my teeth, I carefully studied an imaginary list of my infractions and imperfections on the mirror in front of me. Fear stood over my shoulder, reminding me of all I had to lose if I did not measure up. 

This day was not starting with hope. It would seem there was no hope for me.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What I Really Look Like

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24, NIV

by Danetta Kellar

I was eleven years old the day I realized what I really looked like. 

I stood in front of the cheap mirror, staring at my reflection, far too close for vanity. In my hand I held up a black and white photo, preserved crisp and pristine over the years. The young man in the photograph reminded me of James Dean. He wore a slim-fitting button-down shirt with a tie snug at his neck. It was clear he had battled his curls, taming them, sweeping them back into a dignified wave. He was utterly handsome and my heart was mesmerized.

He was my father, whom I had never met.

I had always wondered what he looked like. I was used to looking different from my ginger-haired, fair-skinned mother and sister. People commented on it often. 

I found the photograph in a yellow-paged scrapbook in the attic, tucked away from sight. 

I had been sent upstairs on an errand for my mother when I came upon the treasure. The secret to what I looked like. I look just like him, I whispered to my image as I slowly traced my nose. That darn nose. The nose that always got in the way in pictures. That big, beautiful nose of mine. And his.

And the curls. The unruly, crazy curls that made me cry when I tried to run a brush through them. His hair was curly too, and the same dark color.

I felt relieved that day, as if a long-hidden secret had been revealed, and with it, an explanation of who I was.

His absence in my life left me on a path of near destruction. But that path led me to find my greater Father, and in the Bible, I began to see who I was meant to be, regardless of my earthly parentage. Word upon word, promise upon promise, truth upon truth, my heavenly Father began constructing for me an image of my own soul, my most core identity. As I obeyed His Word and not only obeyed, but believed it despite my traumatic childhood, I began to see what I looked like. 

There is a photograph, preserved through the ages, which holds the secret to your image and mine. Upon careful study, it will reveal who we look like. 

It is the Word of God, our true mirror, the certain measure, of our souls. As I study myself in its reflection, may I see my Father. For I am his own daughter.

Lord, help me be a doer of the word, not just a hearer. Build your image in me as I believe that the truest things about me are what You say about me. Amen.

As we carefully study the Bible, we will learn our true #identity. (Click to Tweet)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

You Never Know What Someone Else is Going Through

by Danetta Kellar

I have changed the names of the dear ones in this post to protect their privacy. 

We had been in the ancient, spacious house for months. It had once sheltered three families, and now our small one took up only one wing. The old walls were constantly crumbling, and with only half a roof over the central courtyard, the birds and other less desirable animals came and went freely, leaving their own little dirty deposits. 

Fighting the constant Sahara dust was a losing battle, and even if I threw water on the tile floors and squeegeed it down the drain, a fine layer of golden powder covered every surface again by afternoon. 

One morning, my friend Hope came to visit. Morning visits were rare, so I knew this must mean business.

Our husbands were close friends. We had shared many meals together in one another’s homes. Hope was familiar with my housecleaning habits, and my funny American ways of dealing with clutter that differed so much from her own. She teased me for hanging my pictures in the middle of a big wall, instead of clustering all of them together along the very top.

Today Hope offered me a proposition. Obviously, to her at least, I needed help in my housekeeping battle. To prove it, she slid my sofa away from the wall and lectured me on the piles of dirt that hovered in the corners like guilt. 

Hope had a sister, and this sister needed work. She could clean my house for me and I could pay her. A beautiful arrangement, after I swallowed my born-in-the-South-to-an-obsessively-clean-mother Pride.

I had no idea that day how much my life was about to change, that I was about to receive a friend I would treasure for years to come. I couldn’t have imagined the lessons I was about to learn.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Never Ending Journey

by Danetta Kellar

He chose an eighties’ playlist. 

I couldn’t have been happier as we barreled up the interstate, belting out lyrics with Madonna and Journey at the top of our lungs. I even caught him singing falsetto with Men at Work. He looked at me, incredulous. “You know all the words to these songs, Mom!” 

He had never seen this side of me, I’m sorry to say. I had been too tight, too controlled, to shut-up in parenting perfectionism to just let it go and have fun, unabridged. And now we were speeding toward his future, childhood behind us.

