Posts tagged children

This morning I am reveling in God’s goodness to me. I am rich, wealthier than I ever thought possible.

Though I have yet to engage in the lovely practice of “counting gifts” in a journal of gratitude, my heart can’t help but keep track of God’s goodness to me.

I remember once, when I was in Bible College, a crusty old professor who seemed to delight in crushing the exuberance of incoming students, stated that, “the Cross is the gift, not these every day things we give thanks for.”

He was right of course. And wrong too.

The Cross is the gift, yet out of the ultimate sacrifice, a love grew and grows and spills over into our every-days. The joy we were meant to experience in the Garden shows up in bits and snatches of beauty on our way back into the kingdom in the here and now.

I think that cantankerous professor knows that now that he’s in the presence of the Giver of gifts. And I’ll bet he glows with the joy of it, instead of glowering as he once did.

Wanna know why I’m feeling so rich this morning?

 It’s cuz I have a secret I’ve been longing to tell you about and I finally can!

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that I started it with the help of my daughter, Elizabeth. She wrote The Kitchen portion of the blog as a way of helping us to see the value and beauty in food and feeding and glorifying God with and in our bodies. Before she and her family moved to L.A. she also held my hand as I learned how to do all the techie stuff.

Well, girls, she’s back in Portland. As in, living here. Right here… across the street and down two houses…

Brook and Elizabeth and Duke and Scarlet and Beatrice moved into a darling little house sixty steps from Firwood Cottage.

Can you believe it?

All the while I knew it might be happening I didn’t dare believe it would. (Why do we do that to ourselves?!) But it did! Too many “coincidences” to ever think this is anything but a great, big, beautifully wrapped gift from God.

I’m the wealthiest woman in the world!

 My pantry is filled with healthy, mom-approved snacks for all the moments in my day when the Grands come to check in on me— which they do, all through-out the day! Little Birdie breaks into the gentlest smile every time she sees me— and I can’t wipe the silly grin off my face when she does. How is it that a 5 month old can validate my entire life with one smile? I don’t know, but she does!

And I want to tell every young mom who is struggling this morning with the relentless exhaustion of being a meeter-of-needs to babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers:

What you are doing today is going to make you rich someday!

 You can’t see it now. I wish you could. I wish I had.

Every time you wipe that messy face, every time you cuddle that child close, every minute you put into that little one is an investment that will yield riches.

 I am counting my blessings over here in my cabin in the back… and every one of them have names. And I am praying for all you mamas who need to know it’s worth it.

May God give you the strength to believe that what you do today matters.

 From a heart bursting with the joy of it,



This is a page of my journal from twenty years ago. A glimpse into who we were then and a revelation of who we have become.  Us:

A husband and a wife.

Four children, including two teenagers, one pre-adolescent, and one toddler.

Two cats. One totally disobedient dog. And two horses.

This is the make-up of our family.

Needless to say, with all our comings and goings, individual personalities, and distinct wills, ours is not always a peaceful place. There is plenty of teasing and laughter…and fun. And if I'm honest, quite a few thunderclaps of conflict as well.

And I love it.

Oh, I don’t always like it. I am, after all, a woman who thrives on solitude, order, calm, quiet, and peace (rare qualities in this busy household). Yet I love the richness, the ever-changing variety, the heart-stopping intimacy of shared thoughts. I find such safety in the “kindred spirits” I have found in each of my family members.

I know what they like…

They know what I like…

We know what we like together.

There is something soul-satisfying about a shared beauty; a favorite song on the radio, a breath-taking sunset, or better yet, the groggy-eyed wonder of an early morning sunrise. When I see a brilliant rainbow with my family, it takes on a deeper beauty because we gasp in wonder together.

This family of mine is nothing like the still-life portrait I once imagined it would be. For goodness sake, we can’t even get a quick snapshot of all six of us smiling with all 12 eyes open at once!

I am learning, ever so slowly, that if I let go and stop trying to get everybody to be quiet and still and orderly, I enjoy this crazy crowd a whole lot more.

Though I treasure order, they do not.

Though I love quiet, I have never known one of them to leave our noisy family circle to seek solitude for the sake of silence. They prefer noise, and lots of it.

And while neatness seems essential to my peace of mind, not a one of the rest of them care a whit if the house is in perfect order before they go to bed, or when they get up, or anytime in between!

I’m finally getting it.

That family peace consists more in letting go and accepting each other than in trying frantically to keep everybody calm, quiet, and tidy. I am learning that conflict is sometimes okay (will I ever really believe that?) and that closeness comes not by obliterating conflict, but by living with it comfortably.

