Hidden Treasure


I strolled right past this simple pencil drawing at the silent auction last month. I honestly don’t remember ever seeing it.

My co-worker’s husband purchased it for our pregnancy center. He proudly showed it to my husband and me as we exited the banquet. Still, I didn’t think much of it.

Until the following Monday morning at work, when I took the time to read the artist’s description of the story behind it:

Mother Teresa herself asked me to create this special drawing of a little child carved in the Palm of God’s Hand. She wanted me to include this beautiful passage from the Old Testament in which God says to each one of us, through the Prophet Isaiah, “See! I will not forget you…I love you.” I created this image for Mother Teresa in 1986, while I was with her in Calcutta, India. –Susan Conroy”

Wow. This was an original piece of artwork, conceived and commissioned by Mother Teresa herself! I realized that the drawing–that I had disregarded–was instead something very special.

But there’s even more to this story. If you look carefully, you will see a word written in pencil on each of the fingers in the drawing. The artist explains:

Mother Teresa wrote on each of the fingers of God’s Hand: “You did it to Me” to remind us of the Words that Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto Me.”

“You. Did. It. To. Me.”

Jesus’ own words, written in her own handwriting.

Those who knew this precious servant of Christ recall how she sometimes held up the fingers of her hand to explain this. The whole Gospel, she said, could be counted on five fingers.*

I call this the Gospel on five fingers—five words: You did it to me. In your five fingers you have your love for Jesus. Look at your fingers often and remind yourself of this love.” –Mother Teresa

What a treasure! The drawing now hangs in a place of honor in our center. I pass it in the hallway each day as I head up the stairs to my office. It reminds me of the evening of the silent auction. How I missed it, then dismissed it.

Just like I do with people.

How many have I just passed by, too busy or preoccupied to notice? How many have I glanced at with my eyes, but then rejected with my mind? Sized up based upon their outward appearance? Judged in a split second, before taking a few moments to learn their history?

My job at the center has been good for me. I’ve interacted with people I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. They are sometimes uneducated, unemployed, unkempt.

The least of these.

But then they share their stories. My eyes are opened. My heart is moved. I can appreciate their uniqueness. I understand their worth.

I am learning to care for them.

Teresa of Calcutta did.

I am beginning to treasure them.

Jesus of Nazareth does.

I am preaching His Gospel to myself.

The one in five little words.

The one that changes everything.

“You did it to Me.”

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40, ESV) 


*Monsignor Leo Maasburg

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Love in Any Language

The sun had just poked its head over the horizon and I had just lifted mine off of the pillow. My slippered feet shuffled across the cold kitchen floor, on auto pilot, headed to the counter where the electric tea kettle–and the caffeine–live. On the speckled granite lay an unexpected message from my husband, hastily scribbled on the back of a discarded envelope:


My guy has a true servant’s heart. It’s his spiritual gift, his native tongue. “Acts of Service” are his “Love Language.”

Unfortunately, they’re not mine.

You’re familiar with “The Five Love Languages,” right? Author Gary Chapman writes:

After 30 years as a marriage counselor, I am convinced that there are five basic love languages – five ways to express love emotionally. Each person has a primary love language that we must learn to speak if we want that person to feel loved.”

According to Chapman, the five love languages are:  Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, and Physical Touch. You can read more about them and even take a handy quiz to help determine your love language at: www.5lovelanguages.com.

I believe my primary love language is “Words of Affirmation.” A sincere compliment can fill me up for a week. I love to send handmade cards and write encouraging notes. Words are my friends. (I also like “Gifts.” Gifts are my friends.)

Chris and I read “The Five Love Languages” shortly after the book came out in the mid-90’s. You’d think we’d be fluent in each other’s love languages by now. But we forget. We get lazy. Learning to speak a second language requires focus and determination. And practice.

My helpful hubby got some credit for the handwritten “note” on the back of the envelope that morning. But my heart sank a little when I realized it was only to tell me that he had filled up my car with gas, and not something more, well…inspiring.


Like I said, while I do appreciate them, “Acts of Service” are just not my love language.

And then the Holy Spirit spoke to the pouting child in me. In one of His love languages. The one called “A Gentle Rebuke.”


I’m not very fond of that love language either.

What He whispered to my critical heart sounded something like this:

You can demand that others love you a certain way. Or you can choose to receive the love they offer you in whatever form it takes. Because love is…love. This act of service sprang from a heart of love. Will you accept it or reject it? The choice is yours.

