Thursday, June 30, 2011

Until We Meet Again

“The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.” Genesis 31:49

In my lifetime I have moved fourteen times. My daughter, who is ten, is now living in her third home. When your family has moved around, as mine has, you get to meet and know many different people. What a blessing it is to have so many people touch and shape your life.

Moving is not always easy, though. While getting to know new people can be a challenge, especially if you are not overly outgoing, the hardest part for me always seems to be saying goodbye to the people that you are moving away from. You give hugs, wipe away tears, and pray that the Lord will bless you with the chance to see each other again.

The last move that our family made was at times difficult for our daughter. Nine years old at the time, we were moving away from the only home she could remember, as she was only two years old when we moved there. Saying goodbye to the friends that she had grown up with proved to be difficult. Many times over the last year, my husband and I have heard her say, “I miss my friends.”

This week, she received a special treat. She has spent time away visiting her grandparents’ house. Time with them is always very special and they treasure each moment. As much as my mom and dad love my daughter and could easily keep her all to themselves, they gave her a special gift during her time with them. You see, my parents live only a few miles from where we moved away from. My mom called the moms of my daughter’s closest friends and set up play dates and sleepovers with them.

We have heard from her and our daughter is having a great time. She is enjoying special alone time with her friends and grandparents. I’m so happy for her and so thankful that she has been blessed with this opportunity, but I must admit that my husband and I are missing having her around and more than once we have said to each other, “I miss her.”

When we say goodbye to people that we love, it may be for days, weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime. Each time that we leave and must say those difficult goodbyes we can be comforted by the fact that no matter what kind of distance we may have between us, because of our shared faith in the Lord, we are always bonded together and that the Lord is watching over each of us.

I miss my daughter right now, but find comfort in the fact that God is with her, and with me, watching over us until we see each other again. We say goodbye to friends and loved ones when we go away for a while or move away, but find comfort knowing that God is with them, and with us, watching over us until we see each other again. When the distance that separates us lasts a lifetime, we find comfort that God is with them, and us, watching over us until we see each other again in heaven someday.

The faith we have in Jesus is a very special gift and blessing that draws us together, even when we are apart from each other. And so, my friends, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.” Genesis 31:49

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, being away from the special people in our lives is not always easy. We ask you, Lord, to watch over our loved ones that we are away from right now. Bless our time apart and our special times of reunion. Most of all, thank you for filling our lives with special people whether they are near or far. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

Insecurity-noun-lack of confidence or assurance; self doubt.

As women, there are so many areas that we are vulnerable to attack. Our own feeling of self-worth is one of those big areas.

I have gone back and forth with feelings of inadequacy in my married life. My husband's mother is an excellent cook and kept the house spotless. Those are things I struggle with, especially the spotless house thing. I seriously don't know how women with young children keep a house clean all the time. Is it possible? In my mind, it is, and I certainly can't live up to it because the minute I have a room clean, someone is spilling something on the floor or messing up my laundry piles I had just so nicely folded.

Insecurity also creeps into my world when I see a new mother who doesn't seem to struggle with getting the extra weight off. I wish I could lose the weight like that, but I haven't, and feelings of self-doubt take over. Relationships are another big one. With so many moves and a bunch of painful experiences of rejection, I have had times where I wonder if I am even worthy of friendship.

While I don't see myself as a big ball of insecurity all the time, I can honestly say that I struggle with some area of self-doubt on regular basis, and I think being a wife and a mother gives me plenty of opportunity. But as I study God's word and know God more, I have learned that when I am in the depths of insecurity in my own life, it is also a time when I am not trusting God enough to know that He has chosen me, appointed me to do something good in this life. In fact, He prepared it for me before time even began. And with His help, I can overcome those insecurities. I can't do it on my own, but when I put my fears in His hands, things change.

When I root my self-worth in anything other than God, I am severely limiting the gifts He has given me to be the wife, mother, follower of Christ, friend, daughter that He has planned for me to be. So I have to daily choose to root my worth and security in Christ alone and nothing else. In that comes freedom to be the woman God has made me to be, and it finally feels good to loose those chains of insecurity!

Dear God . . . please replace my insecurities with the secure hope of your love and grace. Help me to put my trust in you instead of in myself or in this world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finding joy in serving

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life
as a ransom for many.  Mark 10:45

It was a rainy week at our house last week.  We found ourselves inside every day, watching the pouring rain out the window and wishing we could go outside.  Let me rephrase that:  I found MYSELF watching out the window, wishing MY CHILDREN could go outside.

There was a brief respite one of those days, when the house was quiet and all the children were playing happily with each other.  I looked around the house, and it was a MESS.  You could barely walk across the floor without stepping on a Star Wars guy or a Littlest Pet Shop animal.  Legos were scattered from here to there, and the boys' room was a mess of paper, string and glue from "projects."

