Speaking Words of Life

"A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word." Proverbs 15:23

When I began to make Biblical joy a focus of my life, and then wrote a book about it, I was so blessed, again, to learn so much in God's word that is changing my life. There are times when I learn truth and feel so guilty that it makes me want to stop being in ministry as I see how much I have fallen short of God's ways for me. But, if I take the truth as instruction for my own life so that I may live better and live more in the grace and blessing of the Lord, then I can just confess how I have fallen short, apply the new truth and move forward with God's blessing of forgiveness and love.

I assume God's love, I don't have to earn it.

Indeed it is true that what we sow, we will reap. Yet, sowing requires a decision of our will, of our heart, to decide just what we will sow. One way we sow into our own lives as well as the lives of those around us is through our words.

Lifegiving words have deep and abiding power. It is through words that we come to understand the truth about the Lord.

Words can give hope, life, and redemption, or death, guilt, anger, and bitterness.

We are to be stewards of our words and if we are walking with God, we are to plant words as seeds in the hearts of our children, that our words of blessing might reap the fruit of life and beauty and hope and confidence in their lives.

The legacy of Words of anger

I have talked to a number of precious moms lately who struggle with anger and impatience, and yell a lot at their children. Of course all of us have experienced this if we have lived very long.

Yet, if we regularly sow angry words, condemning words, guilt-producing words, we will find our children feel hurt, condemned, guilty, criticized, unloved.

But, studying scripture in this area lately has really caused me to develop some stronger convictions again, about the importance of guarding my lips and keeping them from pouring out anger--and asking for forgiveness when I do not! We all do this from time to time, but if we are to grow in righteousness, we need to use self-control in the area of anger and learn to move more and more into His gracious, patient love as we mature in understanding His own love and fatherhood of us.

Sowing words of life

A child has joy in an apt answer, I might paraphrase. And how delightful is a timely word. If children grow up on words such as, "I am so thankful for you!" "You are a blessing to me." "I appreciate you because...." "God has a special place for you in his kingdom." "You encourage me." "I see that you are capable in ____area.

You are the rock. You are a joy. You are faithful. You are a lover." "I believe in you." I believe in your dreams." etc. ,

Then there will be stored up in their hearts a deep confidence that they are loved, respected, appreciated, called by God to accomplish great things for His kingdom. 

And in marriage....

As in all of the other areas of our lives, we have choices to make. In marriage, we can look at the great faults of our spouses or hold on to bitterness or our rights, and justify our withering speeches and lectures and complaints to them, not understanding that this kind of speech kills a relationship.  

Or we can look at those areas for which we are grateful or remind ourselves why we were attracted to our spouses to begin with. We can pile on guilt or discouragement, complaints, and un-forgiveness for what we have not received. This is the way of the world. 

The way of God, which includes forgiveness and love, is to learn to verbalize words that bring life. We must bear our spouses load and speak words of love, respect, admiration and support, and let them know we forgive them. What we sow we will reap. 

Same goes in friendship, ministry, and work situations. We can choose to be a blessing and sow seeds of faith in the lives of those God has brought in our lives, or we can sow death to a relationship.

How are you speaking words of life today? Is there anything you need to repent for, give to God, perhaps even apologize to someone for? Better late than never. God will cover our faults (thank goodness!)

Counting the Cost--And Determining to Build Your Home

 

Secular messages from the world's point of view and the values it holds invade my life and the life of my adult children, and you, every day. If we have been foundations of truth, biblical world view, faith and understanding in who God is through out the scriptures, we will much more likely be able to hold fast when the storms of life blow against us.

Yet, often, when I meet young women, they are much more concerned about the right activities to choose for their children, their academic success and the lessons they are providing for their children. The most important issue for moms to focus on is the training and mentoring of their children to love and serve God and to understand his wisdom and ways. This is more important than any other emphasis and so it does require commitment and consistency to build.

I have no greater joy than to hear of my children loving God, growing deeper in their faith and taking his messages to the world. This is what satisfies my mama heart--we have gone way past me caring what their SAT's were or their grades in college--who cares? who remembers?

