A few thoughts on foster care from the first year.

Several of you have asked me to write about my fostering experience, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts about that. Obviously, I can’t write details, but I can give you some general thoughts.

In some ways, fostering at my age is like being a grandmother except that I have full time care of the child. We love seeing all of B’s “firsts”, from big things like seeing Disney and having his first airplane ride, to small, daily things like learning to wink and trying apple pie.

Fostering is emotionally draining on levels I never knew with my own five. It requires wisdom about how to interact with the family (kinship), DCF, court, lawyers, etc… Everyone has a say and their own set of expectations. Ultimately, my job is to advocate for little B and do what is best for him.

As a homeschooling family, DCF was always portrayed as the monster lurking in the background ready to snatch your kids if you didn’t put them into the public school system. I can honestly say that I’ve had nothing but REASONABLE interactions with DCF. They’ve been pleasant, helpful, resourceful, and really quite “hands off” in our case. Yes, we had to meet certain requirements and they came to the house each month, but B’s case worker honestly just wanted to see him safe and thriving and was relieved to see that he was. She was overworked, and still had time to sit in my living room and talk about fun stuff B was doing. I can’t imagine the brokenness she’s seen at her young age (27-30 years old maybe) and I certainly couldn’t do her job without becoming depressed, but she was amazing and upbeat to all of us.

Fostering brings out the best in people. Someone has said that you can tell a lot about a person’s character by the way they treat someone who can do nothing for them in return. There are people who just ooze with compassion for our little guy. You can see it in their eyes–they just want this little guy to land on his two feet and their hearts hurt for his little plight. They text that they are praying for him. They give him toys and more toys. And it’s true that if you want to love people well, love their kids–or in this case, their foster kids. We’ve been so amazed by the good friends God has given us.

On a spiritual level, fostering has taught me to love without strings attached and simply for the good of the person.

Fostering has also opened up doors of ministry.  It’s put me back into the throws of younger mothers who want to do play dates and meet for coffee. When they ask me for help with parenting, I’m not talking from a “rosy” “I remember when” nostalgic view which can forget how hard the day-in and day-out really is. I can speak from a place of both experience from my adult children, and compassion and understanding from my 2 year old. I totally get it when they tell me that their toddler is taking a tantrum and they are too exhausted to read their Bible in the morning with any intelligent attempt at study.

Fostering has shown me a little more about the effects of sin on other people, and has made me more aware of my own sin. No man sins in a vacuum. It ripples out and punishes “innocent bystanders”, whether it’s heroin use or a bad mood to selfish behavior.  No where do you see little ones paying for the sins of their parents like in the foster care system. It opens your eyes to the brokenness of this world like nothing can. Any of you who’ve read here know that I have a particular HATRED for cruelty to children in any form. So to read and see the brokenness surrounding these kids makes me sob. Fostering has made me hate sin more and love God more. It’s also made me thankful for the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus Christ made possible. The gospel truly is good news for this broken world.

Fostering has taught me to embrace every season with gratitude. I can’t do what I could do a year ago because I have a God-ordained job to do right here with this little guy. I don’t write as much as I did, I’ve declined speaking invitations, I’ve backed away from things that would be good and pleasant to do, but that aren’t best for us or Little B right now, and God has given me joy in that obedience. Seasons change, moms. Embrace the NOW with your little ones.

“”Don’t let the fear of loving a child who might leave deter you. Let the fear of a child not knowing love drive you.”

That’s about it for today. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or message me. Have a great week.


Polluted Worship

Imagine God sitting down with your conservative, conscientious church and describing it as one that:

  • despises God
  • is polluted
  • is profane
  • is unacceptable.

That’s the scenario that plays out in Malachi, a book we are studying with out teen group for a regional Bible quiz.


God tells them they’ve despise Him, polluted His alter, wearied the Lord with their words, left Him, robbed Him, spoken against Him (blasphemed).

The Israelites can’t figure out where they’ve gone wrong. They are literally clueless. They answer, “Wherein”–“How have we done this?”

God goes on to say that they’ve used terms of endearment for Him, saying “Father” but not honoring Him as such, and “Master” but not giving Him the respect due a Master. Basically just taking God for granted, like He’ll take anything from us, even our worthless, leftover sacrifices.

He mentions their “polluted” offerings, basically the cast offs that cost them nothing, given like they were the best they had.

To use modern terms, these people honestly thought going to church, serving in the church, and doing the “right things” would make up for the fact that their heart was far from God.

G. Campbell Morgan says,

“These people are not in open rebellion against God, nor do they deny His right to offerings, but they are laboring under the delusion that because they have brought offerings, they have been true to Him all along.

Theirs is not the language of a people throwing off a yoke and saying, “We will not be loyal,” but of a people established in the temple.

