Friday, September 30, 2011

Increasing Happiness In Their Blessings

Today we have a special feature written by Pastor Philip Hoppe.  After reading it on his own blog, I asked my husband to touch base with him and see if we could borrow it.  I hope you find these words as enriching as I did.

The Historic Litany (a form of which appears in Lutheran Service Book on page 288) bids us to pray for many things which is one of its many strengths.  We pray this litany as the end of a pastor’s study group I host.  Every time I am struck by one particular thing we are bid to pray.
“To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings.”
It always strikes me as a strikingly honest bidding, one only a mother or dedicated father could craft.  They are words that weave together two truths.  First, children are a blessing given our gracious God.  Secondly, they are not always easily recognizable as such, especially to mothers who spend all their days and much of their nights caring for their endless needs.
I work in our home.  When I do premarital counseling, I talk about how a married couple should view the prospect of children according to the scriptures.  And before doing so I often joke that right as I utter the phrase “children are a blessing,” it is likely that one of my kids will crash through my office door screaming and yelling.
Children are a key place where one learns that the blessings of God do not always yield immediate happiness.   In fact, some of the blessings of God are precisely that not because they bring immediate happiness but rather because they teach us to preserve through trial.

hand-hiThat being said, it my prayer for my wife and for all mothers that the blessings of children would increasingly bring them happiness.  I pray that in the midst of all of the hard and thankless work mothers engage in that they would have happiness.  I pray that as they deal with all matter of sin and disobedience, they would still have happiness.  I pray that that happiness would increase all the time.

Mothering is a job that can lead to much sadness, despair, and depression. Deliver our mothers from such evil, O Lord. 

I bid you to pray, “To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings and to have mercy on us all.”  We pray, “We implore You to hear us, good Lord.  Amen.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sufficient Grace

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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Pregnancy makes me feel like a wimp. With only seven weeks to go, my body can no longer do the things it used to be able to do. I can just barely get my feet close enough to my hands to tie my shoes. If I squat to dig something out of the fridge or the back of a cabinet, I have a hard time standing back up. Walking around the mall wears me out and makes my hips and back hurt for a couple days. I'm not sleeping well because I can't get comfortable because no matter what position I lay in, I can't breathe very well. (Of course, the breathing thing isn't helped by the fact that I have a cold right now.) And then there's all the uncontrollable crying...

But I don't think this is the kind of boasting in weaknesses that Paul was talking about (it is, after all, more of a rant than a boasting), but this verse does resonate with me right now. In the verses preceding 2 Corinthians 12:9, he mentions a thorn in the flesh, and in the previous chapter he talks about being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, in danger, sleepless, hungry, thirsty, and cold. (Hmm..sleepless and hungry? I can definitely relate to that! And when the baby moves just right, I feel like I'm being beaten from the inside....)

All of Paul's trials and weaknesses happened so that the power of Christ would be seen in him, and so that God's grace would be sufficient--would be enough. God's grace was all Paul needed. "My grace is sufficient for you," God said in response to Paul's prayer that the thorn in his flesh would be removed.

And His grace is sufficient for me, even as my body gets more unwieldy and less comfortable, and as my fears about mothering grow (more sleepless nights along with sleepless days?!). I find myself leaning more on these words, and reminding myself of them. "My grace is sufficient for you."

What trials are you going through? What makes you feel weak right now? God's grace is sufficient for you, too. Even when everything in life seems like too much to deal with, God's grace is unchanging and is always with you.

Father, some days are harder than others. Some days I feel so weak and inadequate. It is on those days, during those times, that I rest in your grace. Carry me through and be my strength. Let your grace be enough for me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Right Answer

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.  And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
2 John 1:4-6

Lately my daily “quiet time” has consisted of me stealing a few minutes, grabbing my Bible, and flipping thru for something applicable to my day.  I wouldn’t recommend this plan (I need to get a study or something), but actually I’ve stumbled upon some good stuff lately.  Today I happened upon 2 John.  

