The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

Tag Archives: God’s Word

How to Pray When You’re Hanging By a Thread

Welcome to the Overflow!  Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I’m glad you’re here. This is a place where faith is spilled and souls are filled. I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay awhile.

I’m over at Proverbs 31 today telling about a time I found myself dangling above a swirling sea and talking about how prayer is a bit like rock climbing. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find it here. But before you go, I’d love to tell you how I’m learning to pray even when I don’t know what to say…

I should never have done the math.

I’m a word gal, after all, not a numbers guru.

And, really, what good does it do a desperate mama to calculate the number of days she’s foregone a full night’s sleep?

Blame it on a mind numbed by years of inconsolable infants or on the sheer monotony of wiping faces and bottoms and floors, but on that gray winter’s day long ago, I tried to tally my exhaustion.

2,920 days. That’s how long it had been since I’d slept through the night.

Four kids and forever  buried in diapers and wails, midnight feedings and midday meltdowns, I hadn’t clocked a full night’s sleep since we’d brought home our first wrinkled bundle of wrinkles and wiggles.

Never mind that the experts claimed babies should be sleeping through the night by six months old; mine preferred to embrace the moonlight hours with eyes open wide.

Never mind that my friends told tales of quiet nights and contented cuddles; my wee ones came wrapped in colic and wired with wails.

Never mind that everyone knows that sunrise signifies a fresh start, my toddlers woke in the dark of night and begged to start their day beneath the starlight.

We’d read parenting books and consulted experts. We’d monitored eating habits and routines, schedules and stimulus. We’d established consistent nighttime norms and expectant bedtime prayers, yet nothing seemed to change the fact that our children resisted sleep like a cat runs from the swimming hole.

“They’ll sleep when they’re teenagers,” a well-meaning mom once told me with a wink.

But in the fog of exhaustion and exasperation, I’d stopped wondering if my offspring would ever sleep through the night, and I’d begun to wonder if I’d be alive to celebrate the momentous day.

“Can a woman die of sleep deprivation?” I asked my dear husband after I’d catalogued my fatigue with a senseless sum.

My husband was a doctor beyond the walls of our home, but once he walked through the door, he was just”daddy” beneath our roof. But for a rare moment, I needed my man to don his physician hat and assure me I wasn’t losing my mind. Or my life.

So, I cornered him in the coat room and voiced what any woman who had just calculated eight years of sleep deprivation might be compelled to ask.

He  scanned my face to see if I was joking.


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Drinking From Daddy’s Cup (Hope for the Mom Who Feels Empty and Drained)


Welcome! I’m glad you’re here.

Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I pray that you’ll be blessed as you linger in this place “where faith is spilled and souls are filled.” 

If you like what you find, I hope you’ll sign up on the sidebar to receive my blog in your inbox now and then. Or find me on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll keep chasing Jesus together day by day.

Better yet, I’d love to connect with you in person. I’m scheduling speaking commitments for the remainder of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.  I’d  be delighted to join you at a special ministry event this year.

Over at Encouragement for Today, I’m penning hope for any mom who’s ever felt like she’s losing herself in a myriad of mommy demands.

I hope you’ll hop over to P31’s website and be encouraged. 

But before you go, keep reading to learn how one little boy taught me the secret for combatting the exhausting drain of motherhood. (Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for today’s give-away at the end of this post!)


Years ago, when my husband worked late, our four-year-old son, Joshua, took it upon himself to make sure his daddy didn’t eat dinner alone.

At the sound of the garage door’s squeak, our littlest boy would come running to the kitchen where he knew he’d find his daddy sitting at the table with a plateful of left-overs and a weary smile. Though Joshua had eaten his own dinner long before the sun had set, he’d often ask me for a few crackers and a drink in his red plastic cup so he could dine with his daddy.

One night as I stood at the kitchen sink and scrubbed the last of the day’s dishes, I listened to Joshua fill the room with happy prattle.

With green eyes sparkling with a hint of mischief, our boy told of the treasures he’d found while digging in the backyard that day.

My husband’s laugher mingled with tall tales as our four-year-old described the rusty nail that must be a hundred years old and the shiny stones that might actually be magic.

At one point, my man looked over his shoulder to wink at me. And while his daddy’s head was turned, Joshua reached for the tall glass of water that sat beside my husband’s plate and our storyteller took a long silent swig.

Joshua wiggled closer to his daddy with each story told. And I watched with growing amusement as our littlest boy continued to sneak surreptitious sips of his daddy’s drink throughout the rest of their mealtime banter.

Finally, I interrupted the storytelling and called out our son’s sneaky supping. “Why don’t you drink from your own cup?” I asked.

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Joshua smirked and lifted his tumbler to reveal a pint-sized puddle on the kitchen table just beneath his little red cup.

“My cup is empty,” Joshua replied with an unconcerned shrug.

“But I just filled your cup  when Daddy came home,” I reminded our preschooler, my voice tinged with disbelief.

Joshua shrugged his shoulders once more, and I grabbed a dishtowel and abandoned my post at the sink for a closer look. Sure enough, when I inspected my son’s cup, it was nearly drained, thanks to a hairline crack running along the plastic bottom.

“Joshua,” I said as I mopped up the puddle on the table. “Would you like me to get you a new cup?”

“No,” our littlest boy declared as he inched closer to his daddy. “I’m just drinking from Daddy’s cup. He’s got enough for both of us.”

My husband nodded in agreement and tipped his glass toward our son as if he were toasting a brilliant idea.

I raised an invisible glass toward my boys; then grabbed the broken cup and carried it across the room to the garbage can.

But when I dropped that tiny tumbler in the trash, I was surprised by the uninvited lump of tears that swelled in my throat.

I couldn’t describe my swirling emotions with eloquent words, but I knew that at the end of another long day of wiping faces and bottoms, fingers and floors, I felt like that little red cup–

Poured out and punctured.

Empty and drained.


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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.

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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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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.

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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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How To Enjoy Every Season of Motherhood (For any mom who has ever cried in the laundry room)

My middle one dressed in black and white on Tuesday in celebration of autumn equinox.

Her brother looked up from his pancakes just long enough to notice Hannah’s out-of-the-ordinary outfit and asked, “Why are you dressed like a zebra?”

She poured her Rice Krispies and raised a knowing eyebrow. “Because it’s autumn equinox today,” my girl replied with fifth-grade sure-ity. 


Josh stared at his sister with mild interest. “What’s aqua-blocks?”

Hannah laughed and responded in perfect teacher tone.  “I don’t know what aqua-blocks are, but Equinox is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator…”

The teenagers at the table raised their eyebrows in a silent admission of admiration, and Josh pushed his chair away from the table with a screech across the crumb-crusted tile. He shrugged his shoulders ambivalently, then headed upstairs to find his socks. When he reached the landing, we heard him mutter, “I didn’t even know we lived by the equator…”

Hannah shook her head and giggled, a dribble of milk dripping un-lady-like from her tongue.  “He’ll understand it when he’s in fifth grade,” she assured me as she wiped her mouth with the back of her black and white sleeve. We exchanged impish grins; then gathered coats and backpacks and piled into the mini-van for our drive to school.


Crimson apples dangled from the chestnut limbs, and bean fields shimmered golden in the morning light. Black-eyed susans shivered half-naked in the ditches, while pearl drops of dew be-jeweled the roadside grass.

And when we came over the hill and beheld pink streaks of daybreak draped like tinsel across the browning fields of corn, even my noisy kindergartner peered out the window with wordless wonder.

Summer may subtly slip away, but Autumn frolics in with fanfare.

 I’ll admit, I don’t remember much about equinox or the celestial equator, but I do know this….

This spinning orb of of dust and dirt has a seraphic September glow, and Autumn sure knows how to showcase Heaven’s beauty.


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