Friday, December 31


Read Psalm 37

Long ago, little girls were very good at pretend. Plastic dolls and dress-up clothes and microphone spoons were their props as they rocked and twirled and sang, dreaming of what was to come. Time marched on, and the little girls grew. The props fell away and new ones took over–diapers and blankets and pacifiers, only the babies weren’t plastic this time.

The mommy-girls smiled as their babies grew, and one day they noticed their little baby-girls rocking and twirling and singing, practicing their future. And the mommies remembered their own dreams. Some smiled at the power of a dream, recognizing their former toys as their current tools, and whispered, “Dream on, sweet child.” Other mommies suddenly remembered a tucked away dream and dusted it off with excitement. But some mommies barely breathed, surprised that forgotten dreams now remembered hovered with the scent of unrealized longing.

Wednesday, December 29

Seeing the Fog Lift

Read Psalm 121

This morning I have a cold. The fog is rolling over the hills and just now at noonish the sun is just hardly coming through the mist. I've had the regular morning of pulling two toddlers out of a billion different disasters and instructing older children in chores and homework. It's emotionally exhausting.


My second born son was going through the typical second born syndrome of saying life isn't fair and how come the first born gets to do things he doesn't do and how come life is just generally unfair. . . Robert very graciously took him to work with him today.

Not sure that is a second born syndrome after all. But maybe a human syndrome.

Tuesday, December 28


Read James 1:19-27

You can't fool them, you know.

Two pudgy hands cup left cheek and right, turn your face to demand your eyes laser lock onto hers, and she whisper-stomps "Mama, you're not listening...!"

Technically, you’re right when you coo, “Yes I am, honey, I can just do two things at once,” because you did hear her; but she’s right because you weren’t listening.

Monday, December 27

Silent Night

The phrase repeats itself over and over again in his mind:

Silent night, holy night,
Stille nacht, heilige nacht.

Father Joseph Mohr, Parish Priest

It's the first line from a poem this young Austrian priest had written two years before. Now he can't get the phrase out of his mind. "Silent night, holy night."

Saturday, December 25

The Christmas Guest (Saturday Special)

Holiday Joy

It happened one day near December's end
Two neighbors called on an old friend
And they found his shop so meager and lame
Made gay with a thousand bows of green

Friday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

 1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

Thursday, December 23

Light of the Whole World: The Shepherds' Story

Posted by Andrea from The Jesus Story Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones

Read Luke 2

God was like a new daddy--he couldn't keep the good news to himself. He'd been waiting all these long years for this moment, and now he wanted to tell everyone.

...Now he was going to send a big choir of angels to sing his happy song to the world: He's here! He's come! Go and see him. My little boy.

Now where would you send your splendid choir? To a big concert hall maybe? Or a palace perhaps?

God sent his to a little hillside, outside a little town, in the middle of the night. He sent all those angels to sing to a raggedy bunch of shepherds watching their sheep outside Bethlehem.

...God must have thought the shepherds were very important indeed, because they were the ones he chose to share the good news with first.

Monday, December 20

The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth

Read Matthew 1:17-24

by Howard C. Schade
Reader's Digest Article, 1954

At Christmas time men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a miracle -- not exactly.

It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit, prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood. But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down church. They felt that with paint, hammer, and faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

Saturday, December 18

Saturday Special: A Social Network Christmas

This video is an artistic take on how the story of the nativity might have read had a social network existed at the time of Jesus's birth. Follow this historical period as it unfolds as a digital narrative. This vignette is great for highlighting the truths and circumstances of our Savior's birth in a fresh, unique way. 

Friday, December 17

Blessed Be the Name of The Lord

This is an oldie from my personal blog. I wrote it back in 2008 when I had two children. I can really see how time has flown since the baby I was snuggling fresh from her crib is a non-stop talking 3 year old now. The days can seem long and it's easy to think that time isn't passing at all. Perspective is good and I am thrilled to see the blessings as I look back through the years. God gives and takes away. Please read Ecclesiates 3 about a time and purpose for everything. “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

-- Alysun

A Time To Rock

The baby was squawking from her crib and I entered her room to get her. Mandy is a very loving girl and I always expect a hug after her rests. As usual, she wrapped her chubby, baby arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder. It had been a busy and frustrating day, so I sat down to enjoy the love in the funny colored, peach rocking chair with ink on the arm in the corner of her room. Even as she lay on me, I observed many different things I should be doing: there was the bottle of milk that lay upside down on the floor dripping hours old milk, 2 boxes of baby clothes begging to be organized and put back in the closet, a laundry basket full of folded sweet girl clothes needing to be put into drawers, and there was Emma who burst into the room with a look on her face that said, "What are you doing giving love away to my sibling and not me?"

Thursday, December 16

Love so Amazing, so Divine

Read 1 Corinthians 13

Someone asked a talk-show hostess if she thought God loved her. She was taken aback by the question. It came at her out of left field, even though as a well known conservative, she was accustomed to being asked shocking questions. She answered the question as honestly as she knew how. The question is meaningless, she said, because that’s not enough.

Not enough? The way I read the Bible says not only is it enough, but it is the foundation upon what everything else is built.

“We love,” 1 John 4:19 says, “because he first loved us.”

She said love must be reciprocal or it is not love at all. The Word of God contends the truest form of love is that which is not returned. “Love you enemies” (Luke 6:27).

There is no such thing as unconditional love, she argues. But the Bible tells us the way we love isn’t enough. Showing love for the sake of being a good person gets us exactly nowhere in the eyes of God the Father. Our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

Jesus did not wait until he was in a symbiotic, mutually fulfilling love relationship with every person on the planet before he sacrificed his life to save us. “While we were still sinners--incapable of the heavenly idea of love--Christ died for us.”

