Mama, You Need an Undivided Heart


No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Matthew 6: 24

We live in a time in history when culture tries to convince us that we can do it all---but each of us only has one life to invest in what matters. Each of us is limited in the amount of time we can use to invest in the priorities of our lives.

Choices have consequences. What a man sows he will reap--the way one invests  time, money, mind, heart and energy will indeed have long term consequences.

Excellence of character must be intentionally developed. Moral foundations take hundreds of hours of teaching and modeling to cultivate. Pouring into the souls of our children, developing sharp minds, protecting them from the draw of culture, passing on faith--these things do not come about by chance. God will hold us responsible for the ways we used our lives to cultivate these attributes in the lives of our children.

I do not think there is one formula in regards to accomplishing these things, and all of us have different pressures, issues, puzzles to figure out in regards to motherhood. But we cannot foster a divided heart within ourselves and be able to truly pass on a legacy of righteousness. Our heart must be devoted to the stewardship of the lives that have been trusted into our hands. We cannot serve the world and God's purposes.

The reality is we can only serve one master and God does not put up with idols or competition to see who will win, in our lives or in the lives of our children or ministry or church. Obedience is simple and straightforward, and not a matter of opinion.

He allows us free rein, the ability to ignore and go against Biblical logic and wisdom, but we will usually be left to live with the consequences of unwise and poor choices.

After all these years of mothering as well as watching other families, I have seen that if children do not find stability, love, training, spiritual reality, purpose,  and comfort in their own homes, they will look for them wherever they can find them, and become like the place they spend the most time and the people they spend the most time with, because they are shaped by the culture in which they invest their hearts.

What do your children find, when they look for home in your heart?





Training Children to Virtuous Character & Podcast

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"But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity."

Psalm 9: 7-8

Passing each other in the kitchen with mugs of coffee, crazy sleep hair, pajama'd and groggy, I kissed my daughter and whispered good morning and headed toward my front porch for a few moments of quiet as I began my day. Just before I left the room, I was prompted to ask her, "How are you, sweetness? Is anything on your mind this morning?"

Sometimes the most normal moments and mundane of places become holy when God shows up.

Though just 30 years old, my daughter had walked in wisdom for such a long time.

"I feel like God always has me in boot camp--basic training for war! It would be great to have an easy season in my life for just a little while," she said, as she sipped her coffee. "But, you know, mom, I have decided in my heart, that no matter what comes my way, I want to keep trusting God, keep seeking to show His light, keep loving when it is difficult, keep strong when tempted to be weak."

"I want  to be one of those people who Jesus says, 'You were one of my most vibrant, powerful warriors for the kingdom, because you always sought to be holy and you never gave up!' So, mom, I will stay in boot camp and God's training as long as He has me here because I want to be faithful and love Him until I see Him face to face."

Wow! What an unexpected but powerful message greeted me so early in my morning. But how grateful I was to hear from her own heart that my daughter understood that to live holy and righteous and strong in love is a battle and requires training. When we learn to accept the limitations of the place that God has us with faith and submission, we will learn to see His purposes and experience a depth of His love anew. His love is so profound that he does not want us to stay limited in our lives but to learn to trust Him and find freedom, strength in His training and deep satisfaction in life as we walk with Him. A a loving parent, He wants what is best for us--He wants us to grow strong and beautiful.

God has us in "training grounds" because He desires us to become like Jesus--holy, strong, bold, and righteous. Training and discipling us to become like him is a long term process. But in order for us to experience His profound love, we have to submit to His profound plans for our lives.

Good soldiers learn to submit to their leaders, the authorities over them, their officers, to lead them well. So, as we are warriors for Christ, we must learn to submit to His ways, to seek to be as godly as we know how, to learn the ways of righteousness, so that we can become strong ambassadors and workers for His kingdom.

My daughter has not had an easy life, but because she has walked her years trusting God, she is mature beyond her age and in so many ways exhibits His light and beauty powerfully through her life.

