My son Peyton is the origami master at our house. We have folded paper all over the place. He makes some pretty awesome creations (we have our whole family in origami form, clothes and all). He once gave me an origami trophy that he wrote “World’s #1 Mom!” on. Except, because of how Peyton writes his “1”s, it looked like “World’s #2 Mom!” I get a kick out of it because it kind of sums up how I feel about my motherhood - just not quite perfect. Not a 10, but closer to a 9. Not 100%, but maybe 90%. Not 1st place, but second…ish…on a good day.
As a mom I often say the wrong things or say the right things the wrong way. I struggle to be consistent with discipline and often give too much correction. Sometimes I forget to give hugs and other times I smother the poor kids. I don’t think I have ever felt like I have this position mastered. If I did, it probably came right before screwing up. Like forgetting to pick my kid up from practice. Or leaving one behind at church (twice). Or consistently calling them by the dog’s name.
My guess is that you often feel the same way. I want to let you know that this is an okay place to be - in fact, it is an awesome place to be. Motherhood is God’s gift to remind us that there is no way we can do this parenting thing without Him. No matter how much we love them, we are incapable of raising our kids well without being fully dependent on Him every day.
God uses “second-rate” moms like us because there are no other types. All of us fall short of perfection because there is no such thing as a perfect person, only a perfect God (see Rom. 3:10 and Ps. 18:30). So if we are his, we can rejoice that he will work through us. He will use these jars of ordinary clay that we are for extraordinary purposes. “Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor. 4:7. We are clay, not gold, so any shine that we display comes from him.
So as we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend and words of love and praise come your way, be thankful and gracious but direct ALL glory to God. He alone is the cause of any good that comes out of what we do as mothers. He deserves all the credit. “…I will not boast about myself, except in my weaknesses.” 2 Cor. 12:5.
Direct your children to the awesomeness of God and tell them that he is their perfect Father who will never forget them, leave them behind or use the wrong name!
Caskets shouldn’t come in size small. Life shouldn’t be able to end before it really begins. As our community mourns for a sweet little boy, questions surface and we find ourselves asking, “why?” Who is at the receiving end of this question? Well, God of course, the only one who has the power to allow or prevent such painful occurrences and therefore the only one adequate to provide an answer.
God tell us in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” We are not able to understand the mind of God; he is infinite and has infinite knowledge. While we only see the small portion of time that we live in at the moment, God sees all of time at once. He knows what is best because he knows every possible scenario in each of our lives.
I understand some do not believe in God. Even though the design of the universe screams intelligent order and our inborn sense of right and wrong provides us with evidence (Romans 1:19,20). If there is not an ultimate standard of good then we are a people without hope. Then there is no reason for children dying and people suffering as they do. If that is the camp you fall in then pitch your tent and sleep in it yourself.
For those who have eyes to see truth and believe in an all-powerful and loving God, our perspective is remarkably different. We are told we do not have to “grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13). But the question remains…why? Why is there so much pain in the world?
Well the simple answer is sin. Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, creation’s first couple. They thumbed their noses at God and decided they wanted to be their own masters. They ate the fruit and the curse came down (Genesis 3) and we have been suffering for it ever since. Sin continuous to wreak havoc in human hearts today. We are a world that has thumbed our collective noses at God and have declared ourselves to be masters of our own hearts. So evil runs rampant on this earth and causes pain, suffering, and death. Sin is the easy answer to the “why?” question.
The hard answer is this: God allows hurt because he loves us. If we belong to God, he will use whatever he decides is necessary to make us more like his son, Jesus. To purify our hearts and cause us to be closer to him. Closer to God in Christlikeness is always the direction we need to be moving in. It is the best thing for us because it is there that we find truth, peace, joy and all things good.
We live to bring glory to God, that is our purpose for breathing. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” (Romans 11:36). Therefore, God has written our lives in such a way that he will be magnified through the events that take place in them. So even in pain, we can be fully confident that God is in control and has a purpose for the pain. Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This verse should bring great comfort for those that are his.
