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Prepare the Way for the Lord


With Easter quickly approaching a scripture has been on my mind for a few weeks now.

It is Isaiah 40:3 - 5 (NIV)

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare

the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

These are the words of Isaiah prophesying the coming Messiah. You can find the prophesy in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) by John the Baptist as he is declaring “prepare the way for the Lord”.

I have been studying and meditating on this scripture for weeks. I’ve been praying that God would reveal how this applies to us today, especially when it comes to worship.

What I feel that God has been showing me is this.....

Worshiping God in Spirit and in truth is all about the condition of our hearts. Many times we allow the things of the heart or circumstances of life, or our own sin to ‘get in the way’ of us being able to give ourselves fully to God as a true act of worship. This scripture to me is now a gut check and a tool of preparation of my heart to be able to give my all to God.

In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord - It seems to be easiest for us to give our hearts to God when things in life are going well. What about when things aren’t going our way? What about in the wilderness when we are wandering with no direction? What able when we have had a loss or disappointment? Are we thinking about preparing the way of the Lord to do work in our hearts and lives? Are we just thinking about ourselves and how quickly we can get away from the pain? This is all about surrender during the hard times and allowing God to do the work He desires in our hearts so we can be more like Jesus. If we pull ourselves out of the process He is doing too early, those wilderness places will keep coming back around until we do.

Make straight in the desert a highway for our God - Proverbs 11:5a states, “The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight.” We can take many turns in life and get caught up in our sin patterns, which will take us off the straight path. The question we should ask is what is on the throne of our hearts? Is it God? Or are we holding on tightly to our sin? 

Every valley shall be raised up - What are the valleys in life that we find ourselves walking through? In Psalm 23 is says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” How do we allow the valleys in our lives to be raised up? Do we have fears that keep us from walking out the plans God has for us? Do we feel unqualified? Are we allowing our insecurities to paralyze us? Are we making excuses for why we don’t want to step into the plans God has for us?

Every mountain and hill made low - Jesus says in Matthew 22:3 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them”. What are the mountains and hills in our lives? What tests our faith? Which things in our lives cause us to doubt? Do we believe God is big enough?

The rough ground shall becoming level and the rugged places a plain - All of us have rough and rugged parts. Whether it is pride, entitlement, selfishness, gossiping, lying, etc. Are we willing to confess these to God and allow Him to smooth out those places? What if these things have hurt others; are we willing to ask these individuals for forgiveness? 1 John 2:9 - 11 says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them”. It is important for us to not hold things against our brother or sister. There are many scriptures that talk about holding unforgiveness in our hearts and how that can develop into bitterness. These things will keep us from allowing God to have all of our heart.

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed - At this point the glory of the Lord will be revealed in us because He will be able to shine through us. This light will reach to the people around us. Those who have yet to know God will be drawn to His light in us.

I hope this speaks to you like it has been speaking to me.
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Why Spiritual Parenting Matters


When I was a little girl I distinctly remember when my teacher went around the room and asked all of us, “What do you want to be when you grown up?” Some kids said a doctor or a policeman. Some said a fireman or an artist. When they came around to me I always said, “I want to me a mommy.” From a young age I had many babysitting gigs. I loved just sitting and playing with little kids and especially holding babies. I actually still do to this day.

Fast forward to 2015. I haven’t at this point been blessed with a husband or with children of my own, and there was a time that I was growing very bitter about this. I was mad at God and I didn’t understand why, if both of these things were such a desire of my heart from the beginning, He wasn't allowing me to experience the joy of being a wife or mother. I still don’t have the answers to these questions and I might not ever until I’m face to face with Jesus, but I can say that my perspective has changed.

It would be very easy for me to stay mad a God and to feel jipped, but I decided to not let this be a chain around my neck weighing me down. There was a distinct moment when I remember the Holy Spirit working in my heart and helping me to realize that I actually am influencing the lives of many children. I might not be biologically linked to these children, but I am spiritually linked. What I’ve been given is the amazing opportunity to be a spiritual parent. Praying for the children God has put in my life and showing them the love of Jesus, whether they have Christian parents or not. This is an incredible privilege.

There are many places in the Bible where it talks about us pouring into the younger generations. My favorite verse regarding this is, “One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts” Psalm 145:4.

