Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mama Always Said...

My mama and me (and Baby Beran). :)

As adults it’s easy to “pick apart” our parents. We often focus on the mistakes they made and the things that we want to differently with our children. We tend to forget that like them we are human, and our kids will find fault with our “perfect parenting” too (Ha! As if there is such a thing!).

Today I found myself instead focusing on all the things my mom got right. She’s taught me some things…some that I have applied, and some that I know I fall short of living fully. Still, I hope to pass on much of her wisdom, kindness and compassion to my children.

Thought maybe I’d share some her wisdom with you too. :)

Lesson 1: The golden rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” She taught me this not so much in word, but in action! If someone was in need she was the first one to jump in. She gave of herself without reservation, without laziness, without expectation of receiving anything in return. She often did these things silently, without bringing attention to herself, and out of the abundance of her loving, compassionate heart.

Which leads me to the next things she taught…

Lesson 2: Love others. Mom always has tended to see the best in people. She loved some pretty unlovable people. She remembered many that others forgot. She even said to love that not-so-good-looking, mean, toothless bully at school! She would remind me that even he probably had a mother at home who looks at him through adoring eyes, and more importantly a Heavenly Father who loves him unconditionally. She reminded me that everyone has a soul, and potential as a child of God.

Lesson 3: Hold your tongue. Now, I must admit I have a lot of work to do on this one, but it’s not because my mama didn’t teach me! Mom would be the first NOT to tell you that you don’t have to say everything that you think. :) If it’s not nice, or uplifting, or really needed, maybe you should just keep it to yourself. Speak up when it IS needed, in kindness and love, and because of your reputation people will be more likely to listen. You don't always have to defend yourself, trust the Lord to defend and protect you.

I’ll be honest, there were times when I was growing up when I saw this as a weakness in my mom. I would often think, “Why doesn’t she stand up for herself?” or “Why didn’t she just tell them what she thinks?” Now that I’m a woman myself I see the wisdom in sometimes staying silent. Not that I want to be a doormat, or that I can’t share my opinions when appropriate (believe me I have plenty of them!), but there is something beautiful about a woman with a gentle and quiet, reverent and respectful spirit. God’s Word says so, I Peter 3:4, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” My mom has an unfading beauty that you can not deny!

Lesson 4: Being a mom is the best job in the world. Tears came to my eyes immediately after I typed those words, emotions of gratitude for the mothering that my mom doted upon me, and the love that I have for my own child(ren). I remember my mom saying this to me when I was a teenager, and for the first time realizing the passion behind her words. She meant it!

My mom made sacrifices so that she could be home with me…even as a single mom (she did daycare in our home). She recognized the importance of her role in my life, and I never doubted her love for me. She took pride in and made being a homemaking mama her primary role (even in the midst of “bringing home the bacon” as a single mom). Our home was warm, inviting and a haven for me. Even though money was tight, there was always good food on the table, affection to be distributed and words of encouragement to be shared. I thank God soooo often for the example that she set for me!! (Note: I’m looking forward to her coming up to help me after Baby Beran is born, so that I can gain more wisdom from this child expert!)

Lesson 5: Don’t be lazy. That woman is a go-getter, I tell ya! For years, I thought she must be crazy the way she kept her house clean (even in the midst of watching everyone else’s kids!)…and kept herself busy. Like the Energizer bunny, she just kept going and going (hee hee) even when I know she must have been tired. She did her work joyfully, often humming the tune to, “Oh, how I love Jesus” as she went about her work. She gave me a real life model of the virtuous and capable woman described in Proverbs 31.

Hmmmm…come to think of it, all the things my mama taught me above are described in Proverbs 31...

“She is energetic and strong, a hard worker….Her hands are busy…She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy…She is clothed with strength and dignity...When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instruction with kindness…she suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her…a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” Excerpts from Proverbs 31:17-31

I could go on and on and on listing things that my mama has taught me, but I’ll stop here. I’m praying that I can be more like my mom because being more like her would mean being more like Jesus.

My mom was not perfect, God is the only perfect parent, but she sure was good…and still is!!

I LOVE and APPRECIATE you, Mom!!

Tell me, what did your mama always say? What did she teach you without words? I’d love to hear!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Love Others, Serve Others

I haven't been a very good blogger the last couple of weeks. The busyness of life and the achey, tiredness of third trimester pregnancy has consumed much of my time recently. In addition, I have been taking a bit of time to focus on some things that God has laid upon my heart. This focus is much needed, but hasn't left me with a lot of time to blog.

