Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Reason to Rejoice

Read Romans 5:6-11
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us... Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:7,11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hidden Sins

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my
sin.” Psalm 51:1-2

Have you ever had that “truth hurts” moment? The one that starts with you feeling great
about your family. Your kids are little angels, your husband is everything you ever wanted in a
husband and you are on top of your game. Then you see a family, maybe in a restaurant, whose
kids are out of control and the parents are upset and arguing. You think, “I am so glad that’s not
me.” And then it hits. That could just as easily be me; my family, out of control in public for the
world to see. At any particular moment we are dancing on that fine line between content and

David had that moment. He was content. Everything was going his way. Enter Bathsheba and
watch it all spiral out of control. Nathan, the Lord’s prophet, was sent to confront David about
his sin. The sin that David thought he had gotten away with. But now it was out in the open.
And all David could do was repent and plead for mercy.

The Bible is full of people who loved God. They listened to him, they followed him, and they
obeyed him. Not one of them was sinless. Their weaknesses and sins are recorded in scripture
for the world to see. Not for us to judge them, but for us to learn from them. They show us the
infinite love of our God and Savior.

God forgave David. God loved David. Our lives continue this example for our generation.
Even when we sin, even when we sin greatly, we can know that God still loves us. We ask for
forgiveness and it is freely given. After forgiveness, we can pray as David did in Psalm 51, “Then
I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.” When the thin veneer of
family perfection is marred, we can remember that in Christ all is made perfect. Christ came for
me and for every content or crazy person in the world.

Dear Lord, thank you for reaching out to us in love when we have sinned. Help us to
acknowledge our sin and seek your forgiveness. Then help us to be bold to share word of your
forgiveness to others. Amen

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A devotion for the night before school begins

Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139: 23

At our home visit last week, my son's teacher gave us this devotion.  I thought it was so wonderful, I wanted to share it with all of you!

(Author Unkown)

Materials you will need:
-Baby/Toddler  pictures of your children
-Book bag and/or other school supplies
-New school clothing
-A Bible

Look at the pictures when the child(ren) were younger.  Talk about the growth that has taken place.  Talk about the changes.  
You are taller and stronger.  What can you do now that you couldn't do when you were a baby?  You can do so many things because your body works so well.  Hold the Bible open to Psalm 139 as you talk about what God says.  In the Bible David was talking about how God had made him.  He said, "I will praise You, God.  You made me in such a wonderful way!"  God made you in a wonderful way.  Show me some things your hands can do.  What can you do with your feet?  Now God is giving you a chance to go to school and learn more about Him and about how to use your body. Let's talk to God about your first day of school:  Heavenly Father, tomorrow ___________________ is going to begin school.  Be with him/her and help him/her to grow.  Thank you for the wonderful way You made our bodies.  We are glad You love us and have made us your dear children. Amen.


Suggest that the child tell about the school supplies that have been bought for the beginning of school.  God has blessed us with so many tools we can use for learning.  What is your favorite supply that we bought?  What is your favorite color among the clothes we bought?  You may hold your favorite tools or clothing for our prayer:
Lord God, You are good to us!  Look at all the blessings _____________ has to take to school tomorrow.  Help him/her to use them carefully.  We remember that You have also given us our best blessing, Jesus.  Help us remember that He is with us tomorrow!  Amen.

Heavenly Father, today ____________________ begins another year of school.  I am apprehensive.  Will the teacher understand him/her?  Love him/her?  Nurture him/her?  Will he/she develop friendships that bring out her/his best characteristics?  Will he/she look eagerly for knowledge?  Calm my apprehensions and make me secure in the faith that you will be with me in the parenting of my child.  I praise you for dedicated teachers and staff and for a school that reflects your love.  And most of all I praise you for your gift to me, ___________________, your dear child.  Amen.

God bless all of you as you begin a new school year!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I shall not want? I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my shephard I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

My life has been overwhelming lately. I feel like I am constantly juggling different responsibilities and expectations both professionally and most importantly in my family life. There are days when I am able to keep up with everything just fine and then just as I begin to feel like things are going well I realize that I have forgotten the routine of the tossing and catching of responsibilities and just like the juggling balls, everything seems to be falling down around my feet.