It’s a short book, consisting of only 13 verses that John writes to a woman (of all people!), encouraging her to stay focused on the “truth,” and not to be misled by anything else.  The “truth,” the most important instruction, is that we “Love one another.”

We all have our own problems and ups and downs.  Lately my own focus has been on my marriage.  We recently hit a bump in the road which, thankfully, found us re-committing ourselves to our marriage and each other.  But it has also presented me with a lot of confusion – things are different now.  Frequently I find myself thinking, “What should I do?”

My questions multiply.  After 12 years of marriage, I was used to feeling like I knew all the answers.  Now suddenly, I feel I have none.  “How should I handle this conflict?”  or “What’s the best way to encourage my husband?”  or “Can I bite my tongue as I know I should?”  or “I don’t know what to say to him today.”  For many of us, these questions could just as easily apply to our children, or someone we work with, or a family member.  “Lord,” I finally appeal to Him, “I just don’t know what to do with this today.”

Well, the answer is Love.  And I should know better.  As John says, this is not a new command.  This is the rock-solid command Jesus taught and repeated and lived.  This is what my mom taught me, it’s what I love about my faith, and it’s what I cling to.  Yet sometimes, it’s not what I reach for first. 

But it should be.  How can I walk in Love? should be the question I am asking myself.  Not that this is an easy answer.  Not that this ‘fixes’ things.  But it’s what I’m commanded to do.  And even in my rocky track record, it has proven itself over the years.  Praying for a loving response to my husband, is the right answer. Seeking out a loving tone, is the right answer.  Helping someone see the value of themselves, is Love.  

I need to meditate on this tiny short book.  John is very concerned about the children of the early church being misled.  He is very focused on the right answer – the command to Love.  Lord, give me this focus. 

Heavenly Father, your Love is the example that gets me thru my day.  Your love is incredible – unconditional, forgiving, compassionate, honest, and strong.  I ask your Holy Spirit to fill me up with what the Son of God has shown me.  Help me to “walk in Love” in my life as a mother, a wife, a friend, and a child of God.  Amen.      

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Unknown

What we will be has not yet been made known.
But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, 
for we shall see Him as He is.  1 John 3:2

Being pregnant is so very exciting.  You have this little person growing inside of you, moving and stretching.  Other than a couple ultrasounds, you have no idea what your baby looks like.  Sometimes it seems like torture, waiting those long 9 months to see your new baby.  You wonder who she'll look like--will she have your eyes, or your husband's nose?  Will she favor your side of the family?  What color hair and eyes will she have?

Then the baby is born, and you meet for the first time.  It's amazing, right after the birth, to lay and admire your new baby.  Finding out, finally, what she looks like.  Sometimes it seems that you can't take your eyes off of that precious new baby!

But the adventure has just begun. The years ahead will be full of new questions--what will her personality be like?  What will her favorite things be?  Will she have a good sense of humor?  Will she like to play with babies, or will she be into sports?  So many questions, and so many years to see who your child will be like.

Our Heavenly Father, though, KNOWS who we are going to be.  He has a plan for us, has had a plan for us since the beginning of time.  He knows what your child is going to be when they grow up.  He knows where our careers are going to take us.  He KNOWS.  What's frustrating for us, though, is that we don't know!  It's important for us to remember what today's Bible verse tells us, though:  "But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."  What a comfort and joy that is in our daily lives, with all the unknowns we experience.  One day, when Jesus comes again, we KNOW that we shall be like Him!

Come, Lord Jesus.

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, it is so exciting to be a parent.  It's wonderful to watch our children grow and learn, and to see them turn into wonderful people.  Help us not to worry about the future, and about knowing what our children--or even ourselves--will be.  Give us peace in knowing that someday, when you return, we shall be like you.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Weavers

My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

My husband found a discarded bird’s nest in our yard recently. It is always fascinating how well made
and cozy a nest is when you see it up close. There are so many pieces woven together, sticks and bits
of yarn. As I looked closer, I noticed that there was a thorny stem threaded in with the rest. Why would
the nest weaver have chosen a thorny piece? How could she have included it without bringing harm to
herself and her little ones? Did she have little choice when constructing in the Spring or did she know
that she could position it in a safe way for her vulnerable babies?

