Friday, October 31, 2014 -

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 
and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from 
being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, 
forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."
2 Peter 1:5-9

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory 
that far outweighs them all."
2 Corinthians 4:17

"By their fruit you will recognize them.  
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?'
Matthew 7:16


One of the coolest things I've learned while writing this series has been how interconnected these topics truly are.  It has been such a wonderful insight for me to notice these connections, to isolate each lesson when we focus on one at a time, and to feel the Lord's hand moving through each of the lessons, connecting them all together.

I know that He works through all the small moments.  I trust that he gives all things for a purpose.  I know that if I can miss the opportunities; I can miss the chances to learn & lead.

I pray that I will be recognized by my sons for my fruit, and that it will be good fruit that they see.  I pray that my sons will be recognized by their good fruit as well.  I know that God works through all things, and I trust that he is pruning us & shaping us more into the image of Christ.

Lord, thank you for teaching me.  Thank you for showing up.  Thank you for the time in your Word, looking for your words to lead.  Thank you for the 31Days writing series.  You have blessed me in the writing.  Thank you for the time to write, and the courage to share it.  Thank you for my sons & for all the lesson you teach me.  Please continue to give me wisdom & patience to persevere when it seems that the lessons are not taking root & growing.  You are so good to us.  Amen.

Thank you for reading along with me.  I have enjoyed this journey most of anyone- teaching my sons these building block lessons can feel like being in an ocean tossed about by the waves, making no progress.  But I trust that the Lord is working; He is carrying us.  One day I hope to see how far he's brought us.  He guides our steps & makes our path straight.  Trust Him.  Trust that it is all in His hands & not yours.  All the effort & struggle is not in vain.  It is working together to produce in our lives, the fruit.  May the Lord bless you as you continue in your own journey.

"The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance on you, and give you peace..."
Numbers 6:25

Thursday, October 30, 2014 - wisdom

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, 
and it will be given to you."
James 1:5

"He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."
Daniel 2:21


I ask for wisdom in my prayers, mostly because parenting is hard.  It is hard to feel confident in your decisions, and it is hard because you are constantly bombarded with opportunities to get it wrong. (it feel that way to me)  Every time my child has a need, I can choose to meet that need or not.  I can meet that need begrudgingly, or graciously.  I can make them feel welcome & loved, or I can make them feel inferior & in my way.  I can get it wrong 8 ways and right 1 way.  I wish I could get it right all the time, and be a perfect mother, but I know that is impossible.  I'm not capable of getting it right always, but God is.

God is the giver of wisdom.  I know that when I approach each new situation, I can ask for His strength to have the proper perspective, to give what is needed, and to do so in love.

We pray for our sons at bedtime each night, and usually, we pray for wisdom, integrity, and strength.  Those specific qualities seem to come to the forefront when we think of what we desire for our sons to be as they grow.  Integrity is a difficult trait to uphold, mostly because of how much honestly it requires, as well as being above board where others would not be.  Not that many people in our society have real integrity, but we pray our sons would.  Strength can be found in many different forms.  Physical strength would be something valuable, again for many reasons, but even more than physical strength, emotional & spiritual & mental strength is valuable.

and lastly, WISDOM.  We pray for wisdom, because it is one of the best gifts you can receive.  Discernment, knowledge, & understanding are all so important, but in my own definition, they come with the package of wisdom.  Or rather, wisdom allows one to have discernment, knowledge, and understanding.  I do hope our boys are smart, but it is not as important as Godly Wisdom.

Lord, please give me wisdom in raising our sons.  Let my tongue be slow to speak & my ears be open to listen.  Give me compassion for my sons in their physical needs, and let me serve them in gladness.  Help me to teach them all these important lessons of childhood, and teach me over again Lord.  Give me wisdom to see the real important things in this life, and not be fooled into thinking that it's more important to clean my house than to care for my sons.  Lord help me not to sin in anger, but to love like you would love.  Forgive all my failures, and help me to see my sons with your eyes.  Show me what to do when it feels hard.  Lord, help me not feel defeated by the battles we wage, but to know the fight is worth it.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - practice

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock."
Matthew 7:24 NIV


Practice makes perfect? nope.  Practice makes progress? maybe.  Practice makes... ?

As we watch our oldest boy practice the fundamentals of baseball, as our younger sons watch his practice, we see him improve.  We see him get it right, and we see his make mistakes.  We watched him forget that he was running the bases & try to field the ball at this particular game pictured.  It was adorable to see him on second base, then to chase the ball out into the outfield.  precious.  That is why we signed up for t ball.

