Here’s H’open: Bringing All Before the Lord in Prayer

Over the past few days, our son Daniel has started using a new phrase quite frequently. As he desires to have something opened, he will plea—with unmistakeable urgency—for my husband or I to help. Thus, his precious plea of help to open or more accurately “h’open” was born.

I am amazed by the wide range of words he is now able to use for the age of two years. And with each new milestone, reminders of God’s faithfulness astound me anew.

Much like a little child boldly makes requests known to his parents, we as Christians, are told to boldly approach the Lord’s majestic throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). Regardless of the question at hand, we are instructed in the Bible to come before the Lord to receive mercy and find grace. Regardless of what you or another may be going through, bring all before the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). In doing this, we are showing obedience to the Lord and pleasing God. Life may become complicated and very difficult to put into words at times. But, hold fast to the promises of Scripture. No matter the circumstance, if your hope is in Jesus Christ, know that you are on solid ground.

 

“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 (NASB)

 

I love the fact that my son’s word choice sounds much like “hoping”. As our son is waiting for us to help him open the marker, he is anticipating our response. In the same way, may we as Christians, bring our prayers and petitions before the Lord, with great hope and expectation of how the Lord will answer. The Bible assures us that His ways are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). Thus, may we draw near to the Lord with repentance and praise—for it is in Jesus Christ where each longing soul will find revival and encouragement for each and every situation of this life.

 

“The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” Isaiah 57:17 (NLT)

 

Once we help our son, a time of jubilee bubbles out of his very being. He is so grateful for even the smallest things that we do for him—it is truly encouraging to me. He has such a grateful heart! As our precious son demonstrates, we are to be a people of praise; filled with gratitude for all that the Lord does for each of us—every day. May we be a people marked by praise for all that the Lord has, is and will do for us—in His perfect way and in His perfect timing.

 

“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:6 (NASB)

“As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” 2 Samuel 22:31 (NASB)

 

May we as Christian women, be marked as a people of hope. May we anticipate, with great longing, the Lord to help open our eyes and hearts to see and respond to situations as the Lord sees fit. May we prayerfully watch for the Lord as He works in each situation that we bring before Him with great hope. He alone is worthy of all our praise and is faithful to respond to each situation in the most perfect way possible. He is so good to all, ladies! I encourage each of you to take the time to sincerely thank Him for all that He has done in your life and the lives of those you hold dear. Thank God for the true hope that is found in no other than Jesus Christ. His power and might are without comparison, Ladies. Regardless of the circumstance, we are never without hope.

18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. 20 He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens — 21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.” Ephesians 1:18-23 (HCSB)

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Mop Heads: A Ministry of Reconciliation

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NASB)

Have you ever feared something that simply sounded too ridiculous to even admit to out loud? Well, I have. What has been one of those fears? Mopping. Ridiculous? Perhaps. Yet, all of my life, be it fear of judgment or fear of failure, I have never once mopped a floor. Vacuum, sure. Toilet bowls, let me at them. But, for whatever reason, the mop has been something I have told myself I simply cannot do. That is until, today.

With the reality of now being home again with our children, a renewed desire to take ownership for our home has blossomed within my heart. Yes, through the years of travel and living abroad, we have been blessed to have amazing individuals clean for us. It has truly been a blessing in itself. Yet, in this next season, a desire to tend to what has been entrusted to me has really taken root. For this reason, I have been prayerfully trying to learn more about Biblical womanhood—straight from the text itself.

This morning our son took his nap as I scrubbed a dish, to clean away the remaining peach cobbler. My husband and our daughter were out running an errand, and I was determined—this was the day. With all excuses behind me, and a willingness to put this illogical fear behind me, I took a deep breath and headed for the storage room. In the side bathroom, there was the mop and other needed cleaning products. In the past, if I did not know how to do something, I would just “wing it”. But, I wanted to get this right. I wanted to prove to myself, once and for all, I can mop my own floor. With a deep breath of determination I read the back of the Dettol bottle. It was go time!

