Posts Tagged ‘devotionals’

What Song Shall We Sing This Thanksgiving?

“O sing unto the Lord a new song . . .”  In our family, we’re singing a new song this Thanksgiving. Woody and I have just welcomed into the world our 11th grandchild, Bjorn and Abby their third son. Now we are nineteen!  I’d like to introduce Lars Wheeler Anderson and his very grateful little family:

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God gives great gifts, and we are overflowing with gratitude.  It’s easy to sing a song of Thanksgiving just now.

But thanksgiving doesn’t always come so easily.  Especially if we see the giving of thanks as dependent on particular circumstances in our lives. The interesting thing is that God calls us to more: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV) In everything . . .  How in the world do we do that? How in this world do we do that?

At this time in America when our country is election-weary and future-wary and fractured down the middle in so many places, how do we do that? It’s hard for Thanksgiving songs to be heard amidst the chaos. It is, after all, an American holiday. And yes, more than a few people are finding their thanks-giving voices more than a little bit strained.

But the question becomes much more personal for so many people I know and love—and pray for every day. How do we give thanks amidst deep personal loss, terribly sick children, scary financial stresses . . . you know the list goes on and on.  But still, we are called to give thanks.

Maybe sometimes it’s easier to sing it. I always think of Martin Luther’s friend’s advice to Luther amidst struggles with depression: “Let’s sing the Psalms, Martin.  Let’s sing the Psalms.” 

So what song shall we sing this Thanksgiving? I offer you my favorite. A favorite because it is so very real. It reflects the good times of life as well as the bad and the sad. But I love it mostly because it reminds us of the true basis of our gratitude. And above all, the One we should thank every day of our lives. It’s an old Swedish hymn, one we sang at the Fall funerals of both of Woody’s parents. One that sings in my heart often.

See the words below.  If you’d like to hear it, here’s a link.

1. Thanks to God for my Redeemer,

Thanks for all Thou dost provide.

Thanks for times now but a mem’ry,

Thanks for Jesus by my side.

Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,

Thanks for dark and dreary fall.

Thanks for tears by now forgotten,

Thanks for peace within my soul.

2. Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,

Thanks for what Thou dost deny

Thanks for storms that I have weathered,

Thanks for all Thou dost supply.

Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,

Thanks for comfort in despair.

Thanks for grace that none can measure,

Thanks for love beyond compare.

3. Thanks for roses by the wayside,

Thanks for thorns their stems contain.

Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,

Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain.

Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,

Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee.

Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,

Thanks through all eternity.

So there you have it: 24 reasons to give thanks.  In the good times and the bad. In a word: Our Eternal God . . . with His Everlasting arms underneath. Always. Forever.

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I’d like to leave you with a picture. It’s a picture that embodies much of my heart this Thanksgiving. It includes so much that I am thanking God for at this time of year. The pilgrims on the table were Woody’s mom’s. They joined our every Thanksgiving celebrated with her. The chairs in the background were my mom’s. I sat in them and admired them each time I visited with her in her little Florida condo; and when she moved to hospice, they were still there . . ., and now here. I love the view out our window. And how I cherish the family God has so graciously given us! Us . . . the ones who once wondered whether we would ever have children!

A thanksgiving challenge for you: Take a picture of things for which you are thankful. Make a list. Sing a song. Maybe sing a new song . . .

Happy Thanksgiving!    

It Changes Everything


“It changes everything, you know.”  It’s the day after Easter, and that’s the sentence that keeps echoing through my mind.   Because it does.  Easter.  It changes everything.

In Ireland my daughter tells me it’s a holiday.  Easter Monday.  How fitting: That the day after Easter be—instead of a “let-down, back-to-the-humdrum” kind of day—a holiday.  It’s not, after all, “same-ol’ same ol.’”  How can it be, when redemption has been accomplished, sin forgiven, death defeated, and a glorious eternal future opened up before us?  Because He came, He lived, He died, and He rose again, nothing is ever the same again.