There are many foundational Christian truths and values that I planned to instill in my children, such as dependence upon God's Word, living by faith, walking in the Spirit, grace and freedom, and integrity. If I could pour these into their lives for a solid, strong foundation, then I know that whatever else I—or they—built on it will stand strong.

Clay and I have lived this principle in real life. We have built two houses, both of which cost more, both in time and money, than we anticipated. We know by the hard road of experience that it pays to count the cost before you begin to build.

When you're talking about building your family, it is even more essential to count the cost. You do so to be sure you are willing to pay the price of building, to finish what you begin (see Luke 14:28). There is a price to pay for building your home and family according to God's plan.

There is the physical cost of weariness from teaching and caring for children with constant needs, from doing housework and laundry, from making countless meals, from picking up the same toys over and over again. There is the emotional cost of always being expected to give affection and attention to ever-present children, of directing their education, of training their spirits and disciplining them, of being available to them for what seems like 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is the personal cost of giving up personal expectations, of sacrificing personal "rights" for the benefit of the children, of accepting the limitations of time, of often choosing to live and make do with less as a one-income home.

Over the years, these costs have occasionally accelerated and come due all at the same time in my life. At those times, I have felt overwhelmed and defeated and I wanted to quit. But because I had counted the cost, I knew I would keep going. One step at a time I would go forward, trusting God all the way, because I knew that my house was worth building.

Sometimes, though, I have made the building process more costly than God ever intended it to be. Like other mothers who live under the fear of not doing enough, I expected more of myself than God did. Consequently, I set unrealistic goals and higher standards for my children than God required. It shouldn't be surprising then that I burned out trying to pay a cost God never required. I burned out, not because God was asking more of me than I could do, but because I was asking more of me than I could do--and was worrying about areas of busyness that, in the long run, did not matter. As a wiser woman now, I know that God's goal for me is that I build a good house, according to my own strength, wisdom and ability to follow Him. After all, if I become spiritually exhausted because I try to build more than God expects of me, then I soon won't be building at all.The key to this is releasing my faith in God to take what I can build, and by His spirit, make it enough.

When Clay and I built those houses many years ago, the work was tedious, messy, time-consuming, and frustrating. We experienced setbacks, our original plans changed, but we kept building. Eventually we enjoyed and benefited from our efforts. The final product was worth building. And even though the cost is high, your family is worth building.

As I grow older, God opens my eyes a little more each day to see the preciousness and fragility of my children's lives. And each day, I lean a little harder on the Lord. Each day, my confidence and faith for building my own home rests a little less on my abilities and strengths as a mother, and more and more on his character and grace.

One thing I am more confident about than ever, though, is God's faithfulness to godly parents. If I am ordering my life according to the Creator's design for family, I don't have to wonder if my house will stand or fall—it will stand. And I can rest assured that the same gracious God who entrusted four precious, fragile lives into my hands, will be faithful to keep those children in his hands. He will build a home through me, and a testimony through my children, that will stand here on this earth and throughout eternity.

Read more in Seasons of a Mother's Heart, here.

Be sure to get a copy of Different: The Story of an Out of the Box Kid, and the Mama who Loved Him today and join us in our podcast book study of the chapters. More on Monday!

 

 

Finding Hope in the Broken Places & a New Podcast

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Sitting with a dear friend amidst attempts to drink coffee and eat a few bites of breakfast, I found myself surrounded again and again by women who had attended Renew Your Heart in Dallas with me this weekend. 

Person after person shared their burdens with me.

"My husband left 6 months ago."

"My mother and father both have cancer and I found out my husband needs an extensive back surgery."

"I just took my 14 year old son out of school because he was suicidal. I don't have a clue how to homeschool but I am trying to save his life."

As I looked out the window right in front on my seat, there were three small, delicate birds, hopping amongst the tree branches and chirping their songs as loudly as they could, as though singing a good worship song to heaven. 

i was struck with the contrast--beauty amidst the sad parts of the story, song accompanying the moment when struggles were shared. It was as though God himself was reminding us that He was here with us in the shadow places, watching, being present, longing till the time He would personally wipe every tear away. 