It is at these moments that I begin to call out to God, I want a few more moments in my morning Lord. I want things to be simple and calm Lord. I want things to be the way they were before life got complicated and demanding Lord. I want...I want...I want. The reality is not that I don't have these things beacuse I do. I have all of those things when I allow God to be in control.

I was recently reminded about Psalm 23:1-3 and the wonderful truth found within these verses. I shall not want because the Lord is in control. When I read these verses, I picture the beautiful, lush emerald green pastures and the sparkling blue streams of water flowing nearby. But the mental picture I most often and provides me with the most peace and comfort is the Lord carrying the lost sheep home to the flock.

As mom's we can easily get overwhelmed with the demands of being a mom. Laundry, cleaning the house, taking kids to practices and lessons, being the homework helpline and then adding in the role of cheerleader for kids and spouses, the encourager, the supporter and the challenger.

Life provides challenges that at times make it seem like we are juggling expectations rather than living life. Rest assured that the Lord is there carrying us through those times just as he carries the lost sheep home to the flock. Loving us, nurturing us and carrying the burden for us. Rest assured that we can enjoy those emerald green pastures and the sparkling blue streams of water as he carries us and our burdens for us.

Thank you Lord for loving us so much that you are willing to carry us in the overwhelming times of life. Thank you for reminding us that we are worth being carried and cared for. Thank you for those peace filled pastures and calming waters. May we always allow you to be in control and enjoy the peace that only you provide. Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Teach Them to Your Children

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

This is one of my husband’s favorite verses. Writing God’s word in our children’s hearts, and on the doorposts of the place that they feel safe and secure. What better way to ensure that they know God’s great love for them!

We are sharing with you today some of the verses we have up in our homes. These are some of the ones we talk about when we sit at home, and when we walk along the road.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Proverbs 31:25

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance1 upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

This is our prayer for you today as you walk along the road with your family. Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today's Life Lesson

A friend of mine has been recently struggling with trust. As we discussed this in relation to her relationship with God I asked her if she would consider putting her thoughts into a devotion. This sensitive topic is one we all can use wisdom on but for the sake of privacy has been "ghost written."

I’m suddenly in the middle of a life-lesson about Trust. I’m finding that maybe I didn’t fully appreciate the meaning of Trust before.

I took it for granted that I could trust. Trust them with my ideas and my dreams. Trust them with my secrets and my vulnerability. But not just those things. Those things are what we think of when we consider trusting in a friend. How ‘bout trusting that Reality is what you think it is? What aboutknowing someone? What if all at once all of that was in question? Betrayal reveals the true sense of the word Trust.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5,6).

This is one of those old favorite verses that I’ve always loved. I remember in college having it written on a scrap of paper and hanging on my bulletin board.When I got married it was on a plaque in our hall. I’m sure that framed piece is somewhere in my stash of deco waiting to be uncovered when we move.

I knew that I needed as much understanding as I could get. That I should not lean on my own wisdom. That I could seek Christ for direction.

But now I get it just a little more. We are not perfect creatures. We mislead, confuse, and hurt those we love sometimes. Few of us have those intentions; but we are sinners. However, God does not entangle us. Trusting in God means that I KNOW that what He says is True. I can identify who He is and what sort of characteristics He has, and I know that He is what He says He is.

He is Good. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His loving-kindness is everlasting. Psalms 107:1

He is Wise. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

He is Forgiving. For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in loving-kindness to all who call upon Thee. Psalm 86:5

I am so thankful that I can trust my God. As I send my girls off to their first day of school, I can Trust Him. As I pray for my marriage, I can Trust Him. As I look to my faithful God for wisdom and comfort, I can Trust Him. He is the total package. For this I am very thankful.

