raising kids with God

When I Live My Faith

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10

Jesus came searching for me!
Jesus came to save me!
It was part of His plan when He chose redemption for the world.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Love was written all over our Savior’s heart.
His compassion is unmatched.
Jesus did the ultimate in pouring out; He gave it all.

When I Live My Faith

This is the kind of love, compassion and sacrifice that I want to make sure my children place their faith in. This requires me to talk about my faith in God, believing who Jesus says He is, and how the Holy Spirit is our Helper and Counselor.

Our children are very receptive, and I’ve found that they develop an appetite for Jesus when we present the truth to them. When I live my faith for my children to see, they develop a yearning to know the Lord. They see our faith in action; how well we trust God. Once they develop a relationship with Jesus, they have just as much right to Him as we do as their parents. THAT is a great relief.  All of the burden isn’t on us to be their El Shaddai.

The Holy Spirit Will Guide Them

Now, our children still need earthly parenting. We must never be hands-off with that. But just think of the dynamic partnership that we’ll have with them and God.

When solving an issue with a child, I’m learning to incorporate this phrase, “What does God’s Word have to say about this?”
It’s God that brings the solutions. They see it for themselves, and it bolsters their faith.

Whenever we’ve needed to believe God for a prayer to be answered, it’s God’s word again to the rescue. We find a Scripture promise that supports what we’ve prayed for (this is praying God’s will). When the answer comes, the children get to rejoice because they experience it first hand. It bolsters their faith. This also aids in long-term remembrance of how God answered them.

living faith

I’ve even seen this carry over into a married adult child’s life. She recalled the times that God answered our prayers of faith when she was younger which gave her a foundation for how she needed to presently pray for herself.

Mom, we won’t always bat 1,000, but we’ll hit some when we swing. I learned that I couldn’t leave their faith up to chance. It made me more aware of my own faith in Jesus, and what I truly believed about Him. When I live my faith I gain experiential knowledge that carries our family closer to God.

We can start today by asking God to bolster (support, strengthen, prop up) our own faith so that we can continue to lead our children in faith.

Parenting by Faith, Not Fear

“I’m a little worried that Johnny hasn’t accepted Christ yet.” My friend crossed her legs and switched the baby to the other side. “I accepted Jesus when I was four, I think, and I know I shouldn’t worry, but I do.”

I nodded, fully understanding that concern. I came to Christ later in life. I know that the Holy Spirit, not me, will lead my children to the Lord. I know that God loves my children, has a plan for them, and desires that they become part of His everlasting family.

I trust God with my children. I really do. And yet sometimes, well, maybe I don’t.

parenting by faith

“Yes,” I say, “It’s hard not to wonder if I’m doing enough, or if I’m doing it right! I wonder sometimes if I’m talking to them about Jesus enough, or if maybe my own issues are getting in the way.”

It’s then that I have this thought: If I really trust God with my children, why do I always mentally wring my hands over whether they are/will be saved? Whether I’ve done enough? Yes, I love them and want what’s best for them. But so does God- even more so – and in HIM is the power of salvation!

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” – Psalm 37:3

Salvation is of the Lord

We know it’s true: Salvation is of the Lord. Only the Holy Spirit can change the hearts of our children. Not us. He calls us to diligently teach and train them in the ways of the Lord and to trust the results with Him.

Do we? Do you?

Fear-based parenting has no place in the life of a Christian. If we want our children’s faith to flourish, we should tend to our own, and regularly fall to our knees to pray for our kids.

Fear is NOT of the Lord

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

When God blessed us with our children and asked us to raise them for Him, fearful parenting was not on the work order.

  • Fearful parenting wrings its hands, fretting and worrying.
  • It is paralyzed by the “what-if’s” of life.
  • It is unsettled and even panicked by the idea that it cannot control choices and outcomes.
  • It makes fear-based decisions, betraying the fact that it doesn’t really trust God.
  • It reels hard with every sin and sorrow life throws its way.
  • It teeters on the edge of a works-based faith.
  • It is no faith at all.

Don’t ask me how I know fear-based parenting so well.

Author and Perfector of Our Faith

God does not want us to parent out of fear. Instead, He calls us to faith-filled parenting, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to look to Jesus, whom Hebrews 12 calls “the author and perfector of our faith,” to finish the work He has begun in our children.

