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:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ImagineGolf
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.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Brooke Cagle
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/tylim
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.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/KL Yuen
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:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Ekaterina Budinovskaya
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/XiXinXing
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:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImagesRawpixel
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?
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/alphaspirit
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Liderina
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:
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Deagreez
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.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/LightFieldStudios
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:
Photo Credit: ©SparrowStock
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?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/XiXinXing
Your children already see. They already hear. They already have questions. But maybe they’re too afraid to ask, or self-conscious or they don’t even know what questions to ask as they observe their world, and overhear conversations and see things on TV and hear their friends talk.
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
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.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
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:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Manuel Tauber-Romieri
“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.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Frank Mckenna
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:
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Cengiz Yar/Stringer
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:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MangoStar_Studio
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:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Yacobchuk
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/scyther5
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.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Antonio Guillem
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.
Photo Credit: ©Sparrowstock
"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.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/monkeybusiness
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?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/DragonImages
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Sam Edwards
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:
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Amy Michell
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:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Gilitukha
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/grinvalds
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.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund
God always loves to hear from us. Even a short prayer can be a wonderful way for us to reconnect with him and focus our hearts. But sometimes, even when we ask God for things, His answer may be "no." But there is one thing he will never say no to, and that is when we pray for our own hearts. Here are three things you can pray for God to do to your heart.
“I’m going crazy,” Sally confessed, “do we vaccinate our kids or not. Do we home school or we don’t?”
Sally and millions of moms today fret and anguish over decisions, big and small. And social media adds nothing to help a mom’s restless heart.
What we find is added pressure. We see pictures displaying fun-looking dishes put together by moms to get those kiddos to eat broccoli and cauliflower. Are you kidding? How do they do that? Most of us manage to serve--a steady diet of--mac and cheese and chicken nuggets
In the meantime, we have our own nuggets of remorse that haunt us. We compare ourselves with other moms. Their wisdom emphasizes our flaws. And sometimes we’re convinced their kids are healthier, better and no doubt, happier.
Time to convince ourselves of something different. Comparison is never good. That unhealthy comparison cooks in the heart of a mom a hearty serving of guilt. If we’re not careful that guilt triggers emotional indigestion. It invades our moments of peace. It disrupts our security. And it dismantles our confidence.
But although guilt is the enemy, God’s grace is the weapon. Under His grace we find wisdom. We discover His truth. And we march forth to win.
The victory begins with destruction. We must destroy those lies that fuel guilt. They have no place in a mom’s heart. These are the first four that must be washed away with the water of God’s Word.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
With all the craziness going on in our world right, as a mom you may be thinking, “There has never been a harder time in history to raise a child.” We are not alone in our plight or trepidations.
Throughout history moms have faced insurmountable struggles. And down through the ages mothers have gone to great measures that required courage to guide and protect their children.
One such mother is Jochebed in the Bible. She found herself in a terrible time in Israel’s history. For 400 years the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt because of their race. And when the slaves grew great in number the Pharaoh sent out a proclamation for the midwives to kill every baby boy born to the Hebrew women.
At the risk of losing their own lives, two courageous midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, refused to murder the babies. These women, who were willing to jeopardize their own wellbeing to save the babies, were certainly heroes in their day
Eventually, the frustrated Pharaoh decreed that all Egyptians were to throw newborn Hebrew boys into the river. Can you imagine the horror these Israelite mothers faced knowing that at any moment an Egyptian might snatch their baby boy from their arms and cast him into the Nile River? (see Exodus 1:15-17).
It was at this time in history that Jochebed’s heroic story unfolds. And while the Bible doesn’t specifically outline her character qualities, we can certainly see them lived out in how she responded to her difficult situation. There is much to emulate from Jochebed’s character.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jenna Christina
Two scriptures are cited more than any other to silence women in the church. But what about the numerous other examples of female leadership in the Bible?
You know you need to stop giving your children money and volunteering free babysitting, but how can you stand to watch them—or your grandkids—suffer?
Most Christians and a lot of non-Christians can quote James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Yet, this scripture is one of the most challenging commands to heed. We are more likely to speak quickly, become angry in a heartbeat, and listen as a last resort. We have become a society of people who speak a lot, spend even more time being angry, and do not listen anymore.
We miss the point of this passage if we do not include verse 20: “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” The progression is evident. When we become active listeners engaging with grace and humility, we practice wisdom and self-control. However, if we flip the instructions and ignore the command to listen quickly and choose instead to speak first, the doorway to anger is flung open. God instructs us to listen even to those we do not want to hear. If that’s the case, why are we not listening anymore?
