Prayer

Jesus, Our Anchor in Suffering

Jesus, Our Anchor in Suffering

“I don’t think it was postpartum depression—not quite, anyway. But does the ‘diagnosis’ matter in the midst of the fog?

All of life seemed bleak. Doing simple household tasks required robot-like determination. I cried every time my husband left for work. I dreaded nights. I was sleep-deprived, as every new mom is, and yet, night-time seemed like my enemy. The darkness was oppressive. 

Even when I could point to nothing in particular, I felt a heaviness in my spirit. What discouraged me most was the effect this cloud had on my relationship with God. I felt numb. Reading scripture was a chore, and prayer only highlighted how distant I felt from God. I wondered if I’d ever recover my joy in Christ.

As believers, we all face times when faith is no more than getting up one more time, taking one more step, resisting the urge to give up in this moment. We can’t see God working behind the cloud of despair, depression, or doubt. It’s in these times we need an anchor. 

An anchor is valuable is because it stays firm continuously.

The book of Hebrews presents Christ as our anchor. We have a High Priest who fully understands us. Draw near to him because he understands your pain and offers you mercy and grace in your time of need. He can relate to your struggles. He’s also praying for us without pause, and his prayers flow from his heart of understanding. 

Our perfect, eternal High Priest is the anchor which will never fail. He is totally reliable, eternally trustworthy, and perfectly strong. 

Are you currently in a storm? In the midst of postpartum depression, morning sickness, a scary medical diagnosis, or shepherding a rebellious child, you have an anchor. Even if you feel you can do nothing else, cling to Jesus. And believe that he is clinging to you. His grip will not fail.

The storms on the sea of life will come. Now is the time to anchor our hearts to these truths.”

Come to Jesus With the Details

Come to Jesus With the Details

‘Mom, I was calling for you very quietly. It was hard to wait, so I prayed.’

Are the endless repetitions of prayers and practicing and talking really registering with her? Many times we’ve prayed with her to ask Jesus to help her obey, be kind, calm down. In this one instance, she took the initiative to do this on her own.

And my daughter’s childlike faith encouraged my own heart as well. It caused me to ask myself, ‘When I get frustrated or angry or impatient, do I invite him to help me and do I believe he will? Do I believe that when things are hard, he really does love to help me?’

Jesus told his disciples he would send the Holy Spirit to be their “Helper.” Jesus knows life is difficult, and he doesn’t intend for us to do it alone. The Holy Spirit can be present with, minister to, and help every believer as they have need.

In the flurry of life, we often go about our own ways, thinking we’re doing things for Jesus when really he wants to do things with us. It’s his pleasure and desire to counsel, advise, and walk with us step-by-step, even in the things that feel mundane or insignificant.

This is a precious, treasured reminder that the seeds we sow in our children matter, and Jesus desires to help us in every moment.

So this morning, I sat with my journal and listed all the things bearing down on me. The anxiety didn’t fully disappear, but there’s comfort knowing Jesus is with me in it.

This whole experience feels full circle.

We model the practice of seeking Jesus and asking him for his help to our little ones, over and over again. Then, when they do it on their own, we’re encouraged and our faith takes the example to heart. When we model relationship with Jesus for our little ones, there is truly power, for them and for us.

He is our helper, he is near, and he desires to walk with us every step of the way, every moment of the day.

Seven Principles To Keep In Mind When You Don't Know How To Discipline

God has given each parent the task of loving their children by instructing, training and disciplining them - but all of us feel clueless about this task from time to time. Here are seven principles to keep in mind when you don't know how to handle a discipline issue:

1. Act. Learn. Adapt. Most of the time, you just need to try the things you already know and see how they work. If it's going terribly, learn from it and try something new. Your first parenting strategy isn't your last parenting strategy.

2. Ask Someone: Sit down with a godly and experienced mom and ask her for a "Training and "Correction 101."

3. Pray: When you don't know how to handle it practically, pray over your child, that God would calm their heart, give them a desire to submit to authority and give you wisdom in the situation.

4. Read scripture and do what it says: There are lots of arrows in the Bible to point us in parenting. Sometimes, we don't like those arrows because they require us to sacrifice what we want to do, and take hard work and planning. Sometimes, when we're not sure how to discipline our child it's not because we literally don't know what's right, it's because we don't want to obey scripture.

5. Pay attention to your husband's leading: Oftentimes, your husband will see things that you don't and can see things more objectively. As hard as it is, listen to him when it comes to behavior issues and consider adopting his approaches.

6. Remove distractions: Sometimes confusion about discipline stems from letting other priorities cloud our calling. We haven't been consistent, or we've been overcommitted, or just lazy. Here, it's not that you need better parenting strategies, but need to repent to God and your children - making discipline a priority again.

7. Remember the goal and keep going: Being a faithful and godly parent is something that reaps rewards. We aren't promised that our children will become Christians, but there is treasure stored up in heaven for parents who faithfully raise their children in the way of the Lord. It isn't a perfect input = output relationship, But the bible shows that good fruit can result from raising our children well.

* A version of this post first appeared on Emily Jensen Writes Blog January 2015 // For more on gospel-centered discipline, listen to Episode 57 | How Discipline Helps Us Communicate the Gospel.


Parent With Prayer

Parent With Prayer

I'd pretty much exhausted all of my usual strategies for discipline when I came to my husband and said, "I'm just out of ideas for how to handle this. What should I do?"

(I was listening intently for a magic bullet technique that I hadn't thought of yet. I REALLY wanted to hear a 1-2-3 solution to the complex heart attitudes of our pre-schooler.)

"Well, have you tried praying with him? Just stay calm, correct him, and ask God to help. Let him see that you are both dependent on the Lord for a heart change."

Theology is for Moms of Little Ones, Too

Theology is for Moms of Little Ones, Too

With four young children, a moment of quiet or predictable consistency is hard to come by. Even with my best efforts to be organized and intentional, it’s still difficult to stay engaged in regular bible study, to disciple women, to fellowship regularly with other believers, or to serve in ways that pull me out of my home. The desire is there, but so are the dirty diapers, the naptime routines, the laundry piles, and the mundane things that keep our family going.

All the distractions, setbacks, and challenges occasionally leave me wondering if theological growth just isn’t possible for a woman in the season of young children. I’ve wondered if I should just shrug at my inconsistent quiet times, and parched prayer life. I’ve contemplated sitting out of the women’s bible study or leaving our calendar free of hospitable meals because it’s just too hard.

So for every mom of little ones who is longing to see her relationship with God as bigger than the elusive “quiet time”, this list is for you.

Pray Before You Speak: Tips for lovingly approaching your husband with your hurts

Pray Before You Speak: Tips for lovingly approaching your husband with your hurts

If you've been married for longer than your honeymoon, you know that a covenant marriage relationship includes conflict.  In some seasons it's more frequent than others, and the severity can range from vow-hindering sin to the slight offense of leaving a trash can un-emptied.  One great skill that happy and holy married couples possess is the ability to forgive, especially as they constructively approach difficult conversations.  Lovingly approaching sins and hurts in your marriage isn't the primary change agent for your spouse's heart, but it can pave the way for repentance, reconciliation, and restored marital health.

Susanna's Apron: Six Tips For Prayer As A Mom

Susanna's Apron: Six Tips For Prayer As A Mom

Susanna Welsey had 19 children and still found time to pray. 

You may never have heard of her, but you may have heard of two of her sons - John and Charles Wesley, two men that have impacted millions of lives for Jesus. If we look at history, many of the great theologians and church leaders express thanks and debt to their mothers for shaping them into the men they became. As the great preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother.”  These men, including John and Charles, owe much of their spiritual understanding and foundation to mothers who taught them God's word and prayed fervently and faithfully for their children.