We do not always agree. In fact, we rarely all agree. And that’s okay. It is when we graciously respect each other’s differing opinions and ways of doing things that friendship sprouts like well-watered weeds all over the relationships in this family.

So I am learning painstakingly slowly to let go and enjoy this crew of six. I am daily resisting the hundreds of urges to control and corral them into my version of the Happy Family.

They are they…

and I am me…

and together we are us.


Then there were six of us. Now there are fifteen.

In the midst of living real life we have grown and changed, wept and danced, learned, grieved, become real friends.

We are still Us, still in love with Jesus, still learning how to follow in His footsteps. And, perhaps most real of all, still in awe of the incomprehensible truth that He loves us just as we are.

May you delight in the truth of His love this week.

From my heart,


P.S. I am away this week, road tripping and camping high in the Sierra mountains I love, with the man I have loved for well over 37 years. I'll keep checking in so we can pray, together, for those whose hearts need a touch from God. Leave your name- or not. As we hike and explore the beauty of the Creator, we would love to bring your hopes to Him who hears our cries.


 As I've watched the school buses go by this week, I've been thinking about all those mamas who are feeling the loss as their little ones don backpack and lunch sack to step into a whole new world.  I'm sure you've shed some tears, as did I, mixed with the thrill of knowing your child will soon be experiencing the great, life-long joy of learning.  I loved those years of being mom to two little boys and two little girls. Loved the fresh school books and cute haircuts, the untucked shirts and lopsided ponytails. I miss so much about those years. My children are all grown now, with children of their own. And too soon yours will be too.  

These are the words that spilled out of my heart nearly 20 years ago when my son, Matthew started school. May you share the same immense joy that I have in watching your sons and daughters grow into men and women whose hearts beat for God. 


Today my little boy went off to school.

He was afraid.  I was afraid.

He was excited. So was I.

He was brave.  I cried.

We chattered cheerfully in the van on the way to school.  He looked so fresh and grownup in his new haircut, plaid shirt tucked neatly in, appropriately cool baggy pants and black suede tennis shoes.  I took pictures in front of the flagpole.

He smiled.

Walking into the classroom, he gripped my hand in sweaty palm and sat oh-so-quietly at his pint-sized desk.

“Don’t leave yet Mom.  Wait ‘til all the other parents go…”

I rubbed his back and labeled his supplies.  Crayons, scissors, lots of glue, a binder covered in G. I. Joe stickers.  I took a picture of my little boy at his desk.

No smile.

Time for Mom to leave.  One last squeeze of his shoulder.  One last kiss on his cheek, and out the door.

That’s when the tears betrayed me.  Unbidden, they pushed against my eyes, threatening to embarrass me completely.  Gulping them back, I waved with false cheer at a neighbor and drove in my empty van to my empty house.

So quiet.

No chaos, no arguments, no laughter, no messes.

I have looked forward to this day.  I have plans.  For years I have said, “When my children all go to school…”

Yet today I can do nothing. I grieve an end of an era.  An era I have loved, filled with memories I cherish.

I did my share of complaining to be sure.  “Can’t I even go to the bathroom alone?!”  But I loved the unrushed mornings cuddling with blankie and bear and my squirmy little boy.

I loved the Lego creations and the storybooks and Wee Sing tapes.  I loved sidewalk chalk and popsicles dribbling down dimpled chins.  Rainy days spent building forts in the family room with blankets anchored with encyclopedias.

Most of all, I have loved the absolute trust in his eyes.  He knows I am here for him to protect him, to be proud, to understand.

For I am Mom.  Matthew’s mom.  The Best-Mom-in-the-Whole-World.

That is who I was yesterday when I held him as a babe in my arms.  It is who I am today as I leave him at his desk at school.  And tomorrow, when he is a man, I will still be…


From my heart,


P.S. Who feels the same? That bittersweet, confusing mix of relief and sadness? I'd love to pray for you this week. And if any of you have children you're especially worried about, let me know and I'll pray as I did for my own.


“There is a time for everything…”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago…I was a mother of little ones.

John Mark—my wild one, incapable of sitting still, coming out of his skin with ideas and interests. He was born to challenge boundaries, encouraged to question, destined to a story of vision and conquest.

Next came Rebekah, overflowing with joy, loving people, born with an insatiable need to fix, to help. She inhaled books, studied anything and everything that interested her inquisitive mind, and met injustice with the ferocity of a warrior-woman.

