Tuesday, May 26, 2015


One of my favorite songs is "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North.  I especially like the first two lines:

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?

Grace by definition can't be earned. It's free - a gift. Grace is unmerited, divine favor bestowed freely upon people by our Savior, Jesus Christ.  One definition of grace I read said, "a favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence."  Grace is indeed indulgent.

Why do we experience God's grace? Because God desires us to have it. Purely out of his benevolence. Grace is given by the Creator of our universe generously, freely and totally unexpectedly.

Grace is not given because of any merit on our part. As stated in its definition, grace is not earned; it's undeserved. So called "good works" are what a believer does in response to his salvation - out of gratitude toward his Savior. Grace is not the result of "good works." Quite the opposite is true.

What I love about this song and especially these lines is  the implication that I should not be striving. Instead I should be resting in God's grace and love. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God."

"Be still" in the original language translates "cease striving."  It implies that we are to rest in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are to wait on him as he works in and through us. We are to wait on him to direct our next steps.

And then... only as a result of our resting and waiting will we know through experience (not just head knowledge) whom our God is.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"So ... As a stay at home mom what do you do all day?"

I left my job as a recruiter and corporate trainer when our oldest daughter was born fourteen years ago.  Since then we've had two other children who are now 11 and almost 8.  All three children are in school full time and I do not work other than being a wife and mother. 

If you are in the same boat, you've no doubt been asked the age old questions "Now that your kids are all in school are you going to get a job?" or "What do you do all day?" The other day someone asked me what I plan to do when all my kids leave home. Seriously! That's ten years from now!  I've answered these questions in various manners over the years. Sometimes with a snarky "I eat bon bons, watch soap operas and sit by the pool all day long!" Sometimes I've gone into a deliberation about how me staying home works well for our family and how freeing it is to relax on the weekends together instead of running errands because I'm too busy during the week.  And occasionally I've even ignored the question.  I don't always feel the need to explain my schedule and the way Brad and I have chosen for our family to operate.

I will say here for clarification's sake that Brad and I agreed before we got married that if the Lord blessed us with children, I would stay home and he would work full time. It was a mutual decision.  We are both happy, actually thrilled, with this decision.  And to this day, I do not regret one day I've spent not working. I really do enjoy being a stay at home mom.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend, Sarah (who is a stay at home mom with three fabulous boys), sent me this fantastic article about why one woman chooses to stay home while her husband works out side of the home. I commend this woman for clarifying to all the world what we stay at home parents do all day and why we do it! It's well worth the read and may make us all appreciate our spouses and other stay at home moms across the globe a little more. 

Being a Stay-at-Home Parent Is a Luxury … for Your Spouse

The other day, I read an article in the Washington Post about a stay-at-home mother who was having a rather hard time adjusting to answering the ever-popular question, “What do you do all day?” now that the kids were at school.
It’s a topic that has been on my mind lately as I watch in bewilderment as my children seem to insist on growing up at rates that surely I did not approve of when I signed my parental contract. I look at my youngest — my seven-week-old baby girl — and I swear my mind is already flashing to the day (tomorrow, probably) that I will be kissing her good-bye on her first morning of kindergarten.
But back to the task at hand. As I read the article, I scrolled through the comments, anticipating that there would be some doozies in a post about a stay-at-home mom basically proclaiming that she doesn’t feel guilty for doing absolutely nothing all day when I came across this truly remarkable comment:
“I work full time, and my husband is a stay at home dad. We have two kids in school full day (8 to 3). Don’t you realize how much easier it is to hold a full time job when you have someone home with the kids? I can work late and travel when I need to and not worry about the kids. Our weekends are spent relaxing, instead of racing around to get errands and chores done. I can go back to work on Mondays having actually recharged over the weekend. It feels like such a luxury to ME to have a stay at home spouse.”
I was flabbergasted.
Perplexed that in all of my years as a stay-at-home/write-at-home mom, I’ve always been fighting the thoughts that I’m not doing enough or being enough. I’ve always felt I honestly owed the world some sort of explanation for being at home. That I’ve had to throw around the fact that since I stay at home we make sacrifices as a family — like not having cable! I’ve felt I had to bake pies so that the world would know I’m not a worthless member of society. And in the midst of all that mental clutter and guilt it had never, ever crossed my mind that staying at home wasn’t “just” a luxury to me …
But also a luxury for my husband.
And suddenly, when I read those words, it all made sense. Well, of course, it would be a luxury to the spouse who works out of the home to have a partner who stays at home with the children. Someone who is always there to take care of the inevitable days of sickness, arrange the doctor’s appointments, make sure the cupboards are stocked, and heck, to ensure that no one steals the FedEx package off of the porch. And then — goodness! — to have someone to save you the worry of sending your kids into the world, someone to always be there to kiss a scraped knee and take care of the potty training and maybe even have a hot meal waiting for you when you come home?
Imagine that.
I realized, in a rush of amazement, that I had spent all of our marriage feeling just a tad bit guilty for being the one who “gets” to stay home. I’ve pushed away the shame of staying snuggled up in my warm covers in the morning while my husband trudged off to work in the snow and I’ve felt the absurd need to pack a million and ten activities into my day so I could list them off to my husband when he came home in an attempt to convince (who really? Mostly myself …) that I was “productive.”
I realized, for the first time ever, that I didn’t have anything to prove. That I had been working so hard to work from home and always have it spotless and do all my educational activities with the kids because it was my job and I’d better darn do a good job of it if my husband had to work, that I never stopped to consider that my being home with our children could actually be a gift to my husband.
I’m actually writing this very article on a rare morning “off,” courtesy of my husband having the day off of his work. I’m sitting in a cafĂ©, writing for the two hours between my daughter’s feedings. And, in fact, I just now called my husband, who had volunteered to be me for the day so I could work, to ask him what his thoughts were on the topic and to ask if he would give me a quote to include for the piece.
In the background, I heard my daughter crying, the two-year-old whining at his leg, and the four-year-old singing happily at the top of her lungs, having just returned home from preschool pick-up. I pictured the scene I had left this morning — four loads of laundry left undone from the weekend, the house a complete disaster, eggs still caked on the pan from breakfast. Sweetly, I asked him for a quote — did he ever consider me staying home a gift to him?
“What?!” he asked frantically, desperation creeping into his voice. “I don’t know, do I have to give you a quote right now? I mean, she’s crying and I’m trying to make mac and cheese and if I could just pick her up maybe she’d stop crying and …” he trailed off, seemingly too overwhelmed to finish his train of thought.
I smiled — a bit too smugly, I’ll admit. Because I think I had my answer. Being me for the day isn’t so easy. And having him there so that I could be elsewhere working … well, it really was a luxury. And a gift.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Mom Initiative

