Friday, April 29

Casual Friday | In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

Wednesday, April 27

Making Time

Read Philippians 4:4-9

This year on Good Friday I found myself in a heap of complaints. What better time to think about myself? My house still hadn't cleaned up itself. My husband travels for weeks at a time for his job. My Mom lives far away in a state where people talk funny. My four year old is going through his weird question stage. My nine month old is just kicking his nursing addiction. The icing on the cake folks, I'm in my first trimester with baby #3. Poor me! I deserve to feel this way. I'm entitled to an enormous pity party where my husband is the guest of honor. Right?

I haven't picked up my bible in weeks. I've deleted every daily devotional from my inbox. I can't remember the last heartfelt time I spent in prayer. I'm just too tired for God.

Tuesday, April 26

This Little Light of Mine

Read Matthew 5:13-16

I spend much of my time in light places. I may be part moth or something, but light draws me in. I am blessed to be surrounded by a great number of Godly friends and family, and I like it. I am comfortable in the light.

I don’t often have cause to go into dark places, and when I do have to go, I flee as quickly as humanly possible. I just don’t like the unsettling, uncertainty found there. I know what to expect from people filled with the light of God’s love. I don’t know what to expect form those wandering around in darkness.

An unpleasant side effect of this condition—this surrounding myself in light—is that my personal light doesn’t need to be all that bright.

On early summer mornings, the sun pours into our east facing living room. It has to be at just the right angle to make it past the front porch overhang, but for about an hour, the light is actually quite harsh in here. So I come in, open the curtains and turn on the light. The light from the 75 watt CFLs does little to add illumination in a room already flooded with sunlight, but I turn it on just the same. It drives my husband crazy, but I contend that more light is always better.

I am the 75watt CFL in the sun drenched living room.

Monday, April 25

The Woman Who Conquered Cannibals

The Book of Missionary Heroes, by Basil Mathews. (Copied and lightly edited by Stephen Ross for

As the train from the south slowed down in Waverley Station, Edinburgh, one day in 1898, a black face, with eyes wide open with wonder, appeared at the window. The carriage door opened and a little African girl was handed down onto the platform.

The people on the station stopped to glance... But as a second African girl a little older than the first stepped from the carriage to the platform, and a third, and then a fourth black girl appeared, the cabmen and porters stood staring in amused curiosity.

Mary SlessorWho was that strange woman (they asked one another), short and slight, with a face like yellow parchment and with short, straight brown hair, who smiled as she gathered the little tribe of African girls round her on the railway platform?

Friday, April 22

Good Friday

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Thursday, April 21

To Shine or not to Shine

Read John 3

The Israelites numbered about a million and a half homeless people. They made tents and moved about the desert at the whims of a column of smoke. They ate flecks of mystery manna gathered from the sandy ground. Their clothes never wore out, so there was never an excuse for new.

At least in Egypt they had their own space. Sure, they were forced into servitude by a cruel, cold hearted ruler, but at least they knew what was expected of them. Moses, the deliverer, had delivered them over to a bizarre and uncertain faith. He had enticed them out of Egypt with promises of freedom, failing to mention the desert between them and the Land of Promise.

The Israelites were afraid of the God whose voice thundered out of the mountainside, but Moses, was just a man. An intimidating man, but one they could talk to. Moses didn’t get a lot of affirmation from his people. What he did get was complaints.

“Why did you bring us out into the desert to die?!”

“We are so tired of manna, we just want meat.”

“We were better off in Egypt.” (see Numbers 21)

Have your kids ever done this to you? Mine have. It usually happens around hour three at the zoo.

“I’m tired of walking.”

“Why won’t you buy me a toy?”

“The lions are sleeping. I’m bored.”

“Can I play on your phone?”

“Can we watch a movie on the way home?”

I get furious. I am trying to give them a good thing. We are trying to build memories together as a family, but they are so ungrateful all they can do is complain?? Oh, I’ll give you something to complain about…

Like nails on a chalk board, complaining and arguing take their toll on everyone involved. In the desert, God Almighty himself decided to do something about it.