Lord, Thank you for everything you are – and always will be. As we go about our day, help us to rest in your knowing arms. Remind us of your faithfulness. Comfort us with your consistency. Enable me to trust you with my day, my children, and my marriage. Amen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Parent Love

There’s nothing like being a parent to teach you about God’s love.
My 3 year old is not sleeping lately. Well, she sleeps ok in my bed. :) But I’d rather she was in her own bed these days. So last night she was bound and determined not to be alone. She sat on the edge of her bed crying and carrying on about her fears for what seemed like hours. Every once in a while one of us would go in and try to reason with her; try to convince her to lie down and calm down.
But it was no use. She wasn’t interested in our plan.
Eventually I was so sad for her. Somehow my compassion for her was stronger than my frustration. I went in and tried to talk to her again. I wanted to wrap her up in my arms and hold her tight and I wanted her to feel safe. She was all worked up about being alone. Something about “mommy and daddy were going to forget to lock the door and a man was going to come into our house” and get her. Where did this come from? (I promise we aren’t watching Criminal Minds with her.) It seemed unfounded, but I’ve been hearing this enough from her that I knew it was a very grave matter to her. Eventually her exhaustion began to take over. I convinced her to lie down and reassured her I’d be back very soon to check on her. She was asleep within minutes.
How often do I resist my Father’s arms? How often do I argue with him about my plan? How often do I put more weight on my fears than on His promises?
My fears ARE very real to me. My plans DO seem like such good ideas. I get carried away, until I’m just exhausted over the whole thing.
Yet, I know His arms are there to wrap me up in security. I know my fears are tiny compared to His Love. I know His compassion is stronger than my stubbornness. And when I finally give in, and fall into the arms of His grace… He gives me Peace. He gives me Comfort. He even gives me direction. And He does not give into my whining. He stands strong, knowing what’s best for me.
Read Psalm 103. It’s such a good description of our Father. I keep coming back to this part starting with verse 8…
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love… he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him… As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…
My kids have taught me a lot. But I am so thankful for the lessons about Love. About second chances. About Grace.
Lord, be with me today as I parent my children. Guide me to bring my fears and plans to you. Fill me up with your Comfort, that I may Comfort my children. Fill me up with your Love, that I can Love my children. Help me be the Mom you want me to be… and the Child you want me to be too. Thank you for your Compassion and the second chance that comes with your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

If you've been with us since the beginning you've probably read this devotion before, but we thought it was a topic worth revisiting :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our names are written in Heaven

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Luke 10:20

Last year in preschool, my daughter learned how to write her name.  She was very proud.  Suddenly, around the house, the name Emma seemed to appear everywhere.  On the wall in her room.  On the fallboard of my piano.  On her brothers' school papers.  Even on the microwave, in red Sharpie.  

It's not hard for children like Emma to learn that when their names are on things, they belong to them.  Perhaps Emma was hoping that her bedroom wall or my piano would now be hers, since her name was written on them.  How many of us, upon bringing yummy leftovers home from a restaurant, have written our names on the package, so that everyone in the house will know it belongs to us?

God also writes names.  It's as if God is up in Heaven, writing on the wall, just as Emma did in her own room.  He's writing the names of all His children.  His grandchildren.  His great-grandchildren.  And so on.  But of course, he doesn't really need a list, or a red Sharpie to mark those names down.  He knows us all by name.

How do our names get recorded in Heaven?  By God's grace.  He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross for us.  His Son had to leave behind His throne in heaven and endure hell's suffering.  He paid for our sins.  His Spirit has called us by the gospel, enlightening us with his gifts, sanctifying and keeping us in the true faith.  Thanks be to God, it's a record that not even a Magic Eraser will erase.  

We pray,  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for writing our names in your book of life.  Thank you for sending your dear Son to die for our sins on the cross.  Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to us, keeping us in faith with you.  Help us to remember that as long as we believe in you, our names will never be erased.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

See His Hands

Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:27-28

My knees are covered with scars from wiping out on our dirt road when I first learned to ride my bike. I have a scar on my hip where my appendix used to be. And I have four different sets of stretch marks, one from each of my children.

