Blessed Beyond Measure

When I was a little girl, back in the 1950s and ’60s, I was fortunate enough to be raised in a typical Christian home where traditional values were instilled in me from an early age. My mom was the homemaker, my dad was the breadwinner, and like most all-American families, we attended church every Sunday. As I grew up, I excelled in school and went on to study music in college.

I had visions of grandeur dreaming of making my mark singing on a Broadway stage. I knew those odds were not in my favor, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that what I really wanted out of life was to be a wife and mother.

The Lord blessed me with my heart’s desire, and I married my high school sweetheart and gave birth to three beautiful, amazing and accomplished daughters. Over the years I wore many hats: real estate agent, office manager, teacher’s aide (all part-time) but mostly a devoted mom. I didn’t miss a beat. I drove on every field trip, volunteered in the classroom and ran the PTA.

The next thing I knew, the years had flown by and my daughters had all grown up. Andrea, my oldest, had fallen in love at the tender age of 19 and was getting married. Exactly 13 months and six days later, my life was changed forever when Andrea gave birth to my first, beautiful grandchild, Adora. I felt as if my heart had grown a whole new chamber because the love was so overwhelming! It took me completely by surprise.

Flash forward 15 years, I am now blessed with eight grandchildren and with each one, the love in my heart has just grown and grown. All this brings me to sharing the joys and trials of being a grandma, or Mamaw to me (it’s a Southern thing).

I can honestly tell you that the trials are few and the joys are countless! As for the trials, they really fall on me. Finding the energy to keep up with grandkids can be exhausting, and dividing my time among all of them can be quite challenging as well! I do the best I can, never wanting to let them down, but the truth is I’m in my 60s and my energy level is not the same as it used to be. So I pray for the Lord to give me the strength and endurance I need to be as loving and involved in their lives as I can be. I remind myself daily that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

My joys of being a grandmother are very simply called Adora, a genuine, loyal friend and optimist; Eliana, a loving caregiver and reliable; Isabella, encouraging and compassionate; Wyatt, tender-hearted and adventurous; Evangelina, feisty and endearing; Lucy, mischievous and charming; Rohan, happy and inquisitive; and Joanna Joy, who joined us on February 5, 2016. I can’t wait to discover what her personality traits and gifts will be.

These remarkable grandkids keep me mentally young and give me purpose in my golden years. I revel in their joys and accomplishments and try to provide guidance, wisdom and strength during their adversities.

I pray that these little treasures will come to know the precious love of our Lord and will choose to follow Him! Some are off to a great start while a few need a little extra prayer.

So, as they grow and develop, I watch with amazement and complete joy for they are brilliantly, beautifully and uniquely made. I am blessed beyond measure. Praise the Lord!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IdaIngoldtIda Ingoldt has been attending The Father’s House for about 10 years. Married for more than 40 years to her high school sweetheart, Bruce, they’ve raised three beautiful daughters and are blessed with eight grandchildren. Before retiring in 2004, Ida worked for 13 years as an instructional assistant for the Escondido Unified School District where, in addition to her work with the students, she served as PTA president and music leader at assemblies. Her most recent calling has been to start a “Homeless Blessings Bag” ministry at TFH. This is a grassroots, organic effort to reach the less fortunate with the loving touch of our heavenly Father.  “My health issues may not allow me to serve The Lord on a global level, but He has provided a way for me to show His love and serve Him in my community through my Homeless Bags ministry!”

Secure Attachments for a Healthy Life

Secure connection with God and significant others are key ingredients in experiencing contentment, joy, physical and psychological health as well as emotional safety. Research in the area of neuroscience has demonstrated that we are hardwired for connection. Scripture further attests that we are designed to seek connection with God (Jer. 29:13). Since we are created by God, it makes sense that a solid relationship with Him is the beginning of healthy relationships with each other. Furthermore, recent studies in the area of attachment and marriage show that a mature relationship with God improves marital satisfaction and connection with your spouse. Interestingly, even if only one spouse experiences security in relationship with God the other spouse benefits. Even though our culture esteems independence, it is clear through Scripture and research that interdependence is crucial for living a meaningful life with purpose and joy. Maintaining a strong connection with God and significant others requires work, time and vulnerability but the benefits are undeniable!