We can't learn if we don't practice.  We can't practice if we don't commit, sign up, show up, put forth some effort, listen to the instructions, or try.  Practice doesn't exist unless you actually do it.  You can learn some things by watching from the sidelines.  You can learn some of the rules; you can learn how the game works; you can listen to the coaches & their instructions.  But you won't actually play unless you step onto the field.

The lessons I am striving to teach my sons about our faith are something they will hear, they may obey, but if they don't practice, it will never take root & grow.  Practice is required.

Lord, thank you for being our guide, our coach.  Thank you for teaching us your ways; thank you for all the lessons.  Thank you that as we take them one at a time, we are building our faith.  Lord give us wisdom to walk in your ways.  Lord let us practice so that we may be like the wise man who built his house upon the rock.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - power

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9


I know at our house we talk about being, 'big&strong'!  We encourage our boys to eat their veggies & their meats, drink their milk, and get a good night's sleep so that they may grow.  We could say that our efforts must be working based on their size & height, but that's not the case.  Their bodies have been created by the Lord & He made them perfectly.  Our boys are all big guys for their age, but we cannot take any credit for that.

We must recognize the hand of the Lord in their lives: their creation, their growth&development, their daily life & their future.  The whole of their lives rest in His hands.

We are weak.  He is strong.  If he makes us strong, it is in His power.  His strength can be physical, but more often in my life, it is emotional, mental, & even spiritual strength.  His power is made perfect in my weakness.

My boys love super heroes.  Playing super hero means saving the day - defeating the bad guy - being able to do something that no one else can do.  The Lord's power, His strength can be like that as well. Sometimes, the Lord does 'save the day' as we understand it.  He can defeat the bad guy & bring justice swiftly as we desire.  He can equip & do something with us that no one else can do.  The Bible is full of these kind of stories.

His power.  His strength.  But if not... He is still God; He is still good; I am still loved.

Lord, help me to remember that your plans are perfect.  Your timing is perfect.  You ways are not my ways.  Lord help me to trust you when I don't understand your plans.  Lord make me into a vessel for your power & your strength to be displayed in my weakness.  Lord, make my sons into vessels for your power & your strength to be displayed in their weakness.  Give me wisdom to look for you, give me you.  Thank you for your plans; they are good.  Thank you for your strength & power. Thank you that I can do nothing to make myself, but that you make me strong.  Make my sons strong too Lord, show them how you work in the weakness.  Amen.

Monday, October 27, 2014 - wrestle

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?"
Psalm 13:2

"For what I am doing, I do not understand; 
for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate."
Romans 7:15


My three sons love to wrestle.  They would wrestle their daddy for hours, and then ask to wrestle some more.  Most of the time, wrestling ends with either some kind of injury, or it ends with one or both of them in trouble for not stopping when they are asked to be all done.

To wrestle is not a bad thing.  To struggle against someone or something can be a valuable skill.  I want my sons to wrestle against all the things in this life that seek to lead them astray or ask them to compromise.  I wrestle, daily.  Not with my boys (mommy is exempt), but to do the good I desire.  To be the mother I want to be.  To show them a love like Christ's, and not fallible, like mine.  I desire to do the good, make the best choice.  I desire perfection, but I fall so very short.

I sometimes have a hard time setting appropriate expectations.  I laugh at myself for thinking that my sons would actually listen & obey without delay.  It can be done, but is that how I behaved as a child?  (you can ask my momma&daddy) nope.  And I was a 'rule follower'.  I desired to do all the rules the right way, but I still fell short.  Why am I surprised when my sons fall short?  Why does it tempt me to anger?  That is where I struggle, wrestle.  against giving into my sin nature.

I hope to show my sons that even when I lose that fight against my temptation to sin, I can apologize. I can sit with them, and we can pray for forgiveness for each other.  We can move through the pain they've caused me, and I've caused them.  We can wrestle & the Lord can restore our relationship.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, 
against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Ephesians 6:12

Lord never let us give us our struggle.  Help us persevere through the temptations.  Help us get back up after we fall.  Restore our relationships so that we may continue on with our eyes fixed on you.  Let us help carry each other's burdens.  Help me teach my sons how to wrestle.  How to win, how to lose, and how to carry on in the forgiveness the Lord gives.  Thank you Lord for your forgiveness.  I am forever grateful for you blood on the cross that cleanses me from my sins.  Thank you for loving me even when I fall into temptation.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit to guide me.  Give me wisdom to teach my sons about how to wrestle against the real enemy.  Amen.