Scars are something that we usually try to keep hidden, and that modern medicine and our own vanity tell us can and should be removed. Use the right cream or just enough cover up, a nip here and a tuck there, and it’s like the incident never happened.

But our scars tell stories. Yes, sometimes they are stories of stupidity; lessons learned the hard way. More often though they tell stories of courage, of sacrifice for others and of God’s healing power.

Jesus has scars too. They are on his head, his back, his hands, feet and side. They tell an awesome story. A story of our God so loving and compassionate, so willing to hang onto us forever that he sacrificed own Son; giving him over to be scarred in a way that I can barely imagine.

Christ’s scars are many, and they are not hidden. He showed them to Thomas and the other disciples as proof that he was the risen Christ, and he shows them daily to our Heavenly Father as proof of our redemption.

I probably won’t show you the scars on my belly, but I don’t want to have them erased either. They bear witness to new life, created by God. Life that I got to care for and continue to watch grow in a way that no other person will ever experience. My scars tell the story of God’s faithfulness and creativity. They have marked me as my children’s mother just as Christ’s scars have marked me as God’s child.

Praise the Lord that His scars are the ones of true courage, sacrifice for others and God’s healing power. See his hands. Place your hand in his side. Do not disbelieve, but believe. Jesus’ love for you cannot be removed!

My Lord and my God,

I am humbled by the sacrifice of your Son for me. Forgive me when I try to cover up the scars Jesus bore for me with my own selfish acts. Thank you for seeing me through his redeeming life, death and resurrection.

In Jesus Name Alone, Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Be Like a Tree

“Blessed is the man…his delight is in the law of the LORD…He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

We have several trees around our home. While there are nine trees in the main part of our yard, the number of trees along the back of our yard are too numerous to count. Those trees behind our fence line are part of a large group of trees that are growing along the banks of the creek that runs by our house. All of these trees flourish where they are planted because of the source of water that they are so close to. They prosper and grow providing a home for many birds and other critters and giving us a beautiful view.

In today’s text, the psalmist is talking about a man who is blessed. He describes him as someone who “walks not in the counsel of the wicked.” Rather, “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” To explain his point he uses the visualization of trees planted by water.

It’s an easy visualization for us to see, isn’t it? Even in the desert, where do you see trees? Along any water that may run through the area. Trees grow roots that reach deep into the ground to draw out the water that they need for life. They rely on this water and thrive when they are planted in an area that has a rich source of water to draw from.

We are blessed when we plant ourselves in the streams of living water. God’s Word is not just there for use on Sunday mornings at church. We want to have God’s Word be surrounding us on every side so that we can soak up the rich nutrients that it has for us.

As parents we plant ourselves and our family’s as close to this stream as we can get. Like this man in our Psalm that is blessed, we want to “delight in the law of the LORD.” When we do this, God provides for us in ways that we can’t imagine. In all we do, we will prosper. Does this mean that we will live a luxurious life with all the material processions we could ever dream of? No, but it does mean that when we meditate on God’s Word day and night and delight in God’s law, He will bring us through and hold us up in all that life will bring to us.

I encourage you my friends to be like a tree, and lead your family to be like trees, planted by streams of water. Set your roots in the Word of God and grow and prosper where you are planted.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your Word. Help us Lord to root ourselves in Your Word and to daily grow in it. We pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why are you cast down?

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation, and my God....
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42: 5, 8

Because of a recent move, I've had to change doctors just as I'm getting ready for the beginning of my third trimester. On Monday of this week I had my first appointment with my new doctor (who is actually an old doctor I'm returning to). Due to some miscommunication between people at the new office and mistakes made by people at the old doctor's office, I was not able to see my new doctor. I found myself crying in the doctor's office and unable to make it stop. I'm sure they deal with pregnant women's hormones all the time, but it was still embarrassing. I'm not usually one to cry so easily.

But I've been crying easily a lot these days. It just seems like the slightest thing sets me off. Something doesn't go my way - tears. Someone corrects a mistake I've made - tears. My husband doesn't compliment my cooking - tears. Someone smiles at me and asks how my day is going - yep, tears again. It's driving me crazy.