Wednesday, April 20

My God Shall Supply All My Needs

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:19

My God will supply all my needs. I believe this wholeheartedly. I've heard the familiar verse all my life and it even has a catchy tune sung often in my Sunday School classes as a child. Yet it is difficult to see God supplying my needs on a daily basis. 

I needed a reminder.

Monday, April 18

Hearing God's Silence

Read Matthew 11

Max Lucado is one of my very favorite authors. I love the word pictures he paints. I once told someone this, and he said, “Ah. The guy who makes up stuff about the Bible.” He makes some broad interpretations, but they are founded in the truth of the Word. The stories do not stray either from context or spirit of the text, so I am content to let him run with it. And I will run along, because the alive and active Word of God gets my imagination spinning too.

The following text is taken from Lucado's book Applause of Heaven. Allow me to set the scene first. John the Baptist, hanging out alone in a dungeon under Herod’s castle had just sent word to Jesus: “Are you the one who has come or should we expect someone else?” This was code for, “Are you gonna get me out of here or what?”

Jesus, with great compassion for the doubts of a strong voice for his kingdom replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

John was likely expecting something more dramatic than the sermon on the mount from the Messiah. A great and glorious takeover perhaps is what he was looking for. Instead, he received confirmation that the Kingdom of Heaven, for just a moment, was here.

I like to think of a slight smile coming over his lips as he heard what his Master said. “So that’s it. That is what the kingdom will be. That is what the king will do.”

For now he understood. It wasn’t that Jesus was silent; it was that John had been listening for the wrong answer. John had been listening for an answer to his earthly problems, while Jesus was busy resolving the heavenly ones.

To Be Reminded [to surrender all]

I recently wrote about my week of reminding myself to pray. You can read the first post here (2 weeks ago) and last Monday's here.

To recap, I simply set my watch to beep on the hour. It's a tiny, tangible sound to remind me to pray my thankfulness to God. I am now on week 2 with 16 hours per day of wakeful hours, equalling 224 hourly reminders to come before my Heavenly Father in prayer.

Last week I wrote of my new routine,

I don't think I can stop even if I wanted to. A new habit has formed and I find myself anticipating the hourly respite with my Father. What a gift I was missing! I packed duties and deadlines into hours that passed without notice. I covered everything with, "of course I'm thankful." I said I was too busy for prayer, too busy to grow, too busy to change. It was true, I was too busy and I needed something concrete to help me find the time. The moments were there all along.... I just needed a reminder.

Everything I said in that post was absolutely true and I went on my merry, blessed way. So much good has come from this closeness with God. It's an honor and a privilege to come before him, either 15 seconds or 15 minutes to take and regain perspective.

And yet, there are times during the day when I hear the beep and I do not want to pray. Inwardly I am a defiant toddler who doesn't want to be told what to do. I am surprised and most assuredly ashamed when I feel irritation about talking to God. This whole experiment with hourly reminders has revealed some more uglies in my closet.

Friday, April 15

Come Ye Sinners

I love a good romance, and this one is the greatest one of all.

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

Joseph Heart, 1759

Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
Ephesians 5:25-27 NLT

Thursday, April 14

Giving and Getting

Read James 1

My baby just turned four. Four years old. It doesn’t seem like four years have past since I marveled at his perfectly groomed hair and smiled at the sound of his red-faced howl. But it’s been four years and my baby is not a baby anymore.

“When are you going to stop calling him baby, Mom?” asks his ever-inquisitive big brother.

“Never.” I reply.

I planned his birthday celebration carefully—right down to the special yogurt for breakfast.

I spent time and careful consideration choosing his birthday gift. I stayed up late to give the thing a good, elaborate wrapping. His brother and his dad picked out special gifts for him as well. And in the morning, before breakfast, he gleefully set about opening them.

