Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A happy marriage equals a happy family

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 
Ephesians 5:21-28

Every year, my husband and I farm out the kids, and take off by ourselves for a couple days.  We stay in a hotel, and attend our district's wellness conference.  It's been a great time for us, not only to learn and be in the Word together, but to also take care of our marriage.

Some people may take this as we're having problems in our marriage. It's not that we're having problems, per se. But part of being married is working at it. It doesn't come simple, it doesn't come without a lot of work. And these conferences are part of that.

Two years ago, we had a wonderful speaker on marriage.  He had two wonderful points:
  • Our relationship with Christ is interwoven with our relationship with our spouse.
  • Our bond in our marriage connects our children to their relationship with Christ. Again, everything is interwoven.
It amazed me to think about the fact that all our relationships are connected. We are in marriage, interwoven with Christ. We procreate, weaving in our children. Our friendships and other relationships with family are woven in with that. Everything is connected, always with the foundation of Christ.

The most important point?  "By stewarding ourselves and our marriages, we are enhancing the mission. We are blessing an entire congregation, and impacting the body of Christ." Powerful, right? Taking this time out--without our children--to learn, to reconnect, to have fun, to be intimate with each other, is integral not only in our relationship, but in our relationships with others. If our marriage suffers, so does our mission with the body of Christ.

I want to urge you, dear readers, to take time with your spouse, whether it is just a date night or a few days away. Take care of that relationship, take time to remember the bond that God has created between the two of you. Our marriage is blessed because of this time, and I personally think that we come back from these weekends stronger, and more able to take on the stress of "normal" life. Because if Mommy and Daddy aren't happy, no one is happy!

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the marriages you have blessed us with.  Help us to honor our spouses and our children by taking care of those marriages.  Remind us to take time with our spouses, to reconnect with them. Thank you for sending your Son, as a wonderful model to how our marriages should be.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Monday, May 30, 2011

An Answer to Prayer

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

The news has been especially seedy lately. Not just the news, but also our reaction to it. Whether it’s Harold Camping and the end of the world, or the latest celebrity to have their adultery publicized, everyone has an opinion. And thanks to the internet and endless talk and news shows, there is no shortage of platforms on which to share. It is all too easy to make others an object of our ridicule, mockery, or just plain amusement. Even the victims of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri seem to be fair game.

Some of the comments posted on-line show great compassion while others are just plain maddening, but one note I read recently prompted my own desire for a platform. The comment was in response to a previous one stating that the writer would keep the people of Joplin in their prayers. Here was the reaction; “The people of Joplin don’t need prayers, they need people to come and help!”

This idea, no, this lie frustrates me. I want to reach across time and space, and look into the eyes of the writer and say, “People will come and help. They will bring clothes, and food, and medical supplies, and God’s promise of grace and salvation through his son Jesus. Don’t you see? People will come and help because they are an answer to our prayers. This is one of the many ways God cares for his children.”

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working,” James 5:16.

The day after the tornado struck, several members of our community were already making plans to head to Joplin, and even more were flooding their garages with supplies. God has created us all to show his love through very tangible means to his children when they need it most. He has created us to be his feet and hands, offering the love of Him who sends us.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working,” James 5:16.

You may not have the time or resources to help the people of Joplin, but he has placed you in the midst of those in need in your own neighborhood. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith so that you can provide an answer to prayer to the glory of God and his Son. Your willingness to plan supper for a friend who is ill, shop for a neighbor who is homebound, or pack sandbags in preparation for a flood, your words of comfort and hope in our Savior; these are the good work paths which God has prepared for you to walk.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working,” James 5:16.

What a blessing it is to know that God does indeed hear our prayers, and uses us in the depth of our sin, to care for his most prized possession. How privileged we are to share all our gifts of God. You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for this.

Merciful Father,

May I never doubt that you hear and answer all my prayers. Guide my responses to those in need so that all I say and do may glorify your name. Help me use the earthly gifts you have given me to care for my neighbors and point them always to the eternal gifts of grace, faith, and salvation through your son, Jesus Christ.

In His Name Alone, Amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Blessed Flood?

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.

Psalm 29:10

Today is the last day of school for my children! However, the mood is not as celebratory as in years past. Why? Because our community is preparing for a flood. This flood is not a maybe thing, nor are we unaware when it will occur. We know that the Missouri River is rising, and we know that it will be well above flood stage before the weekend arrives. All we can do as a community is prepare, and be ready.

So there is fear, and worry, and also a great sense of everyone pitching in and helping their neighbors. 

And yet, we can rest in the comfort that we know exactly who sits enthroned over the flood. Are we alone as we fight this flood? No. Are we alone when we fight the other floods of this life? No. 

And then I am comforted by the fact that the very water that has the power to destroy communities is the very same water that is used to grant us life and salvation through Holy Baptism. It gives entirely new strength to the words of Martin Luther, "How can water do such great things?" God continues to save us through the washing and rebirth of baptism, and he will surely be with our community as we fight floodwaters.