Why do we speak first and listen later, risking misunderstanding, causing hurt and fracturing relationships, and being carried off into anger?
Here are 10 possible reasons we are not listening to each other anymore.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Light Field Studios
In any situation that produces anxiety or fear, we can learn from the psalmists and Paul to pour out our worries in prayer, then receive God's peace through praise. Here's a simple 4-step plan to welcome calm, even in the chaos of COVID-19.
If your body or your staff are characterized by any of the following actions, there’s a strong possibility that your church’s philosophical and theological perspective supports the status quo and shuns growth on the critical topic of racial reconciliation.
Remember when you first fell in love? Your relationship felt like the most exciting, rewarding part of your life.
From the moment you woke up in the morning until your head hit the pillow, you were focused on your love. As you discovered each other’s favorite things, you treated each other to thoughtful gifts. You honored each of your preferences and pet peeves. As talents and goals came to light, you supported one another’s dreams with all you had. You committed your full attention and energy into giving, serving, and blessing each other in every way.
Yet after months and years of sharing life together, you and I can “become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Instead of sacrificing, we’re selfish. Rather than give, we take all we can get. How do you know you’ve lost your way in loving your spouse?
Here are 5 signs that you’re the taker in the relationship.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Being the hands and feet of Jesus means that Christ’s followers, past, present, and future, are obedient in their commission to preach the gospel and co-labor with Christ to love, serve, and heal the broken, hurting, and hopeless of this world.
Not only is it scientifically proven, but it's biblically-sound...your thoughts can affect your health. Here are some suggested affirmations, based in scripture, to invite a healing mindset.
When we ask ourselves the question “How can I deal with hard things that happened in my childhood?” it can stir up many different emotions. So start with laying it all down before the Lord.
Ever since the day I received my first “adult Bible”, this truth has been ingrained in my heart: God’s Word has the power to change a life. It changed mine. And it can change your teen’s life too.
During these trying times, one of the most quoted and shared passages, particularly by those desiring to speak to social justice, is Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” What does it mean to do justice, and what is the biblical context of this verse?
We are not immune to the pressures and hardships of life. There are times when we need to deal with the inward struggles and the storms of life that come our way.
There are things the enemy uses to attempt to block us from fellowship with God. This leads to times when we don’t feel as close to Him as we would like.
These human frailties are our willful sin, pride, anger, fears, and complacency. We’ll look at these five things that create a rift between us and God and how we can overcome them with heartfelt habits:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet
It doesn’t take much time or effort to see that our culture is pessimistic about marriage. A happy marriage seems more like a fairy tale that Pollyanna dreamed up fifty years ago. Many of today’s wives are complaining left and right about their husbands’ many shortcomings. So why should a wife make her husband happy when he’s not making her happy?
I like what host Bob Lepine of Family Life Today says, “Our role is not to figure out how to fix our spouse. Our role is: How do we reflect Christ in the marriage?” The game changes when we as wives make it our aim to bring joy to the marriage for the glory of God. It’s no longer about “What have you done for me lately?” it’s about “What have I done for you lately?” Instead of being disappointed in what your husband hasn’t done, you can experience great peace knowing that you are doing him good and not evil all the days of his life (Proverbs 31:12).
And guess what? I can attest that when you respect your spouse and practice making your husband happy, he will turn around and pour that love right back onto you.
Ready to get started? Here are the top ten ways to make your husband happy:
“This is not how my life was supposed to go.” Every person has had this thought at least once in their life.
We have a plan of what we think our life will look like, but life throws us a curveball that changes everything--divorce, infidelity, loss of a job, struggles with your kids, serious health issues, infertility, bankruptcy, addiction, death of a loved one--the list goes on.
Circumstances like these leave us feeling like we’ve been punched in the gut and wondering how we go on from here.
How do you survive and pick up the pieces of your life when a dream or plan has died? It’s a normal part of the human experience to struggle with letting go of what was and to move forward to the unknown, which is why God is there to encourage and remind us that He is with us through all the pain, uncertainty, and struggle, and that He will lead us through to the other side.
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5 NLT
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NLT
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Here are few ways God can use times of unexpected changes in our lives for our good:
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez
Just when we thought it might be safe to go out again, another social crisis developed, and then we learned of new, increasing spread of the virus with no seemingly easy answers. Racism in the US’s system is being exposed left and right. Political tensions are rising in Asia, a plague of locusts besets Africa along with the virus, and South America reels from disease too. It seems chaos reigns the world over.