Love. As they say in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

While she officers some good advice, this woman has it all wrong when it comes to love.

Real Love offered all in exchange for nothing.

Of course God desires our love and our devotion. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:27). Not out of duty, obligation or to be a good person and productive member of society should we love. We love because we were first loved and for the sake of love alone.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Three hundred years ago, Isaac Watts penned those words. God has shown unimaginable love for us from the moment he formed Adam from dust and Eve at his side. We should feel compelled to love and adore the One responsible for the very breath we breathe. He delights in the praises of his people. But our relationship will never be reciprocal. We cannot love him enough (even through loving others, as the interviewed woman suggests) to deserve his love.

Unconditional love is an absurd concept. I’ll give her that one. “If you love me, obey my commandments,” Jesus says (John 14:15). His commandments were simple in theory: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:27-28).

As often occurs, the instructions on page 1487 of the New Testament turns out more difficult in practice than theory. Impossible. It’s a good thing then “His Divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

“Through our knowledge of him who called us according to his own glory and goodness,” we are capable of the impossible. Unreciprocated, selfless love.

Tuesday, December 14

An Experiment in Joy

Read Psalm 96

Normally I speed around in my mini-van.

I mean, not really speed {after several speeding tickets about seven years ago I average about 2 miles above or under the posted limit. True story.}

As the holiday season advances, my life speeds and gets continually faster and faster. I spend more and more time in my car, especially as December gets eaten away by Christmas programs and Holiday Parties and making extra sure I have everyone’s gift and plate of cookies ready to go and by the end of it I’m exhausted and spent.

Finally December 24 comes and I stuff little girl legs into tights as we pull the tags off of Christmas dresses together. We rush down the stairs, frantically look for shoes and get everyone in the mini-van {again} to speed off to church.

Where has my December gone? The joy? The slowness of enjoying things and relishing in the quietness in a heart that December should bring?

I decided that this year would be different. 2009 made me want to pack up the kids, get in the car and go anywhere but here for Christmas 2010.

We aren’t jetting off to an undisclosed location to celebrate our holidays {like I wished 11 and a half months ago} but I am figuring out how to celebrate Christmas in a slower, more deliberate way.

Even among the millions of details.
And the Christmas programs,
the nights that are just as busy as the days.

And the Advent calendar candy candy candy every morning for the kids.
I’m looking for JOY.

November was a particularly difficult month for me. I got some bad news. I had some relationship-fractures.

And then I let it all take me down. But, on a day that you prayed for me, I had an idea.

I decided that I would offer up my own self as an experiment. Would intentionally looking for the JOY that is already beneath my fingertips change me? Would spending the entire month of December searching, photographing and watching my life {and the lives of others} for JOY, would that create JOY in my own heart?

I wondered.

It’s called the 100 Joys project. Every day I am intentionally searching for simple but noteworthy joys in my life. I’m photographing them. And I’m counting.

And almost from the beginning the experiment seems to be working.

I’ve had to force myself to stop. And watch. And look. And note the things that make me smile. And if nothing shows its face, I don’t give up. My heart is different than it was 14 days ago.

I’d like to invite you to come along too. It’s not too late: You can slow down. You can rest, even now. And if you look you can find the joy that’s right beneath your fingertips.

Today's post is borrowed from Sarah Markley, a contributor at (in)courage and keeper of a blog called The Best Days of my Life.
Read Isaiah 54

Another post from Molly at Brittle, Crazy Glass. Home recovering after giving birth less than a week ago and already finding the time to be reflective and articulate. The following is actually two posts; separated by about a year. The first post is titled There is a Redeemer, the second is Sweetly Broken. The poem at the end was included in the most recent post.

There is a Redeemer

What a wild week: last Monday I awoke to the news of a friend's death. On Tuesday I checked into the hospital and on Wednesday we welcomed a healthy, beautiful, big (for me) baby boy into the world. We spent the rest of the week acclimating and falling in love with him. On Saturday morning, my mom received word that her ailing father had been taken to the hospital and was being removed from his oxygen, which meant it was only a matter of time before he died. He hung on until early this morning.

Later this morning, HH left me at home with our little guy (we're not supposed to be out in public yet for the sake of both of our health) to attend our friend's memorial service. I wish I could have been there -- it sounds like it was a beautiful service celebrating Christ's beauty as reflected through one of his people. Of course, I would have cried through the whole thing -- I cried through it anyway from home as I sat and held our son and grieved with a woman who had to say goodbye to her own son way too soon.

Death, new life, death. This is the second December in a row that I find myself contemplating death at Christmas.

The poem below speaks to what the Incarnation represents: God himself entering our messy world and beginning the messy and painful process of redeeming all that is broken and painful. As long as we remain here on earth, our griefs will remain; but our grief is sanctified, and we can rest in knowing that the day is coming when all of our tears will be wiped away.

Sweetly Broken

There is a certain rightness about a funeral at Christmas.

Not that a funeral seems right at any time of the year; indeed, it is a jarring reminder of all that is not right. But that is precisely why it felt appropriate to pause on the Saturday before Christmas, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of shopping and baking and mailing and cleaning, to mourn.

It is the close juxtaposition of the two events that brought to light for me this year the "reason for the season."

What does the little baby in my nativity scene signify?

He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:14).

Wonderful Counselor. Who needs a counselor but the troubled, the vexed, the pained? Her family, her friends, you, me; he is our Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God. What better demonstration of the need for a Mighty God than the apparent victory of the strongest foe we face in our earthly lives; and who but our Mighty God could have swallowed death in victory?

Everlasting Father. He is unchanging, he is gently caring, and he welcomed our sister -- his beloved daughter -- into eternity.

