Monday, July 11, 2011


Devotional Lives for Families

So you’ve had a baby, maybe you have a couple of children.  You and your husband are wondering what happened to late night dancing and long strolls on the beach.  Well, they are just around the corner…when you retire.  However, greeting your new season with joy and deep satisfaction is entirely possible.  There is something amazing about having children, something God designed.  And when you embrace this very differently structured season, you will soon find a sweet peace, hearty character growth, and a whole lot of love and laughter.

Here are some ways to make this your family’s reality:

  1. Let Go
A key part to living a Spirit filled life is embracing what is right before you.  To fully transition to your new life as a unit of 3 or 4 or 5 or 6… and no longer a single agent, you will find letting go of the old season and looking at what you have today is paramount to discovering the joys of family life.

Make a list of all the things you miss (jogging without strollers, uninterrupted showers, long quiet times with God, enjoying media during the day, eating out, sleeping when you want to, working full time, etc). Commit to pray over those things before the Lord, giving Him thanks for the season in which you used to enjoy them and asking him kindly to hold them for you, if it be His will, for your future.  Ask your spouse, family, and friends to pray for you to let go of specific times/experiences/freedoms from the season you are no longer in.

Make a list of all the things you have now that bring you joy (early morning feedings with a smiling infant, park dates with your friends and their children, soccer Saturdays, early bedtimes, never feeling lonely, etc). Commit to pray over these things, thanking God for these beautiful gifts and asking him kindly to help you not miss the hidden gifts of your beautiful season of family life.  Ask you spouse, family, and friends to pray for more joy, thankfulness, and contentment for your current season.
Psalms 37:4 “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
2.  Embrace Today
If there is one thing that every new parent hears, it is: “Enjoy this time, it passes so quickly”.  And though part of you wants to throttle that smiling person with grown children while you recount your 1 am, 3 am, and 5 am feedings, or the difficulty you are having with your 18 month old’s realization that they have a will, or the incredible mountain of laundry you seemed to have inherited; it is very important for you listen. Make it your daily mantra if you have to.  You only have today with these children: it passes quickly.

Slow down to see your children and to go at their pace.  Let go of any activities or things that keep you from enjoying each moment in your day at the pace of your children (including fancy meal prep or perfect house keeping).  You can not live at the pace of a single adult and be a family.  Families move slower.

 Practice presence of mind in each moment, be attentive to what God is doing.  Make it a regular habit when you are annoyed, upset, exhausted, loosing it, to look to God and pray, “Where are you in this moment God?  Please reveal yourself” .  Then, look for Him.  Notice Him in your child’s simple laughter, or the beauty of a breeze as you and your children play in the park.  Go outside with your children, sit with them on the floor and stack blocks, talk with them, listen to them, respond to them.  Don’t miss it.

A great book for this season is Practice the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. 

Imagine yourself him when he says he is just as spiritual peeling potatoes, cooking, washing dishes for God as when he is in the chapel praying. Find your daily chores (changing diapers, consistently setting boundaries, reading books, making meals) and put his mentality of serving Christ into your day.  See how much it changes your heart toward the work of domestic life and child rearing.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men Colossians 3:23

3.  Do With
Now that you are a unit, you can no longer go without thinking of others.  Selfishness is out the window.  But that is good, because there are all these fruits of the Spirit you have been meaning to work on, and now you have no choice.  (But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Ephesians 5:22-23). 

As you do life with your children, the need for God’s Spirit is so much higher.  You can not afford to be impatient or lack gentleness or live without joy.  As you pray for God’s Spirit in each moment, you will begin to find yourself a person filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

Parenting is character building.  The iron sharpening you is your limited freedoms and your children’s needs, your spouse’s hopes for love and attention.  This is good.  Tell yourself so!