Sunday, October 26, 2014 - goodness

"Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 23:6

"Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, 
and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
Psalm 107:21 KJB

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
Psalm 34:8 ESV


The Lord's goodness is a promise.  He is good & His love endures forever.  He always keeps his promises.  He is good & I am loved.  Contemplating that goodness, His goodness, is one of the fruits of the Spirit actually seems very foreign to me.  Some of the others seem like I can practice, like patience, and 'try harder' to improve.

but GOODNESS?  How can I ever be good, if He doesn't make me good?

The answer is that I can't.  He is the only one who is good.  Christ alone.  I can point my boys to Him, show them His goodness, and pray that somehow he would produce the fruit of goodness in me.

I cannot imagine any examples of this fruit being present in my life.  Honestly, it would be a complete lie if I tried to claim goodness.  But I am so thankful for some of the alternate translations that tell me his goodness is similar to his virtue, his steadfast love, his wonderful deeds, his loyal love, his gracious love, his great love.  HIS GOODNESS.

Lord, thank you for your goodness.  You are good, and you let me taste and see that it is the truth.  Thank you for your faithfulness, your steadfast love, your loyalty, your virtue, and your wonderful deeds.  You are so good.  Thank you for making more like you; please Lord continue the work you started in me.  Let my boys see your goodness; give me wisdom to draw their attention to it.  Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2014 - faithfulness

"... It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High.  To declare your loving kindness in the morning, and your faithfulness by night."
Psalm 92:1-2


I think that I link faithfulness most with trust.  When I read about declaring the faithfulness of the Lord at night, it makes me think of looking back, over the day or week or month or year & remembering all that has past.  Looking back over your shoulder at the end of the day & seeing how the Lord has been faithful to you.  Sometimes it is easier to see in hindsight.  Sometimes our prayers are answered, and we don't even realize because life flies by our eyes so fast.

Faithfulness builds trust.  I know I can trust the Lord with anything & everything because I know how he has carried me & provided for me & sustained me in the past.  Every time I look back over my day, I CAN SEE HIS FAITHFULNESS.  I know he is with me; He will never leave me.

And so, I can wake up tomorrow, and declare his loving kindness.  and in the evening, I can look back, and be amazed.  at his faithfulness.

Lord, thank you for your faithfulness.  Teach me to be more like you in my faithfulness.  Continue to build the trust with me, as you show me where you held me up in the midst.  Let me see & hear as I rejoice in what've you've done for me.  Let my heart declare, by night, your faithfulness.  Let my sons see me thank you, and may they know of YOUR faithfulness, even as mine is imperfect.  Amen.

Friday, October 24, 2014 - gentleness

"But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal our energies wisely."
Galatians 5:22-23 the message


I am not always gentle. I am rarely truly gentle.  I'm more like a bull in a china shop of gentleness.  But my Savior is gentle.  And some days, in some small moments, I know what gentleness really is.

When I tell my sons, "be gentle!" It is usually because they are playing roughly with each other. When my youngest was born, the most common request in our house was, 'be gentle'.  Touch with 'soft' hands.  Don't hurt.  Make your hands move slowly. 

It is an interesting idea that God's gentleness & my own definition of gentleness.  His being sort of hard for me to define. And mine basically meaning, "don't handle roughly".  A state of being gentle. An action.  Which makes it easier for me to consider what we should look for in the fruit of gentleness, the action. 

Lord, please grow gentleness in my life.  Make me more gentle for those I love, my husband, my boys, my family & friends.  Teach me how to model a gentle hand in life.  As I model how to use hands to hold & not hurt.  Thank you for your gentleness. Thank you for cultivating it in my life. Amen. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014 - peace

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control; against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23

"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you;  The LORD turn his face towards you and give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-26


The reference above in Numbers hangs by our front door.  It is our family's benediction as we go to & fro everyday.  My Dad used to give this benediction at the end of every service he preached.  It is a special prayer spoken by Aaron, as a blessing over the people of Israel.

I am not sure I've ever tried to teach my sons 'peace'.  Maybe I should start using it when they fight, "Is there no peace!?"  "peace brothers...!"  I think the dramatic nature with with those lines would be delivered would definitely cause an abrupt halt to any altercation, because it would be so odd.  Sometimes instead of giving into anger, (STOP fighting already!!) I can breathe deep & try to use the old bait and switch, the old distraction method.  I used that a lot when they were babies (no you can't have the unacceptable item ((hides behind back)) Oh, look! Something shiny!).  Even though they are much more aware that what they want or the tantrum they were having hasn't disappeared, they give in to the humor sometimes.