But we are easily fooled.  Is anything really all that different?   On this particular Monday in my life, I am jet-lagged and missing my grandkids after two wonderful weeks in Ireland.  There’s a lot that’s been left undone while I’ve been away.   My “to-do” list looks longer than my day.  And several items on it are things I’d rather avoid.  It was a lot more fun to shout “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” yesterday in church than to schedule doctor’s appointments and follow-up mammograms.

And you.  I’ll bet your kids got up just as early this day after Easter.  Or maybe your teenager didn’t want to get up at all.  And the laundry pile, the carpool, the grocery list, the budget crunch, even the creeping anxiety about one of your kids or your husband’s job—it’s all there.

Which takes me back to where I originally heard the sentence I can’t get out of my mind:  “It changes everything.”   Let me give you some context.  Several years ago I was speaking at a women’s event in another part of the country.  The hosting church had just that year begun a Mom to Mom program.   After I spoke, a buffet was served.  I was told “just sit anywhere you’d like.”  As I scanned the room, I was drawn toward a nearly empty table.  Something in my head said, “Just sit down and see who the Lord brings to sit next to you.”

I’ll never forget the beautiful young woman who came and joined me.  I can’t remember her name, but I will always remember what she said.  She began by thanking me for doing Mom to Mom.  She told how helpful it had been to her, particularly with special challenges she experienced as mom with a disability.  “But the big thing, Linda,” she said, “is that through this year, week after week, I have felt God’s love as never before.  For me.  Personally. Particularly. Powerfully.  For the first time in my life, I have felt completely, totally loved by God.  And when you know—really know—how much God loves you, it changes everything, you know.”

Oh yes, my sweet friend, it does.  It changes everything.  How I think about laundry and food shopping and even mammograms.  How you look at your husband and kids and even laundry.  More importantly, how you think about your past (yes, you’ve blown it, but because of Easter, you’re forgiven and given a fresh start), your future (He will be with you every step of the way no matter where that way leads)—and even your present, your today (He can give you His love for the unlovable, His strength for your weakness, His peace amidst your pain).  He said it in a sentence just before he left this earth: “Lo, I am with you always . . .” (Matthew 28:20)

His love changes everything.  And what more powerful reminder of His love than Easter?  It’s worth remembering—even, or maybe especially, on this Easter Monday.

My Best Book of 2011

Yes, I do know that it is now 2012.  But it just occurred to me that I never shared with you the book which most impacted my life in 2011.

It’s a wonderful little devotional book: Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young.  Most of you probably already know about it.  It seems every time I recommend it to someone, they already have it.  It has been around a while (published in 2004).  But I had not heard of it until a friend gave me a copy last spring.  Since then, I have been reading it pretty much daily.  And day after day, I have the feeling she’s writing just for me.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say He wrote this just for me, as the book is based on scripture verses for each day that Sarah Young has loosely paraphrased in the first person—as if Jesus is talking directly to you.  I love that the verses from which she’s writing are included at the bottom of each day’s reading.  It’s a great way to find yourself dipping into words from God that you may not have encountered in a while.

The underlying theme is captured in the subtitle: Enjoying Peace in His Presence.  Morning after morning, we are encouraged to be aware of our Savior’s presence with us throughout the day, whatever may happen.  Here’s an example:

“I want you to learn a new habit.  Try saying, ‘I trust you, Jesus’ in response to whatever happens to you. . . . This simple practice will help you see me in every situation, acknowledging my sovereign control over the universe.  When you view things from this perspective . . . fear loses its grip on you. . . .”  (January 4 entry)

The concept of living in His presence all day long, trusting Him for that day and trusting Him for the future, is certainly not a new one.  It’s as old as scripture.  And as I read, I am often reminded of Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God and John Ortberg’s God Is Closer Than You Think.  Both wonderful books.  But somehow—maybe because she is a woman?—Sarah Young seems to strike even closer to the bone.

Of course it’s really God Himself—and His words—that do this.  But thank you, Sarah Young, for reminding us!

A closing word for today (January 17) just in case you don’t yet have this book:

“Come to me with a thankful heart, so that you can enjoy My Presence.  This is the day that I have made.  I want you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow. . . . Come to me with all your needs, knowing that my glorious riches are a more-than-adequate supply.  Stay in continual communication with me, so that you can live above your circumstances even while you are in the midst of them. . . .” (Psalm 118:24; Philippians 4:19, 6-7 NASB)

Good words for me today—and for you, too!

A “Mary Christmas” to You!

I felt it coming on early this morning: I was shifting into “Martha mode.”   So far I’ve been very reflective about Advent this year, wanting to be like two Marys in the Bible—the one who sat at Jesus’ feet and listened, and the one who was His mother, with much to treasure and ponder in her heart.

But this morning was different.  I awoke with shopping lists and baby equipment on the mind, and visions of menu planning and baking, Pack’n Plays and car seats, dancing in my head.  I felt like Martha, “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40).

We are extra-excited about Christmas this year.  In just one week they begin to arrive for overlapping visits: all 6 of our adult kids (each of our 3 and spouses) and all 6 of our grandkids.  We are very geographically scattered, from Wisconsin to Florida to New Hampshire and on to Ireland, so it’s a rare event that we will all be together for four whole days—for the first time in a year and a half.

We can’t wait!  But there’s a lot to do. And this morning, the length of my lists hit me full force.  Then I remembered wise words from the poet Mary Oliver (written in a different context) that a friend had sent me recently as a reminder of how to celebrate Advent: “Walk slowly.  Bow often.”  Is there any better time than Advent to be reminded of this?

“Walk slowly.  Bow often.”  I forwarded these words to our kids, with a brief note acknowledging how impossible that must seem amidst their busy lives with babies and toddlers and preschoolers.

My daughter-in-law Abby wrote back with a very interesting perspective (which I share with her permission):

“We were convinced that we couldn’t walk slower than we did with Soren (now 5 and a very fast runner!)…but Nils (22 months) has him beat!  The sun rises and falls before Nils can get himself from the car to the back door.  He greets every puddle, squirrel, and leaf with a glorious pause and ‘hi!’ It’s a long obedience…Now I’ll just have to think about bowing often as I stand holding the door open wishing I had a cattle prod.  Thanks, Mom!”

“Walk slowly.  Bow often.”  If you can do it while waiting for a wonder-filled but dawdling toddler, maybe you can do it while waiting in line at Walmart, or while on hold trying to place an order.  Or maybe even in a few moments of quiet before tackling the day’s List.

So I sat quietly for a few moments this morning pondering our nativity set and thinking of Mary—and me, and you.  “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given…”   I prayed that I would not miss the wonder and mystery of it all even amidst the flurry of joyful family reunions.  I pray the same prayer for you—whether you walk the floor with a crying baby, or wait on slow-moving toddlers, or get ready for a houseful, or even prepare for a quieter Christmas this year.   May you find—or make—in this season a few “Mary moments” to welcome Him into your heart and life above all others.

“O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”  Merry Christmas (and a “Mary” Christmas) to you all!

Outrageous Praise


“Out of the mouths of babes…you have perfected praise.” (Matthew 21:16 NKJV)

Don’t you love seeing exuberant outbursts of praise and thanks from children?  Having just returned from a visit with two of our grandchildren, I have fresh memories of Hannah’s chubby little hands raised in praise as she sang the doxology with gusto before a meal.  At two and a half years, Hannah embraces life with uncomplicated enthusiasm.  Why not praise God the same way?

Older brother Bengt is often a bit more thoughtful.  He’s beginning to be more aware of Who we praise, and what kind of God He is.  We got a glimpse into his 6-year-old mind  when we heard this observation, seemingly out of the blue, from the car seat in the back of the van: “I don’t know if you know this, Dad.  But God is all the light we ever really need.”

