Favorite words from around and about.

I love the snappy writing style of the Femina girls.  Check out a recent favorite.

My husband surprised me and is sending me here in June!!!

After almost  a year thinking about it, I started this a few weeks ago.  I was very scared to start, and often feel like I.just.can’t.do.it, but with a lot (a lot!) of help and encouragement from my running husband, I am making s-l-o-w, but sure progress.

I’m always wondering how other wives work out what it means to be a home maker, so I loved reading this account about one woman’s work from across the globe.

Getting all the kids ready and out the door- without being crabby and cranky- can be such a hard thing for me at times!  You, too?  Here are some good words to help with that.

Looking for ways to show kindness to your kids?  Here’s some inspiration.

And because we all need as much encouragement as we can get in this mothering thing, a few more words about that.

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From the time the first pregnancy test showed positive, great joy entered my new mother heart.  And then! Great fear came closely after, nipping at my joy like an untrained puppy, threatening to eat away at the joy until there was no more.

But right behind the fear, and far more powerful, comes the Spirit, quietly but firmly speaking Truth to my anxious heart.

Will this baby be healthy?  I’m searching the face of one giving the ultrasound, trying to read her expression.  Spina Bifida?  Cleft lip?  Heart problem?

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14

What if something happens to this little one whom I have not yet met but whom I love so much?  I have seen my friends go through the agony of losing a baby.  I don’t know if I can take that kind of pain.

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

The battle does not end when my baby is born.

I watch a news story about a boy who drowned, and now pool dates become a battle ground in my heart.  The temptation to control my children’s every move is strong.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

I hear about a little boy earnestly fighting leukemia, and feel my heart seize up when our own boy says he is tired or gets a bruise.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16

Going to bed one night, listening to the wind blow, and photos of tornadoes flash through my mind.  What if this is more than a windy spring night… do we need to get the kids to a safe place?  Sleep alludes me.

And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:14

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2

My friend’s child rebels, throwing their family into deep pain and heartache.  What can I do to keep this happening to my family?  What books can I read, what pitfalls can I avoid, to make sure my children love Jesus and never turn away?

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 1 Tim. 1:7

My son outgrows his new jeans, before the clothing budget is replenished.  And it looks like most of them need braces.  And new shoes.  And summer clothes.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30

How sufficient is His Word!  If only I would believe.  Oh yes, Lord.  You are familiar with small faith.

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Mark 9:24

That father?  That is me.  Help my unbelief, too, Lord!  Calm my anxious thoughts.  Reassure me of your promises.

O my God, in you I trust. Psalm 25:2

I come down the stairs and see the mess….and I want to give up. I am overwhelmed by the day, by the week, by the demands of my life.  It feels like it is too much.  Maybe I can’t handle another request for a snack, another argument over a toy, another temper tantrum (except my own, of course), another counter full of dirty cups, plates, and crumbs, another bathroom floor strewn with wet towels.

I am convinced the only solution is to get away alone- but that option is nowhere in sight.  I try the ‘let’s all just watch a movie’ routine, but that turns into a fight over who gets to sit in the favorite spot on the couch.  And I want to throw in the towel and call it quits.  Now what?

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

In my focus on how I feel, on my circumstances, I have forgotten Jesus’ good news, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Is this really tribulation?  Do these difficult moments at home really count as trials?  How can I compare these simple difficulties to my sisters around the world who are enduring serious heartache and permanent (at least until they are in Glory) pain.

Yes, there are deeper sufferings than the daily struggles of motherhood.  But if I discount these struggles because they are not as hard as possible, or because someone else is in deeper pain than I am, I miss completely what He want to show me today.

And surely He wants to use whatever He brings me on this day to grow me into what He has for me to face in the future.  So I want to hold onto Him today, in the everyday things to know the Savior more,

I want to learn, in these ordinary, commonplace difficulties, the big lessons.

Of loving His sovereignty when my little ones will not take a nap, of trusting in His goodness when my freshly washed floors receive a showering of orange juice, of rejoicing in all things when I walk upstairs to relax at day’s end and face a floor full of wet towels.

Will He allow me, if I offer these things to him, to experience what Paul spoke about to the Philippians, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death?  

Oh please, Lord.  Let me know You more.  Today, even?

And so I pray, by His mercy, that He will transform my home into His dwelling place, that He will meet me in these moments, and in so doing that He will transform my heart and mind into more of His image, for His glory.

When Husband is out of town, it is easy to have a perfect Valentine’s Day.  Longing to be together, missing each other… the absence makes the differences and difficulties seem far away as well.

For there have been days when we have struggled, pushed, pulled.  Tears have flowed.

My careless words fly.  Feelings get hurt.  Sometimes silence has ruled, me being too angry or hurt (those two are closely related, yes?) to speak.

Misunderstanding turns into stone walls.

