Before beginning a Bible reading plan, here are some tips I’ve found helpful along the way. You will struggle, you will miss days, but the point is to keep going. Start today. You can always start today!
Saying “no” is easy.
To kids who want their third bowl of ice cream, to teens who want to skip school, and to solicitors who want to sell you candy, saying “no” is easy.
But when it comes to marriage, it isn’t easy to discern when to say “no.” Life gets messy and complicated. Over time, once healthy boundaries begin to fade into blurred lines and marriages start to feel the strain. I’m reminded of a quote by Henry Cloud, author of Boundaries in Marriage, who wrote, “You get what you tolerate.”
So, let me ask you this. What are you tolerating?
If I may, I’d like to say that marriage is not about tolerating our spouses at all. God designed the marriage union for so much more. Toleration has more to do with things that are out of our control, such as hundred-degree weather without air conditioning or mosquitos at our backyard barbecue. We don’t tolerate our spouses. We love them, appreciate them, and nurture them. And one of the specific ways we do that is by saying “no” to things that cause distance or division.
Consider these 5 things you can say “no” to in order to better your marriage.Photo Credit: ©Pixabay/aliceabc0
A strong undercurrent of division has made its way into our nation, widening the gap between Americans, tearing Brothers and Sisters in Christ apart.
This week it happened again. One thing after another stole my attention. I allowed unwanted distraction to disrupt my days, fretting over situations out of my control. Distractions turned to frustrations, and soon I was living in survival mode instead of living with peace and confidence.
Distraction is a tactic of the enemy, who loves to interfere with the lives of faith-filled women. Keeping us busy and focused on other things, so we lose focus on what matters most.
We have responsibilities that demand our time and energy. Those responsibilities can overwhelm us and lead to exhaustion if we forget to keep our focus on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) When we’re buried under the weight of life’s difficulties, distraction seems to come at us from every direction. In those times we need to refocus our hearts and minds on Christ.
We know God called us to love and care for our people. Our families, friends, and neighbors. We also want to keep connected to Him through prayer and worship. So how do we stay focused as women of God with all the things going on in our lives and in the world around us?
God’s Word offers comfort and encouragement to bring Him back into focus and bring us out of survival mode. Here are 6 scriptures for when we lose focus. Each of these verses will strengthen us and provide renewed peace in the midst of life’s demands.
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God invites all moms and dads to kneel before Him with our hopes for our sons and daughters. These are 6 powerful prayers for our children’s faith.
The world often can be callous and cynical when it comes to bright-eyed dreamers.
It will seek to shadow or dampen spirits, but the beautiful truth about life is it really is not up to the world’s judgments how a life will go. It is not the world’s to define, to determine, or to deflate.
Rather, it is more so God’s Will for your life, and your willingness to go after your dreams. Believe that the God Who splits seas and defies death most certainly can help your dreams come to fruition--and loves you enough to want to.
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How to know God's will for a situation can be difficult for a believer. These five ways will teach us to know God’s will and live in the fullness of joy with him.
On the other hand, there are many Americans who aren’t in immediate need of their relief check funds, as they’ve continued working as normal through the quarantine. And while the extra money could be put towards a car, student loans, or even a much-needed vacation, it could also be donated to support others in need.
“Mommy,” my 5-year-old asked, “will today be a no-work day so that you can spend the whole day with me?” I get questions like this frequently.
I’m a mom of two who juggles a freelance workload as well as a part-time job at my local church. My kindergartener, who was accustomed to my whole world revolving around her and her older brother, is beginning to adjust to my new work schedule.
Freelancing and working in ministry often means that I tuck away for a few odd hours during the day to “get work done” all the while multi-tasking and managing the needs of our household. After a particularly busy week, my daughter will demand my attention. When she does this I can easily find myself riddled with “Mom Guilt.”
I feel remorse for not being able to give her more of my full and undivided attention.
As I learn to balance and prioritize family alongside my workload and household demands I’ve developed a few strategies to tackle “Mom Guilt” head-on. If you’ve been struggling in this department as well, take a deep breath and then begin to incorporate these 5 steps into your parenting.
They will likely reduce your “Mom Guilt” if not remove it altogether.
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You remember vividly the day your first child came into the world. Then it was 2 a.m. feedings and surviving the ginormous responsibility of keeping a little human alive.
Now that little human is taller than you and has basically turned into a cat. He only comes out of his room when he’s hungry and the idea of hugging him is akin to playing Russian Roulette--will he hiss at you or will he hug you back.
Don’t worry, all parents face challenging times when it comes to the fundamentals of parenting a teen. Not quite sure what I’m talking about? Check out Trey Kennedy’s impersonation of middle schoolers--there’s five videos because parents relate!
Now that I’ve survived raising one teenager who is a fully functioning adult in her last year of college, I’m in the trenches with a tween and teen. And let me tell you, it’s not easy. There’s hormones, moodiness, attitudes, sprawling legs and arms, turbulent times, pimples, texts, memes I will never understand, body odor, and the task of keeping the eye on the prize, fully functioning adults raised up in the way that they should go.
It causes me to drop to my knees on a daily basis and rely on my friends who are going through the same challenges with their own teens. This has given me so much insight on how to parent my teens and in the process I’ve discovered some tips that you might find useful.
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“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV).
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard work. It takes deliberate effort to follow through on the vows we make on our wedding day. No matter how well prepared we think we are for marriage, we aren’t—not until we begin to walk those vows out. Whether you’ve said, “I do,” recently or you’ve been together for decades, you can count on one thing—your lives will be full of for better or for worse.
So how can you keep your marriage strong in the better and build it back up in the worse? Love your wife more than yourself. Push your needs aside and instead of asking what she can do for you, ask, “What can I do for her?” The list I’m offering next is only meant as a springboard to answer that question. God knows your wife and your marriage. He put you together, and He wants you to stay together. Ask Him to reveal her heart, then pay attention to what He shows you.
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Many of us have struggled at some point with what we think about our body. There are times when focusing on our body is crucial to our physical well-being, such as when our general health demands it or when we seek to lower our risk of developing certain diseases.
However, wanting to maintain a healthy appearance is different from your overall body image.
Body image refers to your predominant thoughts and feelings about your body and how physically attractive you consider yourself to be. This includes what you think about your weight, height, or any other of your physical features, as well as how comfortable you are in your own skin.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, your body image can be affected by a range of factors including what you actually see in the mirror, what you misperceive as your reflection, and what those around you—including those on social media—have you believe about your body verses their carefully edited pictures of “perfection.”
People with a positive body image have an accurate perception of how their physical features look and acknowledge that their physical appearance doesn’t determine their value as a person.
In contrast, people with a negative body image (also called a distorted body image) have an unrealistic view of their body that causes them to feel shame, anxiety, or self-consciousness. Research shows that people with a consistently negative body image are at a higher risk of developing certain conditions such as depression and eating disorders.
You begin forming your perceptions of your body in early childhood and, statistically, females are more likely to develop body image issues than males. Importantly, if left unaddressed, body image issues can last a lifetime.
This is why it’s essential that you develop and maintain a healthy view of your body, not only for your own well-being but for the well-being of any little ones learning how to feel about their bodies by what you say about yours.
