Posts Tagged 'mom'

Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name…

Open BibleWhat wakes you up in the morning?

Most of us wake up to an alarm clock. But what kind of alarm clock is it?

One powered by electricity, or one powered by hungry little ones?

There was a time with my waking and sleeping were decided by the sounds emanating from our baby monitor. Each coo, cry, even grunt demanded my attention. Some of my most precious memories involve walking into our son’s room in the morning. After watching him play in his own little world I’d whisper, “Good morning baby”. Our eyes would meet and a smile would spread over his face. When he was old enough, he’d pull himself up and peer over the railing of his crib. He’d begin to bounce up and down with excitement as I walked toward him.

Our children look for us, reach for us; they trust us.

Everyone loves to be wanted, appreciated and recognized. God’s the same way.

Jesus’ first sentence causes us to recognize where and who God is.

1. Our Father is in Heaven.

God’s perspective is bigger and better than ours. When we pray we must recognize that God is not trapped by time, space or any other limitations we face here on earth. God lives in our hearts and inhabits our prayers, all the while being seated on His throne in Heaven. We might not understand the “why” behind our situation, but we can trust WHO is behind it. God is never out-of-touch with our life or our needs. Pray with faith and trust that God IS moving, even when it feels as though things are standing still.

2. Our Father’s name is to be hallowed.

Hallowed is an adjective meaning, “holy, venerated, sacred” (thank you His name is holy. Growing up I was taught to never use God’s name or anything that sounded like it in a vain or flippant manner. Call me old fashioned, but it seems sad that something has to be really amazing before it gets our attention and respect. God’s name is so much more than an identification – it’s a definition.

God, Jesus, Christ…names that bring healing, hope, peace – just because they are uttered! It really is amazing isn’t it?!

When I was in Junior High I had an amazing youth pastor, Paul Coates. His wife, Janet, was hilarious, honest and always looking to live out her faith in God. In February their grand daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor, which is a cancerous tumor that grows out of the kidney.

Reading Janet’s posts on their Caring Bridge site reminds me daily how powerful prayer is and can be. I wanted to share some of Janet’s writings from two posts. Remember, this is a family that has served God and believes He is in control, but cancer is still their reality – I love how Janet makes prayer such a powerful part of this journey too:

“I was always told… “Prayer changes things”  Well, God changes things, but I think our prayers are just us taking time to ask in faith and then God loves that we listened and obeyed and He changes things.  Not only is little Hannah Jane seeing the benefits, but you are receiving the blessings of obeying, too.  Hmmmm…”

“Once again, God teaches me the power of the “fervent prayer of a righteous man (and woman and child) availeth much! ”  I don’t think we even know how much power we have in just whispering His name.  There used to be signs that were hand painted by an anonymous artist in the area and hung up at random places.  They said things like “John 3:16” , “God Loves You”,  “Jesus Lives” – well there was one that I saw occasionally and it said…”say the name – Jesus” and I would always say, out loud, “Jesus” and you know what?  It was like an immediate calm would just flow over my body.  From my head to my toes.  

 I just don’t think we plug in the power that we have available to us through the whisper of His name.  When is the last time you just “said the name – Jesus”?  Say the name – Jesus!”
If you’d like to follow Paul, Janet and Hannah’s journey click here.
Whatever is pressing in on your world today, take it to the God who is alive and active, living in Heaven – look for Him, reach for Him and let Him comfort you! Remember that just by speaking His name you are claiming all power on heaven and earth!
You are an amazing blessing!

Making The Lord’s Prayer My Own

Open Bible I’ve heard it said that imitation is the highest form of flattery – I know Christ doesn’t need us to flatter Him, but I don’t think there’s anyone else I’d like to imitate more than Christ Himself.

