The part of the Christmas Story You Never Hear

There is a part of the Christmas story that doesn't fit into our nicely packaged Nativity scenes.  A part of the story for which no songs are written.  A part of the story that we skip over on our Christmas morning readings.  A part we'd rather not think about...

Yet Scripture includes it, and prophets prophesied about it and it is, in fact, part of the story:

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”
We leave it out because it stands in stark contrast to the joy of the season. It makes us uncomfortable.  There are no warm fuzzies attached to it.  There are no theological statements that make the uncomfortable questions in our minds cease.

But maybe, just maybe, we do ourselves a disservice by leaving it out.  Maybe the sweet, perfect picture we paint ends up excluding the harsh reality of the world that Jesus willingly chose to come into. And we could stop and say, "That's not fair.  Why didn't the angel warn all the mothers?  Did God only care for His own son?"  

But we know there is more to the story and that there is a point when God does not spare His own Son and does let Him fully live out the depths of the evilness of this world.  And we forget that Joseph and Mary did, in fact, need to flee.  Immediately before this passage in Matthew 2:13-15 Joseph has to flee in the middle of the night with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. Jesus did not live in a magical bubble where no sadness, fear or pain never crossed His path.  No, God came down in flesh, to live with us, Emmanuel, to share in our burdens, our trials and our pain so we could trust Him, so we could turn to Him in our deepest moments of need, so that we could know that He truly does care:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This part of the story shows that God is fully aware of the darkness this world contains.  This part of the story, reminds us that the intersection between humanity & God's full redemption is still being worked out.  This part of the story reminds us that Jesus walked in the real world, our world and that somehow in God's mystery that even in the darkest of nights, Emmanuel, is with us.  It reminds us that there is a reason why Jesus came.  Finally it reminds us that today, in our darkest night, God is with us, and that the last chapter is yet to be written.

In the midst of the Christmas story,
Innocence is lost.
Shining eyes - this world no longer sees.

A cry pierces the silent night,
"God don't you see?"
It echoes on and on...

A sweet baby rests on His mother's chest
as in the chill of the night he is whisked
 away to safety. 
Does He too know that there will be a day
when He says,
"God, why have you forsaken me?"

A cry pierces the silent night,
"God don't you see?"
It echoes on and on...

till it reaches 

Here's a song that accompanies the sentiments of this post:

A Very Present Help

During Daily Prayer this morning, I read Psalm 46.  It seemed very timely for my life, the lives of the people whom I love and am praying for, and for our country during this intense season.

I find that when a scripture stands out to me that much, that it is helpful to actually take the time to write it down by hand.  The reason being is it helps me to sit with the words, roll them over in my mind and embed them through prayer into my spirit.  As I did this, I was continually surprised by the words and phrases that jumped out at me that I had missed by merely reading.

This particular psalm is filled with a back and forth volley between the reality of who God is and the current circumstances of the world.

He is our refuge and strength despite the fact that the world is in tumult around us.

The imagery of drowning in overwhelming waters is subdued by the image of the river of peace flowing into the city of God.  He says, He will not be moved.  

As I read it, I remembered recently taking my daughter's head into my hand as she wept about a problem that was overwhelming her.  As I lifted her eyes to meet mine I said, "If you stare at the problem, it will not go away.  But if you lift your eyes and look around you - at all the people who love you, are surrounding you and cheering you through this time - then the problem won't seem so overwhelming."  These verses to me were like God asking me to lift my own eyes from the problems that surround me and place my eyes on Him, where He is sitting enthroned with full confidence and peace.

This psalm, however, recognizes our humanness and the scene is quickly ripped back again onto the shaking and quivering that surrounds the time period.  It is answered by the quiet whisper - the Lord is with us, He is our stronghold. This is how he operates.

Just - be still and know that I am God.


If the circumstances and situations of your life right now are taking you on this roller coaster of emotions, I pray that your soul and spirit will find solace in Psalm 46.  I encourage you to take time to hand-write this psalm down and see the places where He grasps your heart, mind and spirit.

