10 Tools of Faith to Improve Your Day

Having a hard day? Occasionally, everyone does. Things won’t always go your way, but instead of succumbing to the emotional distress of a bad day or a bad week, you can employ strategies to improve it. As a Christian, you have a ready-made toolbox right at your disposal; simply put these tools of faith into practice and watch your outlook change.


  1. Praise and Worship

The Word tells you to “enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4). Whether you’re in your car, at the office or at home, you can improve your day immensely by taking a few minutes to praise and worship God. It’s a great way to refocus on God’s greatness, stir up your faith, and get your mind off your present frustrations.


  1. Meditate on God’s Word

Find a scripture that pertains to your situation and begin meditating on it. Prayerfully consider what the verse means. If it’s a promise, then claim that promise for yourself. For instance, if someone is making life at your workplace difficult, you might stop and meditate on Psalm 118:6, NKJV, which says, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Speak it out and thank God for His provision and protection. Then write that verse out on a sticky note or make it your home screen on your smartphone or tablet. Don’t simply read it and move on. Stop, close your eyes if necessary, and focus on what it says. Instead of letting irritating situations or conversations play on a loop in your mind, let that scripture take their place. And while Psalm 118:6 may work for your situation, there is a whole Bible full of other scriptures on which to meditate. Don’t know which verse to use? Check out the article, Meditate on the Word to Battle Stress.


  1. Encourage Another Person

Focusing on others and encouraging them through their difficulties is a great way to give yourself a break from your own troubles. Ask the Holy Spirit for direction, and you’re sure to find someone—a co-worker, a neighbor or a long-distant friend—who will greatly appreciate a sincere smile, a kind note/text/email or an encouraging phone call. If you can’t think of someone to encourage, check out KCM’s Partner Community. It’s an ideal place to encourage fellow believers in the Word.

  1. Take Stock of Your Blessings

The enemy loves to convince you that all is lost, but that’s not even close to the truth. God has provided so much for you. When struggles come, take stock of all the blessings God has given you—your salvation, your health, your home, your family, your family’s health, your job, your church and more. James 1:17 reminds you that “whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” Take time to consider all the “good and perfect” blessings in your life.


  1. Stop and Remember What the Lord Has Done

Think of all the times God has come to your rescue in the past. To the Israelites, He said, “Be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 6:12). The Lord wanted them not only to remain thankful for what He had already done for them, but He also wanted them to remember that if He loved them enough to free them from Egypt, then He could certainly free them from any future difficulty.


So ask yourself: When did the Lord rescue me? He certainly rescued you from eternal death and separation from Him through the sacrifice of His Son, and surely, He has rescued you since then. Perhaps He rescued you from a chronic disease, a bad business deal, debilitating debt or an unhealthy relationship. When difficulties arise, it’s good to look back, take stock of what the Lord had already done for you, and encourage yourself with the knowledge that He didn’t abandon you before, and He won’t abandon you now.

  1. Journal

Do you ever struggle with replaying situations in your mind? Journaling can help you get competing and obsessive thoughts down on paper and process how you feel about current issues. In fact, it’s a great way to start or end your day because it can help you think more objectively about what is happening, allow you to write a daily letter to God, or record prayer requests and praise reports.


  1. Pray

“Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). There is no substitute for constant communication with the Lord. Throughout your day—and especially during difficult days—take time to ask for His perspective and help. Even if you can’t see the big picture or the end result, you can trust the Lord to give you the next step (Psalm 37:23). A simple prayer like, “Lord, what do You want me to do today (or now)?” can yield big results and help you navigate through overwhelming to-do lists, competing priorities or seemingly impossible situations.


  1. Intercede for Others

Just as encouraging someone else can help you take the focus off yourself, so can intercession. When your own life is fraught with frustration, you can go before the Lord and say, “Lord, You know what’s happening in my life, and I trust You to handle it, but for now, I lift up (fill in the blank with the person’s name.)” Even if you don’t know what to pray, you can intercede for them in the spirit. As long as you don’t take on their burdens as your own, intercession will often result in you feeling encouraged and strengthened in your own life as you petition the Lord on someone else’s behalf.


  1. Take a Walk

Envelope yourself in God’s creation. It’s a wonderful way to appreciate just how great the God is who you serve. As the psalmist proclaimed, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming” (Psalm 96:11-13a)! There is something rejuvenating and awe-inspiring about nature and the creative power of God.


  1. Serve Someone Else

If you look around, you’ll easily find someone in need: a co-worker who could benefit from being invited to lunch, a neighbor would could use a home-cooked meal, a senior citizen or single parent who would appreciate help running errands or performing household chores, a ministry outreach in your church that needs volunteers. Serving others will help you put your own frustrations in perspective and make you feel good about how you finish your day.


If you’re having a bad day and need some simple pick-me-up solutions, then put these to work. Consider them your go-to tools for improving your day and quite possibly someone else’s day, too!


In the Midst of Life Struggles: Look Up

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

There’s so much in this life we can start to feel anxious about, even when we know God’s truth and believe that He’s in control. It can still be a daily battle in our hearts, in our minds.

When we just keep looking all around us, we can easily get defeated. Drained. Impatient. Cynical.

We may find ourselves wrestling with worry. Fear might creep in. We lose our focus because we’re so distracted on all the things that can never really give us strength and hope anyway.

People won’t ever be the answer for our every need. Money, possessions, or success can’t ever satisfy the void deep inside that only God can fill. This world will never be free of all conflict. The government won’t ever fix all of our problems. It can’t. Because no matter who is President, no matter what we face in this life, God’s still on the throne.

5 Reminders of Hope from Psalm 121:

– “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” v. 2  He’s All-powerful. God is a mountain mover and Creator of heaven and earth. He’s with us, always. He breathes help and strength into our souls, into our day.

– “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.” v. 3  He won’t allow us to fall. We may find ourselves on slippery slopes, or the path we’re walking seems to be full of potholes and obstacles. But the God who knows all, knows our way. And even when we stumble, as our eyes are fixed on Him, He will keep our footsteps firm. For He watches over us and never sleeps or slumbers.

– “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.” v. 5  He keeps us, safe, in His care. He protects us like the shade protects from the heat of the day. Why the “right hand?” Because it is known as the hand that works, so we can be assured that whatever He’s given us to do in this life, His covering of protection rests over all of our work and efforts.

– “The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.” v. 7  He protects us from “all evil,” not some, but “all.” It does not have the final say over our lives. Fear of death, disease, and hardship has lost its sting, for our lives are hidden with Christ in God. No matter who or what we’re rubbing shoulders with each day, God’s power is greater than whatever darkness we might face. For He is the soul-keeper and He holds all of our tomorrows.

– “The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.” v. 8  He watches over us, constantly, His eyes are towards us. He cannot look away from those He loves. He watches our coming and our going, and all in between. He watches over our family and children, even when we cannot see. We do not have to worry, for He strongly supports those whose hearts are His.

Intersecting Faith & Life: It often comes down to a choice. Let’s choose, no matter what swirls around us, to set our eyes on God. For if He made all of heaven and earth, surely He has a Sovereign, incredible plan, for you and for me. He knows our way in this journey of life, and He’s a “with us” God. Keep remembering today: Look up. He alone is where our hope is found!

Further Reading: 
Psalm 121:1-8
2 Chronicles 16:9
Matthew 28:20

Five Amazing Truths About the Wisdom of God

As a Christian, you have a mighty resource at your disposal—the wisdom of God. Not only can the wisdom of God help you make good decisions in your life, but God’s Word promises that it brings joy, long life, riches and honor. Just look at what King Solomon wrote about wisdom in Proverbs 3:


Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly. (verses 13-18)


Moreover, Solomon goes on to tell us that we should make getting godly wisdom the principal thing (Proverbs 4:7, NKJV).What’s that mean? It means we should make seeking wisdom from the Word of God “first in importance.” If you are struggling with a situation and you seem to be going around and around in circles, not getting anywhere…you need godly wisdom. If you are sick in your physical body, and you can’t seem to get well…you need godly wisdom. If your finances are out of control…you need godly wisdom. No matter what your problem, the wisdom of God, found in His Word, is the place to start.


Below are five amazing truths about the wisdom of God that will help you every day of your life. Study them, meditate and then begin applying them, and you will get wisdom for whatever you’re facing today.


Truth No. 1: God’s Wisdom Is Available to Every Believer

“For God does not show favoritism.” –Romans 2:11


Every believer has the right to access the blessings of God. He does not give wisdom to some and not to others. He doesn’t withhold any good things from His people. If you desire the wisdom of God regarding any situation or simply as a consistent part of your life (and this is best!), then you can have it. It doesn’t require that you be a Christian for a certain number of years. It isn’t necessary that you get straight A’s on some celestial report card. You don’t have to attend church every time the doors are open or go through some lengthy prayer process. The lack of any of these doesn’t preclude you from receiving God’s wisdom.


Truth No. 2: You Simply Need to Ask for the Wisdom of God

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” –James 1:5


As a child, did you ever hear the words “you should know better”? Thankfully, that is not the response you will ever hear from God when you ask for wisdom. If you are facing a decision or are questioning how to handle a situation, God will not respond with an eye roll and shake of His head. He will not be disappointed in you for asking or angry that you can’t figure things out on your own. No, His Word promises that if you ask for wisdom, He’ll give it to you.


However, He does have on prerequisite when you ask. Verses 6-7 say:


But when you ask him [for wisdom], be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.


What does this mean? It means that when you ask God for wisdom, believe that He is going to give it to you. Take the wisdom of God as soon as you ask for it, and declare that you do not doubt it. Thank the Lord that you receive it, and you have it!