I know this is most likely just a pregnancy hormone thing. But I also know that even when I'm not pregnant, there are things that can get me down (even if they don't make me cry uncontrollably). A job I thought I'd get falls through...a friend or family member says something critical or hurtful...there's too much laundry or house cleaning to do...I can't seem to find the time to do all the things I need to do... And I find myself feeling down or disheartened.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? the Psalmist asks, and it's a question that feels familiar because I've been there. Haven't you been there, too? But the Psalmist turns from this dark question to words of hope. For I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God. We are given a reason to praise: God is our salvation. He is our hope. He is our love during the day and our song in the night. He is our prayer even when we don't know what to pray. And there is great comfort in this.

Heavenly Father, I feel a little crazy and not myself sometimes. I feel disheartened by the things that happen during the day and I let those things get me down and I forget to rely on your promises. But you are good and loving and comforting, and I praise you for that. Thank you for being bigger than my disappointments and for restoring me to joy. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

God is working in us

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Philippians 2:13

7am: Daughter wakes up, wants breakfast.
8am:  Boys wake up, want breakfast
9am: First load of laundry, do dishes, get laundry on the line.
10am: Clean up around the house, sweep floors.
11am: Finish getting laundry on the line outside.
12pm: Lunch time, put the dog outside
1pm: Start folding laundry
2pm: Pick green beans, weed around the house
3pm: Get laundry off the line
4pm: Put laundry away
5pm: Supper time
6pm: Clean up from supper, sweep again
7pm: Collect garbage, clean cat boxes
8pm: Get kids to bed

This is a picture of my day today.  Work, work, work.  We, as moms, work all day long.  Some of us stay at home.  Some of us work outside the home, and have more work to do when we get home at night.  Either way, our work never seems to get done.  When we get one mess cleaned up, we turn around, and there's another mess waiting for us.  The work is there when we go to sleep, and is still there when we wake up.

It's easy to forget why we do this work day in and day out.  Of course we love our families and want to make sure they are happy and healthy.  But it's hard to feel appreciated sometimes.  As mothers, though, this is the vocation that the Lord has given us.  See our Bible verse for today?  He takes pleasure in our work.  

Every moment, every step of the day, the Lord is working within us.  He's there when our kids have an argument, and we tell them to love each other and forgive.  He's there when the little one scrapes her knee, watching while we comfort with a gentle hand.  His work is in us.

Remember, though, that it is not because of OUR work that we are saved.  It is because of GOD'S work.  Throughout the day, the work that God is doing in our hearts--the work that He accomplished through Christ on the cross--that is what saves us.  Our work glorifies him, and brings Him pleasure. 

The knowledge of that brings a spring to my step, as I go about my work of being a mother!

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, Mothering is hard work.  There are days when we don't stop from the time we get up until the time we lay down to sleep at night.  We praise You that you are there with us, every step of the day.  Help us to remember that You are working within us, as we are working within our homes.  In Your name we pray, Amen

Monday, August 15, 2011


Phillipians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice.

I have faced quite a few challenges in the last thirty-five years. Some of those challenges have been personal forcing me to grow in my own understanding of who and whose I was. Some were professional causing me to reflect on where I fit in to the larger picture of God's ministry. Yet nothing has come close to the challenges I have been forced to face over the last few weeks.

As a parent we spend years teaching teaching our kids rules and life lessons that will help hopefully protect them from unnessessary hurt and pain. The hardest thing I have had to face as a parent are the things that I cannot control. The things that I cannot fix or take away tend to hit me the hardest.

Two weeks ago my oldest child was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This has, by far, rocked me to the core. It was not something I caused and yet these words, meant to cause comfort by the wonderful doctors and nurses that took care of my son, only reminded me that just as I had not caused this disease, there was nothing-absolutely nothing- I could do to make it go away.

