Just Ask Anne

anne_of_green_gablesI was invited to share a devotional recently at an “Anne of Green Gables” themed baby shower. The guests of honor were a sweet friend and her newly-adopted and long-awaited baby girl. Anne was adopted too, so it was a fitting theme for a very special celebration.

Most of you are probably familiar with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s precocious and charming character, “Anne-with-an-‘e’.” My former roommate Kim was obsessed with her. Years later I, too, became enchanted as my two oldest daughters and I read the books which chronicled her adventures together. And while Anne had a penchant for creating mischief, she also possessed a wisdom beyond her years.

As I reflected on a few of her well-known quotes, they reminded me of some biblical principles for parenting…

1) Relating to God.

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into…that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

When you become a parent, your time is no longer your own. You can’t even go to the bathroom by yourself! As a new mom I especially missed my long, uninterrupted times with God. Often I’d be too tired to even focus my scattered thoughts into prayers. I used to beat myself up for this.

Here’s what I would tell that mama now:  God knows. Give yourself grace. He does.

I was inspired by Gigi Graham Tchividjian’s habit of leaving her Bible open on the ironing board, so she could read or meditate on a verse or two as she went about her busy day. There are many creative ways to relate to God. And He is always closer than a prayer.

Jesus said, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.” (The Message)

2) Making mistakes.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

I remember cuddling my own perfect newborn baby girl and determining to be the perfect mom for her. And then there was that day I was visiting a friend at the hospital and literally FORGOT that I had a nursing baby at home! Upon my return, I was greeted at the door by a frazzled husband and a famished child! Oops. Major mom fail.

Mistakes will be made. Thankfully kids (and usually husbands) are very forgiving. So is God.

“…His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:23b,24a, ESV)

3) Being content.

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

I believe the secret to contentment as a parent is to enjoy what is good in each season. If you focus on what is difficult, you’ll miss what is delightful. If you lament the things you’ve lost or fret about the future, you’ll miss the gifts you’ve been given.

I absolutely dreaded the teen years. And while teens can be challenging, they are also a ton of FUN! I have experienced great joy in watching each of our daughters develop into beautiful young women. Look for the good. It’s there.

“… you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on…the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8, The Message)

4)  Finding friends.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Two decades ago we packed up our two-bedroom apartment and a five-month-old baby and moved “across the pond” to jolly old England. Where we didn’t know One. Single. Soul. Suddenly I didn’t feel so jolly.

Wherever we go, we need kindred spirits–those friends of the heart who just “get” us. Soon after settling into our quaint little English village, God graciously answered my prayers for such a friend through Caroline, herself a new British mum. Through the years there have been others who have come along just when I needed the encouragement of a fellow mom. I currently meet once a week with some dear kindred spirits to pray for our children.

Parenthood is best played as a team sport. Don’t go it alone. Your kindred spirits are out there too, just waiting to be found.

(Paul speaking of Timothy) “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.” (Philippians 2:20, NAS)

 5)  Risking love.

“There is no use in loving things if you have to be torn from them, is there? And it’s so hard to keep from loving things, isn’t it?”

“Enjoy this time. It goes so fast.”

I used to hate it when older moms or random strangers would say that to me when my kids were young. Because I wanted to hold onto my babies forever. And I knew I couldn’t.

Making the decision to have a child…is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” (Elizabeth Stone)

There is an inherent vulnerability that comes with having and loving a child. It can be hard on the heart. But nothing has taught me more about selfless, sacrificial love than being a mom. It has stretched me and called out the best in me. It has taught me to love like God loves.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NLT)

Parenting will take all you’ve got. And then some. But love is always worth the cost.

Whether you’re a new parent just embarking on your journey, or one who’s logged some parenting miles, take heart. There is help and wisdom to guide you along the way.

Sometimes it may come from a surprising source, like a former orphan girl named Anne.

But always, always, it is readily available from your ever-present and never-failing Heavenly Father.

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Only Child

It’s been a good week to be Rachel.

With her older and younger sisters both happily away at camp, a rare, perhaps unprecedented thing occurred:

The “Middle” Child became the “Only” Child.