In Christ,

The Conversation of Creation

The wind rustling through the air.
The sun creeping to far away places.
 The clouds drifting - 
a constantly changing canvas.
 The grasses swaying in the wind.
The birds joining in
The conversation of creation surrounds us constantly
 - from the large to the very small. 
This is just the surface;
it barely scratches all that is there. 
we can't take it all in, 
we can't hold it all - 
the amazement, 
the wonder
 it slips through our hands 
The conversation of love and sustenance

You didn't need to say much more.
Actually anymore. 
you chose to step in 
to bring love beyond 
what constantly surrounds
what we've grown so accustomed to
 that we stopped 

You took on the simplicity, 
the regularity of our humanity
 and you added another element,
an element of 

It started as a baby's cry piercing the night,  
then the laughter of a little child, 
to the deep breaths of a man
creating, building. 
It moved to the cries, 
the tears of loss. 
The rejection
 of acquaintances, friends, those closest to you. 
You were whipped, 
spat upon and through it all you choose to say, 
"Father forgive them." 

In the commonness of everyday man
you chose to come and share the story of the uncreated One
- The story of love-
 every step of the way,
 the crescendo of 



Amazing Creator of both big and small,
thank you 
for taking the time to show us your hands aren't too large
to hold our very small.

In Christ, 

In light of terror

When I think about the evil and the world today and consider what terror is - I see it as evil that doesn't have a "face to name."  While we do label the evil we see in the news today in numerous ways: ISIS, racism, guns, religious extremism, etc. there doesn't seem to be a specific name, a specific place or a person "to blame."  While in the past, we were able to name and target evil, for instance saying "Hitler" we knew if we could take him down then the majority of the issues could eventually reach a resolution.  But now, as we awake each morning, holding our breath to see if and where tragedy has hit and through whom, there does not seem to be a specific evil that we can unite together, attack and eliminate.

This has caused me to stop and reflect on God and His ways.  Jesus described the Kingdom of Heaven as a mustard seed - it starts small yet it grows.  Our world looks for and asks for leaders who dominate, take over, lead.  But God approaches leadership in the opposite way - discreet, with time, allowing roots to grow deep, being established and then emerging in such a way that there is stability, strength and protection.  In addition, He is well aware that His kingdom currently coexists with evil and for now He allows this.  Understanding this should help us not to be overwhelmed, in despair or without hope.

Instead, we should recognize that we are set-up precisely in the way that God intended and that we are the carriers of His kingdom here on earth.  While we can't pinpoint these atrocities to one face, what we do see through the news are individuals.  Individuals who worked jobs, were married, went to school etc.  People who rubbed shoulders with others on a daily basis.  This world is full of individuals who need to not only hear about the truth of God's love but need to see it, feel it and receive it.  The way this is done is through His individual children seeing, hearing and providing the reality of that love.  This is the kingdom way.

My prayer is that we as the body of Christ, would not lose hope in the light of terror.  That we would not be confused, overwhelmed or at a loss for what our role is today.  That we would be faithful to our call to love and would open our eyes to see that the very individuals we interact with on a daily basis, whether through work, at home, in the grocery store etc, are the very human beings whose lives we touch and spread the seeds of His kingdom.  May His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Christ,

I mourn, with hope

Today I mourn.

Yesterday I mourned.

I mourned for the history that has brought us to these days.  I mourned for slavery, for lynching, for Rodney King to Philando Castile and everyone in between.

I mourn for the officers killed in Dallas last night.

I mourn for the African-American man who's heart beats faster today when he passes a police car in the street.

I mourn for the loved ones who send their officers to work today, unsure if tragedy and pain will meet them today.

I mourn that though we've come so far, there is a chasm threatening to grow that causes us to choose sides,  to use the words "they" & "them" instead of "us."

As my husband and I discussed Philando last night, unaware that tragedy was co-occurring in Dallas, he adamantly asked, "What is the solution?"

"I don't know, I don't know, I don't know."

As I read the news of Dallas this morning and coupled it with the sorrow I was already feeling for Philandro, I wanted a way to express my sorrow, my anger, my frustration.  I wanted the biblical sackcloth and ashes to rip and display that I indeed am mourning.  So today I wear a black cloth on my arm, cut from clothing as a sign to simply show that I mourn.

As Johnny Cash expressed in his song, "Man in Black,"

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.