  • Faith-filled parenting finds peace in the sovereignty of God.
  • It acknowledges the hard realities of life AND the power of God.
  • It rests in the fact that only the Holy Spirit can change hearts, watching for it with hope.
  • It is empowered and equipped by Christ to diligently teach and train, surrendering the outcome to God.
  • It lives on its knees, praying for the children’s salvation and faith.
  • It lives out a walk of true faith in Christ.

faith to flourish
Be diligent in your calling as a parent! Teach them to know and love the Lord. Run the race well. THEN rest in the knowledge that the results of your work are in God’s capable hands. Trust Him with their faith.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17

Teach it and preach it, friends, in word and in deed!

Lord, help us to parent Your children in faith, not fear. Grant us a great peace and confidence that You are working in their lives and that Your plans for them are good. Please equip and strengthen us for the work you have called us to, helping us always point our children to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

Amen.

Nothing Wasted

With soccer season in full swing, Ben stayed in denial. The pain would surely go away if he just walked it off or maybe if he iced it or maybe if he stretched it some more. He didn’t even mention it to me or his dad for several weeks as it grew worse and worse. His play on the field led his team to an almost perfect record. He never left the field, often playing the whole game and usually scoring at least one goal and assisting on others. So, after the most recent victory when he should have been all smiles and energy, tears gently joined the sweat on his jersey.

have faith - nothing wasted

“What is it Ben?”

“It just hurts so bad. I thought it would get better. I thought I could work through it, but it hurt to even walk.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“A couple of weeks,” he replied.

“I think we need to check into it then,” I said as we slowly walked to the car. He was limping now with each step. Everyone who passed asked if he was okay. The coach expressed his concern about his star player. I said I’d keep him in the loop.

A painful silence rode home with us. Ben cried and I prayed. I didn’t know what was wrong with Ben’s heel, but I prayed for the doctor we would see and the diagnosis we would receive. And I prayed for Ben, for his heart and attitude. And I prayed for healing.

Soccer games are usually on Saturday for us, so Ben didn’t do much that weekend. Finally I secured an appointment for Monday afternoon. The doctor embodied experience and wisdom. The date on his diploma reflected maturity. Ben liked him immediately. Gentleness and kindness exuded as he spoke with Ben about his injury and his pain. He listened to Ben tell about how the pain had increased and how he had though it would go away.

After some x-rays the doctor returned. He said that Ben had calcaneal apophysitis or Sever’s Disease. It is actually quite common in young athletes because of the repetitive stress and sometimes trauma they put on their feet. So, Ben’s pain had a name. But then the doctor told Ben what it would take for him to heal: 10-14 days of no activity. No running. No jumping. No track. No soccer. Ben’s interpretation: no fun.

The doctor spoke firmly, telling Ben that he had to rest to heal his heel. He said that Ben needed to take care of his body and that failing to do so could result not only in more pain, but more severe damage to his foot. Ben was fit for custom heel supports to put inside his shoes. These he would wear in all of his shoes until he outgrew them. The doctor’s words began to discourage Ben. Frustration and even anger began to grow in his heart.

Again a painful silence hovered in the car as we drove home. Tears fell on Ben’s t-shirt as he stared out of the window. And again I prayed. Finally Ben said, “Why did this have to happen? This means that I can’t play the game on Saturday.”

I had already thought through all of the implications of his injury. These next 10-14 days had the potential to be long and hard. I didn’t rush to answer his question, but let it hang in the air. As it did so, a list of my own hurts and pains rushed through my head. Loneliness and betrayal, misunderstandings and lies—none of it physical, but all of it painful. My own wounds had sidelined me too. Why did that have to happen?

We both wrestled with the same question as we drew nearer and nearer home.

He is faithful

God is always in the process of doing two things: glorifying Himself and growing us. This I know to be true. My issues, my pains I have wrestled through many times. I have called out to Him begging for the pain to stop, pleading with Him to heal and restore. And although I know He is able, eliminating the hurt isn’t always what’s best. He often uses the hurts and pains and losses to draw me nearer to Himself, to teach me, to grow me, to prove Himself faithful.

