5 Reasons You May Not Have Thought of to Discipline Your Child

Parenting is HARD. There’s no clocking out. There’s no “I’m tired of this job. I think I’ll look for a new one.” There’s not even sick days for cryin’ out loud. It’s all day, every day. Holidays. Breaks. Nights Weekends. It’s tiring. So believe me, I get it. I can barely make it into bed at night. Which translates to not washing my face. Which means eventually my skin is going to look like something along the lines of an elephant’s ankle. (It’s a good thing God made me a writer.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:12
Key Verse: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12


And you better believe I will blame my children! (Do you see these wrinkles? You put them there!) (Just kidding.) (Maybe.)

But tiredness is not a Biblically mandated excuse for not doing my job as a parent. Actually, there are no excuses. “Children obey your parents” – the fifth commandment – yeah, it’s on us.

(Side note: If you’re just joining us we’ve been making our way through the book of Exodus and we’re currently in chapter 20 – The Ten Commandments. Click HERE if you’d like to go back and start with the first commandment. Or click HERE if you are in need of a laugh and would like to read my take on motherhood. Or click HERE if you’d like to subscribe and never miss another Deeper Devo. I don’t promise all fun, all the time. But I do promise honesty and truth and a deeper look at the Scriptures. Or feel free to ignore me, and just keep reading. I ignore me all the time.)

Anyway, my job as a parent isn’t to make my children happy. It’s not even to successfully get them through another day. (Though I do see that as a nice byproduct.) No, my job as a parent is to raise responsible God-fearing adults.

And the bottom line is, they aren’t going to get there on their own. For some reason we’ll go through great pains to train a puppy but our kids? Eh, they’ll catch on eventually. (No they won’t.) We have to teach them to do so. We have to, dare I say it, discipline. There, I said it.

And here, my friend, are five reasons to motivate us to do so…           

  1. It shows them love.

I know it sounds like the opposite of love, but discipline is a facet love. Which is why God says he disciplines those whom He loves (His children).

Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

So to NOT discipline my children is to NOT love them to the best of my ability. I do them a disservice every time they do wrong and I choose to ignore it.

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof gives wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

To discipline (in an appropriate and loving manner mind you) is to teach them the way to life, but to not discipline is to put them on a path of futility.

Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Sometimes the Bible just says it like it is.)

  1. You will gain their respect.

I respect those who say they’re going to do something and then do it. And you know what, it’s the same with our kids. When we follow through with expectations – it harbors respect in their hearts.

Hebrews 12:9 “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”

But when we don’t follow through. When we lack consistency. When we lay the boundaries out and they choose to cross them, yet no consequences follow, they may be relieved in the moment but with time, respect will wane because we didn’t mean what we said.

Proverbs 29:17 “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to you heart.” Because his/her respect will run deep.

  1. It shows them the Father.

Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciples the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

If God disciplines those he loves because they are his sons and daughters, yet we don’t discipline our children, what does that teach them? Honestly, I’m afraid to answer. But I know one thing, it certainly doesn’t mimic the LORD.

God is not mean. We’re not to be mean. God is love and in his goodness, corrects (when necessary) with discipline. Not to get back at us. Not to make us sad but for the purpose of keeping us on a path that will give us the best life possible. And don’t we want the same for our kids?

  1. It reveals the Father in them.

Hebrews 12:10 says God disciplines us for our good, “that we may share his holiness.”

Discipline is character training.

Proverbs 23:13-14 (NLT) says, “Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.”

Because left to ourselves we won’t walk in the light, as God is in the light. We’ll walk in the ways of darkness. A path I don’t want for my children!

Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”

It’s not natural for our kids to do what’s right. In fact, it’s not natural for any of us. (“The heart is deceitful above all things.” – Jeremiah 17:9) Which is why over and over in Scripture we’re instructed to “Abide in Him.” “Take every thought captive.” “Flee from evil.” If the Apostle Paul struggled to do what is right and not wrong, how much more will our kids?

So we discipline, that they too might be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1).

  1. In the end, it will bring them joy.

We all want our kids to be happy right? We want what’s best for them. But what’s best for them is what’s best for us – living within God’s parameters. Not so we’ll be confined, but so we’ll thrive!

Proverbs 6:23 “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”

And the way of life, leads to blessing!

Psalm 94:12 “Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and who you teach out of your law.”

Job 5:17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.”

The word blessed means happy. Why is the person who is disciplined happy? Because discipline leads to righteousness, which leads to blessing, which leads to joy. And oh my do I want my kids to be happy!

As you ponder these truths remember this – “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

It may seem hard now, but here’s the promise. Later, it will yield fruit of righteousness. And that my friend, is enough reason for me.

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12 Benefits of Being Thankful

I have a sign in my family room that says: “There is Always Always Always something to be thankful for.” And while I know it’s true, I’ll be honest, I don’t always feel like being thankful. (Like um, last Tuesday.) BUT the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Stating in matter of fact fashion that being thankful is God’s will for me (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So, well, I best be giving thanks.

But this doesn’t mean I walk around with a fake smile plastered on my face. It doesn’t mean I can’t be sad. It doesn’t mean I can’t cry or struggle or wish things were different.

