I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. II Timothy 1:5

Living next door to my faithful grandmother (and grandfather) for my first eight years was the initial demonstration of grace for my fledgling faith. I watched them give away a great portion (if not most) of their income and worldly goods to others in need. Grandma hosted a neighborhood prayer group long before it was trendy, and my brother and I often accompanied her runs with baskets for the sick and hungry. Grandpa carried his Bible with him to work and led us in daily family devotions.
So, I suppose, it was just natural for their children, my uncles and mom, to follow in their footsteps. While Papa taught us practical things, Momo led us in following Jesus. We watched our family’s faith lived out and applied daily. I grew up thinking that was the way everybody lived.
My mom and dad are both gone now, so I set for myself a task that I have literally kept on the shelf for several years—going through Momo’s journals. This summer would be the time, I told myself. Enough space has elapsed since their passing that I can objectively read what Momo recorded through the years.
I think I have been hesitant, anxious (yes, anxious) about what she may have written about me—or any of us. Had she noted disapproval, disappointment, concern?  Was she pleased with us?  It was time to pull the books off the shelf and brave the consequences. What I discovered should not have surprised me.
Page after page was covered with her original studies (replete with Bible verses) from years of exploring the Word: the Mystery of Prayer, Faith, Waiting on the Lord, the Nature of God, Gratitude, God’s Love, Children, were just a few with diagrams to illustrate her thoughts. Momo copied verses from traditional hymns that seemed to have been part of her meditations. And there were prayer lists. Rarely did she mention personal matters or names except in the context of prayer.
I knew Momo was a woman of great spiritual depth, but I am just discovering how much of her days she must have spent in prayer and study. Actually, I didn’t need to know—it was evident in her life. And she blessed her world.


Father, when I think of the spiritual heritage I’ve been given, I am grateful for your abundance of blessing. But I am so very deficient in likeness to the godly women who’ve been my example. Give me time to grow more like them in their likeness to you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


All your children will be taught by the LORD…Isaiah 54:13


Last night my brother and I were having dinner together. As often happens, we were talking about family—all our children are grown now—and how we never know until much later if our methods will yield the results we hoped. Both of us are still in the watching mode, but we did agree that our parents, particularly our father, had a firm impact on us.
Papa taught us to persevere and never give up; he urged us to excel (“Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”); he taught us integrity by example; and he taught us to work hard, among other things. Our mom, on the other hand, focused on spiritual values and was the source of wisdom as we were trying our own spiritual wings. They took the responsibility of parenting seriously and left nothing to chance.
I suppose Jack and I will both be parents as long as we live. We shared prayer concerns and discussed matters that as parents of grown children, we are trusting our heavenly Father to direct and inform. Letting go and releasing our children to the Lord is an ongoing exercise as we see our children stumble and scrape spiritual knees. We wish healing were still only a matter of finding the Bactine and Disney Bandaids. But we don’t want to stave off the struggles that draw our children closer to the Lord and that shape their characters to be more like him.
While we were talking, Jack’s cell rang. His grown son, a father himself who lives in another state, was calling about a trivial matter but one that needed his dad’s input. (Looks like Jack succeeded on the communication issue. His son definitely knows Dad is there for him to share about the smallest concern. Just like his heavenly Father.)
As we sit back and watch, we observe our children embracing many of the principles that were taught and modeled while they were growing up and many they are now teaching their own children. We hold our collective breath as we see some of them treading treacherous waters, but we wait in faith knowing that they are even more precious to our heavenly Father than they are to us. We watch, remembering the promises given to us as parents: “ Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6).” “All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace (Isa. 54:13).” “In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge (Prov. 14:26).” “ Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you (Deut. 4:40)…”
When my son was five or six, he made a pronouncement: “Mom, when I grow up, I’m going to be a Christian but not like you. I’m not going to read all those books (pointing to the devotional books I savored each morning).” Nowadays, he calls and asks if I read Daily Light or My Utmost. It’s working.


Father, more than anything, we want our children and their children and their children’s children to know you and to enjoy you—forever. Fulfill your promises to us as we wait and trust in you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:18



I’m so glad that the verse in I Thessalonians doesn’t say “for all things give thanks.”  That would be a pretty tall order.

Once again my sweet mother has spoken to me even though she’s been with the great Cloud of Witnesses for a few years now.  I picked up one of her journals and was thumbing through her collection of thoughts and submissions.  I was happy to find the recipe for zucchini bread that I lost years ago and quickly purchased all the ingredients needed to bake up that family favorite.

But the entry that brought joy was a list she had made.  At the top of the page, Momo had written, “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One.”  Momo mentioned our country, her Christian parents and family, her children, and her friends and neighbors.  And then she went on to mention their little dog and “the privilege of summer vacations” [in various places].  She even mentions their home location “with all the conveniences close.”  Momo lived with a heart full of thanksgiving so that it was easy to be grateful for the obvious as well as the small things of life.

