Thursday, March 31, 2011


And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed. (Genesis 39:20-23)

Success? You call this success? Joseph was betrayed, falsely accused, punished, and abandoned. Not quite the epitome of what we would call success. I looked it up, one dictionary definition of success is attainment of wealth, favor or eminence. Joseph is considered to be a foreshadow of Jesus Christ. Betrayal, false accusation, punishment, abandonment these are a far cry from attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.

Speaking of success, remember back in your late teens or early twenties? The success that you were sure was to come your way? I just reconnected with a college friend on Facebook this week. We used to sit and talk for hours, we had all the answers. We knew success would come our way, our fiancĂ©es would be the perfect husbands, we would have just the “right” number of kids, manage home and career. Hmm, life sure doesn’t look like I thought it would back then.

But wait there is another dictionary definition of success: a favorable or desired outcome. Desired outcome… whose desired outcome? Did Joseph’s imprisonment seem like success? Did Christ’s crucifixion seem like success? They are a success because they are God’s desired outcome. “The Lord made it succeed.”

The Lord was with Joseph, and is with you. He is Immanuel (all year round not just at Christmas time) which means God with us.

O Lord God, you are Immanuel, always with us. Thank you for bringing to pass your desired outcome. Remind us to attribute every success to you. Renew us continually in our baptismal grace so that we may serve you all the days of our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior from sin, death and the devil. Amen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Reason to Rejoice!

Read Romans 5:6-11

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us... Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:7,11)

Last week when my girls were playing school, they moved the dry-erase board easel out from the wall. I know this because its location is right in the middle of our entryway. (In our small home our entryway doubles as our play-room.) The easel had been moved out slightly from the wall at an angle so as to better serve the “students” in my daughter’s “class.”

For whatever reason, it stayed that way. The walkway is still large enough for a regular person to get thru. However, when a regular person (like myself) is carrying a large baby-carrier - getting past this easel becomes a challenge. When I have my hands full and I’m trying to get out, I have not done the smart thing: Put everything down, move the dumb easel, and save myself future frustration. Instead I literally swing the carrier past, putting myself and my children in danger, and grumble as I dash out of the house.

Finally today, in the midst of a rushed and equally frustrating morning, I did my one smart thing today - I stopped and moved what was in my way.

What a difference it immediately made. I laughed as I walked down the stairs - with ease - and thought to myself, about how such a slight change could make such an enormous difference.

These days I’m stressed. Like my fellow moms, I have a lot going on, my house is a mess, and I just can’t seem to find enough hours in the day. Any sort of balance to life has been slipping away these last few weeks. Struggling to fix it, I've been trying to get a hold on how my day should look... making lists and rearranging priorities... creating a new “schedule” to help me get on track. But instead of progress, I’ve felt like I’m drowning in all I have to do.

I know I’ve not been spending enough time in God’s Word - daily - like I should. While I keep telling Him he’s at the top of my list, it sure doesn’t look like it. My worries have taken over. My day is spent more in grumbling than in prayer. If I would just stop and refocus with Him, I’d probably feel a lot better.

It wouldn’t change my circumstances or “fix” all my messes like magic. I know those things aren’t part of the promise.

But just that slight move - pushing the easel back against the wall; opening my Bible before jumping in the shower (yes, I hope to get a shower tomorrow) - might change my entire day. I need a change in perspective and it might not require much time or even that much energy. I need to stop and move what’s in my way: Me.

Because it turns out Jesus didn’t die for me so I could spend my day beating myself up. He didn’t offer himself as a sacrifice so that I can be free to complain. His death gives life - a life of joy! His offering means I can celebrate, EVERYDAY! Because it’s not about ME and all the things I can’t get done. It’s about Him and all that He can do.

My kids will only be little for so long, I was reminded today. My house will no longer be messy, and the laundry will not be so overwhelming. After refocusing with God, I know He wants me to find joy in the midst of my messes. I can see that I will be a better Mom to my babies if I can praise the Lord in my messy kitchen. If I can give thanks at the end of the day when my to-do list is incomplete. If I can focus on my Savior and not my shortcomings.

Lord, help me focus on your gifts, instead of my weaknesses. Give me joy and thanksgiving today, no matter how much I get done, or leave undone. Your salvation is all me and my family need to celebrate today. Thank you for this day.. and this crazy life. Amen.

Quit that bellyaching!

Do everything without grumbling or arguing.  Philippians 2:14

"Quit that bellyaching!"  I remember hearing that phrase often while growing up.  Usually it came while I was cleaning my room, working on memory work for Sunday School or picking beans in the garden.  You know, whatever task that a normal kid hates to do.

And now I'm a mother myself.  Just this weekend I found myself telling Ethan that same thing.  "Quit that bellyaching!"  He complained about taking out the garbage, about mailing a letter for me, about playing with his brother.  It just seemed that old mom couldn't get it right--that all he wanted to do was bask in front of the TV all weekend.

