Archive for May, 2012

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:10)

The stranger’s kindness impacted me for the rest of the day. She hadn’t done anything life-changing or radical, but–in that one moment–made me feel as if I mattered.   I still don’t know her name, but I did catch a glimpse of her license plate as she pulled away from the drive-through window.  “I’d like a tall mocha, please.”  The barista smiled and said, “The lady that just left paid for your drink.”

Surprised by such a thoughtful gesture, I wondered if she was a Christian or just someone who wanted to make a difference.  Whatever her beliefs, political affiliation, or socio-economic status, she challenged my thinking.  Do I make a difference?  Do I make other people feel important?  Do I love them deliberately and with purposeful intent?

My hope is that I will learn to live each day intentionally.  Purposely.  I want to make a difference.  Don’t you?

Just for today…look for one opportunity to be the difference in someone’s life. 

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…you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)

Please, mama?  Come on a walk with me.  These words had become the day’s mantra and finally I said, “Let’s go.”  After crafting the perfect insect-friendly habitat–complete with sticks and grass–in his new bug-catcher, we set out on an adventure.  Twenty minutes later, Seth had forgotten about searching for bugs.  Instead, he navigated the unexplored boundaries of the small creek as it wound its way through our neighborhood park.  The mud encircling the bottom of his pant legs was as much evidence of Seth’s delight as the grin spilling across his face.  I wanted to capture that joy– the gleam of pleasure in his eyes–and hold on to it forever.

I wished I hadn’t waited all day for this moment.  We’ll go later, honey.  I’m too tired right now.  Let me finish these dishes first.  It’s easy to push aside the special moments–thinking there’ll be another just around the bend–when life is pressing in on every side with the “important”.  But, important won’t matter when I’m looking back on my life.  Instead, I’ll cherish time invested in those I love.  Exploring creek banks with my son, tea parties with my little girl, quiet walks with my husband…this is what really matters.

Scripture for Reflection 

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

Recommended Reading

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Pencil marks spill across nearly every space on the calendar.  Notes about track meets, school programs, doctor’s appointments, and other obligations are tell-tale reminders of a busy life spent managing the schedules of four kids and a hard-working, people-oriented husband.  I look ahead a few months and sigh with relief–July, August, and September are still blank.  Ahhhh…

Are you as busy as I am?  Unless I intentionally create moments for reflection and refreshment, I tend to hurry through my days without pausing.   I miss the important things.

So…each morning when I open my eyes I try to lie still for just a minute.  Thank you, God, for this day.  Reflecting on his goodness and the gifts in my life helps me keep things in perspective–at least for a while.

Yes, I will still need to grocery shop, put the laundry away, practice subtraction facts with my son, and answer the email at work.  But that can wait…first things first.

Scripture for Reflection

30-33“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  (Matthew 6:30-33 MSG)

Intentional Moments with God


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As a lanky, freckle-faced little girl with big glasses and a bigger heart I was easy prey for other children.  Phrases like, four eyes and ugly became as much a part of my educational vocabulary as common denominator and adjective. 

Have you had a similar experience?  Did you grow up in a home exempt of encouragement, but full of verbal abuse?  Or, do you endure name-calling and cruel insults from your spouse?  Even worse–do you direct poisonous words at yourself?  My friend, those labels are lies.  Listen to what scripture says,  I’ll also give {you} a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.  Revelation 2:17 (MSG)

Regardless of the past and despite ill-earned labels, a new name awaits.  One so unique that when you enter Christ‘s kingdom he’ll beckon you near, wrap his arm around you, and place a precious stone in your hand.  Glancing at this unexpected treasure, you’ll notice an unfamiliar–but immediately known–word engraved in the hard surface.

“I’m that special?”  you wonder–amazed at the way he describes who you truly are.  The person you were meant to be from the moment He imagined your existence.  Bending toward you, He’ll whisper this special name and say, “Welcome home.”

If you are important enough to be given a name by the One who breathed life into your soul, then you are special enough to refuse the world’s labels.  After all, even He was called a liar.