A fitting prayer for us all today is one used during the order of Holy Baptism:

Almighty and Eternal God, according to Your strict judgement You condemned the unbelieving world through the flood, yet according to Your great mercy You preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all. You drowned hard-hearted Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea, yet led Your people Israel through the water on dry ground, foreshadowing this washing of Your Holy Baptism. Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, You sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin.

We pray that You would behold us according to Your boundless mercy and bless us with true faith by the Holy Spirit , that through this saving flood all sin in us, which has been inherited from Adam and which we ourselves have committed since, would be drowned and die. 

Grant that we be kept safe in the holy ark of the Christian Church, being separated from the multitude of unbelievers and serving Your name at all times with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope, so that, with all believers in Your promise, we would be declared worthy of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.




Thursday, May 26, 2011


Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family,
that you have brought me this far?
2 Samuel 9:18

In the midst of a very busy life as a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, I was reminded this week to stop and take time to give thanks and praise to God. Do I do this in church every Sunday? Yes. Do I throw in some thanks and praise into my daily prayers? Absolutely. But for some reason, as I was sitting with my Bible study girls this week, I was led to be specific about my family and all God has done for us.

In our Bible study group, we have experienced God in some amazing ways lately. One woman in our group delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl whom we had been praying for for months. No one was sure if this baby would be born healthy and we experienced the fear of our friend who wasn't sure what life was going to be like for her after her nine months of pregnancy were up. And by the grace of God, her little girl was born healthy:) "Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"

Earlier this month, another friend went to bed one night and woke up a week later needing brain surgery. She has a husband and kids just like us and in an instant, her reality changed. We couldn't imagine what her family must have been feeling . . . especially her young daughters. In the end, the surgery was a success and she's been able to be back home with her family and on her way back to health. "Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"

God went before these families and gave them just what they needed each day. He brought them through a time of trial, and without a doubt, took care of them in ways we will never know. And as I think about my two friends and the journeys they have been on, I am so very thankful for how far God has brought them, but I am reminded of how far God has brought me.

I did not share that same fear in my pregnancies, nor did I have brain surgery. But I have been through my share of hurt and difficulty and I am once again reminded that God goes before my family and takes care of us. "Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"

He has been there through every relocation, some of them agonizingly painful. He has placed us in just the right places at just the right times, even if we didn't entirely understand it. He has put women of God in my life at specific times when He knew I needed them. He has given us courage and faith and the promise of eternity with Him.

And there are no words that can express how thankful I am for a God who loves me that much. All I can come up with is this . . . "Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"

Dear Jesus . . . thank you for being present in my family and in my life. Thank you for your Son and for the hope that you give daily. You take care of us in ways that we don't even understand, and I know You are always there. Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Truth Will Set You Free

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

In the past, whenever I read or heard the words, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” I always thought of the Truth about salvation; the Truth about Jesus. In the verses leading up to this, Jesus was responding to the Pharisees who were questioning His identity. But here, He speaks to “the Jews who had believed in Him.”

To those who believe in Him, when we abide in His word, we are convinced even more of the Truth about who Jesus is. But I recently saw this verse in a new light. I can see now that this is not the only Truth that can contribute to our freedom in Christ.

I’m looking ahead to a summer with my three kids at home, and I’m a little nervous. I feel like I need a refresher course in parenting. I’ve been wondering where to turn. There are a number of Truths that I can find in the Word that will be of great use to me.

When I’m concerned about the self-esteem of my children: Each of them are made in his image (Genesis 1:27), are of great value to their Father (Matt 10:31), and He has even written their names on his hand (Isaiah 49:16).

When we are moping around about our failures: For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (I Thes 5:9-11)

When they are afraid, God will be with them (Joshua 1:9). When they complain about chores, we can talk about working for God (Ephesians 6:7). When they feel like giving up, we can talk about seeking about God for help (Psalm 46:1).

God’s Truths about life and living are revealed to me every time I seek out His Word. These Truths set us free from the misleading messages of the world we live in. They set me free from the frustration Satan would have me swimming in. I am so thankful for the Truth.

Lord, in the midst of my day parenting small children, cleaning up big messes, breaking up fights, and explaining the way the world works – help me to look to Your Word for the answers we need. Remind me to seek Your Truths to teach me and my children how much You love us. Amen.

Saying our prayers

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Psalm 17:6

I've never been really great at saying prayers.  I should classify this--saying "spontaneous" prayers.  Maybe it's my Lutheran upbringing, but I'd much rather say prayers that I have memorized.

The first prayer I remember saying is "Now I Lay Me."

Now I lay me down to sleep, 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

My grandma taught this prayer to my dad, my dad taught it to me, and I've now taught it to my own children.  I still find comfort in these words.

Another prayer that brings me comfort and peace is the Lord's Prayer.

Our Father who art in heaven, 
hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth
as it is in heaven; 
give us this day our daily bread; 
and forgive us our trespasses 
as we forgive those 
who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory 
forever and ever.  Amen.

