Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

bible-896222_1920.jpg“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

The mound of dishes extends to the uppermost edge of the kitchen sink and, reluctantly, I begin the process of methodically rinsing each plate, bowl, and glass before depositing it in the dishwasher’s plastic divider. I have just enough time to finish peeling the baked-on oatmeal from the insides of the crockpot before my daughter rushes around the corner with a look of concern etched across her delicate features.

Mommy, I need help with my math NOW.

 Casting a quick glance toward the stove, I notice the pot on the right back burner is spitting angrily across the surface. With a sigh, I quickly twist the knob to low and turn my attention to the frustrated middle-school girl planted directly in front of me. She is a diminutive package of frustration and tears and I can’t wait for the school week to come to an end because then I she will have a break from homework.

In that moment, the dogs begin barking uncontrollably—probably at a wayward rabbit passing through the yard—and a hungry teen-aged boy utters something about being hungry.

Me? I just want to go to bed. And I wonder why some days seem much longer than the standard 24 hours.

Jesus recognized this same weariness in his disciples.

Their day had been overflowing with prayer, preaching, and healings. The people–needy and desperate–longed for someone to make a difference…to change their lives…to offer hope. And that day? Hope arrived in the form of Christ’s own apostles who spoke comfort…joy…peace.

But by the days end, the men were as empty as my freshly rinsed sink. Do you ever feel it, too? The need to be filled up…restored…replenished?

Jesus offers us the answer. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.

 Make your appointment with the Prince of Peace, friend. Breathe in the rest only He provides. Step away from the pressures of the immediate and discover soul treasure in the Eternal. He’s waiting to meet with you today.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

In the sheltered simplicity of the first days after a
baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of
two people existing only for each other. 
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I thought I understood love–it’s complexity, depth, and vulnerability.  Then I had children and all of my preconceived notions about love were shattered.  Blossoming in their place like a seedling receiving its first drops of water, a pure, true love sprang up.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

It was a love strong enough to urge a sleep-deprived mother out of bed during the black hours of the night to comfort a colicky infant; a love tender enough to encourage a mother to stay for endless hours in the NICU singing softly to the baby struggling to for every breath; and a love dedicated enough to stretch and exercise her son’s twisted feet despite his cries of pain.

I thought I understood love–then I had a Savior.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

His was a love merciful enough to offer forgiveness to a lost and lonely child; a love tender enough to be a Father when she was without hers; and a love sacrificial enough to give his life in her stead.

Parenting is the closest I’ve come to experiencing the sort of love He has for us.  Real love.

Read Full Post »

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a little girl I imagined my name was Tamara–so much more elegant and interesting than plain Tammy.  I wanted to do amazing things…serve in the Peace Corps…write a bestseller…perform on Broadway.  Even now–mid-way through life and buried beneath loads of laundry and books about childrearing–I have dreams of being applauded as I belt out tunes to Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera.  In reality,  I’m yelling through the door at my teenaged son who chose not to go to school because the traffic jam was too difficult to navigate.

I’m tired nearly all of the time and always seem to have crumbs on the kitchen floor.  My closets are only organized once or twice each year and the kids rarely wear matching socks.  Where do they all go? 

My husband and I watch movies in installments because we fall asleep.  The towel rack in the bathroom has fallen off–again. And, we’re happy.

Our home isn’t quiet–how could it be with three boys and a feisty little girl?  The children argue, have tantrums, and lose their homework.  Dave and I feel overwhelmed most of the time.

God may not have given me a stage on which to perform.  I haven’t travelled to third world countries to hold impoverished babies.  Instead, my challenges, joys, sorrows, and delights are directed by and immersed in this messy life of motherhood, marriage, and moments of worshipping the God who provided it all.

Joy can’t be found in the what-if’– it’s in those moments that make up living.  I think I like being plain Tammy.

Verse for Reflection:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy SpiritRomans 15:13

Recommended Reading

Product Detailshttp://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Gifts-Fully-Right/dp/0310321913/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356279769&sr=8-1&keywords=ann+voskamp

Read Full Post »

Man walking away at dawn along road

The Prodigal walks the lonely road–determined…defiant…desperate.                                                                                                                                       Knowing his need, but unwilling to turn back he heads aimlessly onward.  Each weary step echoing his thoughts, “Help me. Help me. Help me.”

And The Prodigal’s father works hour after hour– captured by his unrelenting schedule–only to be greeted by the weight of sorrow and concern at the day’s end .  The Prodigal’s mother feels as if life moves as slowly and methodically as the boy on the lonely road.  Let me help.  Let me help.  Let me help.

But there is no word from the boy and the mother wonders, “Where is my boy sleeping tonight?” And she prays that God’s very warmth and presence would surround the Prodigal.  Then, she waits for tomorrow.

Scripture for Reflection

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”  Luke 15: 4-7

Read Full Post »

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for…Hebrews 11:1

 

The beautiful garden unfurled its colors near the old, gray corral–a ranching remnant from the early 1900’s.  Nestled between the meandering creek and dusty country road, rows upon rows of corn, cabbage, peppers, and carrots displayed their bounty.  My mother spent hours there–tending the plants as if they were children in need of care.