It is not the language of a people who say, “Let us cease to sacrifice and worship: and let us do as we please,” but it is the language of a people who say, “We are sacrificing and worshiping to please God,” and yet He says be the mouth of His servant, “Ye have wearied me: ye have robbed and spoken against me.”

…They have been most particular and strict in their outward observances, but their hearts have been far away from their ceremonials. They have been boasting themselves in their knowledge of the truth, responding to the knowledge mechanically, technically: but their hearts, their lives, their characters, the inwardness of their natures, have been a perpetual contradiction in the eye of Heaven, to the will of God…..and they look with astonishment and impertinence and say, “We don’t see this at all?”

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit as we study together and think it’s relevant to Christendom in general today.

All I can think of is this verse,

“Having a form of godliness, they deny the power thereof.”

We see this in our own lives and in the church around us. It’s a display, masquerading as holy, but hollow and vacant in the heart.

We see this with people who’d never miss a service but who have a sour, contentious spirit.

Or those who take pride in dressing modestly, but have proud hearts, feuding and arguing with others, marring their “Christian” walk.

Or those who have Bible knowledge coming out the ears, but can’t seem to love that one brother.

Or those who teach “the truth” but don’t live it themselves.

God also said that He is “wearied with their words” because they claim that God loves everyone who does evil, and that He won’t judge sin. They portray Him as the big softie upstairs who just giggles at our rebellion. They said, “Our God is a God of love; there is no judgment.” We should be clear that God does and will judge sin. He is the one who names it and defines it. We can’t excuse what God forbids.

It’s easy to see the sin in others and miss our own. So let’s not be too hard on the old Isrealites. Let’s ask ourselves how we are like them in areas where we compromise. Let’s ask God’s Spirit to show us our impurities. Where does this all start?

“Ye departed out to the way.” Malachi 2:8–Instead of teaching the law and keeping it, we’ve gone our own way in these matters. We paid lip service, but lived any old way.

We know the right thing, but do the wrong without remorse and without repentance. We assume that God will accept our service while our heart is polluted. We imagine that God will be appeased by sacrifice or service, but without a devoted heart, it’s all worthless.

A form of godliness…but denying the power.

We may hold to the truth of scripture intellectually, even condemning false teachers and speaking out against false doctrine, but if our heart is astray, it’s all polluted, detestable, not accepted.

I think this serves as a warning to us today to really check our hearts. I was thankful for the grace of conviction during this study. Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.

Some questions:

First, do we actually love God, and is that love displayed in obedience for Him?

Second, do we come to the “table” with clean hands? Are your motives pure? Are you obedient? Are you hiding sin? Is your conscience clean? Are your desires pure?

Thirdly, do we serve in a sacrificial way or do we serve in ways that benefit us? Do we seek recognition? Do we get miffed when someone gets an opportunity we wanted? Do we manipulate to get preeminence? Do we put others first? Do we only serve when others will know or when it’s easy for us? Do we get agitated when we are treated as a “servant” rather than a “master”?

As Christian women, God is Master and everything that is done must be done to bring Him glory. We must heed Malachi’s warnings and check ourselves:

  • let’s worship with pure heart, hands, and minds
  • let’s free ourselves from greed in our service
  • let’s honor God in our activity to the point where our service costs us something.

Some things to think about:

Is God enough? If you were stripped of all your outward shows of ministry and service, would God still say He knows you as a friend?

Do you carefully follow God’s word, or do you live and worship any old way you want?

Is your “ministry” free from ulterior motives?

Is your worship worship-ful, from the heart, or just part of your routine?

Does your outward dedication to God reflect your inward longing for Him? If not, this is hypocrisy.

Have you read Malachi lately? I challenge you to do so. And then ask, “What needs to change today?”

On Painful Politics and Shaming

I watched the second Donald/Hillary debate and lived to tell about it. It was painful.

More painful was the banter on “social” media.

I saw people, Christians, {pastors even} claiming that if you vote for Trump (or Hillary–choose your side), you should hand in your Christian Card.


Two frustrating aspects of social media right now:

  1. Christians who are questioning the legitimate-ness of another believer’s standing before Christ based on politics
  2. Christians who expect that others act/react/respond their way or, you guessed it, check your Christianity and be publicly shamed.

These things should not be.

Our hope is not in a world system. Our hope is in Christ and although we should vote responsibly, I doubt God would endorse turning inward on each other and biting and devouring one another.

He’s not surprised by any of this. God is actually able and willing to use wicked, sinful people to rule this world and He often has allowed that.

I understand that we are passionate about our positions and that’s a good thing. And passion, when driven by godly love and obedient actions, are a wonderful force for good.

But passion driven by anger or pride, that disregards God’s rules for speaking, acting, reacting and seeks to shut down and condemn another because they don’t agree is simply oppression.

May I just state something?

