The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

Tag Archives: Bible

The Best Balm for a Bad Day

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Over at Encouragement for Today, I’m talking about how those faulty and frazzled moments in our day can be one of our greatest gifts.  I hope you’ll hop over to P31’s website and be encouraged. But before you go, I’d love to share the best tonic I know for those no-good-very-bad days.

When my daughter, Hannah, was six-years-old, we lovingly called her “Little Nightingale.”

It wasn’t because she was a winged warbler or kindergarten crooner. It’s because of her self-declared role as playground nurse.

You see, it didn’t take Hannah long to realize that recess can be a bit rough and tough on little kids. Or that a playground filled with racing and chasing hoopla can quickly become a crowded canvas of boo-boos and tears.

So, one afternoon when our sensitive third-born came home from school, she took a little treasure box from her bedroom and filled it with Bandaids and cotton swabs, bandages and tissues. Then she slipped it into her backpack right beside her library books and her lunch box. Hannah carried her “emergency kit” out to recess each day and wandered the dusty playground in search of kindergarten quandaries.

There was the pig-tailed princess who had fallen from the monkey bars and the singing diva who had slipped from the swings. There was the bragging boy who had scabbed his knee on home base and the klutzy kid who had stumbled on the snarled root of the old oak tree.

There were skinned knees and stubbed toes, bloody elbows and bruised bottoms. Tears and pouts and all kinds of tattle tale-ing.  But Hannah never ran out of empathy for her wounded, whining classmates. And when she wrapped up those sad playground tales, she usually ended with this simple summary–

I think he was just having a bad day.

I think she was just  having a bad day.

We heard of Gracie’s scrapes and Johnny’s falls; Samantha’s scabs and Ryan’s bumps. And thanks to a treasure box filled with Bandaids and a little girl’s heart filled with empathy, we heard, too, about the power of kindness and the tonic of mercy.

But then one afternoon, I opened Hannah’s school bag, and I discovered a bright orange shoe box tucked in the pocket where that little treasure box had always been.

“What do you have in there?” I asked Hannah as I waved that heavy shoebox in the air.

“Oh, that’s my new emergency kit,” Hannah replied with a smile and a shrug.

“But why is it so heavy? Are you carrying Band Aids made of steel?” I asked with a playful wink.

My little Nightingale giggled and shook her head at my ludicrous words. “‘That’s just my Bible in there, Mom,” she explained with a shake of her tawny blonde hair. Then she flashed me a toothless grin and held my gaze for a long serious moment. And with old-soul wisdom, she declared, “‘Cause a Band Aid can’t fix everything, ya know

I stood there speechless, soaking in my daughter’s words and nodding in quiet agreement.

Then as Hannah skipped down the hallway to go play Barbies with her sister, I opened that orange box and lifted out the well-worn children’s Bible tucked carefully beneath the bandaids and cotton balls, the bandages and tissues.

I ran my fingers along the cover of that treasured book and watched the bright colors blur through my own haze of grateful tears.


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Why A Mom Should Dream Small for Her Children

I realized it one morning a few years ago as I sat in the cushy leather chair by the window, a pajama-clad boy plastered to my lap—-

How the secret to a BIG life is dependent on one small thing.

small feet text

Six-year-old Joshua smelled of old backyard dirt and of fresh sleepy sweat.

His knees still bore grass stains from crawling through the yard at sunset; his hair still harbored an itinerant blade of grass in its clutches.

And as we watched the sun’s pink fingers peel back the remnants of the dark before dawn, we chatted about ordinary things- school friends and soccer games, recess plans and superheroes.

The hands on the clock ticked steady, and the kids down the hall began to stir. I knew I should prod my littlest boy toward the shower before the school bus plodded up the road, but for just a moment, I wrapped my arms around my littlest boy and savored the feel of his toasty body spooned snug against mine.

His warm breath condensed into moist drops on my neck as his lips brushed against my skin. And his tousled hair tickled my chin when he tried to snuggle closer, curling his knees to his chest and tucking his head beneath my shoulder. My eyes roamed from the window to my Bible still lying open on the broad arm of the leather chair. And I glanced at the page where I’d been lingering when my early riser had padded down the hallway.

I focused once again on the Holy writ at my fingertips and leisurely re- read the words of King David to the metronome of my son’s rhythmic breathing.

“I have asked one thing from the Lord—
it’s all I seek—
to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life,
seeing the Lord’s beauty
and constantly adoring his temple.” (Psalm 27:4, NIV).

“What does it say?” Josh murmured as he laced his slender fingers around mine and pointed to the words framed with a smudgy streak of yellow highlighter.

I repeated aloud the words I’d just consumed in silence. “I have asked one thing from the Lord—it’s all I seek—”

“Who wrote that?” my son asked, his words still slurred and sleepy.

“King David,” I replied

“The one who killed the giant?” Josh lifted his head from my shoulder and craned his neck to meet my gaze.

“That’s the one,” I answered.

“You mean the David that  I’m named after?” my Joshua David questioned, his sluggish posture now taut and alert. “The one who fought all those battles and lived in the palace and was a really really important king?”

“Yep,” I nodded, trying not to giggle at my boy’s growing enthusiasm.

“Oh,” Josh said with a reverent sigh. “That David must’ve really loved God.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“‘Cause he could’ve asked for anything,” Josh said, letting a low whistle escape from his lips. “And all he asked for was more of God.”

“I have asked one thing from the Lord—it’s all I seek.”

Josh squirmed and then, in a small voice, he admitted, “I think I might have asked for something else.“

He held my gaze, almost apologetic.

“Me, too,” I whispered.


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If You Give A Boy A Stick…

Of all the poems I’ve written for my children over the years, this is one of my favorites. Joshua loved to play with sticks when he was little, and one day when we were out playing in the trees, I watched him leaping around excitedly with a great big stick in his hand. And in that moment, I prayed the prayer that sparked this poem: “May Josh thrill to your Word like that, God!”  When I found these scribbles written on the inside cover of one of my old Bible study books today, it seemed like the perfect follow-up to this post


If You Give A Boy A Stick


If you give a boy a stick,

He’ll move a mound of dirt,

And chances are before he’s done,

He’ll have mud splats on his shirt.

If you give a boy a stick,

He’ll plow roads and winding trails,

And chances are before he’s done,

He’ll have sludge beneath his nails.


If you give a boy a stick,

He’ll trench tunnels where he lingers,

And chances are before he’s done,

He’ll have muck stuck to his fingers.

If you give a boy a stick,

He’ll excavate some rocks,

And chances are before he’s done,

He’ll have gravel in his socks.


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The One Prayer that Captures All the Longings of a Mama’s Heart

It was those Bibles strewn across the kitchen table that launched my heart right into my throat this morning, God’s Word framed with dribbles of orange juice and cereal crumbs, splatters of jelly and an abandoned spelling list.

I hadn’t noticed it right away when I’d returned from dropping the kids at school, how those remnants of our morning rush were a portrait of answered prayer.

photo 1

I’d been too busy rinsing the dishes and grumbling about the milk cartons left carelessly on the counter, too focused on mixing up one more batch of brownies and emptying that stinky lunch box that had been excavated from the bottom of a certain second-grader’s backpack right before we’d headed out the door.

But when I’d turned from the sink with soapy dishrag in hand, and I’d spotted that streak of yellow blazing across that well-worn page of my sixteen-year-old’s Bible, I realized that I was beholding a yes from God.

The first time I’d asked, I was planted in a rocking chair in the corner of a mauve and blue hospital room, that tiny bundle of wrinkles and wonder tucked snugly in my arms. My husband had been snoozing on that too-small couch by the window and I’d reached for my Bible in the quiet of the afternoon. I’d balanced the Word in one hand and my fresh-from-the-womb-firstborn in the other, and I’d lingered over my favorite Psalms until the nurse had bustled in with her checklist and an apologetic smile.

I’d prayed it then as I marveled at my son’s smooshed nose and serious blue eyes: Lord, give this child a love for your Word. 

And I’d uttered it this morning as I sat by the window in the dark before dawn, covering that same boy in prayer, and all four of his siblings, too.

Lord, give my children a love for your Word. 

And in the years and the months and the minutes in between, I’ve spoken that prayer a thousand times more.

From the lonely quiet of the rocking chair trenches to the deafening middle of my mini-van madness, I’ve begged God over and over again to ignite a holy love affair in my children’s hearts.

Motherhood compels prayer like living beckons breath.

And we who carry children know that prayer is what carries a mama through every change and challenge.

We pray for safety and for health, for wisdom and whimsy.

We pray for tempers to be tamed and kindness to be kindled, for faith to be enflamed and squabbles to be squashed.

We pray for the company our children will keep and the mates they will one day marry. We pray for their todays and their somedays.

And we pray for their mamas… for help and hope, patience and perseverance.

Our prayers change over the years, much like our children do.

But this morning, when I ran my washrag along the edges of those Bibles, scooped up the crumbs and the drizzles that flanked God’s Holy writ right there in my kitchen, I realized that this one prayer has withstood the test of time–

Jesus, give my children a LOVE for your Word.

Maybe it’s because it’s the one prayer that captures all the longings of a mama’s heart.


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When Your Salsa Sprouts Eyes

milkLately, I have the niggling feeling that I’m being watched. 

When I open the refrigerator or walk into the bathroom, when I reach for a baseball glove in the garage or grab a tissue in the kitchen, I’m greeted by a pair of eyes.

The googly kind, of course. 

 It’s my own fault, really. 

This kind-of-funny, kind-of-freaky surveillance gig going on within the walls of my home was my idea from the start. 

After all, I’m the one who woke up one morning and excavated the glue gun from beneath those piles of fabric scraps and finger paint bottles.

I’m the one who snuck through the house while my children slept and attached those little plastic wobbly eyes to anything I could find. 

And it’s not because I wanted to play a prank, or because I had a little too much time on my hands at 6 A.M. 


It’s because I don’t want to forget. 

I don’t want to just read the Word in the morning and hurry through my day without the riches of God’s wisdom in my pocket.

I don’t want to claim I believe in God, but then fail to bank my life on His promises. I want to cling to the jewels of His truth and let the shimmer of His holy writ transform my pedestrian life.

So, when I excavated this amazing gem from the sixteenth chapter of 2 Chronicles, I knew I had to wear it. 

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

I needed to drape those words over my naked soul and let them cover my holes. 

 I needed to pin that audacious promise to my heart and let its sheen shine hope in my weariness.

It really is audacious if you think about it—

An all-knowing, all-powerful Creator sees us.

An almighty, beyond-glorious King bends low to strengthen the frail and flawed  


The gospel is radical and ridiculous in the most marvelous way, and I never want to forget that.

Even when I fail to fix my eyes on Him, God’s eyes are fixed on me. 

If there’s one little truth I want my kids to remember from the splash of these summer days, it’s this: God sees.

So I unearthed those crafty eyes and got to work.

My family can’t decide whether the googly gazers are creepy or cool. 

And, in truth, they were meant to be neither

 Those plastic peepers aren’t for creeping or wowing, they’re simply for reminding.

Those wiggly watchers on the salsa jar remind us that we’re not alone.

Those sneaky peekies in the garage remind us that we have a Father who longs to give us strength.

(And sometimes, when I’m gearing up to pitch another hundred baseballs to my little slugger, I need that strength like a desert needs rain!) 

It’s amazing to realize that God is watching.


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