With all other family members occupied or resting, I began to mop the kitchen. As I watched the dirt and old spills come off of the large tiles, I could not help but laugh. I was actually doing this!!! A sense of empowerment began to fill my entire being as the reality of overcoming a silly fear was now well underway. I was busy thanking God for this amazing object lesson when I spotted, the pit. What is “the pit” you may be asking? It is the disgusting grease and unspeakable bits on the side of the oven…that I had been too overwhelmed to even attempt to clean in the past. I had no idea where to begin. Yet, today was different—I knew that I could accomplish this too!

I searched for a different cleaner and prepared myself to move the large stove. As I began, I was shocked by how easily it moved! This was so much easier than I had anticipated!!! The space to clean before me was nothing short of a crime scene. Manwich and bell pepper meet up with a mean béchamel sauce in a dark alley kind of mess. It was bad. But, despite the old food that needed to be cleaned before me, I was ready—why? I had the tools to help! This entire process made me reflect on how the Lord cleans and purifies our hearts and lives.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (HCSB)

The Sovereign Lord promises us a new heart and a new spirit. Praise God that when we are willing to submit our life and lifestyle to Him, He will take us through the process of deep cleaning that we so deeply desire. I can speak from personal experience!

I did not want to initially clean the floors, let alone “the pit”! Yet, as I began to follow the instructions on the cleaning bottle (as a place to begin), I was amazed by how one cleaning project led into another. And what surprised me even more was the fact that I was actually enjoying it!

In the same way, there may be something taking place in your life that you do not enjoy—or even fully approve of. Yet, due to feelings of fear or anxiety, the situation, individual or attitude remains in your life. Ladies, I encourage you to bring this before the Lord. Allow Him to examine your heart. Allow the Lord to power wash your life through the truths of the Holy Bible.

We all enjoy a good “spring cleaning”, “cleanse” or “detox”, but why stop there? Come allow yourself to experience an eternal cleansing through Jesus Christ. 

31Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” Ezekiel 18:31-32 (NIV)

May we never see a cleaning session the same again! The Lord is calling each and ever one of us to purify our lives and hearts. In doing this, we are able to experience the fullness of life that is available to us both this side of heaven and forever after. No situation or heart is beyond  the Lord’s repair. If you or someone you care about is struggling, take it to the Lord through prayer this very moment. He is waiting to provide you the instructions and tools to guide you to a clean start. Take hold of the deep cleaning available through Jesus Christ. You will be eternally glad that you did!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

Tea for You and Me: From shared tea to quiet moments with the Lord

“Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 1:3 (NASB)

 

This morning as we cleaned up the house, Ruthie reminded me that I promised her a special “tea time” soon. I asked her if she wanted to have one, just she and I, this morning. At these words, my precious daughter’s eyes lit up in sheer delight as she clapped her hands together and began looking for things to do to help prepare for the special event. I smiled as I too was looking forward to our mommy-daughter tea in our living room (with her dolly, too, of course). I grabbed a special tablecloth, embroidered by my late mother-in-law, crackers, butter, jam and cookies. Ruthie was more than happy to help organize each item on our toddler-sized table. Oh, how proud my Ruthie was to be hosting this event! As a final touch, we needed the tea (milk in our case) and Ruthie quickly grabbed and folded napkins for our special occasion and placed one delicately atop her lap. All was ready!

Our son Daniel thought all of the elements of the special tea looked pretty nice and began to walk near the table to join. But, after rearranging the order of the delicious treats displayed, Ruthie blocked Daniel from getting near it a second time. Daniel screamed in protest, but Ruthie was determined that nothing was going to disrupt our mommy-daughter tea. This is highly important and very special.

Daniel and my husband, Phil, enjoyed checking out some tools and organizing the storage shed as Ruthie and I sat down for our formal tea. As we thanked the Lord for this special time, I began to ask her various questions. She told stories with such animation and sheer delight. A joy sparkled within her eyes as she saw me listening to her with undivided attention. And it was then that it hit me—this is like our time with the Lord!

 

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 (NASB)

 

Just as my daughter was so excited to spend time alone with her mama, we too, as believers in Jesus Christ should crave and look forward to, with much anticipation, the times that we can be alone with the Lord. Each day we should begin afresh before the Lord to thank Him for all He has done and submit the day and each person dear to us to the Lord in prayer.

