Monday, July 29, 2013

We Are Never In The Fire Alone

"Nebuchadnezzar asked them, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don't serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? Now if your're ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, siter, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don't worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire-and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?"" Daniel 3:14-15

Neb had a few things to learn from these three young Hebrew men. Nothing he could do or say to them was going to shake their faith. Not even a fiery furnace. Have you been shaken in your faith lately? The gods of this world been trying to force you to bow? Those gods come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. We can find them surrounding us on a daily basis. 

I want to have the kind of unshaken faith of these three Hebrew children. They knew their God. They had full trust in Him. 

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, "Nebuchadnezzar, we don't need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."" Daniel 3:16-18

Unshaken faith. This is the faith I desire. This is the walk I want with my Savior. A faith that holds no fear. One that is strong. One that is rooted in hope and trust. No matter what, I believe, kind of faith. It didn't matter if they were thrown in the fire. They knew without a doubt that their God was going to show Himself and His mighty power to this king of pride and disbelief. 

"Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders to heat the furnace seven times more than was customary, and he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. so these men, in their trousers, robes , and head coverings, and other clothes, were tied up and thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. Since the king's command was so urgent and the furnace extremely hot, the raging flames killed those men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego up. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire." Daniel 3:19-23

Can you imagine the fire? Have you felt the flames? Maybe today you are discouraged and you feel like your walking through the fire. These three young men were not alone and you are not either!

"Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, "Didn't we throw three men, bound, into the fire?" "Yes, of course, Your Majesty,"They replied to the king. He exclaimed, "Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."" Daniel 3:24-25

I now see the king shaking in fear. Those gods he has been worshiping don't look so mighty. It doesn't appear that they are going to help him much. The king now sees there is a God bigger than anything he could imagine. A God who is real and powerful beyond all description. I imagine this king didn't think he could learn so much from three Hebrew men who made a choice to stand firm and trust the God who lives before them. 

"Nebuchadnezzer then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and called: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God-come out!" So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. When the satraps, prefects, governors, and the king's advisers gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men: not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them. Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, "Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent His angel and rescued His servants who trusted in Him. They violated the king's command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." Daniel 3:26-28

Amazing what the testimony of three young men did for this king. They didn't just speak that they believed. They showed their faith in their actions. This is the walk I want to have. I want to bring glory to my Father in all that I do. I want to put the idols down and live only for Him. 

Neb makes a proclamation now. He is proclaiming the mighty power of the God of the Hebrews. He has seen what God can do. He has seen what faith can do. Isn't this our hope for those who do not believe? That we might be a light in this dark world of self? That we might be a vessel of hope for an unbelieving world? We are to proclaim Jesus to a world in need. How will the world around us know if we are not willing to face the fire ourselves? 

Daniel was part of this amazing group of men. He had his own fires to go through. These three were separate now from Daniel. But they were all together through one amazing God. God was using them all in ways to bring glory to His name. God wants to use you and me. Yes, there may be fires for us to face, but we are never alone! Stand firm in your faith. It just may be your actions that helps to bring another along in their journey of faith. 

If your feeling discouraged today spend time in reading Psalm 23. These sweet words will saturate your heart and to fill you with a new strength and peace. Ponder the journey of faith of these four Hebrew men that made a difference by living out their faith for the world to see. We too can make a difference. One step in faith at a time. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Barefoot Summer (A Chapel Springs Romance Book) by Denise Hunter

I love a book that carries a theme. Denise Hunter took from Luke 8:5-8 the story of the sower and created a story about how a young woman can be in church her entire life and still not understand how to let go and let God. She hears the Word about healing and trusting God with all, but she hasn't quite learned to allow the Word to pierce her heart. 

I too love the second verse she shares from 2 Peter 3:9. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God has perfect timing. We see this message throughout the story-line. 

Madison McKinley is a girl who is hurting over the loss of her brother. She is concerned about her sister and things in her life just are not going as planned. I should say, as her plans. God, on the other hand, has plans for her. She just has to figure them out and follow His leading. Just maybe going barefoot she can get the hang of it :)

I love the idea of sailing and joining in to race in the regatta. Madison must take lessons to prepare. She must learn about the vessel she will be sailing. Just as in life, the waves to not always make for smooth sailing, but with the right knowledge we can learn to navigate the storms and enjoy the ride. 

