"Mom?" she yells as the front door begins to crack and I answer as the golden heads return from another day of middle school.
"Oh, shoot. I know this sounds terrible, but I was hoping you wouldn't be here." Hoping for a post-it on the table that says, "At the hospital," she can't hardly wait to meet her new baby brother or sister. And yet, here I sit. And wait.
Why do we often question God and lack confidence in His provision for us?
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
Right now, I'm sick and tired of waiting. Of holding every plan loosely. Of disappointing the others in this family who can't wait to meet our newest member face to face rather than by the twitch of my abdomen. Of wondering what to fill my day with while I wait for either the contractions to sustain or one of them to break my "water."
A wise friend once told me that in her opinion, she needed a little more to be well supplied but turned right around to say, "However, it is quite possible our Lord thinks we are good for now. He's always right. Wonder why I keep arguing!"
As I laid in bed last night, my mind racing with possible to-do lists during the wait, I stubbornly agreed that God thinks I might be good for now. However, I'm confident that two-minutes later, I took it back and argued that I really wasn't well supplied and won't be until this baby is in my arms.
This is my weakness; I hate to admit it. I want to be that radiant face of unwavering trust in my Lord God, who holds steady as a rock. It's so easy to think we should be stronger and more trusting, but in truth: trust is hard.
As I listened on the phone, I wanted to point out the obvious. She was lacking trust in God's provision for her. She teared up as she explained, God is good and life is good but it's not how she expects goodness to look. I wanted to scream that God is providing for you, why are you not seeing it as His good, sufficient provision?
Somewhere in my insomnia wrestle with Jesus, my own hypocrisy became as evident as neon lights. I have the exact same weakness. When will I quit arguing with what my Lord says is enough?
For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10b
A week or so ago, when I first realized that I was irritable and unsettled, I took some extra time when I felt physically refreshed to contemplate the root of my actions. You know, "Search me and know my heart, and show me if there be any grievous way in me," from Psalm 139:23-24. About half cup of coffee later was when I first came to realize that I was sick of waiting to meet this little one. I wanted baby in my arms sooner than later. My time, not God's time.
Pinpointing the root of an unsettledness is hard work, time consuming and contemplative. Essentially, you're choosing to stare your own sin in the face, confess it and then ask for God's power to destroy it and walk away from the sin.
I chose to take the next step which is is no small fry either. It's humiliating: choosing to admit your sin to others and ask them to pray for you. I asked three trusted friends to pray that I would wait well. I admitted my weakness and asked for God's help and provision. By the time I went to bed that same night,  I realized I had a different demeanor. I felt calm, content and peaceful. Truly, God's power in me was overcoming my own weakness.
This is the truth of 2 Corinthians. We are absolutely powerless weaklings but this is to show off God as more glorious. When we admit, we got nothin', God can step in and be the hero. He has placed His power within us and and works in us to supply us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Because we've admitted our powerlessness, everyone knows it's God's power providing and working in us and He gets the fame.
Days later, I'm still teeter-tottering trusting God's timing of baby's arrival and arguing with Him about my own timing. I'm still admitting my powerlessness to wait well and begging for His power in me.
Don't lie. You're reading this, likely judging me for not being patient to wait for God's timing of our baby taking first breath. I would be if someone else was writing this. "What's the big deal? No baby has ever not eventually come out of utero. Just wait." But what if you took a cup of coffee to sit quietly with your Lord God as asked him to show you your distrust, discontentment and lack of faith in what He's already supplied for you? I challenge you to get your Caribou (or Folgers if that's your thing) and get serious with God. Then join me in admitting your weak spot and knowing that God will be the hero as He works brilliantly within you.