It simply means despite my circumstances, I still agree, God is good and faithful and worthy of praise. A statement even more breathtaking in the wake of a broken heart, don’t you think?

But there are benefits to this thankfulness thing. It isn’t just for kicks God urges us to “Give thanks” sixty-two times in the Bible. Buffering our Christianity with verses like, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15, 20).

Specifically, I thought of twelve noteworthy benefits. (Feel free to add more!)

  1. It Rights Relationships. I think you’d agree, it’s hard to stay mad at someone when you turn to God in thanks for them. The seeds of a thankful heart are able to overtake the roots of bitterness any day.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3)

  1. It Gives Light to the Heart. To give thanks is to blaze a pathway for righteousness. It readies the mind for more, but ingratitude is an avid partner in turning one’s back on God.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21-22)

  1. It Makes Unbearable Circumstances Bearable. Do you know what Christ did the night before he was crucified? He gave thanks (Luke 22:19). An unbearable situation was made bearable because Christ set his mind on one thing and one thing only – the Father.

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

  1. It Silences the Enemy – Satan holds no power over a heart full of thanksgiving. As a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving focuses our attention where it should be, on the provisions of the Father. While self-pity puts us right where Satan wants us – defeated, disappointed, doubtful, and despairing.

“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2; NIV). And if a child can silence them, just think what the conscience choice of thanksgiving on the heels of heartbreaking circumstances might be able to do!

  1. It Glorifies God – And there is no greater accomplishment. Nor is there anything more fulfilling.

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23)

  1. It stills anxiety – Oh but the bitter bite of anxiety is fierce. Stealing any sense of control we may feel. BUT to be thankful in the wake of uncertainty is to embrace a heart of peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

  1. It Shields Against Other Sin. Psalm 86:12 When I’m giving thanks with my whole heart there is little room for much else. But when I’m grumpy or bitter or moping around like a sad Eeyore (think Winnie-the-Pooh) the flood gates swing wide for a wide array of sins.

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me.” (Psalm 86:12-13a)

  1. It Helps Us Remember. When we give thanks, we tend to remember a little better who God is and what He has done. But a thankless heart is a heart that’s forgotten who God is compared to who we are, and yet he died for us anyway.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

  1. It Leads to Joy. When I stop and consider all the blessings I’ve been given in Christ, how can I not be joyful? And I don’t mean the kind the kind of joy that comes with opening a fresh box of Lucky Charms. I mean the kind of joy that permeates even the hardest of days.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1)

  1. It Gives Way to Contentment. To be thankful is to nourish contentment. And to be content is to recognize God is a faithful provider.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 33)

  1. It Teaches the Next Generation to Do the Same. Truth be told, if we don’t live it, they won’t either. But if we live a life of thanksgiving, giving praise to God for everything, so will they.

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” (Psalm 79:13)

  1. It Brings Us Together. Tragedy may bring people together, but it’s thanksgiving that keeps them together.

“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)

In addition, Proverbs 15:15 says, “The cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” But I dare say the feast begins with thanksgiving.

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Is It Religion or Is It Relationship?


During my time away (Let’s just call it an August Sabbatical…It makes me feel more important.), I not only wrote the first two chapters of a book I’ve been dreaming up for a few months now. (Who’s excited???) But I spent time studying the Kings. And I mean s-t-u-d-y-i-n-g 1 and 2 Kings. I’m not sure how I ended up there. But it was good.


Devotional Scripture: 1 Kings 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 13:1-20
Key Verse: “And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22


If you read 1 and 2 Kings through quickly chapter after chapter, it’s like wait a minute – What guy is this? What kingdom is he with? (There were two – Israel and Judah.) Did he love God? (Chances are probably not.) It all just runs together into a big messy blob of long ago people.

There are well, a lot of kings. Twenty kings for the southern kingdom (Judah), and nineteen kings for the northern kingdom (Israel), in case you were curious. If you do the math, that’s thirty-nine kings to keep track of (not including Saul, David, and Solomon) and twenty years can go by in a matter of about three verses.

(It’s hard enough keeping track of four kids, let alone thirty-nine kings.)

But I had to try. So I went slow. I made notes. I compared 2 Chronicles verse by verse with 1 and 2 Kings. I fit in what prophet went where. I inserted some of the Psalms where theologians think they go. And I loved every minute of it. (I do kind of sort of love history though, as long as there’s no multiple-choice test involved, so I’d say that played in my favor.)

And when I came to Abijah or Abijam (depending on your translation), God was like, “No, you’re stopping here for today.” (He didn’t really say that. It was just one of those mornings a thought hit me so strongly, I couldn’t go on. Holy Spirit speaking? I think so.)

Abijah was the second king of Judah’s lengthy list. He only reigned three years. Probably taking the oath of office about 913 BC. 1 Kings 15:3 has this to say about him, “And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.”