We get to see the journey of Madison, along with other characters you are sure to enjoy. There are seasons to life and Madison learns to navigate those seasons as she allows the Word of God steer her in a world that is ever changing. 

This was a sweet romance.The characters were believable and their circumstances are those we can relate to on some level. If your looking for a summer read this is one you must add to your list.

Watch for the next book in the series, "Dancing With Fireflies", to be released in 2014.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review. 

Denise Hunter is the award winning and best-selling author of many novels, including, "A Cowboy's Touch", and "Sweetwater Gap". She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just How Inviting Are You?

Who do we invite into our lives? How many people do we push out because they offend us or don't agree with our beliefs? Over the weekend I went to dinner with my cousin. We had a lovely waitress. She was funny and sweet. She was a fabulous waitress with a personality that bounced with laughter. She was a lesbian. 

I began thinking of others I know. Others who would have asked for a different waitress. Others who would have made remarks or complained. Not just others, but Christians.

Me too. I cannot leave myself out. Oh mercy, it's easy to point fingers isn't it? We do it all the time. We point with judgement and condemnation. We look at the sin before we see the person. Shame on us. Where is the love we are suppose to be sharing? Giving? There are times I am downright ashamed of myself. Just because someone is different than me isn't cause to treat them any different. Jesus didn't do that. His love was great for everyone. We are to love people and hate sin. How are we going to reach a world in need of Jesus if we are not ready to invite them in?

The Lord is forever teaching me that just because someone is different doesn't mean I cannot show them love and kindness, wrapped in grace. This world is filled with all kinds of people and if I remember correctly, we are ALL sinners in need of grace. 

We are a country who divides itself and sadly as Christians we can be those who are dividing the most. This is what I know. God is in the business of souls and I am to be in the business of people. Friends, I could preach the gospel all day, but if people don't see the love of Christ through my life they aren't going to accept much of what I have to say about Jesus. 

I am to be His hands and feet. I am to be His vessel for Him to live through. To do that I need to be focused on Him. Not the sins of others. Not the actions of others. They don't need my judgement. They don't need me to change them. My goodness, I have enough sin and issues in my life. I simply need to love other people and love them enough that that see something different in me. I need to walk in such a way that others see Jesus through me. 

We can learn so much from others. If we could take off our blinders long enough and set aside our judgement specks we might just be able to see what the love of Christ is really about. We are ALL created in His image. We may be different, yes. Our sins may not be the same, but the last time I checked, sin is sin. 

Might we remember we don't know the pasts of others. We don't know how others were raised. We simply don't know the issues that others are facing as they wake each morning. What can know is Jesus is near. What we can do is pray. 

I pray I am more inviting. If others could see my table, it is my prayer that all would be welcomed. Jesus welcomed this sinner and accepted me just as I was. May I never forget that sweet moment of grace and may the list of those I invite into my life be long and filled with a love that surpasses all. 

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Did You Hear That? It Was The Voice Of God!

This morning as I find myself in chapter four of Deuteronomy I am finding myself feeling blessed once again. Isn't God's Word just filled with wonder and amazement? In this chapter Moses is speaking to the Israelites about obedience to God. He begins with, "Now, O Israel, listen." (verse 1) These words were important then and are important for us today. 

Max Lucado says it like this: "It's not that we don't have ears, it's that we don't uses them." Moses wanted the people to hear what God was saying. He was God's messenger to a people that He loved. He didn't want them to forget all that He had done for them. 

"Now, O, Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the lord your God which I command you." Deuteronomy 4:1-2

"Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statues, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." Deuteronomy 4:6

"And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice. So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statues and judgments  that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess." Deuteronomy 4:12-14

"Did any people ever hear the voice of god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live?" Deuteronomy 4:33

I can have such a hard time with patience. I pray and I want to hear from God right now. I love reading the Word of God, but there are times when I pray that I just want my answer and I want my answer to be the one I want. I don't want to mess with reading the Word and waiting upon Him. Do you struggle in that area too? If we are honest I think we all do. 

I can pray for clarity, but again, I don't want to wait. I mean the circumstance is happening now. Don't I need an answer now, right? Nope. God has perfect timing. There are times I act too quickly and if I had only waited, I would have witnessed God to work things out according to His plan. 