I sat down more than once to compose a post to share with you, my blog friends. Just didn't feel I could find a neat and tidy way to share all I want to say. Still don't think I can, so instead today I will share a few quotes, first from God's Word, then from other resources I have had the pleasure of enjoying lately. I think these quotes will reflect some of what I'd like to share with you.

The words of Jesus in John 13:34-35, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“Let there be real harmony…be of one mind united in thought and purpose.” I Corinthians 1:10

“…agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.”
Philippians 2:2-4

From Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free in the chapter, Lies Women Believe…About Marriage:

“If I expect to be served, I will often be disappointed. If I seek to serve others, without expecting anything in return, I will never be disappointed. (Prov 31:10-31)”

“We are never more like Jesus than when we are serving others.
(John 13:5)”

From J. Otis and Gail Ledbetter’s book, Family Fragrance:

“Loving because someone deserves it doesn’t work. Sooner or later that kind of love will shipwreck. … The model God gave us is that affection does not need a reason, only an object.”

“Modeled day in and day out, children pick up on unselfish attitudes. They begin to live them as well when serving is done in a spirit of affection and positive feeling.”

From Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl:

“Instead of looking at the ministry options our church offers and asking, ‘Which one will meet my needs and feed me the way I need to be fed?’ we must look at our church and ask, ‘Where can I make a difference in the body of Christ?’’”

The message is clear: Love others, serve others. I believe this kind of unconditional, servant love begins with the people within our own home, then extends to our extended family and our church family, then branches out to the rest of the world.

What really sets us apart as Christian believers? Is the love that we have for one another something unique and special, an example to our children as well as to the rest of the world? Something to be desired? Do we show others the kind of love that Christ has shown to us?

I don’t want to be guilty of just saying that I love others and not really showing it, of being self-centered and "me" focused. I also don’t want to get so busy trying to reach out to everyone else and forsake to show Christ’s love and a servant’s heart towards those within my own realm of influence, those God has placed in my life for a very specific purpose, those that are most important to me. Not loving, serving, submitting out of duty; instead loving, serving, submitting out of a full heart...joyfully, humbly, because I really love.

I pray that the world will see the love that we have for one another and be drawn to Christ because of it.

By the way, I highly recommend each of the resources above! :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


A couple of weeks ago I had one of those days. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? One of THOSE days! I’m not sure if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or not. I do know that my attitude wasn’t the best. I didn’t feel well physically, emotionally, mentally (pregnancy can do that to you). I had a long list of things on my to-do list that day…and they were things that really needed to be done. I had some stressful situations arise, a lot of interruptions to my agenda and the tension inside of me rose to the point of bursting.

I had done my devotions that morning, but skipped my regular Bible reading. I didn’t take much time (besides some “pop-up” prayers) to pray to my Savior that morning even though I knew I would need his strength and Spirit to accomplish the goals of the day. There was just so much to do you know?!

I had just read and studied a few days before the words of Paul in Hebrews 12...about running the race God has set before us with endurance. Hebrews 12:2 says we do this by “keeping our eyes on Jesus.”

Well, let me tell you the truth here, friends…my eyes were not really set on Jesus this particular day. As the day continued on I felt weak, tired, stressed…and ticked off! I had reached my boiling point. My husband and I ended up in an argument (surprise, surprise). I said some not-so-nice things. So did he. The day only got worse!

My spirit was bitter, angry and not where it should be. I knew it. I came to the end of my day feeling like a complete failure. I felt like I should be disqualified from the whole race!!

I asked myself, “How does a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian get so off track so easily?!” I let my flesh take over…again.

As I took an honest look at the events of the day I realized that I really set myself up for failure that day. I should have set apart my time with the Lord as sacred. I’m pretty sure that if I had started my day more fervently in God’s Word and prayer I wouldn’t have ended up where I did. If I had sought His strength and guidance, focusing on HIS agenda for my day instead of trying to “wing it” on my own, I would have been so much better off. I would have accomplished more…and been a lot nicer to be around in the process.

I was reminded of the weakness of my own flesh and the words in Mark 14:38, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body (flesh) is weak.”
That is why I must keep my eyes on Jesus! Only He can help me run this race with endurance. I can not do it on my own. He doesn’t disqualify me for making mistakes, but he does correct me like any good father corrects his child. Reminding me of my own weakness and His abundant provision if I will seek Him!