Each of us must choose His ways, submit to His will, so that we can truly become stronger in understanding that His love for us requires that He will train us for growth. God does not want us to just be shallow and happy--getting our own way at every juncture. He wants us to learn the depth of His wisdom and to learn the way of contentment and peace.

Passing on the Gift of A Living Faith & Podcast


"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

Luke 1:45

The primary point of parenting, from God's point of view, is to pass on a legacy of faith. We are to teach our children to look at life through the lens of pleasing and obeying God and passing on His messages. 

I love the story of Mary. A mother, like me, she modeled the acceptance of God's choice to make her the mother of his son and lived in worship, faithfulness and obedience the rest of her life. 

When we read about her in Luke, we see that she not only exhibited faith by being obedient to what the angel required of her, but she was also a woman of the word and lived by the truth that she had learned by hearing scripture her whole life. The magnificat that she spoke tells us of her knowledge of the word of God from the Old Testament which was what gave her ability to live by faith in His call on her life.

As women, faith exhibited in and through our lives is what will make the reality of God seem real as we live our lives in front of others. Think of how faith was worked out through out the Bible. 

If the risk that faith requires had not been taken, there would be no Jewish Nation, the same way we know of it.

Abraham had to go out, not knowing where he was going and then

he had to be willing to sacrifice his son on the altar.

Mankind could have been decimated if Noah hadn't listened and obeyed.

Noah had to build an ark, against much ridicule, and collect animals, against ridicule.

The Jews might still be slaves.

  By faith, Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

He was willing to take millions of men, women and children, into the Red Sea with an Egyptian Army racing at his back.

Jericho may have won the battle.

Without David's slingshot, the Philistines would have won the battle.

Without Mary's heart saying, Be it done to me according to your will, we would have no heroine of motherhood to follow.

She had to move to a foreign country for two years, the most hated country of her nation,

Move to a whole new town, live with a perfect son,

Watch him die on the cross and live by faith through it all.

Battles would not have been won, heroes would not have been made,

Mother Theresa would not have ventured to India to show compassion to thousands. 

Amy Carmichael would not have retrieved girls from prostitution.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer would not have written The Cost of Discipleship in prison.

Children would not be trained and educated at their mother's knee.

Marriages would have ended.

Ministries would not have been established.

When God's spirit is alive within us, HE compels us to take ground back for the Kingdom of God.

God's spirit drives us to redeem.

He motivates us to give generous love and to work unto sacrifice that others might be reach with the kingdom messages.

In short, when the people of God are moved by faith, to do His works on earth during their short lives,

The whole world is turned upside down, by normal people who serve a transcendent, omnipotent  God.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

When people become passive and fearful, there is no power or mystery of the Kingdom of God sweeping over the world with life and healing.

What is God whispering in your heart today, to accomplish by faith in Him?

Faith requires a listening heart. God is so willing to use normal people--who are listening and willing to obey.

How are you being responsive to Him today to live a life of faith?

It cost Jesus His life to redeem the world, but because of His sacrifice, the battle has been won.

What risk are you willing to take, by faith, to venture to live a story that others will tell for generations to come?

 Read the stories of my life and how I discipled my children, following the lead of Christ.

Read the stories of my life and how I discipled my children, following the lead of Christ.

You Are Loved, No Matter What!

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God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.

We named our younger daughter Joy, and she ended up living up to her name. To our family she is a total joy. Perhaps because I never thought I would have a child again, I did not mind the sleepless nights, her cries, or her baby needs quite as much as I did as a younger mom.

Joy moved from a crib to a real bed when she was about two and a half years old. Often, at the crack of dawn she would climb next to me in my bed, squeezing and snuggling tightly against my body. After settling in, she would fall back asleep for a while longer.

Her feather-soft hair would tickle my cheek, and her warm pudgy body, soft to my skin, was a delight to me as I wrapped my arms around this tiny gift and held her tight.

“Mama,” she said thoughtfully early one morning, “this is where I most belong, as close as I can get to you, because I can feel your love better when I am closer.”