Standing at the kitchen counter at the start of that new day, I made a choice to accept it.

And to thank the Lord for a husband who finds joy in unselfish service. To receive the gracious gift of a full tank of gas. To let the power of those two little words, “Love you,” linger in my thoughts and penetrate my heart.

He loves me.

It’s all that matters.

Understanding our loved ones’ love languages can help us communicate more effectively. But really, I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible that insists love be spoken in a certain “language.” There’s only this:

…love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22b, NIV)

Love deeply. From the heart.

There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” (George Sand)

Just love, and be loved.

So simple, it needs no translation.

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Call Me Old-fashioned

I’m used to being called “old.”  Teenage daughters make sure of that.

But I had never been called “old-fashioned.” Until the other day.

I was extolling the benefits of marriage to a young unmarried gal at work. I shared how my husband and I had been blessed with three wonderful daughters and had recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I hoped it might serve as an inspiration, an example worth emulating.

Instead, I was dismissed as being “old-fashioned.”


I pondered her perspective.

To her generation, monogamy is monotonous. Marriage? An archaic institution, a mere piece of paper. Traditional family values have gone the way of land lines and snail mail.

I suddenly felt out of touch and out of style.

Then the Lord brought this verse to mind:

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'” (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV)

Commentators on this verse agree that the image here is of travelers who have lost their way. They’re standing at a crossroads, where many paths converge. Which way should they go? The Scripture answers by encouraging weary wanderers to choose the “ancient” paths, the “good” way.

The Hebrew word for “ancient,” or “old” (in the NLT) is defined as: (of) long duration, everlasting, eternal. The word “good” can also be translated: beautiful, beneficial, best.*

Just because something is “old” doesn’t mean it has lost its relevance. God’s principles are timeless, eternal, intended for every generation. Choosing to follow His ways isn’t outdated or old-fashioned.

It is wise.

…look into the Scriptures, they are the best directory to us… (John Gill)

The benefit of sticking to God’s time-tested paths is also laid out for us in this verse: You will find rest for your souls.

I love the way Matthew Poole describes this “soul rest” in his commentary:

…you will find God to stand by you, and be a sanctuary to you. You will find things mend with you; it will be well with you…you will be satisfied and quiet; you will not doubt any longer which way to follow…”

Isn’t this the kind of well-being we’d all welcome? The type of satisfaction we should each seek, regardless of age?

I shared this verse with the young woman the following week. I am praying that she considers it.

Each of us, at various points in our lives, will encounter figurative forks in the road, those spiritual crossroads. Let God’s reliable Word be your guide. Trust that His plans for you are good. Walk in His paths and you will find true satisfaction and rest.

Call me old-fashioned. I don’t care.

His Word is timeless.

His heart is wise.

His ways are best.


Lord, You have been our refuge in every generation. (Psalm 90:1b, HCSB)


*Definitions are from The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.

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Bittersweet Blessing

E and M ii

Tomorrow these two will begin a new adventure. They will leave the frozen Wyoming tundra and head to warmer parts. The wooded hills of Virginia beckon. They must answer the call.

We will miss them, accustomed as we have become to the two tall figures who have become a fixture on the worn plaid loveseat in our family room. Countless hours have they spent there, side by side, amusing themselves with videos on their iPhones, completing college assignments on their laptops (that would be Emily) or watching football games on the television screen (that would be Morgan).

“It is bittersweet,” I say to friends who inquire about their imminent departure. We are so excited for them. We are sad for us.

But really, there is no bitter. There is only sweet.

We’ve been so blessed.

If those cushions could communicate, they would tell of the many conversations, laughs, and giggles (that would be Emily) they overheard during the past four and a half years. Indeed, as Chris and I warmed our assigned seats on the adjacent matching plaid couch, we too were privileged to look on with pride and joy as this young couple matured in love, walked uprightly, waited patiently (that would be Morgan), made plans to marry.

There were a few disagreements, occasional misunderstandings, and some tears, to be sure. These are necessary in the forging of a true and lasting union. But even the bitter becomes sweet when Christ is present.* From the beginning they had invited Him into their relationship. And He smiled upon them and blessed them as they occupied their place on that loveseat.

So tomorrow we will send them out with our blessing. We will no doubt shed more tears before the day is done. But we will smile through the tears. We will hold them tight and then force ourselves to let them go. And we will thank the Lord for the time He gave us.

Sweet, sweet time. Sweet, sweet couple.

As our longtime friend John Lamb is fond of saying, Morgan and Emily, “You are good for this world.”

Go now, and be a blessing.

Our couch may be empty.

But our hearts will be full.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

(Numbers 6:24-26, NKJV)

*See Exodus 15:22-25.

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Blue Light Special

I have fair skin. In my teens and twenties, I tried in vain to tan. As my fair-skinned (and funny) husband is fond of saying, “I have two colors:  White and Red.”

I decided I’d rather be red than white. So I’d foolishly smear baby oil on my translucent skin and proceed to roast like a rotisserie chicken beside our backyard pool. A few times I even held one of those foil reflector shields under my upturned face, as if the almighty Arizona sun needed magnifying. I cringe now at the thought.

Pass the aloe vera.

Fast forward a few decades and there is now a price to be paid for my youthful tanning indiscretions: wrinkles, sun damage, and skin cancer. I’m a frequent flyer at my dermatologist’s office. When I walk through that door it feels more like I’m entering a war zone than a waiting room, with all those aging faces sporting bandages.

We reap what we sow. Even if it takes years to appear.

While we are free to choose, we are not free from the consequences of our choices. This is a time-tested principle, a spiritual “law” if you will, straight out of the Bible:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7, ESV) 

Sow sun, reap skin damage.

Today I returned to the dreaded “war zone.” Only this visit was for a treatment called “Photodynamic Therapy,” or PDT. Levulanic acid is carefully applied to the face and allowed to soak into the skin for one hour. It is then activated by a special blue light, which causes the chemicals to attack and kill any pre-cancerous cells.

But wait, it gets even better. This incredible treatment not only prevents skin cancer from developing, it also reverses past sun damage! I find this absolutely amazing.

It’s what I’d call a true “Blue Light Special.”

It’s also an illuminating illustration of our God.

…he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10, NIV)

God is not mocked. But He is also merciful.

He enters those war-torn places in our lives and soothes them with His gentle, but penetrating light. Neutralizing the cancerous spread of sin. Repairing, even reversing the damage inflicted upon us by others and, yes, even ourselves. Restoring us to spiritual health and emotional wholeness.

No, we don’t deserve it.

We can merely receive it, with an upturned face and a heart bowed down.

Come. Shine on me, Lord.

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays… (Micah 4:2a, NIV)

Wonderful, merciful Savior.

Beautiful, healing Light.

blue light 

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The Many Faces of Miracle

I sat across the table from two miracles yesterday.

The first was a precious, five-month-old baby girl, with ebony hair and pewter eyes. She looks just like her mama. You’d never guess she was adopted.

As we visited over tea, my friend shared how her daughter’s birth mother had used drugs, unaware that she was pregnant. How her morning sickness eventually became so severe that she had no other option but to stop using. How this possibly spared both of their lives.

A godly family took her under their wing. With their encouragement and support, she chose to carry her baby to term and place her in a loving home. Which is where her story and my friend’s story became divinely, mercifully intertwined.

What does this brave birth mom think of her decision now? She recently said this to my friend:

She is your missing puzzle piece and my saving grace.”

Amazing, miraculous grace.

That same evening I slid into a restaurant booth across from a slender, sweet-spirited teen, with braided ombre hair and dark almond eyes. I knew she was adopted, because she looks nothing like her mom.

As we chatted over a late dinner of pasta, she shared a little of her story. How her first “home” was a Chinese orphanage, which only housed children up to the age of twelve. How these twelve-year-old orphanage “graduates” were then put out on the streets. How as an infant she was adopted by her parents right before the Chinese government began restricting foreign adoptions.

She stated all of this information quite matter-of-factly. But I knew that, for the second time that day, I was beholding the face of a miracle.

A little over a month ago I went back to work part-time as a “Client Advocate” at our local pregnancy center. It wasn’t the position I applied for. But apparently it’s the position God had in mind for me.

I’m not gonna lie. It isn’t easy.

“STDs”…”LMPs”…abortion risks and procedures…these are not topics in my usual dinnertime–or any time–conversation. But these words are now a regular part of my new workplace vocabulary. Women come into our center seeking free pregnancy tests, options counseling, ultrasounds.

After a client checks in and fills out the necessary paperwork, I welcome them into my upstairs office and direct them to the comfy swivel chair opposite mine. I look into their faces. I ask questions. I take notes. I listen to their story, the one that’s unfolding in real time, right in front of me.

And I silently pray.

I ask for wisdom and compassion.

I try to point them to the Source of Life. The Giver of Living Water. The Miracle Worker.

Yes, some days are discouraging. Many conversations are difficult. But I’m walking by faith and trusting that God has put me right where He wants me to be. And that He will do what only HE can do.

I sat across the table from two miracles yesterday.

You just never know when you might come face to face with a miracle in the making.

Mother holding baby

You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. (Psalm 77:14, NIV)

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Sticky Note Prayers


My husband and I enjoyed a spontaneous date last night to see the movie “War Room.” Have you seen it? It’s a heartwarming story of the life-changing power of prayer. The title comes from the example of the elderly Miss Clara, a prayer warrior. Taking the words of Matthew 6:6 literally, she dedicated an actual closet in her home as a “war room,” where she engaged in spiritual battle through prayer. (The King James Version of the Bible translates the word for “inner room” in this verse as “closet.”)

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Now, I don’t really consider myself a prayer warrior. But apparently some of my friends do. I regularly get texts, emails and Facebook messages requesting prayer for various needs and concerns.

I’m humbled. And I care. So I pray.

I don’t have a prayer closet. It’s more like a prayer bed. Sticky notes of various sizes and colors often dot my bedside nightstand. (Only they don’t usually stick because I rarely dust. They’re more like floaty notes.)

I think my little prayer “system” began when I started jotting down names on the nearest sticky note to remind me to pray. And you know what? It worked! Tiny neon rectangles catch the eye and convey a sense of urgency:

Do this. NOW.

At the end of the day, before I turn out the light, I pray. I pray for a couple of lovely ladies who are going through, or recovering from, cancer treatments. Sweet friends who are going through difficult transitions. Precious ones who are grappling with the fresh loss of family members. God-loving parents who are dealing with wayward children.

Writing a name on a simple sticky note has become a sacred commitment to intercede on their behalf. Yes, there are nights when I’m too tired to pray. Other times I don’t know what to pray. I entrust these dear souls to the Faithful One who intercedes for them with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

HE knows what to do. HE knows what they need.

Is God asking you to pray? Don’t let examples like Miss Clara’s intimidate you. Just start somewhere. Whenever, wherever, whatever works for you. God is infinitely creative.

Don’t know how to pray? Just talk to Him. Share your heart. Pray a Scripture. Sing a worship song. His Spirit will guide you.

Are you in need of prayer? I would be honored to pray for you. Just click on the “About Me” link where you will find my email address.

But first…

Let me go and grab a sticky note! 😉

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)

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I Just Wanna Be a Sheep

One of the perks of being a youth leader is having permission to act immaturely relive one’s younger years. (Right, Morgan?) The following kids’ song was repeatedly requested in our fifteen passenger van as we drove to and from the “Desperation” conference last month. I found myself happily singing along, belting it out with the rest of them.

(Go ahead. Push play. You know you want to.)

(Now you too can have that song stuck in your head! You’re welcome. Baa Baa Baa.)

Let’s get baaack to the purpose of this blog post.

If you know me, you know I have a thing for sheep.

Apparently Jesus did too.

In John 10 He uses the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep to illustrate the special kind of relationship He has with His flock. Lately John 10:27 has also been on auto replay in my mind:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me… (John 10:27, NAS)

It’s as if the Lord has been saying to me, “Just be a sheep. It’s that simple.”

If that’s the case, then what does it mean to be a sheep in the Shepherd’s care?

It means that…

1) I belong.

“My sheep…”

I can almost hear the pride in His voice as He refers to “My” sheep. He is fiercely possessive of us. Because we belong to Him. We are His.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1b, NAS)

2) I am known.

“I know them…”

It’s easy to focus on knowing GOD and overlook the wonderful truth that WE are known by HIM. Don’t we all long to be known, understood, and loved? The fact is, we ARE! The shepherd David penned a beautiful description of sheep living under the knowing gaze of God:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all. (Psalm 139:1-4, NAS)

3) I can hear His voice.

“My sheep hear My voice…”

Sheep who spend time in the fields with their shepherd come to recognize His voice. It’s the same with our Shepherd. He desires to communicate with us and to teach us to respond to His voice.