Truth No. 3: God’s Word Is Full of His Wisdom

“For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
–Proverbs 2:6


God has already given a lot of wisdom in His Word. Throughout the Bible, you can learn many lessons, such as: how to face adversity with faith, how to handle difficult people, and how to manage your finances, just to name a few. You can learn by reading about others’ interactions with God (i.e. the Israelites, apostles and early Church members) and how He worked in their lives. So, dig into the Word. Study about Jesus’ ministry. Study about Paul’s journeys. Study about Moses’ leadership. Study Solomon’s wisdom. God’s Word is full of the insights and advice you can directly apply to your life and the situations you face every day.


When you sit down to study the Word of God, praise the Lord for His wisdom, and thank Him that He gives it to you. Ask Him to grant you wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Ask Him to show you how what you’re reading applies to your life, and how you can put it into action.


Truth No. 4: The Wisdom of God and the World’s Wisdom Are NOT the Same

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” –Proverbs 1:7


If you have been following the Lord for longer than two minutes, you know that the world’s ways do not reflect God’s ways. The world will tell you to look out for yourself at the expense of others. The world will tell you that immediate happiness is the most important goal for your life. The world will tell you to do whatever makes you happy. The world will tell you there is no absolute truth. However, God’s wisdom surpasses all of the world’s wisdom.


The truth is that acknowledging and honoring the Lord with your life is the foundation and the start of true wisdom. The world chooses not to fear the Lord, so its wisdom is limited to man’s thinking. This is how the Lord puts it:


“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9


As a child of God, He wants you to understand His ways and thoughts, so you can apply His wisdom to your life. But to the people in the world who reject Him, His wisdom is much higher than theirs. So, if you are seeking God’s wisdom, recognize that you may have to relinquish what is commonly accepted by everyone else. Family, friends and co-workers may look at you sideways, but trust that God’s way is best.


Truth No. 5: The Enemy Will Try to Distract You From the Wisdom of God

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8


The enemy will do his best to confuse you about following God’s wisdom by reminding you of past mistakes or competing options. Therefore, it’s necessary to get quiet before the Lord by spending time in Bible study and prayer. When the enemy comes at you with condemnation for past mistakes or confusion because the Lord is leading you in an unconventional direction, use the Word to combat him. It’s also wise to speak with trusted, mature believers, possibly a pastor at your church, small group leader or a spiritual mentor.


Wisdom is the principal thing, and these five truths about it will help you navigate from the small to the big issues of everyday life. Remember, if you seek the wisdom of God—if you want to have it—then you can count on receiving it. God won’t withhold it from you. You simply need to ask Him for it. Then spend time in His Word, in prayer and listening to His Holy Spirit, understanding that His way may look different from the world’s. Then refuse to let the enemy distract or confuse you. The wisdom you need—God’s wisdom—is available to help you live successfully no matter what you face.

God is preparing you for great things

God puts dreams in our hearts and writes a destiny over our lives. And if we trust Him enough to take Him at His word, we will find ourselves on a journey toward the fulfillment of that dream.

Unfortunately, the path that takes us to the promise is always wrought with thickets and thorns. Nothing worth having ever comes easy or without opposition. Storms will come, lions will roar, and our fears will be confronted. God allows the path to be difficult because He intends on refining us and preparing us for our place of promise. He is intent on extracting from us, that which our enemy would love to leverage against us.

God loves us too much to promote us before we are ready.

And so, as we follow His lead, we will at different times, find ourselves in a valley – a valley of decision. Marriages die there. Dreams die there too. The flesh dies hard and unfortunately for many, they’ve opted to let their dream die before they’d ever allow their flesh to be confronted.

We all have weak spots and areas of inconsistency in our character. Until we see Jesus face to face, we will need His guidance and correction. He wants to take us from strength to strength; from glory to glory.

Ephesians 3:20 tells us that He wants to do abundantly above and beyond ALL that we could ever ask or think, but there’s a clincher in this verse…it’s according to His work within us. To the extent that He’s allowed to work in us, will be the extent that He does great things through us.

After pondering this idea a little more, I envisioned a valley of dry bones. Bones from marriages, relationships, and dreams abandoned because many people refused to die to themselves, to humble themselves, and to let God have His way in their lives.

Don’t let your dream die in the valley!

If you’re in a season of refining, lean in. Trust the loving hand of your precious Savior and know that He will lead you to the other side. Refuse a sense of entitlement and don’t demand to be understood.

Instead, humble yourself and seek to understand what the Lord is doing around you.

He will faithfully lead you and you will be strengthened as you go.

On the other side of this refining time is a fresh perspective and new mercies.

Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God; in due time you will be lifted up and honored before a watching world.

Here’s my question for you: Do you have a sense of how God is using your current circumstances to prepare you for a great calling?

