Category Archives: Parenting

New Seasons, Shifting Sand

dpp_0055.jpgOceans lovers like myself know what it is like to feel wet sand being displaced under your feet as the underwater current urges waves forward. We continually have to lift our feet and reset them for firmer footing, lift them, reset them, lift them and reset them.

Such are the seasons of our lives.

This last day of August 2018 offers both a “finally” and a “beginning”, a lifting and a resetting. School started a few days ago and since after 20 years, I am no longer a home educator, I find myself settling into another season journeying with the precious parents at our small Christian private school. I must say, parental involvement in this top-notch school is noteworthy — here are working and stay-at-home parents that give their time to help the teachers, encourage the administrative staff and join hands with each other in friendship. God will bless this, indeed.

For most US communities, personal lives are dictated by academic schedules. So like millions of other parents I now exhale summer activity, spontaneity and Southern humidity, and inhale reflection, coffee shops, after-school schedules and vocational duties.

I’ll be honest, August has been tough until today.

I exhale loss and sadness and inhale hope and promise. The stain of death and two older kids leaving home for higher education made sleep difficult. My dad died in August 2017. Another friend died in August 2015. Two families I know had sons killed in August 2018. (sigh)

I inhale God’s comfort and I exhale the difficulty of shifting sand under my feet that makes me lift and reset, lift; reset. Underneath this metaphorical sand is a very real rock: God’s Truth which is my foundation.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. (Psalm 16:7-8)

August was ironic. I drove to some of the highest peaks of my life….traveling across theLake Tahoe nation to luxurious and amazing destinations like the Rocky Mountains and Lake Tahoe. My heart soared and my eyes absorbed the beauty of God’s creation. God kissed me through this trip. I remember driving through Kansas on I-70. It’s not the most scenic route and I kept watch of the dark clouds to the north, but for a few moments, I was overwhelmed at God’s goodness. I teared up. This bucket-list trip had happened! Joy in the midst of a challenging month.

Beauty in the midst of pain. Hardship in the midst of hope.  Newness in familiarity. I encourage anyone who, like me, is experiencing a shift in their lives to imagine your hand reaching and holding the Divine hand.  My personal picture is me grabbing God’s hand with all of the strength that I have! He holds on just as intensely.

Friends, we are loved by a faithful and devoted God, who created us with good reason and profound intent. Yesterday I heard a pastor say this (my summary) “Our heavenly Father is SO good at taking tragic situations and events inspired by pure evil; reworking their consequences for our good….(in order that we grow through them), that we often begin to believe that he actually authored the events.”

The Lord says of us:
“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15)

14446133_1189737564418217_4322761516211056887_nMy soul rests while I regain my footing because I am loved by God who takes challenging events and uses them to cause me to seek his comfort. He teaches me how to get through earth’s journey triumphant rather than beat up and disillusioned. He wants to do this for all of us.

Do you need to exhale your yesterday so that you can inhale your present and your future? As you lift your feet under the ocean water of your life, remember that the current of God always has new sand for you to reset your feet on. Lift, reset. Lift and reset.

Beneath seasonal sands is a sure foundation.

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Move Aside the Cup of Milk

Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes; (Joel 2:15-16)

girls on desk looking at notebook
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I had not heard a pastor tell a congregation that children should be expected to learn the Word of God like they are expected to learn math and grammar. This well-known leader in North Carolina smashed my paradigm that children were too young to understand the same lessons that their parents learn in adult services. Adult services. That too is a misnomer when it comes to the intent of God for each generation of his people.

I understand the point of the typical children’s ministry. Introduce the kids to salvation, the birth and death of Jesus Christ, and concepts like the fruit of the Spirit in a fun-filled way. That’s great. However, the ministries that I’ve come to respect teach children deeper truths that some adults never even get in “adult services”. When God called for a general assembly in Joel 2, he meant for all to hear the sound of his voice.

My sheep hear my voice. (John 10:27)

Samuel was a child who heard the voice of God.
David was a teenager who sensed the call of God to be a warrior-intercessor.Jaredito 3
Jesus was twelve and taught in the temple.
The unborn John the Baptist leaped at the presence of His unborn Savior.

Later in verse 28 of Joel, God says that he intends to pour out the Holy Spirit on all flesh. Not just humans above the age of eighteen or who have divinity degrees. All flesh. What does this look like? The prophet Joel goes on to tell what God speaks to him: “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.”

