Laudable Linkage

Here is the latest round-up of good reads found this week:

Hearts Painted by the Word Again and Again, HT to Challies. “The job of painting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is never-ending. I heard once that they paint it end-to-end, but by the time they get to the end—however many years that may take—it is time to start over.” I love the analogy drawn from this!

When Working for God Becomes the Goal. “It is not God’s design or will that any of His children find their personal worth in what they achieve. God never tells us that if we fail to ‘make a difference’ or ‘leave our mark’ in some profound way that we are insignificant. But this ambition to ‘leave a legacy’ through measurable success is mainstream in some cultures. It has a glittering appeal to those who have a genuine heart to serve Christ and be good stewards of their gifts.”

The Silent Sin that Kills Christian Love, HT to Challies. “Perhaps the test of faithfulness in a day of moral degradation will be our love for people across chasms of difference. Faithfulness isn’t in showy displays that we hate all the right people. Faithfulness isn’t in adopting a contemptuous posture toward the current president or the former one. The way of the cross rejects the path of sneers and jeers, whether in the form of elite condescension or populist passion.”

Mothering with Humility, HT to the Story Warren. “I didn’t have much choice but to be completely transparent with my seven-year-old son. A few minutes earlier, his concerned little face had peered down the stairs, trying to figure out why I was responding angrily to something his dad had said. Now, I found myself trying to calm him down and convince him to apologize to his older brother, with whom he was furious.”

Parents, Just Go to Church. “Getting to church is hard. But that’s part of the value of attending church every Sunday. It sets the tone for the Christian’s daily struggle to live in personal relationship with Christ.”

Why Study Doctrine? “Some dismiss doctrine as uninteresting, irrelevant, or just plain boring. ‘Don’t give me doctrine. Just give me Jesus! Doctrine may be cool for pastors or Bible nerds, but I live in the real world. I need practical stuff that works!’ Why study doctrine? Let me suggest a few reasons…”

Why We Go Light on Polemics, HT to Challies. “I am not saying there is never a time to do polemics. After all, Paul says that we “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor 10:5). . . . The main issue I’ve faced with polemical approaches is that they risk triggering a defensive response, where someone is overtaken by the sense that they are duty-bound to protect their community’s honor from the attacks of an outsider.”

Becoming a Better Bibliophile. “I keep convincing myself that I would be a better person if I simply buy another book.”

Laudable Linkage

Here are some good reads that ministered to me this week.

Submit Your Felt Reality to God, HT to Challies. “Reality is reality. It’s objective. It’s what’s actually happening. Felt reality is what’s happening from my vantage point. It’s reality framed by my own thoughts, assumptions, and emotions.” The author includes a look at David’s submitting his felt reality to God in the Psalms.

Talking to Our Souls. This goes along with the one above. “We don’t always have access to counselors and wise friends, of course. Sometimes, we have to counsel ourselves, using words we know to be true because they come from trusted sources. We can easily get into trouble, though, when we listen to ourselves instead of talking to ourselves.”

Loving Across the Ideological Fence, HT to Challies. “Society and the mainstream media tries so hard to pit everybody against one another. And they are successful for the most part. Christians must resist this. We must not cave into the cultural pressure of hating those who don’t see things the way we do. Again, we must love those on the other side.”

The Dead Seriousness of Careless Words. “Carelessness was on Jesus’ mind on a day when the religious authorities confronted him about his failure to keep their interpretation of the religious law. He remarked that their words were evil because their hearts were evil. ‘How can you speak good, when you are evil?’ he asked. ‘For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’ And in that context he offered the most solemn of warnings. ‘I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.'”

It Rots the Bones, HT to Challies. “Many months ago, I received an email from a dear, faithful reader, asking for help. Her life was quickly unraveling, and in the midst of persistent heartache, she had fallen headlong into envy. Jealousy towards a woman in her church, whose life seemed quite perfect. This jealousy was destroying her, from the inside out. Envy is the thief of contentment, isn’t it? It reveals an idol tucked in the heart.”

Praying the Word: When You Feel Angry, HT to the Story Warren. “On the surface, prayer seems simple. It’s talking to God. But in practice, we may have a lot of questions. Am I doing this right? Is there a “right” way to do it? What am I supposed to say? Are there things I shouldn’t pray about? Or maybe we feel pretty comfortable with praying, but we struggle with getting bored or losing focus. Whatever our struggles with prayer, Scripture can be helpful.”

Is It Okay to Pray for a Husband? “For a long, long time, one thing that kept me back from praying specific prayers was wondering if I was asking for the wrong things. I wondered if what I was praying was really according to God’s will. I would pray generic prayers: ‘God, I have this decision coming up, and, uhhh . . . Your will be done.’ It was an uninvolved, nonpersonal prayer. In the pages of Scripture, when we look at Jesus’ prayers and the Psalms, we see that God invites us to come to Him with exactly what’s happening in our daily lives. He invites us to pray about the small things—to pray about the specifics.” I like her acronym for prayer.

When It Comes to Friendships, It’s OK to Be the Planner, HT to Linda. “When you like people, you extend invitations for specific times. If other people don’t do that, is it because they don’t like you as much? You might hold back, worried that you are misjudging things. But before you stop trying, understand this: It’s OK to be the planner. Your gift is logistics and coordination. Other people have different gifts. Appreciating that makes it possible to enjoy friendships more.”

VOX Outdoes Itself in Ignorance and Misogyny, HT to Challies. “Tragically, heretofore, society understood that babies coming into the world was so important that when women were going to have them, they really had to do that as the main thing for many years and couldn’t do anything else. Prevailing opinion thinks this was misogyny, that ‘staying home’ with babies and young children was a terrible thing to do, and not gracious and life giving, and also the glue that kept a lot of society together.”

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s the latest thought-provoking reads seen around the Web lately.

In Christ, We Have Direct Access to God, HT to Challies. “Is it inconsistent for the Bible to teach us that God ‘dwells in unapproachable light’ (1 Tim. 6:16), while at the same time exhort us to draw near to him? If God dwells in the white-hot light of his holiness, how can sinners like you and me ever hope to take even one baby step toward him? If God is so pure, so completely undefiled, so sharply separate from sin, how can we approach him? Indeed, it seems, he is unapproachable. Yet the author of Hebrews strongly encourages believers to not only approach God, but to do so with ‘full assurance.'”

Still, HT to Challies. This is beautifully written. “Is it true that the quiet valleys of this world harbour stillness like some treasure to be dug up? Quite possibly. But I’m not convinced that is what the ancient song-writer is calling us to. Rather, it strikes me that there is a tone of command here, a tone better heard if we had sat with the desperate disciples on a wind whipped lake, the night dread gripped their hearts.”

Keys to Knowing God’s Will for Your Life. “Of all the issues related to Christian living, few receive greater attention than knowing God’s will for our lives. Many believers, and especially younger ones, agonize over knowing what God means for them to do and how he means for them to live out their days. Many end up leaning toward a low-grade form of mysticism, longing to receive some kind of a sign from the skies or some kind of a word in their hearts.”

What Makes a “Strong Woman” Strong? HT to Challies. “‘Strong woman’ is a phrase heard often these days, and because I admire both words and women, I’ve been paying attention. It’s used in politics, on campuses, in the media, and even by little girls who know at a very early age to describe themselves as ‘strong.’ It’s made me think about what strong actually means—what is the implication when people say ‘strong woman’?”

We Don’t Need to Rescue Biblical Characters from Themselves, HT to Challies. “If we understand that the Bible is not a book of heroes to emulate, but sinners in the need of Jesus, our outlook changes a bit. We don’t need to rescue the biblical characters from themselves so we can emulate them, we can take comfort in the fact that even our very greatest heroes in the Bible were not perfectly faithful. They, as much as us, needed Jesus. The Biblical characters are not there principally as examples to us to emulate, but as examples to us of God’s grace.”

Two Letters and a Cute Dog Photo, HT to Challies. “My mind turns to the commute home and the evening ahead. Oh, that’s right: tonight is Bible study night. I was already feeling physically and mentally tired, and now I realise I’ve got to get home, do a quick turn around on dinner, then up and out in the cold to head to my home group. Or … I could stay home, get those nagging chores done, quickly watch the next episode of that Netflix series I’ve been enjoying, and get to bed at a time more in keeping with the level of fatigue I’m feeling. I’m sure my group and the leaders will understand. They always do. Here are five quick reasons to intentionally derail that train of thought and go to growth group.”

