Lord, Have Mercy: Help and Hope for Moms on Their Last Nerve

Lord, Have Mercy: Help and Hope for Moms on Their Last Nerve

by Ellen Miller


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Lord, Have Mercy: Help and Hope for Moms on Their Last Nerve by Ellen Miller

Just when you think you’ve got this wife and motherhood thing down . . .

  • Your toddler expresses his inner Picasso on your freshly painted walls . . . In permanent marker.
  • Your 14-year-old demonstrates her newly acquired modeling skills . . . via every social network known to man.
  • Your husband pulls up in a new car that you can’t afford . . . and only has two seats.
Lord, have mercy. What are they thinking?

While motherhood is often a hysterical ride of pure joy, it can also hold some of the most mind-numbing, heartbreaking, and sacrificial moments of your life. In Lord, Have Mercy, popular author Ellen Miller writes to moms who could use a good laugh (and sometimes a good cry) as they live through the trials and triumphs of parenting in the 21st century. All-too-real, always honest, and often hilarious, each devotional is filled with personal stories to remind you that God is with you in both the big and small moments of motherhood—especially when you’re on your last nerve!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496419378
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 791,351
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Lord, Have Mercy

Help and Hope for Moms on Their Last Nerve

By Ellen Miller

Tyndale House Publishers

Copyright © 2017 Ellen Miller
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1937-8


day 1


I am a freak about my clothes. Oh — not SO much about the brands I wear but about how they're laundered. It matters so much to me that I always read the care instructions before toting any garment to the dressing room. Weird, I know.

But here's why: I want my clothes to fit well and I want them to wear well. After too many of my garments were stretched, shrunk, or damaged at the dry cleaner, I determined that the best way to ensure their fit and longevity was to take care of them myself.

Most of my clothes have care instructions that call for washing on the gentle cycle and then hanging or laying them flat to dry. A few garments can be fluffed in the dryer on a low setting. I take these instructions very seriously, and the time investment has paid off. I kid you not — I have owned and worn certain classic designer pieces for years, and they look brand-new because I take special care of them.

I want you to think of yourself as the most beautifully designed pair of slacks walking a New York runway. I'm thinking Stella McCartney's Chellini trousers. Yes, you're pricey — $1,375 last time I checked. You hang perfectly — no bunching, no binding, and — oh — check out that rear! You are the perfect size and length, making legs look long and lean. You're the most gorgeous, intense color ever found, and your fabric is divine; you are soft and comfortable and you never wrinkle.

But imagine that instead of being washed on the gentle cycle in cool water, you get thrown in a tub of hot water with an orange hoodie on a cycle spinning at 1,800 RPMs. Instead of being hung gently to drip-dry, you are placed in the dryer with a pair of sneakers and a few pairs of Levi's 501 jeans. Do you come out looking refreshed and renewed? Of course not! You come out of the wash looking completely worn out! This is no way to be treated; you deserve better than this.

You are the most beautifully made and priceless person in the world to your family, and you must be given special care. So over the next eighteen days, I'm taking over your laundry. Ha! Not really. But I do hope to encourage you to remember that you are important and that to last a lifetime, you must take special care of yourself as you consciously consider those things that will refresh your mind and body in order to renew your spirit.

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. ... You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. PSALM 16:8, 11

I can't believe how much I enjoy writing about laundry. If this devotional thing doesn't work out, I think I'll try my hand at a jingle for Tide.


day 2


Shauna and Adam were completely incredulous the day they brought our granddaughter, Ava, their seven-day-old preemie, home from the hospital. As Steve and I helped them to the car, Adam looked at me, eyes wide, and said, "I can't believe they just let us walk out of there with her." Yep. No manual. No contract. No warranty. Just a real live human being swaddled in a fuzzy pink blanket. Good luck!

Driving home with a brand-spanking-new kid is relatively simple. But keeping any new mom's identity intact while she learns to be Mommy to one, or now to two or more, is something else.

In Kathryn Stockett's book The Help, protagonist Aibileen is a wise domestic who understands that her most important role is shaping the mind, heart, and soul of the child she has charge over. Aibileen knows that what we are taught to believe about ourselves is what we become. As she holds the little blonde girl on her lap, she recites the most important nine words in the saga:

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

I would like to recite those nine words to you because somewhere between the epidural and the healing of your episiotomy, I suspect you may have forgotten this.