Remember how Jesus was always trying to get away to a quiet place and his disciples always sought him out and found him.  How did he greet them?  He was welcoming, inviting, instructing, and correcting.  Remember how Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus teach us to pray?  They watched Jesus life, they saw how powerfully connect to the Father he was, they wanted that.  They asked him, “teach us to pray”.  They knew him as a trusted source for their soul to follow.

So it will be with your children.  They are your disciples now.  You will too find them wandering into your devotional hour, with requests.  Invite them in.  Sit them on your lap and read the verse aloud to them, ask them what they know from the verse.  Pray the verse with them, or just memorize the verse quietly while you rock them in your lap.

You are to do life with.  Every moment with them, talk to them, listen to them, hear their hearts, correct their errors, enjoy their delights.  Avoid the temptation to have others, have experts, have hired hands raise your children for you.  God gave these children to you, not to others.  They are yours to raise, to rear, to teach, to love, and to guard. 

Pray all the time.  You can pray while changing a diaper or recite a verse that is written above the changing table.  When you are together at night, eat a meal slowly, talk about the day, enjoy each moment together, pray thanksgiving for the moments He gave you that day or the difficulties you faced. 

When you put them to bed, include in your nightly ritual prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of repentance, the Lord’s prayer or another verse.  These are key moments to find God in your mind and hearts, to right your thinking and align your heart to His.  Bring your children with you in your spirituality and devotional life.

Impress them [the Lord’s laws/ways] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deuteronomy 6:7

Friday, June 3, 2011


Accountability from a trusted friend is difficult. It is like swallowing a log, one that has occupied your eye for some time now. So, though the relief of removal is sweet initially, one quickly realizes this is going to hurt going down and will be processed for some time, being fiber and all. Yes, accountability sweet as honey, slicing like a sword.

Let me back up a little and begin with a little bit of background about my fascinating vacation.

It all started with a redirection of funds from our annual plane ticket purchases, invested in a similarly priced R.V.

Then, there we some plans, a whole lot of dreaming, some pretty big hopes. Those, along with our bicycles, were strung to the back of our new vehicle and away we went; taking my husband's few days of the year and laying them out in predictable snippets of time dedicated to equal parts family bonding, relaxing camping, and educational museums. It was all so very exciting.

And then we prayed.

We prayed for the typical things: God's provision, personal safety, our children to deepen their love for one another. Next, we had the bright idea of inviting God to clean house on our hearts: to show us where things might have gotten in between us and His sweet self, and to help our vacation to be rejuvenating on a soul level.

Seems like God was open to answering that prayer, and kept answering it for two whole weeks.

Our R.V. broke down on our first leg.  Then, we made the stressful decision to spend the extra money and fly to our final location.  Well, as if that were not enough, subsequent to our financial and dream based woes; the children got sick, our car at home got towed, and we had an extended family moment that resulted in me crying through a sleepless night, while my children cried through the anxiety of getting caught in extended family drama that was new to them. Whew, it felt like God just didn't like me at all anymore. What had I done?

So, I asked him.

It was around 3am, and I had been falling apart for two weeks now, and with nothing left to hold onto , tears streaming uncontrollably down my face with no stoppage.  I slumped, not so boldly, before the throne, and begged. For mercy, insight, and forgiveness for sins that the Lord- one by one- began to reveal, hurriedly, into my heart.

It was 6 am when I climbed out of bed, called a loving/God pursuing friend to pray for me: but first, she wanted to hear it all.

She called it God's pruning.

She told me to guard my children's hearts, that much of what had happened to us was unfair and harsh; a small comfort. Then, she asked if I wanted her to share a harder word- one for my growth. Issuing a breath prayer, that God help me not be crushed, I said yes.

I am all for growth, you know?

Well, this was the generous "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy (Prov. 27:6)" proverb that I have often read with an ironical interest.

Yes, I like growing more available to God: I beg for Him to create in me a clean heart. I let him know how much I long to know Him more completely, and I want more than anything, to be a better mother, wife, and friend. But does it have to smite so acutely? Does it have to hurt so much?