Prince of Peace. The sermon for the funeral was entitled "Great is Your Peace," after verse 13 of Isaiah 54, a verse specifically selected by M for her own funeral. The chapter is a promise of the joy and shalom that the Messiah will bring. Because of Christmas, we now have peace with God, and we will enjoy a fullness of all-encompassing peace in eternity that we can't even begin to imagine now. Read Isaiah 54 and see if your heart doesn't sing and yearn for that day.

Irenaeus believed that by living through all stages of life -- infanthood, teen years, adult, being born, dying, Christ redeemed each of those stages of life. He is not only with us, but he identifies deeply and personally with each of our sufferings.

I asked a friend at the funeral reception how she was doing? "I'm a mess," she said.

Aren't we all?

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel has come to thee,
O Israel.

 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there!
There is no fireside, howsoe’er defended,
But has one vacant chair!

The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying,
Will not be comforted!

Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
But oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise.

We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;
Amid these earthly damps
What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers
May be heaven’s distant lamps.

There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.

She is not dead,–the child of our affection,–
But gone unto that school
Where she no longer needs our poor protection,
And Christ himself doth rule.

In that great cloister’s stillness and seclusion,
By guardian angels led,
Safe from temptation, safe from sin’s pollution,
She lives, whom we call dead.

Day after day we think what she is doing
In those bright realms of air;
Year after year, her tender steps pursuing,
Behold her grown more fair.

Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken
The bond which nature gives,
Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,
May reach her where she lives.

Not as a child shall we again behold her;
For when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her,
She will not be a child;

But a fair maiden, in her Father’s mansion,
Clothed with celestial grace;
And beautiful with all the soul’s expansion
Shall we behold her face.

And though at times impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean,
That cannot be at rest,–

We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay;
By silence sanctifying, not concealing,
The grief that must have way.

Monday, December 13

Ceaseless Outpourers of Worship

Read Psalm 5

Written by Alyssa, mother of 7, devoted wife to one, who blogs at Resolved2Worship. Borrowed with permission from her candid spiritual journal.

I woke in a fit of self pity this morning. Honestly, I don't like to type that. But honestly, I want to be honest.

But I can't deny the truth - yes, I too am affected by PMS. Ha, I can try super hard and do pretty well covering the affects of my undeniable womanhood but for some reason this time of the month there are two things I struggle most with for just a few days: feeling unappreciated and eating chocolate.

My stomach was cramping, because shoot, after over a decade of pregnancy and nursing... guess what? I actually have a normal cycle. I'm not a moody person, not even much during, ya know, this time of the month. But this morning, for crying out loud (I didn't, but felt like it, crying out loud I mean) I was feeling that unappreciated mommy syndrome.

We women blame a lot of sin on premenstrual tension. Frankly, I think that's lame. I don't like to believe that I could really be affected all that much by something that defines my womanhood so clearly. Not one little bit. That's just a bit humbling to admit or believe.

The first being more difficult to handle.

The second being kind of humorous to me because the rest of the month I don't crave it one little bit, in fact I usually avoid it.

I personally think though that the unappreciated mommy syndrome, though may have something to do with my hormones right now, has a lot more to do with my heart. When I am weaker hormonally I find out sometimes what is really going on deeper below the surface.

"Why do I do what I do?" That's the question I found coming back to me this morning as I was trying to convince myself that getting out of bed was a good idea for today. "For whom do you do it?" That was question number two.

There is something that drives everyone. What is it that drives me? Is there something inside that is merely motivated out of wanting that pat on the back? "Oh Alyssa, you are doin' such a good job!" I'm not saying God hasn't put within each of us to desire appreciation, but is it what drives me and runs my day? Is it what I look for to make my work worth it?

Do I give and do what I do to get something back from my husband and children? Or does unconditional love drive me?

If Jesus and His love isn't what is driving me, then something else is. If it isn't Jesus, then what I am doing is worthless. If Jesus isn't the reason I do what I do as wife and mother, than I'm gonna lose it. I'll have self-pity. I'll be mad. I'll be impatient. I'll be a dork of a mom. And be the kind of wife that drives away her man emotionally, if not in other ways.

What is it that gets me out of bed each morning? It's passion.
But passion for what? Passion for Jesus?

That's what should be getting me out of bed each morning.

It really comes down to what is my idol. What is it that I worship in life? My pastor made a comment that has been going 'round and 'round in my head.

He said, "We're all incurable, ceaseless outpourers of worship. The question is, what is it that we are worshipping? Because if we aren't worshipping God, we will be ceaseless worshippers of someone or something else."

This really hit me. How true! We really are incurable, ceaseless worshippers our whole life long! We're "resolved2worship" alright, but WHAT is it we resolve ourselves to worship... even at times unknowingly, worship? We WILL worship something. But what is it we will choose to worship?

We say as christians that we worship God, but seriously, what is it that drives us? Because what drives us and what we look to for fulfillment is what we worship.

-Is it ourselves?
-our mate?
-our children?
-our reputation and image - what others think of us?
-our good works and what we do and how we live for God?
-money? materialism? shopping?

Here is test to see what drives us, what we worship: What is it that we run to when we feel empty?

I know that's the best test for me. If I wake up on empty, or even just plain PMSin' it, what and who do I run to to fill that feeling of empty? What and who do I ceaselessly worship day and day out?

I want it to be God.

I want it to be the Creator instead of the created. I don't want to idolize my husband or my children or anything else. If I idolize my husband or children I will ceaselessly pour myself into controlling them to give me a good image and or make me happy.

Since we are all incurable, ceaseless outpourers of worship, may we cry out to God that we be an incurable, ceaseless outpourer of worship to HIM alone. Then there is unconditional love pouring out on those around us.

