Our Own Little Staircase to Heaven

Our nine year-old son, was in the laundry room with me last night helping me fold clothes. He looked at all the baskets of his siblings.

“Are these baskets ever empty, mama?”

“Nope. Every morning we wake up and more clothes go in them.”

“But one day, after we move out, the baskets will be empty.”

Time seemed to freeze as he finished his sentence. How is it that this young child just saw that? That image of empty baskets and children moved out and on their own? And doesn’t a mama of young ones just need that reminder all too often? That the baskets aren’t always going to be full. That the dirty laundry and the nitty-gritty, hard to get out dirt that comes with parenting- the kind that needs washed from the heart… It is all part of a grand blessing. 

He continued folding. We joked he could bring me home his laundry .

Come bed time our younger son, for whatever reason, felt led to put a shoe on every step. Let it be known that normally my rule is, if I put your shoes on the steps, they need to go up to your room when you go upstairs. And yet- one shoe rested on each step in a way that I have never seen.

I took a picture of it. It was a dark picture as it was night time. But later I adjusted the light.

Sometimes we just need more light to see

The beauty of a shoe on every step. 

Yep-  Our own little staircase to heaven can be seen in the staircase that is our children.


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Connecting in the Mess

I wanted to share on something that occurred to me this morning when I was tired and in our kitchen with our little ones who were far from tired. They wanted breakfast. “What can we make?” Our six year old asked.

Make… Ugh… They want to make something. I just woke up people. And the last thing I did before going to bed was clean this kitchen. And here we are again. In the kitchen. That is actually clean and what do you want to do? Make something… Oh yes- you will make something. You will make a mess and my day will start as another mess being cleaned. Can’t I just give them cereal? Hand them a bowl. Eat it. Move on. You’ll be fed. Kitchen stays clean. And…
Baby boy is pushing his little stool over. They are already pulling out bowls and a pancake box, peeling over ripe bananas and getting out the recipe for banana bread… Handing out mixers… They are so ready to make something.

They want to make something…

My mind went back to the lesson I taught in Kid Zone yesterday. How when we pray we connect with God.

We connect. God wants us to pray – not just to meet our need- but to connect with us.

And there I was with these kids and their need for breakfast. But it dawned on me- that food wasn’t the only need. The need to connect was the bigger need.

And I was fighting myself then in that moment. Because the tired body I was in was not blind to the flour that was getting everywhere. And the many bowls and measuring cups and spoons that would need washed. Big sister then turned on the griddle. I went to pour oil on it and I poured way too much. It poured out over the edge and puddled… Another mess…

“Connecting. Connecting. God help me to see we aren’t just making breakfast, we are making a connection.”

That was my prayer to God and my tired self.

And I was reminded that God understands the struggle. (Isn’t that an awesome thought?) God knew he was going to have to take on all our messes in order to connect with us. Our God is the God who came in the flesh to connect with us in our mess. To connect.

For my friends who are parents and grandparents of little ones- when you are caught up in the mess, tired and struggling, I pray this post will help you remember, you are making something- you are making a connection. Connecting. Connecting.

Connecting in the mess.


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“This is one of those moments”

I am not going to be able to put into words what all is on my heart about the pictures I am about to share.

Our little girl and I (and our youngest son who was asleep in his stroller) picked out some things from a church sale today. We filled up our bag and before leaving she noticed one book that she really wanted. I had already paid but went ahead and took out one more dollar for the little book in her hand. She smiled, paid and got her change.

I told her we should put the items in our van before meeting my mom and the rest of our crew for the other activities. She happily bounced along my side with her book in hand.

We walked on a sidewalk through the church grounds and came near a little bench. It looked more decorative than anything else, not really a bench you would stop to sit on, especially not in the middle of your agenda. But she rushed ahead of me and hopped right over on to that bench. She said to me “Sit mama. This is a good place to read.”

I was going to to tell her to come along. This wasn’t really part of my agenda. My mom and the other children were already starting lunch and we needed to get to them. But then I began to feel in my spirit a gentle pushing towards that bench and it dawned on me- the words coming as one simple thought: “This is one of those moments.”

Everyday we are given so many moments. So many things to do. It is so easy to miss the God moments for our moments. I do it all the time. I didn’t want to miss another. I walked over to her. I sat down on that flower bed bench in the middle of the church grounds. Baby boy still asleep in his stroller. I looked at our little girl who smiled and said words I cannot shake, “There is a time to read. There is a time to rest.”

