How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part three}

My final tip in my three part series on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life for your family. This is by no means all that you can do. These are just 3 easy tips for you to start with now. See previous posts for the other tips. 

3. Third, have fun! Nothing makes faith seem more out-of-place and awkward than when it feels forced, contrived, or boring. After over 25 years in ministry, we’ve learned that uncomfortable, scripted sermons or trite, cheeseball lessons are a drag for everyone. 

When you make faith interactive, interesting and imaginative, however, the truths from the Bible really stick. Kids who have fun with faith when they’re young experience rich relationships with Jesus as they get older.

So brainstorm creative ways to retell Bible stories, look for inspiration in the natural world around you, tap into your child’s interests, and have fun!

#Faith #Family #Children #EverydayFaith 

How To Make Faith A Natural Part Of Your Everyday Life {Part Two}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. Here is my second post in a three part series of a few tips on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family. 

2. Second, readjust your expectations of what “making faith a natural part of your everyday” looks like. In other words, you don’t have to be perfect. Faith does not eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them. 

Your kids don’t need the appearance of perfection. What they need is real authenticity, and a genuine desire to chase after God – especially from you. 

We all make parenting mistakes. You’re going to make several and so am I. But listen, you don’t drown by falling into the water. You drown by staying there. When you mess up, apologize and grow from it together as a family. If you stumble and fall, fall forward, get back up, and keep running the race God has set before you. Let them see you do this with a genuine love for God and a desire to run after Him. 

God didn’t mean for parenting to reflect perfection from us. He meant it to be a clear reflection of His love. Our job as parents is not to put on a perfect show. It’s to point them to the Perfect Savior. 

As always, feel free to share away. You never know who is on the other side of the screen waiting on a word of encouragement. 

#God #Faith #Family #Parenting #EverydayFaith

How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part One}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. I’m going to post a tip a day for the next three days on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family.

Here’s the first one:

1. First, as parents we have to model faith. If you’re suddenly picturing someone who can quote the Bible from memory, who prays constantly, and sings in the hills wearing a nun’s habit (a la The Sound of Music), RELAX–faith isn’t always easy, but it can be simple.

You don’t necessarily need to come off like a pastor to your kids. You just need to show them the simple ways you’re practicing your faith. For example, let them see you pray. Let them see you read the Bible. Talk about Jesus. Talk to Jesus, out loud, around them. 

Even if your faith hasn’t been a natural part of your family life, start now. No matter how old your kids are. Just start.

As always, feel free to share away. Sharing is caring. You never know who is waiting for a word. 

#Faith #Family #EverdayFaith 

Two Steps To Begin Using Influence Wisely

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Influence.

We all have it. We are impacting those around us all the time. This is a great thing when we learn to use the influence God has given us wisely. We start by learning the art of speaking and listening with these two steps:

1. We must listen in such a way that others love to speak to us.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue..(James 1:19-21 MSG


How significant is listening? Listening is the fullness of hearing. It is possible to hear someone talk and not listen. In order to hear and listen, one must be paying attention. It’s so unnerving to talk to someone who isn’t listening. It quickly turns people off and turns them away. People love to talk to good listeners. James 1:19 in the NIV version says it this way: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Don’t make snap judgements. Don’t assume. First, listen well.

The world is in need of a Savior and there is only One. We must carry the Gospel message out to the world. We must hear those who are asking for help, we must listen to them to give them what they need. You have the Source of help. Are you listening?

2. We must speak in such a way that others love to listen to us.

She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26 HCSB

Her words are wise, gentle, and dripping with love. Wise words (not a smart mouth), spoken and motivated by the greatest gift of all (Love) is exactly the way Christ teaches us. The best way to do that is through compassion. If we first place ourselves in their shoes for a moment and think of all the ways God is loving and patient with us, how could we be any less with others? After all, it is only by the grace of God that we aren’t struggling in their area……. or that we once were and are no more.

