This is a very special day. Four years ago today we lost our first grandson just hours before birth.
It seems like a sad way to start a post, especially since the theme this month is “Hope”, but it actually isn’t sad. Let me tell you why.
Minutes after we received the phone call that they had lost Isaac’s heartbeat and were getting ready to do an ultrasound, I numbly walked to my car. I asked God what to pray for. Should I pray for a miracle? Should I pray that our grandson was really alive and that this was just some scary misunderstanding? In a very quiet whisper I heard, “no”. It was at that moment that I could feel God’s grace wash over me and a knowing in my heart that He was not only present, but would provide everything we needed to walk this journey. The short drive to the hospital was the hardest I’ve ever made.
As I arrived and walked into the room where our daughter and her husband were awaiting the ultrasound confirmation, you could hear a pin drop. The tech came in and we watched as he searched for a heartbeat. It wasn’t there.
On the screen, we could see Isaac’s perfect little body, created in the image of God…still, lifeless, peaceful.
There were a few friends there in the room with us and a few minutes later one of their phones started playing a song. I tried to turn it off, but couldn’t, so I left the room with it. I still couldn’t get it to stop playing when I realized that maybe I was SUPPOSED to listen to it. So I sat down in a nearby chair and listened while tears streamed down my face:
All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of his mercy
As deep cries out to deep (we sing)
Come Lord Jesus come
As I began to worship, I invited Jesus to come onto that hospital floor. Over the hours that followed, His presence was so tangible and his grace so evident, we would be fools to deny it. Our daughter delivered their sweet little boy just 12 hours after induction. I watched her and Jacob draw strength from Jesus as they walked out the seemingly impossible with hope that didn’t make worldly sense.
We spent what felt like far too short of a time holding, kissing and loving on Isaac.
In the days, weeks and months that followed we experienced waves of deep and gut wrenching grief…and yet there was hope…REAL hope. We lived out I Thessalonians 4:13 that describes how, as Christians, we grieve, but NOT as those who have no hope. To grieve WITH hope is entirely different than grieving with NO hope.
And THIS is why we can have confidence…because He IS our confidence. There is no place we can go where His love does not go deeper still. Our feelings may tell us differently, but feelings aren’t always fact and, as believers, we can yield those feelings to the truth…that He is not only our reason to hope, but He IS our hope.
Where does forgiveness happen?
We were riding in the car as tears were streaming down my face. Our marriage was in sticky spot. We’ve been in sticky spots before, but it seems like the challenge to work through it doesn’t necessarily get easier.
We had both been busy and were starting to feel like two ships passing in the night. Our conversations seemed to consist only of what needed to get done, how tired we were and wondering when we might get relief from some of our burdens. There was really no romance and each other’s presence seemed to only represent more stress added to our days.
We had planned an overnight get away hoping to reconnect, but sometimes when we are in those sticky spots, reconnecting feels so far out of reach that you feel pretty sure it will be impossible. There was just too much “stuff” to wade through.
A few days before we left, I began to pray that God would go ahead and prepare the way for us…that the trip would truly be refreshing and somehow, by some miracle, my husband and I could actually reconnect in a very real and powerful way.
I prayed over my own heart because I KNEW I had a critical spirit toward my husband. It was wrong, but I didn’t know how to change my attitude toward him. My only hope was for God to step in and work.
Over our 28 years of marriage, we have had many, many uncomfortable discussions. The worst ones were the ones I didn’t pray over first and then unloaded a ton of emotional baggage on my husband. Eventually, we came to a resolve, but the process was sometimes unnecessarily hurtful. I’ve learned it’s better to bathe those conversations in prayer and work through some of my emotions with God first.
So as we rode in the car, I chose my words carefully and used as few words as possible. I wan’t afraid of long pauses in the conversation and I didn’t feel the need to make sure my point was heard. You know what? God did exactly what I asked Him to do. My husband verbalized the very things I would have brought up and his plan to deal with them. The tears flowed as I absorbed my husband’s loving words toward me AND the fact that God had worked on my behalf and I didn’t need to fret over it…not for one minute.
As I had prayed over this sticky spot, God had cultivated in me a heart of forgiveness toward my husband BEFORE our conversation even began. Because I had waited on the Lord and was unhurried in my journey toward resolve, there was time and space for the Holy Spirit to do the work he needed to do in my husband. The walls between us toppled and we spent that time away truly enjoying each other.
Marriage is probably the relationship that most requires a spirit of forgiveness. The Enemy wants to destroy godly marriages and we must be courageous enough to stand firm, wrestling with our own desire to do things our way.