A boy and a girl, both so high on the intensity scale, they filled this mama’s days with wonder… and weariness.

Then came Elizabeth. Soft and gentle. Slow and easy. Compliant. She turned all that familiar intensity inward, filling up with wisdom, dishing out prophet-like insight. An easy infant, an easy toddler, even an easy teenager— easy on everyone but herself.

We waited a while for Matthew, our delight-filled, drama-prone, willful one— who came out of the womb looking for a party and filled our home with his friends.

All I’d ever wanted was to be a mother, to surround myself with little people, to create a legacy. But somehow I thought I could do all that and still keep my house always tidy, my chore list crossed off, myself looking like a model, my marriage conflict free…

And I couldn’t.

Not even close.

And there’s a whole story I can’t tell right here, the one I’m working to tuck into a book for next fall— about my flailing struggle and miserable failure to measure up to my own impossible dreams of how life ought to be.

On this wind-swept No-Rush-November day, all I can say is this:

For every worn out mother who wonders what happened to her dreams, hold tight, hang on. There is time for everything. Between your time to be born and your time to die, you will have more than enough time to achieve, to make your mark, to create beauty, to excel.

But what you are doing now, in the midst of the messes and the piles and the impossibly long lists of things that must be done— this is your finest hour.

When you hold that infant to your breast… you are nourishing a human who will grow up knowing deep down that she matters, that he is loved, and not just by you, but by God Himself. When you hold those babies close, their hearts sinc to yours… and to His.

Because God says:

Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! Is 49v15 nlt

When you hold that little one’s hand because he is afraid, because he needs you, because holding onto your hand keeps him safe… you are giving him the deep down security that can only come to one who puts his whole trust in God.

Because God says:

See, I have written your name on My hand. Is. 49v16 nlt

When you do the hard work of discipline— again— and you think that’s all you are, just one big-mean-mama, you are planting within that child the ability to choose. To choose how to act, who to follow, what to do when life gets hard. You are giving him the gift of soul strength, of self-control. Of life.

Because God says:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 10v11 niv

For just a few short years of your life, you are assigned to fill in for God. You guide with His hands, you speak His words, you guide every child-paced step towards the path that leads to life. You open the door to introduce your child to a Father who welcomes them in.

This, dear mothers who need to know, is…

The time to love:

To embrace sweaty boys while they still hug long and close.

To plant seeds of future dreams by imagining with them what could be.

To laugh over silly jokes with no punch line.

To dance to tunes about building snowmans and being free.

To read stories and give piggyback rides and fix lunch and rummage in the messy closet for socks that match.

This, my dear mothers, is the time to find beauty in the faces right in front of you.

Right now, during these fleeting days of No Rush November, will you redefine your definition of perfection?

Will you choose to live at peace with the imperfection of your body, your abilities, your to-do list?

Will you decide to see that achieving is not the same as doing?

That, indeed you are— in these sometimes disorderly, discouraging, disheartening years— achieving more than you could possibly hope to achieve in all the rest of the days of your life?

May He give you eyes to see.

From my heart,


P.S. if your answer is YES! will you write it in the comments?


(Image by Abi Porter)



 Be careful! Never forget what you have seen the LORD do for you. Do not let these things escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.

Deuteronomy 4:9


Yesterday I got a note from a young mother who reads my words in the early morning hours as she is nursing her baby. She had carved out time to write me in one of those rare moments when her two-year-old was napping and her six-month-old was playing contentedly.

And I felt as if I’d been given a treasured gift. As if this woman somehow knew I needed something only she could give… and she weighed the repercussions, thought about what it would cost her… and gave away her time wrapped in loving words, courage giving words.

I found myself thinking about her early this morning, praying that God would give back to her one hundred times what she gave to me. Because she’s one of my girls now, though we have never met, and I see her as I write.

If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure,

Pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.

Whatever measure you use in giving— large or small— it will be used to measure what is given back to you.

Luke 6:38


She just let me know that my life is making a difference. That my words have helped. That her life is better now because of me. That my stories, all of them about “what I have seen the LORD do…” have helped her to notice the same.

I see her in my mind… toys strewn around the room, dishes piled in the sink, a dishwasher needing emptying. I see the diapers bought in bulk and I wonder how many hours of her week are spent in front of the changing table, wiping bottoms, soothing fussy babies, trying to get the toddler to hold still.

And I wonder if she could have possibly known this time was coming.  When she was studying for an exam at a university far away, dreaming great dreams, trying on her wedding dress amidst giggling friends. She couldn’t see these days.

And then I see her later.

Still beautiful, but with that kind of worn-in beauty now.

You know what I mean: crinkles along her eyes, but her cheeks are smooth, her smile welcoming. She’s a woman comfortable in her never-perfect skin.

The kind who looks elegant because she wants to— first thing in the morning while she’s sharing a cup of coffee with her husband, and then later as she’s doing something— something significant, something important that requires the skills of a capable woman who has lived well and wisely.

And I wish she could see what I see.

I wish she could know that someday she’ll have hours and hours to write notes and give courage. That younger women will need her stories then, that she will be the one with “more life-giving encouraging words” from “lessons learned” as she so beautifully wrote.

I wish I could hold her when the storms come, when the doubts and worries and grief keep her awake at night. I wish I could point her to the words God has used to feed me full in the early morning hours when it’s just Him and I.

I wish I could bring her with me this week as I prepare to entrust my baby boy— the one grown tall and strong now— into the capable hands of a woman who will commit the rest of her life to him.

I wish she could see me as I pick up my once-babies at the airport, as we hug long and close, as we cry and laugh and empty our words all over each other.

I wish she could see how all those hours were worth it.

That out of the loneliness comes an intimacy that cannot be bought or achieved or had in any other way than what she’s doing now. That the babies whose bottoms I wiped are now my best friends, my stalwart loyalists.

I wish she could see that my baby boys, those toddlers who didn’t nap when I wanted them to, who worried me every day for too many years— how they grew up and they married the best of women. I wish she could see how those girls are now my girls. Women who love me too, just because of all those lonely hours when all I did was work and nurse and rock and take care of the boys who would become their men.

I wish she could see the future while she’s in her present because the future turns the present into the best days of her life.

Not the easiest— never that— but the most valuable, the most effective, the most investment-worthy.

I am like a wealthy man who looks back and sees the brilliance of the risk he took early on when the company whose stocks he went without extras to buy, went world-wide and made him richer than he ever could have imagined.

Because I am richer than I ever could have imagined. And this is one of those weeks when I am counting the gold. And someday she will too. But she won’t have enough time to count it all because her kids will be calling her to come, to talk, to see, to be a part of the beautiful times of their lives. Because she’s mom. Because she did what she needed to do, and then did more. And then did it again.

I wish she could see…

From my heart,


P.S. If you are one of those who “needs to see that the future turns the present into the best of days”, will you let me know? I would be honored to pray for you even as I relish my present-future.



Once upon a time I thought I knew everything I needed to know about raising children. Then I had kids. And every year since I’ve been learning a whole lot of things I didn’t know and couldn’t have known without these four humans who have the courage to call me mom.

Here are just a few things I wish I’d known right from the start.

1.    That every child is made in the Imago Dei… the image of God.

Not in the image of me. Nor in the image of someone everyone thinks they should be.

God created that little one to be an unhindered expression of who He is, highlighting specific facets of His beauty in surprising combinations. No two will be alike. Not one of them will fit a mold. They are incomparable and impossible to define.

Because of that, we must approach each of the children in our lives with deep respect for the One who created them. To be rude or harsh or disgusted or rejecting of one of these little ones is an affront to the One who crafted them uniquely in the womb. To deface His masterpiece in any way is to dishonor God.

It is therefore a mother’s honor to go on a quest to uncover her child— not to force him into a mold of her own making.  It is her honor to spend the rest of her life helping him to discover those unique contributions to the kingdom only he can bring.

 2.    That I am exactly the one God wants to mother my child.

Not someone better, wiser, calmer, richer, more patient… or more anything.

Somehow, in some way I cannot understand, He wants me to be the one to help my child become fully herself.  So instead of cowering in fear or hiding in shame, I can listen confidently to the Spirit of God within me for specific ways to mother well and wisely.

It is therefore a mother’s honor to believe that He has given me all that I need for the job, along with His heart wide open to pour out more love and more wisdom than I’ll ever come up with on my own.

3.    That nothing I will ever do will compare in importance to my role as this child’s mother.

Not a career or a clean house, not achievements or riches, nor the esteem and approval and friending of anyone. All those things that crowd my time and leave me stressed and worn out will never compare to the monumental impact of my role as this child’s mom.

Somehow I thought that maybe I had to prove something to someone in order to be important. Little did I know that the only ones who need proof of anything are those little ones in my own home. And the only proof they’re looking for is my unbudgeable love for them.

