Thursday, November 12, 2009

In A Second

Recently I traveled to California to visit my sister who has a new baby. One of the nights I was there took us to a local coffee shop where her husband and his band were performing. As they got set up my sister went over to talk to the bass player. She asked him about his wife. With sadness in his eyes, he said she wasn't coming to the show. You see, a year and a half ago that same man walked into his 3 year old girl's room before work to kiss her goodbye for the day and found her lying in her bed all ashen and gray. She had had a seizure overnight and passed away in her sleep. Her mother's screams could be heard by the neighbors. She hasn't been able to live life ever since. And as we sat and listened to her husband and the band play another woman walked in to give my sister a hug. It was a woman I'd recognized from a picture I'd had up on my own blog for a while. Her son was by her side, but her husband wasn't. He suddenly passed away last Christmas after a dirt bike accident.
Leaving the coffee shop that night my heart was heavy for these women who had lost so much. So as I checked my facebook account when we got home, my heart broke a little more. A friend of mine was mourning with a friend of hers who had lost her husband just as suddenly...last week. They agonized over how to tell his 4 year old daughter that he was not coming home. And then my mind wandered to Abby, a contestant this season on The Biggest Loser. Her husband took her 3 year old daughter and 2 week old son out for a drive and they were hit head-on by a man driving over 100mph. Her entire family was killed instantly. And as she stood on that big scale with all of America watching she said she battles every day to lose weight and be healthy because it would be easier for her to just die than live without her family.
Just a few days earlier I had read in Parents Magazine a story of a mother who lost her 1 year old daughter to a rare intestinal deformity that had only just been diagnosed. She sat in the hospital room with her child's body and would not let the nurse take her daughter away to the morgue. She had been in charge of watching over this baby girl since before birth. What pain and torment it must be to let someone walk off with your baby and know that in this life you will never, ever lay eyes, hands, hugs or kisses on them again.

It is a fact of life that everything can change in a split second. One second everything is perfect, the next your world is blown apart and your life is in disarray. I am amazed at how many of these stories and experiences I was confronted with in the span of a week. It makes my mother's heart want to grab onto my babies and never ever ever let them go. It makes me sad. It makes me fearful. And I know I need to throw it all at the feet of the one who has the whole world in his hands, as the song goes. Because, as I'm sure you know, not one of those people had any control over what happened to them or their family members. They could not have changed one thing. It was out of their hands.

I don't know why things like that happen. I don't know why one person loses a child and another does not. I don't know why God takes some people sooner than others or why we must go on living without them. I don't know. And so I pray.

Lord, the kind of pain I have heard about this week seems like it would be unbearable. I feel as though I would crumble under it. I don't know if I could walk through that fire. But so many people around me are. First of all, Lord, I pray for them. For those people who no longer have to wonder if they could handle such a blow, because they have already received it. I pray for those who have lost children, spouses, entire families. Let Isaiah 43:2 be true in their life. As they walk through this tremendous fire, let them not be burned, for your presence is protecting them. Father, be their conforter, their friend, their shoulder to cry on and their reason for continuing to live. And, in ways that I cannot even imagine, please carry them through the grief and healing process. Let them see glimpses of hope every day and be assured of your presence by their side.
And Lord, I pray for my children and the children of all those reading this. Let your protection cover them. Keep them safe and preserve their lives. Steer them around dangerous situations and strengthen their bodies from the ailments of this world. But if they do get injured or sick, I pray you would bring doctors and nurses into their lives that can work your miracles. And if you choose not to, I pray that you would endow us all with courage and faith to get us through the hardest of hard times. Surround us with friends that, in joy or in pain, will help sustain us, encourage us and walk with us. And we pray that the words of the prophet Isaiah will ring true in our lives in any and every situation:

"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze."

I pray with all my heart that our children's lives would be long and full. But, Lord, if it not your will for them to be long, I pray that they would be full just the same. Fill their lives with love and laughter and hope and grace and pour these things forth from them.