Mothers on a Mission to Mentor Other Mothers

BUT GOD ~ for Motherhood!

By Shelly Brown on Mar 29, 2014 01:30 am

I have a confession to make.
 I am not a perfect mom. 

I’ve been too hard on them. I’ve been too lenient. I’ve said things I regret. I’ve gotten angry and I’ve yelled. I’ve said “yes” when I should have said, “no” and I’ve said, “no,” when I should have said, “yes.”

I’ve cleaned up their messes when they should have cleaned it up themselves. I’ve played the mom guilt card, though it rarely worked. I’ve bailed them out when they should have learned the hard way. They’ve learned the hard way when I should have bailed them out. I’ve indulged them at times when they should have been denied and denied them at times when it was okay for them to be indulged.
BUT in the midst of my imperfection, in praise, I shout these words from the mountain top of motherhood:


Simply, two of the most powerful words in Scripture!
BUT GOD remembered NoahBUT GOD is the strength of my heartBUT with GOD all things are possibleBUT GOD gives grace to the lowly BUT GOD meant it for goodBUT GOD raised Him from the dead

And, perhaps one of my favorites, “BUT GOD who is rich in mercy …”  

Mercy means, NOT getting what you deserve. Think of it this way … If you’ve ever been pulled over for speeding and the nice police officer lets you go with a simple warning, he showed you mercy. You didn’t get what you deserved: a $250 speeding ticket!

But God, who is rich in mercy … will hear the repentant and faithful prayers of His daughters. So no matter how imperfect a mom you or I may have been … repent of your failures, and then let it go!
Trust God to restore and redeem. After all, it is what He does best! And pray! Pray for your children like there is no tomorrow! Pray specifically for them to own their own faith. From their earliest years, and as they grew, their faith was our faith. We taught them, and they mimicked our beliefs. But, at some point, it must become their own, genuine faith.

I’ve shared this here in a prior post, but it’s worth repeating …  
My friend, Karen Jantzi once shared in a radio interview how she prays for “crop failure” in her children’s lives. Now, I make that a common prayer as I pray for my children. I pray that the defective seeds that were sown into their lives would not take root, and if they have taken root, that God would allow for crop failure causing the bad crops to wither and die.
The truth is … Only God could love our kids more than us. Only God could want them to walk in Truth more than us. Only God can draw them to Himself. Only God is so rich in mercy and love, that we can trust Him with the most precious part of our lives … our children.
“But God” verses: Genesis 8:1, Psalm 73:26, Matthew 19:26, Proverbs 3:34, Genesis 50:20, Acts 2:24, Ephesians 2:4

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Praying for My Husband

A while back my brother sent me this post about how to pray effectively for my husband.  I love the author's honesty.  I printed out the article and keep it in my Bible. This summer I've prayed through the list for Brad.  I love that I can choose one to two topics per day and pray specifically.