We don’t need to be the Thought Police AND we shouldn’t EXPECT that people react and respond to political events/news/media the way you do. And please forgo the public shaming.

Humility teaches us that we don’t know it all and shouldn’t insist on our own way.

Don’t project the wrongdoing of any candidate on me because you don’t like the response or lack thereof you are detecting from me.

Let’s give people the dignity to think for themselves, process in their own way, and respond or not.

Some of us choose not to publicly respond to the latest scandal and the media’s fear mongering because there’s wisdom in being quick to hear and much, much slower to speak, and even slower to become passionately angry and mouthy.

Isn’t it interesting how anger and corrupting speech walk hand-in-hand so often? And don’t you see so much of that this election cycle?

I’ve had the good fortune to be surrounded by wonderful people who respect my opinion especially when it comes to areas where we are not on the same page.

I have friends who are more passionate about certain social issues than I am, and God has given them “fire” in their belly to advocate for said causes in ways I never could.

It’s contagious to be around them.

It’s inspiring to be with them, and spending time with them makes me more compassionate and aware of their causes.

But I NEVER feel condemned or in competition with them. I know that they are serving God with A SOVEREIGNLY GIVEN GIFT-SET complete with sensitivities, desires, opportunities, and awareness to impact that task right where they are.

When I have coffee with one, I am inspired to consider the homeless more than I do. Another, racial justice. Another, fostering. Another, the single moms in our area.

And isn’t this how it should be?

Should they be condemning me because I am not just like them and don’t act the way they think I should in these areas?

No, I should be passionate to do the tasks that God has gifted me to do and help the people in my sphere of influence. I can applaud them for their obedience and they can respect the work I am doing.

There’s no group think or shaming because love assumes the best and humility doesn’t put us up on a chair looking down judging others who are not meeting our expectations.

Friends, we need to set boundaries on our emotions especially in the areas where we are passionate. And when you think you are justified in your “righteous indignation” remember to adhere even more strictly to the commands of scripture when you begin to censure or judge others. Watch your words. Check the log in your own eye before you set out to judge the splinter in your brother’s eye.

We cannot allow what is big to us to become “the end all” and an excuse for poor behavior, corrupt speech, or spiritual abuse.

Jesus Christ is the end all. His Word rules the day. We follow His ways especially in areas of disagreement.

The world is watching. My kids are watching.

Don’t let pride fuel your words and actions. Don’t anesthetize your conscience into thinking that because you are decent and loving to 90% of the people, that God will overlook the 10% you are slamming, demeaning, or publicly embarrassing because you think you are right politically.

Never back away from a good chance to hold your tongue. Especially when you disagree. Pray before you respond.

“I feel a strong desire to tell you–
and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me–
which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs–pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” C.S. Lewis- Mere Christianity


State your positions in love. Forgo the arrogance and insults. Give the listeners the dignity of respect. Because in the end, your word represent you alone and you stand before God and answer for them.

A Few Thoughts On “Humble Roots”

Today I wanted to share a few thoughts on Hannah Anderson’s new book, Humble Roots, available now via Amazon.

Fine Print and Disclosure: I received this book free from Moody Publishers and I am part of the Humble Roots Launch Team. However, you know from reading here that I will not recommend any book that I believe to be unsound. If I find a book to be helpful as a whole, but find problematic spots, I’ll disclose that to you as well.


It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a book like I did Humble Roots. Not only is it theologically sound, but Hannah’s writing style is gentle, descriptive, and calming.

Hannah’s book recounts her struggle with restlessness, anxiety, loss of sleep, feeling like she has to do it all, fear that she can’t do it all, and a myriad of other common symptoms that plague the modern women. She ties all of these issues back to a few common denominators: failure to rest in God, trying to do life on our own strength,  and unknown pride. She then gently unfolds what true humility looks. She explains, “Humility is not a commodity. It is not something you can achieve. It is not something you earn or accomplish. Being humble is something you either are or you aren’t.”

She uses agricultural examples to cement the truths in the book: ripening tomatoes (excerpt here), sowing seeds, root blight, grafting trees, pure honey, thorny blackberries, etc. I found her descriptions of Appalachian life endearing and refreshing, and I may or may not have spent an hour watching YouTube videos late one night learning more about the process of grafting apple trees onto common root, an example that only deepened my understanding of Jesus command to “abide in Him.”

This book was helpful to me, and went along perfectly with the Beatitudes study I told you I was doing using Jen Wilkin’s “Sermon on the Mount” inductive Bible Study.