It is therefore a mother’s honor to sacrifice the more urgent but less important to see her child impact his world in unfathomable ways.

4.  That the mundane moments matter most.

When your child is sick and finds comfort in your arms.

When your son is stressed and finds relief in your words.

When your daughter is afraid and finds safety in your presence.

Those are the moments when you insert earth-shattering truths about God deep into your child’s soul.

It is therefore a mother’s honor to be alert to her child’s needs. To meet those needs with all the loving flourish of the Father— laying a ground work for that child’s faith to be  real, honest-to-the-bones, felt faith.

5.    That the busiest mother can still be bored.

And boredom is exhausting!

A woman who is not engaged in creativity that meets the challenge her own soul needs will wear out from all the work motherhood demands. There is always room for the busiest woman to squeeze in the pursuits that fill her full and energize her for more.

Whether it is learning or art or writing or fashion or science or order or beauty or design, there is time. There must be time.

Therefore it is a mother’s honor to keep feeding her own intellectual/creative/people needs so that she is in a place of thriving while she is busy growing her children into thriving adults.

6.     That our kids need to know that we like them.

Somewhere in all the correcting and training and disciplining and warning that happens from the moment our children are born until we wave them into their future, we inadvertently give off the impression that we don’t like them very much.

Our kids are haunted by the sense that we would like them if only… or when…

They grow up in good, loving, well-intentioned homes convinced that they are not enough… or too much.

It is therefore the honor of a mother to shower her children with affirmation. It is our mandate to assume nothing— to use our love for words and conversation to drill into our kids that we like them RIGHT NOW.

7.    That what we don’t say is often more harmful than what we do say.

Silence is not golden to a child. Or a teenager. Or a young adult.

The withholding of interest in what interests your child suggests somewhere deep inside that he is not interesting.

It is therefore the honor of a mother to be interested. To make a concerted effort to loudly proclaim that interest. To see her child  and then to say what she sees.  To offer her approval on a silver platter. To give voice to all the beauty she sees in her child. And then to keep that conversation going through every episode of that child’s life.

8.    That a specific, no-excuses apology from a mother opens floodgates of grace and forgiveness from a son or daughter.

That in fact, our shame-filled history of failure can be rewritten into stories of delight and joy if only we will own up to our mistakes. Our kids want to remember the best times… and willingly overlook the mess that we were so sure would mess them up forever.

But only if we admit the truth. Pretending just doesn’t cut it with kids.

It is therefore the honor of a mother to humble herself on a regular basis. To point out her mistakes and missteps and purposefully ask her child’s forgiveness for blowing it so badly.

9.    That my children would one day grow to be my most intimate spiritual brothers and sisters.

No one told me this! I’d only heard the horror stories of fractured relationships and rebellious teenagers. At best, I’d heard, children raised in “religious” homes might settle into an uneasy compliance to the standards set by rigid parents.

No one mentioned those exquisitely vulnerable moments when the people who know every hidden corner of my soul dish up wisdom and grace and reminders of our Redeemer’s mercy.

When the daughter who sees right through me refuses to allow me to stereotype teenagers with tattoos and piercings and mohawked hair.  Instead, urging me to see hearts courageously declaring a war on sameness.

Or when my son grows up to be my pastor, teaching me and opening my heart to worlds of wisdom I knew nothing about.

I had no idea the joy waiting for me.

It is therefore the honor of every mother to be taught by her children. To listen and to learn and to joy in the mystery of being joint heirs together. 

10. That my success as a woman does not hinge on the success of my children.

Because what I really want for my kids, the thing I hope for more than anything else is not health or achievement or good marriages or fat paychecks. It’s not even a good life.

What I long for more than anything, is that my children will know the incredible riches of God’s grace. That they will long for Him.

What I really want for my children is for them to spend every day of the rest of their lives reveling in this Redeemer whose shocking choice to love them in the midst of their ugliness brings them to their knees in worship.

And for that to be true they’re going to have to mess up. To fail. To make mistakes big enough to embarrass them— and me.

It is therefore the honor of every mother who has been covered in that grace to cease the strutting and pretending and Christmas card cuteness and to allow our children to fail. And then to weep and worship with them when they discover the riches awaiting every one of Christ’s redeemed ones.

The truth is, I didn’t know any of this on that day my firstborn son came rushing, red and squalling into my arms. And he loves me anyway. They all do.

John Mark and Beks and Elizabeth and Matt you’re more than I ever dreamed possible. You’ve led me in the way of grace straight to the Father’s heart. And for that and a million other reasons, I love you.