Yes, in the middle of all the busyness this little girl was able to sense it- the time to rest. How often do I miss that!

We sat there reading about the runaway bunny and I saw myself in that story- the seasons of my life when I ran away from God, only to have him find me still. I became a fish headed out to sea. He became the fisherman. I became the free bird. He became the tree I came home to. And still- still I runaway so much- on my own agendas.

Earlier this week I rush off somewhat grumpy to the grocery store. He found me in the parking lot- I felt his spirit in the man loading up my groceries singing “My cup runneth over.”

We rush so much, run so much and yet he finds us.

His word is always available to read.
Many times it is read through places and faces and not just words on a page.

His rest is always available to receive.
And it is found in the most unlikely of places- like random benches in flower beds.

I pray for whoever reads this- that when those moments come, you feel it in your spirit. “This is one of those moments.” May you hear in your spirit those words. There is a time to read. There is a time to rest. There is a time to be found. May you experience all those wonderful times as I did today reading with a little girl who could sénse the time better than I.






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Monday is Coming

G.K. Chesterton penned down the words, “…God is strong enough to exult in monotony.”

I often find myself thinking about those words… Especially on Sunday nights. Why? Because Monday is coming. Monotony is coming. Waking up every morning for the next five days to (inner-cringe at these words) lists of tasks needing to be done (even bigger inner-cringe at this thought) in an allotted amount of time…

Oh… You can ask my hubby… The whole idea of a “schedule” is like a needle to my free floating happy balloon.

And then I think of that quote… About God “exulting” in monotony… That is inspiring. Truly, the entire universe is all operating in incredible monotony, sunrise after sunrise appearing in glorious light. And it makes me consider that yes- it is possible to exult in monotony. To shine every single day and to shine (yet another cringe for this late night mama)- in the morning.

(I know some of you morning people have no idea what that was cringe was for.)

It is possible to shine every day and to exult in the monotony.

But for me, that it is going to take the Spirit of God, no doubt. Perhaps for you too.

I pray that you and I get excited about this next week. That, like a child being thrown up into the air by his father’s arms, we begin to feel the arms of God helping lift us up out of our beds every morning- tossing us up and out into the tasks ahead of us- even those things that seem so out of our own reach and ability.

“Again! Again!” May we be able to have that kind of child-like joy for tomorrow as we lay our heads to sleep tonight.

Yes, Monday is coming. Monotony is coming. And the spirit of God in-dwelling in you makes YOU strong enough to exult in the monotony ahead. Shine bright friends.


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“Here Mom” – Handing the temptation over

2015/03/img_4677.jpgTonight while all the other children were in their beds our seven year-old son came down to the kitchen. I was busy loading up freezer bags with chicken and various marinades. He stood next to me and helped me by handing me spices and sauces. We talked for sometime. Soon enough all the bags were ready to place in the freezer. I began placing them all in one by one. And then something unexpected happened. Our son came to my side as I knelt there placing another bag. He then said, “Here mom,” and he handed me these three little pieces of chocolate that must have been left from their Valentine’s Day candy. They were freezing cold so I knew he had to have seen them and then grabbed them out of the freezer while I was not aware. I looked at him and told him, “I can’t eat them.” (I have a soy sensitivity and most chocolate has soy letchin.)

What he said next surprised me, “No, I was going to sin, but I am handing them back to you.” I was speechless at first, just staring at the three little chocolates. He could have easily gotten away with it. I had no idea he had taken the chocolates. I then smiled and said, “I am proud of you. A weaker man would have given in.” To that he smiled back and said, “It is really hard not to sin when it is chocolate.” (Don’t I know it brother.)

I share all this tonight because his actions reminded me of something I had on my heart earlier to share. God’s power in a person’s life is not only seen in the way he can turn a sinful life around. His power is also seen in the way he can empower a person to live a life that turns from sin.

If you are struggling with an addiction tonight- I want you to know I am praying for you and thanking God for you. May you be filled with the power of God. May you be able to turn from that temptation and place the addiction in the Father’s hands. May the grace of God empower you to do just that. Lay it down. Walk away stronger. Be in bondage to nothing. That is truly a sweet, sweet thing.