Fast forward to Saturday, when it finally got nice outside.  We wanted to go play at the beach, but I knew the messes had to get cleaned up.  So we started cleaning.  I experienced some frustration, though, when it seemed like I was the only one working.  Putting one load after another in the washer, scrubbing the toilet, sweeping the floors.  I was muttering to myself (ok, probably louder than muttering), "Boy.  It must be nice to have a servant."  

So many times, as mothers, we feel that way.  There are days when we feel like we are nothing more than servants to our families.  We wish we could sit back and be served, for once.  We wish we could have someone waiting on us for a change.  It's hard not to complain about the vocation we've been placed in.

There is One, though, who came to earth to be a servant, and never wavered from it.  Jesus came to earth to serve, through his suffering and death on the cross.  He comes as the ultimate servant, sending the Spirit to wash away our sins at the baptismal fount.  He offers us His word, showing us the forgiveness he gives us.  In, with, and around the bread and wine, He gives us his body and blood, assuring us that our sins are gone.  He never tires of serving us.  Through His promises, I remember that I'm much more than a servant to my family.  I am a Child of God, and I will reap the benefits of that for an eternity.  

Knowing this, suddenly the laundry doesn't seem so bad.

Dear Heavenly Father, Mothering is never easy.  There are days that we feel like servants, here to wait on our families.  Remind us of your Son, who came to earth to serve us.  Thank you for the gift of forgiveness that you give through Him.  Help us to praise You in everything we do.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

God is the Strength of my Heart

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

When I agreed to write for this blog, my first thought was, “Now what? What can I possibly write about that will be of spiritual encouragement to others?” When I was given the date of my first assignment, the subject of my devotion became obvious.

June 24th is the birth date of our third child. My husband and I had two boys, who were 3 yrs. and 4 yrs. old, when Nathan was born. Life up until that point had been pretty simple. We struggled financially, my husband being a Lutheran school teacher, and me working part-time in child care. However, for the most part, we lived at the end of our own little rainbow. Our little family was everything! My husband and I had time for each other and time and energy to dote on our two healthy, amazing children. We were all very excited, awaiting the arrival of our third baby. We really didn’t have a care in the world, and expected that God would continue to bless us in the future as He had in the past.

We were busy doing all of the things that parents do as they nest. We had had an ultrasound, and knew we were expecting another boy. The process of picking out a name began. Names are a big thing with me. A name is the first real gift you give your child. We knew we wanted a Biblical name, and I wanted the meaning of the name to be significant. We went through the name books, made lists, but one name seemed to be pulling me. I can’t explain why. It wasn’t a name that as a young girl I had ever dreamed about naming one of my children. It wasn’t a family name. It wasn’t inspired by anyone we knew and admired. In fact, my husband had reservations about it. But my mind was set on the name Nathan, which means “God’s gift.”

The day arrived for the baby to be born. The birth was as easy as the pregnancy had been. Nathan was beautiful, if not unusually small for one of our children, but I had exercised during this pregnancy more than I had with my others. We held him, marveling over his seemingly tiny physical perfection, and made the phone calls announcing his arrival.

I won’t go into all of the details of the next few days, but it was soon discovered that Nathan was born with a heart defect. While he appeared perfect on the outside, there were some things very wrong on the inside. We had an emergency baptism, and he was flown to a hospital in a bigger city. The initial joy and celebration of Nathan’s birth quickly turned into shock, anxiety, devastation, and hopelessness. After many tests and evaluations by doctors who were experts in the cardiac neo-natal field, it was determined that there was nothing humanly feasible to be done to save our son. He was with us for ten days, and then he quietly passed away.

I’d like to tell you that I was a shining example of how a Christian should witness when faced with tragic circumstances, but the truth is that I was grief-ridden and angry. The perfect little bubble I lived in had burst. I think that I went through the motions, and mostly said the “right” things. I did believe my child was in heaven, and that helped, but there was still an underlying bitterness. I was resentful of others who had the audacity to celebrate the births of their healthy babies. I was angry at everyone who lived by unhealthy standards and was still blessed with a healthy baby. I was furious with women who threw their babies away through the act of abortion, and with those who had children and abused them. I was really angry with God for allowing all of this. Why had God placed the name Nathan, God’s gift, on my heart? Was this God’s gift – my empty, aching arms and the extra pregnancy weight? After all, my husband and I were dedicated to the Lutheran teaching ministry and living “God pleasing” lives. Was this how God blessed His people?

It is said that time heals all wounds. I don’t believe this is completely accurate, but time has given me perspective. With time, I was able to stop asking, “Why me?” Eventually, my question became, “Why not me?” My good Lutheran upbringing has taught me that we are all born sinful. We know this because death is a consequence of sin, and death comes to us all, even tiny infants who haven’t had a chance to do anything wrong. I knew this before, but I was a bit pious in my thinking, viewing others’ sin as greater than my own. I think many of us like to look around and measure ourselves against our neighbors. We find reasons to elevate our egos which put us on the lighter side of the scale. The truth is that we are all equal in God’s eyes. The Law is the great equalizer that shows us that we all fall short of the perfection that God demands, and, therefore, we all face the consequences of sin.