I haven’t always done the right thing in our marriage, but forgiveness made a way. That kind of forgiveness only comes from the One it originates with. Jesus was our greatest example. Because of Him we have the power to truly forgive…and where forgiveness happens, healing begins.
Our family moved across the country 2 months ago and let me tell you, if that doesn’t bring you to your knees, nothing will! It wasn’t just the move, it’s the ongoing adjustments, not only for myself, but for our 5 kids who moved with us.
Honestly, in my over 40 years of being a Christian, prayer has probably been my biggest struggle. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it may be that prayer cannot be entirely contained or explained. In other words, I can’t go through a checklist to be sure that I’ve covered all the bases. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’m a checklist kind of gal, but prayer rarely seems to work that way because it’s not supposed. Anytime we become too rules oriented, it inevitably costs relationship and that is the very thing that God wants to have with us…through prayer.
A few months ago, I listened to yet another sermon on prayer and suddenly the pieces began to come together. The pastor was encouraging us to pray the scriptures. This was not a new concept to me, but the reasoning behind it was. He said that when we pray the scriptures we are literally praying the very words of God and so we are literally praying in AGREEMENT with God. Because the scriptures are God breathed, they have life in them and when we pray them, we are praying WITH Him and He with us.
It was simple, yet profound.
There are other ways to pray, of course, but this one really stuck with me because I have this need to KNOW that I’m not praying something that God doesn’t want. Praying the scriptures really focuses on the heart of whatever issue I am praying for. It helps me filter and refocus on what God is focused on.
In reality, it changes MY heart.
I believe wholeheartedly that God is sovereign, but I also believe that we play a valuable role in His unfolding plan. One of the most effective ways is through prayer. He truly is OUR advocate. The word advocate means fighter, supporter, crusader, upholder and champion. Take a minute to soak in that truth! He’s on YOUR side, He wants what is best for you, your husband and your children and you have the opportunity to make a difference through prayer…praying WITH the very One who is your advocate.
For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. I Timothy2:5
I’m spending more time than ever praying over the hearts of my children. Most of them are teens and in their 20’s. They are making good choices, but life is messy and they struggle just like me. I know that the Enemy would love to derail them and render them ineffective to the work which God has called them. I believe one of the most important things I will ever do as a wife and mom is to intercede for my husband and children and I can trust that my advocate and theirs will be faithful to finish the work that He has started.
Motherhood will bring you to your knees and often face down before the Lord. In my 26 years of parenting, I have found myself at the end of my own resources countless times. It’s here I’ve learned the most about God’s provision.
Some of us begin motherhood with great expectations and some of us with fear and trepidation. There’s something about being totally responsible for another human being that can shake us to our very core.
We want only the best for our kids and we will give up more than we ever thought we could to make sure that happens. But here’s the thing: in and of ourselves, we have severely limited resources. Ask any mom who’s sleep deprived, dealing with a stubborn toddler, caring for a special needs child, navigating the teen years, homeschooling or the numerous other challenges of parenting…she will likely say what I’ve said many, many times…”I’ve got nothin’!”
It’s easy to feel discouraged
The problem with being in this particular space is that it’s easy to feel discouraged, despondent, depressed and even despairing. From there it’s a very short trip to a notorious and well known place I like to call “Mommy Martyrdom”.
Now before I go any further, let me be completely transparent: my family will tell you that I have worn this badge of “Mommy Martyrdom” more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve drug my family through little (and big) mommy fits of being the victim and it was NOT pretty. It was also not helpful. It was also NOT true.
Now really, what mom hasn’t used guilt to try and move her children to action? What wife hasn’t so desperately wanted to get her husband’s attention and tender loving care when she’s tired, worn out and frazzled that she resorts to an attitude of martyrdom? After all, wives and moms seem to be the standard for self sacrifice and dedication, often to their own detriment.
But here’s the thing: God never intended for us to make some of those sacrifices. Yes, you heard me right. Sometimes we are simply not good stewards of our energy and resources and we forget to ask God what HE really wants. Yes, there ARE times God calls us to copious amounts of sacrifice and laying down our own desires and agenda for someone else, but we can’t for one minute believe that He wants us to do that without His grace and certainly not to the point of being or feeling we are the victim.