Originally I’d hoped to start this series last fall, but life had a different plan and I see now that God did too. The points and applications I originally wanted to write about have been taken to an entirely new level because of what’s happened in my life. The journey has been filled with the unexpected and it’s during these times I long for the familiar…so let’s dive in and learn more about how Christ prayed, what He needed, how He approached the throne of His Father…

I can’t wait to hear your insights!  You see, I believe scripture is God-inspired. But scripture remains a bunch of linguistic, grammatical statements until we allow these truths to become actions in our daily life. This can happen in multiple ways, but the foundation of any relationship is communication and prayer is our main source to help us connect with our Heavenly Father.

Before jumping into the first phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, let’s look at what Jesus says about prayer and how it applies to us in the 21st century (I promise future posts will be much shorter – but hang in there – this will make sure we’re all on the same page).

Using Matthew 6:5-14 as our foundation, we are confronted with very clear direction and warnings about how to pray…

“…go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father…” (verse 6)
This directive came in response to what Jesus saw in the hypocritical spiritual leaders of that time. They would stand in a large crowd and pray loudly so everyone could hear them and be in awe of their eloquent speaking and scriptural understanding. We don’t have to be eloquent or spiritually mature to pray to God. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we can approach the throne of God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16)!  Our exhausted, overwhelmed and sleep-deprived mutterings are not only received, but are welcomed by our Creator. He gets us. He knows what life is like – so all He asks is that our prayers be REAL. For me, verse six sin’t talking about praying in public versus praying in private. It’s about presenting our requests to God because we want to spend time with Him and commune with him. In our room, with the door closed we can be honest, we can be ourselves.

“…do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words…” (verse 7)
Sometimes silence is okay. When words fail, faith prevails. God doesn’t need us to say everything over and over again – He just asks that we approach Him with humility and faith. Our prayers are heard even without words. We can delight in God because He knows the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). We don’t have to fear Him or constantly pray to get His attention. A prayer whispered by a mother in the quite moments of a dark night receives the same attention as   a prayer from the Pope himself!

“…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (verse 8)
God is not a wishing well or a bank. God is Creator and Father – He is constantly seeking us out in order to redeem a relationship severed by sin. If God is pursuing us, how do we pursue Him? Through prayer. He knows us better than we know ourselves but He can’t communicate with us if we don’t talk to Him as well. Seeking after God means we aren’t seeking after ourselves. It’s a lifestyle thing. So before we use the excuse that God’s going to do what he wants anyway (so why pray) – we need to remember that God wants to include us in His plans. He wants to hear from us!

I challenge you to make a choice to spend time talking and listening to your Father in Heaven. He loves you, He is FOR you, and most importantly – He’s listening.

Speak your mind, open your heart and if you don’t know where to start – let’s look at our text for this series from Matthew 6:9-13:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

I may not know your name, but I’m praying for you today!

Do you have a favorite time of day or way of praying that works best for you? Would you mind sharing in the comments section so our readers can enjoy your insight too?


True Promises

Have you ever been up against something so huge, so overwhelming; that you thought there was no way around it?

To be honest, our family is up against “it” right now.  What the issue is really doesn’t matter.  What matters is who is in charge of my responses to the whole thing.

You see, I’m a type A. I make plans, I take initiative and I don’t like hearing that I “can’t” do something.  But there are times, as much as I hate to admit it, that I face something I truly CANNOT fix or even understand.

So where do I go for comfort and perspective during these overwhelming moments? Music.

As a former choir teacher I find myself drawn to the power of music.  I’ve seen music bring Junior Highers to tears, help a mourning parent smile and bring a diverse group of people into unity.

Music is powerful all by itself, but if you pair it with truths from scripture – well….you better hold on!!!

During the worship time at our church we started with one of my favorite hymns: “How Great Thou Art”.  As I was singing I found I couldn’t hold back the tears or the smile on my face because you see, MY God is GREATER than this thing I’m up against. MY God can handle it and MY God is with me every step of the way.

I was praising God for this beautiful reminder during our worship time when the band started playing one of my favorite songs, “Always” by Kristian Stanfill.  I’ve put the words below along with a link to the recording on YouTube.