Some favorite quotes:

“When Jesus calls us to take His yoke, when He invites us to find rest through submission, He is not satisfying some warped need for power or His own sense of pride. He is calling us to safety. The safety that comes from belonging to Him. The safety that comes from being tamed…It is understandable that we fear the yoke. We fear the loss of control. We fear surrender. But we must also understand that without the protection of a good master, we are not safe. From the manipulation of other masters. From the expectations of society. From ourselves.” pg 43

“…humility begins by remembering where we come from. Humility begins by remembering that to be human is to be dirt. Humility begins by remembering that we are “dust and to dust [we] shall return.” pg. 66

“At its root, pride confuses our identity with God’s and makes us think of ourselves as larger than we really are. But when we begin to think of ourselves this way, we expect other people to think of us like this too. Without realizing it, we begin to expect more glory and honor because we actually believe ourselves to be better than they are.” pg. 70

“The first step to engaging our resources with humility is to recognize how much we have been given. This may sound simplistic, but left unchecked, pride blinds us to God’s good gifts. Because pride convinces us that we deserve a certain experience of the world: and when something disrupts that, our pride reveals itself by complaining.” pg. 140

Her final chapter on death, the death of her beloved grandmother, and our return to the dust as the humble beings we truly are, was my favorite chapter in the book. I cried through much of it.

There are too many wonderful quotes to add to this short review but I highly recommend this book without reservation. It is one of the best books on humility I’ve read. It helped me to appreciate the humility of Jesus in a world that values and promotes self-sufficiency and self-promotion. It helped me see the loving Savior as He really is, to see the beauty of humility, and to value it just a little bit more.

I also loved, loved the simple yet beautiful pencil sketches by illustrator and artist Michelle Berg Radford.

Have you read Humble Roots? It’s now available through Amazon here.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog.



DIY Doctored-Up Dollar Tree Church Ornament

Wanted to share an easy craft I’ve been working on for Christmas.

img_4432 img_4433

I love New England churches, so when I saw that Dollar Tree had these ornaments, I snatched up a bunch to doctor-up.

I simply added twine, plaid ribbon from Michael’s Craft Store, and mica glitter with a glue gun to add “snow” to the roof line and perimeter of the church. You could also add a silver bell in place of the pine cone that comes with it.

They’ll be really cute attached to brown paper packages.


Troubles That Paint The Right Story

Have you ever been shocked by life’s turn of events?

I’ve had several defining moments when life seemed to spiral out of control, like the day my baby sister told me that her ultrasound showed that her baby had severe disabilities and was not expected to live. Like the day I got the call that her baby, my niece, had passed away.

Maybe you’ve experienced trials and sufferings of another sort and wondered why God would allow them. Maybe you’re in a long term trial right now and you’re wondering if God has made some colossal mistake in the story of your life.

Years ago, as a child, I remember a church service where a Child Evangelist came to present the gospel in a chalk illustration. I was interested in art at a young age, so his demonstration intrigued me. He stood on the platform with a huge sheet of paper and worked, hands flying and smudging the chalk as fast as he talked. I attentively watched as he added lines here and color there, sudden swatches of dark next to light, bringing unseen shapes to the foreground.

Is that going to be a hillside? A road? No, a tomb? No, what is it?

I was mesmerized and surprised that at the end of his talk, the final product was the face of Jesus.


Do you stare at the portrait of your life and wonder what God is doing?

What story is He telling?

Why this dark trial here?

Why this heartache?

Why that loss?

What are you doing, Lord?

Where are you?

Why is this taking so long?

Do you know what you’re doing, because I’m really getting scared.

We can’t see the end while we are living in the middle, but it’s comforting to know that God has a plan for the final product. He wants the image of Jesus Christ to be seen and displayed in our life.

The Bible uses another artsy analogy, of a potter working a lump of clay into whatever sort of vessel he pleases, compressing, chiseling, squeezing, firing, proving, until he makes just the sort of vessel that is useful to him.


The clay doesn’t get to choose what he becomes. That is entirely up to the Potter.

So the potter molds different vessels, all unique but just what he wants, just like God makes us with certain gifts and abilities, spheres of influence, and tasks for us to do.

We may be made of different materials, have different functions and roles, some more glamorous, and others, mundane, but to compare ourselves to others would be foolish because we were created for specific good works.pottery

He may put us in a place of prominence or in a secluded area. We might be set aside for a season, but our role is still the same: faithfulness to our calling and to our Creator.



Trials are never fun. Nobody wants to suffer. But suffering, it turns out, is a gift. It’s one of those gifts we’d rather not have, but it catapults us towards Christ like nothing else can. And the gift of suffering allows us to have a unique, unexpected “fellowship” with Christ which endears our hearts to His, and tears our grasping hands from this earth.

So that dark season of suffering did not mar your story, but was the contrast needed to allow God’s glory to shine brightest.

And that trial we thought would nearly kill us and ruin our life, was another layer where God’s glory could be displayed, and the finished work of Jesus face would be overlay-ed and superimposed on the picture the world sees when it looks at our life.