We wonder what the future holds for children—our kids and grandkids. Will they be okay? Can they find a way to make a living? Some jobs are already gone, others are “furloughing” workers without pay. Those of us with infant children or grandchildren may wonder what kind of world these little ones will inherit.
What will our country be like by the time they grow up? Despair invades our thoughts at night. Even though we manage to remain positive during the day, worry lurks around the edges of our minds.
We need hope—but where can we find it, and how can we catch hold of it?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Comstock
These are hard times. But what if I told you that you can actually have joy in the midst of them? Happiness is not based on circumstances or good things happening to you. Happiness comes from Jesus forming you into a good person. Here's how.
Over the past several months, our kids have faced the harsh realities of growing up in a broken world. A dangerous virus has infected our communities. The devastating pain of racism is exposed for all to see. We’re caught in the crossfire of disputes over masks and social distancing, politics and policies, and the road to reconciliation for our country.
Our children are no longer innocent to the fact that life can change overnight. Yet no matter the upheaval and chaos, God offers peace to our families. Here are ten ways to make your home a safe haven in a scary world.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages
What if just one habit could change your life for the better?
What if that one habit would also help you grow closer to God, improve your relationships, fortify your health, enable you to sleep more soundly, lessen depression, provide greater mental clarity, heighten your sense of well-being, and improve your overall life satisfaction?
Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Studies are clear: Gratitude makes us happier and healthier in virtually every area of life. God knew this long before science confirmed it; perhaps that’s why “thanks” and “thankfulness” are mentioned 133 times throughout the Bible. Still, most of us need a little help learning how to live more thankful. Sure, we are grateful sometimes, but not all the time. Consequently, we rarely feel the rewarding effects of gratitude when practiced every day.
Here are 10 proven ideas for powering up gratitude in your life:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/pondsaksit
If you've betrayed by a best friend, parent, boss, or any loved one...you know that when someone breaks trust, it hurts deeply. But we serve a God who can restore what is broken. Here's how to move forward in healing and hope.
For the majority of our married life, my husband and I have lived out of state from our families. I come from a family where connection and time together as a collective is incredibly important. So, while I enjoy living out of state, I also miss my family. My husband, on the other hand, comes from a relatively small family that doesn’t share the same dynamics as my own.
Early on it became apparent that I was going to want to continue traveling to see family on a fairly regular basis, whereas my husband wasn’t pining to get home as much as I was. Once we added children into our lives my desire to “get home” only increased.
Soon we found ourselves at a crossroads. It was necessary that we discover what types of freedoms were going to work for us as a couple.
Was it okay that I travel with our children even though my husband wouldn’t be able to join? Or conversely, were things like late-night pick-up basketball games still reasonable for my husband to participate in now that we were parents? We needed to find ways to help each other feel like our needs as individuals were being met.
If you are finding yourself at a crossroads, like we were, here are a few suggestions for determining what the right amount of individual independence looks like within your relationship.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Warren Goldswain
God’s heart isn’t that his people would constantly be in conflict over who has more control or power. That misses the point entirely. The way of Jesus is to use the power we have been given to serve one another rather than ourselves.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” - Psalm 107:1 ESV
“God is good, all the time; all of the time, God is good,” is a popular phrase used in worship by many pastors, leaders, and believers. “Good” is who God is, what He does, and what we experience on His behalf. God, in His goodness, is sovereign over every circumstance. He proclaimed each note of His creation, “good.” God purposefully brings every human life into existence upon the earth, intended for “good” works to bring glory and honor to His name.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/aapsky
One verse that stands out as a call to stand up for those who are experiencing oppression and injustice comes from Proverbs 31. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Farmers Insurance had it right when they said, “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.” They have seen the best and worst of humanity. If you care to marvel at the weirdness of the world, you can even take a moment to check out the “Hall of Claims” they have at their website.
As for me, my Hall of Claims tally comes nowhere near the number of strange stories Farmers has to share. But after fifteen years of working as a counselor with couples and families, I’ve experienced quite a few “thing or two” moments. I’ve lost count of the number of disagreements we’ve navigated together and the number of marriage problems I have helped detangle.
Regardless of the specific “flavor” of an argument in marriage, there are common themes among all marriage problem. Most people seem to believe that sex and money are two of the greatest issues facing couples. And while those are certainly important, there are others that are also struggling to reconcile.