It was dinner time and I stood in the kitchen cutting up vegetables for a salad. Feeling bone weary, I prayed in my heart, “God, please bring my husband home from work on time tonight.” I stood in front of the sink to rinse off a cucumber and heard a loud crash coming from my boy’s room, followed by the sound of crying. Sighing, I turned off the water and headed for their room, still praying that my husband would hurry home.

Not too long ago, I realized that most of my prayers for my husband centered on me and my needs. They stemmed more from my selfishness.  I prayed he would come home on time, prayed he would get the bonus we hoped for, and prayed he would watch the kids so I could sleep in. I even prayed that God would change all the things that frustrated me about him. No doubt, my prayers for my husband were seriously lacking.

It was in reading Paul’s prayers to the churches in Ephesus, Colossians and Philippi where I learned the heart of prayer. Paul’s prayers centered on the spiritual growth of the people he was writing to.  For example, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17-19). Paul essentially prayed through the gospel. He prayed for the power of the gospel to change and transform the believers he wrote to. While Paul certainly prayed for God’s provision and for other practical needs, the core and foundation of his prayers for others centered on their walk with Christ.

I want to pray for my husband the way Paul prayed for the New Testament churches. And indeed, sometimes I actually pray through the prayers of Paul. But I also want the gospel to be the foundation of all my prayers, including those of my own design. I want to pray for the gospel to be at work in my husband’s heart each day. I want to pray for the gospel to be the lens through which he views all of life. And I want him to be strengthened and empowered by the truths of gospel as he lives out God’s calling for him.

Praying for the gospel to be at work in my husband’s heart and life is transforming, not only for him, but for me as well. I learn to let go of trying to change things about my husband and trust in God to do the changing He desires. Focusing on the gospel in my prayers changes the posture of my heart from relying on my strength to resting in the power of God’s grace. As I pray for the gospel to be at work in my husband’s heart, I am also reminded of how much I too need the gospel each and every day. It also reminds me that all of life is a gift of grace and that prayer is the entrance into receiving that grace.
In an effort to focus on the power of God’s grace to be at work in my husband, I came up with a list of suggested topics to pray through, one for each day of the month:
  1. Pray for him to apply the gospel to his life each day.
  2. Pray for him to grow deeper in faith.
  3. Pray for him to trust in God during times of uncertainty.
  4. Pray for him to love God above all other things.
  5. Pray for a passion for God’s Word.
  6. Pray that God would reveal to him the idols in his heart.
  7. Pray for a greater awareness of sin and of his forgiveness through Christ.
  8. Pray for a desire to serve God by helping those who need the love of Christ.
  9. Pray for him to be a witness in his place of work.
  10. Pray for him to forgive others just as he has been forgiven.
  11. Pray for him to resist temptations that arise in his workplace.
  12. Pray for a desire to be a godly spiritual leader.
  13. Pray for him to honor God in his use of money.
  14. Pray for him to honor God in his use of time.
  15. Pray for him to honor God in his speech.
  16. Pray for growth in his prayer life.
  17. Pray for the fruits of the Spirit to grow in him.
  18. Pray that God would protect his mind and heart from evil.
  19. Pay that God would use him in the advancement of the Kingdom.
  20. Pray for his friendships, that God would help him to develop and keep godly friendships that encourage him in the gospel.
  21. Pray that he would have a growing desire to show God’s love and grace to the children.
  22. Pray that he would live each day as if it were his last, to God’s glory.
  23. Pray for your marriage, that you and he would grow closer to each other.
  24. Pray that your marriage would reflect the love of Christ with the church.
  25. Pray that Christ would be the center of your relationship.
  26. Pray that the two of you would be united in parenting.
  27. Pray for opportunities to serve the Kingdom together as a couple.
  28. Pray for opportunities for you to be an encouragement to your husband.
  29. Pray for greater grace and understanding between the two of you.
  30. Pray for greater communication between the two of you.
  31. Pray for your own heart, that you would love, honor, and respect him.         
 By Christina Fox

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Motherhood is Risky!