But, Love wins out.  Not our love for each other.  No, that love can be small and then smaller in the difficult moments.  Sin can overcrowd our love.

The Love that wins in our marriage is His love.  Gospel Love.

When the walls come up and the silence threatens, He draws us to Himself, reminds us of a Perfect Love that is stronger and better and more real and lasting than even our forever vows we made to each other.

When I am alone, replaying ugly thoughts in my head, very carefully building my case for how right I am and how I have been wronged (in my self-love I don’t consider that I have wronged, too… horrible pride!), He breaks through.  “Is this what you want, to prove yourself right and righteous and then be… alone?  To eat the fruit of a self-loving life?  To withhold forgiveness, and so, have forgiveness withheld from you?”

Oh yes, Lord.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.  

And He reminds me of how I have been Loved and drawn in and forgiven.  And that if I want to be forgiven, I must forgive and lay down my right-ness so that I can be in a relationship with Him and with him.

So the reason we can keep going, the reason there is joy on Valentine’s Days and ordinary days in between, is that we have both been pursued by a never-ending Love.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

And that Love comes to us in our dark times and shines light and hope and causes us to lay down our rightness (which is really no rightness at all), to break the silence and tear down the walls we so carefully built. To enter back into relationship with each other, and with the Lover of our souls.

His Love is what keeps us coming back to each other, opening the door after it’s been shut hard.  Because His Love keeps coming back to us, pursuing us.  Keeps drawing us in and toward each other.

His Love is what breaks through our pride and keeps the important words from staying shut in tight.  I love you.  I’m so sorry.  Will you forgive me?  

And His Love brews the important answers deep and strong.  I have been forgiven much and I forgive you.  I’m not going anywhere.  And just so you know, in case this happens again, I’ll forgive you again.

And I understand again what the Gospel means for my heart, what it means for my marriage.  And I echo with William Cowper the precious words, “Redeeming Love has been my theme, and shall be ’till I die.”

To my love, even though you are here, my heart is with you:

Happy Valentine’s Day.  This was supposed to be the 13th anniversary of our engagement, but you couldn’t wait until the 14th, so we passed that milestone 2 days ago.   I’m so glad you didn’t wait to ask, and what a journey of grace these past 13 years have been.

You have shown me the love of the Christ, of my heavenly Bridegroom.  Faithful.  Steadfast.  Sure.

Of course I wasn’t sure what our marriage would hold, but the reality has flown right past whatever my expectations might have been.  Instead of constant rainbows and chocolate hearts, my fairy tale life with you has been deeper, and harder, and better than my schoolgirl hopes and dreams…

When fear creeps in, painful memories of my father’s too soon leaving, you assure me that you aren’t going anywhere.  You tell me it is your joy- only by God’s good grace!- to faithfully love me until death us do part.

When we were just barely married a year and my heart shook with sobs at the news our eagerly expected baby was already in his permanent resting Place, carried up to the Father before we got to meet him… you, in your 21 year old confused and bewildered self, held me and pointed me to the Healer and promised we could try again.

And when, a year later, we welcomed another boy- and 20 months later another boy!- I watched in wonder as you took on the mantle of father, and asked our sons to follow you as you follow hard after God.  Then after those sons came two daughters, and  I watch you father those sweet precious girls and my heart swells with love for you and for them.

When I tell you at the end of another day that I am not sure I can do tomorrow, that I am failing and weak and what was God thinking giving this poorly girl these 4 precious children to raise, you remind me this is all His doing and it is all up to Him and tomorrow is another day of His faithfulness.

What did this girl do to deserve a husband like you?  And the answer is, again, grace upon grace.  How thankful I am you asked me to be yours those 13 years ago.

I sit and watch the water spill over precious pages.  Water I had just requested be taken to the kitchen, trying to avoid this now present mess.  And now, anger spills instead of water.  And just like the water cannot be put back in the cup, words spill that I can’t pull back inside.

Remorse floods over me.  Careless words, too harsh.  When will I learn?  When will they always see in me an example worth following?

Then He reminds me of who He is and who I am and that’s it’s ok.  There’s grace for this.  When I turn to Him and seek forgiveness, humble myself in front of my kids and ask them- again- to forgive this Mama, He has the power to restore and mend.

And then it hits me.

Maybe the example I am supposed to be setting isn’t all about getting it right, but about how to get hearts right.

Maybe them seeing me fall and run to Christ, in front of them, is more the goal than my carefully pretended perfection that never responds with a short word or careless remark.

Maybe I’m supposed to be pointing to The Perfect Parent, instead of pointing them to me.

Maybe, just maybe, the star of their life isn’t supposed to be me.

Maybe, just maybe, they have been given this imperfect Mama, to point to the real Star, their true Way.

Because isn’t Jesus supposed to be the Star of their life?

And I am here to point them to Him, not to me?