As we parent our kids and tend to our own nest, it occurred to me that we also have carried thorns.
The temptations that consistently nag us, the things we intend to address about our own shortcomings,
our past hurts, and our human limitations are all a part of our home. At times we have brought thorns
knowingly and at times we have been caught off guard. Sin cannot be avoided; it is a part of who we are
while on this earth. However, we know forgiveness through Jesus. With God’s mercy, we find a way to
create a cozy spot for our kids to grow up. It is a testament to His grace that we are equipped to do this

Blessings on your nest today.

Lord, Give us wisdom as we weave our nest. Help us to recognize the thorns that we carry, seeking
forgiveness for our own part and patience for things outside of our control. Bless our children as they
grow. May they learn the full extent of your forgiveness and love and the joy of walking humbly with
You. Amen

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another Year of Grace

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus...
2 Timothy 2:1

Today is my Goddaughter, Emma's fourth birthday. Although I live many, many miles away, I can picture her excitement and exuberance in my head. She is very happy to be turning four. She cannot wait to be BIG.

Next week my husband turns 40. While he is not exactly mourning the passing year, he does not share our young friend Emma's joy over birthdays.

What causes us to lose our birthday joy? Do we fear our age and mortality so much that we forget that a birthday is a time to thank God for His many generous gifts? 

I am in the habit of wishing people "another year of grace" on their birthdays. and it is a good thing to remember today, whether it is your birthday, whether you be four or 40, or somewhere in between.

I have another friend who does not just celebrate her birthday, she celebrates her birth MONTH. During that time she treats herself to  little luxuries like a cut and color or a pedicure; and she also allows others to spoil her just a bit.

Yet another friend tends to get down around her birthday and other holidays, and yet she has the gift of generosity, so she spoils her friends on her birthday. 

Ultimately, our birthdays are a wonderful day to thank God for the precious gift of life here on earth, but also the eternal life with Him, won by His precious Son, Jesus Christ. Which makes each birthday, indeed, the marking of another year of His grace.

Heavenly Father, our times are in your hands. Look with favor on all who celebrate birthdays. Grant that they may continue to grow in wisdom and grace. Strengthen their trust in Your goodness and bless them with your abiding love all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The seasons of motherhood

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:2

When my husband was in seminary, I worked full time.  Except for his year of vicarage, I worked in daycare.  Every day, I saw parents drop off their children, leaving them with me for the day for their care.  During the time that I was a toddler teacher, I had many children call me "Mommy," including one time in front of a little boy's own mother.  After that day, I went home and made my husband promise that when we were blessed with children, I would be able to stay home and take care of them.  I didn't want any other woman but me called "Mommy" by my children.

For eight years, I stayed home with my children.  I shuttled to and from preschool.  I changed diapers and potty trained toddlers.  I fed lunches, put down babies and toddlers for naps.  I did laundry, I cleaned.  As the kids got older, I took on a few part time jobs, mostly playing organ in churches or teaching piano.  Late this summer, this changed.  I was offered the opportunity to go back to work in daycare, full time after January.

For the first time a couple weeks ago, I dropped all three of my children off at daycare.  Something that would have given me hives from nerves six or seven years ago was actually a good thing.  It was a new season for me.

Motherhood is full of seasons.  There's the season of caring for newborns and toddlers.  There's the season of having preschoolers, and getting adjusted to having children in school.  There's the season when your children are suddenly older, and you're finding a new footing for yourself in the world, as I am doing now.  In every season, however, we need to stay connected with Christ.  As Paul says above, we need to be prepared in every season.  Staying in God's Word, attending worship, receiving communion--all of these things help us stay connected with our Lord during whatever season or mothering lives are in at the moment.  

Staying connected to Christ ourselves helps us keep our own families connected with Christ.  It helps us, as Paul says above, to give careful instruction with great patience.  Teaching our children about the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the cross will last forever.

No matter what season it is.

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, we find ourselves in many seasons while we mother our children. Guide us during those seasons.  Help us to have patience, and to stay connected to you.  Help us to be prepared to give instruction to our own children, during the seasons in their own lives.  Thank you for sending Your Son to give us eternal life.  In Your name we pray,  Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

May Jesus Christ Be Praised

Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

“When morning gilds the skies, My heart awakening cries, May Jesus Christ be praised. When evening shadows fall, This rings my curfew call: May Jesus Christ be praised.” (LSB #807)

My youngest daughter “sings” with us as part of our devotion time each night. Getting a twenty month old to sit still for a hymn, bible reading and devotion, and family prayers is tricky, but we have been working on it for awhile now, and she is doing it. Well, most of the time. On one occasion recently she was knowingly being naughty, so Daddy had a little talk with her, and when Daddy brings out the stern voice, even I could burst into tears. He spoke and she sobbed, but sobbed…and sang, “May Jesus Christ be praised.” Sniffle, pouty lip, sniffle, tears, “May Jesus Christ be praised.” Deep, shaky breath, tears, sniffle, more tears, “May Jesus Christ be praised.”

I have to admit, she was crazy cute, but she was also a great witness to me that day. Now that the school year is well under way, the newness of our home school adventure is wearing off. Some days the kids love that they get to spend every waking moment with their mom, and other days they miss the bigger classroom environment and of course they really miss their friends. My husband and I have no doubts that our decision to offer our children a Christian education was the right one, but I understand their tears and as their mom, my heart aches for them. Sniffle, tears, hugs, more tears, “May Jesus Christ be praised.”

A woman from our church lost her husband in a terrible accident not long ago, and as often happens following a funeral service he has done for one of his members, my husband received in the mail a few days later, a thank you note. “O, the Lord is good,” she wrote. Sniffle, tears, unknowable sorrow, “O, the Lord is good.” Questions of, what now? Why him? And, how will I ever? “O, the Lord is good.”

We will not find in this life a time when all is right with the world and we don’t have any reason to question or worry. But, we do find a God whose compassion and love for us is beyond measure. So when we feel like crying, we do, and then we sing. We sing to the God who knows our struggles. We sing to the God who knows and provides for our needs. We sing to the God who delivers each one of us through sin and sorrow to the peace and restoration that is ours in the arms of our Savior.

That is the God we praise. That is the God we proclaim as good even through the tears.

Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Friday, September 16, 2011


“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Today I was talking to my daughter and I could see all at once that she is being transformed right before my very eyes from a little girl, to a young lady. She told me with dazzle and excitement in her eyes how she is old enough to be a part of our junior youth group at church, that she has been waiting forever to start band and playing the clarinet now just makes her so happy, how this year she gets to be an acolyte in church services, what fun it is to be on the school’s volleyball team, how awesome it is that she is old enough to add jazz to her dance classes, and how she can hardly believe that she will be starting confirmation in just one more year. So many big steps in her life are happening right now, and all the while she is growing and learning and maturing. She is being transformed.

As we all know, this transformation that my daughter is going through right now is just the beginning of many steps of transformation that she will go through during her life. There will be the teenage years, high school, college, career, marriage, children, and someday even grandchildren and retirement. Her life is and will continue to be one constant transformation as she continues her earthly journey.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we read that we “are being transformed into His likeness.” This transformation goes well beyond the transformations that I have been talking about and is much more valuable to us as well. The transformation that our text is talking about is the sanctification that we have as believers of Jesus, our Savior. Through faith, we become part of God’s glory that is made ours through the salvation won for us by Jesus on the cross.