Thanks and praise seem to come easier in childhood, when life is less complicated.  But what about the kind of praise called for this Thanksgiving from all of us grown-ups?  Yes, all of us.  Not just those for whom life seems to be flowing along smoothly (Let me know who you are out there!)  Or those rejoicing in recent breakthrough answers to prayer.  Also those still waiting for answers, struggling with the answers you seem to be getting, or wondering where God is in all this.  How many months can a family go without jobs?  How much life is left after a lung cancer diagnosis?  Will the husband’s depression ever lift, the wayward child ever come home, the special needs child ever get what he needs?  How long will the business hold out in this economy?  I’m sure you can quickly fill in your own blanks.  It’s a tough world we live in.

That’s where outrageous praise comes in.  It’s the real deal, I’m convinced.  Not just the “things are going just great in my world for now, God.  Thank you—and please may it last” kind of praise.  But the no-matter-what kind of praise.

It’s the praise I wake up in the night thinking about lately.  It’s the praise that comes only from a clear understanding of Whom we praise and why.  It’s the praise born of the daily conviction of the Presence of God in every circumstance of our lives.  Every day.  Every hour.  Every minute.  It’s the praise of the Psalmist in Psalm 34.

I’ve shared from a favorite paraphrase of this Psalm before.  It’s the one Woody’s parents read together almost daily in Dad Anderson’s last week of life before he died at age 52.  It’s the one that hangs on the wall in our family room and in the walls of my heart.  It’s the best example of outrageous praise I know:

I feel at times as if I can never cease praising God.  Come and rejoice with me over His goodness.

I reached to Him out of my inner conflicts, and He was there to give me strength and courage.  I wept in utter frustration over my troubles, and He was near to help and support me.  What He has done for me he can do for you.  Turn to Him; He will not turn away from you.  His loving presence encompasses those who yield to Him.  He is with them even in the midst of their troubles and conflicts. He meets their emptiness with His abundance and shores up their weakness with His divine power.

Listen to me.  I know whereof I speak.  I have learned from experience that this is the way to happiness.  God is ever alert to the cries of His children.  He feels and bears with them their pain and problems.  He is very near to those who suffer and reaches down to help those who are battered down with despair.

Even the children of God must experience affliction.

But they have a loving God to keep them and watch over them.

The godless suffer in loneliness and without hope.

The servant of God finds meaning and purpose even in the midst of his suffering and conflict.

(from Psalms Now! by Leslie F. Brandt)

I hope you’ll join me in outrageous praise—Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Morning Prayers for Mamas


My morning prayers (and all-day prayers, really) are filled with mamas today.  That’s not unusual.  Many, many mamas are on my prayer list regularly—both close personal friends and Mom to Mom groups around the country.

But today my heart is especially heavy with recent conversations.  My memory is filled with God-moments from last weekend at the wonderful Hearts at Home Northeast Convention in Rochester, Minnesota.   Later this week I spent a few precious hours around a warm, cozy table on a gloomy November afternoon with mom-friends sharing deeply from their hearts.  And then there have been texts and phone calls and emails from near and far.

The stories swirl around my mind and fill my heart.  Young mamas struggle with multiple miscarriages, contested adoptions, tiny babies fighting mightily in NICU’s, and post-partum depression.   A 7-year-old is pushing a mama to the edge, and a 17-year-old makes one mother of 6 say to me, “If I’d had a 17-year-old first, I’d have had only one child!”

Mamas of young adult children are on their knees everywhere.  A daughter makes one terrible choice after another to pursue what looks like the life of her dreams but what may very well turn out to be a nightmare.   Another runs from God down “the labyrinthine paths of her own mind” (to borrow from Francis Thompson’s poem “The Hound of Heaven”).  How long will it take them to come to their senses?   Another fights the constant specter of past drug addiction, while a son battles alcoholism. Are they really “clean” and sober now?  Sons and daughters move home as marriages fall apart. Why is this happening to so many marriages?

