Leading Our Kids

Something I often think about is how well I’m doing at raising our children as Christians.  I am a fairly new Christian myself (5 years), and I’m still learning new things everyday.  But I do know that the most important thing we can give our kids, and equip them with, is to teach them how to have a relationship with God.  And I believe the best way to do that is to read the Bible, pray, and listen for what God is telling you, everyday.

Although that seems simple enough, sometimes it’s very difficult to find the best ways to teach this on a consistent basis.  How do we fit it in naturally, and make it become part of our life on a daily basis?  For some people this may come easy, but for me….it’s something I’m always working on.  I always want to find new ways to share God with my kids.

I have a great little book of devotions called “Leading Your Kids to Christ”.  It has 30 different devotions preparing you for this role.  Here are a few points I have taken from this book (and others) that I try to apply to my own life as a parent.

  1. Ask God to guide your steps and to give you wisdom.
  2. Pray for your children everyday.
  3. Be proactive.  Talk to them about tough issues early and often.  Tell them the truth and keep open communication as much as possible and even more so the older they get.  This is so important!!
  4. Put God first in your family and be a good example.  Live your faith.
  5. Show your love for them constantly and truly listen to them.
  6. Do not be afraid to discipline and be firm when needed. Kids need clear and concise boundaries with consistency. 
  7. Watch your words.  Your child listens to everything you tell them (whether you think they do or not.)   Be sure to give them positive praise when needed.
  8. Emphasis the importance of worship and fellowship.  Attend church with them weekly, and encourage them to get involved in age appropriate activities.
  9. Study God’s Word with your child.  Maybe read a chapter in the Bible each night before bed (that’s what we have started doing).  We also read a daily devotion at dinnertime on nights that we have both of our kids with us.
  10. Let them serve with you at church or within your community.  This is a great experience for them, and an even better example.
  11. Spend quality time with your children every single day that you can.  They need you!  Children spell love, T-I-M-E.

It is my goal to make sure I’m doing all of these things all of the time.  I know these are the most important things I can do for my kids.

Advertisements

100 Thing Challenge

Some of you have already read about this 100 Thing Challenge.  If you haven’t, it was created by a man named David Michael Bruno.  He has written books on Consumerism and has a blog at http://guynameddave.typepad.com/david_michael_bruno/.   He will also be writing a book about his experience with the 100 Thing Challenge.

Basically, the 100 Thing Challenge is a challenge that Mr. Bruno proposed to pare down your personal items to only 100 things.  He gave his challenge a time period of one year.  It started last November and ends this November.  If you go to his blog and his post about this challenge http://www.guynameddave.com/100-thing-challenge.html,  you can see the list of things he has now, and all of the things he gave away. 

This challenge only applies to your personal items.  Items that only you use.  So, it doesn’t include furniture in the house, or garden tools, etc.  Anything that the whole family uses does not count.  Underwear and socks, can be counted as one category each…you don’t want to have to count out each pair because obviously we don’t want to have to get down to minimal undergarments.  Also, books are counted as one category as well: library.

I have begun my own 100 Thing Challenge, but I’m not there yet.  I think I may give myself a deadline of  January 1, 2010.  I will try to pare down all of my personal items to 100 things by January 2010 and try to keep it that way for one year.  I’m getting there, I’ve cleaned out my closet a ton.  I almost have it down to only those things I wear, love and feel good in.

I really find this type of stuff interesting.  It really makes you realize how much “stuff” is out there and how so many stores are packed with things we don’t need. 

I was in Target yesterday, and as I’m walking through the aisles I could feel my old self thinking…wow, that’s cool….I could use that.  But then I stopped myself and thought…no, I don’t need any of it.  I came for one item, and they didn’t have it…so I left  empty handed.  If you knew me well, you would know that it is extremely hard for me to leave Target without purchasing at least one thing.  I love that store….well, I loved that store.  I feel very convicted to challenge myself in this area.  To open my eyes to consumerism and how it’s a store’s job and a commercial’s job to make me think I NEED something…when I truly don’t.  There are few things I need, and I have all of them. 

I will keep you updated on my progress…

Plastic Pearls

We had a guest speaker yesterday at church.  His name was Joe White and he and his wife, Debbie Jo, own the Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri.   They have 9 different Christian sport Kamps for kids, mainly high school age.   He told us about some of the kids he works with and how so many of their lives have been transformed through Christ.  He even shared his own story, and how he is facing cancer right now, but he trusts God with everything he has.  He is an incredibly inspirational person.

