Friday, June 22, 2012


“Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children.  Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins.  And God was pleased because the sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him.”  Ephesians 5:1,2

            Sacrifice.  If someone were to offer me a penny for my thoughts, I would say that my mind is currently preoccupied with that word.  My husband and I are preparing to send our oldest off to college in a few short months.  We have been looking at the financial aid package he has been offered.  He has received some fine scholarships and grants.  However, we all know that college is an investment, and he will still owe a considerable amount to the institution he has decided to attend.  As parents, we want to provide him with what help we can so he isn’t overwhelmed with the burden of debt after he earns his degree.  We have been talking a lot about sacrifice.  What can we give up?  What expenses can we decrease or eliminate from our budget?  How much of our paychecks can we afford to send to the college?

            As parents, we quickly learn about sacrifice.  We begin the parenting journey learning how to survive without a solid good night’s sleep.   As families grow, we sacrifice cute little sporty cars for mini-vans.  We sacrifice decorator show-room living rooms as they get taken over by toys and other childish clutter.  We sacrifice privacy in the bathroom when the personal needs of small children must be dealt with immediately.  Personal time disappears as we become occupied with driving to team sports, activities, lessons, and play dates.  We sacrifice our sanity when trying to reason with toddlers and adolescents and also when helping with certain homework assignments.  You get the idea.  We sacrifice…endlessly.

            The word sacrifice implies something that is difficult to do.  It is giving up something for a higher purpose – maybe a cause or a person we consider to be of higher value than that which we relinquish.  Sacrifice typically isn’t pleasant, but it is an act that stems from love and honor.  In the context of parenthood, we sacrifice on a daily basis.  We may not always do so perfectly without grumbling and complaint.  It’s not easy to act selflessly, but we put our children’s needs before our own because it is for their benefit. 

            Parenting gives us a wonderful illustration of our relationship with our Creator.  Our Heavenly Father sacrificed his son for the benefit of his dear children.  Out of love for the Father, Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice –his life for our redemption.  We, as children of God, are filled with loving gratitude.  We learn from and try to follow the example of Christ.  This means we give of ourselves, sacrificing for our children.

Dear Father, help us to care for our children, not indulging them, but giving them what they need.  Please provide us with the resources to do so, and help us to give joyfully of what we have been given.  Thank you for giving us the richest of blessings through the sacrifice of your son.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Help - I Need Somebody!

"...and call on me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
-Psalm 50:15

My husband would be the first to tell you that I ask for help way too much, especially when it comes to household appliances.  He would also be the first to tell you that when I ask for help, it means that I really want him to solve the problem/issue at hand so I can move on with my task or television program.  Because the above statement is truth, my husband is not always ready and willing to help when I call.

On the other hand, my daughter Olivia demands help.  Her requests for help are short phrases containing action verbs like, "Open," or "More," or "Up."  If her requests for help are not met, she is persistent and continues to ask until her need is met or mom/dad persistently say no.  

I am currently in a position at work where I am asked to help.  A teacher may need me to run a report or my principal may need certain data analyzed.  There are days when I am bombarded by requests for help, and some days where no help is requested/needed.

How often do you ask for help?  Who do you ask?  Do you get the help you need?

As His dear children, our Heavenly Father invites us to ask for help.  While this verse speaks to calling on God during our times of trouble, we know that God listens to all of our requests and knows our needs and wants.  I know there are times I wait to ask for help.  Sometimes I believe I know better or believe the situation to be under control, only to have it blow up in my face.  There needs to be less of me and more God.  Help - I need you God - not just anybody - only you!

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for encouraging us to turn to you in times of trouble.  Thank you for your promise of deliverance, forgiveness and grace.  Continue to hold our families close to you.  Amen


Friday, June 1, 2012

grow, grow, grow

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

It’s the time of year when I love walking around in my yard to see what is growing. I never get tired of seeing the progress through the Summer as things change, bloom, and bear. Amazing. The relationship that I have with my yard is humbling. I do not make things grow, but I can influence the growth. I can plant a tiny seed into the earth and it will emerge as a plant somehow. Our Creator does miraculous things every day in our world.
I’ve been praying lately about my similar role as a mother. I can really neither take credit or blame for my child’s health, progress, or character. I certainly have an influence, but God is their true Gardener. He has been creating them from the very beginning, even before I knew. I want to resist the temptation to think that God’s mercy in their life is somehow my doing. I know I fall into this when things go wrong and I wonder how I failed to protect them, teach them, help them. That is evidence that deep down I believed myself to be their creator, deserving credit for His merciful ways. May our understanding of our place in our kids’ lives be appropriate, always acknowledging the One who ultimately gives the growth.
Creator and Lord, You have shown loving mercy to my children from the start. May my efforts in parenting point to Your great love. Remind me as I pray for my children that they belong to You. Give me the wisdom and strength to tend to their needs while praising You for the miraculous ways they are growing. Amen

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lessons from a Butterfly

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Proverbs 12:18

There our Painted Lady Butterfly sat, delicately perched on the purple blooms of a Mallow plant, shuttering its wings- patterned with the colors of day and night.  The sensors on the bottom of its feet gave the butterfly the "go ahead" signal.  (We had previously wiped honey on the flowers in hopes of witnessing its eating habits.)  What happened next had the comlete attention of my 3 year old daughter, my 5 year old son, his friend, and me- a grown woman.  A black coil developed out from its mouth and slowly stretched out into a straw-like apparatus and sunk into the honey doused flower.  Our Painted Lady held its sucking position for about 7 seconds, and then the straw-like proboscus coiled back into its mouth.