Now for those who do not believe (or if you are one of the many who are faking it), God may use painful times to draw you to him; he may allow you to be sent to your knees begging for a Savior. In that there is mercy, for if God really is God and our only hope, then the most loving thing he can do for us is to make us know him even at the cost of great pain. Then you can experience true comfort as one of his children.
Christians have hope like no one else can because we understand that life does not end here on earth. Sin came into the world through humans, but God, in order to display his great grace gave up his only son to save us from the death of sin. He allowed Jesus to die on a cross to pay for the sin we are not able to pay for. Through his sacrifice we are able to have a relationship with God and spend eternity with him after this life is over. In this there is great hope - Jesus did not stay dead, he destroyed death and lives forever. He made a way for us to do the same if only we have faith and believe. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
If anyone understands the pain of a son dying it is God. The only arms safer for a precious child than his mother’s are those of God himself. Though we mourn for a time here on earth, we trust a God who knows all things and has divine purpose in all he does. We look forward to a day when our tears are wiped away and the joy pours in as we spend our days in the perfect presence of our Savior.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” 1 Peter 5:10 and Romans 8:18
Mothers are on my heart this week. I have been praying for and ministering to several moms recently who are struggling in a variety of ways. Grown children, little babies and all ages in between. These children seem to have the strings of our hearts tightly in their fists, pulling and tugging away at us. I want to remind you today that although we love our children very much our hearts still belong fully to God. The strings belong in his hands and we praise him for that; he is still in control!
Below is a Psalm that I shared with one of the mothers and I want to share it with you today as well. I hope it brings you encouragement. If you are struggling and feel as if things are crumbling around you, remember that you are fully secure in the arms of God. He rules the mountains and the oceans; he can certainly rule your heart. Allow him to calm it and be your help.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Even though there may be uncertainty and difficulties surrounding you, you will not be moved out from under his care. If God dwells in the midst of you; you dwell within the fortress of the Almighty. Moms, I enCOURAGE you to find comfort in the steadfast words of God today.
Ladies, please let me know if you have ever experienced one of these days (if you haven’t just keep quiet). I sat down at the computer to write a blog but forgot my Bible. As I went to grab it I saw cleaning supplies left out and remembered that I had started to clean the bathroom but only got halfway done. I better get that done, but I should shower first. After I showered I remembered I needed to switch the clothes in the washer to the dryer. I get to the laundry room and realize I never started the washer because it wasn’t a full load yet. So I went to the boys’ room to get dirty cloths and see that I still needed to hang up the clean clothes I left there earlier. After finishing, I remembered I really had to get that blog done. So I sat down at the computer but forgot my Bible. As I went to grab it I saw cleaning supplies left out and remembered that I had started to clean the… wait a minute…
So here I sit, feeling like I have been running crazy today and I still have only a half clean bathroom (which may be better than a half dirty bathroom depending on how you see things), a washer full of dirty clothes and a blog still needing done.
Some days I wonder… is this how it starts? That slow decline of brain functioning they talk about on the radio? Where is that Sudoku book I had around here? When is the last time I did a crossword puzzle? OR… has all my Diet Pepsi drinking finally caught up to me? Did the aspartame turn my brain to Swiss cheese like Tristan Miles always told me it would?
Its scatter brained days like this that keep me truly thankful that I have a Heavenly Father that has everything under control. He never forgets to feed the sparrows, stock the snow reserves or cue the sun for its rising. Nothing is beyond his capabilities or grasp. God always accomplishes what he sets out to do each and every day. There is nothing left at the end of his “to do list” ever.
I praise God that he is forever perfect and his goodness never ends. God never changes. What comfort I take in that! He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is no need for God to change, you can’t improve on perfection. You can never add to or take away from it; otherwise it would not have been perfect in the first place.
The word I love to read in the Bible is “steadfast”. It appears 219 times in the ESV Bible according to my search on biblegateway.com. 132 of those times are in the Psalms, which is where I have been reading it morning after morning as I study that book of the Bible.
202 times out of the 219 it is connected to the word “love”. Here are a few instances:
Psalms 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”
Psalms 59:16, “I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.”