All of us, whether single or married, whether we have children or don’t have children, have the amazing opportunity to be a spiritual parent to the children God places in our path.
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How Does Suffering Differ for the Christian?


CS Lewis says this about pain: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – The Problem of Pain

This may be true for some people, but for most people with whom I work as a counselor, pain is a megaphone Satan uses to yell lies in our heads. Pain disorients us, and that is all Satan needs to come in and whisper lies as old as the human race, "did God really say..." ...he loves you? ...He is our fortress and our protector? ...that He would care for you as He does the sparrow and the lilly? ...that He would never leave or forsake you?

Since long before the garden, Satan has known that he does not compare to God - that although he was at one time a beautiful being, next to God he is nothing. So when we are seeing clearly, he has no hope of drawing us away from the splendor, beauty, strength, goodness and pure love of the Father.  So he, instead, has focused, since the garden, on impugning the character of God so that we might doubt His worthiness of our devotion. Our choice in the garden to believe Satan's lies and follow his paths rather than God's has ushered in all the calamity we experience now: death, disease, famine, natural disasters, relational brokenness and most devastating of all, separation from God.

So in the midst of pain, no matter how long we have been in the faith and known the goodness of God, we all must preach to ourselves constantly to remind ourselves of the truths about the character of our God.

The fall is more devastating to God than it has ever been to us. As a counselor, I sit in a great deal of pain - pain from death, divorce, incest, lost dreams, lost innocence, devastating relationships and much more. As I have had to sift through how my good God could allow such horrific tragedy, I have come to realize that the amount of suffering I witness is a tiny slice of the pie - a few people in a counselor's office, in northern Virginia in the 21st century. God has witnessed all that I have seen only for the entire world, over all time. The devastation of witnessing all that suffering and all that we do to each other has to be unbearable! We know He cries with us; we know His feels our pain with us; and we know He has righteous anger over the demeaning liberties taken by Satan as he manipulates man into his image. So I wondered, what would make my God endure this, when He doesn't have to; when He has the power to stop it all? And it becomes clear - love. The tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil was in the garden when God created man. God knew what we struggle to understand - that only those with the freedom to choose otherwise could actually love Him. There was no way to have a real love relationship with humans who could only serve Him - they would be mere puppets or robots at best. Only with the freedom to not love Him, could we love Him. So at unrelenting cost to Himself and those He created, He planted the tree of freedom. Now that I have experienced some of the devastation of life and seen more, I am as enamored with the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil as I am with the cross! But, of course, the first tree made the second tree necessary.

The cross shows us that God is more committed to redemption than we have ever been. We long for a peaceful world with no more pain, toil or death, and unconditional love covering it all. But what do we give to make it so? Jesus gave everything to make it so. The cross makes that world a possibility for any who would ask for it in Jesus’ name – we will one day experience a healed world and we presently have access to the unconditional love we most desire. In the power of Christ, who lives within us, we have His redemption in our hearts and coursing through our veins as well. But much like our Christ, we must lay down our own lives to bring it about. Our hands are meant to be like Christ’s: healing, mending, growing and loving everything we touch. But that is only a shadow of the real work that only He is able to do in our hearts. We offer the world Christ, as the true Healer of our hearts. We pray for earthly healing. The healing He offers us in following Him is more complete than what we even know to ask for.

So as Christians, in the midst of our own suffering, we must work to fix our eyes on the One True Healer, remembering who He really is, what He has done for us, undeserved and knowing He is the One whom we represent. We recognize that our call is to follow Him, wherever He leads. He is the only one who “endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Hebrews 12:2). He is not a leader asking us to do more than He is willing to do, but a leader who has already done more that we will ever be asked to do and more than we would ever have the capacity to do. Is anything too much for Him to ask of us? So we turn from our selfish ways, take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Following Him means laying down our lives as He did – whatever that entails - from lowly foot washing to heroic acts of love, we follow our Lord wherever He leads.

This is actually freeing. We are not called to hold on to our own lives somehow (as we tend to want to do), but to offer them up daily to the One who owns them. We are called to believe daily, in the midst of our suffering, that our Redeemer will use it all for His eternal purposes. We merely have to say, “Yes, Lord” to whatever He brings and look to find Him working through it. It is how saints of old, such as Paul were able to learn the secret of being “content in any and every situation.” (Phillipians 4:12). This is the freedom of the Christian faith. Christ is our power over suffering, if we let Him be.  

Thanks be to God for his goodness to us!!!

John 10:10 - "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
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How I've Learned to Love My Spouse


"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

How do we love each other deeply?  We find out the best love we can share with one another through our love languages.

I figured out when I was dating my husband what his love language is, but this became truly evident after marriage.  I find that when I need to show my love for him, there is always an action.  As Fraser so eloquently put it, love is really giving your time.  For instance, I make a meal I know he'll enjoy, make coffee for him, straighten up the house, clean his clothes and put them away.  Those are the typical things that show him my love.  

None of us is perfect.  We are always failing to do these things for one another.  But I also find that a simple hug, touch or kiss everyday can also show our love for each other regardless of hassles that enter the day, in the morning before he leaves for the day and at night before bed.
So love deeply to cover and protect one another.

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

It is important that we come together as a couple, but this is strengthened when we bring God into that relationship as well.  Over the years, Jason and I have searched for the right church for us. I grew up Catholic and he grew up Baptist.  We needed to find common ground for us both.  We came to Cross Current and found a great bond there through worship and fellowship and a wonderful curriculum for our children.  We were able to share our love through Journey groups and show how God has journeyed with us.  

Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:2-3

One of my biggest issues is failing to do just these things.  I'm not quick to apologize nor am I the most patient or gentle of people.  But I have learned to give the Lord all the glory when I am patient and gentle and know that He gives me all the strength I need to be apologetic when needed.  This is important as a wife.

I have learned to make an effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.  I will go so far as to "give in" or let go of an argument but find at times that I can still hold a grudge.  Lesson learned: it is okay to be upset or mad at the situation but not to hold a grudge against that person. That will do more harm than good and can settle into your heart and harden it.

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." Mark 10:9

Communication is key with any relationship.  It is important to find the time to reconnect with one another as often as possible.  There's once a day connection, with that touch and daily talk and there's the importance to make the time for that deeper communication as well.  I find that we are successful with this if we plan a date night at least once a month, to focus on listening to each other and keep that line of communication open.  This will help to address issues and not allow for separation what has been joined in the eyes of God.
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An Unseen Battle


When I was pregnant for the first time over 11 years ago, my boss at the time told me, “you will never know fear until you have a child.” Being somewhat na├»ve and not yet the reality of motherhood settled in yet, I took it for what it was, words of wisdom from someone I trusted.  But, the impact of those words hadn't sunk in. It’s funny how something almost in passing has stayed with me after all these years. Anyone who is a parent understands those words all too well. We fight the obvious fights every day, the bullies at school, getting the kiddos to eat their veggies, bedtime (need I say more about this one), sibling arguments, enforcing chores, homework, etc. But, what about those unseen battles, the one’s that aren’t quite so obvious, the ones that have the ability to sneak by us if we aren’t careful, something much bigger, harder to fight and more dangerous than then ones I listed above, immorality.

Surprised?  Don't be. Today our children are bombarded with it everywhere you look. It's in our music, it's in those seemingly innocent Disney TV shows, it's on social media, it's in the news, it's in our schools, it's in our churches, it's in politics. There is a central theme that should concern us all and that is this notion that everything is acceptable, everything is relative. These outlets aren't even asking us permission to go to our children, in fact, they are removing us entirely and making the kids in charge. If we as parents are in disagreement with these messages, we are ridiculed and made into discriminating monsters in front of our children.  Jude 1:3 tells us "They are godless men, who will change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." This should shake every parent to the core.  It's happening on our watch and we are being coaxed and persuaded to concede and comply. We know what happens when perversion and sexual immorality can use it's mighty hand to take hold of a nation. The Lord cautions us to stay pure and holy by His words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8).

A couple weeks ago a co-worker and I were discussing this very topic at work. In sharing our views about raising children and our fears about the acceptance of immorality, she told me I was a dying breed. That really struck a chord with me and caused me real pause. Is that what we are, a dying breed? Is this how those of this world see us. Please don't let complacency and tolerance fool you. We are not a dying breed and our children need our protection. 2 Timothy 2:19 says, "Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.'"