What started out as a lesson on pollination turned into a much deeper lesson that only God could have provided.

Here is a summary of what I discussed with my little explorers:

God created butterflies to have proboscuses long enough to pollinate certain flowers that other insects can not reach.  Butterflies use their parts as God designed them and that is beneficial to the flowers and to people, who use and enjoy flowers.  It is important that we use our "parts" as God, our Master Creator, designed them.  I've noticed that with the looseness of summer vacation, our words and attitudes have gotten looser.  I've heard silly name calling, arguing, talking back, tattling, telling falsehoods, and interrupting more than I can count, and summer has barely started.  And that's not just from the kids.  I confess I've let my tongue be more like an icky, unwanted pest than a helpful, working insect way too often.  God gave us mouths, first and foremost, to praise Him and spread His message of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Also, God gave us mouths to edify, or build up, one another.  That is the opposite of tearing down, name calling, tattling, lying, and arguing.  Of course, God gave us mouths to eat, and He wants us to take care of our bodies, so we even need to be mindful of what we consume.  Finally, God gave us mouths to communicate, share stories, and laugh.  With this treasure from God, we have the responsibility to know when to hold our tongues and when to watch our tone.  Just as the butterfly has sensors on its feet, telling it what is safe and good to eat, we have the sense of God's Word telling us when and how to speak, when to laugh, and what tone is appropriate.

Here is the beginnings of a chart we brainstormed- Mouths that Edify:

-Thank you for cooking us this yummy meal!
-You're good at throwing.  Will you show me how to throw like that?
- {I'm choosing not to laugh because they're goofing off while the teacher is teaching us.}

We will continue to add to the chart and review the chart throughout the summer.

As for our suspended lesson on pollination, adaptations, and habitats- well, we've got all summer, and we're excited!  We did release our butterfly back into God's natural world.

Thank you, God, for the depths of your creations and the spontaneous lessons they inspire.  Help us be fruitful this summer and delight in extra family time and extra time out in Your vast, miraculous creation.  AMEN.    

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pie Anyone?

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. "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:8-11
My girls love being outside. From riding their bikes, to walking amongst clouds of June bugs. More than anything else, they love planting every type of seed that they find in every piece of fruit that they eat all year long. As a result, we often have very interesting things growing in very interesting places each spring.
This year my flower garden was home to one of the seeds that we, upon seeing it push its way through the soil, were certain was going to give us big beautiful watermelon. We had planted watermelon once a couple of years ago, so of course we considered ourselves experts on the fruit. After seeing the flowers bloom, and watermelons start to form, we shared the news with everyone we knew.  Free watermelon! Juicy, delicious, watermelon. This is the stuff of which great Labor Day picnics are made!
Then one day, our horticultural bubble burst. One of our sowers of the seed shared with us something astonishing.
“Look Mom, your watermelon is a pumpkin!”
Do you ever have moments, days, even months, where you are certain you know what’s been planted, only to find out that something else has grown? I do too. There are times I forget what God’s promise really says. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. The word that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose.”
More often than not we think we know what we need, what we want, what we can’t live without. But the truth is that God’s ways are higher than our ways absolutely and without question. We may ask for one thing and not like the answer we receive. But God reminds us that he will bring to life what is needful and right. He promises us surprises that only he himself could have planted, and they are the best of the crop.
            I praise the God who plants in me his word. And despite my lack of expertise, and plans that are not in line with his, grows in me a faith that leads to salvation through Jesus. May we always trust in him to bring forth whatever fruit he knows is best. May we come to know well each day’s Thanksgiving harvest. Pie anyone?

Creator of all that is Good,
I want to lead my children by example to trust in your thoughts, ways, and purposes above all else. Forgive me for the times that I am frustrated by your will. Remind me always of your promise to be faithful when I am not. Accomplish through me what you will today, and help me to see you in the fruit of the harvest.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Meditate on it day and night

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Joshua 1:8-9

Starting in Kindergarten, our children at our Lutheran school begin their memory work. That year, they learn Bible verses, in First grade, they begin learning the 10 Commandments. This year my oldest son is in Third grade, and he has begun memorizing Luther's Small Catechism. It never fails when we work on memory work each Sunday that I hear, "WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS?????" My default answer is usually, "Because I did it and your dad did it, and our parents did it, and now it's your turn."

But really, that's not the reason. Our Lord has commanded us to meditate on His Word, both in the day and at night. The reason I make memory work such a priority for my children is that I want God's Word to be in their hearts--I want them to approach every situation they meet in life with God's Word on their lips. It's certainly how I approach life.