Encouraging words for us mothers from Trillia Newbell taken from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
The definition of a radical, risky life might be someone who goes off to be a missionary or sells all they have and gives to the poor. Those things are radical and they sure are risky! But I’d like to add something to this radical, risky list: motherhood. Risk is a word that is rarely associated with motherhood.
John Piper, writing in his new book Risk is Right, writes that a life unwasted looks like a life that honors Christ, magnifies Christ, and makes much of Christ. He writes:
“There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus. If Christ is so valuable that the hope of his immediate and eternal fellowship after death frees us from the self-serving fear of dying and enables us to lay down our lives for the good of others, such love magnifies the glory of Christ like nothing else in the world,” (Kindle 111).
A contented mom who serves her children through menial tasks, shares her faith, lays down some desires, and presses into Christ to know him more sounds like a mom who is trying her best at sacrificial love. The mom, like mine, who works hard during the day for her family so that her children will be able to eat and have a chance at a future, then comes home to continue lovingly serving her family through practical demonstrations as well as with knees down on the ground in prayer, sounds like a mom who is sacrificially loving other people.
The stories of moms and their sacrificial love would be too many to number, and honestly, we will never know many of them. They will live and die never to be known by anyone but their few friends, their church, and their children. You may never be known or rewarded on this earth as a big risk taker—but you are.
Pastor Piper defines risk as: “An action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury” (128).
Moms, we know that there is a loss associated with motherhood. We lose sleep. Our bodies are put through the wringer to give birth. We lose a sort of independence because we now have sweet little lives who are dependent on us. We lose babies through miscarriage or death—putting our hearts at risk. The single mom laboring day and night alone, you are risky. I only have small children and I can sense the risk associated with mothering, I’m not even going to think about the teenage years. And the mom who takes that step of faith to adopt a child and become his mother, you are a risky woman.
And we know that “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
Therein is the crux of our loss. We lose not for our sake and really not even for the sake of our children, but for the sake of Christ. We live to Christ and we die to Christ. It is for his sake that we give our lives to the service of child-rearing. Like Paul we say, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
Our loss isn’t a loss at all. It’s a gain! Our gain is Christ. Less of us, more of him. That is a wonderful exchange. And our kids are a gift from God, a most definite gain!
I want to make something clear. I’m thinking of all moms. I’m talking to you, mom, who is making a valiant effort to show Christ to your children. The mom who puts food on the table and labors to love. The mom who wipes noses and kisses boo-boos. And yes, the mom who labors in secret, often in her home alone without fanfare. You don’t have to go to China to risk your life, we want to be senders and pray for those who go and perhaps assist financially. But, lay down your ordinary life and you will have risked it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Don't be so hard on yourself. I can bring good even out of your mistakes. Your finite mind tends to look backward, longing to undo decisions you have come to regret. This is a waste of time and energy, leading only to frustration. Instead of floundering in the past, release your mistakes to Me. Look to Me in trust, anticipating that My infinite creativity can weave both good choices and bad into a lovely design.

Because you are human, you will continue to make mistakes. Thinking that you should live an error-free life is symptomatic of pride. Your failures can be a source of blessing, humbling you and giving you empathy for other people in their weaknesses. Best of all, failure highlights your dependence on Me. I am able to bring beautify out of the morass of your mistakes. Trust Me, and watch to see what I will do.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Jesus Calling. May 9

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Translation by Kathleen Chapman: 
Bombard your kids with stories and teachings about God and His Word! Do it any way you can, but make it exciting, powerful and constant! Talk about God first thing in the morning. Write His names on the kitchen wall or ceiling! Talk about God on the way to school. Play Christian music in the car. Put notes in their lunch boxes reminding them of God's love. Pray over homework. Pray before every meal. Pray to this wonderful God before they go to bed at night. Make Him as much a part of their existence as eating and sleeping. Make them so in awe of God that they want to nominate Him for a Pulitzer! Help your children to know and adore God.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Marriage and Love

Thank you to my wise sister-in-law, Nicole Lino, for directing me to iMom.  I love this article about protecting your marriage! Wise, wise words, my friends.

Marriage & Love
15 Ways to Protect Your Marriage

Every marriage has unique challenges and threats, but consider the following safeguards to help protect your marriage.

1. No secrets. There’s never a good reason to keep a secret from your spouse. We’re not talking about what your real hair color is, ladies. We’re talking about where the money goes, where you’ve been, and what’s really going on in your relationship and family. Honesty is essential.

2. No opposite-sex friendships. You can be friends with other couples together, but it’s a terrible idea for you to have a close relationship with anyone of the opposite sex outside of that.

3. No porn. It may be quietly acceptable in some social circles, but it’s the cancer that’s ruining the sex lives of countless married couples. Real life can never measure up to the hyper-sexualized world of pornography, and exposure to it can rob you of the chance for a natural, fulfilling relationship. This goes for both partners, and includes erotic fiction.

4. Agree upon work boundaries. Understanding that professional men and women work together, and that many affairs begin in this environment, it’s important for you and your spouse to agree on some ground rules to protect either of you from falling into this trap. Special caution should be taken with business travel.

5. Know your spouse’s co-workers. Don’t skip that office Christmas party, and if possible, have at least a little familiarity with any secretaries or assistants who work daily with your spouse. Pop in to take him to lunch occasionally—not as surveillance, but just to be familiar with his world and to spot trouble if it arrives.

6. Negotiate the family budget and then stick to it. The two of you should decide together how your income will be used and what your financial goals are. Once those guidelines are set, failing to live within them is dishonest and unfair. If something unusual comes up—talk about it. But be transparent about who’s spending what.

7. Decide together on boundaries for the kids. Disagreeing on parenting can be toxic to your marriage and disastrous for your kids. Talk about what the rules and expectations for the children should be, and then support one another by sticking to your joint decision.

