“God is with us through it all.” Becki Crain

20 years ago, in March of 2000, my friend Becki Crain died.   

I met Becki in 1992.  We were in a mom’s bible study, that had 5 women in it.  We all brought our children to the study. At the time, I just had one child, and Becki had 2. Eight years later, I would have 4 children, and Becki –5 children.

As time went on—Becki and I became close friends.  We shared our lives with each other.  We prayed together.  We encouraged each other in our faith.  We were both stay at home moms, and we were trusting God to take care of our families financially and in every way.  Becki used to be a teacher and she taught me how to teach my oldest son how to read.  We started our homeschooling journey together. 

  Becki and I laughed together.   At the end of her life, we were still laughing together.  If she were still alive during this time, I guarantee, we would be laughing together.

I learned so much from Becki.  She believed that God’s word was truer than how she felt, truer than anything.  She believed in God’s love and goodness, even when her life was being taken from her.

She found out she had cancer when she was 5 months pregnant.  The doctors wanted her to start on chemotherapy while she was pregnant, but Becki didn’t think they had enough research –and she wouldn’t risk the baby’s health. 

She died 5 months after her baby was born.   She went over to Germany when her baby was 3 ½ months old for experimental treatments.  They did not work.  She flew back home, saw her baby again, and her family and friends.  I saw her again, and within 24 hours, she was gone.

During the time of her cancer, I got to see the Body of Christ at work in a way I never had before.  I was in a mom’s bible study and the women in it helped me with bringing meals to Becki and her family, and cleaning her house. Becki was not in this Bible Study and these women did not know her.

These women helped me raise money for Becki’s medical expenses, by having a huge garage sale.  The local Christian radio station let us advertise the sale on their radio program.   Hundreds of people donated things to sell at the garage sale.  Hundreds more came to the sale. 

My local church allowed us to have the sale at the church.  This was not Becki’s church.  But I learned—that “We” are all the church.  The church is not a building.

People who did not know Becki sent money.   I saw so many, many, many people show their love and care.  

This outpouring of love, helped me so much when God took Becki home. 

God is love.  God is love.  I got to see this love working through His people.  I literally got to see God’s love. 

 Becki is seeing that love, and feeling that love, all the time now.   Becki was the one who told me when she was fighting cancer, “When you face the thing you fear the most, you realize you have nothing to fear, for God is with you through it all.”

When my son died, I remembered her words, and I thought of how true they were.  God was with me through it all.

As we go through this time in our world history, I want us to remember those words.  They are true words—and we can cling to them.

Perhaps, you know someone who has this virus.  Perhaps you are grieving someone who has died of this virus.  Perhaps you have this virus. 

You do not have to fear — God is with us through it all.  God is love.  He cares for you.  Death cannot separate us from His love.  Nothing can separate us from His love.

So Be Encouraged!!


Words are powerful!!

My sons used to say, “Word!!”, when they agreed with me, (or agreed with anyone), and wanted me to know it.  They would do a fist bump and a little dance when they said “Word” as well.  I can still see them, thinking they were so hip, and it cracks me up.  However, I don’t think it was an accident that they used the word, “Word”.

 Words are powerful.

My Aunt wrote on the inside of the cover to a book she gave me when I was 9—”to the girl with the Miss America smile”—and I imagined myself the recipient of the Miss America Title.  I still have that book.  I still smile at the words my Aunt wrote.

My mother told me what a nice job I did scouring the kitchen sink, and I never failed to do it when it was my turn to do the dishes, hoping for that praise again.  (My mother did not disappoint – she frequently praised me for this and other things. 🙂 )

Words are powerful, life-giving things. 

God “spoke” the world into existence.  In John it says, The Word is God, The Word was God and the Word has come and dwelt among us.  What power!!  What life!!

Words have power.  Words are life-giving.

We take great care in naming our babies—finding names with beauty, with meaning, with quality, with character—to provide our children with the same things.  We want them to have lives with meaning, quality and character—and beauty.

On the flip side, Words have power in a negative way.  I can still remember some of the mean things’ others have said to me over the years.  I bet you can as well.  Words can tear at our souls.  Words can even tear out our souls.