The words spoken to me over 11 years ago have so much meaning today, more than I could have ever imagined. There is an ever-present evil that lurks in every crevice and wants the hearts and minds of our children. God gave us these blessings and it is OUR responsibility to stay vigilant and watchful in their protection so that they too will receive everlasting life. Don't lose hope or close your eyes; be a constant presence in the lives of your children.

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Allowing your kids to see that you fail (miserably)


It was a freezing  winter day. I was content to stay in bed all day until I realized I had to get the kids ready for school. I woke up before both of them which was a rare gift. I thought to myself, “Sweet, I can have a cup of coffee and maybe even crack my bible open before the kids wake up and chaos ensues.” 

Then I realized we were all out of diapers, which would mean having to wake the kids from their slumber, get ridiculous amounts of winter clothes on them, load them in the car, and make the trip to the store. In a moment of bad parenting spontaneity I decided to do something I knew my wife would never ever do.  I left them sleeping in the house by themselves and rushed over to the store to get the diapers. I made it back, and with a sigh of relief they were both still alive.

I figured no one would have to know about it, that is, until bath time that night when my son quickly ousts me to my wife, “Mom dad left us home by ourselves this morning!” 

My heart instantly started racing, but my wife gave me the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was lying.  When she asked me about it I abruptly denied it and threw him under the bus.  I know, it was not my finest hour. 

The crazy thing about lies though is although they might provide you with a moment of relief from judgement and impending consequences they eat away at you and become all consuming.  After a few days I couldn’t take it any more and fessed up to my wife, and more importantly I made things right with my son. 

I told him that I lied and that I was wrong and asked for his forgiveness. I think up until that point he assumed that I was incapable of making a mistake like that.  It was very humbling, especially because he didn’t let me forget about it for quite some time. However, it was probably the best opportunity I’ve had with him to teach him about God’s grace. 

One of my favorite verses from the Bible - Romans 5:8 - says this, “God shows us his love in this that while we were still sinners he died for us.” My desire for my kids is to know that even in the midst of our mess ups, Jesus still loves us. He didn’t wait for us to get it all together. Even while we were still sinning he died for us. 

I’m trying to do the best job I can of showing my kids what it means to be a devoted follower of Christ, and sometimes I fall on my face, but I have shown them that I can get back up and Jesus’ love for me will never change.

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This is the Dream


I had a dream when I was younger. I dreamed that I would marry a handsome prince and we would save the world together. There would be nothing that we couldn’t handle. We would be best friends and lovers for all time.

My prince and I would have amazing children. We would talk to them and share our lives, minds, and hearts with them so that they would always know they are loved. Our home would be a safe haven for friends and loved ones to gather. It would be a place of love and joy.

I would work hard to keep the house in order so that when my prince walks through the door in the evening, he would feel the stress of the world fall away. His happy and clean children would run to the door to greet him with smiles and news of the day. I would be well dressed in full makeup with a hot meal on the beautifully adorned table just waiting for him to sit down and enjoy.

We would share food and stories around the table, lingering afterword to hear Daddy read from the Bible.

Fast forward a decade or so and here I am married to a man who is not perfect. Some days we do well to get along with each other, never mind trying to save the world.

We do have amazing kids. Four amazingly crazy kids! When we try to share our lives, minds, and hearts with them, we get blank stares and lines like, “So can I have candy or what?”

I work hard to keep the house in order, but I have at least one, most of the time two, and occasionally five people destroying my work quicker than I can accomplish anything.

Most of the time, the kids greet Daddy at the door with afternoon snack and in some cases lunch and breakfast still stuck to them in some capacity, arguing about who took what ball and hit who over the head with it.

I’m usually frazzled with crazy hair at the stove going, “I should have started dinner like an hour ago. Sorry babe. Are you super hungry?” I may have showered that day, but it might have been yesterday. What day is it again?

At the dinner table, we are doing well if no one gets sent directly to bed. Conversations happen and go pretty well until someone’s foot wanders over into someone else’s space. Then either Daddy or I will yell, “Be nice!”

Then, there’s God. He had a dream that he would create a perfect world with people in it who would be his children. He would share his life, heart, and mind with them so that they would always know they are loved. Their world would be a place of love and joy.
But it wasn’t to be. The dream didn’t work out the way he planned. Or did it?

Since the beginning of time, Jesus was the plan. God sacrificed his heart by giving his son to make a way where there really is no way to have a relationship with him.

Now, I get to feel the need for him, the desperate desire to be known by him. I get to choose of my own free will to follow where he leads.  To sacrifice my imperfect heart and intertwine it so completely with another flawed human who is willing to struggle through this beautiful life with me.

I have a choice. Am I going to complain about how my dream is out of reach and dwell on how my life is not turning out the way I wanted it to, or am I going to hang on to Jesus and allow him to lead me on the most amazing wild ride ever?

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How to Create a Refuge for Your Children


As parents, we have the privilege of creating a safe haven for our children. My prayer as a mom is that my heart, my words and my actions will build a refuge for our family and all who enter our home.  Here are three ways that I believe can help do that:

One of the best (and hardest) places to begin is with the words we say to our children. Proverbs 31 lists some qualities of an excellent woman. The second half of verse 26 reads "And the law of kindness is on her tongue". Gulp. The law of kindness. Even when my children wake me several times a night. Kindness. When they make messes faster than I could possibly clean them up. Kindness. When they aren't at all kind to me. Kindness, no matter what.

It is my prayer that God's Spirit will write this law on my tongue. Because, unkind people aren't safe. We all know what it's like to walk on pins and needles around sharp tongued people. To dread the unwanted attention of a verbal bully. And to feel angry when we're the object of someone's self centered manipulation. How I don't want my children to receive this from me! I pray my heart and tongue will overflow with beautiful words that bring life and reassurance to my children! I pray that my expressions and body language will speak acceptance, even when I don't say a word. And I pray, because I can't do this on my own. My only hope is in the work of God's Spirit in me.

In our hearts, we all want to be known. We need to be deeply loved and enthusiastically celebrated. Our children are no different. They need to know we "get" them, we love them, and we think they are awesome. It's our prayer that by celebrating our children, they'll get a taste of our Heavenly Father's passion for them. And it's our hope they'll embrace the way He's designed them and grow to honor Him with their unique gifts.

I recognize that my daughter is a passionate story teller. We have spent hours reading great children's literature together, both to develop her gift and also to celebrate how God has wired her. My son has a knack for music, so Daddy is teaching him piano and drums. (No doubt he'll be taught guitar as well when his hands grow into the instrument.) We watch my son's impromptu concerts and applaud his freshly composed tunes. 

Celebration can take so many forms:  A birthday party in our child's honor. Decorating their bedroom with their tastes in mind. A "just because" present in their favorite color. Lessons to help them develop a talent or explore a new interest....There are so many ways to celebrate our children and mirror our Father's enthusiastic love for them!

We are an isolated people. Without diving into a cultural analysis, I think we can agree that life in modern day America can leave us feeling desperately lonely. But It doesn't have to be that way. Meaningful friendships are life-giving. Sometimes they are life saving!  

My husband and I have decided to be intentional in our efforts to build meaningful friendships. We know we are designed to live in community. Our children are too, and they benefit tremendously when we help build this for them. Building a loving community of friends provides a safety net, a refuge for our children. When we choose friends wisely, we increase the number of people who can speak wisdom, truth, love and life into our children's hearts.

Making friends takes effort. It can be scary. Sometimes we are disappointed in the results. On several occasions our close friends have moved away and we've had to begin again.  But isolation is not an option, and the rewards of friendship are great.

Kindness, Celebration and Friendship: Three ways we can intentionally create a safe haven and a refuge for our families.   The beauty of these is they don't depend on the size of our house.   The aren't affected when our income goes up or down.  They work whether we are parenting singly or as a united couple.   When we ask Him, God's Spirit breathes change in our hearts and our homes, and our children are blessed.

Father, please write the law of kindness on our tongue.  Help us see and celebrate the uniqueness and beauty in our children.  Let us not live in isolation, but in meaningful friendship with others who love You too!  Amen.
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A Key to Parenting Success


Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”   Ephesians 6:1-3 

I became a mom about 10 1/2 years ago. I will have to say it truly is one of the toughest jobs out there. I had three kids in 6 years. The first year, you're just trying to get by making sure the little one can survive and thrive, and it is one of the toughest times. Of course, most importantly, I turned to prayer and scripture to help be my guide as a parent. But, it was also important that I joined a group of moms through my church and another group in my community to help with the burden and talk through situations I was dealing with as a new mom with a newborn/infant.

I realized that I needed to be authentic with those woman and not worry about judgement. Granted all moms have their own opinion about how to handle diapers, breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, baby lotions, and even what butt creme was the best! ;-) You have to take everything that another mom tells you as their opinion, and they share it to help you with your difficult situation not really to tell you that there is a right and wrong way to do something. It is their experience of what worked for their child.

Having this community also allowed me to open up about the frustrations I was going through as my children got older. I realized that these women could help me to hold myself accountable for those feelings and issues of frustrations. I felt a need to be respected by my children. I felt there were times they wanted to see how much they could get away with and that made me angry and yell. That accountability made its way into other aspects of our life. Without gossiping, we would talk about our frustrations with our husbands and children not listening but realizing we're not alone and it was okay to have these frustrations and feelings. There truely was a support for one another, and as the kids got older they had some playmates that they'd have a routine with.

1 Thessalonians 5:12 says,
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

God wants us to belong and gather together to help one another. I now belong to a Moms in Prayer group that prays over the community and continues to hold me accountable for my parenting with my children. We thank God for the blessings of our children and to continue to ask him to protect them and the community including their schools, teachers (stay at home and within the school) and administrators. I also belong to a small group and currently we are reading about the important women in Jesus's lineage and their role in helping their children.

I asked my own dad when he had stopped worrying about us, and he said that you never do as a parent. We'll continue to worry about our children, but the knowledge that we place them in God's hands and that we have one another to help us out is encouraging.
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Submit to Your... Children?


We may all be familiar with those terms of marriage that say, “Husbands, submit to your wives” and “Wives submit to your husbands”. We may have explored what this looks like on a practical level. However, when I accepted my wife at the altar, no one ever told me about submitting to the children we may have one day. This was a foreign concept to me until the day I came to see how essential it was in my own home.

When it comes to building relationships in the home, we assume the position of honor and authority over our children. We lovingly guide them, protect them, carry out a variety of consequences depending on their behavior, and so on. This might seem like a one way street, where children submit to us and view us only by the parental measures we take to help them grow. However, submitting to our children in return has a peculiar place in a family dynamic. Their respect for us is, hopefully, made more complete when they see our humility and we apologize for our own failure or neglect. I might even argue that it can make mom and dad more trustworthy in the long run.

More than once, my daughter has been reassured when I have apologized to her for getting too angry. On other occasions, my discipline towards her has been counter to the discipline that my wife has already given. By the time I was made aware of, it was too late. Naturally, one or both parties are frustrated and an apology is due.

Submission does not always have to be in the form of an apology. In times of my own busyness at home, I have been faced with an ever imposing question from a toddler:

“Daddy, will you play with me?”

It’s like a sudden moment of truth comes and quality play time apparently matters. Sometimes, children can very innocently put us on the spot. She might as well have been asking,

“Daddy, can you show how much you love me.”

Certainly there are many ways to show our love, but sometimes my answer has to be “No” and I ask that she play by herself. Other times, I may be writing an important email one minute, and the next minute I’m lying on the floor sharing crayons and a coloring book. This is a proactive step in which I will not have to apologize.

It’s not that we should submit to our children’s every wish to keep them happy at all times, but expressing humility to them (and our spouse) at the right time can create an emotional safe haven. Although not always convenient, engaging in the mundane with our children can also leave a positive, lasting impression. Plus, I never knew that the smell of Play-Doh could be so nostalgic. It makes submission a little more welcoming.

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"What Can You Do For me?" Is the Wrong Question


“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”        Ephesians 6:10-12

This is the passage from the Bible I turned to last Saturday as I sought to stop the downward spiral of emotions and hurtful words and behavior that often followed.

The day started fine.  After sleeping in, I enjoyed chocolate-chip scones freshly made by my loving daughter and a Starbucks latte delivered to me by my thoughtful husband.  I felt good; the overgrown lawn was being mowed by my helpful son and the day promised to be warm and sunny!