“Babe, you are playing all the songs of my youth! This is the music I was a wallflower to at my seventh-grade dance. The music I listened to in my first car driving down the highway with the windows down, feeling truly free. These are the words that helped me through my first break up.” 

We continued singing, and I noticed him glancing at me every once in awhile with a new look in his eye. 

The trunk of the car was loaded with his footlocker, his soccer bag, and skateboard. And lots of junk food. We were on our way to the first stage of Goodbye, his two weeks of summer orientation for the competitive Math and Science school he’d be attending for the final two years of high school. 

I woke up early that morning to hem his dress pants, then promptly forgot them hanging on the door. For weeks I had carefully reviewed the list of things to bring, including money for laundry, and then left it in a neat envelope, on the bar, at home. I was not myself. 

“Are you nervous?” he looked at me sideways as I searched on my GPS for the nearest bank. 

“Well, I didn’t think I was, but I guess apparently I really am.”

“Yeah. You are. Don’t be nervous, Mom. I’m going to be fine.”

Later that afternoon we said our goodbyes. I walked across the campus in the evening sunlight, but in my mind I was in the QE2 Hospital, sixteen years earlier, my newborn in a small bed by my own. I held his pudgy little hand, his fingers in a vice grip around my index finger. 

The nurse came into the shadowy room. “Let us take your wee one out to the station for a bit, love. You need rest.” She rolled his bed out through the backlit door. Panic suddenly filled me, the entirely brand-new sensation of mother-bear protectiveness surging through me. You cannot take my baby from me! Bring him back! My unreasonable thoughts faded as I slipped into exhausted sleep, my baby safe and sound with the nurses just outside my room.

The crazy road-trip of letting our babies go starts even before they are born. 

We release them to God, we release them to God, and we release them again. I sat in my car and cried a bit, then let my boy go again, my anxious thoughts slipping into the rest God offers to mothers over and over. I can trust Him to keep my child in his care as He always has. 

On this never-ending journey of letting children go, make sure your playlist is one you know and can sing loud and off key. Take lots of snacks and have a cheeseburger on the way if that’s what he wants. Talk a little and listen a lot. And at the stops along the way, hug hard and let yourself cry.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Exposing the Fear that Lies Behind Most Everything

by Danetta Kellar

I lay in bed, feeling suffocated. 

In the darkness, Fear seemed to have found himself on the center stage of my mind in a solo performance. 

He loomed bigger than the ceiling and I saw for a moment how big I had actually allowed him to grow in me. During the daylight, in the rush of life, I had managed to dodge this realization. I noticed it in fleeting moments, some more gripping than others, but I had become an expert at deflection.

Not this night.

I had just spent almost two hours in a car driving along a highway in the rain, listening to one I dearly love pour out her sorrow. Grief is relentless in its squeezing, its paralyzing of the human heart. She was grieving the loss of one very dear to her and wanted to die too so she could be with him.

All I could do was reach behind my seat and hold her hand as I cried myself, my tears blending with the falling rain and making the car lights distort along the dark highway. We talked about the plans God has for her life, the very special work that only she can do in the world. And in my heart, I cried out, “Please, God, don’t let her long for heaven yet! Not yet, Lord!”

Fear grabbed me and whispered his terrible threats.

Hiding behind him came an entourage. Fears small and fears large, fears slithering and fears stomping. The crescendo deafened me.

“Jesus!” I cried out. In an instant, all was silent. There was no lag, no labor. The toxic spewing of His enemy and mine simply ceased.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Psalm 23:4

I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Psalm 55:16

He who watches over you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3

The promises stored up in my heart came tumbling across the meadows of my mind like a tinkling stream, their music making it hard to believe such darkness had covered me only moments before. 

As I lay there upon my bed, listening to my Shepherd, He showed me how I had allowed fear to become an insipid, creeping, silent force in my life. 

Gently and firmly, Jesus led me to His truth. His kindness led me to repentance. And I slept in peace, the enemy defeated.

Are you struggling with fear today? Have you become so busy you cannot see its tendrils choking the life in your days? I sure did. Run to His promises, cry out to the Shepherd. He has defeated fear, no matter what Fear would whisper to you today.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Best Gift Walt Disney Ever Gave

by Danetta Kellar

We were walking around entranced, captured by the magic of Disney World. 

