Friday, July 22, 2022

A Prayer for Marriage

 



Dear Father- 


You are Creator and Keeper of marriages. Today, I lift to you all believing couples of this generation. I pray that we are an example of real love~ as a model of Christ and His church.  


Give us intention in our words and tones. Allow us to purposefully give time to one another in communication and affection.  May we show our children stable, strong, and steadfast love in our homes.  


Help my husband and I to be friends with each other. Instill joy into our daily relationship.  May our actions show the priorities that mean most to us: 1) God 2) Marriage 3) Children.


Help us to be excellent forgivers and may we commit to pray together to build a foundation of Your truths in our home.  Renew our love and commitment to each other and may we always seek to bless our spouses.


Help us, God, to get this relationship right so that our children inherit a legacy of lasting, ever-growing love. ❤️


In Jesus’ name,

Amen!


“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬



“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:21-29, 31-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬


Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Mom, a.k.a.”The Fun Factory”

 





This image has come up on my Facebook feed a few times over the years. I bought into it HARD for a long time. I struggle with it, still! Since I teach and have summers off, I do tend to plan something fun for every available day I can. I am a FUN-SEEKER.  I am also a kid-lover. My kids lie high on my priority list, but hear me out, maybe too high some days.  


Almost to the point of letting everything else fall to the wayside, I delight in my kids. June is usually the most accelerated, fast-paced month for us.  It’s like I have been granted freedom and I don’t know how to behave! 


That’s not a crime, I know.  Other working moms would love the chance to fun-seek and love on their children every day of their summer break. But, it’s tiring. It’s too much when I look around and feel drowned in the home responsibilities, as well. (Also, not top priority. 😜)


My laundry room, my bedroom, the garage—— okay, like every room— has a mess. More accurately, an explosion of sorts can be found in multiple spots. Our kids have a way of working on Legos, Kinetic sand, Barbies, and watercolor in a span of 3 hours— all on the dining room table!


More notable than the house,  it’s when I start to feel depleted mentally, physically, and spiritually, that I know I need to reel back and lean into God, and recalibrate the priorities of this life.  When I am too tired in the morning to wake and do my devotions or pray for those on my list, some adjustments are necessary.  


Mamas, it’s a lie to believe that our time with the kids at home must be made to be exciting or memorable 24 hours a day. Read it again. 


Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that freedom?  


I just read another blog post about doing the dishes, and forgetting the guilt…. the author wrote, “Work must be done. We can’t live in disarray. Or, at least, my personality struggles there. And it, again, is teaching our kids the value of order, chores, responsibility and stewardship when we take care of things around us.”  She is so spot-on! Her words resonated with me. I don’t have to pay attention to my kids every waking hour, other jobs have to be taken care of, which allows me to teach by example.


And if my kids have a slew of fun memories of a pool, play dates, a theme park, and campfires, that is super… but in my book, it’s not everything.


The search for fun is not what the 18-year timeline is about.  


What matters to me is that they walk out of the house and into the world knowing a mom and dad who instilled faith in Jesus and demonstrated love to others consistently.  I would love mine to remember their mom getting into God’s word and making THAT time a priority over anything else before the day began. 


I would also have to assume that social media does us NO favors as moms in this topic. You see all of your mom friends and acquaintances going here and there, and feel that your highlight reel should be just as adventurous. 


Really, the notion that you have your kids for 18 years may be true, but for their 19th, or 25th, or 40th year, they are still your kids... 


Lord willing, you will have more memories to make in the many years beyond.   The pressure to believe that you must accomplish memory-making daily is false. I certainly don’t remember every fun moment of my childhood, and there were plenty. 


So yes, relish the years. 


But for me, I have to make the main the MAIN thing….. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  And all of these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33


The June party train is slowing to a halt, and I can crave more of what matters in this life. I am so grateful to grandparents who have sleepovers and camping trips so that the kids make their memories elsewhere! Mom,  a.k.a “the fun-factory”, does not resign, I just need to reevaluate our schedules and my well-being!  The turn of the July calendar brings vacation for us, but I hope for more balance in this thing called motherhood. 


Can I get an ‘Amen’?!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

The Incredible Mother

 


Happy Mother’s Day! What an incredible creation a mother is!


