Monday, February 27

To Shush or Not to Shush

Read Mark 1:35-39

Written by Andrea L

I have long wrestled with the question is it OK to shush my kids so I can have my Bible study time.

I’ve gone back and forth, forth and back.

There are strong arguments on either side. My children need to understand Who comes first in my life. I need to be in a right place with God in order to parent properly and that only happens when I have spent focused and concentrated time with Him. And they need to learn to be patient and respect my space.

On the other hand, when I am curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a book, they have no idea if it’s a Bible study book or a historical romance novel. To them, it all looks like the book is more important than they are.

But here is the one that finally sealed the deal—for me anyway.

“Let the little children come to me.”

Our kids learn from us what God is like. Are they seeing him as private and closed off? For grown ups only? Or does he make time for the little ones. How can I say to them, “Jesus loves you. Jesus takes time for you. I, however, cannot right now.”

There are plenty of times a day we can teach our kids patience and guide them into being less self centered—like while we are making dinner. Or in the car between errand numbers 432 and 433.

In the Gospels we see Jesus continually seeking out solitude so he can pray. We also see him continually interrupted. His disciples are looking for him, Pharisees are sneaking out to see him under the cloak of darkness. Yet Jesus and his Father still managed a fantastic relationship.

Granted they were two parts of the same whole, but doesn’t it seem like someone who set aside heavenly fellowship for earthly whatever would fight for his quiet time?

Well, he didn’t. When his disciples or anyone else interrupted him, he treated them with kindness and compassion.

“Let the little children come to me”

He included them in his mission.

“Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also.”

But he remained consistent in his pursuit of one on one time with his Father.

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15

But how does this work in real life? We really do need that one on one time with God to do this parenting thing right. It’s hard! My kids fight and drop their pizza on the floor at CostCo and lose their shoes right as we are supposed to be leaving.

Yours don’t do that do they? You’ve trained them better?

Here are a few real world tips.

Be consistent. Strive for the time—the same time everyday if possible. That way our people will know what to expect.

If a precious darlings needs attention, give it. Give attention by inviting him to snuggle up with you as you share your mission. Read the Bible passage out loud. I’ve noticed one of two things will happen when I employ this technique: my child will either find something better to do OR he and I get to share together the wonder of being connected in the Word of God. Regardless of the outcome, he now knows what I am up to and he feels included and loved. And I get my quiet time.

One more thing. God’s voice has more than one volume setting. Still and small is his specialty. However, he’s been known to thunder loud enough to be heard over the wind and waves od a storm tossed sea. He can be louder than wailing toddlers as well.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13.

Sunday, February 26


Read John 14:1-14

I am baffled by much of what He chooses to do or not do.

I've never heard Him speak one audible word to me. Much of the time I don't feel His presence when I ask for it.

I don't always appreciate His taste in who He chooses to give influence to. I sometimes wish He believed more like me. And I am left shaking my head at people who are part of His Church. I would have picked almost an entirely different crowd.

When I was young in my faith I asked Him to move a swingset. One inch. Nobody was around. What would it have hurt? I believed in that moment with all my heart that He would. He chose not to.

PhotoI've watched injustice apparently run free, and beautiful-hearted God lovers suffer indefinitely.

...And yet, I love Him and trust Him with every fiber of my being. Not because I'm compelled to chant this mantra to get Home, but because His character and stunning love have drawn me and compelled this historically self-centered and utterly self-protective man to come under His every choice.

I've never known love like His. And without Him I have no desire to spend another day here. He is all that holds me together.

And whatever happens or doesn't, I am absolutely certain He does and will turn into good. How can I possibly mean that in view of all the apparently contrary evidence screaming from newspapers each morning? One thing. The Cross and the Resurrection following. I've seen the template. For God to take the most injust and hideous wickedness upon an Innocent and bring from it the highest beauty even known on this planet, is beyond words or any worship I can offer

...Still, I would like to hear His voice. One day I will. In the land where the crust of the pie is so flaky you just want to stare at it for a long time, before laughing, next to great friends, and like them, picking it up to eat with your hands.

* Written by John Lynch (borrowed as posted by a friend of a friend on facebook).

Thursday, February 23

Simply Running

Written by Ashley K.

"I run in the path of your commands, 

 for you have broadened my understanding."