In my own journey, secure attachment with God, my grandmother, my husband, my children and others has fostered my resilience in the face of significant trauma. Even though I was not raised in a Christian home, my beloved grandmother loved God and gave me my first Bible when I was five years old. She was my secure base and the one I would run to for love and support and it was this security that gave me the strength to endure the pain of my parents’ divorce when I was 7 years old. I saw and heard things that no child should experience. My mother quickly remarried and I found myself with two step-brothers and all the dynamics siblings bring. However, I grew to love my step-father and our connection was strong. He was an amazing aerobatic pilot who performed at air shows all across the country and around the world. Little did I know that I was going to face another devastating blow—he crashed his plane and died while performing in an air show overseas. Hearing the report of the crash on the evening news magnified my overwhelming sense of loss.

My mom and I were both reeling from our loss. She checked out emotionally, so I turned to a friend that brought me to church where I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Unfortunately, I fell away during my teen years, and at the age of sixteen my mother moved us from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California. It might as well have been the moon because of the societal differences between the two cities. Leaving behind my precious grandmother, my friends and everything that I had known was life changing. My mother was ill-equipped to raise a teenager and made choices that were detrimental for her life and mine. Forced to now raise myself and my mother alone, I became angry, bitter and rebellious. By God’s grace I was able to finish high school and get into my first choice of colleges. However, my world was rocked once more when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer in summer of 1980 and died in November of that same year.

I moved to Northern California to restart my life where I met, fell in love with, and marriedmy husband, Alex. We were happy and times were good. However, after the birth of our two children, Brandon and Ashley, I felt a desire to rekindle my relationship with the Lord.

I joined a Christian mom’s group and began reading my Bible. Sadly, my world would soon be shattered. In the fall of 1991, we suffered the most significant loss any parent could ever face—the death of our precious Ashley. This tragedy brought unimaginable pain and I FullSizeRender.jpgbelieved this was something that could never be repaired. Depression quickly overtook me, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t even pray. I had a house full of family and friends yet felt so alone. But on the third day, God’s amazing peace overwhelmed and covered me like a beautiful, warm, liquid blanket. His comforting Word sustained and healed our family and I was able to move beyond my circumstances in order to comfort others who were experiencing pain and loss (2 Cor. 1:4). This eventually led to my work as a Stephen Ministry leader and culminated in my pursuit and completion of a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Over the years, I have had many more opportunities to rely on God and loved ones for emotional safety and strength. This includes fighting an aggressive cancer on my face and FullSizeRender_1journeying through the darkness of my mother’s slow decline and eventual death from Alzheimer’s disease. My secure attachment with God and others has not only fostered my resilience in the face of trauma, but has given me the strength and determination to pursue my life’s passion at the age of 55! This includes being a vehicle for healthy growth and change in people’s lives. Precious sisters, let me encourage you to pursue God with all of your heart and soul, and nurture close relationships so that you can boldly accomplish what He has called you to – no matter what your age, current skill level, education or other roadblocks that may appear to stand in your way – nothing is impossible with God!

 

Further Reading Suggestions from the Author
Clinton, T. & Straub J. (2010). God attachment: Why you believe, act, and feel the way you do about God. New York, NY: Howard Books

Knabb, J. (2014). A preliminary investigation of the relationship between religion and marital adjustment among Christian adults from a conservative denomination. Journal of Psychology & Christianity, 33 (3), pp. 263-276.

Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mitzi Steele bog pic.jpgMy name is Mitzi Steele. I have been married for nearly 30 years to my best friend Alex. We have two amazing adult children, a beautiful new daughter-in-law and one child with the Lord. After hearing a call from the Lord five years ago, I pursued and completed a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary in Marriage and Family Therapy. I currently work in private practice as an MFT Intern #88087, employed and supervised by Jussi Light, MFT #39617 at New Growth Counseling in Carlsbad, California. My passion is to encourage and foster healing in people who are experiencing pain.

Following God’s Leading

God works in such mysterious ways. It sounds so cliché, but it is absolutely true. God has put me in a job that I never imagined. Many people ask me how I got involved in local politics as a San Marcos City Council member. It’s simple really: I got involved fighting a couple of decisions the city council at the time had made that I felt would negatively affect my family’s quality of life. I soon decided that I wanted to serve as a city council member because it would be so much easier, in my opinion, than fighting decisions after the fact. If you’d asked me 15 years ago if I’d ever consider serving in politics, I would have quickly answered, “Not a chance!” That’s why I stand by my statement that God works in mysterious ways. Let me start from the beginning to explain how God brought me to this path and has led me every step of the way.