She is the heart and hub of the home. Without her, the wheels would fall off, and all schedules would come unglued. She is the cheerleader, the busy bee, packer of lunches, and so much more! Some moms do all of this even as other factors work against them, like an absent father, or no grandparents nearby, or working full-time.


As time passes by and my years of motherhood gain a bit more experience, I forgive myself for the things I don’t do well—- I don’t balance the checkbook (although my husband does). I don’t remove laundry promptly from the dryer. I hardly can stand to organize our kitchen junk drawer or take both of my kids shopping often. There is freedom in knowing: There are several ways to be an incredible mom, and often, no two are alike But each one is gifted, valued, and appreciated— even if it’s a thankless job some days. 🙃


All moms, young and old are vast resources for a variety of tasks, and this weekend, I hope you are celebrated for what you do WELL!


We take inventory of how much ketchup or toothpaste is on hand. 


We tend to the gift-buying for birthday parties. 


We help with homework and crusade for screen time limits.


We cook (some of us better than others) and arrange for groceries.


We taxi the kids to activities and practice, and sometimes there in the car, we find ourselves in deep counseling-type conversations… while also picking up cold French fries and lost wrappers.


We read and pray at bedtime.


We fold laundry and help with changing the sheets.


Are you tired, yet? This is just a fraction of what our days look like!


Yes, we are true servants in our homes, and if we were not, our children would not know the joys of a loving mother. Our sacrifice is everyone else’s gain.


God gifted each one of us with a skill set that just cannot be rivaled. We each shoulder the responsibility of providing happy, wholesome childhoods, and hope to live up to expectations we sometimes create ourselves. 


You, mother, are amazing indeed. You are the nurturer of the home. The one who sets the “temperature” of the emotional thermostat of all who share life with you. You have the potential to build a lasting, firm foundation in your child’s faith and emotional stability, all the while working on your own. 


May you see your own motherhood as a constant opportunity to show selfless love and may your children be blessed because YOU are their mom. 


Proverbs 31:28–29 reads, "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.'"


Today, put your feet up, and rest. 🥰


Happy Mother’s Day, you amazing creation!





Monday, April 11, 2022

The Gift of a Rescue



Recently, I saw an image of a weary man, fallen on the sand, hand outstretched, as if to give his last effort to reach for help… and from that one image, I envisioned the whole of humanity, since time dawned on Earth, collectively aching and reaching out for a Savior.  


In the last few years, we have been through a lot. The world is tired.  One doesn’t have to look far to acknowledge our need for help… I would say it has likely been this way since the Garden of Eden.


For as quickly as the Creator created, His creations denied His love. It only took until Genesis chapter 3 for the trajectory to change dramatically. Instead of intimately living with God, following His will, and abundantly abiding in a perfect world, Adam and Eve’s fall was ours as well. 


Since then, God has repeatedly proven faithful in pursuing us with His love (see whole Bible).  And, seemingly, just as faithfully, humans of all time have remained steeped in selfishness, saturated in sin. All of us, to varying degrees, have “fallen short and sinned” (Romans 3:23).


We are so pathetic, really.


It moved me to think how human, how lowly, how needy we all are.


The worst of us all can be played out nightly on the news, and had Lester Holt’s Nightly News been around in the B.C. era, the same stories would have been reported. In analogy, we are crawling desperately, like that man in the sand, marred with the choices we make as we live according to the flesh. 


For all the crimes and misdeeds committed over and over on this spinning Earth, we should hardly be able to lift our chins to see our Rescuer. Sadly, many people won’t. Many missed Him and even walked this Earth with Him.


However…


Our God possesses a staggering love. 


Rescue was His plan all along.  And Jesus was the only way to see us out of our darkness. 


He entered and lifted our chins for us so that we can accept these truths:


We are darkness, He is light. (1 John 1:5)


We are lowly, He is exalted. (Psalm 46:10)


We are filthy, He is pure. (Hebrews 4:15)


We are bound, He is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)


We are parched, He is living water.  (John 4:14)



As soon as Jesus bridged the canyon between man and God, darkness is now only an option. We don’t have to live steeped in selfishness, saturated in sin. His life sacrifice removed all the misdeeds from Eve’s first bite to Earth’s last sin.