I cannot lie, these last two weeks I have struggled. I have struggled to understand why this has happened. I have struggled to balance my thankfulness that he now has a plan to keep him healthy with the fact that I am still sad and to be totally honest mad. Mad that it happened to my son, mad that the doctors have yet to understand fully why, and mad that with all of the things that science and technology has allowed us to do, why have they not been able to find a cure for this.

A number of wonderful verses of scripture have been presented to me this week by God. And yet the one I keep coming back to is the Phillipians 4:4 verse. Rejoice in the Lord Always. Again I say, Rejoice.

It may seem odd that at this time I would be rejoicing and yet dispite my struggles ultimately I am rejoicing. I am rejoicing that my son is in the hands of some amazing doctors. I am rejoicing that my son has a treatment plan that can keep him healthy and allow him to live a long life. I am rejoicing that my son that just a few weeks ago my extremely sick son is now healthy and enjoying an active lifestyle of playing football and being a typical middle school kid.

Lord, I thank you for reminding us that in the midst of struggles and hurt you are able to remind us of the things we are to rejoice. Thank you for providing us with doctors and medicines that can help us remain healthy through difficult diagnoses. May you comfort those that are struggling and keep us focused on your will.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friendships Rooted In Christ

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."
Proverbs 27:17, NLT

As I look back on the friendships that have been woven into the fabric of my life, I experience a range of emotions: joy and fulfillment to disappointment and hurt. In my life, friendships have ended because of my own selfish actions and some had endings that still leave me wondering why they ceased to exist. A few have survived years and distance and hurt and change. And some friendships are new and scary and comforting all at the same time.

In the recent past, I have learned a truth about God and friendships. I have learned that God wants to love us through relationships with others and that He knows our need for companionship and accountability even when we don't. God knows that as followers of Christ, we need friendships rooted in Christ that connect us to other people, but most importantly to God. He knows that it's important for us to be in relationship with those whom we share the same core--and that is our faith in Christ.

A friend rooted in Christ does not judge the mess of sin in our lives. They walk beside us and remind us where we are going and who God has intended for us to be. They challenge us to be more like Christ and they provide strength along the journey. And in turn, we can provide that same strength to them. Together, we can be Godly mothers, wives, and servants and we can make a difference to those around us.

I am thankful that God has placed Godly women in my life who point me to Christ and share in this life that can be beautiful, fun, confusing, and downright painful all at the same time. Through these friendships, I am given a small glimpse of just how much God loves me.

Dear God . . . Please continue to work in me through the friendships in my life. Help me to be more like you Lord. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad;
my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.”
Proverbs 23:15-16

My kids love their trophies. Since all four of them are active and athletic, we have collected
quite a few. And this generation has been raised to believe that they get a trophy for everything
in which they participate. We have trophies for every season of soccer, baseball, volleyball,
football, softball and track. Add to these the trophies and medals collected from every
tournament and invitational. We have pictures and costumes from dance recitals and plays. I
have friends who have taken uniform jerseys of years gone by and stitched them into quilts to
commemorate the athletic history of a child. (I really think this is a cool idea, I just don’t have
the energy or the talent to complete this!) We even have reading, piano and spelling trophies.

We live in a world that honors accomplishment. Psychologists have informed us and educators
have seconded the FACT that kids need a positive self-esteem to be successful. And as parents
we reward and encourage and cheer and make them believe they can do anything. As a result,
there is a generation of kids that are charging into adulthood believing everything they do
deserves a trophy. I wonder what would happen if we could convince the world that each child
needs to have a wise heart and an honest tongue.

I see encouraging signs that these values are gaining some momentum. There are commercials
on the television that promote honesty, integrity, kindness and generosity. I’ve seen billboards
that display examples of noble character. But these are drowned out by messages of another
kind. “You deserve it!” “Treat yourself!” “Take time out for you!” “Indulge yourself!”

As a human being in this world, it is difficult to drown out the self-promoting messages. As a
Christian parent, it is even harder to ignore how the world says we should treat our children.
We love them and if any child deserves to be rewarded, it is ours! But the Bible tells us that we
should be judging our kids by a different standard. Not by what they accomplish, but by the
condition of their heart. We should be glad and rejoice when they are so guided by the Holy
Spirit to be honest and wise. I am certain that not many trophy producers are asked to etch
those words onto the metal plates of trophies.

