Ducklings in a Row

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭127:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God uses funny things sometimes to teach us. The past couple of years I have found myself reflecting on life, and motherhood, whenever I see ducks. I know, a little weird right? I mean, ducks are nice animals I guess. I never gave them a whole lot of thought before. I am a dog person, and a horse lover. Their qualities are obvious: strength, beauty, loyalty, friendship. But God can use whatever He wants to teach us, even ducks. And they are pretty cute!

I first started noticing them about a year and a half ago when we moved into our house. Where we live there are so many quaint neighborhoods, all filled with pretty little lakes. It’s beautiful scenery. And in those lakes, of course, there are ducks. They became familiar faces, even before we knew anyone else in the neighborhood. We would see them on our bike rides and trips to the park. I still pass them on my morning runs and say “good morning, ducks”. They just look at me, but I think they appreciate the gesture.

My favorite is when the babies are born and my sons and I get to see the mother ducks with their little ducklings waddling along behind them. It’s adorable! In our area, all throughout the spring and summer there are new ducklings hatching. I love to point out to my boys how well the little ducks follow their mommy and stay right in line, what good listeners! And the mommy duck takes such good care guiding and protecting her young.

One particular day as the boys and I were out exploring by the lake, we saw one mother duck with 19 ducklings running alongside her. That’s a lot of babies! My first thought was how cool it must be to have that many ducklings! But I have to admit, she looked a little frazzled trying to keep them all together. I wondered if they were all from her own eggs, or if she had “adopted” some of them, or was babysitting for some other duck mommy…whatever the case, all 19 were obviously following her closely and energetically!

A moment later I looked over at the lake and saw a different mother duck with just one little duckling. They were swimming and eating together at the edge of the water. When I first saw them, I immediately felt a little sad. Why did one duck get 19 babies, and this momma only get one? But as I thought more about it, I realized maybe it wasn’t something to be sad about, maybe it was a sweet gift. The mother with 19 definitely wouldn’t be able to give each of her ducklings the individual attention that this baby was getting. It was so sweet to watch the two of them together, peacefully going about their business.

I am anthropomorphizing here a bit, putting my human thoughts and emotions onto these animals. I know that the mother ducks were not thinking deeply about their lives as I was at that moment, or comparing the number of babies they had. They were probably just following their instincts to look for food for themselves and their ducklings. But for me, the experience was much more profound.

In my mind, those momma ducks represent all of us who are caring for our little ones. We are trying to keep them safe from harm, teach them, and help them follow our lead. Whether you have 19 children…(you probably don’t have 19, but if you do…God bless you!), or 1 child, you have an important job to do. And it is important to do that job with all your heart!

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:23-24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God gave each us the amount of children he wanted us to have. Every one of them is a unique gift. Sometimes we get distracted when we look around and start comparing. I am fairly certain that the mother duck with one baby wasn’t looking jealously at the duck with 19 and feeling cheated, or like less of a mom. She was putting all of her energy into feeding and caring for the baby that was given to her. I am also pretty confident that the mom with 19 wasn’t jealous of the duck who had one. I don’t think she was focused on how overwhelmed she felt with the big job she was given, or wondering how will she ever take care of all of those ducklings?! Let’s be honest, she wouldn’t have time to think anyway, chasing 19 ducks! She was focused on the job at hand.

Watching these two duck mommies and their babies made me realize that whatever number of children we have, there are challenges and gifts that go along with those circumstances. The important thing is to be thankful for the gifts, and prayerfully rely on God and His strength through the challenges.

I told you that long story really just to say something very simple…be thankful for your job as a mother and do it with all of your heart and soul. Know that you are working for the Lord, even if no one else might notice the way you give so much to care for you little ones; He sees it all. No matter how many children you have, whether you have boys, or girls, or some of each, they are yours for a special purpose. Never forget that God chose you to be your children’s mother, not someone else. And He created your little ones for you. He knew what he was doing when he placed those little souls into your care, and he never makes mistakes. Whether you have one child, or four, or ten, or any number in between…you are the right woman for the job! I hope next time you see a duck you will remember this story and it might make you smile and think about what a special gift your children are to you. What matters is the attitude of your heart, and your commitment to being the best mom you can be for your kids, and for the Lord, not whether you have all of your ducklings in a row.

