Ten Ways to Keep the Darkness at Bay


I know most of us here are Christian moms but we want the same things as every other mom right? Every mom wants to keep her kids safe, help them grow up healthy and strong,  protect them from monsters and let them believe they’re super heroes, agreed?

All mothers can pretty much agree on these points but as moms following God, we have different standards and we see a bigger picture. We see beyond keeping our children safe to making them holy vessels fit for the Master’s use. We see far past our children’s temporal lives and gaze into their eternal futures.

If you’ve ever seen the first Hobbit movie, you might remember this line:

Galadriel the beautiful elf asks Gandalf,  “Why the Halfling?”

Gandalf answers: “I do not know. Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love…”

“The small everyday deeds of ordinary folk…” We’re just ‘ordinary moms’ so how do we hold onto the light as the days grow dark? How do we live a life that tells? How do we exhibit the small acts of kindness and love, faithfulness and humility? What can we do as we raise our children to ‘keep the darkness at bay’ in a world growing darker by the day?

The biggest thing I learned raising my daughter is this:

What you model they will follow.

Here are ten things I believe it’s imperative for us to model to our children to keep the darkness at bay:

  1. We will become what we think about. The word teaches us, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Guard your heart for out of it flows the issues of life. Be discerning in what you allow into your heart and home via the media, books, internet, music, video games etc.
  2. Listen to your children, especially the older ones, with grace, not judgement and as you listen, pray for discernment.
  3. Believe in your children’s dreams. This is the one thing I lacked growing up. There were expectations for my life but no encouragement and no direction for how to achieve them. As a result, I floundered after high school going to four colleges in two years and not graduating from any of them! I eventually figured out what I wanted to do but I would’ve been saved years of heartache had someone believed in me early on.
  4. Be generous and develop a generous spirit. Live the giving life because we can only keep what we give away. Be generous with your time and your treasure.
  5. Practice His presence in the cooking and the scrubbing and the teaching. Raising children takes time and the daily drudgery will either wear us out or form our character. As moms we serve day in and day out with little rest and less acknowledgement. But drudgery can be turned into the divine with the right focus. Can you change a diaper the way He took a towel…?
  6. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Everything flows from this. Everything. Your loving will drive your living and doing.
  7. Invest in your child’s future. Make what’s important to him be important to you. Value their choices by investing in their dreams. When our daughter was turning 18 but working hard in her fledgling music career, I worked a part time job so I could buy her a really good guitar for her 18th birthday. I sacrificed many hours on my feet to provide her with a professional level guitar she still uses today. My husband and I believed deeply in her future and did what we could to support her in it.
  8. The culture is not your friend. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s good for you or your family. Pray for discernment and wisdom before jumping into what the culture says is acceptable behavior. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says it like this: All things are permitted, but not all things are profitable. All things are permitted, but not all things build up.” Something that may be just fine for me may not be God’s best for you and the only way to know is through prayer and the witness of the Holy Spirit. There are no shades of gray.
  9. Use your words wisely and well. Words build up or tear down, they bless or they curse. They also can determine someone’s future success or failure. Death and life resides in our tongue so use words with caution and great care.
  10. Believe your children are here to change the world. Because they are! Each of us has a divine purpose and a unique calling. Our job as parents is to dig deep with God and figure out what our children’s purposes are. As we press in, He will show us.

Our children are little mirrors, reflecting in their lives what they see in ours. What are your children seeing?



And I Pray…


Tucked away in my journal is a little list that I find myself returning to often lately. At some point I went through the New Testament of my Bible and jotted down all the times that someone says “and I pray that…” You see, my prayer life isn’t always very rich or powerful or consistent. More often than I care to admit, much of my prayer life is me throwing up quick requests for God to bless my plans as I go about life. So I wanted to comb through the Bible and see what sorts of things Jesus’ earliest followers prayed about.

Two of my favorites are in the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is a powerful letter from the apostle Paul to the newish Christians who lived in Ephesus during the first century. He had poured his heart and soul into the early formation of the church at Ephesus and obviously had some important things he wanted to share with them.

He spends the first half of the letter simply reminding them who they are in Christ. It’s beautiful to recount all the blessings that are ours simply because of riches of God’s grace and the kind intention of His will. It’s like a torrential downpour of spiritual blessings.

Couched among his admonitions and reminders is this precious prayer that Paul utters on behalf of these dear ones. I can’t get it out of my head. Here’s what he prays for his friends in Ephesus:

I pray that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

DSC_0030The bit that I can’t seem to get over… is how different that seems from most of our prayers. Like I mentioned earlier, my prayers pretty much default to the physical realities of my life or the lives of the people around me. Prayers for safe travels. Or for a friend’s frustrations at work. Or for the kids to be more obedient. Or my to-do list.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think it’s wrong to pray for those things. Paul prayed for healing for himself. Jesus told us to pray for our daily bread. Our daily, physical needs are important. They matter to us and to our Lord. I have a friend who just had her second miscarriage. You better believe I’m praying for God to give them healthy baby.

But, I can’t get away from Paul’s prayer either. It’s like he realized that there was something even more critical for us to catch. That what we need – even more than physical healing or immediate provision – is to know, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, who our God is and how He feels about us. That my deepest need is not a better system of organizing my calendar or more hours in the day or more money to make ends meet or a bigger family room or a healthy husband. That there is a spiritual realm that is just as real as my daily physical one. What if I really believed that? And started praying this for me? And all the people that I love?

I’m going to keep praying for immediate, tangible needs all around me. But, my prayer life could use a pretty healthy dose of praying for the deeper, unseen places – for the eyes of my heart to be enlightened. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s the best thing I could pray for you too.

  • Do you know and exalt in the hope of His calling? Hope does not disappoint!!
  • Do you experience the heaping riches of His inheritance? If you know Him, you are a daughter of the King of the Universe. That’s a lot of riches.
  • Do you believe He brings His great, raise-people-from-dead-type-of-power to bear on your life? He has the power to help you conquer the most addictive behaviors or failures that plague you.

Oh… how I pray that they eyes of your heart will be enlightened. So that you will KNOW.

Grace and peace,

@In a Mirror Dimly


When We Are Given More Than We Can Handle


 “I’m tired of being afraid
I’m wondering how I got this way
I’m trying to remember what life was like before
Panic moved in without even knocking on the door

Have mercy on me
I’m not who I used to be
Have mercy on me
Jesus, please…”
Have Mercy on Me lyrics, -JJ Heller

I remember so clearly, as though it was only yesterday and not nearly three years in my past, those overwhelming feelings of panic that would run through my veins every minute of every day and night for what seemed to be months on end.

I can close my eyes and instantly recall the constant unrest that would swirl around within my mind, and the tears…the most sincere and heartfelt tears I think I may have ever cried in my whole life, that would fall day after day after day.
Night after night after night.

I felt my soul being robbed, my laughter being choked, and my days became a battleground filled with fear and trembling. Yet I remained rooted in the word and constant in prayer as though my life depended on it.

Because truthfully, it did.

I remember the kind words and helpful quotes that people would offer so as to bring me hope and comfort when it seemed so far beyond my reach. The one I remember most often repeated was, “The Lord will never give you more than you can handle…so know that He must really believe that you are incredibly strong!”

Only, I didn’t feel so strong.
In fact, I was weak and defeated and there truly wasn’t even an ounce of “strong woman, hear me roar” left within me.
And on top of already experiencing a little bit of what I felt hell must be like, I also began to feel as though I was letting the Lord down because I couldn’t live up to the strength he apparently felt I should possess.

And while I know we mean well when we say these things, what I’ve come to understand of Gods word, is that He does, in fact, give us FAR beyond what we can ever handle.

Anxiety. Death. Cancer. Abandonment. Depression. Illness. Pain. Poverty. Hunger.

The list goes on and on and on…

But there is good news my sweet friends, and it’s the truth that got me through those very dark days, and it’s the truth that gets me through the tough times even now.
And that hope is not in that God thinks you’re strong enough to handle all that life may bring to you.

2 Corinthians 1: 8-10

…For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

I don’t know what troubles you may be struggling with right now, and I can’t pretend to know how long God will allow you to be in the midst of them, but what I do know is that God’s power and strength and comfort and love never fail. They never run out.

And so I urge you to look to Him. Run to Him. Abide in Him. Rest in Him. Make everything you have, everything you do, everything you walk through, about Him.

Because where we are weak, HE IS STRONG.

Blessings, S

Summer Saldana

10 Reasons to be Thankful

10 Reasons to be Thankful

One thing that life has taught me, specifically the Christ-centered life, is to be thankful. There are so many reasons to give thanks to God. I find that if we focus on the little, everyday things, it makes for a more joy-filled and peaceful life. But if we are being truthful, there are times that we are so self-centered that we forget to give God thanks for the simple, everyday things life brings our way.

Last night while I was in prayer I heard the Lord whisper softly, “Remind my people to be thankful.” And while this post will be seen by many, please know dear sister, that I write this list for myself just as much as I write it for you. As you read the items on this list, think of some things that you could be more appreciative of. Be sure and make a conscious decision to be thankful. There is always something to be thankful for, even in the most difficult situations – God is in the midst of it all. Let’s cultivate an attitude of thankfulness today, and every day.

10 Reasons to be Thankful

  1. For the gentle wind that blows our hair out of place. He is with us.
  2. For the ability to kiss our baby’s boo-boo. That band aid may seem simple to us, but He clothes it in love and they remember.
  3. For the slight chill in the morning after a fresh rainfall. The rain may mess up our fashion plans, but it sends nourishment to the earth and yields fruit to bless His people.
  4. For the fever that our baby has. Their body still has the ability to fight off infections and sickness, and that, dear sister is a blessing.
  5. For the ups and downs in motherhood. It makes us stronger and gives us character.
  6. For the messy rooms our children occupy. While the mess can be daunting, the little lives and personalities who live in them are an absolute blessing. I’ll take the mess as long as I can have my babies!
  7. For empty milk containers put back in the fridge. While this used to upset me, I’ve learned to be thankful. I adore the tiny hands that put it there, and for that, I am thankful.
  8. For nights when I don’t sleep because my child needs me. In times past I’ve been tempted to feel sorry for myself when I am sleep deprived for serving my children. I decided to ditch that attitude and thank God I am able to be with my children when they are ill. What a blessing that is!
  9. For the wrinkles that are forming around my eyes. I heard my grandma once say that those who smile often are the first to have wrinkles around their eyes. I adore my soft wrinkles because I smile often.
  10. For the stretchmarks my belly bares. I am a proud momma of 5. While we only have the chance to raise 3 of the 5 here on earth, my belly marks the 5 that this momma will always love in her heart. What an honor to be chosen to be a mother.

My challenge to you (and myself) is to stop and take the time to be thankful in the very moment that you are feeling ungrateful. Discipline yourself to do the opposite of what your flesh wants you to do. Make it a habit to praise God in the very moment that your flesh is telling you to feel sorry for yourself. While it isn’t easy, it can become a powerful habit that will change the very landscape of your existence. And I promise you that it will be a glorious victory! You can see 20 more ways to be thankful if you are looking for even more encouragement!

Cheering you on,

Carlie K. @ Managing Your Blessings

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