Think about your own home--I know in my home, we have Bible verses everywhere. I find verses that I like in the Bible, write them down, and post them on my kitchen cabinet. While I'm cooking, I read those verses and meditate on them. We have plaques with Bible verses in various areas of our home, words we can read as we go through the business of life. And every evening, as we put our children to bed, we practice memory work and pray together. We begin and end the day with God's Word.

By equipping our children with God's Word, we are growing their relationship with God. We teach it to our children so they will teach it to their own children. We are equipping them with the love of God, and the knowledge that He is with them always.

Dear Heavenly Father, we praise You for your Word. Thank you for giving us the Bible, so that we may teach our children of Your love. Help us to meditate on that Word, to stay close to you. Remind us that You are with us always, because Your Word is imprinted in our hearts. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Reason to Rejoice

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!  Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.  Psalm 96:1-2

I wish you could have been in our Ascension Day service last week.  There was the most amazing little girl sitting in front of us.  Her beautiful brown eyes could have in no way prepared us for the joy that her voice would bring.  The opening hymn she was not familiar with, and so as the congregation sang, she colored quietly and every once in a while peeked behind her to see her mother waiting for her turn in the choir loft.  Then came the piece de resistance, The Hymn of Praise, (This is the Feast.) This one she knew, and though she was unsure of the verses, each time we sang the chorus, she could be heard above all of the timid adults sitting in the rows of pews behind her.  She didn’t just sing, she sang and she smiled and she danced.  What a joy she was to watch!

When it comes to singing in church on Sunday morning, or any day of the week for that matter, look to your right, then look to your left.  One of these people can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  Maybe you can’t either.  It’ okay because if you look to your right and left again, two of these people don’t care.  I know it’s hard to believe, but they really don’t.  When the Psalmist said, “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” he knew that a joyful noise was any made to give thanks and praise to God.  There were no qualifiers given.

David was definitely musically inclined, but I wonder if even he had a hard time controlling the pitch of his voice while worrying whether or not Saul was going to be throwing another spear at his head.  Maybe Mary’s voice warbled.  Maybe Moses was tone deaf.  I feel pretty confident in guessing that not everyone who sang in the Bible sang like angels.  Wouldn’t it be funny to get to heaven and discover that angels don’t really sing like angels either?  Regardless, the people of God are noted time and time again as signing praises to Him.

As we read God’s word together in our devotion time at home, the words that get the attention of my children more than any other are the ones they know from songs they have learned in VBS, or Sunday school, or ones that their dad and I have taught them.  It is through song that the word of God really sticks with them.  I would encourage you to impress upon your children the word of God through song no matter what your voice may sound like. 

Sing!  Sing it like you mean it.  Sing like you do in the car when the windows are rolled up.  Sing like all of our lives depend on the message you are proclaiming to your children and those around you.  They do, don’t they?  Sing of the gift of salvation offered through the Savior of the world.  If ever you needed a reason to rejoice, He is it!

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!  Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!  I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!  In Jesus Name, Amen!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Work For The Lord

My house was a mess.  After weeks of an extra busy schedule, the neglect had built up and I couldn’t take it any longer.  I couldn’t find anything and as I rushed through my house/disaster zone, the mess made me feel like a total failure.  Plus we were hosting Bible Study Sunday, so I had to get it presentable! 

Laundry, clean and dirty, littered every room.    Toys everywhere and it seemed the shoes were procreating in the hallway at an alarming rate.  A clean sippy-cup was nowhere to be found.  Every counter and tabletop was cluttered and full.  I poured myself a glass of juice, but after I put the pitcher back in the refrigerator, I couldn’t figure out where I had left my glass.  It had been swallowed up by the chaos!

The kids were still asleep.  (Praise the Lord)  I opened up the window and let the sunshine in, like I was in a coffee commercial.  I ate my champion breakfast and thought about how productive I was about to be.  I put on my favorite comfy pants and my Superwoman tank top and pulled my hair back.  I even read today’s Bible reading!  I was ready to go.  I had all the super-power I needed to terminate my enemy: the anarchy of my possessions.

Wait – one more thing.  My favorite verse for tasks like these:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  
You are serving the Lord Christ. 
Colossians 3:23-24

Alright.  Place that where it is good and visible... Now I’m ready!

What’s that?  The baby’s just woke up and is crying?  Of course he is... :)

Lord, inspire us to work for you in everything we do today.  Whether it is changing a diaper, washing dishes, conducting a meeting, or comforting a friend.  Help me to focus on gaining my strength from you, not looking for inspiration in a lucky shirt or a favorite song.  Fill me up with your strength and your wisdom, Lord, as I tackle my week.  Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2012

We shall dwell with the Lord

Surely your goodness 
and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the 
house of the Lord
Psalm 23:6

Being a mom sure has its moments. Probably the hardest is when there is the death of a loved one. Usually this would involve a fish being unceremoniously flushed down the toilet. There are tears from the kids and then talk about going to the store and getting a new one.

Being a wife of a pastor has brought a lot of talk about death in our house. “Why is dad not home?” “A man in the congregation died.” There would be a quiet calm, and then my youngest son would say, “Well he’s in heaven now.”

