A year ago I received a call that no mother ever wants. My husband, John, and two older sons, Josiah and Tyler, had gone hiking for the weekend in Colorado. When John called sobbing in the middle of the day, I knew something had gone gone horribly wrong.
The story slowly unfolded. They had just come down off a particularly steep area, when twelve-year-old Tyler lost his footing. Stumbling, he jumped into some snow to try to regain his footing, but that snow ended up being ice. After sliding 50 feet down the icy slope, he hit a field of rocks and went down another 50 feet in a rockslide. Partially covered in rocks, he couldn’t move. It took John 15 agonizing minutes to get to him. Because they couldn’t get back to the original trail and the cell phones had no coverage, they had to walk 2 ½ hours down the rocky slope with Tyler’s arm broken and leg gashed. Josiah had to go ahead and find safe footing while John held onto Tyler’s good arm to keep him from falling.
Tyler was bruised up, but the only bruise on his head was from where his bleeding hand had miraculously shielded his head from a large rock when he landed. It was nothing short of a miracle. John said as he watched Tyler fall, he really didn’t think that he would survive the fall.
For me, that night was filled with nightmares of what should have and could have been. I would be at his funeral, or he would be calling me, and I couldn’t get to him. Slipping into my prayer chair was easy in the middle of that night. It felt like the only safe place. I curled up with my Bible, my tears, and my fears. I could not stop the image of him falling from replaying in my mind over and over again. When disaster comes near, you realize how vulnerable you are.. A bad diagnosis, a tragic accident, and other devastating possibilities that happen in a dangerous world have a way of stripping us of our false feelings of being invincible.
As I sat in my chair using my blanket as a shield, God spoke to my heart. “Do not imagine him falling without him being held. He was held by me.”
For me, that changed everything.
And so it is with you, me, your children, my children, your family, and mine. We are held. Sometimes the story doesn’t come out pristine and amazing like Tyler’s did. We’ve had those kinds of stories too. In fact, just two short weeks after Tyler’s fall, my much loved childhood youth pastor and his wife were killed in a head-on collision. Their four children and our community have been held. Hurting? Immensely. Held? Without a doubt.
We are held.
We are held if our marriage is floundering.
We are held if our children are wayward.
We are held if our money is tight.
We are held if we are losing one we love.
We are held if we are struggling emotionally.
We are held when we are betrayed.
We are held when the unexpected devastation happens.
This One we are held by is strong enough, wise enough, and loving enough to know what to do.
We may not know what tomorrow brings, but He does. We may not know what to do with the pain, but He does. We may not know the next step, but He does—always. His
heart is always toward us and for us, inviting us to come near. No matter what your situation is, you can trust Him with it. You are not alone. You are held.
Word of the Day:
Yet I still belong to you, you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalm 73:23-26)
Father, Thank You that I am never alone. Even though I may not always be able to see that You are there, help me to see that you have never left my side. I give my situation to You. Help me to learn things about You and Your heart towards me in this situation that I could not have seen in any other way. Thank You that You love me unconditionally and help me to trust You. I give my situation to You and the need to control it. Instead, I chose to trust You and Your heart towards me. Help me to see You as You truly are. Thank you that You hold my life in Your hands.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
The cliché, “Hindsight is 20/20,” rings true today. As I reflect on the flawed mothering of my now grown children, I am grateful that God entrusted them to my husband and me. We did some things right and a host of things wrong. We worried too much about superfluous issues that felt so weighty; in retrospect, they were insignificant. It was by far the most rewarding, yet hardest job I have ever done in my life. There is undue pressure to raise “perfect” kids in this crazy, competitive, fast-paced world. But, looking back, what I believe kids need most are roots grounded in love and wings held up by grace.
We are the first image bearers and vessels of God’s extravagant unconditional love. Children interpret God’s love through the lens of our expressed love. Well loved children have a better chance of rooting their hearts and lives deep in His love. It can become the bedrock of their existences and the foundation of their perspectives. They live loved…
The walls of a home created in love are far from perfect, this I know well. Love can be hard and messy. Yet, home should be a refuge from the harsh bitter winds of the world—a place for connection and rest for the heart. Safe unconditional love provides the fertile ground for a trusting child to flourish.