Dear Lord, help us to look to your Biblical standard of accomplishment. Teach us to look to you
for care and guidance so that we can properly encourage our children. Forgive us when we value
worldly praise higher than heavenly peace. In Jesus’ name, amen.

And it was good

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul!
   O LORD my God, you are very great!
 You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
 2covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;he makes the clouds his chariot;
   he rides on the wings of the wind;
4he makes his messengers winds,
   his ministers a flaming fire.

 5He set the earth on its foundations,
   so that it should never be moved.
6You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
   the waters stood above the mountains.
7At your rebuke they fled;
   at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
   to the place that you appointed for them.
9You set a boundary that they may not pass,
   so that they might not again cover the earth.

 10You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
   they flow between the hills;
11they give drink to every beast of the field;
   the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
   they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
   the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

 14You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
   and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
 15and wine to gladden the heart of man,
 oil to make his face shine
   and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

 16The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17In them the birds build their nests;
   the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
   the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

 19He made the moon to mark the seasons;
   the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
   when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
   seeking their food from God.
22When the sun rises, they steal away
   and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
   and to his labor until the evening.

 24O LORD, how manifold are your works!
   In wisdom have you made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures.
25Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
   living things both small and great.
26There go the ships,
   and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

 27These all look to you,
   to give them their food in due season.
28When you give it to them, they gather it up;
   when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
   when you take away their breath, they die
   and return to their dust.
30When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
   and you renew the face of the ground.

 31May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
   may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32who looks on the earth and ittrembles,
   who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
   I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34May my meditation be pleasing to him,
   for I rejoice in the LORD.
35Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
   and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!

Psalm 104

Over the past two weeks my children have been able to see the Sierra Nevada mountains, rivers filled with massive rocks, the biggest tree in the world, an ocean with powerful waves, waterfalls, a lake used to help farmers water their crops, and animals from seals to chipmunks.  It is so easy to get lost in the modern world and forget to see God.  Nature helps to bring us back to that.  God is evident in nature all around and you can't help but marvel at the incredible creations.  This Psalm speaks so perfectly of marveling at this nature.  Even though these things are not a part of my daily life, there is still much beauty around to marveled at and Praise God for - even taking time to look at the things growing in the yard around us we can see God and discuss that with our children.  It is my hope to remember to point out and share God in more of the little things each day and not just wait for the big things - because as we know he is in all of them!

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for all that you create and giving us a glimpse into your majesty with some of the beautiful things we can find here on earth.  Be with me and guide my words as I help our chidlren to see you in these things too. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Psalm 61:2
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
My 13 month old has been cutting her one-year-old molars as of late, and consequently has been waking up at night in pain.  From our bedroom I will hear her cry, and I swear that the only time she says, “Mom,” or “Momma,” is when she cries and needs me.  So, after throwing off the covers and walking bleary-eyed to her room, I will usually find her sitting or standing in her crib crying.  The minute I pick her up though, the tears are gone and she is patting my shoulder as if to say, “I’m so glad you’re here!” 
Reflecting on the Psalm chosen, I realize that I too cry out and ask God for help when I am in the most desperate of places, or are in need of his help or healing.  I say His name when I am at the point of desperation and feel as if there is little hope.  I know that His promise is to be with us always, and that He desires His children to come to Him daily in prayer.  However, my sin and my business keep me from always having an active prayer life and consequently, at times, I forget to thank Him for always being there and providing me with countless blessings.
Heavenly Father,
Thank you for hearing our prayer and for your promise to always be with us.  Help me to remember you at all times, and to give thanks for what you have done through your Son, Jesus,  Amen. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011