God’s gifts can include material possessions, physical health, and earthly relationships. However, God’s greatest gift to us is forgiveness and eternal life. Nathan’s life was a perfect illustration of this. Just hours after his birth, Nathan was given these gifts and the faith to receive them through God’s Word and the waters of Holy Baptism. Having never had the opportunity to act on his own, he did nothing to deserve these gifts. These gifts were all God’s doing – absolute grace.

The Scripture quoted at the beginning of this devotion is a verse that my father-in-law wrote on an index card and taped to Nathan’s incubator. When faced with the heartbreak of living in a fallen world, it is very difficult to look beyond our present suffering to the promises of eternity. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit, faith allows us to see beyond the temporal and live as people with hope. Because Christ paid the penalty for our sin through His death on the cross and won the victory over death through His resurrection, God is our only true strength. God’s faithful promises are the only thing we can count on in this world that can turn on a dime. Through faith, we trust in God, our portion forever!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your mercy and love. You have provided us with a pardon for our sin through your son, Jesus Christ. You know our sorrows, having sacrificed your own precious son on our behalf. Thank you for the strength and peace we have through faith in your promise of eternity. Help us to live as people with hope, so that others may know you through us. Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Last week, I took my middle daughter, Abby, to her kindergarten screening. This is an assessment done by her elementary school to determine her readiness for Kindergarten. I know mothers who stress out about this event. They drill their children to make sure that they know their letter sounds, shapes, address, phone number, and how to skip.

I am not one of those mothers. I made sure that she knew her phone number and address because we recently moved, but I wasn't worried about the rest. At the end of her assessment, one of the teachers called me into a little room where we sat at one of those little kid half circle type tables. She proceeded to show me my daughter's scores. She did well in the language, math, and social skills area. But then we got to the gross motor skills area. The teacher had a silly look on her face and told me that Abby didn't score very high in this particular area. She was in the normal range, but closer to the bottom. The teacher suggested that I put her in a class or really work with her this summer so that her gross motor skills can improve to match her other scores.

I smiled and nodded, but in reality, I knew this. My little Abby falls down standing up. She trips while walking and catching a ball is not a skill she's mastered. I have known that gross motor skills were not her forte, and I'm pretty sure she'll always be falling down steps and skinning her knees after she's tripped over something. And I love that about her. Really, I do. She's so incredibly clumsy, but that's who she is. She is not perfect, and no number of gross motor activities are going to make her that way, but I don't see her as lacking something. I see her as beautiful and whole the way she is.

That's how God feels about us. We are beautiful, whole, and perfect to Him--in every way, because His Son has cleared away every imperfection as we stand in front of God. Christ has cleared away our insecurities and our inability to trust. Our pride is gone and our worship of ungodly things is erased. And what is left is a God who sees us as perfect and loves us with a love that cannot even be comprehended on this side of Heaven.

As I stand in front of my mirror and wish I were size smaller or wish that I felt confident in my abilities to juggle life as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, and teacher, I remember that God loves me for who I am and because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, I am beautiful, whole, and perfect to Him.

Dear God, Thank you for giving us your Son. His blood covers all my sins and shortcomings. Help me to see my worth in You and know that I am perfect in your sight. Amen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thanks for Friends

Ecclesiates 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Being the daughter of a full time church worker and then following into that same full time church worker field has placed me in a position where moving periodically was and is at times the norm. In fact, looking back on my childhood, the longest I was ever in one place was seven years. I have met, befriended and then left behind more friends than I can even count as my family moved from state to state. Don't get me wrong, while I have written about it so easily in the sentences above, there was nothing, at the time, easy about it. Leaving your best friends behind as the car, loaded with all of the imperative road trip items, bounced down the road was coupled with tears of sadness and anxiety of what new places and people lay ahead in the new town.

Having felt the pain and sadness of leaving friends behind so often in my life, I tend to tentatively enter friendships, and at times keep people at an arms-length away to protect myself from the inevitable sadness and pain associated with moving away. The table was recently turned however when one of my dearest friends announced that she would be moving. Immediately my thoughts were selfish ones filled with sadness and hurt that she was willing to leave me behind. And yet, as we sat in the restaurant, tears precariously wavering on my eyelids, the verses in Ecclessiates popped into both my heart and my head. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather..."

I cannot say that the feeling of sadness of losing the daily banter and interaction between Robin and I has gone away. In fact, at times, it feels overwhelming to me. However, I have two choices. I can begin mourning now for the upcoming loss of this aspect of our friendship now placing a negative connotation on every interaction we have between now and when she moves. Or, I can celebrate with her this new adventure of finding a new home and rejoicing with her in the fact that she will be again close to her family. I would prefer to celebrate with Robin just as I have over the last five years the joys that life has given us knowing that God placed her in my life for the time he did, for the experiences he wanted for me all along knowing in his infinite wisdom that this day was coming.