It is such a blessing as a parent to watch your child grow. Even more, it is a blessing to watch your child grow in their faith. As we encourage and nurture our children to grow in their faith and watch them being transformed by God’s glory, we must also take the time needed to continue nurturing and feeding and growing our faith so that we too are continuing to be transformed. If we are not making sure that our faith is being nurtured, it makes it not only difficult, but impossible for us to help nurture the faith lives of our children.

We are all a work in progress, “being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.” This gift of faith comes from God alone, and we will continue to be a constant transformation as we continue our faith journey.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing Your glory with us, through Your Son Jesus Christ. Help us Lord to remain faithful to nurturing our faith and the faith of our children as we all are being transformed into Your likeness. Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

From Age to Age...

From Age to Age…

Psalm 94:14-15
“…will not forsake His people; He will not abandon His heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”
November 22, 1963…January 28, 1986…April 19, 1995…April 20, 1999…September 11, 2001. 
Do any of these dates bring back memories?  Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when John F. Kennedy was assassinated (November 22, 1963), or the Challenger exploded (January 28, 1986), or when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City (April 19, 1995), or when the Columbine shootings occurred (April 20, 1999), or when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were targeted (September 11, 2001).  For many of us, these events and dates bring to mind memories of fear, sadness, disbelief and shock.  The idea that people could have such destruction and hate in their hearts that innocent lives would be taken as a result is hard to understand.
God’s people are people who remember.  Throughout Scriptures, many occasions are noted in which the people of God took time to remember events of the past and sought to look for the hand of God at work through all that had happened.  Taking time to remember events of the past helps us to see how the Lord never forsakes His people.  Through our thoughtful commemoration of a significant event in the life of our country we can gain a special perspective on the providence of God who as the psalmist writes, “…will not abandon His heritage.”
Commemorating events like those of September 11th is the perfect time for Christians to remember that the day is about our grace filled God and all He has done then, and what He promises yet to do.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning, the End, and all of the events in between.
Gracious God,
You are the source of everlasting security.  We thank and praise you for being the God of ages.  Thank you for your promise to be with us always, and not abandon us.  As we pause to remember events such as September 11th, keep our eyes focused on you and remember your providence.  Amen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Plan

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  - Mark 9:24

It’s the little things that remind me that life isn’t how I thought it would be. 

I completely forgot to reschedule my 1-year-old’s well-child care visit last week and we missed it.  I feel like a jerk.  We’ve been there 4 years, I think to myself.  Surely we haven’t missed too many in 4 years.  4 years.  Huh.  My oldest is 7.  Why have we not had the same pediatrician for 7 years?  That would be ideal wouldn’t it?  And I always seem to measure myself to the ideal.  Or at the very least – to my original plan.  

Ahhh, my plan.  My husband used to remind me all the time how God was laughing at my plans.  His point is well taken, but today as a friend of mine and I talked about infertility, neither of us were laughing.  God probably wasn’t either.  It’s just so hard to accept a different plan than the one we have.  My friend and I agreed, it really just comes down to being mad we aren’t getting our way.  It sounds silly, but for some things in life it’s harder to accept.  Infertility is one of them.  Infidelity is another.  The loss of a friend or a dream.  Resentment in a marriage.  A struggle with a child.  Acceptance is sometimes a battle that rages on inside us for much longer than we want it to.  As mothers we feel responsible for the direction our family goes in, the progress our children make, and the well-being of each family member.  Letting go of our plan is … nearly impossible.  

I grew up being told, “Think before you speak.”  (Probably because most of the time I didn’t.)  Recently my husband and I have begun to realize an even more valuable approach – “Pray before you speak.”  It’s a new way of looking at communication.  It’s a new way of getting the best guidance straight from the one who knows best.  And I’m embracing the concept of letting go of my own abilities and letting God take control of the situation.

As we muddle our way thru the hardest of life’s lessons, we are slowly learning how to let go and let God take control.  I’m still hesitant, at best.  But there are moments when I can see that God’s plan for the direction of our family and our marriage, is probably (maybe, could be) better than mine.  (It would have to be really good then!!)  Even if I just start with little moments in the day where I let God take over, maybe I can learn to seek His plan before mine.  To seek His wisdom before mine.  To ask Him honestly, “help me with my unbelief.”