As with anything else that matters, the Bible has a lot to say about our bodies. Here are 5 Bible verses to meditate on to retrain your mind about your body.
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The best way to identify a generational curse is to find the origin. Parents who behave a certain way may have witnessed such behaviors in their own parents. Without awareness, the cycle will likely continue. Another important detail when pinpointing a generational curse is to discern whether multiple people struggle with the same problem.
What comfort to know we are never left alone. He is with us always. God gives us the ability to have new beginnings in each moment. Hope is found in Him. Find comfort in these prayers for new beginnings in life.
What exactly is survival mode? Survival mode is the short-term, mode you enter when your fight-or-flight response is triggered. It can be triggered by various things, lack of sleep, anxiety, trauma, loss, or changes in our life like having a baby. Both big and small changes impact us differently, and we may find ourselves acting, saying, and doing things we never thought we would.
Everyone’s journey that leads up to saying “I do” is different. Some of us meet and marry young, others experience relationship losses that eventually lead us to the one we commit to, and others spend much of their lives single before deciding to marry.
Though each story may be different, there are some things anyone who is hoping to marry can do to ready their hearts for a relationship that was designed to last a lifetime.
Marriage is a gift but it also holds up a mirror to your own character in a way that can be challenging. Being ready to lay down some of yourself to better love another is an important part of readying your heart for marriage.
The Bible does have a lot to say about preparing for marriage. Although we won't include every Bible verse below, we'll include a sampling of what Scripture says about this:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Ephesians 5:23-33: "For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."
Here are 10 ways you can prepare yourself now for marriage:
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This activity has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, and yet it is often associated with New Age practices and eastern religions. This is why Christians often ask the question, is meditation a sin?
There is a stark difference between following the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. These differences are critical and need to be addressed because they will impact your relationship with God and how you engage other people.
What if I told you the real reasons you worry have more to do with your relationship with God than the people and situations you’re worried about? The reasons you worry probably aren’t the reasons you’re thinking, but as soon as you know them, you may be able to convince yourself to stop.
The challenges we face during this pandemic do make being a good neighbor more difficult. But it’s in times of trial that our faith can shine through the darkness more brightly than ever.
We give thanks to God because giving thanks to God leads to the miracles of God and that is our focus in the New Year. So how do we practice gratitude in the New Year while we are standing in the ashes of what once was?
Our hope is not in open-mindedness or a new way of thinking. And our hope is not in a forthcoming vaccine. Our hope lies in what only Christ and His coming to earth brought to us.
I have mentioned before that just as a woman desires to feel loved, men equally desire to feel respected. Respect, in all forms, speaks volumes to men and often results in them feeling worthy of their wife’s affections.
As you can imagine, talking about this with my husband stirred up some really important conversations between the two of us and I’m really glad that it did! Sometimes we can be so blinded to our own shortcomings that we have to take the time to ask our spouses to boldly and lovingly share them with us.
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Perhaps the greatest present you can give others and yourself is to simply be fully present.
Instead of building her confidence on something she could lose, or have taken, Mary built her confidence on God.
Adults become stressed and overwhelmed leading into Christmas--it makes for a lot of hustle and bustle and fewer moments enjoying your family. While I have not cracked the code on thriving in December, there some things we can do to be more present and less stressed.
What does the Bible say about mental health? The Bible does not speak of mental health in the same way that we do today, but the concept of mental health is integral to all of Scripture.
One of the most profound pieces of advice my grandfather shared with me when I first got married was to never start doing something you aren’t willing to do for a lifetime. I think he offered this up in jest, but as the years have started to add up in my own marriage I can see how much truth there is in this simple statement.
Change is hard! Once we form a pattern of behavior either positive or negative it can be really challenging to break away from that pattern.
For many women we have some “go-to” patterns that many of us struggle with that can be unhealthy for our marriages.
Keep in mind, every relationship is unique. This list is not to try to push anyone into a box but rather a tool to help you consider some common traps our marriages can fall into.
I know from personal experience that it is easy to be blind to your own negative coping strategies. We first have to wake up to the ways our automatic responses are hurting us before being able to grow and change!
Here are 10 things that wives should stop doing in their marriages.
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Several families on my street put up their Christmas lights before Thanksgiving. I’m sure it’s because they’re trying to give others a little cheer—and it does make me smile as I drive past.
Because this year has been so unusual and stress-filled, we’re ready to embrace the Christmas season with gusto. However, we may need to curb our normal spending habits due to less income. Or we might just want to be more intentional about our celebration.
Making it simple appeals for many reasons, but doesn’t make it less festive or meaningful! Consider these 8 ways to fully enjoy your Christmas this year:
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God created everything for a purpose, and that didn’t get lost on grandparents. Let’s explore five reasons God created grandparents.
Look deeper beyond just the familiar story of Christmas and see that these verses are practically relevant for us even thousands of years later.
How do we effectively say no to workaholism? For that, we’ll look to the example of Jesus.
How do we know we’ve done a sin of omission? What is the true difference between a sin of omission and commission, and is either worse than the other one?
1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
We know the enemy wants our children; he wants to pull them away from us, from their faith, and from the one true God. We also know that Satan is crafty, and he tries to pull our children away in a variety of ways: by temptation, distractions, deception, etc.
Thankfully, we serve a God that invites us to pray, to talk with Him about the longings of our hearts. He has also given us His Word, full of wisdom and promises that can guide us in our prayers.
When we pray to God, asking for our children to be protected from Satan, we should remember that we aren’t praying to a distant, indifferent entity. No! We’re praying to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! We’re praying to the I AM, who loves our children more than we do and who cherishes their souls more than we can even comprehend!
As you pray through the following 10 scriptures, pray expectantly. Pray with confidence. Pray with boldness as you approach His throne on behalf of your children.
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This is a season of uncertainty. We are in the middle of a global crisis. Your kids are surely feeling the anxiety that seems to hit from every side. Take some time today to think through how you as a parent might offer empathy, strengthen your connection, manage your own stress, and keep Christ central so that your home becomes a safe place of calm for your kids.
Do you ever use your moods to control your husband’s response? For example: Have you ever responded curtly with, “Nope. It’s fine. I don’t care” – when it actually isn’t fine and you do care?
Complex pain and complicated topics, like racial reconciliation, require more than quick fixes. But they also demand that we refuse to ignore the issue.
Let’s face it. Life is crazy and our schedules are full.
Even if—some might say especially if—we’re retired from our careers, many of us have more to do “than we can say grace over.” But we can’t let all that activity keep us from fulfilling one of our most important responsibilities.
Our grandkids need us to intercede on their behalf. We live in perilous times. Throughout history this has almost always been the case, but the year 2020 tightened the screws on our anxiety levels. Potential for disaster lies just beyond the next flip of the calendar page.
However, even if life was all honey and no bees, it wouldn’t change the truth. Grandparents can—and should—pray powerful prayers for our precious grandchildren.
The Bible gives clear instruction that we ought always to pray in Luke 18:1. It also provides direction for our prayers—helping us know what to pray. We’ll identify 5 themes here.