Words are powerful things.

As a Mom, words have more power than we know.  Our words carry more weight than we know.  How do I know this?  I have a Mom.  Think of all the things your mom has said to you over the years, the encouraging things,  and the not so encouraging things—maybe even things that were said in passing – that hurt and stung—that she may not have known her words hurt you—but because she is your mom, and you want her approval—they did hurt, they may still hurt.

I have hurt my children with my words—times I know I hurt them, and probably many more times, I am unaware I hurt them.

A few years ago, one of my children brought up an incident that happened years before, when I had said something in frustration and anger.  I had apologized after the incident, but my words were still hurting my child.  I apologized again, and we hugged and cried and hopefully some healing took place.

Words are powerful, life-giving things or powerful, demolishing things.

I write this, realizing that I need to be active in using words to encourage my children.  I need to look for things to encourage them about with sincerity and honesty.

I also need to be mindful of what I am saying.  Because I am a parent, my words have weight.  I need to be careful when I speak.   Even years after, I have spoken, my words can cause damage, or they can bring life. 

Words are powerful, life-giving things!!

 You are a mom!!  Your words matter!!  You matter!!  Your children matter!!  Your husband matters!! 

The Giver of Life, The Giver of Words wants to empower us to speak life-giving words.  He wants to bring healing to our lives, and our children’s lives.  He wants to bring forgiveness.  All we need to do is say the word, “Yes”!!  Or in the case of my boys, that word would be, “Word”!!

 So Be Encouraged!!

The 2019 Blogger Awards

The Sunshine Blogger Award is one of the best ways to learn more about other Christian bloggers who strive to write spiritually encouraging and beneficial content for all of us. The sunshine blogger award is not an official award, it’s just as important because it really reflects the good impact we can have on other people’s lives.  (Statements were cited from nominators’ blogs)

Thank you to Temi Michael-O from Christian Mommas, https://christianmommas.com/2019/12/30/2019-blog-awards/ for nominating this blog for the Sunshine Blogger’s Award.

The sunshine blogger award rules:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you
  4. Nominate 11 other bloggers to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their post
  5. Ask the nominees 11 new questions

11 questions by Herry

  1. How did get started blogging? The Holy Spirit has been nudging me for years to write, and I had gotten to a point in my life that I felt I could focus on writing, so I asked the Lord what He wanted me to write about and He told me He wanted me to encourage younger mothers to love their husbands and their children by sharing my stories.
  2. Other than Jesus what Biblical “character” would you most like to spend time with? I would love to be friends with Ruth. She was a woman of faith, and she was loyal and she knew how to love and be loyal.
  3. How many places have you lived? I have lived in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, and spent a couple of summers in California, Virginia and New Jersey.
  4. Where/How do you blog (i.e. home office on PC, in my recliner on lap top)?. I blog on my laptop, but it helps to be alone without distractions.
  5. How has your life changed since you stared blogging? It has helped me to remember all the ways God has worked and intervened in my life. The Bible tells us to “Remember” as it helps to bolster our faith. This blog has probably encouraged me, more than anyone who has read it. 🙂
  6. If you had zero subscribers, would you still blog? Blogging isn’t about who reads my blogs, (that’s nice:) but blogging is about being obedient to God.
  7. Do you attend a small, medium or large church? Medium to large sized church.
  8. Why did you choose that particular congregation? God led us there after our son died.
  9. How long have you been a Christ follower? 40 years.
  10. What is your favorite holiday & why? Christmas–my husband loves to give gifts, and I think his generosity so reflects the generosity of our Heavenly Father, who gives in lavish abundance.
  11. Other than blogging are you involved in any other ministry? Yes– A group of friends and I host monthly international teas. I have heard that internationals come to our country and never get invited into an American’s home. I hope to see that change, one tea, one community at a time. Perhaps someone will read this and decide to start international events in their own communities.

My nominees are amazing and encouraging writers. Please read their blogs, you’ll be encouraged and supported in your faith. (Nominees–You are under no obligation to participate. 🙂 )

Dayle: When The Old Passes and The New Comes.

Esther: You”Better Watch Out” God.

Temi: What Christianity means to my family.

MFranseen: Three Ways To Grow in Contentment in a Disappointing World

Blue Cotton Memory: Her House Overflowed With Children.

Chloe: May Your Days Be Merry and Bright.

The Godly Chic Diaries: Stop Stopping Yourself.

Beholding Him Ministries: New Year: Lord, Give Me You.

Kim: You Can Trust Him.

April: My 10 Favorite Memories From 2019

Lovely In The Dark: Healing Is….

Thank you again, Temi, for nominating me!! 🙂

The Safest Place To Be

I started my “Encouragement from Katie” blogsite a little over 4 months ago.  I have written some stories detailing  the times when I have relied on God’s strength and guidance in my parenting, and that is the purpose of this blog—to encourage young moms to look to God for the answers and strength in their mothering role.   However, there were times when I did not do this.  There were times I was angry, frustrated, fearful, or anxious and I acted out those emotions.  I remember a time when I expressed fear, and then anger, in the space of a heartbeat.

At the time, I was a mom with just 4 children (I would have a fifth- 7 years later); their ages were: 8 years, 4 years, 3 years and 11 months old.  It was time for our church’s VBS and I was helping with it.  I dropped off my 11-month-old with a friend, who also had an 11-month old baby.  She watched our babies while I took the 3 older children to VBS.  At the end of VBS, I loaded up the children in our mini van and ran back in the church to grab something I had forgotten.  Then— I came back out to the van, got in and drove off.  I parked at my friend’s home and went in to get my baby.  I came back out and noticed that my four-year-old was not in the van.  I thought he had gotten out and was wandering around the neighborhood.  I started calling for him, yelling his name one minute, and crying his name in the next.

My friend’s husband looked at me in amazement—I seemed like a woman gone berserk—yelling, then crying, then yelling, then crying.    I was demanding that we call the police and the fire department.  He said, “Why don’t we call the church first, maybe he’s at the church?”   “No”, I snapped back, “I put him in the van, he must have gotten out at your house, and he’s wandering around the neighborhood.”  

“Well”, he said, “let’s just call the church first.”  Eventually, I agreed, and we called the church.  Yes, my child was at the church.  He had gotten out to use the bathroom, and I had not noticed when I got into the van.  Even now, when I remember that story, my heart starts pounding and the adrenaline starts rushing through my body at the terror I experienced when I thought my child was lost.

Why do I recount this story?  Because—this is what life is like isn’t it?  Life is going along, and then something that we don’t expect happens—and how do we react?  I don’t and haven’t always reacted well.  The first thing I thought of, in the situation I just recounted, wasn’t God; I did not call out to Him to save my child.  I tried to deal with the situation myself—and in relying on my own resources—I vacillated between terror and anger. 

Perhaps, you can relate.  Perhaps you too, try to deal with your life situations with your own resources, not turning to the Lord.

I have just recounted one story, yet, over the past 27 years of being a mother—my life is filled with many stories, many moments.  

I have seen that being a mother has taken everything I have and more.  It has brought out my worst self, and my best self.  Like most mothers—I would willingly lay down my life for my children—-yet get annoyed with them for the smallest of offenses. 

Fortunately, I have a Father who is the most patient of teachers, and He continues to give me lessons on how to love, until I learn.  He is the most consistent, faithful, love-motivated teacher there is.  His goal—to make me Holy, (whole), like Him.   I came to Him broken, and He—He is fixing me.  He is teaching me to love, like He loves.

It does not happen overnight, or in a month or in years—it takes a lifetime—it takes believing God and acting out what He shows me to do.   

Just recently, I had another incident where I reacted from emotion.  I thought I was beyond doing such things, but I am never beyond those things, because I will always need God.  Whenever I think, “I’ve got this.”  Life will throw me a curve-ball, and I will realize once again, “No I don’t have this, and God, please—HELP!! 

Being a mom, has taught me how amazing God’s grace truly is, as I am continually leaning into Him to just take the next step, when my strength has given out.  If that’s what you are learning as well—you are in a good place—you are in your Father’s hands—the safest place to be.

So Be Encouraged!!

Savor The Moments!!

Grandchildren have helped me to savor moments of motherhood that I had forgotten.