Thank you God for the blessings you have given me through my friend. Thank you for the times we mourned together and for the times that we laughed. Thank you for the times that we sang so horribly off key and for the time that we danced. Thank you for the blessing that she has been in my life. Be with her in this new adventure and please dry the tears of sadness as only you can. Provide us both with peace and comfort. Thank you Lord. Amen

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Watch your words

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

As mothers, our words are very powerful, aren't they?  Words take so many different forms during the day.  They instruct our children.  "The lake looks blue because it's reflecting the color of the sky."  They communicate our deep love and caring.  "I sure do love you, sweetheart."  They correct our children when they've misbehaved.  "Stop jumping on the couch, couches are for sitting."  

There are days when our words don't exactly reflect the type of parent we want to be.  "You're driving me crazy!"  "Would you just leave me alone?"  "Why can't you just stop fighting for one second?"  It's during those times that we need to take a break, step away from the situation, and turn to our Lord.  "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer."  

How wonderful that the Lord is with us during every step of our parenting journey!  Not only are our words powerful to our children, but they are powerful to our Lord, too.  He hears our prayers, He knows our needs.  He is there to give us a sense of peace and joy when it seems like there's nothing going right, and you feel like the worst mom in the world.  His Word is there to guide our words, to help us show kindness to our children, and to forgive us when we need forgiving.  

Parents are not perfect.  God knows that we won't be.  He knows that we won't always say the things we should say to our children.  Thanks be to Him, though, for sending His Son to redeem us!  Praise to Him, for giving us words, so that we can watch our own words.  "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer."

Dear Heavenly Father, We know our words are powerful to our children.  Every day, we need to communicate important things to our children.  Help us to choose our words wisely, and look to you for help.  Guide us in this daily journey.  We praise you for Your Word, which guides us in our parenting.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Instruction and Knowledge

“Apply your hearts to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12

This summer our family was able to go to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. There was so much more to NASA than we had ever imagined. There were so many buildings, so many employees, so many different types of technology used.

We had a great time walking around and getting to see rockets, space suits, mission control, and countless treasured memorabilia items. What impressed us the most as we summed up our visit is what an amazing world God created for us to live in.

It’s amazing that God made a world for us that is part of this complex solar system that all works together rotating around the sun in perfect harmony. It’s amazing that God gave some men and women the knowledge of using the materials found on our plant to create technology that has taken us to the moon and beyond.

In today’s verse God encourages us to “Apply our hearts to instruction and our ears to words of knowledge.” Exploring this world and all of God’s creation is such a gift. God gave us this amazing world so that we can always continue to learn. When we learn more about this world, how things work, and just how much we are capable of, we also learn that much more about how amazing our God really is.

As parents we daily see how curious our children are about the world around them. What a blessing it is for us to be able to talk to them about the Love our Heavenly Father has for us to give us such a wonderful place to live. We have the opportunity to help them see how God daily provides for our needs and cares for us.

As amazing as our world is, and as thrilled as we are to see what space travel has to show us about what is there beyond our world, we have even more to look forward to when we will one day see the glory of heaven. Thanks to God’s love for us in sending His Son Jesus to win our forgiveness, in faith we have so much to look forward to seeing and learning in heaven.

Prayer: Dear Father, creator of all our blessings, thank -you for the world that You have given to us. Help us to learn and grow in the knowledge of You through our study of this world. Lead us as parents to guide our children to You as they grow and learn and explore. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The fruit of the spirit

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

I have the fruits of the spirit listed on the overhang in my kitchen.  The words are big, at least 6 inches tall.  I did this earlier last year not only as a reminder to myself as I mother my children and love my husband, but also to help my kids think about them.  It's always interesting to review them with my oldest son and get perspective on how we're doing with each of them.  Our general consensus is that love is a pretty easy one for us right now.  Whenever I hear words coming from the kids I don't like you will hear me say "Show Love."  We also can find lots of joy, I think that is an easier one with young children in the house...we find lots to laugh and smile about.  Peace can be a challenge...especially amongst siblings.  Patience...I definitely lack in that one in my approach to parenting I often try to hurry them up or lose my patience with their learning to do things.  Kindness as a mother can reflect my lack of patience.  I often have to make a conscious effort to show kindness in my reactions to life's little moments.  Goodness is obviously hard, I'm a sinner!  Teaching my children goodness is a privilege in Christian parenting.  There is much to teach them outside of earthly goodness!  Faithfulness, I love this one because it applies to my role as a child of God and being faithful to him and that trickles down to my role as a wife and even a mother.  Gentleness, a daily struggle for me and my children.  Choosing to react to things and communicating in ways that aren't hurtful to each other but build each other up.  Someone once said to me that you don't need to scold a child for spilling milk, they already feel bad about it...I often think about that as I choose the words I'm about to use.  Lastly Self Control, the kids and I agree this is a hard one...we have to choose do the right thing, not always the easy thing or fun thing sometimes.  I have this one hanging right above my refrigerator :).  Learning these attributes has been a great way to help my kids learn about becoming Christ-like and giving me solid examples of what I expect from them.