My parents remain two of my heroes—not because they were perfect or I always agreed with them.  I admire them because they followed Jesus to the fullest of their understanding of his teachings and ways.  Even when it went against personal preferences or opinions, they followed Jesus.  Perhaps that’s why Momo lived with a heart of thanksgiving.

This year I cannot begin to list all the things for which I am thankful, but at the top of the list I would have to write, “my parents and my family.”


Lord, I have a godly heritage, and I thank you that I was led to you at a young age.  Thank you for the genuine examples of godliness that blessed my formative years, and help me to bless the little ones in my family that they may grow and love and serve you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:1  (ESV)


Summer is just around the corner, and I so look forward to it.  Even though I’ve been out of school for a while now, I still mentally organize my days by the school calendar:  For me, the year begins in September, and the end of May brings the summer vacation.  All of us tend to consciously or unconsciously arrange our days according to a system of our own devising.

What do you do with your time?  Some of us work, but all of us have time that is free to allocate according to our priorities.  Time is a valuable commodity.  In fact, we have a number of sayings relating to time:  Time is money.  Don’t waste time.  I need to make up for lost time. Time flies. Time heals all wounds.  And so on…

Have you ever thought of giving God your time?  The Psalmist said, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).  Whatever we do in the next twenty-four hours, time will pass.  If we use that time for good, it will be invested.  If we use it for ill, it will be lost.  If we use it foolishly, it will be wasted.

So here we are at the beginning of the summer season when 60% of Americans take time off work for vacation.  How will you spend your “free” time this summer?  In September, will you be able to look back with joy at the investment you’ve made in a life, in your family, in your community, in the Kingdom?  No matter what you do, the time will have passed.

Make plans now for how you will invest your time this summer.  To paraphrase another old saying, “Only this time, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”



Father, here we are at the outset of another period of great potential.  Help us to wisely number our days and seek your direction for how best to use them to your glory and our highest good.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  Philippians 4:11 (NIV)


For years my brother Jack and I had promised our dad that he could stay at home as long as his health permitted.  And then the time came when the doctor told us that Dad’s mental illness was endangering him, our mom, and his caregivers.  We had to find a safe place for him.

At the last minute, our consultant told us about family residential care in private homes with trained attendants.  Although we’d never heard of this option, we discovered that such a home was available in my parents’ neighborhood.

When Jack and I visited the family home, we knew it was God’s providential response to our promise and our prayers.  The family was Christian; one of the daughters was training to be a nurse; and we fell in love with them immediately.

Jack and I returned to our parents’ home to tell Momo the doctor’s recommendation and then to ask her a difficult question:  Would she move out of the house she and Dad had built together and had lived in for over fifty years?  We gently explained Dad’s mental condition and his need for more skilled care, and then we asked if she would be willing to go with him.  We knew he wouldn’t be able to leave his wife of seventy-one years.

“I’ll go,” Momo replied, “and I’ll like it even if I don’t like it.”  Her faithful walk with the Lord since childhood had shaped in her a willingness to be led (as Peter) in places she might not have chosen for herself.

When Papa left the hospital, Jack took him to his new “home” with rooms decorated just as they had been in the house he and Momo had shared together.  And Momo was there, full of love, full of care.

In an era when we so often are expected to think first of ourselves at the expense of those we love and who love us, I remember Momo’s “liking [her circumstance] even when she didn’t like it.”  Of her willingness to follow Christ when it meant death to her personal desires.  God’s grace and her selflessness empowered her to be the companion Dad needed for his last days, and her joy in the Lord sustained her.



Father, so many of us have wonderful spiritual heritages.  As we follow the examples of those who have gone before us, help to remember that others are watching us.  Glorify yourself in us.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children…  Malachi 4:6  (KJV)



I was with a small gathering with friends when someone shared a story about her young grandson.  He was playing ice hockey when another player ran into him and broke his leg.  The little guy was patched up and spent the remainder of the day in bed with a cast.

Some days later, his teacher asked the class to tell about the best day of their lives.  When it came time for this youngster to share, he said, “It was the day I broke my leg.”  The teacher interrupted, saying, “You didn’t understand.  I asked you to tell about the best day of your life.”  Again, the little fellow said, “It was the day I broke my leg.  That was the day my daddy spent the whole day with me.”

To this day, the father cannot tell the story without tearing up.  He says it was a wakeup call.  He had been leaving the house at 5:00 in the morning and coming home when it was dark.  His children hadn’t needed all the things he provided; they needed him.

How many of us can think of the times or events with our children that we could have handled differently?  Of the goals we’ve wanted to reach, thinking those would benefit our children most when all the time they’ve just wanted to be with us, to be loved by us.