He told a story about a little girl who really wanted some pearls.  So she decided she would make her own pearl necklace with some plastic pearls.  She bought some plastic pearls and some string, and she strung them into a pretty necklace that she wore everyday.  She loved this necklace so much. 

On her birthday, her father came into her room and said “Do you trust me?”  She said “Yes, of course I do”, then he said…then give me that pearl necklace.  She said “Daddy!  Why do you want my necklace?  I can’t give it to you”.  So the next year on her birthday, he did the same thing.  Figuring she was a year older and may respond differently.  He came into her room and asked her again…”Do you trust me?”  “Yes, Dad, of course” she said.  So he proceeded to ask her again for the necklace.  She asked him why he was doing this to her, that was her favorite necklace and she couldn’t give it up.  She held onto it and was very upset that he would ask for it again. 

The next year, hoping she would now trust him, he did the same thing on her birthday.  He asked once again if she trusted him, she said yes.  Then he asked again for her to give up the pearls to him.  She finally decided to do it, she said…”Dad, I do trust you, and I guess if you need me to give these to you, then I will trust you and do it”.  See the father had gotten a second job a few years ago and saved up enough money to buy her a pair of real cultured pearls.  He was saving them for when she would trust him enough to give him the plastic pearls.

Once she handed over those plastic pearls, her dad reached into his pocket and handed her the real cultured pearls. 

What an incredible analogy, don’t you think?  As he told us this story, he asked us to get out the pearls we were given when we walked in the door.  (They had handed each of us a plastic pearl as we were walking in).  He told us that just like this little girl, we all hold onto something artificial. Something we can’t let go of, that we THINK brings us happiness.  But if we turn it over to God, he will bring us true joy….like we have never known. It will be the REAL thing. 

Joe asked each of us to stop and think about what our “plastic pearl” is, what it is we are holding so tightly to, and can’t let go of.  What is it that we think gives us happiness, but it’s not the real thing.  What do we need to hand over to God?  Then he asked us to come up to the stage, and throw our pearl onto the stage, to signify that we are letting go of our “plastic pearls”, and handing them over to God on the altar. 

It was one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard.

“Empty Me” by Chris Sligh

If you are an American Idol fan like I am, you remember Chris Sligh from a few seasons ago.  He was really good, but didn’t make it to the finals.   He has a new single out right now, called “Empty Me”.  I love this song.  He has such a great voice, and this is a great message for all of us.  Here is a video of him singing it live, and below that I have the lyrics.  I want to begin using these lyrics as a prayer, and pray them daily to God. 

I’ve had just enough of the spotlight when it burns bright
To see how it gets in the blood.
And I’ve tasted my share of the sweet life and the wild ride
And found a little is not quite enough.
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change.

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

I’ve had just enough of the quick bites of the best lies
To know how prodigals can be drawn away.
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change.

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

Cause everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you, compared to you.
Cause everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you. So, I surrender all!

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.
Oh, filled with you.
Empty me.

Thankful Thursdays

I follow Lisa Welchel on Twitter.   Yes, she was Blaire on “The Facts of Life” TV show.  She is now one of the speakers with Women of Faith.  Last week or the week before, she mentioned that she has Thankful Thursdays.  On Thursdays, she makes a point to express the things she is thankful for.  I think that is a great idea, so I’m starting today. 

I’m thankful for so many things in my life, but today I’m going to focus on a few blessings that stand out to me at the moment. 

First of all, I’m so thankful that I have a husband who I can talk to, confide in, laugh with, share with, and have fun with.  I know I can talk to him about anything.  Even if it seems silly to me, he always makes me feel as if it’s not.  I trust him completely and I feel 100% safe in our conversations and in our relationship.  That is something I never had in the past, and I thank God everyday for bringing him to me.  He only helps me to be a better me. 

I’m also actually thankful for Thursdays.  Thursday is the day that my husband and I have together.  I call it our “date day”.  Once we drop the kids off at school in the morning, we have a day to ourselves.  Both of our kids are with their other parent on Thursday nights.  So it is the one day we do not pick them up from school, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, we love our kids more than anything….but….we really enjoy and cherish the time we have together.  It’s just our day.  And I’m so thankful we have it.  As I type this, I’m here at my husband’s office with him.  I’m usually at home working, and he goes to his office.  On Thursdays, I come with him to work now….and it’s a great day.  We can discuss work related issues, or just anything that comes up during the day.  Then at night, we have our date night.  We sometimes just go to dinner.  Or we make dinner at home, and watch a movie.  Sometimes we go out on the Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck together or we go see a movie.  It’s important time for us to strengthen our relationship and become closer.  Everyone should have a date day or night.  I believe it’s part of a good marriage, and essential for a great marriage.