The 10 Best Things about Being a Mom

I love being a mom! I love it so much that I started this blog to encourage other moms in this wonderful, yet challenging journey. Most of my posts are based on things God has been teaching me along the way through my children and our life together.

For this post, I thought it would be fun to share with you my top 10 best things about being a mom. I hope that you will be blessed by this list. Maybe you will want to make one of your own, specific to your children. I hope it will remind you what a blessing it is to be the one they call “mommy.”

1. Every day is full of wonder, imagination and adventure.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job‬ ‭12:7-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Sometimes as we grow up we forget the joys of childhood. We tend to lose our sense of wonder and imagination. Having little ones brings all of that magic back. Everything is brand new and exciting! Each day is a grand adventure. The possibilities are as endless as a child’s imagination. Whether they are climbing trees, riding horses, catching lizards, fishing, finding giant sticks, collecting rocks, visiting baby ducklings, playing in the rain, riding bikes, or watching animals, the world is a gift from God. And my boys are brave explorers ready to discover the awesome wonder all around them!

2. Endless Hugs, Kisses and Snuggles

My boys are so affectionate, and they love snuggles! I can’t even count the number of hugs and kisses I am blessed with in a day. Little bodies can give BIG hugs, filled with the best medicine to heal any sadness, and put joy in your heart. It is an incredible feeling to be loved by a child. While I admit, being a mom does not afford much “personal space,” the trade off is knowing how much you are loved in the sweetest, purest way possible. Hugs are good for the heart and soul!

3. Living with Super Heroes 

Little boys dressing up like super heroes…do I even need to say any more?! My sons wake up ready to rid the world of “bad guys.” They put on their capes and uniforms and start putting out fires and rescuing everyone from harm. I pray that my boys will always want to use the strength God has given them to be defenders of the weak and in need. They are already super heroes in my heart!

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm‬ ‭82:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 

4. The Laughter, Joy and Singing

“This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms‬ ‭118:24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Our days are filled with so much silly fun! Children can turn anything into a reason to laugh and sing. They love to be chased and tickled. They know what it means to truly be care-free, before the stresses of adulthood and the “to-do” list try to steal away our laughter. There is always time for a little more play, and deep belly laughs that make us fall on the floor. Children can also turn anything into a song. Their joyful music and silly giggles are a sweet sound, and a gift!

5. Hearing the Words “Mommy, I love you”

I waited a long time to be called “mommy.” I remember wanting to hear those words more than anything, and now I do…sometimes it seems like a million times a day! Hearing my sons call me mommy is music to my ears, even when it is “mommy, mommy, MOMMY!!!” over and over again. But there is no sweeter sound in all the world to my ears and my heart than when they look at me and say “Mommy, I love you.”

6. Watching Children Learn

Children really are like little sponges, they soak up everything! I love seeing their excitement as my sons learn something new. One of our favorite things to do is read together, books about anything and everything! My kids also love to learn skills like: riding a bike, swimming, playing sports, coloring and writing their names, playing board games…and too many others to mention! Every day I am amazed at how smart they are and how they seem to learn with such natural ease. Of all the wonderful things they learn each day, my favorite is seeing my sons learn about God, His Word, and His great love for us! What a gift and a privilege it is to be the first one to teach them the gospel and the love of Christ!

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

Luke‬ ‭2:52‬ ‭NIV‬‬

7. Watching Children Sleep

“I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.”

1 Samuel‬ ‭1:27-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There is something so beautiful and precious about watching a child sleep. I absolutely love it! I love when I get to see the moment they drift off into sweet dreams. And then I watch them a little longer, and all I can feel is gratitude. I look at their sweet faces night after night, and I am still in awe that God in His goodness would give me the gift of these two boys! I can never thank the Lord enough for my sons. As I watch them sleep peacefully I pray for them. But mostly all I can say is God thank you…thank you for my babies!