Here are 5 of the most common marriage problems, along with tips and solutions to keep your relationship healthy.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Justin Follis
Currently, we are engaged in critical and difficult conversations in our country and our churches over racially-charged inequity, inequality, and violence. This season reveals how far we actually haven’t come in navigating the waters of racial reconciliation.
Christians trumpet the labels of “liberal” and "conservative” louder than anyone I know, as if matters of police brutality, violent demonstrations, and 400 years of racial dominance are political rather than ethical issues. Even godless commentators and celebrities recognize that issues of racial prejudice are moral issues.
How can racial tension change? We Christians must own the systemic race problem in every aspect of our culture. By not professing and modeling God’s transformative love, we have facilitated--not eliminated--racism.
It’s petty and dismissive when we minimize the trauma of discrimination or respond by accusing people or casting blame. Nothing in the Bible supports accusations or blame-shifting. It has old fashioned terms for this--confession and repentance. We must take ownership of our mess and change it (Ephesians 4:20-32).
As members of the kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of this world, we must respond in these following ways if we are following Jesus’ example. Because we are the sons and daughters of the King, we have the light and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us respond with compassion and brotherly love to everyone involved in racial tension.
It will take lots of prayer, Bible study, and hard conversations to get there. But as the City on the Hill, it is our duty to show the rest of the world how to reconcile racial tensions in a godly way. Let's respond in these 7 ways to get there.
We also want to offer you a FREE download of 30 Days of Prayer - Here is a 30-day anti-racism prayer challenge to help us keep our eyes on Christ and our hearts surrendered to Him as we trust Him to heal His people and transform our land.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
When there is a chasm or great divide, one of the ways to close that gap is to build a bridge. One of the chasms that has shot to the forefront in the last few weeks is the chasm of racism.
While the embers of this fire have burned in our nation for a very long time, many people either chose to dismiss it or ignore it altogether. This time feels different. Maybe the events of a few weeks ago were the alarm clock to finally awaken people from their slumber—to realize this is wrong and this needs to change.
I believe it is time to start building that bridge.
While the road won’t be easy and the work often cumbersome, I want to share with you some ways you can become a bridge-builder for racial reconciliation.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/nullplus
Here are a few suggestions to have your multigenerational family chat go smoothly and with lots of fun and laughter. Technology can't completely replace time together in-person, but with these ideas, you can come much closer!
“They will know we are Christians by our love.”
This scripture-based song lyric rolls off the tongue of anyone who clocked some serious time in Sunday School.
However, a quick scroll through social media may leave us wondering if someone changed the lyrics to this classic Christian song.
“They will know we are Christians by our well-defended stances.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Christians all over the country are having hard conversations with their friends and family. We are working through how to love each other and honor God while we confront issues of race in our communities. These conversations get messy.
We are confronting realities of racial and cultural division that many of us don’t have a lot of practice addressing. We’re having these challenging, emotionally-charged conversations in public, where audiences are encouraged to throw in “likes” and “angry face emojis” as they judge the quality of our rhetoric.
With all this pressure, it’s no wonder our discourse often dissolves into angry shouting matches that feel less like a loving willingness to learn from one another and more like self-righteous posturing.
When things get heated, we’re all prone to tune out. We experience information fatigue and suffer from debate PTSD until we quit engaging in the conversation altogether.
So, how do we make sure the lessons we’re learning about racial reconciliation lead to long-term change in our lives? What are some loving actions we can take when we worry the public conversation has turned hateful?
Here are five practical ways for Christians to pursue justice (not hatred) now:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/wildpixel
Trying to figure out how to make it through this crisis became my daily focus. The combination of worry and exhaustion revealed my need to let go of these 3 things.
“I can’t breathe.”
Those words from George Floyd as he gasped for his mother with a knee on his neck have haunted me. Just like the video of two white men chasing down and shooting Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia while he was running. It’s unfathomable that these things are happening in our country in 2020.
As we’ve witnessed the response play out in cities across our nation, including my own, it makes it clear that white Christians are in need of a wake-up call.
Several weeks ago, we had a tornado warning at our house close to midnight. We had to quickly get our kids up out of bed and go to a safe place in our house.
My 6-year-old son is a hard sleeper. Waking him up in the middle of the night is next to impossible. You can pull him out of bed, and he may even open his eyes to look at you, but he's not awake. He can stumble around his room, but he’s not awake.