 

“Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.” Psalm 40:5 (NASB)

 

As we take time to be alone with the Lord, may we begin our time in sincere gratitude for the many examples of God’s faithfulness both recorded in the Holy Bible as well as our own personal stories. God is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8)!

It is in these times alone with the Lord, that we can search the Bible for refreshment, direction, correction and encouragement (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We need to see the Holy Bible for what it is—the ultimate App for life! Never begin a day or leave home without it!

The final element of this morning’s mommy-daughter tea that really struck me was the fact that in the midst of it all, Ruthie forgot to bring her prized possession to dine with us; her dolly. She was so excited for us to have some special time—just she and I—that all other things began to fade in comparison. May this also be true of each Christian as we approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.

 

1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)

 

What a sincere joy it is to learn such precious lessons of God’s faithfulness and devoted love for each beating heart as I play with our children. The Lord has lessons for each of us to glean from our days—that point back to the teachings of Scripture. I encourage each one reading to journal or write down the events that stick out to you in the day. Over time, you will be amazed to look back at the beautiful story that God writes within each of our lives—one day and one page at a time.

The Italian Vase “Worth More Than Your Life”: What to do when the darts of deception affect your internal image

A few months back, I stood in line to order some beautiful flowers—imported from Holland. It was a weekend and our children were happily playing with my husband. Thus, I was having a nice time, enjoying the wide array of flowers of every color, fragrance and description—packed into this tiny florist shop. Each bouquet handed to customers before me looked like they had been taken right off the pages of a magazine. Those behind the florist counter were obviously talented at their work. I began to look around to select the flowers I desired within my own bouquet. As I did, my attention was taken to a different place.

The man in front of me was obviously frustrated with the selection of the flowers, the speed in which his order was being completed and the overall quality of the order. As he critiqued each bouquet created, others helped him wheel in a large trolley of black, latched containers. With his suit coat open, he quickly checked his watch again as he shouted at the men guarding the black containers not to let them fall off the trolley.

As he slowly took the vases out of the velvet-lined containers, he shouted at those assembling his order not to hurt the vases. Each vase that he brought into the tiny florist shop looked to be a genuine piece of art. It was apparent that these arrangements were going to an elaborate event. Whatever the occasion, each component was obviously top-of-the-line!

The man before me sighed repeatedly as he watched the assembly of each decadent bouquet and posh arrangements come to life before his eyes. Precise care and acute attention to each bouquet was undeniable from this gentleman. I was intrigued.

These vases were exquisite to be sure. Each work of art was etched with various patterns and astounding detail. I could not help but notice the beauty of these vases as the ordered arrangements were now being reassembled within the stunning glassware.

I looked at the man in a formal suit and said with a smile, “What beautiful vases they are.”

In near disgust, the man turned around slowly and looked me in the eyes before preceded to scale my body with his eyes. With a smirk and tilt of his head, the man quickly replied, “They are from Italy. They are worth more than your life.”

The man’s order was finished in that moment and he impatiently directed the employees of the shop in how to transfer the vases to the waiting transport outside.

As the man left, pushing past all others to get out of the shop and continuing to direct with great impatience, I was completely shocked and very hurt.

I selected the flowers from my own bouquet and tried to shake off what had been said by the complete stranger. Yet, as the breath taking bouquet was handed to me, I was still wearing the negative comments of a man I had never before seen in my entire life.

12So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15 (NASB)

We are to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love and the peace of Christ—not the comments of others. The Bible assures us that ALL will pass away—including harsh or unfounded criticism—but that the Word of God will stand forever (Ps. 119:89, Is. 51:6, Mt. 24:35, Mk. 13:31 & Lk. 21:33).

Just because someone says something about you it does not mean that it is truth. Possibly far from it!

Ladies, may we be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). May we be a generation of young women who KNOW what the Bible says FOR OURSELVES…and walk in the beautiful and powerful truths there within!

Ladies, Jesus Christ showed your worth, my worth, and each person on this earth’s worth—as He went to the Cross of Calvary (also called Golgotha) and paid for the rude, nasty and deceptive things that each and every single one of us commits in our lives (Romans 5:8). Praise God that through His victorious resurrection from the grave on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), each soul drawing a breath within the story of humanity has one glaring word that can describe them. What is that word, you ask? Priceless.

