Listening to Correction and Accepting Discipline (Our 24 Family Ways #4) & Podcast

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Family Way # 4

"We listen to correction and accept discipline with a submissive spirit."

Memory verse: "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."

Nathan loved the story of the Black Stallion--a stunning, wild, untamed, powerful, jet-black horse that eventually became one of the fastest horses alive, or so the story goes!

When Nathan was a little boy and I would have to discipline him, I would explain, "Nathan, a great race horse like the Black Stallion had such potential to win a blue ribbon in races against all of the horses in the world. But until this strong, wild horse learned to submit to the reins of the jockey, it was just a wild horse with potential. To be able to run the race, he had to submit himself to the direction of the master, and accept the reins. Natie, you are like that great wild stallion--so much potential to be a champion--but you have got to learn to accept the reins of our discipline so that you can run your race in life like a champion!"

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So it is with us as adults. We have an incredible capacity to be strong, grow in intellectual excellence as we exercise the muscles of our minds, to be influential in ministry in our lifetimes, to leave a legacy of faith and integrity--but it requires that we also exercise our will, submit to God's discipline, and strain after His ways by following His heart.

Taking responsibility for my children's hearts and minds crafted me into a stronger, more mature adult. As I told them stories, my heart was engaging in great hero tales. What I was sowing, I was reaping in my own life.

Cuddled up on the couch, squished together in rapt attention, there were teachable moments as my children would look with wide eyes and open hearts when I would read them tales of conquerors and heroes--those who gave the strength of their lives to bettering or redeeming the world. Oh, how they loved great stories! And when their little imaginations were captured with those stories, I would seize the moment and say,

"To become a world class champion requires struggle, discipline, commitment and the will to submit to the process of developing greatness, and I believe that God has created each one of you to be a champion for His kingdom in your lifetime. I wonder how you are going to be used by God to change your world for the better?"

"Maybe one of you will be a great writer like C.S.Lewis, or a great composer like Handel when he wrote the Messiah! Or a war hero, or a missionary, or doctor--there are no limitations to what God can do through normal people who submit to His training and live by the power of His spirit inside of us!"

And so, what potential sits dormant inside of me that might bring me to serve and sacrifice in a heroic way? How might God use faithful adults who are willing to live into His discipline and exercise our wills and spiritual muscles.

Discussions of bravery, sacrifice, honor, submission to life lessons would ensue and these were the moments when the souls of my children and I were formed.

"What do you think it costs to become a great soldier?" I would ask.

"What if you were called to be a great writer--what kind of discipline would that take?"

"What if God wanted you to write great music that would encourage and comfort people all over the world? How would you become the best?"

And so on--capturing their imaginations with the principles of discipline was a part of inspiring all of us to submit to our discipline, training and instruction.

Of course, much of training is repetition, over and over and over and talking all along the way.

Yet, reaching the heart with training is as much inspiration as it is training. Both are necessary--training in truth and wisdom, practicing submitting to that training--but knowing that with the submission comes a reward.

God does not arbitrarily issue us commandments to be hard on us. His commandments, which must be obeyed, are for our best--to protect us, to bless us, to cause us happiness and to help us become the best we can be.

Understanding that bravery, heroism, greatness, --a champion made, comes from submitting to training and to discipline, is a truth that will allow all children and all adults to be teachable and trainable to greatness.

It seemed we had to learn to use this "way" often in the discipline and training of our children. "Our goal is for you to learn to obey. When you learn to obey mom and dad, you will practice becoming a trained child so that you will be able to hear God's voice and be able to obey Him."

If obedience is secured only through force, instead of securing the heart--and the imagination of the heart-- then the obedience will only take place when force is exerted.

Many wonderful adults and children have entered the world to find it a place of great temptation and allure. There are no guarantees of what choices our children will make or what their path will be.

However, I think for all of us, having a vision of why we need to submit--to understand that choosing to obey shapes our own ability to become strong inside in order to become someone morally strong and powerful to bring righteousness into the world--greatly enhanced our desire to actually do the submitting.

Just today, I was talking to one of my older children. They were talking about how so many of their friends "posed" as believers, yet their lives were a constant stream of compromises. Integrity means that there is a wholeness to ourselves. Our behavior matches our convictions about what is right. We must train, study, practice to become excellent people.