Psalms 100:8, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
My heart rejoices every time I come across that word. I love serving a God that is steadfast. I looked up the definition and here are the words I found: firmly loyal, constant, unswerving, fixed, unchanging, and unmovable. How awesome is that? Yes! Those words describe my God and his love for me! Woo Hoo!
So on days like this when I feel a little out of sorts and wonder about the soundness of my mind, I breathe deep and praise a God that is constant and unmovable. He doesn’t experience forgetfulness or have senior moments. He never doubts, worries or struggles. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power,” (Hebrews 1:3). This does not tire him or wear him out even a little. He is fully and eternally sufficient to handle all he plans to do. That includes loving you with his steadfast, unswerving, fixed and unchanging love. He had it written down 219 times so you would understand it.
I must wrap this blog up now (just remembered I turned my hot iron on two hours ago to do my hair). Ladies, take comfort in knowing no matter how crazy or scattered we feel, we serve a God that is infinitely secure. He is deep and still, perfect and unchanging. He is steadfast. I enCOURAGE you to place your scattered mind and heart in his hands today. Trust in him to be your rock and solid footing always!
Nothing happens by chance, there is no such thing as good luck, bad luck or coincidences, and there is purpose in everything. These are what comfort me late on Friday night as I watch smoke roll out of the building that was once our family business. God is in this. He has a plan… for my husband, for the business, for the city, and for me.
How do people live when they don’t understand this? When they feel that life is random? To feel as if their lives hinge on whether good or bad luck comes their way. That is no way to live; that is not the abundant life we are promised in John 10:10. If our life paths are left up in the air depending on what decisions we make and what luck we have then God is a liar. Psalms 139:16 - 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.
This is not just pretty poetry; these are the words of Mighty Creator God through his servant David. He has written out every day of your life even before he formed you. Let the immensity of this hit you in the face. If you ever feel as if God does not know (and love) you, read the entirety of Psalms 139. Your feet do not walk a path by chance. If this is news to you don’t despair, it is something that has taken me years to grasp, and I still struggle with it.
So what is God’s plan in burning down our family business? The business that was started 44 years ago, built with hard work, is all my husband has ever known and provides for our family? I don’t know. I don’t need to know, I just need to trust that God knows. And really, that is everything to me. Maybe God wants to rebuild the business even better, maybe he wants to sever our dependence on something other than him, maybe God desires more of our attention. Maybe all of these things. One thing I’m sure of is that our prayers have become richer, our faith in Christ more sure, and our love for others deeper. The blessings are abounding already.
Had things been different and life been lost in this fire, God would still be good. We would still praise him. I like to picture our praise rising up to God just like the smoke from the fire. In Old Testament times, sacrificial offerings would be burned on an alter and the aroma that arose from this pleased the Lord (Numbers 29:2). I want my praise to do the same. I want God to burn away anything in my life that detracts me from him. I leave it all on the table.
God knew long ago that this fire would take place and that our lives would experience a shift. He also knows exactly how he plans to use this for his glory and I look so forward to that. Having dealt with tragedy in the past (more severe than this) I am honestly filled with excitement in anticipation of what God will do through this. I plan to be a part of it and wouldn’t miss it for the world. His love for us is overwhelming.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31, 32.
I’m in a bad mood. I have a nasty cold and my energy is gone. I have a “to do” list the length of my arm and no will power to get it completed. My house is a mess and I have visitors coming the day after tomorrow. My laundry is only half done and I need to go grocery shopping. Its days like this I start to feel down; the weight is too much and I don’t feel qualified for the job of life. I want to crawl into bed and fall asleep so I can ignore the world for a little while longer. Honestly, I use this strategy occasionally and the fact is, that darn world and all its problems are still there when I wake up.