But, oh heart of mine, God is enough! He alone can take away self-pity on an early Monday morning when I have unappreciated mommy syndrome. He alone can fill the empty. He alone should be the ONE that I have an incurable, ceaseless outpouring of worship towards.

So good morning here on Real Life Monday. God, I come as a incurable, ceaseless worshipper. I am empty. I am moody and I want chocolate fudge. I need You. You alone can satisfy me. You are enough.

Friday, December 10

A Victorious Marriage: Little Moments of Win (Part 2 of 2)

Read Romans 7:7-25 (If you read it yesterday, read it again).

Today’s post picks up where yesterday’s left off. If you missed it, read part one here.

Victory in Desires. I struggle here... I suspect that we all do. The progression of an idol shows us that we can have good, innocuous or bad desires. If you have a good or neutral desire but you escalate it to a demand, you are on the path to conflict. The desires can be small; in my teaching during my former life at PM, I would illustrate this with my desire for back rubs from my husband. He was so eager (and good!) to give me back rubs while we were dating and during the first 3 months of our marriage. Then the thrill wore off for him... but not my desire for them. Do I demand backrubs from him and punish him when he doesn't fulfill my demands? Or do I do battle with my desires and recognize where they are leading me? There are little desires like this (I pretty much desire that HH do anything that makes my life easier), and there are big desires that affect major life decisions. As the song says, "You can't always get what you want." I like to think that by training my soul to be victorious over my smaller desires, I am preparing my heart to be victorious over bigger desires/demands as well.

Victory in Asking Nicely. This is a bit of a follow-up to the "desires" bit ... there's nothing wrong with giving my husband the opportunity to meet my desires or to help/serve me. HH is a foot taller than I am; I asked him nicely the other day if he would change some lightbulbs for me -- it's a lot easier for him to reach up to do it than for me to climb perilously on a chair (even more perilous now that I'm 38 weeks pregnant!), and he was happy to comply. What if he hadn't done it right away? Be patient, ask again nicely, or overlook and do it myself. No biggie. Another part of being 38 weeks pregnant is that everything on my body aches, so I now ask him more for the massages that I desire. Nicely, without expectation, and grateful when he finds joy in serving me in this way.

Victory in Gratitude. HH does a lot of things that make my life easier. I haven't had to worry about caring for the outside of our house since we got married (and this after being the sole lawn-mower for 3 years!). He washes my car and puts gas in it. He carries heavy bags for me. He does the dishes that have been building up in the sink for two days while I'm still in bed in the morning! I could go on and on ... I think that the point at which I begin to take these things for granted or expect them is a defeat. To live in gratitude is victory.

Victory in Serving. This is the last one that comes to mind for me right now; I count it a small victory when I get out of my self-centered shell and ask myself, "How can I serve or bless my husband today?" Sometimes it's just being excited to see him and spending time doing what he wants to do; sometimes it's giving him permission to be busy with work or other friends. Sometimes it's writing him a love note or telling him that I'm proud of him; sometimes it's making him lunch. Sometimes it's asking him, "How can I bless you today?" I am living in defeat when my world shrinks to the size of my world (a Paul Tripp-ism, I think); I am living in victory when I reach outside of myself to serve others in love. And that service begins with my nearest neighbor.

Find the little victories in your relationship with your closest neighbor. Live in resurrection power today.

Molly writes for Brittle, Crazy Glass and is a lover of her husband, travel, dogs, mountains, photography, reading, movies, gardening, white chocolate mochas, theology, history, languages and cooking. And she is learning more and more how to be a lover of my Lord and His people.

Thursday, December 9

A Victorious Marriage: Little Moments of Win (Part 1 of 2)

Read Romans 7:7-25

Today’s post is part one of a two part series borrowed from a blog called Brittle Crazy Glass by Molly. Come back tomorrow for a few more victories.

Doesn't the post title "A Victorious Marriage" sound so Joel-Osteen-esque? Don't worry; I'm not channeling my inner-prosperity-gospel-preacher; that's why I added the subtitle, "Little Moments of Win"!

Here's what I mean: I've just been thinking about times in my marriage when I would consider myself "victorious." I'm not talking about times when I "win" (not really) a fight through cruel words or outlasting HH in the silent treatment. I'm talking about spiritual victories, even though they might generally seem so small as to be insignificant. In his book What Did You Expect, one of Paul Tripp's major theses is that marriages are made or broken in the little moments, not the big ones. To that end, I want to celebrate a couple of times when I've consciously thought to myself, "I am so thankful that God has given me the grace to conquer my selfish desires for the sake of my marriage."

Here are a few of those examples:

Victory in the Insignificant. Ken Sande has a great chapter title in The Peacemaker called, "Is this really worth fighting over?" It's a great question. There are a lot of things that I could spend a lot of time getting worked up about. Sometimes I do get worked up, and sometimes I'm more victorious ... I'm talking about the times when HH does or doesn't do something that's a minor inconvenience to me. Maybe he left a dirty napkin or dish sitting on the counter after eating breakfast and I have to throw it away. Maybe he didn't leave his cell phone on and I can't get a hold of him for a few minutes. Maybe he left something sitting in my way in the garage and I have to move it before I can put something else away. It takes me all of five seconds to serve him by taking care of it and not bringing it up to him later (which is essentially a form of punishment). My goal is to not even let these occasions phase me; if they do, my goal is to have the grace to say, "Is this worth getting worked up about" and to serve my husband by taking care of it and moving on without him ever knowing about it.