8. Seeing Their Unique Personalities

One of my favorite things about watching my sons grow bigger, is seeing their personalities develop. I love getting to know them as little individuals and seeing the things that make them who they are come to the surface. I realize that each one of them is different in his own way. They have their own favorite colors, foods, cartoons, and special toys. My sons are alike in so many ways, and yet different in so many others. We talk about how God made every person in the world unique. No one is exactly the same. We all have gifts and talents, likes and dislikes, that are all our own. God already knows my sons inside and out; He designed them. Now I get to enjoy knowing them too!

“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:18-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

9. The Relationship Between Siblings

I love watching my sons build a relationship with each other. One of things we repeat often in our daily life is “brothers are a team.” They have their arguments, but most of the time, they love each other dearly. They are best friends who protect and care for one another. They always have someone to play and laugh with. My prayer is that my boys will always be a team, and be best friends for life. Most of all, I pray they will encourage each other to seek the Lord all of their days.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:17‬ ‭

10. Knowing One Day They Will Grow Up

“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” Luke 2:40 NIV

This is the best thing, and the worst thing about being a mom. One day my sweet, precious little boys are going to grow up and leave home, and me! I get choked up thinking about it even now and they are only 4 and 2 years old! But I know that day is coming. I dread it. But I also look forward to it. I know my job as a mother is to prepare them for life on their own.

Life will be very different one day than it is now. That’s the way God designed it. I want my boys to stay little, but I also want them to grow. I am so excited to see what strong, wonderful men they will become. Yet I know in my heart, I will always look at them and see my little boys no matter how big they get.

So for now I am going to savor every day while they are still little, while they are still mine. When I think about the future I know that “one day” will get here soon enough…but not today. For now they are still my little boys. Today I still have hugs and kisses, snuggles and stories, laughter and playtime and songs. I get to be the one they pick flowers for and the one that hears them say “I love you.” Today I will store up another memory in my heart. Today I will love them with everything I have. I am thankful for today!

Living Water

My kids and I love summer…long days of sunshine, vacations, bike rides, eating ice cream and popsicles…but of all the things we love about summer, one thing stands out above the rest. Summer is about the water!

Where we live it gets very HOT in the summer, and we love going to the pool as much as possible! A couple of weeks ago we were on a mini vacation enjoying the pool at our hotel. It was so much fun to see the boys splashing and playing together. There was even a little slide they were both big enough to go down. As I watched them, the thought quickly passed through my head that water is what makes so much of our lives so wonderful. We are drawn to it. Water is essential to our very existence on this planet. We simply can’t live without it. And we love it! Where do people usually go on vacation? To the water! Whether it is the beach, a river, or a crystal clear pool, there is something amazing about swimming in, drinking in, and seeing the beauty of water that we can’t seem to get enough of.

In the very next thought it hit me…water! How many times in the Bible does God talk about water, and describe the gift of the water of life?

I am always amazed at how we can be doing the most ordinary things, and God uses our surroundings to remind us of Himself. I shouldn’t be surprised though. In the Bible it says:

“since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The whole earth, and all of creation was made to praise the Lord and display His goodness and wonder!

“Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.” Psalm‬ ‭148:3-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The more I thought about water, I remembered the many times in the Bible where I had heard it referred to or used to illustrate something about God. I thought it would be fun to look up and share with you some of what it says. I hope you will be refreshed by God’s Word.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis‬ ‭1:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Water is mentioned in the first two of verses of the Bible. Before there was light or the earth was formed, God’s spirit was hovering over the waters. No wonder we look at water and are overwhelmed by its power and beauty!

Here are a few more references to water from the book of Psalms.

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.” Psalm‬ ‭29:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Psalms‬ ‭23:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm‬ ‭42:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty.” Psalm‬ ‭93:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There are so many more passages in the Old Testament that speak of water. I encourage you to read some of them on your own.

Now here are a few more verses from the New Testament for you to examine.

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”” John‬ ‭7:37-38‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”” John‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” John‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When I searched the word “water” on my Bible app, over a thousand verses were listed. There are amazing stories in the Old Testament like the flood and God saving Noah and his family, the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites, and God’s provision giving them water in the dessert.