Now, with both of our faces wet with tears, I began, “Well Ben, this I know. God doesn’t waste anything. I’m so sorry about this. The doctor said that there is probably nothing we could have done to prevent it. So here we are with at least 10 days stretched out before us. I know that it’s hard and frustrating to consider all that you can’t do, but what if instead you focus on all that God might do? I don’t mean that it will be easy, but I’m betting God wants to show you something amazing.

My words were met with more tears and, “Oh, mom!” My heart was breaking for him. Ben just wanted to run and jump. He just wanted to go to practice and play his game on Saturday. Ben didn’t want to be still for 10-14 days. At 12, he knew God and His love, but this was a level of intimacy with which he was unfamiliar. He moped into the house and I followed, praying.

With each day, Ben grew grumpier and grumpier. The tension in the house built to a crescendo one morning at breakfast. Frustration erupted onto an innocent sibling. I had seen it coming and I understood it too well. I had done that too. I took him aside into another room. Tears again. Not angry, not furious. Broken. His tears were familiar to me too. Those same tears had run down my cheeks many times. Tears of hard fought surrender. He yielded and we hugged. He saw clearly what his unchecked anger had done to his brother and he sincerely apologized.

“So Ben, how can I help you? There are still at least seven more days. What can I do to help you trust God with this?”

“I don’t know. It’s really hard.”

“Yes it is. It’s hard to watch. That’s why it’s so important to remember what we know, that God loves you and that He doesn’t waste anything.” And even as I spoke these words to him they washed over the tender places in my heart, bringing comfort and peace.

As the days wore on, Ben’s attitude improved. He relaxed and even accepted his restrictions. We went to his soccer game to cheer on his team. His presence surprised them and they won their game. Now we marched toward the follow up appointment peacefully. The doctor commended Ben with his progress. Although he would be required to continue wearing the heel supports consistently, the doctor released Ben to resume his regular physical activities. He could run and jump again. And he could join his team to play their next game.

On our ride home Ben’s anticipation filled the car. He could hardly wait for practice and the game. We agreed he had never looked forward to running and jumping like this before. In fact, he realized that there were activities he’d taken for granted. Not any more. The week finished with yet another soccer game victory and smiles all around.

That Saturday night as I prepared for bed, Ben knocked on my door and asked to come in. “Of course,” I said.

“Mom,” he began, “I wanted to tell you what God showed me through this whole thing.” I paused folding towels. In my own relief of his healing, I’d forgotten to ask what God had shown him, what he’d learned.

have faith is his work

I turned around and looked at his bright blue eyes as he said, “Mom, God taught me that I can trust Him. He really does care for me.” Joyful, thankful tears now wet his hair as we hugged in celebration of His goodness. Ben felt so personally touched. We had grown in faith together and God was glorified.

What hurts or wounds or pains is God allowing because of His love for you? In what areas are you holding on to the hurt instead of leaning into His faithfulness and love? Surrender to His faithfulness. Worship His Goodness. Trust His will. Have faith. He knows. He cares. And He loves you.

Rejoice in the Lord Always

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

I can hardly believe that my boys have grown up. They’re 16, 20, 22, and almost 25, and only two of them still live with me. I treasure every moment with them, realizing that the opportunity is so very fleeting. I take great joy in spending time with them, learning what’s going on in their lives, hearing what’s on their hearts.

joy in the Lord

But it wasn’t always that way. I always wanted to be a mom, so I was delighted to be blessed with children and thankful for the privilege of being at home with them. Yet in the early years of motherhood, I was so overwhelmed by the exhaustion, the loneliness, and—yes, I’m going to say it—the drudgery of many daily tasks from diapers to dishes to dirty laundry that I seldom acted like a “joyous mother of children” (Psalm 113:9). I regret the time I wasted in weary work rather than cheerful service, focusing on the burdens instead of the blessings.

I know I’m not the only mom who has experienced this. And it’s not limited to the early years, either. One tired mom told me she had always enjoyed her children on a daily basis and had felt blessed and joyful with them, but lately her joy was being sapped by an overwhelming sense of not getting done what needed to be done.