Beyond general themes, Scripture also provides guidance on what to say, offering many examples of people who prayed—complete with their actual words—and who received marvelous results from a merciful, kind Heavenly Father.
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One of the most intense concerns a mother has for her children, apart from her concerns for their physical safety, is her concern for their spiritual condition.
Giving in ways that push you outside of focusing on yourself can renew your Christmas Spirit.
It's just a fact of life that failing in small and big ways is what many of us do best. Here's a story that's a powerful reminder: God doesn’t give up on you or me, even if we fail Him repeatedly.
Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in your life.
Your home can become holy ground as you share your faith with your children and grandchildren. What is the best way to do that?
For a lot of us, the safest option to see our family this year is Zoom Thanksgiving. Despite the shift in plans, memories and long-standing traditions do not need to be canceled, in fact many will perhaps be even more sentimental than in years past, and perhaps a few new ones will emerge.
Whatever God has given you and wherever He placed you, may you choose holiness and faithfulness over selfish gain and satisfaction. It's in the pursuit of God’s heart and God's will that you will find eternal joy.
It’s not easy, often doesn’t include an earthly award, but God calls us to this. Let’s dissect this concept of integrity—doing the right thing and doing so with conviction.
Did you know that one of the kid’s most popular apps gives complete strangers access to chat with them online?
Were you aware that another often used app introduces your child to soft porn?
And what if someone told you that “kid” profiles on streaming media apps are only as kid-proof as your child’s ignorance?
One might not consider the dangers of such apps like Fortnite, Snapchat, and Netflix, but beware, they are worth considering. At the time this article is written, there are 78.3 million Fornite users, 186 million Snapchat users, and 151 million Netflix subscribers.
The odds your children will remain unaffected by these and other apps, are highly unlikely.
It’s not a new conversation, this “be careful what your kids download” subject. But often, parents request a list of the most dangerous apps so they can easily safeguard their child.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as a Top 10, and even the “safe” apps can become dangerous. So as parents, we need to be vigilant. As someone who has worked in the wireless industry for seventeen years, I recommend three important parental filters:
1. Know your child--do they communicate openly with you, or are they private?
2.You own the phone (or tablet)--just because it’s “theirs” doesn’t mean it’s off-limits. Have you set the expectation that you can look through their phone any time?
3. Just because it’s “Kid Safe”, doesn’t mean it is--have you researched the app?
Your electronic devices can be fabulous additions to your family’s options for entertainment and education. But a major error many parents make is trusting someone else—namely the app developer—to rate the potential harm for your child.
But, as a mom, not just someone who works in the industry, I’ve found that some of the safer apps are also important to not disregard.
It’s time to learn about some potential dangers lurking in your child’s bedroom that would rival any boogeyman.
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The doctrine of the Triunity of One God is a mystery to be embraced. However, the Trinity is the logic of God, not the calculation of man. Therefore, we will see it but never see through it, to fully comprehend the mystery. If we did, it wouldn't be a mystery, would it?
Relating in uncertainty can impact our sense of our self-worth. How do we help children know their self-worth when they’re developing in distance learning and digital play dates?
In my years as a pediatrician and a parent of four, I’ve recognized two common mistakes parents make that seem like a good idea but are actually detrimental to their children: protection and praise.
Fear is a powerful force. Its impact often pierces the deepest parts of us, quickly dysregulating our sense of safety, security, and state of calm. The truth is, we cannot escape the reality of fear in our world today. From the ongoing uncertainty of a global pandemic, the division of racial injustice, the polarization of America’s political powers, and the impact of unexpected personal losses, this year has been infused with panic in various forms. Yet during such highly anxious times, God’s word seems to present us with a contradictory invitation to “not be afraid.”
Looking into Scripture, we find that this courageous exhortation, found throughout the Old and New Testament, is always in response to situations where fear is present. Yet, somewhere along the way, we have interpreted such scriptures to assume that we should never experience the feeling of fear and in doing so, we lack faith. Thus, the measurement of our spiritual maturity has become bound to the unbiblical notion that, to feel afraid means I lack faith.
My pastor recently shared a pointed truth on this same topic saying, “To deny the presence of fear is not spiritual maturity - it is simply lying to yourself (Gospel Community Church, 2020).”
It is with this understanding we see how Scripture invites us to acknowledge the reality of fear while not allowing its presence to discourage us from faith. One of my favorite definitions of courage describes it as "the ability to persevere through all emotions." I love this perspective because it does not neglect our emotional experiences but empowers us to be present with distress while not allowing it to dictate our response.
So, therefore courage fueled by faith is not the absence of fear but the ability to withstand it. If we are to develop this internal state of strength, we must take time to face our fears, redirect our focus, and rest on the foundation of our faith.
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The sins of racism and prejudice are rampant in our world. The heartbreaking reality is that our struggle to overcome bias stretches back to the beginning of human history. Even the first family felt the painful effects of hate and unchecked bias. In Genesis 4 we read that Cain killed Abel because he allowed hate or bias against his brother to grow in his heart to the point that he murdered his own flesh and blood.
A huge part of what it means to be a Christ-follower is being someone who desires God’s "will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God’s mission is to reveal truth to us so that we may be set free. God loves every person and God does not want his fearfully and wonderfully made creations to be bound up by sin.
It is in church and within the safe spaces of our small groups where we can begin to do the hard work of examining and challenging our own hidden biases, racist tendencies. It's here, in vulnerable interaction, we discover what reconciliation can look like for our lives and in our communities.
Romans 12:10 charges believers to “love each other with genuine affection” and “outdo one another in showing honor.” Christ-followers can step up and set an example for our communities with our words and actions on how to honor and love others well.
How, though, do we start these sometimes uncomfortable conversations regarding race relations? What does it look like to repent for the ways our racial biases have hurt others? How can we begin to experience the freedom that Jesus promises?
Let’s explore great small group resources and questions that can help jumpstart conversations around this important topic.
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Here’s a question for you to consider: Has there been any point in your life, where you felt alone? I mean truly alone; as in, you experienced a disconnection from God, others, and even from yourself.
No matter how much you prayed, you felt like God did not deliver you from your sorrow. When you called out to family or friends for support, they didn’t understand, or worse, they criticized you.
In their eyes, you were to blame for all of your suffering.
If only you knew what to do, but sadly you didn’t. And neither did they. And to you, God wasn’t answering. There was seemingly no way out.
Many troubles in life can leave us in a state of despair, and one of those likely culprits is the feeling of loss.
Death, divorce, breakups, a ruined friendship. Each of these is indicative of loss. The feeling is not limited to relationships, however, property can be lost, as well as confidence, security, or physical mobility.
As despair creeps in, we can easily find ourselves succumbing to fear that looks inescapable. But looks can be deceiving.
One of the saddest, and yet, victorious stories of the Bible occurs in the Book of Job. Here we have a devout believer who not only has strong faith, but has a large family and vast earthly wealth (Job 1:1-3). He was all-around blessed. With his seasons of prosperity though, came a season of severe loss that devasted everything he had.
At the hands of the devil, Job lost almost everything: relationships, children, property. He was even stricken with sickness. Somehow, in some way, Job was sustained through all his trouble.
