Wednesday, December 21

Accidental Invitations

Matthew 6: 19-24 and Luke 6:43-45


Teddy Bear is a stuffed animal and he can do things people can’t do. I find this is my four year old’s interpretation of what his favorite stuffed animal can and cannot do.




Teddy Bear is always up to mischief. Imagined—thank goodness. By my son has terrified me a couple of times. Like the time I heard, “Mom, Teddy Bear was in the bath, and he dumped all the water over the side, onto the floor and then he took his bath on the floor.” He tells the tails of Teddy Bear with the same fondness a mother yammers on about the cute thing her kid did jus the other day.




I have a feeling my son is testing my reaction to see if he could get away with carrying out the things he has imagined for Teddy Bear. Kind of a safe way to do it, I suppose. Also, in this Mommy’s opinion, stinkin’ adorable.




Lately, Teddy Bear has been asking anything and everything into his heart.




“Last night, Teddy Bear accidentally asked Iron Man into his heart.”




“Last night, Teddy Bear accidentally asked Legos into his heart.”




At first, I let is slide. It was kinda cute. Then I started to wonder if we needed to have a talk. So last night, I sat Teddy Bear down, on my son’s lap, and I tried to explain to him, in a way a four year old and a stuffed animal might understand how careful we need to be about who and what we invite into our hearts and how very important our hearts are. I hope he got the gist of it.




Just as I was pulling out “No one can serve two masters” and “out of the overflow of a man's heart the mouth speaks” I felt that uncomfortable sting of conviction.




I looked back at my week and the things I have “accidentally” invited into my life: busyness, anger, selfishness… I have served these masters. The first one leads to the other two.




No one can serve two masters.




The context is money, but the concept is applicable across the board. We cannot yield control of our life to sin and simultaneously live a Godly life. I know it’s a no brainer. But anger doesn’t seem sinful when there is play dough and feet and upholstery involved. Selfishness doesn’t seem sinful when what we want is so obviously more important. And busyness. It doesn’t have to be a sin, but when it runs our lives, we are serving it, worshipping it, and that sure is a sin.




What we invite into our hearts defines who we are. It doesn’t matter if the invitation is intentional or accidental, it’s there, and it effects our attitude, our actions and reactions and our words.



Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.



I am so thankful for a constantly forgiving Father. He stands by us when it’s time to repent and kick out the unwanted guests, and also does the heavy lifting when necessary.




My son got the four sentence version of this blog post. I appreciate the opportunity to unload the rest of it on listening ears. I’m not sure he or his bear learned anything, but I know I did, and I hope you did too.

Monday, December 19

Santa vs. Jesus

Santa lives at the North Pole...
JESUS is everywhere.
        

Santa rides in a sleigh...
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Thursday, December 15

Controlling the Hulk

Read Ephesians 4



 Raise your hand if you are a control freak. Don’t be shy ladies. I never used to consider myself a control freak until I became a Mom. Now that I control menus and schedules for my family I consider myself a bonafide freak.




 Funny how my control freak status flies out the window when it comes to controlling my temper.




 I’m sure you’re dying for an example! My parents got my four year old a ridiculously large semi-truck with a trailer for Christmas last year. I was in his room trying to put away laundry when I walked into it and stubbed my toe. Apparently a toe stub is all it takes to turn me green and transform me into the Hulk. I dropped the laundry I was holding, glared at the toy, stomped on it, and broke it in half.




 Feeling somewhat satisfied I picked up the laundry, then looked up and saw my teary eyed four year old standing in the doorway. Whoops. Then I lied and said it was an accident. Don’t you dare judge me.




 “A quick tempered person does foolish things...” (Proverbs 14:17)




 There are those days that I’ve just had it with everything and everyone around me. I’ll snap at one of my boys or I’ll get irritated about something that wouldn’t normally bother me.




 How many times are you having a “heated” discussion with someone and the phone rings, you pick it up, and in your cheeriest voice say, “hello...” and proceed to have the phone conversation without a hint of frustration? That is you controlling your temper folks.




 We ARE capable of it! God gave us the ability to use kind words. He has given us the option to speak with a controlled tongue. He also instructs us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger...” (Ephesians 4:31).




 When you are having one of those days, it makes it hard to look at your child’s little face and remember what a blessing they are. It’s so much easier to lash out and try to satisfy that angry Hulk inside of you. But the result is a teary eyed little four year old who tells his Sunday school teacher that you stomped on his truck.




 The option to reject a sour reaction is indeed a blessing. The victory is so sweet when we choose to have a good attitude! We are in control of how we respond to our children. Stepping barefoot on a barbie shoe, finding blue paint splattered on the carpet, noticing a half eaten banana under the couch, or a room that’s still not clean are not excuses to get mad.




 We let our minds manipulate us into thinking it’s ok. Choose to control it. Take a deep breath and whisper a prayer. Imagine if God turned into the Hulk each time we disobeyed Him. I can guarantee there would be some really BIG stomp imprints on everything I own! But He doesn’t work like that. He understands, He loves, and He trusts that we will work to improve.




 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths

but only what is helpful for building others up according 

to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” 

 (Ephesians 4:29)



By Ashley Kahl, at the Ugly Homemaker

Wednesday, December 14

Becoming Flesh [Of Kids and Christmas]

Read John 1:1-18



By Rachel Jankovic as published at Desiring God: God Centered Resources from the Ministry of John Piper 



One of the serious responsibilities of parenthood is pulling off Christmas. If you have a little posse of kids you already know what I am talking about. Weeks and weeks of mad-dashing and shopping and wrapping and brainstorming and decorating and planning and pouring eggnog and peeling baggy oranges and unsticking candy-canes from table tops and carpets and the bottom of hot chocolate mugs. Frantically realizing that you failed to mail packages in time, or that you forgot to order in time for free shipping, or that you still haven’t done the gingerbread house kit with the kids, and that you’ve even managed to fall four days behind on the Advent calendar.



Then there are all the things that you are trying to do differently than last year — the things learned from unfortunate experience. Correcting gift imbalances. Learning what kinds of stocking stuffers actually survive past Christmas afternoon.



And, of course, you are stressing yourself out with what seems like completely unnecessary work. Who wanted to sew everyone new pajamas in the first place? Who thought we should be knitting the Christmas stockings? Why is it after midnight and I am still up making caramels? What is the point of messing around with a real tree, with lights, with sick amounts of baking?



On top of this, basic parenting through the Christmas season can be a real minefield, too. Sometimes the kids start being greedy, sometimes things that you wanted to be special aren’t even noticed. Sometimes no one wants to sing Christmas carols around the dinner table.



Christmas comes to the real families of this real world. Often, it doesn’t look like a catalog shot, but more like a blooper reel. Turkeys burn. Gravy clots into lumps. Presents that you thought came with batteries didn’t. You end up presenting someone’s gift in a garbage bag. Kids might get grabby around the Christmas tree. People might not like the gift you thought they would like, and they can even be too tired to pretend. Headaches know no seasonal bounds. Life happens.