God is still speaking, confirming his Word to individual hearts in a variety of communicative ways. Whether visual, a gut impression or a still, small voice, God leads and guides all of his children into all truth.

My eight-year-old son woke up this morning ready to share an array of dramatic dreams. One, in particular, caught my attention. He was walking around someone’s house, telling the enemy to get out. What was remarkable was that he knew that the enemies weren’t people, but spiritual forces that the people who lived in the house couldn’t see.

I told him that I believed God was letting him know that even though he is young, God’s authority is with him because he believes in Jesus and Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). I told him that evil spirits want to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Lastly, I was able to share with him that God has given him compassion. Jesus cared so much about people that he was compelled to free them from the things that harmed their lives. My son was able to make the connection between his dream and those scriptures. This is a child who dealt for a long time with fear. I know that God wants him to know and be confident in divine power and the force of faith and compassion and what a way to do it….a dream!

Whether a church encourages children to attend the general service or not is irrelevant. What is crucial is that ministries and parents understand that a child doesn’t have to be only given the milk of the Word until high school. While I’ve focused on the topic of hearing God’s voice, there are many other meaty subjects in the Word of God that children can be taught.

photo of child reading holy bible
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Jesus wants the children to know Him. Not just a portion, but the whole of Him. Not just his character, but his power and authority. Jesus is the Word.  The Word declared from the mouth of a worshipping child carries power.

 

“I Just Can’t.”

You’ve seen her.

Cozy cardigan over a cotton tunic, skinny jeans and name brand running shoes. Hair combed just enough for the messy look to be fashionable. Just enough makeup to not feel insecure in the morning drop-off line at her kids’ school.

But you really haven’t seen her.
Because if you did your heart would break. 
Last night’s argument with her husband ended up in a sleepless night. A few hours later the toddler woke up crying. Another fever. That morning, her tween greeted her with silence, unfinished homework, and an unsigned permission slip for the field trip that day. The smelly sink disposal called for white vinegar and the main bathroom hamper overflowed with clothes. She forgot detergent during her last grocery trip.

She drove away from drop off with a beautiful smile and a wave to fellow parents while inside her soul was crushing her to death. With each heartbeat, the deep, torturing pain of hopelessness pounded against her dream of a life she would enjoy. A tear fought its way to the surface, only to be interrupted by the toddler’s feverish whimpers.

What would you say to her? What thoughts would you have when she is at the point where she whispers “I. Just. Can’t.” No religious verse can take away her present. A gentle squeeze of her hand may offer needed human touch, but still her present remains 11as it has for a few years.

 

The tragedy of emotional pain can happen to any of us. Unknowingly we have walked by the young woman whose boyfriend abruptly ended their relationship or the woman who finds herself in a place where her native tongue isn’t widely understand causing her to wander through her present all alone.

The dark night of the soul is an experience that lasts too long for most of us who’ve been in these shoes even for a moment. No matter what the status-single, married, with kids or yearning them, life can be difficult. When the fabric of our soul sheds, the danger signs appear but are unfortunately invisible unless we….unless she lets someone look deeply into her eyes.

How can we as a company of sisters help each other not fall into a living hell? Even the medical community recognizes that a prevention ethic is best. What can we do better so that one of our sisters knows that they don’t have to hide behind a smile and a wave?

Ruth 3:1  Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?

The words “seek” and “security” give form to our compassion and empathy. Seeking involves deliberate action. I picture a person holding a telescope looking into the distance on behalf of someone else. The picture reminds me of Isaiah 21:6 which says: “Go, set a watchman, Let him declare what he sees.” Let’s discover the next steps of our sister’s life! Whether by prayer or research, we can find opportunities that our sister can take hold of to find or rediscover her value. She must realize that her present narrative is a roadblock versus a foreshadowing of her future.

Similarly we can carry vision for our sister’s life. This carrying is more than verbally affirming dreams lost by the wayside. It is stewarding her vision when she is down. The day she rises she will take it back. Ruth of this Old Testament story  was a young widow. She was in a place of transition after the death of her husband, who was Naomi’s son. Ruth was personally aimless but relying on the strength and wisdom of her mother-in-law, who was also in a place of grief and transition. Age and experience is valuable. The years in which Naomi accumulated wisdom and understanding gave her the strength to carry vision for her daughter in law’s life. In current times, this means that older mothers should remember what life can be like for a younger mother. Altruism involves prevention. No woman ever has to get to the point of giving up. Ruth was childless and a widow. She had no acceptable status in her culture. We must be proactive with checking in with our sisters with words of encouragement and offers of practical help. If they can’t find a sitter, we can bring the coffee or tea to them. We need to discard pleasant surface conversations and sit in front of them at a function and say, “How are you doing with the things on your plate?” or “Is there anything that I can pray for you about?”.