Heavenly Father,
Help me to reflect you in all my words and actions and help me to teach my children to do the same.

Fearful and Wonderful

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you... (Jeremiah 1:5)

When I was a child my parents were very active in pro-life organizations. They took my brothers and I on marches and pulled us with them when they spoke at various churches on the sanctity of life. I grew up hearing the above verse from Jeremiah over and over again, along with the verses from Psalm 139:13-16. I went with my mom to her doctor's appointments when she was pregnant with my two youngest brothers, I saw the posters in the doctor's office that charted a baby's development. We even had little plastic models showing what a baby looked like at various stages of development. I learned very early on how amazing and miraculous a new life is.

Now that I'm expecting my own little one, I'm learning it all over again, and it's even more amazing to me now.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mothers womb. (Psalm 139:13)

Two weeks ago, my baby was about the size of my fist. This week it's about the size of my open hand. The little one is growing so fast. Last week the bones in its ears were formed enough that it could hear the sound of my voice. This week it can hear other loud its father's voice as he leans over my belly and says, "Hi, baby. I love you and can't wait to see you!"

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139: 15)

Last week I felt my baby move for the first time. One afternoon I had the hiccups, and after every hiccup, I felt a little tap...a kick, or a thump, or a startled bump. Whatever baby was doing, I have a feeling it didn't appreciate my hiccups. And again, just a couple days ago I was talking to someone on the phone, and baby started moving. I think it was responding to the sound of my voice, which is a pretty amazing thought. As I write this, I can feel the baby doing something that feels kind of like somersaults.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:16)

In a week I have my first sonogram and will get to see baby for the first time...and it will be a very formed, human-shaped substance that I will see. But God has known this baby since before it was formed. And God has written days for this baby. And even though I don't know the baby's name yet, God knows it, and He loves this little child and has redeemed this little one I am loving more and more each day.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139: 14)

My little one is a wonderful work and child of God. I want to meditate on these thoughts now, to allow them to soak in so that I don't forget them during the long nights I know are coming when baby just won't go to sleep and all I want to do is cry or yell...or when baby is older and has learned the words "no" and "mine"...when the "terrible twos" take over and turn my sweet little baby into a tantrum thrower...and much later when he or she is a teenager and I suddenly become a mom who doesn't know anything in his or her eyes. Even in the difficult times, I want to be able to remember how much I love this little one, and how much more our heavenly Father loves it, and how He has made this wonderful little being and knows the days that are written for it.

Heavenly Father, You created me and all my days. You know me inside and out, and You know my child inside and out, as well. And despite all You know about me and the ways that I have messed up the wonderful creation You meant for me to be, You still love me. The same is true for my child and for the other children I hope to have one day. You love this little one of mine, and I know there will be days that will try my patience, so I ask You to always remind me of Your great love for me and for my child. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

He gives you the rest you need

Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

If you're a mom, you've been there.  You bring your newborn home from the hospital.  Said newborn sleeps peacefully all day long while visitors enjoy the baby, passing it around and sharing cuddles.  The visitors leave, and darkness falls on the house.  Suddenly, that peaceful newborn decides it's time to wake up!  Through the night you find yourself pacing the halls, wondering whatever happened to the sleep you used to enjoy.  You can usually spot a parent of a newborn at a glance--they seem to go about their day in a fog, so tired from being up all night.

It's not only the newborn years that can cause you to lose sleep--we all know that!  Nightmares, thunderstorms, middle-of-the-night needs for drinks, or sickness can all cause us to lose the rest that we so need as busy moms.  The next day after that lost sleep is usually spent wanting a nap that we just can't have.  There are nights when you wonder if you'll ever get a full night of sleep again!

Although as a mom we may never feel completely rested, there is a place that we can find rest, and that is with Jesus.  There's so much going on in our lives, so much that seems to go wrong on a daily basis.  There's times you can lose hope and just think that you're not going to make it through.  Within the pages of the Bible, there's hope.  In God's Word lies our Savior, the answer to all of our problems.  He came to earth to die for our sins, and to bring us perfect rest and peace through Him.  

That's why it's so important, for us as moms, to stay connected with God's Word.  No matter how exhausted we are and how many sleepless nights we have, we can always find rest within the pages of the Bible.  God's Word gives us the peace that we need in our daily lives.  It holds the answers to all of life's problems, and keeps us close to our Savior.  In the end, Jesus brings us the rest that we need.