Then a smile crept across her little face as she breathed out a sigh and settled into a few more minutes of “love.”

Because Joy was my beloved, prayed-for little girl, I loved having her next to me. I cherished the times I still had a little girl who wanted to be so near me, one who would trust me utterly. As her parent, I was so thankful she wanted to be near her mama. When she crawled into my bed and cuddled next to me, I was filled with happiness and appreciation of the gift she was to me. I loved it that she loved me! It didn’t matter what she had done the day before—

if she had cried a lot

or broken a mug full of juice

or fought with her brother

or disobeyed me

She did not have to promise to be more mature, or confess her faults, or stay away because of having a bad day the day before.

At any time, she could just snuggle up next to me, because as my daughter, she belonged there! I delighted having her near me. She was my own little girl. I loved her with my whole heart, and I loved knowing that she wanted to be close to me and that she depended on me for her security, protection, comfort, and love.

My love for her had nothing to do with her performance. My love was committed, solid, and constant because she was my beloved one.

This is a human picture of God’s parent love for us. The very nature of God is to love. He can do nothing else. His love defines Him, so His love for us is settled forever and cannot be changed.

Of course, we will never come close to the perfection or holiness of God. We are selfish most every day! We often say things that are harsh, do petty things, and act in a stingy or angry way. Yet still He loves us and wants us to be close to Him! It is almost impossible to believe that He could love us even when we are not loving to Him.

In the same way that I did not expect Joy to behave like an adult but accepted her limitations as a normal little toddler, so God is mindful of our own limitations and yet still loves us.

God sees us as toddlers, so to speak. Understanding our fragility, our humanness, He responds to us as I responded to Joy. He is mature even when we are not. He is constant in His love toward us, His commitment, His care for our needs, and His compassion for our heart’s cry. As our heavenly Father, no matter what we do or how we fail Him, He is the constant one, the responsible one. He knows our frame—that we are weak, immature, and imperfect, but He doesn’t require us to perform before we come close. He just wants our heart to trust Him, and He wants us to depend on Him as our loving Father.

When we come to Him as a child—innocent, dependent, trusting, and humble—He welcomes us into the place right next to His heart.

Do you know how much God truly loves you? I pray today this truth washes over your heart.

Giving Our Children the Gift of Being Inspired & Podcast


"Our chief want is someone who would inspire us to be what we know we could be."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Giving our children the gift of an inspired heart, mind and soul teaches them to dream about how God will use them in their lifetime. 

Part of our purpose as moms is to inspire our children.

This month, I have loved having my adult children in and out. Sarah had long talks with me on the porch about what is burning in her heart to share from her studies and readings while charming baby Lily When Nathan was home, he and his friends,  gathered around our piano and played guitar and wiled the evening away singing and making music together. They inspired me with their conversation about bringing story alive through movies.

Joel and Joy have both cooked great meals for us in the past couple of weeks. We have celebrated life with a many dimensional flare: food, outdoor firelight talks, music, listening to stories together, movies, sitting outside and watching it rain, gazing at the starry dark Colorado nights, going on hikes. I have been deeply inspired myself just listening to all of these as they engage in conversation about how they want to use their lives to bring inspiring, light-filled messages to their world, to write, sing, create movies, pursue projects by using their imagination and agency to create these works of life. 

I have realized again that as parents and women in ministry, we have a call to inspire others to live into their God-given potential and to live out the story they were created to tell. How are you building this into the moments of your own life?

"As mothers and fathers, it is so easy to get distracted by the details of our lives. We have so much to do! We must feed our children and take care of their health. We must oversee their education and their training to make sure they will be able to take care of themselves and live in a civilized society. We train them in righteousness so they may understand how God wants them to live. We try to relate to them in mature ways and help them learn to have healthy relationships.

Yet often, I think, we get lost in these mulitudinous tasks that rule our lives, and we lose sight of the underlying purpose behind all those tasks, which is to prepare our children to go into the world and make disciples for our Lord.