Security is essential to wellness. We can guide our sisters to a secure place. Newness can make life topsy turvy for any human being. Is our sister newly married? What about in a new job or fresh out of college? Is she newly divorced? Let’s anticipate her struggle for this segment of her journey. I don’t mean suppressing her natural emotions or allowing her to become codependent on you. A listening ear is like a soft pillow to someone who feels like the foundation is shifting under her feet. Similarly, well-timed words are described in Proverbs 16:24: Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Every mother experiences something new every few years, a birth, entry to the school phase, puberty, leaving home. Too often, we, the sisters, wait for our churches, schools and community organizations to offer classes or events . We can be the class or event on cloudy afternoon if we shift our schedules and make space to serve and be what God envisioned for sisters to be. We must protest the dividing lines of economics,race and education and be a company of sisters. Even shared faith does not matter. Life challenges all people.

If we make this a part of our lifestyle, then we won’t see her, the one with the tear finally falling as they teeter on the brink of giving up everything on this side of heaven. Her pain and her woes don’t have to be medicated with the secret stash of liquor, drugs or the darkness of her bedroom. Sisterhood was created to keep our chins up when they begin cowering, our eyes fixed when they begin to wander and our hearts strong when weariness comes close. If you are Naomi, go find a Ruth and if you happen to be Ruth, don’t hide behind a smile and a wave. Let us see your eyes.

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Saints, God is Cheering You On!

The-Journey-From-Syria-Matthew-Cassell-CeasefireHow often do we crawl into our coziest chair and gleefully open our Bibles to discover something that God wants to share with us? Consistently our God pulls us into his presence to give us the security that comes through his constant love. A child always is secure when he knows he’s loved, desired and affirmed. This is our God. He’ll never leave us or forsake us. After a time, He leads our gaze outward but only because he wants us to give out what he’s poured into us. It’s like a back and forth game that a child would play with a parent.  Maybe you’ve witnessed the cute giggles as the little girl runs to her Daddy’s lap and then runs several feet away for a few minutes only to return to her Daddy’s loving embrace.

Our view of God the Father is crucial to our wholeness. We can’t possibly run to a Father that we think is always criticizing us, watching us with a stern eye or ready to take away some of His blessings back for our bad behavior. Scripture says that the goodness of God leads us to repentance. Repentance is having a change of mindset. How ironic that by continuing to unleash his goodness towards us, we will slowly but surely change the way we think and behave for the better.

The beauty of becoming can be, if we let it, a process of brutally naked surrender to a God that whispers hope, affirms our efforts, and gives us courage for a journey that none of us are prepared for.

westmorland-story-background-july-2015Arduous but seasonal, this journey is a long adventure. I believe in a Loving Creator that does not give us more than we can bear but knows that if we glean from his wisdom and blanket ourselves in his care, we can actually face battles head on and win. We can win at parenting! We can win at adulting! We can win at reflecting Christ to our co-workers! Instead of blaming our kids, our bosses or our chaotic world, He helps us recognize the weaknesses that keep us from riding through every storm in peace. The prize is loving others better and our own spiritual maturity and emotional health.  Old baggage is burned and chains of insecurity that have made moving forward a challenge, are discarded.

No matter what your stage and season of life, you can begin to appreciate that this journey of personal transformation refines the quality of our love for others and provides a healthier well-being for ourselves.

Keep running dear saint. God is cheering you on!

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(This is an excerpt from the introduction of a manuscript that is almost finished.)

 

Mommy or Me: Who is first?

Ages and Stages Part 4 Mommy or Me: Who is 1st? (Repost from 2014)

bw profileI think I was in my upper-twenties when the dawning occurred. “I” had become lost in the role of “Mommy”. The decision to be a stay-at-home mom cost us financially but rewarded us with the certainty that we could completely oversee our children’s formative years and we could home educate them, teaching each subject according to a Biblical worldview.

Sure, I loved strolling to the playground, attending story-time at the library, and visiting friends 3-4 times per week. But I also loved writing, playing the piano, and learning whatever I could about God.

