Posted in Children, Christian Family Devotions, Missions, Parents, Prayer, Uncategorized

Realistic Goals

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My husband and I have decided to set our family some spiritual goals for 2016. As a very busy family of eight, it seemed important that we did so, but also that the goals were realistic. We already eat dinner together each day, and open this time with prayer. We also are able, most nights still, to pray together as a family. I would love to add daily devo time, but with our activity schedule, it would lead to either stressing to fit it in or glossing over it in a hurry, neither of which is beneficial. Instead, we agreed to do devos the one night a week without work or activities–Saturday. And on Sunday, we tell the kids which scripture we’ll be discussing Saturday so they can read and prepare throughout the week. For us, this has kept the family focused on God all week long without leading to frustration.

As the kids grow and the schedules become more involved, keep Christ at the center with realistic goals.

Posted in Growing Up Together, Parents, Uncategorized

Balancing Self-Sacrifice

Image result for balance + imageLove is all about sacrifice, right? And the New Year about setting our goals for how we are going to do better? Well, let me challenge parents to find a balance with their families–and spouses with each other–this year.

God created pleasure for our good pleasure, but there is a straight and narrow to every aspect of life. The adage, “Too much of a good thing, isn’t good for you,” may not be in the Bible, but it’s certainly often a scriptural idea. Take the two extremes on the view of pleasure, for example:

Some think that all pleasure should be sought all the time. Life is about continually gratifying desires. The other extreme believes that all pleasure should be avoided all the time. Life is about continually denying desires. On the one hand, pleasure can lighten the heavy heart, connect relationships, and bring satisfaction to life. On the other hand, denying–or sometimes, delaying–gratification, develops character, and an appreciation for people and/or possessions, and promotes perseverance.

But the idea is to live the balance of these two views, because too much of either extreme can be destructive.

The same is true of self-sacrifice. Moms and Dads can so easily overextend themselves in the name of providing for their families physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-beings. Yet, the stress and time demands of trying to provide for everyone else, often means that parents neglect their own needs. (Notice I didn’t say wants, though there is a case for these too.) For too long, there wasn’t time for Mommy to exercise, or money in the grocery budget to buy certain health foods for lunches at work. Obviously, Mommy’s health suffers then, and consequently, she’s not at her optimal to keep pouring into family. This is when even well-meaning and enjoyable self-sacrifice can become detrimental.

While it is not license for Grown-up-Time to become a 24/7 right to the neglect of all else, families function best when everyone’s needs are met, including the parents. And we can model for our children how to both care for themselves and their families in the balance that God desires for each of us, so that our lives can truly glorify Him. He really did create pleasure for our good pleasure. We don’t need to avoid it all cost, and neither should we indulge, neglecting all else. But there is a straight and narrow that we’ve been called to walk, balancing godly pleasures with self-sacrifice that elevates the whole family.

Posted in Book Review, Children, Christian Family Devotions, Missions, Parents, Prayer, Uncategorized

Walk to African Missions

Let’s be honest. As Christians, we are all called to missions. Sometimes we can go, and sometimes we can send. When raising our children, it’s important to expose them to an understanding of the need for the gospel in the world. That being said, sometimes we can effect missions by reading.

Becoming aware of other countries and cultures develops a heart for missions. In light of this, let me recommend the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. This tells the story of a young Sudanese boy’s struggle during wartime in his country. It is a short read, based on a true story, that also provides an opportunity for readers to help out with humanitarian efforts in the Sudan. While it is not a religious book, Christian children will be moved to know what it would be like growing up in this harsh landscape during uncertain times.

Read this book as a family, either out loud or by passing it around in turn. Then, talk with your children about God’s heart for Sudan. Pray for Sudan. Consider starting a fundraiser or making a family faith donation to Salva’s water project for his homeland. Be prepared for both the overly- and under-enthusiastic response depending on the age and previous exposure of your children to missions work.

And pray for God’s guidance in your children’s lives. One day they’ll be grown and on their own. Will they have developed a heart and habit for missions by the time they have?

Posted in Children, Christian Family Devotions, Parents, Seeds of Faith

Rejoining Light to Life

Image result for light and life + imageLife distracts us from our walk with the Lord, right? Career, kids, you name it–they can all interfere with our focus on God. I’ve heard others repeat this mindset so often, but I hadn’t considered what a defeatist outlook this is until today.

This year, it’s time to turn this misconception on its head and restore our life-view to what the Lord intended. Our life is not the distraction, our life is our walk with the Lord. Work, grandkids, neighbors, pets, finances, lawns, chores, social media–in all of these things we either live and learn according to God’s intention for us, or we don’t.

Our spiritual life isn’t separate from all we do on this earth, and perceiving it as such frustrates our purposes. We need to infuse each aspect of our day with the truth of our Lord. By doing so, we will grow in Him, becoming more like Him and acknowledging Him to others in all our ways.

As my favorite quote says, “Preach Christ. When necessary, use words.” [St. Francis of Assisi]

If life becomes the frustration, we are ineffective in being Jesus with skin on to our circle of ministry. But if Jesus is the center of all we do, then even the most mundane aspects of life are transformed into the light unto the world around us.