Regardless of what Hollywood may try to create as the next idea of romance, or what the media may highlight as courageous stories for us to champion as a culture—the fact remains the same—the ultimate story of unabashed romance and unwavering courage is told through the Gospel of Jesus Christ within the Holy Bible.

Praise God for His zealous love for the very essence of who we are and the ultimate price that He was willing to pay to ransom all of humanity from a just punishment for our actions.

5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB)

Ladies, take this to heart—regardless of what infomercials, pop-up adds or even those within your circles of friends tout—hold fast to the fact that it is not flawless make-up, a chiseled body, personal zip code or bank account that defines your worth. Praise God that your worth has already been declared priceless by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.

Ladies, if you have not given the ultimate gentleman and lover of soul the opportunity to speak to you directly and share what He thinks of you—I encourage you to do so now! Take this very moment to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. Entrusting your eternal destiny, your future and the acknowledgment of your worth into the hands of the Author of Creation. God does not make mistakes! He has designed you, in your very essence, to desire to hear that you are beautiful and have worth. And ladies, read the Holy Bible for yourself—you do.

*This article is featured on Wonderfully Made’s Official Blog Site. Click the title in teal below to view.

Italian Vase: “Worth More Than Your Life”

 

The Christian Life According to Pumpkin

4Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me5“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” John 15:4-5 (HCSB)

As my daughter Ruth and I colored an actual pumpkin with a blue crayon this morning, and my son Daniel happily played with puzzles, the symbolism of the pumpkin and our Christian walk hit me square in the face.

Much like the pumpkin, each of our spiritual lives (and physical for that matter), started with a small seed. The Lord assures us that the Word of God will accomplish the work He intends for it (Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11 and Matthew 24:35). In the same way, once an individual is willing to accept the free gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ, they will be saved from eternal punishment and judgment (John 1:1-18). Praise God that there are people, in every culture, language, tribe and tongue whom are willing to share the news of Jesus Christ’s redemptive work for all to be saved, who choose to believe (John 5:24)!

As a Christian takes the time to establish these healthy practices, a process much like “spiritual watering” takes place to revitalize the soul (John 4:14). While Jesus was preaching, He said this:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

The next phase of a pumpkin is the sprout. Once an individual receives Jesus Christ as their own Savior to wipe clean all the known and unknown failures, a new life in Christ has begun! Praise God that the moment any person (e.g. young, old, married, divorced, straight, homosexual, American, Asian, athletic, intellectual, etc.) entrusts their eternal hope and security to Jesus Christ—a sprout within our souls arises.

17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NASB)

 The third phase of the pumpkin is the vine. If anyone has ever grown pumpkins before, this is when things start to get exciting! Now, the plant has well-established roots and is moving across wider terrain! How does this happen in a spiritual sense? Jesus Christ shares that He is the One True Vine (John 15:1). As a believer continues to “feed” on the Word of God (e.g. to daily read the Holy Bible and pray to the Lord), the believer becomes stronger, spiritually (Psalm 119:9-16). Now, the vine does not stay in one place. No, no, no! It is on the move! In the same way, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are instructed to do the same. Jesus instructed His disciples in this way:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15 (NASB)

The fourth phase of a pumpkin is the flower. Just as the flower opens to receive a special gift from the bee, as believers, the Holy Spirit comes to each one to provide power to go forth and be witnesses for Jesus Christ into the entire world. After Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day, before He then ascended into Heaven, He instructed His disciples in this way:

8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

The fifth stage of a pumpkin’s growth is the green pumpkin. In this phase the pumpkin is continuing to be transformed into what it was created to be all along. The green pumpkin is like the majority of our Christian walk. Once one trusts in Jesus Christ and devotes each day to His call—trusting that He truly uses all things for His glory (Romans 8:28)—the process of transformation continues within our own hearts, characters and the very essence of whom we are (Proverbs 17:3). From the outside, the green pumpkin may look like nothing is happening. And, if it is your first time growing a pumpkin, frustration can even ensue. This can be true of our Christian walk as well. At times we may feel “stagnant” or as if nothing is “happening” in our lives anymore. If these sorts of feelings ring true within our own hearts, take them before the Lord (Psalm 34:4, Psalm 34:17). 

11‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NASB)

The sixth stage of the pumpkin is the orange pumpkin. Growing up, my family and I would travel to the Book Family Farm to pick out the perfect pumpkin for carving. It was so exciting to run through the rows of pumpkins and pick out just the right one. In the same way, we know that as believers in Jesus Christ, our lives are being refined to better reflect Him (Daniel 11:35).

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10 (NASB)

Each believer in Jesus Christ has a personal story of God’s rescue, redemption and ultimate delivery out of the turmoil and troubles of this life. Praise God, that no matter what heartaches or hardships may come into the lives of a believer, Jesus Christ encourages us to keep the faith!

“33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB)

Many will purchase pumpkins in October to carve into jac-o-lanterns that will light up the darkness of the night. In the same way, may we as Christians, share the light of Jesus Christ—that is within our souls—to a dark and unknowing world. While preaching from a hillside as He delivered the famous “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus told His followers that they were the “light of the world” and that this light was never to be hidden. Rather, the light was to be displayed for all in the house to see (Matthew 5:14-15).

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NASB)

The seventh and final stage of the pumpkin’s life cycle is the seed within. Autumn is a good time for roasting pumpkin seeds as the weather turns cool and the leaves begin to fall. Each life has a divine opportunity to point people to the only True source of life. Unless the Lord returns, each person taking a breath today, will one day say good-bye to this world as we know it (Psalm 39:5).

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB)

The Bible tells us that we are to store up treasures in heaven. Our focus in this life should not be on establishing and advancing our “kingdoms” on this earth. Rather, our focus, as believers in Jesus Christ, should be on telling others of the hope that is found on no other than Jesus Christ, and living out a life that glorifies God. In doing this, we are “planting the seed” of God’s truth into the lives of others—just as it was done in our own lives in the past.

Praise God that we are loved so deeply by God that Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God, offered up His perfect life—for our own failures and shortcomings—to pardon all who believe on His name (John 3:16). Thank God for object lessons of His faithfulness in our lives and personal stories! You are precious to God—He proved this by going to the cross and raising victoriously from the grave. Now each one who calls upon His name can be confident that there is purpose, and indeed, divine calling for each day. God is love.

9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 (NASB)

With Laughter in Her Eyes: A Million Reasons to Thank God For Your Children

 

“A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NLT)

Have you ever really stopped to notice all the ways in the day which your child brings you to smile? Perhaps it is the way he says a certain word. Perhaps the way she reacts to a certain animal. Perhaps it is the way he plays with another child. Over the past few days, I have been struck anew by the many times a day I have to stop and smile as I think “these are MY babies” and thank God.

Yes, times can be difficult. And yes, messes and chaos do indeed ensue at various points. But, have you recently stopped just to tell the Lord thank you for allowing you the awesome privilege of being the mother of the precious little life entrusted to you?

Our son Daniel has just turned two years old. He is very astute and loves to learn. He and his sister are much the same in this way. Around 18 months, he knew all of his letters and would amaze others by his crisp pronunciation of most letters. Although, my husband and I agree that the letter “W” was our favorite. Daniel would pronounce the letter as “double do” and continue on with great confidence. We would then congratulate him and state the correct way of saying the letter “W” for reference. Oh, such sweet times!

Our daughter Ruth just turned three and a half years old. She loves to help me bake. The other day, as I pulled out a box of my husband’s favorite dessert, Ruthie exclaimed in delight, “Barnies”! As I realized that she was referring to the box of brownies, my heart smiled. She was so happy to help me make one of daddy’s all time favorites. I will never see a box of brownies the same again!

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” Psalm 149:4 (NASB)

Have you ever thought about our relationship with the Lord in these terms? Have you ever thought that perhaps, as mothers, we are given a glimpse into what the Lord sees when looking at us? Now, I don’t mean actual toddlers, but rather individuals, trying to please Him in our imperfect ways. I love that no matter where we are in our journey with the Lord, He never gives up on us! The faithful love of the Lord is astounding—much like a mother to her children.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in    faithful love.” Psalm 103:8 (HCSB)

As we prepare to lead our children anew each day, may we take our requests, aspirations and honest concerns before the Lord. The Bible tells us to bring everything that is on our hearts before the Lord. Why? Because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). May we take heart in the reality that each day can be covered in prayer. We, as mothers, are able to rise before our little ones to submit the day, yet to unfold to the Lord (Psalm 5:3, Psalm 59:16, Psalm 88:13, Psalm 92:2, & Psalm 119:147). We are able to keep on praying as the day unfolds (Psalm 55:17). And as the day comes to a close and we pray with our little ones, we can give thanks to God for seeing us through another day of His creation with love (Psalm 92:2, Psalm 119:55, Psalm 141:2).