Sweet women, just like me, who find themselves in a fallen world where hearts can be broken and lives can be shaken, were sharing deep places inside and yet were straining to live a life of hope because of His promises and presence in the midst.  The theme of this weekend was Unshakeable Hope In God.

As I look at my 63 years, 44 of them walking with God, I can say that my life has been fraught with more issues than I ever imagined--car wrecks, a fire in our home, 2 floods, hospitalizations, church splits, relationship issues, financial burdens, outside the box kids and more. 

And yet, I can look back and see that God was with us every step of the way. At each point, I learned to let go of more and more expectations of this world that I falsely thought might bring me satisfaction. I embraced the beauty of the moment, the people right in front of me that I could love and be loved back by. I learned I didn't need the things I thought I needed to make me happy because of the ways God taught me to be content, free of guilt, living in the grace of the moment.

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." Psalm 31:24

God taught me that I had spiritual muscle I did not know I had. He strengthened me, taught me how to be courageous, showed me HIs grace so that I might learn to teach others about His lovingkindness, His faithfulness, to have hope and to extend love and patience. 

One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gouge shares thoughts throughout her books that give me hope. May we each learn to live in the grace God gives in the story we are living for his glory. 

“There always comes, I think, a sort of peak in suffering at which either you win over your pain or your pain wins over you, according as to whether you can, or cannot, call up that extra ounce of endurance that helps you to break through the circle of yourself and do the hitherto impossible. That extra ounce carries you through 'le dernier quart d' heure.' Psychologist have a name for it, I believe. Christians call it the Grace of God.”

― Elizabeth Goudge, The Castle on the Hill

Kristen and I got to share with all the attendees the podcast time where we discussed how to launch children by having a grid to work from each day, how to lay foundations that are imprinting the minds and hearts of those you love and invest in, how to move forward towards maturity and patience when you are living moments of testing. 

We hope you enjoy the podcast Kristen and I recorded live at the conference this weekend. We love love love meeting all of you and knowing you are enjoying our podcast. What fun to connect with you and see your real faces. Thanks for all the encouragement you gave to me and our family.

 
By Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson
 

 

 

Dealing with Siblings Fussing--The Place It Must Begin!

One evening Clay and I were sitting together with some leaders, discussing difficulties parents face with their children.  Toward the top of the list was siblings fussing at one another. All of us in our home are sinners, Clay, me and the kids, and we've had plenty of opportunity to think and pray about how to deal with this! Wouldn't it be great if there were a pill or magic formula to get rid of all fussing and whining?

Fussing comes from a heart issue--it has at its root the basis of all sin--selfishness and self-centeredness. The attitude behind all quarrels and contention says, "I want my way. I deserve to be the center of attention. I need to have all of my wishes and desires met and everyone else is wrong when they violate my needs and desires."

However, another spiritual contention comes from pride--I know more than you--my religious philosophy is doctrinally more correct than yours, my educational philosophy is better than yours, I am less bad than you or I am better than you and so on. Pride is also at the root of contention.

Fussing is at the root of divorce, family separations, church splits, sibling rivalry, and any kind of contention that separates people. This plague of selfishness is running rampant in America today as we see promiscuity--which basically says, "I want my pleasure when I want it, but I don't have to take in consideration anyone else--gratification is more important than love and commitment." It also is an attitude that communicates, "If you aren't going to be mature and fulfill my needs then I have the right to move on to other relationships until I find someone else who can fulfill my needs."

I have always told my children that it is natural to be selfish, defensive, argumentative, full of pride, but it is supernatural to be mature, loving and patient, humble. Jesus disciplines us that we might conform to His image. He is the model for unconditional love, patience, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, encouragement, humility. He of all people chose to separate Himself from the grandeur of God to become one of the lowly, humble, poor humans of this earth. If He so chose in order to really show us what righteousness looked like, then we should ponder His simple, sacrificial, uncomplaining life in order to really take on His character and love.