Each of our children has been given a specific personality and a particular set of circumstances that will give shape to God's purposes for his or her life. It is our privilege and responsibility as parents to help our children understand their particular fit in God's plan. This means pointing out special skills and talents. It also means helping children realize that God didn't give them such skills and talents just to use on themselves, but to glorify him and bring others to Him through the stewardship of their lives. In other words, we are to help them see themselves and their potential and then to inspire them for God's purposes:

Joel, you are so musical. Maybe you will write great music that will encourage others to worship God and want to know Him!"

Joy, you are so compassionate. I love the sweet cards you make! I can see the Lord using you to comfort and encourage many lonely or hurting people."

This quote and more about the gift of inspiration are in my book, The Ministry of Motherhood.

When our days are busy and so many demands on our time cry out for attention, it can be easy to start seeing our children as if they are projects to be perfected; always needing more correction, more training, and more and more work. After awhile, that sort of focus leads to resentment on both sides. Over many years of mothering, I've learned that reminding my children of the things they do well and encouraging them to bless someone else can do more to turn a negative attitude, a really bad day, or a hopeless cause completely around than the longest, most eloquent lecture I could have mustered.

I think that's a pretty good job description for a mom, don't you?!

Giving Our Children the Gift of Grace


Dear Lord, So far I've done all right. I haven't gossipped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm really glad about that.

But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed. And from then on, I'm going to need a lot more help."

Ever felt like praying this prayer? I have! A candle, cup of tea and my Bible get me started off right. I've laid my burdens at Jesus' feet. I've read His words and they have ministered to my heart. I've worshiped Him. I have asked Him to change me, to help me grow, to bless my family and lead them. I'm sure it's going to be a wonderful day, and all is well with the world.

And then I get out of the chair.

And sometimes, it feels as if all is downhill from there!

Wouldn't motherhood, wifehood, even Christianity be much easier ... if there weren't any other people involved? But I suppose then we have the problem alluded to in that scene from It's a Wonderful Life, when the family's help says, "That (the noise happening upstairs) is why all children should be girls!" and then the elder Mrs. Bailey says, "But if they were all girls--oh, never mind!"

God loves relationships. He, Himself, exists as a relationship--Father, Son and Spirit, three in One--a mystery we can't wrap our minds around. We bear His image, and part of that is this need we have for relationships; to know and be known, to love well, to draw strength and learn from one another. Yet relationships are not easy. Sinful people, living together in a broken world, sometimes hurt one another. We misunderstand and are misunderstood. We struggle with pride and envy, greed and deceit. So do those around us--and our children are no exception.

We need God's grace.

"Giving the gift of grace to our children is actually a two-part process. First, we need to help our children receive grace. We do this both by extending grace to them and by teaching them about God's grace through salvation. After that, by our teaching and example, we must train our children to give grace to others in turn.

Jesus summed up this two-part process when He was asked to name the greatest commandment. He said we are first to love the Lord God with all our hearts (receiving grace) and then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (giving grace). This commandment, therefore, sums up the first gift we can give to our children--the desire and ability to understand and receive the grace of God and to give it to the rest of the world.

Understanding the importance of the gift of grace has really helped me respond to the daily dilemmas and frustrations of life in a household of four children. As we go through our days, for instance, I try to be mindful that, to God, relationships are always a top priority. I try to think of ways I can model for my children the redemptive grace and love of Jesus--and also influence them to extend grace to others through their actions and their attitudes." ~ The Ministry of Motherhood

We will always be pressed by our relationships. My prayer is that they press us all closer to the heart of God, Who loves to extend His grace to us, and teaches us through His example to do the same.

 Jesus examples to us to influence our own. 

Jesus examples to us to influence our own. 

Be sure to get your copy of Ministry of Motherhood where you will find this story and so many more with practical ideas of how to disciple your children as Christ did 

I hope you will join Joy, my daughter,  and me today on my podcast as we talk about how grace was given through the moments of our family life together. 