She’s had our exclusive attention.  Been treated to lunch, coffee and shopping.  Watched whatever she’s wanted on TV.  Hasn’t had to share.  Not one little bit.

It all ends tomorrow.  (Sorry, Rach.)

But she’s certainly enjoyed it while it’s lasted.

As a mom of three daughters, I try hard not to play favorites.  I love them all equally.  I love them each uniquely.

But I do not love them perfectly.  Despite my best intentions, there are those inevitable times when someone feels slighted or neglected.  Even the highest human love has its limitations.

Not so with God and His children.  For He is the Perfect Father.

His love is Unfailing.  His time is Unlimited.  His attention is Undivided.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love.”
(St. Augustine) 

Since He’s infinite and omnipresent, He can pull this off.  All of the time.

He is GOD.

As His children, we have been given privileged, unrivaled access to His presence.

Yes, we are members of a wide and wonderful family.  We are brothers and sisters who need each other and (try to) love each other.  (Well, most of the time.)

But we also crave and need focused, one-on-one time with our Father.  Isn’t it reassuring to know that He is able and willing to relate to each of us individually?

It’s almost as if we were His only child.  Every single day.  We are never overlooked or forgotten.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. (Ephesians 5:1, NIV)
 

We are all extremely dear to Him.

The word ‘dear’ in the Greek is agapetos. Agapetos means beloved, esteemed, worthy of love—God’s favorite.” (Jill Savage)
 

God never plays favorites.

Because we are EACH His favorite.

It’s always a good week to be us!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a, NIV)
 
I love my girls!  And my little guy too.

I love each of my girls! And my little guy too.

 

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Mom Marathon

exhausted-runnerI am a mom.

I am tired.

Anyone who’s had kids knows those two sentences often go hand in hand.

I guess I’ve earned the right to be weary.  I’ve been at this mothering thing for nearly 22 years now.  And with a newly-minted teenager under our roof, it appears I’ll be at it for a few more.

Sometimes it feels like I’m running a marathon.

In fact, if I add up the time from when our first child entered the world to when our youngest child will exit high school, the span is a little over 26 years.  A marathon = 26.2 miles.  Hmmm.  That must mean I’m in Mile 22 of the Mom Marathon.

No wonder I’m tired.

Believe it or not, I actually completed a couple of 10ks back in the day.  (Never mind the fact that I passed out after one of them.)  But I’ve never run a marathon.  Nor do I wish to.  I can only imagine the challenges of a race that long.

“The marathon is half over at 20 miles.” quipped distance runner Frank Shorter.  Apparently around miles 20 to 21 there comes a point where runners have used up their glycogen stores, and the race becomes even more difficult.  Exhausted runners are literally “running on empty,” and have hit the proverbial “Wall.”  It’s a phenomenon also known as “The Marathon Bonk.”

Could there also be a “Motherhood Bonk?”

It sure might help explain some things.

Like how my reserves seem to be depleted.  How my reactions aren’t always stellar.  How I sometimes wonder if I’ll make it through one more round of teenage drama.

(So while I may be going “bonkers,” it’s a relief to consider that it might even be “normal” and expected at this stage in the race!)

How do marathoners beat the bonk?  I turned to the Internet in search of some tips that might help me conquer my maternal marathon mountain.  The collective wisdom they had to offer could be summarized in just two words:

Don’t.  Quit.

Really?  Is that the best you’ve got?  Cause I was kind of hoping for a little bit more.

One marathoner put it this way:  “What do you do?  Keep going!  Your body will make the transition and you will push through “the wall” to the finish line.”*

Maybe those marathon veterans are wiser than one might think.  It sounds an awful lot like something the apostle Paul once said:

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)
 

Life is hard.  So is parenting.

We’re all going to hit those inevitable “walls,” those times when we’re running on empty.  When we don’t know how we can possibly take another step.

Press on.  Push through.

God will give us the strength to put one front in front of the other.  And then do it again.  And again.  And again.

Because that’s how it’s done.

Along the way, He will refresh and refuel us.  He’ll supply everything we need to finish the race.  And finish well.

And so we keep on running…

 

(In church yesterday we sang the Hillsong United song “Running.”  It was timely encouragement!  Perhaps it will encourage you too!  Check it out here:  http://youtu.be/UOq5vmsTDWY )

*Source:  www.marathonrookie.com

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Stormy Weather

The drive to Laurel’s orthodontist appointment on this sunny summer morning was pleasant enough.  We chatted amiably and even prayed together.  The drive home?  Not so much.  By the time we turned into the driveway we were hardly speaking to each other.

This was Laurel’s first time getting her braces tightened.  (Or adjusted.  Or whatever it is they do to braces these days.)  The assistant wasn’t the most gentle, and before we even left the office Laurel’s teeth were already sore.  She was also disappointed that her braces were minus the colored elastics she was hoping to sport for her upcoming birthday.  (This may sound minor.  Let me assure you, as the mom of a 12-almost-13-year-old, that it is not.)  Physical pain plus emotional let down is a bad combo.

When my children are hurt I don’t handle it well.  I often react by getting angry.  Not at them, but at the situation, and my lack of control over it.  (Of course, they don’t know the difference.)  I also have a low tolerance for complaining.  The kind which commenced immediately upon exiting the orthodontist’s office.  Another bad combo.

Add to all of this an adolescent girl and one menopausal mama and you’ve now got yourself a really  bad combo.  A hormonal hurricane.  The perfect storm.

Our emotions and voices began rising like an incoming tidal surge.  Before we even knew what had hit, “Tropical Storm Smith” had made landfall and was swirling around us.  Words pelted.  Tears fell.

Upon arriving home we quickly retreated to separate rooms to recover and regroup.  I attempted to process the emotionally charged exchange that had just occurred.  A common denominator stood out to me:  Pain.

When we are hurting, either physically or emotionally, conditions are ideal for a storm to develop.  I also recalled reading a few years ago that hurricanes need fuel, in the form of moist, warm air, to survive.  Laurel’s frustration and my anger added the necessary fuel components.  Next thing we knew we were caught up in unexpected, heated conflict.

Jesus knew a thing or two about storms.  To this day, the Sea of Galilee is notorious for sudden storms that can spring up out of nowhere.  Jesus and His disciples were threatened by such storms on more than one occasion.  Only they never caught Him off guard.

Thankfully, He also knows a thing or two about calming storms.  I asked Him to settle my heart and restore peace to my relationship with my daughter.  We offered and accepted apologies and shared hugs.  We were able to discuss what had happened, and why, and how we might prevent it from escalating out of control in the future.

It isn’t always smooth sailing in relationships.  Storms sneak up.  Conflicts come.  Hormones wreak havoc.    But we don’t have to end up a shipwreck.  With His help we can seek to understand our reactions, learn from our mistakes, and take steps to avoid repeating them.

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39, ESV)
 

Ahh, the sweet calm after the storm.

(Note:  The painting above is called “Storm Before the Calm” by Lucy Dickens.)

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The Nest

Spotting the first robins of spring always takes me back to the spring of 2006, an ordinary robin’s nest, and the simple truths it contained…

We had a front row seat to the miracle of new life.  A pair of robins built their nest low in the branches of our apple tree.  So low, in fact, that my three kids could peer right in, without even standing on tiptoes.  Four beautiful, blue, perfectly formed eggs peered right back at them.  And so the story began.

{Photo by Emily Smith}

I found myself strangely comforted by the sight of the mama bird perched so contentedly on that nest.  Each morning I’d wake up and eagerly part my bedroom blinds for a look out at the apple tree.  There she always sat, regardless of what our unpredictable Wyoming spring weather threw at her.  Sun, rain, sleet, snow, hail, and the ever prevailing wind–she prevailed through it all.

My oldest daughter got on the Internet and informed us that a robin’s egg incubates for 12-14 days.  And sure enough, about two weeks later, we chased the robin off the nest long enough to note that three of the eggs had indeed hatched.  In their place were tiny, hairless little creatures with faces only a mother robin could love.

The remaining egg hatched a day or so later.  Soon all we could see were four golden beaks, pointing up like sharpened pencils, when their mother returned to the nest with dinner.  Within a few days we could also hear those noisy beaks as they celebrated the timely arrival of a juicy worm or some other succulent morsel.