8. Beware of extreme time-eating hobbies. It’s fine to have individual interests, but if your hobby or passion causes you to spend time with others more than your spouse, you might soon feel like you have more in common with those outside people. Limit the hours spent on separate endeavors each week, or find something you enjoy doing together.

9. Be loyal. It’s a mean world out there. Your spouse needs to be able to count on you to speak positively about him and defend him if necessary. Avoid friends who love to engage in husband-bashing or who find such behavior cute.

10. Share your faith together. Couples who share a similar faith and communicate regularly about that have an anchor to help them make decisions, and a set of fundamental beliefs to keep their thinking in harmony on most issues.

11. Don’t assume, ask. While there are some things you can probably guess your spouse’s reaction to, be careful not to assume too much. When in doubt, ask.

12. Transparent communication. The only reason to have a cell phone or online password that your spouse doesn’t know is if you have something to hide. Both partners in a marriage should be completely comfortable with having their spouse look at any social media accounts, text messages, or other forms of communication.

13. Be accountable. It’s not a sign of a lack of trust for married couples to check in with one another—it’s a sign of the times we live in. If you’re going to be late, call and let your spouse know. If you’re going to lunch with a group from the office, shoot your spouse a quick text to say so. Finding out about these things later, or being left to wonder about a husband or wife’s whereabouts breeds suspicion and resentment.

14. Taboo Topics. You’re married. That means it’s no longer OK to talk about sex around members of the opposite sex (especially as it pertains to you personally), and it’s definitely not OK to flirt, no matter how much you insist that it’s nothing. Every affair in the history of the world started out as “nothing.”

15. Be careful with Girls/Guys Night Out. If you or your spouse likes to get together with friends on occasion, make sure they’re like-minded friends who won’t drag either of you into a situation your spouse wouldn’t be comfortable with, or that puts your marital integrity at risk.

© 2013 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reading God's Word

Are you struggling with spending time in God's Word daily?  This blog post by Doorposts of Your House gives wise advice to evaluate your need and set a goal to spend time in God's Word daily.

Establishing the Habit of Reading God’s Word

We need to be in God’s Word. His Word is food. His Word nourishes us.

If we’re moms, we know all about the need to eat. Sometimes it feels like we spend almost all day planning meals, shopping for meals, cooking meals, serving meals, and cleaning up after meals. Our husbands and children need to eat. Without food, they would become weak and unhealthy, and eventually die.
Without nourishment from God’s Word, we will be spiritually weak and unhealthy.
Many of us really want to read the Bible but struggle with actually doing it. We know we should read it. We know God speaks to us through His Word. We commit and re-commit to reading our Bibles each day, and then we find ourselves not doing it again.
If you struggle with making the time to spend in God’s Word, you may need to stop and evaluate. What is making it difficult?
  • Maybe you don’t have a plan for how to go about reading your Bible. You haven’t decided how or when or where you will read, so it just doesn’t happen.
  • Maybe you have unrealistic expectations. You might set big goals and then give up when you can’t accomplish them.
  • Maybe you just don’t understand what you’re reading, and as a result, you become frustrated or bored and quit.
  • Maybe you don’t know how to study the Bible, so your mind wanders to other things as you read.
If you really want to read the Bible, but keep finding yourself not doing it, take some time to prayerfully consider what you can do to actually establish the habit. Take out a pen and a sheet of paper and answer the following questions. (Pray for the Lord’s guidance and wisdom, and ask for counsel and ideas from others.)
  • Why do I want or need to read the Bible? (What is my motivation? What is at stake? What is likely to happen if I don’t?)
  • What is keeping me from reading the Bible? (Again, be specific!)
  • What will I do in order to read the Bible on a regular basis? (What can I do to overcome or remove the obstacles?)
If you need some ideas, especially on ways to deal with the challenges that are discouraging you from reading, go here. Add to your answers any appropriate ideas from this list.
Then use your answers to these questions to help you write down a very specific plan of action. Keep goals small and realistic, but specific enough to be measurable. In other words, write down goals that will be easy for you tell whether you have accomplished them or not. Think about what you will read, when you will read, where you will read, and how you will read your Bible.
Here are some examples:
  • I will read the New Testament for at least 5 minutes on at least 5 days of the week, and text (a friend’s name) after I have finished each day.
  • I will start reading through the Psalms, and I will leave the computer off each day until I have read for 15 minutes.
  • I will purchase Carol Ruvolo’s Grace to Stand Firm, Grace to Grow: Light from 1 and 2 Peter, and complete one chapter of the study every week, working on it for at least 15 minutes, 4 evenings a week after the children are in bed. I will also find out if (a friend’s name) would also like to do the study, and ask her to help hold me accountable.
  • I will keep my Bible and other study materials in a basket next to the rocking chair, and read through the book of John while I nurse the baby at night.
  • I will download an audio version of the Old Testament onto my phone, and listen to it each morning as I get dressed and prepare for the day.
  • I will read through all the Gospels by the end of the year, reading one half of a chapter every day at the lunch table with the children.
  • I will pray each time before I start to read, asking the Holy Spirit to help me understand what I read, and I will ask my pastor to recommend a good commentary that I can read along with my Bible reading.
  • I will commit five minutes a day, five days a week in March, to complete the studies on Psalm 37 on this blog, and I will share what I am learning each day with my children at the lunch table. (A good, friendly place to start if you’re trying to establish a new habit of studying the Bible! We start on March 1!)
Share your goal with someone else. That will help you commit to it. Pray for God’s help, and be ready to be blessed as God speaks to you through His Word!
Join us starting Friday, March 1, for “31 Days in Psalm 37 for Busy Mamas”.  Five minutes a day x 31 days = over 2-1/2 hours studying one chapter of the Bible!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Learn to live from your true Center in me. I reside in the deepest depths of your being, in eternal union with your spirit. It is at this deep level that my Peace reigns continually. You will not find lasting peace in the world around you, in circumstances, or in human relationships. The external world is always in flux -- under the curse of death and decay. But there is a gold mine of Peace deep within you, waiting to be tapped. Take time to delve into the riches of My residing Presence. I want you to live increasingly from your real Center, where My Love has an eternal grip on you. I am Christ in you, the hope of Glory.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