This is why we have all heard people talk about Christmas like we all just need to get a grip. Where has our spirituality gone that we are worrying about a holiday five weeks in advance? Real Christians would celebrate quietly around the fire with some spiritual reflections, perhaps some small handmade token, or just a loving smile. There would have been no stress in that Christmas, only calm. There would be a sensibly portioned meal with no excess of pie or fudge or stray cookie platters. There would be some restraint. What are we really teaching our children about holy days? And why are we apparently so willing to float down the raging stream of our consumerist culture?



I certainly support the variety of traditions that people use to celebrate Christmas, but there is one very important part of Christmas that is all too often overlooked, and it applies to everyone. Brace yourselves. . . .
Christmas is the ultimate celebration of the material. Because Christmas is the time when God became man. Word to Flesh. Unfettered spirit to the hazards and joys and stresses of physical life. Think about it. Some people want to filter the material out of Christmas and morph it into some pure ethereal spirit religious day. And some people want to filter all the spiritual out of it and make it simply a holiday celebrating the purchasing power of plastic. But the power of Christmas is when spiritual and material meet. And it always has been. That is the joy of the season, that is the good news, that is the laughter and the paradox and the earth-shaking magic of Christmas. The infinite Word became a physical baby.



It wasn’t like that first Christmas was a time of quiet reflection. Mary and Joseph were on a huge last-minute trip. And she’s big pregnant on a donkey? Think of it. It sounds like the worst travel experience of all time. No room. No bed. No privacy. Baby coming. Not just any baby either — one Mary knew was the Messiah. Angels? Shepherds dropping in? You think she felt dressed for that? I doubt Mary had time to throw together a cheese platter. She was in a barn, forced to place the King of kings — her Lord — in a trough. And I doubt her livestock roommates were quite as cute as they look in the storybooks.



The truth is, that’s what it’s like when the Spiritual becomes Material. When God became Man. It’s not easy, because it turns the world upside down, a true cataclysm of joy.



Our celebrations aren’t supposed to be smooth, effortless bits of quiet either. They should be as big and as glorious and as spiritual and as physical as we can make them.



Clearly, the attitude with which everything is done is important. If the house is full of physical holiday cheer, but Mom is yelling about the snow boots by the door, the blending has not been complete. If Christmas dinner turns out beautifully, but no one wants to be together, something has gone wrong. But the remarkable thing is that doing it all wrong, having bad attitudes, and resenting the work will not affect the power of Christmas at all. The neighbors throwing money at their children and resenting each other will not slow down anything.



That first Christmas was enough for all time, and no amount of fussing from us about all the busy work will slow it down. We can give each other stink-eyes all day long, and the world will just go on being transformed. The only thing that we can actually damage by losing sight of the point of Christmas is our children.



Because what we do on Christmas is an acted out statement of faith. To our children, we are Christmas. We are their memories. We are the story. We are acting out both the surprised shepherds in the fields with their problems and squabbles and regular lives, and also the heavenly host that came to them singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.”



We can’t stop being the shepherds this side of glory, and God doesn’t want us to. He wants us to be the shepherds the whole way through that story. Listening, fearing, following, worshipping. We are bringing our children alongside us as we come in out of our worldly fields, smelling like sheep, to fall at the feet of an infant king in a trough, beside livestock and an exhausted teenaged mother. This is what Christmas is all about. So stay up past twelve making fudge, and do it laughing. Revel in the candy-cane carnage and sap and shopping and crunchy pine-needles in the carpet. Show your children that we serve the Word made Flesh.

Tuesday, December 13

Something Beautiful

Read Jeremiah 31

I am struggling to find a way to make myself attractive
to You.


I am trying to be more deserving of the gift You gave
to me, so free.


I am searching for the water that can wash me clean
enough to earn Your love.


I want to stop all the things that break Your heart, but
come so natural to me.


It's funny how all I can be is someone completely ugly, and yet when You look at me,


You don't see a wretch,


You see a reflection


of something beautiful.


I can't believe You could fall in love with me.


Lyrics by Todd Agnew



We try to make ourselves attractive to God in countless ways, but he is not looking for perfection, he’s looking for the person he created.


We try to earn his love, but we cannot, because it is a gift he has already given.


We search for ways to clean ourselves enough to be in his presence, but our righteous acts are like filthy rags.


Under our own power, we try to break free from our bondage to sin. But only his power is strong enough to release us.


We cannot imagine that we, yet sinners, could be loved enough to deserve Christ’s sacrifice. But the facts are facts.


He loves us. We stand before him attractive, deserving, washed clean, and beautiful.


“I can’t believe You could fall in love with me.”


Believe it. Belief turns our wretchedness into a mirror reflecting his astounding beauty.


“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”
Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Thursday, December 8

Living and Active

Read Mark 1:29-31


I unearthed my Bible. It doesn’t take long for it to get buried, a day or two of mail coming in or kids’ books being moved around and it’s out of sight, out of mind. Then the world starts feeling frantic, tensions mount, and chaos begins intruding. I stop about wondering what happened to my cozy little world and how such small things can make it seem so chaotic. Then I remember. And I dig out the Bible.


This book, is so. very. Special. I put my hands on the cracked leather cover, I flip through the filmy pages, and I know. I just know that what ever words I come across will breathe life into me. And they do. Weather I end up in Jeremiah, John or Jude, the Words of God bring comfort.


I feel weight lifted off my shoulders, I feel my lungs fully inflate.


God’s Word is alive and active and I know this to be true, because I have experienced it so many times in my life.


And I’ve neglected it so many times.


Instead of heading straight to it when life gets crazy, I stack bills on top of it.


Today, I read the tiny, short little story of when Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. He took her hand, helped her sit up, and the fever suddenly left. Poof. Gone. Beth Moore points out, “Christ could have healed [her] from the front porch. He didn’t. He came to her and drew down close. After all, she was in no position to help herself.”


That is exactly how I felt when I cracked open the Bible this morning. Like I invited Christ in off the porch. He drew down close, and I felt better immediately. My life issues didn’t magically resolve themselves. Nothing tangible changed in the slightest. But I remembered who was in charge. And that he cares. He really cares enough to get in close and equip me to get up and begin serving.

Wednesday, December 7

God's Extravagance

Read Philippians 4:9-19




My children stomped up from the basement, discontent oozing from their slumped shouldered postures. "We're bored," they whined.



I was immediately filled with anger and hurt. My strong emotions about a common childhood complaint wasn't due entirely to over-active hormones. Let me tell you about our basement:




Last winter and spring, my husband I spent an exorbitant amount of time and quite a bit of money to turn our dark, icky, dank, moldy, cold basement into a warm, dry, pretty, clean, playroom paradise. We worked and worked, scrubbing and cleaning, building and refurbishing, to make a place they would enjoy playing. It was all for them.




