Monday, June 28, 2010

That House on a Rock? or Sand?

Those that grew up in church remember the story right? You know, the one about the wise man that built his house upon the rock while the other guy built it on the sand. The rains came down and washed the house on the sand away while the house on the rock stood strong.

I know that story can have a different meaning for people in the area I live in having had a 500 year flood in middle and west Tennessee at the beginning of March. Also, those in other areas that have flooded that don't normally. I am going to focus on how the parable relates to our families though, from a spiritual sense.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” 

While we are raising our children and making sure they become well rounded individuals with good self esteem, are we missing something? The wise man and the foolish man both built a house. I am sure they both took great pride in their work and did the best that they could. The difference though was the foundation.

It's easy to get caught up in our children's development and activities. There is academics that they have to do, sports and extra curricular activities. Then if you are active in your community and church there are other distractions. The question comes down to, are the children learning about Jesus?

Academics, sports, community involvement, volunteering, obligations are church, are all wonderful things to do. The thing is, if the focus isn't on Jesus, then it is all for naught.

Jesus is to be our foundation, or the corner stone in the foundation. Jesus is key because without Him, nothing else matters.

As parents raising our children and families to love the Lord, before we do anything else, we have to have a firm foundation in the Lord.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Nurture and Admonition

Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)

When we nurture our children we not only feed and protect them, but we also support and encourage them while training them what is right and wrong. How we nurture them of the Lord is training our children in the ways of the Lord. By teaching our children the Ten Commandments and teaching them that God is love, we nurture them to love God.

By bringing our children up in the admonition of the Lord, we teach them that not only is God love, but also that God does allow bad things to happen. This may not be a favorite thought, but it does happen and both adults and children have to be able to accept it. There will always be consequences for actions.

In society, there are many that do not accept cause and effect. We as adults, as children, as people, have to accept that for every action there is another action. We can’t blame God for the bad things that happen in our lives and the lives around us. If a person decides to get drunk and then behind the wheel, that is their own free will. When that person is in an accident, it is the effect of them doing something dangerous and not thinking of others.

With our children we can show this on a daily basis. If they do as they are told and are obedient then they can play outside or make a craft or something. Where if they aren’t obedient, then they don’t get to go and play until the chore is completed. The best way to teach this premise is to be hands on.

When the parent shows the discipline of studying God’s Word and doing chores, and being love, the children pick up on it. Children learn best by example. So in order to “bring them up in nurture and admonition of the Lord” we, as parents, have to do what we ask of our children. If we are teaching them to be in God’s Word, then we ourselves have to be also. If we are teaching them obedience, then we have to be obedient to. If we are teaching them to respect authority, then we ourselves have to respect authority. If we do not respect God, how can we expect our children too?

So the gist through my understanding is that we have to learn to show love, to our families and to those around us. Nurturing God's love into our children will teach them love and teaching them up with admonition will teach them respect and understanding there is consequences.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Being Chosen

In celebrating Father's Day our family is reminded of the challenges that we face regularly. For those that don't know, our family is a blended family. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves, like around family oriented holidays and celebrations.

We have learned over the last seven years however, that it is best to focus on the good instead of the bad. While all of our children have their biological parents, four of the six have extra parents too. They have adults that chose to be in their lives and to be a part of their life.

When I think of it that way, it reminds me of Joseph. Joseph, husband of Mary, has got to be one of the most famous step parents in the Bible. Yet, many people don’t connect him to Jesus as his stepfather.

Joseph could have done things differently when he found out that Mary was with child. He could have had her put to death, which was and is custom in the region. He could have divorced her and sent her away, which is what he was planning on doing. Then, God informed Joseph that the child Mary was carrying was His son. (Matthew 1:18-24) Joseph could have still divorced Mary, but there would have been heavenly intervention. (At least that is my belief.) Even, after taking Mary as his wife, Joseph could have treated Jesus differently from his other children that they had later. There is no evidence to support or deny this in the canonized Bible, although what little it does say may be enough to form an opinion. As was custom, Joseph taught Jesus his trade. He trained Jesus how to be a carpenter. (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3)

The one thing that strikes me with the most inspiration and hope in being a parent and in being a step parent is that even Jesus’ parents had a handful when he was entering those teenaged years. Can you imagine, your child missing and after three days you finally find them and ask what they were thinking and you get this answer?

"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49 NIV)

Joseph and Mary didn’t know how to answer him. I know I feel that way at times. This shows me though that Joseph had to be a strong Father, he knew who his son was and accepted the blessing that God gave him by allowing him to raise Jesus. I also love how Luke went on to say that they went home and Jesus was obedient to them.

This is how, even at the difficult and crazy times we focus on loving our children. Because even though our children are not “holy”, they are blessings that God has given us.

Love your children. Look for the blessing in all things.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nikki & Babs: Dos & Doubts - Review & Giveaway

Nikki and Babs: Dos and Doubts
The GiveAway is Now CLOSED. Winners were announced here.