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:1,2

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Believe and you will be saved. Believe. That's it. Could it possibly be that simple? Could the fate of my child's soul be in something that easy? One step. Believe. And yet it is so much more. How can we teach belief without brainwash? How can we teach belief without coercion?
The truth is, we cannot. Because it's not just about belief. It's relationship. It's love. It's intimacy. It's friendship. It's knowledge. It's sharing thoughts and feelings and experiences. It's questioning. Belief is the result of teaching all these other things. Belief is not one simple thing. It is the solidifying of all these other things in the bedrock of your heart.
I cannot teach my kids to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But I can teach them about who He is. I can show them his love and mercy and grace. I can model what it means to run to him in times of joy and sorrow. I can read to them about the truths of his character and prompt them to reach out to Him with question and longings.
No, I cannot teach them to believe. He does that himself. I can only teach them that Jesus is here and waiting for them with open arms. He is good and right and perfect. And because He is who He is, He will take care of the belief himself. I suppose this is where I must lay them in the hands of the One who loves them more than I do - and know that if He is worth believing in, he is also worth trusting.

Lord, I know I will not always say the right things or explain truths the right way or model the right behavior, but somehow please help me teach my children who you are. I pray that their hearts will be protected from the lies thrown at them about who you are and what it means to love and follow you. I pray that you would protect them from legalism and also from mysticism. Help them see the truth through the veil of our culture and the ways of this world. Please give me the words to say to answer questions they may have, and point us all to the scriptures that speak the truth of who you are. Unveil their eyes so they may see the depths of your love and your plans for this world you have created. Help them understand the mysteries of you, and not be confused or led astray by them. I pray they would know your character and your love for them. I trust that you want their hearts in your hand more than I do, and I pray that you would pursue them, love them and care for them their whole lives. Let their eyes see the truth and their hearts be compelled to believe. We lay our children in your loving and capable hands, Lord. Thank you for trusting them to us. Help us be accurate representatives of you in their lives, and help us love them with the love you pour through us. Let our words, actions and relationships point them to you.
In Jesus Name, Amen

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


There are a few pictures I have of my kids that make me well up every time I see them.

I love to see my family love each other. When they hug and laugh and's what every mother's heart aches for. And when we see it there are no words to express our overflowing joy. We are building relationships minute by minute. We are learning how to love, forgive, show mercy and accept differences. We are setting the course for the future of their relationships.

I know people who are best friends with their siblings. And I know people who haven't talked to their siblings in 20 years. To think the latter could happen to my little ones is a thought that breaks my heart. This week my husband and I witnessed our middle child run past our oldest in the backyard, and the oldest reached out and shoved her to the ground with all his might. Apparently she was doing something he didn't like. We jumped into action. And as we dealt with him, she began playing again. About 30 minutes later he was ready to apologize. The funny thing is, I'm sure she had already forgiven him. She was not angry. She was not ready for revenge. She was worried about him. "Is he getting in trouble?" "Can he play yet?" I think she forgave him about a second after he did it. After all, he's her big brother. And not a smidge of her trust in him was broken. I pray it's always that way. That they always want to whisper about their secrets at bedtime and ride their bikes together and be each other's best friend. I pray they can always trust each other. And that they will always be quick to forgive. And that they will always enjoy each other's company and friendship.

It is obvious to me that this life comes down to love and relationship. It is the essence of who you are. I pray for the relationships between my children. Please protect them from the plans of the Enemy. I pray that they will continue daily to build trust and friendship and mutual respect. And as they go through life, as children and adults, I pray that they will be able to lean on each other for strength and fellowship. Let them sharpen each other, as iron sharpens iron, and I pray with all my heart that they would not wound each other. As they grow, let them be quick to forgive each other's wrongs. Please let them also be able to speak truth in love to one another, so that they will be able to rebuke and set one another straight out of the love in their hearts. And give them ears to hear the truth they speak to each other, so that hearts are not wounded and relationships are not broken because words are tough to hear.
Above all else, Lord, I pray that they would always love one another with your love, and that they would spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Help them to encourage each other and care for each other in love. And I pray that because of their relationships with one another they would bring glory to your name. Amen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Potty-training=God's Patience

We have been attempting to potty-train in our house the last few weeks. To say it's going poorly would be an understatement...but here's the worst part about what's going poorly. I realized that me, as a parent, was the PROBLEM! Not my sweet daughter, not her developmental stage, not her ability to understand what I was saying and asking of her. No, it was my incredible sense of urgency to make this happen NOW, not on her time, that was getting in the way. It struck me, like the air had been removed from the room, how impatient I am. And it saddened me greatly - there were a lot of moments I was a really crappy mom. From yelling at her for peeing on the carpet, then telling me about it (I am not proud of fact, maybe this if my way of confessing my brokenness and pleading for forgiveness)...and instead of reacting with love and grace, I shamed her. Oh how that breaks my heart, to know that my precious angel came to me with something she felt sorry for and instead of receiving her with open arms, I reacted with anger.