Honor Mom

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:3


Jesus honored His mom though He had the power and prerogative to delay her request. She saw His newly recruited disciples and realized her little boy was now a man of God. She reflected on her Holy Spirit conception and the joy of bringing her son and Savior into the world. So, she asked her Lord for a miracle for the sake of someone else. He honored her by allowing the wedding celebration to continue without the disruption of running out of refreshments. Love is honorable.


Our moms are needy and they need us. They cared for our needs for many years. As an infant, they fed us, comforted us, and woke up in the middle of the night to calm our cries. As a child they taught us, disciplined us, and laughed at and with us. As a teenager, if they prayed, they prayed even more for our protection from ourselves. As an adult they want us to pray for them, keep up with them and honor them. Mothers filled with God remind us of His unselfish love.


“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).


Has your mother made a direct or indirect request of you? Has she implied a need, but not come right out and verbalized it? Perhaps the Lord is calling you to honor her by helping her, or by helping someone she is concerned about. Some moms have the admirable quality of always looking out for others, even if it requires giving up something themselves. When your mom senses your undivided attention and authentic concern, she’ll open up about her cares. Honor listens.


If your wife is a mom, how can you support her dreams and desires? How can you better partner with her in parenting? It honors your wife when you pray with her for your children. It honors her when you listen to her fears and support her in her stress. Being a mom is oh so fulfilling, but it is hard. You honor her by being with her to laugh and cry over the children. You honor her when you offer emotional support. Yes, you honor your mom most, when you live honorably before God.


“May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful” (Proverbs 23:25)!


Prayer: Heavenly Father, show me how to better honor my mom and the mother of our children.


Application: How can I honor Mom or the mother of my children in a way that makes her feel loved?


Related Readings: Deuteronomy 5:16; Psalm 35:14; Matthew 12:46; John 19:26-27

The emotional link between a mother and child is vital to healthy child growth and development.

Dear friends,

Mother’s Day this year is on May 14, and I hope you are beginning to think about it. I want to begin my letter this month with a true story that will be familiar to some of you. It’s about the horrendous fires that ravaged Yellowstone National Park in June 1988. Birds and ground creatures fled for their lives as flames raced through the forest. One of those birds was a little mother who had laid her eggs in a bush at the base of a tree. After the fires had been extinguished, a park ranger found her charred body still on the nest. She had remained on her eggs as she burned. They survived. She did not.

Isn’t that a wonderful picture of a mother’s love for her babies? God put something within her that was more powerful than life, despite the terror that swirled around her. Most human mothers have a measure of that same devotion. I know my mother would have given her life for me in a heartbeat if circumstances required it.

She and I were crossing a railroad track on foot one night when I was five years old. I don’t remember the cause, but we found ourselves in the path of a huge locomotive that steamed toward us just a few yards away. It scared me to death! Mom was holding my arm and I instinctively pulled her backward. We jockeyed back and forth for a fraction of a second as our lives hung in the balance. My mother then pulled me across the tracks and to safety as the big engine roared past us. Do you know that my mother and I never mentioned that incident again to the end of her life? It was so terrifying that we just didn’t want to talk about it. But I lived always in the knowledge of my mother’s love and protection.

Not every child has been so fortunate. I am going to share an editorial now about mothers who also give a full measure of devotion to their maternal charges. The writer makes a great case for nurturing, despite what an Australian feminist wrote to the contrary.
The Daily Telegraph recently published a piece by Sarrah Le Marquand in which she says it should be illegal for mothers to stay at home once their children are school-aged. She draws on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) recent report which said mothers “would be better off putting their skills to use in paid employment.” 

My first reaction was, what in the world? My second reaction was laughter at the absurdity of her argument. After reading the whole thing, I prayed to God that enough people in America would unapologetically tell the government where to get off if an idea like this was ever proposed here. Because while it is idiotic, it’s also genuinely wicked. 

Le Marquand says, “Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun paid employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed.” 

Practically, What Would That Look Like? 

Charity requires that I first give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she was under some sort of intoxicating influence when she wrote this. It is hard to imagine it coming from anyone of sound and sober mind. She wants the law to force every mother to be “gainfully employed” once the kiddos are off to school (and I assume that means preschool). 

Are there really that many jobs in Australia that every single woman could find work for which she was qualified and wanted to do? Or does it not matter whether she’s qualified? Or does it not matter whether she wants to do the work? Are we talking forced labor here? What’s the minimum number of work hours required? 

How exactly does Le Marquand propose enforcing such a law? Shall women who don’t want employment be fined? Prosecuted? Imprisoned? Will women have to “register” for some Work Force manifest that includes their children’s birth dates so that the government can notify them when their kids are “old enough” and Mom must now leave home and get a “real” job? 

Will mothers of special needs children be included in this new mandatory Work Force? What about disabled women? Will this requirement come with a maximum-child cap? It would have to, or you’d never know when Mommy was “eligible” for the Work Force. If she has another baby, then the clock starts over, and we can’t let that happen indefinitely, now can we? 