God is so holy and so righteous but we are so fallen and foul. Only the cost of Jesus’ life could remedy the pain of centuries and the guilt of all. As if this was not wonderful enough, the even better news is that we don’t have to earn it!  It is free for the taking, if you only accept it.


And when you do, you are no longer just a weary wanderer of this Earth, but a new creation!


“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20


May you be reminded this Holy Week of God’s plan for your redemption.  


May you ponder the wealth of love God has for us all in the gift of a rescue that was so very necessary. 


May you feel hopeful.


Just like that first image of the man in the sand, there is one of another Man hanging on a cross. This Man, however, is giving His last effort to extend all the help we need. ❤️

Friday, March 18, 2022

Strength for the Middle

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10


Waiting is the hardest, especially when you don’t know how long the wait will be. 

Months? Years? Decades? 


When the starting momentum has long since faded, and the end result seems nowhere nearby, it’s the middle that can undo a person. This waiting can be described as a desert period for many. It’s dry and, at times, hopeless.  


In the middle, changes, though subtle, are happening.  You are perhaps growing, becoming better at trusting in whatever God’s plan is. It’s this period that matters most. 


What will you do in the middle? 


Many don’t have the fortitude to see it through. Too many calendar pages have turned. Many don’t have the patience required of them, because giving up on hope seems the easier way out. 


Drawing an analogy from a suspension bridge, I had to google just how the middle is supported…. My guess is that it would be the weakest point on any bridge, and therefore, need the most attention. If it weren’t for the two towers on each end of the bridge, the middle would surely collapse. The many steel cables that attach the middle to the towers are the reason the middle stays strong.


We may not have visible steel cables, attaching us to towers, but we are all surely tethered to something. Is God your supply of hope and strength for the middle of your journey? Do you draw daily from His wisdom? How about a verse that you cling to as reminder of God’s promises?


Being tethered to other things can seem to get us by for a while…. We humans can drink, shop, eat, complain, and  escape with the best of them. When there is nothing to do but wait, it’s easy for us to distract ourselves in some fashion. But those pursuits are costly as well, and only pacify for the short term. 


We see that “waiting” is a common theme in the Bible. Many of the stories we read involve years (like 20, 30, 40!) before a result is brought forth. Many of the people in the Bible were impatient, and as a result, tried to alter or fix the situation, without God’s help. Eek! Talk about cutting the tethers!


No matter how long your middle has lasted, may you be encouraged today that this is the part that really matters, and just like a bridge, it’s the part that needs the most attention. This is where God will meet you and sustain you when you would rather not take the next step. When nothing has changed and each day seems the same as the one before, God can weave together your story in His perfect timing, leaving no doubt that His hands have been all over it the whole time.



When you are tethered to the Lord, friend, you are held.

You are secure.

The middle might be long.

The middle might be scary.

But, the middle is where your faith can come alive, mature, and strengthen.  What you do in your middle- your waiting—- can be the difference in a collapse of your own undoing or a deliverance into the plan God has for you. 


Tether yourself to the Almighty One… only He can provide strength for the middle.




More verses for the middle:


“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3


“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22


“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses round us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God's throne.”  Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭



Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Above All Else

Above all else, love each other deeply. 1 Peter 4:8



You know what is one of my greatest challenges some days?


 Loving the people in my own home. 


After a day of work and giving of my self to the demands of my job, even loving the people of the world, it is a real struggle sometimes to pull the car into the garage and set my mind to loving the people in my own family. 


Not because my brood is unlovable, but because my resources are low. The vat of patience, forgiveness, and energy that was filled to the brim in the morning, is nearly empty.  Some days, decompression doesn’t come until bedtime. Too late. Tempers flared, harsh words spoken, and peace gone. In the throes of parenthood, marriage, and career, there will be days like this. 


It’s interesting to note that the beautifully framed verses that hang from the walls in our home can be really difficult to apply. “Above all else, love one another deeply.” Those words are visible on our living room wall. What a wonderfully stark reminder of our need, our call, to hold love as a number 1 priority. 


