Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

On Monday, Amy shared this message of intentional parenting and Scripture time with our daughters. The need to be intentional – to carve space out of our day and purposefully foster faith growth in our children – extends to all areas of life.

Last time I was with you, I shared time frames for age appropriate discussion about sex. But, there are many aspects to choosing purity beyond getting “the talk.” And, having a well-rounded Christian base for decision-making increases our girls’ likelihood of abstaining until marriage.

This week marks a new opportunity because the new fall TV schedule is in full swing.

For many years it has been believed that the media impacts sexual choices. However, nay sayers have disagreed, claiming that the messages in music, movies, and our television shows are not reality. They argue that they are “not real life” and to a certain degree they are right.

Often times it isn’t real life, but they forget that our children of immature faith, and, therefore, they cannot correctly decipher right from wrong. They will process what they hear and see to be normal and “okay.”

This is a problem in a world where popular culture frequently sends messages contrary to the message of God.

And it’s being noticed. In an August 30, 2010 policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics said this, “New evidence points to the media adolescents use frequently (television, music, movies, magazines, and the Internet) as important factors in the initiation of sexual intercourse.” It goes on to say, “There is a major disconnect between what mainstream media portray — casual sex and sexuality with no consequences — and what children and teenagers need.”

What do we as parents do with this?

To find out, please visit ModSquad where you can read the rest of my post http://modsquadblog.com/2010/09/oh-be-careful-little-eyes-what-you-see/

Monday, September 20, 2010

Learning to Love the Detours

Currently I’m in the thick of finalizing details for our annual Women of Faith trip. It is one of my favorite weekends of the year and if you have not been you should check when they will be in a city near you because it is that good. FOR REAL.

As I get into the final stages of planning, I always find myself reflecting on past years experiences. The weekend is always filled with laughter, sometimes tears, and everyone leaves knowing each other better than they did before.

This morning I found myself laughing about a trip years ago. To try and better route us to a shopping destination on the way, we were taking a different route than we typically do. Since this was the pre everyone having a cell phone with mapquest, pre garmin days, we were relying on verbal directions from a friend.

Let's just say we clearly didn’t get the directions right. Signs we were watching for weren’t appearing and our final destination appeared to be growing in distance rather than shrinking. Uh oh.

The driver started to laugh. “I’m sure she said it would be off this road. Where in the world are we?”

Laughter is not always my immediate response when I’m broken from a path that I want to be on. In fact, it would likely rank on the lower end of the list of my responses. But, my friend has a bubbly, infectious laugh that sent us all into crazy laughter.

You ladies that have been on a girls road trip get what I mean.

Well, of course we didn’t have a regular paper map because that would be way to convenient or responsible so we were just downright lost. I got on my cell phone and called my husband. After giving him the names of some street signs we were seeing he started to laugh saying, “I don’t know what you ladies were thinking but you are heading away from the Cities.”

Awesome.

While we awaited “re-direction” from my husband, Carol said, “I was once told by a Biblical counselor that when we get off track God uses that to protect us from something.”

Wisdom that extends beyond the roadway.

How often are we broken away from the path we think we want in life? Quite frankly, probably more than we care to admit. Sometimes we bring these divergences on through our own choices. We set up to-do lists and time schedules that are impossible to meet, or at least not the timing that God has for us. We aggressively pursue a career without listening for God’s voice and hit road block after road block. And, the list goes on.

I vividly recall my college years when I thought I was supposed to start a family young and be done by 30. Since I married my high school sweetheart immediately after college, I still believed that to be the case…and then when we waited years before Grace joined us I placed unnecessary concern on age. Being done at thirty suddenly looked unlikely. A broken path.

Other times we have no say. Dreams are suddenly broken through life events completely outside of our control. Losses range along the scale from other people’s choices impacting us to a loved one's death, and things can never be the same. I was just 20 when my father left my presence to join Jesus on the streets paved of gold.

But, along the way, God has protected me from things I could not see. Would I have been blessed with Grace and Hannah if things would have gone according to my schedule? I don’t know. Would I have had the opportunity to understand and minister to those experiencing loss if I hadn't walked through it? Doubtful.

I would never choose to be off the path that I think I’m supposed to be on, but I’ve learned along the way that my agenda is meaningless. After all, Proverbs 16:33 says, “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” And as He does, He draws near and reveals presence, protection, and hope in the path He has set for us.

I don’t know where you are at today, but I felt God calling me to remind all of you that if you feel broken in some area of life, you are going to be okay. God hasn’t forgotten about you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In one way or another, His plans are to give you hope and a future filled with promise (Jeremiah 29:11).

Trusting in this promise, it is my prayer that you will join me in learning to love the detours.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Encouraging Those Who Encourage Us

When she enters the room, God’s presence follows. When she speaks, wisdom flows from her lips. When you share, God’s peace is evident. When life is challenging, she always stands on Biblical boundaries. And, when laughing together, joy overflows.

Do you have a person like this in your life? In mine, her name is Carol.

During my sophomore year of college, I felt called into crisis pregnancy counseling volunteer ministry. After filling out my application, I met with Carol who went on to interview and train me.

Little did I know at the time that God would use that prompting to bring a beautiful mentor and amazing friend into my life.

From the moment I began volunteering, I couldn’t wait to see Carol. She was sure to have a perky smile and fun story that would produce an infectious laugh.

Shortly thereafter, we started a Bible Study group together, inviting further faith-filled discussion and growth.

Because of that connection, our lives were woven tighter together. When my father died in college, Carol was at the door. When I suffered a miscarriage in our first pregnancy, it was Carol who offered a mum to always remember that precious life.