I never wanted to forsake my “personhood” for the roles that I’ve been blessed with. As much as being a wife and mother delighted me, I knew that I had been endowed by my Creator with certain gifts, talents and missions to accomplish while on this earth.Deep within

Some young mothers get caught in the cage of “I have no time for me.” Ladies, whether we work in the marketplace, at home or not at all, we have to make time for ourselves and I know it ain’t easy. I thank God for the friends that became like family. They encouraged me to nurture my interests even though my husband worked 80-90 hours per week back then.

As moms, we can make it work. Our dreams really can come true…one day. For me original bedtimes stories became the inspiration for a fiction series that I started called The Ages of Laus Perennis. My passion for prayer, teaching and personal ministry grew as my husband and I began to attend various East Coast conferences that equipped us for future roles within our local church.

I remember playing piano for a Baptist church, sitting my one year old daughter on my lap and teaching her to keep her hands on her thighs so that I could reach around her to play the piano. Since I had no babysitter I had to make it work. 543159_570549866336064_696008493_nMany times I had to volunteer to host something in order to be a part, especially when there was no money for a babysitter. My kids would play quietly in their rooms or be in bed while a prayer meeting or bible study was going on, or the “baby at the time” would just sit on my lap.

You know the adage: “where there is a will there is a way.” Really, this is quite true. God wants us to enjoy life. Since He doesn’t want us to shrug off our motherhood, He shows us how to juggle the duties of these roles with the wonderful interests, talents and missions that make us come alive. After all, He gave us those interests, talents and missions.

I wouldn’t trade motherhood for the world! I’m a strong advocate of parental rights. I love having so many children and I love their wide age range. It isn’t always easy, but I applaud God for the choice He made for my life.

What opportunities are waiting for you? What doors are open but you haven’t noticed them? Being an author, intercessor, friend, gardener, DIY-er, home chef ( I LOVE to invent recipes), songwriter, worship musician, Castle TV show junkie, and home educator enables me to be fully me.

We are better parents when we give ourselves time and attention, not by neglecting our kids or spouses, but by heeding the wisdom of our Father.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Father, Your desire is to continually guide us, for our desire to be satisfied in scorched places, and for our bones to be strong; so that we will be like a watered garden. (Isaiah 58:11) As we faithfully fulfill our family roles and spend time with You, show us how to use every deposit that You’ve given us, that You may be glorified and we may be satisfied.

Perfect Parent? Not!

Ages and Stages Part 5 Perfect Parent? Not!

(a repost from 2014)

15577863_653198091555495_855300141_nIt’s great to see the reception that this blog series, “Ages and Stages” has received.  The 4000+ views tell me that we, as parents, desire a sense of camaraderie and affirmation. We will never be perfect parents, but we can always be perfecting our parenting.

I wasn’t sure what to write for this last post, but sure enough a few conversations with my adult children brought to light a subject that all parents need to face at some time: wounds of the past.

Once my children became young adults I hoped that opportunities would become available for them to reconcile anything in their past that caused them struggle. I didn’t want them to carry baggage of childhood rejection or adolescent confusion into their adulthood. While we don’t have to do anything to guarantee our children’s physical maturity–nature does that—we do need to do a few things to guarantee our children’s emotional maturity.

Conversations this past week with my adult children were hard. To hear the stories of fear and loneliness; rejection and unclear teaching about relating to the opposite sex; and self-imposed isolation and emotional suppression shocked and saddened me. I never knew. This may seem hard to believe since I am a home educator who is pretty much around her kids all of the time.  How can a child be lonely in a house full of people?

Physical proximity does not mean emotional intimacy. In our culture we bond via internet and texting. Those on the other side cannot look into our eyes and see the reality of our souls. Another cultural challenge is our frenetic lifestyles. We can be so busy! I’ve learned that more often than not, we must take the time to knock on our child’s or teen’s door, and enter their world.  We need to talk – no, listen to them, expecting at first to be met with the phrase, ‘I’m fine’. But we must keep knocking and making ourselves available; not just to be cheerleaders at sporting events or ballet recitals, but to be shoulders to cry on and hands to pray with.

Unfortunately, most of us did not get this as children and teens. We entered parenthood with handicaps and didn’t even realize it.

Long ago, I heard someone say that we can only do the best we can and we must trust Jaredito 3God to fill in the rest. This is the truth. We are not perfect. Hopefully we will tell our kids that when they are young! Aging as a parent has to do less with our numerical ages and more with our emotional health. Do we react or do we respond? Do we admit when we are wrong or do we play the blame game? Do we suppress our own emotions and deny our own weaknesses, or do we present ourselves as clueless and thankful grace-recipients on a journey to learn how to love well.