Don't you wonder if God doesn't want to say that to us from time to time?  "Quit that bellyaching!"  He might want to say that on a Sunday morning, when  all we want to do is turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.  Or that time when you don't feel like volunteering at the church bake sale because it takes away a free Saturday.  Even when you're so tired of fighting with the kids over learning memory work you just don't think you can stand it anymore.  "Quit that bellyaching!"

We are sinful people, after all.  Complaining and arguing comes to us as natural as breathing.  From childhood on, we would rather do what WE want to do, unlike what we were TOLD to do.  But that's why our God sent His Son to die on the cross for us.  He went to that cross, without complaint, without argument, to forgive us for all the times that we complain and argue.  It's something to remember the next time we feel like complaining.

Dear Father, it's hard to get through this life without complaint.  There seem to be days when nothing seems to go right.  Thank you for sending Your Son to the cross.  We know He did that without complaint or argument.  We praise you for washing us of our sins.  Help us to be without complaint, and to live our lives for you.  Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Settling the Score

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

The tears start flowing not long after the realization hits. I’m not sure if it has to do more with the competitor, or the type of competition, but losing at board games is a tough pill for a certain ten year old boy to swallow. A well fought battle, an ingenious strategy, a lucky roll, none of these seem to matter. It is definitely not about how you play the game with my son. It’s all about that win or loss column.

I too am more competitive than I like to admit, so when it comes to confessing my mistakes, my weaknesses, my losses, I dig my heels in, and at any time the tears could start flowing.

But here’s my score sheet; as a sinner, I know that before my feet even hit the ground this morning, I have to mark this day down as a loss. I know that no matter what my strategy, my thoughts, words, and deeds are no match for my competitor. Sin, death, and the devil greet me with their dance of victory before I even get to make my first move. I can play my best game every day, and still have to put that tally mark in the loss column.

Take heart child of God, though it may appear to be, the game isn’t over. Get your eraser out, and get ready to do your own dance of victory.

We don’t play by the devil’s rules! In fact, it’s not even our game to win or lose. Christ has won the victory for me, and for you, and for all people! Thanks be to God! It’s not about how we play the game; it’s about how Christ played it for us. It is indeed all about that win or loss column, and because of His life, death, and resurrection, we are winners every time.

Confess your mistakes, your weaknesses, and your losses to your Savior. Help your children to do the same, and then dance! Dance with your children today, (background music optional,) and celebrate your victory in Christ.

Jesus Our Victor,

You took my sins to the cross, and settled my score. I praise you for the forgiveness I receive each day because of your sacrifice. May my dance of victory point others toward the salvation you won for all people.

In Your Name Alone, Amen

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Got Milk?

NOTE: After I wrote this post, I went back to look at past blog entries and noticed that this topic has come up a couple of times already. It must be something that mommies struggle with on a regular basis, so I decided to go ahead and post this one. To read more about this topic click here and here.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,”
1 Peter 2:2

In addition to Growing His Kids, I subscribe to several other blogs that I keep up with on a regular basis. Most of them are written by other Christian moms, and while they are often inspiring and uplifting, if I’m being honest, they can also leave me feeling inadequate or lazy in my vocation as a wife and mother. Who has time to make 3 meals a day from scratch?? Apparently lots of moms do. I am not one of those moms. I’m sure the intent of the writer is not to make me feel like less of a wife or mother, and I’m also sure that these moms wouldn’t tell you that they have it all together either, but it sure appears that they do sometimes.

One area of my life where this really hits home is in my personal time with God. It wasn’t so very long ago that I just couldn’t seem to find the time to read God’s Word on a regular basis beyond reading Bible stories to my babies. I would read these blog posts from moms who wake up with the sun so they can have their coffee and devotional time before anyone else in the house wakes up. Some of these amazing super moms even get a workout and a shower in during that time as well! What a great idea! On paper. In real life, at least in my real life, that is just about as practical as making every meal from scratch with a 27 month old and a 9 month old at my feet. But just like the verse from 2 Peter says, as our babies need milk to grow and thrive, we need milk too; spiritual milk.

There is nothing more important than our relationship with our Heavenly Father. There are numerous times in Scripture that Jesus goes off somewhere by Himself, often to a mountain, to spend time with His Father (Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23). If Jesus needed time alone with God, how much more do we? This was something I so desperately craved and needed, and I had to get over my perfectionism and belief that if I couldn’t be like those super moms, then I had somehow failed. The important thing for me was to make the time no matter when it happened. So, I have found my “mountain,” my solitary, quiet place where I can spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word. After the children are asleep for the night and the chores are done, I go to my mountain and spend time with my Heavenly Father. If I can’t start my day in this manner for now, at least I can end it this way. When I miss it for whatever reason, I can really tell a difference. Mommies really do need milk too!