Not What I Expected, HT to Challies. “One of the most shocking television moments I ever witnessed was on L.A. Law in the 1980s. A character everyone loved to hate, Rosalind, stepped through her law office’s elevator doors mid-sentence and unexpectedly plummeted to her death. That’s kind of how I felt when I became a mom…like I was falling. I stepped forward and the floor wasn’t there. The drastic life change was so much harder than I expected, in ways I didn’t anticipate.”

Teach Us to Number Our Drives, That We May Gain the Hearts of Our Children, HT to Challies. “Even though I know this comes with the territory, I struggle to enjoy it. This season of spending lots of time together in the car is fleeting, and I need to take advantage of having a captive audience. But while I love my kids with all my heart, and I’d jump in front of an oncoming train for them, some days I don’t want to lay my life down to drive them across town.”

And a thought for the day:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here are some good reads that ministered to me this week.

How to Hold Fast to Jesus in a World That’s Spinning Out of Control. “I could easily spiral into hopelessness and despair. But like my daughters, I learned at an early age to hold fast to Someone. I don’t get it right all the time, and I’ve spent time wandering and lost. But that urge to hold fast keeps me close to the only Solution I know.”

No One Knows My Pain, HT to Challies. “Rather than inviting others into my pain and grief, I’ve often pushed them away. I’ve felt a vague sense of self-righteousness, confident that no one could speak into my life except God himself. I’ve dismissed others’ experiences, even the comfort of friends, because they couldn’t fully relate to my suffering.”

Mentoring Our Next Generation. “Looking back, I am amazed to think that none of these people were a part of the youth staff at my church. They did not have a position that would have prompted their involvement in my life. What they did have was a heart that was burdened for me and a big enough concern to pursue me and challenge me to walk with God. They mentored me!”

Keep It Simple, HT to Challies. “What do you feel when someone asks you to disciple them? I imagine you’re excited because a hungry, likely younger Christian, wants to grow. I imagine there’s probably also stress because you don’t know where to begin. A wealth of good resources is at your fingertips, but that can make things more complicated. So where do you start?”

“I’m so sorry”—“Thank You,” HT to Challies. “When I sat down to write those obligatory notes of thanks, I never expected to receive so much in return. What I thought would be a tedious, hand-aching process instead was cathartic and healing.”

The Virtue of Argument, HT to Story Warren. “As I sat down to write this, my daughter asked me what I was writing about. Adequately explaining virtue to a 9-year-old seemed like it might take more time than I wanted to devote at the moment, so I simply said, ‘I’m writing about how argument can be good.’ She instantly responded vehemently with, ‘No, it can’t!? Arguing is a bad thing?!'” We’d probably all react that way to the writer’s premise. But she’s calling for “an exchange of ideas” in a virtuous way rather than “winning at any cost.” Since we constantly come across people with different ideas than we have, it’s good to think about how to talk about our ideas while still respecting the other person’s.

6 Lessons for Tending Your Time. “You ever feel like that? Like you can’t win with your schedule? Like you’re swinging between laziness and frenetic activity? Maybe you’re looking, like I was, for a better relationship with time.”

This was a funny video about the difference between mothering toddlers and teens:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s another round of good reads:

Do Christians Still Have Evil Desires? HT to Challies. “So, is the ground of judgment the acting out of sins, beyond merely harboring the impulse within? Or is this very tendency in us, a diminished but still present earthly desire towards sin’s allure, also ground for eternal judgment? Or is putting to death sin the complete eradication of evil desires from in us? Or is it (by grace) tamping down those desires that will always be there, but not acting out consistently on those impulses? If so, how would that apply to not just the acted-out sins, but specifically to ‘evil desires’?” John Piper answers these in a very helpful way.

Are You an Addict? “Chemicals are one of the ways that people, even God’s people, unbiblically cope with life’s trials. Others might immerse themselves in gaming, sex, or fantasy entertainment. Others use exercise, current events, food, dieting, obsession with sports teams, and even sleeping to escape from life’s realities. Many of these are good things, but they are being used in the wrong way. I had to take a long look at myself, and I found some unpleasant things that I had not even considered a problem before. I had to ask myself some difficult questions.”

Is There an Easy and Transformational Way to Study the Bible? “My dad was a kind man, but he demanded respect and obedience. When he spoke, he didn’t mean, ‘Hear my words, but do whatever you want.’ He meant, ‘Hear my words, understand what I’m saying, and respond in proper obedience.’ Our kind heavenly Father calls us to the same, if not a greater, level of hearing.”

