Advent starts today, Sunday, December 2, 2018!
Oh my stars. A good friend recently asked me to think about my best Christmas memory….
I thought about it, then remembered a sweet memory. I was probably four years old and I had received a plastic ring with a little doll in it. The best part was that my two older sisters had received their own little baby doll rings.
In that moment, I felt incredibly happy. I knew I belonged.
I find it interesting that that memory is the one that surfaced as I thought back through 50 years of Christmas. It made me aware, once again, that we all just want to be loved. We want to feel like we belong.
Welcome to The Parenting Dare blog and welcome in a special way to the Advent Challenge. If you would like to read the backstory you can find it here: Do You Need An Advent Challenge?
Or you can have the Cliff Notes version:
My name is Lori Doerneman, I live in Goddard, KS. I am mom of 8 and as you can imagine, the Christmas season hits like a hurricane. I have a lot to do. But I do NOT want Dec 24th and 25th to roll around and realize that once again, I didn’t make room in my personal inn for the Savior of the World.
So I decided to create my own little private way to enter in the True Spirit of Christmas. This was my commitment:
I will not speak negatively about ANYONE this Advent.
The cool part about this? To truly do this challenge well, I will NEED my Savior. Every.day.
I know that I cannot give away what I do not have. And I cannot GIVE love without first making room for it once again.
Now you guys, I have been a Christian my whole life but I also know that the spiritual life is a never ending beginning. So as I began this Advent Challenge I wanted to spend some time with some crucial foundational truths:
That’s the long and short of it. When I was little I used to hear that Jesus died to “open the gates of heaven.”
It was like He opened a portal to another dimension and if I was good enough and pure enough I could enter that realm after death.
I lived in this odd place of “I hope I am good enough” for too many years. In April of this year (better late than never!) I was taught deeper truths. (If you are interested, you can read more about that in “My New Conversion.”)
The exciting truth: yes, Jesus opened the gates of heaven so we can enter but He ALSO came to RESTORE life within us NOW, as before the fall.
And once we are baptized and believe (or believe and are baptized) we enter into that eternal and powerful relationship.
What a massive delight it has been to truly step into my place as beloved daughter, a believer, a child of God.
Now reading the Bible is like reading a love letter. I could live in the book of John. My favorite chapter of all time is John 17. I am thinking of getting that tattooed on this old body, that is how much I love every word in John 17.
Then I was recently reading in John 10 and this little phrase hit me hard:
“No one can take them out of my hand.”
Everything in life makes sense with these words:
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
Guys! He has given us eternal life. WE SHALL NEVER PERISH. He has declared that NO ONE CAN TAKE US OUT OF HIS HAND.
That makes me so happy. I love it.
I posted that passage in my kitchen and told my kids whoever memorized it would get a pack of gum. Bribery can be a good thing.
A couple of kids had trouble so I made it shorter:
I told them I want them to understand that. First and foremost.
We are in HIS HAND. NO ONE CAN TAKE US OUT of that HAND.
I think of a mama bear and her cub. Fierce.Love. Totally protecting, YOU ARE MINE.
And if we are in His Hand, He loves us more than any mama ever loved her child. We are His.
I don’t want to get too off track, but I recently enjoyed a book called “Words of Love” where Jesus appeared to three different religious sisters in the 20th century. He spoke to them. Their spiritual directors made them write everything down.
This book’s full title: Words of Love: Revelations of Our Lord to Three Victim Souls in the 20th Century. It has the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, which are the Catholic seals of approval, that nothing contained in the book is against our faith.
It is explained in the preface that private revelations must not be given the credence which is due the word of God. However, private revelations….”may proceed from a special intervention on God’s part” and therefore we should approach them with respect and openness.
I’ve never had an issue with private revelations simply because my Church does a thorough investigation and will not put approve of them if they are bogus.
In this book, one of the nuns, Consolata, said this casual phrase, “Who knows whether I will be saved?”
Jesus told her that good and pious souls, and very frequently those souls who are consecrated to Him, wound His Heart to Its very depths by questioning their salvation.
“Open the Gospel and read there My promises. I promised to My sheep: ‘I will give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish forever, and no man shall pluck them out of My Hand.’...No one can take a soul from Me!...For whom have I spoken these words? For all the sheep, for all souls! Why then the insult, ‘Who knows whether I will be saved?’ I have given assurances in the Gospel that no one can pluck a soul from Me and that I will give that soul eternal life, and so the soul cannot perish.” p. 14 “Words of Love”
Then He goes on, explaining that the only souls that go to hell are the ones that really wish to go there, denying Him and going to Satan on their own accord.
I hope this isn’t overkill, but I wanted to expand on that for a moment.
“Oh, if instead of wounding My Heart with such distrust, you would give a little thought to the Heaven which awaits you! I did not create you for Hell but for Heaven, not as a companion for the devil but to enjoy Me in everlasting love! You see, Consolata, to Hell go only those who wish to go there….How foolish is your fear of being damned! After having shed My Blood in order to save your soul, after having surrounded your soul with graces upon graces all through your entire existence...would I permit Satan, my worst enemy, to rob Me of that soul at the last moment of her life, just when I am about to gather in the fruit of the Redemption and when therefore that soul is on the point of loving me forever?...”
“My Father who has given Me the souls is greater and more powerful than all the demons. No one can snatch souls from the Hand of My Father!” p. 16 “Words of Love”
Isn’t that so gorgeous, so reassuring? So fatherly? We belong. We are IN.
Last week my son Matthew went to basic training as an Air Force Reserve in Texas. Before he went we had some big discussions and this was one of them. I shared with him everything that I have shared with you today.
He said, “It seems almost sacrilegious to believe that we are saved now. That’s not how I think, that’s not how I have been taught. That’s not how my Catholic parents or Catholic schools have taught me.”
I nodded in agreement. But once we accept these truths, of what He has done for us, our beliefs change. We realize who we really are.
Think about this:
I mean, really.
We have ALL THINGS. He is PURE LOVE.
We just have to THINK on these “unseen” things and allow them access to our hearts.
We have to let Love in.
With that Love, we should be able to truly love others by not talking negatively about them, eh?
And bless, I had a chance to put this in action just a couple of days ago when I was around a super irritating woman.
How did she irritate? Well, the human part of me didn’t like how she ate her food. I didn’t like how she communicated. I didn’t like how she sat. Seriously. Her “way” did not jive with mine.
As I looked at her, all of these negative thoughts rose to the top of my brain and I felt like I just had to share them with another person before they literally boiled over.
And I chuckled internally. Oh. Advent Challenge.
Once I was out of her proximity, I sat down. I closed my eyes.
I whispered, “Stir within me the love You have for this woman.”
In my quiet place I could see the young woman’s gifts, yes, but more than that, I saw her as an eternal soul, baptized and brought into His Eternal Kingdom.
He died for her. Therefore, she was my sister.
Who in the heck was I to nitpick her humanity just because she rubbed me wrong?
After a couple of more minutes I felt lighter. When I thought of the young woman I was able to smile and let my harsh thoughts go.
Isn’t that simple?
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
I will leave you with this from Matthew 12:34:
“For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
May the understanding of who we really are fill our hearts so we can speak from that place of love.
P.S. Please check out The Daughter Dare, our free online course designed for mamas to have fun with their daughters. You’ll love it.
And here's that beautiful book again, which I pulled from earlier!