Children tend to create the image of their heavenly Father based on what they know of their earthly father.  In all our learning, we move from the concrete to the abstract, and it’s so spiritually.  We learn unconditional love from our earthly father; we observe his character traits and assign those to our heavenly Father; we believe that our heavenly Father accepts us in the same measure as our earthly father.  All the traits, temperaments, dispositions, characteristics, and values that we see demonstrated by our earthly father we transfer to our heavenly Father.  True or not.

It’s no wonder that our children sometimes have trouble relating to God as one who has pursued them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), who will never leave nor forsake them (Deut. 31:6), who always keeps his promises (Josh. 21:45), and who has good plans for them (Jer. 29:11).  But there’s no need to despair.  As long as we’re alive, there’s still time to love and to heal.

So what if we weren’t the perfect parent in the past?  Who was?  As we grow, we learn, and we can repent of the mistakes of the past.  Can you imagine the wonder of a grown child whose parent asks his forgiveness?  God had given us the marvelous promise to restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25), and we can claim that as we reach out in faith to our children.  With our cooperation, he can heal the wounds we’ve inflicted and turn their hearts to him and to us.


Thank you, Father, for showing us your love through Jesus Christ.  Make us into the parents and grandparents you’d have us to be; help us to receive your unconditional love and to lavish it on our children and grandchildren. Forgive us our sins; give us courage to repent; and bring healing to our children and our families.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


…I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.  II Peter 1:12


Our family has a fun tradition that was begun in 1977 with the release of the first Star Wars movie.  My parents and our young family sat in a little line in the theater to watch the parade of fantastic characters march across the screen depicting their amazing struggle to defeat the evil empire.  And as the epic continued, the children got older, married, had children, and we still went together to sit in our extended line for the anticipated entertainment.  But now my parents are no longer with us.

With the newest release this year, I’ve had to review some old DVD’s to remind myself of what occurred in previous episodes.  In doing so, I’ve picked up a few kernels of wisdom.  One of the characters tells a youngster, “When you give in to fear or hatred or anger, you go to the Dark Side.”   And then there is always the admonition to “Use the Force.”  As the trainee learns to listen and use the Force, he becomes more powerful and does astonishing things.

I imagine John of the Revelation would readily understand the images and messages from Star Wars.  After all, he used images and symbols to portray important truths and warnings for the Church of his day (and the future) including the cosmic battle between good and evil.  And John also warns against being fearful (Rev. 21:8), something we tend to dismiss as a little thing.  In actuality, when fear isn’t a natural response to danger, it’s a state of distrusting God.  Then John tells us in I John 2:9 that if we hate a brother or sister, we walk in darkness.  And Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:22) that those who are angry with a brother or sister will be in danger of judgment.  I expect we can all agree that fear, hatred, and anger does pull a person to the dark side.

But the reminder I especially like are the words that were repeated over and over by the Jedi warrior, “Use the Force.” In our constant battle against our eternal enemy, how often do we rely on ourselves rather than remembering that greater is he that is within us than he that is in the world (I John 4:4)?  As we decrease, the Spirit of God grows stronger and more powerful in us and can do more than we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20).  We really are more than conquerors through him who loved us as we rely on the power of God within us.

Lest you scoff that my little jaunt into the Star Wars world is a bit trite, I recall that on a visit (the 4th day of May) to one of our esteemed seminaries, which shall remain nameless, I entered the chapel only to see a white Storm Trooper helmet on the head of one of the carved saints in a niche high above the chancel with the notation, “May the Fourth be with you.”  I love seeing God’s reminders everywhere.


Father, thank you for the gift of humor and for your principles that are all around us.  Give us eyes to see, hearts to obey… In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



 …give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:18


Father, time and space are insufficient to thank you for your presence in our lives.  But you did tell us to give thanks, and in our country we are blessed to have a day set aside to do just that.

THANK YOU for everything that is entailed by being your child: everything that pertains to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3) and to eternal life with you forever (I John 5:11).

 THANK YOU for my family who loves and serves you faithfully and that we come together in love, harmony, and mutual support (Psalm 133:1).

 THANK YOU for the community of faith where we can build each other up and encourage one another (I Thessalonians 5:11).

 THANK YOU for our country where we can freely worship and share our faith (Psalm 33:12).

 THANK YOU for always keeping your promises (I Kings 8:57), for always being with us (Matthew 28:20), and for giving us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

 THANK YOU for being our constant resource (Philippians 4:19) whatever the need: physical, emotional, material, spiritual.

 THANK YOU that you don’t give up on us and continue to work in us for your purposes (Philippians 1:6, 2:13).

 THANK YOU that no matter what the circumstances, we can still thank you in the circumstances knowing you love us and always purpose good for us (Romans 8:28).

 THANK YOU for all the prayers you have answered, but I especially thank you for prayers you answered according to your good will and not mine (Matthew 6:10).