The reason? He trusted God.
If you are going through a season of loss that seems to overwhelm you, take heart. Here’s what the Book of Job reveals about trust during loss.
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A common suggestion in the world is to avoid the topics of religion and politics, yet Jesus called His followers to go forth and spread the Gospel. Where then does this leave followers of Christ, especially in the workplace?
It can be tempting to want to keep work-life and personal-life separate. Should we close our mouths and stay silent to abide by the status quo and to not rock the boat, or should we loudly proclaim? What is the best way to be professional, but above all else do as Jesus called for?
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Every few months I trotted my daughter to the doctor for a well-baby checkup. As a nervous new mother, I appreciated having a healthcare professional evaluate my baby’s health.
She listened to my concerns; peered into my baby’s eyes, ears, nose, and throat; and listened to her heart. After she measured her height and weight, she asked me questions about her eating and sleeping habits. Then she made helpful suggestions.
Regular physical checkups are important if we value a healthy body, and regular relationship checkups are important if we value a healthy marriage.
If you’d like to evaluate the health of your marriage (without having to step on a scale or say "ahhh"), consider these 5 signs of a healthy marriage.
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Instead of burying your hope in unmet expectations, seasons of disappointment, and questions that go unanswered, bury hopelessness. Instead of burying your devotion, bury your doubt and disappointment. Shovel the dirt on top of that grave, dust off your hands, and walk away. It’s worth it.
Nothing made me feel more defensive and icky, though, than realizing I had to reckon with white privilege. It was my classmate's story, which triggered my come-to-Jesus moment on this.
The pregnancy test came back positive, in my exhilaration and excitement all I wanted to do was share the good news with one of my dear friends.
I called her up, but as soon as I heard her voice on the other line I knew that something was wrong. Rather than blurting out my exciting news I asked what was going on. She had just miscarried, again. I could hear the anguish in her voice, the brokenness and devastation. My news could wait.
Although I am no stranger to suffering, I’ve had to learn how I can show up for others who are suffering. You might think that if you’ve suffered you automatically understand how to walk with those who are suffering, as it turns out, no.
In those days after receiving my friends news showing up for her meant dog sitting while her husband took her to the hospital. During that time my husband and I helped provide meals. We prayed and wept with our friends.
Ultimately, showing up well for my friend meant being there and allowing “there” to last as long as my friend needed it to.
Today, if you have a person in your life who is walking through a time of suffering I want to encourage you to show up in real and tangible ways. Keep in mind, one person’s suffering may not look like the suffering of someone else. My friend was suffering not just the loss of a baby but also the loss of a dream.
I’ve had friends suffer the loss of a job, a spouse, a child, a home, and yes even a beloved pet. As we grieve, whatever it might be that we are grieving, it helps to grieve in community. God built us to desire and need community.
So, today, as you walk alongside your friend, here are some helpful suggestions on how to show up well.
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This election cycle is a stressful one for all involved. Your kids need help to keep the election in perspective and to be reminded of God’s good plan for their lives.
From the time we fell in love, Rob and I dreamed of raising a big family.
It felt like just a few short years before we were parenting a full house with four children. Life with siblings meant our kids were used to hand-me-downs, sharing toys and treats, and taking turns for one-on-one time with mom and dad.
Like all kids, they had their fair share of squabbles and sibling rivalries. Yet our busy days as “team Teigen” meant none of our children believed the world revolved around them.
Fast forward a few years more, and we were blessed to grow our family again through adoption. The wide age gap between him and his siblings made parenting our young son feel a little new and unfamiliar.
After all, nobody was interested in playing with his toys. His toddler snacks and tricycle were no temptation to teenagers. While the girls crowded into a small, shared bedroom, our little guy enjoyed his own space with a cozy crib in the corner.
Our young son’s needs and wants were satisfied with little wait and no competition.
This new reality of parenting an almost-only-child challenged us to think and grow as his mom and dad. We wondered, How do we teach him to share and take turns? What if he becomes spoiled or selfish? How do we keep a me-first attitude from taking over his heart?
Here are five strategies we discovered to help avoid entitlement in young children.
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I’ve heard countless stories of parents who focused on the negative or used scare tactics to keep their kids from being sexually active. But God created sex to be holy, not full of shame.
Have you ever tried changing your husband?
Whether it’s in a big way or in what you consider a simple small thing that you feel he should so easily change. I think most of us have tried to change our husband in some form or fashion.
From wanting him to help clean up after himself more, or hoping he would show you more appreciation for all your efforts you do for him and your family on a daily basis. Or perhaps we try to change our husbands pushing them to plan more date nights or lead your family in the way you think he should as a Christian husband.
Maybe he isn’t Christian at all, so you are hoping he will change into that God-loving husband. Are you hanging on to the hopes that your husband will change yet no matter how many times you try to talk to him in kind ways, respectful ways, and sometimes in manipulative or angry ways, nothing seems to work to get him to change?
What if you could change your husband without saying a word? Yes, without a single word.
1 Peter 3:1-2 says, “wives…be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”
This is a profound verse. Paul is encouraging us telling us that we can win our husband over without even saying a word. As a woman, not saying much, let alone no words at all, might be one of the most difficult things I struggle with.
What if as wives, we began to talk less to our husbands about them changing, and instead began talking it all out with God first?
Instead of nagging to our husbands to change this or that, we started nagging God. Instead of wrestling with our husbands over the same thing over and over and seeing little to no change at all, we start wrestling it all out with God.
Here are 4 things to focus on.
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COVID isn't going anywhere--and it's weighing heavily on all of us. God wants to be there for us in our grief.
What if we, as Christian people, reclaimed the essentially public nature of our faith? How might we invite another to explore the life-changing reality of the gospel for themselves? Here are three important steps.
We can hold on to the pain of our past, or we can take hold of the lesson and grow. Here are 5 ways to redirect your thoughts when unpleasant memories come to mind.
People are leaving your church. I’ve read that more people leave during the fall than any other season. This isn’t because people become wanderlust; rather, most physical relocations due to work or some other issue are made during the summer before the fall school season begins. It takes a few months to find a new church home, so fall is a heightened time of transition.
When you think of the great leaders of the Bible, you probably think of Jesus, Paul, and maybe Moses. The Bible is saturated with great examples of godly leadership, and Daniel is a prime example.
He exemplifies fearless faithfulness to the Lord, and there are countless lessons that we can learn from him.
Here are just four of the many powerful leadership lessons from Daniel that are needed now more than ever:
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Our world tends to be overly serious. We forget to let ourselves relax and have fun. Think back to the last time you had a really good laugh with a friend or your spouse and how good it made you feel.
It’s been proven laughter can relieve tension and stress, boost your immune system, release dopamine and serotonin, and improve blood flow. The Mayo Clinic released an article in 2019 on the short and long-term positive health benefits from laughter which included reducing stress.
Who couldn’t use a little more fun in our life, and our marriage?
As adults, we get stuck on the treadmill of responsibility. Our conversations circle around kid’s activities, meals, work, and household chores.
If we add the line item, “have more fun” can we will it to happen?
You are probably thinking, more fun sounds great, but who has time for that? Let’s think differently about this for a moment. By incorporating fun into our marriage, won’t we be better equipped to handle the obstacles thrown our way?
My husband often tells me I need to take life less seriously. This is hard to do when you are wired for focus and productivity. Thankfully, God paired me with a man who knows how to have a good time no matter what is going on. Through the years, I’ve learned to jump aboard the ride.
Here are 5 ways to bring the fun back into your marriage.
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Is there any real way to help your kid’s attention span while doing school online? Or is it a hopeless endeavor for parents and teachers everywhere?
I think we’ve all seen the funny gifs of kids hanging upside down at the dining room table, or making faces at the computer screen when they are supposed to be listening to their teacher. And while it’s laughable at first, it can quickly become exasperating for parents, teachers, and kids.
If you’re at your wits’ end trying to navigate a new season of virtual schooling, be encouraged today. We’ve compiled a list of 5 ways you can help you kid’s attention span and get the most out of online learning.
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In today’s culture being “woke” is a popular expression, a way of telling people they need to be awaken to the social issues around them.
Just as well, sleeping Christians need to be “woke” to their spiritual relationship with God. Like the Apostle Paul urged, “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our Salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
Instead of pursuing their relationship with God, some Christians fill their lives with worldly pursuits and ideas that shape their thinking and beliefs. So rather than growing spiritually closer, they become insensitive to His leading in their lives and to what is happening spiritually around them.
Other sleeping Christians are individuals who once faithfully served God and expectantly looked for Jesus to come, but have since lost interest. Some have retreated from seeking God, after being hurt or disappointed by a pastor, church, or other Christians.
But Scripture cautions Christians about being asleep. Here are 10 warnings for every Christian to consider.
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I am finding an alarming increase in the number of people, exacerbated by the pandemic, who are being severely misled on any number of issues. Not simply in terms of medicine or science, but also politics, education, child-rearing and child-development, theology, conspiracy theories… there is just no end to the topics. They are often getting information that is either unreliable or biased, yet it is presented in such a way that it is “FDA approved,” backed by studies and promoted by experts.
Simply put, some of us have “been through it.” This year has unquestionably been defined by adversities. However, this season offers the opportunity to learn from an older generation who knows a thing or two about coping in the face of “tragedy.”
Every single person on this Earth is a sinner, but that reality does not mean we can’t be more like Jesus. We can.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Despite our broken quality, God has chosen not only to bless us with His son, Jesus, but also gifts that are innate to each one of us.
“Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Having unique gifts allows us to serve God and others in unique ways.
Some people are blessed with gifts such as preaching, writing, singing, communication. Using our gifts on behalf of supporting others is always an expression of love.
No matter how we are blessed, we can use what God has given us to spread Christlike love on this Earth.
Here are five ways broken humans can love like Jesus:
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It exposed the weaknesses in myself, my husband, and our family unit. The Covid-19 lockdown has forced us to confront realities about ourselves and our families. Here are 4 realities this wife learned.
Some days, my goal is simply to put one foot in front of the other consistently enough to make it through to the end of the day. I’m in a life stage where it is easy to feel out of control, with two young kids and a full plate of activities (on top of work and other obligations and demands).
On those days, it’s almost like my wife and I are running a marathon, and we are just trying to cross the finish line.
But, God doesn’t want us to just survive. He intends for us to thrive, or flourish.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus is talking about having life, and having it to the fullest!
In the same way, God wants our marriages to not only last, but to thrive. When I set out to write this article, I really had to meditate on what it means to thrive. I was really intrigued by one definition I read for the word… to grow vigorously.
Over the last few years, I’ve taken up gardening. Now, I’ve grown a few things in planter boxes and on patios through the years, but last year it got real--my first, sizeable, in-ground garden.
We moved to a new home with more land and space to undertake such an effort, so I said “why not?” While I was feeling adventurous last spring, I decided to attempt to grow some cantaloupe plants from the seeds from a store-bought cantaloupe. I had no idea if it would work or not.
Well, let me tell you, with a little work and a lot of patience, those cantaloupe seeds sprang forth huge plants that produced dozens of cantaloupes… and grew so vigorously they nearly took over the garden.
I know it can be cliché to draw a comparison between a garden and a marriage--but it’s nearly unavoidable since it is so apt. Like a garden, a marriage needs cultivation.
You have to pay attention to your garden plot--add in the good stuff like compost and remove the bad stuff like weeds and pests. If you do those things, the plants will thrive, or “grow vigorously.”
So, how do we get our marriage to do the same? I believe there are a few key factors that contribute to a thriving, growing marriage. If we maintain our focus on these, then we’ll see the fruitful results in our relationships.
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The day I became a mom, the line between my world and my son’s instantly blurred. In the process of loving my boy, I forgot who I was before I had kids.
In today’s culture, being a man is difficult. Culture praises certain men for their accomplishments in education, technology, politics, and the list goes on. That is until the culture changes.
Society’s view of men seems to ebb and flow with time, alternating between positive or negative.
Not only is society unsure of what a man is or should be, but men are, too. As a result of broken homes, missing fathers, gender confusion, or poor education, boys find difficulty becoming men.
No one has a great idea of how a man ought to look, behave, or believe. Is there no reliable example?
Thankfully, the Bible speaks to the good characteristics that men and women should strive toward. With the slew of male protagonists in the Bible, there are plenty of positive examples of men. Jesus is at the very top of that list.
Despite all the available examples in scripture, men still find themselves struggling in ways specific to them. Their sin occurs because men (like all) are not free from sin, and because men are made differently from women.
Here are five habitual sins men especially struggle with:
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As Paul said, “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We know how he works. And here are some of the lies we have noticed pouring out of his factory, all geared toward destroying confidence in God’s Word.
And those who have been entrusted with great responsibility will be held more responsible to their master. – Luke 12:48 (TPT)
Power is very interesting. If used properly it can have wonderful results for those who have it and those for whom it is exercised. However, placed in the wrong hands, power can be disastrous for the one who has it—and everyone around them.
Luke 12:48 highlights this relationship and brings to the forefront this question:
What does “with great power comes great responsibility” mean for Christians?
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Love is so much more than a nice theory we hear about on a Sunday morning, and then we’re free to go about our lives. It’s so much messier than that, and so much more exciting.
Our world seems even more fear-driven than the remembrances of my childhood nightmares. The newspaper headlines scream fear. As parents, how do we raise faithful children in a fear-driven world?
As kids, my brother and I were as opposite as could be.
Clever and introverted, he could craft a poem one moment and expertly repair an engine the next. He was loyal, fearless, and tenacious in his points of view. As his sister, I was instead the cautious people-pleaser who aimed for perfect grades and a busy social calendar.
I was content to spend hours at the piano or theater practice while he raced down the highway on his motorcycle. Our parents were challenged trying to understand their uniquely individual son and daughter.
The dynamic isn’t so different in our house today. Our five kids run from shy to never-met-a-stranger, academic to artistic, and serious to silly. That one is guarded and private while this one wears her heart on her sleeve. One child’s room looks like the aftermath of a tornado while the other would make Marie Kondo sing.
