When (not if) this all is over

“I don’t like my new smile!”

My son had been avoiding food all day because his first-ever wiggly tooth was quite wiggly, enough to make eating anything difficult.

Besides that, he was afraid.  He didn’t really want to lose a tooth.  He liked his teeth, his mouth and his smile just the way it was, thank you very much.

Also, what if he lost a tooth while eating and maybe swallowed it?

So much fear.  

When the tooth did come out after all,  after he had been brave for a few seconds and his dad wiggled it right out, my son smiled and held quite still with a push of courage.  I thought it was total victory.

Then he cried….and cried and cried.

He didn’t like his smile.  He really wanted his smile to stay exactly as it was before.

So much grief. 

I gave a gentle mom-speech about how much I love his smile, and his new smile just means he is getting bigger and growing up.

He told me, “That doesn’t fix my feelings.”

He did say, though, that a cold treat like ice cream would actually “fix his feelings,” so one bowl-full of Edy’s cookie dough ice cream later, he had finally calmed down.  That’s when he wiggled his other bottom front tooth and told me that one is also pretty loose.   So, we get to do this all  again in about a week.

I feel for my little guy because change is hard for him,  change is hard for me, and we’re changing a lot at the moment.

I feel for him because we’re all grieving a little.  We wanted all the beauty of life as we knew it and planned it and instead we’re living a new and unexpected #stayathome life.

I feel for him because no matter how many times we promise him that a new tooth will grow into the empty space, it doesn’t feel real.  Waiting feels like forever.  He can’t see the new tooth and he can’t mark the calendar with the date of its arrival.   So maybe it will  never come.

This is where I found myself so often this week.  I know in my head that one day we’ll walk out of our house, we will hug our sweet church family at a service we’re all allowed to attend.   Our kids will play in soccer teams and perform in plays.  They will sit in classrooms with their much-loved teachers and their friends.  We will write an event on the calendar and it won’t be canceled.

We will rejoice.  I mean, truly, truly party.

But I’m starting to feel like maybe that will never come.  This new reality is THE reality and hope of anything better is a little hard to hang onto when we’re three weeks into this and our governor keeps changing the end date.

I find myself thinking….

“IF we get to go back to church….”

“IF we’re in school….”

“IF we get to see the concert and the plays we had tickets to…”

“IF we get to spend some of our summer going to museums, parks, water parks, and the beach….”

This week I’ve been reading in the book of Deuteronomy and I’m sinking deep into this sweet reminder that the Promised Land was not “IF” it was “WHEN” for Israel.

Deliverance wasn’t “IF” it was “WHEN.”

Fulfillment of God’s promises wasn’t “IF” it was “WHEN.”

In chapter after chapter of Deuteronomy, God tells Israel:

When you cross the Jordan and live in the land the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and he gives you rest from all the enemies around you and you live in security…” (Deuteronomy 12:10 CSB).

“When the Lord your God blesses you as he has promised you…” (Deuteronomy 15:6 CSB)

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it…” (deuteronomy 17:14 CSB)

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you…” (Deuteronomy 18:9 CSB)

My son can trust that his new tooth will grow in.   Yes, it takes time.  Yes, it may even take longer than he wanted to wait.  But his hope is rooted in a trustworthy assurance–it will come.  It is a “When,” not an “If.”

David wrote in Psalm 27:

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart be courageous.
Wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14 CSB).

I sing it with the Psalmist—I am certain.  I  can fully know.  I have confident hope.

When–not If

I will see the goodness of the Lord, not just in heaven, but here in this life.   That is the reminder I need to be strong, to be courageous, and wait.

 

Bible Verses on Serving Others

  • Proverbs 11:25 ESV
    Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
        and one who waters will himself be watered.
  • Matthew 20:28 NIV
     just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
  • Matthew 23:11 NLT
     The greatest among you must be a servant.
  • Matthew 25:35-40 ESV
    For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
  • Mark 9:35 NIV
    Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.
  • Mark 10:44-45 ESV
    and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Luke 6:38 NIV
    Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
  • John 13:12-14 NIV
    When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
  • Acts 20:35 ESV
     In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
  • Galatians 5:13-14 ESV
    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Ephesians 6:7 NIV
    Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,
  • Philippians 2:3 ESV
    Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • Hebrews 13:16 NLT
    And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
  • 1 Peter 4:10
    Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
  • 1 John 3:18 NASB
    Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Why are you so sad today?