Even when our own sin and foolishness brings us trouble and heartache, God’s grace and goodness re-paints the scene and covers our mess with the perfect image of Christ.

This truth, that God is working all things for my good and His glory,

that none of my suffering is random, helps me to trust and embrace whatever God has for my life, and to rejoice in any suffering that comes because of it, knowing that suffering drives me to Him which strengthens my spiritual life, even when my body, emotions, or resources are wasting away.

Trials put me right where I need Jesus every day and know it.

May Christ be seen in the story of my life, especially during times of trials. 

What about you? Has your life taken unexpected and unwanted turns that seem unfair and unwanted? Can you trust that no suffering is wasted in God’s economy, but that it has the purpose of drawing you closer to His Son? What can you do today to change how you view suffering and to embrace it with joy?


Take Courage Where God Has Called You

Sometimes comparison is a good thing, nudging us upward to higher potential. Maybe you’ve experienced that nudge after reading a missionary biography and, as a result, decided you needed to do more in the way or trusting, praying, or serving. Maybe you’ve been inspired by a friend’s beautifully appointed home and decided to make changes in your own to make it more appealing or orderly.

Comparison that prompts us to evaluate our stewardship is a good thing since we’re going to give account of all we’ve been given: our gifts, resources, and abilities.

But sometimes comparison spirals into self-evaluation, and we are painfully aware of our limitations and shortcomings. And aren’t we always our own hardest critic? We feed on our own failures or on life’s disappointments, and it discourages us from trying because, well, we’ll leave that for the experts,  the more put together person, the more disciplined person, the lady who isn’t constantly blundering her way through life. 


Why bother trying to decorate if I can’t be Martha Stewart.

Why entertain…I’ll never be Ina Garten.

Why try to minister? I’m no Amy Carmichael or D.L. Moody.

I don’t have the faith of Abraham, the whole-heartedness of David, the faithfulness of Anna, or the humility of Mary.

I don’t seem to have much to offer, so why bother.

The simple answer is that God called you to this time and place. He didn’t call these other men and women to your neighborhood, home, or church. He called you to be His hands and feet and mouth in this time and place and hour.

Our job is to look around and faithfully answer the call by meeting the needs as God providentially presents them.

God didn’t call Ina Garten to serve that hurting woman at your door a glass of lemonade. He didn’t ask Martha Stewart to make up that bed for that missionary family. He didn’t ask Jay Adams to counsel that frustrated mother who begged you to meet with her to discuss child raising. He didn’t ask Clara Barton to bring soup to that neighbor who is sick or to bring cold facecloths to your feverish child.

He sent them to you. To your little humble abode.

And comparison that freezes in fear is a dereliction of duty of sorts when you believe in God’s providence.

Don’t leave the job for the gifted. The gifted person is not there. You are.

Christian women, we need your “small attempts” performed in love. We need your faithful “unspectacular” deeds because people are hurting and need another human to step up in courage and offer what they have.

Offer your five small loaves and two fish and see how God multiplies the most insignificant offering. All of our small attempts are little offerings, aren’t they? Given in love to be used as God sees fit?

We need you to take courage and know that your devotion to God qualifies you

and that the need in front of you was not brought to your attention by accident.

You are not a conduit, funneling people to someone better than you.

You are a servant and you have an opportunity, and if the Master presented it before you, He’ll help you perform it.

Like Joshua, who needed encouragement to lead the unruly Israelites after Moses died, God promised His presence as the help Joshua needed and we have that same promise of God’s presence:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Matthew 28:20

Has God brought people into your life that you think would be better served by someone else? Is God giving your opportunities to speak for Him and you’re saying “No, thank you.” Does guilt over past failures keep you from stepping out in faith in areas that God has called you? (Confess any sin, claim God’s grace and forgiveness, make it right with fellow man, and move on.)

What lies are you believing about ability and God’s dependability? How can you adjust that thinking and take courage where God plants you today?

Take courage, friend. God is with you and will equip you.


Weekend Edition

This weekend I’m sharing a few links that I think you’ll enjoy, so grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy.

I’ve been doing all the planning that comes with another school year: meal plans, curriculum choices, Bible study plan, etc, so it feels good to get some of that out of the way.

Food-wise, as soon as the weather gets crisp, I want to start making soup. I make it once a week because it’s usually frugal and it gives me an excuse to eat French bread and makes plenty for easy lunch leftovers. Rebekah was asking for some of my favorite soup recipes, so I thought I’d post them here as well.

Some great soups online::

Garlicky White Bean Soup with Greens via Nourishing Gourmet: This is so inexpensive to make and it’s delicious…and I don’t even care for bean soups usually.

Tortellini Sausage Soup via Gooseberry Patch: This soup is present at nearly every fall family gathering we have. It’s so good served with Caesar Salad and bread.