Our basement playroom works out beautifully most of the time. All the kids' toys are there from games to forts, even a tv. What's not to love?




Well, they were bored with it. And I was mad. How could they say that about such an extravagant gift?




Immediately I saw a correlation between my children's discontent with our man-made blessing and my own discontent with God's extravagance in my own life.




This time of year naturally brings out discontent. The new and shiny are advertised everywhere. What I have seems rather dull and boring compared to what's new and beautiful.




Paul the apostle says, "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:18). His gifts are not only sufficient, they are ample and rich! How it must hurt God when we slather our attitudes with "this isn't good enough, I want more!"




(not actually my view, but close :)
I glanced out my window at a beautiful sunset the other evening. It lit the sky with oranges, pinks and purples. Usually I exclaim to my children, "Look! God painted the sky just for us!" Even the little things are gifts from Him. But that evening, the glory of God's artwork didn't impress me as much as the ugly power lines that ran from the road to my house and right through my view. I've never appreciated those power lines, although I whine like crazy if I don't have electricity.




My discontent blinded me to God's extravagance.




"For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received 

one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing 

and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift."

John 1:16




God's gifts are everywhere, He is hoping we take the time to see them.


And especially take the time to appreciate them.




"The art of deep seeing 

[of truly looking for God's extravagance] 

makes gratitude possible

And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible

Isn't joy the art of God?"


















Tuesday, December 6

Blown Away

Read Proverbs 31 (I know. But read it anyway. It's good for you).


By Kristen as published at (in)courage.me


As I sit here the wind outside is blowing. First one way and then another. The leaves can’t seem to find a solid place to land. It has been like this for a few days now. One moment our lawn is filled with leaves from the neighbor’s trees and when I look out again our lawn is surprisingly clear.



Such is my life at times.
Times when it seems like everything around me is blowing and changing and I just want to find a solid place to land.



It can start from the moment that I wake – so many things I think there is to do. And although I am up much earlier than I should need to be, I find myself blowing around until the door closes behind us.
And I am missing the opportunities to see and hear the sounds and beauty around me. I am so busy flying from one spot to another, looking for that solid place to land that I miss what is right in front of me.



The thump, thump of little feet running down the hallway.



A messy-haired bright-eyed boy who wants nothing more than to say good morning to his mama and have some juice.



A young boy who has questions about the world because he is trying to find his place in it.



When my focus is on myself and all that I think needs to be done in a day, I stop focusing on what God has placed as gifts right in front of me in my family.



Smiles and laughter, hugs and love, encouragement and respect.



These are the things that I need to be intentional about every day with my family. These are the things that I want them to remember about me.



Proverbs 14:1 “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”



Not that I got yet another load of laundry done, or vacuumed the floors again. While an important part of my families daily life – it isn’t what they should remember about me.



It shouldn’t be my main focus!



Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”



So as the winds blow outside I know that I do not have to be moved. I can secure my foundation on Christ. Focus on His will for me as a wife and mother. And start to become a Proverbs 31 Woman.



Proverbs 31:2 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her.”



Proverbs 31:10-12 “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Monday, December 5

#1 Best Marriage Advice

Read I Corinthians 13 (the Message)




There are times when the whirling thoughts in my head spill out rather effortlessly on clattering keyboard letters and onto my glowing computer screen. I would call this inspiration. Whether my thoughts are more cohesive at that point or God is simply choosing to direct my message, I do not know.



There are other times when my whirling thoughts just spin like a blender stuck on high with the lid off. Some stuff spills out, but it looks like more of a mess than anything of value.




For a few weeks now I've been pondering and "whirling" about marriage.... how to have a happy marriage in particular. What is the one thing I could share that would encourage other couples to strive for a happy marriage?



I am blessed that my marriage is a very happy, safe, and loving place to be. Man, oh man, I'm in love with my man! I want to be able to share some deep thoughts about what I've learned over the years... but nothing of value is spilling out onto the page.



I've gone through many seasons in my marriage to my husband of nearly 10 years. You hear people say "it hasn't always been easy," and I would be in the camp to use those exact words. In fact, I've even said through tears to my husband, "Are we going to make it?" Obviously we made it through those hardest seasons and every day we keep working hard to make our relationship even stronger.



So many stress factors come into play in marriage. From personalities, past relationships, location, vocations, extended family, children, how many children and in how many years, genders of children, health, and money (or lack there of). My messy thoughts lead me to wonder, "How could I have any advice that would apply when marriages are SO different?"



I tried to write drivel on what should be such an inspiring and applicable topic, even skipping my assigned post for last week here on Drops. I remained stumped. It was in my days upon days of hesitation that I saw a link to an article. It was written by a widow of a soldier killed last year in Afghanistan. I never knew him, but he grew up in my hometown and I saw many references to him and his wife on facebook after his tragic death. Out of curiosity I followed the link and read.... and cried.... and read.... and cried.




She wrote near the end, "Sometimes I get so sad looking at couples wondering if they know how much they should relish every day together? Wondering if they know that it doesn’t matter if the house is clean... you should just sit down and enjoy each other's company. Wondering if they know if he forgets to take the trash out or doesn’t hear what you say it’s not the end of the world?"





Those words struck me and made my whirling messy thoughts settle. A happy marriage is so much about being grateful. It covers the variables in all sorts of different marriage relationships. When we approach marriage with a grateful heart, the little things that seem to be frustrating, irritating, or not working, are in the shadows compared to the good. Seeing the good is about keeping selfishness squelched, saying the kind thing, encouraging, thanking, holding, hoping, talking.



The woman's story really touched me. I am so very saddened by her loss -- she had such an obviously deep and fulfilling relationship with her husband. Her message stays with me, as I hope it does with you today too... Do you know what you have in the man you married and are you grateful in the small moments?




Love must be sincere. 

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:9-12




Read the story in its entirety here. Grab a tissue as you'll be sure to have tears in your eyes.




Friday, December 2

Strong Enough

Strong Enough by Matthew West


You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough

Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
For the both of us

Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I'm finally
at rock bottom
that's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough.

Thursday, December 1

Battle Lines

Read Ephesians 6:1-4


A thump. A shriek. An answering shout. No one is injured. Of this I am certain. I don’t need to see what happened to know what happened. This scenario plays over and over and over. My kids are screaming at each other again. They are impatient and snarky. They are arguing over_____. It doesn’t really matter if it’s an argument worthy dispute. They are fully engaged, locked and loaded for full scale battle anyway.


And it makes me want to throw a tantrum worthy of a two year old. What makes them think they can talk to each other like that? As a person who avoids conflict whenever possible, these fights cause me a great deal of stress.


There are multiple schools of thought on how to handle these situations. “Just let them work it out,” some experts will say. But I have observed my children. They simply don’t possess the tools for working things out on their own. The altercation ends with both parties in tears and usually me adding my own raised voice to the mix. Letting them work it out was not working.