I've been thinking a lot about how often God reaches out to us with open arms and we shame him, or 'curse' His name (maybe not intentionally, but I know I sure do) or just flat-out turn the other way. And instead of being vengeful and hateful towards us, He waits for us to remember who He is. Not that there aren't repercussions for our actions, I simply mean He is always there with open arms. This has hit me very heavily the last few days, as I think about how I react to my child, His child. Do I open my arms to her at every turn and let her know I am here, no matter what? Do I open my arms to myself, realizing that God's amazing grace extends to me as a parent as well? His words, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11) have captured my heart this week as I've gone over and over again in my head how I have let my sweet girl down. But I know, just as He is teaching her, He is teaching me...and I too need to turn and run into those beautiful arms of forgiveness!

Sweet Lord and Savior - parenting is rough! This is not for the weak...and it's proof again and again how deeply and truly we need you. Need your mercy, your wisdom, your patience, your guidance and most importantly, your grace. Father, I pray that you would help me, and my fellow parent friends, to have grace with ourselves. I know I am not the only one who is incredibly hard on myself as a parent. We will fail our kids, we will let them down, we will need to ask for their forgiveness and then move past it. But, you will never fail them, you will never leave them and you will never forsake them. Help us to teach them this and model this for them, that we believe that in our own lives! Lord Jesus, I would be lost without your grace. I pray that you would mold me into the mother you have called me to be and love that sweet girl you have placed in our lives as you have created me to. And Father, I pray for your patience as we journey onward. Thank you that you hear these prayers, and thank you that your mercies are new every day! Lord, we are grateful and humbled - in Your Son's Mighty Name, Amen

Monday, September 14, 2009


"Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness."
Psalm 55:6,7

It is no secret that mothers are tired. Fathers are tired. Anyone who cares for a child is tired. It is a tiring job. We are a weary bunch. We work and clean and cook and dress and mop up spills and fix broken things and make sure homework is in the proper backpack and weeds are pulled and oil is changed and hair is brushed. We move at a relentless pace because life won't slow down for the weary. It does not acknowledge our plight. Time disregards my fatigue and continues to march along. Life does not pause while we take a breather. It keeps moving, sometimes like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering momentum it fixes it's sights on us and plows us over. "Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!"
There are weary parents out there. Beat. Drained. Burned out. Overworked. Fatigued. Done in. Exhausted. We need rest. Sometimes it's as simple as that.

Lord, as we wake up and start our days please bless us with a kind of rest and refreshment that only comes from you. No matter how much sleep we have gotten, let us be renewed. This job is hard. It is tiring. But we know that it is so worth it. In the midst of life and it's continual movement, please pour your renewal and rest upon us. Like the crisp quiet of morning, let our souls and our minds have a stillness and peace. And as we run around, go to work and take care of these blessings you have entrusted us with, we pray for your continual renewal - for your continual rest, even in the craziness of this world. We ask that fatigue will not be allowed to steal our joy or make us quick to anger, but help love and joy and energy abound.
And, Lord, if it is our poor decisions or overloaded schedules that have run us into the ground, please give us the wisdom and courage we need to let go of commitments or addictions that make us even more tired. Help us make the best decisions for our families, ourselves and your body.
So, as I hear the little creaks and moans that tell me little ones are stirring this morning, I pray that the tiredness I feel will be fleeting and temporary - and that your Spirit will fill me up and carry me through this day. Help me overcome the weary nature of this job, and take joy in the blessings you have given me. And, Lord, give me rest.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Anger Within