Peace.  I know I pray for peace - to keep the peace - to hold my peace - to feel the Lord's peace.  Peace like a river.  We sing that song to our kiddos, "I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul..."  My James' first question is, "What is a soul?"  Which is a rather hard concept of distinguishing the difference between the body & the mind/spirit/soul.  But honestly, it feels like a more difficult question, 'What is peace?'  Where do we see real peace?  Real peace, lasting peace, is only found in the Lord.

I think of peace as more of a stillness.  quiet rest.  lack of worry.  ability to trust without complication or contradiction.  I think Psalm 23 speaks more peace to my soul than just about anything.  And the song Psalm 23 by Jason Upton is an alltime favorite of mine.

Today, this is my prayer.

"The Lord is my shepherd.  I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along right paths for his names sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
Psalm 23 NIV


Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - growth

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5


My boy came home today with a pumpkin from school.  He took it outside & tried to find it a good place to be planted.  He wanted it to grow.  He didn't understand when I tried to tell him that the stem had been cut, it had been cut off of its vine.  The vine sustains the pumpkin, allows it to grow.

He was upset with me for that answer.  and I understand.  He wanted his little pumpkin to grow big.

I know I do that in my life.  I expect to find the right spot, plant myself or my project, and grow into the big, orange, beauty of a pumpkin.  But that isn't how growing a pumpkin works.  And the analogy of our faith is clear.

Apart from the Lord, we can do nothing.  Apart from the vine, the pumpkin will not grow.  So remain. abide. grow. bear fruit.

Lord, please hear my heart that I desire to bear fruit.  I know I cut myself off & attempt to do it on my own.  Lord teach me how to abide.  Teach me how to bear fruit, to grow.  Teach my sons how to remain in your love.  remain, and not cut themselves off.  Lord may they bear fruit, and may I see it with my eyes.  What a beautiful thing to behold.  Thank you for your growth; thank you for making us fruitful.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - perseverance

"... and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness..."
2 Peter 1:6

"So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.  
With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, 
no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.  
Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books."
2 Peter 1:5-9 The Message


Today is a day of perseverance for me.  My day was full already & the Lord brought something in that circumvented all the rest.  Time sensitive items on my to-do list try their best to cause me worry.  As a person who tries to make the best use of my time by prioritizing, sometimes deciding what is most important is a task in and of itself.

Don't.Give.Up.  That is the lesson of 'perseverance' I teach to my sons.  Even when you don't know how it will all work out.  Don't give up.  Find a place to get started.  Cleaning the playroom is a great example of a task that to them seems herculean.  I try to help them isolate one 'type' of toy to clean up at a time, so that they can focus on a small portion instead of being overwhelmed by the big.  Just pick up all the cars, I say, and don't worry about the rest yet.  I also verbalize what we choose.  "ok, you pick up the cars, and I'll pick up the trains!"  and sometimes I find that if I call out what I'm doing, that makes it a bit more of a concentrated effort as well.  "I got one more train; I got three more trains!"

Today is a day that I am feeling the pressure of the 'playroom clean-up' job in my life.  I know that I just have to figure out where to start, and finish each thing, one at a time.  Don't.Give.Up.

Hayden got to play on the t ball team this week when they were down a few players.  He was living his dream!  He didn't know where to run when he was running the bases; he didn't know what to do in the outfield; he had the best time of his life.  He felt that insecurity a few times - you could see it.  But we cheered him on & encouraged him to keep going.  I know that's something we need from each other in our adult lives as well.

Lord, thank you for helping me put each foot in front of the other.  Thank you for giving us chances to teach our sons about not giving up, not quitting when it gets too hard.  You develop perseverance - Lord teach me more.  Thank you for how you hold us up when we are weak.  Amen.

Monday, October 20, 2014 - give.thanks.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Colossians 3:17


The lesson of 'giving thanks' is probably one of my favorites to try to teach my sons.  There are so many things in this life to be thankful for.  There are so many things that are overlooked & taken for granted.  There are so many things that happen that feel bad & feel unworthy of giving thanks.

It has taken me my lifetime to learn to practice giving thanks.  After reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, I was challenged to practice being thankful for all the little moments, & by giving them a name, I could count them as a gift from the Lord.  I am so grateful for seeing so much more in my daily life, the good gifts I've been given.  I know that the days it all 'goes wrong' and tests my patience, are still days given by Him.

Maybe, I haven't practiced out loud enough yet with my kiddos, because they struggle to verbalize on their own what they are thankful for.  They agree with me when I offer suggestions, but I am hoping this practice of 'naming' and saying thank you will encourage their own practice in the years to come.