Choosing to be an instrument of love requires us to obey His word and His will and to make a choice to be peacemakers and life-givers. Maturity is a process of practicing obedience and choosing love while also knowing that it is the Holy Spirit who lives in us, to work out His good pleasure and holiness through us.

Jesus is our model and yet even Jesus showed us that maturity and righteousness was a process of choosing to do the right thing--obedience--choice of our will--not paying attention to what he felt, but doing what he knew was right.  This is the essence of the love and patience we need to teach our children and that we also need to obey.

Hebrews 5:8, in talking about Jesus' example while on the earth, says,"though He was a Son, (of God), yet he learned obedience by the things he suffered." Jesus learned obedience by submitting His will to the Father; by practicing doing what was right, which is why He's described as learning obedience.

So, all true love and goodness comes from obeying God and doing the right thing for His sake. When our hearts and the hearts of our children understand this, then we will have the right reason to choose not to be contentious and selfish. Loving God and therefore choosing to be loving to unloving spouses, patient with unlovely toddlers or teens, forgiving in church situations when we have the right to be offended, are all for the love of our Lord who was perfectly loving, patient and kind as the servant leader.

If we are contentious to others, or constantly critical of friends or people in our own life, how can we expect our children to "catch" the spirit of love? If we complain and whine and cry as a habitual response to life, how can our children understand the strength and grace of the unconditional love of Christ lived through us? If we tell our children to quit complaining or whining or arguing, and then proceed to complain against our in-laws or husband or argue with others, then we are not establishing a foundation for them to stand upon.  If we are angry and impatient, it will create scars but also deform them in the ability to move beyond fussing to become healthy adults who can bring grace to relationships.

Eventually young children grow up and will see through hypocrisy. We don't have to be perfect--but we have to be humble and ask for forgiveness. We must seek to have integrity. Trying to tell our children they have to obey us and lording it over them in harshness will only suffice for a short few years. They will mature and see through the words to the heart and actions and will not follow inconsistencies. I do think parenting is the way God humbles and trains us in righteousness because it requires our best in order to be the best parents we can be.

I have had friends over the years who knew a lot of scripture and read a lot of books and put forth a righteous front, but who were critical behind people's backs or talked in judgment about people and in pious self-righteousness, convinced that they are justified, felt no conviction for their sin.

However, Jesus, while being reviled, did not revile in return, but kept trusting himself to God. Wherever Jesus is there is peace, gentleness, humility and grace--except for the Pharisees and religious people or the exceedingly, intentionally wicked.

Though as moms we tend to be so irritated at the quarreling and immature fussing of our children, it is no more attractive in adults. If we don't address the general selfishness of all of our culture, which has seeped into our own lives and is bolstered by our own natural selfishness, then we will not be able to address the issues in our own home. So, I have been convicted over the years, that creating a peaceful environment in my home must start with me. I am responsible to God to seek to love and serve others because of His love for me.

The True Contest: Will We Be Loyal?

Since the beginning, Satan has tempted man to be disloyal to God, his Creator; he has vied for our allegiance. The Old Testament book of Job is an example of this. Satan, who roams to and fro through the whole earth, seeking whom he may devour, was searching for another human being to test—to see if he could cause him to curse God and turn away from him. Satan said that Job followed God only because his life was so blessed. But God had seen into Job's heart. He knew that Job was a devoted follower. So Satan threw every possible temptation and trial Job's way to see if he could make him hate and renounce God. But it was to God's great glory that Job passed the test—he stayed faithful to the Lord his God.

Job's story of testing has become a model for us all on how to walk with God. Job must have experienced, in the end, everlasting joy in knowing that he had passed the test, that he'd seized the opportunity to show God's faithfulness, and that he'd come through with a story for all eternity of his faithfulness to God.