My husband Paul and I moved to San Marcos in February of 2000 when I was pregnant with our second child, Natalie. We had already been blessed with our son, Grant, who was 3 at the time. I was so excited to move into a neighborhood where we could raise our children. There was a park that wasn’t yet built, a nice yard and a big cul-de-sac in a nice, quiet, family neighborhood. When Natalie was about a year old, we received notice that the city was planning to build a 65,000-square-foot facility that would be a temporary shelter for battered and abused children in the middle of the unbuilt park. In the beginning, the location seemed suitable, but after my neighbors and I really researched what this shelter would truly offer—an unlimited amount of occupants due to the designation of temporary shelter care facility, and supervised visitations to anyone that has had their child taken away and must have their visit supervised by a professional—I decided that in the middle of a park and residential neighborhood was not the most suitable location. My neighbors and I tirelessly put together volumes of information that we thought proved the location was flawed based on other facilities of this type and their locations. We met with the city council members and petitioned them not to allow this use in the park, and in the end, the use was not allowed.

In 2003, a proposed concrete batch plant came along to be located at the intersection of the roads Barham, Mission and Nordahl. There was also a spot zoning of a second Walmart off Rancho Santa Fe Road, where families live today and that was zoned residential—the city had wanted to change the zoning to accommodate the Walmart. At the same time, I was gradually becoming what I deem a “community activist.” After these actions by the city council, which would have been zoning changes I disagreed with, I realized that it would be a much more positive experience to help make policies and shape this community rather than fight decisions. I think this is how most people find themselves as city council members—that, and they are also generally encouraged by sitting city council members. I was no exception.

I decided to run for city council in 2006, but my plans changed when my husband Paul was diagnosed with cancer. We needed time to find out what his treatment and prognosis would be. He started therapy in fall of 2006, and in January 2007 there was a vacant seat available for an appointment. After praying about it, Paul and I decided I should apply for the vacant seat. I was selected and became the only woman (at the time) on a five-seat panel in January 2007. I was re-elected twice for additional four-year terms in 2008 and in 2012, and I am up for election this year.

If you were like me back in 2001, you may wonder what a city council member actually does. The most simplistic answer is that we develop policy, not run day-to-day operations. The five-member panel is made up of the mayor, vice mayor and three council members. We all have the same weight to our vote, and the majority rules. We make decisions on land use, rules and regulations, how to use city resources (revenues from taxes) and work to balance all these decisions to best benefit the 93,000 residents that call San Marcos home. I don’t want to say it is an easy job, but if you are thoughtful in reading the information that the staff provides, listen to feedback from residents, do a little of your own homework and not let your personal feelings get in the way, the job can be fairly simple and extremely rewarding. Land use is one of my favorite parts of the job—watching a project that we approve be built and enhancing citizens lives is very rewarding. I am the type of civic leader (I don’t call myself a “politician”) that I want to vote for and interact with. My goal is to always conduct myself in a professional manner by discussing differing opinions with both my colleagues and residents, listening to both sides of an issue, working to make the city well-rounded while providing opportunities for jobs, housing, shopping and dining for visitors and citizens. It’s very important to me to always treat city staff, business owners, visitors and residents alike with dignity and respect.

It is so important to serve any job you have to the best of your ability, with the highest regard for people you come in contact with while always maintaining your integrity. I have sought God’s direction for me and allowed Him to make clear my path while prayerfully seeking Him. He has stretched me in ways I never imagined and provided a path that didn’t make sense early on but now makes perfect sense because I believe it is part of His plan for me. Where He takes me from here only He knows, but I know that His plan is perfect.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones has been a San Marcos City Council member since 2007 and currently serves as the vice mayor. She is also vice chair of the North County Transit District and a member of the SANDAG Transportation Committee. Rebecca has lived in San Diego County her entire life, moved to North County in 1987 and to San Marcos in 2000. She has been married to her husband Paul for 22 years and they have two children together: son, Grant (19), and daughter, Natalie (15). Rebecca started attending TFH the second week of meeting at the San Marcos Community Center. In her spare time Rebecca enjoys crafting, scrapbooking and cooking, and is blessed to serve her community.

Five Ways to Transition Well

Regardless of what it is transition can be wonderful and challenging all at the same time. For Mike and me, it was our recent move to a new church. We were leaving a home where

image3we had been for 12 years, serving and loving on people, being nurtured and cared for since we were freshmen in high school. Pastor Dan was our youth pastor! We were used to our shepherd’s voice and it was familiar to us. So when life brings us to a new season, how do we respond? How do we move forward? How do we prepare? These are the things that we learned in our last year’s journey in a new place.