God is holy and excellent, sublime, awe-inspiring in His demeanor. He exhibits this through His love, that He is trustworthy, that He is good, that He is righteous, that He is a servant leader and so much more. We practice learning to be submissive because He modeled submissiveness to us when He was here on the earth.

Jesus, the prefect representation of God, modeled submission to us when He was about to sacrifice his life by dying on the cross. He said in Luke 22:42: "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done."

If Jesus submitted to God, we must be willing to submit to His will even when it doesn’t make sense.

What would have happened if Jesus had taken the easy way out? We would not have salvation and redemption. Sometimes being submissive comes with a cost, but in God’s economy, the cost will always be outweighed by the eternal rewards.

The goal of spiritual training in submitting to and asking our children to submit to discipline and to listen to  correction, wasn't just the behavior secured, but it was to help us develop a responsive and teachable heart, so that we would choose to bow their knee to God's ways, when we were with others or when we were alone where only God could see our hearts and our behavior.

Our children developed their own internal sense of wanting to become disciplined, trained adults who could pursue ideals of excellence for their Lord, because the motivation of their hearts had been secured.The training of them spread to our own hearts.

And so we told many stories of soldiers, athletes, missionaries, other heroes and explained that discipline and submission was the pathway to strength and character and we were their best cheerleaders as we trained, corrected and encouraged them toward the vision of owning their lives to become someone who would have a great contribution to make in their world.

What is your or your child's God-given personality?

What motivates their heart? Your heart?

How are you painting a vision for the person they will become when they learn to "take the reins?" How are you cultivating a vision for the person you might become when you allow God to take the reins and lead you?

The Gift of a Happy Mama & Surprise Podcast

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“Mama, I feel so much better in life when I know you are happy. You are sort of the barometer for how all of us are doing. When you are ok, I feel like the world has the possibility of having hope.”

The grid through which you see life will determine how you behave, and here’s an important truth: Children want a happy mama. Having a mama with a smile in her heart makes children feel filled up in their own little hearts, because mamas  are the compass that lead children to joy in life.

I do not intend to put burdens on mothers to cause them to feel as though they have to perform to be happy even when life is hard. But when we learn to choose to celebrate life, to cultivate contentment, we can give our children, husband and friends a sense of hope in their own lives.

Happiness is a choice that comes from a heart desiring to please God. It is an attitude of the will which says, "This is the day the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

How to develop this attitude little by little is another thing all together. The more you practice and choose these heart expressions of happiness, the more happy your home will become!

Cultivating Happiness In Your Home

Before you even step out of bed, put your eyes on Jesus and talk to Him.

"Jesus, this is your day. I can only have enough strength for all that I carry if You carry it for me, and if You give Your Spirit's life into the moment of my days. Please help me to worship You today by choosing to be thankful for the gifts of my children. This is Your day, Lord and I want it to be a day when You are present every moment. I love You, Jesus, and am thankful for You being with me."

When you first see your children or husband after you’ve been apart, greet them with a blessing. Kiss your husband in front of your children---this makes them feel happy and secure. Choose to take time to tell him goodbye and kiss him before he goes to work.

"I am the most blessed mama in the world to have you as my little boy."

"Good morning sunshine. I am happy to see you this morning. Did you have any dreams?'

"Mama needs a kiss from you today because you are so very special to me."

"I am so happy to be your mama! God must have loved me to give me you."

When a child grows up with a blessing most every morning when he awakens, he feels wanted and affirmed deep inside.

Put on music at different points all day…

-when you do the dishes or chores with your children

-at the dinner table (instrumental so everyone can talk.)

-when you are in the car, when you have a sick child, when you are alive— in other words, all the time!

Certain music, scientists have said, can lower blood pressure, soothe the nerves, give people a sense of contentment, and help some children do better at math.

Place fun things in your day that you will enjoy, as well as your family. I instituted afternoon tea times because I wanted a civilized moment and it made me happy— a candle, a cuppa, and a small treat like a piece of dark chocolate.

I love to walk, sing, dance, have fun, and live with beauty and harmony, so I place things every day in my life that give me happiness or a sense of fun.

The more you cultivate happiness for yourself, the more happy you will be--and the happier your children will be! Practice being thankful every day--take time to look at the antics, and into the eyes  of your children and thank God for them.

May your days be happy and bright!

Keeping Your Soul Alive So You Can Thrive! ICYMI Podcast

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ICYMI—In Case You Missed It!