His family waited in anticipation. Would the gifts we selected bring him pleasure? How would he express it?
As a fiercely independent as he is, his reaction are difficult to predict.

Wednesday, April 13

Giving Praise [to children]

Read Philippians 4:4-8

The one who praises a child wins a child's heart.

That is an amazing statement that I wish was my own inspiration. I read it on a blog and it was originally said by a mom of 19 children. I read through the article quickly, but that one phrase kept coming back to me....

The one who praises a child wins a child's heart.

I gave the idea a lot of thought and causally started trying it out on my three children. With my oldest (6), I was dealing with a chronic bad attitude, snotty remarks, and grumpy faces when she faced anything that wasn't her idea. Disciplining it out of her seemed to prolonging the displeasing symptoms. So I thought maybe this praise thing couldn't hurt, even if it didn't work.

Tuesday, April 12

I Can't

Read 2 Peter 1

I can’t, but You can.

This phrase was the topic of a message I heard recently by Andy Stanley. The topic was standing firm in the face of temptation. When faced with a situation you know you can’t handle, he suggests, acknowledge it before the Lord who made you. Because the truth is, I can’t say no. But God can. And He will empower you to act on the NO if you ask him to.

This is a powerful tool to use against temptation, but it’s also a powerful one to triumph over circumstances.
Believe it or not, I don’t actually have it all together. I don’t walk around oozing devotional inspiration from my pores. Between you and me, I came pretty unglued at the grocery store yesterday. There was not a devotional thought in my head as I tried to wrangle my minions and maneuver around the other 40,000 people in the store parking their carts in the middle of the aisle so they could spend 10 minutes debating which kind of canned tomatoes to buy. AND they were out of ground ginger. How in modern America do you run out of ground ginger?
It was ugly. All of it was ugly. The tears when the children couldn’t have candy, the lady in front of me with two carts overflowing with groceries, the rain storm, the traffic… Yuck.

You’ve been there, right? Tell me I’m not alone. I know for sure I wasn’t the only grouchy person at the store anyway.

Monday, April 11

A Week of Being Reminded to Pray

Hebrews 12:1-17

I set my watch to beep on the hour. It's a tiny, tangible sound to remind me to pray my thankfulness to God. I started this new routine last Monday (read about it here). I'm a frenzied mom, like many of you, with not much down-time. And I also have a terrible case of non-reversal mommy-brain. I forget important things unless reminded. The hourly beep on my watch was my idea to break through my busyness and be reminded about what is most important in my life.

Depressed womanMonday started with a bang. I posted my thoughts on Sunday night and was ready to go when my alarm buzzed on Monday morning before the sun had the nerve to show its face. I started my morning routine before the kids got up, but started to feel very ill.  I was soon in a useless heap on the bathroom floor. I'll spare you the details, just know that this was one of those days I wanted to call in sick.

Friday, April 8

Casual Friday | From the Inside Out

Read Psalm 24

"Who is he, this King of glory?

The LORD Almighty—

he is the King of glory."

Psalm 24:10

Thursday, April 7

It's Okay to be Afraid of the Dark

Read John 1

Borrowed, with permission, from Molly

I had an imaginary conversation with [my son] last night as I was going to sleep. Yes, I have imaginary conversations, don't judge me. At least I was talking in my head and not out loud. This time.

You see, I think my little boy, not even four months old, is afraid of the dark. He normally goes to sleep with a lighted/musical thing hanging off of his crib. But there have been a few occasions, mostly in the car, when he has been wide awake and it's been pitch black around him. The kid screams. Turn on a light and, usually, everything seems to be okay.

So what will I tell my boy some day when he begs us to leave a light on, not to leave him alone in the dark?

First, we'll get him a nightlight.

And then, we'll tell him that it's okay to be afraid of the dark.

Darkness is scary because of the unknown; we are deprived of one of senses we rely on the most. We can't operate like we normally do. And we are suddenly surrounded by the unknown; the known becomes unfamiliar and we don't know what else might be lurking out there. In short, our weakness is accentuated by the darkness.