Cream of Pumpkin and Apple Soup via Wilson Farms. I love the sweetness of this soup. I’ve used canned pumpkin before with great results. Wilson Farms is a beautiful, New England farm and Lynn Wilson has a wonderful cookbook that is one of my go-tos.

Zucchini Cheddar Soup via Wilson Farms: Cheesy and delicious.

These are all family favorites. Let me know if you try them and how you liked them.

What I’m reading right now:

Keeping House: A Litany of Everyday Life. This is a book I return to when I need a little home making inspiration. It’s not a book that will guilt you into becoming a better homemaker. It’s one of those books that reminds you of the why behind what you do. It talks of the necessity of sheltering, clothing, and feeding the people we love the most. It connects the duties of home to Kingdom work and most importantly, it shows how it mirrors God’s watch care over us.

Favorite quotes:

“Housework is all about feeding and clothing and sheltering people who, in the absence of that daily work, would otherwise be hungry and ill-clad and ill-housed.”

She discusses how our culture spends more and more money on kitchen gadgets and cookware, while fewer people actually cook and eat at home. She discusses seasons and rhythms of life and likens them to homemaking and faithfulness.



“Putting away things that get daily or weekly use is a way to exercise a kind of providential foresight. Having clothes ready to wear in the drawer or in the closet is part of creating an expectation that in this home we care for one another. Our needs are not a perpetual emergency but are anticipated and provided for ahead of time.”

“A well-kept house thus possesses a kind of sacramental quality. It is no substitute for either the kingdom of God or the church. But it is a kind of foretaste of the kingdom. A nurturing and hospitable home can be a reminder that God has always been in the business of making a home for people, that God desires that people should have the food and clothing and shelter associated with home, that one day our tattered and partial provision of these things for one another will be gloriously supplanted by God’s perfect provision of shining robes and a sumptuous feast in God’s own house.”


And one of my favorite quotes:

“A Christian home overflows its boundaries; it is an outpost of the kingdom of God, where the hungry are fed and the naked are clothed and there is room enough for everyone.”

While I do have a few qualms with the book and she doesn’t write from a conservative Christian perspective, the book is extremely valuable.

The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges was published posthumously and is, not surprisingly, a blessing like his other works.  He starts with the premise that humility is the second most frequently taught character trait in the New Testament, second only to love, but is a trait that is hardly pursued or celebrated. He argues that humility is not optional, but a command of God which is enabled by grace to those who are born again. He goes through each of the Beatitudes and shows how each verse (poor in spirit, mourn over sin, peacemaker) reflects the qualities of the humble person.

A few favorite quotes:

“Instead we too often use the Scriptures not as a means of judging ourselves but as a means of judging others, especially those whose sins are more flagrant than ours. The meek person, in contrast, searches the Scriptures (or listens to it taught) not to judge others but to allow the Holy Spirit to judge him or her. In fact, the meek person earnestly desires the Spirit to use His Word to effect a deep change in his or her inner being.”

“It is often the sinful use of our tongues that causes conflict. But the tongue is only the instrument. The real problem is the heart, for Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) It is because of pride, anger, jealousy, and the like in our hearts that we speak cutting and hurtful words to one another. And it is because we nurse hurts from other people and harbor resentment in our hearts that we engage in verbal conflict.

To become peacemakers, then, we must begin with our selves. We must ask ourselves, “Why do I make cutting remarks to another person? …What causes my resentment toward that person? or “Why do I continue to nurse hurts by that person instead of forgiving them?”

I could go on…it’s Jerry Bridges and he was truly one of my favorite authors. I’m so thankful for his ministry of teaching via writing.

Sermon on the Mount by Jen Wilkin is an inductive Bible Study that covers the Beatitudes. Like all of her studies, it has been excellent. If you’ve never done an inductive Bible Study, this is a great place to start.

Jen defines a meek person as “enduring injury with patience and without resentment” …and as “someone who is not occupied with self at all, someone who does not insist on a set of rights.”

Highly recommend. In fact, I’m doing this with my teen girls this fall.

What books are you reading right now? Let me know in the comments.

Links you might enjoy:

Gossip Says More About Me via Desiring God.

Community Requires Vulnerability via Christine @ Grace Covers Me

The Ministry of Your Everyday Normal by We Are That Family

Blessed Weakness by Lydia Brownback


I’m in the thick of choosing paint colors for several rooms in my house. We’re beginning repairs soon, and I have to have my ducks in a row for the builder. I’ve been on Pinterest searching for a great greige color. If any of you has found a warmish greige color that you really love, let me know the color in the comments or on FB. Thanks. :)

Well, that’s about it. I hope you have a GREAT weekend.

*Post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting JoyFilled Days.


A Word About Enforcing Obedience

The human heart pulses with the desire for self-rule.