I know I have missed opportunities when I fail to say thank you.  As I have see the generosity of the Lord, as well as the generosity of others, I cannot express how much saying thank you now means to me.  One funny side note: I have become a huge lover of 'thank you' notes.  I hope I didn't skip too many in my youth, because I know that when I receive them, they mean something to me.  

One of my most valuable treasures from my childhood & college days are the hand written cards my Grandma Honey used to send me in the mail, for no reason.  To tell me she loved me & she was proud.  Oh, how I love seeing her handwriting, and hearing her words over.  What a lovely gift I was given - and I hope to replicate it one day.

Lord, please help me teach my sons to do more thank just to 'say thank you' when they receive.  Help me to teach them what thanks is.  Lord teach them what thanks feels like in their heart.  How to feel your love in being thankful for what you give.  Thank you for never giving up on me.  Lord, continue to work on me, teaching me thanks.  Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2014 - justice

"And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice."
Psalm 50:6

"It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice."
Job 34:12


Sometimes I can be caught up in the 'injustices' that occur in this life, both grand scale & small, trivial injustices.  Lies that are never uncovered.  Secrets & stories kept hidden.  I would like to insist that all must come under what I can see & understand as 'justice'.

But that's false.  He alone delivers justice & He alone is righteous.  Not me. Am I left to sit without resolution? Yes. Sometimes I am.

Job waited for resolution.  His story so much more FULL of injustice than mine.  Am I to expect any more for my life?

Daniel saw injustice in his life.  He was kidnapped from his home & forced to serve in a foreign land.  His friends were thrown into the fiery furnace.  He served his whole life & in his 80s was thrown into the lions den.  Daniel was given dreams & understanding of those dreams that I cannot even fathom.

I noticed something about Daniel today in church listening to my father-in-law speak about the lions' den.  When Daniel was brought out of the den the next morning he said...

"My God sent his angel to shut the lions' mouths so that they would not hurt me, 
for I have been found innocent in his sight..."
Daniel 6:22

Daniel said he was found innocent in the Lord's sight.  The Lord delivered him.  That is the picture of 'justice' that makes sense to me.  But what if he hadn't?  Well, the book of Daniel holds the most dear answer to that question for me.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told the king...

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.  He will rescue us from you power, your majesty.  But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, your majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statues you have set up."
Daniel 3:17-18

God is in charge.  He is good.  He will bring about justice in His timing.  I trust in his sovereignty.  I trust in his righteousness.  I can bring to him in prayer those 'injustices' that I see around me.  I can ask Him to come, to bring justice, and to bring resolution.  but even if He does not, he is still just.

The real question then becomes, can I trust God?

Lord help me to trust you, for justice will come in your time.  You are a righteous God, and you will not pervert justice.  Forgive me for when I feel entitled to justice.  I am not righteous, only you are Lord.  Teach me how to teach my sons about justice & you.  Let them see your perfect will as sovereign.  Let them accept what you give in this life, and say thanks.  Thank you for all you give, what feels good & what feels bad.  Thank you for lions' dens & fiery furnaces & all you give in the midst.  Give us you, in everything.  Amen.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 - generosity

"You will be enriched in every way to that you can be generous on every occasion, 
and through your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."
2 Corinthians 9:11

"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly, or under compulsion, 
for God loves a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7


My husband is generally more of a generous giver than I am.  I love to give, but usually my first idea of what to give is less than his.  I love this about him - he doesn't hesitate to give.  We have tried to be careful to give out of what we have, and not give away what we don't have to give (as much as we would like to).  This is a temptation in our culture to borrow from creditors, and we have had our share of bumps down the road of learning to budget.

But we love to give what we can.  We had the privilege of attending the Clay County Young Life fundraising banquet recently, and it is always such an encouraging evening.  We loved attending this same banquet up in NC, because we were able to hear from the students about their lives.  Their love for Christ & the change they experience through the work of YL is wonderful.  I am so thankful to our Lord for placing loving leaders in our lives who give generously OUR OF THEIR LIFE to these students.

Giving does not mean just money.  Giving can be time, energy, prayer, money, & support for those that give their lives.  Just simple encouragement to those that are pouring out their energies I know is meaningful.  The Lord uses us all in different ways, and gives to each of us uniquely.  We must give out of what we have been given.  My favorite verse, my life verse, says that beautifully.