From my heart,



Dear Girls, Years and decades and eras ago when Phil and I were dating I was convinced he would be a terrific dad.

After all, I reasoned, he loved to play with kids. Wrestling and teasing and throwing his nephews in the air, Phil seemed, in my vast experience, to have all the makings of a wonderful father.

And even though my criteria were laughably shallow, I was right. Phil has been a terrific dad to our four children.

Just a couple of days ago he got a text from Matt, asking for help and guidance about ministry he was being called to do. What to say, how to study, the best way to approach the opportunity.

I watched as Phil once again took an opportunity to disciple his son.

To raise up the next generation to teach and think and lead. 

And I watched as my son listened and learned and prepared to take the baton from his father and run his own leg of the race.

I watch as my oldest son, John Mark, leads his own sons and daughter. How he, who is so different in so many ways from his dad, is at the same time, so like his father.

I watch John Mark encourage and discipline and disciple his children— and then how he throws them in the air for a raucous wrestling match. Just like his dad.

And girls, I want the same for each of you. Because if you marry a man who understands his essential role of imitating the Father as a father, you and your children and your children’s children will be blessed beyond belief.

Trust me, I know. I live the results everyday.

That is why I want to invite you to attend a seminar Phil and I are teaching on November 8th and 9th. It’s called Intentional: Raising Passionate Jesus Followers.

This seminar is a culmination of a dream that started while Phil was in seminary and our first born was just a few months old. Over 3 decades ago! We knew we didn’t know what we were doing and so we began an intensive study. Gathering wisdom, delving into the Scriptures, asking questions, questioning the answers.

Now we have gathered what we learned and crammed it into six teaching sessions. We’ll tell our stories, explain the Biblical basis of the why’s and how’s, tell you what we did right and a whole lot of things we wish we’d done differently.

And here’s the real reason to come girls: When I saw, just a few days ago, Phil bent over his big, worn Bible pointing out to my son the truths that applied to his questions, I fell in love with the man all over again.

A great big swelling of I can’t believe I get to be married to this man kind of response.

And I want that for you.

Every one of you. Because in ways I do not fully understand, a woman’s feelings of love are all wrapped up in respect. I feel love for Phil because I honestly, really do respect the man. A lot.

Yes, he’s a good man. And yes, he’s good to me. But the real reason I respect him is because of the way he leads his family on a firm Biblical basis to follow Jesus with wisdom and passion.

If you’re married, bring your man. Please. This is not a seminar simply for mothers. It is a chance for men to see what spiritual leadership looks like and sounds like and is in everyday life.

If you’re not married, bring yourself. This is a chance for you to get a whiff of what you really want. For you to see what spiritual leaderships looks like and sounds like and is in every day life.

And it’s a lot more than wrestling with the kids…

From my heart,


PS: sign up by going to the website And let me know if you’re coming!

What Happens When A Mom Does Love


I sit beside my mom in a hospital far from home.

Her recovery from the removal of an acoustic neuroma[1] has been tortuously full of tension and worry— very step haunted by unexpected disappointments.

I’ve cried my contacts into shreds, grieving for her loss of dignity and control. To go from her vibrantly sassy self, into a shell of who she is over the course of just a few days has left those of us who love her dismayed, shocked, exhausted by a roller coaster ride of grief.

With every new shift of nurses and caretakers I start over with my litany of mom. I want them to know her as she is, not as she seems right now in this broken moment.

I describe her artistry as a quilter, her love of her family and loyalty to her friends. How her great grandkids named her, “Great”, because she is great. And because she brings them great presents and delights in who they are.

Great is an appropriate  name for my mom.

Then I tell them how she joked with the neurosurgeons just minutes before wheeling into the operating room. Their startled laughter at this fragile patient teasing them about their sober minded seriousness, my knowledge of her underlying terror at what they were about to do.

And as I help her back to herself, I remember…

Cookies coming out of the oven, timed to perfection right when we came home from school. Sweet rolls on Christmas morning, countless lunches all those years of school, and what amazes me the most: a home cooked dinner every single night. Fast food never once sat on our table, she would have been appalled at the idea.

I remember sitting beside her as she sewed ball gowns for my Barbies, then later my prom dress and eventually matching dresses for my daughters.

And all those hours of talking.

Late at night when I was a self-conscious, socially awkward teenager. The after dinner phone calls when I was lonely for her closeness, and lived far away.  And that early morning frantic call when Matthew was so sick and I was so afraid.

She listened to me for hours… and hours… and hours.