So the other day, I sat them down. At seven and four, they are mostly capable of rational thought. Depending on the moment.


“You two seem to get frustrated with each other really easily. I want you to tell me, and think about it before you answer. Do you hear me talking to you or your dad that way?” I don’t know why I was so sure they would say no. They didn’t though. Much to my surprise, they didn’t hesitate to knock me out with the truth. “yes.’ They replied in unison.


It took me a few days to come out of denial. Then I heard myself.


“Time to get your socks and shoes on.”

“Why?”

I sigh. I roll my eyes. “Do you have to question everything? Just put your socks on.”

“I can’t find my socks.”

“You were just wearing socks five minutes ago. What did you do with them.”

“I don’t know.”

“So find them!” More sighing. “What is taking you so long?”


My kids could make a ton of money in Vegas with their disappearing sock tricks. It drives me crazy. I’ve threatened to hot glue their socks to their feet. (I make idle threats sometimes). But they are kids. They are by nature irresponsible.


They don’t turn four and magically know that they need to keep track of socks, shoes and coats. Someone needs to train them. More effectively, apparently. I put unrealistic expectations on them, then get frustrated when they don’t make my standard. Not cool. I was teaching them by example to be impatient and rude.


“Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”


So I sat them down again. I said, “The Bible tells us to be kind. From now on, in this house, we will be kind when we speak together. We are all going to work on this together. I want Jesus to be happy when he hears the way we talk to each other. I don’t want him covering his ears.”


So about a hundred times a day, I now here myself saying, both to them and to me, “what would be a more kind way to say that?”


My oldest has no problem catching himself and coming up with something pleasant to say. My youngest has a harder time. So I walk him through it.


“I didn’t know you were saving that Lego building for something special. I should have asked before I wrecked it.” I make him repeat after me. He hates this exercise and I am pretty sure he has changed his behavior more because he resents my interference than anything else. I will take whatever works.


We focus on how our words or actions made the other person feel. We talk about how to express our feelings without getting upset. We talk about what to do if you are having a hard time calming down (Walk away. Run if you have to. Count to 10. Again if you have to).


And I am learning right along with them. I am working hard at reigning in my spiritual gift of sarcasm. This project takes way more work than I anticipated. At first, it involved me involving myself in every single fight. No matter how unimportant, they needed to know that the principal was true no matter what. I don’t have to be quite so involved now as they are catching on.


How we phrase things makes a lot of difference. We were getting ready to leave today and I told them to put on socks and shoes.


“Why?”

I felt like sighing and rolling my eyes. Instead, I said. “You don’t need to ask why. You need to obey.”

“I can’t find my socks.”

“Let’s find you a pair. And when we get home, you can tuck them right into your shoes so when it’s time to leave again later, you will know right where they are.”


Nobody cried. Nobody threw fits. Weird.


I’m sure we will backslide a bit on our journey, but at least we are moving in the same direction. Siblings may not be matched up in temperament or interests, but that’s no reason to tolerate rudeness or meanness. I married a guy who’s temperament is vastly different than mine, but I managed to fall in love with him. Siblings can find common ground too. It’s a whole lot easier though if their parents lovingly guide them to it.

Monday, November 28

Of New Beginnings

Read Lamenations 3:19-27




God loves new beginnings. Forming the world out of nothing? That was the best new beginning of them all. And all through the Scriptures story after story is woven of people he used by giving them a fresh start.



Rahab, the prostitute, Paul the tax collector, and those fishermen who he gave new vocations and said, "Come follow me." Their lives did an about-face transformations from following their own desires and wants to following God.



A life without the ability for a new beginning would be life without hope. I know God loves new beginnings because he didn't give our lives to us in one big lump. I'm so thankful for that! I'm sure mine would look like a mound of goup, sans glitter. Instead God designed human life with opportunity for new beginnings often! He gave us free will to choose Him.




Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, 

for his compassions never fail. 

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23






Our lifetime is divided up into year. Those years carry us from first faltering steps as babies through childhood, on to adulthood, until old age. The years are divided up into seasons. Four beauties unique in their own new beginnings from winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Within the seasons there are months that go by in the turn of a calendar page and each day is marked with all importance. And each day has hours, minutes, and seconds.




This moment as you are reading this is an opportunity for a new beginning. Is there something convicting your spirit? Do you wish you acted differently in a recent situation? We can't change the past, although it is easy to use it as a crutch to feel bad about the present. But we can change our next moment from following our own desires and wants to following God.



It might not be as dramatic as the leading men and women in the Bible, but God still desires new beginnings for each of us. Quiet moments when we choose Him. Actions that speak of newness and of hope.




Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. 

Beginning makes the conditions perfect.

~  Alan Cohen

Thursday, November 24

Thanksgiving

Read Philippians 4 


In 1944 two sisters in their fifties were interred in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruk, Germany. They were accused of the heinous crime of using their home to hide Jews from the prowling Gestapo.


They existed in a universe more horrible than any of us can imagine. They were deprived of food and sleep. Their lives were constantly in danger. They, along with a number of other captives, lived in a dormitory infested with fleas.



In this universe, the two sisters, Betsie and Corrie, read their smuggled Bible in secret. They prayed that the guards that haunted their prison would not find it. The words God spoke to them through the contraband pages were their only source of nourishment in that dark and awful camp. Corrie and Betsie could not imagine surviving without the light the little book radiated in their dark circumstances.


Wednesday, November 23

When We Don't Want To Give Thanks

Borrowed from InCourage.Me



Giving thanks. Sometimes it’s hard to do when the holiday set aside for thanks-giving involves in-laws, slushy weather, disastrous kitchens, and crazy kids, not to mention those deeper extended family issues that materialize only on these blessed events.



 But nonetheless, we are to do so.



To give thanks, that is. And if you’re like me, continual thanksgiving conjures an image of this mama who smiles with a knowing head shake at the eternal stickiness on the doorknobs. A risen-early woman walking amongst the fallen leaves in grateful worship to her Creator. Perfectly fine with the dirty dishes. 



These can be true. But they’re not usually true for me, if I’m honest. When I’m in the liturgical rhythm of laundry, laundry, laundry, my natural instinct is not to lift my arms in praise. I wish it was.



 You know the only way I’m able to change my attitude from grumbling to grateful when I just don’t feel like it?



I just choose to say thanks.



I don’t wait for my emotions to change. I change Finn’s dirty diaper, I scrunch my nose, and I murmur without a smile on my face, “Thank you God for this little body You’ve entrusted me with.”



I open my inbox to untold unread emails and say, “Lord, thanks for this technology and these people in my life and this laptop.” I’m still bummed about all the email I need to process.



I open the minivan door and witness the horror that is the cacophony of clutter, and I say, “God, thanks for these little people that are home with me.”