Last night, my six-year-old son was ready for a bedtime story, but I told him the truth:

“I’m feeling a little sad about the day and it’s okay to be sad.  I just need  a minute before I’m ready to read.”

I think most of us had some hard days this week.

Some of us needed some time (maybe still need time) to mourn before moving on.

My son looked  a little surprise because I’m not really a sad person.  I’m mostly an even-keel kind of girl. So mom being sad probably felt unexpected.

Also, for his little kindergarten self, the world hasn’t been rocked too greatly. Sure, he’s aware that he’s missing  out on his soccer season,  time with his friends and time with his awesome-sauce teachers who we love so very much.

But he’s still happy.  He reads his books, plays with his Legos, matchbox cars and dinosaurs, swings on the swingset.  He doesn’t rush out the door in the morning or rush to activities in the evening.  He’s excited about soccer again in the fall.

For now, he’s just enjoying being together with the whole family.

That’s the sweetness for us in the middle of  sorrow.  It’s sweet to have time to rest and enjoy being together even while we mourn over losses and grieve on behalf of others who have lost  more.

It’s March.  Because of the impact  of the coronavirus, our governor closed schools for the rest of the school year.  We get it.  We know it’s needed and we know that the lives of people around us matter far more than graduation ceremonies, concerts, math bowl competitions, field trips to  Kings Dominion and band trips to Disney.

So, we feel sad and then we remember perspective.  We feel sad again and we regain perspective.  It’s just part of the upheaval we’re all handling in our own ways.

We’re not good “wait-and-see” people over here at our house, but that’s life right now.  What about high school credits?  What about an April birthday?  What about grades?  What about graduation?   What about vacation Bible school?

We’re all in this together.  We’re all mourning a loss.  We’re all having to be “wait-and-see” folks at the moment.

Maybe that’s one of my first reminders in the middle of the mess.

Paul said this:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32 ESV).

I need so much grace right now.  Grace for my foggy-brain because I can’t quite think straight.  Grace for feeling a lack of energy or passion—like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me.  Grace for the fact that I’m a super-planner-extraordinaire who is living in a world that cannot be planned right now.  I need grace as a mom and grace as a teacher and grace in ministry and just so very much grace.  I need grace for my anxious self and grace for my sorrowful self and grace when I just need to  take a walk and be quiet.

So, when I most need grace, I am reminded of all the grace Jesus has given me and how much others around me need grace, too.

Have mercy on us, Lord.

When my heart is most broken, I see the brokenhearted.   When my heart  is most tender, I am more tender to others who are hurting.

This is precious to Jesus, who was moved by compassion whenever he encountered the sick, the grieving, the crowds of lost people, the hungry.  Even from the cross, Jesus prayed that God would forgive the mob who crucified him.

In her study on Joseph, “Finding God Faithful ,” Kelly Minter teaches that this is indeed the very thing that changed everything in Joseph’s life.

He had been sold into slavery by his brothers, taken far away from his home and the father he loved, then wrongly accused by the wife of his master and thrown into an Egyptian prison and left to rot there.

Joseph had sorrow.  He mourned losses we hopefully will never experience.  If anyone in the world had a reason to be sad, it was Joseph.

But in the middle of all his own mess, Joseph cared about the sadness of others.  He saw Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer in the prison and noticed they looked particularly troubled one morning.

He took the time to ask them:

“Why do you look so sad today?” (Genesis 40:7 CSB).

He listened to their stories–strange dreams that had them worried.  And it was those dreams and Joseph’s interpretation of them that God ultimately used for Joseph’s deliverance….and the deliverance  of his family…and the deliverance of Israel….and the deliverance of the entire world from famine.

How can compassion, sacrificial love, kindness, and loving like Jesus change us, change others, change the world?