While we know that those who have faith in Christ will be in heaven, it still doesn’t make it any easier for us who are left behind. This is especially true when talking to our children about the death of a grandparent or another loved one. I have found that the best way is to be as open and honest as you can about the matter.

Being open and honest is best, but what should a parent say? One of the best things that I would recommend is going to your local funeral home and seeing what kind of resources that they have. They often have great handouts that will give you great advice speaking to your children about death.

Death is something that no one really wants to talk about. In fact, our society really shelters us from the idea of death. But death is a reality. Death is the result of sin entering this world. But God sent a solution: Jesus Christ. As believers we know that death doesn’t have the final word. For, through Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection we have the forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life. Jesus truly guides us through the valley of the shadow of death in to the green pastures of eternal life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the victory over death through your Son Jesus Christ. Send your Holy Spirit upon us in those trying times in our lives when we need to talk to our children about the death of a loved one. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let My Prayer Be Counted

O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!  Give ear to my voice when I call to you!  Let my prayer by counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!"  
Psalm 141: 1-2
CONFESSION:  I’m bad at prayer out loud. 
Especially with people who might be uncomfortable with it. 
I know!  Everyone is gasping!

But seriously.  It’s pathetic.  I didn’t have great role models for public prayer growing up.  And I’m terrible at praying with my kids. 

At some point I forced myself to start implementing prayer on the way to school.  And that was good.  In fact, some mornings it was downright holy.  Actually, I’m sure the implementation of it had little to do with me and everything to do with GOD. 
Then we moved and my daughter started riding the bus and I didn’t replace that time.  It’s hard to sit down and pray with a scowling 8 year old at 6:30 a.m.  (She’s not a morning person and neither is her mom.)

But here’s the really shocking part:  I’m not even enforcing it at bedtime.  (Is “enforcing” the right word in the context of prayer?)  I know.  I’m kindof afraid I’m going to be kicked off the Altar Guild for this.  But I’m trying to be honest.  Because I suspect I’m not the only one out there who struggles with it.
I’m not sure when it stopped with my oldest.  At one point it was part of the routine.  She is very uncomfortable praying together when it is not scripted and instead of trying to fix this, I’ve gotten into the habit of ignoring it. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been convicted on multiple counts of PRIDE.  Not enough kneeling.  Not enough humility.  Not enough pause-and-listen.

So tonight as I was heading up to tuck-in my girls, I heard the Holy Spirit tugging –
     “Prayer would be good.”

     “But how do I do that with her? I don’t need one more reason for us to fight.  I feel like she’s constantly at odds with me.  I need a book to tell me how to do this!  I need some direction.  I need some advice!  I can’t do this out of the blue!”  I argued.

     “Seriously?”  The Holy Spirit responded.  “You don’t think I’m enough in this moment?”

So I walked in, cold-turkey.  I dove in, without testing out the water first.  I threw caution to the wind.  No plan.  Not like me. 

I just started praying silently, “Lord, you have to take control of this situation.” 

And of course, it was great.  Turns out the Holy Spirit DOES know what it’s doing. 

“We need to talk,” I started… “We need to work on something… I’ve been struggling with pride… You need to learn some humility before the Lord… You’ll find it awkward at first (she loves to use that word), but it’s something we have to do… Which side of the bed do you want?”
We knelt.  And it was a little awkward.  But she wasn’t resentful.  Just as little silly because she was nervous.  And I told her tonight we’d just start with being thankful.  Come up with 3 things.  And I’ll start.

And I did.  And she did.

Then she giggled and jumped back into bed.  Pretty painless.  Pretty great. 
Thank you, God.  Looking forward to tomorrow night.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


“And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back all the Christians who have died.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14

This evening my husband and I went to the airport to pick up our two oldest sons.   They were returning from a trip to our previous home.  Our family moved in the midst of our sons’ high school career.  Our oldest, a senior, wanted to go back for the graduation ceremony of his former classmates.  The trip, for both boys, was a joyful homecoming celebration.

Their return was also a happy homecoming.  Our family missed them.  We were happy they had the opportunity to go, but it is comforting to have them back under our roof.   We are thankful that their travels were safe and that the household dynamic has returned to “normal.”   Homecomings are marked by smiles, hugs, and rejoicing.

My daughter’s teacher, a friend of mine, is preparing for another homecoming.  She has been fighting aggressive cancer.  She recently heard from her doctors that there is nothing more that the medical community can do for her. 

I can only pray, that if I were in the same situation, I could face this news with as much courage and faith as this dear friend.  When I last visited with her, she smiled, laughed and joked, joyfully welcomed visitors, and spoke of what she had to look forward to.

It would be so easy to act otherwise.  Many people given similar news might retreat from loved ones, questioning, “why me?”  Because she is loved by hundreds of people, it would be so easy to cling to this life and her many earthly relationships.  It would be expected that she be overcome with sorrow.   I’m not saying that she doesn’t battle fear and sadness, but she has not allowed these emotions to dictate her behavior.  She has been an incredible witness, especially to all of her current and former students.