I just had the pleasure of viewing a new series that is targeted to teen girls. When I heard about it initially, I was excited. I am always looking for something to help with our girls. You know, that will reinforce what we have already taught them.

On this DVD there are 5 episodes that are about 15 minutes each. Each episode has a theme, a biblical basis, and plenty of comedic interjection. This series is brought to DVD by Cloud Ten Pictures and Sonlight Pictures.

As a parent: This DVD is great to use for family devotions or even as just individual devotions. Every episode has a strong biblical influence and a realistic situation. I can even see this being used in a Sunday School class or a teen girl ministry.

The chemistry between the two teen girls, Nikki and Babs, is amazing. The conflict between the conservative and reserved Nikki with the energetic and bubbly Babs makes for an interesting match. The cousins end up becoming best friends through a summer of trials. The series shows how the girls grow as people and more importantly, how they grow spiritually.

The episodes and themes are :
  1. Judgment Day - Nikki gets a lesson about judging others.
  2. Idle Worship - Babs learns the problem with putting a person on a pedestal.
  3. A Difficult Thing - Babs makes a sacrifice for Nikki's happiness.
  4. Y-N-V - Jealousy abounds when the girls interview for the same job.
  5. Vanity Share - Church Talent Show or Beauty Pageant?

From our 15yo girl: I believe that this DVD will help teen Christian girls like myself learn more about relying on God. As I watched the episodes on this DVD I realized that it points out a few things we might do, like judging others. I am hopeful that this video will encourage other teen girls to do more right than wrong and help them on their journey with God.

     Cloud Ten Pictures has graciously given Parents For Christ three copies of  Nikki and Babs: Dos and Doubts to giveaway in order to promote the fresh release of the DVD. All you have to do is enter to win!
(You must be 18 and a United States Resident)
Main Entry - Tell me why you would like to win a copy of Nikki and Babs: Dos and Doubts. Entry must include email or have email listed in your Blogger Profile.

You can get extra entries by doing any or all of the below. Each entry needs to be a separate comment.

1 Extra Entry - Follow my blog and let me know in a separate comment.
1 Extra Entry - Subscribe to my RSS feed and let me know in a separate comment.
1 Extra Entry - Tweet this post and let me know in a separate comment.
5 Extra Entry - Write a post on your blog linking to my blog, and let me know in a separate comment
And if you would rather just buy a copy of the DVD, click on the Amazon link in the side column. God Bless!

Giveaway ends July 4, 2010

*updated June 19, 2010

Thinking About Dad

As Father's Day is getting closer it brings us to thinking about our dads. For those that are blessed, they have wonderful memories of their dad while they were growing up. Playing catch, going fishing, sitting with him while watching tv or reading...

Being a dad isn't always the easiest thing though. In the Bible, fathers are warned,

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in training and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

While the warning itself is very important, we are not to be unreasonably severe or are we to ridicule our children. This is said to the father because in a Biblical home, the father is the head of the house.  Let's focus on what fathers are suppose to do. Dad is to train the children in the ways of the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 6:7 we are instructed to "teach them[commandments] diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

As fathers and parents, we are to be continually teaching our children of God. Teaching what He has done, sharing the promises of what is to come and pointing out God's influence all around us.

This isn't to say if you haven't been focusing on God through your parenting journey that you are a failure, start now. Next time you are outside with the kids point out God's creation. Start a family Bible study. Get involved in a Bible believing church.

And for those whose fathers were absent in their lives, whether they were raised by a single mom, an orphan, or had an absentee dad; God loves you and He is there for you.

"When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me." Psalm 27:10 

I pray that you all have a blessed Father's Day weekend. Make it memorable. And feel free to share positive memories of your dad from your childhood.

A favorite memory of mine with my dad is working on my car together, or our old truck. I suppose it would just be working on the cars together. For the fact that I was interested in working on the vehicle with him made him happy, and my frugally minded pocketbook was all for fixing it myself. Dad taught me to not be afraid to try. Doing a tune up, or replacing the timing belt, we may have butted heads a bit, but it also gave us a connection. He was rather impressed on a fix I did one day because I got stuck in first gear and couldn't get the car to shift. I was able to do it because of the confidence he gave me. Love you dad!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coming Soon... for Teens

I am so excited. In my hands is a soon to be reviewed teen series from Cloud Ten Pictures.

You might ask why am I excited about a video series, I can answer that one. As a mom to two teen-aged girls and one tween almost teen girl, I have had a hard time getting through to them. This series as I have read up on it and am getting ready to watch it gives me an addition to my teen girl arsenol.

I am hopeful in getting this watched tonight or tomorrow, and then having my girls (at least one of them) watch it too. The review will be from both me as parent, and them as teen. Be on the look out!


God's Will vs Parent's Will

Naturally parents want their children to succeed and be honored in life. In some circumstances this can be dangerous. Just as we, as parents and Christians, are to be in God’s will, so are our children.

James and John’s mother is a great example of this. She wanted her sons to bestowed honor and power for their reward of following Christ. But God had different intentions for them. (see Matthew 20:20)

Instead of pushing our children to become great leaders or powerful people, we need to teach them to follow God’s will. To do as God wants them to do.

We are told to ‘train’ our children to follow God. This is so that they can learn by our example. When a person is trained, they are shown how. (see Proverbs 22:6)

By keeping God first in our life and living in His will, we teach our children how they are to be.

We gain insight and wisdom as we live in His will. As we stay in counsel with the Father, he instructs us, as we need to be instructed. This is very much like as a parent to a child. Parents should keep communication open with their children. (see Psalm 16:7-8)

The Lord will teach us his will; we just have to make sure we listen to his instruction. When seeking God’s will we should:
  • Make sure your plan is in harmony with God’s Word
  • Ask mature Christians for advice
  • Check your motives – are you doing this for the Lord or yourself?
  • Pray, so that God will open and close doors for you, as he desires.
As we are in God’s will not only do we listen but we also pray. We pray to give thanks, to worship, to pray for others, and to pray for ourselves.

The Father knows exactly what we need and desire. He will always provide our needs. Even when we are going through tough times, the Lord knows what we can handle and equips us with what we need. We just have to open our ‘eyes’ to see. (see Matthew 6:8-13)

We must have faith and confidence in the Lord. This is both for our children and ourselves. As our children get older and hear God’s call, we may not like what they are called to very much. We must remember though that God is in control. (see 1 John 5:14-15)

Some may wonder exactly what our true purpose is.

Just as Jesus, we are to work with God. Our purpose is to do the will of God, not satisfying human desires.
But what does doing God’s will bring my child or me? (see John 6:37-38)

If we patiently and persistently do God’s will, we will find eternal life. (see Romans 2:7)

But I thought Salvation was by faith alone [Romans 1:16,17]?

In being fully committed to God, we will want to please him and do his will. Good deeds are a response to His grace and our faith.

Originally Posted: 26-Apr-2005

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Treading Water

Isn't it amazing how life can overwhelm us?

In the last year, I as an individual have made many changes. I was hoping that all would be positive, and I am still striving that they will be. The valuable lesson that has been learned is that things happen not in my schedule, but in the Lord's.

See, last summer near the end of July, I decided that I was going to get in shape and be completely organized as soon as the kids went back to school. (Here school starts the first of August) So I started doing my bible study first thing in the morning, got an exercise DVD and started doing it daily, focused more on natural foods instead of processed... was doing really good. Hubby and the kids were cooperating with the change well.

Then, on the first day of school, right after the younger kids got on the bus, I went outside to feed the dogs. Only, they didn't get fed, instead I fell 23 inches onto our concrete patio. My foot had slipped on the steps and I went flying. Landed on both of my knees and did some damage. Instead of taking care of me, I with the help of our oldest, got cleaned up and took her to school. Did I mention I could barely walk? The next day, hubby was off work and Benji had physical therapy. The agreement was if I couldn't walk that I would run into the clinic since it was in the same building. I was able to walk, so didn't go. (And yes, Benji's therapist nudged me to go and I still didn't)

It took about a week before I could walk easily, and the scarred up knees were healing well. I should clarify here. I did pray for God to heal my knees. I also prayed that my plans would still go through. Note, I didn't pray that my plans were His plans.

The bulk of August I was trying to get the house good and clean and organized while the kids were at school. I also found myself ordering college books for me. I had managed to seize the opportunity to be able to go to college for the first time in my life. We had prayed about it and when the financial aid came through, hubby said to go for it.

I had the misconception that I would be able to go to school full time, be a full time mom and still have an immaculately clean house while keeping up with my writing.

Boy was I wrong.

My school schedule worked out so that I was able to be 3/4 mom. I had to resort to Nana taking Benji to school on some days, A friend watching him on Fridays, and me missing field trips and concerts and games with the kids. Clearly, I had not figured the entire cost of my higher education. Oh, and my house while still tidy, was not immaculate.

The worst part was that my writing for pleasure pretty much disappeared. This bothered me. It made me question if I was doing the right thing. As the fall semester proceeded, I prayed fervently and asked several friends to do the same over what my path was.

I am sure, with out a doubt that I am to be a writer. I am also sure that I am to go to college. And through the prayer, what my eyes have been opened to is that I don't manage my time wisely.

Ephesians 5:15-16
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

So... now that my spring semester is completed and I see where my mistake was, I am preparing for another fall semester. This time, putting my priorities in order and being a better steward of my time. And also acknowledging that the dust-bunnies will still be there tomorrow when I can take care of them.

I pray that summer is going well.