Hmmm, not exactly what you hope the Bible will say about you. So what were the sins of his father? Well, mainly idolatry. He led the people into the worship of false gods. Setting up high places and pillars and “Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree” (1 Kings 15:23). Asherim were probably wooden in nature. I’m picturing something tall and skinny carved in the form of a woman because it represented the goddess Asherah, wife of the chief god El and mother to the other gods.

Verse 24 says Abijah also allowed male cult prostitutes in the land. Lovely eh? This guy cared little for the LORD and his commands and ways and glory.

But if you jump over to 2 Chronicles 13 you realize Abijah had a whole different view of himself. While trying to entice the northern tribes to follow him instead of Jeroboam (the northern king), Abijah had this to say, “But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for the service. They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps my burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him” (2 Chron. 13:10-11).

Oh really Abijah. What about the high places? What about the Asherim? What about the male cult prostitutes? But because they kept the daily, weekly, and festival sacrifices, offered incense, set out the weekly bread, and took care of the lampstand (all things we’re going to study in Exodus), Abijah thought they were good.

Interesting. Look at the way he points the finger at Israel – “We keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him.” Not so Abijah. The charge of the LORD is to love him with all our heart and soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). Not possible when there is idolatry going on.

But it made me wonder, how many, especially in America today, are floatin’ in Abijah’s boat?

Oh I’m good, I go to church Christmas and Easter.

Oh I’m good, I went forward when I was a kid.

Oh I’m good, I say my prayers every night before bed. I give to a local charity. I do my best to love others.

All good things. But what about the heart? Look what the LORD had to say about their actions – “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

(Clear enough.)

So concerned is God about the heart he goes so far as to say to Israel, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26a). A new heart! Not because they deserved it but for the sake of God’s holy name, which Israel profaned among the nations by making God into a religion.

But God desires relationship. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

In other words, it’s not about the stuff my friends, it’s about the stuffing. What’s in you? Apostasy? Idolatry? Or a wholeness of heart devoted to God.

Ritual without faith based obedience is unacceptable to God. Sacrifice without faith based obedience is unacceptable to God. Worship without faith based obedience is unacceptable to God.

King Abijah thought he was good but God saw his heart and it “was not wholly true to the LORD his God” (1 Kings 15:3). Which begs the question, what would the Bible say about us? Or for that matter, about a nation who professes to know His name, but their hearts remain far from Him. (Sounds so vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?)

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23a


My Father in Heaven, please forgive us. Help us to see it’s not about religion, but relationship. It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s a YES to Jesus because while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In Jesus name, because he made a way, Amen.

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The Real Reason We’re Divided

My heart this week…

If only the world could understand it.

There’s only ever been two nations founded on godly, Biblical, principles. Israel and us (the United States). Both declaring themselves to be one nation under God.

Yet not long after Israel became a nation, it found itself divided into two kingdoms. Two sides. Two halves. Brother vs. brother fighting against each other.

Just as the United States, seems to find itself today. Still young (relatively speaking), brother vs. brother, divided over just about everything. (We could list it all but seriously who’s got time for that?)

But why? Why has our country divided? I think the answer lies with Israel.

It wasn’t because of politics Israel divided. It had nothing to do with the right verses the left. Nor was it because of health care costs. Israel found themselves divided for one reason and one reason only.

They forsook the LORD their God (1 Kings 11:31-34).

Worshiping false gods instead of the LORD. Refusing to walk in His ways. Replacing the commandments with whatever felt right in their own eyes.

Sound familiar? It sounds like today.

God says serve me, but we serve ourselves.

God says love me, but we love money and sex and Hollywood.

God says pray, but we say no.

God says “Be holy,” but we live in unrighteousness.

God says teach your children about me, but we’re too busy.

God says don’t take my name in vain, but we use it relentlessly.

And… (just to name one more)

God says flee sexual immorality but we’ve embraced it.

Which is what also led to Solomon’s downfall. The third and final king before Israel split.

“And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD…Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.” 1 Kings 11:9-11

But because of God’s promise to David, Solomon’s son (Rehoboam) got to keep one tribe.

Division. Not because of politics or policy but promiscuity.

Is it any wonder then, our nation is split two seams right down the middle and crumbling underneath? We’ve laid the welcome mat for sexual immorality on so many levels. And then excused it under the pretense of a television show or just one chapter in a book or the way I feel or the way I’m made.

We’ve turned a blind eye to idolatry; calling it necessity. We’ve taken truth and trampled it; calling it tolerance. We’ve sidled up next to murder; calling it women’s rights.

Well, it’s time we stop making excuses. It’s time we fess up. It’s time we wake up.

Israel divided because they did not wholeheartedly serve the LORD (1 Kings 11:6). And America? Well, it’s plain to see we’re no longer one nation under God.

And so we fight.

My friend, it’s not compromise we need. It’s not better policies. It’s not better protections for blacks or for whites. It’s Jesus we most need. It’s a common coming under of God’s word that will mend us back together. (Then the rest will take care of itself.)

Peace is not by way of men, it’s by way of Jesus. It’s by living for and with and under God’s divine and living and breathing Word.

“You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.” Psalm 119:137-139

Yet…

“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” Psalm 119:140

Wholehearted obedience. That’s where it ended and that’s where it will yet begin again.