Each of our sons and daughters is one of a kind in their abilities, personalities, and dreams for the future.
As parents, we’re tempted to compare our kids to one another. We’ve battled critical thoughts that say, Why won’t you buckle down and study like your sister? I wish you would listen and cooperate like your brother. If you were as frugal as so-and-so, you’d have more money too.
Yet if we give in to those destructive comparisons, we’ll do long-lasting damage to our children’s hearts and minds. Here are 5 reasons why comparing your kids is harmful.
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Are you constantly reminding your children to say “thank you” when they are the recipients of kindness? Do you also find yourself frustrated when they complain or behave with a sense of entitlement?
Exercising gratitude is not an option for a believer--it’s a command. First Thessalonians 5:18 exhorts believers to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, even though it can be challenging, teaching our children to be grateful is instilling in them a godly characteristic that will set them apart from the rest of the world.
If you are struggling with helping your children learn gratitude and contentment, here are five ways to teach your kids to be grateful, in season and out:
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God has placed us in this generation purposefully, to live life to the full. This is a wonderful time to be alive, despite the challenges surrounding our modern world on a daily basis. From ancient history to today, chaos and conflict have challenged humanity. We were never promised life would be easy (Matthew 7:13-14), but God does ensure His plans for us are greater than anything we could ever ask for or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Only God knows the number of our days (Psalm 139:16). He is trustworthy and good. We can be still and know that He is God, sovereignly sustaining us day by day (Isaiah 46:4).
By adopting a grateful countenance, we can find endless reasons to be glad to be alive during these times.
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While I sincerely hope and imagine that the current circumstances we are facing aren’t permanent, it stands to reason that this huge (and lengthy) shift in how we live life will make a long-term impact in multiple ways. Following are a few areas where our choices and outlook going forward will determine if the impacts on our lives are positive or negative.
I learn most life lessons the hard way.
It might also be true for many others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could go back and have a do-over. Now that I’ve passed up the big five-o, I’ve finally learned some lessons I wish I’d learned earlier in life.
There are so many wonderful blessings that come from growing older. Hopefully, being a bit wiser is one of them. Once we reach a certain age, we do seem to look back on our lives. We might wish we’d done a few things differently or at least learned some of those tough life lessons sooner and saved ourselves grief.
We can’t go backward but we can move forward in a better way.
Here are five life lessons I learned after 50 that I wish I’d learned earlier:
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When we try to create independence, sometimes we make our kids dependent on us. As we encourage kids to be strong, sometimes we make them weaker. If we’re “lucky enough” for a good friend to point this out, we hurt, terribly. But in order to raise great kids who will become great adults, we need to hear Truth.
Every healthy person and relationship has boundaries. Toxic relationships need stronger boundaries to protect your freedom.
Now that we understand marriage is a reflection of God and his church, we can tackle how to be a better wife. Here are 6 ways how.
Joy and chronic illness may seem like two diametrically opposed states. In fact, your ongoing and perhaps even debilitating condition may make you feel anything but joyous. You might routinely battle depression and grief over all you’ve lost. But what if I said you can experience deep and abiding joy, even in the midst of hardship and grief?
The practice of rest can seem like an intangible luxury in our chaotic world, but our willingness to relinquish control in the structure of the day and rhythm of the week to a loving Creator demonstrates our dependence on God for all things, temporal and eternal.
I remember the first time I heard my son cry in the supermarket. His mother and he were in another aisle of the store – I was off hunting down another product. All of a sudden, from beyond the cereal boxes in front of me, I heard a cry. Although I couldn’t see him I knew instinctively it was my son. The mere four weeks of relationship we had built up had versed me well in the cadence of his voice. That’s my boy. I thought. I knew it was him.
In John 10, Jesus makes one of the most encouraging statements about his relationship with his followers. Instead of taking up an image of father and son, Jesus uses the image of shepherd and sheep:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. – John 10:27
Just stop and think of the awesomeness of this proclamation. Jesus, the incarnation of the Trinity, Lord of all heaven and earth, speaks to you. The intricate moments of your life, as subtle or as humble as you may view them, do not escape the loving gaze of our Lord. More to the point: Jesus has something to say about it!
His voice can be heard, his directions can be known.
Jesus is firm in his resolve that his followers can be intimately familiar with his voice. They can hear, recognize, and follow his divine cadence, just as sheep follow the voice of the shepherd.
Why then do many people have such a hard time discerning the voice of God?
Many people in churches today voice frustration over an inability to recognize the Lord’s voice. Sadly, some may even believe that the time of God speaking to God’s people has ended; we can read his words but not listen to his voice. Yet if we take Jesus at his word then we can be sure that Jesus does, in fact, speak to us.
The voice of our good shepherd can be recognized.
How then do we cultivate this ability? How do we go about recognizing the timber and tenor of God’s voice, spoken deep within in?
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As parents, we often walk a fine line between control and empowerment while teaching our teens to make wise choices.
When do you step in to intervene? How do we teach them to navigate through the quest for independence, emotional reactions, and ongoing brain development in order to make sound decisions?
Scripture attests to parents who did their best to follow directives such as those in Deuteronomy 4:6-9 and yet their children still made poor choices. Sometimes. they learned from their mistakes, experienced the consequences and recognized there was a better way. Sometimes not.
Those accounts bear witness to our broken humanity as well as the opportunity to fall into God’s mercies and start over.
God longs for us to make wise decisions. The implications affect both ourselves and others. Here are 5 ideas which, used collaboratively, can aid teens in the process.
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Welcome to 2020, the year the world turned into a broken amusement park ride, and we all got stuck. Is there anyone else out there wondering when our do-over will start?
I keep thinking it will be next Monday or next month or the start of the school year. But it seems as though we’re stuck in a loop that feels a wee bit dystopian. Almost every day I ask myself if this is really our reality.
We’ve made it to the beginning of a new school year even though it doesn’t feel as though we finished last year. Moving ahead without proper closure is hard. But moving ahead is what we must do.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned from this coronavirus-infested year, is that I must figure out how to still live a full life when the world doesn’t look the same. Life isn’t based on how busy I am, but how I respond to it.
My response has ranged from anger to sadness to fear to peace and back around again. But the constant presence of the Lord in my life has carried me through. And he will carry you through too.
This school year looks mighty different. Our kids and us are getting a crash course in “fluid” and “subject to change”. But one thing we can count on as we take tentative steps towards fall is that God doesn’t change.
He is constant and steady; good and kind; willing and able to sustain us and our kids. Let’s turn to him in prayer.
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Division seems to be the norm these days. It's not new, but it's still frustrating and tiring. If there's a place to state an opinion, absent personal responsibility, and relational connection, it's available to us.
Opinions often come from the position of rightness, not an invitation to connect in relationship. Tensions are high, and it seems the world lives more polarized all the time.
Also, our world is experiencing a coronavirus pandemic we've never experienced in our lifetime. The result of all our fear, concern, anger, and confusion is a crisis that is foundational to a collective experience of trauma. We're challenged to find our way through these unchartered days, and our nervous systems are taxed.
For the sake of our bodies, minds, and souls, we need connection. And healing connection cannot happen without empathy.
Empathy is the ability to see and engage with another person's experience. When we are empathic, we relate to others’ needs without expecting them to match ours. We meet them where they are.
Empathic engagement requires awareness, attention, positive intentions, and compassionate action.
Here are five reasons we need empathy now more than ever:
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“It was right for woman to be made from a rib of man. First to signify the social union of man and woman, for the woman should neither use authority over man, and so she was not made from his head; nor was it right for her to be subject to man’s contempt as his slave, and so she was not made from his feet... ”
Thomas Aquinas understood the equality of partners in marriage and that both husband and wife should contribute equally to build a strong and lasting relationship.
There are probably as many different ways to have an extraordinary marriage as there are marriages in our country. But one thing we know for sure is God made man and then made him a helper. We know that God’s creation of man and woman to be together in marriage is sacred.
Genesis 2:18 says, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
It takes a lot of work to have a successful marriage, and you can’t have an extraordinary marriage without the contribution and commitment of both husband and wife.
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Change usually takes a bit more than knowledge. We are often blind to the real consequences of our procrastination. We might need a little pain to remind us of the real effects of the habit.
In recent years, the followers of a conspiracy theory known as QAnon have become more visible in American life. The movement, which has largely been fueled by internet message boards and social media, started in 2017. However, several supporters of Q have been involved in political campaigns this year and the President was asked about their theories at a recent press conference.
Followers of the movement tend to be supporters of President Trump, so they are often conservative in their outlook on politics. A church in Indiana spends hours a week help studying Q’s messages and seeking to support them with the Bible. QAnon has moved from the fringes of American conservatism and into the limelight, so Christians should understand this movement and see the potential pitfalls of spreading the group’s message.
Here are five things Christians need to know about QAnon:
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The effects of aging are wide and varied. One person’s aging parents may still be working a part-time job. Another’s no longer able to walk or fighting Alzheimer’s.
Slowness, stiffness, loss of abilities – every aging adult deals with them in some way. It is part of the human condition, a result of the Fall, and it is hard.
In this season of life, more than ever, our parents need to experience expressions of our love for them.
Consider the following 7 ways adult children can love their aging parents:
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Christians are called to a radical expression of peace in divisive times. Rather than removing ourselves, we are to seek redemption, never revenge.
We’ve all been there: lonely. Longing to feel connected, needed, known.
Wishing relationships weren’t so hard—or so hard to find.
Wanting closer friends, people who “get” us in that deep-down, soul-mate, friends-forever way.
Wishing people knew us well enough to sense what we are going through and what we need.
Searching for a place to pour out all the stored-up love in our hearts—a place to serve, to give, to offer our precious gifts.
For some of us, loneliness is an occasional struggle; for others it’s a constant shadow. Loneliness has been especially prevalent during the isolating unknowns of quarantine and social distancing. We have all felt the pangs of loneliness as never before.
The Bible offers deep encouragement for our seasons of loneliness. We find examples of men and women in Scripture grappling with loneliness and bringing their hurting hearts to God. We find prayers to pray, encouragement from our Father, and ideas to help us move forward.
Here are five Bible verses to lift you when you’re feeling lonely:
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If you’re like me, you’ve experienced some burdens in your life. They can come in all shapes and sizes. Big, small, bearable, even unbearable...or at least that’s how they feel. Yet within the pages of Scripture we see instructions calling for us to bear one another’s burdens. Why does Jesus ask us to bear burdens? That is the question on the table for today and I think you may like the answer.
The word to bear comes from the Greek word bastazo which means to carry, to take up or even to take away or carry off.
The word burden comes from the Greek word baros which means a weight.
When you put those together, to bear a burden means to take away or carry off the weight someone else is experiencing. In essence, you are bringing some form or relief and comfort to someone else’s challenging situation.
For example, let’s say someone lost their job and they are facing the weight of having to buy groceries to feed their family. Bearing their burden may mean buying groceries for the family so they can have food to eat in the house.
By doing this you have carried off their weight for that moment in time.
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When facing your fears, you can freeze, fight, flight—or choose focus. This isn’t bravado. It's faith-based courage. Here are six ways to change “I can’t” to “I can” with surprising speed.
I was recently at a farmer’s market, and a particular family stood out to me. In a sea of face masks, they were the only ones not wearing them. Then I glanced down at the woman’s shirt, and emblazoned on the front were the words “Faith Over Fear.” Then I got it. They were apparently among those who feel that wearing a mask displaces trust in God.
God’s love, experienced and shared, is the answer for a world gone mad. Don’t sit around waiting for fear to go away before you express love—do it afraid.
You’ve probably heard some version of the quote, “It’s not how you start that matters—it’s how you finish.” Indeed, the Bible confirms that we are all a work in progress; we are clay on the Potter’s wheel (Isaiah 64:8). As God continues to form us, each day is an important step along our journey. Each day grants us the gift of 86,400 seconds to use that we will never get back. To make the most of God’s gift of time, I wrote these questions as a benchmark to help us finish the day well.
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Due to life's busyness, the reality is we have to be intentional about connecting with our kids on a daily basis.
In my experience as a public speaker, I can testify that Satan doesn’t like Christian events or activities and he’ll disperse his minions to try to hinder them from running smoothly. So to ward off his disruptive attempts, a prayer team gathers before the event to pray for whatever the Holy Spirit lays on each of our hearts.
The term "hedge of protection" originates in Job 1:10: "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land." Scripture is filled with promises of God's protection. Many turn to Psalm 91 as well as a hedge or protection prayer. I always pray: “Lord please put a hedge of your protection around this event. Protect the sound equipment, electronics, speakers, helpers, worship team, and attendees. We will give you all the glory and honor!”
In Ephesians 6:10-18, the apostle Paul penned a prayer of protection known as the armor of God. My husband and I pray these verses every morning because we know that as Christians, the enemy is going to put obstacles in our way. You’ve surely experienced some of those obstacles yourself, but Ephesians 6:10-11 encourages us to “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” (NLT)
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us of something we often forget: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (NLT)
The good news for every believer is that we have access to a hedge of protection against Satan’s schemes, “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Verse 17 NLT)
God assures us that we can trust him to fight the spiritual battle for us. So rather than trying to solve problems ourselves or find ways to combat what we might be experiencing in the earthly realm, our role is to call on him. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)
When we’re feeling fearful, worried, threatened, or stressed, we can prayerfully search the Scriptures to discover that God has already provided a safety hedge or shield of protection around those who trust and believe in him. It doesn’t mean the enemy won’t try to weasel into our life, but we know how to prevent his feeble attempts from penetrating our mind, heart, and soul.
Imagine yourself with a hedge of spiritual swords pointed up and surrounding you against any attempts of the enemy as you open your Bible to read God’s Word and pray each day.
Here are four hedge-of-protection prayers, along with sword-of-the-Spirit Scriptures, to fend off and shield us from Satan’s schemes.
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"This little light of mine" is a popular Sunday school song with children that draws inspiration from Matthew 5:16. When Jesus instructs His disciples to "let your light so shine before men," what exactly is He saying? What would it look like in our everyday lives if we stoked that internal flame, and shone so others could see Christ?