Apparently, the faithful part is in swallowing the pill, or the big snarly log from my eye - as the case may be.

So, I stand before you, with a cleaning out that leaves me shiny - scathed - but new of heart. A mother who will hold her children more gently, firm, but no longer harsh; a wife with out blame and filled with appreciation, a friend who can not judge, lest she be judged as well.

And the recipe for growth goes something like this:

Put in a enormous dollop of disappointing circumstances outside of your control,
Beat in a friend who loves at all times, even when a hard word is called for
Let rise a revelation of one's sinful heart's secret sins - unspoken, but truly there
Keep wisking in plans that come unraveled whenever a plan is made
Let no settling occur
Give it a week or two
Keep ones heart fresh before the Lord in prayer
Ask your husband often if he feels as blighted as you do, just for good measure
Thank the Lord for your life, and those of your loved ones; taking nothing for granted, keep thanking
When lost, make lists of good things you do have
Hold everything very lightly

And voila, you have the perfect recipe for growth.

You never know, a beautiful purifying of your heart might just come out in the end.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know Him better" - Ephesians 1:17

Let's keep asking...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Fretting, feeling overwhelmed with tasks, I look up and see my husband come in the door.  He's early, he's late, he's tired, he's hungry, he's frazzled, he's just stopping in for a moment before a night meeting: most important?  He's here.

I stop washing the dishes, turn the stove off (lest I forget it's holdings), quiet the children's pressing requests, stop writing the email and I rush to him, embrace, kiss, hold, smile, capture his eyes, capture his heart.  He's here.

It is a decision he makes daily, to stop the tide of unruly requests for his time and energies, to walk away from necessary and important tasks, hurting and needy people, a desk full of to do projects, and walks into our home, the least I can do is run to meet him.

It is a decision I make daily, to let my anxious heart be placed quietly in my Savior's hands, to humble my tasks before the enormity of my dear husband's desire to connect: to see someone who believes in him, to feel the warm embrace, to find refuge in my heart.

He's home.Building up our husbands as leaders with submission and respect

It wasn't always like this.  There was a day, a time in our marriage, when my needs stayed at the forefront of my mind and heart when I saw him.  There were days, filled with frustration at his needs, where I actually welcomed him with my anger or even neglected to greet him at all.  I was a self centered wife back then, my heart not submitted to God's desire and design, unable to see my husband's desperate hopes for a tender heart in this harsh and exacting world.

And, we were okay.  We fought, there were tensions, I longed much, but he accommodated and danced around my moods and tried to fill my requests.  He put up with me.  He loved me.  And I missed so many opportunities, I sorely missed the mark on a daily level.  Yet, we trudged forward

Then the light came on.  I started to blame myself, and not him, for my woes.  I started to focus on being his support, of hearing his dreams and sacrificing for them, of letting go of my demanding ways, of becoming the woman who is subject to her husband as to the Lord

And then it was as the though the floodgates had broken, and the water rushed in. Our marriage righted in balance, as I allowed my femininity to respond to his masculinity, as I allowed the servanthood of Christ be the shining example for how I approached my husband; we connected on a deeper level of intimacy and sweetness than I thought possible, his strength grew with each interaction.  It was the secret elixir to a positive marriage.

Now, seven or eight years later, I can hardly remember the woman I used to be, the thoughts I used to let swirl around in my mind: thoughts of him needing to be home on time, him needing to fill my needs, him needing to be something he is not; thoughts of me not fulfilling my potential when laundry, picking up, dishes, cooking, and discipline fill my days and nights.

These thoughts are but distant ghosts, small echoes, I can barely make out.

They are replaced with: gratefulness for a husband who wants to come home to me, and does, when his pressing schedule allows, a desire for my husband's needs to be meet, for his potential to be found, for his hopes to become realities, and excitement to hear, at the end of his day, his depth of heart, his simple worries, his hopes.