Victory in Apology. Call me crazy or overly sinful, but every time I work up the nerve to say, "I'm sorry, I was wrong," or "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have spoken to you like that," I count it as a spiritual victory. Because it's hard. Because it still doesn't come naturally. Because it's a conscious choice to live by the fruit of the Spirit rather than the fruit of my flesh. Because it's dying to myself ... and by that death, I promote the life of my soul and the life of my marriage. Don't take it lightly when you apologize to your spouse or when they apologize to you: God's victorious reign in your life is powerfully displayed in those two simple words!

Molly writes for Brittle, Crazy Glass and is a lover of her husband, travel, dogs, mountains, photography, reading, movies, gardening, white chocolate mochas, theology, history, languages and cooking. And she is learning more and more how to be a lover of her Lord and His people. She is also expecting baby #1 any minute now.

Wednesday, December 8

The Same God.

Read: Exodus 14:1-27

While reading from the Storybook Bible to my kids, I was reminded that the God I worship today is the same God in the well-loved Old Testament stories: Noah, Jonah, David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lions Den, and Moses and the Red Sea. Impressive to children, but I need to be impressed too. How could I think for even a moment that God is not up to any of the challenges in my little life?

“In front of them was a big sea. It was so big there was no way around it. But there was no way through it – it was too deep. They didn’t have any boats so they couldn’t sail across. And they couldn’t swim across because it was too far and they would drown. And they couldn’t turn back because Pharaoh was chasing them. They could see the flashing swords now, glinting in the baking sun, and the dust clouds, and chariot after scary chariot surging towards them. So they did the only things there was left to do – PANIC!

Monday, December 6

Monday's Mantra

Read Psalm 91

You know it is going to be a long day when you are woken up by a child wearing a tiger mask and asking you where the scissors are. The sharp ones, specifically. So you pull yourself out of bed and your foot lands directly in a mysterious wet spot. Of course it does. It's Monday after all.

Head to the bathroom to find your one year old playing trucks on the toilet seat and laughing like a crazy person every time one falls in.

Friday, December 3


Pluto got bumped. Cut from the first team, demoted from the top nine. According to a committee in Prague, this outpost planet fails to meet solar system standards. They downgraded the globe to asteroid #134340. Believe me, Pluto was not happy… Can’t fault Pluto for being ticked. One day he’s in, the next he’s out; one day on the squad, the next day off. We can understand his frustration. Some of us understand it all too well. We know what it’s like to be voted off. Wrong size. Wrong color. Wrong address.


Thursday, December 2


Read Psalm 91 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Have you ever read a passage of scripture only to wonder how it could possibly be true? This week as I read through Psalm 91, a passage that generally offers comfort, I wondered.

Wednesday, December 1

On Being Forgotten

Read Isaiah 49

Destination: The Lost Forty. I hadn’t been there for twenty years, but I remembered a trail a few miles from the cabin that I wanted to rediscover. I missed a turn or two, but we soon found our way to the untouched forest. It was as beautiful as I remembered.

What I didn’t remember was the story behind the forest’s name. “The Lost Forty” is a forty acre piece of land that was never surveyed when the government was mapping out this region. Here’s the short story: In the 1880’s, Josiah A. King and his three person crew were living off of a dwindling food supply as they surveyed the region around Grand Rapids, MN. They weren’t quite done with their job, but winter was setting in. In his haste, Josiah marked a section of his map as a lake. In actuality it was a virgin forest. Lumber barons of the time were cutting down massive swaths of such forests. In fact today, only 2 percent of the old growth forests are left in MN. Since the “lost forty” land was marked as a lake, the saws of the barons were never sent to cut it down. As a result, 300-400 year old trees still stand. Josiah’s mistake became our blessing. Because it was forgotten, this forest of trees survived that are older than our nation.

Evidently there are times that being forgotten isn’t all bad.

Yet, after this week’s travels, I’ll say that I’m grateful to be remembered.

Through the prophet Isaiah God asked a vivid question to add emphasis to his point, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (49:15-16).

I assure you today, by the authority of the Word of God, that you are not forgotten. Your Father’s love for you is as fresh, alive, powerful and rich as it has ever been. He will never love you less and could not love you more.

He knows. He remembers. He sees.

And, if it feels somehow like you are overlooked or forgotten in this season—the soul’s equivalent to the “Lost Forty” forest—even that experience will turn out for good. Roots are growing deeper, old growth is being preserved, dangers averted and His plan being carried forward.

His memory is good. Really good. Rest in that assurance today.

This post is borrowed from John Stumbo's blog. He has a remarkable story as a pastor of large Salem, Oregon church who was stricken with a mysterious illness that nearly killed him. His story of healing and faith is amazing. Check out his blog at

Tuesday, November 30

In Your Arms of Love

Read Psalm 46

Calming an overtired baby is one of the great challenges of motherhood. Nothing in this world can console a child who needs to sleep but refuses to do so. Rock, sing, bounce, and swaddle, but the crying continues; arms flail, backs arch, anything to avoid sleep. A child will work themselves into misery rather than surrender to peaceful slumber. .

When my boys were infants, Sunday mornings were a ruthless challenge. Our church meets in school gym, so there is no quiet place to escape to when baby needs a nap. The church service aligned perfectly with morning naptime. More often than not, by the end of the sermon, my baby was near meltdown. From experience, I knew the cure to his ailment.

Monday, November 29

Perfect in Weakness.

“Some days are for living and others are for just getting through.” 
(M. Forbes)

Read II Cor. 12:1-10

The bad days have more hours in them than the good ones. There isn’t actual scientific evidence to support my claim, but I hear mothers out there saying, “Amen!” The hours stretch in those hard times and one defeat is heaped on another like smelly rags on a broken washing machine. My attitude is bad, my reactions are bad, the kids behavior is bad… it seems to be a never-ending cycle of agony.