If you are NOT struggling with an addiction tonight- know I am also praying for you and thanking God for you. May you continue to have the strength to resist temptation. May the grace of God empower you to do just that. In a world full of temptations, may you continue to hold tight to your convictions. Know I am proud of you and in awe at you… Because it is not easy. But by the grace of God it is possible.

Thank you Heavenly Father for your empowering grace.


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I don’t want to forget

Our baby girl turns four tomorrow. I took her and the baby and our five year-old daughter with me to go grocery shopping today.

Shopping with little ones is rarely easy.

At one point when the baby was crying and the girls were being silly in the aisle a kind, older mom looked at me and said, “They are going to get older. My oldest is now nineteen. They will get older and you won’t even remember this.”

Words from a survivor.

We got to the checkout. Baby girl tried to help load the groceries up on the checkout belt and dropped a glass jar of pasta sauce. It broke all over the floor and puddled under the grocery “car” that no one wanted to ride in after about twenty minutes.

I was tired and a bit frazzled even though you would think I was a pro at this by now. We checked out. I breathed a sigh of relief as I put our van into drive.

The woman’s words came back to mind… “You won’t even remember this.”

You know, I can almost guarantee her words were supposed to be an encouragement to me- the light at the end of the tunnel kind of thing. But driving home, her words began to shake me up in a way that hasn’t quite gone away because as crazy and frustrating as this parenting thing can be at times, I don’t want to forget.

I don’t want to forget how our baby boy kept pulling me close for hugs as I tried to checkout. Over and over again he pulled at my shirt and my purse and he would lean his little head up against my chest and just rest there. And I don’t want to forget that.

I don’t want to forget how our little girl whispered to the cashier and bagger, “Tomorrow is my birthday.” How she then pulled me close to whisper in my ear, “I want them to say Happy Birthday to me.”

There is so much that I just don’t want to forget.

Because it isn’t about getting to the end of the tunnel. It’s about the little lights that are IN the tunnel.

So here I am writing again because I don’t want to forget the little lights nor the darkness that made the lights shine all the brighter.


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After the Steam

I woke up earlier than usual this morning, determined to get a head start on the day. Didn’t expect to start my day with this. And what is it? At first glance, it is the obvious, a fogged up mirror where steam has revealed all the smudges and writings left by little hands writing messages after their shower on the perfect canvas they saw. But this foggy, smudged up mirror reminded me this morning of a verse from 1 Corinthians: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Sometimes our actions in “steamy” moments write messages that we don’t even realize we are writing. Our raw emotions cause us to act so far off from the person God created us and knows us to be. In those moments, this Christ-like image that we are supposed to have, it becomes foggy, messy… Marked. Those who are around us lose sight of Christ in us, and to get down to the heart of it, so do we. It’s hard to look yourself in the mirror after you know you acted out or spoke out in ways so far from who you truly are. You lose sight of yourself. You start to just see steam, messiness… Marks. But friend, this morning as I looked closely at that mirror I saw clearly one message circled by a little hand, “A+.” It had been written over yesterday’s message, “God’s love.”

(Those little hands had no idea how God was going to use these markings to touch my heart. Friends, you have no idea how the little things you do can touch a person’s heart.)

Looking in that mirror, I could not see myself. In the steam all I could see was God and “A+.” That is what God’s love does. When we smudge our image and the image of Christ, Jesus takes his hands, the same hands that were nailed to a cross for moments just like these… Jesus hears that heart cry for forgiveness, and he answers it. In our brokenness and in the aftermath of the steam, Jesus writes two words over top our image: “God’s love.” And then, incredibly, he writes “A+.” That is forgiveness.

One day we will see God in his fullness. We will see ourselves in our fullness. But for know I pray we can catch an image of how God sees us and others after the steamy moments have passed and our hearts are made clean by confession. And I share this picture because something tells me that image looks a whole lot like a fogged up, smudge up mirror with the words “God’s love” and “A+.”

Confess. Repent. Ask and receive forgiveness. See that you aren’t a smudged up, steamy mess. You are a son or daughter of God, loved, forgiven and atoned for. God’s love writes your grade. He gives to you the full credit that Jesus, the perfect canvas, earned. Child, your grade is his grade. And that grade, incredibly, after all the steam and smudges, was written as “A+.” May you know that today should you be struggling with the image in the mirror.


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