He wants to redeem
You see, when Jesus died on the cross and rose again, it was about so much more than going to heaven one day (although that would be enough in itself!). Jesus wants to redeem the here and now. He wants to take what Satan means for evil and use it for good. He wants to take our seemingly impossible life circumstances and redeem them! It starts with changing the way we see. Do we believe that He loves us and want to bring redemption into every area of our lives? Do we believe that His love for us is so deep and wide and strong that nothing can touch us without His permission…and if He allows something in our lives, that He wants to work powerfully through it? If something doesn’t seem right to us, do we go after it with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit asking for wisdom and redemption?
Choose your own mentality
The older I get the more I discover how truly amazing, loving kind, ever present and caring our God really is. I sometimes wonder if He ever gets tired of us complaining about our circumstances because we’ve already forgotten about the times that He has so clearly intervened on our behalf. In fact, over the last several months I have found myself doggedly determined to ditch any victim mentality that might try take over my thought life.
The Bible is absolutely spot on when it tells us that battleground really is in the mind.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Satan knows that if we are convinced that we are helpless, that’s all we will ever be. When we feel helpless we feel paralyzed and when we feel paralyzed, we become apathetic. The enemy’s number one weapon is apathy. What battle has EVER been won with apathetic soldiers? Satan knows that if we are convinced that we are helpless, that’s all we will ever be. He’s a liar and the father of lies. WE ARE NOT VICTIMS. We are DAUGHTERS of the Most High King. We are redeemed, renamed, restored. The work is already complete, we just need to WALK IN IT. Oh, our feelings may tell us otherwise, but let’s NOT make decisions based on our feelings. Instead, let’s make them based on what we KNOW to be true. Let it be our KNOWING, not our feeling, that gives us direction.
Receive His provision. Hold your head high, mom, KNOW who God is, who YOU are in Him and don’t let anything or anyone keep you from walking in all that God has for you!
There are some wonderful benefits to having grown up in the church. I have been familiar with almost every Bible story my entire life. I have felt part of a big family (the Church) since I was small and I understand terminology in sermons pretty readily. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to glide right over important terms because they are so familiar.
I’ve had an awakening lately in my walk with God. It’s been life changing and I know it will continue to transform my walk with Him and how I experience Him in my daily life.
I’ve always known that it was important to be humble before Him and before man. At the root of this humility was something like, “He is God. I am not. His ways are not my ways, neither are His thoughts my thoughts. He is big and powerful and I better tow a straight line because He doesn’t take kindly to any hint of pride.” There is much truth in these words, but there is something missing and it’s really the most important thing: LOVE. So I sometimes walked my walk, methodically, carefully, often a bit like a person afraid they might miss something and God might have to remind me in unpleasant ways that I need to be more careful.
Oh how wrong this thinking is! THAT perspective is more about punishment…not perfect love. God is holy and perfect and can only do and act perfectly. But this is exactly where our enemy wants us: fearful, afraid to step out in faith because, well, maybe we don’t REALLY understand what faith IS and maybe God isn’t really as loving as we’d hoped? Sometimes we are so busy trying to make sure that we are checking off the “list”: devotions, go to church, Bible study, etc that we forget.
We forget that God loves us SO very much that He was willing to send His very own Son to die for us…and Jesus was willing to leave the comforts of heaven to become human flesh, to walk out perfectly what we could not. The cross doesn’t expose our sin, it removes our sin and reveals how VALUABLE we are to God.
Do you think of yourself as valuable? When I see myself the way God sees me…now THAT is humbling. He sees me as though I’ve done nothing wrong…ever. The work of the cross is perfect and complete and now WE get to relish in the great love God has toward us and know that He bends down to listen every time we speak to Him. He loves to BE with us. He delights in us. He wants us to embrace His perfect love for us.
When we grasp the ramifications of this, it changes everything. All of a sudden I don’t need other things to make me feel valuable: I don’t need other people’s approval or to accomplish certain things, to be a certain way or to own certain material possessions. Instead I can relax and ENJOY God and all that He has for me: blessings, abundance, goodness. Most importantly of all, I have the opportunity to reflect Him as He reveals Himself to me. I take the love He has shown me and give that generously to others. I get to be free from slavery to sin, free from being controlled by how I feel, free from letting my circumstances define me because God has ALREADY defined me.
His Word is FULL of scriptures that tell us who we are in Him. I encourage you to write them down and pray them regularly…declare them out loud! Let that knowing in your heart become the place from where you live. It will change everything.
Here are some scriptures to start with!
My husband often says I’m a pessimist. I think I’m a realist. I do know that I tend to worry. I don’t try to worry. In fact, I often feel like a failure because I worry, but what woman/wife/mom doesn’t?