Living life takes practice. Kids will have missteps and mistakes, especially as they begin to spread their wings toward independence. My kids saw our tears, and we openly expressed our hurt concerning wrong choices. In my humble opinion, guidance or discipline are better received through the safety net of grace. Boundaries and consequences are paramount, but drawing our children in closer and speaking life into them is equally as important. Every child is unique and every situation begs the wisdom of God. Parental grace gives kids the courage to pick themselves up, try again, and accept God’s invitation for a divine do-over.
Wings held up by grace, empowers. Maybe it relieves some of the fear of failure. It certainly can encourage kids to bravely seek the unique life path God has determined for their lives. Grace-rich kids may more easily extend God’s grace to others.
Friends, as we ponder our parenting, we must extend grace to ourselves; we are all flawed and we will make mistakes. Our very best efforts will never be perfectly accomplished or expressed. This has been the source of my deepest regrets.
We are guaranteed no outcomes. Eventually, adult children must steward their own lives, choices, and nurture their own faith. This has been the place of my greatest anxiety.
But, I am learning that God can be trusted and is committed to the redemption of my mistakes, and to the redemptive completion of the stories of my kids’ lives. He is always working. Friend, that is true for you, too.
Word of the Day:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may, have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep in the love of Christ, and to know the love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Father God, thank you for trusting us to raise Your children and prepare them for life. Grant us the wisdom to give them roots that are grounded in love and wings that are held up in grace. Help us to pass on an eternal legacy of faith. Give us mercy and grace for our mistakes. Amen
Author: Maryanne Abbate
“Is that tearing down, mom?” My oldest asked from the backseat of the car and quickly brought me out of my daze. “Huh?” confused by his question. “When someone says “stupid or poop or something not nice… Is that tearing down?”
I was piecing it together now from a conversation we had earlier that week.. I had shared Ephesians 4:29 with my boy. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
We were having one of those weeks where the “building up” words were hard to come by yet the “tearing down” words seemed to multiply.
And the hard truth was, I needed to be reminded of this verse as much (if not more) than my five year old. And while explaining the power of his words, whether good or bad, conviction fell heavy on me.
Because, if I’m honest, I often speak without thinking. We call this “not using your filter” in my house. When I’m tired and frustrated with my kids, the words that come out of my mouth are not commonly “useful for building up”. When I’m with a friend and we are talking about another mom and her struggles when she’s not present to defend herself, I’m most certainly not using my words to benefit those who listen. When I’m giving my husband the silent treatment or the condescending tone, I have neglected to build him up according to his needs.
Webster’s dictionary defines unwholesome like this: detrimental to physical, mental or moral well-being, unhealthy.
Did you realize your words literally have the power to make an environment or person sick? I’m not talking about physically sick. I’m saying our words have the power to poison a conversation.
The good news is that we also have the power to use our words constructively, for the good of those who listen.
The Bible says in Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
The mouth speaks what the heart is full of… That part just about always makes me cringe. Because I know what my mouth speaks a lot of times and that is not what I want my heart to be full of! My harsh and unkind words are merely a symptom of the root disease in my heart. I have to allow Jesus access to my heart and ask Him to forgive me and purify my heart if I want to change from the inside out.
But the same is true for the reverse: If good is stored in a man’s heart, guess what is going to come out? Good things! Words that are useful for building up and not for tearing down.
How do I make sure good is in my heart? God says, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
The key to ensuring our words are uplifting and healthy instead of unwholesome is this: we fill our minds and hearts with God’s word. With God’s Word on our tongues, we can be sure our conversation will benefit those who listen.
“Is that tearing down?” Let’s ask ourselves this question as we go about our day. If our answer is yes, let’s ask Jesus to enable us to build others up instead.
As we desire to be women who build others up according to their needs, so let’s be women who are full of God’s words; who have healthy hearts and therefore healthy conversations.
Word of the Day:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
Jesus, search my heart now, Lord. I desire to not let any unwholesome talk escape my lips today. Help me to guard my tongue and filter my words. May I honor you with my conversation by hiding your Word in my heart. Enable me to encourage those I come in contact with today. Thank you Jesus.
Author: Emily Goss
My mom has always been an incredibly hardworking handy-woman. I remember her taking on many daunting household projects with great fervor and determination when I was a child:
Turning the brown cabinets and trim to white, knocking a hole in the wall to “open up” the feel of the kitchen and living room areas--
but most memorable to me: re-wallpapering the bathrooms.
The home I grew up in was a 1970’s gem, complete with a mirrored wall I hardly remember (I believe she took that out, too), so when my mom set out to update the bathroom walls she had no idea what was in store.