You don't just act nice — you have an incredible heart. You are thoughtful, you are generous, you are kind to your core. Your light shines brightly on those around you.

You're not just lucky at what you pull off — you are amazing! Your mind is open, your intellect grows each day, you hold the equivalent of a doctorate in family management. And you may be doing it while juggling a forty-plus-hour-a-week job outside the home!

You're not "just" Mom — you are the glue of your family. You idealize, you develop, and you manage the future influences and leaders of our country. Mom, no one I know has the power to impact change for our world as much as you.

You may rarely hear these words because your kids (if they're over the age of nine) might think you're as dumb as a doorknob, your husband is still distracted with his own post-delivery issues, and those of us who benefit from your kindness, intellect, and leadership forget it is you who hold the keys to our future civilization.

As he thinks in his heart, so is he. proverbs 23:7, nkjv

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important." Now, just ponder that as you sit in the car-pool line.


day 3


If you didn't get the chance to build an erupting volcano when you were in grade school, never fear, your kids will probably get the assignment. That will give you the opportunity either to create one again or to enjoy a virgin voyage into the world of volcano making. Either way, you'll be up all hours of the night building the base, dripping in papier-mâché, and testing the explosive recipe. When everything comes together, it's a blast — unlike some of our personal eruptions.

How and why do the children of our wombs elicit such exasperation? Because we're a walking, talking science-fair volcano recipe ready to blow at any minute:

We're emotionally invested = ½ c. water

We're physically drained = ¼ c. vinegar

We're overscheduled = ¼ c. dish detergent

We're spiritually bankrupt = red food coloring

And they're sinners = THE BAKING SODA

This is not a good combination.

To neutralize our recipe for disaster, let's look at what we could take out of the mix. Since we carried these human beings inside our bodies or perhaps stayed up nights pacing, awaiting word that our baby had been born, it's likely we'll stay emotionally invested in them until the day we die. My kids are in their thirties, and I am as deeply invested in their welfare today as I was when I found out that I was pregnant with the first one and that my second one was awaiting my adoption.

This leaves us with the next three things in our concoction for explosion: physical exhaustion, a crammed schedule, and spiritual bankruptcy. Each of these is within our control. When was your last Sabbath? Stop laughing. I'm serious. When did you last take time to rest? You might not get a full day to yourself until your kids leave for college, but that doesn't mean you can't take at least sixty minutes once a week right now. You have to fit rest into your life. And when you take that time, do something you love or luxuriate in doing nothing at all. Embrace it mentally and emotionally as your Sabbath for refreshment.

Identifying what comes between your being a good mom and your being a great mom requires reflection and discipline. Say no to those things that encroach on your brain cells. Being overscheduled is more of a mental stressor than a physical one. Show me a mom with a quiet mind, and I'll show you a mom with self-control.

Everyone experiences spiritual bankruptcy, whether they have kids or not. It comes from neglecting time for prayer, the study of God's Word, and worship. Like the red food coloring in the volcano mix, spiritual insolvency stains everything. Your investment in your spiritual bank account is totally within your control. So when might you make such a deposit? On your Sabbath!

This leaves us with our precious little sinners. The ones who take Magic Markers to the freshly painted walls (Scott, age three) and the ones who sneak a wine cooler from the garage fridge (Shauna, age fifteen). Sometimes they will make questionable, even very bad, decisions. Our kids will always be our baking soda.

The creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. GENESIS 2:1-2

Sweet sister, we have to get control of the family schedule by saying no. We must invest in our spiritual bank account. And we need some time off. That investment will lessen our physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion, leaving us with "only" our emotional investment (water) and a precious little sinner (baking soda). When those two mix, we might get a little fizz, but nothing that will blow.


day 4


When was the last time you lit a candle, ran a hot tub of bubbles, and became so relaxed you needed a pair of water wings to keep you afloat? Can't remember? Then you're either the mother of a toddler or the mom of kids in soccer, dance, piano, and tae kwon do. A bath? Ha! I bet you go days without even washing your hair!

Alone time is a luxury most moms rarely get to enjoy. Once the kids are past the clingy stage, you're in high demand for carpooling, helping with homework, and cheerleading from the stands. Some moms balance all this while juggling conference calls, pacifying demanding clients, and writing War and Peace-length e-mails to their bosses after the kids are in bed.

And this is how some good Christian moms find themselves in an extramarital affair.