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 
- Philippians 3:12-14

Lord, Jesus, I come to you vulnerable and honest.  We are so often unwilling to accept your new plan for us; the one that doesn’t match up with our own.  It’s painful and it’s frustrating and I wish my emotions were being more cooperative, but they aren’t.  Lord, here, take my plan.  Help me to mourn my own plan and then accept and embrace yours.  Everyday your plan is staring me in the face, Lord, and I want it to bring me joy instead of this resistance.  Nudge my heart to pray.  Gently pull me forward so I can press on.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mothers: AKA Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9

Moms do a lot of peacemaking.  From sun up to sun down, there seems to be hundreds of fights that need to be broken up, disagreements to work out.  Just this morning I had to be the referee to my son and daughter, arguing over a Pokemon card that was found in her room.  As mothers, we seek to find peace and harmony in our homes.  There are days when that peace is hard to find!

It's hard, though, to make peace, unless you possess peace.  God is the true peacemaker.  He sent His Son as the Prince of Peace to restore the family relationship with him that sin had ruptured.  See the parallel?  God gives us peace through His Son, so we, too, can restore peace with our own families.  In Romans 5:1 we read, "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."  

As we know from experience in our own homes, happiness follows peace.  Think of Jesus' words in this way:  "Blessed are the peacemakers; the spouses, parents and children who don't insist on having their own way or the last word."  The closer the Spirit draws us through the Word to the Prince of Peace, the more we'll become peacemakers like Him.  Think of the peace that you're passing on, then, to your children.  Through our peacemaking, we're teaching them peacemaking skills that will stay with them for eternity.  It's the peace that surpasses all understanding.

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, We spend much of our days being peacemakers with our families. Fill us with your peace.  Remind of us the gift of peace we've received through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help us to live more at peace with our families, and teach our own children to be peacemakers.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hill Blocks View

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Psalm 143:10

**Note** The basic idea for this devotion comes from my good friend, Kristie Rush, who spoke at her church on this topic. Click here for her messages. I have taken the basic idea and adapted it.

I went to school to be a teacher. I loved teaching middle school English. I felt more adequate in the classroom as a teacher than I ever did as a mother. I just can't keep up with the laundry, the cleaning, the whining, the shopping, etc. For me, being a mother is so much harder than being in a classroom all day. And for years, I have struggled with the choice to stay home full time with my kids. I always felt pulled in the direction of teaching again for the extra money and for the sense of accomplishment teaching brings. After all, I worked hard to earn a bachelor's degree and a master's degree and I am not even using it!

Many women struggle with God's call in their life. For me, this has been my struggle. Do I work or do I stay home? I have always known that God was calling me to be home with my kids, but in a sense, I felt like I went kicking and screaming at times. I knew what my call was, but I couldn't see it fully because of the hill that blocked my view--just like in the picture. The hill, for me, was my own selfish desires and my inability to trust God fully. Following God's call means to be part of something that's bigger than ourselves, and often times it's costly.

In my situation, I am very much a part of something bigger than myself. I get to be a mother to my three beautiful children, and that is so very precious. I am thankful for the time I have with them and am honored that God would allow me to be their mom. Is it costly? Yes, I have had to set aside my love of classroom teaching. But I have learned to trust God in this area and now that my hill is out of the way, the view of God's call for my life is breathtaking! I am humbled and thankful and love the path God has laid out for me.

Your "hill" might not be your struggle with whether to stay home with your kids, but I am sure we all have one at some point in our lives. Maybe it's an illness, a financial situation, or a difficult relationship that is blocking your view in your relationship with God. Whatever it may be, I pray that God would "lead you on level ground."