And slowly, slowly, something miraculous happens. My heart changes. It really, really does. It’s usually not unicorns and sparkles outwardly, but it is prettier on the inside.



 I’m still not in love with the poop or the what-is-that-on-the-floorboard?, but I’m a little more in love with the Giver of Life. I’m more aware of the unbelievable gifts soaked in my life. I’m humbled. And so it is the same on Thanksgiving Day. There’s people and noises and casseroles and chaos, and often a sweet potatoed floor. And those perpetrators are reasons for thanks—they’re gifts from God.



 This season, don’t wait for your feelings to flourish. Say thanks anyway, and see what happens.




Written by Tsh Oxenreider

Tuesday, November 22

Red Badge of Stress

Read Psalm 62:5-12


I read this today, and it knocked my socks off.


“I call it stress and act like it’s normal, some kind of trophy to be proud of.”


The author was talking about feeling tired, worn out, over committed and under creative. There is likely a reason such a topic should speak to me at this juncture in my life, as I feel tired, worn out, over committed and under creative these days.


I tend to wear my busyness as a badge. As if the number of meetings, errands, subjects to teach, crafts to create and foods to prepare somehow validates me as a person. I am special because of the length of my to-do list and the number of people who need me.


It’s not that I can’t say “no,” it’s that I don’t want to say “no.” I like the people I work with. I value the time I spend with them. I enjoy the teaching, the crafting and the cooking. I love being involved in the things I am involved with. But when I literally have to be three people at once on a Sunday morning (not including the always present roll of wife and mom), something’s not quite right.


Just because we can juggle doesn’t mean we need to all the time. I thought by now I’d read enough on this topic to be an expert. Apparently it’s not the reading that gains the expertise.


As we venture forth into the craze of “the Holliday season,” which I’m pretty starts in September now, we need to remember that saying no to a few things we really, really want to do might just be necessary.


And we need to remember that most of our stress is voluntary. When things happen outside of our control we have the option of freaking out, or hanging out in the shadow of the Almighty.


We can reconcile rest and busyness, it’s just a lot more complicated. It involves getting up earlier, making more lists and-contrary to popular belief-spending more time with God. Early morning quiet time is one of those things that gets shoved to the back burner on crazy days, but those are the days it absolutely must come first.


I’m not sure how I can emphasize this point enough.


It’s the first thing I neglect too. “I’ll squeeze it in later,” I tell myself a dozen times a day. And as I fall, used up and wrung out into bed, I tell myself, “Tomorrow is another day.” And it is. Another busy day full of doing this and doing that and before I know it, my Bible is buried under a pile of bills or I’m sushing my hungry kids so I can hurry through day 16 of my Bible study just so I can cross it off my list.


Not cool.


And then I wonder why it’s all catching up to me. Why, when I have my life filled with so many good things, am I so tense all the time?


Rest doesn’t always come through resting. Not the way we define it anyway. Just as we can be just stressed out doing nothing, we can be at peace in the middle of a storm. The act of resting is not as important as in whom we rest.


Being stressed is nothing to be proud of. Being at peace when we should be stressed sure is though. As long as the pride goes to the right source:


“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

Monday, November 21

Choose This Day

Read Joshua 24:2-22



At the end of Joshua's life, he had an important message to impart to the Israelite people: choose whom you will serve. God led his people from slavery in Egypt to safety through walls of water and drowned those who pursued. After living in the wilderness for many years, they battled nation and after nation, defeating them by God's power each time. Finally they were in the promised land and Joshua tells them to remember everything they have been through and choose...



Now fear the LORD and 

serve him with all faithfulness.

Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped 

beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, 

and serve the LORD.

But if serving the LORD 

seems undesirable to you, then choose for 

yourselves this day whom you will serve, 

whether the gods your ancestors served beyond 

the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, 

in whose land you are living. 

But as for me and my household, 

we will serve the LORD.”

 Joshua 24:14-15




Life is full of choices. Whom will you serve? We can also say, choose this day whom you will love. Choose this day how you will spend you time. Choose this day what you say. Choose this day where you will go, what you will see, what you will do. These are the weighty decisions that make up our lives here on earth.



For the Israelites in ancient times it was either God or a false god. The big "G" verses the little "g." I always wondered about those silly folks building up false gods out of gold or wood when their Deliverer was jealously waiting for their attention.



We don't have gods of wood or gold, but we do make gods. Anything we serve can be a god. Think about this today, where does your attention stray to? What do you crave? What is your obsession? Where is the majority of your time going? This is your god with a little "g."



With little contemplation, the Israelites went on to say unanimously, "We will serve the LORD!" This was the right answer and I'm sure the crowd was cheering -- the noise of the jubilant crowd was deafening. 



Joshua's face must have remained stoic, realizing they still (after all the wandering and God providing) didn't get the seriousness of this choice. It wasn't a Sunday School answer that could be spoken and then lived differently. 



I can see him shaking his head in doubt. He said,"You can't do it; you're not able to worship God. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won't put up with your fooling around and sinning. When you leave God and take up the worship of foreign gods, he'll turn right around and come down on you hard. He'll put an end to you—and after all the good he has done for you!" (The Message 24:19-20).



Again and again the people cried, "We will serve the Lord!" Joshua basically said "prove it" when he told them to throw away all their false gods and idols. They did it and something serious was needed to commemorate their choice.



Joshua read them the laws and the decrees, he wrote in the Book of the Law about their decision, and then he took a large stone placed it to symbolize this moment when they chose to serve the Lord. It was situated under an oak near the holy place of the Lord. I imagine the people passed that way daily and it was a tangible reminder.



To choose to serve the Lord with our life isn't something we should take lightly either. Our God is jealous and "He won't put up with our fooling around" (verse 19). I love the way the Message puts it bluntly. With Jesus, we live with his forgiveness, but purposeful wrong choices and worship of false gods is sin.



We are like the Israelites in many ways. God has provided, he's let us wander at times, He has defeated enemies, and He is always there waiting for our attention. Will we make the monumental decision to choose this day whom we will serve? Write it down and commemorate your choice. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!




Thursday, November 17

But the Lord's Unfailing Love...

Read Job 36:5-16




Written by Ashley (wife to one great guy, mom to 3 rambunctious boys -- Ashley had a healthy baby boy last night! Congratulations from your Drops team!)





There are two types of pain that we all experience. Purposeful pain and pointless pain. Sometimes God allows obstacles that are meant to strengthen us. He sees our entire course and is so confident in us that he permits Satan to attack us. Other times we inflict pain upon ourselves that eats us up inside. We allow sinful and avoidable pain to take over.



Job experienced purposeful pain. He lost his seven sons and three daughters. He lost his servants and his livestock that undoubtedly provided him with great wealth. If that weren't enough, he was then covered in painful sores from head to toe. Yet he remained faithful. His pain was designed to heighten his faith.