I clicked off the TV after the governor’s address. Grabbing my phone, I texted my sister. The governor just ordered everyone to shelter at home. We need to figure out how to care for Mom and Dad, I texted. Call me when you have time to brainstorm.
Thankfully, our parents are in fairly good health for 76- and 84-years-old. They live independently on eight acres of land about 30 miles away from us. Although Mom avoids interstates and high traffic areas, she still drives.
We knew “independent” would have to change, at least for the foreseeable future. They were the poster children for “high risk for contracting COVID-19” and would need to self-isolate. Even as orders are lifting, it is still not safe to return to back to normal for my parents because of this high risk.
Knowing this would strike a blow to our parents’ independent spirits and impose restrictions they might not welcome, we tossed around ideas for how to best meet their needs.
We wanted to provide support in three crucial areas: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
While every scenario is different, I hope these 10 tips might spark ideas to help you care for your aging parents during the coronavirus pandemic.
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You may have been hoping that they would be back in person school by now, and are struggling with the transition and its demands. Here are 6 tips to get started, but know that it begins with you--the parent!
I have been sitting on the edge of my seat for the past two weeks as I’ve been following just about every news article and local report for my school district.
Tonight, our school board will deliberate and determine what the public school system will be doing this fall. Perhaps another semester of online learning or maybe a hybrid model. As of now I have no clue, I know nothing, other than the fact that I’m parenting a 5-year-old who is supposed to start Kindergarten and cries because she can’t read yet.
When I attempt to teach her I realize just how inept I am. Then there is my 9-year-old. My sweet boy, who emphatically tells me he was the smartest kid in his 3rd grade class. He promises he knows all of his multiplication tables—he does not—and that he is easily reading at a 5th grade reading level—this might be true.
I’m mentally preparing to homeschool or hybrid school, and basically fly by the seat of my parenting pants until further notice.
I weigh all of the options and don’t feel great about any of them. So, what am I to do? What are all of us parents to do as we tackle educating our children this fall?
As we approach educating our children, perhaps the very first stop is a lesson—for all of us parents—on reliance. Where do we put our trust this fall and how do we do our best for the children that God has entrusted to us?
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In an effort to bring about racial unity, many often claim to be color blind, meaning that they don’t see race. The thinking is that if you don’t see race, then you can’t discriminate on the basis of it. And that will lead to better race relations.
Claiming color blindness is something that’s usually done with good intentions. What you mean to say is that you don’t value individuals based on the color of their skin.
However, the idea of being color blind isn’t as helpful as you might think. In fact, it actually might be hurting people of color in ways that you don’t realize. While it certainly isn’t your intention...it is, unfortunately, the reality. But the good news is that we have the opportunity to move forward in a better way.
Here are four reasons to not be color blind.
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As a parent, it’s been hard to miss the heated discussions taking place over recent weeks about whether or not children should return to school in the fall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Most schools have already set out plans for how they intend to keep children safe when they return, and now parents everywhere are left with difficult decisions about what course to take.
Some families are choosing to home school for the very first time or exploring online learning options, whilst others feel keener to return to a more ‘normal’ routine. Still, many other families don’t have the luxury of choice at all. But with so many different options and conflicting opinions to consider, many parents and carers are understandably feeling uneasy.
Everyone wants the best for their kids, and let’s face it, there’s really no ideal ‘scenario’ here. In an ideal world everyone would be vaccinated before returning to work or school. However, since that reality is still a way off, parents are left weighing up the ‘least bad’ option instead—and there’s so many different factors to consider.
What if we are lifting the stay-at-home orders too soon? What if someone in my household is considered high risk? What if I send my children back to school and then someone I love gets sick? And what about the longer term effect’s on my children’s social and emotional development?
For many families, there are more practical challenges too. What if both parents are essential workers, or have to work outside of the home? What about the parents of children with additional needs, or single-parents who are struggling to cope with the load?
When so many unanswered questions hang in the air, it can really start to steal away your peace.
But what if there is no perfectly right answer, and no perfectly wrong one either?
There is simply no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to family life, and you have already been equipped with everything you need to make the best decision for your own unique family situation.
Here is some biblical wisdom to help you find God’s peace as you make necessary decisions:
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We are born with an innate need to worship. If we’re not worshiping God, we will worship the idols we’ve carved out for ourselves. For centuries, religions have joined in symbolic worship. Many continue to honor images and the solemn expression of prayer, where God is adored through outward symbols and ritualism.
Some churchgoers today might say that worship is the party before the service. Yes, it’s a celebration of praise, but it’s more than singing songs and lifting our hands. In John 4:23, Jesus shared a startling revelation with the Samaritan woman that worship as she knew it was about to undergo a radical shift. Authentic worship would be spiritual.
As Christians, if our heaven-bound task is worship, we might consider life on earth as on-the-job training. Heavenly focus on the act of worship means there’s more to it than just a weekly check-in with our congregation.
Through Christ, God Himself lives in us and commands our hearts to worship in spirit and truth while in our earthly bodies awaiting our heavenly assignment. Here are five truths the Bible tells us about worship as a way of life:
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Need some inspiration for how to share your faith in a way that's actually welcome? Here are some don'ts to avoid, and so do's that make sharing your faith easy, pleasant, and effective.
If your adult child has stopped following God, read these 5 tips to maintain a loving relationship and to ultimately trust God with your precious child.
How do we determine what belongs on what list? After all, those lists appear to shift and change throughout every season.
The life of a stay-at-home Mom is a beautiful disaster!
The days are packed with noise, chaos, tenderness, precious shared moments, and gigantic messes. The job of stay-at-home-parenthood is a mixed bag of tricks. The job is an honor and the time to invest into your kids is the biggest gift.
Yet, becoming a SAHM is joining the ranks of the unseen, the lonely, the overworked and never paid, and is a job that you never master (no matter how hard you try).
Over 8 years ago I welcomed my first baby boy into our home. As soon as I met him, I knew I wanted to be home with him. Unexpected circumstances plus several answered prayers we worked it out to have me home during the week while I worked retail on the weekends to help make ends meet. Little did I know I was stepping into the chaos of motherhood on a level I had not yet experienced as a full-time working mother.
My story of growing into my role as a SAHM is one of gratitude, learned-the-hard-way humility, and an ongoing battle against anxiety and depression.
I am not sure what exactly about becoming a stay-at-home-parent that makes anxiety and depression such a common companion. Partly, it's a toxic and potent combination of post-baby hormones and sleep deprivation.
Although, even as my kids have aged and I am no longer birthing babies; I still have to beat away the tendency to get locked up in my own mind.
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G.K. Chesterton famously said, “When man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.”
In a time in history where information is being thrown at us at a million miles a minute we are in danger of easily buying into everything we hear. Wisdom and careful study of the Bible are more necessary than they ever have been.
Our world is in desperate need for clarity, healing, and the fight for social justice is raging. Where does God stand on these pressing issues? His word tells us unequivocally His heart is for the lost and needy of our world. We must rely on God as our moral guide.
Let’s be those that seek His wisdom and heart as we come alongside those who are in need as they pursue equity in this broken world.
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