  1. Giving baths to sweet children.
  2. Snuggling with a sweet- smelling child fresh out of the bath.
  3. Reading Green Eggs in Ham.  (I received this book as a gift when I was 7, and I read it to my children, and now my Grandchildren.)
  4. Tucking little ones in bed.
  5. Laughing until my sides feel like they are going to split.
  6. Going to a movie and laughing more at the child laughing beside me, than the movie itself.
  7. Rocking a child to sleep.
  8. Making meals for children who eat with unabashed pleasure.
  9. Having a conversation about trucks and tea parties.
  10. Playing with trucks and having tea parties.

All these things and more are the moments of our life.  They are precious, they are countless, and they are gifts.  Enjoy these precious times, you won’t have them again until you are a Grandparent.  You have been blessed with a child.  Enjoy them!!  And Be Encouraged!!

Encouragement from Katie M. Reid, author of Made Like Martha

In some of my previous blogs, (The Gift of Laughter, and Grace is Unfair), I made references to the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible.  I am honored to present the thoughts of author, Katie M. Reid, on the story of Mary and Martha.  Katie Reid has written the book, Made Like Martha, and has some encouraging insights into this story.  I think she is really going to help us to understand God’s grace and love towards all of us as women, whether we are—Made like Martha or like Mary.  Katie is also the wife of Adam Reid, Head Pastor at Central Church, and the mother of 5 children!!

1. Why do you think the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 causes so many women to feel guilty? Since Jesus told Martha that she was worried and distracted and that her sister Mary had chosen what was better, we often feel guilty for being wired like Martha. We feel like Mary was the poster child for getting it right and that Martha was discounted because she was worried and distracted. In John 11:5 we see that Jesus loved Martha and her siblings. His correction wasn’t a scolding but an invitation to walk in freedom instead of fret. Many of us have tried to shed the skin of efficiency because we’ve misinterpreted this passage to mean there is something wrong with being made like Martha.

2. We usually assume that Jesus was criticizing Martha for working too hard. Would you say that is true? I don’t think Jesus was criticizing Martha’s work ethic here. In fact, unless He was going to multiply loaves and fish, fast from a meal, or have a late dinner, someone had to prepare the food. Instead, Jesus addressed Martha’s heart in Luke 10. He wasn’t asking her to stop being a doer, but He was reminding her that she was a daughter too. We assume that Jesus was asking Martha to sit down physically like Mary was, but what if He was inviting her soul to rest—even while she continued working? In John 12:2, we see that Martha is serving again, yet Jesus does not correct her this time. Here, Martha serves from a place of strength and peace instead of a place of striving and stress.

 3. What drew you to write a book about the story of Mary and Martha? What is unique about your interpretation of this story? If Martha had a fan club, I would be president of it. I so relate to Martha and her ultraresponsible ways. For years, this passage in Luke 10 bothered me. If nobody works, nobody eats, right? I really wanted Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her sister out. But upon closer examination, I realized how much Jesus loved Martha and wanted her to know that too. He wasn’t asking her to neglect her responsibilities but to trust Him to care for her. Made Like Martha is written for those who love checking things off their to-do lists and who may feel some angst when they read this account in Luke. It is written from the perspective of a doer for other doers (although Mary-types are enjoying it too…it is helping them understand their Martha-friends better).

4. You write in your book, Made Like Martha, that many of us assume that God is mad at us or disappointed in us. Why do you think that is? When you view the world through the lens of perfectionism, you often feel frustrated with yourself and others (and even God) for things not turning out like you want (or expect) them to. For almost forty years I felt like God was mad or disappointed in me. I was expecting myself to be flawless, which is completely unrealistic. It was a losing battle. BUT, God knew, because of our sin, that we could not attain perfection apart from His supernatural intervention. So God sent His unblemished and only Son to die for our sins (past, present, and future) and rise again. If we choose to believe in Jesus as Savior and confess Him as Lord, we are made clean; perfected, because of what Christ did on our behalf. For me, the healing came when I realized that Jesus satisfied God’s wrath for sin and that His love for me was not based on whether I succeeded or failed. If we are in Christ, our position in His heart is secure. He loves us…even when we are shortfused, whether or not we have a quiet time, even in the midst of tackling our to-do lists.