Daily, I set aside coffee time in the morning, stopping chores and children, to ask how his day looks, what I can pray for him, how I can find him in the midst of a busy list of tasks.  Evenings, he gets the first fruits of my free time, that he might find a willing ear to his needs, a warm cup of tea, a happy believer in him.

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 1 Peter 3:1

Each day we dance together, finding each other in our opposite roles, finding ourselves in the respect and love coming our way.  It is a dance that is delightful, and though I step on toes and stumble through moves, most times, it is so beautiful, the dance makes my heart full and my home warm.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Ten Tuesday Thanks:

One girl sitting quietly immersed in the next to final book in her favorite Anne series...

Two silly and small prayers answered in very tangible ways...

Three boys taking the couch apart, making caves, and having pillow wars...

Four friends willing to read a book with me...

Five blogs that inspire me every day....

Six seconds until my best friend walks in the door...

Seven veggies stewing on the stove...

Eight hours of stewing...

Nine hours of sleep last night...

Ten hopes for tomorrow...

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I used to love hanging out with my friends. Elementary school, Junior High, High School, College are years filled with fun moments of riding bikes, watching movies, sharing pizza, and lots of time sitting in a den or park just sharing our hearts. How I love my friends.

In those same years, I can remember the feelings of insecurity, competitiveness, petty disagreements, and pretty small sighted values, including, the newest band, the clothes du jour, and the way to get around the tethers of our families.

Friends can meet a deep need to feel connected to another soul. There can be laughter, hope, encouragement, acceptance, and a sense of knowing and being known.

They can likewise, create a lowest common denominator experience, where fun withers into friction or worse, unfavorable foci's. Where group think removes conscience or at least lulls participants into homogeneous agreement to not make waves.

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Proverbs 18:24

Though children find delight in the companion of many similar minded or aged peers, wisdom shows us, it can lead to their destruction.  The desire for companionship in life is great, loneliness acute when isolated, but the salve is not many children surrounding ours.  In life, our children will be best served when they find true friends, friends that stick close.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" Proverbs 17:17

A brother, is a true friend.  He has been born into the world to be with his siblings in adversity.  He is there to push them through tough times, to help, to pick up them up when they fail.

There are few friends who can love at all times.  Many love us when we are associated with power, and can offer easy access to the inner circle.  Few are able to stay loyal when we loose our status, and are not able to give one the sense of being central to the hub of importance.  Whether power filled or powerless, our brother is there.

Many love us when we are wealthy, and proximity guarantees good food, expensive entertainment, and pricey gifts.  Few are able to sustain friendship when the money is gone, the food is plain, the toys are few.  There is little reward for their efforts, and comfort is not abounding.  In feast or in famine, our brother is there.

Many love us when we are beautiful, charming, winsome.  Our fine polished look reflects beauty on them.  Few are able to cosy up when we are overweight, shabbily dressed, out of dated in our adornments.  There is little left to help them feel connected to their vanities.  At our peak and in the ashes, our brother is there.

Many love us when we are exciting, adventuresome, new.  We offer easy fun.  When the shininess rubs off, or the high energy level activity is not sustained, few find reason to stick around.  In our youth, and in our old age, our brother is there.

Good friends, are hard to find.  Yet, wisdom instructs, good friends are only the ones who are brothers or act like brothers.  Sticking close, loyal, helpful in adversity, remembering us even when we move far away.

When my children first started showing deep needs for connection to one another, my temptation was to find other families, neighbors, schools, and place them in contexts to "find friends", but as I prayed and studied the Bible, and remembered my own experiences of friends, I realized two things:  Family are our first friends.  Friends outside of family are hard to find, true, and similar to brothers.

Family are God's way of giving us true friends.  A family that is Christ centered, seeking to serve one another, befriend one another, helping one another, forgiving one another, is in house friendship; created from the very beginning of time.

"Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother..."  Ecclesiastes 4:7

Are you cultivated your children's first friendships, those in your homes?  Do they think of their siblings as their best friends?  Are you and your husband connecting with your children in such a way that when they become adults they will count you as their bestie, their closest BFF?  

Wisdom instructs us to be wary of those who love us for what temporary comfort we can give them, for we will be tossed aside when we can no longer offer it to them, or someone better comes along, and a deep discontentment will grow in our hearts.  Instead, the brothers in our lives, the sisters, the mothers, fathers, even cousins, who will love us without sway as to our popularity, cuteness, wealth, or offerings; these are the true friends we should be directing our children toward.  And we can do it, every day of our lives, every time we sit down to share a meal together, every evening as we read and pray, our friendship is growing and deepening, and becoming that beautiful friendship we all desire.

They are so few friends in life and their rarity causes them to be greatly cherished.  

Friends give good advice, push us to live rightly, and would never hurt us by flattery or charm:
"Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses" Proverbs 27:6

Friends are those who are willing to be Christ like to us, not competing with us or hoping to gain our approval, but striving to serve us and to give up moments in time, money, and selfish interests to find our greater good.
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13

My son often struggles with desires for things to go as he had planned them, so when his baby brother grabs his newly made Lego creation and crumbles it into many little pieces, his first thought is not friendship. I am able to remind him that he and his brother were designed by God to be friends, and how can he be a friend now to his little brother?  Usually, gushing follows, forgiveness, and then a quick desire to incorporate him into his play, in more appropriate ways.

My daughter finds herself wishing to be alone in her room, and when her nearest brother wants to follow, her response might be, "Mom, tell him to leave me alone".  

I remind her, "What is one of your primary missions on earth?"  And she remembers, she was made to befriend her brother.  Consideration is given, opportunities to play found, friendship made. 

Friendship, true friendship, is so needed in this life.  Life is hard enough, without friends, it is nearly impossible.

True friendship is cultivated over the many years we are in each other's presence in our homes.  It will return great reward when life's struggles come our way.  May each of your homes be spaces of beautiful sibling friendship developing.  And may your children find that instead of coming to ruin having too many trite companions, they have deep brother friends and like-a-brother friendships that will sustain them through this journey of life.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

May your heritage be a family of sacrificial loving friendship, with our Creator, and with your family members.  And on those rare occasions when another is willing to walk as a friend to one of our children: in hardship and plenty, giving honest answers, and helping when it is difficulty and costly, be sure to remind them what a precious gift that is. May each of your children experience friendship in their lives., brothers and like-a-brothers

Friday, April 1, 2011


I just love love.  The total abandon given when our hearts lead us past our resisting minds and forcing our delighted wills, to relent.

Jesus, was my first true love.  Though, my father paved the way, with his gentle love of me when I was sick and his sweet allowance of me to shadow his gardening and hardware weekend work on the house.  When he was in town, I was stuck to him like glue.  When he was away on business or working late past my bedtime, my isolation was acute.

So, when someone told me Jesus loved me completely, regardless of my terrible temper, passionate opining, horrific acts of selfishness, and vain attempts for glory.  Jesus wanted me, and wanted me to want Him.  It was over, just over.  I was, literally, over the moon in love.  And the love affair is still going on.

Then there was Aron, my most adorable hunk of a guy, whose good looks could have gotten him through many a door, but he chose to hold it open for everyone else instead.  His amazing ability to love tenderly, yet with such competency at getting me to go where I needed to, to do what needed done, without so much as a word spoken, just amazed me, as it does to this day.  His fierce protectiveness of the unwanted and overlooked, is probably what brought me into his scope in the first place.  And, I am much the better for it.  Like my mom said when Aron asked my parents for my hand in marriage, "Mary Robin, you sure are lucky, don't ruin it."  I have been trying, and failing, ever since.  But, I have this hopeful love of a man who keeps coming back to take me to the seat of grace.  Even in my imperfections, I can not fail a "there is no such thing as failure" sort of a man as he.