I think of these stories and pray for these mamas and their children, no matter what age they are.  As I pray, God brings to mind words of encouragement.  Words from somewhat random sources.  Words which strengthen me as I pray and which I hope will encourage my friends—and every one of you who may need “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” (as the great old hymn puts it):

  • From an old prayer quoted in the September 12 reading from Streams in the Desert:  “O Lord, support us!  Yes, support us on every leaning side.”
  • From Psalm 94:18-19: “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
  • From a Facebook posting my daughter tells me comes from Ann Voskamp’s wonderful blog: “One foot in front of the other and one murmured thanks after another and underneath the Everlasting Arms will hold.”

I pray for every one of my mama-friends with leaning sides and slipping feet—including me!  And I wonder how it is that Sarah Young, in her amazing devotional Jesus Calling, always seems to make God’s Words speak directly into my life.  Just in case these words from her November 9 entry might describe you as they did me:

“. . . some fears surface over and over again, especially fear of the future.  You tend to project yourself into the next day, week, month, year, decade; and you visualize yourself coping badly in those times.  What you are seeing is a false image, because it doesn’t include Me.  These gloomy times that you imagine will not come to pass, since my Presence will be with you at all times.   When a future-oriented worry assails you, capture it and disarm it by suffusing the Light of My Presence into that mental image.  Say to yourself, “Jesus will be with me there and then.  With His help, I can cope!”  Then come home to the present moment, where you can enjoy peace in My Presence.”  ( Jesus Calling, p. 328)

My prayer for all of us, sisters of the leaning sides and slipping feet.

Ash Wednesday


“Do you ever look inside yourself and see what you are not?”   A crippled daughter hurls that question at her spiritually crippled mother in a Flannery O’Connor short story (“Good Country People”).  And G.K. Chesterton wrote about the Christian faith as the only religion “that dares to go down with me into the depths of myself.”

These are quotes I came across this morning, on this first day of my Lenten readings.   They strike at the heart of what we’re called to during Lent, don’t they?  At least part of it.  It is a season of reflecting and remembering.  Of self-examination.  A season of looking into what Walter Wangerin called “the mirror of dangerous grace.” (Reliving the Passion, p. 25)   Pretty scary, if you ask me.

That’s why I’m thankful that we’re called to even more than just looking inward during Lent.  I am so thankful that we are also called to look upward.  To look upward to Jesus on the cross.  And even as we gaze at His outstretched arms, even as we remember that “we carry His nails in our pockets” (Was it Luther that said that?), we also remember that He did it for us.  That His grace is far greater than our most hideous sins.   That it was His love for us that held Him there.

But only for a time.   For even as we journey through Lent, we know where the end of the journey will bring us.  To that “whooping joy” (Wangerin again) of the resurrection.  Jesus alive.  Our redemption accomplished.  Heaven ahead.  What a mysterious mix, this Lenten season, of sad/glad feelings.  Of horror (at what I see in me if I look closely enough) and hope.  Of despair (of where we would be without Him) and ecstatic joy (we’re not without Him!).  A season of remembering.

Those of you who know me will know that, of course, I began once again this morning reading my favorite Lenten book: Reliving the Passion, by Walter Wangerin.  And of course I re-read that marvelous preface that is well worth the price of the book.  Somehow it is just as wonderful year after year.  Walter Wangerin, as a small boy, climbs into the story of Jesus—and we join him.

Such a dramatic reminder of the power of story.  Especially this True Story.  This most important story ever told.  For our children.  For us.   Remember it well this Lenten season, as we prepare for Easter.  Tell it to your children in age-appropriate ways.  Remember.  Reflect.  And prepare to rejoice!

Five Mommies, Seven Sisters, and S’Mores

S'mores!

I’ve just returned from Mom to Mom Ministry Board meetings out in the Boston area.  What a great time we had working together, praying together, laughing together—even sharing a few tears from time to time, as we shared our hearts as well as our work.

But the dominant visual memory we will all have from our time together is this: S’Mores!  Yes, S’Mores—those wonderful, gooey, gloriously caloric treats many of us remember from Girl Scouts or Christian camps or family vacations.