6 Wrong Ways to Approach Difficult Passages, HT to Knowable Word. “It doesn’t take long for a Christian who’s studying the Bible to come across challenging passages. When we do, we should always remember the basics of interpretation: looking for the author’s intended message, reading it in context and with the whole of Scripture in view, even considering how believers throughout history have interpreted it. But following those principles isn’t enough. There are still common mistakes we can make when we study—or seek to teach from—difficult texts in Scripture.”

The Mustard Seed Mum: Pressured to Be Perfect? HT to Challies. “It’s not a competition, even if it feels like it. So what if your child’s best friend’s mother bakes brownies better than you? You’re the best mama for your kids. God put you in a position to look after these precious children. You can trust Him to help you do it.”

Looking for Contentment? It’s Not What You Think. “The more I reflect upon Paul’s letters, the more the Lord continues to refine my incomplete notions of contentment. Paul is not carefree, unburdened, and surrounded by trouble-free relationships. In fact, considering the larger picture of Paul’s ministry gives me a fuller picture of what contentment is by gaining insight into what it is not.”

Is There Such Thing As Random? How God Orchestrates People In His Perfect Timing. HT to Challies. “We don’t choose our moments of suffering, or the times we are pressed into service; they usually come on suddenly and without warning.”

Touch This Tree and You’ll Want to Die, HT to Challies. An interesting and awful natural phenomenon and a good object lesson.

How to Turn a Clique Inside Out, HT to Challies. “Close friendships are a wonderful blessing. But who are they blessing? In a clique, the blessings of friendship stay locked inside a tight circle of friends. The friends themselves tend not to notice, because they are too busy enjoying their own close relationships with each other. But for the people looking in from the outside, the view is not as pretty. They see backs, not faces.”

A Time to Hustle and a Time to Stroll. We tend one way or the other, but there’s a time for each.

And to end with a smile, I had not seen this particular Geico commercial about living in a Victorian house until Karen Wittemeyer shared it.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s another round-up of thoughtful reads.

God Sees the Whole Picture, HT to Challies. “Sometimes our dots line up, and we connect one to the other and the picture is clear. We see what God was trying to do and we say, ‘Oh, I get it. That’s why that had to happen that way.’ That’s why the tire was flat. That’s why I got sick. That’s why I lost my job. ‘Now I understand.’ But other times none of it makes sense. We wait for God to tie up the ends and put a bow on it so we can look at a completed package with spiritual satisfaction, admire the intricate workings of God and justify His actions. But He doesn’t and it doesn’t.”

Wise People Don’t Believe the Best About Everyone. “Heart-broken parents have told me, ‘I didn’t think my parents would hurt their own grandchildren.’ Yet those same parents abused the adults that sat before me when they were children. If they harmed their own child, why would they be different with their grandchild? Discernment feels mean to some people. They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. They think good people believe the best. Yet, that is not what Christ practiced.”

Her Weakness Is Her Strength. “Regardless of the cause or degree of the weakness, these are the ones who are to be the special objects of our love, protection, and affection. These are the ones we must accept as a special gift of God to the church. It is to the weakest that we owe the greatest honor, to the frailest that we owe the greatest allegiance, to the ones most likely to be overlooked that we owe the greatest attention.”

You Can Obey, HT to Challies. “We thank Jesus that he came, died for us and transferred his perfect life to our account. And then we can think that we won’t be perfect until glory so we kind of give up trying. Sinners gonna sin, innit.”

6 Truths to Cling to While You’re Praying for Your Prodigal. “God knows exactly where your child is. He has the power to engineer circumstances large and small to pursue your child and draw him or her to Himself. Sometimes the goodness of God leads men to repentance (Rom. 2:4), and sometimes His judgment breaks their stony wills. We can trust God to know which is most effective.”

Why You Still Need the Church Even If You Have Been Hurt by It, HT to Challies. “Yes, we’re imperfect, but imagine how much Jesus must love his people to continue to meet with them despite their blemishes. It’s that same love that Jesus offers you, wounds and all.”