This is the true contest that has taken place since the beginning of time. Those who remain loyal to God and obey his will have a place in history where their story of faithfulness will be told throughout all generations. These tests are our opportunities to exhibit to God and to the world the integrity of our faith in him and our commitment to do his will, just like all of those in the Hebrews hall of fame (Hebrews 11). Our tests present each of us with the prospect to be found on God's side, to be counted among those who do not shrink back but stand firm in faith and character.

Great joy comes in the freedom of having passed through difficult seasons and having seen his faithfulness along the way. I feel that I am more the person I want to be because of the many tests of my life. God has shared with me his wisdom along the way. He has shown me that with him I am stronger and more capable of accomplishing more things in life than I ever would have imagined.

Because of these truths, I can now greet other tests with more peace and grace, knowing that they can compel me to look more longingly toward heaven and can give me a deeper love and appreciation for my Father and his unconditional love to me, his child. Even though I don't desire trials, I can enter into them in anticipation of how they can become my greatest accomplishments.

Joy, then, comes in embracing the opportunity to be a part of his world of righteousness and preparing to live with him in that kingdom for eternity. Joy comes in following where he leads me, choosing to believe that his way is good and that he works according to his will. I quench this joy when I resist him and fight against the dance he is trying to teach me. I experience the grace of the dance when I follow his direction and his lead, even when it seems to be the opposite of what I might have done.

To grow in this joy, I have to move where he leads. When dancers attempt to turn in different directions, there is no beauty, no synchronizing of movement. But when they learn to read each other's movements and move as one body, there is a beauty, a grace, and a skill of step that grants the joy of unity and elegance to the dance.

James told us to "Consider it all joy...when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3). List the trials that you are experiencing right now.

How does God want you to pass the test of these particular trials?

What attitude do you need to change or cultivate?

Read more here: Dancing With My Father

Be sure to buy your copy of Different and join us as we discuss the chapters in the coming weeks on our podcast.

Cultivating a Larger Vision: Gaining a New Perspective & A Podcast

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:“Who is this that obscures my plans

with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you, and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Job 38: 1-7

Many years ago, when I had a teenaged girl, a preteen boy, a "different"  9 year old boy who was being bullied and acting out, and a pre-schooler who wanted me to play with her all the time, I had a lot of worries on my heart. We were involved in a church that was about to split, had our new conference ministry and Clay was gone from home from Sunday evening until Thursday night at our ministry office and mother-in-law's home. I was handling so much of life during that time and had lots of worries. 

One night, I had a dream. And I am not given to dreams--only two that God has used in my lifetime. In the dream, I was worrying and God came to me and said, "Sally, climb up into my hand."

I did and He took me in the flash of an eye up, up, up into the myriads of stars in galaxies far beyond our planet. It was so infinitely full of stars, lights, an expanse of heavens I had never imagined. 

God seemed to say, "How expansive is my work?"

I said, "Endless."

He said, "Now look down where we came from, where your home, children and problems are. How big do they look from this point of view?"

"They are tiny in comparison. I can barely even notice them."

"That is how tiny they are in light of eternity. I will take care of them for you. You remember my infinite power and love."

And immediately, I awakened. 

Nothing had changed, but my heart was at peace. I had a bigger perspective and I believed that God was bigger than all of my worries.

As I look at my life from a 63 year old perspective, I can now see that God did guide me, He was at work, He was doing more than I could possibly see or understand in the life of my family, in the heart of my "different" children. I wish I had fretted less and gained a long term vision for HIs ways and purposes in my life.

Evidently, Job questioned God, too.

"Why did this happen to me? Where are you? How will I find justice? How will I make it?"

We all feel this way many times in our lives. Yet, God's answer to Job was not specific to HIs problems, but was like in my dream, pointing him to the infinite mysteries and creations of the expanse of God's handiwork. 

A beginning point for us to live our story well is to gain a perspective of God's purposes being greater than we can understand.  Also, to engage in the knowledge that even in the infinite mysteries of life that are far greater than we can understand, He is there, He is able to carry us, He is able to work more than we could ever imagine.