Why S’Mores?  Well, because our chaplain, whom we affectionately call Pastor Kay, began our time together with a brief devotional in which she shared verses from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in The Message about how much stronger we are as we work together: “A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”  Much less a 7-stranded one! Kay told us,

“We, board sisters, are much like s’mores.  Some of us tend to be like graham crackers: brittle at times, but ultimately sweet.  Others of us are more like marshmallows: soft with passion and heart-felt emotion.  Still others are more like dark chocolate: quiet, deep, yet so ‘just right’ at the moment needed.

But even though each board member offers individual treasures, when God put us together and added the ‘fire’ of the Holy Spirit, we became so much more than we would have ever been separately—we became s’mores.”

Kay’s devotional made me reflect back over the years since Mom to Mom began.  It’s always been a team effort.  From the three young moms who originally saw the need of such a ministry to the “Five Mommies” who first comprised the Mom to Mom Board to the “Seven Sisters” our board has grown to include, we’ve always shared the work.

And as we’ve shared the work, we’ve become, as Kay reminded us, so much more than any one of us could ever be by ourselves.   Even as we worked together and prayed together—and yes, played together (oh yes, we do know how to have a good time between all those meetings!) S’Mores became a sort of theme for our last three days together.

But the S’mores theme actually extends way beyond our little board.  I think it’s a picture of Mom to Mom groups throughout the country.  On the leadership level, we Titus 2 leaders are so much more as we join hands around our circles and work together and pray together and love and encourage moms together.  And our moms becomes so much more to their families as they share the joys and challenges of their work among their small groups.

Aren’t you glad God gave us each other?   Of course ultimately HE is the One who makes us so much more.  I’m reminded of Ephesians 4:16: “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  (NIV)

In case you’re wondering, yes, we did actually have S’Mores to eat—even though, for some of us working down to the wire before leaving for the airport, we had to take them “to go” in the car so it did get a little messy!

So today I’m thanking God for our Mom to Mom Ministry Board, for all of you doing Mom to Mom throughout the country—and for S’mores!

Favorite Parenting Books

Someone recently asked: “What are Linda’s top 10 or 20 books on parenting and spiritual growth for moms? “ Great question!

Problem: On this one, I have too many answers—way too many!

But let me give it a try anyway.  I will limit myself if you promise to understand that this is by no means an exhaustive list.  In fact, it is somewhat random—a combination of all-time favorite “classics” on parenting and spiritual growth and recent good reads.  They are coming to you in no particular order.

Parenting Books

439124: How to Really Love Your Child How to Really Love Your Child
By Ross Campbell, M.D. / David C. Cook
A short, common-sense classic that is possibly my all-time favorite if you can read only one book on parenting.
905480: Grace-Based Parenting Grace-Based Parenting

By Tim Kimmel / Thomas Nelson
A grace-filled book that helps us see our kids through the eyes of grace with which God see us. It’s all grace, sisters!

Shame-Free Parenting Shame-Free Parenting

By Sandra D. Wilson / Intervarsity Press
In order to be good parents, we must first be whole, healthy women. Sounds a little like Mom to Mom, yes?

47343: Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls

By Gary L. Thomas / Zondervan
I often think of parenting as the “ultimate spiritual discipline.” So I love Thomas’ subtitle: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls.

73652: The Five Love Languages of Children The Five Love Languages of Children

By Gary Chapman, Ph.D. & Ross Campbell, M.D. / Moody Publishers
Great help in “becoming a student of your child” and how he/she best receives love.

Family Building Family Building: The Five Fundamentals of Effective Parenting

By John Rosemond / Andrew McMeel Publishing
Good basic principles on common-sense parenting which establishes healthy boundaries on “who’s the parent here.”

69945: Temper Your Child"s Tantrums Temper Your Child’s Tantrums

By James C. Dobson / Tyndale House

Not really just a book about tantrums, this is a short, helpful distillation of a few basic Dobson principles.