Thank you so much for your thoughts Katie Reid!!   You have blessed us with your insights!!

We are encouraged!!


In my last blog, Life is Hard and Unfair—not a very encouraging blog by the way—I was very sad about my niece suffering from cancer.  Sometimes when I read the Psalms, the author will start out extremely distressed about the circumstances of life, and then, at the end of the Psalm, the author is praising God, remembering who God is, remembering all the ways God has protected and provided and been a refuge in stormy times.

I kind of did that in “Life is Hard and Unfair“— I reminded us that Jesus has a new home free of pain and suffering for us, apart from this earthly home—but I did not encourage us in this earthly life. I think that kind of encouragement is so needed. In Psalms 27:13 it says, “I would have despaired, unless I had believed, that I would see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living.” In other words–if I did not have hope in this life on earth, that I would see God’s goodness, I would despair.

So—I’d like to tell a story—a story that I hope will help encourage.

In the year of our Lord, in 2000, I lost my dear, dear friend to breast cancer.  She found out she had cancer when she was pregnant with her 5th child.  She died 5 months after her 5th child was born. 

I was devastated, as were many other people.  My friend was funny and full of faith, and she was greatly missed.  She still is greatly missed, and she died over 19 years ago.  She knew God and when she died, she left this home for her heavenly home.  I know I will see her again in the next life, and that comforts me. But what about the family she left behind?

Her husband was and is full of faith.  He decided that he would stay home with their five children, one of whom was an infant.  God graciously provided for him to stay home with them, and then God also gave him another wife, four years after his first wife—my friend– died.   Then God gave him another job, to help provide for his family.

His second wife was and is an absolute treasure, kind, compassionate, giving, a hard worker, a friend to all who meet her.  She is a great wife and a fabulous mother and she has blessed her family and their church and community over and over again.

Here is one example of the Hand of God working: God brought together the daughter of my deceased friend and the daughter’s husband, (who grew up and lived in Alaska), through this connection with the daughter’s stepmother..as the daughter’s husband is her stepmother’s first cousin.   (I know–I’m trying not to use names, and hope I’m not confusing you too much with my pronouns and descriptions. 🙂 ) Would the two have ever met without this connection? – We will never know.  We know they did meet, and they now have 3 beautiful children.

This wonderful second wife was also the gifted, amazingly talented violin teacher to my daughter Julia—(read “Julia’s Gift” to find out more about this story)—who helped my daughter learn to play the violin and helped Julia’s heart to heal as well.  She also teaches many others on the violin and has been the conductor for a youth orchestra that she started.

When I look at this story, I am reminded that God has a plan, and God’s plan is so, so, so good.  God’s plan unfolds like a great tapestry.  From the topside, the tapestry is beautiful and majestic.  From the bottom side, it is a bit messy, threads may be hanging—it is not at all as beautiful as the topside.

Sometimes, we people are looking at life from the bottom side and it looks messy, we can’t see the pattern, and things look like they are happening without a reason.

However, sometimes, God gives us a glimpse of the topside, and it is an amazing sight.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in one of those times where things seem happenstance, and messy, and you are discouraged, to remember this story.  It is just one.  If you ask an older person of faith—they can give you so many more stories where God’s plan is so evident.   I promise you will find yourself looking up and praising God and remembering just Who He really is.   This story reminds me of the truth of God’s word—Romans 8:28:  For God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  And also:   Psalm 27:13-14:  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait on the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage, wait on the Lord!!”

He knows what He is doing.  He has a plan.  We have the privilege of seeing it unfold!!

So Be Encouraged!!

P.S. Just tonight, my niece told us that the tests came back, and she is cancer free!! We are so, so happy!! Thank you God!! (See–just like a Psalm–I’m ending this writing in Praise!!)

Grace Is Unfair

Grace Is Unfair

Last week, in my blog, The Gift of Laughter, I referenced the story of Mary and Martha—and I received a comment on this story that got me to thinking about why this story was included in scripture. (In John 21: 25, it says: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”).  God inspired what scripture would be written. (2 Timothy 3:16)   I think God had a specific reason to include this story.