The peeling, unsightly skin on her shoulders and her roughened hands were testimony to a dedication I didn’t share.  Many times, I grudgingly held my small pail in the potato patch.  “Pick off those bugs, Tammy!”  The thought of touching the parasitic beetles still sends my stomach reeling.

But, as much as I detested the potato bugs there were other things I found far more frightening and insidious.  I never knew if they were lying in wait–keeping quiet watch beneath the shelter of a massive squash plant or strawberry bush.  Rattlesnakes–poised to strike and hidden in the most unsuspecting of places.

That garden…those pests…the dangerous vipers.  Now that I have two teenagers, I often feel this simple farmer’s garden represents my life as a parent.  I run about–picking away at those dangers I see lurking on the surface.  I teach my children to believe…hope…pray.  Yet, I scurry about the fertile soil of their lives searching for danger.  “Pick off those bugs, Tammy!”

And my worst fears?  Those enemies lurking somewhere in the hidden places that I can’t see?  What am I to do about those?  I might be aware of their presence.  I may even be able to offer a warning.  Ultimately, though, I need to trust the Gardener of their souls–the One who bent to the earth and scooped their souls into His tender arms.  I may fear the danger, but He sees the bounty of a beautiful harvest.

 

Questions for Reflection

What is your greatest fear?  Are there any steps you can take to give that concern to God?

Read Full Post »

Close-up of a sleeping infant

He’s been traveling a challenging road–one shared by more people than we’d care to admit.  And my heart has shattered into a thousand small pieces time and again when I’ve realized I cannot–nor could I ever–protect, rescue, or guarantee a painless and perfect childhood for my son.

And the question hangs heavy in the air.  How could a child who is loved thoroughly and prayed over constantly be thrust into the hands of Someone intending him harm?  My mother’s heart lacks understanding and I struggle with God just as Jacob wrestled with the Lord.  And while rolling in the dirt I cry out for mercy for my child.

When I rise up–aching, bruised, humbled–I realize the weight of this struggle will always be part of my life, my husband’s life, my child’s life–carried about as a reminder.  A reminder that belonging to Him neither exempts myself nor these young ones I love from hardship or pain.  A reminder that He is greater than all of it.

I can’t see beyond the rocks or debris scattered across the path, but the God who gifted my life with this precious one knows this road.  He walked it himself as The Carpenter’s Son.  And now?  Now he is going ahead of and behind my child–His child–to protect, rescue, and guarantee a perfect Eternal Someday for him.

 

Scripture for Reflection

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.  (Psalm 139:4-6)

Read Full Post »

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany years ago a Far Side cartoon featured a small dog and it’s owner.  The words in the bubble read, “Blah, blah, blah, Minnie.”  Like Minnie’s owner, I’m certain my words–though spoken–are often unheard.  I imagine it something like this.

Tammy:  Child 1, please put your toys away when you’re done playing with them.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  Child 1, blah, blah, blah…play with your toys.

And…

Tammy:  Child 4, call if you’re running late.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  Blah, blah, blah…run late.

Or…

Tammy:  Child 3, when you calm down then we can talk.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  You can talk.

You, too, might struggle with a similar problem.  Maybe your colleagues don’t consider your opinion, your children disregard your guidance, or your husband ignores your input.

Christ understands, friend.  His words fell on the ears of the religious leaders of the day, but they ignored the forgiving call of his voice.  The masses dismissed him as worse than a criminal and overlooked his promises of freedom.  Even Christ’s own family dismissed him as deluded.

But there are some who listen…some who respond.  They are the ones He came to save.

Scripture for Reflection:  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  (John 10:27)

Read Full Post »

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=e70q3p4DTjk#t=32s

 

10. You automatically answer phone calls with the words,  “I expected to hear from you half an hour ago.”

9.   You can wrap a sprained ankle better than an athletic trainer.

8.  The nurses know your son so well that they ask to sign his cast.

7.  You purchase a security system to prevent “breakout’s”–not “break-in’s”.

6.  Other kids visit your home so often that you’ve considered charging general admission.

5.  You’ve learned to interpret grunts as a positive conversational response.

4.  Before sports season begins, you buy stock in Stick-ups and foot powder.

3.  You now know that spinning cookies in an abandoned parking lot is illegal.

2.  High school secretaries are known to contact parents when a “friend” calls to excuse the young man from class.

and the #1 sign that you’re the mother of a teenage boy….

1.  When you watch him nod off doing homework, you’re torn between tears of joy and sadness because the little boy has disappeared.

Read Full Post »

Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.   Deut. 4:9

One night–that night–changed my life forever.

From the beginning, it had been a fight for her life.  Within a couple of months of discovering I was pregnant with our daughter, I began having complications.  Restricted to limited activity–a difficult task for a mother with three rambunctious boys–and taking medicine according to a regiment any nurse would applaud, I prayed for my baby. Please, Lord.  Please.