Psalm 119:32

Read Psalm 119:32-40

I started running. Not in a disciplined-marathon-training sort of way, but in a when-did-I-start-jiggling-there sort of way.

I dread running but I always feel incredible afterwards. I try to remember this when I’m slowly lacing up my tennis shoes. It never fails. I always feel like a million bucks after. It’s a joy that I work for.

One day a few weeks ago I was out for a run. My husband had some things bothering him and I was praying for him as I ran. The next thing I know I’m slipping on some gravel and rolling into the street in front of a car.

Fortunately, the only thing severely injured was my pride. I instantly got grumpy. I tore a hole in my favorite running pants and I was bleeding.

Satan accomplished two things. I forgot all about praying for my husband and instead focused on my frustration. Secondly, when it came time for me to run again, I was embarrassed and skipped the opportunity.

I used to think that running was a pretty insignificant pleasure. I also took praying for my husband for granted. Oh boy, was I wrong. Satan tried to distract me from those two things. Obviously he saw something good in my simple joys and he tried his best to manipulate me.

Embarrassment, fear, and anger are not emotions that we learn from God. Satan triggered those feelings in me. I finally got the courage to run again and I dedicated a substantial amount of time to pray for my husband. God rewarded me with His instant peace.

We all have little things that bring us joy. Some of us scrapbook, or write poetry, or bake cakes, or enjoy shopping. These little moments of joy are gifts from God. They matter. Don’t allow satan to put a critic or an embarrassing moment in the way of your joy.

Make sure to take time out for the simple pleasures that life has to offer. You may not be the next Mariah Carey but if singing in the shower makes you happy, then belt it out friend.

Tuesday, February 21

Treading Water With Strength

Read II Timothy 4

"How are you doing?" A well-meaning friend asked me.

"I'm keeping my head above water, but that is about it." I responded honestly, but defeatedly.

It has been a hard few months. My long list of responsibilities is probably similar to yours. It never lets up and there are seasons in life that are tougher than others. Especially with little children in the house. It's easy (and natural) to feel bogged down, like we're treading water.... going absolutely nowhere.

I asked God, "Is this part of your plan? I'm not growing, I'm not changing the world for your glory. I'm barely even taking care of my little world, badly at times. I want to run with perseverance, but I'm tired, all my effort going to just staying afloat."

Centuries ago, when I was young, skinny, and tan, I was a lifeguard at a small camp in southern California. The work was easy and pleasant, about 4 hours a day spent actually guarding swimming children and the rest was spent having fun with my fellow lifeguard. She was a water polo player. Previous to meeting her, I knew nothing about the game other than it looked wet and not very fashionable with those funny swim caps.

That summer I learned the rules of the game and how to properly tread water. There is a lot of strategy in water polo. Strong, powerful leg movements can propel a player from side to side as her head, arms, and shoulders are out of the water. She can throw the ball to a teammate or make a quick toss around the other players to make a goal for her team.

My water polo friend led me through her team's workouts as she practiced for the next season. We toned our legs with laps of just that horrible egg-beater kick, basically treading water, arms out above our heads. Very slowly, pumping our legs in powerful circular movements to go backwards or forwards or even sideways, always with those arms out of the water.

It was grueling exercise. And I had forgotten all about it (or tried to block it) until I thought of the busyness of life and just keeping my head above water. I was thinking of treading water, in a life sense, as a bad thing, like I was just too tired to do anything "important." But treading is still movement and it takes strength that God provides just to stay afloat.

Nope, she's can't touch the
bottom of the pool.
When life gets so hard that we don't even seem to be going anywhere, we cannot forget we still have a part in the game.

"but those who hope in the LORD 

will renew their strength. 

They will soar on wings like eagles; 

they will run and not grow weary, 

they will walk and not be faint." 

Isaiah 40:31

If this season of life has you feeling stagnant, we cannot grow weary. We have hope in the Lord. And He will provide those bursts of energy. We have to be ready, staying afloat, getting the job done, so we  have a chance to participate in changing the world for His glory...  arms out of the water, funny cap and all, making a goal to win the prize.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, 

I have kept the faith. 

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, 

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, 

will award to me on that day—and not only to me, 

but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

II Timothy 4:7-8

Monday, February 20

President's Day: run and not grow weary

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. 

 They will soar on wings like eagles; 

 they will run and not grow weary, 

 they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, February 14

Looking Back At Change

Read Jeremiah 18:3-6

Written by Ashley K.

My husband and I have each have our ten year reunions coming up.

Yikes. High school was rough for me.

That’s when I started experimenting with liquid liner. I tried dying my frizzy hair blonde which turned out orange and called it good. I was a complete snob who handed out judgements whenever I could. Worse yet, I wore cargo pants. Seriously. Cargo Pants. What self respecting female stuffs herself into thin pants with bulky pockets on the side and then tops them off with a pair of Doc Martens? Well, I did.

Part of me is excited to go to the reunion to find out what people are doing and where they have been. The other part is nervous that people will still look at me like the bratty orange haired girl that I used to be.

The truth is, I have changed. A lot. Thank God. God wants us to change. Yes, He loves us very much just the way we are, but He wants us to change. He wants us to look back on the last ten years of our life and see progress, acquired wisdom, and growth.

We aren’t supposed to stay the same and assume that we can’t get any better. That would imply perfection, and sister, you and I are far from perfect! Call out to God and ask Him to help you be a better you. Open up your heart and your mind to change. It’s a choice that you have to make.

Beth Moore posed a question in her latest bible study on James that has really got me thinking. She asked, “When is the last time a bible study or scripture made you change? Not moved you or made you feel better but made you change?”

She then referred to us as “forgetful listeners.” We may listen to God’s teachings in church or do our devotions every morning, but are we putting them into practice? Are we truly loving our husbands in a patient and kind way? (1 Corinthians 13:4) Are we sincerely following God and trusting that He is doing everything to prosper us? (Jeremiah 29:11) Do we give a gentle answer to our children or do we deliver harsh words and stir up anger? (Proverbs 15:1)

Are you changing? Are you allowing God to mold you? Are you trying to be more like Jesus? God calls us to change to fit every season of life. Pick up that call and find out how you can fulfill your potential.

 “...‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.’ ” 

(Jeremiah 18:6)

Friday, February 10

Read Psalm 20

Your Great Name by Natalie Grant. I love this song!!

Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of your great name
All condemned; feel no shame, at the sound of your great name
Every fear; has no place; at the sound of your great name
The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise your great name

All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of your great name
Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of your great name
The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of your great name
Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise your great name

Redeemer, My Healer, Almighty
My savior, Defender, You are My King

Wednesday, February 8

You want some cheese with that whine?

Read Philippians 4

This morning, my son whined because I fed him cereal instead of waffles.

Then he whined because his cereal was higher than the milk.

Then he whined because he wanted to eat in the kitchen, not the dining room.

Once he dragged his tall seat into the kitchen, he whined because it was still too short for him to eat at the counter.

By then, he whined because his cereal was soggy.

I really thought I was a better parent than to allow this sort of thing. He’s four. Shouldn’t he be over this phase? I think he hunts things out to complain about. It makes me crazy and will one day drive the rest of the world insane if we don’t get to the bottom of this. But while I live and breathe James 1:5 in connection to the whining problem, that’s not the point of this post.

“I’m just having a rough day!” He sobbed into his arms.

“You know, don’t you,” I told him (not so sympathetically), “that you are making your day rough.”

He didn’t appreciate my wisdom in the slightest.

He was spending his time focusing on the little things that upset him.

He has no control over what he got for breakfast. I, the benevolent dictator, make those sorts of decisions around here. But he whined about it anyway.

The milk/cereal ratio could have been addressed with a simple, “Mommy, may I please have a little more milk?” But he whined about it anyway.

I honestly don’t understand the need to move from one room to another. I just don’t get it. The food is on the table, so eat it. It doesn’t seem that complicated.

I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father gets me. He already knows my heart, so he doesn’t have to analyze my motivations. And he is so infinitely patient with me. Even when I make my life harder than it needs to be by complaining and worrying about things that a) I cannot control and b) do not matter.

I have my own set of things that make me crazy that make no difference in eternity. This morning’s episode with my youngest reminds me to take a breath and let it go. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things. 
 Philippians 4:8

Sunday, February 5

Friendly Parenting

Read Proverbs 2

"Honor your father and your mother, 

so that you may live long in the land the LORD 

your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12

I recently read an article that made me very sad. It was about a father who realized too late that his daughter needed a parent, not a friend. She needed limits, not more fun. The father is a famous one, Billy Ray Cyrus, known for his many country music hits. The daughter is also well-known, 18 year old Miley, star of Hannah Montana and now a recording artist herself.

Billy Ray is quoted as saying, "How many interviews did I give and say, 'You know what's important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids'? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, 'You don't need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.' Well, I'm the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, 'Enough is enough--it's getting dangerous and somebody's going to get hurt.' I should have, but I didn't. Honestly, I didn't know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere."

A parent's role is to create solid boundaries for a child (Proverbs 2:1). It goes against our instinct initially. We think, "but I don't want to see my child unhappy." Giving in to that theory doesn't make the child happier, actually the opposite. There is a security (trust) and love in setting limits. A child lacks the maturity to know what is good for them. That's why God gave them parents! My grandma told me when I was dealing with a terribly defiant toddler, "She has powerful potential, but you need to get her bullets firing in the right direction."

A friend of mine told me about her growing up years in a family with "fun" parents who always tried to be her friend. In her teen years she started to rebel and felt very angry all the time. Their relationship got so bad that her parents took her to a counselor. After hours of counseling an angry teen and frustrated parents, the expert determined that the teen did not feel her parent's love. "How can that be?!!" Her parents exclaimed, "We give her everything she wants." But because the child/teen did not know limits, she did not know trust, and because she did not trust, she did not know love.

When we in the midst of parenting little ones, our goal can lose focus. We can easily get muddled and off course. Inconsistency happens. Maybe we let the child manipulate instead of obey. Or we appease instead of discipline. In fear of tantrums, we give in. But try to hear in the tantrum that the child is saying, "Can I trust you? Do you love me? Will you hold firm to the boundaries or leave me firing without restraint?"

Let these words from Billy Ray be a reminder that years from now, we'll look back at things differently:

"I'd take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just everybody be okay, safe and sound and happy and normal would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I'd erase it all in a second if I could."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Start children off on the way they should go,

and even when they are old they will not turn from it."

Proverbs 22:6

You can read "Billy Ray Cyrus' Regret" by Jim Daly at Focus on Family Online Community.

Thursday, February 2

Living like a Dead Woman

Read one of these:

Galatians 2:19-21
Matthew 7:15-20
Galatians 5:13-26
Or Luke 9:21-27

The angry face was on and the volume maxed out before I even realized what was happening. I managed to stammer, “Mommy needs a time out,” and step out of the situation before my children needed psychotherapy—I think.

I quarantined myself in my room with the Bread of Life—the best comfort food out there. My technique in situations like this is to open the book and try to listen to what God is trying to tell me. Randomly.

This morning, it was the crucifixion story. Truth be told, I was just glad it wasn’t the minor prophets. That stuff’s complicated. But the crucifixion? Other than a massive dose of perspective, I didn’t make the connection. Until a couple of hours later when a verse I memorized back when I had all my brain cells wiggled its way into my head.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! 
Galatians 2:20-21

Allow me to paraphrase. When I chose Jesus back and accepted his gift, I laid my life—my will—down at the same time. So my old ways are dead. The life I live now is because, washed with the blood of Jesus, I am clean enough that he can live in me. His love for me is an undeserved gift and I cannot ignore that. If I could do this on my own, Christ died for nothing!

The trick is figuring out how to live like a dead woman.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Keyword: Daily. I am pretty sure if the word “minutely” had ever been a word in any language, He would have used it here.

My nature wanted to continue that fit behind closed doors. My nature wanted my way, my way only, and my way NOW.

Jesus also said, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). This verse links so nicely with Galatians 5:23, it must not be a coincidence. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

If a good tree produces those things, what does a bad tree produce? “Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies…”

I don’t fall prey to much of that list but, there might be one or two…

In order to live like dead women, we MUST learn the difference between good fruit and bad fruit. We have to understand that the stuff that comes out of us, comes out because it’s in us. And we need to really get that once confessed, bad stuff doesn’t magically vaporize. It will try to come back.

And we have to crucify it.

Kill it.


Philosophical question of the day: if we are to live like dead women so that Christ can live through us, does that make us Zombies for Jesus and would anyone buy that bumper sticker?

By Andrea