  It reminded me, of another story in scripture that is referred to as the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32.  In The Prodigal son  story you have two siblings, one, (the older sibling) stays and helps his Father, and one, (the younger brother), took his inheritance, blew it on partying, than was poor and starving, so he comes crawling back to his Dad, and his Dad welcomes him profusely—throws him a big party, hugs and kisses him, and the older brother is thinking, “Wait a minute—I stayed, have worked faithfully for my Dad, and this loser gets the party—How is that fair?”  This is my paraphrase—for the exact translation, check out Luke 15.

In the case of Mary and Martha, (this story is found in Luke 10: 38-42), Jesus and his band of 12 disciples come to their home, (probably unexpectedly), but Martha knows her role—she know she is in charge of feeding 13 extra people, (and maybe more), as Jesus traveled with quite a group at times.  So, Martha starts bustling—it is all hands-on deck to feed the guests.  Middle Eastern/Asian culture was and is very hospitable, and guests must be treated to the best.  For example: just a week ago, my daughter and I went to the home of some friends, who are from Bangladesh, to borrow some items for a Geography Fair.  They were doing us a favor by loaning us their things—yet they treated us so beautifully, served us some refreshments, and talked so kindly to us. 

 Martha, (having been trained to serve food to guests), starts making food for Jesus and his disciples, and she expects her sister Mary to help.  Mary does not help.  She sits down and listens to Jesus.  How aggravating for Martha!!  In fact, Martha is so aggravated that she appeals to Jesus, as she is certain Jesus will agree with her—and then He does not! Wow!!

Which brings me the title of this blog – Grace is Unfair!!

I think all these stories were about Grace.  Grace is a gift that we receive that we don’t earn, and we don’t deserve.  When people receive a gift for free, those who thought they worked to earn that gift, and so deserve that gift are upset. Jesus’ people thought they had to work to earn God’s acceptance and approval.

Jesus was trying to teach His people, about GRACE. 

 Jesus’ people had laws and rules—given to them by God—and they thought that if they kept these laws, they were acceptable to God and approved of by God— Jesus is trying to teach them a new lesson.  Jesus is trying to tell them and us, “You can’t do enough to be acceptable to Me—for I am Holy.  You may think that you can be approved– by keeping all these laws, but you are not learning the lesson I wanted you to learn.  I want you to learn these laws are impossible for you human beings to keep perfectly. In fact– you keep breaking my laws and presenting sacrifices in order to be forgiven.  Now—I am going to be the Lamb of God—that takes away the sins of the world—the one and final sacrifice for your forgiveness.  This is GRACE, it is a gift from God, not because of your works, so that no one can come to Me and boast— (because I did this—or that)—I deserve a relationship with You.  A relationship with Me is a gift. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

 Jesus is trying to teach us about GRACE, by using these stories.  Martha is used as an example of how we can all try to do what we think Jesus expects us to do, but it may not be what He wants us to do at all. He wants us to rest in Him, enjoy our relationship with Him.  (Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you REST.   Matthew 11:28)  Mary is an example of resting in Jesus, enjoying our relationship with Jesus.  This is the gift Jesus wants to give each of us.  Often, resting in Jesus, will mean, finding out what Jesus wants us to do, before we do it.  (Not making assumptions about what His expectations really are.)  For my story about how my husband and I did this—see: “The Gift of Hindsight.”)

In the Prodigal Son—The older son is used as an example of the person who is faithful, loyal, working for God/Dad, (the Dad is used as an example of who God is, in this story), and older brother thinks he has ‘earned’ his relationship with his Dad and ‘earned’ a reward.  The Dad tells him—”you did not have to work to ‘earn’ a relationship with me—you ‘are’ my son.  That is your position.  All these years, we have had fellowship with one another, working with each other, being with each other.  That has been our reward, that has been our gift.  Your brother was lost, he was not apart of our fellowship.  In fact, he was dead, and today, he has come back to life!!  This is worth celebrating!!  Celebrate this with me, my beloved son!!”—this is my paraphrase. J  Actually, the Dad in the story said, “Son, you have always been with me and everything I have is yours.   But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!