Action step:  Ask God to give you eyes to see yourself–and others–as He does.  Ask others to forgive you for those times you have labeled them falsely.

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   Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is [a]near.  Philippians 4:4-5


Some of us stay-at-home while others wear a business suit from nine to five.  Some of us live in the Bronx–others in Beverly Hills.  Some of us wear a ring on our left hand; others manage parenting on our own.  But don’t we all want the same thing for our children–the ever-elusive happiness?

But, happiness is hollow when it’s based on the promises of the world.  Wealth?  Love?  Career?  None of these are guaranteed to last.  They only provide a temporary–even false–sort of happiness.  Raising our children to gather temporary treasures, find the “right” person, and climb the corporate ladder may make us look good but I believe God gives mother’s a greater purpose in parenting.

What is it?  To share Christ trusting that our little ones might one day know Him–the One in whom and through whom true happiness is found.

As a mother, how do I teach my children about everlasting joy?  When they’re bullied, break up with a first love, or struggle with a learning disability is it possible to share a heaven-focused view of happiness?  What a challenge!  I wish I had the answer.   I’m just trying to rely on God day by day, and moment by moment as I pour my heart into these children–maybe that’s where it all begins.


 I would love to know what your tips and ideas are for teaching your kids about this concepts.  Feel free to share with us! 


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The word bold is used to describe coffee, clothing, and cuisine.  It’s applied to rebels, risk takers, and revolutionaries .  But, this is one term rarely attributed to mothers–and certainly not to me.    Recently, though, I’ve learned to be bold in both my decision-making and prayer life.

Last year, my husband deployed to warm, sandy places and I was in the midst of a maelstrom at home.  Seth, the youngest of three sons, woke each morning in a panic.  Why?  At the tender age of six, my little boy was overcome by fear.  He clung to me in desperation as we crossed the school’s threshold and wept uncontrollably when I picked him up at the end of the day.  Convinced the house was no longer safe, Seth locked the bedroom door and huddled near the end of the bed where he slept—though fitfully.  The markers of anxiety continued to flash brightly in every area of his life—school, church, and home.

Seth’s fears became my own when I realized comforting words and gentle arms did little to help my son overcome the giants of Worry and Anxiety.  Lord, I don’t know how to help him.  What do I do?   For the first time I understood what it meant to pray continually. 

I began going before God boldly with my prayers and interceding for Seth–regularly and at random times.  Help him, Father.  Now, after more than a year’s worth of doctor’s appointments and interventions, Seth has made huge strides.  His fears are no longer giants.  Instead, they are close to just-above-average size–and they continue to shrink.

And, I continue to approach the throne of mercy in boldness–knowing that the King of Kings answers the prayers of even those who are timid. 

3 Simple Ways to Pray for Our Children

  • It’s a Date- Schedule specific times during your day to pray for your family.  The times that work best for me are those quiet moments just after school drop-off when I’m driving to work and early in the morning before the chaos begins.
  • Between the Lines-Keep a journal of prayer needs AND answered prayer.  This activity helps me stay focused and reminds me to notice how God is working in the lives of my children.
  • Do It Together-Make time to pray for your children with your spouse and/or a close friend daily, weekly, or monthly. 



Scripture for Reflection

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. [2] He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. [3] And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

[4] “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, [5] yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ “

[6] And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. [7] And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? [8] I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.  Luke 18:1-8

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There’s always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. Graham Greene

From the beginning, my ideas about parenting were flawed. I thought of it almost like a mathematical formula. If Dave and I just plugged in the right amount of love, guidance, and opportunity then our kids would follow Christ unswervingly, rebuff mainstream culture, and discover their passion in life. Rebellion? Struggles with identity? Not a chance–after all, a(b)=ab.

Of course, you already know how wrong my assumptions were. Even when Dave and I do everything we can to keep our children from hardship or lead them toward a faith in Christ, they  need to make their own choices, decisions–even mistakes. Just like we did (and do).