Have you ever felt that way? Blessed in theory but burdened in practice? It’s so easy to focus on the urgent to-do list and lose sight of our highest priorities. Maybe you’re struggling with this very situation right now. If so, I urge you not to load on another burden of guilt but to change your perspective and focus on the tremendous blessings God has given you.

Focusing on the blessings instead of the burdens doesn’t change your circumstances; it changes you. And when your attitude changes, your experience changes.

Those diapers? A reminder of the children God has given you. You’re probably tired of hearing this (I was!), but they’re little for such a short time. Don’t wish away those labor-intensive baby and toddler years. Relish those coos and cuddles and depend on God for the strength to carry on during hard days. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Those dishes and that dirty laundry? A reminder that God provides your food and clothing, just as he feeds the birds and clothes the lilies (Matthew 6:25-34). Rejoice in His provision.

joy in the lord

Take joy in your children, yet remember that our ultimate joy is that we are God’s children. As David reminds us, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Whether your children are young or old, whether your days are easy or hard, whether you’re overwhelmed or productive, whether you’re feeling happy or sad—whatever your circumstances, whatever your mood, rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. ~ Philippians 4:4

 

 

What real love looks like

It had been a very hard day. Actually there had been many hard days recently. I was worn out and exhausted but my son needed to talk to me. There has been many sleepless nights in our little home over the past year and a half as we tried to heal and move forward from life with an unsafe person.

My sweet boy had looked evil in the face and he was struggling to understand why God would let this happen if He really loved us. And as the months have gone by with (what seems to him) no answers to our prayers he has been asking some really big questions.

Real Love

When someone tells you that they love you but they keep hurting you it’s confusing. Doesn’t matter if you are in your 30s or barely into your teens.  Our painful experience had done more than damage our hearts … it has made us question God’s love for us.

My heart broke for my son that night because he was echoing the cries of my broken heart as well. I had spent many nights asking God why He allowed so much suffering in our lives.  I pulled my boy close and I opened my Bible and began to read.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 ESV

 

We began to talk about the person that had promised to love us but then hurt us.  We asked if he had been patient or kind and worked our way through the rest of the verse.  It was something that we had done many times before. While this person had promised to love, honor, protect and provide those words ended being empty promises. When held up to the light of the scripture the truth was clear.

 

I turned the pages to a different verse:

 

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 ESV
God wants more for you
My sweet boy looked up at me and sighed. “So God does love us Mama? And {that other person} did not?”  The truth of God’s real love was beginning to take root in his heart. And through a few tears we share all the ways that God was all the things that we read in 1 Corinthians.

 

Sweet friend, I don’t know what you are facing today. But I want to encourage you to remember what real love looks like. Teach it to your children. And when something less than comes around, hold on to the truth that God wants more for you!

 

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 slow down…breathe…remember God wants more for you!
Be blessed! 

My Junk Drawer

my junk drawer

A dried up glue stick
One chopstick
A used band aid
Half of an eraser
15 pennies
An empty chocolate wrapper
An unused tea bag
An unsharpened pencil
One envelope
A small spring
Post-its
A comb
Lots of crumbs
Several pieces of chalk
A package of ketchup
A plastic fork
A ball of twine
An empty Chapstick
Two small tubes of lotion, both empty

 

The official Carman Family junk drawer is in the kitchen. It is supposed to have handy writing utensils, a post-it pad, some scissors-yeah, right-some tape, maybe a Sharpie, you get it, miscellaneous stuff. But those things are not usually in there.

It’s supposed to be a place we can go to quickly to grab some essential tool to complete a task. It’s not supposed to be hard to open. It is. It’s not supposed to be filled with trash. It is. It’s not supposed to constantly be disorganized. But it is.

It’s supposed to be neat, clean and handy.

Instead in our junk drawer contains things that should be in the trash. Why do we even bother to open the drawer and put these things in? The trash can is right beside it. Why do we stuff the drawer full? Why do we avoid cleaning it out? Why do we put it off till we can’t close it out anymore?? Why do we hope someone else will do it and we won’t have to?

Our family junk drawer is like my heart, my mind. It’s supposed to be a place where useful and helpful truths are stored. It’s supposed to be neat and clean. It’s supposed to be full of God’s love and His praise. It’s supposed to be easily opened not jammed shut. But it isn’t.