No, I’m Not a Pro: How to Parent Our Children’s Souls, HT to Challies. “My children are immortal beings with eternal souls. I would say this takes my breath away, but I don’t want to give the wrong impression. It feels less like witnessing a pretty sunset at the beach and more like standing at the precipice of a mountain. The view is incredible but my sense of helplessness at the top of sheer rock is almost overwhelming. To be entrusted with the care of souls is beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It is a holy task.”

All of Our Opinions All of the Time, HT to Challies. “I’m not offering an opinion on whether or not Will Smith smacking Chris Rock was okay, I’m offering an opinion on why we should hesitate hopping in on the controversy of the day. . . ‘Is it necessary that every single person on this planet um, expresses every single opinion that they have on every single thing that occurs all at the same time?'”

When Motherhood Goes Unnoticed, HT to The Story Warren. “Our motherhood often goes unnoticed, and we can easily believe the lie that the work of it all isn’t worthy. There are seasons where our faithfulness seems fruitless, our efforts never enough. There is no actual ‘mom-of-the-year’ award, but we all long for it and constantly feel like we fall short. Our hearts are weary, and no one seems to care. But Scripture offers a different perspective and a greater hope than any outward praise and recognition can offer.”

Finally, this is an amazing piece of film work about an amazing phenomenon: time lapse of a spring garden blooming.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I wanted to let you know that I have a guest post appearing at Almost an Author: Sculpting a Masterpiece. What does Michelangelo’s David have to do with writing? I invite you to take a look and find out.

And now, here are some great reads discovered this week, the first few related to Mother’s Day:

Prayer Warrior Challenge: You Don’t Have to Dread Mother’s Day this Year! “I remember clearly the momentous day when, deep in the weeds of Toddler Parenting, I realized I could do everything ‘right’ and still end up with a wayward child.”

Great Is His Faithfulness, HT to Challies. “My guess is that in this messy life, many are experiencing a measure of both joy and grief tangled up together this Mother’s Day week.”

How to Pray for Your Teen When You’ve Run Out of Words. “Handing our children over to God when they were infants was relatively easy compared with the task of entrusting them to God’s care now that they are jingling car keys in their pockets and making their first financial decisions.”

Training Children to Honor Their Parents by Honoring Our Own, HT to The Story Warren. “As I think about training my own children to honor their parents, I’m realizing how much is caught more than taught. The way I treat my parents will likely have a direct impact on the way my kids treat my husband and me.”

Beautiful Mother’s Day Gift Ideas Handmade with Love, if you need any last-minute gift inspiration. The Skip to My Lou site is a treasure trove of neat ideas.

The Childless Man or Woman, wise words from Elisabeth Elliot. “Children, God tells us, are a heritage from Him. Is the man or woman to whom He gives no children therefore disinherited? Surely not. The Lord gave portions of land to each tribe of Israel except one. ‘The tribe of Levi… received no holding; the Lord God of Israel is their portion, as he promised them’ (Joshua 13:14, NEB). Withholding what He granted to the rest, He gave to Levi a higher privilege. May we not see childlessness in the same light? I believe there is a special gift for those to whom God does not give the gift of physical fatherhood or motherhood.”

What God has Made Crooked. “Sometimes God makes our way crooked to slow us down. He has something beautiful to show us. He wants to be seen along the way. He has designed even the crooked ways with beauty.”

Aging Doesn’t Make You Faithful. Jesus Does, HT to Challies. “It is folly to expect to wake up more faithful to Christ twenty years from now if we’re not feeding our faithfulness today with the means of grace God has ordained for our growth. God has invited us into the process of spiritual growth.”

What Is Anxiety? HT to Challies. “Most of our sinful anxieties are tied to proper concerns. It is proper to do your job well, to support your family, to care for your children, to fulfill the duties that God has called you to do. We should be concerned with all of them. The question is, When do these proper concerns turn into sinful ones? When does godly care become godless worry?”

The Dull Conversation, HT to Challies. I’m sorry to admit I chafe during seemingly meaningless conversation. I recognize that’s unloving toward the person I am listening to. Ed Welch has some good ideas to discern “What is that person saying in the litany of information?”

