Parenting ~ Summer Reading

Our summer began a month ago. We all looked forward to a rest from our busy schedule. One of my goals for the summer was to have us all rejuvenate spiritually. I wanted us to work on something together but I didn’t want to do a Bible study. I didn’t want to do scripture memorization or workbooks. My desire was to have my children think, learn and understand God and how He works without it seeming like schoolwork. I was inspired to have a book club. I would choose a book written about a Christian. We would read and discuss the happenings of the book.

The first book I chose was Rebel with a Cause. For years we have filled shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse and sent them off to places unknown. I thought it would be interesting for them to read about the President of a ministry they were familiar with. In the beginning, my kids complained. They didn’t want to read the book. It was boring unlike the adventure books they normally read. But we pushed through and quickly their attitudes changed. The stories of Franklin’s youth were humorous and engaging. They learned he was normal kid, just like any other.

I finished the book this past weekend and loved it. I loved how he showed the progression of where he was as a boy and God’s gentle movement in his life. He took Franklin’s loves and gifts and uses them in his ministry. I think the thing I like most about the book is Ruth Graham. She was a mom who prayed. She didn’t lecture him or expect him to be anything other than what God wanted. She prayed for him and let God work in his heart. She maintained a good relationship with him working to understand God’s plan rather than encouraging her own. Ultimately, it wasn’t the punishments or restrictions that changed Franklin’s heart; it was the mighty hand of God. He used godly people as inspiration even though Franklin wasn’t looking for any.

I chose this book as a teaching tool for my kids but I am also learning valuable lessons. If I don’t allow my kids to struggle, they will never learn to rely on God. He loves them more than I do. I have to step back and allow Him in to mold and make them. Even if it looks like the battle is lost, I know God is fighting for them. He has a plan. He has a purpose. He made them. And He will lead them.


Prayer ~ Does it Really Matter?


The woman walked over and asked if her name was Jane. Jane hesitantly affirmed the woman’s hunch. She proceeded to tell her she had prayed for her. A couple of years prior to this exchange, Jane had lost a child. Her teen-aged child had passed away because of cancer. Jane was still struggling with the heaviness of the sorrow she felt. But the woman, not even knowing who she was, had prayed. She had been prompted by the Holy Spirit to lift up a sister in Christ she had never met. Here they were, two years later speaking.

Recently, I ran into Jane. She was a different woman. It was obvious she had healed. She was joyful. Her once heavy heart had new life. She was living life again.

I love this story because it shows the vastness of God’s love for us. The woman had never met Jane. At the time she prayed, she had no idea their paths would ever cross and yet she was faithful. Jane, filled with excruciating grief needed the comfort of the Savior.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-9 ESV)

We are surrounded by struggling people each and every day. Some have chosen their path while others have been thrust into a journey only nightmares are made of. In all of it, God is there. His work continues when He invites us to participate with Him in another life. What a privilege. We can be assured in our darkest hour, He calls upon the faithful to pray for us.

Keep praying especially when you think your prayers are meaningless. There is a battle raging and your prayer is the ammunition against the enemy!

Parenting~Letting Go

Angels Unseen by: Ron DiCianni

Angels Unseen by: Ron DiCianni

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44 ESV)

Today is the last day of school for two of my children. My son that attends public school will be finished next week. It’s a time of celebration and a time to look back over the last year. As always, we have had our ups and downs and we have survived another year.

This week in particular has been a busy week. One child had an awards ceremony and concert. Another had orientation because he’s taking college classes next semester. And the third had tryouts for soccer. We have been running all week and I am exhausted. But it’s a good kind of exhaustion. This year in particular, my kids have thrived where they were. Oh don’t get me wrong, they have had their struggles. We have had our conflicts. I have had to be the “mean mom” and push them but I have to admit, I’m proud of their accomplishments.

Parenting kids at this age can be tricky. You want them to become more independent, but are afraid they will make poor choices. Let’s be honest here, they will make stupid decisions. But that isn’t the end of the world. You see, God takes those bad choices and teaches them. We don’t like to see our kids suffer the consequences. We take it as a reflection of our parenting skills. Our greatest fear is for our children to fail miserably for the whole world to see. This fear propels us to control every situation that touches their lives. We are afraid, so we hold them back.

I was reminded this week of God’s love for my children. We walked through difficult circumstances but God led us. He didn’t leave us hanging. He offered wisdom, guidance and a whole lot of grace. I am letting go of control a little at a time. Sure, I still have to push them. Yes, I hold them accountable. But mostly, I work to encourage them. They are going to fail but I don’t want them to quit. I want them to endure. I want them to pick themselves up when they fall and move on with their new found wisdom.

Keep praying for your children and let them go into God’s hands. He will take good care of them.

Prayer ~ Room to Grow


“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4 NIV)

I started a vegetable garden again this year. I hadn’t done one in a few years because my last attempt was a failure. I did some container gardening last year and that was mildly successful, but this year I wanted to resurrect my patch in the yard. I spent a couple of weeks weeding, tilling and adding soil. It was labor intensive but the thought of fresh vegetables this summer kept me motivated.

After planting seeds as well as plants, I watered and waited. I was excited to see my little plants growing. I soon realized they were too close together, so I dug some plants up and moved them giving them more room to grow. I am pleased to announce my garden is thriving. I have been harvesting and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

In the book of Acts, Luke shares the journey of the first church. They began in Jerusalem. They were a tight-knit group gathering together for prayer. They ministered and shared the gospel among the Jews but God felt the need to scatter them. He moved them from their little cluster and spread them throughout the region. God placed them where they would grow personally and grow the church.

Our journey is a series of changes and events all weaved together for God’s purpose. Some events He ordains and others He redeems. Regardless of the event, God is in the business of growing us to be more like Him. Unfortunately for us, most of our growth comes when we are away from those things we are most familiar with. When we feel alone, we seek Him more.

Our prayer focus today is seeking God. We base so much of our relationship on the events of our lives. We do this or that in order to gain favor (or an easy life) from God. In reality, God wants us to draw closer to Him. He wants us to know Him, trust Him and recognize His hand in our lives. I urge you to spend time praising God today for His love. Spend time thanking Him for your blessings. Take one day and don’t ask for anything, just spend time with Him. Then listen.

Lord, I praise you for loving me. I thank you for your many blessings. Open my eyes to see your work in my life. I offer my life to you, show me your plan. Amen!

Feeling Scattered?


“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4 NIV)

Jerusalem was in upheaval. Stephen had just been martyred for his faith and the persecution of the church began. All who had listened and followed the teachings of the apostles were running in fear for their lives. They spread throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Can you imagine their panic? It was not any different from the fear the disciples felt after Jesus was crucified. In this case, rather than stay together, they scattered.

As I read this passage I thought of the lives we lead here on earth. We work hard building what we believe to be the godly life. We are faithful to do all we are asked by God and yet we walk through seasons where our lives, hearts and all we love are shattered. Life as we knew it has been altered. We long to return to the way things were but soon God shows us a new road we are to follow. I believe this is what happened to the early church. They were plugging along, when all of the sudden everything changed and not for the better.

I wonder, had things stayed the same and the church remained at peace in Jerusalem, would they have eventually preached in Judea and Samaria? I am not convinced they would have. Perhaps, the people living in those regions were ready to hear the gospel but everyone was too comfortable where they were. We do love comfort, don’t we?

Reading this section of scripture made me look at life a little differently. Rather than become upset or uptight when change comes, I need to look for God’s hand. I need to seek His leading because maybe I’ve become too comfortable. Perhaps it’s time for me to step outside the normal activities and jump in with both feet. The early church didn’t complain, they simply continued to spread the gospel. They shared Jesus, His love and His grace with anyone God put in their paths. They didn’t spend and exorbitant amount of time trying to return to life as they knew it, they just moved forward.

I don’t know where you are in your walk, but if you are feeling scattered and unsure, please know the Lord is with you. He has not allowed tragedy because He hates you but will redeem any situation for His glory and your good. He loves you too much!!

Prayer ~ It’s a Gift


During Lent I took a break from my normal blogging. I wanted to spend time studying and learning about Jesus. My desire was to dig deeper into Jesus’ life here on earth.

Now that Lent is over, I plan to return to my original blogging schedule. I plan to take one verse a week use it in each blog for that week. I will go back to Prayer posts on Wednesday and Parenting posts on Thursday using the verse for the week.

This week’s verse is, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14 NIV)

As I read through the story of Jesus during Lent I watched as the disciples ate with Him and witnessed His miracles. I felt their sadness when Jesus was crucified and their joy when He returned to them. After Jesus’ death, they were afraid and hid themselves. They didn’t know what to do next. But now, reading the first chapter of Acts, they are unafraid.

They began to live the life God had for them. They went from hiding to preaching the very words that had Jesus killed. They didn’t become bold overnight. I believe their time of prayer was responsible for this change in attitude. They stuck together praying constantly.

Prayer brings us back to the throne of God. It’s safe there. It also helps us reign in our emotions, expectations and selfish desires. When we go before God, our courage is increased, our determination is strengthened and our will becomes His will. Prayer is the gift God gives us so we can communicate our every thought with Him. He also gives us friends who pray with us and for us.

The disciples came full circle. They spent a lot of time in prayer when Jesus walked with them. Then they lost their way and started looking at their circumstances. But in the end, Jesus brought them back to prayer building their bond with each other and with Him. Interestingly, this same cycle occurs in our lives as well.

Thank you Jesus, for the gift of prayer. Thank you for people who love us enough to pray with us and for us. May we be found faithful bringing our needs before you and praying constantly. Amen

My Redeemer Lives!


That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. (John 21:7 ESV)

I’ve read this story a few times over the last couple of days. Peter decided to go fishing and some other disciples decided to go with him. They didn’t catch anything until the man on the beach told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. John realizes the man is Jesus and before anyone could stop him, Peter jumped out of the boat rushing to get to Jesus.

I found Peter’s actions interesting not because it was out of character but because the last time we read of Peter, he denied knowing Jesus.  John doesn’t record this but the other gospel writers share Peter’s denial noting Jesus looked right at Peter when asked a third time if he were one of Jesus’ followers. They all record the rooster’s crow followed by Peter’s weeping. I imagine this was one of Peter’s darkest moments. He had done the very thing he was sure he would never do.

I wonder what Peter was thinking when he jumped out of the boat. The last time we saw Peter jumping out of a boat, he wanted to walk on water like Jesus. But this time was different. I think he was rushing to Jesus to ask for forgiveness. Surely, he thought his life was useless. He was fishing again going back to the life he had before he was called. He soon realized, as did the others, there’s no going back.

Later in the chapter, Jesus takes a walk with Peter and asks three times if he loves Him. After the third time the scripture says Peter was hurt by Jesus question. Jesus was reinstating Peter. Three times he denied Him and three times He reaffirmed him. He was showing Peter that his sin would not define the rest of his life. Jesus had a purpose for him and his fall would not destroy the ministry Jesus had laid out for him.

The Lord doesn’t dismiss us because we sin. He doesn’t look at our history and find us incapable of doing His work. Instead, He uses it to build upon. He takes the very thing we consider shameful and builds a ministry around it. We don’t have to be perfect. We are not expected to be sinless. He knows we will fall. But He still uses us. That’s why we call Jesus our Redeemer. Nothing is worthless to Him. He redeems the worst in us for His glory.