Our purposeful pain may not be quite as intense as Job's, but it's valid pain nonetheless. God may be allowing the death of someone close to you, lack of finances, not getting a call back after a job interview, a miscarriage, or a severed friendship to reveal his glory. "...but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him." (Psalm 28:7). There may be a glorious purpose for your pain. Trust Him.



And then there is pointless pain. I tend to cling to the feelings I experience when I feel I am wronged. It's my human nature and God and I are working closely together to overcome this unspiritual flaw. Satan loves to remind me of past hurt and replay it over and over again in my mind.



Honestly, I didn't even realize it was a problem until God began to subtly speak to me in different situations. Does this sound familiar? Is God trying to draw your attention to an area in your life that needs work? Eventually the message became loud and clear. I was authorizing pointless pain in my life. I was not forgiving the people in the past that have hurt me and I was made aware that I was being sinful.



"But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5). God has forgiven us for our sins and brought us back to life. How selfish of me to accept such forgiveness but deny it to people that I love!




Slowly but surely, God is changing my heart. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, this transformation wouldn't be possible. But without the pointless pain brought on by my human nature, the transformation wouldn't be necessary. I finally had to come to a point where I took responsibility for the pain.



What pointless pain are you struggling with today? It could be as serious as an addiction, or just simply a bad attitude. Whatever it may be, identify it, pray about it, and work tirelessly with God to change. Change and submission don’t mean that no struggles will find you. It means that when they do, you will be prepared and the Lord will fight your battles with you. The creator of heaven and earth is on your side.

Wednesday, November 16

Preparing the Way (part 2)

Read Luke 1:57-80

Read Part One


“Then details you shall have.” He turns toward her, and drops his voice, “It was a dark and stormy night—“

“Zacharias!”

“Alright! I give up!

“You know how nervous I was that day. When the lot fell to me, it was as if the hand of Yaweh himself chose me to enter His presence. I stood there in front of the alter. I nearly forgot the words I was supposed to speak, I was so overcome by being in the Holy of Holies. Then, out of nowhere, a man appeared. I was horrified at first. How had he gotten in? Then I was terrified. Had I done something wrong? Was I about to be punished? But he told me not to be afraid. That my prayers had been answered. I was relieved, thinking I had indeed performed the ritual correctly. But then he said, “you will have a son.”

“He did not!”

“He did.”

“What did you say?”

With a derisive half chuckles, he continues, “I said, ‘How can this be? My wife and I are too old!’ The look on his face, Elizabeth! The look on his face made me think for a moment that he had changed his mind. Not that I understood in the first place. But he spoke again.

“You will,” he said. “But you will be in silence until the appointed time.” At that moment, I heard what sounded like a roaring waterfall, then nothing. The man was gone. The holy place empty with just the smoke of the offering rising toward heaven. I stepped out to give the proclamation to the people, and when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. I saw the people’s mouths moving, but could hear nothing. Nothing at all.”

In the tone only a very loved wife can get away with, Elizabeth interrupts, “You questioned an angel? You, a high priest doubted his words?”

“I did, Elizabeth. I did.”

They both sit in the quiet for a moment. At last she admits the truth. “Had you told me a moment sooner in my pregnancy, I would not have believed you. By the time you told me, the truth was undeniable.” She wanted to know and tell so much. She wanted to fill him in on every detail of her miraculous pregnancy and how it felt to finally be free from the judgement of all those people subtly accusing her, them, of some secret sin that kept them barren for so long. But now was not the time for that.

“What did you mean tonight,” she asks, “when you spoke over our son? You talked about the Messiah, and you said our son would be a prophet?”

Zacharias nods. “The angel told me our son would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born. That he will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord. He said he would have spirit and power like the great prophet Elijah.

She knows she should be thrilled with this news, but she can’t help but remember the stories. Surely he was a great man of God but… “Like Elijah? You say that like it’s a good thing. He was nearly killed by a wicked king. Is that what you see in our son’s future?”

He reaches for her hand. “You are missing the point Elizabeth. He said our son would prepare the way for the Messiah. That is what I have been doing at the temple. I have been reading the prophesies. I believe the Messiah is coming soon and our son is the one Isaiah spoke of crying out in the desert.”

“You cannot be serious.” She drops his hand so she can gesture with both of hers.

“And why not?”

“Because he’s a baby, Zacharias! A tiny, red fisted, bald little baby! Not a desert dwelling prophet. He will be raised as a priest, by a priest in the temple.”

“You are right, Elizabeth, He is a baby. A child who removed our disgrace and who will bring us immeasurable joy. We had both closed our hearts to this possibility, but here it is. Here he is. A sign. A wonder. A miracle. He is a gift from Yahweh. It is up to Him what becomes of the son He has given us.”

She bites her lip, another argument on the tip of her tongue. But his words hit their mark. “You are right, Zacharias. He holds my heart so tightly already. I can’t bear to think of what kind of life he has ahead of him.”

Side by side, they watch the fire and they wonder what Yahweh has planned for their son.


Zacharias and Elizabeth’s red faced baby boy grew up to eat locusts and honey, and was so close to God, that he could literally pick his son out of a line up. He grew to maturity in the desert, not in the temple gates, so it is likely that his parents passed away when he was still young. He, like Elijah, was hunted by a wicked king. He preached a revolutionary message and baptized people for the first time on record. And he became the voice of one calling in the desert “prepare the way for the Lord.”

Tuesday, November 15

Preparing the Way (part 1)

Read Luke 1:5-25


Zacharias and Elizabeth, the aged prophet and his wife were the recipients of one of God’s greatest gifts: A baby boy. Well past child baring age, well past the point of continuing to hope, a child was given. Unlike Abraham, Zacharias did not receive a promise under starry skies years before the promise became reality. He received notification in the Holiest of Holy places in the Tabernacle, went home, and TA-DA! Not surprisingly, Zacharias was skeptical of the news. And because of it, his ability to speak was taken away. Most scholars agree that he lost his hearing for a time as well.

I wonder what he thought about those ten or so months in silence. How did he communicate with his wife? Did she know what was happening to her? I wonder how their first conversation went once his ears and mouth opened up again.

One can only imagine it might have gone something like this:

“Is he asleep?” Zacharias asks as Elizabeth settles herself beside him in front of the fire,

“For now.” She holds a piece of paper in her hand.

“What is that?”

Leaning into his side, she opens it up and reads, “’His name is John.’ This will have to go in the baby book.”

“Today is a day we will want to remember.”

Silently the couple watch the flames dance. At last Elizabeth can bare the silence no longer. “Zacharias, why John? You told me long ago what we would name him, and, frankly with you being deaf and mute for the last nine months, it was too much work to ask you about it. But our friends are right. It’s not a family name. It’s a kind of unusual name at that. Where did you come up with it?”

“The angel told me his name was John.”

He states it so plainly, so matter of factly, that Elizabeth almost misses it’s significance. Almost, but not quite. “The what?!”