I've always thought that anything I need to say in a prayer can be said in the Lord's prayer.  

**Now, this is not saying that I don't say the occasional spontaneous prayer.  When I hear of a prayer request, I'll stop for a minute and say a few words to God.  Personally, I think spontaneous prayer doesn't need to be something formal--down on my knees, beseeching for an hour.  I think most of my daily prayer comes from different thoughts during the day:  "Please, Lord, be with my neice as she struggles to make decisions for her future."  "God, watch over Christopher as he heads to the ER.  Let the doctors and nurses find out what's wrong with him."  Short, little prayers like that.  God hears our every thought--and I think those thoughts include a lot of prayers during the day.**

Recently, we've started teaching our children some of Martin Luther's prayers from the Small Catechism.  I love Luther's Morning Prayer:

I thank you, my heavenly 
Father, through Jesus Christ, 
Your dear Son, that You have 
kept me this night from all
harm and danger; and I pray
that You would keep me this
day also from sin and every 
evil, that all my doings and life
may please You.  For into Your
hands I commend myself, my
body and soul, and all things.
Let Your holy angel be with
me, that the evil foe may have
no power over me.  Amen.

What a wonderful prayer to start the day!  To commend yourself to the Lord--everything that you do in that day.  

And we end the day with Luther's Evening Prayer:

I thank You, my heavenly 
Father, through Jesus Christ,
Your dear Son, that You have
graciously kept me this day;
and I pray that You would
forgive me all my sins where 
I have done wrong, and graciously
keep me this night.
For into Your hands I commend 
myself, my body and soul, and
all things.  Let Your holy angel 
be with me, that the evil foe
may have no power over me.  Amen.

Forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong....Let Your holy angel be with me.  There's no way I'd rather pray, to finish the day with my children.

Whenever I'm stumbling, whenever I'm tired, when I can't take much more, these are the prayers I turn to.  Something about the words I've said over and over bring me such comfort.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Be Still

Be Still, and Know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Life brings change, a lot of change, constant change, and a whole lotta out of our control change.  For weeks I have been preparing my instrumental and piano students for their recital, to take place today.  Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon baking 8 different batches of cookies and other goodies to serve at the recital.  This morning I got all my needed supplies ready and took them over to the school in preparation for the recital.  I spent the afternoon celebrating the graduation of a local high schooler.  When I returned home I found that we had no power.  The recital was supposed to happen in just over an hour.  But if power was out at my house, that meant it was out at the school too.  I quickly called the principal and he made plans with me on what to do.  Ultimately we decided the best option was to cancel.  Not only did we not have power but the weather outside was really bad.

Isn't it so frustrating when you work hard on something only to have it completely fall apart?  Sure, it's not the worst thing that can happen in life.  But when you work hard on something and you stress about making it great and it doesn't happen it doesn't feel good!  Although people mean well, I'm always entertained when someone says "This too shall pass."  As moms we encounter a lot of situations that are frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming.  No they aren't cancer or bankruptcy or something devastating like that.  But in the moment they are a lot to handle and they cause stress!

How awesome is it to know that there is one plan that absolutely will not change, God's plan for our salvation.  There are so few guarantees in our lives, but this is one you can bank on.  I know that on a day like today when I have dealt with a lot of  "out of my control" circumstances, it's nice to have a peace about knowing where my future absolutely lies.  Perhaps remembering to "Be Still and know that I am God" will help me as I encounter the big and little situations that life sends my way.

Dear God,
Today as life doesn't go the way I plan, please help me to handle that in a way that is a positive example for my children.  Thank you for being the God that doesn't change, for providing us with scripture that doesn't change, and for securing salvation for us.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Idea Day: Prayer for moms

Today I thought I'd share a prayer that I stumbled upon last November.  I believe it comes from the Strong Willed Child book by Dr. Dobson.  That being said I've only ever seen it online.  The words are a great reminder, especially as we all head into summer and more time with our kids!

"Lord, You know my inadequacies. You know my weaknesses, not only in parenting, but in every area of my life. I'm doing the best I can to raise my kids properly, but it may not be good enough. As You provided the fish and the loaves to feed the five thousand hungry people, now take my meager effort and use it to bless my family. Make up for the things I do wrong. Satisfy the needs that I have not met. Compensate for my blunders and mistakes. Wrap Your great arms around my children, and draw them close to You. And be there when they stand at the great crossroads between right and wrong. All I can give them is my best, and I will continue to do that. I submit them to You now and rededicate myself to the task You have placed before me. The outcome rests securely in Your hands

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Priority Check

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Psalm 139:23-24

As mothers we are constantly challenged to be on top of everything...we need to be organized, have a clean house, cook yummy food, help out at school, have well behaved children, the list could go on and on.  If you are like me you have probably figured out trying to accomplish all this can drive you to the brink of insanity.  All of these things can trump the most important thing we need to be doing...Growing HIS kids.  I've recently been pondering some of the priorities in our family and been working on a list of reminders.  So far here's what I have come up with:

-Do my children know that God's word is a priority to me?
-Do my children regularly see that I pray about the big and little things in life...do I stop and pray with them at times other than meals and bedtime?
-Do I use God's word as I teach them, encourage them, admonish them?
-Is Scripture visible throughout our house...on walls, on decor, in books?
-Do I shield my children from ungodly influences, including those both in our lives, in music,  and on television?
-Do my children see me with my Bible open and being read, not just their Bible, but me making his word a priority for my own growth as well?
-Do my children see worship as a priority and a part of our family life?
-Do I ask them forgiveness when I mess up?
-Do I regularly encourage them to show love and grace to their siblings...and am showing them more love and grace than nagging and fighting?

Nothing is more important to me than raising my children in Christ.  If that means the dishes have to wait a little while, then that's okay!  Don't let the daily chores of motherhood push aside the most important one!

Heavenly Father,
This week as I am challenged by all the things that need to be done, help me to turn my eyes to you.  Help me to encourage my own children as they grow in faith.  Help me to make that my number one job to accomplish each day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Take Heart, Your Sins are Forgiven

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

Fought…and…Won. Welcome…Home…Daddy! Hamburgers…for…Dinner.

Maybe you’ve seen the weekend news segment where viewers share their stories in just three words. The meaning behind these statements varies from tear-jerking to just plain silly.

I have my own three word statement. It’s a powerful one. It has the potential to change not only me, but my relationship with my family and friends as well. But, for some reason, one I can’t explain, this three word statement is very difficult for me to say. Instead of rolling off my tongue, the words stop at the back of my throat, and are too often replaced by weak, meaningless substitutes. As a pastor’s wife, this revelation seems odd to me, and frankly, a little embarrassing. Of all people, I should be able to say these words without hesitation right? It’s not that I don’t understand them, or desire greatly to offer the meaning behind the words, I just have a hard time saying them. The words, “I…Forgive…You,” feel like they should come naturally. They don’t, and this troubles me. But, (here’s my attempt to drag you down with me) these words are seldom spoken by other moms I know either. Listen. I think you’ll agree.

We teach our children to say things like, “Don’t worry about it,” or “Forget it,” “That’s okay,” or my personal crutch “Thank you.” (Lame, I know.) Here’s the problem. Sin is never okay, and worry is the natural emotion that follows when you’re not sure that a friend really will forget how badly you hurt her. These substitutes, carry with them nothing but the means to an end of a conversation, an argument, or quite possibly even a relationship. This is not what our Savior intends for us.

The words, “I forgive you” unlike any other response, offer the healing that can only come through the One who said them first. “Forgive” carries with it love, and compassion, and restoration. No cheap knock off even comes close. The word, “forgive” is a witness to the fact that our own sins have drowned and died in the waters of baptism and we are a people recreated every day in the image of God. “Forgive” provides a witness to Christ himself, who died to make forgiveness possible, and rose to someday make it obsolete.

Why is it so difficult for me to say, “I forgive you?” They are words that I desire my children to know well from me, and they’re ones that I want them to be able to offer in return. I’m out of practice. Maybe you are too. Let’s change this together.

I pray that starting today, when our friends, our children, and our spouses come to us seeking forgiveness, we can answer them with the same words that Jesus says to us. “Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven” Matthew 9:2

Christ suffered, died, and rose for this!

Author of Forgiveness,

Help me use your words today as a first step in offering healing to myself and others. Don’t allow me to present my children and my spouse with any type of substitute for your forgiving grace. Remind me always of your presence, and enable me to forgive as you have forgiven me.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Stuff Of This World

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Springtime is the busiest time of year for us. In the past, our kids have really only been involved in one major extracurricular activity during the year--dance. But when spring comes around tee ball/softball is added. This means at least one extra practice or game a week and this year, we have two kids playing, so that is double the practices and games on top of dance. We've also started our oldest in piano lessons, and I have now turned into that person who I never wanted to be--a parent with a busy schedule due to activities.

As I thought about our schedule this past week, I didn't come to the conclusion that we were incredibly over-scheduled, nor did I consider dropping any of the activities. Thankfully, dance ends soon and we only have a short time of overlapping of activities. But I did think about what message I was sending to my children when I let the stuff of this world nudge out the precious time I usually spend discipling our children. You see, in the past few weeks, they have asked me to read them Bible stories before bed, and I am embarrassed to say that I told them no many times because I was tired and it was past their bedtime.

I haven't spent as much time in the Word as I would have liked to either. And this really bothered me when I thought about where our time was going over the past few weeks. I realized that I have let the stuff of this world become more important than my relationship with Christ. And what convicted me even more was that my kids knew it.

"Mommy, why haven't we been reading our Bible lately?" Ugghh! God was certainly speaking to me through my children. These past few weeks have made me realize that while learning how to play sports and the piano are all good activities, in no way can they replace the gift of knowing God and continually living in His grace.