 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name (Psalm 103:1).





The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1  (NIV)

Let’s put aside the tearing down—there’s already too much of that going on—and think about being builders.  Don’t you find that prospect exciting?  So what if we’ve made mistakes or haven’t been perfect?  (As if anyone is…)  Joel 2:25 speaks to past mistakes or regrets:  …I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.  In essence, God’s redemptive power even touches those times we wish we could redo.  He is able to transform the past and give us hope for the future.

When I think of building, I think about all the joys we can bring to our families.  Lest we can’t think of a thing we can contribute, Proverbs 31 sets out a composite of the Ideal Woman.  I don’t have a vineyard to plant, and I haven’t spun any thread lately (or ever), but I do know the joy of arranging flowers for my family to enjoy and am pretty talented at spinning stories for the grandchildren.  We all have unique gifts that can be honed for blessing our families.  We just need to get in building mode.

Someone said that women are the thermostat of the home; they set the temperature for everyone.  Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles and 17 others!) set the tone for her household by huddling in prayer in the mornings with an apron pulled over her head.  From those two-hour prayer sessions, she emerged to teach and shape her children and her community almost single-handedly.

I rarely use an apron for anything, but my prayer time can reach out to my family and those I love just as effectively as those prayers of Susanna, and I can demonstrate love in ways that affirm and encourage.  I can be alert to the gifts that are beginning to blossom in my little ones (grandchildren) and praise their parents for their faithfulness during rough patches.  I can sacrificially give them my time, put aside my own activities, and offer undivided attention.

Susanna spent time alone with each of her children throughout the week, teaching, listening, and encouraging them.  Her son John later commented on how special those times were to him and his personal growth.  Even with just one or two children, I wonder how much time we devote in a week to each child?

Think of the opportunities we have to shape lives within our realm of influence.  What can you do to build your house?  It’s never too late.  Have you ever been driving with a GPS system, and you inadvertently get off track?  Siri (or whatever her name may be) says, “Recalculating…”  And eventually, you get back on course.  So, you may have gotten off course in your building project.  Recalculate and get back to work.


Lord, what a glorious opportunity you have given us to bless our families.  Open our hearts and imaginations to touch each one today with your love.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  John 13:34

One of the really beautiful things about having adult children is that one can sit back and take pleasure in conversation between them without having to be the monitor.  They reach the age where they enjoy each other and appreciate who each has become.

I’ve just returned from a family birthday dinner.  My two children, spouses, and four grandchildren were all there, chatting, beaming, loving on one another.  Even the grands were laughing and teasing each other and sharing funny pictures they’d created with their IPhones.  I could resonate with the Psalmist who said, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!”  (Psalm 133:1)  The evening ended with the children’s enthusiastic discussion of where we should all go for vacation next year.

I am certain my children love and appreciate each other because of family traditions that began generations ago.  I watched my mom and her two brothers interact and knew that they had been taught respect and love for others and for themselves.  And they learned to entertain each other.  It was fun hearing them tell stories of growing up with neighborhood children parading in and out of the house.  Everyone always sensed they were welcome.

When my brother and I were growing up, if we got even close to arguing, my mom would make us recite to each other, “… be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32)  That wasn’t so bad, but after we’d spoken Scripture to one another, we had to hug and kiss.  That was deterrent enough to keep us on the straight and narrow.

We spent nights with our grandparents, often sleeping on the big feather bed with little Grandma sandwiched between us.  We’d roll to the center, and when the bed slats shifted, the whole contraption fell to the floor with the three of us laughing hysterically.  We’d put the bed back together, and the process was repeated until we were all so tired, we didn’t bother with the slats and just slept on the floor.

Dinner time at home was special because the rules were suspended.  Except for good manners.  One night my dad put giant marbles in his pocket and told us he was so tired, he thought his eyes would drop out.  Suddenly, he managed to make it appear that his eyes were falling out of his head.  My brother laughed so hard, he and his chair fell over.  And then we all had a turn doing the marble trick.

Simple little times of laughter and fun with our parents and grandparents who were otherwise the unquestioned authority figures in our home.  But everyone knew how to laugh and to ensure that we were all included.

There are so many encouraging stories and admonitions in the Bible for parents and for families – from the single person, to the widow, to the orphan, to large or small families.  We learn to train children in the way they should go; we’re admonished to model Christ-like behavior and to discipline with gentleness and care; and we’re instructed to pray for and with each other.  Mostly, we learn to love

Then as our children grow up, it’s funny how they replicate what they’ve seen and heard.  And it’s so good to see them loving each other.


Father, thank you for working in all our lives and for making up the differences when we fail as parents and family members.  Help us to support and encourage our children as they pick up their responsibilities as parents.  And help us to remember that we made our share of mistakes.  Thanks for your patience.  AMEN.