You Taught Me to Dance

by Bethany Golding

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“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:4

My babies,

As I write this letter to you, you are beginning the first day of your new school year. I am about two months away from giving birth to my first biological baby. I say first biological baby, because all of you were my babies before I conceived this one. My baby girl will come into the world with around 40 older brothers and sisters that she might not ever get to meet. I had the privilege of teaching about 20 of you at a time over the last two years. I always knew that whenever I became a mom, I would stay home to raise my baby. What I didn’t know was how much I would miss you guys when I didn’t get to see you at school every day.

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When Mountains Move

by Erin Mullen

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Have you ever felt your prayers went unanswered? Or maybe felt that somewhere between your heart and heaven, they got twisted around and the opposite became a reality? Maybe you stepped out in faith and boldly claimed one of His many promises for a loved one or a circumstance, only to have life rain down a series of gut-wrenching blows that leave you disillusioned or even angry.

Seven years ago, Jim Cymbala came to my church and spoke on prayer. At the time, I had an 8 month old daughter and was 8 weeks pregnant with my second. My heart was deeply moved that night and with complete faith I cried out to the Lord about specific aspects of my life, my marriage, and my family. I wanted change. I wanted what I know Scripture says He wants. The problems that came in the months and years following that benchmark night felt nothing less than a slap in the face. It was like my prayers were denied.

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Daddy’s Girl: Living a Father-Focused Life

By Joni Shankles

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My daughter came into the world with her heart bent toward her Daddy.

As an infant, she tracked the sound of her Daddy’s voice and responded to his antics with infectious laughter. When she could walk, her feet followed his steps and kept her close to his side. When she could talk, my daughter’s focus on her Daddy became more evident, especially in the questions she asked.

My daughter’s toddler and preschool days were punctuated by questions like, “What is Daddy’s favorite color?” or “Do you think Daddy will like what I made?” It seemed that each day she awoke with fresh motivation to create something that would make her Daddy smile.

But by far, her most repeated question was, “When will Daddy be home?” Never truly satisfied with my answer, she adopted the afternoon habit of positioning herself in front of our living room window, face pressed to the glass, watching and waiting for the sight and sound of Daddy’s truck pulling into the driveway. When we moved to a house whose windows did not have a view of the driveway, she learned to identify her Daddy’s return by the sound of the garage doorknob turning. Hearing the distinctive “click”, she would shout to her little brother, “Daddy’s home!” and run to the top of the stairs, squealing and jumping with joy when her Daddy came through the door.

Adorable, right?

I didn’t always think so.

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What I learned from Trunk or Treat

by Amy Wootton

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When I was pregnant with my first child I couldn’t wait for two specific things.  First, I was so excited to wander up and down the aisles of Hobby Lobby with a Starbucks in hand, gazing at the fall decor while my itty bitty baby slept in the cart. (Now if I have my 3 kids with me, I avoid Hobby Lobby. Oh how life has changed.) Second, I was so looking forward to dressing my baby up for our church trunk or treat! Even though I am not an over-the-top costume kind of girl, this first baby thing had me all in a tizzy. I had Gable Claire’s outfit picked out before I even knew she was a girl. What was she dressed as you ask? (Drum roll please.) She was a bag of popcorn! My husband dressed up as the popcorn vendor, and my daughter was nestled against him in a baby carrier that I had turned into a red and white striped bag of popcorn. Trust me when I say the girl was adorable! I was so excited to get to church and show her off to the world, and then it happened.

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Sharpening God’s Arrows

by Stephanie Blackiston

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When my husband and I got married in January of 2002, we had no idea what God had in store for us.

1 Corinthians 2:9 is my life verse because my mind could have never imagined the plans God had for me! 

Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.

We never talked about having children before we were married. I thought we were supposed to travel and have fun for at least 5 years before thinking of having children!

When we were on our honeymoon, I was overwhelmed with the gift of my godly husband. I was thanking God, and saying “Why have you given me this gift I don’t deserve?”

I opened my Bible and just happened to be in Malachi that morning.

Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one?
Because He was seeking Godly offspring.
Malachi 2:15

I quickly began to realize that God had much bigger plans for our marriage than watching movies and traveling!

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Taming Mama Bear

by Emily Cook

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I sat in disbelief as I read one too many social media posts along with comments tearing down my husband and eight year old son over youth sports. At the end of a particularly hard season of public ridicule, it was a rude awakening to the strange new world we are living in where slander, smear campaigns, and the like are not limited to celebrities and politicians, but now it is open season on the most vulnerable among us, our children.

None of us are immune.

Although I felt overwhelmed and unprepared going into this particular kind of trial, the Lord has shown me that with His Spirit I was not ill equipped and neither are you, dear mom. Knowing this truth, how should we respond when our families are under this type of spiritual attack?

Mama Bear—all of us have her in us, but what do we do with her?