The New Testament as well is full of stories involving water such as: Jesus’ Baptism by John at the beginning of his ministry, many miracles including water (turning water into wine, walking on water, calming the storm), Jesus washing the feet of His disciples before His crucifixion, and the great commission to go and preach the gospel to every nation and baptize believers.

The Bible has so much to say about water! These verses have only scratched the surface. The goal of my blog is always to prompt you to dig deeper into God’s Word yourself. A passing thought I had in the pool inspired me to spend time in the Bible, learning more about who God is, and what He has revealed to us in His Word. Thinking about this topic has reminded me that God is in charge of everything, He made it all, and creation is all about displaying His glory. It also makes me reflect that just like water is essential for life, so is my relationship with God. His love refreshes my soul like cold water on a hot day. I need water every day to stay alive. Without it, I would die. But even more, I need God every day to live, both on earth and for eternity.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:4-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I need the cleansing, purifying, life-giving, thirst-quenching water my soul can only find in Him.

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans‬ ‭6:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I want to share with you two final verses about water. We started with the first chapter of the first book, Genesis. We will end with verses from the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation. I think that is pretty cool!

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Revelation‬ ‭22:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Can you even imagine a more breathtaking waterfront view than of a river flowing from the very throne of God?!

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation‬ ‭22:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Are you thirsty? Come to the living water!!

Let Freedom Ring

Freedom. This word means something special to each of us. For many, especially on July 4th, we think about the freedoms we value in this great country, our history, and those who have worked to achieve the liberties we enjoy here in the United States. We are certainly blessed to live in this place and be free to speak our minds, to worship, and to pursue our dreams.

When I think about freedom today, I am so thankful for it! At the same time, I can’t help but remember that there are people in places where freedom is not something they experience in their daily lives. Politics are constantly changing, governments are unstable, issues divide, and freedom is not a guarantee in this life. If we spend even a few minutes on social media we can imagine a future that is more fearful than free.

In the midst of uncertainty there is one freedom that will never change, never fade away, and never be defeated; it is the freedom found in a life of true faith in Jesus Christ.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John‬ ‭8:31-36‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We sometimes think of freedom as the ability to do what we want when we want, with no one telling us how to live our lives. Our children often act that way, but as loving parents we know the foolishness of following every harmful desire, and we are there to protect them. The truth is, we are all servants to something. Either we serve sin, and our own flesh, which lead to death; or we serve the Lord, which leads to eternal life.

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭6:20-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As a mom of little ones, it is easy to witness how our drive to do what we want is born out of our sin nature and selfishness. But the false “freedom” that sin promises reaps no benefit, only slavery to evil desires, addictions, fear and worry, and ultimately destruction. But there is one who came to set the captives free. A life redeemed by Jesus does not mean a life without struggles or suffering, often the opposite. But it does mean freedom from the control of sin, and peace that passes understanding in the midst of trials. Freedom is to live for and with the one who has overcome sin and death forever.

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah‬ ‭42:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Here are a few more wonderful things the Bible has to say about freedom.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” Acts‬ ‭13:38-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” Psalms‬ ‭119:45‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus called Himself “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and said the “truth will set you free.” By knowing Him, we are free from sin, a cruel and unforgiving master who seeks only destruction and death. We are free to live forgiven and redeemed by the most loving God, with the hope of eternal life with him! So on this July 4th, and every day, let Christ reign in your hearts, and let freedom ring!

Good, Good Father

A father is so important to the life of a child. By his example, he is often the one who first represents God, and influences the way a child will grow up to view Him. For some this is a wonderful blessing. For others, it may be a stumbling block to seeing God as the good and loving Father that He really is.

When I think about my own dad this Father’s Day, I think about someone who radiated with the love of Christ wherever he went. From my earliest memories, I have always thought of God as a loving Father, patient and kind, who listens when I pray, and is quick to forgive. I have always known that He is there for me and that His love is unconditional and unending. I think a lot of that is because that’s the way my earthly father made me feel. I only got to know my dad for fourteen years of my life before he passed away. But what he showed me was enough to last for a lifetime. And I am so thankful to God for him, and for his efforts to point me towards my Heavenly Father, who will never leave me.