"Be hospitable to one another without complaint." ((yesterday's verse ;-)) 1 Peter 4:9
"As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God..."
1 Peter 4:10

For our sons, we focus on the verse about how God loves cheerful giving.  We try to model giving with a happy heart & they have such excitement to give away.  Of course it is tougher when we ask them to give out of what they have- sharing with each other or giving away toys to other boys & girls.  We hope they can learn how practice to give as children, and then they will be able to learn more about the heart of giving as they grow.

Lord help me to give generously & cheerfully.  Give us chances to give to others in need.  Let us be good stewards of your grace given to us.  Thank you for all you've given us; it is more than enough.  Let us not become greedy, but continue to help us give freely in balance with our income.  Keep us all from growing in our appetite for more 'stuff', and let us continue to find new ways to give away out of what we have.  Thank you God, you are so good.  Amen.

Friday, October 17, 2014 - hospitality

"Share with the Lord's people who are in need.  Practice hospitality."
Romans 12:13

"Be hospitable to one another without complaint."
I Peter 4:9

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."
Hebrews 13:2


As a family, we enjoy opening out home to our family, our friends & neighbors, and occasionally, even some who are strangers to us.  I usually read these passages about hospitality & begin to think of friends of mine who are so very generous with their hospitality.  I have a neighbor who has taught me so much about thinking of others needs & giving good gifts.  I read the verse on giving to strangers & my mind thinks of the homeless who I fail to serve in general.  But I think of those I meet, who are strangers to me in the beginning, and who I am able to serve or invite into our home to get to know better.  I think the Lord brings those into your life that you have the choice to serve, and his plans are better than my plans.  (I am not saying it isn't important to see out those 'strangers' that you may not come into contact with - serving in different ministries or organizations, going on missions trips, and keeping your eyes open in daily life are all apart of our call)

I usually think of hospitality as being a good 'host' in welcoming guests into our home.  Our son James has a natural gift of hospitality.  When family or friends come to our house, he offers them a place to sit.  When I visit his class he always makes a space for me & wants me to join in whatever he is doing.  He is quick to include & create space for those who come.

I love modeling hospitality for our sons, but they teach us how to welcome our guests with a love and affection that is overflowing.  The practice of hospitality is how we teach them now, but we will be able to include them more&more on the aspects of how we prepare our home & what we offer when our guests arrive.  Sometimes our hospitality to friends consists mostly of affection, but on other planned occasions, we prepare for days in advance.  I think both are a great way to welcome others into our daily lives & also our home.

Lord thank you for the chances to share our home with those in our lives.  Continue to give us the the opportunities to show love & care for those around us, friends & strangers alike.  May we be good stewards of what you graciously give us, and open up our home freely.  Please teach our sons what hospitality means, and continue to grow the unique desire in James to make others feel welcome & included.  Lord we are so grateful.  Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2014 - submission

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourself."
Philippians 2:3

"He must increase but I must decrease."
John 3:30


My boys practice sharing & submission to one another simultaneously.  I wanted to share how we practice 'sharing'.  When one child has the big monster truck, and the other wants it, usually they just cry or try to grab it out of the other's hands.

First, we talk about not grabbing, and using out words to ask for what we want.  No one knows what you want if you don't ask.  Second, they must ask nicely, using nice manners.  This is practicing kindness for one another.  Third, they may not cry or fuss when asking.  My mom taught me as a child, 'if you cry for it, the answer is no'.  So, if they don't get it right the first time, they take a deep breath, and try again to ask nicely & not fuss.

Ok, now that one child has successfully asked the other for a toy, the other child has two choices.  First, he may give the toy.  Second, he may say he's not finished yet.  I think it is important to give each child some freedom to say no sometimes.  But, if he says 'not yet', than he only has what we call 'two more minutes' (which is indiscriminate because they can't tell time) before he has to share.

Sharing the toy is hard sometimes.  Giving away something that you want can make anybody feel frustrated or mad or sad.  The range of emotions can be wide.  But I have such joy when my boys can give to one another & ACTUALLY BE HAPPY ABOUT IT.  It usually catches me off guard & I do not expect it when there has been a tug-of-war fight over a toy that was grabbed&pulled.  It is amazing what the freedom of kindness in asking & the choice to give something can produce.

I am sure that the mystery of my boys enjoying giving to one another is a gift of the Lord.  I hope it is a seed that has been sown & is growing up into more consideration for each other & genuine love.  I hope they really do enjoy making each other happy.  and sometimes I get to witness it & it is beautiful.

I do believe submission of your will to another is difficult.  I think we get to practice putting other's desires above our own even as early as the baby & toddler years.  I hope the practice makes them ready for the ways the Lord will ask them to submit to his will later in their lives.