It wasn’t until my wife started clapping in his face that he seemed to snap out of it and become coherent.
To my white Christian brothers and sisters, it’s time to snap out of it. We’ve been asleep. Over the past few years, some of us have opened our eyes. Even stumbled around like we are trying to appear awake.
But, we are not all there. What we are witnessing in our country should be our jolt--our clap in front of our face--to stand for what’s right and denounce what is evil.
As a white Christian, I admit, it's hard to even know where to start. It’s easy to post a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote on social media and let the world (or at least our small little slice of it) know where we stand on racial issues.
It’s much harder to know how to represent Christ and follow the prophet Micah’s urging to “seek justice,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly” (Micah 6:8) in real life.
Advocacy is important, and I think our African-American brothers and sisters need to see us posting these types of messages. But, it’s simply not enough.
In my own personal soul-searching, I feel there are a few things that I, as a white Christian, can and should be doing during our current racial crisis.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Rawpixel
Does your heart long to marry? Do you look around at your friends who have wed and wonder, when will it be my turn?
If you’ve been waiting a long time for the one to show up, it can be easy to grow discouraged, or even be tempted to settle on someone who’s less than the one you had hoped for.
Over the past 30 years that I’ve mentored women, I have walked them through this season of waiting. For some, they find it hard to imagine God is interested in helping them find a spouse. But for anyone who is hoping for marriage, the best advice I can give is don’t wait until you start dating to prepare yourself to be a spouse.
Rather than making a list of what you hope your spouse will be like, how about you make a chart of what would make you the spouse of someone else’s dreams?
While it’s not wrong to day dream about the character qualities of your perfect mate, don’t spend so much time with your head in the clouds that you miss the opportunity to let the Lord mold in you Christ-like qualities that will help you be a better mate.
With this goal in mind, let’s visit a few of the things you can do to prepare yourself for marriage–-even before you are dating.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/CandicePicard
They also showed me that all women, no matter how we cloak it, have a desire and a natural bent for control. Why do women seek control? It goes back to our Ancestress--the very first woman created--Eve.
“How did we get here?” I thought to myself, as I read another stranger’s story, describing how a distorted form of the gospel had been used to inflict wounds of rejection and judgment.
I feel there is no end to the headlines of hatred published by those claiming to be Christian. We only need to look at our phones or watch the news to hear of the countless controversies surrounding the Church, its mission, and its message. Whether it be standing with signs of shame or blaming the broken for their bruises, the message of Christ’s ministry has been completely missed.
I have sat with far too many scared souls, who have experienced hurt at the hands of evangelical extensions. Their stories do not include compassion or care, gentleness or generosity, hope, or healing. In stark contrast, they tell stories of those who have twisted the good news of the Gospel of Christ, wringing it dry of its message of mercy.
How did we get to the place where Christianity has become equated with nothing that resembles Jesus?
How did the pursuit of holiness get exchanged for hatred?
How did the desire for justice turn into judgment?
How did the message of redemption translate into religiosity?
As I look back on history and the many movements that have shifted our stances and segregated our theologies, I cannot help but wonder how the message Jesus so clearly demonstrated and communicated has been misinterpreted and abused.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Rawpixel
"I would have never said before I adopted my middle son that I was racist, because I didn't say the words that a racist said. And I didn't have what I thought were the feelings a racist had."
To even begin to approach this topic, I feel that I must first begin with confession and then ask for forgiveness from those in my community, state, nation, and world that are hurting due to the racism that lingers in our homes and hearts.
We all have a responsibility to pursue healing, reconciliation, and restoration of those who have been traumatized by systemic racism. Racism is an awful evil that goes against God’s heart for humanity. We are all created in His image and all should be treated with value, love, and mercy.
Until recent years, I must confess that I felt that not being actively racist was enough. As long as I personally showed love to all and recognized the value in every human, I was doing my part.
I was comfortable enjoying my white privilege while ignoring the hurts of racial injustice that go back generations. The effects of racism are not visible in my everyday experience. I have been content to live my life blind to the deep hurts that people of color are carrying.
I am so sorry for not seeing, not hearing, not loving past my very white-washed circles, and not doing enough to help my kids understand the effects of racism in our world today. Many of us have failed to connect the very obvious dots of the past to the anger, hurt, distrust, and brokenness of now.
It’s time for Christ-followers to do more than just “not be racist” we need to take the lead in building new bridges, become better teachers to our children on this issue, and we need to ask for God’s mercy to lead us as we dream about a world where broken hearts are healed.