Dear Heavenly Father, as a parent, I spend a lot of time tired.  There are days it seems I just won't make it through.  Thank you for sending your Son for me, and giving me the rest I need through Him.  Help me stay connected to you through Your Word, so that I can feel refreshed.  In Your name I pray, Amen.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Who Will You Serve?

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

A few weeks ago my family and I were privileged with the opportunity to visit my sister-in-law and her husband in Texas. This was the first time that we were able to visit them in their home since they got married two years ago. As we walked into their home the very first thing that I noticed was the words of Joshua 24:15 painted in the entry way. “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Right there for everyone to see was the declaration that they had made for themselves. This household will serve the Lord.

In this text, Joshua is publicly declaring his family’s commitment to serve God in all they say and do. At the same time he is calling for the Israelites to make the same declaration. At the beginning of this verse he says, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.” You cannot serve the Lord and false gods at the same time, so Joshua asks them, who will you serve? Thankfully the people of Israel see what Joshua is saying and they make their own commitment to serve the Lord and Joshua makes a covenant for them that they would follow God’s law.

Joshua’s words calling the people of Israel to serve the Lord are God’s Words to us also. We cannot serve the Lord and serve the gods of this world as well. So many families in today’s society do not serve the Lord. To serve the Lord means to put God first in everything that we do and say. As parents, it is our job to make this declaration for our families and it goes well beyond just saying it. It is something that we have to do every day, all day, in all that we do.

This is not always easy to do. Our busy lives and schedules that have us going in many different directions get us distracted. Often we fail, even when we have the best of intentions. It takes daily refocusing and daily declaring our commitment to serve the Lord to help us stay on the right track. Family devotions and time spent in God’s Word are so important in not only acting on that commitment but also in enabling us to follow through with our commitment on a daily basis.

I love that my sister-in-law and her husband have those words painted in large lettering that can’t be missed in their entryway. It not only lets all those who come into their home know of their declaration of commitment, but it also serves as a constant reminder to them. I pray that my family will daily renew that declaration that “we will serve the Lord.” I pray this for your families as well. Who will you serve?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You that You constantly shower us with Your love and commitment. Help us Lord to always remember to serve You and You alone. Keep us daily in Your Word and help us to avoid the distractions that are all around us. Lord, bless the service that we give in Your name that You may be glorified in all we do. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

No, No...

Jonah 3:1-3 
1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.
My eleven month old daughter has become quite skilled at shaking her head no, and by saying “quite skilled,” I’m talking about the emphatic side-to-side motion of shaking one’s head.  Olivia will shake her head at just about anything - a new food, a favorite food, her bottle, getting into the car seat, getting out of the car seat, being picked up, being put down, having her diaper changed, going to bed – I’m sure you get the picture.  And not only can she tell you no, but she practices it.  If she hears someone say “no, no,” she immediately shakes her head from side to side. 
Being an educator, I really thought that I would be “more prepared” for this stage of the game, but I’ll admit that nothing prepares you until you get baby food splattered on you for the second time, or your child goes stiff as you are trying to put her into the car seat.  Combine this with the tears, the screams, the hands going a million miles an hour, and more than likely a mini audience – it can test the patience of any skilled mom that I know (Job included).
But saying no is a part of one’s sinful self.  How quickly do we tell people, including our own family and children, “No – I’m busy and can’t help,” or “Sorry, but no I can’t…”  The Bible is full of examples, and I’m sure that we don’t have to look very far (maybe even in a mirror) to find people skilled in the art of saying no.  Jonah dared to tell God no, and he sat in the belly of a whale or big fish for three days (now that’s what I call a time out!) before he repented and was forgiven by God.
Our Heavenly Father is a wonderful parent to us, His children.  Daily we tell him no, disobey and turn away.  Yet, because of Jesus’ sacrifice in our place, God forgives and loves unconditionally.  With this example before us, how much more then should we forgive our own children when they tell us no, or disobey, and work to disciple them as loving, Christian parents?    
Dear Jesus, Thank you for your perfect obedience.  It is because of your sacrifice on the cross that our relationship with our Heavenly Father has been restored.  When our own children tell us no, help us lovingly forgive and show them your grace.   Please continue to bless, strengthen and keep each of our families close to you.  It’s in your name that I pray, Amen.     

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight with Faith and a Conscience

"I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about
you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith."
1 Timothy 1:18-19

In the past year, I have experienced anger unlike any other time in my life. One time in particular had to do with my first grade daughter. Earlier this year, she was the target of a bully in her school. I saw a big change in her . . . she didn't want to go to school, had frequent stomach aches, and seemed to lack the confidence that she normally had.

Once I came to understand what was happening in school, I quickly intervened and stood up for my daughter. We taught her how to stand up for herself and that she could trust us and come to us with problems like this. In the end, it was a good learning experience and I think she came out of it a stronger and more confident little girl.