Many of you have heard me tell the story of Joel, as a teenager, when we had come home to a messy house after conference season was ended.

"Mama, don't you worry. We can clean up our messes like always, and then it will get messy again. But, please mom, what we want from you, is a happy mom. When you are happy the world goes well. When you are unhappy, we all feel guilty. So, mama, can you just chill today and be happy? Then we can all have a good day!"

Kristen and I have both pondered how to cultivate a long-term sense of joy in the life of our own homes. The beginning of joy is to cultivate an inner attitude that is willing to see every day as a gift, every season as one in which you can enjoy the presence of God.

We have realized that it is our attitude in our heart that will determine how peaceful we will be at each season. If you learn to expect limitations, difficulties, stress and life and children pushing back against your best efforts, you will have a more realistic view of what it means to be a mom. Depression often comes from disappointed expectations. If we are surprised or angry every time something goes wrong or a child has a new developmental challenge or they keep eating, wearing clothes and making messes, you will spend a lot of your motherhood years being angry and disappointed.

We will never change the stress level by being angry or bitter.

Often, when we fight against the very nature of motherhood, we find ourselves fighting against God.  

Funny that we want our children to change their attitudes, but somehow we feel we have a right to our own bad attitudes. But they end up draining our energy and stealing from the potential joy of life. Live into this season, accepting the limitations and learn to see each season as something God designed for a purpose. Don't try to rush life or push your children to develop or be independent too early.

This season is from God to slow you down, to train you to be more humble, more in the moment, more patient--to build the very character of Christ into the deep places of your heart. Learn and don't resist what He has built into this season and even though you will always feel exhausted, your heart will be more at peace, happier, if you know it has a purpose.

My Own Journey

Having three children in less than five years was a shock to my whole being. Not only had I not been trained for motherhood, I had not been developed to live a selfless life. No one told me about how much I would have to give, how much I would have to sacrifice--forever! Having grown up with two older brothers as the only girl of the family, my mama at times just wanted to spoil her little dolly. I was spoiled much of the time, left alone to fend for myself other times, but definitely not prepared to have multiple children, nurse my babes, have them naturally, and then homeschool them eventually.

Idealist should be my middle name. I wanted all of this, and to be the best mom in the world, but had no realistic idea of how to accomplish it. Today, I thought I would address some of the desperate times and a few ways I have learned to cope with them.

Always a new phase, always needs

The baby-toddler-never sleep years when you lose your body shape, have someone grabbing you all the time and are constantly in and out of different sizes of clothes (that is, if you have time to shop for clothes!) were daily, moment by moment a challenge to my centered-ness in life. Losing total control all the time, every day, day after day, was a shock to my system.

Is anyone really prepared for exhaustion that lasts for years on end? I wasn't. Besides having children in quick succession, which meant I always had immature little beings making messes, fussing, sleeping, potty training or making messy diapers and getting me up at night. I fell in love with my children--just had this overwhelming, deep affection for them, but still would blow my stack, be impatient when they pushed all my buttons and I felt vague desperate feelings.

I look back now and just wish I had understood baby years. And the pre-school years, and the teen years, and and and. Because I have lived through it all, I know I had God-given capacity to complete the tasks, and I am a richer, stronger person for my journey. God made each season for His own purposes. God made babies to be dependent so we could touch them, sing to them, bond with them, teach their little brains to believe in His love because of the way we tenderly cared for them and enjoy their sweet fat baby hand pats and smiles reserved for us. This is a time to try to just breathe, to try to notice the moments, to kiss often, smile into their precious eyes, and simplify. If you are feeling stressed because your babies push against your own schedule and expectations of life, know that you are normal. Feeling guilty for having these normal feelings is a waste of time. Just learn to grow stronger and more resilient one day at a time.

But seeking to bring gentle order, little by little, in each season of life is an essential part of having a more ordered, peaceful home.. Have eating times, play times, feeding times, bed times at the same time every day. When a little one or big one knows what to expect by the rhythms he lives in, he will be more secure and more calm. These are the anchors that bring order to the day. Babes who are held more during the day are quieter and more at peace. Teenagers who have lots of private "talk to me", "understand me" time are less likely to rebel against the mom and dad's ideals.