How then do we start this hard, intentional, and meaningful work? We start at home.
Racism lives as a cancer of the heart and heats are informed by experience, by the messages both subtle and obvious we pass along to our kids. Let’s start teaching our kids to be the bridge the future needs to heal from the deep, dark, and heavy wounds of the past. Here are some ideas for you and me on how to do this work:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages
It takes intentionally cultivating a safe, generous relationship to be a marriage that is reflective of the Gospel and God’s love. But how beautiful is it that God gives us such a powerful tool to bring others to Christ?
When it comes to a theology of race, there are four headlines: 1) We were all made by God; 2) We were all made in the image of God; 3) We were all made with distinction and variety—including the color of our skin; and 4) We are called into a relationship with God the Father by the Holy Spirit through Jesus the Son. This is why the Bible makes the following declaration: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV).
Chores and personal responsibilities are most successfully introduced when parents consider each child’s unique ability. Implementing new routines at home is a work in progress—trial and error.
With so much opportunity to reevaluate our lives, it's time to make real decisions to guide us into post-quarantine life--to put into practice all the blessings of the extra time, and no drawbacks of the old normal.
Sometimes, reading news headlines or social media posts gives one the impression that, as Chicken Little said, “The sky is falling.” It’s easy to become caught up in worries about the future and our daily well-being.
However, the Bible offers us a better way.
Christians are provided with joy that is independent of our circumstances. It will carry us through with our heads above water, so let’s explore how to grab joy, no matter what happens.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Liderina
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Payne once said. These are also the times that can steal your sleep and stress you out.
If you’ve been laid off, had to close a business, lost a loved one, or are just trying to stay afloat financially or emotionally in a world that seems to be crashing through ‘new normals’ that are hard to handle—you might be finding it difficult to sleep.
Yet these are the times you can sleep better than you ever have as you trust God wholeheartedly to provide.
Yes, God wants us to be productive and to have a good work ethic. He tells us in His Word that we are not to be people who are lazy and won’t put in a good day’s work (Proverbs 6:9-11). But if you haven’t been able to work (or sleep) due to circumstances beyond your control (or anyone’s control), you have a God who comes through for you even as you sleep.
God’s Word says in the Psalms that we are wasting our time getting up before the crack of dawn and going to sleep past midnight, toiling and striving to make things happen because the God of the Universe “gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2, NASB).
The next time you can’t sleep because you think you have to work through (or worry through) the night, remember that God has a way of working it out if you just rest in Him...literally.
God commands us to rest. And by trusting Him to provide, we are not only being obedient, but we can keep our bodies healthy and refreshed by getting a good night’s sleep.
Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Ivan Oboleninov
Take time for you.
You’re worth it.
Do something indulgent for yourself because you deserve it.
By the end of the day, I want to numb out on my favorite Netflix show with a glass of wine and maybe some chocolate. Who can blame me with all the messages that bombard my mind on an hourly basis, like the ones I just mentioned.
I work outside the home and have three kids; two of those children have special needs which means the official clinical syndrome of “Burnout” applies to my life and I have a feeling yours too. The World Health Organization characterizes this burnout as mental, physical, and/or emotional exhaustion, this condition of chronic stress threatens millions of Americans who face long work hours, difficult work and home situations, and little time for rest.
We as women, mothers, wives, joke that self-care is indulgent. Who has time for that? Who has the luxury of locking themselves in the bathroom for three hours to enjoy a voluminous bubble bath in a clawfoot tub and a glass of wine? We have very little time to ourselves or at least that’s what we are supposed to think.
Perhaps this is why all the commercials we view have the same script: A stressed out, overworked mom who needs to escape her reality with “insert product here,” ads. Wine, chocolate, a girls weekend in Vegas, bubble bath soap that has that extra something special for your senses. These self-care promises do not even skim the surface of a much deeper issue: there is no miracle product that fixes the more serious need for a woman to be revitalized, replenished, and refueled from the inside out.
What if I told you self-care was so much more than a desired list of activities but rather more about soul-care, and filling our cup from the inside out? We, as Christian women don’t need Self-Care, we need Soul-Care. We need Spiritual-Care. We don’t need to escape our reality. We need spiritual vitality.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jen Theodore
I didn’t understand why I was so easily impatient with my kids, when I really wanted to help them with homework. Instead, I got frustrated, lecturing them in a way that was unhelpful and discouraging.