The truth is, just because we are exhausted, sad, sick, or otherwise doesn’t disqualify us to love our family. 


If anything, home is where we turn up the dial. If our children are to inherit a real, tangible faith, they are to see it in action. If I am to honor my husband, it is done without an edge in my words. Mom’s long day should not negate her capacity to love. Dad’s work deadline shouldn’t make him callous with words. Toys on the floor or a drink left on the end table should not always unleash a lecture about responsibility. There’s another way. Our choice of words and attitudes sway the environment of the evening. Our loving-even-when-we-don’t-feel-like-it “spurs one another on” (Hebrews 10:24). 


I am held accountable today that if all of the loveliest verses hung from our walls don’t move us, remind us, encourage us, or change us in some way, they might as well not be there.  Loving at home is not optional or mood-based.


May you be reminded today of your role of loving those in your home. It can be nearly impossible some days, but your spouse and children deserve it.  


It takes priority. 

It takes purpose. 

It takes heeding the words of scripture over and over again.




“Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬ ‭


“Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Listening Ears



On my drive from work just recently I heard the brief accounts of Mary & Joseph on the radio. The speaker finished by mentioning that both of them had not listened to what the world had to say about them, but quietly obeyed God, and consequently, delivered the infant Savior into the world.  Which in turn, delivered the world from eternal separation from God.  Bottom line: listen to God, not the world. 


It’s hard to be quiet these days. It’s even harder to listen.  To carve out any moments to seek God, read about him, or think on His word is challenging when we have so much vying for our time and attention. Moms, I know you are as harried as I am, but without my morning reading and prayer, I could also say I am grumpy, unstable, and lost.  My spiritual compass needs a daily resetting, and my soul aches for the sweet, wise reminders found in the Bible.


So, how is it, that even in purposeful setting-aside-of-peaceful-morning-time, I can still be so distracted? The temptations of social media and online browsing of a million items can steer me so quickly some days from the true source of Life.


That darn Pinterest can give such a creative boost to my event planning, but simply cannot feed my soul, even with all its shiny ideas that refine every detail of life.  Facebook tends to lure me in for unreasonable amounts of time, until I pull away with a twinge of comparison envy.  Lastly, online shopping can feel like a sport to me these days… adding to a cart in record time, and having the merchandise of the world at my fingertips. Ugh.  I am so easily entrapped by what the world offers.


Jesus speaks on this matter in a short story about a sower:


“People kept coming to Jesus from one town after another; and when a great crowd gathered, Jesus told this parable: “Once there was a man who went out to sow corn. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it up. Some of it fell on rocky ground, and when the plants sprouted, they dried up because the soil had no moisture. Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up with the plants and choked them. And some seeds fell in good soil; the plants grew and produced corn, 100 grains each.” And Jesus concluded, “Listen, then, if you have ears!””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:4-8‬ 



““This is what the parable means: the seed is the word of God. The seeds that fell along the path stand for those who hear; but the Devil comes and takes the message away from their hearts in order to keep them from believing and being saved. The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who hear the message and receive it gladly. But it does not sink deep into them; they believe only for a while but when the time of testing comes, they fall away. The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear; but the worries and riches and pleasures of this life crowd in and choke them, and their fruit never ripens. The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:11-15‬ ‭


For some of you, this blog entry has been too lengthy. You have a to-do list and a deadline choking out the truth of these words.  Listen carefully: even Jesus mentions our Enemy, the Devil. His scheme is to keep you busy and very productive, away from God’s word. But just like our precious Mary & Joseph, we cannot be so easily swayed, for God’s plan and trajectory for your life and mine is radically different than the world’s.


May these two individuals not remain simply ceramic figurines in a mantle nativity scene. Instead, in this next week, pause and reflect on their humanness, on their listening ears and obedience to God. Let them remind you to pursue more time with God and less with the world. May this Christmas set into motion a renewal of a “good and obedient heart that persists until it bears fruit.”


Thank you, Lord, for Jesus— precious baby destined to save us from ourselves. Please renew all of us who hear your words and receive them with faith. Let us turn our eyes to you, instead of to the distractions of each day. May we bless others because of knowing you! Amen.