So what about all these laws God has given us—in Galatians 5:18,22-23, it says— “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law……The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, against these things there is no law.”   In other words, if God’s Spirit is leading you and producing these fruits in you—you are not under the law, because you will be living out all the things the law tried to help you do.  Jesus says all the law can be summed up in, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

In other words—it’s all about Love—love for God, love for others.    So simple, so hard, Grace is so needed!!   And that’s Jesus’s message— “You all need Grace.  You all need Me.  You all need a Savior.  You all need The Spirit to lead and guide you.  I know what you need.  Just come to Me, and I will give you what you need.  You don’t have to do this on your own!!

If that isn’t something to Be Encouraged About—I don’t know what is!! 

So Be Encouraged!!

The Gift of Babies

The Gift of Babies

Babies: adorable, sweet, cuddly, who can resist them?  Well, I thought I could.  Before I got married, I had a conversation with a friend, stating that if for some reason, I couldn’t have a child, I would not try to change that ability through medical means.   If I wasn’t a mom, oh well, I had no great longing and desire to be a mother.

Then I had my first child, and a switch was turned on inside me.  All my latent maternal instincts sprang into being.  This child had to be the most fabulous baby on the face of the earth.  My heart was flooded with love, tenderness and emotion.  I had never felt such devotion before in my life.  I would look with pity on mothers who had older children, as they did not have a baby any longer.

I wondered when I was pregnant with my second child, how I would ever love my second child as much as my first.  Yet, when I held our second child, once again, overwhelming love came over me.  I think I was experiencing what God does with His children—limitless love.  Sometimes, I think some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about how much God loves me, is when I see how much I love my children.

I think God uses babies to remind me of His love. Have you ever noticed how a happy, smiling baby can effect others? They seem to bring joy and laughter into each social occasion they are in, be it a funeral, a wedding, or a family gathering. Babies comfort.

My granddaughter was born 11 months after my son died.  She brought and still brings immense comfort to me and my family.   From the beginning, she would snuggle into me when I would rock her.  As she grew older, she would pat my back, as I patted hers.  I sensed God’s presence when I was holding her, as if she could hear Him whisper in her ear, “Be kind to your Nana, she needs special love right now.”

Babies remind me that there is a God, and He creates and designs life.  Each baby is a miracle, an absolute miracle.  There is a verse in the Bible that says, “…You have knitted me in my mother’s womb….  I am fearfully and wonderfully made….”   Psalm 139: 13, 14.  I love the visual image this presents of God, crafting each child, putting into each child the things He wants them to have—not just their physical attributes, but their special talents and gifts. 

Babies also bring—ok, I’m going to go there—guilt.  This could be the reason I did not initially want to be a mom. I knew instinctively that I would fail and feel guilty.  I wanted to avoid those feelings.  I wanted to avoid these thoughts and questions:  Am I doing enough?  Should I go back to work?  Should I stay at home?  Should I nurse, or bottle-feed?  Should we homeschool or send our children to private school or public school? How should we discipline?  Etc., etc., etc.

 The decisions are countless, and unending. The practical decisions frame the moral decisions of choosing to pay attention to each child, being consistent , choosing to follow through on an assignment or a consequence, remaining patient and kind, acting out love in all the ways that are significant to that child.

Here’s the thing– I have failed many times as a mother.   I have failed in what I have done, and what I haven’t done, in what I have said and what I haven’t said, in what I have thought and what I haven’t thought. 

 Here’s the good news–Jesus has died for all the ways I have failed.   Jesus has died for all the ways you have failed.  He gives us Forgiveness. He gives us the courage to begin again.

 Jesus has given us His Word to guide us in raising our children.  The Bible is full of wisdom, (All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16).   

God loves our babies more than we do.  He loves us, more than anyone else does.  Maybe that’s why we love babies so much, because babies remind us of who God is:  The Creator, the Designer, the Giver of every good gift, the Giver of Forgiveness, the Giver of Love, and the Giver of the Gift of Babies!!

So be Encouraged!!

The Gift of the Beach House

This summer we made our yearly voyage to the “Beach House.”  My husband is from the East Coast and when we had our first child, my mother-in-law started actively looking for a vacation home that would comfortably fit her family, with room to grow.  She ended up finding a gem of a house on the Beach with a pool.  We have been going there for 26 years.