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The Part of Motherhood I Least Expected

I know you were expecting to dig deeper into Exodus today. I was too, until yesterday when I realized the little talk I shared with my church on Sunday about motherhood, might be beneficial for you too. (With a few extras because well, I thought of a few more things.)

So let’s just start with how motherhood isn’t quite what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be a mom. I love those little peanuts. But the need to dig deeper for godliness in the midst motherhood – the part I least expected.

After all, my mom made it look easy. Patiently redoing my ponytails over and over, because I was just sure it was crooked! Keeping her cool when I stomped to my room angry because life just wasn’t FAIR! Taking me shopping when I insisted I had absolutely NOTHING to wear.

So easy in fact, when Kreg and I had our first son, I confidently told her we’d be fine our first night home. “We’ve got this, he’s such a great baby. We’re good. Go home.” But she knew and wasn’t surprised when I called sobbing at 2 AM because for some crazy reason my perfect baby wouldn’t go to sleep!

Little did I realize, how much motherhood would challenge me. How much it’d change me. How it’d blaringly point out all the ways I was selfish. How it’d be the hardest thing I’d ever done. The long days, the even longer nights. The exhaustion, the perseverance, the necessity of patience – none of which I registered for at Babies R’ Us.

Then came baby number two. Our precious little girl. I was elated, but how in the world, I ask you, do you grocery shop with two? How do you even get out the door? By the time you get ready to go, it’s time to come. Let alone, how are you supposed to take a shower? (With a vibrating baby seat and a Curious George episode – that’s how.)

Then, another boy – our Ethan. And not long after that – our Tyler. Four beautiful babies – my heart so full it could burst. Yet at the same time – so did my days explode with the needs and wants of four little people. The word mommy screamed, cried, yelled, spoken, whispered, whined, and repeated. And me running in four different directions for four different reasons at any given moment, racked with guilt for dreaming of a hotel someplace far away – maybe just for a night or two or seven.

Why was I not any good at this? (Ever felt that way mom’s?) Why did it seem as though motherhood brought out the worst in me, and the best in everyone else? (Because doesn’t it seem that way sometimes?)

Yet again at my breaking point I made another phone call. “MOM – How do I do this? I can’t do this.”

Her calm and familiar voice: “You’re right honey, you can’t.” (Not quite what I was expecting.) “But Jesus can.”

“But you did it mom, why is it so hard for me?”

“No that’s not true. I didn’t do it. I just clung to Jesus and let him do the rest.”

Words never truer, I’m grateful for her honesty and wisdom.

It’s funny, or perhaps ironic, or maybe more like astoundingly perfect, that the very things I was lacking, desiring, and in desperate need of were the very fruits God promised if I’d simply abide in him – joy, patience, kindness, perseverance, gentleness, love, peace. God knew I couldn’t do this life, this job, without Him, and He never expected me to.

It wasn’t more sleep I needed or time away or better behaved children or a housekeeper (though I wouldn’t mind that one), but the presence of He who tells the waves to come this far and NO further. The strength of He who holds this world tightly together. And the love of He who died for it.

It’s tempting to think the things that come most naturally to us, are the very things we shouldn’t need help with. Thinking our abilities should sustain us, and our instincts carry us – it’s there at the edge of independence we often fall short and then wonder what happened. “Guess I’m not as good as I thought.”

But it’s not our ability that matter’s, it’s Christ’s. It’s not our instincts that carry us, it’s Jesus. His word a path to victory no matter the road, the job, the disappointment, the difficulty. Paving the way for all of us whether a mom, a wife, an employee, a leader, a student, a friend.

Verse after verse spoken to the church or through the prophets or for the people of Israel thousands of years ago still pertinent today. Encouraging me. Directing me. Uplifting me.

Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I can be a godly mom amid chaos.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I can keep my cool, when no one else is.

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, [even diapers] giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I can get up with gratitude and do it again.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you.” And I can do it without being anxious.

Phil. 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” [even your children]. “Looking not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others.” My mantra for motherhood.

And so on and so forth. I could go on forever. His word giving me the courage to write weekly devotionals and post them for the world to see. His word guiding me as I parent. His word softening my heart in some areas and making me braver in others.

So that today and tomorrow and the next my very full cup can runneth over not just with craziness but godliness. Because contrary to popular belief, I don’t have it all together. I just seek to cling to the one who does.

 

Dear Mary, Did You Know?

Dear Mary,

You don’t know me, but I know your Son. Your firstborn. Son of the Most High God and LORD of all the earth. Or maybe I should say he knows me. I think that might be better. For it’s He who searches hearts and minds (Rev. 2:23). He who made me and holds me together. He’s my rock, my refuge, my shield.

What was it like Mary, to raise him? To have the radiance of God’s glory call you mother; the author of life (Acts 3:15) and salvation (Heb. 2:10) play on your living room floor; the Son of the living God eat at your table. Indeed Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42).

Did you know Mary? Did you know you held the source of eternal salvation in your arms? (Heb. 5:9) Did you know you were rocking the Shepherd and Overseer of souls (1 Peter 2:25); tickling the toes of the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8); playing peekaboo with the Savior of the world? What went through your mind as you tucked in bed the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5) and kissed goodnight the face of God?