Bible Verses about Mercy

  • 2 Chronicles 30:9 CSB
     for when you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will receive mercy in the presence of their captors and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful; he will not turn his face away from you if you return to him.”
  • 2 Samuel 24:14 ESV
    Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”
  • Nehemiah 9:31 NIV
    But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
  • Psalm 23:6 ESV
    Surely goodness and mercy[shall follow me
        all the days of my life,
    and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
        forever.
  • Proverbs 28:13 CSB
    The one who conceals his sins
    will not prosper,
    but whoever confesses and renounces them
    will find mercy.
  • Psalm  25:6-7 NIV
    Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
        for they are from of old.
    Do not remember the sins of my youth
        and my rebellious ways;
    according to your love remember me,
        for you, Lord, are good.
  • Psalm 40:11 NIV
    Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
        may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
  • Psalm 51:1-2 CSB
    Be gracious to me, God,
    according to your faithful love;
    according to your abundant compassion,
    blot out my rebellion.
    Completely wash away my guilt
    and cleanse me from my sin.
  • Psalm  86:15 ESV
    But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
        slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
  • Psalm 103:8 ESV
    The Lord is merciful and gracious,
        slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
  • Psalm 130:1-2 NIV
    Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
        Lord, hear my voice.
    Let your ears be attentive
        to my cry for mercy.
  • Psalm 145:9 NASB
    The Lord is good to all,
    And His mercies are over all His works.
  • Isaiah 30:18 CSB
    Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy,
    and is rising up to show you compassion,
    for the Lord is a just God.
    All who wait patiently for him are happy.
  • Isaiah 55:7 NIV
    Let the wicked forsake their ways
        and the unrighteous their thoughts.
    Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
        and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
  • Lamentations 3:22-23 CSB
    Because of the Lord’s faithful love
    we do not perish,
    for his mercies never end.
    23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness!
  • Micah 6:8 NIV
    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
        And what does the Lord require of you?
    To act justly and to love mercy
        and to walk humbly with your God.
  • Micah 7:18 NIV
    Who is a God like you,
        who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
        of the remnant of his inheritance?
    You do not stay angry forever
        but delight to show mercy.
  • Jonah 4:2 ESV
    And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
  • Matthew 5:7 CSB
    Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
  • Matthew 9:13 CSB
    Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
  • Luke 6:36 CSB
    Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
  • Romans 12:1 CSB
    Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:1 ESV
    Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God,[a] we do not lose heart.
  • Ephesians 2:4-5 CSB
    But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
  • TItus 3:5 CSB
    he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
  • Hebrews 4:16 CSB
    Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.
  • James 2:13 CSB
    or judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
  • Jude 1:2 CSB
    May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
  • 1 Peter 1:3 CSB
     Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

Bible Verses about Peace

  • Numbers 6:24-26 (NASB)
    The Lord bless you, and keep you;The Lord make His face shine on you,
    And be gracious to you;
    The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
    And give you peace.
  • Psalm 29:11 (NASB)
    The Lord will give strength to His people;
    The Lord will bless His people with peace.
  • Psalm 119:165 (NASB)
    Those who love Your law have great peace,
    And nothing causes them to stumble.
  • Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
    For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
    And the government will rest on His shoulders;
    And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
  • Isaiah 26:3
    You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
  • John 14:27 (HCSB)
    Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful” (HCSB)
  • John 16:33 (NASB)
     These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
  • Romans 5:1 (NASB)
    Therefore, having been justified by faith, [awe have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • Romans 8:6
    The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
  • Romans 14:17-19 (NASB)
     for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
  • Romans 15:13 (NASB)
    Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law
  • Philippians 4:6-7
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:15 (NASB)
     Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NASB)
    Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