I remember her once saying:  For such a quiet girl, Diane can sure talk!


And then in those years when it was all I could do to keep my head above water with four kids and a husband traveling all over the world, she’d welcome me back into her home for my annual Mom’s Break. While Phil held down the fort at home, Mom treated me to a retreat aimed to fill me full and send me back refreshed.

I’d sit on the back deck of their beautiful home overlooking the Sierras and just soak in the peace and sunshine. She’d cook and bake and fill her clawfoot tub full for a hot bubble bath. Then she’d turn back the covers on my bed and turn on the electric heating blanket.

All that Love Does, as Bob Goff so adamantly reminds us.

Mom did.  And so now here I am doing a little love back.

Funny how that works.

And maybe we need to remember that when the kids are squabbling and the house is a mess and there’s too much work for one woman to keep up with.

Because I know we drove my mom nuts sometimes. Lots of times. I remember a meltdown or two, that frustration spilling over as we pushed those buttons every kid is born knowing how to push.

But what sticks in my mind in these moments is all the doing she did for us.  And I find myself wanting to do back.

To be tender for all the times she gently talked my fears away.

To rub her back like she rubbed mine.

To tell her she’s beautiful even though she knows it cannot be true. Just like she told me I was beautiful when my mirror told a different story.

 And isn’t there a glowing beauty in skin gently aged by all that doing?

Dear girls, to be a doing kind of mother is to be beautiful in a way that cannot be covered by age or trauma or brokenness.

My mother will always be beautiful. She earned those creases by doing love so much and so often its permanently etched on her face.

And so many of you need to know that now while you’re in those doing years. There is a day of payback. A time when your sons and your daughters will feel the honor of giving back to you a tiny bit of what you gave to them.

My mother would never have believed that when I was a sassy teenager. But it’s true!

There has been a God-given glow about these days of doing for my mom. A sense that He is here and He is pleased and He is guiding me and delighting in what is happening in this hospital room. And maybe laughing a little too as He remembers the grief I gave to mom way back when.

And so here I sit. I wait for her to come back to us. To laugh and tease and sass in that way of hers I love.  To finally know that all that doing she did is coming back to do a little back.

From my heart,


P.S. Thank you for praying for my mom. The notes and emails and texts of love have boosted me when my spirit wavered. We have a long road ahead of us but we've put our hope in the One who loves-- the One who does love.

[1] a benign tumor that was pushing against her brain


I'm working this morning with Phil on the seminar on the Spiritual Training of children. We're hunched over the computer trying to edit 50+ pages of material into 50 minutes of teaching. Back and forth, over and over making those hard calls. Do we include this? Should we cut it? What about so-and-so? Won't this help? Is it too basic? Too wordy? While I'm working away on this for the next few months I'm going to post some tidbits here in Glimpses each week. Just overflow information that I wish I'd understood all those years ago when my children were being shaped into the people they would become.

Here's a list of less-than-obvious manifestations of anger in children. If you see some of these habits cropping up in your son or daughter (or yourself!), might I suggest that you ask the Father for wisdom and insight into your child's heart? Anger left to simmer works havoc with a child's happiness. And sometimes all it takes is a mama willing to slow down and deal decisively and prayerfully with it before its too late.

Manifestations of Anger: 

  • It can be an obvious temper tantrum,
  • It can be more subtle like irritability or self-pity.
  • It can look like a resentful attitude or
  • A pattern of way over-reacting to minor incidents
  • Sometimes it is the child who sulks and withdraws. You don’t think of her as angry because she doesn’t necessarily lash out, hers is a more simmering, stuffed down form of anger.
  • Lots of angry boys lash out and hit someone, or they bang their fist on the desk.
Some Scriptures to guide you:

We taught our kids that no one can make you angry, anger is a choice.

 Yes, things will happen that will upset you, but we taught them that...

My response is my responsibility. 

I cannot understate the importance of teaching this truth to your children NOW, before they swallow the two-sided lie:

1. That it is someone else’s fault that I am angry. (that is what abusers say)

2. That it is my fault when someone is angry with me. (this is what victims of abuse believe)

Praying for all of you as you shepherd this next generation,


The Bible In A Year - Or Ten?


I am a slowpoke.

Not because I’m lazy, though I do have my moments, but because noticing beauty takes time.

When I’m whizzing around getting everything done I miss the beauty God sprinkles along my path. I get all tense and barren. And those dread messages of “not enough” hound my every hurried step.

This morning I was supposed to get through four chapters according to my Bible reading chart. So far I’ve managed 2 verses.