Were you taught as a little girl of the virgin birth to come? “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Could you even fathom you were the one Isaiah spoke of seven hundred years before; the one to bring forth the Redeemer? (Is. 47:4).

Who would have thought, the Author of Life, would put on flesh to be the Author of salvation. It leaves me undone every single time I think about it. “Taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). What a story! A story you got to be a part of.

I’m challenged by your immediate willingness to surrender your life to His service. Were you scared (Luke 1:29)? I would have been terrified. To be with child and yet not married – they could have stoned you. I would have hid.

And you did for a while – escaping to be with Elizabeth. Whose greeting must have welcomed you like the fullness of spring. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42) She knew! She already knew!

Knit by love and wonder and the greatest of men growing in your wombs, how sweet were your conversations in the still of each day’s light? Did you sit hot tea in hand, while Zachariah played his part, silently mouthing the Scripture bombarding his eager heart? Or maybe he wrote them word for word, the verses he’d hidden deep inside, while his two favorite ladies treasured each one with unhindered delight.

Then empowered by God’s grace in the arms of your dear friend, you went home to face the future, no matter how it would end.

How nervous were you to tell Joseph? I would have pleaded with God to tell him instead. Yet left with no choice, you forged ahead. Did you beg him to listen; did you beg him to stay? And then sit in confusion when the conversation didn’t go your way? Or did God step in and save you, as he’d soon do for us all, before the brokenness of rejection crept in to make you fall.

Though relief kindly met you the day of Joseph’s dream, I’m willing to bet misjudgment didn’t make you beam. Pregnant out of wedlock, how many painted you an immoral girl? Did your parents believe you? Did Joseph’s understand? Or was it a whore of a daughter-in-law they thought they got instead.

Then the decree to register, did it take you by surprise? Or fit like a piece in the bigger than you puzzle of your life? (Micah 5:2) Yet knowing time was near, you had no choice but to go south ninety miles on a donkey or perhaps a cart. Ankles swollen, baby ready, you rode the rough terrain with a man you called your husband to the town we all know by name.

How scared were you Mary when the first contraction came? When it seized you with determination, did you hide it at all the same? Counting and recounting until you couldn’t hide it anymore. What went through your mind when no one would open their door?

Wake up Bethlehem your time in history has come, yet there was no place for you to have God’s sweet and precious son. Was Joseph mad with urgency? Could you hear it in his voice? Did you plead with him to hurry? Did you plead with him to help? Until he finally found a stable or perhaps a room off to the side, to welcome the King of Glory in a manger on his first night.

Where was the fanfare? Where was the fun? For the birth anticipated since the garden had come undone.  It was reserved for a few meager shepherds tending their flocks not far. Who heard the angels call and followed a special star.

I’d say it’s not what you pictured when Gabriel first made mention of the plan. But I have a feeling it didn’t matter once you held his tiny hand. Could you sense the magnitude of the moment? Could you sense heaven standing by? As they watched Immanuel invade the world with a simple little cry.

Did you know time stopped counting down at his arrival and began counting up until his next? Could you fathom the baby you were holding was deity at it’s best? Diminished in his glory so the world would know him not. How did you later let go? For it’s my freedom that he bought.

Nestled in your arms for only a short time, you knew the birth of this child would change your life forever (Luke 1:48), but did you know it would also change mine? Thank you for your example. Your willingness to say yes, when God called you and put you to the test.

Mother of the great I AM your new normal, I have no idea how you did it so informal. One day at a time that’s how we mothers roll. In hopes of raising great kids, because that’s always the goal.

But yours was great from before time began. Perfect in every way he still holds my hand. Faithful until the end I’ve received him as my King, thank you Mary he makes my heart sing.

You may have carried him then, but it’s he who now carries me. I’d be lost without him for all eternity. Bruised for my transgressions and crushed for my iniquities, he’s my Savior, my God, but it all started with him bouncing gleefully on your knees.

It happened didn’t it? It’s all true. He came, he died, and came back, and reigns over me and you. I look forward to meeting you someday and talking as only mothers can. But until then Mary, I’m holding tight to the precious boy your raised up to be a man.

In Christ Alone,
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Truths to Dwell in on Election Day

If there’s an emotion I struggle with most, it’s anxiety. That all too familiar feeling of uneasiness that wraps itself like a noose around my heart when I linger too long on the I-have-no-control-over-this-issues or the how-is-this-going-to-work-out scenarios or the what-if possibilities or the I-can’t-help-but-worry situations.  

And once I let it take hold, it’s hard to shake. Anxiety has a strong grip. Refusing to leave me alone, even in the most mundane tasks – following me from room to room while I put away toys and pick up clothes and throw away diapers I should have tossed in the diaper champ three days ago. (Just keepin’ it real.)

Tired of giving uneasiness a free ride, I take deep breaths – pausing to see if it’s better with each exhale. It’s not.

I’ve found only one way to loosen the grip of anxiety — grip harder to the word of God. And I mean tight. With an earnest effort. The kind that might be deemed excessive.