It requires so much of you every day, all the time--so to understand this is how to be an effective mom, learning to be a servant leader over and over again in every season, all the time, will help you to understand your long term call. I practically carried Joy everywhere we went, all the time, when I read to the kids, when I did things around the house, just kept her close and she was sooo much more calm and slept so much better. And during her young and elementary years, I sought to read to her, play with her and blow bubbles and rock her to sleep at night, just as my  teens were wanting me to stay up, talk to them, understand them, be their friend.  And, when I fell into bed exhausted,  then before I knew it, Joy would be up again wanting my attention, early in the morning. But now, I am sooo grateful that God led me through these years, because my children's hearts are tied closely to mine and we have grown into each other's best friends.

To live inside yourself thinking that at some particular time, you will have more time to yourself, or have more control, is an expectation that will probably be disappointed. Life does become easier when children are old enough to help, to do things for themselves, to learn a little more independently. Yet, each seasons requires a different kind of energy for us as moms.

Learning to see God's design in all the stages gives meaning to the journey. But to have the wrong expectations about life becoming suddenly easier brings disappointment. Disappointed expectations can lead to depression. Anger can result. So learning to accept the limitations of a realistic life and learning to see each day as a gift, a place to worship God by choosing to accept the limitations is the beginning of growth.

 Make Yourself Happier! Learning to manage your life so that you can refill your heart, mind and body on a regular basis is essential to good health.

Invest in your own soul's need for pleasure, because it is a God-given desire--make room for pleasure in your days, so that in spite of the seasons, you take care of yourself. Sometimes it is more important for a mama to take a nap than to wash dishes (and isn't that what paper plates are for?)

Sometimes it is better to go to dinner or lunch or brunch with a friend, or go to a movie that is romantic, to buy yourself a new dress or earrings, or go get a message, than to stay home and gaze at all of your problems and worry or focus on being depressed. Whatever you water is going to grow. If you cultivate fears, stress, worries, anger, then you will grow more anxious and darker every day. But if you learn how to release these issues into the file drawer of heaven, into God's hands, and then lighten your load, you will walk with more realistic joy and contentment. Learning to cultivate hope and joy, to water the faith and happiness of your life, is an essential commitment to becoming a wise woman.

These are my pleasures that keep me happier and stronger:

  • I make time with old friends--those who get me and still love me, who are fun, who know my limitations, heartbreaks, weariness, desires and dreams, and don't criticize or want something from me. These friendships have been built over many years. Having adventures together or just sitting on couches in front of the fireplace, chatting as the flames crackle and the night gets late fills up my soul.

  • A hot bath with candles late at night when NO ONE can disturb me is another treat I love. My clan doesn't go to bed usually until midnight, so I have to hide myself away when I just need a moment.

  • Sitting on the front porch watching the sun go down with something wonderful to drink and music playing out of my little Bose Speaker that goes everywhere I go. Peace, calm, beauty, quiet--so rare and so soul filling for me.

  • A one-woman 15 minute tea or coffee time in the middle of the day.

  • Ten minutes reading the psalms and then quick prayer, refocuses my mind on who God is and how much He loves me and desires to help me.

  • Going for long walks early in the morning or early evening--(the adrenalin builds up in me and I walk hundreds of miles a year to equalize my blood sugar  and heart attitudes.) It is a great way to build friendship with your children, too.

  • Travel--I love adventure and change, (I was ADD before my children were born!) so I have taken myself and the kids to new places if I could figure out how to save money to afford it or speak to pay for my travel--or stay with friends along the way.

  • I have learned the wonderful value of massages in the past couple of years. I save, save to make this happen on occasion.

  • Watching a beautiful movie or reading a long great inspiring novel gives me hope.

  • Dark chocolate salted almonds

  • Reading my little daily Bible time book, reading even a half chapter in an inspiring spiritual book--even a little progress helps-- and writing one thing I have thought or learned in my journal. Spiritual strength keeps my attitude stronger--longer.

  • Spending time, with one or both of my girls, shopping and doing girl things-- just hanging out on our beds talking.

  • Lighting candles all times of day (when I need atmosphere--not wo much when the kids were little--but when I needed to pretend that the mundane day would be special. It was a sort of visual reminder of what I needed to live int.) Having my music playing or buying myself flowers. Beauty lifts my spirit.

In making beauty for yourself, others around you will learn to love and celebrate life, and they will learn to take care of themselves, too. Even those little babies that seem to need you all the time will eventually mimic the habits you practice!

What is therapy to your soul? What 2 things will you do this week? Share your ideas--I may need a new one!

Honor & Obeying Parents (Our 24 Family Ways #3) & Podcast

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24 Family Ways # 3

We honor and obey our parents in the Lord with a respectful attitude.

Memory Verse:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother

(which is the first commandment with a promise)

so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Ephesians 6: 1-2

From the first days of life, we speak the attitudes of faith into our little babies. When we treat them with gentleness and respond to them with patience and treat them as little infants of great value, we are already training the value of honor and respect into their brain patterns.

We are living in a time in which everyone is fair game for criticism, every person can be devalued. Especially in online places, there seems to be no decorum that would suggest we should treat others with respect our of our respect for Christ.

If we do not teach our children the value of honoring us as parents, or adults in charge of them, or people in positions of authority, then they will never have a trained heart attitude that says, “I must bow the wishes and needs of my own heart in order to please God.

Children must be taught to submit, even as we adults need to remember that we are to be people who can submit. God is our King and maker and He is in authority over us. We must place areas of practicing this in real life in order for our children to understand what it means to fear and serve our wonderful God.

Honor is a value that must have precedence in a home, so that a child can understand the importance of  people, and  to learn to bow their knee before others who deserve respect.

Honor comes with humility—the ability to see others as more important than ourselves. To teach honor and obedience means we will have to cross our children, confront their selfish wills.

Hebrews says, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline,

and don’t give up when he corrects you.

6For the LORD disciplines those he loves,

and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”f

7As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

Training and discipline and correction is what the 24 Family Ways is all about—training our children to live by Biblical values. This takes lots of time, over and over and over again training. Remember that you have taken many years to move from immaturity to maturity and probably if you are like me, you still have a ways to go. Patience is needed with all people who are in the process of learning to practice God’s ways.

The beginning of learning to value a fetus, an old, frail or infirm adult, or a person of different race or color begins with the heart attitude of learning to honor and learning to submit oneself to others.

hon·or

Definition: to show high respect or esteem

To regard with great respect

obey

to submit to the authority of someone

to comply with a law

Many years ago, I was taking Sarah, Joel, Nathan and Joy to a children's museum in Ft. Worth. We were standing in line behind what appeared to be grandparents with a little boy about 5 or 6. As we stood waiting our turn to enter, the little boy suddenly laid down on the floor, began screaming and then when his grandpa tried to pick him up, the boy started slapping and hitting and spitting on him.

Immediately all four of my children looked back at my face to see what I was going to do. Joel said, "Mama, don't you know? We always look at your eyes to see what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to behave and react in life."

What do your children see when they look at your eyes?

Children naturally look to their parents for an example and model of what is expected.

One of the reasons, I believe, that God required children to honor  and obey their parents was to give them a visual and actual practice of what it would look like to give honor  and obey and value and worship to God.

How can our children learn the value of worshiping and honoring God if they have not seen it in the warp and woof of their daily lives?

It is very difficult to behave in belief and in worship to God--to understand that we are below him and are to bow to His holiness--if we have never been required to show respect to others in our lives.

There must be some visible, actual ways of teaching children respect and honor as a heart value so that they can learn the concept.

There are so many practical ways and tips to teach a child honor and obedience.

However, the most important thing to realize is that it starts with the heart. 

Respect, giving worth and honor to someone, is not a matter of forcing a child to submit to an authority  because the parent  is  stronger and bigger and can exert his power. Force of authority is the opposite of winning and training a child's heart to honor and obedience.

HOW DO WE TEACH THIS VALUE?

"Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" I Peter 3:15

It begins with an attitude of gentleness and reverence from our own obedient and honoring heart. The power is in our own maturity to train in maturity.

A wise mother looks into the heart of her child to understand what is mulling around in the mind and seat of thoughts and motivation. Honor is passed on to a child when we take the time to know their personality, understand their heart attitude and to be able to say or evaluate if a behavior was merely foolishness or if behavior showed a disrespectful and rebellious heart.

I corrected my children so very often because of the attitude I could detect--when they were willful or prideful or selfish in response to a person or situation--much more than I corrected for behavior.

Wise behavior was trained and modeled and corrected over time. However the essence of training our children to honor and obey was an issue of teaching them to submit their wills out of a heart of respect, rather than out of us forcing them to comply.