We read in Isaiah, ""For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

A part of me began to find a way forward in all the big issues of my life, including the raising of my very different and unique children while learning to let God be God--I chose to believe that even though it would take me a long time to understand, that He was working even when I could not see, and that His ways were far bigger and greater than my little mind could comprehend. 

My bottom line was to be "all in" and to live by faith in the days He gave and the children I had; and the marriage I needed to learn how to be mature in; and the tasks that needed to be done; and the finances that were always a stress; and and and. He was God, He would lead, He would take care--mine was to be his child and to trust Him with what was too large for me to comprehend. 

Vision for life grows when we see the attributes of God and understand that when we trust Him, He works beyond what we could have ever imagined. It takes gaining a bigger perspective and then leaving our issues in His hands and choosing to walk in His peace, His provision and HIs ways.

I hope you will enjoy this podcast today: 4 Ways to Begin Growing in Perspective

I would love to hear your perspective, know your questions, hear your thoughts as we discuss the chapters of Different--this week the intro and the first two chapters.

Be sure to get a copy of Different so you can join Kristen and me in our book discussion and club the next few weeks. Ask your questions in the comments for what you would like us to discuss A Different Kind of Parenting Series. Buy HERE: 

 
 

Join Kristen and me in Dallas this weekend at the Renew My Heart Retreat weekend. 

Register  HERE

 

 

Wrapping up Launch Weeks--Everywhere You Can Find Different!

Well, we're wrapping up our launch weeks for Different, the newest book from Nathan and me.  What fun we've had!  Thought it might be a good idea to give a recap of all the places that have hosted us or had articles talking about their reaction to the book these past few weeks, and share them here with you.  Feel free to visit any you've missed--and be sure to leave a comment about what you've loved about the book or what you've read, as I'll be doing a drawing Sunday evening and posting a winner for a new prize--a phone call from me to chat about your own Different life! To enter, just leave a comment and be sure to come back Monday morning to find out who won.

Nathan's trailer that has had 65,000+ views

 

Guest posts by me ...

Ann Voskamp Confessions of an Imperfect Mama

The Better Mom Four Ways to Find Grace for Outside the Box Kids 

We Are That Family 5 Ways to Show Your Children Unconditional Love

Simple Homeschool Are You Raising a Difficult Child?

Tricia Goyer Four Ways to Thrive While Raising Difficult Children

Articles by sweet friends ...

Elizabeth Foss at Heart of My Home

Shawna Wingert at Not the Former Things

Angela Perritt at Love God Greatly 

Gina Smith at Story Warren

Ed Miller at National Center for Biblical Parenting

Colleen Kessler at Raising Lifelong Learners

SarahMae Have a Child That's Different?

Kris Camealy on Learning to Parent Different Kids

Misty Krasawski at It's a Beautiful Life

Kristen Kill with

NBC Today Show Interview with Kathy Lee and Hoda

 

Here is the interview video from Tyndale--countless thousands of views.

Podcasts

Sarah Mackenzie ReadAloudRevival 

Heather MacFayden Loving Your Different Child

Kat Lee Trusting God with Your Outside the Box Kids 

Tsh Oxenreider at The Art of Simple

Chrystal Hurst 

With Jamie Ivey at The Happy Hour 

And of course our oh-so-fun appearance on the Today Show

Today, Nathan and I are on with Ryan Dobson at Rebel Parenting!

If you haven't yet ordered a copy, you can find allllllll the places where you may order Different here: The Different Book  

The Mama Manifesto

So much has been shared. We hope this page will be a resource of encouragement for many of you.

Read all the reviews HERE

Read all the reviews HERE

It is our prayer that those who read this book will know they are not alone and that they will be greatly encouraged by our story.

And we'd love to hear what you thought about the book, or any of these articles! 

If you leave a comment below, you will be entered to win a phone call and chat from me and a my opportunity to pray for you.

  Leave your comment below! 

Thanks for all of your encouragement and response to our book. Nathan and I are most grateful.

Thanks for all of your encouragement and response to our book. Nathan and I are most grateful.