Dear God, Sometimes we let earthly situations get in the way of fully experiencing your will for our life. Please allow us to trust you fully and to walk humbly with you. Amen.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Work of His Hand

“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

Both children were sick. The baby came down with it first, and for her the virus came in the form of a very high fever that lasted for 3 days, while the 2 year old had a low grade fever and was a sniffly, sneezy mess. My husband was working long hours at the hospital, and I was largely left on my own to care for our 2 sick babies. Days were long, nights were short, and my patience was wearing thin from the lack of sleep and from fighting the bug myself. “Lord, please, PLEASE, give us all a good night’s rest tonight, and heal my babies from this illness,” I would pray. It seemed as though God had other plans. Clearly I had something to learn from this difficult time.

When we become parents, it is our hope that we can teach our children the things they need to know to be successful in life. We hope that we can help to shape and mold them to be servants of Christ. What I didn’t realize was how much my children would be teaching me! Have you ever seen a potter at work? Sometimes he beats and kneads the clay, while other times he hardly touches it as the clay takes shape. So many times I have been the clay in God’s hand as He has squished me and squashed me through my experiences as a mom in order to turn me into something useful for His kingdom. God is using my children to teach me more about His love for us. He is using them to work on my areas of weakness, which have now become so clear through this vocation of mothering. There are times when I feel like I’ve been beaten up and times that I didn’t even realize the work He was doing until it was already taking shape.

Parenting is hard. Really hard at times, but it is also such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us and likely the closest thing we will experience to that on this side of Heaven. During the difficult times, we can rest in the fact that God is using those struggles to shape us and mold us unto the disciples He wants us to be.

Father, We can thank you for the challenges we face as parents because we know that you are using them for Your good. We also thank you for all of the wonderful times we have with our children because it reminds us of how much You love us. Most of all, we thank you for sending Your only Son to save us from our sins so that we may have eternal life with You. Amen.

To listen to, "You Are The Potter, We Are The Clay," the sermon that inspired this post, Click Here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Not Quite Perfect

. . .but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
1 Corinthians  13:10

Lest anyone operate under the faulty notion that I am Supermom, I’ve been reminded of my failings a lot lately.

One of the boys has complained of a plugged up feeling ear lately. I forgot that he has a pain tolerance that makes him a prime candidate for male epidural free birth, if there is such a thing. Following a hunch almost a week later we spent an hour in the walk-in clinic last night and walked out with a prescription for antibiotics. Big kids get ear infections too. And I’m suspecting he’s had many more than we’ve actually caught. Way to go, Mom.

Another son has abandoned homework for a while. And I assumed that he really did not have any. Looking good, Mom.

I’m noticing that church behavior is slipping, and I’m not talking about the babies. Awesome.
As I was tucking kids in tonight, I noticed one of them was not sleeping on a sheet. Just the mattress. Where is my “mom of the year” trophy?

A big brother did better than I did at calming down Emily at bedtime tonight. Is she switching loyalties so soon?

I’ve been yelling. A lot. Too much.

On the other hand, the laundry has been chronically caught up lately. Dishes are all sparkly clean and in their places. The bathrooms are sanitary. The living room is neat and tidy (except for the pile of tissues the girls tore out of the box when they were practicing for “Minute To Win It” while I used the restroom alone this morning.)

Let’s get real. I can’t do it all. My best efforts turn up short. When my pride gets in the way I tend to end up on the wrong side of perfection. For example, this morning I was so proud of myself for getting out the door EARLY for my Moms Club meeting. Turns out I was a WEEK early. AND I had two little girls in the car who were thrilled to have gotten out of the house and were looking for adventure. Thankfully I had the stroller in the trunk, so I turned my mistake into a few miles at the mall.

And that my friends, is what I’m here to tell you.

We cannot be SUPERMOM!

(although, our husbands would not mind it!)
We can be the best that we can be, at any given moment.

Sometimes that means that the laundry is caught up and lined up neatly in dresser drawers.

Sometimes that means tasty, nutritious meals on the table by 5:30 on the dot.

Sometimes that means immaculately completed homework.