How does God respond to us in our weakness? With mercy -- he is kind, he is gentle, he makes allowance for our weaknesses. "For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust."

Being aware of our weakness is a grace that helps us remember our rightful place in the world. "They are weak, but he is strong." It's okay to be afraid; fear is a God-given emotion that was designed for our preservation. But. But: let your fear not only be a reminder of your weakness, but also of his strength.

Scripture also talks about evil in terms of darkness, and somehow intuitively we link the literal and the metaphorical. Evil, shameful deeds are done in secret, in the dark. "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light." (Eph 5:11-14)

Do a quick search of the word "dark" in the Bible, especially in the New Testament. You will be amazed at how prevalent and powerful the metaphor is.

It's okay to be afraid of the dark; there are things in the dark that are unknown or outright evil. But "when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you" (Psalm 56:3) because here is the good news: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5)

We are children of the light. Just like when we flip a light switch and darkness is instantly banished, the end of history has already been settled and good triumphs over evil.

When you are alone in the dark, don't beat yourself up for your fear. Instead, know and cling to this: Light wins.

Molly is the lover of her husband, son, travel, dogs, mountains, photography, reading, movies, gardening, white chocolate mochas, theology, history, languages and cooking. Most importantly, she is learning more and more how to be a lover of her Lord and His people. 

Wednesday, April 6

Passively Parenting

Read Deuteronomy 6:1-12 (The Message)

I wrote recently on asking God to reveal sin in my life (see this post). I was really hoping there would be nothing terrible to uncover -- a girl can dream. I was not pleasantly surprised when the Holy Spirit started whispering in my ear, "Here's one. And there's one. And another. Oh, and right here, this is a BIG elephant in the closet you have ignored for far too long." My uglies were revealed.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23.

One such revelation was the sin of passive parenting. We all know what it looks like, I've heard it referred to quite descriptively as "armchair parenting." It can either be barking orders without much intention of following through (inconsistency) or not even acknowledging when a child does some bad behavior (ignoring).

Tuesday, April 5

The Plan

Read Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the best loved verses of all time. We see it on everything from graduation cards to refrigerator magnets. The verse brings hope and comfort. It points the lost to the way. And I am going to ruin it for you today.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future."

Such nice, beautiful words! But we quote them out of context. If you haven’t already (it’s OK, I cheat on the reading sometimes too), read Jeremiah 29.

The Hebrew people were once again under the thumb of a foreign king. Once again displaced and hopeless, Jeremiah’s letter to the captives from the Lord had some interesting things to say.

“Build houses and settle down… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

This is one of the only times I can think of, particularly in the Old Testament, where God commands his people to settle in outside the Promised Land. He advises the Hebrews to settle on in, because they are going to be there a while. He also suggests they set about making the city they are dwelling in prosperous. This place would not be their home, but they were to treat it as such while they were there.

Meanwhile, these exiled people are looking for answers. They want to go home. They are certain God's will is the land they were forcibly removed from. They knew what God wanted. They desperately desired his Words on the matter, so they asked prophets, and fortune tellers.

Monday, April 4

Need To Be Reminded

Hebrews 12:1-17

I need reminders. The endless craziness of running a household makes me feel like I am on a merry-go-round holding a tray of ping-pong balls. Neuroscientists confirm it is a real issue for women resulting from a powerful shift in endocrine and brain chemistry levels. Some call it  "Mommy-brain."

A few days ago, I stood outside my car at the grocery store under drizzling skies with a cart bumping into me as my 3 year old climbed on it, a squirming toddler on my hip, and I was digging one-handed through my purse trying to find my keys. I dug and dug through that tiny .5 square feet of space. And still no keys. My routine is firm and I always lock my car from the outside with the key (for this very reason) and put the keys in my purse. At the point of panic, I tried the door, knowing in my gut that it was locked with my keys inside. Crazy enough, the door was not locked. A quick search found my keys... in the ignition. Mommy Brain.