Gracious Lord,
Thank You for the gift of Your Word that nourishes us in our faith and in our relationship with You. Forgive us when we don’t make time for You in our busy days, and send Your Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with a craving for pure spiritual milk that only You can satisfy. In the name of Your Son, Jesus,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Barbies In My Bathtub

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7, NLT

Most every day ends with a relaxing soak in my bathtub. It is my way of winding down, being by myself to think and pray, and to let go of the tension of the day. Not only am I protective of my time to relax, but I am protective of the actual tub itself. As a mother, so many things are not my own. I can't sit down to watch the news without someone asking to watch Yo Gabba Gabba or Max and Ruby. I recently got a new phone, and my daughters ask me over and over if they can play games on it. And after having my third baby, I don't recognize my body anymore and wish I could have younger version back. But I have my bathtub.

Or HAD my bathtub.

After we moved into our new house, my girls repeatedly asked me if they could take a bath in my tub, which is one of those big, soaking tubs. I always said no because it was mine--the last thing I didn't have to share with anyone. I was determined to protect my tub from a little girl invasion. But in one weak moment, I allowed them to use it, and now the tub is no longer mine. There are Barbies and rubber duckies and Dora dolls surrounding my tub. I let them in and they have taken over.

I tried to control the one thing that I didn't want to share with anyone. The tub was mine and no one was getting in. Isn't that how our relationship with God can be sometimes? We have one (or sometimes more) area of our lives that we don't want God anywhere near. Maybe it is too painful. Maybe it is too embarrassing. Maybe we aren't ready to deal with it. Or maybe we think we can handle it on our own.

Whatever the case may be, God wants all of you. He wants to heal the places that hurt. He wants to repair the brokenness and He wants to shed light on the darkness. Instead of relying on ourselves and laying claim to certain territories in our lives, God wants us to lay those at His feet and ask him to enter.

God probably won't leave Barbies all over your bathtub, but I promise that He will leave hope and grace and love and peace . . . and you will never be the same!

Dear God, Sometimes I try to control areas of my life and don't let you in. But I am trusting you and asking you to overwhelm me with your love and grace. Help me to trust you more each day and to allow you into all areas of my life . . . even the ones I don't want anyone to see.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I need to Praise the Lord

Let everything that has breath Praise the Lord.  
Psalm 150:6

One of the sure signs of spring, at least in rural farmland where I live, is birds singing early in the morning.  As I've awakened to that several times recently it brings to my mind the verse above.

How often do our children and husbands hear us nag, criticize, complain, gossip, etc?.  These things are easy to do!  But along those same lines how often do they hear us praising the Lord?  There are so many things to praise  God for each and every day!  Our children need to learn from us to Praise him for both the big and little things in life!  Let's face it, there are days when I am just as thankful for not burning dinner as I am for beautiful weather.  

Today I am going to try to Praise God more for the blessings he gives us and I'm going to encourage my family to do the same.  I'm going to make a conscious effort to Praise God out loud each hour today, will you join me?

Heavenly Father,
You bless my family beyond measure each and every day.  Forgive me when I don't acknowledge those blessings.  Thank you for the greatest of all blessings, your son Jesus!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Faithful God

Who is like you, LORD God Almighty?
You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
Psalm 89:8

We pulled onto the interstate. Our family was exhausted from a day of shopping. I was ready to enjoy a quiet ride home.

“Lightening!” my 7 year-old calls out. Chaos quickly overtakes the back of the van as my daughters begin the hysteria. I try to calm them and reassure them. They are somewhat satisfied - momentarily - but then the 3 year-old just can’t let it go.

“Oh no! I saw it again! Mommy! Lightning!” Then she begins the questions...

“What if Abraham and Jesus and God are getting rained on!?”

“Why will they not be hurt?”

“Why is lightening a part of thunderstorms, Mommy?”

“Why is that the way the earth was made to work?”

“Find a way to cheer me up fast!” she begged.

It was sweet how much faith she had in me to answer her questions and make her feel better. But I just felt like I didn’t have much to give. She was finally quiet if I would hold her hand. (You know how easy that is to do from the front seat.) And I knew I didn’t have very good answers for her questions. All I could think about was how tired I was and how sore my feet were. Can I answer these questions tomorrow? I needed a Time-Out that turns into a nap. My kids get away with that all the time and I wanted one too.

Thank you, Lord, that my Heavenly Father is never too tired to listen to MY questions. So glad that my Jesus will never check-out for the day, as I have occasionally been tempted.

At any time of day I can offer up my fears – lightening storms or otherwise.

At any moment, I can pray a prayer of perseverance to get me thru a grocery shopping trip or a doctor visit.

At every turn, I know my God is listening with a loving ear. He is happy to hear from me. His patience is never-ending.

And maybe even more comforting, is that he knows the answers to my questions. Unlike my pieced-together answers and - let’s face it – guesses about the way the world works, God’s plan was carefully crafted and He knows how it all fits together. He is in control, no matter how crazy my day. No matter how frightening that lightening is, or how it seems to be surrounding me – He holds me in his loving arms.