Every fiber of our natural being is bent toward autonomy and self-sovereignty. We don’t naturally want to bow to the Lordship of Christ, and even after we’ve trusted Christ, our old selfish nature fights against God’s new standard for us: submission to Him.

Truthfully, the flesh hates to submit to anyone. We get really uppity when our will is crossed or people question us. I don’t like it when Peter questions why I keep the water bottles in this drawer or why I don’t crush my boxes before I put them into the trash bin. When he tells me that I should use this curriculum instead of that one {the one that I researched for a gazillion hours and where were you again during that process??} I can feel that old self, that defensive self, rising up claiming its right to rule the world, and I have to force it back down under the rule of Christ.

 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

The rubber meets the road in the oddest places and over the smallest issues sometimes, doesn’t it? Water bottles, recycling, and curriculum?

Even in small matters, God’s will must super-cede our whims and wishes. God wills that I submit to others in areas of preference, and He wills that I submit to my gentle husband.

And unless we choose to bow to God’s will in the small, insignificant moments, taking drastic measures to cut out selfishness and self-seeking– measures that include repentance and turning from the wrong way into the path of obedience,

and unless the grace of God shines in and prompts us towards a serious pursuit of humility,

we’re going to fumble and fight our way through this life, hurting people, sacrificing relationships on the alter of our own ego, burning bridges, cutting off those who cross us, and elbowing our way to our perceived top.


So every morning, my job is to de-throne Sarah and re-throne Christ to His rightful place, as Master and Lord. This is seriously hard business.

SO, where am I going with this?

Well, I often talk to frustrated mothers who are dealing with disobedient children, and they can’t seem to see that their sweet child is struggling with the same old temptation we all face: the submission issue. The child wants what the child wants. End of story.

And honestly, the mother is not dealing with this situation well. They’ve gotten into a battle of the wills and the child is driving her crazy and she resents all the TIME it takes to parent this out-of-control child. She’s frustrated, so she takes action. Nobody will accuse her of being a passive mom. She’s armed with Ephesians 6:1 and she uses it like a boss. She sets out to enforce first time obedience and nobody better cross her. She uses threats or promises to control the child’s behavior. She begins to expect outward compliance. She uses punishments and rewards to get a desired behavior. Her moods are all over the place. She snaps in an effort to control. She yells.

Obedience has become the end-all and she’s ruled by that desire.  And this is where it all goes terribly wrong.

To be clear, the desire for kids to obey is a good desire, but it’s not the ultimate goal and it’s abusive to use ungodly methods to get your child there.

In fact, dear mom, more important than your child obeying you is YOU OBEYING CHRIST. Your authority only comes from Him and He has put you in this place to represent Him.

You are His ambassador and your authority has boundaries. You can’t rule any old way you’d like to. You’ll answer to God for your treatment of His kids.

Your authority must be reflective. It MUST reflect Christ. It should bring the child face to face with the Father’s character. It should hold the child’s hand and say, “I’m dealing with you this way because this is how God is.” “God says we all must obey His word, and this behavior is not in His will for you. We can’t bite and hit and hurt others. We must be kind.”

So when mom is not under the authority of Christ and is ruling like a CRAZY–

You are portraying a false image of Christ to your child and undermining all that you are setting out to do. You’re marring the image of Christ and portraying Him as a moody, silent, manipulative, angry, frustrated, or exasperated taskmaster. And you’re harming your child’s soul. (hardening it as well.)

I know parenting is hard. I know it is. But we make it harder when we don’t submit to God’s will for our life  because we’re locked and loaded on one aspect of our kid’s life. 

There’s a lot about training kids online, but if we would just submit ourselves to Christ, our authority issues won’t become central. No, showing your child Christ becomes central.

If you’ve asked your kids to obey for all the wrong reasons, or if your heart’s motivation was all wrong–GO AND TELL THEM and ask them to forgive you. Tell them that you have an authority problem–a problem as old as Eve– and you’ve used that authority in ways that displeases and misrepresents God. Tell them that yelling, manipulating, and the silent treatment are all just adult selfishness and sin.

And tell them that you are working on trying to be a mother that obeys God just as much as they are working to try to obey you, for Christ’s sake.  Tell them that we are all under the authority of the Word of God and none of us can live the way we want.

Then repent of your wrong reasons for enforcing discipline in the home and remember that your number one job as mothers is to teach our kids to glorify and honor God’s Word and to point them to God by reflecting His nature.

Life is simpler when we follow Christ first. Only then can we lead our kids to Christ.



A few ways that mid-life is better than being 20-something.

We live in a culture that worships youth and all that goes with it. Advertisers daily remind me that I need anti-aging creams and miracle fixes to make my middle age wrinkles re-wind the clock and bring me back to a better time and look.