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; 2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night, 3 With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre. 4 For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.”         Psalm 92:1-4 (NASB)

There truly are over a million reasons to thank the Lord each day for the precious lives of our children. Not only should we note these precious moments in journals to share with our children in the years to come, but we should be a generation of mamas who return these precious moments through praises of gratitude to the Lord. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear the sweet songs and beautiful actions of our children that reflect the relationship we have with our Father God in heaven.

Praise God for sweet little ones in our lives who keep our days in perspective and remind us to thank God for a million different “little things”.

“For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.” Psalm 86:5 (HCSB)

Lessons from a Cardboard Castle: A Challenge For Young Mamas

 

“Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. 8They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright.” Psalm 20:6-8 (NASB)

Have you ever wanted something so badly, so terribly much, that your focus became centered on the object of your attention? I can speak from personal experience of the potency and allure of “better” just beyond the present set of circumstances—or castle wall, if you will.

I had prayed for the Lord’s guidance regarding my own return to work–even though our kids are still quite young. I heard the Lord clearly as He gave me His approval to apply for and accept the job. Time to note, it was one of the dream jobs I had always wanted after finishing my undergrad of International Relations—one of influence, power and prestige. I was so excited to help join people together within that specific community and provide opportunities for shared joy and camaraderie. Yet, no sooner had I accepted the job, all began to unravel before my eyes.

In order to take the job, we had to hire a full-time, live-in nanny. In the country where we currently reside, this is extremely common. Yet, being from America, it was something that my husband and I were extremely cautious about. Being raised by another, outside of family, was neither a part of my husband’s nor I’s earliest years. Yet, as we both had a peace about moving forward, I began to see it as an opportunity to trust others.

Yet, a few weeks before I was to start my new position, our live-in nanny, stated that she would be unable to start in a few week’s time due to health issues. She had begun to struggle with heart issues as well as extreme back issues. She stated that her arms would go numb and that she was afraid of dropping our children. At hearing this, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. Of COURSE this was a deal breaker. No one is going to drop our children. We thanked this sweet lady and wished her well, as she stated that she was intending to take a job with a family with older children.

So, in order to stick to my word, we began to scramble for another nanny—who could start ASAP. The problem was, the kids were not scheduled to start nursery school until September. So, we only needed help from a nanny for five weeks. And, God provided. Another trusted nanny within this specific community came highly praised after years of work within the city and community. We welcomed her onboard. We prayed about it and thanked God for the opportunity to trust Him through difficulty. And with prayer backing our decisions, my career with the U.S. government began.

Leaving the kids in the morning for work, crying and calling for me was heart breaking. I was finally all dressed up again, high heels, long dangling earrings, designer clothes, etc. But, I hated the fact that it meant that I would be leaving my little ones—with nearly a complete stranger—until the afternoon. Again, this is common here—but it was not common for me.

As the weeks went by, my children never adjusted to the nanny. In fact, my daughter would hide under the table when the door bell would ring to announce her arrival in the morning. I told myself that this was all “normal” and “part of the process”. But, I would continually need to bring this back to the Lord. I was so conflicted. The job was proving much more involved than I could possibly complete within my part-time schedule. But, I had given my word—and God had opened the door for me to walk through. God was trustworthy (Psalm 19:7). I knew that He had a plan for this hardship. I knew that He loved our family even MORE than we did. We just kept praying.