THIS is what I want my children to learn from me. I might not be able to answer their questions. I might be falling asleep as my 3 year-old explains how Abraham and Jesus ARE in the rain and they are getting wet. But I hope that when push comes to shove, they can see who I trust with my questions and fears. My God who never sleeps. My Jesus who knows the answers. My faithful, mighty God.

Lord, Thank you for being a mighty, faithful God who will always be there for me.. and my children. Thank you for your consistency. Forgive me for my inconsistency. Forgive me for not turning to you when I should. Reveal to my children the loving Father that you are, and teach our family to seek you and find peace in your arms.

Friday, March 18, 2011

His Power

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Sometime ago I was told that if I wanted to give my kids what they need the most, I would give my marriage the attention it needs. That while the right discipline, structure, and meals are valuable; the strength of my marriage is key.

Sometimes I forget this bit of information. Frequently I am too busy with the kids, the house, the bills, the laundry, and the meals – to pay much attention to my partner. We both have busy lives – between his job and mine there just isn’t a lot of time. And we don’t have a lot of money, either. So paying a babysitter every week and going “out,” isn’t really an option.

Last weekend I attended a conference where the speaker (on marriage) asked us, “Does the heart of your husband safely trust you?” “Do you do him good? or evil?”

Powerful questions cut thru to my soul. If my husband’s heart can trust me, that means I am not judging him when he shares a mistake he made. It means I’m not nagging him (without even thinking about it) when I see that chore I want him to do. It means I’m not criticizing with harsh words.

If I want “to do him good,” I’m building him up. I’m respecting him and his judgment and sharing words of compassion when he shares a misstep. I’m his partner and I encourage him and ask him how I can help. I’m strengthening him with my words and paying attention to my tone.

Marriage is really hard. So is being a mom. I’m not getting much sleep and I have a lot on my plate. After my conference last weekend I was reeling. How am I going to process all this? What do I do first? I have so much to think about and I need to go home to my husband and be the wife he needs me to be… How, Lord? Then it hit me. I wasn’t going to make a detailed outline of what to do. I wasn’t going to list out all the things I’d learned or that had been suggested. I was way too tired.

So I prayed. Lord, I forgot, again, that this isn’t about me and my abilities. It’s about you and what you can do… in my marriage, in my family, in my heart. Lord, whatever needs to change – change it. Whatever needs to be forgiven – forgive it. Whatever log I need to pull from my eye – pull it. Make it happen inside me, Lord. And give me the words - that my husband needs to hear from me. Give me the energy - to make him a priority. Wrap our marriage up in your protective arms and strengthen it. For the sake of our children. And for the sake of your Son. That we can be an example of your power being made perfect in weakness. Amen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Precious. Honored. Loved.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mind. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through
the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will
not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you . . . "
Isaiah 43: 1-4

Precious: of great value, dear, and beloved. Honored: to hold in honor or high respect; revered. Loved: to have love for. Don't we all want to be called all of those things? Precious, honored, loved.

Every person has had a time in their lives when they didn't feel any of those things. Maybe you are in a marriage that's struggling. Maybe you are parenting children who don't appreciate the meals you cook and laundry you do. Maybe your jeans don't fit because babies change bodies and precious is just not what comes to mind when you look in the mirror. And loved might not be how you feel if you've never forgiven yourself for a sin that once infested your life.

At the same time, we can all think of a time when we felt precious, honored, and loved and experienced those feelings about someone else in our lives. As I walked down the aisle on my wedding day on my father's arm, I felt incredibly loved. Not only was I walking toward a man who loved me unconditionally and more incredibly than I even realized at the time, I had been loved by my parents who raised me and gave me all kinds of opportunities to be the girl God made me to be.

My little son is eight months old, and he is the most precious little boy. His laugh is precious, the way he plays with my necklace when I hold him is precious, and the way that he crawls with everything in him to get the tv remote is precious. I look at him and my heart swells.

This is how God feels about us, multiplied by a million. We can't even understand the depth of God's love for us. Even when you don't feel precious or honored or loved, remember how you felt when you held your child for the first time or saw that first smile. Know that no matter what is going on in your life or whatever sin has a hold on you, God has written the words precious, honored, and loved on your hearts. There is nothing you can do to take that away.

As parents, we have a responsiblity to not only understand God's love for us, but to make sure our children understand as well. There are so many forces in their world that will tell them that they aren't good enough or pretty enough or special. But we know that's not true and owe it to them to make sure they know too . . . just how much they are precious, honored, and loved by us and by God.

God . . . we often feel beat up, ugly, and not good enough. Please help us to understand your love for us and choose to live in that love instead of the sin of this world. Give our children hearts that love you. Thank you for loving us and doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

God Our Father

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.