What are you thankful for today?

My Desk

Ahhh….here is what my desk looks like this morning.  I love it.  Not only is my desk cleared off, but my mind is clear because of it.  I decided since one of my “life vision” statements was that my desk was always cleared off, that I would start now.  It was easy and pretty painless.  I just had my “in-box” and some books I use daily, along with my counseling coursework, pens, stapler, tape, etc.  Stuff  that I was able to put away in drawers, on a bookshelf near by, or do away with alltogether.  Now, I only bring onto my desk, the one thing I’m working on at the moment.  I take care of it, put it away, and move onto the next thing I need to do.  It definitely helps me focus better.

I also ran this morning.  So far, I’m doing good with my visions.  Once you think about them, write them down, and then go over them daily…..you start to gravitate towards those goals.  You naturally start acting in ways that move you closer to your goals, because they are clear and they are in sight.  It’s great.  It really does work. 

Give it a try…

Life Vision

I’ve read many times, in different books, about the importance of  having a vision for your life.  That, you can’t just wake up everyday and let the day carry you, you need to take hold of the day.  If you do not have a plan for your life, and or for each day, it will pass by so fast, and you won’t accomplish the things you want to accomplish. 

I know this to be a fact, because when I plan my days, I get so much more done.  When I plan out my week and month, I get the things done that I need to get done.  When I don’t……I am left at the end of the day thinking….what did I really accomplish today? 

I have another example of this idea at work.  One day I was looking at a Bible Study that I had completed about 4 years ago.  I was reading over it and one of the questions asked “what would I be doing with my life?  How would my life look in a perfect world, if there were not obstacles or anything to hold me back”?   I had written that I would be a counselor, or have an organizing business, that I would sing at church, lead an exercise class, have more time with Rainey, and meet a wonderful Christian man. 

Well…flash forward to today.  I have an organizing business, and I am now studying to become a counselor and will be starting in January.  I’ve sung in front of a large group of people…not church yet, but in front of a lot of people, which was really the main point of that goal.  I do get more time with Rainey now, I’m able to pick her up from the bus everyday and I’m VERY thankful for that.  And most importantly, I met the most wonderful, christian man about 2 years ago, and he is now my husband! 

So…these vision statements work.  You begin by focusing your thoughts on positive things daily…but to really get a clear view of where you want to go, it’s best to write it down.  That way you can read it daily, or refer to it often. 

I wrote another  life vision the other day, and it was fun.  I wrote it as if I were writing about my life in the present tense, but with my goals already accomplished.  For instance, I talked about how I was really taking care of my body and I felt great, and I was in shape!  I talked about my counseling, and how I had a really good amount of clients.  I talked about the Home Group my husband and I are about to begin…I said it was thriving and growing.   You get the idea.  Just look at the areas of your life you are working on, and then write about each one as if it’s already exactly where you hope it will be. 

I just turned 39 yesterday, so I wrote it as if I was writing it on my 40th birthday.  Now I have goals for where I want to be in one year.  I have a plan, and I know where I’m going.  It helps me to plan my time now, so that I reach those goals. 

I heard someone use the analogy the other day, that you wouldn’t invite a friend to walk with you until you knew where you were going.  Why not use the same logic for our lives?  If we don’t know where we are going…then we’ll get…nowhere. 

Start today, and envision your life the way you want it to be, and focus on that every single day.  You WILL get there!

How He Loves Us

This is one of my favorite Christian songs right now.  The first time I heard it was at our Women’s Retreat.  One of the female singers from our church worship team sang it.  She has an incredible voice and this song is so delicate and moving.  It stuck with me.  I had never heard it before that day.  Then a few weeks ago, I heard it on the radio being sung by the David Crowder Band, and then our worship band sang it one Sunday morning.  Below is the link to a video of this song, with the lyrics.  It is such a beautiful song. 

John Mark McMillan actually wrote this song.  He wrote it the day after his best friend was killed in a car accident.  His friend was a youth pastor.  He wrote the song about his friend meeting Jesus up in heaven.  There is a video on YouTube of John singing this song live, and before he begins singing it, he tells the story behind the song.  If you want to see that, you can just go to YouTube and type in his name and the song name (How He Loves Us),  and it should pop up.   