We can’t seem to help the fact that we see potential risks, dangers, and pitfalls, but we do know that it does tend to make us feel like the wet blanket…like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride: “Bummer man…he delivers”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that we see so many facets to each scenario and I can’t help but wonder if this might in fact, be a gift wrapped up in an ugly, deceptive package. What exactly do we see that we are concerned about as scenarios present themselves to us?
We see so many ways that circumstances could go sideways that might put us in place we don’t want to be. We see obstacles that may possibly appear out of nowhere. Sometimes we are really just “borrowing trouble” and fretting about things that most likely will never happen. Other times our concerns are legitimate, but one thing I know for sure: God tells us NOT to worry.
Why would He give us SO many thoughts and feelings about things and then tell us not to worry? It almost feels like a cruel game sometimes. But that is NOT God. That, my friend, is the enemy of our souls doing his level best to keep us from something so powerful, it can move mountains, transform lives and shut down the devil’s work in a heartbeat. It can move heaven and earth and cause more problems for Satan than he wants to deal with and give more glory to God than just about anything! What IS this thing?
IT’S THE POWER OF PRAYER!!
I want you to stop for a minute and think about whatever situation is most burdening you at the moment. Now think through what it is that is concerning to you…specifically…call it out, say it out loud to God and tell Him how it makes you feel. Don’t mince words and don’t be afraid to say it even if it sounds wrong. He’s a big God. He can handle it. He already knows what is in our hearts, so we may as well speak it out. As you do this, ask God to give you His eyes. Ask Him to bring to mind verses that relate to it and ask Him to lead you to more verses so that you can start praying the scripture over every detail. Remind yourself of the ways God has been faithful to you in the past to help boost your faith for the challenges you face now.
Do you see what just happened? You were transformed from a worrier to a warrior!
That’s it! This is what we are supposed to do with all these God given intuitions and concerns. We can’t let them become the bait that traps us into depression, helplessness, and defeat. Our God has GOOD plans for us. He has VICTORY for us, but until we step out into the battlefield and confront our enemies, the war will never be won!
Jesus was the perfect Lamb led to the slaughter on our behalf, NOT so we could continue in defeat and failure, but so that we could come directly into the throne room and find grace and mercy to help us in our time of need! We need Him every minute of every hour and He waits with joy in His heart and a readiness to help us overcome whatever we face. NOTHING is too difficult for our God.
“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.”I Peter 1:18-20
I don’t know you, but I’m guessing since you’re a mom like me, that you have found yourself out of strength, weak, at the end of you? After 26 years of parenting (8 kids), I can tell you that I have found myself in that spot countless times…sometimes daily. It’s enough to bring any woman to her knees, which is right where God wants us.
You see, the world tells us we should be strong, self-sufficient, self-made, self-reliant (are you sensing a theme here?), but God has something very different in mind for us.
Let’s start at the very beginning ( a very good place to start), when God created us, He created us with a deep NEED…a need to worship, a need for HIM and so we WILL worship something, someone, every moment of our lives. If our worship is directed anywhere, but toward Him, we will feel restless. St Augustine said that God has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in HIM. This restlessness is exhausting. It can drain us and make us ever so tired.
Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha? Jesus was coming to visit and Martha was both preoccupied with the practical aspects of having company and peeved at Mary because she wasn’t helping. I’m pretty sure that would have been me…so caught up in the practicalities of life, I missed the most important thing…what Mary didn’t miss, and that was being mindful of where her worship was directed. I’ve had lots of chances to practice and I still so often mess it up.
But God knows that we are dust, moms. He understands and He has grace. He has strength for us and it’s in the power of the cross. Exhaustion is a great warning flag that gets our attention. It tells us that we have a need and it reminds us to pause and ask Him for wisdom and then repent of anything that isn’t right in our hearts. But it doesn’t stop there! His redemptive work happens right in this very spot as we yield ourselves to Him.
Sometimes it’s HARD, like grinding gears, but oh how God blesses our efforts because THIS is where we live out the gospel message for REALS!
Praise the Lord!
For he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving
The Lord gives his people strength.
He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
Save your people!
Bless Israel,your special possession(that’s us!)
Lead them like a shepherd,
and carry them in your arms forever.