Sometimes it means mucous and germ free clean and pressed kids.

Rarely will we get all of these things at once.

The Rev. likes to refer to a truth learned in his engineering days. There is quick, cheap, and quality. Choose two. You can never get all three.

So, that is how it is with motherhood, we can’t do it all.

Should we stop trying?

Probably not.

Should we stop beating ourselves up?


So, I’m like the anti-Mary Poppins. And that is OK.

Because there IS one who is perfect.  And He already paid for our imperfections!

Thanks be to God for this most wonderful, undeserved gift!

*note: I am SO imperfect that I failed to note my devotional day on my calendar, and I am "recycling" some past writing. I pray that it can still be a blessing on your day!

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be perfection. Forgive us when we try to be too perfect and forget the blessings of our vocation. Guide us in our days, that we may bless our families, and please you. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tomorrow is a new day

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Psalm 32:1

One of my favorite movies is Anne of Green Gables.  Poor Anne, there are days she just can't get anything right, from dyeing her hair green to accidentally getting her friend Diana drunk.  One thing that Anne says in this movie has always stuck with me:  "Tomorrow is a new day, fresh, with no mistakes in it."

As a mother, I carry that with me every day.  Generally, I have good days.  Days where I am patient with my children, ready to read to them and give them the attention they need.  But everyone has their bad days.  Days when I lose my patience and yell when I shouldn't.  Days when I say things that I shouldn't.  Those are the days that I say to myself as I fall asleep:  "Tomorrow is a new day, fresh, with no mistakes in it."

Thank God we moms can go to God for forgiveness!  Forgiveness springs from deep love.  From the very beginning, we've been sinful people.  But God loved us so much--the deepest love ever--and sent His only Son to die for our sins on the cross.  It's from that act of deep love that we can receive forgiveness.  The joy of forgiveness is the ability to start over again.  The joy of forgiveness is to love deeper and better than before.  The joy of forgiveness is freedom from being stuck in the past so we can love again.

Thanks be to God, that tomorrow is a new day, fresh with no mistakes in it.

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, We know that we make many mistakes in our vocation of mothering.  There are days when we feel that we didn't get anything right.  We praise you for sending your Only Son to die for those sins on the cross.  Thank you for the forgiveness that grants us.  Help us to use that gift of forgiveness to start each day fresh, ready to mother the children You have given us.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Friday, September 2, 2011


“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

This weekend will be the final weekend of our State Fair here in Nebraska. I’m very excited, because this proud mama gets to take her daughter to the fair so that we can see her purple ribbon award on her recipe file. Having watched every step in her process of completing this and many other 4-H projects this year, I know just how hard she worked and am so happy to watch her see her efforts pay off.

The workmanship that she put into finding, preparing, and writing these recipes is one part of this award winning project, the other part of this award winning project is the very special box that is holding the recipes. One loving uncle with a special gift for working with wood added his own workmanship to her project by making a beautiful wooden recipe box to hold all of her work. Together their workmanship created something great that will be around for a very long time and will be used over and over again.

Our text today calls us God’s workmanship. We were each lovingly and carefully created by God. Just like my daughter’s 4-H project was not made to just sit on a shelf, we were not made by God’s hand to do nothing either. We are all created, each in our own unique ways to bring God glory through the work we do, using the different talents that He has blessed each of us with.

When we use our talents and gifts to give glory to our Creator, we are sharing His love for us in His Son Jesus, our Savior. The work that we do in the name of our Lord will have lasting effects that will be around for a very long time as people are brought to the saving message of faith by the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God did not spare anything in making each and every one of us and it must make Him so happy when He sees all of His efforts pay off.

Go! Be God’s workmanship today! Use the unique gifts and talents that He created in you to bless those that you will come in contact with today. Be a blessing to others, just as He has abundantly poured His many blessings on you.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You, that You created each of us and that we are Your workmanship. Help us Lord to praise You for Your gift of Grace through faith by using our good works to bring others to You. We pray this in Jesus name, Amen.