When my husband came home after work, my sour attitude hung like a cloud. Although I cooked dinner, did my chores and technically, nothing was “wrong” that I could put my finger on, I felt stressed and my bad mood spilled over to everyone.
“What’s going on?” hubby asked, after we tucked the kids in bed.
In the past, I’d launched into self-shaming words or I’d blame it on this-or-that, launching us into more conflict. Later, if I confided in a “friend” who was quick-to-judge and slow-to-give-grace, I’d carry extra spiritual guilt of not-trusting-God or praying enough. This cycle of try-harder-then-feel-worse repeated, adding to my stress!
In the movie Back to the Future and its sequels, the main characters had opportunities to go back in time and correct wrong choices. In some ways, the coronavirus pandemic offers us the same opportunity.
Sheltering in place gives us time for God to work in fresh ways in our lives.
It’s truly heartbreaking that much has been taken away by this crisis. However, it’s also truly hopeful that precious gifts—unexpected treasures—have been given by COVID-19. These treasures are wrapped up in the beautiful blessing of “presence.” Being fully present gives us hope for meaningful change in an otherwise confusing and frustrating season.
So before we rush into busyness as the lockdowns lift, let’s consider some of these unexpected treasures of presence we’ve experienced while sheltering in place—and how we can honor those treasures as gifts that continue giving.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Wavebreakmedia
Every parent has those days where they are convinced they are the worst parent in the world and wonder, “Am I a good parent at all?”
A great bad parenting example comes from one of my all-time-low parenting days a few years back. I was newly pregnant, we were in the midst of selling our home, looking for a new home, and I had to keep our 1 and 3-year-old boys out of the house so it would stay clean.
We ventured out to a park and when we were finished, I started loading my one-year-old in the car. I closed his car door and walked to the other side of the car to put our 3-year-old in and was horrified that I had locked my sweet baby boy in the car alone!
Up to this point, I was convinced that all parents that I’d read about making this very mistake were unfit and negligent parents. Here I was crying and unsure of how to quickly rescue my baby from the car.
Thankfully, the police came quickly and broke the front window so he could be released. By God’s grace all turned out well, despite some money lost on a replacement window.
All of us parents have those moments where we make a mistake we swore we’d never make. If we like it or not we are quick to judge the failures of others we deem as “bad parents” but none of us are perfect at this thing.
Yet, there are all ways we can grow to be better and habits that if go unchecked create strife in our homes. We all need solutions to those “bad parenting moments.”
Let’s explore some of the qualities of bad parenting that we should avoid alongside ways we can develop some good parenting skills:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/LittleBee80
What is God asking of us when we read, "count it all joy" or to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials?”
The trials that plunge us into grief feel impossible to navigate. The days marked by chronic illness—physical or emotional—takes its toll on one’s well-being.
Most of us deal with some form of a trial on a regular basis, whether it’s our marriage, kids, health, or work. Sometimes they loom large and other times they pester us like a biting fly.
With all these trials, how do we experience joy?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Deagreez
There are many heroes of the faith in the Bible. As we read their stories, we typically see them as patriarchs and kings, military leaders and soldiers, strategists and spies, or parents and children. Rarely, if ever, do we think of them as grandparents.
However, it’s true that most of the well-known people of the Bible were grandparents. Many played a key role in history and each has something to teach grandparents today.
Consider the following 7 biblical grandparents and what we can learn from them.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Jovanmandic
In my head, there’s a constant critical voice that I refer to as the inner mean girl. The inner mean girl never stops questioning my thoughts, motives and actions. Here's how to silence her.
During this time of near global lockdown, it is more important than ever to stay connected. This is particularly true for churches. But how do you stay engaged as a community of faith during a time when you can’t physically meet?
Where does this phrase come from and what does it mean? There is a powerful comfort and promise to be found in these words that every believer can cling to in their dark days.
As parents, we long to shape our children into the people God created them to be.
That process involves implementing values, and holding out hope through each stage. Ultimately, our greatest desire is that our children embrace a relationship with Jesus and live out their God-given purposes in all they do.
However, each child comes with genetic and environmental factors which affect how that unfolds. No “one size fits all” approach exists for nurturing your child’s spiritual journey.
While there is no book that will offer parents a detailed list of every step that will ensure our expectations are met, we can glean wisdom from scripture. Here are 4 steps to help your child meet spiritual goals.
Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Katii Bishop
If you’re reading this article, it’s not by mistake. if you’re ready to move forward in Christ, He will give you the courage to face all your mistakes with His grace.