I have ways of coping and still getting the important stuff done and remembered. I have my routines (obviously not followed in the above key-losing incident). I have a calendar where each appointment is written, corresponding phone numbers are on post-it notes. If it isn't on the calendar, I will forget it. I also follow a to-do calendar to get house-work done (this planner). My alarm clock jolts me out of bed to start my day. I use a timer when I bake. The buzzer on the dryer drones out an ear piecing screech to let me know I have some laundry to fold. My microwave dings until I take out the warmed food. Even my fridge beeps if I leave it open.

reminderReminders. Reminders. I need them or bad things happen. I forget appointments or birthdays, my house gets messy, clothes rot in the washing machine, food spoils in the fridge as the door sits open.... There are consequences for forgetting important things.

What is more important than my relationship with God? Prayer and thanksgiving are not on the top of my to-do because I forget all too often. My morning devotions get me off to a good start, but even the best of intentions need a refresher throughout the day.

I am going to try something new and daring. I have not ever done this before and I hope that some of you will join me. My desire is to be reminded throughout the day to pray and give thanks to God... before my prayers are just "help!" I am setting my watch to beep on the hour as a reminder to take a moment to remember the important things. The same as training myself to use a routine to help my life work more efficiently, I think this practice will be beneficial.

Even as I type this, I am nervous that my plan won't work. Like a New Year's Resolution that doesn't make it to February. Maybe I won't hear the beep or I'll forget by noon that I was supposed to be starting a new routine. I believe it is the Holy Spirit's still voice reassuring me now, "What harm could it bring?" More prayer, more thanksgiving, more conversation with the Living God... even if I remember only once a day to quiet my heart, this could be considered a success instead of a fail.

I desire a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. I desire less discontent in my life. I desire more thankfulness and less stress. I desire to be free of the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1) . Could regular, thoughtful prayer time be the answer?

Honestly, I don't know how my hourly prayer time will work. My objective is to stop what I am doing and pray, being intentional about thanking God for the blessings in my life (driving out discontent as described in One Thousand Gifts). I would also like to write down blessings throughout the day to be reminded of later. What if I am truly busy with someone else or on the phone or elbow deep in a poopy diaper or at the grocery store or watching a movie or talking to my husband.... these are excuses that will get sorted out as the day goes by. I plan to write on Drops again on this same topic next Monday and share my joys and struggles.

I would love to read your comments if you plan to take this challenge with me. While we have plenty of excuses for "mommy-brain," we also know how get the important things done. This intentional action, reminded by the beep on my watch, just might be the most important thing I do today.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; 

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, April 1

How He Loves Us

Last week’s Casual Friday got me thinking about music. Melody has a way of sinking through layers that words alone cannot penetrate. A story or a truth learned through song is one of the most permanent ways to learn something. This is why we teach our children Jesus Loves Me as soon as they can talk and why there are as many musical versions to learn the books of the Bible as there are Books of the Bible. Songs get stuck in our heads and the only way to get them out is with another song. 

But as I get older—not that I am admitting to getting older—I find I lose the words. The melody stays and I can manage to keep a catch phrase, but the words get lost somewhere in translation.

That is why today I am posting the lyrics to one of my new favorite songs. The music itself is not my favorite. It’s catchy, mind you. The chorus gets in my head and stays and stays and stays, but since the words to the song are so powerful, I’m OK with that. Anything’s better than Barney.

In posting the lyrics, I have removed a few repetitive lines and the “yeahs” and “whoas” because they are just annoying to read. A link to the music follows the lyrics.

He is jealous for me 
Love's like a hurricane, 
I am a tree 
Bending beneath the weight of 
His wind and mercy 
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory 
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me. 

He loves us  
Oh, how He loves us 

We are His portion and 
He is our prize, 
Drawn to redemption 
by the grace in His eyes 
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking 
So heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss and my heart turns 
violently inside of my chest 
I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way 

He loves us, 
Oh, how He loves us!