Now as a wife and mother, I love to watch how my husband relates to our sons. I love to see how their eyes light up when he walks through the door and they run to hug him. They know how much he loves them, and that they are safe when he is with them. He shows them what it means to be a man who loves God and cares for his family.

Everyone’s family story is unique. If you had a wonderful father, that is a blessing. But maybe you had a father that was the complete opposite of a loving, and godly example. Or maybe you didn’t have a father around at all.

In the same way, maybe your children are blessed with a father who is an example of God’s love. But it is also possible that may not be the case.

If your father, or the father of your children is someone who exemplifies the love of God, that is a gift. Thank God, and let those dads know how much you appreciate them.

If the father in your life or the lives of your children, is not what you hoped he would be, or isn’t there at all, I encourage you to be faithful in prayer for him. It may be difficult to pray for someone who has caused you or someone you love hurt. But when someone is not walking closely with God, that is when they need your prayers the most. Never give up praying!

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬l

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,” Colossians‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Whatever your experience has been, there is a God and Father who loves you. And I pray this Father’s Day that you will feel and know His love more than ever. The best way to get to know God is through His Word. So I wanted to share some Bible verses with you as a reminder that you and your children have a loving Father in heaven who will never leave you or forsake you. I pray they will be an encouragement to you today and always!

God calls us His children

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans‬ ‭8:16-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm‬ ‭68:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God cares for us

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah‬ ‭46:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew‬ ‭7:9-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God is forgiving and compassionate

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;” Psalm‬ ‭103:11-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” Psalm‬ ‭86:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God pursues us

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke‬ ‭15:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” Luke‬ ‭15:4-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God will never leave us

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:8‬ ‭NIV

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm‬ ‭9:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God is the most loving Father we could ever know. He created fatherhood and is the only perfect daddy who will never disappoint and is always trustworthy.

I love the words to the song “Good, Good Father” sung by artist Chris Tomlin. The chorus says “You’re a good, good Father. It’s who you are…and I’m loved by you.” Being a good father, the best father, is who God is. It is part of His character. And how amazing that He pours out His love to us and calls us children. This Father’s Day I thank God for the earthly fathers in our lives. I pray for them to be strong examples of love to their families. But most of all, I thank God for being the ultimate good, good Father!

The True Measure of Greatness

What makes a great life? How do we measure success? What kinds of goals and dreams define who we are?

A couple of weeks ago at church we had “graduation Sunday”. The youth band led the worship music, and the pastor preached his sermon directed towards the graduating seniors. You could almost feel the anticipation and excitement they must have felt wondering what God has in store for their futures. It was special to watch.

At one point, they played a slide show made up of photos of each of the young people from birth to the present. I have to admit, I started feeling emotional and even a little choked up watching it. We are fairly new to our church, so I don’t personally know these young people well, if at all. The reason for my emotion was the thought that in just fourteen and sixteen short years my babies will be the ones graduating. The pictures I am taking of them now at ages 4 and 2, will become memories in a slide slow. I know that seems like a lot of years to go, and maybe a little silly to think so far ahead. But the first almost five years of parenting have gone by so fast, I am convinced they are not going to slow down. I will blink my eyes and my babies will be grown. That is why I am determined to soak up every moment, savor all of the memories in my heart, and be thankful for each and every day!

That service at church also made me think about the hopes and expectations we set for our children as they grow and venture out into the world. It made me reflect on what I consider a great life for my sons. We all want our children to grow up and be happy, healthy, and successful. We want our kids to have great lives, do great things, and be great people. That Sunday I started to examine what I desire and pray for my sons for the future. I also started to look at what the Bible says about being great and see if my dreams and desires for them line up with God’s.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

The more I read and think about these verses, the more I realize that they contain everything that is needed for life, both on earth and for eternity. The Lord Jesus sums it up so simply and yet so perfectly. Love God and love others!

I could make a long list of goals for my sons. I would love for them to do well in school, go to college, and love learning. They may excel in things like sports or music, or have many wonderful gifts and talents. I would be happy to see them be well liked, and have many friends. I want them to enjoy life, travel, and do exciting things. I hope they will have a job they love to wake up every day and be productive doing. I hope they marry sweet wives who love God, love them, and have lots of grand babies for me to love too!