When my daughter spilled her drink, a cast member immediately appeared with a smile and wiped it up, leaving the bench looking shiny and perfect. Even the ducks who waddled among the crowds seemed enchanted. 

We stopped to admire a tree cleverly shaped to resemble an ostrich and then leaned into a cool breeze wafting across the railing. Looking down across a gently flowing stream, I gasped. Shooting up only yards from the perfectly manicured topiary garden were weeds. Lots of them. Standing up defiantly through the ivy, they lifted their green fists toward the lovely blue sky as if victorious. They had pulled the curtain back and revealed the wizard behind the magic. And he was a mere, flawed, mortal.

Perfectionism is flawed.

The idea of perfectionism only finds its fullness in God. Perfect means complete. And God is complete within Himself. We are only complete with Him. He is what we are missing.

God is what we are missing on the days something just doesn’t seem right. He is what we are missing when the news leaves us feeling agony and despair. He is what we are missing at night as we lie sleepless worried about finances or children going astray. God is what we are missing when we fight with a friend, a spouse, a co-worker. 

God is the missing piece that completes our lives. Life without Him is an incomplete, imperfect, life which can never be truly fulfilled.

The throngs of people who flock to Disney each day are drawn to the magic, the ideal of Perfect. The hope and dream of Happy. The wish for True.

Even a brilliant, imaginary, generous visionary like Walt Disney cannot hide the weeds of an imperfect world, an imperfect life, lived by imperfect humanity. 

Perhaps the best gift Walt Disney has given us is the ability to see our longing for perfection and joy, for completion. 

It is a God-crafted longing in every person, reflecting his and her very essence, the image of God reflected in each human soul. The fingerprint of God in each heart longs for completion. We were made to be complete.

Completion, or perfection, is only found when our souls are united with our Creator through Jesus Christ. Christ restored the broken relationship between us and the God who made us. Christ made completion possible again for every person. 

Our longing for the Magic Kingdom is a longing for heaven. In that Kingdom we will not only walk the streets as visitors, but as citizens. And there will be no more weeds.

If you have not given your heart to God, accepted his gift of completion through Jesus Christ, you can do that right now. Take this moment to trust Him and accept His gift of citizenship in heaven. Write to me in the comments section below and let’s walk the streets together.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Promise of a Firm Step

by Danetta Kellar

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23

Are you facing a decision today? I am. More than a hundred. 

Will I place others first and see how I can serve them or will I focus on my own need for more rest, my wish that the school year would just be over already? When someone says something I misunderstand, will I assume the worst, judging her? Or will I believe that she too is trying her best and listen again? Will I be a reactor or a responder? 

Each day is comprised of hundreds of little decision-steps. Each one builds on the others, making a pathway through my day. 

I can’t wait until the midst of the busy day to decide my way. I have to do that in time set apart, alone with God, still and listening. It doesn’t really have to take that long. It can be a quiet half hour I take in the evening instead of watching my favorite television show. 

I am so desperate to walk in a way that delights the Lord that I have been known to drop to my knees in prayer in the bathroom, the door locked behind me, in the only place in my house I can get privacy some days. It doesn’t matter what form it takes; what matters is that I pause to seek the Lord’s way for me.

When I have taken time out to do this, both my steps and my stumbling become less stressful. The almost-falls are so much better than the full-on-face-plants. When I have learned the Lord’s way for me, I have His promise of a firm step and His strong arm holding me when I stumble.

Maybe this sounds too esoteric, too vague. How can one know God’s way?

We have been given an instruction manual with all the basics we need to know the way that delights the Lord. 

That manual is the Bible and it shows us the path of life and fulfillment.

If we are not reading it, we won’t walk in it. 

When my steps get shaky and I fall on my face over and over, that’s my cue that I may not be walking in a way that delights the Lord.

I’m believing God’s promises this week. I’m taking time out to put His Word in my heart every day no matter how pressing the crush of busyness is. I am counting on firm steps and a strong hand to catch me when I stumble. (Because I surely will stumble.) How about you? Let’s do it together. 

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