Now, there are these four little ones, growing fast, but still my babies.  I am hoplessly in love all over again.  All the kindnesses of my father, the relentlessness of my Jesus, and the willingness of my husband has taught me well, at least I have experienced much, and so, their love trickles through me, and I find I can't take my eyes of my babies.  Not for one little second.  I am so in love.

So in love, my hope is for you to know love too.  May the God who is love, be your lover today.  And then, may some physical manifestations of the same come to you as well.  Then, close your eyes, sway your hips, let the tears come, laugh a deep heartfilled laugh, and enjoy the love, that is what it is there for; oh, and give some away too, that is the way it grows.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.   
Psalm 90:14

*The She Speaks Conference is about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God. Because my heart is to serve Him and His daughters, as He leads, I am submitting this post for a scholarship opportunity. If you are interested in doing the same, click below!

*Information about the She Speaks Conference can be found at the site listed below.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


We settle down on the couch; deep exhale.  Our breath slows, our rhythm becomes one, we touch: cuddling close, everyone having to share mommy.  It is my favorite time of day: it is reading time.

Our chores are done, though there are always more to do.  Our school work finished, though we may not have gotten as much done today.  Our lunch warmly filling our bellies, or maybe we just had a peanut butter and bread break.  But it is time, and we must not let this time slip away, so we walk away from all else that pulls us, and we gather - together.

My voice, after years of practice, takes on the narrator and various characters, boys lower, men even more mature, girls are light and airy, unless they are serious ones, and then they require a more cautious tone.  The children listen, no one allowing each other to talk, they are rapt.  My daughter finger knits or dresses a doll, my boys paint or build with legos, or just relax dreamily next to me.

A pause comes, and then the flood of comments, of additional thoughts, of questions, of wondering.  My favorite part of my favorite time of day, the moment their hearts bubble up and gift me with the jewels hidden inside.  Noble thoughts, deep desires, happy hopes, truths discovered, giggles held;  it is my great joy.

"The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him." Proverbs 23:24

A chapter or two or three a day, of a book with noble themes and beautiful imagery and hilarious humor, make for an amazing building up of a child's heart, and eventual there will be righteousness, wisdom, from the hundreds and thousands of hours that add up to a childhood.

Here is a list to get us started. Though we started reading these books at this age, we don't stop there.  The children have enjoyed these titles again and again.  

Click on any title and enjoy reading more about each story or series:

0-2  Prayer for a Child
     Jessie Bear Series
       I Love You Stinky Face

3-4 Angus Series
      The Small Series
      One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal, and Make Way for Ducklings
5-6 Peter Rabbit Stories
      The House at Pooh Corner and Now We Are Six
      Burgess Series

7-8 The Chronicles of Narnia
      The Little House on the Prairie
      Little Women Series

9-10 The Pilgrim's Progress
        Stepping Heavenward
        Treasure Island

Thursday, March 24, 2011


It has been a fun season of feasting, and I can not believe it is over.  Lent marks the beginning of sorrow, of suffering, of remorse for our sinfulness and the world's fallen state.  It feels this way: gray skies, raining; thinking on my heart need to access Christ.

As I draw into a more reflective place, I think on grace, how much I need, how much God gives.  And, interestingly enough, my purpose on this earth is grace as well.

 Looking for a job title, I found this one: administer of his grace.

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

Perhaps the "others" in the verse are my family, my children, my husband.   As I bumble along in motherhood how can I give my gifts to my children? What gifts have I received?  My children, my husband, my home, my groceries, my heart of love.  Are these the gifts?  My gift of time, of freedom to speak, of freedom to listen.  My mind, my experiences, my disappointments.  How can I use them to serve others and therefore faithfully administer God's grace?

