A Christian Single Mom’s Guide to Raising a Child Who Will Grow up To become Fabulous Fruit

by Sue Karsner (Sweet Sister guest post)


Divorce can be devastating for a single mom, especially knowing that God hates divorce. How do you reconcile this? After being divorced for 20 years, I will cut to the chase and give you the bottom line for me.

God hates divorce, but He loves more!

If you read the story of the woman at the well from the Gospel of John 4:4-26, you will see that Jesus desires the woman’s worship over and above her guilt. This is what set her free to become the first evangelist!
This may be comforting to you, but what about your children who grow up without a dad or has a distant father?
I’m sure you’ve heard the odds of what happens to boys who are raised without a father. I surely did when my son was only a baby when my marriage ended. Fear and anxiety set in knowing that the distance of his father was going to mean that there would be little to no interaction – the interaction that would keep my son out of serious counseling or even jail.
Miraculously, by the grace of God, this didn’t happen. At least not yet, and my son is now 24.

In fact, raising my son was the most enjoyable time of my life, and fruitful indeed! This single mom didn’t experience the normal exasperation of raising a child alone.

In fact, I seemingly enjoyed the easiest teenage years compared to most intact families, resulting in a mature, responsible, deep-thinking, God-fearing young man who also gave me a beautiful, amazing, puts-me-to-shame daughter-in-law.

How did this “fabulous fruit” come to pass when the odds were against it? Here are some spiritual truths that provided the necessary nurturing of my little seed and practical tips that watered and fed this little guy to the wonderful young man that he has become. If you find yourself in this unfortunate, sometimes tragic situation, you may want to try these suggestions.

• First and foremost – Commit  yourself, your Child , and your Parenting  to the Lord. Realize your child is a miracle and a gift from God, but he/she belongs to Him.

You will never be alone! God says in Isaiah 41: 10 

“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I can’t say enough about the peace that I received from the Lord and all His incredible guidance. He provided always with gifts of wisdom, financial means, and forgiveness of my former spouse.

• Delve into the Word. As your young child sleeps, plays, etc., take this time of your singleness to intensely study the Bible. There is much wisdom, and you will need this to parent your child. Personally, I spent the first 7 years of my son’s life in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and 3 more years in Community Bible Study (CBS). You can find these classes in most major cities.

Your closeness with the Lord will guide you in your parenting in ways that you could never fathom.

Remember that God loves your child more than you ever can. It’s awesome to see God’s hand on you and your child!

• Pray for “daddy” with your child. (No matter how you feel about your child’s father). This will keep a distant father in your child’s life in an important way. Address God as “Our Perfect Father in Heaven” when you pray, and this will distinguish God as your husband and Father who will love, care, and provide SECURITY for your family and who will never fail you. Keep your emotional and material issues with your child’s father undisclosed. Wait until your child is asleep to call a friend or counselor to discuss any pain you are feeling toward your child’s father and the loss of your marriage.

 Christian Counselors are very helpful. They can provide a perspective that you may not see. I was feeling anxious, fearful, and helpless during the early years, and my counselor was able to provide practical ways to get through the day and provide hope for the future.

• Daily Devotions with your child will be like having God in your house! Your child will feel more secure knowing that his perfect Father is listening and guiding each and every day.

• Pray for Godly men in your child’s life. Coaches, teachers, pastors, and neighbors, will provide examples that your child can model.

Practical tips:

• You need your sleep. If you are alone with a young baby or child, you will need to teach your baby to sleep. Make sure your child learns that their crib is not for playtime and they will learn to take sleep seriously. Put them down, say goodnight, and walk away. Use a pacifier, if necessary. Expect them to sleep and they will learn to do so…as long as they are not distressed or sick. If they fall asleep outside the crib, make sure they wake up in the crib. Stick to scheduled naptimes. When your child is older, set a time limit for when your child is allowed to get out of bed. For me, it was 7:30 a.m. My son was told that he needed to wait until then.

• Refrain from using the word “no.” Instead say “you may not do that” or “sorry, but that’s not allowed.” Children, unfortunately, will mimic the words you use, and “no” isn’t a very pleasant one to hear from your child. Your tone and words should always be respectful.

• Provide security. Surround yourself with Godly friends and family. Grandparents are great for this. We also had wonderful neighbors who were always there for us. My son knew where to go if he needed someone’s help in an emergency.

• Messaging should be consistent. Your child needs consistency in their world-view. I was fortunate to be able to provide Christian education for my son, and we also attended the same church throughout his upbringing. School, church, and home messaging was consistent and constant. We loved our church, and it was never a thought to miss a Sunday.

• Always be honest. When you hear your little Kindergartener, in his car seat behind you, begin a conversation with “Tell me the truth, Mom” and proceeds to ask about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy all at the same time, give it to him straight. (Yikes ) Also, refrain from sarcasm, bribery, and threats. Trust and respect are crucial.

• Expect obedience. If your child thinks it’s okay to disobey you until a second or third repeated request, you are teaching them to not obey you. This is where the “higher-calling” comes into play. Those daily child devotions are full of life lessons that encourage the importance of obedience.

• Raise your child to be a decision-maker. If my son wished to wear shorts outside in the dead of winter, that’s what he did. I knew that if he was cold enough, he could come inside or change his clothes. He decided when to do his homework while he was in Grammar school. I remember when I was picking him up after school and feeling delighted to see him lying face down on the trampoline at his friend’s house with his books spread out, while his friend was bouncing around. This attitude continued till high school when his homework habits were solidly getting him through those difficult years. Making his own decisions provided the confidence he needed for work (he was an umpire at age 12) and later on in his college years.

In conclusion, notice that the flip side to the Isaiah verse (above) is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Let this encourage you. I rejoice happily, for God has blessed me with this fruitful life. He will give you a fruitful life as well, if you commit to give Him the glory.

Happy Mother’s Day! To God be the glory!

Trusting God to Make the U-Turn on your Journey in Life

by Lynn Moratis (guest sweet sister)


Have you ever had to make a U-turn because you missed your destination? Maybe you didn’t realize you missed your destination, so you went miles out of your way before you had to turn around. Or maybe you were going down a one way road? As you drove in the wrong direction, you kept stopping for fuel, bathroom breaks and fast food. You knew all the right things you had to do to keep things going, but you still hadn’t recognized that you needed to adjust your journey? Isn’t that the way life goes sometimes, but not just when we are driving on the highway, but in our day to day too? I found myself there many times, and I have only found one true adjustment that works- will you join me in a short journey today and make a U-turn with me?
One April Monday, the Sweet Sisters met for our study on “Trusting God”. We have been sharing specific trust stories in our lives and Monday was my turn to share. As you read this, I hope you are inspired to find Jesus and meet Him where you are.
My trust story started when I was twelve years old and accepted Jesus into my heart. I wish I could say the rest was easy, but it has been a long and windy road. Two years ago something happened that motivated me more than any other time in my life. I had my routine mammogram and within two days had the call that we all dread. I needed to come back.

I did two things, I prayed, and then I called my husband. Then FEAR set in. All the what if’s and preparation for the worse. Being a nurse and knowing what I could potentially face increased my fear. Fast forward two weeks and I’ve had an ultrasound, a needle biopsy and been told all clear. These were two very scary weeks. I clung to prayer, I clung to scripture and my faith. I was unable to focus on much else. Then I experienced the sweet relief of answered prayers.  
In I Thessalonians 5:16 -18 we are encouraged to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus” (NIV). I was focused on trying to live this verse. I was so happy and thankful when I received the news, I even doubted if it could be totally true.  
We’ve all heard the saying “timing is everything”, and in this case it really was. This event had coincided with the Sweet Sisters study of the “Purpose Driven Life”. I became deep in thought, as so much was colliding at the same time, causing me to stop and reflect.  
Throughout the rest of the fall study, I realized how much Jesus had protected me and supported me throughout my entire life and through many difficult times. How much he had blessed me and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for his love and mercy and kindness. I wanted to do more – He deserved more than I had given up to this point. I wanted to be his light to those with whom I encounter in my day to day, family, friends, work, and socially. I wanted to be more faithful than I had been before. I had always been a prayer warrior, but I wanted to be more consistent with church, worship, reading my bible and setting an example for my friends and family. I wanted to emulate Love for others and to others.
So…fast forward 2 1/2 years and 5 studies later with the Sweet Sisters and I have grown after each study. I’ve also make small and big changes in my life – trying to be a better listener, trying to make it never about me, trying to incorporate the salvation that only Christ can provide when opportunities arise. Realizing there is nothing perfect about me – I do get up every day with a desire to please him and share his love.  


Having been a Christ follower since twelve, I often wonder why I didn’t try harder before – and I came to the conclusion that it was because I thought it would be too hard, I’d have to change too much, people might think I’m over the top – one of those religious freaks. My husband had even said to me during this time your becoming “odd for God”. But, what I’ve come to realize is that when we surrender His will to our will he changes us bit by bit. Once we start the walk of obedience, and we truly pray for his spirit to come alive in us every day – it happens, day by day. It’s just one word – “surrender” that’s the easy part, you follow and He guides.
In Jeremiah 29:13, we are told “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart” (NIV). This verse is so true, as we seek Him more we find more of Him. The holy scripture is the best place to find Him. It’s the best place to go when you need to make a U-turn.
Do I sometimes have doubts? Plagued with second guessing or thinking I’m not good enough or worthy? Of course, but then I remember Isaiah 43:18-19:
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! now it springs up; do you not perceive it”?


He wants us to always be moving forward, learning from our past and asking him to guide our future. When we do this He does spring up in our heart and he flows out through all we do. What a relief to know He has all we need, we just have to trust Him more. Sometimes we trust even when we are not sure we can, and He comes through.
Wherever you are today, he’s faithful and true and can provide all that you need to help you journey in the right direction. He loves you.
John 15:13 (KJV) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”
Grab his hand and watch him change your direction.  

Give a KISS from God every day : LovelikeJesus2

Love is Kind. I Corinth. 13:4

Yesterday was my daughters “Heaven day”; the anniversary of when I held her 40 day old perfectly formed body and she breathed her last breath. God’s peace covered me that day. She had been born premature and a staph infection in a blood clot attached to her central line caused her heart to fail. Her body was purple and bloated and she had so many pricks, and my soul knew deep down that she would be “healed in heaven”. This peace continued to cover me, as a soft snow covers a barren tree, days later as we picked her tiny coffin and throughout her funeral.

And then after everyone went back home and on with their lives; my heart and faith began to fail. When I look back on this lowest time in my life, I remember a kind act from a stranger that at just the right time and in the right way gave me hope.

I call these inspired and spirit -led acts of kindnesses: KISSes From God.

Instead of a “Random Act of Kindness” or RAK, I prefer to call these “kisses from God.” I created this acronym recently and wanted to share this with you my sweet sister.

K- Kindness

I- in

S- spired by the

S- Spirt (The Holy Spirit)

My daughter Megan Elizabeth lived such a short time on this earth and the anniversaries of her birth and death still can brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

But then I remember how the super kind act of a stranger (KISS) soothed my tired and wounded heart when I needed it the most.

A few months after the funeral, I bundled up my two year old and 3 and half year old daughters and went to the local Harford Mall. How lonely I felt as my husband and I were both so wounded and grieving in our own ways. He threw himself back into his job and spent most of his time working. My sensitive daughters both regressed and acted out sensing the rollarcoster of events and emotions. My oldest, who before Megan’s death had been potty trained, regressed and started to cling to me. They both sought my attention and bickered among themselves and I struggled to care for them as the grieving sapped so much of my energy. I remember standing at the sink one day yelling out to God, “why did you give her to me …. only to take her away?” Underneath the anger was a hurt little girl who felt that God had ignored her prayer

I went to buy ice creeam for my girls in the food court and the cashier explained that they were paid for. He explained “ That a man each day picks someone to buy ice cream for and this day he picked you and your little girls.”

Sisters…..I had money to buy ice cream. My need wasn’t money. But what I needed was to know that God saw me; I needed to know that He cared about me and my sore heart.

As cool, sweet, soothing ice- cream runs down and coats a sore throat, I felt God’s loving and healing touch cool my sore hurting heart.

This act of kindness opened the eyes of my heart. I gradually started to understand that God, who I thought was ignoring me, saw my sore heart. I was not alone I realized. God cared for me and would gently walk with me through my grief.

What did that masked man see in me? Did he see the hurting girl underneath? I’m sure I probably looked like a tired mom (he didn’t know about my grieving heart for the NICU baby) but God did and I am so glad that this man followed this nudge from God. Thank you sweet stranger from the bottom of my heart. My heart wells up with joy so much that I want to collaborate with God and give God KISSES every day just like you dear stranger did for me.
Even now, (23 years later) the tears that flow when I remember this lowest time in my life, include tears of gratefulness.

I now realize the importance of doing kind acts in secret. For then the recipient does not have to use up energy on how to repay the person back. And the recipient can truly receive the gift from the hand of God; the one who is the giver of all gifts.

So Sweet sister. Let us keep our eyes open for someone who is struggling.

Let us give anonymously ( if we can) Let’s let God get the credit for our small act of kindness. Everything we have is from Him anyhow. I know that the ice cream cones mean more because of the mystery of who it was from and how he picked me on the day I needed it the most.

God is the one who knows who in our lives is struggling the most and He knows what will help them to realize God’s Love. Just as this wonderful man picked one person a day to give A KISS from God to, why don’t we ask God each morning to show us one person who may cross our paths this day? Also, let us pray for God to give us creativity as to how to bless them.

Our actions shouldn’t be a random scattering of seeds on hard soil but instead intentional seeds of kindness on the soft heart of someone who needs a “Kiss” from God.




So ask God each morning to give you fresh eyes to notice the person around you who needs some cool refreshment.

God’s agape love is one that is not self-seeking but instead spreads outward to help others. God’s love is kind, refreshes others and will be a sweet reminder that God sees their suffering.

Who will you give a “Kiss from God” to today?



gave me a baby only to take her so back again.

Pedaling Out to Sea… No Steering Included.

What was that thrumming noise overhead? I looked upward and realized it was the pulsing, whirling sound of helicopter wings. A Coast Guard helicopter made a big circle as I waved one hand to signal that I was alive and the reason for the sirens ringing out over the island.  However, this chop, chopping was not music to my ears. Awkward visions of having to climb aboard a hanging ladder filled my head and I continued my pleadings with God. 

“Lord, I don’t need a helicopter,” I said out loud. “Just send me a motorboat. I don’t need a helicopter.”

 Shivering in the pre-season Atlantic Ocean, I treaded water, trying to make headway back to the shore. But the handlebars of this brand new elliptical paddle board having sunk below the surface, along with the offshore breeze were just too much for me.

 Numerous rescue vehicles awaited on the shore: an ambulance, police car, and even a fire truck. As the helicopter also continued to hover overhead, a crowd of people gathered on the shore, and I knew they were wondering the same thing I was – How did this middle-aged woman end up so far off shore alone in the early morning clutching a bright yellow board?

Just an hour earlier when we arrived at the seashore, the ocean appeared unusually calm.  My husband was so excited for me to use the new toy he had given me as an early birthday present: a paddleboard with handlebars for steering and bicycle pedals for more control than the typical paddleboard.

Dave pushed the spanking new paddleboard, with me standing proudly on top, out over the waves, and I happily used the pedals to move the Mirage eclipse forward – straight out into the vast sea.

After pedaling straight out to sea for a couple of yards, I squeezed on the right handle and expected the new hybrid paddleboard to follow along to the right. Nothing happened. I had been told before heading out that I would need to pedal fast for the steering to work, so I pumped my legs faster as I squeezed the handle with all my strength. I wouldn’t find out until much later, that the screw we tightened before I set off that day was actually supposed to be loose. Our tightening it prior to my departure was the reason behind this whole ordeal – a tight screw meant no steering.    

My husband kept yelling, “Turn! Turn!” as I moved out further from him, my daughter, and most concerningly – the shore.

“ I am! I am trying to turn! ” I shouted back.

  At this point, I became more and more panicked as my adrenaline increased and my muscles tensed. I thought I must be doing something wrong and not peddling fast enough or squeezing hard enough, so I stayed on the board and pedaled on. I eventually ended up about one fourth of a mile out to sea.

Then somehow, maybe just by leaning my body, I turned enough so that I became parallel with the shore.

I kept pedaling and squeezing the handlebar, trying with all my might to turn more so I could ride back into shore. The current was going out to sea and with a 15 mph offshore wind, it took all my effort to stay on the board as I traveled parallel 10 beach blocks, while my husband and daughter Mary ran alongside me on  the shore.

My heart beat faster and my panic grew as I continued a pattern I’d developed as a new driver. You see, as a teenager, if I became lost while driving, I would drive faster instead of stopping and often made my situation worse.  Similarly, as I pedaled along in the sea that day, instead of just stopping and regrouping and asking God for help, I made the situation worse as my adrenaline and panic caused my legs to pump faster.

I said loud prayers of desperation over and over as I squeezed the handlebar with all my might, “Help!” “Lord Jesus, Help me! Help Me!!”

The board still would not move to the right, and I continued to move parallel to the shore. The lifeguards were not on duty yet, and I did not spot any other small water crafts. “Lord Jesus, please Help me,” I begged again and again.

I started to use my body more in one last desperate attempt to move the paddleboard to the right, and splash!  the waterboard and I capsized. Shocked by the cold water, I quickly put my arms around the overturned board (I didn’t want to lose my new present,) and started to kick to see if I could move myself forward toward shore.  

“Can they see me?” I thought. I prayed not just for myself but that my husband and daughter would have peace and not worry about me. An offshore wind pushed the top warm water out to sea leaving me in the frigid Atlantic and my legs were becoming numb as I tried to kick and move forward. Were they waiting for me to come to shore by myself? Oh, I hope they are getting help. At this point, I was cold and exhausted from traveling a half mile along the shore as my heart palpitations worked overtime.

And then I heard music to my ears. Sirens. The loud emergency sirens echoed my cries for help and could be heard not just by me, but by everyone living on the Seven Mile Island calling out to all the rescue volunteers. I was hoping perhaps a motorboat would come to rescue me. I felt embarrassed that everyone on the island now knew there was trouble and that someone would have to come to help me.   I waited and held on tight to my floating toy and hoped that they would hurry. 

And that is when I heard the helicopter wings overhead. And I told the God of the Universe how He should rescue me.

“Lord, I don’t need a helicopter” I said out loud. “Just send me a motorboat. I don’t need a helicopter.”

And then I heard a calm and authoritative voice in my mind say,

“I know what you need.” 

My panic became peace and my breathing slowed as I waited to see what would happen next. I knew that I was going to be all right and I now just waited with trust to see how God planned to do it. I must have waited at least ten minutes as I clutched the board and faced the shore trying to spot my husband and daughter among the crowd of rescue vehicles and spectators who lined the water’s edge. 

And then two lifeguards came to my rescue aboard a jet ski.

The sun shone behind their flowing hair and bounced off their kind, handsome faces and strong shoulders. My relief and gratitude were immense. I keep telling them, “Thank you so much,” as I gazed into their beautiful glowing faces.

The jet ski had a board on the back with handle bars and they helped me to lie down stomach first as I held on to the handles. By this time I was exhausted and shivering and I’m sure the lifeguards could see my weariness.

“Lie down here,” one told me, “and I will lie on top of you.”  

The lifeguards strong warm body lay on top of me and I felt God’s strength, help, and love through this unexpected gift of protection and deliverance.     

We flew across the ocean waves on the back of the wave runner into shore and I giggled as my body would slip under his and the thought of how I was being rescued made me laugh with delight.

“Yes, this was much better than a motor boat.” I thought with a smile.

As we approached the crowd of people lining the shore, I continued to giggle at the thought of being sandwiched between a jet ski and a lifeguard. A warm blanket was placed over my shoulders. The lifeguards lifted my board, and they (and the crowd), were especially surprised to see the handlebars underneath.

I believe I felt the reality of God’s feathers of protection as I lay under the lifeguard’s strong body and I rode in giggling with joy.  I am thankful that God knows just what we need – and sometimes that means two strong, beautiful angels who know how to drive a jet ski. 

He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His fatithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4

Love is like Mushroom Risotto #LovelikeJesus 1.

Love is patient. ( 1 Cor. 13:4 )

Dear Amber:

I am so tired of waiting. My prayers seem to no avail, as I wait on God to help a relationship that has grown hard and cold. I feel like curling up in a ball and giving up. What should I do?

Dear Sweet Sister:

My arm felt heavy as I continued to stir the mushroom risotto well past the 25 minutes promised in the recipe. I yearned to cook a rare homemade meal for my husband and my son who was visiting during Christmas break and I decided to try something new. Since I love to order mushroom risotto at restaurants, I decided to give it a try. The secret is to slowly add the boiling stock one ladle at time and to keep stirring and Stirring and stirring. The goal it that the Arborio rice when bitten will be “Al Dente”which means: soft on the outside and firm in the middle. (not too hard on the outside and not too soft either..think goldilocks and how she kept trying to find “just the right bowl, chair and bed”). Mushroom risotto requires the diligence of stirring while tasting and not leaving the stove until it is JUST RIGHT.

I almost gave up. I started to doubt myself. Maybe I didn’t follow the directions correctly I thought to myself. We had another new dish (chicken) that was now sitting on the counter getting cold. Maybe I should just give up and call it quits. I kept tasting the risotto and the rice was grainy and hard. Ten more minutes past the recipe range and I was still stirring.

And then my husband came downstairs to see how things were coming along. He took over the stirring. He kept adding water and stirring and tasting some more. Finally, after 10 more minutes of “long-suffering:)” the risotto was Al Dente. The rice felt so soft on the tongue that it seemed like creamy puffy pasta. Yet the final product was firm enough so that the rice was not mushy and each morsel distinct. The flavors of mushroom and chicken stock blended together perfectly. So delicious and so. worth. the. wait.

So how does this help me Amber with this friend who now won’t speak to me? or This spouse who will not forgive me and is giving me the cold shoulder and silent treatment? Oh and the long suffering of having a child who has such a hard heart and acts so angry at me after I have given so much?

Oh Dear Sister…..your loved ones heart is like the risotto rice kernel that still needs to be stirred. Keep Standing, add some liquid love of kindness, and patiently keep praying for them. I needed my husband to help me along so I didn’t give up. Find a sister to pray with you for your loved one. Stir together in prayer on the phone after sharing your aching heart. Be on guard that your own heart does not become hard but instead trust God’s recipe of Love. My challenge for you this year of 2019 is for you to read I Corinth. 13:4-8 every morning. Read it slow and mediate on this powerful recipe of how to change hardened hearts to perfect Al Dente ones. Ask God for help on how to better love your friends and family. Ask him for the perseverance to not give up and to keep stirring until the hard shell of your loved ones heart becomes soft. (toward you and most of all soft to God and His will)

Don’t leave the stove sister because your loved ones’ heart IS slowly softening. Keep stirring and ask a trusted sister to stir with you. We sisters need each other.

The first ingredient for Love is patience. The last secret ingredients are these: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres,

Love. Always.Wins.


What will you do or not do in 2019? That is the question.

Dear Amber:

What is your New Year’s resolution? and How can I stick to mine? I am stressed about picking the right goals and following through.

Dear Sweet Sister:

I understand your stress.  I have spent the last few days in prayer and study as I attempted to make my yearly goals for my body, mind and spirit. I talked to my physical trainer who encouraged me to pick a physical and a nutritional goal. I studied my monthly planner who encouraged me pick a theme (word of the year) to set my priorities and to make goals for all of my relationships: Family, friends, business. The stress mounted as I thought about all the people in my life and how I wanted to help them all and yet with another year passing, I know how little time there is in every day to accomplish so much.  So instead of an excitement over the new fresh year, soon I was feeling overwhelmed with all I felt I “should” accomplish.  I see why some choose to just not make any resolutions or goals at all…..the fear of failure is crippling.  But I for one know that people that set goals accomplish more that those who don’t and that writing them down and coming back to them increases the likelihood of them being realized.  If a resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or to not to do something” then our focus should not only be on what we plan to do in 2019 but also what we plan not to do.

So what should we do Sweet Sister?

First, what should our number one focus and priority be as Christians ?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden of sin that clings (distracts us) to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”        Hebrews 12 : 1-2

 Our goal to to run after Jesus keeping our eyes fixed on Him,  to stay on the narrow path and to invite as many of our friends and family to come join the race.

So ask yourself these two questions?

  1. What is weighing me down or distracting me from following closer to Jesus?                                                 Is a person, social media, a hobby, an addiction,  T.V., clutter, love of sleep..?…..What do I do first when I wake up instead of spending a date with Jesus? What do I need to take away so I have more room to grow in my relationship with Jesus?
  2. How can I be sure to stay close to Jesus in 2019? Do I need to go to bed earlier? wake up earlier? make a pact to not look at emails or Facebook until I  have sat in quiet and became still before my Lord and Savior? To not exercise my body until I have exercised my soul? Maybe decide to read the good news before I  read or watch the depressing news on T.V.

We are promised be bear good fruit if we remain close to Jesus. So this needs to be our Top priority. He will guide us each morning as to all the other goals.  We don’t know what the future will hold and what we will face, but if we meet with God and walk and talk with Him on a daily basis, we will know at the right time what we should do.   When we have our “date time” then we can ask…How can I take better care of the body you gave me?  How should I handle this business decision? How can I show Love to this person who really rubs me the wrong way?

Now this is really important Sister. Write down what you plan to get rid of and hand it over to Jesus.  You need to make room for Jesus and so some housekeeping must occur in your heart.  Don’t just think about it….write it down. now:) 

Next, write down how you plan to improve or add your personal relationship with Jesus.  Will you make a commitment to not look at Facebook or emails when you wake up? Go to Church every week? Join a small group bible study?

Just as an athlete makes sacrifices and trains with others that are like- minded, as Christians we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and  find like-minded sisters to keep us accountable and encourage us.

So Write down what you will remove from your life or only do after you spend time with Jesus……….and then write when and where you will meet him for your daily “Date”.  I have a special place and chair and if I fail to allow for some good, sweet time to chat with Jesus and tell Him what’s on my heart, I imagine in my mind’s eye that He quietly waits until I do make time. Love is patient and He will not force His love but quietly waits for us to make room.   I hope we look back on 2019 as the year that no matter what happened around us or to us that we kept our eyes fixed on Jesus and we persevered in running the race.

When hosting a tea party or how not to husband bash By Amber O’Brien

Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21 

Dear Sweet Sister:

I recently attended a tea party fit for a princess. Real china and crystal candelabras set the lavish table and soon scones, quiche and chocolate covered strawberries followed. My sweet sister shared her gift of hospitality with five friends by preparing ahead of time and considering every detail. She greeted us with warm enthusiastic hugs  and as the tea “steeped” she asked questions of each guest so a new neighbor would feel welcome. Sweets were arranged on a separate table on a three tiered display next to her signature “peace sign”.

But ………..then the carefully prepared picture perfect scene turned sour.

For the conversation turned toward sharing negative things about our husbands. Lighthearted jokes soon snowballed into complaints and ungratefulness. Regrettably, I laughed along and joined the banter.

But then…..

the gracious and wise hostess offered a suggestion that turned the tide of the rest of our elegant tea party.

“Why don’t we go around the table and state someone good about our husbands? I’ll start..

And then she shared a sweet routine they share when he returns from a business trip. (Her husband puts on a dinner jacket and they dance in the kitchen to celebrate)

Soon the energy flowed as each women shared a positive item. One sister and her spouse text each other the words of songs during the day. “That’s so sweet!…I love that idea”. And soon, because some of us knew each other well, we added additional positive things we knew about our friend’s husband and reminded each other of something we admire about their marriage.

The tide turned from a drip dripping of negative comments that wear away at relationships to a refreshing rain of positive compliments that resulted in  new ideas and renewed appreciation.

In the book of proverbs the impact of a wife’s nagging and negative words is compared to an irritating leak…drip, drip, drip.

A nagging wife is like water going drip-drip -drip on a rainy day. Proverbs 27:15 

In our Liz Curtis Higgs book study entitled, Bad Girls of the Bible,  we learned in the story of Samson and Delilah the impact that words can make. She literally nagged him to “death” as he eventually gave his secret of his strength away and this resulted in not only his demise but the death of thousands of Philistines in the final scene. Before his physical death, her nagging and ultimate betrayed ended in the emotional death of their relationship.

Words can tear down and words can build up. When we bring up negative dirt on our husbands in public, we are rolling ourselves in the mud too as a husband and wife become one flesh when married. Have you heard the phrase about not airing your dirty laundry? What a appropriate comparison for who wants to look or smell dirty laundry?

I know the excuses for I’ve used them myself. “I’m just venting” or “My friends are my therapist”.  But a therapist would not personally know your husband and pass on this information. Your friends probably will. In the least, their opinion of your spouse is being infected and healing takes longer the more you pick at a scab.  Our role is to protect and nurture our relationships. Unfortunately, we often play the “victim” card and try to get others to feel sorry for ourselves or take our side concerning a differing of opinion.

What should you do the next time you are tempted to focus and discuss a negative quality or action of your spouse? When a friend calls you up and starts to air her own dirty laundry?

Take out some bleach and start scrubbing.

Overpower the negative with the strong bleach of kind words.

Take out a pen and start writing positive things about your own spouse. Then the next time the situation arises say them out loud. When a friend shares some of her own dirty laundry perhaps say to your friend…”I know Joe isn’t perfect but what is something good about him? I’ve always admired this about him or your relationship.” A true friend will support your marriage and help you out of the pit of self-pity.

Do some of these complaints need to be addressed? Maybe. But out of respect for your spouse, pray about it first, asking God for wisdom as to whether this is something to be overlooked or needs to be addressed. Then, if you decide to go to him about your concens, you can clean the laundry together. If you are one flesh, then it is both your responsibility to do the bleaching together rather than individually throwing out the dirty laundry into your front yard. Wouldn’t you rather your spouse come to you then to tell his buddies about your negative qualities or mistakes?

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. Proverbs 14:1

Challenge: Sit down write now and write 10 positive things about your husband. Better yet, put it on his pillow tonight. Let him know that you see the good in him. Let the healing rain begin and soon you will benefit from the good fruit that will result.

 

 

If Love is Not a feeling…..then what is it? by Amber O’Brien

 

Love is Long-suffering….Love bears all things, believes all things,  hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I Corinthians 13 

Dear Sweet Sister:

Do you know what true love looks like? A fellow sweet sister and her husband who deals with chronic back pain sat down for a meal this past weekend with my husband and I.

But Her husband couldn’t even sit long enough to finish his lunch as standing is just a little. less. painful. than sitting. He stood at the outdoor restaurant, not to see the view but to find some relief from his chronic back pain. The same pain that has progressed  over two decades as they continually seek medical care and God’s intervention. This was their first outing in months together as the pain has recently intensified.  His face (too young for a cane) grimaced in pain as he slowly walked using a cane to steady himself. My heart hurt just watching him suffer and I could only imagine the long-suffering heart of his wife who cares for him each and every day.

She patiently “waits”  on God as she also lovingly “waits” on her husband. For months she would bring food upstairs to the bed as it was too painful to help him move downstairs.  She  has chosen commitment over fleeing, so most days she is housebound too.  However, her example of faithfulness reaches to her children and to me and to so many others like the ripple effect of a stone tossed in a pond.

She spoke these words across the table as gently as her life demonstrates them.

Love is not a feeling……..Love is a commitment.

She faithfully  holds on to her marriage vows of “Better or for Worse” with one hand while her other hand clutches onto God’s promises to be faithful to her and her family.

Her greatest concern is her children’s “Character” and oh what a real life lesson they see day in and out as both their parents remain steadfast in hope and trust in God despite failed procedures and chronic pain.

She has an eternal perspective and talks about this earth being just a “blip” compared to eternity.

She is committed to God and to her husband. She desires for her children to someday have spouses and most of all “to be” spouses who know what true love means.

She. Is. More. Beautiful to me than any runway model.

She models true unselfish, everlasting, committed Love.

What should you do sweet sister when the feelings fade? When life disappoints?  When you want to flee? To give up?

Look to God’s love in flesh on the cross. Did Jesus feel like carrying his cross? Did He feel like staying on the cross? Remember Him in the garden begging that this bitter cup would be taken away? He was all human and all God.   Jesus could have come down at anytime.

But He stayed. He stayed because He loves you and wants to spend eternity with you.

Love Stayed.

Love provided a way.

Love. Always. Wins.     Because…………

Love is not a feeling…..Love is a commitment.

 

 

 

Wolves in Sheep Clothing Part 1 by Amber O’Brien

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.  By their fruits you will know them. ...Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.                             Matthew : 7 15-20

Dear Sweet Sister, We were reminded again with the latest priest scandal that evil is in our midst.  Shepherds in the church preying on the most innocent. Disgusting, unthinkable, horrible…there are no words to describe this evil.  I have spent the last two weeks plus grieving over the innocence lost of these victims and for their parents. Grieving for other abused victims whose scabs of healing are ripped off each time they watch the news. I have raged with righteous anger against all the leaders and authorities that failed these innocent children. These are God’s precious lambs. Magnify your own sorrowing feelings by a trillion and imagine how much this breaks our daddy-God’s heart. Imagine your anger and magnify that by a trillion and that is how Angry our Lord God is that His shepherds abused the lambs that were put in their care. (I picked trillion for the trinity…the point is to think of a humanly  incomprehensible number) In fact Jesus talked about what will happen to those who cause “little ones” to lose their faith. (or stumble)

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin (a weakening or loss of faith), it would be better for a great millstone to be wrapped around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world for the things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! If you hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. Matthew 18: 6-8

As the above verse warns, if a member of the body hurts “a little one”  then those in leadership are to remove that member. This is what did not happen in the Catholic church in many parts of the world. Instead of a pruning and a trusting in God to bring in replacements, priests were transferred and given an opportunity to prey on another flock of lambs.   Ultimately, a spirit of fear and a lack of trust in God and His desire for the protection of the most vulnerable resulted in decades of cover-up.

Trust.

It appears this happened because of a lack of Trust in God by leadership to provide for the church,  when dealing with gangrene priests.  Evil is an infection that spreads and only when let out into the open and revealed in the light does healing occur.

However, those that desire to please God do not need to fear. We can trust God and below are some of the reasons Why and most importantly How we can help with the healing process.

God is not Dead, Asleep or Stupid

Jesus was very aware that Judas was in his midst. God is aware of all injustices and pr0mises his children to deal justly on the judgement day. Jesus states that ultimate justice will be on the judgement day when he separates the weeds from the wheat. The enemy has sown weeds (children of the evil one) within the field (world) and Jesus promises that action will happen:

His slaves said to him “Do you want us to pull them up?”He replied, No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest: then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, 
“First collect the weeds and time them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”                    Mathew 13:29-30 

Did you know that a lot of good seed can help prevent weeds from spreading?  What are  we called to do so that we are considered “good Seeds”? While God does not act on our timetable and sometimes seem slow, can you trust His Word? His word says that He will separate and sort out and punish evil doers.

It is so hard to wait for Justice. It is easy to get stuck in the why’s.  I have wrestled with these questions myself…… “Why is it  taking so long for justice to occur?” While justice does happen on earth at times through our legal system, some of these offenders died or aged out of the local statues of limitations.

But let me ask you two important questions sister? 1. Would you be ready if Jesus came back today? 2. Would all of your family members be ready if Jesus came back today ?

I certainly have many family members who have not accepted the gift of salvation and are living in the dark. I pray every morning that God would keep them alive until they are right with Him. May Jesus hold off His coming until the scales on their eyes have fallen and they fall to their knees in humble realization of their need for the sacrifice of Jesus.

So could God’s slowness of Justice really be His mercy as He waits for our loved ones to repent and enter into the kingdom of God?

Saint Peter explains it like this:

The present heavens and earth have been reserved by the same word of fire, kept for the day of judgement and of destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,”but He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3: 7-9

So sweet sister, may the evil we see in this word be a warning sign that judgement is coming and we need to start with ourselves first.   I recently walked on the beach and asked God for help with my own hardened heart. I asked that He would forgive me for my anger toward the Catholic church, toward (Himself) God whose timing I do not understand, and toward some people in my life (who are made in God’s image).  I do not want a hardened heart.

I want to have God’s heart.  A soft heart. A heart that can help reflect His love and Healing.

The verse above states  “God does not wish that Any should perish but that All should come to repentance”. So we have a lot of work to do, don’t we sister?

Starting with asking God to forgive us and soften our own hardened hearts. A hardened heart struggles to hear God’s voice.  A hardened heart struggles to pray for others.

Next, let us persevere in praying for our loved ones and advocate that God would soften their hearts and open their eyes to His love and mercy.

Justice delayed, means mercy is still available today.

 

Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this series and address how we can keep authorities accountable and help educate children so they do not become the next victims.

 

 

Where are the rainbows?

“I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth”        Genesis 9: 13

So. Much. Rain. the last couple of weeks. Long dark days of rain and short violent storms with hail. My yard is littered with broken branches and my calendar littered with cancelled plans.

“Where is Noah ?  Is his ark about to pass by?” I would tease my coworkers as we looked out my office window.

But what I was really looking for was a rainbow. Don’t we all? Looking for Some beauty after the pain. Some hope after the rain.

But…for the longest time I couldn’t find one. “Look for the sun” my husband reminded me.  “Both sun and rain are needed at the same time to create a rainbow.”

and then. it. happened…on our drive to dinner last night, we drove through the middle of a perfect rainbow. Glorious colors:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue indigo and violet on either side of a giant arch. We literally drove through the middle of a breathtakingly glorious rainbow.

My sister Liese calls this a “kiss from God”.

A reminder. A Promise from our creator that Joy does come after times of drought and after long nights of doubt.

The rainbow softly whispers to us the promise of our Creator God:

I am Here. I am here in the rain. I am here in your pain.

I began singing the chorus of a poem I wrote years before after catching my breath once we passed under the long awaited bow.

In the midst of Storms, Rainbows are born   His love shines through our tears

In the midst of Storms, Rainbows are born  He is here, He is Here.

He loves you my sweet sister. He promises to be with you through the storm and just as Noah and his family came off the boat and looked up and saw an arched piece of God’s fresh glory,

God has new gifts and surprises ahead for you too.

Your part is simple………..

Look for the Son.