Often my heart and my mind are full of trash, things that are polluting my thoughts and attitudes and actions. I have stuff there, I put stuff there that contaminates me. Instead of being pure in word and deed, my thoughts and my heart become trashed.

This happens when I don’t practice discernment about what I put in. When I just allow whatever to enter into my mind–whatever music, whatever television show, whatever movie, whatever book, whatever whatever. When “whatever” sets my standard, I’ve chosen to passively poison my heart and mind with junk, useless, broken, worthless junk that needs to be in the trash.

Capitol One currently has a successful advertising campaign featuring Samuel L Jackson who simply asks, “What’s in your wallet?” For many, bank accounts, credit limits and other financial assets are what’s most important. But Scripture tells us, it’s a heart issue.

God asks, “What’s in your heart?”

guard heart

Junk Does

Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. My junk hinders me. Junk does that. It gets in the way of our ability to function. It inhibits our focus and often frustrates us too. I can’t find a sharpened pencil in the drawer for all of the broken ones there, can’t find a clean piece of paper for all of the wadded ones, can’t find a piece of tape for all of the empty rolls.

The last time I cleaned out the kitchen junk drawer, I determined to pause before I put anything it. I decided to resist the urge to just stuff something in, to avoid thinking it doesn’t matter, to throw away trash. So far, so much better.

Now, about my heart. Scripture admonishes me to “guard my heart”. To store up for myself “treasures in Heaven”, to “love the Lord with all of my heart”, and in doing these things, there’s not any room left for junk.

The best way to guard my heart is to be intentional about what I allow in it, to actively resist allowing junk in. Storing up treasures in Heaven is best achieved by filling my heart with His truth and serving others. And loving the Lord starts with how we live each day, acknowledging and worshiping Him in all we say and do.

Do you have a junk drawer or closet or garage that you are putting off cleaning out? Why are you avoiding the task? Make an appointment with yourself to get it done. What about your heart? Is it overflowing with the love of God or is it crammed with junk? Make of list of things that need to be cleaned out.

Take some time now to pray and praise Him, this is the first step to cleaning out your heart.

 

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 slow down…breathe…make a plan for actively guarding your heart and keeping the junk out.
Be blessed! 

Praise God for His Steadfast Love!

For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!Psalm 117:2

 

It’s February. Write about love. Great.

I’m perfectly happy to write about loving God, loving your family, loving your neighbor as yourself. But think about love in February, and romantic love is the first thing that springs to mind. And I can think of at least 3,497 topics a single mom would rather write about than romantic love.

Back at the turn of the millennium, I was a typical homeschooling mom, married with four sons under age nine. When my husband left us in early 2001 to live with another woman, I was shocked, angry, and scared. How could this happen to ME?

I was embarrassed to be divorced. I felt as if a scarlet D were fastened firmly to my dress. Mostly I felt rejected. Being unloved quickly shifts into feeling unlovable.

 

God's love never changes

But our lovableness—our worth, our value—does not come from man. It comes from God, who loves us so much that He gave His only Son to save us (John 3:16). THAT is love!

I searched the Bible for the word love, and it shows up 551 times in the English Standard Version. That was no surprise. What really grabbed my attention was the frequent appearance of the word steadfast to describe God’s love. In fact, the phrase steadfast love shows up 194 times!

Other translations describe steadfast love as lovingkindness or unfailing love. The dictionary defines steadfast as “firmly fixed in place; immovable; not subject to change.” How wonderfully reassuring! God’s love for us is firmly fixed, immovable, not subject to change.

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.Isaiah 54:10

In this fallen world, human love often changes or ends. But God’s love never changes and never ends.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!I Chronicles 16:34

When people fail you, remember that God is always faithful. When you feel unloved, rest in God’s steadfast, unfailing love!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22–23

steadfast love

Like the Psalmist, may we praise God for His steadfast love!

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3

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 slow down…breathe…remember. His steadfast love never changes.
Be blessed! 

Slowing Down Long Enough to Love

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13-14

Bible study was in a half hour and I was rushing the kids through getting ready. Coats, hats, Bibles, waters, diaper bag, purse, sanity, check! As often happens with 6 kids and a need to get somewhere, somebody started crying. Tear-filled eyes met my own and my daughter said “Mommy, I’m having big feelings.” 