A couple of years ago I became a fan of the TV series Parenthood. I really enjoyed the program; the writers did a great job of capturing the best and worst of families. In the next-to-last season, one of the women, Julia, lost her job as an attorney and was thrust into a stay-at-home mom role for which she wasn't well suited. You might say her "lather-rinse-repeat" lifestyle grew monotonous; the day-in-day-out routine of her grade-schoolers was not a world she had imagined inhabiting 24-7. While volunteering at her kids' school, Julia struck up a friendship with a stay-at-home dad. And the friendship blossomed.

I wanted to scream at Julia: "Guard your heart!"

Sweet, witty, smart, pretty Julia didn't set out to have an affair. She was an incredibly devoted mom and wife (unfortunately, her hunk of a husband had become distracted by work). Julia's friendship with the classmate's dad started innocently as they volunteered together on a project. But Julia found herself thinking more and more about this guy and how he made her feel. Julia didn't have a chance because she didn't see it coming.

Moms, we might not have an affair, but we can be led astray. That's why we have to find a few minutes alone each day with God. Time spent in prayer is not a luxury but a vital necessity for protecting our marriage, children, reputation, and walk with Christ.

We pour every ounce we have into those kids in the next room. We fuss over the house; we worry over work; we manage our household budget like the CFO of a publicly traded company. But when we fail to invest in our own minds, hearts, and souls, we give the enemy a foothold from which to completely unravel our lives.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. proverbs 4:23

Sister, carve out some quiet time to study God's Word. Guard your heart. And pray like your life depends on it. Because it does.


You might think it strange that I prayed for you last night. But I did.

God has placed you on my heart. Although I don't know you, I feel as if you've been my friend forever. And because I care so deeply for you, I want you to know that this is what I prayed:

* * *

Our heavenly Father, I pray you will bless my friend with eyes to see herself as you see her — as your glorious daughter destined for greatness on this earth and for your Kingdom. I pray that you will send the Holy Spirit to be a constant reminder of her critical impact on our society through her role as a mom, and I ask you to empower her with the good sense to carve out a time of Sabbath for her rest and the discipline to take it.

I ask that you will shower her with opportunities as she prepares for greatness and the fulfillment of her untapped potential. Bless her with discernment as she is influenced by others and godly wisdom as she is looked to for influence; flavor her every word, and provide her the favor of those in her midst.

Give her the ability to embrace your freedom and relief from her sin so she can live life to its fullest — better serving herself and her family, and most important, glorifying you. Provide her tools, people, and your Word that she might fortify herself to be the woman of God you long for. Keep her confident. Keep her courageous. Keep her positive. Keep her humble. Keep her close.

In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who develops, fortifies, and sustains us for his glory. Amen.


You have a care label; it's stitched on your heart. But it's not going to do you much good if you don't remember what the instructions say or if you don't take time to reread the label every now and then.

God's Word provides you everything you need to know about the best way to refresh yourself to last a lifetime. If one of the verses below speaks to your heart and renews your spirit, commit it to memory. Cut it out and tape it to your mirror, or better yet, place it where you probably spend most of your time — between the 10:00 and 2:00 position on your steering wheel.

These care instructions are for a gentle spirit — one that isn't bothered by a little agitation — to keep you as glorious as you are at this moment for years to come.

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. ... You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. PSALM 16:8, 11

As he thinks in his heart, so is he. PROVERBS 23:7, NKJV

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. GENESIS 2:1-2

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. PROVERBS 4:23

In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. EPHESIANS 5:28

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. PHILIPPIANS 4:6

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. LAMENTATIONS 3:22-23

We will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. EPHESIANS 4:14

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. PROVERBS 27:17

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. ISAIAH 40:31

I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. PSALM 31:10

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. psalm 23:2-3

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms. EPHESIANS 1:19-20

Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. ROMANS 1:29

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. PSALM 139:14


Excerpted from Lord, Have Mercy by Ellen Miller. Copyright © 2017 Ellen Miller. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Lord, Have Mercy: Help and Hope for Moms on Their Last Nerve 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
vics49548 More than 1 year ago
We all know that motherhood is sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, all the time worth it. Just look at the front cover. That tells it all! Full of truth, Author Ellen Miller gives us hope, tears, and laughter in this book. Scripture given through this book and at the back makes it easy to use as a daily devotional. Easy to read yet definitely not “fluffy”, this book is full of encouragement for the mom with kids still at home. Tyndale House Publishers has provided me a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to leave a review.