The Israelites had such a hard time hearing. We too have a difficult time hearing. At least I do. I struggle with questioning if it was God I heard or if Satan is using His tactics once again to distract me. I am finding that when I question myself I am growing in the Lord. I am learning to wait upon Him. The more I wait the more I understand that it is the Lord speaking to me. It's good to measure everything against the Word of God. He gives us the tools we need for gaining wisdom and understanding. We have something the Israelites didn't have. We have the entire Word of God with us! We know what happens. We see God's victories. 

"Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors." Proverbs 8:33

"To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." John 10:3-5

Just as sheep know their shepherds voice, we too come to know the voice of our Shepherd. The more time we spend with Him the more we know His voice and understand His Word. I find that sometimes He whispers to me and others I hear Him shouting in protection. As we hear God and heed His voice He will bless us as we hear and obey. 

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17

"But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!"" Luke 11:28

It seems the Israelites wanted more than a voice. They wanted a form. They wanted something in front of them that they could say, "Yes, this is God!" That is why they crafted the golden calf. They needed an image to worship. We cannot limit God to a form or image. God is omnipresent: All powerful. He is omniscience: All knowing. He is Omnipresence: Present everywhere simultaneously. We have a mighty God who was God before the earth was formed. To want to make Him an image is limiting all that He is. 

God speaks to us through His Word. If we are willing, we can hear Him. If we are still, He will show us. We can clearly see God in All His creation. May we learn from those who were before us. Might we open our ears to all God has for us to hear and obey His Word today. 

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching." 2 Timothy 3:16

"For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction." Job 33:14-16

We can hear the buzz of a bee, the leaves of a tree in gentle motion as the winds blow, and a hummingbird in motion. I love listening to the turtle doves song in the morning and evening. My grandson was outdoors with me and we heard the turtle dove. He turns to me and says, "Nana, ya hear that?" I smile and tell him, "Shh, let's be quiet and we will hear it again." Sure enough we did. My granddaughter loves to say, "Did ja hear that, Nanny?" If we stop long enough we can hear the echo of God's love all around us. 

When we lay down to rest we need to spend time conversing with God. Doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, and driving to work. He gives us opportunities to hear from Him. We just have to tune our ears in to His station. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Remembrance And Reflection

As I open the pages of Deuteronomy I once again fall in love with the Word of God. In chapter one we see Moses reflecting on all that God had done for His people. He is recounting the loving and protecting actions of the Lord. He too reminds the people that they are the ones who left God. God never once left them in the desert. The choice was all theirs. God went before them and behind them. He was with them every step of the way. When the people called out to God, He answered. He provided all their needs. But still the people cried out for more. They were not satisfied. They had forgotten the chains of bondage that held them in captivity in Egypt. They wanted more and they wanted it now. They didn't want to wait for God's timing. Yes, our Lord has perfect timing. He asked for obedience. With obedience came blessings. The people were slow to remember all the good God had done for them, but quick to anger to a God who had not forsaken them, but had led them out of bondage to a land of freedom. 

The more I grow in the Lord, the more I realize that there is freedom in obedience. God only wants the best for His children. He wants us out of the desert and into a land of milk and honey. We cannot get there on our own. We need His guidance. It is a journey we must all travel. Sometimes the road seems long and difficult. This was the desert for the Israelites. A journey that should have taken eleven days took them forty years. They were still in bondage. This time it wasn't others holding them down, but themselves. It was their actions and lack of faith that held them back. 

In chapter one we see Moses recall the command to enter into Canaan. The Israelites sent ahead spies and the news they brought back frightened them. They were fearful of the giants that were in the land. Ah, if we could all have faith like David, the giant killer. God wanted them to take this land, but the people lacked faith. As a consequence to their unbelief that God would continue to walk with them and slay the enemies of His people, they were not to enter into the land awaiting them. Their children would enter, but not the folks who spent all the years wandering in the desert. No one, but Caleb would enter. He was one who never lacked faith. He trusted God all the way and for his faithfulness in obedience God blessed Caleb. 

In our hurried lives we don't spend a lot of time remembering and reflecting on all God has done for us. We tend to be in the worry and hurry of today, lacking faith for tomorrow. We get lost in all we don't have. Never realizing what we do, until it is gone. The Israelites had to see the, "What if", in their journey. This was a time for them to see that God had never left them. He was with them from the beginning. Why couldn't they see? What held them back from having faith? The same things that still bury us in unfaith today. Ourselves. We see what we want when we want it and when we don't get it we don't understand. We look at God as if He is a genie. All we have to do is wish and we should get all we want. 