Sigh.  

slowing down

I was running late getting dinner put together (again), the baby was fussing, and the to-do list in my head was out of control. Then the phone rang. It was a good friend who had had a hard day and was reaching out for the first time in a long time.

Breathe.

The day was over and I. was. done. Choosing to ignore the dishes for the next hour I sat down to rest (sort of) while getting some planning and curriculum research done. My husband walked in the door and sat down, obviously having had a rough day.

Pause.

These are common scenes in my life. I’m betting they are in yours as well. Yes, the day still needs to get done, the to-do list still needs our attention, and the dinner still (always) needs to be made. And sometimes a busy mama needs to rest! But when these little opportunities arise, we have a choice to make.

Will we slow down enough to love? 

 

 

“Love is patient, love is kind…” The Father is fully present and attentive each and every moment. His patience and kindness surrounds us. When we hear that still, small voice to hit the pause button and attend to love on His behalf, will we heed it? When the opportunity to bless our neighbors and have compassion on our loved ones arises, will we take it?

I confess, too often I just barrel through and miss the chance.

Sometimes loving others is just a small, simple sacrifice of time and attention. They may seem insignificant, but when they are intentional and consistent, they are powerful, forming heart strings that cannot be broken and changing us into the gentle, joyful mom we long to be.

attend to love

In Matthew 14, Jesus hears that John the Baptist, who was so dear to Him, had been killed. He withdraws to a “desolate place” to be by himself. Can you imagine the grief? Can you imagine the emotional exhaustion? He goes away to be alone and seek His Father. Yet when the crowds follow Him in desperation, does He send them away? Does He say He’s busy? Does He say “can’t I get 10 minutes alone?!” No. He has compassion on them and cares for their needs.

Maybe you feel like you have a crowd following you all over the place, too! Maybe you just want 10 minutes alone in the bathroom, for crying out loud (that’s what the lock is for, I always say). You have things to do. You are busy. Let me tell you, I completely relate! However, the Lord is teaching me how to slow down long enough to love.

Jesus is our example. When crowds pressed in He slowed down to love the woman who touched His robe. When surrounded by His disciples He slowed down to heal the Canaanite woman’s daughter. When He just wanted a few minutes alone to grieve and pray, He had compassion on the crowds and cared for their needs.

Jesus knows. He has experienced the same trials and temptations we have. We are not alone!  And thanks be to God, He doesn’t shake His finger at us and say “you aren’t loving enough!” Instead, He gives us His love so that with it we may better love others. He empowers us by the Holy Spirit to love others with the love of Christ! 

Dear ladies, let us pause when we hear that small voice telling us to slow down to love. May we seize those moments every day and overflow with the love of Christ!

 

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 slow down…breathe…remember. You are loved.
Be blessed! 

Ordinary Love

“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.

ordinary love

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.

Ordinary Love

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.  

coloring page - love

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! 

The Orange Juice Will Keep

I found myself reflecting, recently, on the immeasurable depths of God’s love. In 2006 I penned these thoughts in my journal. With a tender heart I gained new appreciation for the beautiful love the Father has for us, His wayward children. I hope these thoughts bless you as we begin our month-long look at this precious love. 

It’s happening again.

I had just changed Ben. It had been a doozie. And with it packaged and disposed of, I just wanted to hold my little boy. I just wanted to remember back to when he was just a little wad, less than ten pounds. Back to when we would snuggle and nurse. Back to when sleep was elusive, but the midnight feeding was more precious even than rest. Back to when he lived on my breast or hip, when he totally depended on me, when I was his world.

That is no longer true. No, now he weighs twenty-five pounds and gaining. He loves to run and jump and play. He drinks from a cup, feeds himself and sleeps through the night. And I miss his dependency on me.

So as strange as it might sound, I am not too anxious for him to be out of diapers. I mean I am but I’m not. I am for the obvious reasons, but I’m not because I love talking with him in the process and hug that follows.

Just a couple of days ago, when I had finished changing him, I picked him up and turned out the light in the laundry room. I wanted to hug him, just to snuggle with him for a minute.

orange juice will keep

But he was squirming. “I want some orange juice,” he said.