And although I do have a few aches and pains that I didn’t have five years ago, there are aspects of mid-life that have given me perspective that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Mid-life has been surprising, I’ll admit. We took in a 2 year old foster boy the same year our oldest daughter got engaged to be married. That’s something I never would have predicted.

Still, there are aspects of mid-life that are better than when we were young, and I thought it would be fun to share that today.


Personally & Spiritually::

When you are 40 something, you know who you are. You know your limitations and quirks. You know what you believe and why. Experience is your friend and time has been your teacher. This gives you wisdom to know what is worth pursuing and what is a waste of your time. You know when to walk away from a toxic relationship and you feel freedom to do it and you know when a toxic relationship is redeemable. You value time and relationships and realize that life is short and people are where you should invest. Money, fame, health, power all fade. Love stands forever. You know and appreciate that people come from all different places and that we respect other people not because they deserve it or not, but because we are respectable. You understand the love of God more each year and it causes you to grow in humility and compassion, thankfulness, and dependence.


Mid-life motherhood means raising teens and adults and there’s a fundamental shift in the relationship. It’s easy to think of toddlers as your babies, but teens are full-fledged people with likes and dislikes and hearts that struggle with fear, people pleasing, idolatry, and sin in general just like their mother and father. Mid-life mothering is more friendship/discipleship based and it’s wonderful. My adult kids are truly such wonderful friends. And as much as I can guide and encourage them to follow hard after God, I have to remember that God wants this more than I do and He is able to shape them, convict them, teach them, correct them and love them when they go the wrong way or love the wrong things too much.

You sleep less because you’re up watching late night movies, or waiting for them to get home for curfew. And sleep evades you because teen problems are bigger than potty training and tantrums. Late night thoughts remind you that you were not the perfect parent and that all of your sincerest attempts were woefully short and your motives were often askew at best and sinful at worst and you beg God to be the Father and Mother that you wish you could have been and you learn to pray for your children like never before.


Mid-life friendships are the sweetest. You’re mature enough to appreciate other people’s gifts and talents without being threatened by them. You are realistic in your expectations and you have grown up enough to know that life is not all about you and you stop taking everything personally. You know that anything someone does or says is a reflection on them alone, not you, and you just worry about yourself.

You aren’t as needy as you were in your 20’s so you don’t expect your friends to fulfill you, be there all the time for you, or never let you down. You’re not jealous when friends get together without you {GASP} because you know that life happens and time is precious and you want good things for your friends by this point. You believe they want good things for you, too. You know that even the best people will fail you and that this is why grace in your interactions is the only way for relationships to thrive.  We don’t have time for drama, and we don’t mind walking away from it. We know who we are, we have nothing to prove, and it makes us much more comfortable to be with. We prioritize our time to be with women who make walking with God a priority as well.


Mid-life hospitality is more comfortable and focused. It’s less about entertaining than ever, although I love sharing a great cheese platter or simple appetizer.  Life is busy, so any chance to minister “in house” is always welcome. Come by. If my hair is a mess, I’ll let you in and pour you some tea. If I’m making dinner, I’ll hand you a knife and you can peel my cucumbers with me. I’ll listen as you talk about life and struggles and I’ll pray with you over store-bought cookies. I’ll offer advice when I’m asked, but my goal is to encourage you, not fix you. We can both admit our faults and thank God that He’s patient with both of us and in control of our lives and have a wonderful time resting in that knowledge.


Mid-life ministry is easier because there’s less trying to do everything and more listening to what God wants you to do in the first place. You value your time in the Word like never before and you read to know God, not simply to know the facts or to be a wealth of information. You value the amazing and forgotten ministry of prayer because you realize that God does answer and that intercession is one of the kindest gifts you can give another person.

There’s more humility which means fewer people problems. You realize that all ministry is God’s work and He doesn’t care so much what I do but how I do it.  He cares about how you treat His sheep.  My main job in ministry is to be an example of a woman who fears the Lord, and this will open up more opportunities to serve than I could ever handle. There’s a sense that every ministry trial is a test of my obedience and humility before God and really, nothing else matters.

Mid-life has also afforded me more opportunities to write and speak, but I can take them or leave them. I don’t look to them for validation and I don’t need people to look to me, answer to me, or respect me at all.

Ministry life is about service and loving one another. When problem people arise, I try to understand what makes them tick and help them get busy doing something that makes them feel valued. When people fail you in the church, you realize that no matter who they are, they are responsible for their sin and it’s not a reflection on you even if they are antagonistic, accusatory, odd, unkind, or territorial with you. They own their sin–you own your responses. When you are satisfied in Christ, it doesn’t matter what your job is. You’re working for Him and you’ll always have Him. You have everything you need for your happiness and holiness.


I’d love to hear what you’ve learned as you’ve aged. Feel free to tell me in the comments or on FB.

Thanks for coming by, friends. I appreciate you.