Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2016 Jan 06
The thing I hate most about being a single mom is vulnerability.
Security is one of my greatest needs, and I remember feeling as if every drop of security was ripped from me. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but my sense of vulnerability seems to increase at night.
I’m blessed to live in a very good neighborhood where it’s common to leave doors unlocked. I try really hard to make sure my doors are locked and garage doors down when I go to bed, but sometimes things happen. And, I wake up in the morning to find we have left ourselves exposed and vulnerable.
Thanksgiving weekend was the worst, however. I was shaken to the core, not sure how I would recover. It was Thanksgiving weekend when we had an unexpected visitor in our home two nights in a row.
About 1:00 am Saturday morning, I heard someone in the house opening doors. Honestly, I thought it was a teenager, and I planned to let him know that he takes his life into his own hands when he chooses to wander through the house at night. I don’t take kindly to being awakened from my sleep, and I already feel vulnerable as the only adult, solely responsible for the safety of my family. Fortunately for my kids, I went back to sleep and forgot about the visitor by morning.
But Sunday morning was different. I am an early riser anyway, so if something wakes me up after 4:00 am, my chances of going back to sleep are nil. And, around 4:30 in the morning, I again heard someone in the house.
Yes, someone in the house. He was coming into the house from the garage. I heard him hit the door leading from the garage into the house. First, I was mad at the kids, ready to let them have it for waking me up. Then, I quickly realized it wasn’t my kids.
I was scared.
I began to wonder what I should do. How do I check out the situation safely? I don’t want to confront an armed intruder. Do I call my daddy to come to my rescue? My security was gone, and I was desperate to find a safe place.
The thoughts flooded my mind. There was once again silence, peace. Perhaps it had all been in my imagination. I closed my eyes, tried to settle down and drift off back to sleep.
And then I heard it again. This time, the door opened. Now I was really scared. These are the times when I long for a man in the house so he can be my knight in shining armor, going into the face of danger to protect me and my children. But, I had no knight on this dark, cold, icy night.
I stayed hunkered down in my bed, contemplating my next action. And that’s when I heard another thump against the door of the utility room. Whoever was in my house was getting closer every second.
I heard the muffled cry…of my cat!
I climbed out of bed and opened the door to the utility room to find her staring up at me, with the door to the garage WIDE OPEN.
Now, if I had not personally checked the door before I went to bed to verify the garage doors were down and the door was latched, I would have assumed someone failed to adequately latch the door. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the door was latched. Tight. Closed securely.
Cat (also known as Tigresse), however, is a very determined animal. She knows what she wants and rarely takes no for an answer. She is finicky. She wants no part of cat food, but will feast on dog food. She wants to be loved until she gets tired of human companionship, at which point she will turn on you. She is a fierce hunter, so kindly leaving her kills of gophers and moles and mice on the back porch for me to find.
And apparently, on this cold, winter, ice storm weekend, the garage accommodations I offered her were not quite up to her standards. So, she found a way to jump up, hit the door handle, unlatch the door, and let herself into the house where it was warm.
She also managed to scare the living daylights out of me.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! … The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:1, 10
My cat has a habit of sneaking in on me. Her purpose is to get what she wants, regardless of how it scares me. She simply wanted the warmth of our house, the comfort of my bed. She was looking out for herself, without regard for anyone else.
As I thought about my cat sneaking into my house, I began to wonder what other thieves might be slipping in on us, what dangers might be lurking around the corner for us. What might be slipping in while we are sleeping, looking to steal away the abundant life God has planned for us?
Maybe it’s something small. Perhaps it’s a bad habit you are always thinking you will kick. It’s not really a big deal; you simply know it’s not the best thing for you. Sin is crouching at your door.
Maybe it’s a besetting sin, a trap you can’t seem to escape. Alcohol. Pornography. Lust. Lying. Over-eating. You beat yourself up over it day after day, knowing it is destroying you. And yet you find yourself in bondage, unable to find freedom. The thief has slipped in the door.
Maybe it’s a sin of omission, knowing you need to do something and yet you can’t bring yourself to be obedient. Maybe you are supposed to write a book. Start a ministry. Return to church. Forgive someone who has wronged you. Share your story. And yet, you can’t summon enough courage to follow through. Sin is slipping in the door.
Perhaps, you’ve been running a good race, following God. Like me, you’ve faced the pain of divorce and you’ve allowed God to rebuild your life. And yet, you are lonely. You are tired of waiting for God to bring your Boaz, your perfect kinsman-redeemer. You’ve decided to settle for someone—someone who is less than God’s best—just to fight the loneliness. Perhaps that someone is leading you away from God instead of closer to him. Perhaps that someone is causing you to turn away from the purpose for which God created you. Perhaps that person is less than God’s best and you know it. The thief has come to steal your life.
But there is hope! With God there is always hope! He promises following his ways gives us abundant life (John 10:10). He promises he has come to set the captives free (Luke 4:18). He promises if we follow his ways, he will make all things work for our good (Romans 8:28). He promises there is always a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I don’t know what you are facing today. I don’t know what challenges, what trials. I don’t know how tired you are, how frustrated you have become. I don’t know how long you have been waiting to see God step in. I don’t know how many times you’ve tried to defeat a besetting sin. I don’t know what sin is lurking at the door of your life, waiting for an opportune time to slip in and steal away the abundant life he has planned.
But I do know God is faithful. He sees you. He hears your cries, your pleas for help. He’s working behind the scenes, putting all the pieces in place to fulfill your heart’s desires (Psalm 37:4). He hasn’t left you or forsaken you.
You simply must trust him. Believe he can and he will. Know his plans for you are beyond your greatest imagination (Ephesians 3:20). Close the door tightly. Latch it. Lock it. Stand guard for those little things seeking to encroach upon you.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
(P.S. My son actually caught the cat in action! He recorded that sneaky critter on his phone jumping up and pulling the door handle.)