“Okay,” I replied, “Lets just cuddle for a moment.” And I pulled him close.

But he wasn’t interested. He put both hands on my chest and said, “I want some orange juice!”

“In a minute, let’s just be quiet for a moment.”

Reluctantly, he put his head on my shoulder and then popped it back up. Thoughtfully he told me, “It’s in the ‘frigerator,” as if I did not know.

“I know,” I said as I slowly rocked him back and forth to the Mozart in the background. But he wasn’t falling for it. He was singularly focused on orange juice. He did not want to snuggle, didn’t appreciate my memories of his infancy, and couldn’t imagine the depth of my love for him. He just couldn’t. He didn’t even try.

Do You Get it?

As I stood there hurt by this realization, that my moment with my little boy, inhaling his scent, rubbing his head, enveloping his little body in my arms, was going to be interrupted by something as trivial as physical thirst and a desire for orange juice over a hug with me, I got it. Do you see it?

I am baby Benjamin. I want God to take care of my stinkies, but then I want to run off and play. I want Him to get me some OJ, without the hug. I want to tell Him exactly what I want and where He can find it, and I want Him to get it for me now. I don’t want to wait, not even to pause. I am not particularly interested in waiting even a little bit for Him to fulfill my request.

Snuggle? In the darkness? Couldn’t we do that later, like after He gets me the OJ? And the part about being quiet together…why? Listen to what? The dryer run? The birds sing? The train in the distance? His heart beat?

Yes, His heart beat.

Just Listen

I am convinced that far too often we know what we want, where it is and we know Who can get it for us. And we are more interested in getting it, than getting Him. We even sometimes rudely tell Him what He can do for us, as if He hasn’t already done enough. I mean after all, wasn’t the sacrifice of His Son enough? Forgiveness of sin, debt paid, mercy extended enough? But there’s so much more.

Grace.

The gift of heaven.

Forever with Him.

God's Love

His Love

And here is where we miss it. At least where I miss it. We want to put off those hugs with our heavenly Father until eternity. He wants to start now. But why wait? He wants to hold us in His arms and rock, just the two of us, He wants us to be so quiet that we can hear His heart beat as our head rests on His chest. But we put Him off, content for someday when He wants to get started today.

I had to sit Benjamin down on the island of the kitchen to retrieve his juice from the refrigerator, right where he said it was. And He was grateful- complete with a juicy ‘thank you’. But I had wanted to give Ben more than something, I had wanted to linger with him, just to be with him, unencumbered by any thing.

And so does my heavenly Father. He wants more from our relationship than to merely act as my personal cosmic genie, who grants my every wish or whim. He wants for me to be satisfied with just being with Him, resting in Him, trusting Him completely.

He wants me to be more interested in the love in His eyes than the gift in His hand.

He wants me to listen for and hear the beat of His heart and ultimately for our hearts to beat as one.

Does this all mean that He is uninterested in hearing about what I want or need? No, of course not. Just like I appreciate it when Benjamin, or any of my kids, makes me aware of their desires, God likes to hear from me too. That is the kind of relationship He wants, the kind of relationship where we are in constant communication about everything.

The Catch

But just like I don’t mind knowing or even fulfilling (as appropriate) Benjamin’s desire for some OJ, I would hope that as he grows up and matures, he would come to appreciate our relationship more than stuff. So does my heavenly Father. All too often I am asking Him for things that I should have out grown, the “stuff”, instead of requesting the character qualities first exemplified in His Son, the One to whom I am to be conformed.

Still He Loves

Right now my husband Davis needs a job. We have bills to pay like everyone else. We need health insurance. We need to be putting money away for college. And the good news is that our heavenly Father knows all of that, even before we ask. He knows. In fact He knew all of this would go down and we would be here.

That we would bring our needs to Him is not calling His attention to them, but rather submitting them to His good and perfect will.

I know that what He wants from us now is that we would linger in His arms, head on His chest, listening for His heart. He wants us to relax and not panic knowing that He knows, cares and is in control. He wants us to focus on getting to know Him more intimately, to gaze into His eyes. Just love.

The orange juice will keep….

 

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 what He wants, truly and verily, is that you would simply linger in His arms and listen for His heart. Be blessed!