Bible Verses about the Lord our Helper

  • Psalm 10:14 CSB
    But you yourself have seen trouble and grief,
    observing it in order to take the matter into your hands.
    The helpless one entrusts himself to you;
    you are a helper of the fatherless.
  • Psalm 27:9 CSB
    Do not hide your face from me;
    do not turn your servant away in anger.
    You have been my helper;
    do not leave me or abandon me,
    God of my salvation.
  • Psalm 30:10 CSB
    Lord, listen and be gracious to me;
    Lord, be my helper.”
  • Psalm 37:40 CSB
    The Lord helps and delivers them;
    he will deliver them from the wicked and will save them
    because they take refuge in him.
  • Psalm 40:17 CSB
    I am oppressed and needy;
    may the Lord think of me.
    You are my helper and my deliverer;
    my God, do not delay.
  • Psalm 46:1 CSB
    God is our refuge and strength,
    a helper who is always found
    in times of trouble.
  • Psalm 60:11 CSB
    Give us aid against the foe,
    for human help is worthless.
  • Psalm 63:7 CSB
    because you are my helper;
    I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings.
  • Psalm 70:5 CSB
    I am oppressed and needy;
    hurry to me, God.
    You are my help and my deliverer;
    Lord, do not delay.
  • Psalm 94:17 CSB
    If the Lord had not been my helper,
    I would soon rest in the silence of death.
  • Psalm  115:11 CSB
    You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
    He is their help and shield.
  • Psalm 118:7 CSB
     The Lord is my helper,
    Therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me.
  • Psalm 118:13 CSB
    They pushed me hard to make me fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
  • Psalm 121:2 CSB
    My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
  • Psalm 146:5 CSB
    Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
  • Isaiah 41:10 CSB
    Do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be afraid, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you; I will help you;
    I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 41:13 CSB
    For I am the Lord your God,
    who holds your right hand,
    who says to you, ‘Do not fear,
    I will help you.
  • Isaiah 50:7 CSB
    The Lord God will help me;
    therefore I have not been humiliated;
    therefore I have set my face like flint,
    and I know I will not be put to shame.
  • John 14:26 NASB
    But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
  • John 15:26 NASB
    When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,
  • John 16:7 NASB
    But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
  • Hebrews 13:5-6 CSB

    Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.[a] Therefore, we may boldly say,

    The Lord is my helper;
    I will not be afraid.
    What can man do to me?

7 Prayers for Home and Family

It’s usually when I watch my youngest son asleep.

Or when my feet first hit the floor at the start of an on-the-go day.

That’s when I pray it.  Like a whispered prayer, one you can’t find all the words for, not when your heart is so full (or you are so sleep-deprived).  But it’s passionate and desperate:

Help me do this, Lord!  Help me be the wife and mom You want me to be and that they need me to be.

I need some ways to cover our home and family in prayer so that I can commit this all to Him and seek His help every day.

So, here they are:  Seven Prayers for Your Home and Family.  These are the verses I pray and the requests I make.  What about you?  Please comment with your own verses and prayers.

  • Salvation

    • Prayer:

      God, help us to keep this as our focus and never lose sight of the most important gift and responsibility you have given us—the salvation of our family.  It’s easy to get caught up in worldly standards of success and measures of our worth, especially as parents.  But honor rolls, scholarships, awards, and accolades don’t mean anything compared to salvation in Jesus Christ.  Our greatest joy would be to see our children ‘walking in the truth.’ We pray that every member of our family will choose a personal, real, abiding, and powerful relationship with our Savior and that we will ask Him to reign over our lives both as a family and as individuals.

    • Scripture verses:

 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15 NIV).

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4)

  • Peace

    • Prayer:

      Lord, may our homes be havens of peace. The world around us can be stressful and high-pressured.  We may be surrounded by conflict, battles, and oppression outside this home, but we pray that inside these walls, You will bring peace.  Help us to rest in You.  Help us communicate with grace, offer love and support, and speak in love.  Even in the stressful rush of the mornings as we head out the door to school, work, church and other activities, may we breathe deeply and choose peace, gentleness, and kindness with one another.

    • Scripture Verses:

      Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27 NIV).

       “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).

  • A Godly Legacy

    • Prayer:

      No matter what our faith background up to this point, we pray for a heritage of faith, godliness, righteousness, salvation, and a passion for Your Word and for the Gospel.  Help us to take the time to teach our children truth.  We don’t want to ever be so busy that we neglect to teach our children about You.  Give us the right words to say and guide our discussions with our children.  May our children choose to marry strong Christians and raise their own children in Your Word.  Where we have gone astray, we pray for grace and new opportunities.  For our adult children and our grandchildren, we ask that You will turn their hearts and minds to You even now.

    • Scripture Verses:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it  (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

  • Unity and Love

    • Prayer:

      Father, help us to remember that we are not just individuals out to achieve our own agendas.  You have joined us together as a family; unite our hearts in love.  Remind us that we are stronger together.  Show us how to love each other sacrificially, graciously, and generously every day.  May we serve each other, performing even the smallest acts of kindness for one another without complaint or score-keeping.  We ask that our love for one another reflect Christ’s sacrificial and unconditional love so that others will look at our home and our family, and see You.  Let our love for one another draw others to know your love for them.