Boy Books That Inspired my Nathan to be a Hero

 

Inside the heart of most people who are born is a desire to know and enjoy great stories, and a longing to know and understand what meaningful part we might play in the story. Jesus used stories to teach, to inspire, to tell truths. When my little out of the box boy came into my life I decided that I would reach his heart by telling him stories that would grab his imagination and that would give him hope for becoming a hero in God's story.

Nathan did not come with an instruction book.

He did not sleep through the night until he was 4 years old. His little body seemed agitated. His spunky personality, strong-willed heart presented challenges at almost every point.

But I could see, he was a boy with a big hero heart. He loved heroes. He acted out noble stories with a cape on and sword lifted high. My determination to find what made his heart sing was through filling his little mind with stories of hope, goodness, adventure and inspiration so he could picture himself as a part of a great story.

Nathan helped me to become a prayer warrior because I spent so much time asking God for wisdom, insight and help. And so God showed me his heart and helped me to see the plans He had for Nathan to grow up in to a man who would be noble, true and good.

 I chose stories that would give a foundation to his soul that cooperated with the desires of His heart. Nathan has shared his own memories about this process and some of his favorite boy books that inspired him.

It ends up, Nathan is a kindred spirit--a dreamer, an idealist, one who wants to bring his messages to bear in the world--and that is why he was out of the box, because God made him so.

Here is his side of the story.

As a young ADHD boy, I had a hard time sitting still for long periods of time.

Much less sitting still at all.

So reading long books for hours on end, seemed about as possible as flying to my eight year old mind.  But one thing I day dreamed about was to be Superman.

 My wise mama, while knowing how her son worked, also knew the value of good stories in my life. So, she found a way to work within my limitations and find a way for me to ingest the stories that would end up shaping me, while simultaneously doing it in a way I didn’t feel like I was going to explode.

Everyday I would pull out the pad of paper and colored pens she had bought me while she would begin reading aloud to me. It was my task to create the pictures for the story unfolding, I took my job very seriously and had no idea that my love of heros and righteousness was being made. I grew to love and look forward to these times, and as I look back even now at 23 years old, I can see what a deep impact they had on my life.

Boys are made to be hero’s and warriors, we are made to look at great men and emulate their actions. Being a great MOB, my mom knew how vital it was to give me good pictures of what real men/heros looked like.

So today I would love to share with you some of the books/stories that have had the biggest impact on my life.

Lets dive into the first edition list of the reads that shaped me, that just might have an eternal impact on your young man in training.

1. Hero Tales: Oh my goodness! What a series packed with substance and inspiring messages. I think what I loved so much about this set of books, is that the stories were about REAL people in history who led amazing God honoring lives. As a young man it was immensely important to me to not just hear good stories with morals, but good stories about actual people who fought for goodness and chose to live a life worthy of being called heroic. I loved that they weren’t some fictional character, but rather these were real heros confronted with real problems, making real choices, and living REAL lives worthy of emulation .

2. Catherine Voss Bible: I can remember every morning for the better half of my life, waking up, walking downstairs and sitting down to listen to one or both of my parents read the novelized version of the entire Bible. It was something I looked forward to my entire childhood and something that has never left me. It was the first time I can remember the Bible and the stories in it coming alive. To this day, the way I know most of the random and lesser known stories in the Bible, is not through heavy study guides and personal study, but rather through a childhood of listening to this awesome book.

3. God’s Smuggler: This is the true story of a wayward boy, growing up to be one of the most influential missionaries and bible smugglers in the entire world. It’s the tale of Brother Andrew, a man who eventually learned what an adventurous and amazing life you can have once you make the choice to follow Jesus. I ended up reading the book myself again after it had been read to me. It inspired me to think about my life and what it could look like if I started even at my young age, making choices on faith in God.

4. Narnia Some of the most enchanting but poignant books I have ever had the pleasure to read. I’m sure you have heard of them, but if you haven’t already taken the dive, I highly encourage you to. As a young boy, these books gave me an entire world to be apart of, and a story to be engaged with. They simultaneously showed parallels between the christian walk, God, and my understanding of this world, like no other books have.