Understand that all of us are sinful and selfish and that our human way is to "push against" anyone who infringe upon our rights. And so it is natural to be selfish and immature, but it is supernatural to be mature. 

To become mature takes a whole lifetime--at least I am still working on it. To grow in maturity and to become wiser, humbler and more discerning and submissive in my behavior has taken me years of input, training, understanding, conviction, reforming my ways and repenting--and it is a process, not a one time act.

And so it is with a child, hundreds of times teaching, correcting, loving, training, and over and over again.

For this reason, a parent should not think the child is intentionally disobedient all the time just to thwart the parent--all children are born with such a nature and all children will grow in strength and ability to obey when consistently trained and guided and corrected.

This is a process.

Ours is to wisely keep them on the path of righteousness and to give them the value and love for righteousness and to correct and train them as they are going.

Just a few practical ideas:

When our children were little, we taught them to address adults with "Miss" or "Mister"--as our children called our adult friends either Mister Brown or Miss Deb to show that there was a distinction between adults and children. Different parts of the US and different countries have ways of imparting this understanding of the distance between adults and children, but it is a necessary distinction which helps children to learn the attitude of respect--to see a difference in themselves and in adults and authorities.

Teaching manners  is a wonderful way to teach children to value the worth of other people. Giving up chairs so others have a comfortable seat. Letting other adults or guests go first in line at a buffet, or serving our guests food or beverages before we were served were small ways of building a pattern of giving honor to others more than ourselves, so that our children could understand the whole concept.

Writing thank you notes and noticing the worth of other people through words helped our children have a pattern for respect. Honoring those in position--a pastor, a teacher, the President, leaders--in front of our children instead of always criticizing them in our children's presence helped them to learn that we also honored people.

In a world of cynicism and sarcasm, we must rule over the influences of our children when so often media and the internet feels that any person and any office is something open to being criticized or being made fun of in public.

This creates a culture that has no sense of honor or respect. Guarding our words and behavior is so important if we are to instill a heart value for respect, rather than just trying to force obedience.

Even small babes can learn to honor their parents by teaching them to use self-control. When our babes were very young and they were whining or screaming, but old enough to understand us, we would place them in a crib and say, "I am so sorry, but mommy (or Daddy) cannot listen to you while you scream or whine (or whatever). When you choose to talk to me in a normal voice, I will listen to you."

It was amazing how quickly our children learned to talk in quiet, gentle voices--even as young, crying babes.

But for a child to learn honor, a parent must display honor. The way we speak to each other and to our children should be with pleasant, loving words and voices. When we expect them to learn civility and honor, we have to exhibit it ourselves in the way we treat other people. (generally speaking, of course --we all raise our voices or become angry or frustrated on occasion.)  And even if we do become angry or raise our voices, we should always apologize if we expect our children to apologize. We must exhibit the same behavior we are expecting of them.

How can we train our children to act respectfully if we do not behave in a civilized, gentle, respectful way?

But then there is the second part of the way: obeying our parents with a respectful attitude.

Though this is a big area, and I cannot possibly address it all in one small article, the process of teaching a child the pattern of obeying is a long term pathway of learning obedience, little by little.

Teaching children to obey is essential to their character and moral strength, but it is a process. The beginning of learning obedience is to learn a value like this one--We honor and obey our parents with a respectful attitude.

So many parents do not teach basic expectations but merely react to their children in frustration--without having ever laid down the training of expectations of what is to be obeyed.

This merely frustrates parent and child as it is difficult for a child to learn to obey if they have never been told what is expected of them--any more than I could expect to please an employer if I did not clearly understand what was expected.

Training little by little is the key to having long term obedience and honor.

Since Clay and I believe that parenting is an organic process, considering the personalities of children, the sex and age of children and the ways to reach the children's hearts, we do not give specific advice but wisdom principles to follow.

Consequently, the first place to start is in giving our children a pattern of what to expect by being with them all the time when they are little so that we can speak to their little hearts, needs, shaping their values and understanding of behavior by directing it.

The children whose parents are most engaged and involved when their children are little are, generally speaking, the ones whose children are easier to train, as the children have learned to expect attention and love and training.

And so we teach them this way, teach them the memory verse and use this way and verse as a way of correction:

What is our way about obedience? What do you need to do in order to obey mommy now?