    • Scripture Verses

      Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7 ESV). By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35 ESV).

      Two are better than one,
          because they have a good return for their labor:
      10 If either of them falls down,
          one can help the other up.
      But pity anyone who falls
          and has no one to help them up.
      11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
          But how can one keep warm alone?
      12 Though one may be overpowered,
          two can defend themselves.
      A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV).

  • Stewardship

    • Prayer:

      Father, You know our needs.  We lay them at Your feet and ask for Your provision.  We trust in You as our Provider.  Lord, we ask for blessing, not so that we can stash it away, or indulge our own material desires.  We don’t need the biggest house or the flashiest car or the most expensive clothes.  We ask for blessing so that we may bless others.  May we be good stewards of what You have given so that we can give it away to support missions and to care for others in need.  Please open our eyes to the needs of others around us and help us to give quickly and give generously.

    • Scripture Verses:

      And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

      The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor (Proverbs 22:9 NIV).

  • Purity

    • Prayer:

      God, it is so easy to fall into the pitfalls and traps of sin and temptation.  We are surrounded by what is wrong.  Help us choose what is right.  Give us strength to be vigilant about protecting the influences inside of our home, and when possible, outside of it, as well.  Holy Spirit, prompt our hearts when we need to walk away, when we need to stop listening, stop reading, stop watching…..and help us fill our minds and hearts only with what is good, true, righteous, and pure.  May we be set apart for You, living in this world, but not of it.

    • Scripture Verses:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-6 ESV).

  • Laughter and Joy

    • Prayer:

      Lord, we know that there will be hard times, but we pray that You will continually stir our hearts to joy.  Let our home be a place of laughter.  Open our eyes to see reasons to rejoice, stories to share, jokes to tell, and smiles to give one another.  Make our home a place of rejoicing.

    • Scripture Verses:


      A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

      Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them” (Psalm 125:2 ESV).

      Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 ESV)

Bible Verses about Faith

  • Matthew 17:20 ESV
    He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
  • Mark 5:36 ESV
    But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
  • Luke 1:45 ESV
    And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
  • Romans 1:17 ESV
    For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV
    for we walk by faith, not by sight.
  • Ephesians 2:8 ESV
    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God
  • Ephesians 3:16-17a ESV
     that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
  • All of Hebrews 11, commonly known as “the Faith Chapter”
  • Hebrews 11:1 ESV
    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
  • Hebrews 11:6 ESV
    And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
  • Hebrews 11:11 ESV
    By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
  • James 1:3 ESV
    for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
  • James 1:6 ESV
    But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
  • 1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV
    Though you have not seen him, you love him.Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
  • 1 John 5:4 ESV
    For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

 

Stepping off the ark

My fifth grader has begun quizzing me about “backpack rules” in  middle school.  Will  she need to use her regular backpack? Will the teachers require a string bag instead?  Will she have binders for her classes and, if so, could they possibly fit into a string bag or  will she need a brand new extra-large string bag, perhaps?

She entertains new thoughts daily about whether to choose band or chorus.  Yesterday, it was definitely band but maybe chorus.  How could she decide and how will this decision impact future high school and career decisions?

A season of new.   That  is where we are.  This school year,  my oldest started high school  and  my baby started kindergarten.   Next year, I  have another daughter heading to high school for the first time and this girl starting middle school.

From a year of new to another year of new.

Fresh starts and new beginnings are exhilarating and terrifying.  But there’s a whole added layer of making decisions in the midst of that .  I’ve been coaching my kids  to pray personally because I can’t choose for them and I don’t know the perfect  answer or how to chart their course for every decision in the future.

I can pray for them, but I can’t pray instead of them.  They have to begin to  “take it to the Lord in prayer.”

We all tremble a bit on the edges of these new things,  and I wonder how it is that Noah walked off of that ark into an absolutely brand new, completely fresh start of a world.

I’ve always imagined Noah and his family sprinting out of the ark  like they were five-year-olds coming downstairs on Christmas morning.