So today, instead of the cowardly route, I grab the Word of God desperately needing some encouragement. I feel led to the book of Hebrews and leaf through it until I find what I am looking for:
“…he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5b-6
“The Lord is my helper”… help… that’s just what I need! I repeat the verse over and over to myself feeling tears well up in my eyes and I ask for help. I pray that God will help me to accomplish what needs to get done this day and that I leave the rest alone. I pray that he will give me the strength I lack. This is the verse I take with me wherever I go for this day. From these words of God, I draw my strength.
Make sure you are not confused; God doesn’t call himself a helper because he is weak and we are in charge. The exact opposite is true. He is our helper because we are so needy and cannot accomplish anything without him. We are the weak ones and we have to learn to fully rely on our Creator to sustain us. God is the everlasting well of strength that we draw from. It says in Colossians 1:11:
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
We are strengthened according to his glorious might for all endurance! Wow, is that what I need or what? Yes, please. When I belong to Christ, I can receive strength from the well of his might which is endless; and it is freely given. Oh, the gifts God gives us are incredible! Help is one of them. I can’t imagine a better helper in life than God himself who has all power at his disposal and infinite control of everything.
We on our own are empty and frail; we have no well to draw from. That is why so many of us walk around broken, weak and dried up. We try to live life on our own strength and eventually we burn out and crumble to pieces. As Christians we are called to live differently, we are called to draw from the source of Christ. God tells us in John 15:5 “apart from me you can do nothing.” Today I feel the truth of that statement. I need God to help me.
Are you in need of help today too? Read these verses for yourself and call out to God to claim this promise for yourself. Allow him to be your helper and draw from his deep well of strength. Then give thanks in joy as the second half of the verse from Colossians tell us. Carry on in Christ!
I have had the opportunity to talk to several mothers one on one lately and in each conversation there seemed to be a common thread. It had to do with feeling the weight of responsibility for their children. Whether it be in their child’s decisions, actions or even appearances. One mother worried about how her actions today would affect her young children in years to come, another mother worried that her children were gaining too much weight and how that would reflect on her parenting, and still another mother worried about the decisions that her adult son was making and how it would affect his future.
As each of these mothers shared with me, I could feel the burden they were carrying; it was heavy. I understand this burden well; I have carried it many times myself. Mothers of all ages and stages feel this burden no matter how old their children are. We feel responsible for how our children behave, how they respond to others, and how they perform in life. We take the full credit when they do good and even more so when they do poorly.
Mothers, my advice to you today… lay the burden down. It is not yours to carry. Oh yes, we need to “Train up a child in the way he should go” as it says in Proverbs 22:6. And “… do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” as in Ephesians 6:4. Absolutely, God has given us the responsibility of raising these specific children. He has put them under our charge and into our care. That is a great responsibility that we need to take very seriously. However, the RESULTS are not on our shoulders. The results are God’s alone.
God has a specific plan and path through life for your child to follow. Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” No one can change God’s plans or put their child on what we feel to be a more “appropriate” path to follow (or a more socially acceptable one). Remember God has already written out your child’s entire life for eternity and he knows what is truly best for your child. Plus, (brace yourself for this one)…God loves your child MORE than you do (see Romans 5:8 and 8:38-39). I remind my children of this often. Do you think that this would confuse them or worry them? No way, they know how much I love them and for them to know that the Almighty Creator loves them even more – how awesome! It is wonderful that they (and we) can rest in the assurance that God loves them and is in charge of their everyday life and their futures.
To assume that we are to take the credit when our children excel or the blame when our children experience a failure is putting ourselves in the place of God in their lives. That is not where we are supposed to be, he alone can be King. We can teach them to eat healthy and engage in physical activities with them, but God determines their body type and what he wants them to look like. We can set boundaries and provide godly discipline as they grow, but we are not responsible for every bad (or good) decision they make when they are grown.
I realize that it is no easy task to let go of this burden of how our children “turn out”. We cling to it like it is a part of who we are, but it’s not meant to be that way. So take a deep breath and release it to God. Take reassurance that God welcomes your burdens and instructs us to give them to him:
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalms 55:22
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
Keep your focus on raising your children to love Christ and his powerful Word. Guide them with godly discipline and train them up in the way they should go, but understand, their final destination and how they get there is up to God.