I love the season of Lent, how it draws us inward, to the inner man, to find the curative grace that is the only salve.  Journeying toward this, I hope to hear His voice more fully, and there find mercy and grace for my soul.

Happy fourth week  of Lent!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Fresh...that is what you want in Sushi.  I mean, here you are eating something raw, not flaky fall of the skin, but chewy fresh off the bone.  And so, in order to satisfy the palate and comfort the belly, it sure has to be fresh.

And when it is, it is pure heaven; buttery, melt in your mouth, nothing like it, light and airy, fresh.

It is amazing how much that is true of my spiritual life as well.  Memorizing verses, knowing biographies of saints that have gone before me, adhering to daily disciplines of faith, knowing right doctrine of theology all ground and root me.  But on the daily level, I am still in need of manna.  Pick it while it's ripe, only take what you can eat, wafer like in translucence-manna.

Today, I awoke sad. Loath to get out of bed, my morning walk spoiled by the rain, the home overwhelmed by every housekeeping need in the book, my husband gone for an early morning of work, children already squabbling over knights and legos; I lingered, I sighed, I prayed, "Lord, help me with the motivation to get out bed, to do this day well".

The prayer, it continued.  I stood, and chose not to dress, not to make my bed, yet.  To just make it to the front room, to smile with each nodding head of childish sweetness, to make sure breakfast was satisfying and good, was enough.  And I ate my manna.

The work of listening to the older two children list the reasons they had not started math, the younger two walk through whose turn it was with Robin Hood's figurine, to take the dog out in the rain for a quick jaunt, to find the coffee still hot; I breathed a silent prayer of taking in, of eating the manna.

Fresh.  Fresh wind, fresh fire, Fresh food for the moment.  Give me what I need to follow you in this moment.  Carry me, carry me....

The children are a bright spot, a gift.  But the laundry, the sink of soaking dishes, the toys and clothes strewn on every floor, are harder to conquer, to obey, the be in...they sink me down and call me to find a new hope, every day, every day, every day.

So, I am thankful, for sushi (yum) that reminds me of my Lord's sweet daily bread, the freshness of it, the daily newness of it, that fills me just enough in this moment to live and breath and have my being.  Without Him, I do not know if the children's dear light of laughter and sillies and cuddles on the couch would touch me as profoundly.

And I know for sure the laundry, cleaning, cooking, and food shopping would stand out only in their lackluster mundanity, if it were not for the freshness found in eating of Him, in each moment, with each passing need, in each daily chore.

Fresh.  Where are you needing a fresh word, presence, experience?  Come to Him and find...

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 1 Peter 2:2-3

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


What do you think is the most important thing for a new mom to have? A Target gift card, a Costco life time membership, the super nanny as your personal assistant?

Well that was the question burning in my mind as I brought home my first little bundle of joy.

I had just given up a good career to be a full time mommy, I was a new at this, worried about doing right…by God, by my husband, by my children

I had no family nearby, my husband was working by day, schooling in the evening, and studying late into the night.

I was staying home with a sense of conviction that God had called me to do so, but had no idea how to do it

Did I mention we had very little money, and I had few friends in a similar life stage.

What did I turn to? Well first, I determined to use the best product ever devised for each stage of baby development.  When that didn’t work out, I turned to Books (books on perfect parenting, the right technique for sleep, the perfect way to raise a child in Christ), blogs, groups (Christian groups, secular groups, groups that charged and groups that were free).

All the while, I fell into a state of anxiety, comparing my lot to those with easier ones. Mothers whose skills were far superior to mine, had mother in laws in town, money to hire babysitters, husbands home to help with dishes, themed bedding to match themed baby rooms (we didn’t even have an extra room for baby)…

And in desperation, I began to pray, to have a daily quiet time like my life depended on it, to begging the Lord to help me complete the good work of raising my children that I felt he had called me to do. 