I love that last part, you know, the one about being carried? I can’t tell you how many times God carries me in my weakness and it’s always such a tangible reminder of how little power I really have, but how very much power our great, sovereign, mighty and GOOD God does have!! His power knows NO end and HIS love for us also knows NO end, so lean HARD into Him, sweet mom and you WILL find strength for the journey
“I knew motherhood was going to be hard sometimes, but no one told me how mundane it would be.” Our married daughter, who is in the midst of raising a toddler and a baby, was sharing her struggles in this season of motherhood. Now mind you, she is the oldest of 8 kids, so she has experienced the baby stage all the way through high school as she watched each of her siblings join our family and grow up over the years. She’s familiar with motherhood.
Somehow when YOU’RE the mom, though, it’s so much different. You feel the full weight of responsibility for everything concerning your children. It can feel like a daunting task…and yes, often very mundane. Sometimes you feel like you may just lose your marbles.
Somewhere in the diapers, potty training, eating, sleeping, and cleaning up, over and over and over again you feel like you have lost yourself. Remember her? She was cute and fun and energetic and full of ideas and now the highlight of her day is to be able to pee alone. She was romantic and flirty with her husband, but now she is more attracted to him than ever when he volunteers to change a poopy diaper, brings home dinner or does the dishes.
I’m not gonna lie. Motherhood is NOT for the faint hearted. But what if I told you that the most mundane things you do actually COUNT for something? What if I told you that every small (and big) act of kindness and service you give to your family is an act of LOVE that matters to God?
“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.”
God loves and values children.
He knew that our children would be a humbling example to US in so many ways. Kids are honest, they are loyal, they are loving and they call things as they see them. Yes, they have a sin nature that we have to frequently address, because that’s what good, godly parents are called to do (Proverbs 13:24), but overall children are unpretentious, full of wonder, trusting and, for lack of a better term, organic in so many ways. They represent the opposite of what the world calls GREAT…they are helpless and vulnerable and yet Jesus calls this good and encourages us to come to Him LIKE a child and to embrace and love these children right here, right now as though they were him.
Luke 9:46-48 says:
“Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. Then he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest’.”
Did you catch that? “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me.” Another translation reads, “If you do this unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” Every act of motherhood can be a sweet sacrifice to God as though Jesus were in the room and we were serving Him personally! Changing diapers, giving hugs, kissing owies, fixing meals, doing laundry, dishes…all of these are ways to LOVE HIM!
Many of the greatest acts of love are the ones that no one sees…and we all know that motherhood is FULL of those! Those secret, ordinary love sacrifices we make are a sweet aroma to God and are holy in His sight. It’s a special something we share just between God and us.
We can love because He first loved us.
Be encouraged. We can love because NOTHING ever separates us from HIS love…not sick babies, stubborn toddlers, difficult teens, mountains of laundry, a boatload of dirty dishes, or a never ending to-do list:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to dwell on the truth that every loving act of motherhood, no matter how ordinary, is, indeed, a sweet act of service to the Lord. Be blessed!
Have you ever felt helpless? As moms, this is a feeling that can quickly lead to panic. We want to fix everything we can as we love and care for our families, but sometimes we simply have no control. Grace is God’s gift for moments like this.
Embrace the Grace
In Psalm 34:1-3, David says:
I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.
David is acknowledging that we WILL feel helpless at times, but he doesn’t leave us there. He goes on to encourage us to praise God by speaking out His greatness and worshiping Him. As we do that, our focus shifts from what we cannot control to the One who lovingly holds ALL things in His power.
Never was this so clear to me as 3 years ago:
The hospital room was thick with grief and silence. There was a heavy feeling of helplessness as I felt stuck in a state of shock. The doctors had just confirmed that our first grand baby had passed away unexpectedly in the early stages of our daughter’s labor.
All of a sudden someone’s cell phone started playing a song. It wasn’t my phone, so I didn’t know how to turn it off. In the confusion and an effort to keep the room quiet, I took the phone out and far down the hallway. I still couldn’t get it to stop playing. As I began to get frustrated, something inside told me to stop and just listen to the words:
All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Just come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As the deep cries out to deep, we sing…
Come, Lord Jesus come
Come, Lord Jesus come
Come, Lord Jesus come
Come, Lord Jesus come
The tears flowed as I realized God was asking me to welcome Him onto the floor of that hospital. As I did, I can’t tell you how fully I felt His presence in that moment. He was offering me all the grace that I needed to walk through what was in front of me, but I had to recognize and embrace it.
You may not be facing a life and death situation, but it’s in the seemingly smaller circumstances that we create a lifestyle of recognizing and receiving His grace…and it begins with praise. I encourage you to read through all of Psalm 34 with your own struggles in mind and then fully embrace the grace that God is offering YOU.