The black is there as a reminder to me that things are not right, that I need to pray.  It also serves as an opportunity to talk to others and say, "I am listening, I care, I hurt and I too want to see change."

After I wrote the first part, I also tore white and added it to my arm band.  I added white to show that I mourn with hope and belief.  I know that we are capable of change, I know that we are capable to love better.  I know that the people who mourn today, need to be ministered to, need to be loved, need to make a choice with where their hearts will land - if they will choose to forgive or not.  The cycle needs to be broken.

The Lord God has put his Spirit in me,
    because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken,
to tell the captives they are free,
    and to tell the prisoners they are released.
He has sent me to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness
    and the time when our God will punish evil people.
He has sent me to comfort all those who are sad
and to help the sorrowing people of Jerusalem.
I will give them a crown to replace their ashes,
    and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow,
    and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness.

In Christ,

Why is it important we know we are loved?

As an extension to my last post, If I had a magic wand and could impart any spiritual gift, what would it be?, I want to share why it is so important to know we are loved.  I believe it is important to know we are loved so we can be effective in bringing His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.  I have seen (and experienced) as a Christian many days, weeks, hours, months, years, decades trying to get "right with God."  At times, there has been an overwhelming fear that salvation would soon be lost if and when I made the "wrong decision," had the wrong theology on a specific mater, etc.  Instead of resting comfortably on His lap with child-like faith and asking, "What's on your heart, Lord?" I was walking around feeling guilty, ashamed and wondering what I had to do to make "penance" for my latest sin.  While I know we may now scoff at the religious tradition of buying penance for sins, I can see why people would do it and I believe that for some this physical act would relieve the guilt.  I guess what I'm saying is that even today people walk around feeling guilt-ridden and having no seemingly way to get rid of the guilt.   But I really believe that this obsession with guilt is a misunderstanding of Jesus and His and the Father's heart towards us.

 It was through Christ’s circumcision, that is, his death, that you were made free from the power of your sinful self. 12 When you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and you were raised up with him through your faith in God’s power that was shown when he raised Christ from the dead. 13 When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross. 

Do you see what the cross did for us? It forgave ALL our sins, it canceled the debt - it has been nailed to the cross, left behind.  But perhaps we metaphorically run back to the cross, tear that piece of paper off and hold it before God saying, "But what about this one?"  However, it doesn't say that the record was resurrected with Jesus. Perhaps the nails on His hands should serve as our reminder that the record was left behind so we can move on.

Hebrews 1 & 2 work through these struggles with us.  We see that the Israelite people were never able to enter God's rest and we are warned that we too do not want to be caught missing out on His rest.  While that passage has made me uncomfortable, as I've struggled with it, I've come to realize that they never wanted to accept God's grace, which is why they were unable to enter His rest.  And as I've seen in my own life and the lives of others, when we are trying to  live for the law, from the law and/or in light of the law, we continue to miss out on the promised rest.

14 Since these children are people with physical bodies, Jesus himself became like them. He did this so that, by dying, he could destroy the one who has the power of death—the devil— 15 and free those who were like slaves all their lives because of their fear of death. 16 Clearly, it is not angels that Jesus helps, but the people who are from Abraham.[b] 17 For this reason Jesus had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way so he could be their merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. Then Jesus could die in their place to take away their sins. 18 And now he can help those who are tempted, because he himself suffered and was tempted.

Understanding that we can confidently come before God's throne of grace in our times of weakness is key, key, key.  So this is just the background information that lays the groundwork for the question, "So what then?"

His Kingdom come, His will be done

(If you really want to work through these concepts with an expert check out Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright

I was struck the other day by Jesus words considering the kingdom:
Luke 17:20-21
Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?”
Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. 21 People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.”

We are the carriers of His kingdom!  Our world and our churches ask, seek and looking and searching for God's kingdom daily and I think they main reason they are missing seeing it is because they are looking in the wrong places.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 
11 This command I give you today is not too hard for you; it is not beyond what you can do. 12 It is not up in heaven. You do not have to ask, “Who will go up to heaven and get it for us so we can obey it and keep it?” 13 It is not on the other side of the sea. You do not have to ask, “Who will go across the sea and get it? Who will tell it to us so we can keep it?” 14 No, the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

NT Wright says in his book, Surprised by Hope:

The method of the kingdom will match the message of the kingdom.  The kingdom will comes as the church, energized by the Spirit, goes out into the world vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always - as Paul puts it in one of his letters - bearing in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed.