Jesus Calling. February 20

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday, Katelyn

Happy Birthday to our sweet Katelyn! We are proud of you and love you very much!
 2 years old

2 years 

3 years

Very proud big sister!

3 1/2 years old - holding Josh

4 years old

4 1/2 years

6 years old

7 years old
9 years old

Monday, December 17, 2012

Come to me with your gaping emptiness, knowing that in Me you are complete. As you rest quietly in My Presence, My Light within you grows brighter and brighter. Facing the emptiness inside you is simply the prelude to being filled with My fullness. Therefore, rejoice on those days when you drag yourself out of bed, feeling sluggsh and inadequate. Tell yourself that this is the perfect day to depend on Me in childlike trust. If you persevere in this dependence as you go through the day, you will discover at bedtime that Joy and Peace have become your companions.  You may not realize at what point they joined you on your journey, but you will feel the beneficial effects of their presence. The perfect end to such a day is a doxology of gratititude. I am He from whom all blessings flow!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 
2 Corinthians 4:6

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
 Matthew 5:3, 6

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
Colossians 2:9-10

The heavens declare his righteousness,
    for God himself is judge!
Psalm 150:6

Jesus Calling. December 17

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


What a great reminder Doorposts to be thankful...

Gratitude and Gloves

I learned something today.

Actually, I relearned it — this time as a grandma.

Don’t give gloves, no matter how cute they are, to children aged three and under.

I’m sorry, Katelyn. They were so cute — and cheap — and I knew the girls would like the idea of wearing them, especially if they had gingerbread men and reindeer on them.

But I forgot about fingers. I forgot how exasperating it is to get just one tiny finger into each matching glove finger. I forgot how distressing it is to have one floppy glove finger next to another that’s bulging with two or three fingers in it.

I forgot that after all the work of putting gloves onto little hands, the main fun for the gloves-wearers is pulling them off again — and then asking (or demanding) to have them put back on again.

I forgot how one little thing like a glove can sour a perfectly good walk in the sunshine. Katelyn had asked me — Nana, the fool who bought gloves for her daughters — to join them for a walk. After the rough start of looking for gloves, sharing gloves, and actually getting gloves on, the first half of that walk was punctuated with one bit of grumbling after another.

“I want my glove to have the gingerbread man on the other side of my hand.”

“I want my seat back.”

“I can’t get my glove back on.”

“I can’t put it on.”

“I want my coat zipped.”

“Fingers in!”

“Want. my. coat. zip.” (Little sister)

“Nana. put. guvs. on.”

“No. Nana. on.”

“Coat off.”

They were implacable. It became so ridiculous that Katelyn and I had to laugh. Only the old sin nature — and a tiny pair of gingerbread man gloves — could inspire so many ways to be unhappy on such a beautiful day!

Then we had to wince. This must be how we look to God. How many times do we take a perfectly good blessing and turn it into something to grumble and bicker about?

A house full of little ones — rewards from a loving heavenly Father — but we grumble about their messes, their needs, their childish foolishness.

A church full of people who love Jesus, but we grumble because they’re still sinners — just like us.
A hard-working husband, but we grumble because he’s no more perfect than we are.

Aging parents who have poured their lives into ours, but we grumble because they’ve made mistakes.

Houses, cars, clothes, health, schooling, friendships — all blessings that we can so quickly transform into a reason for discontent rather than gratitude.