Hurray!  No more feeding and cleaning animals.   No more  confinement.   No more lack of fresh air and limited sunlight.   No more stench and no more noise and no more confined space without anywhere to breathe and to be alone.

Who wouldn’t want off the ark?

This year, for the first time ever, I’ve wondered if it was perhaps hard to leave.

Noah took decades to build the ark, and then he and his family lived on the ark for about another year.

That’s maybe around 80 years of his life fully invested in the ark—the preparation of the ark, the moving onto the ark and all  of the day-to-day grind of living on the ark.

The ark wasn’t just confining, it was also salvation.  The ark was refuge, protection, assurance of God’s promises and His mighty hand.  The ark was safe and it was an ever-present reminder of God’s holinesss and His mercy.

Everything they knew about the pre-flood world would be different when they stepped off that ship.  All the people  they knew,  all the cities they had seen, all the geography and landscape and weather gone or changed.

They had to leave the ark they knew to step into a world they no longer knew.

How exactly did Noah do it?  How did he keep sending out the raven and the doves in hopes they’d find dry land,  knowing that that ark was a temporary stopping place?

Me—I’m not a  fan of temporary.  And I’m not one to eagerly anticipate a revolutionary life change.

But Noah kept moving forward, obedient to the call to build, obedient to the call to move in, obedient to the call to move out.

God said to Noah:

“Come out of the ark…” (Genesis 8:15-16 NIV).

This is what Noah did:

So Noah came out…Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it” (Genesis 8:18&20 NIV).

Noah obeyed and Noah worshiped.  He didn’t know what this new life in this new world would be like.  He simply exited the old ark and immediately built the altar of praise.

Maybe Noah’s willingness to keep moving forward with the Lord came from his long testimony of  God being faithful.  What God said, He did.  What God promised, came to be.

Noah could recall the Word of the Lord, the moment those firsts animals showed up in pairs to enter the ark, how God shut the door with His own mighty hand, how the rains came just as God said, and how the flood waters rose—and how God saved them.

God was faithful.  God would always be faithful.

Isn’t this true for me?  Isn’t this true for us?  We have the testimony of God’s faithfulness to help us be brave, to help us obey with courage, to help us take one more step forward and then another.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15 ESV

Bible Verses about God’s Presence

  • Exodus 33:14 NASB
    And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
  • Joshua 1:9 NASB
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Psalm 16:11 NASB
    You will make known to me the path of life;
    In Your presence is fullness of joy;
    In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • Psalm 23:4 NASB
    Even though I walk through the [d]valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil, for You are with me;
  • Psalm 27:4 NASB
    One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
    That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    To behold the beauty of the Lord
    And to meditate in His temple.
  • Psalm 41:12 NASB
    As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
    And You set me in Your presence forever.
  • Psalm 51:10-11 NASB
    Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
    And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
  • Psalm 73:28 NASB
    But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    That I may tell of all Your works.
  • Psalm 100:2 ESV
      Serve the Lord with gladness!
        Come into his presence with singing!
  • Psalm 139:7-10 NASB
    Where can I go from Your Spirit?
    Or where can I flee from Your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
    If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
    If I take the wings of the dawn,
    If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
    10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
    And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
  • Psalm 140:13 NASB
    Surely the righteous will give thanks to Your name;
    The upright will dwell in Your presence.
  • Isaiah 57:15 NASB
    For thus says the high and exalted One
    Who [a]lives forever, whose name is Holy,
    “I dwell on a high and holy place,
    And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
    In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
    And to revive the heart of the contrite.
  • Jeremiah 29:13 NASB
    You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
  • Matthew 18:20 NASB
    For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
  • Matthew 28:20b NASB
    and lo, I am with you ]always, even to the end of the age.”
  • John 1:14 NASB
    And the Word became flesh, and [a]dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of [b]the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • John 14:16 NASB
    I will ask the Father, and He will give you another [a]Helper, that He may be with you forever
  • John 14:23 NASB
    Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
  • Hebrews 4:16 NASB
    Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  • Hebrews 10:19-22 NASB
    Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a [h]sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
  • Hebrews 13:5 NASB
    Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
  • James 4:8 NASB
     Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
  • Revelation 21:3 NASB
     And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them[