God drove this truth home for me this week in a big way. Let’s word that in another way: God taught me a lesson this week. I was in the middle of several sticky situations and with some people who were dropping the ball in a big way. I was tempted to lose patience with them when I got that Holy tap on the shoulder that reminded me: God meets us ALL where we are. These people aren’t mature enough to handle this well, but they could be one day. Teach. Don’t preach. Once I walked that out, things ran more smoothly, and they walked away encouraged.

She delights to talk of the Word of God and does so motivated by love: the greatest gift. She is careful in WHAT she says and HOW she says it. 

How, when, what, and to whom I speak matters. Truth spoken in the wrong spirit of things can repel people AWAY from God rather than TO Him. Remember Job’s friends? This is where they went wrong. Overwhelmed and in agony with all he was suffering, Job was not comforted but rather condemned by his friends. While there were elements of truth in some of what they said, it was based on wrong assumptions. We must be careful of what we assume to be true in the lives of others. Be very careful of making snap judgments (I know I’ve made this point twice. It’s double important!)

The influence God has gifted us with should always be one that praises God and builds up people for His Kingdom.

POINTS TO PONDER: Influence is a gift. Am I faithful with my influence with those around me? Is my influence being used for HIS glory? Who am I being influenced by? Am I careful in what I say and how I say it…..when I say it, and to whom? Am I speaking words into people’s lives that are wise, gentle, and dripping with Love? Am I also doing this with my family?

May we all listen in such a way that others love to speak to us, and speak in such a way that others love to listen to us. May we be an influence on all those around us as our Jesus is. Let’s make an impact for HIM. Let’s make much of Jesus.

No Ordinary Conversation

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Our Father In Heaven

Hallowed be Your name Matthew 6:9

My favorite way name for God is Daddy. I love to crawl up in His lap, snuggle in and chat a while with Him. He is so warm and inviting. So loving, and comforting. My favorite place to be is in Daddy’s lap. It’s because of my relationship with Jesus that I am able to call Him Daddy.

Although He and I are very familiar with one another, I also know that talking with Him is no ordinary conversation. We come to God as Father, but we need to also know who we’re talking to. Daddy has a name to revere and respect. He indeed is our Father but His name is Hallowed.

Our Daddy God is holy and just and mighty and should be revered. 

In Exodus 19:16-20, we see God coming. The people of Israel hear thunder and lightning. They see a thick cloud, smoke. The earth was trembling; there’s fire, and a trumpet sound. A loud trumpet sound. They. Are. Shuddering.

Not many of us are storm chasers. When there is a storm we usually go in the opposite direction. These people are shuddering as they move closer. And, we see Moses talking to God, and God answering Him in the thunder. How cool is that?! God. Answered. Moses. In. The. Thunder. Wow! What would you think if as you were praying God suddenly started talking to you through thunder? My face would hit the ground, I’m sure.

But, I want you to notice what we see in verse 20: God invited Moses up.

God invites us all into that holiness. Prayer is God inviting you into His space.

Prayer is THE Holy One and His holy ones speaking together. He isn’t content to be holy from a distance. He invites us in. But, we aren’t invited in as a trembling slave to a lord that owns us and is a tyrannical leader. No, we are invited in as holy. Not as sinners, but as saints:

By this will of God, we have been sanctified (made holy) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. Hebrews 10:10

We are invited in as holy sons and daughters. Beautiful. Thank you, Jesus.

We go to God as sons and daughters, but not like we are the brains and He is the braun. He knows what to do. Trust Him. Leave the plan and solution behind and just bring faith. 

You won’t blow His mind with an awesome solution that He didn’t think of. EVERYTHING GOD DOES IS A SOLUTION. Just. Bring. Faith. He is God, He is Holy. He’s got this.

Remember: prayer is the Holy One and His holy ones speaking together. Because of this, prayer is no ordinary conversation

Our Father in heaven, we know exactly who You are. And, You are holy. Thank You that You don’t just have us standing at the bottom of the mountain looking up. You invite us up….