While we all would love for her to be physically healed, she is accepting that this may not be God’s will.  She trusts that the “Great Physician” has provided her with a more significant spiritual healing that will someday grant her a homecoming celebration more joyful than we can humanly comprehend.  Through Miss Nelson we see the beauty of the Christian life - that we need not grieve as those without hope!  All who die in the faith will partake in a glorious homecoming!

Dear loving Father, we praise you for the healing and promise you have provided through Jesus.  Please continue to uphold Miss Nelson, granting her strength of body and mind.  Grant her, and all who love her, peace beyond all human comprehension.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Living the Dream

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 
2 Corinthians 5:21

What is your “dream job?”  If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? When I was a little girl, I LOVED babies. Being an only child, I wasn’t around younger children often, but I had plenty of dolls with which to play pretend. I couldn’t wait to be a mom someday. “Someday” is here, and I guess you could say that I’m living the dream. I’m doing what I always wanted to do, after all. 
In honor of Mother’s Day, I did a little internet research on mothers of the Bible and what God has to say about mothering. I learned some interesting things, but this sentence from one article struck me: “Motherhood is not a chore or unpleasant task.” Of course, this is just the writer’s take on things, but there have been more times than I’d like to admit that what is technically my dream job has been unpleasant and chore-like, and that’s putting it nicely. There are moments, although fleeting, that I could even call it a nightmare.
It seems that we as moms put a lot of pressure on ourselves and on each other. I’m so thankful that God doesn’t expect perfection from me. He knew that I would make mistakes and fall short daily. That’s why He sent Jesus to be perfection for me and for everyone. While I long to be the best mom and wife I can be, I know that when I mess up, God is there to forgive me through His grace and mercy.  

Heavenly Father, 
I know I don’t thank You often enough for allowing me to live my dream of being a wife and mother. Help me to follow Your perfect example of what a parent should be, and thank You for forgiving me when I don’t even come close to measuring up. 
In the Name of Your Son, Jesus,

Friday, May 11, 2012


“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Today, I had the pleasure of being the substitute teacher in the grades 3-5 classroom of our church’s school. Since we are just days away from the end of the school year, the students have been a little wound up and not as focused as they usually are. In preparation for the day I did some brainstorming on what I could do to help the day go better for myself and for them. I talked to their teacher ahead of time and received her permission to make a deal with the class.

At the start of the day I placed one star at the top of the white board. I told them that this star represented 5 minutes of extra recess time at the end of the day. I let them know that I would be adding and or taking away stars based on their work and behavior throughout the day. We had a discussion about what type of behavior and work is expected from them and we started our day. Now, I did have to erase some stars as we went through the day, no one is perfect, but in the end we added more stars than we lost and got to have an extra 25 minute recess at the end of the day.

In the middle of the day, I stopped to thank the class for being so extra well behaved and working so hard. However, I also took the opportunity to have a little talk with them about the “because”. You see, just yesterday I led a Bible study for our Ladies Aid group from the LWML quarterly. The title of the Bible study was “The Reason ‘Because’” written by John Nunes and Gloria Edwards. The key point that I pulled from this study was about our motivation for what we do for others. What is the “because” of the things we do?

I shared with the class, that although I was very proud of them for doing so great, I wanted to know the “because” of their special behavior. Obviously the answer was that they love extra recess and would do whatever it took to earn a little extra. I used this as my chance to talk about why this kind of special good behavior is what we should be giving every day. I asked them who gave them the wonderful school they attend, and who brought them their wonderful Christian teacher, and who provided all of the resources that they use to learn. Of course they knew the answer to this. God! So, I asked them this question, then why should we give our best to ourselves, our classmates, and our teachers every day? Because!

Because…God loves us, we care for others.

Because…God provides for our needs, we use our resources wisely.

Because…God has placed special people in our lives to care for us and teach us, we show them respect and help make their jobs easier.

So, I ask you as fellow believers... Why do you give your best in raising your children? Why do you care for those that God has placed in your life path? Why do you share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone you can? Why do you give your best in whatever job you have? Why do you support and pray for missionaries? Why do you volunteer in your church, community, and world?

Why? Because! “We love because HE first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Prayer: God, thank you for loving us with a love that is stronger, deeper, and greater than we can ever comprehend. Help us with Your Holy Spirit to take Your love for us and share it with everyone that we can in all that we do and say. In Jesus name. Amen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beauty in the Eye of the Creator

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:13-16

Masterpieces tend to be abundant in my house.  When the girls get the urge to create, it’s like a whirlwind of paint and markers and paper everywhere, and we can end up with an entire wall full of artwork in just a half an hour’s time.  Some end up being true masterpieces, while others are, (Do I dare say it?), not so beautiful. Gasp!  Fortunately, beauty is in the eye of the creator, or something like that. 

On one recent artsy afternoon I was talking with the girls about how an artist signs every work that he or she designs and I was encouraging my little Picassos to come up with their own signatures.  1 John talks about how God signs his work. He abides in us; therefore as his creations, we must be just covered with his signature.  We are God’s masterpiece and he is in every cell, in each detail. 

We are in him too, but our work is not so beautiful.  We are in the nails in his hands and the spear in his side.  We are in the thorns on his head and the spit that was hurled at his body.  Not something we would necessarily want to put on display. 

It is only through Christ that we abide in God, and that means we are also in the resurrected body.  Ah, there’s the beautiful part.  There’s the beauty in the eye of the Creator through the sacrifice of his son.

If we could see a distinct signature of God’s I wonder what it would look like.  When I asked my girls to sign their artwork, they thought for quite a while about their signatures.  One of the girls finally decided to use her initials, while the other used a cross.  That’s it.  In baptism, confession and absolution, and the words of institution, and in every other moment we abide in God’s love, God signs his work with a cross.

Masterful Artist,
You have created us to abide with us.  Abide with me today as I mold my own masterpieces.  Help me cover every detail of my children’s lives with your words and mark them with the cross of your son.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

square one

Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:10-12

As the exhausted owner of a new dog, I signed us up for puppy kindergarten. I didn’t know what to expect. What magical maneuvers would they share that would shift the chaos into order at my house? The lesson of the day was teaching the dog to make eye contact and focus. Hold the treat in your hand near your face and move it away slowly. When she looks at you instead of the treat, give it to her. My kids were not impressed with the progress we made that day, but it surely made an impression on me. The instructor said that when the dog learns to focus, she will be ready to obey. It is the key to all my other behavioral hopes and dreams.
Having kids has offered me tons of spiritual lessons and parallels to my relationship with God. My puppy is offering me another great perspective. It is more comforting to think of myself as His child, but also appropriate to think of myself as less than that in His household. Learning to obey Him, hearing what He’s asking me to do, and knowing how to do it will also require a fair amount of time simply focusing on Him.

I'd like to start at square one and just do my best to seek Jesus' face today.

Prayer: My Master and Lord, you are so good to me. My heart delights in your gifts and mercy. Please give me patience in my discipleship journey as I learn to focus on you. Help me to listen for your voice today and be ready to obey You in big and small ways. Amen

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

He is enough!

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

~Psalm 73:26~

Motherhood can be quite a rollercoaster ride~ full of up's and down's.   When our child brings home a report card full of straight A's or scores the winning goal in the soccer game~ we beam with pride, and for that moment feel like we are doing everything right.  As parents, we have expectations for ourselves and for our children.  It's part of who we are as humans--we want to succeed, we want our families to prosper--and that is a great thing!  But, what about those times when our children are disrespectful and disobedient and we "lose our cool" with them because of it?  What about those days, and sometimes weeks, when we feel disappointed and like we are failures?  That is when it is especially important to turn to God's Word for strength, reassurance, and guidance.

The Bible is full of examples of women who are called "heroes of faith."  God blessed a doubting, barren, old-aged Sarah with a son from whom "came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore."  By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient in the battle of Jericho.  Because of "the obedience that comes from faith" Ruth, a Moabite woman, was blessed to become the ancestress of Jesus.   Many times, we make these women out to be superhuman, when in reality they were sinful people just like us--their lives were full of up's and down's, great achievements and utter failures. Still, in their sin, God used them to be examples to us.  He blessed them for listening to His Word, walking in faith, and obeying.

It is much the same with "women of faith" in today's world. We expect ourselves to be Super-Mom's, when in reality we will never be able to be all that we want to be as wives, mothers, daughters, and friends.  But, thanks be to God, that He is enough!  He made us His own in baptism and through His Word and Sacrament-- He forgives, renews, and strengthens us to be everything He has called us to be in this day.  He blesses our lives and the lives we touch--many times in ways we don't even see--as we walk with Him in faith.

 So, we rejoice in the fact that God has called us to be examples of faith to our children! Despite the up's and down's of mothering, may we continue to say what Jesus says and do what Jesus does and boldly trust in our loving, Heavenly Father to be "the strength of our heart and portion forever."  What a blessing to know that He is with us each and every step of the way!

Dear Heavenly Father,  We are humbled by the precious gifts of our children that you have  entrusted to our care.  May we love and care for them in faith, knowing that they are ultimately Yours. Forgive us when we lose our way, and help us daily to re-focus our eyes on You--the Perfector of our faith and the perfect example of a parent.   In Christ's name~ Amen.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Prayer for My Son

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)

Father in heaven,

I’m sitting on my couch, computer in my lap, with my son laying next to me, playing with his toes. He recently discovered he has toes and has figured out how to get them into his mouth. Of course, since he’s figured it out, he sucks on his toes every chance he gets, giving his father and me lots of laughs. He’s started laughing when we blow zerberts on his belly, and his laughter is contagious, a gift that he gives us. When we hold him close to our faces, he leans in so we can rub noses. He likes to touch my face when I’m feeding him, and he’s starting to give me big, wet, wide-open-mouth kisses. He smiles at me when he sees me. When his daddy talks, he turns to daddy’s voice, and watches daddy very closely. This is a little boy who is loved, and who is learning to love.

My prayer for him today is that he continues to learn to love...that his father and I are models of love for each other, for him, and for You, his heavenly Father. I pray that he is never afraid to show love for others or to speak words of love...that he learns to love without fear. I pray that he knows Your love, Father...that he will know You and abide in you, that he will be perfected in Your love.

Help me to know how to teach him about You; help me to grow in my faith and relationship with You so  I can be a better mom to him. Give me patience during the late nights or the long days and in the times when I just don’t know what else to do for him. Let him know—and help me be able to show—that even in those times when all I want to do is cry myself, I still love him as much as it is possible for an imperfect mom to love.

I love this little guy You have given to me, with his bright blue eyes, rosy round cheeks, and rolls on top of rolls. Keep him safe in the shelter of Your perfect love, Lord.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Waiting on the Lord

I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is loving kindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. 8 And  He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. Psalm 130:5-8

Have you ever taken a moment to notice what an impatient society we are a part of?  There are more drivethru opportunities than one can count, every grocery store has opened an express self-check so you don’t have to wait behind another person to pay for your groceries, our kids are accustomed to the instant gratification of shows at the click of a remote, games at the click of a mouse, a meal after a short spin in the microwave, activities at the end of brief car ride … the list goes on about how we as Americans today do not like to to wait.  I admit, I fall into that trap more often than I like to admit.  How often I find myself switching 
lanes to avoid the sweet little grandma driving below the speed limit in front of me only to meet her at the red light moments apart.  How often do I find myself hurrying one of our children through something a simple as putting their coat on in a vain attempt to gain extra seconds in our routine. There are so many more examples but you understand the point.

One of the important teachings of the Bible is the call to “wait on the Lord.” Even though God promises special blessing for waiting, waiting is one of the most difficult commands of Scripture. Why is it so hard? Because, as a part of our sinful nature we are naturally prone to taking matters into our own hands, to follow our own schemes. Yet, over and over again we are told in Scripture “wait on the Lord.” 

When we think of waiting on the Lord, there are a number of important questions that need to be answered and understood in light of the principles and promises of Scripture. Why? Because without these answers, we become like a long-tailed cat scurrying around in a room full of rocking chairs. We become fidgety, fearful, frustrated, anxious, and even angry. However, because the Lord tells us to wait, and since it has some wonderful benefits, we need to know what it means to wait and how that is to be done. 

When the psalmist wrote in Psalm 130:5-6: “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning,” he was comparing waiting expectantly on the Lord to the night guards of the city who watched the passage of time in anticipation of the coming dawn when they would be released from duty. The coming of the dawn was certain, but not without the passage of time. In our “I want it now generation” we must understand and accept the fact that waiting on the Lord always involves the passage of time just as it does when we are waiting for the news, a special TV program, for a plane to arrive, or for retirement. Waiting on the Lord inevitably means enduring the passage of time, but it means more, much more.

Waiting involves an expectation of something special. Waiting means anticipation, expectation, confident hope in something that will take place. Ultimately, waiting on the Lord is like waiting on the sun to rise—waiting expectantly for the Lord’s answers to human needs as the sun brings the warmth of the day.  The ability to wait on the Lord stems from being confident and focused on who God is and in what God is doing. It means confidence in God’s person: confidence in His wisdom, love, timing, understanding of our situation and that of the world. It means knowing and trusting in God’s principles, promises, purposes, and power.

Dear Lord, we are an impatient people yet You desire us to wait expectantly on you.  Help us to take time to seek you out, to discern your voice and to follow your ways.  Let us examine our priorities and hold them up to your example.  Amen 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Accepting the Mission

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.  This is my rule in all the churches.  1 Corinthians 7:17

I have always been entranced by missionaires.  No matter what land they are called to serve, their experiences are so raw, so real, so juxtaposed against the average American lifestyle.  When they share their stories, goosebumps of awe sprout from my skin.  My mind often wanders at times and carries me to the possiblity of sharing God's love with some far-off group, living in the simplest of conditions, eager to learn and grow.  Then, I feel a gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit.  Not now.  Maybe some day.

We're not all chosen to be traveling missionaries.  What we Christians do have in common is this:  From Acts 20:28- We are to be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.  And from Romans 15:13- God fills us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I'm overflowing with something, I want to share it- not let it go to waste.  Through the grace of God, I am overflowing with hope.  I do not have to travel to remote places to share this hope in our Savior.  Our eveyday life gives us ample opportunity.  Right now, for such a time as this, I have been called by God to be a wife, a mother, a church member, a member of the community of Roswell, a friend, and a teacher.  While my kids do indeed take me on barbaric journeys for which I am hardly equipped, while I am indeed shepherding a wayward flock under the roof of my own home, and while my human limitations have shown themselves much like a shipwreck, let's face it- I'm no Paul.  If you traced my journeys on a map, you'd be unimpressed.  With that being said, I can learn from Paul and apply his example to my own vocation and calling.

When Paul and Barnabas encountered the faithless teaching of circumsision for salvation in Acts 15, Paul and the Jerusalem Delegation took great measures to defend the doctrine of salvation through Christ alone.  They sent a letter to the church in Antioch to remind them of God's word and lighten their burden.  There is my first debriefing for my home-land missions:  Stay grounded in God's word, stick to the truth of salvation through Christ alone, and encourage others.

Throughout Acts, Paul relates to his various audiences before declaring the truths of God's eternal love through Christ.  These audiences range from intellectuals, polytheists, cosmopolitans, pagans, Jews, and Gentiles.  There's the 2nd part of my debriefing for my God-given homefront mission:  Connect with others without compromising the truth.

Also throughout Acts, Paul is tormented.  He's stoned.  He's mocked.  He's imprisoned.  He's insulted.  He's beaten.  But he keeps going, knowing the power of Christ's resurrection is in him.  This power is greater than his circumstances.  There is the mission code I am to adhere to as well:  Never give up.  Keep my eye on the prize.  Finish the race.  So, who is your Philippian jailer, truly hungry for the Word of God?  Where is your Athens, lost amongst idols?  Where is your Antioch, confused and in need of Christ-centered encouragement?  Where is your Ephesus, lost in darkness and in danger of false teaching?  Who is your Thessalonica, fellow believers in need of encouragement to "stand fast in the Lord" (1 Thess. 3:8)?  Who are your fellow shipmates on a journey to Rome, needing peace and strength to endure a storm?  Do we need to travel afar to weather such missions?  Do I accept my homefront mission with my husband, with my children, in my church, as a member of the community of Roswell, as a friend, as a teacher?  Yes, with the help of God, in Christ Jesus.

Dear God, Author and Perfector of our faith-    When I feel uninspired by the asthetics surrounding me, remind me that there is simplistic beauty in cooking healthy meals every night, changing diapers, greeting strangers at church, picking up trash in a public park, and encouraging a friend.  These duties are all a part of Your master plan.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Heart's Desire

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
     trust in him, and he will act.
Psalm 37:4-6

I’ve known for a long time, that “and he will give you the desires of your heart” is not about God granting me my 3 wishes.  And in fact, when this truth was revealed to me, I was thrilled to find that God has such a great plan.  He will stir in my heart, the things he wants me to desire. 

That’s a crazy good idea.  Way better than my ideas.  Thanks, God.

So especially in times of big decisions, I ask God to “give me the desires of my heart…”  I ask him to change my heart, if need be; move me to desire what he would have me want.  I ask him to lead me to his will for my life right now. 

But maybe I need to look a little closer at the surrounding verses.

What does it mean to “delight yourself in the Lord”?  Am I doing that?  Is that a deal-breaker?

After doing some searching online and in the notes in my study Bible, I feel like God is saying “What did you think you would find?”  I might be overanalyzing this one. 

Take delight in the Lord’s ways!  What are those ways?  It’s not a secret.  Let’s start at the top: Love your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your might.  And love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:36,40

My husband and I have been doing some reading on how to be married to each other.   We’ve been learning some things about what it means to be married and, hopefully, in love.  It means you do a lot of communicating.  It means you are more concerned about the other’s desires than your own.  It means you think of them first.  It means you want to know them, in an intimate way – like you know no one else. 

This is the kind of relationship God wants with us.  He wants us to desire him.. seek to know him like we know no one else.  He wants us to communicate with him (and that’s a 2-way street, by the way).  He wants us to seek him first, consult him first, be concerned about his will for us.  Because his plan is best. 

I’ve got access to him in a variety of ways, all day long.  If I truly want him to plant desires in my heart, I’m going to have to be sure I’m delighting in him.  I’m going to have to make 
sure I’m seeking him... giving him facetime… checking in with him regularly. 

Lord, would you make that my heart’s desire?

Dear Lord, we seek your face, and your will for us.  We ask that you would continue to reveal yourself to us.  Move us to read your word regularly, so that we can know you better.  Move us to go to you in prayer constantly, asking for your help first.  Move us to seek out your will in every aspect of our lives.  We ask these things boldly, Lord.  Allow me to “commit my way to you.”  Amen.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Keep Walking

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. Psalm 23:1-3

I am cyclical in learning things. I don’t mind coming back around to things to get to the next step. When I think about my journeys in cooking and parenting, I can see how skills are built over time. As I was praying the other day, I realized that I was hesitating in taking the next step
in my spiritual walk, because I wasn’t sure I could commit to it. I wasn’t sure I was ready. In fact, I was allowing my own fear of failure stop me from stepping closer. Then, I realized that God was not asking me to take an impressive leap. He wanted me to keep taking steps, keep listening, keep looking toward Jesus. Would I rather stand still or keep walking? It’s okay to take small steps. It’s okay to find ourselves growing in an area that we’ve already covered. It’s okay for our discipleship path to by cyclical, building on the relationship that is most central to who we are and where we are going. Be patient with yourself as you do your best to stick by the Shepherd. Be there when that familiar voice calls your name and take a drink in the still water He’s offering you.

Jesus, You are generous in blessing. Please strengthen me for the next steps in my journey with You. Remove my fear and excuses and guide me to where You want me to be. You are my Shepherd and I am content in Your care. Amen