And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
John 14:3

My mom is visiting us this week from Las Vegas. She has not been in my house for a long time. Actually, she has never been in this house at all.  Any of you with visiting relatives knows exactly what happened in our home the week before she arrived. 
We scrubbed.
We weeded.
We replaced a really ugly kitchen sink.
We tried to make things as pleasant as possible for our honored guest.
And yet, during her visit we still had to work on the roof, our oldest son had to mow the lawn, and I've done numerous loads of laundry.  Our house has been less than perfectly prepared for her visit.
Thanks be to God, that he sent Jesus ahead to prepare a heavenly home for us! While our earthly homes will crumble and decay, with washing machines that die at inopportune times and children who spill coffee on cream colored carpets; our heavenly home is being perfectly prepared for us by the perfect Son of God!
While my mom attempts to overlook the imperfections of an aging house filled with eight busy people; I know that my eyes have yet to behold the wonder of the home being prepared for me!

This, my friends, is VERY good news!

Visit, O Lord, the homes in which your people dwell, and keep all harm and danger far from them. Grant that we may dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels, sharing eternally in Your blessings; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Loving Worship

Lord, I have loved the habitation of your house, and the place where your glory dwells. Psalm 26:8

August is a month filled with nervous anticipation for a teacher. With the beginning of the school year right around the corner, I am busy with classroom planning. I work in a Lutheran preschool, where one of my responsibilities is the teaching of religion. Teaching religion is a joy when I see the children I teach respond to the Gospel. It is a task that I take very seriously. I feel that sharing Bible truths is the most important thing that I can give these students. More than anything, I desire these children to know Jesus as their Savior. I know that it is not me, but the Holy Spirit, that works faith in these young hearts through the Word. However, I admit to feeling a little personal pleasure when I see evidence of the developing faith of one of the preschoolers. Alternately, I also am disheartened when the students don’t seem to be listening during “Jesus Time,” or even verbally express their boredom.

One aspect of the religion curriculum that inevitably stimulates expressions of boredom is the weekly chapel service. I believe that it is valuable to take children into the sanctuary for worship, especially since so many of them come from unchurched families. However, once they finish exploring their surroundings, many become uninterested. I believe the reason is that they do not understand the nature of worship. These children need to know the reasons why we worship, why the church is called God’s house, the purpose of the fixtures we use during worship, and that there is meaning behind the elements of the service. They still may express some boredom because they find worship less entertaining than Center Time or being on the playground, but at least they will hopefully understand that going to church is more than meaningless ritual.

When I work on developing the religion curriculum, I can’t help but feel convicted concerning my own attitude toward worship. I spend a lot of energy attempting to instill a value for worship in my preschool students. My desire for my own children is to have faith lives that are nurtured within the community of believers until they are called to their heavenly home. I have been considering whether I take the responsibility in my home as seriously as I do in my job? Honestly, probably not. How often has Sunday morning become a stressful fight over clothing, which service to attend, or getting children fed? How often have I had the attitude that going to church takes too much of my valuable time? How often have I been tired, going through the motions during the worship service, allowing my mind to wander instead of attentively listening? How often have I neglected to discuss the service with my children, taking the opportunity to teach them priceless lessons? How often have I made a negative comment to my husband concerning something that happened at church?

Even though my own children are older and much more independent than those in my classroom, I need to be mindful that they still need to be taught. They learn what I model. I want my children to worship as a reflection of their gratitude for God’s grace, rather than from a sense of obligation. I don’t want them to simply be in church, taking up space. I want them to hunger and thirst for God more than they desire the worldly distractions that constantly vie for their attention. I want them to draw strength from the Word, Sacraments, and being in the midst of their church family.

I know that I have often failed to be the example that my children need, but I go to the Heavenly Father in repentance and know that, thanks to Christ, I am forgiven. I pray the Holy Spirit will guide me and strengthen me to be a better vessel in the future. I pray for the blessing of knowing that my children love the habitation of God’s house, and the place where His glory dwells!

Dear God, I often neglect to be the teacher that my students and children need. Please cover my mistakes with your merciful love and graciously bless these children despite my failures. Please give all my children a desire for you, above all else. Let their lives be reflections of faith, and please draw them ever closer to you. At the end of this life, please grant them an eternity of worshipping in your glorious presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.