State Before Family 

Le Marquand first denigrates and patronizes stay-at-home mothers by talking about Play-Doh, nappies and play groups. Next, she tries to pay homage to the importance of parenting and the needs of children and makes much hay about taxes and benefits. 

Finally, we get to the wicked heart of this proposal: “Holding us less accountable when it comes to our employment responsibilities is not doing anyone any favours. Not children, not fathers, not bosses — and certainly not women.” 

For Le Marquand, the primary responsibility is to the State, not the family. Gainful employment that pays taxes is a higher duty than parenting. Children’s interests are best served not by their mothers, but by the State. Women’s interests can only be fulfilled by the State. We areaccountable to the State. 

Home is merely where everyone lands to sleep after doing their duty to the State, earning a taxable income all day. The children will be shaped and indoctrinated by the State each day to be obedient little wards who become compliant adults who keep their “responsibility” to the State. (Necessarily axed by all this, of course, would be homeschooling. Can’t have children educated and shaped by their parents’ morals and values rather than the State’s!) 

What Liberal Feminism is Really About 

Le Marquand also admits that liberal feminism isn’t about freedom: 

Only when the female half of the population is expected to hold down a job and earn money to pay the bills in the same way that men are routinely expected to do will we see things change for the better for either gender. 

Only when the tiresome and completely unfounded claim that “feminism is about choice” is dead and buried (it’s not about choice, it’s about equality) will we consign restrictive gender stereotypes to history. 

I wonder if Le Marquand caught the irony of insisting that “choice” is dead. We all know the only “choice” liberal feminism allows women is to kill the child in the womb. 

No, we’re expected to hold down a job and earn money. In the State-centered universe, the purpose of life is work and serving the State, and the interruption of children will only be tolerated for so long. Husbands and wives are not free to decide for themselves how to meet their family’s needs, because the family’s needs are secondary to the demands of the State. Women are not free to be fulfilled in caring for their homes and children. We’re “better off” being “gainfully employed.” 

There’s no mention at all of the physical and emotional needs of children, and how to best provide for those needs. Such concerns are irrelevant, and contrary to the real agenda here. We can’t just shrug and say this kind of coercion could never happen in America. 

We have abandoned the truth that marriage is between a man and a woman for life, for the benefit of their children. We’ve forgotten that the family is the first cell of society. The adults’ wants now outweigh the children’s needs, so we’re well on our way. When the State becomes god, then get ready for the Work Force and all the tyranny that comes with it.1 

Thank goodness for the counter argument of Jennifer Hartline in response to the foolishness of feminist Sarrah Le Marquand who put forward a radical and unworkable proposal. What La Marquand fails to comprehend is the vital connection between children and their mothers. That emotional linkage is known by every child psychologist as “attachment,” and it is absolutely vital to healthy child growth and development. 

Attachment has a hormonal base (it is driven by oxytocin), and is critical to the security of children and grown-ups alike. I wrote about it in both my books,Bringing Up Boys and Bringing Up Girls. It is highly relevant to both mothers and daughters and, in a different way, to mothers and sons. These are my written words. Please take them seriously: 

It has been demonstrated that the failure of mothers and babies to attach is linked directly to physical and mental illnesses of all types. The reason is apparent. If a child is regularly overwhelmed by negative feelings and stressful circumstances, her inability to cope in infancy becomes a lifelong pattern. The link between maternal attachment and poor health is not merely theoretical. It is a reality.2 

By contrast, something wonderful happens when a nurturing mother intercedes lovingly on behalf of her distressed baby. Typically, she talks softly to her frightened infant, cuddles her, changes uncomfortable diapers, sways with her gently, and sings quietly while providing a warm and nurturing breast. The child in her arms is calmed both emotionally and physically, and her fears subside. From that deeply satisfying experience for mother and baby, a bond begins to form between them. It will establish a foundation for all that lies ahead. The relationship the mother and child forge will never be completely abandoned or forgotten, even though it may be severely strained at times. This is why wounded and dying men, hardened by combat on a battlefield, will often utter one last word through their tears: “Mother!” 

Infants are like sponges soaking up the affection showered on them. They clearly prefer human stimuli above anything else. Girl babies more than boys are attuned to faces, touch, voices, and even smell. They are more sensitive to speech and singing than any other sound. Is this the origin of the lullaby? It must be. A newborn has been listening to her mother’s voice from inside the womb for many months, and she is comforted by it. 