It has been a place where memories have been made, traditions started, and laughter abounds.  It has been a gift of love from my mother-in-law and father-in-law, (my father-in-law has passed), to their children and grandchildren and now– great grandchildren. 

I think my mother-in-law had a vision for what this house could be for her family, but mostly I think it was where she wanted to express her love for us all—for giving us a place to come and be together and play together.  This year when we went, my mother-in-law was not able to join us, instead we visited her in her Senior living apartment.  Every time we visited her, she would ask us, “Are you swimming in the pool? Are you having a good time?  How is the Beach House?”   I felt like she was really asking us, “Do you know how much I love you.  I made this place for you all.  I decorated it and maintained it for you all.  Do you know how much I love you?”

My husband has a younger sister.  She brought her, (at the time), future husband to this house, to meet the family.  I, of course, interrogated him, as was my right as the older sibling.  He passed with flying colors.  At their rehearsal dinner, I told his mother that I had long prayed for whoever my sister-in-law would marry, and her son was a shining example of God answering beyond what we could think or ask. (His mother dragged me to the front of the room to share that statement with the 100+ guests that were at the rehearsal dinner.)   

Over time, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law brought their children to the beach house, and the beach house became a place where the cousins could play together and build friendships.  So even though we lived in the mid-west and they lived on the east coast, we had this shared place and experience to come together.

Our family has so many shared memories:  playing Categories and Marco Polo at the pool.  Dancing in the yard, building sandcastles at the beach, catching hermit crabs in the ocean, looking for shells on the beach, eating lobster and fish, going for ice cream at our favorite places, going to the corner store, (when it still existed) for a treat, having birthday parties, eating pizza on the jetties while we watched the giant sand castle, (we spent all day building), washed away by the tide. Being together, just being together.  

All these shared experiences remind us that we are loved.  We belong.  What a gift we have had to share in these experiences together—because my mother-in-law wanted to have a place where her family could come together, year after year.

I hope you have a place like this.  It may just be a tent; the place doesn’t really matter, it is all about family coming together to make memories, to share love and laughter.   When I was growing up— my parents took us camping, or we went to our Uncle Chuck’s cabin or to my Grandparents’ cabin.  We had places for our family to gather together and “be” together.

All these things were a way to spend quality time with one another, away from the bustle and hustle of life.    In many ways, our homes can be those places as well– a place of comfort and solace to come home to after a long day at work or school.   When I go back to my family home, (which my mother still lives in and maintains beautifully), I draw a sigh of relief, my soul recognizes the love and nurturing I still receive when I walk through those doors.

If I’m honest, part of being together, does involve conflict, conflict between siblings, cousins, between parent and child.  Conflict is not easy, ever.  Forgiveness is not easy, ever.  But the verse, “Keep fervent in your love for one another because, love covers a multitude of sins” I Peter 4:8, is true.  It is because we love each other, that we choose to overlook the offenses, and forgive them, not dwell on them. 

You may think, “you don’t know my family”, they are unforgivable.  You are right—I don’t know your family.  But I do know mine.  They are so fabulous, but they are also so flawed.  I don’t know a perfect person on this earth.  We all want to be loved, we all want to love, we all want to be significant.  Families can be the vehicle that God uses to reassure us – yes, you are loved, yes, you belong, yes, we want you, yes, you are significant to us.  Families can be a vessel which God uses to show His nature.   Families can also be used, to show us that no matter how great a family is or is not, they cannot fill the void we have in our hearts. Only the infinite God can fill the infinite hole we all have in our hearts.  (This thought of us having an infinite void that only an infinite God could fill, did not originate with me, but with a scientist named Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662)

 Moms, your role of expressing love to your children, of creating a place from which they can draw comfort, will help them in ways you cannot even imagine.  Your role of showing them the God who can really love them completely and totally—is immeasurable!!  You are needed Moms, you are so, so important!!  (Dads are needed too!! ) But this blog is to encourage Moms–especially my moms, that they are appreciated and so, so loved!!

So Be Encouraged!!