I deserve nothing — nothing but eternal punishment — but God in His grace has chosen to save me and bless me. May I be content and grateful. May He grant me the grace to live a humble life of gratitude, a life that glorifies Him, the giver. And may He grant us the grace to teach our children to be truly grateful — even when they get gloves.

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, ESV).

 (Photo from Shutterstock.com)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Make Me the focal point of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe. Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth. When your private world feels unsteady and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me.

Instead of yearning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence. In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of My Face. Accept the value of problems in this life, considering them pure joy. Remember that you have an eternity of trouble-free living awaiting you in heaven.

Fear not, for I am with you; 
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 

Even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:10

 Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds.
James 1:2 

Jesus Calling.  December 10

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday, Josh

Happy 6th Birthday, Josh!
We are so grateful to the Lord Jesus for giving you to us.  We are proud of you and love you very much.

Friday, October 26, 2012

12 years ago

Twelve years ago on October 24, 2000, our 5 day old Kirsten had open heart surgery.  I remember the surgeon telling us that her heart was the size of a walnut. I still marvel at God's grace in giving men like Dr. Leonard the ability and stillness of hand to operate on such a tiny, life sustaining organ.

Kirsten was diagnosed in utero with Truncus Arteriosus.  Her heart looked like this: 

She had one artery (a "trunk") and a hole between the ventricles, a ventricular septal defect (or VSD).  In basic terms, her oxygenated and unoxygenated blood mixed and traveled to the rest of her body providing insufficient oxygen to function properly.  You can see a cool animated diagram here.  The surgeon sectioned off the "trunk" into one ventricle and inserted another one to create two arteries.   He also patched up the hole with Dacron.

I can think of nothing more difficult in my life than handing our newborn to a nurse and watching them walk down a hallway to the operating room not knowing if I'd see our baby alive again.  Wondering if she would live through surgery and if it would be a success. Wondering if the Lord would chose to take her or if it was His will for her to live.

Brad and I had nothing to hold onto but Jesus Christ.  We prayed over and over for His will to be done and we prayed over and over that His will would be for her to live.
Kirsten immediately after heart surgery 

Kirsten in May this year 

Today I look at Kirsten and I'm amazed by her.  The Lord clearly wants her alive.  At every cardiology and pulmonology appointment we are reminded that the Lord has His sustaining hand on Kirsten's life.  According to medical tests, she should not be walking around with a healthy pink glow.  Her cardiologist even warns the technician before he starts her echo cardiograms that he doesn't need to be concerned.  The first man she didn't warn ran into her office to tell her how bad was the condition of Kirsten's heart. We've even been told no cardio surgeon would choose to operate on her heart in this condition. They would be very concerned about her successfully coming off the heart/lung bypass machine. 

Her quarterly pulmonary function tests reveal very low air flow from her lungs and yet she's running around and riding her bike and acting like a regular kid.

There is no other explanation than Jesus Christ's life-sustaining hand on our Kirsten.  She truly is a miracle.   The doctors don't understand.  We know it's because so many pray for our sweet daughter, and have for years, and the Lord, in his graciousness, allows her to stay with us.

We obviously don't know how long Kirsten will live.  None of us know how long we have.  But we give all the glory to God for his goodness to us.  For his grace and mercy and love that he so lavishly bestows upon us. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  
Romans 15:13

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 
 Psalm 18:2

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
 Isaiah 41:10

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy 12th Birthday, Kirsten

Happy 12th Birthday to our beautiful, fun-loving Kirsten!  You are truly a gift from the Lord and we are so proud of you.  We love you very much, precious girl!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend to Remember

I hope the words of Dennis Rainey in my last post inspired you and gave you the desire to pray for and work on your marriage.  Would you like to attend a weekend getaway just like the one the Lord used in Brad's parents' lives?

Family Life offers their Weekend to Remember all over the country and one is coming to the Dallas/Fort Worth area this month.  It's not too late to sign up!

October 19-21
Omni Mandalay Hotel
Las Colinas, TX

You can sign up here for the one in Las Colinas or you can search here for one closer to you.

Brad and I have attended the conference several times and each time we come away refreshed and reminded of how to love each other more and, consequently, how to grow closer.

How blessed is the man who fears the Lord

I know this is long. Please read it.  These powerful words written by Dennis Rainey, President and CEO of Family Life, speak volumes about my father-in-law.  