If there is a moment or two of quiet to collect myself at the end of the craziness, I realize my major disappointment is in myself. Why didn’t I handle things differently? Why couldn’t I have done this instead of that? Why did I behave so nasty today? Why couldn’t I handle things more like Christ? There may have been a bazillion frustrations outside my control on that bad day, but my actions were in my control. And that is my guilt.

Thursday, November 25

Something to Really be Thankful For

Read Psalm 8

In Christ alone
My hope is found
He is my life, my strength, my song
This cornerstone , this solid rock
Firm through the fierces, drought and storm
What heights of Love, what depths of Peace,
When fears are stilled, when Strivings cease!
my comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe
This gift of Love and righteousness,
scorned by the ones He came to save,
Till on that cross as jesus died
The wrath of god was satisfied;
For every sin on him was laid
Here in the depth of Christ I live

There in the ground , His body lay,

Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave he rose again!

And as he stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This the pow'r of Christ in me,
From life's first cry, to final braeth.
Jesus commands my destiny
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from his hand
Till he returns or call me home
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand .....

Wednesday, November 24

The Perfect Match

Read Matthew 19:16-28

After thirteen years of marriage, I can finally say to my husband, “I love you more today than I did the day we were married.” I couldn’t say that 5 years ago. It took the work of God in my heart. I praise Him for this every day.

After thirteen years of marriage, I know I can submit to the strength and spiritual wisdom of my husband, trusting that he has consulted God in every matter and is leading our family in the direction God intends for us. I couldn’t say that 5 years ago. God exposed my ugly pride and has taught me to hold my tongue. He is also teaching me the importance of building up my husband and lifting him up in prayer. I’m learning that part of submission is to “duck so that God can hit His target.”

Monday, November 22

The Gift of Contentment

Instead of the word submission, I should write
acceptance, for more and more, as life goes on,
that word opens doors into rooms of infinite peace,
and the heart that accepts asks nothing, for it is at
rest, and the pilgrim of love does not need a map
or chart. “I know my road, it leadeth to His heart.”

~  Amy Carmichael

 Read Philippians 4:4-14

Friday, November 19

Psalm 90

Read Psalm 92 [New Living Translation provided below]

1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.

2 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,

Thursday, November 18


God is a storyteller at heart. He has to be or he wouldn’t have spent so many years using regular people to record the sweeping epic we call the Bible. He gave each of us a story of our own as well. He gave us the stage for this piece of lifetime, but he’d like for us to let him be the star.

I recently attended a women’s retreat for our church. When you get a bunch of women together, the stories will start flying eventually. We’ll start telling labor and delivery stories, the exploits of our children, and once we all get settled in and comfy, we might share our own stories.

We heard some moving stuff from these women. Drug addictions, sexual and physical abuse, promiscuity, dysfunction, depression… The things Jesus saw when he took on all our sin and shame on the cross. These same stories were about deliverance, healing, and new life. God took messes and hurt and baggage and turned every single one of these women into shining stars in the universe. He is glorified through their stories, and their lives bear out the same.

Wednesday, November 17


Posted by Alysun

Read: Isaiah 29:16, I Corinthians 2:9, Psalm 139:7-10

We’re distracted. It’s true. You’ll probably be interrupted a few times before you even finish this paragraph -- so I’ll keep this brief. If we could only hold on to our goal and make it through the distractions without getting off track! “If Satan can’t get me with destruction, he will try to get to me with distraction,” is a quote in Believing God, by Beth Moore.

Tuesday, November 16

Angels Long to Look into These Things

Read Psalm 78

Our family used to take a camping trip every year with my grandparents and my mom’s sister’s family. My aunt and uncle had a wood sided nine passenger station wagon, so they got the privilege of hauling the tent trailer and 6 children (2 of us, 4 of them). The little boys were still in car seats in those days and were strapped into the middle seat. That left the four of us girls to be dispersed between the three seatbelts available in the rear-facing back bench seat and one up front between the grown ups.

The front seat was the coveted spot. We would take turns riding an hour or so at a time in the luxury of the front or languishing in the back.

From the back, we could see only what was behind us. We saw the backs of road signs and had the opportunity to make awkward eye contact with the diver of the car behind us at stop lights. We had no concept of time back there. The only answer we would get from the oft repeated “Are we there yet?” was “It’s just around the next bend.” It was never around the next bend.

Monday, November 15

My story.

Posted by Alysun

Read James 1 (my favorite passage)

I wish I could say that godly mothering was a natural progression for me. I was raised in a safe, loving, Christian home. But none of this came easy. With the birth of my first child came a decline in time spent with God. It didn’t get better with child number 2 or 3. Instead, I reached a low, dark place after the birth of my third child. Each day was harder and more frustrating than the one before. I hated getting up in the morning. I snapped and was angry nearly all the time. Sure, I could wax poetic about my paradise life with my wonderful husband and beautiful children. But the reality was that I couldn’t wait for this stage of irritation to pass so I could have some peace and quiet. Maybe when my kids were teenagers it would be better!

Saturday, November 13

Saturday Special: One Step At A Time

Posted by Alysun

Christian super heros looked a bit strange during my childhood. The 80s were a crazy time anyway, so it is no wonder it produced characters like Psalty the Singing Songbook.

I have an old VHS tape of the camping-trip movie and my kids love to watch it. The child actors are dressed crazy, over acted, the set is cheesy and awkward, and let's not get in to the fact there is a full-grown man wearing blue tights and a book costume. Yet the message is still fantastic. The well worded songs get stuck in our heads and we are singing about God's protection, comfort, and joy (a bit better than "Someday My Prince Will Come" in my opinion).

Friday, November 12

If Fear Ever Frays your Edges

Today's post is borrowed from Holley Gerth over at Heart to Heart with Holley.