“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 (NASB)

Then, after about a month into the job, my husband had to travel on business for an extended period. During this time, both of our toddlers became sick—prompting two separate doctor visits—and a week off of work. These illnesses were then met with two follow-on illnesses. The worst of our two toddler illnesses? SHINGLES. Yes, although incredibly rare, SHINGLES can indeed grab toddlers who have a compromised immune system (e.g. such as my sweet toddler who had just finished a week of being sick herself). So, I needed to ask for more time off. This coming after my husband needed to ask for an alteration to his work schedule one day in order to take our other toddler to the hospital to have him examined for potential R.S.V. Praise God that his lunges were clear! And as the reality of our situation became clear before me—I had to take it before the Lord.

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12 (NLT)

My husband and I again took this situation before the Lord. Within the past month of work, we had been able to see many milestones take place (e.g. I had learned to trust others with our children whom God gave us a peace about, I was able to work with a world leader and help to facilitate and plan events to unify a community, and my husband and I were able to spend some couples time together over lunch). Yet, all seemed to be “crashing down” on my dream job—the very one I had longed to have a number of years back while we lived in North Africa. Yet, the timing was not right. And now, within only a few weeks into the job—it seemed again, that this was not going to work out.

How could it? My children were sick and contagious. They needed their mommy. They were “cleared” to return to nursery school—but there was no way on this beautiful planet that I was willing to place my precious children back into nursery while they were in pain from illnesses. No way.

At that time, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been able to look beyond my own castle wall of being a stay-at-home wife and mother and step boldly into the “prestigious life” of the powerful and elite of foreign affairs. Yet, when push came to shove, we did not have the needed pieces in place to withstand the challenges of “life” that came our way. And as the weeks passed, there was no way around the obvious; I would need to resign my post.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6: 18-20 (NASB)

The fact that all of this had taken place at one time, was undeniably the Lord. It was as though I was allowed to see “what it would be like” to be away from my children—when I didn’t need to be. And, praise God, I did not have the backup resources needed to stay. I had been so determined to make this work—somehow. Yet, as each new illness continued to roll onto another, it became clear—I would not have been willing to leave my sick children with a nanny; even if I had had one full-time. God knew this about my heart.

The day after I resigned, I sat in the backyard as my children happily played in a cardboard castle that we had just built ourselves. As our beautiful daughter stood inside the stacked and taped, boxes, the reality of the Lord’s blessing impressioned my heart to a new degree.

As a mama, we are always on call. It is not about a paycheck—it is about instilling godly character into our young ones. It is not about growing our own professional empires—it is about growing the next generation to live boldly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not about 401K contributions—it is about creating a living legacy that brings honor and glory to the name of Jesus Christ.

Thus, ladies, mamas, co-laborers in Jesus Christ, be encouraged! Regardless of whether you have chosen to work out of financial obligation or personal motives, know that your role as mama is still just as crucial as those who are staying home full-time. Our children NEED us. Praise God we were blessed with our babies. The Bible talks about children being a blessing.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.”               Psalm 127:3-4 (ESV)

As the reality of my chapter away from home came to a close, I had to thank God for allowing me to see, first hand, that distant castles and foreign lands, were not indeed better or more prestigious than the one have been given (beloved wife and blessed mama of two amazing toddlers who has been given the opportunity to stay home with our babies.). Despite what college, magazines, or even those around you may say, motherhood is indeed EXTREMELY important. Ladies, in all seriousness, you are being used by God to help mold the next generation of leaders. Some may be CEOs, others bankers, business owners, husbands, fathers, and even world leaders. The plan that God has for your little ones is not a mystery to the Lord (Jeremiah 29:11). May we pray faithfully for our little ones that have been entrusted to us and allow the Lord to speak to us—in our individual circumstances—to bring about His divine glory and eternal purpose.

Praise God that EACH and EVERY soul has eternal significance to the Lord! Jesus Christ Himself, while teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum, stated with boldness:

“35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again. 36 But as I told you, you’ve seen Me, and yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:35-40 (HCSB)

Ladies, regardless of your challenges in motherhood, regardless of the repetition of each day, take heart! Your “work” as a mother indeed has eternal significance. And it may be through your own modeling of Christ like behavior in everyday situations that help to lead your precious ones to the Lord at a young age. You were designed by God to be the mama of your children. Own it. Walk in it anew this very day.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

May we be a generation of mamas to lift up the requests and unspoken needs of our children before the Lord. Why? Because our little ones are dear to the Lord and He alone is worthy of all our trust, adoration and praise!