On her own schedule, Heather was born seven weeks too soon–her newborn cry like the mewling of a tiny kitten.  Each breath was a struggle.  For more than two weeks, Heather and I resided in the hushed NICU–the only predictable sounds those of the monitors and desperate parents.

One wonderful day, my husband and I finally invited Heather Grace home.

When Heather was exactly one month old, she lay contentedly nursing in my arms during our pre-dawn snuggle.  Caught up in the wonderful imaginings of tea parties and doll houses, I began nodding off.  Suddenly–as if someone nudged me–I jolted awake.

Heather lay in my arms motionless and unresponsive.  “Dave!  Dave, she’s not breathing!” Thrusting Heather into my husbands capable hands, I began praying.  Please, Lord.  Please.

Her little body on the changing table, Dave checked for Heather’s pulse.  Nothing.  He looked for the rise and fall of her chest.  Nothing.  Leaning toward our daughter, Dave began breathing for his baby girl.

One minute, two minutes.  Help us, God.  Please don’t let her die.  Three minutes, four minutes.  Not our baby, Lord.  Somebody do something!  Five minutes.  “I think she just took a breath.  Did she just breathe?”

Five minutes of eternity.  Five minutes of total dependence on God.  Five minutes–and then a miracle.

How could I not tell Heather about God’s grace, mercy, and power?

Read Full Post »

“Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were six of you — your mother, your father and four children. What percentage of the pie would you get?” a teacher asked her students.

“One-fifth,” said one boy.

The teacher responded, “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions. Remember, there are six of you.”

“I know,” said the boy, “but you don’t know my mother. She would say she didn’t want any pie so we could have more.”  (Author Unknown)

As mother’s, aren’t we about giving, sharing, and encouraging?  There are times, though, when a mother has nothing left to give, little to share, and few words of encouragement for the children in her life–especially when she’s parenting alone and is both mother and father.

I’ve been there several times.  With a husband in the Navy, I’ve survived three long deployments.  One with a newborn and toddler, the next with two preschoolers, and another with a 6-year-old, 7-year-old, and two teenaged boys (need I say more?).

I would guess some of you have been there, too…military wives, single moms, women with husbands who travel frequently, or those with guys who–for whatever reason–disengage from family life.

The great news is that regardless of the situation, every mother can rely on God by taking four simple steps–like my friend Jen.

The first time Jen and I met, I was struck by her honesty and haunted eyes.  She had only just arrived in Colorado after having travelled across the country in a beat-up van with several children.  At night, when her eyes could no longer focus, Jen would pull to the side of the road where she and the family slept for a few hours.  But, as miles of unfamiliar scenery unfolded in front of her, hope began growing in Jen’s chest—hope for her children and herself.  Why?  Because Jen had escaped from a life of abuse to a life of promise– much like Hagar, the woman whose name meant “stranger”.

Hagar.  We don’t know much about her, but some Rabbinical texts suggest she may have been pharaoh’s daughter—a gift to Sarai during her time in the king’s harem.   Or, like so many others, perhaps Hagar was a poor girl whose family wanted to assure she would be given food and shelter.  Princess or pauper, Hagar was a young Egyptian woman who had been a servant for 10 years in a foreign land.

She was alone, destitute, and given to an old man out of her mistresses desperation.  The goal?  Surrogate motherhood.

Fast forward a few months—an 85 year-old man and a beautiful slave-girl in her mid-20’s have conceived a child together.  For the first time in years, Hagar felt pride.  A child!  Someone she could love and who would love her in return.

But, Hagar’s pride got in the way.  She flaunted her growing belly and offended Sarai.  Hard work and maltreatment followed.  Finally, after enduring another beating, Hagar ran away.  She wept—tears of shame, tears of loneliness, tears of hopelessness.  Hagar was a stranger once again—except to God.

Look over the following account from Genesis 16.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.

9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”[a]

Hagar had been wandering aimlessly; now she worshipped El Roi (El Raw-ee)—the God who sees.

Notice that God didn’t remove her from her current situation.  Instead, he responded to her cries of distress, sought her out, and comforted her with his presence and his promises.  Hagar’s story doesn’t end there.  In Genesis 21, we find Hagar in another situation—that of single parent.

…and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob.

 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

And, ladies, listen to this!! 20 God was with the boy as he grew up.

Did you notice the word “wandered”?  Hagar “wandered in the dessert”.   The Hebrew word used to describe her “wandering” means to go astray.  Here she is…in the desert a second time…without a GPS and in need of direction.  Don’t you think she would call out to God, El Roi, the One who Sees?  But Hagar forgot to look for Him.  Instead, the Lord responded to the cries of the boy.  His words?  “What is the matter, Hagar?  Do not be afraid?”

Isn’t this a beautiful picture of God’s love for us?  When we find ourselves in the midst of the desert, unsure of which way to turn, and fearing the worst our first step is to call out in  our distress, our weakness, and our wandering to The God Who Sees.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, thank you for sharing the gift of motherhood with me.  My desire is to glorify you in my parenting and to bless these children as I seek to point them toward you.  Father, show me how to rely on you in all I do today.  Amen

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: