Focal verse

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12).


The after-school hours are filled with many emotions. For our family it’s not unusual to see tears or hear feet stomping during this time—our kids have big feelings. We watch our children go from happy to meltdown mode in minutes. As parents, we experience this range of emotions too.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, my daughter, Charlotte, was doing online speech therapy. I remember one session when our computer wouldn’t cooperate. We couldn’t log on, my Zoom account needed to update, and I could only see the time ticking away. I sighed in frustration and then heard Charlotte, seated next to me, say, “It’s OK to be sad, Mama. I get sad sometimes.” Her hands reached around me in an embrace and she lay her head on my shoulder. I was no longer looking at the time, only listening to her words: “It’s OK to be sad.”

In our family we work to acknowledge our feelings. We feel sad when a friend is sick or family members are mourning the loss of a loved one. We feel happy when we’re kind to others or we do well in school. We feel angry when someone is mean to us or a sibling takes our toys.

The emotions and feelings we all hold are part and parcel of daily life. The challenge is to provide space and opportunity to talk openly about what’s going on in our minds and spirits. This is one reason why I love the book of Psalms.

Throughout the 150 Psalms, we have the full spectrum of the human experience: joy, anger, sadness, grief, hope, praise, celebration, sickness and death. The Psalms show us that God hears and knows the deepest feelings of our hearts, even those feelings we can’t name. God understands that we have anger and sadness, joy and hope. And God invites us to name those feelings.

The Psalms become our words when we don’t know how or what to pray. They give hope when all we have are sighs. This month, however you’re feeling—at home, work or school—take time to sit with your feelings. Ask your family how they’re feeling, listen to one another and trust that God holds you, no matter how you feel.


  • Memorize one of the Psalms as a family.
  • Read There’s No Wrong Way to Pray by Rebecca Ninke and Kate E.H. Watson (Beaming Books, 2019) for a kid-friendly reflection on talking to God in the everyday moments of life.

Service opportunity

Connect with your synod’s companion synod or a missionary from Young Adults in Global Mission to learn how you can support mission co-workers overseas. Write letters and send notes of encouragement to those serving away from their families.

Prayer practice 

This month, pick a Psalm as a family and use it as your prayer time. Psalm 23 could be used to remember God’s presence amid sadness and hard things. Psalm 139 could be prayed in thanks for bodies and for the beauty and mystery of God as creator. Psalm 8 could be used for a prayer of thanks for creation. Psalm 150 could be a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, spouse of an ELCA pastor and co-author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is

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