Blessings to you and your family! Thanks for reading some snapshots of my life as a parent who is learning as she goes.

Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Malachi 4:2 But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.

Lord, You are Jehovah-Rapha, God our Healer. Heal the minds and emotions of our children so that they can move forward into the next stages of their lives without hindrance. Comfort our aching hearts as we acknowledge our failures and mistakes over the years. Remind us of Your promise that healing, restoration and satisfying life come to those who humble themselves before You. We love You God and we are thankful for Your tender mercies.

Cover Them With Your Wings

 

I love the picture of God as a bird. I personally picture him as an eagle in this Scripture:

Psalm 91:4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

I found out that mother eagles fly under their young in order to catch them on their very wide wings if they fall. What a beautiful picture of watchful care and meaningful presence as these babies learn to fly on their own.  An eagle’s wings can mirror our human life experience.  Our life experiences have given us knowledge and understand that can protect them from unnecessary danger. Predators know that they can’t get to an eagle’s babies if they are hiding under their mom or dad’s wings.

Protecting our children is one of the main duties of a parent. I often think of the mother bear or mother lion who ferociously attacks any predator who comes after its young. Since families are the building block of communities I can easily extend this role of protection to the Bible figures Noah and King David.  Being warned by God of mass judgment and destruction, Noah built an ark to protect his family from disaster and the Warrior King David fought to protect his people from the Philistines and Syrians in 2 Samuel chapter 8.

Google defines refuge like this: “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”

Our God is a perfect protector. We can snuggle in the safety of his authority. He is safe. No matter what you learned in bible class, you don’t have to be afraid that God will give you any disease or calamity.  Bad experiences come into our lives as a consequence of our individual choices and living in a natural world affected by the effects of sin in mankind.  Our Creator-Redeemer is caring. He seeks to rescue us and he desires to be our refuge.

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As parents we are quick to protect our children from the dangers without, but what about from dangers that come from within their own hearts and our own homes?

While we’ll never do a perfect job, it’s helpful to remember that our homes should be sanctuaries of safety from trouble. In our technologically advanced culture, this may mean internet safety. When they are school age it means making sure that they know how to judge character and develop healthy friendships. When they are young, it’s making sure that we instruct with clarity and patience.

Furthermore as parents, we need to take inventory of our choices, attitudes and actions. Kids are watching and listening at all times.  Is kindness and tenderness evident in our actions? Do we gossip to our friends? How much are we on our phones, laptops, tablets, etc?

Covering our children is much more than providing the best shelter possible. It’s a place where their souls –minds, emotions, physical bodies — are protected from anything that would cause a trauma or a wound that keeps them from knowing God as a safe authority figure. When wounds do come from within…from within our homes due to our rash responses or quick tempers, may we be quick to apologize and comfort.

I firmly believe that the better we know God as safe and use him as our covering and refuge, the better we’ll be able to offer the same for our own children. We can learn from the best when we remind ourselves that we too are children, under the care of a safe God who sent His only begotten Son to rescue us from trouble.

1 John 3:8 For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Galatians 1:3-4  Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Psalm 91:1-6

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord“He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]

And from the perilous pestilence.
 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

 

 

 

 

A Mother Worth Mentioning

Mother’s Day Saturday, May 7, 2016

What her eyes saw – lack and death– suddenly did not matter. Her heart saw the reality of God’s faithful and protective hand in her life.

Mothering becomes more difficult when a husband isn’t in the picture. In the past two weeks, I’ve been struck by the mother in 1 Kings 17. Her courage to believe God’s voice changed the outcome of her circumstances.

The widow was getting wood in order to prepare one last meal for herself and her son when Elijah shows up on the scene. Elijah wants some food. She lets him know that she doesn’t have enough food to share with him. In that time, it’s remarkable that she had food at all. Famine was present in the land and she was a widow. We don’t know how long her husband had been dead. The Bible calls her son “a child” later in the passage.  She was probably younger than thirty. Economically, this impoverished single mother had no hope during this drought. Circumstances beyond her control had taken over her life. Then she hears this stranger say to her: “Give me some food first and God will continue to provide for

you until it starts raining again.”

How many of you would listen to some stranger rolling up on your doorstep saying the same thing? Verse nine reveals that Elijah met the widow knowing that God had already commanded her to feed him.  We have no indication from her of this. We merely see her do what Elijah asks. She fed him first.