We need to be captured by God's heart and understand His heart if we want to be reflections of it in the world today:
Psalm 146: 6-9
Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong 
and bread to those who hunger.
The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; 
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land;
he upholds the orphan and widow;
but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.

These are the values we are called to carry.  This is the heart we have the honor and privilege to represent.  His Kingdom is here today, it is within you and you can easily spread and extend it by simple acts of love to anyone who walks in your path today - whether family, friend or foe.  Be confident in His love, beloved.

In Christ,

If I had a magic wand and I could impart any spiritual gift, what would it be?

If I had a magic wand and I could impart any spiritual gift, what would it be?

It would be that that people would know that they are loved by God. 

Perhaps this seems silly, or obvious, or a no-brainier.  So perhaps I should 'expound' on what I mean by this knowing that they are loved to help it make sense:

It would be that that people would know that they are loved by God: not because of anything they have done or can do or will do...

That just made it a tad bit harder to swallow, didn't it? Here's my last expansion on those thoughts:

It would be that that people would know that they are loved by God: not because of anything they have done or can do or will do... and that this is true despite what they have done, are doing or will do.

This last part, my friends, seems to be one of the biggest hurdles for Christians to cross.  And why? Because, more often than naught, we put our paramount focus on our sin (and the sins of others). But what would happen if we put our focus on the LOVE of God?  How would we then live? Would anything change?

I have hundreds of verses running through my head that I want to share to "prove" that this fact is true to you - He loves you with an everlasting love.  But what I've learned is that our intellect is only one of the many pieces to this puzzle.  When I get lost, confused, disillusioned with this fact of love one simple starting point is to go back to seeing Jesus and hearing His Father's heart:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

His motivation? LOVE.
His gift to you? Eternal life: it starts here, today; it is now.
  • Do you feel you are experiencing life?
  • Do you feel you have peace?
    • Peace with God?
    • Peace with others?
    • Peace within yourself?
If you answered no to one or more of these questions, I would encourage you to go back to the top: do you believe that God loves you? If you can, allow Him to see you as you truly are the "good," the "bad," and the "ugly."

I'm not saying it will be easy. I'm not saying it will be magical but what I am saying is that it is worth it.  It is worth allowing yourself to be washed with the truth that God loves you and this was proven through Jesus.  He, Jesus, truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He is the Prince of Peace.

Today, may you know you are loved as a child of God.

In Christ,

Blessing: That which I cannot change

The last couple of days during Daily Prayer I've been covering the story of Balaam being hired to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22 - Numbers 23).  This story is fascinating to me on many different levels but one strain has captured my attention for the last few days.  The strain being the fact that God wanted to bless Israel because they were His and He would not allow them to be cursed.

Based upon the descriptions from the text, the setting has the Israelites spread out on a plain and it sounds like the Moabites are able to view them from above.  From this vantage point, Balaam is paid to curse them, but God doesn't allow it.  He turns the plans to curse into blessings.  Meanwhile, the Israelites have no idea that this is happening and yet God is putting them in the palm of His hand and He is protecting them.

While they meander below in the dailyness of life, God is making sure that blessings and not curses are spoken over them.  Here are a few verses that stand out to me:

Numbers 22:8
How can I curse
    those whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce
    those whom the Lord has not denounced?

Numbers 22:19-20
19 God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?
20 I have received a command to bless;
    he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

This story has inspired me in my own personal prayer life.  Often times my prayers can focus on people's sin and me "helping God" figure out what He needs to do to help those people turn to the right way.  However, through the years, God has gently pulled me from this perspective and has continued to lovingly invite me to a new method of praying for others.  For me, these passages point towards an invitation towards a renewed perspective.