I pull the jeans from my closet, hold them up to the light. I'm about to fold them neatly into my suitcase when I notice the rough cuffs.

I grab scissors and snip at loose ends. They only fray more. I tug and pull. (Did I mention these are mygood jeans?)

I sigh and lean back against the wall. And as I do, I realize my jeans aren't the only thing with frayed edges.

My heart has them too.

Thursday, November 11

Form and Function

Read Jeremiah 18:1-10, and Isaiah 64

So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord.
“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”

I mentioned in a previous post the love affair I had with a casserole dish. A brief and torrid romance such as it was could not have lasted. If I learned anything, besides that I have a sickness when it comes to kitchen gear and the color turquoise, I learned that the combination of form and function make a nearly irresistible package. When something is useful, it is a good thing. When something is both lovely and useful, it is ideal.

Often things only have both form and function in the Pottery Barn catalogue. Real life presents odd-sized items that don’t fit into perfect cubes. Real life brings miniature tornadoes in the form of toddlers and their curious older siblings. Is form and function possible in real life?

Wednesday, November 10

For the joy set before us: The Amazing Race

Posted by Alysun

Read Hebrews 12:1-11

Parenting small children is a crazy, never predictable reality. I’m reminded of Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I turned on the tv one evening to see that the Amazing Race was on. I saw the teams sprinting through an airport and gasped, "I've been there! They're in Maputo, they're in Maputo!" I said with great enthusiasm. My husband came the room and we watched transfixed as the clueless teams tried to find the office for an airline that would give them tickets to Johannesburg. "It's upstairs by the cafe!" I shouted at the tv. Watching the familiar airport on tv brought back a wave of memories as my husband and I have explored that same airport quite a few times flying in and out of Mozambique.

Tuesday, November 9


Posted by Andrea

Read Psalm 42

A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God,
deep draughts of God.
I'm thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, "Will I ever make it—
arrive and drink in God's presence?"

Monday, November 8

You've Just Been One-Upped.

Posted by Alysun

Read Philippians 2:1-11

A friend shared with me how her daughter had been up all night throwing up. The poor thing! While I felt bad for her, I immediately thought of something that happened to me involving throw-up. A natural segway, I told her about how my oldest child got sick in the back of the minivan and threw vomit all the way to the front seat, covering my new purse. Then we went home and my other daughter had a diarrhea attack in the bathtub, full of water and her sister. Well, I was pregnant at the time and the very scene sent me heaving into the sink.

It was a terrific story that really showed off my mothering woes. I was kinda of proud of my harrowing tale until I tried to remember what my friend had said that reminded me of the vomiting/diarrhea/heaving incident in the first place. It was then I realized I had just “one-upped” my friend. She shared about her life and I topped her frustrations with how it could have been worse… and had been worse for me.

Friday, November 5

Sibling Love.

Post by Alysun, as written by Grace K.

When spending time with my girls, one of the comments I hear the most is, "Wow! They actually enjoy being together!" And they do. But let me get this straight right now; THIS IS NOT AN ACCIDENT!!!

A loving family is one of God's greatest gifts to us. I believe that it is being viciously attacked by our enemy. It is vitally important that we pray for a wise a discerning heart in all areas of life, but especially as we seek to raise our children. "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got". If we continue to think, act and plan the way things "are always done," how can we expect to get any different results from the world around us? Divorce, rebellion, and estranged relationships are rampant. What kind of lives are we setting our children up to live?

Thursday, November 4

Have Patience

Posted by Andrea

Read Psalm 94 and Galatians 5:16-26

I talk a lot about patience with my kids.

“I’ll get your toy when we stop the car. Be patient.”

“Dinner will be ready in 5 minutes. Be patient.”

“You will be four on your next birthday. Be patient.”

OK, so maybe I just say “Be patient” a lot. We sing the song from Music Machine to mix it up a little.

Have patience. 
Have patience. 
Don’t be in such a hurry. 
When you get impatient you only start to worry. 
Remember that God is patient too 
and think of all the times when others have to wait for you.

Patience is a pretty important character attribute in the New Testament. It is an aspect of the definition of love (I Corinthians 13). It also made the short list in the Fruit of the Spirit.

Tuesday, November 2

The Key to the Kingdom.

Posted by Andrea

Read Matthew 5:1-12

At a secret society meeting the other evening (sounds more glamorous than Weight Watchers), the speaker was discussing something called self-talk. This is one of the dumbest terms self-help “psychiatry” has come up with to date. I’m sorry, it just is. The concept is to talk to yourself, like a crazy person, in an attempt to convince yourself to change a certain habit or in an effort to feel better about yourself.

I talk to myself all the time. I mutter things in the grocery store like, “Don’t forget milk.” Thank goodness I have children along usually and can pretend I’m talking to them. The difference here is I am reminding myself of a fact--I will forget milk if I don’t hear someone, even myself, tell me to get it. I am not trying to trick my subconscious into believing something that may or may not be true.

Monday, November 1

This Is My Costume.

Posted by Alysun from Resolved2Worship, written by Alyssa (used with permission)

I found this at a thrift shop for a dollar and I couldn't pass it up. I think it fit Bubbie perfectly.


I struggle with what others think of me. I don't think this is anything new that I type here this afternoon. I do think though, praise God, that He has brought me a long way concerning this in my life. He's used quite a few difficult situations and people to expose my heart and He continues to test my mind, heart, and soul along these lines because He and I both know I can fall quick and fast back into the old thought patterns.

Friday, October 29

Small, Hard Things

Posted by Andrea via The Rebelution

Read Philippians 2:1-18

Real life is full of small, tedious things. Things that are not fun, but are requirements for a healthy, happy life. The following article was borrowed from a blog called The Rebelution. The concept is all about doing small, hard things to the glory of God. What is quite possibly the most amazing thing, is that the blog (and the book that followed) were written by teenagers! Alex and Brett Harris currently have a thriving ministry to youth (and are no longer teenagers), but their message is significant for moms too.