But it wasn't always like that. In the middle of our bullying situation, my daughter had a hard time understanding why she was being picked on. She asked me point blank several times what was wrong with her that someone would want to be so mean to her. She wanted to know what about her was so ugly that someone would want to say and do hurtful things to her. As a mother, my heart broke.

Along with that sadness came anger. Lots of anger. I wanted to march up to this classmate's house, demand to talk to the parents, and give them a piece of my mind. I wanted to make that family feel the hurt that we were feeling. I wanted to tell my daughter that she could say mean things right back to her bully and do whatever she needed to do to show her that she wasn't afraid of her.

But that isn't what God asks of us. He asks us to "fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience."

As a mother, I had to help my daughter understand that while we don't have to like all people, God does call us to love them. Bullying this classmate back was not an option for my daughter, even though every ounce of me wanted to tell her to kick the bully in the shins. I also have to remember that the real enemy here is the Great Deceiver himself and that I had to cover our family with prayer in this situation so that we could resemble Christ and not give in to our hurt and anger.

As parents, we are going to encounter times of anger and pain, but it is important to remember that our fight isn't always with the human standing in front of us. We must hold onto our faith and allow others to see and experience Christ though us.

God, We know that we will face hard times in this life, especially as we parent our children. Please guide our thoughts and actions and help us to always resemble You. Amen.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feathering our nests

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young--
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Psalm 84:3

Earlier this year in Cub Scouts, Ethan built a bird house.  He proudly brought it home, and we put it up on the maple tree in our front yard.  That was in October, so he knew that he'd probably have to wait until Spring to see if a bird would make it home.  Sure enough, around April, we saw a pair of nuthatches darting in and out of the house with various twigs and sprigs of brown grass.  Lately, if we stand next to the bird house, we can hear the "peep peep peep" of the baby birds inside, and can see mom and dad nuthatch bringing their babies food.  It's been such a pleasure watching these birds make Ethan's bird house their home!

As mothers, we work hard to make our homes wonderful places for our children to grow.  We're very much like the nuthatches in Ethan's birdhouse, making sure our houses are clean and warm, changing the sheets, doing their laundry, bringing our children food for their tummies.  We hover like those mama birds, protecting our children as best we can from harm and danger.

One of the most important things about making a home for our children is bringing them the Word of God.  What better way to bring them warmth and comfort?  I love to hear my children reciting Bible verses, and praying with them at night.  There's nothing better than to hear them proclaim their love for Jesus--and knowing that I have participated in helping grow that faith.  It's the biggest pleasure that I'll ever has as their mother.  My nest may be messy at times, and we may just have boxed mac and cheese for dinner, but I know, as their mom, that having the Word of God in our home is the most important thing.  

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this vocation you have given me, to take care of my family.  Be with me as I daily take care of our home, making it a warm and safe place for my children to grow.  I praise You for Your Word, and for the comfort that it brings us in the home we live in.  Help me to continue to bring that Word to my children.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembered by God

The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their  slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with  Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about
Exodus 2:23b-25

I am always reading a book. I read at night to relax before I fall asleep. If I don’t like
a book, I’ll put it aside and grab a new one. If I really like a book, I have a hard time putting
it down until it is finished. The house if scattered with books in various stages of completion.
What you will find in each of these books is a picture; usually a baby picture of one of my

There are several reasons that I use my children’s pictures as book marks. The photo
might be from a particularly fond moment. It might include a long-lost friend. But usually it is
just a reminder to me of babyhood.

Three of my four children are teenagers. If you have teenagers, you know what I am
experiencing. If not, try to remember what those years were like for you. Friend obsessed, self-
absorbed, busy, emotional, listening to loud music, paying very close attention to the opposite
sex…it’s a crazy time of life. It can be wonderful and horrible all at once. Now, what memories
do you have of your parents during the time you were going through those years. Rule makers,
food providers, ones who generally embarrassed you to death and ruined your life.

Actually, now that we are parents, our perspective of our own parents has changed
dramatically. But there are times with my teenagers that I feel like all I do is make and enforce
rules, turn down music, provide food (at all hours of the day) and listen to the “you’re ruining
my life” door slam. This is why I keep baby pictures as book marks. When the house is quiet,
I remember what it was like to hear their baby talk. I remember their first steps. I think about
pudgy hands reaching up to me. They used to want to show me everything and tell me excitedly
about everything.

I wonder if God keeps baby pictures of me nearby. Actually, He doesn’t need any help
remembering His love and His promises to us. Our cries of help reach up to Him, even when we
don’t know how to ask. His ultimate act of salvation came in the form of his own son taking our
punishment for sin. The one who never rebelled, never stomped his foot in defiance, went to the
cross for all of us. Our bonus gift is that God still listens to our cries and worries and comforts
us with tender love and compassion.