Should we let her roar or allow the Holy Spirit to tame her?

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When God Pushes You Past Your Limit

by Lee Stewart

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I’ve heard people say God won’t give us more than we can handle, but I think “more” is just what He reaches for. Motherhood is one of life’s biggest assignments, but it doesn’t ask us how qualified we are. It’s the job we get without an interview, without experience, and without a resume! But we know He who called us is faithful. He will train us for all of life’s assignments, including motherhood. We have a Counselor––a teacher far wiser than experience. And all of our help comes from the Lord.

So why does motherhood seem to get harder the longer we stick with it? Instead of feeling more competent with each passing year, I feel more inadequate than ever before. When I think back on the season of squishy babies, cuddles, and night nursing, I reminisce with new eyes. That season was all about nurturing. It was so grueling at the time (yet unbelievably sweet), but now that it’s over, I finally feel “trained” for it.

Someone once told me it’s going to get harder when they get older. The sleepless nights and the physical demands slow down, but a whole new season of hard moves in. Now here I am just barely at the exit ramp. I’m entering a new season where my kids are a little more independent and my roles are shifting. This is nurturing plus PARENTING, and I’m in over my head.

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Did I Just Say That?

by Alli Hill

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It had been one of those weeks. The kind with a short temper and loud voice on my end, coupled with toddler tantrums and nap protests from my three (under the age of three) children. I was weary and felt distant from the Lord. Why had I spoken harsh words so often with my children? Why is it that cutting words seem to come easily toward those you love the most?

As I sat down one morning to study the book of James, I quickly uncovered the root of my issue. I had ceased to guard my heart and seek God for help.

In his short book, James effectively explains how to be a “doer of the Word, and not a hearer only” (James 1:22). The first two chapters of the epistle demonstrate the marks of a true believer. Then, James spends an entire chapter on the subject of taming the tongue. As I began to read the piercing words in James 3 that day, I was both convicted and challenged.

This taming of the tongue is serious business.

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Controlling the Controllables…and leaving the rest to God

by Lindsey Wingo (Keep reading below for a special announcement!)

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Recently I was sitting in a session for minister’s wives as Kay Warren shared this simple truth:

“Control the controllables, and leave the uncontrollables to God.” – Kay Warren

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks, while at the same time, lifted a heavy burden from my back!

Sometimes motherhood, marriage, and the uncertainty of the future feels heavy to me. And when I find myself overwhelmed in the midst of it all, my natural tendency is to seek control however I can find it.

I shouldn’t be surprised by that reality. It’s a problem women have had since the garden days. It is a constant battle for me to surrender my family and our future to the Lord.

The truth is, the natural desire of my flesh is to control the ones I love and fit them into the mold I have created for them. But this is nothing more than a false idol in my life that must be laid on the altar daily. Do I really believe that my thoughts are superior to God’s? That my way is best? My actions and words tell that story far too often. And because I know this is an issue rooted deeply in the hearts of most women, I know I am not alone in this struggle.

Mommas, I’ve been convicted it is time to lay down the heavy burden of control. Most of the things we try our best to control we are completely incapable of controlling in the first place! Continue reading →

Showing hospitality when your floors are sticky

by Laura

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They spread a mat on the concrete floor of their two room apartment in South Asia. We ate rice with our hands from cardboard plates that were wrapped in aluminum foil.  She cooked chicken. An extravagant dish for their home, intended for celebrations.  When we came though, she always cooked chicken to show us honor.   South Asian hospitality is overwhelmingly generous.  In their culture, having guest eat in your home is considered a tremendous honor. It humbled me every time we would eat with them. It reminded me of the way that the gospel levels all the socio-economic barriers and brings us, rich, poor and in between, as servants together of the King. When we share a meal together, we share a little of our lives with one another.

Recently, I have been learning more about sacrifices through a study on the book of Hebrews. This past year, we moved from a country where people still offer animal sacrifices at certain times of the year.  Throngs of goats were herded into our city each year and sacrificed, their blood running into the streets.  The provision of Jesus as a final sacrifice, the blood better than all the former sacrifices that were offered year after year, is breathtaking in that context. The original readers of the New Testament would have understood it far more potently than we do.

In the final chapter of Hebrews, showing hospitality to strangers is listed as among the sacrifices that are now pleasing to God. Jesus spills His blood for us, makes the final sacrifice, and sits down at God’s right hand.  The work is done, the New Covenant of grace takes root and the sacrifice is finished for those who believe.  And then, God instructs us to be hospitable? To be honest, a call to hospitality seems a startling contrast at the end of such a book. Changing bedsheets and shredding chicken for a casserole don’t seem particularly holy on most days for me.  Hospitality with little people might mean watermelon juice spilt on the floor right after you’ve mopped. Yet, the Word calls it a pleasing sacrifice.   Continue reading →