I was thrilled to be the guest reader in her classroom. Eyes sparkling as she walked through the room, she was clearly excited to show off her mom. I had the privilege of reading We Are All Wonders by R.J. Palacio, a picture book that compliments the chapter book, Wonder, that their class is storming through to finish before the movie is released Friday. The chapter book carries a strong anti-bullying message and the picture book a message that we're all amazing people just as we are. This is great literature for any age!
Fast forward a day as I exchange texts with a new dear friend updating each other on prayer requests and reports. As I continued to pray for this friend and her family, I praised God for her son's smile. After a rough day, she reported he smiled: one of the few ways he is able to communicate. As usual, this young man was a trooper in the midst of difficult circumstances. I thought about the books being read in this young classroom and I thought, "Her son is a wonder!" Truthfully, we really are all wonders! All the quirks that make us unique (and believe me, in a household of five, I see we've all got 'em..myself mostly) make us marvelously unique and special beings.
And then my thoughts drop 24 inches to the little one kicking and squirming in my womb, whom we cannot hardly wait to meet face to face. We are fully convinced that this child is a wonder even though we've never laid an eye on him or her.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14
Wonder is used twice in these verses. First to describe mankind. Second to describe God. The original Hebrew words are similar but not the same. Translated, "wonderfully made," into English is a verb that means to be created with a difference, to be shown marvelous, to be set apart, to be illustrious. This is how God made us; different from the rest of creation. And each man and woman is different and magnificent according to God's perfection decision and He made man and woman set apart perfectly in His image (Genesis 1:27).
We are set apart and made wonderfully because He is set apart and made us to be like him. The next "wonderful in this verse describes God's active work. This verb, "wonderful" describes God's work and He is more marvelous than we and set apart from any other god because He is creating and sustaining the world while also supporting His people. This is beyond anything man could do. Indeed for man to do it would be impossible. Yet He does it and proves Himself 100% marvelous.
Why do I more easily see the wonder of a person with extreme disabilities, daily physical obstacles or a newborn baby than the wonder of my neighbor or myself? I tend to see my own life as average, not a wonder. I see my goldenhead's lives as typical. The engineer's life and its tasks as challenging. And lately, talking with grandpa, I find myself questioning the Wonderful God's purpose for not calling grandpa home to be with grandma in heaven. Yet God set every man, woman and child, no matter how young or old, apart as a wonder and has a marvelous plan for each moment of our lives.
Will we choose to believe it? Will we stop trying to change who we are to become more significant and believe that our original design is marvelous? I don't mean to let ourselves waste away but to realize God gave us our quirks and unique characteristics for His Wonderful purpose. Start by believing this about yourself. Then ask God to let you believe it about your neighbor, co-worker, spouse or child.


And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8
Relationships are destroyed when we hide. It could be easy to read this verse in Genesis and think, Well, that's silly! You can't hide from God, He sees everything. What were Adam and Eve thinking? But how often do we brush the reality of our sin under a rug and hope God won't deal with it or allow consequence for our sin? And further, how true is this in our interpersonal relationships? Relational intimacy is destroyed when we stop being transparent in our relationships. It happened first in the garden with God and mankind because they were afraid of God (Genesis 3:10).
If a glass jar represented your life, you would have the choice whether or not to let those around you look straight into the jar or to place something around the jar and obstruct other's view into your jar. At a low point in our marriage, the engineer accused me of hiding from him, literally. I was ashamed to be seen by my husband. This was both a physical and and emotional fear and was one of many factors that led to the deterioration of our relationship. When he first pointed this out to me, I denied it. But it was the truth. I had to consciously choose transparency, letting him see inside my jar, both literally and figuratively in order to restore our relationship.
Recently, I became both ugly and confrontational to my compassionate teen who tends to be a picky and inconsistent eater. She had chosen the path of transparency to say she didn't like what I had prepared for her breakfast and instead of grace, I reacted with anger and defensiveness. She had rightly chosen transparency; I chose to not accept and judge her preferences. Later the same day, when she heard that she would be getting a fluoride treatment at the dentist, she (again transparent) chose to wear her anxiety and fear all over her face. I saw straight into her jar. The good in choosing this transparency is that I can respond in grace and pray for her courage and strength. (Though it baffles me how a girl who can't wait to gut a deer with her dad is freaked about a clear substance being smeared across her teeth.) What a gift transparency can be in preserving and restoring a relationship! If she would have stuffed her anxiety inside, I would not have had the privilege of being bonded together with her through prayer.
There is a need to consistently apply transparency to my relationship with Jesus. To be honest, to intentionally search my heart for ways I may have offended, disobeyed or been unfaithful to Him and His ways and then tried to cover the outside of my jar. How often, instead of pulling back the cover from my jar by confessing my sin, experiencing forgiveness and grace in my weakness, do I choose to try forget about it, turn a blind eye or even make excuses (justify) my wrong doing? In doing so, I reject His forgiveness of my sin and His gracious, sufficient power to combat my sinful habits. In essence, I'm just like Adam and Eve, hiding in the garden from God. A relationship spend hiding from someone is no relationship at all. I must consciously choose let God see all that's in my jar.
When was the last time you stopped to look at your life and confess areas you may have been trying to hide from God? In what personal relationship are you withholding truth and honesty? Will you choose to be transparent with God and others?


Whether I'm opening my "coffee" cupboard at home or standing in front of the menu at the local coffee shop, there are a lot of choices to make in this moment. First off, caffeine or no caffeine? Then, coffee or tea? Iced or hot? Calories or no calories? Cream or no cream? The possibilities abound.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:4-6
The choices I make every day, all day are just that: choices. I don't have to choose Jesus. This world has a lot of other alternatives: pleasure, entertainment, idleness, possessions, money, popularity, vanity, sex, creation...just to name a few.
In the past week, I've been convicted of an irritable spirit toward my family. I'm often harboring a rude sarcastic tone toward them and their choices. I believe the reason why I respond this way is because my eyes are set on me and my selfish preferences. I've created myself to be a little god and I'm choosing me as a god, not the true God. I'm choosing my portion, not God's perfect design and plan for me, not trusting His sovereignty over every area of my life, from the first morning waking to the last bedtime prayer. Verse 4 of Psalm 16 says that running after my own self as a god (or any other worldly god) multiplies my sorrows. In contrast, choosing His portion, results with the pleasant places and the beautiful inheritance from the Lord (verse 6).
Praise God that He's made this choice possible for me, to choose Jesus and His cup for me because of what Jesus did by becoming a man, living a perfect life, dying the death I deserved and giving me a new life. And even now He is living within me and providing me with power to choose His cup over and over again. His cup looks like this when I'm irritated:
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which brings everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14
I need to be reminded when I grab that "coffee" cup to fill in the morning, that my attitude, my focus, my aim for this day is whatever Jesus wants to put in my cup: cleaning up messes, paying the bills, grocery shopping, taxiing golden heads... And while He's pouring the portion in my cup, I can (because of His grace) be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, forgiving and loving.
The next time you pull up to Starbucks or start the coffee pot in the morning, stop and think about what attitudes and choices you will choose to make today.


Our fall camping adventure. And in the quiet cool morning sipping on a Starbucks Mocha Via, I reflect and I count my gifts. Many of the gifts I call out align with this idea of teamwork. Packing and later in the dark, unpacking the gear in the back of the pickup truck. Setting up our large cabin-style tent in the dark. The engineer teaching the calculating one how to start the fire. The engineer bringing the lantern while I had stashed away the new mantles in the bottom of one of those camping totes to replace the broken mantles. All these would have been epic fail for the one flying solo. And while I'm nestled in the warmth of wool blanket, the engineer, who had left with two golden heads for a day of canoeing, returns to the campsite to leave the charcoal at the campsite, rather than in the truck bed 60-miles away: a necessity for the dinner I would begin slow cooking later.
Frank Sinatra sang about love and marriage and claimed, "You can't have one without the other." Whether married or not, mankind is just better together. We're better as teams on this earth. We weren't intended to be lone rangers.
This is God's design for the "C"hurch and for family. He didn't intend for us to hack it on our own. On August 10, 2001, the engineer and I became "one flesh" per God's design and word in Genesis 2:24. We were placed together to complement one another, to help one another fulfill our God-given assignments on this earth. And from our oneness, we've been blessed with three (nearly four) children, our heritage (or gift inheritance) from the Lord, a reward from God (Psalm 127:3.) And we are to use our oneness as an entire family unit to fulfill His good purpose for our lives, namely to bring Him glory.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:5-7
Sitting, it's easy to see, to count, to thank. However, how do we daily remind ourselves of this truth? When we're asked to run a last minute errand? When they lie to us? When they (or I) am in a bad mood? When they slam the door to make a point? When they don't offer to help with the dishes or clean up the tent? It's easy in my pride, stubbornness and frustration to forget the unity and oneness for which God designed us and think, I don't need them. I'd be better on my own. They don't add value to my life. They inconvenience me.
James says to forget this blessing, this teamwork instituted by God is foolish. He says that anyone who has these truths revealed to him by God and then forgets is deceived. Like a person who looks in the mirror and then walks away and forgets what he looks like (James 1:23-24). So how do I avoid deceptive foolishness? To not get stubborn or wrapped up in my own selfishness and forget that they make me better?
One key help for me is stopping. Making myself stop to count the blessings. In a fast-paced world, this isn't normal and it isn't easy. But even while you're driving or in the shower, we can take moments to recognize something like, she turned on the hall light that shone into my room, woke me and diverted me from oversleeping. She made me better today.
As the tween walked alongside me to dispose of our garbage at the end of our camping adventure, she says, "Mom, we're fast, but next year we won't be as fast packing up camp because someone will have to take care of the baby." I agreed, we are an efficient family of five. But six is a reward from the God and will make us even better, even if number six slows us down a bit.
How are you better together with those God's placed you next to in this life? It could be a co-worker, co-laborer in ministry, neighbor, roommate or your family. When was the last time you thanked God for your teammate(s) and specifically recognized he or she made you better? If you have other ways you intentionally remember these teammates as God's gift, will you leave them below in a comment? We can all benefit from what you have experienced and practice.

Water jars

What started out as a simple landscaping project, became bigger because of my daydreams. What the engineer thought would be quick, easy, done in two-weekends became a much longer affair including moving 5-ton of river rock. I have to admit, it was daringly difficult for me to bravely share, "Well, I just had this thought of making it wider and incorporating the stepping stones and then maybe we could add a rain barrel." "You're kidding me. Do you know how much more work that will be?" Actually, I did. But that was my dream and it took me ten-years of marriage to figure out that he isn't a mind-reader, so I told him my dream. And he went to work. Yesterday, the engineer installed our first rain barrel. The purpose is to collect the runoff from the eaves, fill the 50-gallon drum and use the water for plants. It reminds me of something I've read from Charles H. Surgeon, "Unless you put water jars out when it rains, you will never collect the water."
I first read this after finding out I was pregnant again after two prior miscarriages. I was prompted by the Spirit-teacher to pray in faith: specifically asking God for a healthy, full-term pregnancy and baby. God wants us to ask expectantly, even specifically, in trust. (John 14:12-14.) Trust that He's able and trust that if He answers no, it is part of His good plan for us, part of His plan that under the microscope looks frightful, but stepping back and viewing the completed work of art is beautiful and grew us in holiness. We can ask knowing He will be loving, faithful, righteous and just:
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord. Psalm 36:5-6
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Ace Hardware had a great paint sale. With painting on our summer agenda we scrutinized through 5 pints of samples to find two colors on which we all agreed. And on the last day of the sale, found our way to Ace to purchase paint at the sale price. Now, nearly 3-weeks later, the paint sits on the floor unopened still on the laundry room floor. Were we just kidding ourselves or will we really put paint roller to wall? How often are we like that with prayer? In America we often pray, "God bless, God bless, God bless... I want paint, give paint, more paint..." How about asking God to put the paint on the wall? God, specifically, will you ....
God will always work in our lives, on our behalf to bring Himself glory.
The Lord is my shepherd ... He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake. Psalm 23:3
And He longs for an intimate, all out in the open relationship with us. If I would have never been bold enough to ask the engineer for a larger landscape project with incorporated stepping stones and rain barrel, he'd never have worked according to my wishes. Even though God can read your mind, He wants you to ask, to be transparent and trusting Him in big and small details.
What are you wrestling with today? Have you specifically asked God for an outcome? Nothing is too difficult for Him to accomplish. And any answer He gives is according to the good plan He has for you.


One of the perks of the mundane tasks of being mom (you know: laundry, vacuuming, scrubbing kitchens and bathrooms...) is the time it allows you to pray. During this precious doubly productive time, I often find myself becoming empathic toward my dear ones' circumstance or the possible gamut of emotions they might be wrestling. Typically, I relate to others best when I take time to ponder my own similar experiences. Praying this week, I realized a common theme of my prayers for others and myself: the unknown is scrupulous and we despise it!
Why is the unknown so hard for us to grapple? So hard for us to trust? Why do we desire to know every outcome? To have all the answers? Because sitting in the middle of the unknown is uncomfortable and we have no control.
Why are there holes in the pool liner? Why these muscle aches for my son? What is causing these hives? Why the random abdominal pain? Why depression? Why bleeding? Why are the birds eating the peas? Why these struggles and trials? Why can't I fix it? And why won't God fix it, now?
When a child is young, she takes everything as it comes and has no worries for the morrow. Every day is an adventure waiting to be had.
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:34
What an example a child's faith and trust is to we older, more mature. We can't see God rule and reign in our hearts on this earth nor on the the throne in the world to come unless we accept each day with its unknowns and expectantly trust that God will work out our great conundrums. This is humility; admititing that we are powerless and He is powerful and mighty! He is in control and we are governed by Him only.
This is childlike humility: to accept with authentic peace that I don't know why, I can't stop it, and I can't control the outcome of my circumstance. He alone is God. Along with everything else, He has even this detail tucked into His good plan for me. Even if there are tears on my part, (and don't children experience plenty of tears?) He never leads me into something He can't and does not control. And He is always with me.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You (God) are with me. Psalm 23:4a
Whatever your trial is right now, will you choose to trust Him even though you do not know the outcome of your situation? I find that trusting God during my circumstance is a layering process and it often needs repeating throughout my day, sometimes minute by minute. But the peace that follows is real and deep (Isaiah 26:3).Will you trust that God has all the details under control, always has and always will? And trust that while He works out the details, you are never alone? He is with you.


An organized woman would have written this before the Hallmark holiday we call Mother's Day. I want to dismiss it from my mind and think maybe next year, but the thoughts won't go away. I must commit them to "paper."
On Mother's Day weekend, our family traversed across the city (along with the rest of the metro population), through the beginnings of lake country and into the pine forests for our first camping experience of the year. As we picked up the golden heads from school, this small voice began percolating in my head, You're the lucky one. I woke the next morning on a flat air mattress next to the engineer and two of the three golden heads snuggled beside. As my family exited to start the fire and make warm drinks, I lingered under the covers listening: to two little sisters exploring in the woods, to big sister tending the fire, to giggles, to sips of hot chocolate... I am blown away.
I am the lucky one this Mother's Day weekend. Though I know the grief of two babies miscarried in the past year, I have three healthy, god-fearing daughters trying to walk with Jesus. I have hugs to receive, "I love you"s to hear, homemade gifts to open and extra dishes and clothes to wash. My unheld babies are held tightly in heaven until I meet them face to face and embrace them in my own arms and meanwhile on this earth, my cup truly runs over.
I am extremely grateful yet, it hardly seems fair as I think about those who've lost only children. Those who've dreamed of children for years and yet still wait and wonder. My heart has been pricked for these dear, tender hearts this past week.
So what should be my response? As I woke that Saturday morning to the sounds of my family, God reminded me of Colossians 1:16-17,
For by (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together...
My position is nothing about me. It is all about Jesus. It is all because of Jesus!
Only in Jesus could my marriage be healed from years of neglect and strengthened with endearment and genuine admiration because only Jesus reconciles all things (Colossians 1:22). In a culture where teens struggle with depression, identity, insecurity and anxiety, only Jesus has the power to hold these three golden heads near to Him (and their parents.) So I admit my uselessness, and look only to Jesus. There seems to be no other security than to "continue in the faith (of Jesus), stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel (Jesus)..." Colossians 1:23. Jesus is my only hope in this life today and forever.
I want to trust that if Jesus is strong enough and big enough to hold together my family of five, He is definitely powerful enough to sustain and hold together the hearts and lives of those dear women who's arms do not yet embrace a little one. I pray for you tender ones that you would continue in the faith, held together by Jesus and experience the hope only possible through Jesus.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
I've been putting my heart, soul and mind into believing God's promise. That He's said it and it's done, as I wait for the details to unfold. This is a moment by moment, minute by minute battle of choice.
At this minute, I believe but Jesus, help me with my unbelief (Mark 9:23-25). Not long ago, a cherished friend shared with me the Message paraphrase of Romans 4. It really bears merit for all to stop and read it! This is when I realized, that I can't do the work of the next step in my life. It truly needs to be God's doing, His work, a God-story. Not a SeekingTheMaker-story.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the humble donkey and its colt, the crowds were caught up in a moment of belief that God had sent this man, their Messiah, to save them from the oppression and tyranny of the Romans. They sang, "Hosanna!" Which in Greek literally means, "Save, we pray." They thought they knew God's plan of sending a big hot shot to overthrow the Romans. God had an even bigger plan in mind. Israel thought they needed saving in their external circumstance. God knew they needed spiritual provision and saving, through the perfect, once for all sacrifice for their sins in Jesus' perfect body slain.
I'm just like that. How many times do I shout, "God, save me, give me Your power and guide me out of my external circumstance (a broken down car, an unpleasant moment with the golden heads, disconnect with the engineer, conflict, a decision...)!" But all I really need has already been provided for me: I am in right standing with God through what I believe Jesus did for me on the cross. His sacrifice saved me from eternal torture and death and the grasp of daily sins and sin habits. These are the things from which I really need saving.
But that's not to say God isn't doing something in the midst of my external circumstances. He allows me to experience these so I can practice reaching up to Him and admit that only He can work to make this His story, not mine.
When God promised Abraham he'd have as many descendants as the stars in the sky, it was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God's decision to put everything together for Abraham. The fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way and then simply embracing Him and what He does.
When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God. Romans 4:18-25, Message
Have you believed in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus' life in place of yours? If so, in what area do you need to quit striving, quit working long and hard and let God do the work to fulfill His promise in your life: good plans, prosperous plans that build a hopeful future. 

Don't keep

In my teens, I babysat for a mom who had a poem that hung on the wall collecting dust. To this day, the last lines stick in my head:
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
Visiting a friend and meeting her new baby, I dusted off the cobwebs of this poem from my memory. I thought I understood this idea by the time I had my last golden head at 29, but at 37, I realize that I really didn't. "Babies don't keep," so rock longer, gaze longer, these moments are so short so don't fret the other details of life.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3
Then I realized the truth: any day in the life of a child-parent relationship is fleeting. I need to cherish them all. Oh that I would be reminded of the gifts my good God gives me: conversations about emotions, chatty-katy tweens, dance classes with the compassionate one, ice-cream bowls before bed... These moments won't last much longer.
Who am I Lord God that you have given me such gifts and promises of a hope and a future? For my sake and according to Your own goodness and grace, You have done all these great things. There is no god like You, O Lord. You have adopted me as Your own child and made Your name great by working in my life and family. I Chronicles 17:16, 19-21, my paraphrase
If you have biological or spiritual children in your life, when was the last time you stopped to praise God for little moments with them? These may seem inconsequential at the time, but they are a reward from God. As they unfold today, choose to thank God for these memories, even the moments of correction.


After all the strides we had taken forward in the game of real life, it felt like we'd been sent back to start. I felt like an animal left licking its wounds. Like the loser. Hopeless... I had forgotten how horrible it feels to be at war within our home as the battle rages outside our doorstep.
There's an American Girl movie the goldenheads enjoy that has a theme, "Love has to win." At this moment of defeat, I don't know how love can win.
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong as we warred within our home. The week was a constant prayer to God, "Okay God, help me with this. And now this. And now that."
Because of the prayers of those closest to me, I knew the first step God had bidden me: forgive. In the depths of my heart, I had to choose to forgive the engineer for the wrong I felt done to me. Over and over again, I would choose to verbalize my forgiveness and trust that God would change my heart to follow my verbal decision.
...forgive your brother from your heart. Matthew 18:35
Within 24-hours of choosing to forgive within my heart, I voiced forgiveness to his ears. As that sank in and God worked in me to act in a gentle, loving manner, he softened and said, "I'm sorry." What happened next in my heart was a shocker. Instantly, my heart turned ice hard and I didn't want to say you're forgiven again. Revenge (Satan's tactic) was rearing its ugly face. The next minute felt like an hour as I held his hand yet battled in my mind for the words and truth of heart to say, "I forgive you." But I did and the truce was made. We're on the same team again.
Twenty-four hours later, we sit in the same place where the truce was made and I feel victorious, like God graciously moved us forward to the same square well into the game of Life. Somehow, I feel like this game of real life could throw us any card or set-back, but because we're a team again, we'll face it stronger together. There is a spiritual war outside your front door, but there can be peace and unity within your home.
Do you feel like your spouse is your enemy? Do you feel like you're on the same team? Choose to see the lies you're believing if you feel that your spouse is your enemy. Satan is exhilarated when you believe your spouse is the enemy. If needed, practice this exercise from Family Life's "Weekend to Remember": Turn to your mate and say out loud, "You are NOT my enemy." Then add, "You are my teammate." Sometimes you have to start with the words and then beg God to change your heart to follow.