Brain development is greatly influenced and aided by the care and attention given in a nursery by mothers, grandmothers, or mother substitutes. As months pass, this attachment provides a secure base that encourages the exploration of the surrounding environment. It also defines a child’s style of relating to others, teaches her to trust, helps her interpret her feelings, and acquaints her with intimacy. We cannot overstate the importance of this maternal bonding to the health and well-being of a child of either sex.3 

To put it succinctly, Mom, you are indispensable. The start your baby gets in life is in your hands—and in your voice and in your heart. What a wonderful privilege and responsibility it is to welcome your boys and girls with open arms. That little bundle arrives straight from the hand of the Creator as His precious gift. King David wrote about his own formation in one of his most beautiful psalms: 

For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. 
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 
Your eyes saw my unformed body. 
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. 
How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. 
When I awake, I am still with You. (Psalm 139:13-18) 

Lauren Porter, a psychotherapist and clinical social worker, puts it this way: 

“As children continue to age and develop, their needs evolve but their reliance on the attachment system endures. Even adolescence, often viewed as the pinnacle of developmental challenges, has its focus in attachment. Adolescents struggle with the tension between their connection to family and their formation of independence. The foundation built in the early years is the groundwork for this phase of life; if the attachment is secure and established, child and parents can negotiate the events of adolescence with little struggle.”4 

But what about fathers? How do they fit into this attachment phenomenon? When a child is an infant, Mom provides the cornerstone of healthy child development, but Dad is hardly irrelevant. His role is primarily to be supportive of the mother. He should also begin to connect with the baby in the months to follow. His masculine voice, size, demeanor, and gentle discipline provide the security produced by defined limits. In a permissive world where many parents have forgotten or never knew the importance of appropriate authority, it is the responsibility of a father to help guide behavior and teach self-control. 

Here is another example of a father’s role as related to gender. Boys are not born with an understanding of what it means to be male. It is a dad’s responsibility to introduce that concept over time. Beginning at about eighteen months of age and continuing over the next four years, sexual identity is being formed. During that time, boys need exposure to a loving father or father figure who will serve as a role model for masculinity. They still need their mom’s affirmation, to be sure, but not in an overbearing way that prevents them from becoming the males they were made to become. Said another way, the mother is no less significant to her son during that period of identity formation, but something new is being added to the mix. A boy will usually observe as time passes that “Dad is different, and I should be like him.” Hopefully, the mother will not be threatened by that realignment and, in fact, should encourage it. 

For girls, dads play a unique role. The attachment is no less vital, but it is different. Most parents are aware that boys need their fathers and girls are dependent on their mothers. It is equally important to know, however, that the cross-sexual relationship is also of inestimable significance. Girls need their fathers as much as boys do, but for different reasons. 

The establishment of attachment between generations is made much more difficult for boys and for girls because of dramatic changes in the culture in recent years. Before the Industrial Revolution, fathers and mothers worked side by side on farms or in family-owned businesses. They raised their children together, and except for men in the military or those who sailed the seas, most dads lived and worked close to home. For example, we read in Mark 6:3 that Jesus was a carpenter, a trade obviously learned from his earthly father as a child (see Matthew 13:55). We assume his mother, Mary, was a full-time homemaker living nearby. That family structure is now rarely seen. Only in the last one hundred years have fathers left home all day to make a living. Now, approximately 51 percent of mothers are also employed full-time in the workforce.5

This is where establishing attachment encounters a challenge. There are enormous pressures on millions of new mothers to “get back to work” as soon as possible after giving birth. The U.S. Census Bureau indicated several years ago that only 42 percent of new mothers take more than three months at home with their babies.6 Many return to work within a month or six weeks. Given what we have seen about the importance of early bonding, that can be a big problem. If at all possible, I would recommend that moms take at least a year after birth to heal, bond, and establish a family routine. I recognize that full-time homemaking is not possible for many mothers because of financial pressures and other concerns. Single mothers usually have no choice. It is unfortunate that so many women face that dilemma. Most new mothers know intuitively that the time spent with their babies is precious and fleeting, and they often feel a unique agony when the time comes to hand their babies or preschoolers over to a caregiver and head back to a job outside the home. 

Psychologist Daphne de Marneffe, Ph.D., advocates for at-home mothers in her book entitledMaternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life. After giving birth to her third child, she acknowledged an ache inside to be with her children. She writes, “I felt an invisible tether drawing me home.”7 After talking to many other conflicted mothers in the workplace, she concludes, “Maternal desire is not, for any woman, all there is. But for many of us, it is an important part of who we are.”8 Dr. de Marneffe gave up her practice and became a full-time homemaker. 

Freelance writer Ellyn Spragins sought to explain why mothers in the workforce become easily offended when even casual references are made to their employment. She writes: 

“What makes a working woman act this way? Having her heart broken each morning by a tearful 2-year-old who has to be restrained from running down the sidewalk after her when she leaves for work? Forcing herself to linger on a phone call about decorations for the fifth-grade Thanksgiving feast when her client is checking his watch in the reception area? And, of course, needing her paycheck to pay the bills.”9 

Then Spragins turns the coin over and describes the sensitivity of full-time homemakers. 