God doesn't want us to hurry through life. When we believe in Him we know that eternal life awaits us. We know that the day is coming where we spend the rest of our lives with the Lord who saved us. That should give us hope. That should give us the calm to slow down. There is so much for us to learn and grasp before we get there. This is our journey. Each of us have our own to walk, but we are never alone. Oh, we may think we are walking alone and doing it all our way, but God is there. He is all knowing and all seeing. He is guiding our steps and throwing up roadblocks. He is making way for detours and U-turns. He has given all of Himself. He has provided us the road map. We just don't want to slow down long enough to ask for direction. 

"He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant." 1 Chronicles 16:14-17

"He permitted no man to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, saying,"Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm." Sing to the Lord, all the earth; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations. His wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and gladness are in His place." 1 Chronicles 16:21-27

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."" Lamentations 3:22-26

We can learn so much from the Israelites. Most of all we can learn the blessings that come from obedience. Might we learn to slow down and reflect. May we look back on our lives and count the ways the Lord has been with us. May we look upon today and see that He is leading the way and trust that He has tomorrow in His hands. 

When we reflect upon the Lord instead of circumstance we see with new eyes. He gives us a clear vision. Sometimes circumstance is because of our actions. Sometimes it is because of the actions of others. Sometimes God calls us to places along our journey so that we can learn, grow and see Him in everything. He wants to have a relationship with us. He simply wants to walk with us. Why not enjoy time with Him? Has it been a while since you traveled back in time to the Old Testament? I encourage you to stop the craziness of life and slow down. Oh, I know we are busy people, but we tend to be busy with what we want to be busy with. Could that be part of our problem? 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

"If you love Me, you will keep My commands." John 14:15

"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray we can stop long enough in our crazy lives to see You. To know You. To have a relationship with You. May we desire Your Word as it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Oh, may we not take You for granted and use You as  wish giver, but may we see You as our holy God, who loves us, who came for us, and is with us day by day, making each morning new of mercies. May we never forget and always remember all You have done, are doing and will do for Your children. amen

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rosemary Cottage (A Hope Beach Novel) by Colleen Coble

There are some authors who stand out for me and one of those is Colleen Coble. She is a writer who connects with her readers through stories she pens that gives us a glimpse into her own life. Colleen is a writer I admire. She has a style all her own. She weaves a story that gives room for imagination. As I turn the pages I am eager to continue reading, but always sad as I close the last page. Yes, she is one of those writers you just know has penned another great read. A read that connects us to faith. 

The cover is beautiful and captivating. The story is riveting. I stayed up all night to finish this book! Outstanding read! But everything Colleen writes is pretty amazing to me. The story flows and held my attention throughout the entire book. When I read the Prologue I knew I was in for another adventurous ride.

I had not read the first in the series, "Tidewater Inn", but I don't think it's a must read to enjoy, "Rosemary Cottage", but I think it would help understand the characters better and that always gives the reader a more enjoyable experience. That's what reading is, an experience, and Coble gives us just that! 

Such powerful and tender characters. Suspense and romance! You can never go wrong with Colleen Coble. I loved the relationships that blossomed and how we see over time God heals all wounds in His perfect timing. He brings people into our path for a distinct purpose. Uncovering that purpose brings us closer to Him. Yes, I walked away with all those gems in reading this novel. 

As I continued to read it just got better and better. The story kept evolving and I kept turning pages. This is an unputdownable read for sure! Grab it up. This is a series you do not want to miss out on!

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review. 

Colleen Coble Rita finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several bestselling romantic suspense novels, including Tidwater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor Series. Find more about Colleen by checking out her website:

Prairie Song (Hearts Seeking Home Book 1) by Mona Hodgson

This was a sweet and quick read for me. The story flowed well and the characters were genuine. I love when I get to review a book from a Missouri writer. Especially St. Charles where I grew up! Just awesome! 

"Prairie Song" is perfect read for a summer evening. Anna Goben is such a sweet character. She is filled with grace and has such a peaceful spirit about her. The relationship she has with her mother makes a big impact on the woman she is becoming. She has lost her brother and her heart is forever missing him. The Civil War has left it's scars on those who are now going west. 

Unexpected love occurs in God's perfect timing. Although the journey is long, this is where Anna is challenged in many ways, including her faith. Faith is a continual journey. 

