How You Can Build A Strong Friendship with Your Husband {& Marriage Book Giveaway!}

I’m thrilled to have my dear friend and colleague Lisa Jacobson share a guest blog today! Her words are rich!


He often introduces me as his girlfriend.

Ever-so-slightly embarrassing.

He’ll say it to the barista at Starbucks, or the cashier in the check-out line of the grocery store. Even to the new couple we met at the homeschool picnic.

After 22 years, you’d think I’d get used to it, but it still makes me blush.

And smile.

I always hasten to add that I also happen to be his wife –an important fact to establish when you have 8 children together.

And I’ll flash my wedding ring to prove it if necessary.

I think he gets some kind of odd gratification out of my embarrassment.

Then pretends to protest, “What . . . you are my girlfriend, aren’t you?”

Yes, well . . .

It’s true: I am a girl. And I am his friend. A close friend.

The best of friends, really.

So I guess that does make me his girl-friend.

And like most good friendships, ours has grown over time. We’ve had to invest in our friendship and look after it.

So many times people think it’s because we somehow just “click.” But while there might be some “clicking” between us, it’s more than that. Far more than that.

It wasn’t as though we instantly became best friends. It’s been a long, purposeful process.

Here is how we became the best of friends….

How Your Husband Can Become Your Best Friend

By spending time together. I know. You’re going to tell me how busy you are. I understand busy. And yet I figure I manage to get a shower (usually) and several meals a day. That’s because it’s a priority with me. I need these things.

I also need time with my husband, so I can make that happen too.

By being nice to him. You know how you’re super sweet to your girlfriends? Smile and cheer them on? Do nice things for them? Yeah, well, it’s kinda the same here. This friendship is no different.

Play nice.

By being interested in his stuff. So I have one friend who is really into gardening. And another who is into goats. I am not particularly keen on either of those things – but since it’s my friends we’re talking about here, I’ve decided to be interested. For their sakes.

Same with my husband.

By having fun together. Friendships are never all business, are they? Of course not! It’s not like you sit down with your girlfriend and constantly go over the budget, or decide who is going to drive which child where. No, you sip coffee, go fun places and laugh at each other’s stories!

Hello . . . ?

By praying for him. If you’re a friend of mine, than you already know that I pray for you. I can’t always get away from the kids, or write long emails, but you can count on my praying for you. It’s one of my “love gifts” to my friends.

And I pray for my husband and he knows it.

Just this past week-end Matthew was out-of-town on a business trip and called to ask me to pray for him about a particular issue. I started praying as soon as I hung up the phone.

Because that’s what friends do.

So if you ever run into my husband and he introduces me as his girlfriend, just smile and go along with it, will you?

Maybe even tell him that you feel like you already know him . . . . since Lisa talks so much about her boyfriend. 😉

Embracing friendship.

*This is an excerpt from the newly released marriage devotional, Marriage Wisdom for Her by Matthew L. and Lisa Jacobson – see below!

In His grace,
Lisa Jacobson,

We’d love to invite you to enter our giveaway! You can enter below for a chance to win a copy of both books, Marriage Wisdom for Him and Marriage Wisdom for Her.

Marriage Wisdom For Him & Her: A 31-Day Devotional for Building a Better Marriage

★★★★★ “Genuine and gentle” by
Reading Marriage Wisdom for Her is like having a chat over coffee with two mentors who are committed to speaking the truth. Matt and Lisa take turns giving practical, scriptural marriage advice. Matt gets straight to the point, giving wise counsel while helping a wife see the husband’s perspective. Lisa is genuine and personable, humbly admitting her own mistakes while gently sharing exhortations along with memorable anecdotes. Marriage Wisdom for Her is the kind of book you’ll want to share with all your girlfriends–but you’ll want to keep your own copy close at hand to re-read often.From the authors of the best-selling 100 Ways to Love Your Husband/Wife, Matthew and Lisa Jacobson have recently released their new Marriage Wisdom devotionals!Each book contains 31 short, easy-to-understand readings on topics uniquely suited to a husband or wife – topics that are vital for growing in wisdom and maturity in marriage. Also included are prompts that help you be successful by asking questions that encourage you to wisely apply what you learn.Marriage Wisdom is for every intentional couple focused on building an amazingly enjoyable, enduring, beautiful, and biblical marriage, starting right now.