When will I ever learn?! Forgive me Lord! Remind me of this day each time I am tempted to rush right into my day in the future. Remind me that without You I am weak and full of fault, but with You I can be the Christian woman I long to be…loving and blessing others. Thank you for loving me despite my short comings and imperfections. Continue to convict and discipline me when I am wrong, helping me grow and learn to walk more closely with You.

I want to be able to say like Paul did in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

Thankfully the Lord did not disqualify me from the race! He forgave me. And so did my husband. :) And strangely enough, I feel closer to each of them today. I am abundantly loved and blessed!

I won’t give up. I will get a new grip and keep running the race:

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fail but become strong.”
Hebrews 12:12-13

I am loved and so are you. He doesn’t give up on us. He draws us to Himself:

“Long ago the Lord said…”I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”
Jeremiah 31:3

Remember this is a marathon not a sprint, friends!! :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Plans are underway for Rise & Shine Women's Retreat 2010!! Mark your calendar now for Saturday, October 30, 2010 from 9am to 3pm at Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa! Guest speaker this year will be Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Very exciting!!

Lysa TerKeurst is a dynamic, Spirit-filled speaker. Every woman who has the opportunity to hear her speak will be blessed by her down to earth style and life-giving words. We're so thrilled to have her coming here to share with us in Eastern Iowa!!

The Rise & Shine blog is still in the updating process from last year. The new schedule and registration forms are not yet available, but I'll post updates here letting you know when they are. If you think you are not already and would like to be on the Rise & Shine e-mail update list just send us a message at Remember this event is open to ALL women...of all ages, in all stages and from all places!! Help us spread the word, tell all your friends!! I'd looooove to see YOU there!! =)

I feel so honored to be part of the Rise & Shine team again this year. The Lord showed His faithfulness and provision to us throughout the planning process last year. Looking forward to basking in His goodness again this year!!

We soooo appreciate your prayers as this event is planned. We want the Lord to be glorified and for His hand to be on this event from beginning to end!

To learn more about Lysa check out her blog by clicking here.

To learn more about Rise & Shine Women's Retreat click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Remind Me

I have been especially reminiscent lately. Probably because my “baby” turned 3 on Saturday. On top of that much of what I’ve been reading has to do with setting priorities and making the most of my time. I believe God is speaking something to my heart…again.

Yes, our son turned 3 on Saturday! THREE!! Leaving me again with the question, "Where have the last three years gone?"
John Deere tractor theme and choo choo engineer hat...what more could a guy ask for, right?!
People often tell us to enjoy these precious moments…reminding us of how quickly the time passes. I take their words of advice to heart. Yet, no matter how much I try to savor these moments or try not to "sweat the small stuff", time still passes all too quickly!

It doesn’t seem possible that it has been three years since we brought Andrew home from the hospital...

(It wasn't 01/06/2002. It was 02/01/2007. What a time for the date to mess up on the camera!)

Or almost 3 years since he stated flashing those first smiles...

Or 2 years and 2 months since he walked those first steps...

So today my heart echose the prayer of David in Psalm 39:4-7:
"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth with be. Remind me that my days are numbered - how fleeting my life is.

You have made my life no longer thatn the width of my hand. My entire life time is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.

We are merely shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you."

I would add:

Lord, thank you for showing me Your faithfulness in the past; giving me reason to expect more of the same in the future. I'm thankful that I know I can put my hope and trust in You!

Remind me of how important it is to live each and every day with purpose; setting priorities and living out the plan You have for my life.

Remind me that a very important and valuable part of that plan is mothering this precious child (and the one we will welcome in April as well) that you have given to me and my husband.  Help me to remember that if we teach him Your ways, we will leave a legacy that will far outlive us.


The thought of how fleeting this life is would be a depressing one if I didn't know the One (the only One) that I can put my hope in.

I want to remember to run this race to run with purpose in every step (I Cor 9:24-25).  So that when I come to the end of my life I can say as Paul did in I Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful."

So I finish my prayer...

Lord, give me the strength to run this race with discipline and diligence.  Remind me of what is truly important. Help me to cherish the blessings you have given me...and keep the proper perspective and priorities each day.

I thank you for blessing us with our son Andrew!  He is a gift from you and I feel honored to hav ethe opportunity to raise Him for You.  It is a pleasure to watch Him grow and learn.  Give us wisdom as we teach him Your ways.  May we be shining lights of Your glory in his life.  You are a great big, wonderful and gracious Father.  I love you!  Amen
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13