Isaiah 26:3 declares, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Perfect peace doesn’t come with a long run or a warm bath – it comes with a mind fiercely fixed on Christ.  

A mind willing to take every thought and doubt and question and shove it deep into the heart of Scripture. Again and again and again.

This. This is my approach as tomorrow turns into today and Americans vote not just on the next President of the United States but on my future and my kids future and our rights as Christians and my future freedoms or lack thereof.

It’s enough to make my insides simmer. The power that’s at stake – the supreme court judges that will be appointed to either uphold Biblical standards or spit on them. The knowing that above all else I will choose God and be a champion of His word no matter what it might cost me.

I don’t like. I really really don’t like it.

But there’s only one way and that’s straight through it. So I’ll tackle the apprehensions climbing up my throat with God’s Word diligently pouring through my mind. Anchoring me to the one ultimately in control. And I’ll do it with these four truths and the Scriptures that back them.

1. God is sovereign.
The presidency is not determined by us, it’s decided by God.

A friend kindly reminded me the other day that God is not sitting up in heaven nervously hoping enough Christians vote. He knew long ago who would be named President in 2016.

Jeremiah 27:5 says, “It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.”

And again…
“I will appointment the leader of my choice. For who is like me, and who can challenge me? What ruler can oppose my will?” (Jeremiah 49:19b, NLT)

Whether it be for the rod or revival it’s God who allows the scepter to slide from one man’s hand to another (or woman for that matter). We may be surprised, but God never is.

“The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath: “It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided.” (Isaiah 14:24, NLT)

Yet God says to the righteous, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)  Thank you Jesus.

2. Christ is King.
No matter who sits in the Oval Office, Christ sits on the throne of Heaven.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: The LORD is our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:5-6

“And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14

“On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Rev. 19:16

3. Truth will prevail.
I can’t stand lies. Yet for months the news has been brainwashing us with them, many have been led astray to believe them, and Satan (the father of lies) has been hard at work to uphold them.

But the Word of God is truth (Jn. 17:17) and it will not pass away. It will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). It may be shoved aside for now. It may be forgotten. It may be torn apart by people who make it say whatever they want it to, but ultimately it will prevail! And be upheld! And be the standard by which Christ rules.

For He is truth (John 14:6). And speaks only truth (Isaiah 45:19). “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160)

Those who live by the TRUTH will be rewarded with eternal life, “but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom. 2:8).

In the end, truth wins.

4. Those who fear God will be blessing.
It may not look like blessing. It may be harder than we ever anticipated. But there is blessing in store for the Christ follower who fears God enough to wholeheartedly obey him. Especially in the midst of a society that doesn’t.

“Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Proverbs 28:14

“Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments….He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” (Ps. 112: 1,7)

Not afraid of bad news…

If you need me in the next few days, I’ll be right here smack dab in the middle of these truths. Will you?

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Our Problem Isn’t the Government, It’s Holiness

I admit, I’m fearful. As a mother with four young children I’m deeply concerned about the future of this nation and what it holds for my littles. More than anything I want Christianity to be the religion our country holds closest to and the foundation we still stand upon.

But it’s not anymore. Biblical values are no longer the driving force behind societal right and wrongs. We gave that seat to political correctness and women’s activism quite some time ago.

Not that I don’t think men and women are created equal. Not that I don’t think women should have rights. We do and we should. But something’s gone terribly wrong in our society. And instead of facing the music. Instead of digging in to see where we may have gone wrong, fessing up to mistakes, and seeking to make it right, we just blame the government.  

Who is absolutely at fault, don’t get me wrong. We have leaders leading us in just about every wrong direction. Upholding lifestyles of immorality as good and normal. Passing abortion laws under the pretense of women’s rights instead of advocating a beautiful thing called adoption. Making decisions they have no right to make.

And it makes me want to scream. To get in the face of these so called wise people and tell them a thing or two about what I really think of them and their plans to steal the freedom of my children and belittle life.

So I yell at the TV and pray. Asking God to do something. To intercede. To bring revival. To protect me and my comfortable life. To work in the hearts of those in authority. Or remove them or replace them or keep them from putting in place rules and regulations that might hinder my lovely little existence.

Which is not wrong. We need to be praying, especially for our leaders. But I think we’ve forgotten something. (Or at least I had.) Something not necessarily easy, but important. And undeniably vital to the heartbeat of God.

I think we’ve forgotten holiness.

The setting apart of God’s people for righteousness. 1 Peter 1:15 says we are to be holy as He is holy. We are to conduct ourselves in such a way that matches the character of He who indwells us. For we are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” saved to proclaim the excellencies of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). Yet what do our attitudes and actions and apathy most often proclaim?

We pray and then we go back to conformity. We ask, but then we go sit in front of the TV. Watching shows that take God’s name in vain and uphold sex outside of marriage and praise divorce and normalize weak men and applaud aggressive youth.  

We uphold Friends as one of the best sitcoms ever and post pictures of ourselves devouring reruns when almost every episode includes sexual immorality. We get more excited about the comeback of Gilmore Girls than we ever have about the coming of Christ.