“I’ve straddled these two worlds for most of the last 13 years because I work at home so I can be near my daughter, Keenan, 13, and son, Tucker, 11. Sometimes it makes me feel like a thin-skinned spy. I wince when I hear stay-at-home acquaintances slam an employed mother and become indignant when working friends wonder what stay-at-home moms do all day.”10 

The trend, it would appear, is moving toward more women staying home. According to a Pew Research Center survey of 2,000 women conducted in 2007, only one in five (21 percent) of employed mothers with children under seventeen said full-time work is the ideal situation for them. That is down from 32 percent in 1997. Sixty percent of these moms said part-time work would be their ideal, compared to 48 percent in 1997. One in five (19 percent) said they would rather not be employed outside the home at all. Stated another way, 79 percent of working mothers of minor children would rather not be employed full-time.11  

On the other side of the ledger, only 16 percent of stay-at-home mothers with minor children said their ideal situation would be full-time employment, down from 24 percent in 1997. Forty-eight percent of these stay-at-home moms said not working outside the home would be the ideal situation.12 In 2007, only 16 percent of mothers with children under five thought it would be ideal to work full-time, down from 31 percent in 1997.13 

In summary, the majority of stay-at-home mothers are content with their decision not to enter or reenter the workforce, and those who are employed full-time say they would prefer to work less or not at all. These preferences are not widely reported in the mainstream media, but they reveal something significant about mothers. Most of them work outside the home because they feel they must, and the younger their children are, the more they yearn to stay home. What a shame it is that women who desperately want to stay at home with their babies do not have the opportunity to do so. 

It comes down to this: kids thrive in an environment of order, vigilance, and close supervision, which is very difficult to provide by those who come home every night exhausted, distracted, and frazzled. The question that every family raising small children must answer is one of priorities: where is the best place for a mom to invest her time? All things being equal, I recommend that mothers who do have an option consider the welfare of their children first, especially when they are young. 

Attachment won’t wait! 

I’ll conclude by wishing Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who are investing your lives in raising healthy, growing, spiritually nurtured youngsters. Despite the pressures of building your homes and families, you will never regret what this period of your life will mean to you in the days ahead. Bouncing along behind you is a wagonload of humanity that God Himself pronounces as “a blessing.” He commanded us to “Go forth and multiply.” Enjoy these passing days, because they will be gone before you know it. 
God be with you. 

Find Rest in Him

All through grade school I took ballet from Ms. Karen. I wore the same outfit every week: pink tights, a pink leotard, and little pink ballet shoes with a tiny string of a bow. Practice was regular and ordinary. No lights, no crowds, no glitter, no makeup. It couldn’t have been more plain.

But once a year we would put on outfits with glitter and go to one of the biggest stages in our town. In those moments, it would occur to me, I could be an epic dancer. I could be a star. So in an effort to stand out from all of the other eight-year-old girls in the exact same costume, with the exact same dirty little ballet shoes, I would strive. I mean, I couldn’t really strive in my actual dance. It was simple and choreographed and I wasn’t going to bust out all rogue little dancer girl. But in my soul I would strive to be seen, strive to smile the biggest, strive to be noticed somehow.

Isn’t it funny I remember that feeling? And how silly. I was one of thirty 8-year-olds in the same outfit.

Are you tired? Weary? What’s the cause?

Pull quote

Is it really the work you have been given to do or is it the striving in your soul that makes you tired? This week we are studying John 6, where Jesus feeds the five thousand with a few fish and loaves, and He walks on water in the midst of a storm. These beautiful moments display the power of God over all circumstances and the power of God to take our small offerings and turn them into eternal work.

Knowing God and tasting heaven should cause us to rest rather than strive. Rest is a discipline and an act of obedience. We think of rest as crawling into bed and binge-watching a season of our favorite show. But true rest is something that fills our souls and empowers us to create and intentionally live life. Rest is believing God can do anything then stepping back and letting Him.

Is your soul tired?

Find rest in Him.

10 Verses to Pray for Your Daughter

I have always wanted to be a prayer warrior.

I remember hearing stories of the power of prayer from missionaries that would come to our church growing up, or testimonies of women who prayed for their husbands and children incessantly until they came to know Jesus. I love those stories, and I wanted that – I wanted to make a difference through prayer too.

I wanted to be a praying mother, but after I had my first baby, I struggled with figuring out what to pray for.

Sometimes we feel like we aren’t “good” at prayer just because we don’t know where to start.

Thankfully, I read several good books and articles around that time with really helpful lists that gave me some direction during my prayer time. I read a whole book on praying for my sons, but I was unable to find a good equivalent book for girls. (Somebody, please write that book!) So many prayers for our children can be prayed for both boys and girls, and a few of these can as well, but I wanted focus here on some things that I especially hope and pray for my girls as they grow.

Her Salvation

Eternal salvation is still the most important thing I pray for all my kids! I want them to recognize what Jesus did in dying on the cross to pay for their sins and rising again. I want them to turn to Him to save them and always remember His love for them.