It has all the markings of one of THE best fantasies series inviting readers to become emerged. And once you are, you are unable to ignore the beauty of the allegories it holds.

5. The Kingdom Series This series is one of the groupings of books I look back most fondly on. In the vein of Narnia, but even more allegorical and understood by a border age group, these books are the stories and happenings inside the King’s Kingdom.

Each page is beautifully written with descriptive words and beautiful pictures unfolding into a beautiful allegory per chapter. Simple enough for a seven year old to understand but captivating for a 77 year old to be swept away.

My favorite chapter was always the one about the juggler who juggled to a different beat than all of the other dancers and performers and musicians in the kingdom.

There you have it! I could go on forever writing about the books that shaped (and continue to shape) who I am, but I hope that these first five of my favorite reads will help you on the journey to finding the stories and tales that will inspire, teach, and shape the young man in your life.

-Nathan

I would love to know: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER-SHAPING BOOKS FOR BOYS?

Can't wait to see many of you in Dallas at the Renew My Heart Conference. There is still time to register. 

Can't wait to see many of you in Dallas at the Renew My Heart Conference. There is still time to register. 

 

Girlfriends need Girlfriends & a Live Podcast with Kristen & Me

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Kristen Kill,  sweet baby Harris and I had a great weekend together in California at the Renew My Heart conference.

Early this morning, exhausted from another weekend with hundreds of sweet women, I sipped my tea slowly and breathed in rest, while relaxing alone for a few minutes.  Reflecting on how much the regularity of gathering with my friends to remember our ideals together, I realized how, by God's grace, without meaning to, I had built accountability into my own life.

Gathering with sweet friends for many years in a row, working together to reach out to other moms, becoming friends through the misadventures of many conferences in many hotels with thousands of women, had knit our hearts together. 

Most of us have lived in friendship through all sorts of seasons including cancer for one, heart break in our children's lives, miscarriages, marriages, joys of new babies, and the sweet, deep fellowship that comes from sharing deep places in our hearts together. 

I need my girlfriends. I need my sweet daughters. There is a strength, a fresh love, a communion and closeness that comes from sharing favorite lipstick, admiring a cute pair of boots,  to praying deep prayers and talking of lessons learned from the sweet practice of spending time with our Lord. 

My friends breathe oxygen into the life of the ideals I cherish. When I am weary, they make me want to be faithful, they care about my heart. They give me lots of giggles, pleasures and a feeling that I am not alone.

This year, we chose a sweet and charming French cafe where we all ate delectable real Quiche Lorraine--(my favorite) and a fresh salad, 3 gigantic gorgeous deserts shared with multiple forks and strong coffees. Eating and drinking and resting in the comfort that comes from friends who have invested for years, gave freedom to sharing ways we needed help, places we were struggling, sadnesses we shared and the joy of celebrating our great life events of our year since we last gathered together.

Meeting Kristen's precious baby and kissing his sweet head over and over again through our days gave me great pleasure. He is the squishiest baby in the world. :)

None of us knew each other until we gathered for a mom heart conference. But the event provided a place where we could know one another, grow together over the years and share what is now the sweet fellowship of marking many years of serving sweet women side by side. 

Create some purpose for you and your friends, gather regularly, keep traditions and end up with a legacy of sweet girlfriends that you will have to enrich your life through all your years.

Every year, friends who have gathered to serve at Mom Heart conferences to serve together, celebrate by eating some place wonderful together and having a walk at Laguna Beach.

As it happens, each of us have someone "Different" in our lives or are "different" ourselves. Even in that, I enjoyed and shared in the stories so many sweet ones who identified with our new book. I so appreciate your many notes, emails and facebook messages about how you are enjoying Nathan's and my book. I see, once again that when we bear each other's burdens, we give each other the grace to keep walking in faith.

Hope you enjoy the podcast we recorded of some of our stories on stage at the hotel this weekend.

Be sure to buy your copy of "Different" and join Kristen and me in our podcast as we discuss it.