We play video games that kill and we brag about it. We engross ourselves in murder mysteries and the nightly news, instead of engrossing ourselves in God’s word. Teaching our kids it’s ok to toe the line. To watch sin and laugh at it and be a part of it as long as it’s just on TV or with a gaming controller.

Which has me wondering, why would God ever want to move on behalf of such an apathetic people? A people who profess his name on Sunday’s but haphazardly throw him on the shelf Monday through Saturday. Who sit and laugh at the stuff he hates. Who live in a constant state of inconsistency. Who say they are Christians but could care less to uphold what Christ actually says.

We seek His intervention, but we don’t seek His Word. We covet His action, but we don’t covet His attributes.

Yet it’s holiness that moves God to act on behalf of his people and always has been. When the Israelites obeyed the LORD, God protected and prospered them. But when they profaned his name and acted in wickedness, God rejected them.

Not that he wanted to, but in holiness he had to for they refused to obey. “My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey” (Jeremiah 32:33, NLT).

God desires obedience. The cross didn’t change that. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).

Beloved, it’s holiness that moves God. When his people choose to do that which is honoring to him, he can’t help but respond. It’s our sin that keeps him quiet. Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Listen! The LORD’S arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God” (NLT).

Our sins.

Yet the LORD encouraged Israel with this, “I have swept away your sins like a cloud, I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free” (Is. 44:22, NLT).

Return to Him! Not just in word but in deed. In holiness. In righteousness. The government has nothing on God. His presence alone “brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness” (Is. 40:23).

But why would God act on behalf of a people who live as though they care nothing for him? Profaning not only his name, but his holiness.

Yes, we can pray. Yes, we can ask God to heal our land but without a return to holiness, without a whole hearted seeking of God and a good riddance to the sin we’ve let infiltrate our daily lives for far too long , I sincerely wonder at the outcome.

“This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:26 NLT  

I can only imagine what God might do if we – his people – asked for the old, godly way, and walked in it. It starts with us friends. It starts with us.

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Truths to Remember When the Unthinkable Happens

I don’t know what’s happened in your life the past week but I know God is still the same God he was a week ago, a year ago, ten years ago, two thousand years ago, and beyond. He is still “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6). And He always will be.

Even when the hard things happen. The things that leave us with more questions than we have answers. More doubt than we have certainty. More fear than we have faith.

This world is not what He hoped to give us, though he knew it would happen. He knew sin would leave its scar on us all. He knew death would overshadow us. He knew life would not be easy. But he also knew his love could overcome it all. “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jesus has overcome my friend! And I don’t know about you, but I sometimes need that reminder. Along with a few others:

  1. God is forever faithful. It’s who He is. “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations” (Deut. 7:9). It’s who He’s always been. And who He will always be. His faithfulness endures to all generations. (Psalm 119:90) “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness” (Psalm 33:4).
  1. God’s mercy is new every morning. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). Even when the morning brings heartbreaking news. Even when the day doesn’t end as it should, He is still merciful.
  1. He is close to the brokenhearted. “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). This is one of my all time favorite verses. I have it highlighted, underlined, and circled in every Bible I own. He cares my friend. He is near the brokenhearted. Waiting to comfort. Waiting to instill hope and peace. If we would simply turn to Him.  
  1. God is good (Ps. 25:8). And does good (Ps. 119:68). Even when I don’t see it. Even when I don’t understand or can’t explain it. He is still good. “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).  
  1. God is sovereign. He’s in complete and total control. “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). Though it may not seem like it. Though it may feel as though God has turned his back. He has not. He works all things according to his purpose. Which is for “all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4.)
  1. He has gone to prepare a place for us. (John 14:3). This life is not the end. It’s only a beginning for those who confess Jesus as LORD and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). These “momentary afflictions” will be far outweighed by an eternal glory we now cannot even begin to comprehend! (2 Cor. 4:17) There is so much waiting for us. Heaven is not a figment of our imaginations, it’s simply more than we could ever imagine. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
  1. Jesus is coming back. He really is. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).

These are truths we can stand on every single day my friend. Truths that are constant and unchanging. Truths we can share no matter one’s nationality or personality or upbringing or lack thereof. Truths the entire world needs to hear. Truths we can live by and wrap ourselves in when uncertainty is the path before us. Truths we can sometimes forget. But not today. Today we remember, even in the hard things. Even in the unthinkable things. 

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

How Motherhood Has Changed Me

Next week we’ll tackle Genesis 36 but if it’s ok with you, this week – my thoughts on motherhood. Because it has changed me in ways I never saw coming. And it’s just the funniest thing to step back and take a look. So I hope you enjoy. I hope you laugh. I hope you read this and think: Yay I’m not the only one who has a phobia of highchairs!

Quite honestly I don’t think I could do this journey without humor (or Jesus). Who has held me together from the moment we brought our first bundle of joy home and I suddenly turned into a Schizophrenic vacillating every five minutes between  “I just can’t believe how much I love this little peanut” and “Oh good grief what have we done. My life is so over.”