731050: Making Children Mind without Losing Yours, repackaged edition Making Children Mind without Losing Yours, repackaged edition

By Dr. Kevin Leman / Baker
Don’t you love the title? Typical Leman—funny (sometimes very funny) but very practical on “reality discipline” which helps consequences do the talking.

513690: Boys Should Be Boys Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons

By Meg Meeker / Ignatius Press
Very realistic but encouraging reminders of the really big difference YOU (yes, mothers, too!) can make in your child’s life even amidst our cultural maelstrom.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know

By Meg Meeker / Ballantine Books
Another great book by Meg Meeker.

0811960: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

By Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish / HarperCollins
A secular book which was a great practical help to me in communicating with my kids—and my husband, extended family, and friends!

Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

By Marc Weissbluth, M.D. / Ballantine Books
And happy mother, I might add! I wish I’d had this one with my babies! An indispensible help to all my kids in parenting their newborns—and toddlers and beyond.

Two Favorites for Moms with Older Kids:

071553: Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait

By Ruth Bell Graham / Baker Books
A wonderful triumph of a book which pours encouragement into the hearts of those still waiting . . .

074201: Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt

By Leslie Leyland Fields / WaterBrook Press
A realistic and biblically grounded perspective (except for the omission of my favorite Deuteronomy 6 passage on parenting!) on our role—and God’s—in raising our children. Their role, too. Good doses of reality, hope, truth and grace.

A Few Favorites That Have Nurtured My Soul (in addition to the Book)

The Seeking Heart The Seeking Heart

By Francois de… Fenelon / Seedsowers
An all-time favorite. I should re-read it once a year.

835160: The Attentive Life: Discerning God"s Presence in All Things The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things

By Leighton Ford / Inter-varsity Press
I love this book—I re-read it as soon as I finished it the first time!

950790: The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

By Timothy Keller / Penguin Putnam Inc.
A fresh look at a familiar parable. Read anything by Keller.

829541: Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers

By Eugene H. Peterson / Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
A fresh look at the language of Jesus in parables and prayers which will revitalize your language. Read anything by Peterson.

46952: The Life You"ve Always Wanted, Expanded Edition The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Expanded Edition

By John Ortberg / Zondervan
I really enjoy Ortberg’s writing. This one is a very well-balanced book on spiritual disciplines.

253497: God Is Closer Than You Think God Is Closer Than You Think

By John Ortberg / Zondervan
Practical advice on how to experience the presence of God in the day-to-day routines of life.

253518: Faith & Doubt

Faith & Doubt
By John Ortberg / Zondervan
Another wonderful book by John Ortberg; in fact, I recommend anything he writes, really.

Devotionals:

54061: Daily Light Devotional (NKJV), Bonded Leather, Burgundy Daily Light Devotional (NKJV), Bonded Leather, Burgundy
By Samuel Bagster, edited by Anne Graham Lotz / Countryman
601864: My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today"s Language My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today’s Language
By Oswald Chambers, James Reimann / Barbour Publishing
282754: Streams in the Desert Streams in the Desert

By L.B. Cowman, edited by Jim Reimann / Zondervan

Reliving the Passion Reliving the Passion (for Lent)
By Walter Wangerin Jr. / Zondervan
06448: Preparing for Jesus Preparing for Jesus (for Advent)

By Walter Wangerin, Jr. / Zondervan/HarperCollins Publishers

061059: The Message Remix Solo: An Uncommon Devotional The Message Remix Solo: An Uncommon Devotional

By Eugene H. Peterson / NAV Press

OK, I knew it.  This is getting too long.  And I haven’t  even gotten to my “study mentors”—the sections on my bookshelves for Philip Yancey, Walter Wangerin, Frederick Buechner.   I’m really just getting started.

You may be surprised that there are not more specifically “mom” books.  Maybe another time . . . But one thing I found crucial to keeping my sanity as a mom was to continue to nurture and grow my whole self—my soul.  These are just a few of the books that have helped me do that.

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