  1. Have proper expectations: Things will not go as expected. We can plan and prepare for our upcoming adventure but be open to the fact that God is in control and His ways are not our ways. The reason we are being called to this new season of life could be something completely different than what we originally expected. Be open and trust God 100% that if He called you to this, HE will get you through it.

When we transitioned to Bethel we went thinking that we were there to do one thing, youth. But it turned out the Lord had us there for so much more. We had to change our expectations and trust that God knew what He was doing. We had to relearn to hear from a different shepherd, work with a new staff, and worship in a whole new way. God is good and He is the same everywhere you go, but we had to relearn and change our expectations.

  1. Have open eyes: The Lord is active and moving all around. In a challenging or new season the situations that arise can shift our focus from trusting the Lord to our eyes being on the storm. We read in Matthew 14 about Jesus calling Peter out of the boat to walk on water. When we are out of the boat walking on water, we need to stay centered on Jesus and remember why He called us out of the boat in the first place.

We had learned, been under and grew under one style of leadership. If we would have come to Bethel with the idea that there was only one way of doing things we could have been very discouraged. We have been able to see what the Lord has wanted us to bring to Bethel and also what we have taken and learned from Bethel. There is value in all situations. Don’t be blind. You will hit walls and it will hurt.

  1. image5Have a sense of humor: You have to laugh and not lose yourself. We are made in the likeness of HIM. He is a funny guy. New adventures may bring you to places that you just need to laugh

When you dye your hair purple and it turns grey, you look around and realize that you now fit in with the silver foxes. The Lord has a sense of humor. Don’t miss it. Laugh so hard you pee yourself. After three kids that has happened more than once 😉

  1. Pray A LOT, stay grounded: Prayer is essential and vital for life. It produces and encourages your heart when it may grow weary. When you are feeling alone, God is there. When you feel tired, He is there. Prayer reminds us, sharpens us, and fine-tunes us.

I have never known the value of being on my face before the Lord as much as I have in this season. When life begins to feel overwhelming, I can promise you, I have been fighting my battles in prayer. The biggest lessons that we learned from being at TFH for 12 years is the importance of prayer. You need to pray more and speak less. Thank you, Pastor Dan, Pastor Tracy and Barb for always encouraging and equipping us so well.

  1. Don’t lose who you are, be confident: If you are 100% sure that the Lord called you or has allowed this season in your life, then what do you have to fear? Is God enough? If HIS voice called us out of the boat, then we should be confident and walk with boldness straight to the King of Kings… easier said than done, I know.

Being different and standing out at Bethel has been one of the largest challenges for me. I have to be OK with who I am even if I am loud, have crazy hair and tattoos. I stand out to say the least. But I am me, not because it’s who I am but it’s who I am in Christ and who HE made me to be. I feel the temptation to change and be molded into someone who stands out less. The Lord worked on my heart for many years so that I would feel confident to be myself today. I will NOT allow the enemy to take that victory away from the Lord.

Transition in any phase of life is difficult. When I transitioned to being a mom, I remember feeling overwhelmed all the time by this new responsibility. Then I started homeschooling (someone should have warned me you’ll never shower again and that dry shampoo is a miracle from Jesus), which has shown me to let go of expectations and control. I also made the transition in my life to be a caregiver for my mom who was dying of cancer. I am thankful for those moments when I didn’t take things too seriously and I was able to laugh with my mom… but who am I now because of it? Am I ok with who the Lord has made me to be through it? Now we found ourselves in a new home and new family. Are we OK with where God has brought us, or are we going to be resentful for where the Lord has taken us? No way! Our God is a GOOD Father and cares for us deeply. We have a strong foundation of knowing who God is, and we have been able to walk through things in life experiencing healing and trusting the Lord. If we didn’t have those things, life’s transitions, no matter how big or small, would have taken us out of the game, and we would have sunk. Be strong and courageous, girls, stand tall for the Lord. Be confidant in who He is.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Heather Brown is a mom of three amazing kids and married to the love of her life and high school sweetheart for 17 years. She and her husband attended The Father’s House for 12 years and worked for 10 years specifically with the youth. They got called to a new assignment at Bethel in Escondido about a year ago where they attend now. Some activities that fill Heather’s soul are repurposing things, crafting, water coloring, hiking and spending time with her family.