Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood / Volume 1: Old Testament // Book Review

Are there any good devotional books you’d recommend???

It's a question we get a lot here at Holy Hen House. And with good reason! It can be tough to find a devotional that not only a) keeps your attention but also b) contains some good scriptural "meat". So when one of our readers asked if we would review her latest devotional book, "Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood, Volume 1: Old Testament", we were eager to do so!

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There's so much jam-packed goodness in Marie K. MacPherson's book I almost don't know where to start! Since I love lists, I figured I'd number some of my favorite aspects of this devotional, in no particular order :)

  1.  Biblical content: As the title says, each one of these devotions are based on passage/section of the Old Testament, drawing a correlation to our journey as mothers. Not only are these connections made by Marie on point and thought-provoking, they also remind me of some of the Bible history I learned as a child but have long since almost forgotten. I love the way her correlations draw me back into the text and have instilled a hunger for more knowledge of these Biblical events.
  2. Length: Each devotion is only one page long in the 5' x 7' book, which make them absolutely perfect for reading while drinking your coffee, eating breakfast or in between running your kiddos from point A to point B.
  3. Opportunities: IF you end up with extra time on your hands (HA!) or can find a second moment to sit during the day, she offers plenty of opportunity to further your study and extend the devotions by including at a minimum of two additional Bible verses or chapters at the bottom of each page "for further reading". I absolutely love this as my schedule rarely ever looks the same from day-to-day and sometimes I am able to sit for longer than others. This is also a perfect opportunity to "journal" if you're a Bible journal-er like me :)
  4. Broad Audience: Somehow Marie has found a way to write to all mothers, not just those who stay home, not just those with little kids, not just those with careers. She writes in a general enough manner that I am quite confident that all moms could glean encouragement from her words.

Any criticism I would have for this devotional would be purely based on preference. If you are a story-teller like me and love somewhat in-depth, real-life experiences shared by the author, you may miss that in this book; however, this also makes for a more direct, shorter message which I can definitely appreciate.

All-in-all, if you're looking for a devotional which is strong in Scripture and provides great encouragement to mothers in all stages of parenting, than Ms. MacPherson's book is a must-grab for you. What a great gift it would make for the other mothers in your life! You can purchase the book and read other reader's thoughts about the book on Marie's website HERE or find it on Amazon.

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Moments in the Word for Moms // Book Review

Momentsintheword The past number of weeks have been a bit of crazy town for me. Between Lent and Easter, planning Out of the Nest (hope to see you Friday!), and growing a baby internally while also keeping my two other babies alive externally, I haven't had a whole lot of extra time. I don't always have an exact routine when it comes to studying the Bible or devotions. I often do a short daily devotion and then try to read a bit in my Bible every week, usually the readings for the upcoming Sunday. During this super busy season, Moments in the Word for Moms by Melissa Berg was exactly what I needed to get little snippets during those hectic days.

"Being still means having peace on the inside, in our hearts, even while the storm continues to rage all around us."

These devotions are laid out very simply-- they begin with a scripture reference, followed by a short, five minute devotion and end with some questions to get you really thinking about what you just read and finally a prayer. Here are a few reasons why I loved these devotions:

 

  1. Completely applicable. It happened more than a handful of times that the devotion for that day was exactly what I needed to read during that moment.
  2. Easy reading. These were quick devotions. I was able to be interrupted by my kids (wiping a tiny tush, finding lost pants, etc.) and easily pick right back up where I had been reading. This doesn't mean the content wasn't deep or too fluffy, just that I was able to easily focus and remember.
  3. Thoughts for the Day. This section was following the devotion right before the prayer. She really hits the nail on the head with the questions she asks you to contemplate.
  4. Scripture reference. If I didn't have anything else planned and was a little short on time for the day, it was super easy to make this devotion into a short Bible study. I simply would read the entire chapter that the scripture reference came from instead of just reading that verse.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for short devotions and you are a mom, this is a great resource for you! I've enjoyed it immensely and will likely reread it in a few months.

 

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 *This devotional was provided free of charge in exchange for my honest review.*

Art & Devotion: Words Like Honey

Facebook pleasant words “You feel better, Mama?” I woke up hearing these sweet words at six AM. I was home solo with the kids for a couple days and wasn’t feeling well. The first thing my son thought of when he woke up to the sunrise that morning was Mama. He warmed my heart, he was so sweet.

In contrast, don't we all (from time to time) say things that aren't so sweet? Or we walk away from a conversation that left us feeling empty? We’ve been put in our place.We’ve been made to feel inferior. We have been kicked when we are down. We are sensitive. I am. I pout when I’ve been hurt, even though I have said things that aren’t so kind. We are imperfect people that can’t seem to keep from hurting each other. But, not always. We also can forgive, we can love, and we can encourage. First, Jesus forgives, Jesus loves, Jesus encourages, therefore we can.

God does give us each other. And sometimes. Sometimes, we hear these sweet warm words just when they are unexpected, and such a blessing. Pleasant words, loving words, encouraging words. Help, and comfort, and understanding.

“You can stay with us.”

“You are doing this for Jesus, friend.”

“Let us know how we can help.”

“Can we bring you a meal?”

“I’m sorry that happened to you.”

“Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Pleasant words are sweet, they are nourishing, they give strength. Pleasant words are a reminder to me that Jesus is working through those around me to bless me, to keep me going in my faith. It’s a really neat opportunity if I get to do the same for them. Pleasant words are blessings that can be easily missed, but they are there. They are so beautiful.

When it comes down to it, the best place we can find words to strengthen our souls is right where the words of Jesus are recorded. We find his pleasant words to us. We can find sweet gospel words to share with each other. These are really truly meaningful nourishing words that last.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones…” Proverbs 16:24

To keep these thoughts in mind through August, click the images to download this artwork for use on your computer desktop or Facebook cover photo.

Pleasant Words

You might also like Art & Devotion: Standing in Grace

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Our Little Lamb and Epilepsy

I originally wrote this devotion about having a child with epilepsy for WELS Women's Ministry. It is part of the Hope Through Tears devotion series.  Read more encouraging devotions by women here on their website.  Thanks for joining me on Purple Day as I share our family's journey through epilepsy, and for keeping those living with epilepsy in your prayers. Purple Day

Being Joyful with our Little Lamb through Epilepsy

My husband and I have three dearly loved children, Jesus’ precious little lambs. Our sweet Oliver is the middle child. Oliver has epilepsy. On the day of his third birthday party, he had his first seizure, followed by several more over the next few weeks. We quickly had to adjust to neurology appointments at Children’s Hospital, EEGs, and anti-seizure medications. Oliver was diagnosed with generalized epilepsy. We have a lot of hope that he will outgrow it eventually.  We take it one day at a time.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

The challenges that troubled us daily, outside of the seizures themselves, were the personality changes and behavioral issues. Oliver is a thoughtful sweetie. If given a treat, he insists on splitting it three ways with his big brother and little sister. Our little sweetheart was very unhappy for weeks, as he lived with seizures, auras, and adjusted to anti-seizure medications with behavioral side effects. When out running errands, or at church, it wasn’t unusual for him to have a meltdown. Sometimes he would cry loudly and say, “Yucky smell, yucky taste,” because he was having an aura, a warning that a seizure wasn’t far behind. I’m sensitive about how others might perceive my parenting skills, and on those days, often wished I could wear a shirt that said, “Give us a break, we’re living with epilepsy.”

Ambulatory EEG

We couldn’t always give ourselves a break, though. All three of our children still deserved patient guidance and loving discipline during such a stressful time, even Oliver. Inappropriate behavior quickly became habit, even if he was acting out because of medication or seizures. We have often felt overwhelmed by the parenting and medical decisions. My husband and I found strength, reassurance, and joy when remembering how our Good Shepherd loves this child even more than we do. Jesus also loves and leads us as parents.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:     He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;     he gently leads those that have young.  Isaiah 40:11

One way he keeps our little ones and us close to his heart, leading us, is in his Word. He has lovingly given us many guiding passages. One that I find myself returning to frequently is in 1 Thessalonians.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

To a hurting or stressed-out parent, I realize this may sound like another to-do list. This to-do list could be a reminder of our shortcomings. Be joyful. Pray continually. Give thanks. Even in these circumstances? Especially when I’m hurting, I’m not always so joyful or thankful. I don’t want extra guilt about my anxious attitude piled on top of my uncertainty and worry, but going through this list changes my perspective. This is a different way of looking at my life.

What do I have to be joyful for? We have joy because of Jesus. He holds our Oliver, our little lamb and his, close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11). He loves us and our child so much, that he, our Good Shepherd, gave his life for us, and covered our every shortcoming. We have peace with our Father, and a home in heaven where we will live free from the pain of this world, free from worry, free from epilepsy.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

Part of that joyful relationship with our Good Shepherd is prayer. To pray continually is to take advantage of our access to God and have an ongoing conversation with a friend who cares about these struggles.

What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer. CW 411

Because we are joyful, we can also be thankful. Jesus showers us with blessings, and surrounds us with what we need. Blessings of all sizes make difficult times more bearable. In our family, we can thank God for skilled neurologists near our home. We can thank him for a loving family, and a supportive congregation. We have a happy home, filled with best-buddy siblings for Oliver.

One small-sized gift I thank God for is Oliver’s beloved ragged stuffed dog, Pips, a constant companion in the ambulance, at blood draws, and in EEGs. Oliver is anxious about the blood pressure cuff, and the nurses have a mini cuff for Pips. Pips and Oliver are brave together, and I am more grateful for that stuffed dog than I would have ever imagined being thankful for a toy.

I’m now very thankful that Oliver hasn’t had any seizures in a while. We don’t know what’s ahead.  Seizures could start again, or perhaps he’s outgrown them. He depends on medication and lives with its side effects.

Some days it is hard to have a child with epilepsy, and others it isn’t so bad.  Every day, I am so proud of our family. I can rejoice in what we’ve been through (Romans 5). I’m proud to be the mother of a family living with epilepsy, because through it we have had the opportunity to guide our children and show them how to give thanks, pray, and be joyful through the reality of this hurting world. We’ve had real opportunities as a family to lean on Jesus, our Good Shepherd, looking at all of the ways he has blessed us. After all of this, one of the blessings for which I really love to thank God is a good, sweet, normal, boring, uneventful day in which to serve him.

Victory

Update: Since the writing of this original devotion, Oliver is still seizure free and has been weaned from seizure medication. We are incredibly grateful that God has blessed our family in this way. At the same time, we also know many children and adults continue to live with seizures. We keep them close to hearts, and in our prayers.

If you are wearing purple today, let us know below! Whom do you wear purple for?

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