Sow & Gather

Mothers

When God Has a Better Plan

Faith, MothersMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather When God Has A Better Plan #faith #parenting

The Pharisees said to Him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, 'Yes, have you never read, "Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise"?' Matthew 21:26 (ESV) 

As a mom, my most exciting moments have been seeing spiritual markers in my kids’ lives. It gives me joy, peace and hope to see my kiddos walking with Jesus. 

One such time happened when my son was only nine. We had set sail on a cruise from Florida, expecting to have a fabulous, fun-filled trip. We had already experienced disappointment since I was unfamiliar with cruises and had missed the deadline for signing up for the dolphin excursion. My six-year old daughter did not receive the news well and had spent some time crying about that lost opportunity. 

On day two of our seven-day cruise, we learned that there were not one but two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the danger would force our captain to make the decision to reroute the trip. I remember returning to the cabin as the news sank in that all previous plans had been cancelled and any new on-shore activities were uncertain. We were pretty down and my daughter again began to sob. 

I can still see my sweet son's face full of hope, joy and child-like faith as he spoke fourteen little words. "Maybe God has something better planned for us than we had planned for ourselves." At that moment, my breath caught in my chest as I realized that he could be right. 

Now, I know that God does not give us everything we want, because He is at work through difficult situations just as He is in the good times. On this occasion, though, He chose to affirm my son's faith and confirm his belief. We experienced everything we wanted to, including a swim in the ocean with dolphins that had not previously been possible. 

This spiritual milestone in my son's life became a mom milestone in mine. Even when I am not where I need to be, God is still working in my children's lives. He will be more of a parent for them than I could ever be. I just need to move out of the way and trust Him to do what I cannot. 

Dig deeper |

1 John 3:1-2John 16

Action Item |

Are you trusting your child's future to God? Or, are you trying to protect them from difficulties that are God's fertile ground for teaching? 

Prayer |

God, help me to trust Your ways are best for my child even when they experience unfavorable situations. Help me have wisdom to know how to guide them through these times and teach them to lean on You. In Jesus name, Amen. 

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Talk To God. He Will Provide Good Gifts.

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
Talk to God. He Will Supply Good Gifts. #sowandgather #mothers

When you open your hands, they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:28 NIV

I celebrated my sixteenth Mother's Day earlier this month. My very large teenager struggled to sit on my lap at the kitchen table like he did for so many years as a baby, toddler, and adolescent. It's really become a joke for him to try and sit "Santa Claus" style with me on our faded wooden chairs. He's been too big for a long time. But, for a few moments, I think we both go back to the baby days and what it means for a momma to hold her child.

Of all the gifts my teen could give me, those few seconds of closeness are the most precious. The card and homemade chocolate treats are delightful, but sharing a few seconds or moments so close are the very best.

The time spent discussing homework, projects, and the self-described "disastrous" performance are the good things I cherish. We are at the stage now where we are pulling information out of our teen. At four years old he created sentences with words like cornucopia and plethora. Today, his responses are variations on a grunt.

As I struggle to communicate with a teen, I begin to understand a little bit of how God must feel when we struggle to communicate with Him. I want to talk to God and share with him my hurts and successes. I want to open up, but sometimes a grunt or groin is all I can muster.

I wonder if God is just waiting for me to ask for a few moments on His lap. A few moments to share with him my hopes and dreams. My fears and disappointments. A few moments each day where God can give me "good gifts." I know God has the ability to interpret my grunts and groans, but how much more does God also cherish a conversation with me.

I'm reminded that the "good gifts" I give my son and received from him are not tangible. They are time, a listening ear, a hug, and acceptance. There are so many good things our heavenly Father is ready to provide us if we only take the time to talk to Him and listen to Him.

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 7:7-11; Exodus 33:7-21

Action Item |

What "good gift" has God given you this week? Write it down and thank God.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to acknowledge and give praise each day for the good gifts you provide to me and my family. Lord, help me to have a conversation with you today and to rest in your arms. Amen.

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What's The Secret to Strong Relationships that Last?

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
What's the secret to strong relationships? #sowandgather #Mothers

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalms 32:8 NLT 

Talking to my mother, or mama as I call her, everyday has been a part of my daily routine since . . . I was born. I’d say that I am a “mama’s girl,” though I love and value both my parents dearly.

Mama and I have a connection, a bond. Some of mama’s friends have even asked, “What is your secret in creating that kind of relationship with your girls?” (Disclaimer: I have one sibling-a younger sister.) I’ve not heard her answer, but I can imagine she blushes, says she tries to engage us daily, and hugs us often. If I were ever asked this question, I’d say, “Because she meets us where we are and loves us more than there is air to breathe.” 

In meeting us where we are in life, mama has always tried to depart guidance. I have often thanked her for the gradual autonomy she fostered throughout my lifetime. Looking back now, I recognize her efforts of leading me along a certain pathway in life. Through tough times-whether from my bad decisions or when my world turned upside down, mama was always there to watch over me, provide sound advice, and to meet me in the moment. For me in my life, she has been a sound example of God’s love in her approach of being my mama. 

By taking the time to talk with my mother daily, she and I learned about each other. I trust her enough to listen to her advice, and she knows me well enough to counsel me. In this same way, we ought to spend time with God, to learn about Him, and to trust His ways. This scripture provides the promise of guidance. God meets us where we are, and He advises us in the way we should go. 

Dig Deeper |

Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 119:105 

Action Item |

What is God advising you in your daily talks with Him? Ask God for guidance in your daily life and rest on this promise. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for watching over me, meeting me where I am in life, and loving me in all ways. I pray that as you continue to guide me, I will be receptive and willing to go where you lead. Amen.

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How Do We Show Gentleness?

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 #sowandgather

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 NIV 

What is the first thought that races into your mind when the word “grandmother” is uttered? I immediately think of gentleness. Gentleness means kind, soft and even tender. My own grandmother displayed this great gentleness. 

When I was a child, she would plop me on her lap and squeeze tightly exclaiming how much she loved me. She would sew cute clothes for me and always prepared a matching set for my dolls. She would bake sweet-smelling cinnamon rolls and other yummy favorite foods. She would even sit and listen as I sang silly songs written just for her. As I grew into adulthood, she continued to encourage me, showed interest in the activities of my life and displayed even more love. She exhibited gentleness. 

There is another person who is the perfect example of gentleness. Throughout His earthly life, Jesus showed this trait to many in His path. He would gather the children into His arms and bless them. Women like Mary Magdalene and the woman who had bled for 12 years of her life were healed by Jesus. And, when his friend Lazarus died, He wept. He grieved over his friend’s death with Lazarus’s family. 

Presently, Jesus continues to show gentleness to even me. He provides me with a home for rest and food to eat on a daily basis. He is with me and loves me despite my many weaknesses and even times of disobedience. He is merciful and shows amazing grace. He exhibits gentleness. 

With such an ideal example, I am to let my gentleness be evident to all, too. I am to be kind, soft and tender with my family, friends and those I connect with every day. I should exhibit gentleness. 

Dig Deeper |

Mark 10:13-16; Luke 8:40-47; John 11:17-44 

Action Item |

Be gentle! 

Prayer |

Lord, Thank You that You are gentle, God. Thank you for showing Your gentleness to me. Help me to be gentle toward others. I want to be like You. Amen. 

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How Do You Define Beauty? - The Quiet Spirit

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
How Do You Define Beauty? The Quiet Spirit #sowandgather #mothers

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:4 NIV

My favorite part of May is the celebration of motherhood. I’m so grateful to be a Mom, but also for my Mom and Grandmothers whom I cherish.

My Grandmother Justus always had a quiet, peaceful spirit about her. She wasn’t one to share her life story; in fact, she wasn’t much of a talker! I regret not asking her questions about her life, like how did she meet my Grandfather? What was it like moving to Rhode Island and living on a Naval Base as a Southerner? What was her favorite flower or food?

The one thing I knew for sure about my Grandmother was her love of Christ. She lived out her faith every day and loved her church family. If the doors were open at her church, she was probably there serving.

One of the lessons I learned from my Grandmother was that her quiet and gentle spirit did not mean she was weak or meek. On the contrary, she was hard working, thoughtful, discerning, peaceful, wise in the eyes of the Lord, and strong. She raised five children on her own after my Grandfather died at a young age, took care of her parents, even caring for one as he lived to be 100. I remember her tending her garden, preparing meals for her Father, caring for his home along with hers, worshiping with her choir friends and church family, and caring for her grandchildren.

Her life was not easy, but I never heard her complain. In fact, she always seemed grateful to get to do all that she did. I’m sure she never expected to be a single Mom to five children. She did what she needed to do to provide for them, but had faith that God would take care of her and her family. There lies the true peace behind her quiet spirit. She lived a simple life, not needing much from this world other than her Savior and her family.

When I think of this unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, my Grandmother displayed that spirit in self-giving and loving ways. Her true beauty shined as she lived a life of being the hands and feet of Christ in so many different ways, but most importantly in caring for those she loved.

Dig Deeper |

1 Peter 3, Romans 7:22

Action Item: How would you define beauty? Is your beauty characterized by the gentle and quiet spirit?

Prayer |

Dear Father, I’m so thankful that you have given me a precious example of what true beauty is. I pray that I will walk in your Spirit daily, and that my beauty may be gentle and unfading. Amen

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The Ultimate Gift-Giver

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
God Is The Ultimate Giver of Gifts. #sowandgather #mothers

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade –kept in heaven for you…   1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

I love to receive gifts. As a child, some of my fondest memories are thinking back to the special gifts I received, like my first bike or that special doll. I’ve found that the older I get, the more excited I become to give gifts to others. I get so excited when I buy that special item that reminds me of a friend or loved one. I picture in my mind how their face will light up when they see it.

God is the ultimate giver of gifts. More than anyone here on earth, He has given beyond what we could ever imagine. I love reading the book of 1 Peter, knowing that I’m reading the words of someone who walked and talked with Jesus. As a disciple, Peter saw firsthand the generosity and kindness of Jesus as he walked beside Him healing the sick and the blind. The miracles Jesus performed made an impact on everyone that encountered Him.

When Jesus revealed to the disciples that He was the Messiah, Peter must have felt and known that he was part of something special. God’s ultimate gift is the hope for each of us that through Jesus we will live in heaven with our eternal Father. But, His gift-giving doesn’t stop there.

Not only does God give us the gift of eternal life in heaven, but He also gives each of us an inheritance in heaven that will never perish, spoil or fade. There’s not a company here on earth that will stand behind that kind of guarantee. Each day as someone accepts the gift of His son, God through his mercy freely gives the gift of eternal life. I can just see God smiling down on His growing family from heaven, waiting to present each of us our guaranteed inheritance. In addition to eternal life, we will get to live in a place that is unimaginable. Now that’s a gift I can’t wait to receive! When it comes to God as the gift-giver, I don’t mind being on the receiving end of His precious gifts!

When I think about all that God has given me, it makes me want to reach out to others and share the amazing news of God’s eternal gift. I want others to be a part of His amazing family and receive the inheritance that He freely gives to all who believe. Do you know someone who needs to receive God’s gift?

Dig Deeper |

John 16:33; Ephesians 1:3; Romans 8:17

Action Items |

Are you ready to receive God’s ultimate gift? Have you trusted Jesus as your personal Savior?

Prayer |

Father, You are the ultimate gift-giver. I thank You for all You do in my life. Thank You for sending Your Son to save us and giving us the hope of knowing that we will live eternally with You. Thank You in advance for my inheritance, which I do not deserve. Thank You for daily providing for all of my needs.

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Does God Love Me Less?

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
You Do Not Have Because You Do Not Ask #sowandgather

Yet you do not have because you do not ask. James 4:2b

I have several kids and to be honest I love each of them differently; not more, just differently. Recently, I was accused by a member in my family of favoring one of my kids. I didn’t say too much, but then, the “rumor” started spreading and before too long one of my kids complained about the same thing…I had a favorite child! It was pointed out to me that I did “special” things for this particular child. So, I really began to ask myself questions to see if indeed I did have a favorite?!

No, I did not have a favorite, nor was I favoring this child. This child would ask for certain things and when I fulfilled the request, this one was very thankful. My other children never asked me for such things and if they had, I would have fulfilled their requests, also. The fact that they never even asked me for anything didn’t stop their assumption that just because I was doing something for one child, it must mean I loved that child more.

Well, this got me thinking. How many times do I do the same thing with God? I look at someone else’s life and see all the blessings they have and think, “Wow, God must REALLY love them. He is not doing anything like that in my life!” The fact is that the other person is probably praying for wisdom, understanding, mercy, love, etc. and God is answering their prayer. Have I prayed for God to give me wisdom in a certain area? Have I prayed for mercy? Matthew 7:7 tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Also, Psalm 84:11 reminds us, “…The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

The next time you are looking at someone else’s life and begin to think that God must love them more than you, ask yourself two questions: Am I praying for those things? Is what I am asking for good for me? God’s word promises us that He will not withhold “any good thing” from us. Jesus “came that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Instead of looking around and seeing all that Jesus is doing in everybody else’s life, open His word and spend some time with Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) He is waiting for you right now…what is stopping you?

Dig Deeper |

Ephesians 2:4; Psalm 86:15; Romans 5:8; Job 34:19

Action Item |

Are you running to God or away from God? You will find Him in His Word!

Prayer |

Lord, instead of looking at others help me to look to You, to seek You with my whole heart, soul, and mind.

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Happy Mother’s Day…I Think!

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #mothers #mom #proverbs31

She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.  Proverbs 31:17 (NLT)

We have come to the month when we celebrate all mothers. As a young woman, I would listen to moms say, “All I want for Mother’s Day is some peace and quiet.” I was so offended by the sentiment. Why wouldn’t a mother want to be with her children on Mother’s Day? THEN I BECAME A MOM.

Motherhood is exhausting and can many times literally wear us out to the point of feeling lifeless.

That brings to mind the phrase from Proverbs 31:17. As I was reading through this Proverb, I was happy when I read this phrase. “Ok, this is one I know I have got in the bag,” I thought. BUT as I began to think harder, I began to ask myself some really tough questions and I would like to ask them to you too.

      Do you have energy for the right things?

      Do you work hard on eternal or temporal activities?

      What kind of strength do you possess? Physical strength? Emotional strength? Spiritual strength?

You see, as I pondered this idea of working hard, having lots of energy and flexing my muscles, I began to wonder if all of this energy I am expending is long lasting, good and right. Each of us needs to answer that question for ourselves, but let me give you a few guidelines as you answer.

1. Measure your activities by Deuteronomy 6:6-9.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

While this verse has been my life verse throughout motherhood, I have to continue to place my schedule right up against it and EVALUATE! You notice the words “sit at home, walk by the road.” While these words are not to be interpreted literally to the point that you must sit at home to teach your children the word of God, it does imply effort and work of the parent toward spiritual teaching. I fear that as moms of students we have allowed our really good activities to trump spiritual guidance. If I am going to be exhausted at the end of the day due to hard work, oh, I truly want it to be because I have worked so hard impressing my children with the truths of God.

2. Get your strength from the right place.

Ephesians 3:16-19, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

There are so many ways to keep and maintain a healthy body and for the most part, moms do a great job of staying physically ready to handle challenges from their students. However, we do struggle with our souls being strong enough to handle all that is thrown towards us. The above verse is seriously a favorite of mine. We simply cannot be filled with the miraculous strength that God gives without spending time with Him, thus being filled with His Spirit inside!

3. Compare your goals to your time commitments.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I share this verse with you because it is my own personal goal for my children! I constantly have to look at my numerous time commitments to determine if they are matching that goal. Choose your own verse/goal. Compare your calendar to that goal and make sure that your spending the most time working towards that goal.

Are you strong, energetic and hard working in the right areas??? If so, keep up the good work, but if you have some work to do…..DO IT! Don’t wait, today is the day!

Action Item |

Prayerfully consider and implement Steps 1, 2 and 3 above.

Dig Deeper |

Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Ephesians 3:16-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

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Treasure God's Word--Psalm 139:13-14

scripture memory, MothersMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I  will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.   Psalms 139:13-14

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Mother May I?

MothersMarci AnthonyComment

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24(NIV)

When I was a kid, I constantly bombarded my mom with questions. “Mom, can I have a piece of candy?” “Mom, will you buy me that toy?” “Mom, can I go play with my friend next door?” Sometimes when I asked my mom for things the answer was “yes,” and sometimes the answer was “no.” Of course when the answer was “yes,” I would do the happy dance and tell my mom that she was the best mom in the whole wide world. If the answer was “no,” well, you might have thought that world as we knew it had ended as I went into a total meltdown on the floor in the middle of the store.

The look on my mom’s face was total and complete embarrassment and failure. I often think that’s how we are with God. Sometimes when we ask Him for things and He says “yes,” we are overjoyed, but when the answer is “no,” we pitch an embarrassing fit of self-pity. Other times, we don’t even ask and instead take matters into our own hands. Usually this doesn’t end well and we are forced to admit that we should have asked God first.

What I’ve learned, having been on both sides, is that sometimes we think we need something that will make our lives more complete, but in reality, God is all we need. We petition God for whatever our heart’s desire is at the time, not really searching our hearts for what He wants for our lives. John 16:24 tells us that God wants us to ask Him for things. He wants to provide for our needs. Notice I said, “needs,” not “wants.” God wants us to have our heart’s desires, but He also wants us to recognize those areas of our lives where we need Him. He wants us to depend on Him to provide those things.

As a mom, I recognize those areas where wants versus needs seem to be mixed-up. We must teach our children that our “joy” comes not from our wants being fulfilled, but from the needs of our hearts being filled by the One who know us best and makes our joy complete. When we ask for things in His name we are humbly acknowledging that He is Lord over our life. When we recognize God as our provider and ask with a heart that is pure, God will answer and we will be filled with His unending joy.

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 21:22; John 14:13-14

Action Item |

Are you in the habit of asking God for your wants and needs? Do you struggle with what to ask God for in your daily prayer life? Ask God to examine your heart and help you to determine those areas that need to be fulfilled.

Prayer |

Most Gracious Heavenly Father, please help me to establish a life that is not based on my wants but on Your needs for my life. Allow my heart to be filled with the joy that only You can provide by allowing you to fulfill those needs in my life.

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