“The angel. Gabriel. “Who stands in the presence of the Lord.” At least that’s how he introduced himself.”

“An angel named Gabriel introduced himself to you.” She pushes back to see his face better. The low light makes it difficult to make out his distinct features, but she knows them by heart. “When you came out of the Holy Place, your eyes were so bright, and you couldn’t speak or hear. It was so clear you had received some kind of message, but an angel! You saw him? What did he look like? What else did he say? Why did he take away your speech? What did you think when you saw him?”

He can’t help but play with her a little bit. For so long communication had been hobbled by hand gestures and bad penmanship, he had nearly forgotten how much fun it was to tease her. “You know the most important parts. The child you just tucked into bed is proof of that.”

She crosses her arms and with a sigh reminds him, “You didn’t even tell me that part until even I had begun to think I was with child. You scratched on paper, “you are with child. His name is John.” Then nothing more.”

“Did you save that one for the baby book?”

“Don’t change the subject, dear.” She knows exactly what he is up to. “I need details.”

“Then details you shall have.” He turns toward her, and drops his voice, “It was a dark and stormy night—“

“Zacharias!”


**Come back tomorrow for more!

Monday, November 14

Love, Diligence, Joy

Read Psalm 145:1-13





The morning started with an angry scream from my little girl. I took in the whole scene from my cozy bed. Of course I couldn't actually see what was happening because I stubbornly squeezed my eyes shut feigning hoping for 5 extra minutes of sleep.



Toys banged against eachother, voices yelled "Mine" back and forth. Then there was the scream that morphed immediately into a waling cry. Somehow the crying girl managed to communicate her angst, "HE BIT ME!!!!" She must have whacked her brother at this point because his wild screams joined hers.



I know my kids and I know these aren't unfamiliar issues (unfortunately). Kids being normal kids. Needing instruction, intervention, attention, and discipline. Left to their own devices, they choose the easiest way out every time -- not the way God has for us. "For all have sinned," never seemed so applicable (Romans 3:23).




I also know that I wanted to stay in bed for a few more minutes. I tell ya, this pregnancy is stealing every last ounce of energy I have. But who am I kidding? I liked to "sleep in" whether I'm pregnant or not. I'm not a morning person, so it remains an excuse I rationalize when a morning starts with mayhem that I don't want to deal with.



I know what keeps me hiding under the covers. That is not rocket science. It is avoidance in its most unlovely form.



But the opposite. That's the harder question. How do we confront life's challenges when we really, really, really don't want to?



A friend recently wrote on her blog about what makes her day as a mother go round in a pleasant fashion. Follow these and life with little ones works, don't and the end result is chaos (see the above description of my children's morning behavior).



It made me think about actively parenting instead of actively avoiding parenting. For Grace, she does her best to practice these three for herself and her 5 girls:


  • Love.   Not just affection. Choosing to do what is best for one another. Choosing to see the good. Laying aside our own desires for someone else. Obedience is also included in this one. Just as God tell us that love for Him means obeying His commands, as a parent, my girls show me their love by choosing to willingly obey. 

  • Diligence.  Any job can be handled. Any job can seem like a bear. The difference is diligence. Even the most daunting of tasks can be steadily chipped away at with some intentional diligence. My girls are always so excited when they see their diligence pay off. 

  • Joyfulness.  Joy takes any situation in life and makes it just a bit better. A day sprinkled with joy is bearable. A day where everyone is determined to have joy is delightful! Encourage your family to apply joy to every circumstance.*



These three behaviors/attitudes challenged me to tackle my first of many issues during my day. Love, diligence, and joy (for this season in my life) made a tired mommy, depleted and grumpy as she was, get out of bed and deal with my two little one's fight.




The very real confrontation I heard my kids dealing with NEEDED my help. What good would avoiding the scene do for them or for me? There was a toddler who needed to be trained not to bite. A preschooler who started and ended a conflict badly who needed to be listened to and instructed (and both of them also needed some positive interaction with their mommy who was ignoring them).



Making the choice to live lovingly, with diligence, and joyfulness isn't the natural choice. Actually its the hardest choice. From a pile of dishes, loads and loads of laundry, fighting kids, kids who want attention... the "easy" answer is to avoid.



Like me, I know that many of you find it easier to avoid life's challenges. Maybe it is by sleeping in, or watching tv, reading a book, talking on the phone or texting, or losing yourself on the computer. But it only works for a time until we are angry at ourselves and everything in our lives. Including those kids who are just being... kids.



In an angry state, we find it impossible to live with love, diligence, and joyfulness. Instead, we are consumed with selfishness, laziness, and discontent. Oh, how I want to avoid a life lived with those last three descriptions.



Today is a new day and my goals are to confront instead of avoid. Situations (even the ones I would rather run from screaming) will be tackled with love first because my first goal is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Then I will diligently work through my day as working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). And I will cling to joyfulness in this stage of my beautiful life (Psalm 90:14).






Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, 

 that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14







* Quoted text used with permission from Grace at Grace Is Blessed By God. Check out her encouraging posts every Thursday called, "Heart for the Home."

Wednesday, November 9

Powerfully Influencing Your Man

Read Proverbs 31:10-31


Written by Ashley K. (Keep her in your prayers as she eagerly anticipates the birth of her 3rd son soon -- she's 40 weeks and still writing and encouraging. What an inspiration!)





 “She (the wife) brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” 
 (Proverbs 31:12) 



 What happens when your husband comes home in a terrible mood? Think about it. How do you respond to him? Do you ignore him and carry on with what you were doing? Do you lend a listening ear and try to help him work through his problem?



 Now, what happens when you come home in a terrible mood? In my household, if I walk through that door with a frown on my face, each family member runs and hides. My husband’s compassion has its limits. Sometimes, I just want to be mad and it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid me.



 More often than not, when my husband comes home and something is bothering him, I pester him until we work out a solution. I hurt when he hurts. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31)



 His problems are my problems. Cheering my husband up after coming home from a bad day at work is part of my job. Ignoring the problem or pretending not to notice that something is upsetting him is not going to make anything better. Women are nurturing and compassionate by nature, but we often direct that solely at our children. We can’t neglect our husbands. They require the same compassion.



 The mood in the household depends mainly on us. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Like I said before, my family runs and hides if I’m in a bad mood. Because women typically have a stronger emotional awareness, it is our job to do the best we can to have a positive attitude. I’m not saying that because we are wives that we are required to put up and shut up. What I am saying is, why would we make an effort to have a bad attitude when we know that it will negatively affect our family?




 We are in charge of achieving a good mood or bad mood in our household. That is a HUGE responsibility that we shouldn’t take lightly. I will never forget a line from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” The Mom and the daughter are discussing the Father and his attitude. The daughter, Toula, says, “Dad is stubborn...the man is the head of the house!” Her Mother smiles and responds, “Toula, the man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”




 Isn’t it the truth? If we sleep on our neck wrong and get a cramp it limits the motion of our head in the morning. If we get a black eye or bloody nose, our neck still functions fine. We are the neck! When I am sick, the laundry piles up, the kids end up in outfits not meant to be seen by the light of day, and my husband looks like he got hit by a truck.