The call on Abraham's life was that he would be a blessing to the nations.  As Christians, we've been invited to extend that call to the nations by being the hands, the feet and the spirit of Christ to this world.  Like Balaam, I think that we've been invited to pray blessings over His people's lives, without them even needing to know that it is happening:

 I have received a command to bless;
    he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

Oftentimes the reality of God's call for our lives seems lofty, ethereal and unrealistic for our daily life.  But I think that may be because we make things harder than they need to be.  We have been called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.  And who are our neighbors? Whomever, God has put into your sphere of influence.  From that simple place of reality ask the Lord to teach you how to pray blessings over your neighbors, whomever they may be.


In Christ,

Grace Has Called My Name

Walking through the door into a gray day that was years ago.  A day that can well up tears in the same fresh way; yet it remains miles away.  The person that I am today different in so many ways.  Fresh sorrows and pains of life, mixed in with new joys, grace, love, understandings and hopes.

Love you always
Nevaeh Rae Wallace.

In Christ,

Breathe Deep

With the arrival of sunshine and spring there is a smell of newness in the air.  For me, there is nothing like tipping my head back in the warm sunshine and just taking in a deep breath.  A breath of life, a breath of hope, a breath of healing.

A discontentment sometimes settles into my soul because life isn't always peaceful, it isn't always joyful and I am not always living the way my mind wishes that I would live.  But in the discontentment I often get the gentle reminder that He is here with us, in the mess, in the darkness and in the yuckiness.  He isn't wishing it all away and He isn't discontent.

Life is life and He knows it.  

I heard a sermon recently and one line popped out in my mind and I can't let it go, "HE WANTED TO BE WITH THEM."  He Jesus, wanted to be with His disciples.  And do you know what his final earthly lines were: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)."  He didn't just want to be with them, He wants to be with us -

He IS with us.

Today may you tip your head back and absorb this truth - He is with you Always.  It's an invitation into newness, into grace, into strength for today.

In Christ,

When the light goes out

On Friday, I attended my church's Good Friday service.  It was a very simple service and I didn't anticipate that there would be anything special about it.  In all honesty, I showed up to go through the motions.

The service was basically just reading through the events of Friday, straight from Scripture and then finishing up with our lectionary prayers, which were to be led by me.

I decided to close my eyes as the Scriptures were being read, in play form.  Different individuals from the congregation took on roles and read from their seats when their character was speaking.  As they read, pictures were forming vividly in my mind: Jesus bloody, mocked, bruised.  Simultaneously, as I heard the words about Jesus hanging between the two prisoners being mocked and accused of things that weren't true, I thought about my friend's daughter who that very week had been mocked, harassed and demeaned by a bully at school.  I was caught up in the realization that Jesus not only loved the mockers in that moment, but He also hung there to experience the rejection that His children would continue to experience even today. 

Hebrews 4:15: 
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

As the service went on, I happened to open my eyes and saw my pastor walking across the front of the sanctuary.  He went and stood before the candle that represents the presence of Jesus and when, "'It is finished.'  Then he bowed his head and gave up His spirit," our pastor blew the candle out.  The presence of Jesus was metaphorically extinguished.

I was profoundly struck at that moment and the weight of what it meant laid heavy on me.  In that moment, everyone's hopes and dreams that Jesus truly was the Messiah went out.  The people then didn't have the answer, they didn't have the next page in the book.  All they had was darkness, hopelessness and despair.  They did not have the hope of the resurrection and the God they thought they knew was no longer.

As the darkness of that moment crept over me, it made me realize that there are some today who still feel that darkness and despair.  They've had the candle blown out.  Situations and circumstances of life have brought that darkness, heaviness and confusion of the unknown.  The God they thought they knew did not show up in the way they expected him to show up.  Personally, I've stood in front of a grave and have felt the tears of that darkness, hopelessness and despair.

The Scriptures continued until Jesus was laid in the tomb and after that point, I was to lead prayer.  In faltering words, I prayed forth the words I've said many times before but they were being shaped and carried in a new way.

One: A recognition that without the resurrection the words that I was praying were meaningless.  I have no hope of any of my prayers being answered or heard apart from the reality that Jesus is alive.  All my faith truly does rest on that reality.

Two: Those that I was praying for: the hungry and the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed, the sick the wounded, the lonely were most likely experiencing that darkness.  Many of those words were attached to real people, real faces, real situations.  I knew and know that they've and are experiencing the darkness of that moment and they need the reality of the resurrected Jesus in their lives.  But sometimes, yes, there is a waiting, like we were being asked to wait between Good Friday and Easter morning Sunday.