As Mothers we shoulder responsibilities and burdens that can, at times, seem absolutely overwhelming. No matter where you are today I pray you’ll hold on to the promise of how incredibly GREAT our God is and the truth that our soul can find rest in Him.

We’re in this together Sister and I praise my God for knowing where you are, where I am and how to help each of us in His perfect way.

Let’s lift our eyes up, receive the help that comes from the Lord and live a life full of praise no matter what we are facing! We can do this!

Blessings to you and your family!


Lyrics for the song ALWAYS :

My foes are many, they rise against me, but I will hold my ground I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way.

Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true! My God will come through always!

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding my soul will rest in You. I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way.

Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains! Go on and tell it to the masses that He is good!

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord!

Listen to the song “Always”

April Showers

 If April showers bring May flowers, what can April showers bring us?

Before I had children I never truly considered how precious and renewing a shower could be.  I use to take showers because I wanted to be clean and have friends – but they were more of a necessity than a luxury.

Within my first week as a mother I realized what a shower really was…

It was time to be quiet, to let water wash away the tears, sweat and exhaustion of the day; it was a GIFT!

Water is a fantastic tool isn’t it?  When we get dirty, water makes us clean. When the earth is dry the rain revives the land.  If something is spilled or a stain is adhered – we first reach for water – in hopes of keeping the negative effects away. 

Water is the foundation of our life – without it we would die and I want to challenge us as mothers to find the “water” or “shower” that will bring us the renewal that we deserve and need.

As mothers it’s easy to feel the “grime” that the activities and demands in our lives create.  The reality of our life is that we are going to be dirty, busy and yes, sometimes we won’t shower until 11:00 at night. 

our reality isn’t going to change overnight but it WILL get easier.  So if you are in the season of mothering that brings more sleepless nights than showers – hang in there! You will not only make it but things are only going to get smoother from here.

The Spring is a time for rain, for showers of renewal, and in the Christian calendar a time of celebration! Easter is coming and I’ve been reading this verse from Philippians 3:10-11 and really enjoying its message:  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

This scripture challenges me to remember that my Savior partners with me in my sufferings.  He knows what it feels like to be exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, alone – even tempted.  But the beautiful part about our relationship with Christ is that he not only shares in our suffering – he wants us to share in the resurrection power that can only come through a vibrant, faith-based relationship with HIM!

Physical renewal, being able to wash away the dirt and grime of the day, a moment to be alone – those are wonderful things – but they are fleeting.  The renewing power of Christ comes when, through the Holy Spirit, Christ showers us with patience, strength, wisdom and love for our families.

No matter what kind of grit, grime and grossness is trying to stick to you today – I pray that you will find a “shower” of sorts through the scriptures you read, the people you interact with and the moments in your day when you can sit quietly and truly count your blessings.

I’m blessed to share with you and have you in my life.  Thank you for caring enough about your family and yourself to connect with moms (and with me) who truly know where you are, what you need and want to help.

Soon we will celebrate Christ rising from the dead and I can’t wait to hear about how the RISEN Lord has showered you with his resurrection power to help you enjoy the life and purpose that he has for you!

You are wonderful!


From My Boys

This picture shows me, my 3 boys and a beautifully decorated table with a complete meal on it.  The story behind the meal, the smiles and all the details is one I’ll never forget. 

It was the day before Christmas Eve, my in-laws were driving in from Texas and I was thrilled to finally get family here and start the Holiday celebrations.  They arrived around 3 in the afternoon and I then learned that my husband was going to come pick me up for a little “errand” at 4:30. 

I went along having no idea what the REAL plan was and after checking a few things off our to-do list my husband and I headed back home. When we walked in the house I found my 3 boys standing next to their grandparents, coats zipped up and grins splattered on their faces.

I didn’t understand this Rockwell-themed sight until I turned the corner and saw our dining room table.  The dozen roses, lit candles, rotisserie chicken, potatoes, salad, corn and special red drinking glasses made for a romantic atmosphere.  That’s when the story came together in my mind.  About 6 weeks earlier I had discovered a drawing in my oldest son’s room.  The drawing showed a long table, flowers in the middle, candles on either side and 2 chairs strategically placed at either end. I also found a check list with my mother-in-law’s name next to certain items and my husband’s name next to other items.