Anyway, I love music.  It’s such a gift and I can’t imagine my life without it.  I just wanted to share this song with you, in case you have not already heard it on the radio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWgeUrD4MHI

Finding Fellowship

About 6 months ago, my husband and I desperately wanted to have more friends within our church.  We did not know many people other than a few acquaintances. We wanted to find ways to plug in, and we felt there wasn’t enough offered to us.  We spoke to our pastor, Mac Richard, during this time.  We told him our concerns, and that we felt there weren’t enough ways for us to connect to couples without just resorting to stopping people in the lobby and asking them to be our friends.  Playground style.  Mac  just told us that we needed to get more involved.  Wait, huh?  We had just told him we didn’t feel there was enough offered to us to get involved in.  Did he hear that part?  Turns out he did.

Here we were sort of complaining (not really, but in a sense) that we couldn’t find other couples like us to have fellowship with….and he very gently ,and matter-of-factly pointed out what we were totally missing.  Duh!  All we needed to do, was serve more, get involved more, get out there and offer more of ourselves in whatever way we could.

Isn’t that the way it is for all of us sometimes?  We want the world to come to us.  We want whatever it is we are looking for, to just knock on our door, and we will gladly let it in.  I think if we live like that, we are missing out on SO much!  We decided to do what our pastor said, we just got more involved.  We put ourselves out there in all different areas.  My husband got involved in a music camp they offered in the summer, we signed up to be HomeGroup (small group) leaders, we both have become Bible Study leaders in our respective Bible Studies, and we have each gone on the men and women’s retreats.  We also participate in our Mobile Loaves & Fishes ministry, which provides food and clothing to homeless people.  In addition, my husband has begun to work on a couple of projects with a few of the people he has met through church.  We decided we needed to give more of ourselves and in return….guess what?  We’ve met some wonderful people and we are in the process of developing lasting friendships.  Wow, amazing how that works.  It’s like our pastor knew what he was talking about or something. 

We didn’t really realize it at first…we didn’t really consciously go out and try to get involved in everything right after we spoke to him.  But I think it made us see things differently, and we slowly got more and more involved.  Now we look back…and see that he was so right!  Just do it.  Just get out there and serve, get involved….and see what happens.  As the old saying goes “If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain”. 

It’s similar to the mountain crushing Mohammed and those with him, if it did, indeed, come to them.  If we were still waiting on things to come to us….our spirits would continue to be crushed and disappointed.  The minute we “came to the mountain” we were blessed with a bunch of great people! 

Now when we walk into church on Sunday mornings, we are saying Hi to people left and right.  What a change!  I thank God for speaking through Mac to us, and for providing opportunities for fellowship where we did not see them before.  I thank Him for leading us, and guiding us in the right direction.  We know if we follow Him,  we will never be disappointed and He will always fill our needs. 

Get out there and just do it.  Get involved, serve, share more of yourself….you will not be disappointed.  I promise.

Relevant Magazine

I was working with a client recently, and as we were clearing off her dining room table (which wasn’t being used for dining), and we found a copy of Relevant Magazine.  I had never see it, nor heard of it.   The tag line under the title of the magazine says: God. Life. Progressive Culture.  I was intrigued.

When I got home that day I looked up their website, and was very impressed.  They have a feature where you can look at the entire current issue on line.  Very cool.  So, I did.  And I liked what I saw.  I told my husband about it and showed him the site, and we have now subscribed.  We do not have our first copy yet, but it is on its way.

They talk about issues that are….well, relevant.  So it’s a great name.  They cover lots of music related news, interviews with bands, articles on current issues, entertainment, churches, missions, cultures, etc.  It seems like a very interesting magazine.  I knew my husband would be interested because he has a music related business, and he is the biggest music lover I know.  And he, like me, is an even bigger fan of God…so, it made sense to see what this magazine was all about.

I, personally, sometimes struggle with how much music and entertainment we should allow ourselves to watch, listen to, and read.  There is so much out there that can clog our brains with information that is not helpful at all, and can even be damaging.   But it seems this magazine addresses those issues and concerns, and will hopefully give me a better idea of who’s music and movies I should be paying more attention to, an vice versa.

I’ll let you know our review of the first issue when we recieve in the next few weeks. 

Here is their site, if you want to check it out:

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/

Relevant Magazine