I love the living and active Word of God. I love that I can read the exact same passage maybe 20 times and the next time see something new.
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. Joshua 1:3
God couldn't give the land to the Israelites until they walked into it. If we don't step, we don't obtain. Like the Israelites, we need to take the first step toward God's promise.
I have this debilitating fear within as I think about taking new territory. I have this dream, this great big dream, bigger than anything ever before. But if I don't step out, how can God give?
Faith means believing that He's done it and it's already done while you wait for the details to sort themselves out. Though we may feel uncomfortable before that step of faith, after we begin, we may look back and wonder, of what was I so fearful?
When we first moved to the south metro, I was petrified of driving. I remember my first trip out to buy groceries. Bundled up in the cold with my 3-year old, GPS in hand, taking deep breaths, praying for God's strength and confidence as I navigated the "city" of Apple Valley. Today, I look back and laugh. Seriously? Apple Valley? This is not the city, this is my backyard: easy and comfortable.
You know that feeling of returning home after a long trip or a short, exhausting trip? At last, home! The hum of the furnace, the familiar look of decor, the stinky feet smell in the front closet...it's just home. When the Israelites stepped into Canaan, it just felt like home. This is true in our lives, when God gives us a dream and direction and we obediently step out, we may find, it feels like home.
Three times in Joshua 1:6-9, God commands Joshua, to be "strong and courageous...only be strong and very courageous...I command you, be strong and courageous...for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Even when I step out of my safe zone, I am not alone. At the end of Joshua chapter 1, even the officers of the Israelites tell him, "Only, be strong and courageous Joshua." Why are we waiting? Step.
Where is God nudging you to be strong, courageous and take that step? In a relationship, a prior fear, a ministry, work, your health... Read Joshua 1:6-9 placing your name into the scripture and believe God's promise to you as you take that first step.


Returning home from vacation, we sat around the airport food court and recounted highlights from those six sunny days. As I relished the golden glow of faces around me, I noticed unique personalities and characteristics: Best hair; Best hat; Most opinion; Best leader. But what would be my characteristic or personality trait?
Just having read John Piper's Desiring God chapter on finding delight in marriage, I was hoping to be noted for being, "Most helpful." I helped with passports, boarding tickets, restroom breaks, towels, sunscreen, phone calls to room service or housekeeping. Piper begins the chapter like this,
The reason there is so much misery in marriage is not that husbands and wives seek their own pleasure, but that they do not seek it in the pleasure of their spouses. The biblical mandate to husbands AND wives is to seek your own joy in the joy of your spouse. (John Piper, Desiring God, p. 175.) 
God designed the first woman to help Adam. He determined that it wasn't good for Adam to be alone and God would fashion a helper fit for Adam (Genesis 2:18). God made mankind to share God's goodness, grace and bounty, not to hoard these gifts. And my role is not to be just like the engineer, but to compliment him and a assist him in sharing and giving God's gifts so that he feels joyful. Only when I do what I was designed to do, will I find my own pleasure and joy.
Recounting Grandma Edna's legacy, it is evident to me what a helper she was to her husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends, church and community. She gave and she complemented. But in all these stories and reflections, I never got the impression that she received rewards on this side of heaven. A helper seldom gets accolades. A helper is so behind the scenes, she rarely gets noticed and hardly ever gets glory. A godly helper is content with this.
Take John the Baptist. John 10:41 tells us that a crowd was following Jesus back to the place where He was baptized by John. There, possibly reminiscing on the life of John, they recall that John didn't do any miracles, he announced and pointed the masses of people to Jesus, who came to the world to save them. And now three years later, it turns out that everything John said about Jesus was true. John was a helper. He helped people find the way to eternal life: not in following religious rituals and laws, but in Jesus who would do the work required to save them. John helped people find God's goodness and grace. John wasn't celebrated and adorned. In fact, they killed John, but he would receive his reward in heaven.
Oh, to have the heart of a servant helper! To be content with just pointing people to Jesus. To be completely satisfied in assisting those in my sphere of influence and pointing them to Jesus. When I meet Jesus face to face, I hope in (so many words) I do in fact get voted, "A good helper."
Are you called to be a helper? When Eve was presented before Adam, he said, "At last!" This implies that he was so excited that this moment had finally came. He had finally found a helper and the two worked together in harmony. Is someone in your life waiting to for your help so they can say, "At last! I can complete the task God gave me because I have a helper,"? Unfortunately, sometimes our pride or greed for fame and recognition get in the way of helping. Will you choose to be content with the the role of helper?