Two cups of tea and 2 verses.

I’ve been reading chronologically through the Old Testament since September. Fascinating to see the story in real time- beginning at the Beginning and reading Job right after the debacle of the Tower of Babel. David’s disasters and the Psalms he wrote in response to God’s rescue plan.

Why haven’t I done this before?

But how can I whisk through poetry? How dare I miss the beauty?

And so I’m not sure I’ll reach the end of the story by the end of my should. And I’m not sure I should.

Maybe what I should do is go at my own pace. A laconic stroll through wisdom... drinking in every sip... swallowing truth I need to know... writing words about what I want to be... because of what He’s done for me.

A slow poke.

I dare not let my self-imposed should’s and ought to’s and supposed to’s make me miss the beauty.

From my heart,


P.S. And you? Have you latched on to a plan for your time in the Word this year? Are you getting up a little earlier to open wisdom and let God sprinkle it into your heart and mind?

I’d love to hear what you’re doing and why. Whether you’re zipping through to get the Big Picture (a wise way to go for sure!) or going slow or maybe a little of both.

P.S.S. And moms-of-little-ones how are you doing it?



For this is the love of God, That we keep His commandments; And His commandments are not burdensome.

I John 5:3

Yesterday I made my list.

1.  Dust downstairs

2.  Mop kitchen floor

3.  Finish making jam

On and on the list droned the delight right out of my day.

Yet still, I had my list and it needed doing and so I did.

That’s when I saw the little Mobile Man standing at the door of my barn church.

Which started a quiet chuckle… then a laugh…which led to a full blown I love life moment as I imagined Jude or Duke or Mo or maybe it was Sunday, setting that little man there with a whole story to go with him.

And do you know what? That little man changed my whole day.

Children don’t work through lists.

They play—all day long.

And didn’t Jesus gather those play-planning kids into His lap and with twinkling eyes tell His goal-oriented, stress-driven disciples to be just like these little players?

“Like a child”, He said.

And so my list changed in that moment.

1.  Dance through my beautiful, cozy home, swinging a dust rag as I do so it’s all shining tonight when we get to pray over John as he leaves for Zimbabwe…

2.   Swish those sticky places and do a little jig of joy for all the meals prepared and people loved right over this floor…

3.  Create beauty in a jar and imagine the moment of opening in mid-winter…

4.  Discover… play all day!

I wonder if Jesus wasn’t thinking of me that day when He gathered those kids on His lap. Looking down through centuries, past history, at the stressed-out woman writing her list. Grim faced and determined to do it all.

“His commandments are not burdensome”, John said. So why am I so burdened?

Maybe because I need to be just like a child.

Maybe because He has other plans for this day.

Maybe because He wants me to play the day away…

From my heart,






LETTERS TO MY SON: most creative job

  Dear son,

I’ve been writing for the past few months in response to your question, Mom, what do I look for in a wife?

I think you expected a short list from me, something you could stick in your pocket and draw out from time to time. Check, check.

Instead you’ve patiently read lots and lots of words from me. In typical Mom-fashion, I’ve rambled on and on, sometimes scaring you away from any idea of dating in the near future, at other times giving you a tantalizing taste of what will be.

And since I am in no hurry to be done with these letters, today I have another long description of what to look for in a wife. Because, you see, you are not only marrying a woman who will be your confidante and lover and companion and helper for the rest of your life… you are marrying the mother of your children.

Think about that for a moment or two.

The Scriptures teach that children are your inheritance from the Lord, a reward to you, a gift.

A man is made strong and validated by his children.

In this era when so many parents have abdicated their roles as mother and father, choosing instead to shrug their shoulders and hope for the best, that is not a very popular mindset. And I am not saying that how your kids turn out is entirely up to you- far from it. As Ruth Bell Graham so simply stated: God has trouble with His kids too.

What I am saying is that who you choose to be the mother of your tribe is of vital importance. She will represent you to your children. She will spend 90% of the time with them, disciplining while you are earning a living, teaching them how to love well, caring for them, pouring into them. Do not underestimate how important her wisdom and ways with your children will be to your own future.

That said, I rummaged around in my files and found this list buried deep, resonating from another era. It was published in the Wall Street Journal a long time ago and yet what wisdom and understanding this list brings to your question for me.


It involves…


















Community relations,






Direct mail,





And management.

Anyone who can handle all of those has to be somebody special.

She is.

That is what you are looking for in a wife, dear son-of-mine!

From my heart,