Here are a few ways He speaks to us:

Through His Word. Have you ever had a Bible verse just jump out at you? My heart beats a little faster when this happens. Because I know it’s His Spirit, highlighting a particular passage just for me.

Through fellow sheep. He did this last week while I was chatting on the phone with my mom. She just “happened” to say just the right thing at just the right time. God was reaching out to encourage me through her words.

Through prayer. A few days ago, the Lord answered a specific prayer, mid-prayer, by inspiring a new thought in my mind. I knew it was a word from Him, because it was almost startling in its wisdom and clarity.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21, NLT)

4) I get to follow Him.

“…they follow Me.”

Sheep have only one job, and that is to stay near the shepherd. He is the source of their protection and provision. It only makes sense to follow Him.

My little dog Beau (who actually reminds me of a lamb when his coat is cut short!), is a great example of this. When I leave the room, he leaves the room. When I go out, he waits at the door anticipating my return. He only has eyes for me.

I want to be more like that. Eyes on the Lord, sensitive to His movement, staying close.

He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9, NAS)

I think it really IS that simple.

I just wanna be a sheep.

Secure, known, and loved.

Listening, watching, and following.

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Family Reunions

“What is the purpose of your visit?”

The U.S. customs official questioned each passenger upon their return to Port Angeles, WA. Eight family members had spent the day in Victoria, British Columbia, where we had shopped, eaten, and enjoyed the beauty of this Canadian seaport. After an hour-and-a-half ferry ride back across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we queued up to be cleared to reenter the U.S.

When it was her turn, my sister-in-law, in an unspoken plea for a hassle-free border crossing, made direct eye contact with the official. In answer to his question and as explanation for her “Do-not-mess-with-me” attitude, she offered just two words:

“Family. Reunion.”

Enough. Said.

‘Tis the season for family reunions. Thirty-five or so of us had gathered that week on the coast of Washington for a reunion with my mother’s side of the family. Time with family can be sweet. And it can also be, shall we say…stretching?

I savored the “sweet” moments…introductions (meeting our newest and cutest four-month-old family member, as well as my uncle’s wife for the first time) and reunions (reconnecting with cousins I haven’t seen in years…or decades!).

I encountered those “stretching” moments…traveling in a herd is never easy. Deciding where to eat? Next to impossible. I think most families can relate!

One evening during the reunion, however, I looked around the circle of lawn chairs as we ate dinner outside. I took in the lines of familiar faces, heard the pleasant hum of conversation, and was struck by this thought:

For better or for worse, this is my family. I belong here.

Whether by blood or by marriage, everyone partaking in that meal was related. Our stories intersect. We share common ancestors. I could see my beloved late cousin Laura in the faces of her two beautiful daughters. I could hear my grandfather’s low, baritone voice as I chatted with my uncle, his eldest son. How proud he would be to see the family which carries his name coming together.

A couple of days later, my daughter Laurel and I headed to Colorado Springs for the “Desperation” youth conference, an annual gathering of over 5,000 teens from all over the country. This was my third time attending; Laurel’s second. So it felt like a reunion of sorts.

As if to validate that feeling, one of the speakers greeted us like this:

“What’s up Desperation family? This is our yearly get-together!”

Yes, there were some “sweet” moments…soaking in the sight of my daughters (and my new son-in-law!) worshiping God together…catching up over meals with some of my favorite friends…witnessing the next generation rising up to take their place in God’s grand plan of redemption.

And there were also some “stretching” moments…bickering among the students…differences in doctrine and practice…tension from past unresolved hurts.

Just like a family.

We don’t always get along. We may not see eye to eye on every issue. Sometimes we don’t even like each other.

But we’re related, descendants of a common Ancestor.

We bear His name.

His blood flows through our veins.

If we look past our differences, we can see the family resemblance.

If we listen carefully, we can hear the familiar inflection of His voice.

We will be stretched.

It comes with the family territory.

But oh, the sweetness when we put our differences aside and come together to worship and fellowship in Him!

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1, NIV)

It’s a taste of that ultimate Family Reunion to come.

But until then, Church, a reminder…

For better or for worse, we are a family. We each belong here.

Let’s make our Father proud by the way we love and accept each other.

Fam Reunion

A few of the family members from our 2015 reunion.

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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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