Basically my son Matthew, at the age of 8, had been making secret phone calls and delegating certain responsibilities to my husband and my husband’s mom during the last month and a half.  Matthew wanted to give me a Christmas gift of dinner, fully prepared, that we could enjoy in our home.  Matthew even instructed my mother-in-law exactly what food and decorations to pick up on her way here from Texas!

Matthew wanted dinner on the table and he asked my in-laws to take all the boys to McDonald’s to eat so Matt and I could enjoy a romantic dinner alone.  In our home.

The evening only became better when the boys gave me a little box that held a beautiful necklace and earrings (you can kind of see them on me in the picture).  My husband documented each boy’s Christmas wishes for me on a precious card and I was in tears.  Everyone involved in this little project agreed that while the end result was precious – getting there had proven to be more than they had bargained for. 

My husband said Matthew not only had a goal, he had a very specific plan for how to make it all happen, what it would look like and who would hold certain responsibilities along the way.

We ate our chicken and laughed at the fact that we had NEVER enjoyed a meal by ourselves in our home…that sounded almost bizarre to speak as a reality. Our smile turned to quiet as we realized that our kids are growing up and growing up fast. 

Their personalitites, insights and opinions are not only being formed – they are being expresed – and it. is. awesome.

Our dinner was fantastic.

The realization that my children wanted to do something for us was amazing.

These moments help me keep the smaller struggles and frustrations in perspective – it’s a goood thing 😮

Wooden Bench

There is nothing better than being in a place of complete awe, surrender and well – unknown.  I didn’t use to think this way.  Nope, in fact I hated the unknown.  Not knowing what is happening next, where things are going to end up, how we’re going to get there – all these questions that don’t have clear answers and you’d THINK it’d be scary – but I’ve grown up a little and it’s not anymore.

Instead, as I look at all the unknowns, I feel like I’m sitting on a wooden bench in the middle of a room at the art museum.  You know those rooms that have a 360 degree approach to artwork?  They are fantastic!  Usually these rooms display art that comes from a particular time period or comes from the same artist.  No matter the source the end result is being totally surrounded by creativity, art and expression.

Think of the most beautiful masterpiece you’ve ever seen.  My favorite artists are Monet and Manet.  Both are French painters from the 19th century and I’ll tell you why I love them so much.  Manet was the FIRST to display black splotches in his painting, or dark areas in the pastoral scenes.  I have a print hanging in my living room called “The Swing”.  In the picture you see a girl, standing on a rope swing, her picnic basket on the ground and friends gathered around her.  On her white dress and the ground there are dark blotches.  As silly as it sounds, Manet did an amazing thing – he painted what WASN’T there.  He knew that the tree branches swaying above the girl would have blocked out the sun’s rays with their leaves.  We don’t see the leaves – just their shadowing effect.

I love Monet because his initial look of chaos is almost scientific.  I was able to actually see a Monet painting when we took our boys to the art museum here in Kansas City.  My husband took this picture of me, sitting with our two oldest boys, as we gazed on one of Monet’s water lilies paintings.

When we came into this room, full of impressionistic paintings, I had the boys immediately go close to the Monet creation and look at one small area.  I asked what they saw.  After naming off some colors I asked what they thought this was a painting of – one guessed the sky, the other water.  Then I told them to keep their eyes on the painting and walk backward.

As we moved back I actually heard their understanding and appreciation develop toward the beautiful water lilies they were NOW able to decipher. It was a very cool moment.

Just like Monet and Manet we are impressionists too!  We see what we want to see in a way that no one else can.  I have to wonder if someone had found these painters at the beginning or middle of their process if that person would have had more questions than appreciation.  But now that the paintings are done it all comes together – the seen, the unseen, the messy, the clear, the real and the imagined – it’s all there in a beautiful display of art and science.