2 John 1:3-4

There are so many things that I never thought I would hear myself say, or at least not have to say so many times, before I became a mother. “The plunger is not a toy!” “I am going to the bathroom, by myself.” “Chew with your lips closed.” “We walk in church.” “Stop licking your sister!”

Imagine, the number of things our Heavenly Father never wanted to hear himself say. “I am not in your midst.” “I’m sorry that I have made them.” “I never knew you, depart from me.” Heartbreaking words for any parent to have to speak.

But, these are not the words he speaks to us as believers. He has quite the opposite response for us, especially when it comes to his Word.

*My Word is intended for your enjoyment. Make it your pastime. Open every page, inspect every verse, share it with your friends, carry it with you everywhere. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

*Don’t worry, you won’t go anywhere by yourself. I will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

*Stuff yourself full of my words all day long. Let them run from your mouth. (Romans 10:9)

*Skip, run, or crawl into church. I don’t care how you come, just get here. Walk in the truth with your fellow believers. (Matthew 18:20)

*(I haven’t found an appropriate verse to address the “Stop licking your sister,” request. I will let you search the scriptures and get back to me on that one.)

John reminds us that God is our Father. And while God’s parental words call us on the carpet when we are wrong, they also assure of us his love and forgiveness, and absolute presence in our lives. As parents we may find ourselves saying some pretty interesting things, but guided by his Word, our words become ones of love and forgiveness too; always encouraging our children to walk in the truth.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for your inviting, and reassuring words. I even thank you for the words of correction that bring me closer to you. May the words I use with my children today be a reflection of the love we both have for them. Help me follow your example as a parent now and always.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What does the Lord require of you?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
   And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly with your God.   Micah 6:8

My first year of college wasn't an easy one.  It was a big adjustment, living on my own, attending classes that weren't exactly easy.  I remember getting a D in Economics, and it CRUSHED me.  I called my parents in tears.  I had always gotten good grades.  A D was a first for me!  I just couldn't believe that had happened.

My dad asked me, "Well, did you do your best?"  I answered that I did, it was just one of those tough classes.  And he said to me, "That's all we ask of you.  That you do your best."

I've continued that line of reason in my own parenting. Of course we want our children to do well in school and get good grades, but we also know that as long as they do their very best, we'll be proud of them.  It doesn't matter if they get an A on every test.  It doesn't matter if they win the spelling bee.  As long as we see them trying, striving to do well, that's what matters.

God expects the same from us.  He knows that we're not going to be perfect every second of every day.  He knows there's going to be sin in our lives.  What does He ask of us?  "To act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  There's no way that we can live without sin.  No mortal human being can do this, because of the sin Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden.  But we can try.  We can live these words, we can instill them in our children, knowing that when we do mess up, Christ came to the world to save us from those very sins. 

He is the very reason we can do our best.

Dear Heavenly Father, we know that we are not without sin.  Day by day we strive to do our best, working to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.  But there are times when we just can't do it.  Thank you for sending Your Son, our Savior, to save us from those sins.  Thank you for helping us do our best.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Called by God

"And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him." Genesis 7:5

The story of Noah is a very popular one. I’m sure that many of us have tried to imagine what it must have been like for Noah when God called on him to build the ark. How terrifying it must have been to be told by God that He would destroy the world with a flood because of the wickedness of man. Do you ever wonder if Noah asked, “Why me? I don’t know if I can do all that You have asked me to do.”

God called Noah to perform a huge task, but He did not leave him guessing at how to fulfill the tasks that he had been called to. God laid out for Noah the specific measurements and instructions to build this massive floating vessel. He told him how many of the different types of clean and unclean animals to bring on the ark with him. He led Noah and helped in this monumental task.

Jesus later did the same when he called 12 men to the special task of being His apostles. In Mark 3:14 it says, “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with Him and have authority to drive out demons.” Jesus was with these men and taught them as He walked through His earthly ministry. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, God sent His Holy Spirit to the disciples to lead and guide them in the ministry they were called to do. They were then able to share what they had learned with those who heard them. Peter says in Acts 2:26 “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Doesn’t God do the same with each of us in the special and specific tasks that He has called us to do? In Proverbs 22:6 God tells us, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” As parents we have been called by God to train our children in His ways. We are to bring our children to worship where they hear God’s Word. We are to teach them what God says is right and wrong through His commandments. We are to bring them to baptism so that they may be forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This is a huge task that God has called us to do, but He does not leave us alone to do it. Through His Holy Spirit and His Word, God shows us the way. God gives us His promise of salvation for us to share with our children.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for calling us to the special task of parenting our children and raising them in knowledge of You and faith in Your Son Jesus. Forgive us for the times we try to do it our own way, forgetting to follow Your guidance. Help us to remain strong in Your Word as You guide us in fulfilling this special task. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Got Wisdom?