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. — Romans 10:9-10

To Find Her Identity in Christ

As a woman in today’s culture, where we are expected to be able to “do it all”, I have struggled with my identity and purpose and have had to remind myself that I am first a child of God, saved by His grace. I pray that my daughters will always find their identity in Christ and remember that their purpose is to glorify Him.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. — 1 Peter 2:9

To Walk in A Manner Worthy of Her Calling (and to Have a Spirit of Repentance When She Fails)

Along the same lines, I pray my girls keep their ultimate purpose in mind as they live their daily lives, which is to glorify God and point others to Christ. And, when they inevitably stray from what they know is right, I pray that they recognize it and turn back to Jesus in repentance.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. — Ephesians 4:1-3

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. — 2 Corinthians 7:1

To Have a Love for God and His Word

The Bible is God’s written Word to us, and I pray that my girls will have a love for God and His Word, and will turn to the Bible first for their answers.

With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word. — Psalm 119:13-16

Use and Cultivate Their Spiritual Gifts for God’s Glory

I pray that my daughters will recognize their spiritual gifts and talents that the Lord has given them, and use those gifts to bring glory to God.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. — 1 Peter 4:10

To Have a Desire for Wisdom

Proverbs is clear that godly wisdom is to be prized. I want my girls to seek to be biblically wise in all their decisions and interactions.

Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you. — Proverbs 4:7-8

Healthy and Godly Relationships with Family and Friends

Healthy relationships play such an important role in every person’s life, and much pain comes when relationships sometimes go bad. I pray for my girls to have and offer the support that comes from God-Honoring friendships and family relationships.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. — Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)

Her Future Husband and Marriage

While many women honor God through lives of singleness, and my daughters’ may as well, in all likelihood, my girls will someday get married. I want to pray now for their future husbands, and for them as I hope to prepare them for a good marriage.

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. — Proverbs 31:10

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. — Ephesians 5:33

To Value Her Role in the Home and Family

The Bible calls women to be “keepers” of their homes, and I think this can apply whether my daughters are working in the home, out of the home, married or single. I want my daughters to learn how to manage their home well no matter their situation in life, and to realize how valuable and honorable that role is.

And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. — Titus 2:4-5 (ESV)

To Train Their Own Children to Love The Lord

Mothers play a major role in nurturing and raising their children, and they are often the first to teach their children about God. I pray for my daughters as they will hopefully take on that important role someday in their own families.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. — Deuteronomy 6:6-7

I’ve also just started to realize that keeping prayer in the back of my mind helps me to pray for more for my children. Something that no one tells you is that praying for our kids doesn’t have to happen during a designated prayer time. If I am thinking about something specific for my kids, why not pray about it right now? As I encountered certain verses in my devotion time, or certain life situations that remind me of these things that I want to pray for my kids, I am learning to take a moment right then to pray for my children and cover them in prayer all through our days together.

Your Turn

What do you pray for your children?

Break Through the Wall

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

– Philippians 4:13

You’re running the race set before you, moving full-speed ahead with God’s blessing overtaking you at every step. Then suddenly, wham! You hit the wall. It may be a wall of sickness or financial trouble, of spiritual failure or family problems. But, regardless of the form it takes, the effect of “the wall” is always the same. It stops you cold.

The question is, once you hit a wall like that, what will you do? You’ll be tempted to quit, to turn back in defeat. But don’t do it. Because God will enable you to break through that wall and keep right on going.

I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. The truth is, it’s tough. But you have to push on through the tough times if you’re ever going to have a breakthrough.

Ask any athlete. He’ll tell you that! Because if he’s a winner, he’s been there. He’s pushed his body to what seems to be the maximum. His side has hurt. His lungs have ached. He’s had cramps in his legs and thighs. And just when he felt like he couldn’t go on, he’s heard some coach yell, “Come on! Move it!”

Athletes call that “hitting the wall.” It’s a time when the body says, “That’s it. That’s all I can do. I can’t go any farther. I can’t go any faster. I quit.”

But the seasoned athlete knows that “the wall” isn’t the end. It’s a signal that he’s on the verge of a breakthrough. If he’ll toughen up and push himself a little more, he’ll get a second wind. Suddenly, he’ll go faster than before. He’ll reach a level of excellence he couldn’t have reached any other way.

When you feel the worst, when failure is breathing down your neck, press in to the Word as never before. You may meditate on a particular scripture for days and even weeks sometimes, trying to get a revelation of it, seemingly without success. Then suddenly, like the dawn of the morning, light will come pouring in. You’ll see the way to break through. All you have to do is punch one little hole in that wall of problems, dig one tiny hole in it with your faith and with the Word of God.

Then keep tearing away at that hole. Don’t quit! And, before long, the forces of God will come bursting through, demolishing every obstacle in their path!

Once that happens you’ll never be the same again. You’ll be hooked. It will only take one breakthrough like that to make a never-dying, never-quitting champion out of you.

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27