So my life is full of different “masterpieces” that are still being discovered, formed and completed.  these masterpieces involve my career, my family, my spiritual growth, my calling…the list goes on and on.  I’ve decided to sit on the wooden bench in the middle of the room of my life and watch with great expectation as to how things will come together.

I don’t know what masterpiece you are currently waiting to see completed – but hang in there.  Don’t judge the process or the resources being used to create it – just watch, wait and wonder at the possibilities.

You are an amazing masterpiece, an artist and museum director – don’t lose sight of the beauty around you while you’re waiting – I know I’m soaking in each moment of growth and discovery –

Happy New Year my friends –


Christmas Break – Naughty or Nice?

After posting a status update on facebook one of our Smarter Moms, Shanta, suggested that I list things out a bit more…so here goes:

When it comes to winter break we have a choice.  We can see our children as naughty irritations or as nice people with the potential to make our day fantastic.  We just have to change our mindset a little bit because now we have all our normal, daily responsibilities plus all the extra things that come with holiday and family events.  The most important thing to remember is that our kids have gone from fairly consistent routines to a ton of free-time.  This is NOT an easy transition for their minds, bodies or spirits – we have to help them! 

We have to resist the desire to sit the kids in front of the TV or leave them to their own devices.  We have to interact with them BEFORE they start fussing at each other – giving them structure helps them feel relaxed and joyful instead of anxious and bored.

For each day during break try to plan a goal and a game.  Don’t reinvent the wheel, just look around the house and use the resources you already have.  A couple of weeks ago (BEFORE the boys were out of school) – I went through the house and took quick inventory of games, craft supplies and activities we already owned.  Many of these haven’t been touched since summer so they seem new to my guys.   I took out my calendar and wrote down a goal and a game for each day.  If we don’t finish things I’ll move it to the next day, but this flexible plan keeps me from feeling overwhelmed or exhausted from keeping people entertained.

DISCLAIMER: Having a plan doesn’t mean that everything will run perfectly all the time – you know your kids and their ability to tolerate free play versus structured activities – make plans that will HELP your day, not hurt it.  Some of the activities listed under games for each day rely heavily on the fact that we are members at an amazing gym.  This is an extra expense that tends to pay for itself during these winter days.  I get to stay healthy and I can get the boys out of the house and keep them active.  If you don’t have a gym just make up your own active games like obstacle courses around the house, relay races or anything that gets everyone moving!

Here are some quick notes I pulled out of my planner to share with you.  I’ve left out the details and notes I write for myself.  These are the days, goals and games I have planned for the next week…hopefully it will make sense 😮  I took some pictures over the last couple days too – I don’t just talk about this stuff – I live it – because without this sort of planning and preparation I would go crazy! 😮

MONDAY: goal = go through all our toys and put them into keep, give away and trash piles (hint: I tell the boys that all toys in the give away pile will remain in the pile for a day or two so they can play with all of the toys, if someone decides they really want to keep a toy and take it out of the give away pile that is fine.  By telling them the toys will be around for another day my guys are more willing to put things in that pile)  game = go swimming at the gym

TUESDAY: goal = take toys to donation center, game = board game of their choice, make puppets and puppet stage

WEDNESDAY: goal = make Christmas treats for family that is coming, game = play racquetball at gym, practice puppet show

THURSDAY: goal = wrap gifts for grandparents and family members (the boys picked out these gifts so I like for them to be the ones to wrap them), game = balloon fun (I have lots of games I play with balloons because balloons can break things and I can have lots off balloons in a little bit of time without a whole lot of effort – plus I can pop them and throw them away when we are done and no one cares) To see some other ideas see the post entitled “Rainy Day Play”

FRIDAY: goal and game = Enjoy grandparents, show them our puppet show, play games with Daddy and grandparents, try to keep real food (not just candy) in their bellies and get ready for the Christmas Eve service!!

 Here we are working on the puppet stage, some puppets we made and the boys trying their hand at putting on their show:




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