Laughter has filled life’s great moments. Car rides, rooming together for conferences, and common day experiences have created ample moments to giggle about life’s odd and surprising moments. Tears have flowed down our cheeks and our abdominal muscles have hurt from such intense laughter.

Everyday conversations flow. She calls. She texts. She visits. Despite her extremely busy life, she always has time for friendship and there is nothing that is awkward to discuss- No event or emotion too small to be important in the realm of God to pray over.

Carol has a way of always making you feel important. When you are with her you always feel heard. If you walk into a conversation feeling empty you always leave feeling fulfilled. And, if you begin time together happy you leave bursting with joy.

The reason?

She lives for God. Her every breath is focused on Him and her sole mission is to live out His love and purpose. I can only imagine how many lives she has touched and how many disciples of all nations she has inspired.

Who is this person for you?

As a whole we are great at telling people that we care about them when times are tough or that we appreciate them when thanks for an act or gift are in order, but what about sharing a grateful heart for simply being who they are?

It is easy to skip over these moments or to assume that they know how we feel, but the truth is expressing our thankfulness for their presence in our lives NOW is critical. None of us are guaranteed a “next opportunity,” so act now.

TODAY I challenge you to share your thanks for someone special in your life. I started with a Dayspring card and a little personal message. And, even though there will never be words enough for the love I have of Carol’s friendship, it is a great start.

Have your person in mind? I’d love to hear about them. And, happy writing!

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reward from the Lord

On my dining room table sits a lacy, shiny Tinkerbell book bag, and every time I glance at it my heart skips a beat. How did we get here already?

The evening was spent labeling school supplies all the while praying for her happiness and success as she enters this new phase of life. Folded on her chair is an adorable outfit “Nama” got her for her first day. How did we get here already?

My whole life I have wanted to be a mother. While I was in school I enjoyed academic success and always envisioned myself being the business type by day and then happily picking up my child(ren) for family time the remainder of the evening.

Then I had Grace.

She didn’t come in our timing. After years of praying, God blessed us with a perfect baby girl. We knew it was by God’s “Grace” that we were parents and in adoration for His entrusting her to us we named her out of worshipful love.

Although I was done with my pre-med course work when she arrived, I was signed up for the MCAT and the once certain girl of being the working mom began to question. After spending months home with Grace, I no longer felt passionate about the high power career. True bliss was right before me in a tiny pink bundle. God was calling me to be a stay at home mother.

When my MCAT scores arrived, I heard God speak in what truly felt like an audible voice saying, “It doesn’t matter how you did. It isn’t for you.”

Overcome with immeasurable peace, I knew before opening the package that I wouldn’t go. Many couldn’t understand it. Why pay all that money if you aren’t going to go? Why let those brains go to “waste?” To them it made no sense.

But to me (and the people who knew me) it made PERFECT sense. This life isn’t about following what we believe to be the goal, but about seeking His voice and living out His goal for us. When we do this, bliss follows.

Colossians 3:23-24 speaks powerfully to this- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

I have invested my working energy everyday into being a mother to Grace (and Hannah). I’ve considered myself fortunate to be home with her, to teach her lessons, to provide her with fun experiences, to help her feel safe and secure, to reinforce that God made a princess in her, and to begin the education process.

But, tomorrow she will put that back pack on and start the next phase. We will give her a huge hug and kiss and wish her well as she enters a classroom that we felt was the right place for her. And, when I do it, I will praise God once more for His voice that constantly seeks us out and guides our life.

Because He spoke…LOUDLY…I have had the best four years of my life. Bliss, and a different me (in a multitude of ways), than I would have ever predicted for my life.

I can't wait to hear all about her (2.5 hour) day and continue on this path God has so richly blessed me with.

Listen for God’s voice and trust that when you serve Him (and not the world) reward from the Lord is sure to follow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Parents Matter DVD Winner...& a Parent's Thank You

“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.” Psalm 119:35

Over this past week it has been my joy to share with you the importance of talking to our children about purity. While more posts are sure to come on the topic, taking time to really jump start conversation and pray about these discussions so that we can honor God in how we raise our children and what we teach them has brought me much joy. The words of the Psalmist are always true. When we walk in God’s Word and follow his commands, delight follows in the long-term.

To further help you as parents, I was blessed to give away one copy of “Parents Matter: Raising Kids with Integrity” by my dear friend and co-author, Pam Stenzel. Her anointed speaking and Godly teaching has inspired thousands around the globe.

One parent wrote this-
Pam, I just wanted to tell you how much my wife and I enjoyed hearing your message this evening. It was the second time in our lives we had ever heard about abstinence, but never with such insight and passion. Thanks for having the courage to stand up to all who want to live in a world of self-indulgence and impurity, and for reminding us all that God has a moral compass for us to follow and it’s in the Bible. We will never be the same on this issue, and our children will hopefully someday thank us for it. May God continue to bless your efforts.

A parent is inspired and a ripple effect forms – they share their new knowledge with their friends, they have new conversations and boundaries with their children, and their deepened faith inspires their kids to draw nearer to a Lord who they can trust wants the best for them.

And, the lucky winner to experience that through this giveaway is Ashley Ann.

Ashley, may you be blessed. Pam, thank you for providing this giveaway with purpose. And, to the rest of you, thank you for entering and caring about this important subject. If you did not win this time but would like to own a copy of this or any other of Pam's products, be sure to check out her complete online store.

I look forward to most posts about this with you all...particularly as our book gets nearer to it's release date! :)
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