There may have also been a few dinners I wept at the table while repeatedly assuring my husband I was infact truly happy. #seeyouaretotallynormal #becauseididittoo #andweallknowiamnormal Anyway, one particular development I totally did not see coming is my undeniable germaphobia. I’m not exactly sure when it happened. But I’m pretty sure it had something to do with ordering deli meat and turning around to find my baby sucking on the side of the cart.

Scared he might grow an eleventh toe or contract some rare disease that would further my sleep deprivation, I called my mother, and formed a battle plan that included clorox wipes (in her bag and mine and one for the car), a clip-on hand sanitizer, a cart cover – that could double as a highchair cover, and a package of those plastic disposable table toppers that are just plain awesome.

I’m not gonna lie though. I about had a nervous breakdown the first time we forgot the cover and my one year old had to sit in a naked highchair a previous child had probably just wiped his snot all over. (Which meant sleepless nights were obviously in my future.) But I am happy to report I’ve relaxed some with kid number four. I no longer twitch when said child eats popcorn off the floor at elementary basketball games. (I honestly don’t know how fourth children survive.) But Aldi is still a stretch for me. I fight the urge to beg and plead to keep my cloroxed cart every time they make me switch at checkout. (I know I have a problem.)

But as it turns out my phobia has real merit. Kids get sick, A LOT, with illnesses I did not know existed. Like the hand, foot and mouth virus. (Um excuse me, what did you say doctor? I promise we haven’t been to Europe.) But the one that gets me everytime. The one that makes me want to lock my children in the closet until spring is absolutely the stomach flu. If you or anyone in your family (or your third cousin whom you saw a week ago) has had it anytime in the last month, then please don’t be offended if I keep my distance. (Just kidding. Maybe.)

But for real my kids will probably grow up to be like Monk.On the bright side they may get their own TV show. On the downside they may accidentally pee their pants because they are so scared to use a public restroom.

But the crazy thing is – when duty calls – I will catch snot rockets in my hands, hold feverish little  ones close to my chest, eat pretzels after my 2 year old ralphs for the 6th time on a drive home from North Carolina, and stand outside in my nightgown because of a crazy thing called croup. Because I have this insanely strong love for these people God has given me. A love some days I don’t even understand.

Apparently since adding the “mother” title to my repertoire I not only have a strong desire to love but a temper to boot. I did not know it was possible to swing from “Just look at my precious little love bugs, what a gift from God” to “If you want to live to see another day you had better get out of my sight” in 4.5 seconds but it is. It really is.

I actually use to consider myself quite level headed, even tempered, calm feathered, however you want to say it. But I’m not so sure anymore. Not too long ago I admit to you, for the purpose of encouraging another sweet soul who has also found herself on the edge of insanity, that I did in fact yell at my children with all the ferocious intensity of a seething hyena “IS THAT HOW JESUS WANTS YOU TO ACT?” Well now. If there was ever a moment the kettle called the pot black – it was that one.

I also use to be quite reserved. Prior to motherhood there were just some things I preferred not to talk about. As in womanly things or bathroom things or things you just don’t discuss when you grow up with a house full of boys. But now – well – something about breastfeeding and breast pumps and postpartum and explosive baby diarrhea or a constipated toddler that just makes you throw caution to the wind. I can now talk about poop like it’s a paint color. Or any other manner of bodily reactions or fluids without even blushing. Apparently this is a perk to motherhood.

I have also said things I never thought I would say. Like the “p” word otherwise known as “potty.” I once promised my mother that word would never be spoken in my house (don’t ask me why). I now say it 35 times a day at octaves I did not know achievable. Along with things such as “Stop hitting your brother with that hammer.” “If you put your finger in your nose one more time I’m cutting it off.” “No you can’t just eat banana peppers for dinner.” And my personal favorite “Is that poop on your hands?”

I just never in a million years thought I would ever string the English language in such a way. Nor did I anticipate the prayers I would utter. Please LORD, if you would just put this baby to sleep, I will offer whatever organs I can and still live. Please LORD, if you keep them healthy and allow me to go on my getaway weekend, I will memorize the entire New Testament.

Albeit motherhood is surprising. So very surprising. Like in how much my heart hurts when they hurt. How overcome with pride I feel when they succeed. How quickly worry can take me to imaginary places I don’t ever want to go in real life. Or how often I have to fight the urge to pee because I am laughing my head off.

But most of all I have gained a new understanding of what it means to unconditionally love. I don’t care how many messes I have to clean up I cannot, will not, ever stop loving them. It’s opened my eyes to God’s unconditional love toward me. Something I know I can only slightly grasp even now – because who in their right mind would sacrifice one of their own children? God, that’s who. For me. For you. And for all our little peanuts. “For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Dear LORD, Thank you. From the bottom of my heart thank you for the privilege of being a mother. And for teaching me just a little more about the depth of your love. I am filled to the brim with gratitude. Thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for the little love bugs running around my home in their underwear. Overflow my cup that I may overflow theirs. And help me not beat my head against the wall. At least not too many times. In Jesus name, Amen.

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P.S. My third grader just brought this home to me. image
truth.