The World Needs Gatekeeping Mamas

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“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36


This is the vision I see: If mothers rise to be gatekeepers, making their homes places of excellence, cultivating love for each other as well as reverence and worship of God, spending personal time teaching and discipling their children, serving them through this training and nurture and giving up of her own time, there will be hope. 

When mothers abandon this great and important responsibility, there is a greater tendency for children to become the kind of adults who can be self-centered and self-serving; who can overlook unrighteousness without any pang of conscience—because that conscience has never been developed. They become the kind of adults who can passively let others take responsibility for our government and country--to accept and validate those who would promise the moon even though the moon isn’t available in reality.

For this gatekeeping to occur there must be hundreds—thousands—of dinners made, laundry loads run, backs scratched and cookies baked. There must be watercolor projects and messes, hikes and games of hide and seek, money spent on wonderful life-giving books and concerts and the theatre. Time spent ministering to our children is time well spent, because that investment grants us the door to their hearts. When their hearts are soft to us because we have ministered to their needs, their minds will also be softened to hear our values, our convictions, and our guidance.

Moms, the way you invest your life today will indeed have a great impact on history. The cultivating and raising of great souls is of the utmost importance.  Your life is making a difference. Take time in the word, read those books which call you to excellence, spend time praying with friends of like mind–and don’t give up!

Our culture doesn’t put much value on endurance. Yet life requires it! Determine that you will endure to the end regardless of situations. Just making that decision goes a long way toward accomplishing it!



Jesus: Our Model for the Ministry of Motherhood & New Podcast

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From the very beginning of their time together, Jesus called his disciples to a life apart from the crowd. He called them to great purpose and meaning, promising to make them "fishers of men." But even before that, He called them into a relationship with Him. He extended to them the grace of His fellowship, His love, His instruction. With them He was patient, encouraging, loving, and forgiving. His whole relationship with them was built on the foundation of intimate friendship. He gave them the gift of Himself. And then He asked them to pass along that gift to the world.

We see this more and more clearly as Jesus' relationship with the disciples progressed. He wanted them to be His representatives on earth, to tell everyone the gospel of the kingdom of his Father. But He wanted them to do it through His strength and grace, not through their own power. And this was where Peter got it wrong.

Peter was a strong, active man. He was used to making decisions, being dependable. It was natural for him to assume that by his great effort he would "help" the Lord get his message to the world. Yet Jesus, knowing the need of Peter's heart, allowed him to find out differently. He allowed Peter to fail spectacularly so he would finally understand that grace was the key to serving God and his kingdom. Not by his own strength and courage, but only by God's constant grace and mercy would Peter be able to deliver Jesus' message to the world—a message that would then be wrapped in the grace and mercy he had come to know so well.

As mothers, I believe, we are called to take this lesson of grace to heart. Like Jesus, we are to draw our own children to a life apart from the rest of the crowd. Each of us is designed by God to whisper his words to the hearts of our children so they will feel the call of God in their own lives to become fishers of men." Yet we must always remember that our children, like Peter, will never be perfect. Each of them needs for us, like Jesus, to extend to him or her the gift of constant love, grace, and forgiveness. And we can only do this by relying continually on the grace of our own relationship with the Lord.

When we do this, we will live out the definition of grace and love in such a way that our message will be written on their hearts. They will understand that the God who calls them to a great task will stay with them as they strive to complete it. They will know He gives them the strength and encouragement they need—and the grace to pick themselves up when they fall. And they will know all this in part because of the hands-on grace they have experienced at home.

Sometimes I Hide, Sometimes I Feel Like Giving up & Podcast


I have thought a lot lately about the nature of a child. A child, who is cared for and loved, generally trusts his father with all of the details of life. As a matter of fact, a secure child doesn't even ponder the issues of life, but just lives into the moment, because he has not ever had to carry the issues of life.

And Jesus says,  “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Innocence, trust, pure in heart.

There are times I wish I could be more like a child. How I would love to be free, to feel the rest of having no burdens, to not be unsophisticated so as not to worry about big problems. 