I have to say, though, I disagree with this part of the last post: “With those who are closer to you, each day deserves these two questions: What was the best part of the day? What was the hardest part of your day?” My difficulty with superlative questions (best, worst, favorite) is the way my mind works. To figure out the best part of the day, I’d have to look back over all the events of the day, line them up, compare them to each other, weigh the two or three that rise to the top. It’s exhausting. So, instead, I usually reply something like, “Well, one good thing from the day was…” You might think that whatever floated to my mind first was the best. But later, as I think back over the conversation, some other part of the day with come to mind, and I’ll think, “Oh, I should have said that instead.” Am I the only one who overthinks like this?

Forgive me for that rabbit trail. 🙂

Finally, this is a cute video about mom superpowers:

Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow to those who mother in any way.

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

My online reading has been quick and light this week, but here are some reads that stood out to me:

What Freedom From Sin Looks Like in This Life, HT to Challies. “We want to have a neatly resolved plotline where we say I had this problem, and I asked the Lord, and he removed my desire for that, and I didn’t do it anymore. But, we all know that’s not how we typically see holiness playing out in our lives.”

Let’s Stop Stirring the Pot, HT to Challies. Sometimes sharing truth will cause controversy. But we shouldn’t post online just for the purpose of stirring up controversy.

Dr. James Dobson’s Election Reflections.

Making Sanctuaries. I love posts like this that encourage moms in their ministry at home. “Here we pray and worship. Here we read and learn. Here we play and argue and muddle through. For now, there’s nowhere else. So I try, in as much as I can, to make this a place of safety. Of welcome, even on the hard days. Of messy, constant grace, and awareness that the sacred is always closer than we think.”

2020 Comedy Wildlife Photo Finalists, HT to Laura. These are always fun. I especially like the first one with the bears and the fox and mouse.

Finally, this is a post-Thanksgiving experience for many of us (seen on FaceBook, don’t know original source), HT to my brother and sister:

Happy Saturday!

“Just Wait: It Gets Harder”

A young mom friend shared that she gets the above response whenever she mentions that life can be hard with several little children at once.

Why do we women do that to each other?

I’m so thankful that when I was a young mom, a special older lady told me that each stage of our children’s lives has it’s high and low points, and we shouldn’t dread any stage. I think at the time my oldest was about to turn two, thus I was cringing at the thought of the “terrible twos.” Her words helped me not to view that season of life negatively, and the “twos” were not all that terrible.

Though baby- and toddlerhood hold some cute, sweet, fun, and incredibly precious  moments, small people depending on you for every little thing can be exhausting. I loved my babies and little ones, but this stage of life was hardest for me. When they can feed themselves, go to the bathroom by themselves, dress themselves, etc., life gets a lot easier.

Perhaps for some moms, what I call the “taxi years” are the most taxing, when you’re chauffeuring kids to sports practice, music lessons, church activities, birthday parties, school activities, etc., etc. That season does have its challenges. We tried hard to strike the right balance by offering our kids a number of opportunities without the whole household revolving around children’s schedules. It’s not easy. But one perk was that one of our children opened up much more in the car than if I tried to draw him out across the table.

Probably most who warn about harder years of parenting are referring to the teen years. Once, when my children were still young, an older mom and I were working on a bulletin board together at church. As she shared something about her teenage daughter, she said something like, “Don’t dread the teen years. If you keep the relationship good, keep communication open, and train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the teen years don’t have to be a trial for either of you.” And she was right, just like my mom friend who told me not to dread the “terrible twos.” The world has bought into this idea that rebellion is a teenage rite of passage, but it doesn’t have to be. They do ask hard questions, but we should welcome them and help them seek answers. They should be coming to a point where their beliefs are becoming their own rather than just rotely following what they’ve always been told. There might be a few bumps in the road towards independence, but it doesn’t have to be an all-out war.

And then we come to parenting adults. In some ways, it’s a relief that all their decisions are their own responsibility now. Yet we have to let them make their own mistakes. We only offer advice when asked, and then carefully. We have to let go, but we can pray.

Each stage of development is a necessary part of growing up. Each has its hardships and its blessings. We need to encourage each other all along the way.

Imagine you’re hiking up a mountain trail. The way is rough, you’re hot, and you’ve still got a long way to go. Way up ahead you see another hiker. You call out to her and ask how the trail is between you. She says, “You think it’s bad now; you think you’re tired now; just wait. It only gets harder the further you go.”

How encouraged would you be? Not at all.