What I enjoyed about this read is the strength that Anna drew from the Lord to love and to forgive. In the beginning of the story she is to wed, but as her mother is calling her to walk down the aisle, Anna's heart is saying no. Over and over again we see her struggle in the relationship with her mother. Anna didn't think her mother loved her. Anna's heart was searching for love and acceptance. She finds this in her journey through the prairie. God always gives unexpected blessings just when we need them. This is a story about hope and the renewing spirit of grace God continues to give to those who seek Him first. 

This book will be released on August 6, 2013

This Book was a gift from WaterBrook Press for sharing my review. 

Mona Hodgson Over the last twenty-five years, Mona Hodgson’s publishing credits have grown to include nearly thirty children's books, contributions to more than ten books for adults, and four historical novels, including her debut, Two Brides Too Many inThe Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series. Mona is a popular speaker for women's groups, schools, and educators’ and writers’ conferences. She lives in Arizona with her husband and has two daughters and several grandchildren.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Small Town Girl by Ann H. Gabhart

I am so glad I got to travel to Rosey Corner again and see how Kate and all the family are doing. When I received, "Small Town Girl", I had no idea it followed Ann's earlier book, "Angel Sister" (check out my review). 

You cannot be rushed through an Ann Gabhart book. It's one to enjoy and take your time in. I admire Ann so much. Her writing style is classic and pure. The history she brings is as if you are right there in the midst of 1941. I have had the pleasure of reviewing almost all of Ann's books. "Angel Sister" is one at the top of my favorites list and now, "Small Town Girl", is right along beside it. 

The characters are real and easy to love. It was wonderful to spend time with the characters of, "Angel Sister" once again. All the old characters return and we meet a few new characters that you are sure to love. I think there is a character that each us can relate to. It is so refreshing to read a story about the importance of family and how important it is to have people in our lives who love us. Love creates love. Where there is love missing there is a heart searching. 

Rosey Corner is Kate's home. For some, it will be home forever, but Kate dreams of more. A lot has taken place since my last visit to Rosey Corner. War is on the horizon. Kate is growing to be quite a woman. She is figuring herself out and that's not always easy. We see her question herself as her big sister marries. Family means everything to Kate. She draws much of her joy from her little sister, Birdie. This little lady is wise in her young shoes and easy to love. 

Jay Tanner strolls into town for a wedding and Kate will never be the same. These two characters meet and they are forced to face to their biggest fears. I think that's what I love most about this story. We not only faith, but we see how faith grows. We see how the Lord gently nudges us to Him through circumstance. 

This is one of those timeless stories that sticks with you. This story is rich in meaningful lessons about love, life and faith. This story is weaved in grace and forgiveness. We learn about second chances and to never expect from others what we ourselves are not willing to give. 

I tell you I LOVED this story. I fell in love with Tanner as soon as he entered town. I enjoyed watching these characters grow. If your looking for a sweet summertime journey into the past, "Small Town Girl", is surely one you will love.

This book was a gift from Revell for sharing my review.

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels--The OutsiderThe BelieverThe SeekerThe Blessed, and The Gifted--as well as several other historical novels, including Scent of LilacsOrchard of Hope,Angel SisterSmall Town Girl, and Words Spoken True. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Find out more at

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Being A Listening Momma Is a Growing Momma

We go from picking dandelions with little hands to watching our children take a step into their own day by day. Everyone says how quick they grow. Ah, we never understand just how fast until it's our own children. 

We share such sweet times. We go from kissing skinned knees to allowing our daughters to walk through the door on their first date. Change is ever present. Some changes are easy and wanting, but others are much more difficult than anything we expected. 

When you raise five children you understand they are all so very unique. You learn to love the different qualities that stand out in each child. Parenthood is the greatest joy in the world. It is also the hardest job in the universe. No one does is just right. Perfection is not even close to possible. We do our best. We learn as we go. We give our hearts to our children. There are days I soared as a parent and days where I flopped. There were times where I knew without a doubt I was being a good momma and others where I questioned each move. It seems those questioning moments come more along those teenage years. 

A few days ago while my daughter was doing my hair, she uttered the words that brought tears and a smile. "Mom, I am so glad we can come to you and talk to you about everything. You know there was a time where we couldn't do that. You didn't want to hear some things." These words brought such joy to my heart. If she wasn't coloring my hair (and making it gorgeous I might add) I could have jumped out of that chair right then and soared right out of the shop. 

She is right. There was a time where I didn't want to hear certain things. See, quite a few years back, I wasn't so sure I what kind of a relationship I would share with my daughters. We went through a time of trial. A trial that just about broke this momma. It wasn't easy for any of us. I doubted myself. I doubted my mothering skills. I was that homeschooling mom. I did everything with my kids. I coached softball. I was at every game. I never missed an event. We had the time of our lives together. Even as my girls grew older I tucked them in at night. I would go to their door at night just to see that they were peaceful in sleep. 

I was blinded. Instead of turning to my Savior, I turned to others for advice. Others who gave advice, but had never been through what our family was facing. I grant you it wasn't anything terrible, but for this mom, I felt like the world was caving in around me. I took the advice I was given. You know what? That wasn't the advice I needed. I just needed to hear, "Hang in there", "Keep praying", "Remain faithful", "Just love them where they are and help them grow". Everything I needed to hear I wasn't hearing. I was hearing, "Be tough", "Stand strong. Your the parent. Make the rules and make them obey." But see, it's easy to give advice when all you have to do is speak it. These folks weren't living it. It wasn't real to them. 

The more I prayed the more I felt as if I wasn't the mom I needed to be. After speaking with others I questioned every decision I made. I felt as though I was losing my mind. In reality I pretty much was. I wanted the best for my girls and I felt I could no longer give it. I felt unworthy as a mom. When you raise your children in church there is a certain standard set for your family. If you fall short of that standard, well, you better get to fixing the problem. I think some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

At church we look at our youth and we pass judgement pretty quickly. It's easy to look at other families and think about what they must be doing wrong, because without a doubt our children aren't like that. Oh, how I have learned how untrue that reality is. We seem to set certain families on a pedestal. We look to their children as being perfect and moving right along with the Lord. It's mind boggling really. We begin to question our own children if they aren't meeting the standard. 

Oh, I cannot count the nights I cried out to the Lord. I just wanted my family back. I was a broken mom and my girls were broken as well. We were a hurting family. I prided myself on being that parent who listened. But, there was a limit to my listening. At times I  was more of the talker. I laid out what the rules were and expected them to be followed. 

When trial hit, I needed to be the mom who listened to every detail. I needed to hush up and listen. Listen without judgement and listen with grace and love. I needed to meet my children right there where they were. We cannot expect young teens to understand what we understand in our forties. What did happen was I began looking back to my youth. I could see my parents sitting on the couch, scared out of their minds, wondering where in the world I was at 4:00 am. I could see the disappointment in my parents eyes as I was doing things I knew I shouldn't be doing. I went back about 35 years and put myself in my daughters place. Turns out, I had made some of the same mistakes. I should have been more understanding. I shouldn't have been so quick to anger. I would jump to conclusions. I would state what was right and wrong and inform them of what they for sure were not going to be doing. 

My lesson? I should have talked to Jesus and gave Him the room He needed to guide me. I needed to take the time to breathe. I needed to be there for my daughters no matter the what. Although they made mistakes, their momma did too. The bigger the mistake, the more grace is needed. This world, including the church, shouldn't have been my measuring tools. I needed to measure everything against the Word of God. In many cases I did. I wasn't a total failure. I just allowed others to come in and advise me when they had no way of advising since they had not gone through what our family was facing at the moment. 

These were teenage years. I wasn't prepared for what came. I was use to my perfect children. You know, children who held your hand as you crossed the street. Children who wanted momma around all the time. Children who thought their momma could do anything. Now I was the momma who took the backseat. I had teens who didn't want to talk about what they were facing or the challenges of being a girl at their age. Just as I did at that age, they turned to friends. It all came back to me now. I did the same. I didn't talk to my mom about anything. Why? She would have never understood. She never allowed me to talk. It was her way or no way.

As a teacher to the children of the same age, I found myself with more understanding when they faced these issues. When it came to my own, I had the notion that it just wasn't possible for my children to go through these same motions. I mean, they were taught different. They grew up in church. They knew better. So, was this more about the actions of my kids or was it more about my own pride in raising children? Ouch!