God reminded me of this amazing missionary.  Perhaps you have heard of Mary Slessor?  She was this incredible tiny woman who at 27 and single, moved from Scotland to present day Nigeria and successfully led thousands of Africans to Christ, established churches and schools, rescued orphans, and did it all alone, deep in the interiors of a foreign land.  What was her key ingredient?  Well here it is, pause and see:

She spoke to God as though he existed,
listened for his answer,
and then did exactly as he instructed her.

There is a moment when she needs to build a shelter for herself, and she does not yet speak the local language, and there are no other Europeans to ask to help, so she says to God: “God, I need to you teach me how to build a house” and he did, he told her what kind of whitewash to use and how to combine it with local mud and rock and pretty soon she had a beautiful house that stood for years, home to her and her many adopted children.

…God was showing me how tangibly present he could be, if I would only trust him, lean on him… and him alone…

Isaiah in chapter 40:9-11, addressing the downcast people, says to them
“Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,  and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him and his recompense accompanies him.  He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Did you catch that? 

He gently leads those who have young.

His desire is not to abandon you to your own strength, using you few resource to drum up a successful raising of your children.  He doesn’t wait for me to mess up and then grade me.  He isn’t hoping we will worry, fear, and fret our way through motherhood.

He is our shepherd, and we know his voice, and are tended by him.  He gathers us into his arms, he carries us close to his heart, and when we have little lambs, little children under our care, he gently, gently lead us.

So I began to look for God’s voice, to try to recognize it, and to follow his gentle leadership.  I trusted his heart that cares so much about my every little concern.  I prayed over how to cook a meal, an hour before meal time.  I prayed about how to shop, before I left the car in the parking lot.  I prayed for patience when my two colicky children hit hour 5 of non stop crying and I was all alone.  I listened for his voice, I looked for my shepherd, and I found his gentle hand…leading me, guiding me, giving me ideas on what to cook that night, helping me avoid poor purchases at the grocery, teaching me to sing hymns of hope and toil while my children suffered with discomfort.

And he is here for you too. come to him, let him be your counselor,  know his presence in each little moment of your day

I began to rest in God, I began to quietly trust him, not books, not blogs, not perfect parenting techniques, not beautifully made strollers, but him.  And so, it has become my daily mothering experience, and I hope you will find it to be yours as well, that as you cry for help, like it says in Isaiah 30:21
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Leaning heavily upon a friend, I sent a text asking for encouragement.  It had been a few weeks of near constant activity, hosting, helping, serving, and being needed.  The lack of a sense of God's touch was tangible, and I sought a friend to help me see things more clearly.

Look for grace.

Simple, yet so not as clear as I had hoped.  The mystery intrigued me, and, I was too tired to argue, so I just tried it.  Every time I felt the tasks before me too great, my internal integrity pulled too thin, or my temptation to give up, I breathed the word of encouragement.  I prayed, "Grace, Lord, help me find grace".

Though the world didn't come tumbling through the door in a perfectly packaged boxes, what did come in seemed to float above me, as I found myself moored to God's grace in quiet yet profound ways.  I didn't have to speak up to be heard, I didn't have to stuff my emotions to be strong, I didn't have to rush in to get my need met.  Entering into a gentle silence became possible for me, in ways it never had seemed to before.

Looking for grace, asking for God to give grace, I had found grace!

"Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name." Psalm 119:132

This is what is required of me when I was out of my league.  And I find it more and more.  As I pursue God's high calling, focusing on doing all things well, loving on family with intentionality, being character defined by each moment instead of stymied by my own lack of ability, it becomes more and more common for me to have to rely solely and uninhibitedly on His grace.

God must chuckle even as I post this.  Of course, my dear, the only way you will relinquish your life to me is when it is impossible to do it on your own strength and talent.  Yet, here I am, surprised, and joy filled.  It is God's gentle grace that put me in the impossible calling, and then His gentle grace that supplies me with all I need to get through it.

And all this, with a simple breath prayer:


laughter, breathing, being, knowing