We human mothers have more in common with our feathered friends than you might think.  After all, we say an expectant mom is “nesting” when she compulsively cleans right before her due date.  And how do we refer to the home when the last child leaves?  It’s an “empty nest!”  The Bible also frequently uses the imagery of a bird and its young to illustrate God’s special relationship with His children.

As the drama surrounding the busy nest in our backyard unfolded, I realized I had been granted a privileged spot in a unique classroom.  A humble robin may be an unusual and unlikely mentor.  But as I sat under her able instruction, I watched…and learned.

Lesson #1:  It matters.

The mother robin was a picture of serenity as she rested sedately on her nest.  I was attracted to her quiet dignity as she faithfully fulfilled the purpose for which God had created her. She almost seemed to be holding her head high, proud of her noble calling.

The robin instinctively knows her place and purpose in the world.  But you and I need to be reminded that giving birth to and nurturing LIFE is an unparalleled honor given to us by God.  What could be more significant?  Mothering matters!  It is a reflection of the heart and nature of our Creator.  Like the robin, we can experience peace and contentment, knowing we are in the very center of God’s will.

Lesson #2:  Stay close.

Before the eggs hatched, the robin spent most of her time sitting on the nest.  She would occasionally leave its perimeters in search of a snack or a quick shower in the sprinkler, but she never traveled far and always returned quickly.  Several times we ventured out into the yard to sneak a peek at the nest when it appeared to be unoccupied.  Each time we were surprised to find that she hadn’t abandoned her post at all, but was somewhere in the grass or branches within earshot and eyesight.

When our children are young and vulnerable, they need the comfort of our presence and the assurance that we are never far away.  We may at times, out of necessity, need to leave the nest.  (Time away to preserve one’s sanity is also a necessity!)  But stay as close as you possibly can and return as quickly as you can.

One of the qualities I appreciate most about my heavenly Father is the fact that He is always near, keeping a watchful eye on His beloved children.  Deuteronomy 32:11a describes God this way:  “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young…”  And Psalm 73:28, one of my all-time favorites, states that:  “The nearness of God is my good.”  Let your nearness be the good of your children as well.

Lesson #3:  It’s hard work.

After the eggs hatched, the robin no longer had the luxury of putting her feet up on the sides of a quiet nest.  She spent most of her time then flying tirelessly back and forth across the yard, gathering food and dropping it into four hungry mouths.  As soon as the quadruplets caught even a glimpse of her in the tree branches they would sit up and start squawking for more.  Once they were satisfied, she would wiggle her red breast and then plop it right down on top of them, as if to say, “It’s nap time!”  Surely, it was she who needed the nap!

Parenting small children can often feel like we’re rowing on an endless sea of needs.  I remember many times pulling our van into the driveway with a crying baby needing to be fed, a whining toddler needing attention, melting groceries needing to be put away, not to mention my own full bladder needing to be emptied…trying to decide which of those needs to meet first!  Often we moms feel like we’re last in line and wonder with a sigh, Who is going to meet my needs–and when?

Listen to what God says to you in His Word.  “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)  In Philippians 4:19 He promises that He “…shall supply all your needs…” !

You matter to Him!  You don’t have to wait in line for Him to wait on you.  When you look to Him to care for your needs, you will be filled up to care for the many needs of your family.

Lesson #4:  It’s a battle.

The first time we approached the robin’s nest she flew off, frightened.  As time went on she grew bolder in her protection of her eggs and later of her babies.  Once she even chased my scared kids all the way up the stairs of our wooden deck and back into the house as she chirped loudly and flew at them aggressively.

We too need to be bold and vigilant in protecting our young.  Dangers lurk everywhere–from oncoming traffic to Internet predators and everything in between.  The Bible says there are also three enemies of our souls:  the world, Satan, and our flesh.  These threats may seem less obvious but the spiritual danger is just as real.

Prayer is a mother’s secret and best weapon.  I believe God’s heart is especially tender to a mama’s cries on her babies’ behalf.  Despite the myriad dangers, we can rest in His capable protection of them and of us as we pray and “hide in the shadow of (His) wings.” (Psalm 17:8)

Lesson #5:  Stay together.