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Lisa Jacobson is happily married to Matthew and they live together in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. They’ve homeschooled all of their eight children—four of whom have graduated and another four to go.  She and her husband are the authors of the best-selling his-and-her marriage books, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband/Wife, as well as the new devotionals, Marriage Wisdom for Him & Her. A popular writer, Lisa shares her passion for husband, home, and family on her blog,

10 Things You Need to Know Before You Get Married

This summer I have several young friends getting married. Mostly millennials, these young women have been asking me for advice. I must seem terribly old to them, but it almost feels like yesterday when I too was walking down the aisle. I had no idea what was ahead and how much I would learn. As we approach our 48th anniversary I guess I have learned a few things—things I wish somebody had told me before I got married.

Here are 10 of them:

  1. Marriage is like a 2000 piece crossword puzzle. Don’t be in a hurry to get it all figured out in the first year. God is the artist of your marriage. He has the final picture in mind and He is not in a hurry for you to get it all put together. He is FOR your marriage. So relax and enjoy the putting together of this complicated gift. You won’t really ever get it all figured out. But you will enjoy the journey!
  2. Your husband will never be able to meet all of your needs. It’s not his job to make sure you are always happy. Of course he wants you to be happy but you must not rely on Him to keep you happy. Too often we look to our husband to meet needs that would be better met by going to God first and then to female friends. No man can love you as much as you want to be loved. Only God can. If you run to Him first, your marriage will be enriched.
  3. Your husband is selfish. So are you. You may be shocked when marriage reveals to you in a new way how selfish you are. When we are single we can focus more on ourselves. But now there’s someone else we are called to serve first. We will blow it over and over again. Be quick to ask forgiveness. You won’t feel like it and you will want to justify yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go to John (and my kids) and say, “I shouldn’t have said or done what I did and I need to ask you to forgive me.” I can’t remember a single time I felt like doing this. We go out of obedience and conviction, not out of feeling. It takes time for feelings to be healed and trust restored. But it begins with asking for and granting forgiveness.
  4. You still need girlfriends. Pray for God to give you 1 or 2 “soul sisters” with whom you can share your heart. And seek out an older woman who can mentor you. One of the main prayers I pray for my 5 daughters is that God will give each of them an older mentor who loves Christ and will love them. Each of us needs someone who has “been there.” Make sure that your closest girlfriends are women who will push you to the Lord and towards your husband. Avoid hanging out with women who “bash” husbands. Once when I was angry with John and venting to a “soul sister,” she listened, empathized, and then asked me, “Susan what are you doing to move closer to John?” That’s a good friend.
  5. Let him go play with the boys! And let him have his man cave. Don’t take it personally. It isn’t about you. He needs time alone! And he needs time with guy friends. They fill him in ways that you can’t. It is good for him to cultivate hobbies apart from you. A man with good guy friends and lots of interests is a happier man and a better spouse because of it.
  6. You are more different than you thought! As you learn your differences, make them work for you rather than pulling you apart. You both have weaknesses and strengths, and different gifts. These differences can irritate. But as you get to know one another make the decision to figure out how to work your differences together to make you both stronger. Take care to compliment one another instead of competing with one another. (Read my post about this HERE). Believe in your spouse’s ability to change and grow. Encourage him.
  7. A man views sex differently than a woman. Generally speaking his appetite for sex will be much greater than yours. We are made so differently. Men are usually turned on by sight whereas women are turned on by touch. Women can take longer to “get in the mood.” We are similar to a crock pot- slow to warm up . Men are more like a microwave. Quickly turned on! We like atmosphere-candles, music, etc. And we can be easily distracted. For men it’s more- anytime any place-“I’m not distracted!” Remember that sex can be a comfort to a man. If he’s had a bad day, been rejected or is discouraged, initiate sex with him. It builds him up. If we have an argument with a friend or get a bad job review we’d rather him curl up with us, put his arms around us and tell us it will be ok. And just listen. We are so different! But God made us this way. It helps to view sex as a 20-year warm up! It gets better and better with age.
  8. Keep your first priority time alone with God. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (marriage, etc.) will be added unto it.” The best way to build a strong marriage is to make sure you have time alone with God each day to study His word and to pray. Pray for your husband: for God to put other strong believers in his life, for him to hunger for God’s word, for his colleagues, for his decisions, for protection from temptation, etc. God’s word is clear that believers are to marry believers. (2 Corinthians 6:14). If you are not both believers with a hunger to grow it is either the wrong man or the wrong time.
  9. You have married His family. They are now yours too. She’s not just his mother; she’s yours too. Reach out to her. Communicate with her. Do whatever you can to build a friendship with her. Be patient. It will take time. The first couple of years may be awkward but persist. Taking turns with holidays can be really hard. But you now have 2 families. It will be hard on your own family too! You and your husband should be united in nurturing your relationships with both families. We are called to honor our parents but we are called first to our spouse. You two need to be on the same team.
  10. Delete the “d” word. Divorce. Don’t allow the thought: Well, if this doesn’t work out then… or maybe we made a mistake, into your thoughts or talks. You are married period. In our first year of marriage I burst into tears and said to John, “Well maybe we never should have gotten married in the first place.” My even-tempered husband got mad. “Susan, don’t you ever, ever say that again. We are married period. And we will work out this argument and future ones. Our marriage is not to be questioned.” With those words he gave me security. And I’ve never said them again!

For the past 20 years John and I have had the privilege of speaking on marriage retreats for Family Life. ( We highly recommend this marriage weekend to you.

You can read my perspective on this marriage retreat here


A Mother’s Legacy

Her long white hair was usually tied up in a bun. A twinkle in her deep blue eyes revealed a well of joy and perhaps mischievousness. Even though she was already 96, she still met weekly with twelve young mothers she had been mentoring for nearly a dozen years. Widowed at 62 she had poured her life into caring for others and teaching the Bible.

She’s one of my heroes. She was my mother-in-law. When I think of her I think of her in two postures. One is talking on the phone. Faithfully she called her four children, their spouses and her 15 grandchildren.

“What’s happening in your life? How can I pray for you?” or “Are you in love with that boy yet?” She had a way of getting right to the point.

The other posture that is cemented in my brain is that of her on her knees. This was her nightly habit. Tiptoeing past her room one night I marveled to see her kneeling on the bare floor beside her walker, her frail hands folded as she prayed for those she loved.

Oh, how much I want to be like her. Her selfless life has impacted generations to come.

Father help me-help each of us to become women and men who pray regularly for the next generation and those who will follow them!

“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”  Psalm 116:12-13


The Slippery Slope of an Affair

There were 5 of us gathered in a friend’s kitchen for coffee and sharing. Each of us was a committed believer involved in various types of ministry. We met out of the need for encouragement and accountability. But this morning we were not prepared for her bombshell:

“I need to tell you all something. I find that I am becoming attracted to a man who is not my husband. As you know I’m an artist and poet and he’s a writer and thinker. We read the same books and often ask similar questions. We appreciate one another’s sensitive natures. Because he’s in the same profession that my husband is we are thrown together in a lot of social occasions. I look forward to these because it means I’ll have time with him. We’ve begun to talk on the phone during the week and to share deep thoughts. In so many ways I feel he meets my needs more than my husband does. Nothing has happened yet. But I know I’m treading on dangerous ground and I need to ask you to hold me accountable to ending this relationship.”

As we sat in stunned silence her phone rang. Getting up from the table she turned to answer the call. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw her face turn ashen white. And then as she glanced back at us I heard her say,

“I need to ask you not to call me anymore. Our relationship is treading on dangerous ground and it needs to end now. Please don’t contact me again. Good bye.”

 With eyes full of tears she rejoined our table.

We marveled:

At a woman who recognized that she was being tempted and chose to flee temptation instead of flirting with it.

At a woman who realized the power of accountable girlfriends and chose to confess her struggle to friends who would push her to do what is right.

At a God who chose that exact moment to have “him” call her in order that, with us there, she would have the courage to end the relationship.

There are so many lessons here.

  1. Each of us is vulnerable to an affair. There is no one man who can meet all of our needs. They were not created to. Too often we look to our husband to meet needs that He was not created to meet-needs that would be best met by God himself or by other women.
  2. We need a few accountable friends, who will empathize with us but more importantly, ones who will push us towards Christ and towards our husband, Friends who will insist we do what is right not necessarily what we feel like.
  3. A wise woman will notice when she is vulnerable and take steps to flee temptation and to grow closer to her husband. Most affairs for women begin at the emotional level. Recognize this and take care that it is your own husband with whom you share your deep thoughts. Or some close women friends.
  4. Jesus himself taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Never forget that our God is one who will deliver us if we sincerely want to be delivered.

Matthew 6:13, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, James 4:7, 1Corinthians 10:12-13



Do You Feel Empty in Your Nest?

It’s the season of graduations. You may have your first child graduating or you may be launching your last. It’s a joyful time, a sad time, and a big adjustment for all!

Years ago you could never imagine the “empty nest season” but suddenly it is here!

Because our 5 kids were so close in age we felt the intensity of the emptying nest for seven years as they all graduated from high school and left for college. In some ways I felt that I hardly had time to process what was happening. As soon as one left, there was another one preparing to leave. And then all of our kids married young. In fact we had 4 weddings in 3 summers. But it wasn’t until Susy moved her stuff out of our house the day after Libby’s wedding (our last) that the permanence of the empty nest hit. I had a meltdown. My journal entry for that day reads: 

Empty Rooms

The pictures in Susy’s room are down-that one of the twins hugging each other, the one showing crooked teeth and a silly grin surrounded by old fashioned bangs, that first prom date depicting awkward posture, betraying nervousness mingled with excitement, glimpses of a lady about to burst forth from a child’s body-a future and a hope.

Her closet used to be so full of things that you could hardly close the door. Hangers draped with her clothes, Libby’s clothes, her brother’s “cool” hand-me-down clothes. But now it’s just a few empty hangers and they are the old timey wire ones. She even took the good plastic ones with her!

Staring at the emptiness I see one discorded, old blue prom dress in the corner. It’s way out of style. It hangs there lonely, out of place as if to say, “Where are all the others? I don’t belong here all alone.”

Just the way I feel.

My life was like that closet used to be. So crammed, so full, great diversity, comings and goings, opening and shutting doors, happy voices, phones ringing.

And now it’s quiet. Too quiet.

I, like the old blue dress, feel deserted, lost, and out of place.

Where are all the others? They belong here.

It’s easy to feel alone in the empty nest. There are lots of books written on marriage and parenting but few books to help us navigate the empty nest season. It’s a season much like Jell-O, hard to grab hold of and constantly changing shape. We need friends a little bit ahead of us in this season to encourage us. It was out of our own attempts to find encouragement in this season that inspired Barbara Rainey and me to write a book about this season. Wherever you are in this season-approaching it or having lived in it for several years, we hope that you will find encouragement as you hear the stories of many women and catch a positive vision for this new season in your life.

We’d also like to encourage you to grab a copy of the book HERE and to invite friends approaching the empty nest to a book club! The first 5 people to tag 3 friends on Instagram (@susan_ayates) will receive a free copy of the book.





Easter is Over. Now What?

We just celebrated Easter.
Family reunions, new outfits, beautiful flowers, yummy food.
And for most of us a church service, strong sermon, and victorious hymns.

“Jesus Christ is Risen today, Alleluia.”

But now it’s the week after and I wonder-did Easter make any difference in my life?

It’s easy to fall back into our daily routine-kids’ schedules, obligations, work deadlines, and yes broken relationships and guilt over our own failures.

Is the ultimate message of the cross making a difference in my life this week?

 Or have I fallen back into excusing a sin, or self-condemnation, or un- forgiveness towards someone?

I have found that when it comes to the concept of sin we fall into one of 3 traps.

  1. We excuse ourselves.

After all I would never…. Or, at least I don’t….  Compared to ___I’m not so bad.
But I would and I am. Apart from the grace of God I could murder, etc.  The one thing we all have in common is our spiritual brokenness. Every single one of us needs the cross.
Every day as you drive, work, play, thank Him for the cross. It has saved you.

  1. We condemn ourselves.

We say to ourselves, what I’ve done is just too bad. I can’t even mention it. He can’t forgive “that,” the lies, the men, the abortion…
Oh but He can and He did – on Easter!  When we say, my sin is just to bad, what we are really saying is:
“God, your son’s sacrifice on the cross for my sin wasn’t good enough. I need something more.” This is really pride because your message is: my sin is greater than your son’s sacrifice. Can you imagine how that must make God the Father feel?
When Jesus died on the cross He forgave your worst sin.
“If we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. “ (Romans 8:1)

  1. We fail to extend forgiveness to others or to ask for forgiveness ourselves.

That girl friend that hurt us with her words or deeds. That person who left us or our child out. That spouse who left.  That estranged family member. That person who cheated or robbed us….  I can’t forgive her. It hurts too much.  But the Cross hurt Jesus! Emotionally and Physically. He understands our pain and still He says forgive others—no matter what they have done or left undone. But there’s more, He says we are to ask for forgiveness from Him and to ask for forgiveness from others.

If there is a sin that you are nursing-a critical spirit, an unforgiving spirit, etc.  say, Jesus you died for this sin of mine. I ask you to forgive me. Thank you that you have forgiven me.  And then go to the person with whom you have a broken relationship and ask for their forgiveness. For some this may involve writing a letter.  Don’t say: but if you had or hadn’t… This is not primarily about them; it’s about you and your relationship with Jesus. It’s about taking Him up on his promise to forgive us as we forgive others. And that may mean being willing to take all of the blame, even if it seems unjustified. . We don’t go out of feeling.  We go out of obedience. Asking for and granting forgiveness doesn’t mean feelings are immediately healed or trust restored. This takes time. But asking for forgiveness opens the door to the power of God to heal.

Paul encourages us; “In as much as possible do all you can to live in peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18) Our attempt for reconciliation may not be received.  We can’t control another person but we can be obedient to Christ and leave the results up to Him.  There is tremendous freedom and joy in doing what is right.  We don’t want to die or have someone else die and wish we had gone to them asking for forgiveness. In as much as we can, we want to live with “no regrets.”

So it’s the week after Easter.  How are we doing walking in the truth of the resurrection?  Do we need forgiveness? He gave His life for this. (John 19:30).

Do we need courage to go to someone? He will provide. (1 Timothy 6:17)

 May we learn to be “Easter People” not just one day of the year but 365 days of the year.

             “For nothing is impossible for God!”  Luke 1:37


A Different Take on Easter

Image: Peter Paul Rubens – Rubens, Christ on the Cross

As we approach Easter the excitement builds- Easter bunnies, colorful eggs, preparations for a special meal with friends and family, and new outfits. For many there will be a beautiful church service, amazing lilies and victorious music. And then it’s Monday. And we are on to the next thing in our life.

I wonder. Did we truly get what Easter cost? Did we take in “Good Friday” which was certainly not “good” for Jesus?

Perhaps if we began to look deeper at the cost of the cross we would experience the victory of the resurrection with fresh eyes.

My friend “Jane” has experienced surprising betrayal from her husband. Theirs was a healthy Christian family or so she thought. But it was a lie. He’d been unfaithful to her for many years in a variety of ways. She had been betrayed. He repented and entered into long-term counseling and she chose to stay in the marriage. The pain has been costly. The questions remain. Would she ever be able to trust him again? Even more, could she trust God again? She felt an overwhelming sense of betrayal on both levels.

Sharing in her pain, we have turned together to 2 of my favorite passages – Hebrews 2: 17 – 18 and Hebrews 4: 15 – 16. These passages remind us that Jesus has experienced every sort of trial, pain, grief, and temptation that we will, yet without sin. Therefore we can draw near him with confidence to help us in our times of need-when we feel betrayed by a friend, a spouse, a child, an employer.

“Oh Lord, where did you experience the pain of betrayal?”

Judas. A man he’d walked side by side with for three years. He’d loved him unconditionally and now this ugly betrayal. Peter one of his best friends, the one on whom he was to build his church denied him three times. In his hour of agony in the garden Jesus asked Peter, James and John to stay with him and pray with him but instead they fell asleep. All the disciples deserted him in his moment of crisis.

Yes, Jesus knows what personal betrayal from those closest to us feels like. And these betrayals were all in one week-this week.

Then we come to Friday. Good Friday. And the most devastating betrayal of all expressed in Jesus’s own words on the cross, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” In that moment Jesus was “forsaken” by His own Father. They had never been separated in spirit before. Can you imagine the horrible agony for each of them? He descended into hell (complete separation from God) so that we might never have to. It had to happen but to Jesus it surely felt like the ultimate betrayal. For those who are in Christ, this is one betrayal that we will never experience. He did it instead. He took your place and mine.

My friend Jane realized, I can trust Jesus. He will never leave me –no matter what. He alone will never ever betray me. At the same time He understands my pain in a way no other human can. He has experienced it to a greater degree than any other human ever will.

Father, help us not to jump over Good Friday simply to get to Easter. Help us to contemplate the cost of the cross to you.

Give us eyes to see this week in a completely different and profoundly deeper way. Help us to take in the love your cross poured out.

For “A Different Take on His Gift” at Christmas click here.


Lessons from a Donkey

As Holy Week approaches, I’m thinking about donkeys. Strange? Perhaps.

Yet it was a mere donkey that played a major role in the events of Holy Week. As Jesus approached Jerusalem on his way to be crucified he sent two of his disciples to a village instructing them that they would find a colt, which no one had ridden, tied at a doorway. They were to untie it and bring it to him. It was to be this donkey that Jesus rode into the city on what we call Palm Sunday. All four gospels tell this story about the donkey. In the light of the huge event that was about to take place what was the big deal about a little donkey?

Approximately 500 years earlier Zechariah had predicted that the king would come seated on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). The gospel of John reminds us of this. It was not a random thing that just happened. It was foretold-just one of the many prophecies that was to be fulfilled surrounding the death of Jesus. In fulfilling this prophecy Jesus adds to our assurance that He was the expected King.

But there is so much more.

Jesus makes a point of telling the disciples this donkey has never been ridden. An unbroken donkey (or colt) is not nice. It would buck like crazy if someone got up on him. It would not react kindly to a blanket being thrown on its back, and the waving of branches would make it very skittish. Yet Jesus subdues this donkey. If Jesus has the power to subdue even an animal, how much more can He subdue me, my children, those around me? His power is specific and complete.

Jesus also tells the disciples how to respond if someone asks why they are taking the donkey. He tells them to say, “The Lord needs it.” As I contemplate this I am reminded that Jesus is a God of detail. He is a God who goes before us to prepare our way. He is not capricious. He has considered the future and prepared for our every contingency.  He has thought of everything. He knows what we will need and when and He will provide. I need not fear.

Imagine the owner of the donkey and their friends. What must they have thought? “This man is crazy to want to ride this animal.” What about the disciples? Can’t you just hear them saying, “He wants us to do what?” Just imagine the people who witnessed this small incident, marveled and perhaps were brought to the place of considering, “Maybe He is the King.” I love the way Jesus involves many people in His work. Life isn’t just about me and my stuff. Whatever He is doing it’s about something so much bigger than me.  

And I can‘t help but think about that donkey, a creature of God  Perhaps this dusty, smelly, funny looking creature knew who He was carrying and became subdued. Scripture says that all creation will praise Him. Yes, I suspect He knew. After all He knew Jesus loves animals. And Jesus had chosen him. Jesus loves His creation and takes joy in it. 

In this holy season take time to use your imagination, to insert yourself into the story, to wonder what it would have been like, to imagine yourself as one of the characters and in all of this to notice what this story reveals about the character of Jesus and how it applies in your life.

When our children were young we had a tradition of acting out the story of Easter. Each child and adult was given a character to portray. We had to fashion our own costumes with whatever we could find on the spur of the moment around the house – an old red bathrobe for a robe, a broom for a staff. It was hilarious but it was also a way of entering into the story and it provided an opportunity of discussing those feelings and details we so often miss in the familiar big picture. One of the gifts God has given us in being created in His image is the gift of imagination. Let’s use this gift in our own lives this week to contemplate – in a deeper way – His last days and let’s nurture creative imagination in our children’s lives to help them enter into His story, their hope.


Encouragement for a Guilt Ridden Mother

I am the worst mother in the world. I feel so guilty all the time. I know better but I just can’t live up to the picture of the mom I know God wants me to be and that I want to be! What can I do? Please help me!

This note from a friend could have been written by me several years ago! Just hearing her words caused me to say, “Yes, yes that’s exactly how I felt when we had five kids ages 7 and under.”  So first, let me assure you that you are normal. Whew!

All sorts of things contribute to our guilt. We feel guilty because we look at other mothers who seem to be doing everything right and we know we aren’t. We experience guilt because sometimes we actually find we don’t even like our children. We may be angry at our situation and then we feel guilty for being angry. Our behavior is wrong and we feel guilty. Guilt can be caused be any number of things but often it is the result of either unrealistic expectations or wrong attitudes and actions.

Our expectations can come from different sources-the role models our parents provided, our husband, his parents, our friends and ourselves. For each of us the sources will differ as will the degree to which the expectations shape our concept of how we are doing the job of mothering.

In my own life the greatest pressure I felt in terms of expectations came from myself. My expectations of the kind of Mom I would be and how I would behave were completely unrealistic. I couldn’t live up to my desires and I felt like such a failure. It helped me to ask, Where are my expectations coming from? Are they realistic for me? It might be good to have an honest talk with your husband. Ask him what his expectations are and share your feelings with him.

It also helped me to recognize that there are generally 2 kinds of Moms. Some are do-ers and some are be-ers. A do-er type personality is usually a driven “Type-A” woman. She’s used to a plan, specific goals and accomplishment. And then she’s thrust into the home where there’s not much accomplishment on a daily basis, not many goals completed, and hardly any appreciation! I found that I loved to mow the yard. It was the only thing I did which showed instant progress and lasted more than 24 hours! A be-er type personality on the other hand is likely to be more laid back. She just goes with the flow. Her guilt barometer goes up when she compares herself to another Mom who seems to accomplish so much more than she does in a day. Neither is better. We’re just different. It’s helpful to recognize which type we tend to be most like because it explains what causes us to feel so frustrated and guilty.

It’s usually unrealistic expectations for this season of life that make us feel guilty. But often it’s my selfish attitude or behavior that causes me guilt. And as much as I dislike it, I have to own up to my selfishness. Often I’ve had to say to my husband or my child, “I shouldn’t have said what I did and I need to ask you to forgive me.” I can’t remember a time when I felt like saying this. But I have learned that we go to one another asking for forgiveness not because we feel like it but because it is the right thing to do. God is waiting to forgive us and He wants us to ask Him and others for forgiveness. His forgiveness never runs out and His forgiveness removes guilt because it has been dealt with specifically and completely.

Most of us will experience general condemnation-that little voice that says, You are a failure, a lousy mother; you’ll never be able to raise these kids right, etc. Don’t listen to this! When there is something specific for which we need to ask forgiveness we should do it but broad feelings of condemnation should be ignored.

Guilt is a universal emotion and it will be with us in all seasons of life. As a grandmother I feel guilty because I’m not able to give enough time to each of my grandchildren.  There are so many things I think I should do that I don’t. So many people I feel I let down, etc. We just have to do the best we can.

Along the way in my journey, I have discovered a few things that help in lessening the guilt and increasing the joy:

*Have a few close girl friends in the same season of life with whom you can share your honest feelings.

*Learn to laugh at yourself. And spend time with friends who make you laugh. This helps us not to take ourselves so seriously!

*Do something that is not related to “mothering.” Go to a museum- rent head phones and study the art, attend a stimulating lecture, visit the elderly in a nursing home. Our perspective is restored when we get out of our own situation.

* Go on a date with your husband. Pretend you are 20 and “make out” in the car.

*Write down the funny things your kids say. Just grab whatever is at hand-a napkin, deposit slip, etc. and write what they said, their initials and the date and throw it into a folder. Or put it in your cell phone. These funny things will become a treasure for the future.

*Remember, your ability to ruin your child is not nearly as great as God’s power to redeem him.

*You are doing a better job as a Mom than you think you are. I promise!

Someone once gave me a sign that I have posted on my wall. It reads:

“Do not feel totally personally, irrevocably responsible for everything. That’s my job.”   Love, God


Hearing from You-Words of Encouragement

It’s been so encouraging and such fun to hear from many of you about The One (devotional) book and the “One Cards.”

I thought I’d share some of your thoughts and photos to encourage each of us.

A small group of friends in the Bahamas reading the One (devotional) daily.

“We hold ourselves accountable through a weekly email in which we share our favorite “one word” for the week and give a reason why it has been meaningful. Your new cards add a visual dimension to our focus.”

Katherine sending one of the cards as a postcard of encouragement to a friend in need.

This one word card reminds me every day that the Lord supplies my needs.


Hebrews 3:1 reminds us that we are to encourage one another daily. It’s good to ask ourselves, Who might I encourage today and how might I do it?

Click here to view all of the cards and to place your order.






Click here to order the One devotional book.

Click here to order Risky Faith.

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