Yes, as parents we must set boundaries, but friends, no matter what, we need to be there for our children. We don't need to listen to every friend who wants to aid advice. We need to remember grace and mercy. We need to guide our children with loving care. We must do what is best for our family. We need to listen and listen not only to the words they share, but the actions they live. We need to keep our eyes open and be a part of their lives. We need to remember the world we live in and just how different it is today than when we were the same age. We need to remember our own mistakes. Can I tell you, now that I'm 46, I can look back and see that I learned the most in life by the mistakes I made. Yes, those mistakes had consequences that followed and how wonderful would it be for us to learn from our parents wisdom the first time and not have consequences follow us for a lifetime, but that's not usually how it works. 

Today I have a wonderful relationship with my daughters. Oh my, they are so beautiful. I can see myself in each of them. I am learning I just need to be mom. They know their momma loves the Lord. They know who I am and they know they can come to me for anything. In loving them where they are I am loving them as Jesus does. Change isn't going to come by me directing their paths. They must come to the very place I was when I gave my life to Jesus. It can't be forced. We all come to Jesus and live our lives for Him in His perfect timing. 

My girls are not only beautiful, but they light up a room. Their laughter is contagious. They are mothers now to their own babies. I am so proud of the women they have become. They too will face those trials and they too, just as I did, will learn and look back and remember their momma and daddy sitting up and waiting for them. Life is so precious. It cannot be hurried and it is not perfection. We learn each and every day on how to be better people. There are times I wish I could do it all over again and then again, I am thankful for the grace of God that I don't have to. He took those years of trial and used them to grow me. He grew my faith. My hope became new. My intentions were not of my motivations, but of the Lord's will. 

As parents we must stop worrying about what others think. We can't listen to the gossip or the judgement coming from those perfect parents with perfect children. If they exist I have never seen it. Each family will face their own trials. Everyone doesn't need to know our issues. Asking for prayer is enough. I had to come to that humbling moment where I realized I was never going to be a perfect parent. Mistakes were going to be made. I was a great mom, but there are always areas we can learn and grow in. 

Parents, give yourself room to make mistakes. Take a stand for the important issues and don't make everything out to be a big issue. Pick your battles. It isn't about winning. It isn't about being right. It isn't about looking good in the eyes of the church. It's doing what is best for your family and making that decision as a family. Communication is key. When no one is talking we grow stagnant as a family. We have to keep those open lines of communication open. 

Sure, we can listen to advice. We can read books. We can do all the things we are taught to do, but when it comes down to it, we must realize not all advice is for every family. Every child is different. Learn your child's love language. Love them where they are. Be the example, but be willing to learn from them. Be humble enough to step back and realize that God is in control. If we just hang on it will all work out. For me, I was always too quick to jump in and try to fix things the way I thought they should be. Oh, how the Lord has taught me lesson after lesson. Praise Jesus He loves me where I am right now. Oh yes, expectations! Parents, don't let this world or anyone set expectations for your own children. You know them better than anyone else. Don't let someone else make your decisions for you. Listen to your children. Talk with your husband. Decide things as a whole family and share. Be honest. Be humble. 

You know what? It's okay to tell your kids you don't know what to do. Yes, it's okay to share with your kids that your learning too. Honesty allows our children to be honest. Let them  know that adults make mistakes and we can admit that we do. 

Give your children room to make mistakes. Allow them to learn and grow as you are there for them. Be the example we are called to be. What we as parents do in moderation our children will do in excess. It's easy to make excuses for our mistakes, but we seem to be a little harder on our children when they slip and fall.

Read God's Word together. Don't read it to them as if they need it more than you. Read it together. Pray together and work things out together. Family is precious. Too many times we allow others to decide what's best for us. Turn to the Lord and He will guide you through these years. Be the parent your children will respect. I learned long ago I wasn't to be my children's friend. I was to be their parent. It isn't about popularity. It's about parenting. 

As I am a parent to adult children now this is a whole new avenue of learning. As were are all a work in progress, we never stop learning as parents. I am now a grandparent and as I live this new joy, I am remembering to let my daughters be mothers. It's their turn to take this journey. It will be a while before they face those teenage years. My job, no, my gift, is to pray them through these years. Pray they give themselves room to make mistakes . I always say my children grew me into who I am today. Along with the good days come challenging ones. If we keep our eyes focused on Jesus He will give us everything we need. Everything doesn't need to be decided in a day. Throw out that timeline and install grace in every word and every action. Remembering your children are an extension of you. They are little people trying to find their way. More than anything they need understanding, patience and time. May we guide them with the same love and grace as our Lord guides us. 


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