Life is so hard sometimes. Mothering is hard. Marriage is hard. Paying bills is hard, Dealing with people and life can be hard. 

Sometimes I feel like hiding, running away or just giving up--even though I don't always know what that would mean. 

Just to be unburdened and be able breathe the deep sleep of a toddler who isn't even aware of pressures and problems.

Today, my assistant and friend, Misty, and I want to share with you the stresses and problems we have lived through. We hope no one who reads this blog and listens to our podcast feels alone or like a failure. We just covered y book "Mission of Motherhood" and I spoke of many ideals, goals, vision. But I also wanted to acknowledge that we live somewhere between the tension of ideals and the reality of daily life. We want you to know we understand.

I am constantly in and out of demanding stresses, difficult issues. Yet, I have to practice going back to what I know to be true so that I don't crater. I look to my rock. I remember that He has promised to be with me. He is my shepherd to carry my burdens.

And sometimes I just need rest--to play, to sleep, to eat something "forbidden" and to enjoy it, to be with friends who are uncritical and "get" me, to just be a normal person that no one knows or has expectations of.

I think that as I look back over my own life, I can see that God has intervened, provided, taught, comforted and held me up even in the stormy times, even through the "dark night of the soul" times. .

Not all of the moments of my life in this world have been easy, many have been devastating. But I wish I had spent less time worrying, less time fretting or telling God my will. I know that He is good. I also understand that we live in a fallen place where evil abides and where Satan tempts and accuses and has stirred up people to turn away from God.

But now I see that nothing separates me from the love of God. Nothing. Even when I think He doesn't love me because I have failed.

How much easier it would have been if I had just released all of my own "carrying" of these burdens. It would have been so much better if I had understood that it was not for me to "figure out" all of the "whys," but I so wish,  I had just left it up to Him, His will, His ways, His wisdom. My life would have held more peace, and I would have heard more of His whispers of comfort and felt more joy in living and resting in His strength and abiding love.

“God’s desire is for us to experience true joy and deep fulfillment. It must start, however, with the journey into the recesses of our heart. It is only as we release our hold on the things that we think we need to be truly happy, when we open our hands freely, that we experience true joy. We yield our demands and expectations to Him so that we may take His hand and let Him lead us into the dance of joy. He is the One who will teach us. But it requires a total relinquishment of self and a simple trust in a great God, simple faith to understand that He who created joy will lead us on the pathway that ends in the joy that will last forever.” ~ Sally Clarkson, Dancing With My Father

I hope you will in some degree enjoy our conversation today about the seasons of challenge in our own lives and know that you are not alone. God does see you and He indeed loves you.

The Winding Road of Parenthood ...

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“All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.”

Psalm 25:10

We, like most parents, had little conception when we started the journey what we were doing, and even less what it would require of us. We agreed that parenting was the best of all the ministry we’ve done in our lives, but we had no idea what that investment in our children would cost us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. It is only now that we can begin to observe the dividends. Whatever lifegiving we did is now paying out in the rich life of faith we see in each of our children.

However, did I also mention the speed bumps, potholes, blind curves, and other road hazards we encountered along the path of parenting? It was not a smooth ride. After all, every Christian family, ours included, is inhabited by sinful, selfish human beings called parents and children. The idea that Christian parenting should be a purely joyful journey through life is misguided at best and an illusion at worst. And yet, despite our own immaturities and weaknesses, we made it through with no casualties and with faith intact. We’re all stronger than when we started.

But Christian parenting is more than just getting from one point to another by faith. We know intuitively we’re made for something more than just crossing the finish line. We’re made to be part of God’s epic story of creation—the story He is writing not only for all of life but for each of our lives. As lifegiving parents, one of our most important tasks has been to help our children discover themselves in the story God is writing, to find their place in the unfolding tale of God’s grand purpose and plan and to know that we are all, as a family, in that story together.

When you first became a parent, did you feel confident in your choices? How can you see Gods’ hand in teaching you?