Three: For the sorrowful and bereaved.  Again, my mind went to the scene when my niece was no longer there. My heart and prayers went up for the loved ones I know that experienced similar loses and whose hearts are as heavy as the darkness felt on that day.

As we left the sanctuary, one of our members who was going to miss church on Sunday, was quietly walking up to people and whispering, "Happy Easter." I thought it was a perfect ending to the service.  In the midst of the darkness, the despair, the turmoil the secret was being eked out, "Happy Easter."  While our Easter moments may not always be two days away, our Redeemer does indeed live.  For me, I recognized in a new and profound way that all of our hopes and fears are truly dependent upon that single moment, Easter.

Perhaps due to the circumstances in your life, Easter morning was not able to be a joyous moment.  If so, may I quietly whisper to your heart, "Happy Easter?" If yes, may you know He is able to hold you in the darkness because He has entered there, too yet overcame.  In that fact, you can rest your heart.

In Christ,

St. Patrick's Day Prayer

Prayer is a profound mystery that envelops deep truth alongside the simplicity of child-like faith.  Last St.Patrick's Day I came across a prayer by Saint Patrick.  It quickly became one of my favorite prayers, because it is filled with so much Scriptural truth.  It is a prayer that provides a framework for how I live my life.  But before we get to it, I just wanted to share two quotes by Eugene Peterson from Tell it Slant on the topic of prayer:

Prayer accomplishes with us, within our spirits, deep within our souls, what is later lived out in the circumstances and conditions of our obedience.  A stiff upper lip won't do it.  A fierce resolve won't do it.  An exemplary life won't do it.

Prayer goes beneath the surface and penetrates the heart of the matter... When we pray we willingly participate in what God is doing, without knowing precisely what God is doing, how God is doing it, or when we will know what is going on - if ever (pg.237)

May this prayer by Saint Patrick lead you and guide you as you journey on in Christ:
 As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

In Christ,


Confessions from a Mother of a Strong-Willed Child

I am a mother of a strong-willed child. This I have always known but I haven't always known how to handle it. 

Oh, we've tried through the years with wavering success.  But as the years go by, the strength only seems to grow and increase, not diminish.

As a mother of a strong-willed child I often feel FEAR.

Fear that the strength of her will, may eventually lead her down paths of destruction - that will break her and prevent her from fulfilling her dreams.

Fear that somehow my inability to communicate with her will one day make her despise me.

Fear that if I ever did successfully "break her will" and make it easily bend to mine, I would break one of the most beautiful things that make her who she is as a person.

I knew that her tenacity was a gift, is a gift.  But when I saw her tenacity robbing her, for seemingly insignificant causes, I was desperate to find answers.  I also often found myself becoming someone I didn't want to be - so easily and too quickly.  It didn't matter how long I prayed in the morning, nor how determined I was to be calm, patient and peaceful.  In a blink of an eye, we would spiral together head-first into the battle of wills over what seemed like "nothing" to me.  At the end, I would be left exhausted and feeling even more defeated, even if I did "win."

Yesterday, I read the "Tower of Babel" where the Lord had caused confusion to languages to cause separation among the people.  This is how I felt, day in and day out.  That my daughter and I were speaking different languages and it was causing separation.

I needed an interpreter.

God always amazes me, how he drops in answers to years of prayer, in small, insignificant ways.  So small you almost miss it, yet a gift so powerful, that after you open it, you might never be the same.

An email came across from a co-worker, "Oh, if you have a strong-willed child try Cynthia Tobias."

Okay, I'll write myself a note to look into it.

An incident. Exhaustion.

Okay, I'll order the book from the library.

Another incident. Despair.

Okay, I'll pick the book up from the library and read it.

Then, hope came flooding in through the doors.  In a beautiful, life-giving way, my hope is being renewed through the book, YOU CAN'T MAKE ME" (but I can be persuaded).

In my initial reading of the book, I feel like I am being taught another language.  I also feel that I am being understood.  I am seeing that I am not alone in this challenge.  And I am having the truths, that I've known and believed being fulfilled, while at the same time having my fears calmed.