Her natural eyes saw lack in her home. Surely she and her son heard each other’s hunger pangs. As a mother, she’d probably been making her son’s last meal cakes a tad bit larger than hers even though she knew that death was inevitable for them both. Her visible reality shouted “Death!”  But in another human being’s words, she heard the voice of God. She trusted that God was speaking to her through another human being. Wow! That takes courage and faith.

Faith acknowledges the reality of the unseen.

I wonder if she had heard of Elijah and if so, if she recognized him when he approached her. Even if she had, it still took faith for her to believe in the creative miracle that he said would happen: the meal in the barrel would not run dry.  The oil jar would not dry up. What her eyes saw – lack and death– suddenly did not matter. Her heart saw the reality of God’s faithful and protective hand in her life.

Her supply would not fade.

I was impressed to use this passage as my Mother’s Day post. I believe God wants to calm the fears of mothers whose visible realities shout “Death!” There are mothers who may be facing crushed dreams or failed marriages. Others may be watching their children spin into the downward cycle of addiction or plummet into the merciless clutch of disease.  Many single mothers deal with economic lack. Despite the fact that the drought was to remain for a period of time, God’s intervention for the single mother of 1 Kings declared “Life!” Still, she had to trust God. What if she had turned her back on the prophet of God? What if she had not turned her eyes from her visible reality and looked into the eyes of the servant of God to see the invisible reality of God’s desire for her life? It took faith and courage to use the rest of the meal in and make three cakes instead of two.

I pray this Mother’s Day for mothers everywhere. I pray that despite our visible circumstances, we will believe in the faithful provision of our loving Father. I pray that we would be courageous and trust in God’s Word first even though we live in a culture that renounces biblical authority. Lastly, I pray that when a situation is shouting “Death!” to our faces, that we would look up and see God declaring “Life!”


My Kids Need To Grow Up!

Repost from Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I looked at the woman reading peacefully under the tree at the park. Her kids were old enough to play by themselves and by the sound of it, were having a great time. Thoughts of envy blared in my head.

I can’t wait until these two are old enough to play together”, I thought as I helped my toddler navigate the stairs to the platform. Once he was there, I ran around the playset to meet him at the slide where I waited to catch him at the bottom. A few feet away, his slightly older brother “drove” on the playground motorcycle.

A couple of years have passed since this scene at the playground. What I realize now is that the woman that I witnessed was probably having a rare but needed respite from two loud and adventurous boys.  Now, I’m in her shoes.

Every step on this staircase of raising kids has its sighs of relief. “No more middle of the night feedings!” No more diapers!” “No more chauffeuring, they have their license!” But each step also has its challenges. “Lord, help them drive safely.”  “I’m not buying you a phone. You’re too young.”

When my four oldest children were young, there was another playground we would frequent.  On a particular occasion, a mindset changing thought popped in my head. “I’ll never have this moment in time back.” I remember looking around at my kids, each born around 2 ½ years from the previous one and making a commitment to relish each moment and each stage no matter what the challenges.

I decided to write this post not just to encourage moms and dads but to remind myself of this commitment that I made so many years ago. Child #5 is now old enough to care about how I cut his hair and occasionally tells me that he doesn’t like me because he has to do school work. Child #6 has decided to pick on his older brother as much as he can. The yelling and tears are ridiculous. Sigh. Just last week I thought, “Wow, it was so easy when they were younger and didn’t care about which TV show they watched before bedtime.” I stopped and caught myself. I shook my head at the irony.

One day these two will be as old as my first four who are seventeen to twenty-four years of age.   I am familiar with the upcoming road, its challenges and its joys. But in the meantime, right now, I need to make a decision. The same decision that I made over a decade ago: “I’ll never have this moment in time back. I need to relish these moments and understand the Father-heart of God through them as well as help my little boys discover God in them. I need to thank God for the opportunity to have children and steward them.”

So now my heart is tearing up. I do love my children. SO much.  Parenting has taught me more about myself than even marriage, which says a lot! So when the bickering starts, I’ll choose to look up towards heaven and breathe in deeply. When I hear, “I still don’t like you.” I will smile ‘cause I know better. And when they hug me from behind, I’ll pause what I’m doing and receive their clutch.

Cause it only lasts for a moment.

God, help me remember that in every difficult moment, you are my very present help. When I’m tired and frustrated, give me wisdom and peace. I surrender to the way you mold my character. Help me train my kids in the way that they should go. In Jesus’ name. Amen.