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might...He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
Daniel 2:20-21

Daniel was in a position where God had just revealed to him the answer to King Nebuchadnezzar's troubling dreams, thus sparing the lives of Daniel and all the other wise men of Babylon. Daniel blesses God's name, acknowledges Him as owning wisdom and might, and then praises God for what He has shared with Daniel. Isn't it interesting that he credits God for giving "wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding"?

Even though I trust in Christ, I still find myself in daily situations where I could use specific wisdom and understanding.
"Am I handling my toddler's behavior in a way that honors God?
How will I show my second child as much love and respect as our first-born?
Is the time I spend on my marriage reflective of the grace God has given me?"

I am encouraged by Daniel's example to be reminded that God is not a genie in a bottle that is to be consulted just when problems arise, but instead, He desires an ongoing relationship with us. As we remain connected to The Vine through regular time in The Word, prayer, and participation in the Means of Grace, God uses these gifts to make us wise and give us understanding. Then, when times of specific questions or troubles arise, as we are already in the habit of talking with and listening to our Heavenly Father, we can trust that He is ready and desires to graciously give us extra wisdom and knowledge to deal with our particular circumstances.

What a privilege that as parents, we can start influencing even our pre-born children with prayers and speaking God's Word over them. As our children grow and start making their own decisions, it's a comfort to know that God will use the time we have invested in growing their godly wisdom and understanding to draw them to Himself for the answers to life's dilemmas.

Heavenly Father,
Please draw me into Your Word and prayer with you on a regular basis. Help my children also to be in such a habit of learning at Your feet that when they come with specific troubles or concerns, they receive the extra wisdom and knowledge that You can provide. Help us to rest in knowing that You care for us and are generous with sharing Your wisdom.
In Jesus' name,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Children and Money

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

My daughter, Jenna, rides the bus to school. Last year, she made friends with some older kids and came home asking me for an iPod because many of them had one. After I declined her request, she got very upset and couldn't understand why we wouldn't just go to the store and pick one up for her. In that moment, I realized that she had no idea about the value of money or how it worked in our day to day lives. My husband and I took that opportunity to start teaching our kids about money.

Why teach kids about money? First, how we understand and handle money has a direct correlation to our spiritual lives. Money is a competitor in our love for and attention to God. It can easily get in the way of our relationship with God if we don't handle it right and/or place it above Him. As parents, we are the only ones who can model and teach our kids how to appropriately deal with money. And most importantly, kids need to know that God is their ultimate provider. When they understand that money really doesn't grow on trees but that it is God-given, their faith will grow. They will understand the freedom and joy in giving as well as being good stewards of God's gifts to us.

Next, teaching kids about money prepares them to be responsible adults who will someday run a Christ-centered household of their own. Understanding the difference between a want and a need, the importance of saving, and the joy in giving to God and other people will help shape their financial habits early and give the a good chance at financial health in the long run.

After some trial and error, we have found a system that works for our family in teaching our children about money. Each child has three envelopes that are kept in a certain place in their rooms. The three envelopes are "give," "save," and "spend." Each week, they are required to do chores (age appropriate) in order to receive their allowance. When they receive their allowance or any other monetary gift they are to put 10% in "give," 10% in "save," and the rest goes in their "spend" envelope (or wallet). Typically, they use their "give" envelope for Sunday School offerings. We encourage that 10% of their money to only go to church. We are trying to model tithing a bit for them. Any time that they have wanted to give to some other cause, they have used their "spend" money.

Did Jenna ever get that iPod that she wanted? No:) But she did save up $25 for an MP3 player. It took her months! But she saved and saved, which meant that she didn't spend and spend! She had a goal and learned that she couldn't just impulsively buy something else that caught her eye at the store because she had a bigger goal in mind. I was very proud of her!

God is the provider of our needs, and just as we have learned to be good stewards of what He has given us, we owe it to our kids to give them the tools to be good stewards too.
Dear Jesus, Thank you for all you have given to us. Thank you for providing for us and loving us so much that you would send your Son to die on the cross for us. Please help us to use your gifts wisely so that more people would know about You. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:5-11

My 12 year old daughter recently purchased a book titled Coke or Pepsi? The book poses
all sorts of opinion questions that the girls are supposed to answer. For example, do you prefer to drink Coke or Pepsi? I suppose the idea is to get girls talking to each other, as if they need any help with that! Not to be outdone, my 10 year old son came home with a similar book for boys. It is titled Would You Rather…? Not surprisingly, the back of the book encourages the reader to “Challenge your friends with over 300 disgusting dilemmas!”

If someone were to write a book like this for moms, it would probably come closer to the
boy version. I’ll leave it to your imagination to come up with disgusting or difficult motherhood dilemmas. My personal list could go on for quite awhile.   Unfortunately, as moms, we have no choice but to deal with difficult dilemmas. When we became a mother, our selfish nature was forced into the backseat. When our children are babies we quickly realize that for every cute and cuddly Kodak moment, there are about 10 unpleasant moments. This ratio doesn’t change as they get older. Helping them make God-pleasing choices, or making these decisions for them, often involves a battle.