She says that if you have a strong-willed child, you've probably known it since before they were 18 months old.  Um, yes!  No one would believe me back then.  As we arrived places with her dressed in outrageous, mismatched outfits people would ask why I would let a child that young dress herself.  Why? Because it wasn't worth the fight.

In grace, Cynthia tells stories of the very fears that I daily carry in my mind: that my daughter did have the potential of giving up dreams, for the sake of digging in her heels for an unworthy cause.  She also asked, "What cost are you willing to pay to have 'pure obedience?'"(Her heart?) Finally, she pointed out that I could very well lose my daughter's heart. 

But the weight of those words were couched in the buoyancy of the opposite truth: that it didn't have to be that way.  Yes, as I knew, God had created my daughter with a huge heart, that can change the world.  And that we need people with strong wills that are not willing to back down, no matter, what the cost.  She also showed me, as I knew, that all my daughter wants in the end, is my love.  So taking time to learn to speak to her in her language will pay off in the end.

Most of the time I am not trying to annoy you.  I just want you
to appreciate my uniqueness.  I want you to see me
and love me no matter what. 
(I forgot to write down the page #) 
So yes, yes I am taking it to heart.  I am filling my phone with "reminder notes" on how to speak her language.  Because I know how we spiral.  But I also can see how, simply using different approaches, can stop the spiraling.

So that is my confession: I have failed multiple times with my daughter and I know I will continue to fail.  But I also see that there is a better way.  However, I hope to change our spiraling into dancing; to watch my daughter glow in the joy of her gifts and strengths, as she takes on the world with her unbreakable spirit.

Maybe I am not alone, so that is why I share.  If you too are a parent of a strong-willed child, take the time to read, to learn and to understand their language.  Perhaps, Cynthia Tobias can renew hope for you, as well.

In Christ,

P.S. This is a recommendation, purely from my heart.  I was not paid nor given this book for this review.


This morning during Daily Prayer, I was left contemplating, with awe Psalm 36:
Sin whispers to the wicked, in the depths of their heart; •
there is no fear of God before their eyes.

2 They flatter themselves in their own eyes •
that their abominable sin will not be found out.

3 The words of their mouth are unrighteous and full of deceit; •
they have ceased to act wisely and to do good.

4 They think out mischief upon their beds
and have set themselves in no good way; •
nor do they abhor that which is evil. R

5 Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens •
and your faithfulness to the clouds.

6 Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; •
you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.

7 How precious is your loving mercy, O God! •
All mortal flesh shall take refuge
under the shadow of your wings.

8 They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house; •
they shall drink from the river of your delights.

9 For with you is the well of life •
and in your light shall we see light. R

10 O continue your loving-kindness to those who know you •
and your righteousness to those who are true of heart.

11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, •
nor the hand of the ungodly thrust me away.

12 There are they fallen, all who work wickedness. •
They are cast down and shall not be able to stand.

I was struck by the visual scene that so easily gets painted in my mind as I read about the faithfulness of our Lord.  I would encourage you to stop this morning and re-read those words several time. Allowing the truth and beauty to wash over you and paint a picture of God's majesty in your mind.

Why? Because we need it.  Even as Psalm 36 denotes, sin exists and is a reality in our lives.  As Daily Prayer went on today, it recounted Joseph being thrown into the pit by his brothers (Genesis 37) and Paul talking to the church about his ministry to Gentiles (Galatians 2). Even while Paul spoke, there were those who tried to get him in trouble for the freedom he found in Christ.  But even as we read these stories, we, as readers, know the ends of the stories:

Jacob staring at the bloody clothes, refusing to be comforted and declaring that he will go to the grave still mourning.  This is juxtaposed to him standing face-to-face with his son, on Egyptian soil, and having the years of pain, heaviness and sorrow stripped away in just a moment.

Or we, who are Gentiles: living, breathing, and operating daily in the grace of God.  Why? "We did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel may remain with you (Galatians 2)."

Sin is a reality, but do not allow its reality to cloud your vision. Look again upon the faithfulness, the justice, the strength, the mercy of our living God.  And know, know that even in the midst of sin, He is orchestrating redemption and beauty for not only you, but generations to come.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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