The simplicity of 'sharing'.  ;-)

Lord, thank you for the sweet lessons of childhood.  Thank you for how you offer training in your practices early in life.  Help me be a faithful teacher to my sons & help me teach them about you.  Lord draw them to yourself that they might not be separated from you.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - selfishness

"But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
Mark 10:31

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
Matthew 20:16

"And behold, some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last."
Luke 13:30

My sons struggle with the 'me first' mentality.  Even if that means they want the other to be 'first' to do something they do not want to do.  That is why I called this post selfishness.


I am very selfish.  To my great dismay, I have learned this more&more as a mother.  Motherhood has given me the choice to choose myself first, or my children first DAILY.  I desire to meet their needs, and make their needs a priority in my life.  I choose them first, many times above almost everything else that happens in my day.

(I notice that this point can be interpreted two ways: first that to place the children above all else is idolotry.  yes, that would for sure be a problem.  Second, that the children supersede my husband's needs.  yes, that would also be a problem.  But my main focus is that I can choose to serve my children and place their needs above my own.  Hopefully not to a fault. ;-)

When my sons want a snack, they are quick to say, "ME FIRST!"  When it's time to wash up, they are quick to say, "ME FIRST!"  When I'm dropping them off at preschool, they are quick to say, "YOU FIRST!"  Sometimes I can combat this by giving them their snacks simultaneously, hence no one is first.  But most of the time someone has to give up for the other.  Today at preschool, we dropped off one & I promised the other he would get to drop off his brother tomorrow.  Taking turns is the best way to work through everyone wanting the same thing at the same time.

Sharing (next post?) is amazingly hard.  But when you have a 'me first' attitude it is almost impossible.  I try to teach my boys that their brother is more important than the toy.  Teaching compassion & empathy (oh so many posts) are amazingly important, and not easy at all.  CARE FOR YOUR BROTHER and sometimes, that means letting HIM be first.

My boys usually concede in these situations with ease, but they cannot seem to remember the steps to get through the conflict 'me vs. you'.  For fighting over who will get out of the bath tub first (yes, that's a real fight): I try to coach them through the rough seas of their emotions.  'Yes, your brother got out first, but you may not throw a fit about it.  Take a deep breath.  It is ok to feel sad.  I'm sorry you're sad."  Sometimes it is impossible to let them both be first, like the bath tub scenario.  And they have to work through the emotions and have success.  "Ok, your turn!  You are next!  I'm ready to help you now!"

and maybe, I help him with his teeth first.  Taking turns helps.  'Faireness' and 'Equity' between children is really important to me.  It is impossible to be truly 'fair' but I want to serve my sons & treat them as fairly as I can.

Lord, please teach us how to put each other first.  Please use me as a model to show my boys how to serve with your life.  Thank you for the time we get to spend together & all the lessons we walk through.  Use my imperfect lessons Lord to teach your perfect lessons.  Show them yourself Lord; Draw them to yourself.  Amen

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - truth

"But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison."
James 3:8

"An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies."
Proverbs 14:5


My 4 year old likes to pretend.  He likes to hide, in order to surprise his daddy or me, and then ask if we will say, "James went to the store".  This innocent game of sweet surprise just didn't seem honest to me.  I told him I wouldn't tell daddy something that wasn't true.  That would also apply to "I don't know where James went"  but, maybe not to "I don't see James, where is he?" when the boy is under the covers.

I don't want to teach my sons that 'white lies' are fine.  It may seem harmless, but to me it makes a difference.

We were sitting at the kitchen table, and my son was told a lie by his brother.  He was in tears; the truth must come to light!  There must be justice!  (another future post?)  His brother tells a lie when he is afraid to be punished.  The motivation is absolutely not innocent in this example, even though the fear was irrational.  I told him he wouldn't be punished for the 'spitting' incident, but he was still not willing to own up to his mistake.  Some gentle coaching helped him tell the truth.  "you didn't spit?"  "no"  "can you tell me what you did to make that noise?"  "it was my tongue" "did you have spit come out of your mouth?" "Yes."

One more: My boys also like to play pretend about lots of things.  I tried to teach them how to 'not cry wolf' in their play time.  Saying, "I have huge blue wings! watch me fly!" is easy to know it is pretend. I can look at you and tell that you're just playing.  Saying, "Calvin pooped his pants!" is something that does happen.  Saying this as a 'funny joke' isn't funny, it would be a lie.  ((telling mommy they suspect a poopy diaper is not considered bad behavior! just an easy example for me))  Funny jokes must be something we can all recognize is a joke.  Lies come in all shapes & sizes, and being cautious about our truth telling is something I value.