How much better if those ahead on the path called back, “Yes, it’s tough. But God gives grace. You can do it. Keep up the good work!” Or, even better, we can share how we found verses like 2 Corinthians 9:8 true in relation to motherhood: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Motherhood has been one of the hardest aspects of my life. Not much else (besides caregiving) showed me how selfish I was and how much I needed God’s grace. But watching and learning from other moms was a great encouragement.

Much has been said in recent years about mentoring, but we don’t need to set up formal mentoring relationships in order to encourage others. So often, I’ve received the most encouragement from off-the-cuff, seemingly random conversations in passing. But looking back, I know they weren’t random. I know God placed those people in my path for  my encouragement.

I’ve shared before this poem from an unknown author that was quoted in Rosalind Goforth‘s autobiography, Climbing (one of my favorites). I had always thought of it in relation to life in general, Christian life in particular. I had mostly thought of it in relation to missionary and other Christian biographies. Even though it’s not specifically about motherhood, much of it can apply. We don’t need to demean or “one-up” others. Older moms, let’s call back encouragement to younger moms. Older women, let’s support younger women whether they are mothers or not, married or not.

Call Back!

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when forest’s roots were torn;
That when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill.
He bore you up and held where the very air was still.

O friend, call back, and tell me, for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky-
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.

Has someone “called back” in a way that encouraged you? I’ve love to hear about it in the comments.

(I’ve read several posts about encouragement this week. This must be a
message God wants emphasized at this particular time.
I love how Kelly expanded this truth to all scenarios here.)

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Literary Musing Monday,
Hearth and Home, Purposeful Faith, Tea and Word, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode,
Let’s Have Coffee, Recharge Wednesday, Share a Link Wednesday,
Wise Woman, Worth Beyond Rubies, HeartEncouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith ‘n Friends)

 

The Joys and Pains of Mother’s Day

I don’t envy pastors trying to prepare messages for Mother’s Day that celebrate, honor, and encourage moms while being sensitive to those for whom Mother’s day might be painful.

On one hand, it’s good to honor mothers. The Bible does. Motherhood has taken a beating by society over the last several years. Moms have a heavy load, often unseen and unappreciated. They need all the encouragement and support they can get.

On the other hand, some dearly want to be mothers, yet God has not granted that request. Mother’s Day only adds to their pain. I appreciate Wendy Alsup’s thought that “God uses both the presence and the absence of children in the lives of His daughters as a primary tool of conforming us to Christ.”

Some moms downplay the hoopla. They would rather have their family appreciate them year-round, not just on a certain designated day. And, true, it doesn’t make sense to disrespect someone every other day and then buy them flowers and a card on Mother’s day. But I always look at special days in the same vein as Thanksgiving. Yes, we’re supposed to be thankful every day, but Thanksgiving reminds us of all we have to be thankful for. Jesus’ resurrection impacts our lives every day, but it receives special focus at Easter. So Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or someone’s birthday are just opportunities to tell someone you love that you appreciate them. Some do have a lot of hoopla; others prefer low-key observances.

Some moms grieve that their families don’t acknowledge this day at all, and they feel more taken for granted than ever.

I am very blessed that my family goes to a lot of effort to make me feel special on Mother’s Day. But I try to keep in the forefront of my mind that Mother’s Day isn’t about expecting that honor, as much as I love and appreciate it. Mother’s Day was established to promote honor of our own mothers. I wrote a couple of years ago about honoring the moms in my life, women who have influenced me or nurtured me in some way. Still, I do admit it would hurt if no one in my family observed Mother’s Day at all. Erin has some good thoughts along this line.

For others, Mother’s Day is profoundly sad. Some grieve the death of their children, estranged children, mothers who are still here physically but far away mentally or emotionally, mothers who rarely, if ever, showed love, mothers who abandoned them, mothers who have died.

My beloved mother passed away nearly fourteen years ago. My husband’s mother just passed away in January. The lady who was like a second or spiritual mom to me is about to meet her Savior face to face any moment now. Even though I can’t “do” for these special ladies any more, I honor them in my heart, remember their examples, and hold on to the good memories.

For those whose families show their love this day, I wish you joy.

For those who feel like failures, may you be uplifted once again by His grace.

For those who feel abandoned or unloved by parents, may you truly know “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:10).

For those who sorrow, I pray for the peace that passes understanding. May His merciful kindness be for your comfort, according to His word unto you (Psalm 119:76).

See also:

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Wise Woman, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire)