Another Great Question: Words To Live By

“When you’re in the trenches, what scriptures have carried you through?”

What a wonderful question!  But it would take a lifetime to answer—both my lifetime and yours!  For one thing, God’s Word provides “everything we need for life and godliness” (I Peter 1:3), whether we’re deep in the trenches or singing in the sun.  The Bible is packed, from beginning to end, with words to live by.  And the Holy Spirit individualizes it to each of us.  He knows precisely what words we need at any given time, and He brings them to mind when we need them.  And, as Moses reminds us, “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” (Deuteronomy 32:47)

With that caveat, here’s a (somewhat random) list of some of the Scriptures I live in:

  • Psalms:  All of them, at one time or another.  But some I call my “walking Psalms,” Psalms I memorized as a child but have re-memorized as an adult, Psalms I sometimes go over on walks or in the middle of the night: Psalms 1, 23, 100, 121, 46, 139, 103, 91, 34.  Food for the soul!
  • A Pattern for Godly Parenting: Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Ephesians 6:1-4
  • Parenting Prayers for Wisdom:  James 1:2-5; II Chronicles 20:12; Judges 13:8
  • Encouragement: Philippians—all of it, but especially 1:6 and chapters 3-4
  • Worth and Value as a Woman:  Isaiah 43:1-7; Zephaniah 3:17
  • Hope for the Future (and when I’m missing my mom): John 14:1-6; Revelation 21:1-5; I Corinthians 15 (all of it—but especially vv. 51-58); I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Believe me, this is only a start—the smallest beginning.  As I said, it’s a lifetime question.  Stay tuned...  And in the meantime, maybe some of you would share some of the scriptures you live in.  I’d love to hear from you!

Two final thoughts (final for now):

  1. A Daily Tip: Most days, I read Daily Light, along with my other readings for the day.   Here’s why: The compiled verses on a given topic often remind me of passages I’ve not visited in a while.  When a verse jumps out at me, I look it up in context.  It often leads me to wonderful places in God’s Word where I’ve not been recently.
  2. When you’re really hitting the bottom: Remember God’s lifeline promise that the Holy Spirit prays for us in “groans that words cannot express” when we cannot pray for ourselves (See Romans 8:26-27). Thank you Jesus!

Parenting: A Marked or Unmarked Path?

I thought of all of you (all of the moms reading this blog) a couple of weekends ago when Woody and I started out on a morning of hiking.  We were at a state park in Door County in northern Wisconsin that we had visited a few years ago, and there was one particular trail which Woody remembered that he wanted to revisit.  It wound down some fairly steep cliffs (for us amateur hikers, that is) to become a lovely walk along the lake, with beautiful vistas over Lake Michigan.

At least that’s how we remembered it.  The problem was that we couldn’t find it!  We returned to the area where we thought the trailhead had begun, and there seemed to be absolutely no sign of this trail.  That was my impression, anyway.  Woody, on the other hand, bold explorer that he is, was quite sure he had located the start of the trail.  No, there was no sign there.  But there did seem to be a worn path leading down toward the lake.  And he was sure this must be the trail he remembered.

Now you need to know that this was in an area where all the trailheads are clearly marked.  We had parked in a visitor lot where there was a map of area trails.  And there were several other trail entrances that were clearly marked.  No sign of ours, however.  And both of us were confused by the map.  (An unusual event in Woody’s case.  He LOVES maps, and seems to have been born with a map in his brain. I, on the other hand, am perpetually confused by maps.  I much prefer written directions!)

As any of you who are married can guess, our day of happy hiking didn’t start out so well.   After considerable debate, we went with Woody’s initial plan.  We started out on the trail he was very sure was the one he remembered.  Despite the absence of any sign marking the beginning of a trailhead, we began to pick our way down a small bit of trail winding its way through overgrown roots along a rocky descent toward the lake.

As we proceeded, I couldn’t help but note (out-loud, you can be sure!) that not only had there been no sign at the beginning; there were also no little signs along the way—the small brown markings all the other trails in the area seemed to have indicating you were on the right path and headed toward your intended destination.

The path became increasingly indistinct—and simultaneously much steeper.  Finally I  couldn’t go any farther.  “Woody, I just can’t go on.  This is making me way too uncomfortable.  The path is becoming steeper and more overgrown, and I really don’t want to either get lost in these woods or go flying down this cliff directly into the lake.  I need some assurance that we’re on the right path.  I need signs.  I need a clearly marked trail.”

I think Woody was actually beginning to feel the same way, though he hadn’t so far mentioned it.  (He is Swedish, in case any of you aren’t aware of that.  This means a lot of things, but especially that he is very determined.  Some might say stubborn; but Woody does have a mostly endearing way of being determined, so I’ll stick with that.)  So yes, my Swedish husband admitted that we should probably turn around and retrace our steps.  We went back to the parking lot, looked at the map again (Woody did, anyway) and eventually drove to another visitor lot where we did indeed find the trail we had been looking for—signs and all.

So what does this have to do with all of you?  What does this have to do with parenting? As I was walking, I kept thinking of how hiking is like parenting.  It’s a long, hard, winding trail that requires our full attention.  Like the path we were on which was overgrown with roots and very rocky in spots, there are stages when all you can do is focus where you put your next foot.  It’s hard to even look up to what’s ahead, and sometimes nearly impossible to even enjoy the scenery around you because just making your way along the path takes all the energy and focus you’ve got.

But thank God it is not an unmarked path.  We have a guide book—God’s Word.  And we have clear signs along the way—both from the Bible and from other fellow travelers.  And we are not alone.  There are those walking alongside us as well as those farther down the trail that can call back and steer us in the right direction, cheer us along the way.

It’s really what Mom to Mom is all about.  We remind each other that we’re not on an unmarked path.  There is signage provided, direction given both from God’s Word and God’s people.  There are those who’ve gone before, both great men and women of Scripture and “Titus 2” moms, cheering us along the way.  They reach out when we need a hand.  They tell stories from further up the trail.  They provide company along the way.  They point us upward to the One who never ever leaves us alone, even for a minute, on this parenthood path.

How I hope and pray that all of you reading this either have Mom to Mom or something like it in your lives.  It helps you know you are on the right path, it helps clarify your intended destination, and it makes for much happier hiking!

Palm Sunday, Easter—and Beyond

Yesterday (Palm Sunday), the kids in our church came marching into the worship center carrying palm branches and shouting Hosannas: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” As I watched their adorable little faces—some delighted to be in the “big church,” some looking puzzled as to why they were there, and some maybe even a little scared—I was suddenly catapulted back across the years to a long-ago Palm Sunday.

As I drove home from church with all three kids in the back seat (Woody was on call that day), I asked them what their story had been in Sunday School. The two older boys had pretty reasonable accounts of Palm Sunday. But it was Erika’s story I remember best.

“Oh, Mommy,” she exclaimed. “It was a little sad because today we had the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a horse. And the horse fell down and broke his leg, and Jesus fell off. But it was OK—‘cause He didn’t get hurt.”

Pretty creative listening, wouldn’t you say? As I gazed at those fresh faces yesterday, I wondered what stories their parents would hear on the way home from church. And I wanted to tell those parents—and you—not to give up on the stories of Jesus. Tell them in parts, a little at a time, age-appropriately. And know that they will sink in, little by little.

Another year comes to mind as I write this: a Holy Week when one afternoon four-year-old Bjorn had a preschool friend –we’ll call him “Matt”—over to play. The two boys were playing out on the porch when suddenly I heard Bjorn’s voice booming across the kitchen: “No, no, Matt, you are the angel. You say, ‘He is not here. He is risen just as He said.’”

Nothing like acting out the Easter story to keep a couple of four-year-olds busy!

The next day I got a call from Matt’s mother. “Thanks so much for having Matt over to play yesterday,” she began. Then there was a short pause, ’til she continued: “There’s just one other thing I wanted to talk with you about.” My heart skipped a beat, wondering what might come next.

“I just wanted to thank you,” she said, “for the wonderful way that Bjorn taught Matt about the Easter story. You know, we haven’t really known how to tell him the real story. We just stuck with the Easter bunny and eggs and candy and all that. But Bjorn did a great job telling Matt the real story, so I wanted to thank you.”

Hmmm . . . maybe even four-year-olds can spread the Good News!

This morning I read Lars’ blog about Palm Sunday in Iraq. He was happy that he had been able to worship with a handful of other Marines and soldiers and sailors and their faithful chaplain in their little trailer-chapel, cement-block barricades surrounding them for protection, their weapons at their side.

He had also been able to fly yesterday afternoon over parts of Iraq that brought the Old Testament alive for him, he said. I thought how happy it would make my Old-Testament-scholar-Dad to hear that. (Don’t you think he knows this, up in heaven?)

And I thought back to an Easter season many years ago when Lars’ account of the Easter story in Sunday School was something like: “Today we had the story about the empty tomb and how the guys in the white things told the girls, ‘Jesus isn’t here. He rosed from the dead!’”

Indeed He did!! He is risen. He is risen indeed! I wish each one of you reading this a joyous Easter celebration. And I pray that each of you will have patience—and perseverance—as you share the great news of Jesus Alive with your kids. They will understand the story in time. And they will want—I pray—to worship this Risen Lord, even if some day they’re halfway ’round the world in a dusty little trailer in a far country with a handful of fellow believers. You’ll be glad you shared The Story!

Happy Easter!