Thankfully, it's that grace that allows me to be forgiven and start over . . . this time with God as my priority and not the stuff of this world.

Dear Jesus, There is nothing better than living in your grace and knowing that the Holy Spirit lives inside of me. Please help me to keep you as my number one priority and to disciple my children so that they will know you and love you as they go up against the things of this world. Amen.

Monday, May 16, 2011


If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

I accomplished what has seemed to be impossible this past Sunday--getting the weeding done. We have a few new flowerbeds, so when I get behind on the weeding it seems like the crabgrass may have just taken over.

Suffice it to say I had a lot of time to think.

I found myself thinking that I had better not take this long to weed again. It took so long...I had housecleaning and laundry to do...I'd rather be playing with the kids...  It would have been easier just to let the weeds overtake everything and call it a day.

Since I was still weeding...and still thinking...I was remembering a voter's meeting we had at church last summer. Our congregational president had mentioned the decline in attendance in services during the summer. I'd seen it too, the empty seats in the congregation every Sunday. I don't blame people--how hard is it to get up on a Sunday morning, when you've been up late the night before, enjoying the summer?

Enter the weeds in our lives.

Attending worship is SO important. It's the chance to come together with other believers, to hear the word of God, to speak our faith and partake in the Lord's body and blood together. My husband is fond of telling about men who say, "I can worship the Lord just as well in my boat while I'm fishing." And Dan says, "Yes, but can the fish give you communion?"

One of the most vital parts of worship comes at the very beginning--confession and absolution. The weed pulling, per se. Where we come before God and confess to him, and beg for His forgiveness.

"I, a poor and miserable sinner, confess to Thee all my sins and iniquities, with which I have ever offended Thee and justly deserved all your punishment now and forever. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray you of your boundless mercy for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of your beloved son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being."

Without attending worship, without confessing our sins, those weeds grow. They grow and grow until they take over our lives. The weeds creep into our minds when the alarm goes off Sunday morning: "So what? What's the problem if I miss this Sunday? Doesn't God want us to rest?"

If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

We don't want to let the weeds grow over and call it a day. Don't forget to be in worship, to pull those weeds.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Taking Time for Interruptions

She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well."
Mark 5:27-28

Do you ever feel like the whole day's checklist got sabotaged by interruptions? If you're like me, sometimes this makes me frustrated, discouraged, and even angry at times. If I call someone at home, I have even made a habit of asking "is this a bad time?" before launching into conversation, because I know how disturbing interruptions can be! I can tell my 2-year old to "go play now" and "mommy needs to get this done," but it never fails that I will still get interrupted several times into the course of my task with his needs or wants. "Juice, mommy. Hit the ball, mommy. Snack, mommy. Run with me, mommy?"

Jesus had interruptions too, and in Mark, we learn about a woman who interrupted the Master on his way to perform a healing. From the expanded context, I don't believe she was trying to interrupt him. There was a large crowd "pressing around him," and so she figured just touching the hem of his garments would be enough to indiscreetly heal her without causing a scene or disturbing his important mission. Instead, Jesus teaches us all a lesson on the significance of taking time for what some would consider interruptions. He stops and confronts her, assures her of healing and peace, and praises her for her faith.

How can we become more Christ-like in our daily tasks when God provides us with interruptions? Is the phone call from the neighbor a chance to provide encouragement to another mom who is lonely? Is the urgent request from a toddler God using us to reassure him of peace and provision? At the end of this day, join me in reflecting back and thanking God for the blessing of interruptions which led us into moments of service to Him as we extended His grace and love to others.

Father God, You are the author and perfecter of my life and of this day. You have ordained each day of my life and written it in your book before even one came to be. Help me to be thankful in the midst of life's interruptions, and give me strength to extend love and grace to the people you are placing in my path for your purposes. Thank you for using me as part of your plan!
In Jesus' name. Amen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sure of HIS Love

I Corinthians 13

As my 3-year-old sometimes says - “Today I’m having a rough day!” J She’s hilarious. And it’s a good thing, because really – I’m a little off lately. And as a result I have had a few not-so-great-moments. You know those? After the dust settles you look around and wonder ‘What just happened?’

I tried to pray after my rough morning, but mostly all I could say was “I’m sorry, Lord, I just don’t even know what to say right now… I just don’t know what to say…” As the day went on, I finally found my thankfulness and at top of my list was my Faithful, Never-Changing God. After a morning like mine, I was so thankful for the kind of Love my Savior has for me.

It’s not wishy-washy and it’s not dependent on how nice I am. It’s not like my 3-year-old’s emotional whirlwinds –

Me: “No, honey, I’m sorry I told you we aren’t having candy right now.”

Daughter: “AHHH! You are the meanest mommy ever!”