Honestly, I don’t know what was the exact trigger; could have been simply someone asking me to do something for them that put a crimp in my expectations for the day.  Feelings of inadequacy, resentfulness, and irritableness began to take over my heart and mind.  The loving, thoughtful, and helpful acts of the morning were now overshadowed as I allowed myself to dredge up memories of past actions or inactions on THEIR part. “I have to do everything”, “No one ever thinks of me”, “I never get to do anything or go anywhere”…yep, that’s what I said accompanied by sulking and coldness.

Tangled up within the mess of negative emotions was also that still small voice of conviction.  God exposing my self-righteousness.  I expect/desire others to treat me the same way I perceive I am treating them.  However, Matthew 7:12 says, “do to others what you would have them do to you,” The verse does not promise equitable treatment in return.  “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do…” (Ephesians 6:7).   

If I am truly rendering service as to the Lord, then I can be content, even joyful knowing he sees and is pleased. However, if I am performing acts of service strictly for others, then I will, at times, experience disappointment, dissatisfaction, and anger because the outcome is based on their response.

I’m not denying that there may be real concerns to address among my family members, but I am responsible before God for my attitudes and actions.  Romans 12:18 says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” I knew I was sinning.  Words cause damage.  A cold shoulder creates distance between myself and my husband and children.  Do I really want to give the devil opportunity to influence my marriage and family? “No.”

So, …paraphrasing from Ephesians 6:13-15…having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, I put on my shoes readied with the gospel of peace… and sought reconciliation.  I repented and apologized to each member of my family.  I received forgiveness and restored relationship.  We did talk about what happened and I shared with them what God was teaching me.  Since that Saturday, ongoing conversations have resulted in my husband and my children letting me know I am cherished.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2)
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How Being a Parent Can Help You Be a Better Child


A few nights ago I was nursing our little one in bed.  While my husband was showering, five-year-old Aaron tiptoed into my room to ask for help turning on his closet light as a night-light. I told him to wait a few minutes for Daddy to finish in the shower, and I’d send him in to help when he was done. Aaron left and I was still nursing baby Ruby. Less than a minute later, I heard a crash and a shriek. Aaron came running in crying, arms covered in hot candle wax. Quickly putting the situation together, I jumped up and put the baby down, then ran into the kitchen to make sure our apartment wasn’t on fire. It wasn’t, and Aaron was fine too, despite being a little shocked and some tender red skin.

As I helped crying Aaron peel dried wax from his arms, he sniffled and said, “I’m really, really sorry, Mom.” Instead of going back to bed to wait for Francis to turn on a light, he thought it would be nice to have my burning pillar candle to light his room. He had wandered into the kitchen and reached for the candle I thought I’d placed far enough out of reach.

Although my heart ached for him, this is my favorite kind of teaching moment. I didn’t need to speak sternly or shout, punish, or tell Aaron how disappointed I was. The decision had its own natural consequence. Aaron realized his mistake as soon as that candle tipped. His remorse was genuine. I crawled into bed with him and we talked with each other about what could be learned from his poor decision. How we all make mistakes both big and small and learn from them. We had some cuddles and said good night again.

Doesn’t this happen in our relationship with Christ too?  We, as children, say to God, “I can do it!” instead of waiting for Him to turn on a light, or open a door. Sometimes realizing the mistake doesn’t come as quickly as it did for my son and his hot wax incident.  Quite often it takes weeks, months, or years to realize that what we were trying to do it on our own.

This happened for me after I became a first-time mommy. During my son’s first year (plus or minus) I became increasingly self-sufficient. I took all responsibility for Aaron’s happiness and took it as a personal failure if I couldn’t keep my son happy, or get him to sleep through the night, or when we had to supplement with formula.  I chose to put so much on my own shoulders, even with things far beyond my control. I became anxious, stressed out, demanding and short. I was deeply unhappy. I didn’t desire God. Through the encouragement of a friend, I enrolled for some counseling at the local seminary.  The counselor-in-training listened and helped me see the lies I had come to believe. I was finally able to see how miserable my life had become apart from God.  

In these moments, God doesn’t need to shout. He allows us to feel the pain of our decisions – the terrible pain of separation from our Father, and the struggle of going through life on our own. And the reconciliation is sweet. God is there like a patient parent, letting us discover our own mistake. He closes the distance with a gentle cuddle and a welcome back. There is no condemnation, for Christ has already paid the price. What great news, what great Love!

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”