Thankfully, the biggest battle, the most difficult task to complete, has been done for
us. The price of our sins has been paid. God’s plan for our salvation put Christ on the road to
Calvary. Along the way he held unwaveringly to His Father’s plan. He battled with religious
leaders. He touched disgusting, diseased people. He encouraged his disciples to make the right
choices and reprimanded them when they didn’t. He spent his life surrounded by the unclean
and rejected of society and then suffered unimaginable pain and death. The easy way out was
never an option for him.

When we are faced with days of unpleasant choices, we need to remember our ultimate
goal. The reward at the end of our life is eternity with our savior. My daily prayer is for my
children to have this as their goal as well.

Dear Lord, please help us to focus on you. Too often we get caught up in self-pity. We listen
to a world that encourages us to reward ourselves in this life. You set the perfect example for us and then you took our punishment. Help our attitudes toward our daily tasks to reflect this
marvelous truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Keep on running

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

As parents, we are always on the go.  Get the kids to school, run errands, clean house, fold laundry, put away laundry, make dinner, help with homework, put pajamas on, get everyone in bed...whew.  Aren't there some days when you feel like you're just running in place, and nothing is happening?  Like the laundry--there's ALWAYS laundry to be done, even when you're putting the last load away in the drawers.

It is so easy to get tired of our vocation as parents.  We feel like we're always running, but never going anywhere.  It would be so easy to say, "I QUIT!" and walk away from it all.  

Imagine how Jesus himself must have felt.  He was out there, proclaiming the Gospel.  At every turn, there He came upon opposition to his preaching.  At the Garden of Gethsemane, He faced the fact that he was about to die for OUR sins.  Yet He never got tired of it.  He kept preaching.  Even that night in the garden, He prayed, "Thy will be done."

God has a plan for all of us.  He knows where we're going in life.  He watches over us as we parent our children.  He is there every step of the way.  It's such a comfort, knowing that we are not alone in this race that we're running.  If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we'll find the way.  We'll never get lost, we'll never run out of energy to keep going.  We throw off those thoughts of quitting, and keep on going.

The prize--eternal life in Heaven--is so worth it, isn't it?

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that parenting isn't easy.  There are days that I don't think I can keep going.  Thank you for your presence.  Thank you for showing me the way when I feel like I'm lost.  Most of all, thank you for sending Your Son to give me the ultimate prize of eternal life in heaven.  In Your name I pray, Amen.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

I memorized this verse  when I was 16 years old.  The Northridge earthquake had recently struck our home and it happened at 4:3O a.m.  Sleep evaded me, I was terrified of another huge earthquake hitting.  A close friend, living in Colorado at the time, sent me a letter containing this verse and encouraged me to memorize it.  I soon found myself reciting this verse over and over as the months of aftershocks continued.

This is a verse that has remained close to my heart.  As a mother, sleep is often hard to come by for a variety of reasons.  And although this verse does nothing to help with sick kids or crying newborns, it does bring a peace over me when I am up at night because of worry.  It's easy to stay up and worry about our children, sickness, money, severe weather, and all sorts of troubles we encounter.  

It's also a verse that I have found helpful to share with my kids as they are afraid of sleeping or having nightmares.  

We have a great God who is more powerful than any danger and problems that we encounter.  There is a peace in knowing that he always has me in his care.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the peaceful rest you provide us with to refresh and renew ourselves as mothers .  Please help us to remember that even as we sleep you are in control and watching over us.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Plugged In to what your Family is Watching

As parents we have a responsibility to know what our kids are hearing and seeing in the music, movies, television shows, and video games they encounter.  Some things are a little easier to preview, but something like a movie costs a lot of money and time to check out before letting them.  Our family likes to use the site Plugged In.  It is run by Focus on the Family and gives you the whole run down on content.  

For movies they review are Positive Content, Spiritual Content, Sexual Content, Violent Content, Crude or Profane Language, Drug & Alcohol Content, and other Negative Elements.  Games, TV Shows, and Music are a little less detailed in their review but still give an honest, helpful evaluation.

How Are You Feeling?

Jesus Wept.” John 11:35

Feelings and emotions are a part of every moment of the day. Sometimes the emotions in our homes are good and feel positive and at other times the emotions are not so good and feel like anything but positive. At times, when we are having a rough day, we might feel as if God just doesn’t understand what we are going through. We may ask, “Why God? Do you have any idea how hard this is?”

Our verse today is just one of the many verses in God’s Word that reminds us that God does understand. He knows first-hand exactly what it is like to feel many different emotions. Surrounding this verse is the story of Jesus talking with Martha and Mary after the death of their bother Lazarus. Jesus was friends with Lazarus and when he saw the sadness and mourning, He was moved to tears. Jesus felt sorrow and sadness over the loss of a friend.