I was at home with the chicken pox when most of it went down. Bits of soggy paper covered the floor as she worked away at layers and layers of once-trendy décor.
After hours and days of spraying, scraping, spraying and scraping-- the walls were clean and ready to be re-covered with a bright and cheery, yellow, floral print.
Lately I realize that my heart is much like those bathroom walls. The more time I spend in God’s Word, I realize that years of growing up in church with only a partial understanding of God’s grace has sealed a metaphorical “wallpaper” of religion to the dry surface of my heart.
Layer upon layer, upon layer.
Just when I think I’ve scraped away every last stubborn bit, I come to a greater understanding of God’s love and grace, leaving me faced with another unsightly layer I must bring down.
When my sin makes me ashamed to go to God;
When I feel unlovable and unworthy because of something I have or have not done;
When I am tired and worn-out from my “good works;”
When I am tempted to think I “have it all together;”
When I realize that some small part of me still believes that it is by some merit or talent or special quality or feat of faith that has earned my salvation.
These are some ugly layers— layers that need to come down so that God can re-paint my soul with the bright, cheery hue of His unending love and extravagant grace.
How do we get them down? We continue to scrape away with the truth of God’s Word.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
I find that the New Testament words of Paul contain the most power to scour away at the stubborn, hidden layers…
“For it is by grace you have been saved, and not by works-- lest any man should boast…” (Eph. 2:8)
“…we rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort…” (Phil 3:3)
Maybe you’re like me, and you grew up in the church, and you are beginning to realize you have layers and layers of “religious” beliefs that hinder the beauty of the Gospel of grace from going up in your life.
We must be diligent to recognize these false beliefs and peel away at the musty, discolored, and outdated paper of religion.
Get in His Word and scrape away with the truth...
And watch Him re-cover the walls of your heart with a love story that is too beautiful for words.
Word of the day:
“With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!” Isaiah 12:3
God, Sometimes I am tempted to think that my good works will earn right-standing with you. Other times I feel like I have messed up too greatly to be forgiven. Help me to recognize these layers of religion on my heart and peel them down with the power of your truth. Help me to put no confidence in my effort, but to fully rest in Christ’s work on my behalf. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson
I have always admired the families on television shows that have breakfast together, sitting around the kitchen table, fully dressed and ready for life. The perfect children always smile brightly and kiss their perfect parents goodbye before heading to school for the day.
My mornings fall somewhere in between a bad remake of Wrestlemania and a horrible depiction a history channel war movie.
Undoubtedly the debate always begins with my daughter’s clothes that she picked out the night before but would change twice that morning, and then lead into a full fledge argument about her hair. Then we part for the day- her, having cried at least once; and I, stomping out the door, pouting and angry.
Recently my husband “helped” me to see the circumstance for what it clearly was:He told me that Mia was acting appropriately for her age. But I… was… not.
At the time I hated to admit it, but He was right.
If I am truthful sometimes my reactions look pretty close to those of an unbeliever. If I am truthful, my reactions are natural, instead of supernatural.
My reaction is only a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem. As a mature Christian, I should be slow to anger and slow to speak; and as her parent, I should be modeling Jesus before her, but there are days when I fail miserably at both. I allow situations to dictate my emotional response because I am not consistently planted in Christ.
Too frequently my frustrations, the obstacles, and the disappointments become missed opportunities to show Jesus to my family.
I don’t believe I am alone in this.
Friends, we must begin to plant ourselves in good soil full of nutrients and continue to water ourselves with the living water, so God will cause the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us abundantly.
Instead of allowing our emotions to dictate the outcome of situations, let’s look to the Holy Spirit to instruct us how to respond in those difficult moments. If we cultivate the environment that is healthy for growth, we will have the patience and self-control that will supersede any outburst, dry any tears and calm any tantrum.
Together let’s acknowledge our struggle with maintaining composure during difficult moments. But beyond that let’s take our struggle to the Lord-- planting ourselves just a little deeper into Him so that our responses can be seized opportunities to point others to Christ.
Word of the Day:
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Lord, I admit that I am in desperate need of your presence. When I get caught up in the moment, and I forget that I am planted in you, please remind me of your grace, which abounds at the foot of the cross. Please remind me, Lord, of the peace that lives in me in the person of the Holy Spirit and the supernatural power that He contains, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Author: Kandice Adams