Dear Lord, thank you for remembering your promises to us. Thank you for sending
your salvation in spite of our rebellion. Thank you for the reassurance that your love for me and
for all people has no limits and no boundaries. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

Wife, mom, sister, daughter, middle school administrator…all of these are roles that I have been given by God and at times these roles seem to fight for my attention, my time and my energy. Each role is important and each has been a gift given to me by God. Overall, my report card as a wife is good, as a mom I am raising my kids to be Godly young men, and I am a decent sister. I could be better about calling though. I am sure my parents would say that while I did give them some sleepless nights and made some pretty dumb decisions growing up overall I was a pretty good daughter. Depending on the day, and the kids, I wonder about how effective I am at middle school administration but know that without doubt, this is right where God wants me to be. All that said, it is easy to be overwhelmed. 

Take today for instance…I just came home from work. Nine hours of training with a working lunch. I am tired. No, I am exhausted. I have two more hours of work to do before I head back to work tomorrow but my heart is yearning to head out into the back yard and enjoy some time with my boys in the pool. It is summer after all. It’s the time of year when things are supposed to slow down. My mind yearns for sitting on the front porch swing, eating a popsicle barefoot and carefree. Oh, to be a kid again.. 

But reality sets in. It is hard to not feel overwhelmed at times with our own “busy-ness”. Our list of “To Do’s” seems longer and longer even as we frantically try to cross off tasks. It’s hard to not cry out to God, “Why me God? Why is it you have chosen me to be in charge? I’m the one that doesn’t handle change well Lord, I’m the one that needs a solid eight hours of sleep to function Lord, I’m the one that gets bogged down in the details and forgets to see the big picture Lord. Why.” 

On days like this the Lord floods my mind with His words from 2 Corinthians 12:9. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I hear these words as they pass through my mind and I imagine the Lord sitting right beside me, his arm wrapped around me and him looking into my eyes. “Relax, I am God, and I am really in control. I am powerful enough to see that you make it through these tough times. Relax and let me carry you.” I take a deep breath, wipe my teary eyes and repeat the words that Paul shared so elegantly with the Romans. “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I look up into the eyes of my Savior as he sits beside me. “Ok God, I will give it all to you. I give you my frustrations, my fears, my being overwhelmed and my anxiety. Use me as you see fit Lord and may you be glorified and your name be known through me.” One final deep breath of peace passes through my chest, my heavy heart feels lighter, and my weary mind more focused. 

It is tough juggling our many roles but the peace that comes from knowing that God is there carrying us through these trying times is by far the greatest gift of all. I pray that the Lord will provide you with peace and comfort. Embrace your weaknesses as opportunities for God’s power to shine through you!

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for all the roles you give us and the people we get to be with in those roles.  Please help us to have balance as we juggle our roles and peace as we serve you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Everything Changes

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

I am fifteen weeks pregnant with my first child. I can no longer fit into any of my pants, and most of my shirts are getting a bit snug around my belly. My mom thinks I'm bigger than I should be at this point, and although there is definitely more of me these days, I actually weigh less than I did before getting pregnant. She thinks that means I'm having twins. I keep insisting that we've only heard one heartbeat so far, but she doesn't think that means very much. After all, there is a history of fraternal twins in my family....

Twins are not really in my plans. It wouldn't be the end of the world, and if you catch me in the right mood, I might even be tempted to say that twins might be kind of fun. But we can have twins later. For right now, twins are not in my plans.

In two months my husband and I move back to St. Louis for his last year of seminary. Just the fact that I'm pregnant means most of our plans for this last year have already had to change. We need a bigger place to live in than we were planning. I need more work-from-home kind of work so we don't have to pay child care on top of tuition. We're only going back for one year of school instead of the two or three more years we had talked about. And I could go on and on and on. And on some more. So much has changed already.
Babies change everything! This refrain keeps repeating itself in my head, followed by the question, What if it is twins?!  And the refrain that immediately follows that thought is Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord....

I find so much comfort in this verse. Even when the plans I make change (and I like to make plans) or don't work out the way I think they're supposed to work out (and I have definite opinions on the way my plans should work out), I know that God has plans for me, and His plans are infinitely better than my own.
I love that the ESV uses the word wholeness to describe God's plans. God's plans for us are for wholeness, not falling-apart-ness (which is what I often feel like doing these days). He has a future for us. He gives us hope; He gives us Jesus who is our hope and who makes us whole when we mess up or when we feel like giving up.

And what is even more amazing for me to think about right now is that He also has plans for my baby (or babies). He plans for my baby to be whole, and He sent Jesus to make my baby whole, and to make me whole, and to make you whole, and your children whole. It's such an amazing thing to think about what those plans might be.  And whenever I dwell on that thought, the idea of twins doesn't seem quite so daunting.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that you have plans for me that are greater than my own. Continue to make me whole and to put me back together when I fall down or fall apart. Calm my fears about the future and remind me of the hope you have given me through Jesus Christ. It is in His name I pray, Amen.