Tethering the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas to each other are a series of freeways.  One is named after the great Dallas Cowboys coach—the Tom Landry Parkway.  It slices its way through hills peppered with mesquite between the two great cities.
Now the picture I’m about to paint didn’t happen, but for a moment I want you to imagine a hearse traveling from Dallas to Fort Worth on the Tom Landry Parkway with a motorcade of three or four hundred cars following behind it.   And standing on both sides of the road, as far as the eye can see, is a line of husbands and wives, heads bowed.  More than 90,000 people paying tribute to a couple who cared about their lives, marriages, and families.
Wouldn’t you want to know who was in that hearse?  Wouldn’t you want to know more of the story behind one man’s legacy and the wife who shared in it with him?
Endless bickering
To do so, we must go back to 1985 and a couple whose marriage was on life support.   Stale religion and a quiet bitterness were about all that Skip and Becky Leffler shared.  That wasn’t why they had married, but it was what had become of their relationship.  Skip was a quiet man, a banker.  Becky was an outgoing mother of two, who had lost all hope of ever having a real marriage with a man who once was the man of her dreams.  Both were ready to split the sheets and the assets and stop the endless bickering and quarreling.  
No one at church knew.  But two of Becky’s friends did.  One told Becky, “I wonder if you will ever smile again.”
On this night 25 years ago, Skip and Becky sat in a hotel ballroom, arms folded and jaws set. They were surrounded by 1,500 people who filled a ballroom—people who were there to find out how be more than “just married.”  But they were like two bunkers in a battlefield, ready to face off against each other.  
Even though they attended church regularly and Skip was the chairman of the board at church, Becky had never heard anything like the messages she heard that weekend.  She sat there and sobbed during the entire conference as she realized how far they had truly missed God’s plan for their marriage.
Skip left that conference convicted, but not quite ready to assume his responsibility.  But Becky determined she was going to stay in the marriage regardless of “that man.”
She remembered the teaching about I Peter 3:9, “Don’t return evil for evil or insult for insult, but give a blessing instead.”    Her initial response was, “God, I don’t want to be called to do this.”   But she went home and placed that Scripture on the wall, gritted her teeth, and asked God for a miracle, beginning in her heart.
A year later, Skip and Becky returned to the Weekend to Remember conference, this time with a glimmer of hope.  This time Skip said, “Okay, we’re going to make this work.”
Even then, there were times when the relationship wasn’t working.  Becky caustically warned Skip, “You’d better enjoy this Christmas, because it’s going to be your last one!”
Skip didn’t leave.
Becky didn’t quit.
A total surprise
They returned to the Weekend to Remember a third time in 1987, still struggling.  But when a speaker asked the audience for volunteers to help promote the conference the following year, Skip totally surprised Becky by volunteering.  “Skip had never volunteered for anything,” she remembers.  Although it was unnatural, Becky kept her mouth shut when Skip said, “We need to go talk to that man about helping with the Fort Worth conference.”   And they did.
A year later they took over the local leadership of the conference as Volunteer City Ministry Directors.  God had transformed two bunkers into a platform for ministry.  
Becky said, “Skip and I would tell couples that … if we hadn’t been through the tough times, we would not have been serving.  Our tough times gave us the validity to minister to others.  We knew our tough times gave us purpose … He had a plan.”
But Skip and Becky didn’t wallow in the failures of the past; they resolutely began to make strides in their marriage and pass it on to others.  It wasn’t long before they were teaching marriage and family classes at church, leading small groups using the HomeBuilders Couples Series®, and training leaders to lead more groups.   Working together with the same goal, they slowly grew closer to God and each other.
Leading a volunteer team
In fact, it wasn’t long before they found themselves in charge of all the Weekend to Remember conferences in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, with thousands coming each year.  Skip and Becky built a volunteer team of nearly 100 who would help promote the conference and build marriages in the Metroplex.  Over 90,000 people attended in the years that followed. Last year, more than 4,000 came to the Gaylord Texan over Valentine’s Day weekend for the biggest Weekend to Remember conference in the history of FamilyLife.
A last dance
Skip and Becky, and their team of volunteers, were planning on a big event at the Gaylord Texan in June.  In late January, on a Thursday night after Skip came home from a number of meetings, Becky asked Skip for just one dance in their living room.  One dance turned into five as the two enjoyed the last hours they would share on this side of heaven.  The next morning Skip went to work just as he always had, but was killed in a tragic car wreck.
A week later, at lunch right before Skip’s memorial service, Barbara and I sat at lunch with Becky.  She commented at one point, “Skip could not have done a better job of loving me.”  What a love story they wrote over the last 25 years after nearly coming to divorce.  I reflected on Becky’s statement privately and wondered, “Could Barbara say that about me?”
Later, I would be one of the seven men who gave tributes to a man who left a mighty legacy at home, at work, and in his community.  It was the only memorial service I’ve ever attended where, at Becky’s request, the Weekend to Remember was promoted by one of those men.
After Skip’s death, Becky found some notes from Skip in which he underlined the phrase, “Changed Life Junkies!!”  He was planning to give a pep talk to the local team of volunteers to remember that God would use them to change lives.  
Rather than giving in to the cultural pressures and divorcing his wife, Skip Leffler left a very different legacy.  And he impacted many whose legacies will never be the same.
Skip’s legacy reminds me of my life verse:
Praise the Lord!  How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.  Psalm 112:1-2