I hope my sons grow up to be men who are full of joy, and thankful for life every day. But really, all of those things are secondary. It all comes back to the greatest commandment. Love God and love others. That’s all they really need. It is all any of us need.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34 NIV

By seeking God’s kingdom first, and loving God and people, all of the other things we hope and dream for our children will naturally follow. They may not be the exact things that we envision for them, but rather they will be the best plans that God has already set for them. How amazing that He knew our children even before we did!

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm‬ ‭139:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am thankful that I have several more years to spend with my sons before they are grown. I know the time will go by faster than I would like. My prayer is that I will use every day to teach my boys what really matters in life. They can grow up and have the best grades, go to the best schools, have successful jobs, and be happy by all of world’s standards. But all of those things without loving God with all their hearts, and loving others as themselves, won’t add up to very much at all.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV

My prayers for us moms today is that we will impress upon the hearts of our children to love God with all of their hearts and souls, and to love others. Then their lives will be defined by the true measure of greatness!

Good Fruit

She is loving. She is joyful. She is peaceful and patient. She is kind and good. She exudes faithfulness. She has a gentle spirit. She practices self-control.

Who is this superwoman?? I want to meet her. I want to be her! I don’t know if she really exists, but this list of attributes describes a person who is living and walking through life by the power of the Holy Spirit. This woman is bearing good fruit!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Thinking about my daily interactions with my children, I wonder if I practice these qualities enough. Would my family describe me as loving, peaceful, patient, kind, etc.? These are certainly things that I want God to produce in me. The one thing I do know is that the process is ongoing!

Lately, I have been working on teaching the importance of self-control to my four year old. I realize how much easier it will be for him to understand and practice it himself if he sees it modeled through my behavior. And how confusing it will be for him if he doesn’t! How can I ask my children to develop and display behaviors, unless I am first willing to do the same in myself?

Am I loving and kind during a screaming toddler tantrum? Am I patient when someone wakes up at 3:00am? Am I gentle and self-controlled as I try to teach my sons what it means to show these same qualities? Or am I screaming at them to stop yelling at each other? Am I faithful to the role God has given me as wife and mother to do everything as if I am doing it for the Lord?

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 NIV

So how do we become a fruitful person like this? I love when the Bible supports itself so beautifully from one passage to another. When I think about how to remember to practice these qualities I am reminded of another wonderful verse from the book of Philippians.

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

Train your mind to think about right, pure, and praiseworthy things. When difficult times arise whether dealing with children, husbands, or anyone in our lives, come back to this verse. When your children are driving you just a little crazy (or a lot), think about what is true, they are a gift from God! In fact, every day we live, every breath we breathe is a gift. God is excellent and praiseworthy all of the time!!

We know what kind of good fruit we want to produce (Gal. 5:22-23), and we know what kind of things to focus to help us do that (Phil 4:8). But how do imperfect, sinful people really achieve this kind of lifestyle? The answer is good news, and it is more simple than you might think.

Abide in Him.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 NKJV

Any fruit that is cut from the vine is going to die before long. It is only the one that stays connected to its very source of life that can flourish and produce beautiful fruit. It is the very same with us. If I want to be someone who is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled…then I have to stay connected to my source of life, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Apart from God, there is no way I can be the person, wife, and mother I want so much to be.

The way to abide in Him, is through prayer and study of the Bible, God’s Word. These two things have more power than anything to change our hearts, minds, and our attitudes to joyfully produce good fruit. No self-help book, devotional reading, podcast or blog will do that. Anything that doesn’t point you back to the true source of life isn’t worth your time. Pray, read the Word, and abide in Christ who gives life abundantly.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30 NIV

“Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Along with your personal prayer and Bible study, you can help to make sure you are connected to the vine by finding other women who are also striving to be fruitful and encouraging one another. As a musician, I also love worshipping God through hymns and good music.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 NIV

I pray that as mothers we will stay connected to the vine, so that life will flow from us, and our children will see Christ in us.

May we abide in Him, and focus our minds on things that are true, pure, and worthy of praise. May we show our families love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Let our homes be full of sweet, good fruit!