This last week my oldest two kids have been at each other's throats. They have been fighting in strange and unusual ways. They scream at each other. They push each other. It's gotten really bad. They seem like they've been constantly angry with each other. And they give "The Look". You know, where they tilt their heads down, purse their lips and look at each other (or you) out of the tops of their eyes. The kinds of looks that shoot daggers. I find that I do not handle these situations very well. I don't like seeing them this way and - honestly - I want to MAKE them love each other. As they pestered each other and scowled and screamed and pouted and huffed and puffed my patience wore thin. And then God slammed me. As they got in yet another fight and I jumped up to referee I noticed that their anger with each other made me...well...ANGRY. Yikes. Realizing this was like drinking that nasty bitter stuff you have to take when you are pregnant and getting those tests done. I needed to see this dark side of myself. But it was not pleasant.
I am a fallen and broken person, and it hurts my heart to see that I am passing on my junk to my kids. I am teaching them something, through how I respond to things and how I react to them, that pains the heart of God. I get angry with them, and they get angry with each other. They say hurtful things. They shun each other and shame each other. They boss and manipulate and use each other. And they often explode at each other when they can't take it anymore. Just like me.
I love it when people say that Ellie looks just like me. Or when they say Payton has my smiley cheeks or tiny ears. But realizing that my kids also have my anger and my biting tongue and my quick temper...that's not quite so flattering or heart warming.
I reminded my son today that the hard times we have today don't have to be carried on to tomorrow. The Lord's mercies are "new every morning". He is making "all things new". We don't have to carry the baggage from today into tomorrow. So today I am letting go of my failures and praying for his new mercies.
Lord, I have failed in being a living example for my children in more ways than I can count. I have passed on things I do not wish for them to own. I pray for your intervention in our lives. Inervene in my heart to stop anger from welling up. I pray that you would replace that response with one that would honor you. Help me to be patient, thoughtful, instructive and merciful. I pray that you would give me the tools I need to parent in a way that honors you. I don't want to depend on my feelings or on the ways the world accepts as adequate parenting. I want to lead them to you and I know that requires more than just knee jerk reactions. It requires more than I have. It is true that I struggle with anger, but it is also true that you redeem and transform. As I lay this burden at your feet, please help me to let go of it and allow you to deal with me. Have your way in me. And for my children, Lord, I pray that whatever I have passed on I can take back. I pray that they would witness my surrender of this sin and your redemption in my life. Let their hearts be softened towards each other and their anger subside. And I pray that they would not carry this feeling, this reaction, this sin, through their lives. Let patience, wisdom and tranquility mark their interactions with each other and with others. I pray that as they grow they would learn how to be even-tempered in all situations and that they would be able to react to situations with compassion, kindness and love. And I pray that your Word would become the center of our lives. Teach me to "Impress them 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."(Deut. 6:7-9) I ask for your Word to feed us, renew our hearts and guide us as we learn and grow. Thank you for redeeming us daily, for changing us and for only dealing with us one issue at a time (or I may be overwhelmed by my depravity to the point of hopelessness). Your kindness and mercy amaze me. Amen.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I have been feeling guilty about a lot of things lately (one being that I've never actually posted on this blog yet...I think about it all the time). But mostly, I've been thinking about how little I lift my little girl in prayer when life gets busy. Sure, I pray over her every night and we pray at meals...but I mean REALLY pray for her, for us as parents, for my friends as parents and for their kids. It so easily escapes my mind when other things like To Do Lists, work and life crowd in like a freight train. It's like I don't have the capacity to hold it all, and I often wonder how to change that. We were on vacation last week, without our little one, and it struck me at one point that I hadn't prayed for her for two days. It made me sad and I felt guilty about it - that somehow because she was out of sight, I wasn't intentionally seeking the Lord on her behalf. It was weird, and a wake-up call for me I think, that I need to intentionally pray for my little girl every day. And, I've started a list of my friends who I want to intentionally pray for at least once a week as well - their kids, their marriage, them as parents. For me, it's so easy to forget to pray about those who matter most to me, unless there is a crisis.

Our church is starting something new this fall, we are doing a worship service for families. I'm pretty excited about it, though our little one is just a bit young to really take it in we feel. It's geared toward kids five and above, as far as them being able to 'participate and understand' the worship. I think it's wonderful that we are inviting our children to take part in church, to help them further understand what it means to be in relationship with Jesus and model, not just say, what our relationship with Him looks like. Again, it was a good reminder that my child sees my actions so much clearer than she hears my words. I was struck by this Scripture yesterday and it's stuck with me:

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belong to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16)

I was really moved by "he took the children in his arms" for some reason yesterday. Jesus stopped and took the time to embrace these children, to show them that they were important and mattered so dearly to him...even if they didn't understand his words.
Sweet Jesus, I pray that you would help me to be a mother that shows my child by my actions and my words how important you are to me. That I would be intentional in my prayer for her and for all the sweet children in my life I love so dearly. I pray the things my mind would focus on would be the things that matter to you, instead of the things I feel are so important they sometimes cloud my priorities. Help me to remember that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to children, because of their sweet innocence and unquestioning love for you. Help me to be like a child in my faith, to love and trust you without reserve. And help me to be the mother you created me to be. Lord, I am so grateful for the gift of my child - and I pray that not one day I would take her for granted. In Jesus precious name, Amen