But, I believe those choices and mistakes will result in something more beautiful and powerful than I could have imagined. The one who is struggling to understand how (and if) his faith intersects with life? He’ll embrace Christ and discover his purpose–the reason he was created–when God draws Him close; not because his mother made the decision for him. And the boy who wants to do everything perfectly? He’ll encounter freedom in amazing ways. Freedom from unattainable standards. Freedom from concern. Freedom in Christ–because of Christ.

This doesn’t let me off the hook in any way. Being a parent means I continue to invest my love, time, and limited abilities in the lives of my children every day. But, I need to take a deep breath and remember that if there were a simple parenting formula then I wouldn’t need to rely on God in this messy, wonderful, overwhelming business of raising children.

Instead, I’m on my knees, in prayer, and dependant on the One who loves my children even more than I do.

3 Reminders for Stressed Parents

God knows our children intimately

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
   The days of my life all prepared
      before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139-15:16)

When we don’t know what to do for our children, rely on the promises of Scripture

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Trust God’s decision to put these children in your care.  He will work through our parenting–despite our imperfection.

God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

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Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.  (1 Cor. 13)

I wander through the aisles of Hallmark cards and wonder if I’ll find a card that honors her– without extolling the sort of childhood that never existed.  God nudges my heart. “It wasn’t what she wanted for you, either.”  I pause long enough to stop feeling sorry for myself and remember…chocolate chip cookies, coloring together, and all of the basketball games/recitals/plays/track meets she attended–proud I was her daughter.

I pass by the drippy sweet cards lining the shelves and choose one that thanks her for who she is.  She’ll like this one; it’s sincere.  I smile, knowing that –for a while–she’ll forget the sadness and just remember chocolate chip cookies.  And, maybe, she’ll know I’m proud to be her daughter.

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You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.  Psalm 30:11

“Mom, will you teach me how to dance?” These sweet words were the first Connor said to me this morning.  With a heart full of mother-love, I shuffled around the bedroom in red pajamas with my son–dancingThe little boy was gone and in his place stood a young man on his way to adulthood.   What a wonderful, bittersweet thing to behold.

Sometimes my heart aches when I slow down to notice these fleeting moments.  I long to keep Connor safe within the circle of my arms.  Protected from struggles.  Sheltered from storms.  But, growing up means stepping onto that dance floor–without me.  And whether or not the music is fast or slow, erratic or calming, I know he’ll adjust–not because of something I’ve done to prepare him, but because the One who gives us a reason to dance will be there.  Singing tender words of comfort when there are tears; whispering “Follow my lead” in moments of uncertainty, and celebrating life’s joys with the child he created.

Teach him to dance, Lord. 


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If stereotypes hold true (which is rarely the case), I might imagine him as a burly, rough-around-the-edges sort of guy.  But because of his willing sacrifice, the entire world now recognizes him as the man who endured the pain of chemical burns in order to pull his co-worker to safety.

Just yesterday, Rob Nuckolos jumped waist-deep into a vat of nitric acid when he saw a co-worker fall 40 feet into the corrosive liquid.  As a an experienced contractor, Mr. Nuckolos had to have known the probable side effects of nitric acid–severe burns, coughing up of blood, low blood pressure, and possible long-term damage to eyesight.  Why, then, did he follow his friend into liquid fire?  Because Mr. Nuckolos acted out of love.  Not love as emotion or love as a feeling, but love as a noun–an action oriented, selfless giving of oneself despite the cost.

It’s an unbelieveable story–repulsive in its horror and beautiful in its sacrifice–that reminds me of the story of another man.  He was a blue-collar worker from Galilee–a town ridiculed for the worthless rabble it produced.  But, because of his willing sacrifice, the world knows him as the One who endured the pain of crucifixion in order to offer us salvation.

As the Creator of all things, Jesus knew what he would endure–temporary loss of glory, poverty, contempt, and abuse to the point of being unrecognizable.  Why, then, did the King of Kings embrace life as a man?  Because he acted out of love–the kind of love meant to bring us safely home.

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friends.  John 15:13

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