It wasn’t many weeks before the quads were tumbling out of the nest and testing out their own new wings.  One night, not long after they had flown the coop, my husband and I relaxed outside on our porch swing, enjoying the cool and calm of the May evening.  Against the backdrop of a colorful sunset, silhouetted on the fence, we spied the pair of robins.  None of the baby robins were in view, but there the parents were–still together, a team, lifelong companions.

It is no secret that half of all marriages today don’t make it.  Many don’t weather the storms and stresses of the child raising years well.  Some of my sweet single mom friends can attest to this painful reality firsthand.

But there is hope.  Beth Moore shares in Feathers From My Nest:

We’re making it. And so can you. Only one thing stood between us and a scattered nest. God. Ever loving us, forgiving us, teaching us, restoring us. Redeeming our failures. Reclaiming our surrendered ground. Repairing our broken wings. As Psalm 91:4 says, He covered us with His feathers. And they are all over our nest.”

Precious, hard working mom, like the robin you, too, can hold your head high.  God has entrusted you with the most important assignment in all of creation.  Let Him be the Lord of your nest.  He will enable you to do your job well.  He will so graciously provide and ever so powerfully protect.  Then this will be your grateful song of victory:

  ..You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. (Psalm 63:7)

Note:  All Scripture references are from The New American Standard Version.

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A Mother’s Prayer

The pond of emotion wells up, overflows and seeps out the corner of my eye, a quiet rivulet.  I linger at the dining room window, prayerfully watching until that final moment when her car disappears from view.  She’s happy and carefree, off to visit college friends on the Colorado western slope for a week.

I want this for her.  I do.

But she’s also young, and it’s her first trip solo.  And it’s over the Rocky Mountains.  In January.

It’s not just her physical safety I worry about.  I know there are other dangers.  Spiritual ones.  The kind that wake a mother in the dead of night and compel her to cry out in the darkness to the only true Light.

Does it ever get any easier?  These goodbyes, this letting go, this releasing and trusting?

Seeking solace, I stumble upon a “mother’s” version of “The Prayer” by Celine Dion.  I make it my prayer.  I want this for her too, and for each of my daughters three.

And I am consoled, for I am not the first mom to pour out her heart in tearful intercession for a precious child.  I find comfort, for there is One who watches, and the car never slips out of His sight.

A Mother’s Prayer*

I pray you’ll be my eyes
And watch her where she goes
And help her to be wise
Help me to let go

Every mother’s prayer
Every child knows
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she’ll be safe

I pray she finds your light
And holds it in her heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind her where you are

Every mother’s prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide her with your grace
Give her faith so she’ll be safe

Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she’ll be safe

 

*Lyrics to “The Prayer” by David Foster / Carole Bayer Sager.  Here’s a link to Celine Dion’s beautiful rendition:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNJBe5kZEjk

(Painting is “Woman at Window” by Holsoe)

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A Tale of Two Moms

Two moms, strangers, in different states, but both in “Moms in Prayer” groups,  just happened to pray  the same prayer last spring.  They both asked God to provide good roommates for their daughters, who would soon be going off to college.

Two girls, strangers, in different states, but both high school seniors planning to attend the same college, just happened to strike up a friendship on the college’s Facebook page.

They discovered that they just happened to be in the same dorm, and just happened to be in the same dorm community.  They requested and were assigned each other as roommates.  A summer family vacation just happened to bring one of them within thirty minutes of the other, allowing them to meet.  They hit it off, and were even more excited to find that they also just happened to share the same faith.

Today two moms met, as they moved their two daughters into their shared dorm room.  One of the moms just happened to mention that she had prayed for her daughter’s roommate last spring in her “Moms in Prayer” group…

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What’s a Mom to Do?

A friend whose oldest son was entering the teen years asked me if I had any parenting advice for her.  I thought for a moment, searching for something profound to share, some pearl of wisdom that might help her sail more smoothly on the often choppy waters of adolescence.  But all I could come up with was one word.

“Pray.”

I remember feeling somewhat apologetic.  Like I had disappointed her with the simplicity of my answer and lack of practical help.  But the more I thought about it, I realized that that one little word really was the one big thing that had helped me through every challenge I had encountered as a mom of teenagers.