 When my husband is sick, I kick it into high gear. I bring him meals in bed, I am quick to apply the peppermint oil and he never misses a dose of medicine. I’m not disrespecting my husband at all, because believe me, that man takes really good care of me. I’m simply illustrating how important it is for us to take care of everyone in our family because we are equipped for the task.



 Ultimately, our husbands are the head of the household, but we have such a profound influence over them and we need to make an effort to ensure that it’s a positive one. “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man...” (1 Corinthians 11:3)



 Go ahead, baby your husband when he sick, give him a back rub without him asking for it when he gets home from work, bake his favorite cookies, stop pretending to have a “headache”! There is power in being a supportive wife. Go love on your husband today and let him know that you are on his side.

Tuesday, November 8

Weary

Read Matthew 11:25-30



By Stacey as posted on Mod Squad



The dishes in my sink could have their own zip code. There has been a fort in my living room for days. My daughter has pirated all my best Fall decorations to decorate said fort. The baby is wrapped around my leg eating something she may have found on the floor. I’m searching for something under the couch when it hits me, “Where do I start?”


I see her staring at me with her hands on her hips. She judges me. She makes me feel less than. She reminds me that I will never measure up. She sighs a lot, pushing me to keep going when I have nothing left to give. Her name, is vaguely familiar. Her house? Well, let’s just say she has it all together. If my baby ate off her floor…it’d be ok. Today, I just can’t seem to get her out of my kitchen or my heart.


I close my eyes and finally ask for help. “Jesus, come today. Come here today. In my mess. To my kitchen, but first to my heart. I am in need of your grace.” It is funny how, as soon as I call for Hope, He comes running. He brings His Word to wrap around my heart…


Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
When I open my eyes, the dishes are still close to a national disaster. Nothing has really changed in a physical sense. I get up, and the tears start to flow a bit. He leans in close and whispers it again, surely I will help you. 


Surely.


And He does.


Are you weary, friend? Do you feel you don’t measure up? Do you know HER? Does she seem to point her finger at you, as well? Nothing keeps us weary like the illusion that everyone else has it all together. I’m pretty sure, they don’t. But in that moment, when SHE shows up, I know I am easily convinced. What if, in that moment, instead of listening to HER, we cried out to Him? He who is waiting to strengthen us, and not judge.


He is Hope. And surely, He will come running.


**Thanks to Betsy for sending the link to this article. 

Monday, November 7

This Little Light Of Mine

Read Matthew 12:28-34




My 2 year old son blew slobber on his one pointer finger while intermittently singing an indistinguishable tune. It took me a few moments to realize he was trying to do the Sunday School song, "This Little Light of Mine."




This little light of mine. 

I'm gonna let it shine. 

Let it shine, let it shine all the time.




The raised pointed finger symbolizes our "light" and one verse says, "don't let Satan blow it out, I'm gonna to let it shine." Hence my baby's slobbering blowing on his finger.




Being a "light" is not just for little kids singing familiar Sunday School songs. As grown up Christians need to shine too.





Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."




A newspaper article on Friday described a mailman named Paul who shines in his community. Interrestingly enough, the author did not reference this man's faith, that he believes in God, or that he attends church faithfully every week. I know of Paul's testimony because he is my brother-in-law, but those who meet him on his route know him as simply a friendly guy who delivers mail.

".... Sure, he delivered the mail. But he also called in a house fire in an empty home. He checked up on older residents who hadn't been picking up their bills and letters. Once, he even chased a thief across half a dozen backyards, resulting in an arrest. He became, as really great mailmen do, the true connector across fences, the guy in blue who communicates what is really going on in a neighborhood.

.... Paul has been a great source of information in times of want and a great friend in times of need. He's shared toddler care tricks and restaurant tips and, oh yes, he also delivers the mail. 
I'm not sure how he ever gets through his route because he'll stop and chat with people like me who are stuck at home all day working remotely and caring for the wee ones and yearning for some real face-to-face interaction. 
There is a reason writer David Brin made the hero of his post-apocalyptic novel a postman.

.... People talk a lot about the values of community. Increasingly, the communities that get talked about are online, where you either like something or you're not even connected to it. I've moved often in those worlds, and I'm here to say that there are no links or likes or fan pages or comment reply buttons that can replace the real joy of knowing what is going on with the people in your actual living, breathing life." *



It's easy to get freaked out when we are called to be witnesses for Jesus. Do you break out in a cold sweat when you think you may need to tell a non-believer about your faith? Being a light in the world doesn't need to be nerve wracking. Being a light means to live in a way that shows God's love.



  • Be friendly, "be devoted to one another in brotherly/sisterly love," Romans 12:9-10.



  • Show kindness, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness...", Galatians 5:22.



  • Be considerate, "Cloth yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness," Colossians 3:12.



  • Live at peace with those around you, "to lead a quiet life and mind your own business," I Thessalonians 4:11.



  • Work hard, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord," Colossians 3:23.



  • Love your neighbor, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart... and love your neighbor as yourself," Mark 12:30-31.



The mailman in the newspaper article has the opportunity to show God's love to many as he travels door to door to door. If you are like me, you don't come in contact with so many people. Most days it is just me and the kids at home. How can I be light when I don't get to interact with anyone? Saying we don't come in contact with enough people is just an excuse. We can be lights in our home to children who watch our every move and to those we encounter on a busy morning of Mommy-errands and to a neighbor who might just need a "hello" wave and smile from across the street.




The world is a cold, dark place. We will shine brightly for Jesus when we live His love. The warmth will be contagious and those around us will know we have something they need: a personal relationship with Jesus. Let's think of ways to SHINE today.




This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, all the time.









*Read the full article by Emily Grosvenor from the Statesman Journal by clicking here.

Thursday, November 3

His Instrument

Read Ephesians 2:1-10


I use rubber gloves to tackle my dishes. But the rubber gloves don’t do much on their own. In fact, lying on the counter, they are useless. I’ve tested them, believe me. I leave dishes in the sink, the gloves right nest to them.



Nothing.



I’ve given them time, left them in there overnight.



Nothing.



They just sit there. Limp, yellow, worthless.



Until I put them on. Then, they work. Together, we power through mountains of dishes. We scrub, we rinse, we dry, we accomplish good things.



Sometimes we get pretty full of ourselves, don’t we? We fancy that we can handle life’s challenges on our own. We convince ourselves that we can take on the mountains solo.



But just like my floppy rubber gloves, we are not up to the task without Someone else’s hand directing us, literally animating our digits to His bidding.



I pray that I might be as flexible as my dish-doing buddies when God is trying to do good work through me.



For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10