Here we are reminded that Jesus, along with being true God, is also truly human. God sent His Son here as a human to “walk in our shoes”, to know what it feels like. We can see other times in Scripture where, in Jesus, God feels the same emotions that we do. He showed anger when He saw the people making the temple like a market place. When Jesus celebrated at the wedding feast of Cana, He surely felt joy and happiness. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemene, feeling the weight of the sins of the whole world bearing down on Him, the stress He felt was so great that He sweat drops of blood. When Jesus was beaten, mocked, and persecuted to earn our salvation, He felt pain.

God does know what we are feeling. He has experienced the same joy, sadness, stress, pain, and anger that we feel as we go through life. Not only does God know how we feel, He carries us through. Jesus came to earth as God and man. He felt the same emotions that we feel every day. He experienced the path that we follow in our earthly lives. He came to suffer and die to take the punishment for our sins. Through faith in Jesus, our beautiful Savior, we will one day begin our eternity with Him in heaven, where we will no longer feel pain, stress, sadness, or grief.

What a wonderful comfort it is to know just how well God really does know everything that we go through in this earthly life. What a wonderful comfort it is to us as parents that we can share with our children and help them to know just how much God knows and understands them and all of their feelings. God does know how we feel!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus, to walk this earth and feel the same emotions that we feel as He journeyed His life here on earth with the purpose of winning salvation for us. Lord, help us to remember to come to You with all of our joy and sorrow knowing that You understand. Help us to teach our children to come to You and share their feelings, knowing that You are always there. Amen.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

They Better Mean It!

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. John 10:27-29

The words of the song were proclaimed loud and clear. “God, you are my God and I will ever praise you. And step by step, you’ll lead me and I will follow you all of my days.”

These were words that I had heard my girls sing several times before from the back seat of the car, through the walls of their bedroom, and even on the front porch, but this time they were different. This time instead of being entertained by the volume and enthusiasm, with which the words were sung, I stood in the back of the church thinking, “They better mean it.”

Oh, how I pray the words of John are true for all of my children! In a perfect world they would hear constantly the word of God from me and from all who surround them. There would be no question that all would inherit the life that has been promised them through the death and resurrection of our Savior. All of creation would remain in the Father’s hand.

This is not however a perfect world. The world is a scary place for my children. No matter how hard I try to monitor everything they are exposed to, I can’t do it, and I find myself flinching at some of the things they hear, see, and say. It seems the only safe place for them is in my arms, and even there I know they feel the repercussions of my sin. This is where prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit come in. It is also where trust in the words of the Savior come in.

I cannot shield my children from everything in this world that would cause them to fall into sin, but I can pick them up with the hand of a forgiving God. I cannot keep them from hearing harsh words from a classmate, but I can make sure they hear His Word through daily devotions. I cannot sensor every message the world gives, but I can proclaim the message of Christ crucified and risen, loud and clear in my home. And I can pray that as my children grow, our great Heavenly Father would keep a tight grip on them when I cannot.

I am praying for your children today too; children who walk step by step with mine in following The One who is greater than all.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for entrusting your children, to our care. Equip us to teach them the words of eternal life, and keep them safe in a world that does not always proclaim your salvation. May our children want to sing of your promises and your glory all throughout their lives.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Where is your treasure?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:16-18

Around the time of Thanksgiving it always starts.  You go to your mailbox, and every day there seems to be a new toy catalog.  Turn on any kid's station on TV and you'll find a barrage of commercials, telling the kids what they NEED for Christmas.  If your kids are anything like mine, they have a Christmas list a mile long.

Christmas comes and goes, and if you're a mom like me, you find yourself saying, "I don't know why we bought you kids these toys.  You don't play with them!"  And in the stores:  "I'm not buying you a new toy--we just got done with Christmas!  You should be playing with the toys you have!"  It seems like no matter how many toys we buy our kids, they're always wanting more.

The same can be said about us as adults, right?  We buy those perfect boots, thinking that's all we need.  But then the store has some different boots come on a great sale, and you start thinking that you could really use those, too.  Or we buy a new car thinking it's the latest and greatest.  But then the new models come out, and your car just doesn't seem right anymore.  We're never really satisfied.

What we need to remember, though, is that these earthy treasures just don't matter.  No matter how much stuff we pile up throughout our lifetime--be it clothes, toys, shoes, whatever--it doesn't matter when it comes to our salvation.  We can't take anything with us.

That's why it's so important to stress to our children that we want to be working more on storing treasures up in Heaven than on Earth.  Enriching our faith with daily Bible reading and devotions.  Giving money to the church offering.  Giving time to those in need.  Sharing our faith with others.  Those are the treasures we need to be concerned with--not the treasures we may want here during our daily life.  As our Scripture today tells us, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the treasure you give us.  Thank you for the gift of eternal life that you share with us--that treasure in Heaven that will never leave us.  Help us to remember that is the treasure that is most important to us--not any treasure that we may have here on Earth.  In your name we pray, Amen.