The truth is important.  God says in his word that the truth matters.  Sometimes I can be over zealous about truth, but when I see others lie or tell the half-truth it stirs something in me that I cannot let go of.  Then, I get to ask the Lord.  Is this something that I need to correct? Or do I leave this one to you Lord?  Can I practice forgiveness for those in my life who do not value honestly & truthfulness the way I do?  Yes I can.  without any resolution or 'justice'.  It troubles me over&over&over.  But I'm learning that one thing I can do is teach my sons about the value of honesty & giving an honest account.

Lord help me practice truth.  Give my wisdom to teach my sons how to be honest.  Help me forgive those who propagate falsehoods - false teachings & false accounts.  Lord hold me accountable for my own falsehoods, & teach me how to keep my tongue from spreading wildfires.  Lord continue to tame my tongue, for I am guilty as well.  Amen.

Monday, October 13, 2014 -

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor;"
Romans 12:10

My boys love each other.  I know from the way they show care, from the way they play, from the way they enjoy each other's company.  Not always do they show each other love.  They have plenty of fights, give each other plenty of wounds (emotional & physical), & cause each other plenty of grief.

One conversation I had this morning at breakfast with my 4 year old was about tattling, or being a tattle tail.  I had my back to the boys at the table, & I heard a spitting sound.  I knew someone was guilty, which someone I did not know.  I reminded my boys that spitting is against the rules, and asked them if they could tell me if spitting was a good idea at the breakfast table.  They both answered "no, its not a good idea."  I was going to leave it at that.  I said, "ok, you know the rules.  If you chose to break the rules again you will be in trouble."  

James was not satisfied.  He knew the guilty party because he witnessed it.  He tried to make his brother confess.  Instead, his brother lied.  This upset him greatly, because we've also had lessons on truth lately (next post?).

He decided it was his job to tell his brother, "You don't lie.  You need to tell me the truth."  Hayden was not going to do it & we had a fun situation for us all.  Here comes mom round 2.

So here I tried to teach about tattle tailing.  I told them that if their brother was in trouble, or hurt, they should tell me right away.  That is helping, protecting, and showing care.  Telling mom to get a brother in trouble isn't kind.  Mom's job is to correct & to give commands. ("tell the truth") vs. a brother's job which is to look out for, care for, love & support (exhortation to tell the truth, not command - "you know you should the truth").

We are learning what 'brotherly love' looks like in our house.  Each does love, but each also loves himself most, values his own way above the other, & wants to be first. (wow, desire to be first, another post!)

Lord, help us learn to love each other well.  To look out for one another, to put the other's need ahead of our own.  Let me show them how to serve as I serve them.  Lord give me their struggle & wisdom to give correction.  Lord give me patience to teach the same lesson over&over.  Help me not to become frustrated with a lack of progress, but to notice small victories.  Thank you for the chance to practice & grow.  Amen.

Sunday, October 12, 2014 - friendship

"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24

"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up."
Proverbs 12:25


'Be kind to your friends' - our exhortation for kindness towards those around us led me to think about teaching my sons about friendship.  Friends are an important part of your life.  Not only because they can lift you up, but because they can also lead you astray.

I tried to tell my boys as we went to visit some dear friends of ours last week, that a 'friend from birth' is a special thing.  You won't have very many of those in your life, and if you are lucky enough to have even one, than it is something to be thankful for.

Friendship seems to be a more difficult lesson - why is it important?  How can I be a good friend?  What do I do when people don't want to be my friend?  I feel as if this topic will continue to be quite a doozy as our boys grow.

It is lovely to chose their friends when they are young.  Their friends are my friends' children.  And then they start school, and then Tball, and their friends are kids that I don't know or have any idea about.  I am confident that the lessons will shift from a focus on being kind, to how to manage relationships as they grow older.  Oh how much I hope to grow before those days of 'bad influences'.  I will have many more chances to practice trusting the Lord for my sons' safety & wisdom.  Oh how much it already scares me even when they are toddlers!

"The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray."
Proverbs 12:26

As soon as the progression of my thoughts begins to turn into fear of the unknown & fear of the future & all that I cannot and will not be able to control... I just have to stop.  and call on Jesus.  And ask Him to take care of my sons & give them wisdom & protect them from the things that lead them astray.

Lord thank you for friendship.  For all the blessings that a true friend can bring.  Thank you for giving us kindness to give away to those around us.  Help us to be good friends, and me most Lord.  Help my boys as they grow.  Thank you for loving them even more than I do.  Amen.