It had been a long, twisting, exhausting string of days on my own away from home. Exhausted, I reentered our home sweet home in Minnesota. Back in the engineer's embrace, I feel safe, protected, provided, comfortable and accepted. And then with a sigh and prayer of thanksgiving, I recognize again the miraculous gift God has given in the redemption of our marriage over the past year. So much thought occurred during this embrace because I lingered and breathed into the depth of the comfort of it. And in my pause, God gave me a gift of revelation or reminding of the symbol marriage on this side of heaven. It reflects Christ's love for the church; Christ's love for each church member; His love for me.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... Ephesians 4:25
It gives me a glimpse of the complete, perfect way Jesus protects, provides, comforts, accepts me and so much more. What a comforting picture God's given us of His relationship with us.
Whether married or not, the next time you embrace someone, hold that embrace, breathe deeply and thank God for the gift He gives in relationships that reflect just a tiny fraction of how He is in relationship with you.


If you search long enough, you'll find it. That's one truth God is teaching me lately: just keep searching, My Word really is all the instructions you need for life.
I had been wrestling and searching Scripture for God's will on a sticky situation that required a decision. One of those circumstances marred with emotion, past experiences, hurt and frustration. First of all, I hate decisions. What to make for dinner can be debilitating (okay, so maybe I'm getting better at that one), what to do on a date, when to schedule vacation, can she go to a friend's house... These are hard enough for me, but now I had to make a decision that had much more far reaching consequences. And I had to choose, I could not defer to my stronger husband.
There, tucked in my memory verse from my Bible study lesson was a nugget that I'd been reciting for weeks.
"Come to me all who labor and are weary laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.
In this situation, I knew God wanted me to learn from Jesus. Learn Jesus' way of gentleness and humility. Jesus wasn't bossy, He didn't stride around Galilee demanding, "His way or the highway." He gave people choice. He was compassionate and tender. He made time. He put aside His own personal preferences for the good of mankind. That's what He wants me to learn. And what better way to learn but by doing?
Great! Now I know Jesus' best choice for my decision, but then I realized this meant I had to do the exact thing I didn't want to do. It's easier to demand your own way. To choose your own preference, especially if you can take it. It's hard to say, "No, that's okay. You do it the way you want."
I had to choose obedience and trust the promise that accompanied Jesus' way of gentle humility: I would find rest for my soul. I'm thankful for His written Word that continually reassured me of pressing forward and for the engineer that empathetically walked beside me as I choose Jesus' way. And I did find rest, along with more humility. But I like Jesus' way and I'd do it again.
My sister-in-law helped me to see a simple example of this rest found when you learn gentle lowliness from Jesus. Late one evening, the girls wanted to play Pictionary. I'm not horrible at this game, but I just didn't want to play. I wanted to zone out and go to bed! But seeing their excitement, I agreed to play. (No, I didn't think about the gentle and humbly way of Jesus, it just seemed like the mom thing to do.) We had so much fun playing Pictionary that night and made so many memories, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. That's rest Jesus wanted me to find.
In what ways is God giving you opportunity to learn Jesus' way of gentleness and lowliness? Will you choose to follow Jesus' example, to learn from Him? I'm not certain, but chances are if you do, you will find more inner peace and rest from anxiety than if you demand your own way and exert your own idea.