Sure, I prayed when my children were young.  Back then, though, I was the one planning the play dates and calling the shots.  The kids were never far from sight, or if they were, they were under the watchful eye of someone I knew and trusted.

With teens there were so many more variables and unknowns.  So much was out of my control.  And it seemed like every time I turned around I was being faced with a decision that needed to be made–now.

“Mom, can I spend the night at Amanda’s after the game tonight?”

“There’s this Halloween party Saturday night and EVERYone is going to be there.  Can I PLEASE go?”

“Friday night this REALLY cool band is playing that I’d REALLY like to go hear.”

Help!  First I would try to gather as much information as I possibly could about the situation.  Who is going to be there?  Will there be adult supervision?  Would it be ok if we just locked you in your room until you turn 18?  (Just kidding.  But I will admit the thought has crossed our minds.  More than once.)

But then what?  What’s a mom to do when she doesn’t know what to do?  I believe the answer is found in James 1:5:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
 

It’s that simple.  Ask God.  Pray.  He promises wisdom and guidance to those who ask in faith.  The right path didn’t always appear instantly obvious, but, with His help, a wise decision could eventually be made.  (Which would then be followed by even more prayer–before, during, and after the event!)

Other times it wasn’t a specific question needing an answer, but more of a vague uneasiness that would settle over my maternal spirit.  Like Madeline’s Miss Clavel I would “turn on the light,” sensing “something was not right.”  I believe the Holy Spirit was alerting me to a need or potential danger and prompting me to pray.  Often I would discover that the child I was burdened for was indeed in the midst of some struggle and in need of my prayerful attention.

“But I am in prayer.”  (Psalm 109:4)
 

David spoke these words during a trying season when he was facing great opposition and oppression.  When I have been overwhelmed by a difficult parenting challenge, or felt like we were losing ground in a particular battle, this phrase would encourage me to keep interceding for my children.  Prayer really does change things.  I have seen healthy relationships begin, unhealthy relationships end, sins exposed, and breakthroughs occur–all in answer to prayers I’ve prayed.

Joining with other like-minded moms in prayer has also been a huge source of strength and support during these years.  My weekly “Moms in Prayer” (formerly “Moms in Touch”) group has been a place to share burdens and agree in prayer together.  I always leave that time feeling lighter in spirit, less anxious, and more encouraged.  Prayer has changed ME.

So perhaps I AM wiser than I thought when it comes to offering parenting advice.  Or maybe I just know what to do when I don’t know what to do.

I pray.

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A Mother’s Ring, A Father’s Heart

I’ve wanted a “Mother’s Ring” ever since our third child arrived and completed our family eleven years ago.  I thought the girls’ birthstones–topaz, sapphire, and ruby–would look pretty together.  Being a proud mom, as well as a sentimental person, I liked the idea of wearing a visible reminder of my three lovely lasses.

Shortly after our youngest daughter was born, I did the Bible study “A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place” by Beth Moore.  I came across the passage in the Old Testament describing the details of the Jewish high priest’s garments.  Twelve precious stones were to be fastened on the priest’s breastplate, representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Topaz, sapphire, emerald, amethyst and diamond were a few we might recognize today.  These were placed in four rows of three and were to be worn “over his heart, before the Lord, continually.”  (Exodus 28:30b)  I recall being struck by the fact that the Creator and God of the Universe would want reminders like this of His people, and that He would care about them in such a personal, and even, dare I say, sentimental  way!

Below is a picture of the Mother’s Ring my sweet husband gave me for Christmas this year.  The sight of those three stones all lined up in their proper order brought tears to my eyes.  But what really touched me was that he had each of the girls’ names engraved next to their birthstones!

The day after Christmas I revisited the passage in Exodus 28 to refresh my memory, and made a new discovery.  Not only did the high priest wear the twelve “birthstones,” but he also wore two additional stones, made of onyx and set in gold upon each shoulder.  And guess what?  They were engraved  with “the names of the sons of Israel in the order of their birth”  (Exodus 28:9,10)!

Our God is caring like a father.  He is sentimental like a mother.  He knows each of His children by name.  And like any loving parent, he likes things that remind Him of His kids.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before Me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

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