Because They Are, We Go

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Because she is someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s sister, we go. Because he is someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s brother, we go. Because they are precious in His sight, we go. Because He died to give them life, we go. Because He died for us, we go. Because the abortion rate is now higher than the birth rate, we go. Because the abuse and severe neglect is something no one should take, we go.

He wraps Himself around every detail our lives. All we have to do is stand in the palm of His hand. Because they mean everything to Him. I mean everything. He wraps Himself around us. He holds us together in His hands. Soak that in. They need to know that He hasn’t forgotten them. How can they know if we don’t tell them? (Romans 10:14)

When I see the blank stares and empty eyes that say they’ve never known love, I am compelled. God breaks my heart for what breaks His. And. I. Must. Act! I cannot sit on my rear end in my air conditioned home, free to go to church whenever I want, or eat what I want, have a glass of water whenever I want anymore! I must be the change I want to see. I must invest in people who are the change I want to see. I must invest in people willing to give up everything they know to go and be His hands and feet.

When I look into the face of my own adopted daughter, I am compelled. I am compelled into thoughts of all the sad things that have happened to her. I am compelled into thoughts of all those people God used to intervene for her. All those hands that were there to care for her. All He did to bring her to me. And, I weep. And, I go. And, I do. I must be the change I want to see. No more waiting for someone else to do something. No more saying no to investing in someone who goes where I can’t. He gives to me so that I can give. He gives it to me so that He can give it through me.

There is a non-profit named Bella Ministries who are the hands and feet of Christ to hurting people everywhere. Their hearts are broken for the things that break His and they are doing something about it! I work for this non-profit and am thrilled to say so! We are part of an organization called A.C.T. Intl and have 260 missionaries with over 200 ministry departments going to over 20 nations! That’s what I call inspired! THAT’S what I’m talking about! They serve. They teach. They build. They lead worship (15 worship sets this month alone!). They do all sorts of media. They staff for churches. They love. They just DO! They are trail blazers and serious about making a real difference in the lives of others for GOD’s glory.

My daughter is a missionary for this organization and is leaving everything known behind and giving her life for a year in Taiwan to care for orphans, love on at-risk women and children, care for children of missionaries. As you know, it takes revenue to operate. I was recently told that if everyone who follows/reads this blog gives $5 this month, and then $5 next month…her goal for the YEAR would be COMPLETELY MET. How’s that for simple? In our 21st Century it is easier than ever to give. A simple click changes lives. You can change a life with a click of your mouse. Crazy that we don’t do it more.

And, because this organization is on FIRE, they are not stopping with this year. No, they will go. And do. And be. And love. This year, and next, and the next. They are glocal, which means they go here in the USA and they go “unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). They will not stop and they need you to partner with them. Please consider partnering with them to help as they strap on the boots we call the Great Commission, deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him. Every donation is tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt for your donation. You can be a partner and give monthly, or a one time donation by clicking this link: here or by clicking on the blue “Donate Now” button on the right sidebar.

or by mail:
Bella Ministries
PO Box 1649
Brentwood, TN 37024
615-852-8213

I’m not asking you to do anything that I am not doing myself. I invest in this non-profit ministry with my money and my time.

Know that through this ministry your generosity will result in great thanksgiving to God (2 Cor. 9:11b)

If I had the power to stop time…..{a writing prompt}

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If I had the power to stop time, I wouldn’t. If that question were asked of a younger me, I would have answered differently and given a list of moments that I would have stopped the clock. But not the “today” me. No, not a chance.

I would have chosen the first kiss from my husband; so sweet and exciting. If I had stopped time there, I would miss our wedding day, the look in his eyes at the births of our children, our deep love grown stronger with each passing year. I would have missed our first home, the teamwork and prayers we’ve shared on our knees. I would have missed his leadership grown from loving and serving our Lord together. The way that even now, 24 years later, when I look at him my heart still skips a beat. The many lives led to Christ. I would have missed miracles.

I would have chosen the first time I held each of my two children. What a blessed and joyous day! Kissing their sweet faces and touching them for the first time was beautiful, miraculous, and filled with awe. If time had stopped there I would have missed the first word, the first steps, the hugs, the first “I love you Mommy”, school days and being their teacher, accepting Christ as their Savior, first jobs, the times of speaking and sharing the love of Christ with others, traveling and serving God alongside them, and all the people and opportunities that have come into our lives through that ministry. I would have missed miracles.

If I had stopped time there, I would have missed the fantastic way God brought our brand new 6 year old daughter Bella into our lives. I would have missed the way He whispered her name to me weeks and weeks before I knew her. I would have missed the way her face entered her older sister’s dreams months before that. I would have missed the beautiful love that we all share. I would have missed miracles.

Yes, I would have missed deaths of dear loved ones, hurts, betrayals, losses, sicknesses, heart-aches and pain that came. But our most effective ministry, our ability to love deeper and more fiercely, to praise often and more loudly, to pray with more surety and authority, to stand quicker and more strongly, to speak up and more boldly, to show great mercy and grace to others, comes out of our deepest hurts.

Instead, I would use that power to embrace a little longer, engage a little deeper and envelope a little wider. You see, if I stopped time, I would miss each new thing….each new person….each new ministry….each new experience that God brings me….and I would miss miracles.

Thanks so much for the writing prompt, Ellen. It was great remembering how blessings outweigh the pain.

Patterns Everywhere: Which to follow?

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I’ve been teaching a lot on patterns in school and in ministry lately. Patterns in the world, and the patterns we trace. We’re told in Romans 12:2 to break the patterns of this world in our lives. The renewing of our minds to the mind of Christ transforms our lives as we grow to know what God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will is for our lives.

In Psalm 127:1-2 it says, Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep. The Hebrew word for house in verse one can actually be translated family. That is one reason why the next few verses read like this:

Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has a quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

If you have sat up late, worrying about your children or your family, you need to know that God can turn things around.

Trust Him to build and protect your family. Do your part, but look to Him for guidance and strength. And trust Him to do what you cannot do. Be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live. Be a pattern for them in your love, and your faith. God recently blew our minds and busted our hearts wide open by bringing a sweet little 6 year old into our family. She loves to walk around acting, talking, and teaching like I do. My husband and oldest daughter noticed it before I did. It’s so cute, but it also has me watching her closely. Just as she traces those squares and triangles while I’m teaching her shapes, she is tracing my walk. As I’m watching her closely, she is watching me even more closely! I’ve got to be sure I’m following the pattern Christ gives to us as she is following my pattern.

He can cause your “arrows” to be effective against the enemy instead of wounding your heart. He can turn things around. My little “mini-me” came from a very abusive background. God is healing and restoring her. God can turn our lives around! He’s an expert at renewing, restoring, and resurrecting! He makes all things new, and that includes your family. Trust Him to do what you cannot do.

“House-building” and “city-guarding” cannot succeed apart from God. You are His beloved. Allow Him to give you peace and rest now.

May you be happy with your quiver of “arrows,” and may God be glorified in your family.

God + Nothing = Everything

I love the feeling I get when I see a box of things from our past. I smile just walking in the direction of the box. Opening them and talking about what each thing represents. The laughter, and love that flow as we remember. Things my kids made, holiday decorations, funny and sweet notes my children wrote, things sweet friends gave me, mementos of my Dad and other loved ones no longer with us. We’re all transported back. It’s cozy there in the kisses from our Heavenly Father.

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What a blessing it is to cuddle with each kiss! It’s like getting blessed all over again. Passing to the next generation the moments of joy we have in raising our children, growing and loving in marriage, the awe, fear, wonder, and victories in God. I was talking with a friend the other day who said we don’t remember days, we remember moments. I agree.

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I give thanks for remembering. For the remembering brings joy. Joy in giving God the glory and thanks in a life lived well. I add quickly not a life lived perfectly, but with honest passion, desire, love and compassion authored by God Himself. A passionate desire to follow, glorify and honor God. This story of love is authored by Him. A life together made on our own would not have been so great. In our own weak attempts we fail. For we are nothing and have nothing without Him

For you see, God + nothing = everything

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