Mental health during a crisis isn’t something to take lightly. There are a variety of things you can do to care for your own personal mindset, but one important element is finding a correct definition for what you’re feeling.
Anxiety is a feeling worry, being uneasy and unnerved about a particular outcome, lost in the unknown and unsettled.
Depression is a dark place of despondency, often accompanied by sleeplessness, a severe lack of motivation, a feeling of hopelessness and no escape.
For clarity’s sake, I want to make a point that this article is specifically discussing ways to soothe day-to-day anxiety directly related to Covid19. If you’re experiencing severe and unrelenting anxiety, symptoms of depression, or regular panic attacks, we urge you to seek professional counsel asap. Mental health is critical during this tumultuous time.
Many of us, though, are experiencing regular bouts with day-to-day anxiety as it relates to COVID-19 and the current circumstances of being under a stay-at-home order. These feelings come and go, take you on a rollercoaster, might transform into a panic attack, or perhaps devolve into a sense of peace as you take rest in just existing in the simplicity of home.
Working through generalized anxiety can be assisted by taking steps to deviate away from the negative influences. News, media, conspiracy theories, etc. can weigh us down and truly add gasoline to the fire of worry.
But there are also practical, COVID-19 specific things you can do to alleviate some of your anxious thoughts. Here are 4 ways to soothe your anxiety.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Ben White
“This too shall pass.” I have a love, hate relationship with that phrase, how about you?
Will this crisis pass? Probably. Most do eventually come to an end, but it can be difficult to remember that when hope feels so deferred. Circumstances dash our trust in God’s timing, and the unknown can be a real killjoy.
I spoke with a younger friend of mine recently. She’s a newlywed, and she and her husband welcomed the birth of their first child not long ago. Grinning ear-to-ear, she proudly explained to me how great “quarantine looks on her.” She has a great sense of humor.
“Now I know why some of the other moms like staying home so much. I planted a new garden with vegetables and flowers. I’m cooking and taking walks with my baby girl. I’m like a ‘pioneer woman’ now,” she joked.
What a great reframe of a forced life change! Krissi is a woman flourishing at a time in which many feel lost and overwhelmed. But just like her, some of us have also found ways to stay healthy and active in an unusual situation. We have so much to learn from one another.
Among the list of adaptations we all have made is hopefully new skills in your marriage. Maybe this extra time has allowed you to learn new ways to communicate, or has given you an opportunity to lean on your partner like never before.
The fact is that this too really shall pass, but here are some ways to make sure that your happy, healthy marriage habits never do.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Toa Heftiba
James 4:8 promises us that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. But what are some practical ways we can actually draw near to Him?
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12
The phrase, creatures of habit, means doing the same things at the same time in the same way. I think it’s safe to say that most families have settled into the new norm during quarantine and have found themselves quickly becoming creatures of habit once again.
But why not make the most of quarantine and ask a few thought-provoking questions to encourage deeper family discussions? You might be surprised at some of your kids’ answers, and you might even learn a thing or two you didn’t know before.
This worldwide pandemic is a scary and complex situation, even for adults. As hard as it is for us to not be out of the house and living “normal” life—it can be that much harder on kids as they grapple to understand.
They might be missing things that you didn’t even know they enjoyed to begin with, or scared of things you didn’t know were bothering them. Although it might seem difficult to strike up a conversation about something so complicated with your kids, your kids are certain to have thoughts and opinions about what is directly affecting them.
These conversation starters are designed to not only help you bond as a family, but also to help your kids process their emotions during this complicated time.
So, make the most out of quarantine with your kids. Here are 12 questions to get the conversation going:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/yacobchuk
Allowing a renewed passion for your faith and family be what guides your decisions moving forward. Sacrifice may be required, but what in our fragile lives is really more important than these two things?
Two months ago, life was rolling along pretty much as it had for our entire lifetimes. Oh, there had been ups and downs, but nothing we didn’t recover from.
Then suddenly everything changed with the arrival of the COVID-19 virus. Almost overnight our lives tumbled into an abyss of chaos and fragility.
Many fears and questions have surfaced, but there seem to be no solid answers from our civil leaders. However, in times like these, we can turn to the Lord for help.
Let’s examine a few of our collective anxieties and discover real help from the Bible.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Engin Akyurt
Having been married nearly 21 years I’m often asked how we make it work. Here’s the secret: Marriage isn’t about you. It never was. It never will be.