But- oh!- how I don’t want to point through my failures! No!  Through carefully crafted Bible studies, please.  Through calm emotions that never seem to ripple.  Through endless bedtime stories told by a never-tired matriarch.

But this is the way He has ordained.  The way of weakness (mine) and strength (His).  And so I offer up my failures, again, to Him.  Ask Him to make something from my nothing.  So that He can be the Star of our home, of our lives.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  1 Cor. 12:9

I am following our church’s reading/preaching plan for 2012.  Last week, we read Leviticus, and I was struck hard with the way that, immediately following His giving the Law, God provided grace for when His people would break His Law.

Our gracious God gave explicit instructions on how to offer sacrifices to atone for sin.  He didn’t leave them alone with the Law!  The Law was for their joy and good, and was an expression of His holiness.

And yet, He knew these people whom He loved would not keep it perfectly.

He knew they would need atonement.

And so He provided it.

“He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and slay it before the tent of meeting…”  Lev 2:8 ESV

This was no far off offering.  The priest would have his hands on the animal.  He would be messy with the blood.  The substitution for sin was personal, up close, real.

And later, a better Sacrifice would be made.  Hands would be laid on Him as well.  His blood would flow.  His sacrifice would be personal, and would atone for the sins of all who would believe on Him.

This would be a forever atonement.  He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:27 ESV)

And so I ask Him to help me.

To be filled with a sense of awe at His holiness, that required such a sacrifice.

To give me grace and faith to put my hope fully on the atonement Jesus made for me.

To remember, when I am more aware of my sin than I am of His grace, that His sacrifice was once for all.

“The man is built with a mission in mind.  The woman’s role is to enable and help him.”  Doug Wilson

Today, to serve the church and Christ, I make the preacher soup.

When I went to Bible college, I imagined mission fields, women’s ministry, studying Greek… but maybe not so much the seminary of the kitchen and the laundry room.

But He had greater things planned for me.  The mission field of my home.

Discipling the little women that inhabit these walls.

Washing the socks of the young men, while shaping their hearts and minds.

Feeding the preacher nourishing meals so that tomorrow he can nourish the church with the Word.

Today, my work does not involve a Greek dictionary, but a cutting board.  As I chop onions, bacon, and potatoes, I learn what it means to serve the church.  To play my part: to enable my husband, the preacher, to fulfill his mission.

Learning the language of Love, one bowl of soup at a time.

Disappointment washes over me.  The pain I had hoped would disappear in my sleep is still here.  Throbbing in my head.

Thoughts flash immediately forward.  Husband preparing a sermon.  A field trip planned with the kids.  Breakfast and lunch and dinner to make.  They need me.  How will I do this day?

And then, as quickly as the anxious thoughts begin, Love breaks through.  I am with you.  You are not alone.  My grace is sufficient.  You can do all things…. but only through Me.  And I’m here.  here!  right now. and all day.  and for all of forever.

And Love kept coming.  A friend offering, unasked, to take my boys on their field trip.  Husband’s warm embrace giving comfort.  His words, “I’m sorry you are hurting… How can I help you?” flooding my heart with not only his love… but with His Love.

Love does not disappoint.  Now it is not only my head throbbing, but my heart, too, throbs with His Love, through His Spirit and through His flesh-and-blood followers who lay their lives down in these small but oh! not so small ways, for me, their friend.

And wouldn’t I accept one kind of throb if it means now I can know another, stronger, better One?

This is real Love.  Love incarnate.  Love made flesh.  Love washes the disappointment away and replaces it with hope for this day, whatever else it may hold.  Hallelujah.

 

 

 

 

 

that even if her vocabulary is enormous, she is still a little girl.

That even though she counts the minutes to get outside and play with her friends, she still needs lots of time with her mommy.

That even though she sometimes talks with almost teenage sophistication, she still needs to hear many nurturing words of kindness, every day.

That even though she has strong opinions about what she likes and does not like, she still needs strong input, guidance and support.

That even though she is a wonderful big sister, eager to read and teach her little sister, she still needs to be taught and guided.

And when I see these things, give me grace to take a moment and pour into her little life.

….To put aside my dishes, my Facebook (ouch), and take a few minutes to instruct, guide, love, nurture…. To invite her into what I am doing, “Will you come help me chop this broccoli, make this bed, solve this problem?” …To number these important days with her.

These are the thoughts that flooded through my mind as I saw her little feet dangling…. so often I am sitting across from her, where all I can see are signs of her maturity: the pretty eyes, the words spoken in a manner that make me forget she is only 7. Or I am flying by, putting plates out, dashing back to make sure something does not burn or to fill up water glasses.

But on this day, I notice her little feet. Dangling well above the floor. And I am reminded of her littleness. Her vulnerability. Her needs.

And I pray, “Help me, Lord. To mother her well. To be faithful. To cherish. To remember You are the only perfect Parent, and you will give me strength and grace and second chances.

 

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