Then 2 minutes later…

Daughter: “Mommy, mommy, look at what I found! It’s my new favorite book you got me yesterday! I’m so happy! You’re the best mommy ever…”

It’s not dependent on how good of a day He is having, it’s not about whether I’m a good listener or not, and it’s not about whether I’m speaking His love language. He just loves me. I can’t help but think about Paul’s description of love in Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth… Love never fails…. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I like what my study Bible notes for that last verse, verse 13: “…God is love (1Jn 4:8) and has communicated His love to us (I Jn 4:10) and commands us to love one another (Jn 13:34-35). Love supersedes the gifts because it outlasts them all. Long after these sought-after gifts are no longer necessary, love will still be the governing principle that controls all that God and his redeemed people are and do.”

As a Mom who loves her kids, and a wife who loves her husband... As a woman who loves her friends and a daughter who loves her family – all I can do is have Faith that my God will enable me to Love. I can Hope for a life that continues to learn how to Love. And I can try to live life motivated by Love. But above all these things, I’m thankful that my God’s love is consistent no matter what I do. Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you, Lord, for the things I can be sure of - Your faithfulness and your love. Forgive me for falling short of loving. Help me to remember that no matter what, you are here for me. Help me to teach this to my children.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Faith comes from hearing the Word of God

Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

My children all love to be read to.  No matter what time of day, there's always time to sit in a comfy chair and cuddle with a book.  Most of the time I'll hear, "Read it again, Mommy!", and I'm more than happy to comply.  There are busy times that I'd rather not interrupt what I'm doing to read to them, but then I remind myself that they're only little once, so we cuddle up and read.

When I was pregnant with Emma I enrolled the boys into a book club where we received 10 Arch books every quarter.  If you're not familiar with Arch books, they're great.  They're published by Concordia Publishing House, and the stories are all told with catchy rhyme and bright pictures.  (FYI, I haven't been paid anything by CPH to talk about Arch books--I just wanted to share how great they are with you!)  We've enjoyed these books for years now, and I've even split them up into the church seasons to enrich our reading time.

The wonderful thing with all this reading is the fact that God's word is growing our faith.  As our Bible verse above states, our faith grows through the message of Christ.  Every time I read an Arch book to the kids, every time we study a Bible verse for school, every time we hear the Word of God in church, our faith is growing.  It's something we can't feel--something we may not even realize is happening at the time.  But it is there.

Isn't it awesome to know that every time our children hear the Word of God, their faith grows?  Just from the simple words that go into their ears, that faith is increasing in their little hearts.  And what faith that is!  It's that faith that saves them from an eternal death--the faith that saves all of us from our sins.  

There may be times that you're stressed out, wondering just how much that your kids get out of church, or out of the devotions you do at home.  I know that there's times I want to pull my hair out teaching the boys their memory verses.  But think of this verse--their faith is coming just from the fact of them HEARING the Word of God.  How simple is that?  Praise be to God for giving us His Word to grow our faith!

Dear Heavenly Father, we know we are sinful people.  We know there's times when our faith in You is lacking.  It's a big job we have, Lord, when we think about teaching our children about their own faith.  We praise you for giving us Your Word.  Thank you for giving us faith, simply in those times we hear Your Word.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Soon afterward [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!" And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

Luke 7:11-17

So how was your Mother’s Day? If you are on Facebook the week preceeding this one, took on a Mother’s Day flavor as people posted photos of their mother as their profile photo. I pray that your Mother’s Day was a joyful celebration of God’s gift of motherhood.

But there is a tough reality… what about all those people for whom Mother's Day is a difficult day? How about the mothers whose children have died- through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, as a child, or as an adult? How about those women who long to be mothers yet their wombs and arms are empty? How about those who don’t feel like they are doing such a great job mothering, or who feel taken for granted by their families. How about those people whose relationship with their mothers is broken, or non-existent?

Mother’s Day, actually holidays in general, can be very difficult for people suffering from disappointment, hurt, loss and brokenness.

Our scripture passage for the day has a broken hearted mother encountering Christ. Look at the words “… the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.” Do you notice Christ’s emotion – Compassion! Christ had compassion on this mother. He has compassion on all mothers, all women.

The people responded to Jesus’ healing miracle. They recognized who Christ is - a prophet and God. Report about him spread – our modern technology has nothing on word of mouth (I got to experience that firsthand during a mission trip to Haiti this spring). What was the report that spread? That he healed someone, and more… the report of his compassion and God visiting his people.

God has visited his people. Christ is Immanuel – God with us… His last words to his disciples are “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Christ is with us and he has compassion on us.

Heavenly Father, we know that tragedy and brokenness knows no bounds, striking people of every nation, age and station in life. Thank you God, for your great compassion in sending Jesus as the Savior for all people. Your Gospel shows He has conquered every foe for us, holidays that are difficult to bear, earthly sorrows, even death and the grave. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Who's in Charge Here?

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I didn’t have the supportive friends that I have today. Being a full-time mom and wife is really hard. Sometimes a friend’s encouraging words give me the extra boost I need to survive a rough day. My friends are generous and compassionate. They Love Jesus and they help me stay focused on Him.

Friends search for the right words to help one another when we face the scary parts of life. Sometimes we tell each other, “Don’t forget – God won’t give you more than you can handle!”

I love that my friends think I can “handle” it, but something about this always makes me think twice. It’s only recently that I really thought long and hard about this. I have been reading a book about the early Lutheran church and I have been reminded of my “inability to save myself.” Sure, I have a tendency to want to be in control, to attempt to fix the messes I’ve made, to think I’ve got it figured out. But I’m reminded – when I lose patience with my daughter, start worrying about the bills, or feel overwhelmed /dismayed with the laundry – that I have a long way to go.

I can’t “handle” it, and I started to think that God doesn't want ME to handle it. Where does He want me to go when I get frustrated? To whom should I take my worries? How can I dig my way out of this pile of laundry? Certainly I do not have these answers.

I just started the chapter called The Spirituality of Ordinary Life. As moms, I think many of us feel called to the very special, “ordinary” job of raising our kids. It involves sticky messes, excessive whining, bodily fluids, and sibling arguments. It’s exhausting and some days we might not feel like we can keep it together.

But God wants to strengthen and uphold me in my ordinary job. He wants to pull me up out of the stickiness and give me the right words to say to my babies. He wants me to pray without ceasing. He wants to “handle it” for me.

There are a lot of moms facing tough days ahead. Worry can be a heavy burden to carry all alone. Our friends are there to help us; but the friend we need the most is our Jesus. He tells us to give it to Him. He will carry us; He will move in our hearts and minds and take care of our families. He can pick me up, and all my messes, and I don’t have to “take care of” everything. God can handle it for me.

Today, Let God Handle It.

Lord, I give you my day. I give you my worries, my anxiety, my stresses. I can’t handle it, Lord. It doesn’t mean I’m not supposed to be a mom. It doesn’t mean I’m going to have a bad day. It means I’m going to give it to you. I’m going to rest in your arms, refer decision-making to you, and seek out the Joy you earned for me. Thank you, Lord, that YOU can handle it. Amen.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


“Praise be to the God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

Burden – my New Oxford American Dictionary defines it like this: “a load, especially a heavy one. Figurative - a duty or misfortune that causes hardship, anxiety, or grief; a nuisance – the main responsibility for achieving a specified aim or task.”

Life certainly does have many burdens that each of us carry. As we can see in this definition, burden can take on many forms. Some of them are burdens that we gladly take on, maybe even pray for, such as a leadership role in our church or community, a home to care for, the responsibility of a job, children to raise in the love of the Lord, education for ourselves and our children, or dedicating our time and energy to the study of God’s Word. Other burdens we don’t look for and they come unwelcomed into our lives, such as financial hardship, illness, disabilities, fractured relationships, or the death of a loved one.

Whether a burden is one we gladly welcome as a treasured responsibility or one that is brought about by misfortune, it is so good to know that God, our Savior, daily bears our burdens. As we deal with an illness, we bring it to God in prayer and He carries us through. As we raise our children in the love of the Lord, we bring it to God in prayer and He guides us. As we mourn the loss of a loved one, we bring it to God in prayer and He comforts us. As the hymn so beautifully says, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” LSB 770

As the Lords helps us bear our burdens, let’s keep in mind that Jesus bore the greatest burden that we all have, our sin. He took that burden, carried it to Golgotha, and died so that our sin would be lifted from us. Then, three days later He rose from the grave, firmly putting sin, death, and the devil in their place. Knowing this, we all the more gladly proclaim, “Praise be to the God, our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times when we try and bear our burden on our own and forget to turn to You in prayer. Help us Lord to come to You in prayer knowing with confidence that You do carry our burdens with us and for us. Thank you for loving us enough to send Your Son, Jesus, to carry our greatest burden of sin and death and bring us forgiveness and life eternal. Amen.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Empty messages

“My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not
its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim
your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day
I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I
declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”

Psalm 71:15-18

Occasionally, as I am flipping through radio stations in the car, I will hear a song that takes me
back to junior high or senior high school. I usually find that the words of the song have become
fuzzy in my memory (although I can belt out the chorus with gusto, much to the horror of my
teenage children). After a short trip down memory lane, I realize how empty the song was; how
meaningless the words, and how annoying the melody.

My experience in church is, thankfully, very different. Each year, as we pass through the
seasons of the church year, we sing the same hymns over and over. Some of them I have been
singing for my full 42 years, others are fairly new to our congregation. But all of them are
bursting with the Gospel message of our salvation. All of them point to Jesus Christ. Funny
thing, I never get tired of them. I open my hymnal while doing laundry and flip through the
hymnbook, singing while I work. I sing hymns while my youngest is falling asleep, hoping that
the last words he hears as he dozes off will sink into his soul as he sleeps. I rouse my sleeping
teenagers with “Awake my soul, and with the sun, your daily course of duty run…” (LSB 868).
They might not find this joyful at the time, but I’m hoping that these songs of faith will last
longer for them, than the empty noise that fills the airwaves for this generation.

As much as I try to shield them from all of the crazy media, reality says that I cannot be with
them 24/7. What I can do is give them as much exposure to the hymns of praise that they
will share with their own children as they continue their faith life in the church. Hopefully,
when I join them for Easter Sunday years from now, we will all sing “Jesus Christ is ris’n today,
Alleluia” (LSB 457) with hearts full of gratitude for our savior!

Dear Lord, I ask that you guard the hearts and minds of our children from all of the empty
messages from the media today. Give them the assurance of the free gift of salvation from you
and fill their hearts with “Songs of thankfulness and praise! (LSB 394)” Amen.

Just a note: Although my own personal preference is to sing the traditional hymns of the
Lutheran faith, I know many prefer contemporary worship. You can fill in the devotion with
your own personal favorite songs of faith.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Even in tragedy, there is a Plan.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

The world has been in turmoil lately.  Multiple earthquakes and a tsunami in Japan.  Tornadoes and severe weather from here in Wisconsin to the southern part of the United States.  War in the Middle East.  The death of Osama Bin Laden, which may lead to more violence and war.  High gas prices.  You hear of tragedies from one end of the earth to the next.

I don't know about you, but I've been asking "Why?" a lot lately.  Why do these bad things keep happening?  Is the end of the world coming?  No one knows.  But there is one thing we know.  Bad things happen because of sin.  Back on that very pivotal day in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve bit from the forbidden fruit, sin happened.  Before sin, the world was peaceful, it was perfect.  Adam and Even didn't know sorrow.  They didn't know fear.  They didn't know despair.

From that moment on, God had a plan.  He had a plan of salvation for the entire world.  We see this plan unveiled throughout the Old Testament, and coming to fruition in the New Testament.  God sent His only Son Jesus to die for that sin.  He came to earth to take that sorrow, that fear, that despair out of the world.  That doesn't mean that it isn't here anymore.  It is.  Sin is still prevalent in the world.

We live in this fallen, sinful world.  Even when the world seems to be crashing down around us, we have hope.  We can see God's plan in every tragedy--that He sent His Son down to us, for our salvation.  That plan, and that promise is there.  No matter what happens, it is there.  We can live through the pain, knowing that in the end, Jesus will come again, to bring us to a world where there is no sorrow.  There will be no fear.  There will be no despair.  It is the hope that gets all believers through tragedy.

Dear Heavenly Father, we live in a fallen, sinful world.  Sometimes it seems like we'll never survive the tragedies that happen all around us.  We know, though, that You sent Your Son to die for our world.  You sent Him to take away the sin that causes so much pain.  Help us remain faithful to you, until that day when Your Son will come back and take us to glory.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Cloud of Witnesses

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

My daughter is definitely not what you would call a morning person, truth be told, neither are her parents. Getting her up at 6:00 in the morning to catch the bus for school requires the utmost patience, but also provides for some rather humorous moments. Not long ago, the sleepy girl fished a pair of jeans out of the dryer to wear to school. It wasn’t until she returned home that day that I noticed she had mistakenly worn her older brother’s jeans to school. The three sizes too big pants were dragging on the ground, completely covering her shoes as she got off the bus that afternoon. It is still a mystery to me how she kept them on at all throughout the day.

Often as a mom I feel that the job I have to do is three sizes too big for me. Whether it is not wanting to make dinner, and declaring a “fend for yourself” night, or groaning at a request to read the same book for the tenth time that day. Whether it’s fumbling for the words to explain why we don’t wear the same pair of underwear three days in a row, or why a friend has died. Some days I am convinced it is too much, and I feel as though I am more times than not, ill equipped to handle the job.

That’s where my great cloud of witnesses comes into play. Not only do my witnesses remind me that the race is not one that I run by myself, but they also remind me it’s one where five star meals, sparkling white clothes, and well behaved trips to the grocery store are not even the goal. They remind me upon whom my eyes are to be fixed as I seek guidance to answer the tough questions, and who I can turn to when there are no earthly answers.

You have a great cloud of witnesses too. It’s your mom who walked you into your first Sunday school class, your girlfriend who answers your Facebook post with a story about when their child also wore something embarrassing to school, and your sister-in-law who calls to check in even though your turn to call her first has long since passed. It’s every other mom who has ever questioned whether she is doing enough for her family and praised the Lord when her children actually survive their childhood to be respectful, productive adults who love their Savior.

For all of the moms with whom I run side by side; I thank my God every time I remember you. I love the fact that many of you will actually spend time this week planning your own Mother’s Day “surprise.” I love the stories you tell, the forgiveness you offer, and the hope that you share. I love the fact that I get to raise my children with other moms who look to Jesus as the true source of their joy. I love my cloud of witnesses.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the great cloud of witnesses I have. Thank you for the support that they give me as I raise my children to know the salvation you have prepared for us all. Be with me every step of the way today, and help me keep my eyes fixed on your Son.

In His name I pray, Amen.