It is not extremely difficult for us to convince ourselves that the faithful practice of doing small, hard things should be valued as vital preparation for future achievements. It is, however, much harder to view them as significant in and of themselves. Can we assign meaning to these simplest and humblest of acts?

Wednesday, October 27

Just to be nice.

Posted by Alysun

Read Philippians 2:1-11

Our culture has strayed far from “nice” as normal behavior. A friend dropped by my house the other day to give me a gift. She went WAY out of her way because I live about 15 minutes from town. She also had no excuse to give me a gift – it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas or Tree Day. Simply, she thought of me and was being nice. It was incredible.

New neighbors moved in last year and when talking to them, my husband found out they didn’t have a large mower to mow down the grass around their pond. My husband offered to come mow it when he was doing the mowing around our place. After he finished the job, our neighbors asked how much they should pay him. He said, “Nothing, just being neighborly.” They were really shocked since they came from a large city in California where “nice” isn’t free. Ever.

Tuesday, October 26

Getting Comfortable

Posted by Andrea

Read Genesis 11:1-8

I saw a casserole dish the other day that I fell in love with. It was so beautiful with it’s fluted edges in a cheery turquoise blue. I imagined setting it on the table filled with lasagna that would taste so much better because of the dish it was in. I imagined it holding fresh apple crisp ready to be so much more wonderful because of the container. And dishwasher safe! I fancied myself loading it into the dishwasher, smiling in satisfaction because together, the two of us had created a meal that fed and pleased our family. And it was on an amazing sale! Oh, how I love a good deal!

And it was sold out.

Monday, October 25

Can We Find A Friend So Faithful?

Posted by Alysun

Read Isaiah 40:26-31

Plain and simple, my feelings were hurt. It was what was implied as much what was said and I left the encounter wanting to cry. My thoughts and feelings whirled around in my head at every available opportunity. My emotions were a wreck. Errands, tasks, and chores kept me occupied only for a moment before the sadness swelled up again and I ruminated once more on those feelings.

Several times throughout the rest of the day I tried to call my short list of people who will listen to me vent. I wanted some comfort for my hurt feelings and someone to say, “That person is so mean! They have no right to treat you like that. You are really wonderful.” But every call either went to voicemail or I was interrupted before I could share any details.

Saturday, October 23

Dancing In The Minefields

‘I do’ are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found.

Friday, October 22

Picking up After Pride

Posted by Andrea

Read Romans 8

Pride is nasty business. It comes just before destruction, Proverbs says. It’s what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven. I’m still thinking about this from the Pharisee post a few days ago. Pride was the root issue that caused their troubles. But perhaps a more contextually appropriate word would be self-righteous.

Righteous is one of those words we toss about in church. It means perfection is all. That’s probably the reason we don’t throw that word around in church. People would run scared if you phrased I Peter 6:11 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue perfection, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” How is that even possible?

In the book of Job, one of his kind-hearted (or not) friends asks the question this way: “Dominion and awe belong to God; he establishes order in the heights of heaven. Can his forces be numbered? Upon whom does his light not rise? How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is but a maggot a son of man, who is only a worm!" (Job 25)

Thursday, October 21

How to Make Things Grow

Posted by Andrea via Inspired to Action by Kat

Read James 1

Faithfulness makes things grow.

If we water our garden faithfully it will grow. If we bake faithfully every day, our skills will grow. If we run 500 yards every day, our ability to run fast and far will grow. It’s how we’re made.

Things done faithfully ALWAYS grow.

Wednesday, October 20

The Porcupine and the Skunk.

Posted by Alysun

Read Proverbs 18

A Porcupine bumped and bumbled down the street, piercing things in her path. A Skunk watched the Porcupine from her window and shook her head in irritation, “Oh, she’s always bumping into things. She hurts everything in her path.” Since they were friends, the Skunk waved to the Porcupine. Thinking the Skunk was waving her in for a chat, the Porcupine changed her course and came up the front walk to the house. They greeted each other at the door and the Skunk decided to invite the Porcupine in for tea.

“Please come in my friend the Porcupine. Would you like some tea?” Asked the Skunk, expecting a good visit.

“Of course!” Said the Porcupine, all the while thinking, “It really stinks in here.”

Tuesday, October 19

On Being a Pharisee

Posted by Andrea

Read Matthew 12

I don’t want to write about this topic very much. I have been thinking about it and resisting it for sometime now, but I think it’s time I admit the truth. I am a Pharisee. I’m recovering. This may be one of my twelve steps, I don’t know.

I didn’t have any idea about it until I read the book of Matthew a little while ago. I got to one of the passages where Jesus is dealing it out ever-so severely to the hypocrites. Generally when I get to those parts, I kind of like to cheer Jesus on. He says, “You brood of vipers!” and I say, “You tell ‘em, Jesus!”

Monday, October 18

Knowing God.

Posted by Alysun, excerpt from Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a relentless God, by Francis Chan

Read Psalm 8

I've already confessed my love for books. I read a lot and brainless fiction is what I am drawn to first. The pile of reading material on my end table gets shuffled every now and then and one book keeps showing up on top. This book has the ability to make my stomach flip with nerves. From the moment I cracked its spine I knew it would convict me to my soul. Am I ready for this kind of responsibility? It is easier not to read it and to be content with a rather shallow faith. Crazy Love, by Francis Chan pushes the limits and I catch a glimpse of a relationship with God that is so mind blowing it frightens me. I hope you will read the whole book, but until then, here is an excerpt from the chapter on knowing God.