And so that I do not write a whole book tonight, I will leave you with this thought:

How are you modeling honor and obedience to God in  your home, by your attitudes, actions and obedience--so that your children will have a true picture to follow?

Lighting a Candle in Your Family's Darkness

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"Mama, one of the things that most distinguishes you is that you are always a hopeful person. No matter what would happen, you always pointed us to hope."

How surprised I was to hear this, as I have often felt that I was a struggler through the many challenges that threatened to overcome us in our lives.

Many years ago, I realized that children long to have a happy mother. Our children are growing up in a time when media spreads the gloom and doom of catastrophes, fears and threats. When the mama spreads light and thankfulness--and hope in the darkness, then children feel secure and safe. But when a mama lives darkly, the children harbor fear, insecurity and blame themselves for parent's being angry or sad. Hope is not natural--it is supernatural. Hope comes welling up from deep inside because of a belief that God is good. That He will win in the end. That there is always hope when God is present.

Women who choose hope and who choose to trust God are those who, instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle. But it is a choice of the will. Hope is not a feeling, it is a commitment to hold fast to what scripture reminds us is true about God.

Knowing scripture, pondering and taking it into your soul, is what gives each of us fuel to live the Christian life, as we listen to the Holy Spirit guide us through the wisdom we have learned. The only way to live well is to live in fellowship with God. Nothing else will satisfy.

We live in an imperfect world filled with disappointments, devastation, and difficulty. Without hope, our lives can feel absolutely purposeless sometimes. In my own life, I have struggled with hardships I never could have seen coming. My heart has been broken, my faith has been tested, and I have had to push myself in ways that I couldn't have imagined. Circumstances will come our way, and we will always have a choice to make. We can choose to give up, or we can choose hope.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13

Oh to allow the Holy Spirit to fill me to overflowing with hope.

Hope it not just wishful thinking. Hope is an assurance that our king has ultimately won the raging battle. Hope teaches us that this is the broken place where we have the honor of believing Him who is fighting on our behalf.

Hope anchors the soul and keeps us grounded.

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil." (Hebrews 6:19).

When we have nothing else to rely on, our hope in God is what connects us to what is true. As Romans 15:13, above,  tells us, when we put our trust in God, we can overflow with hope. This hope from the Holy Spirit is such a powerful entity, it can make us truly unstoppable.

But faith is a choice that requires us to relinquish our fears, doubts and worries into the hands of God--like a child who says, "I will trust my mama and daddy because I know they are good and reliable." So we say, I will give this into His hands because I know He is good and loving and reliable.

Hope gives us the strength to take on our future. Hope can cure the incurable. No circumstance, no problem, no issue, no devastation is too large or too difficult for God to take on. However, we have to choose this hope. We must receive it. Sometimes, life can beat us down and make us feel absolutely defeated. But when we choose to carry the hope God has given us, we are able to overcome anything.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,  (the conviction of things not seen.) Hebrews 11:1

My hope rests in God's character and ability to see me through. He who answers prayer. He who is always good. He who has overcome the world. He who has forgiven every sin. He who will never leave me or forsake me. I can leave my issues in the file drawer of heaven and know that He has the ability to work them out and to cause, "all things to work together for the good for them who love Him."

The God-given gift of hope is the best possible medicine for any hardship in life. My hope says that I am willing to wait on God's timing, God's way and God's will with a belief that I will look back and be amazed at the ways He showed his faithfulness. My hope is what carried me through health issues, struggles in my family, going five years without a salary, and so much more. Hope is the physician of each misery, and God has given us this gift to heal us from our pasts so that we may have a future that is full of joy and light.

Do your children watch you in your tests of faith and see you walking in hope and trust as an example to them of how they will need to live their adult lives?

Precious Heavenly Father,

I humbly acknowledge that you are faithful and that you see me and know my battles. Lord, I want to choose to be a person of hope because of my faith in you. Please take my burdens into your own hands, and through the Holy Spirit, restore my heart to peace. Let my choice to praise you please you, because my spiritual service of worship is to hope in you each day. Thank you for your patience and love for me. I love you, too, sweet Lord.

Ellie Holcomb, Delighting with Song & an Unforgettable Book & Podcast

 Congratulations, Ellie, on the birth of your precious little boy and the birth of your wonderful book and songs.

Congratulations, Ellie, on the birth of your precious little boy and the birth of your wonderful book and songs.

One of the pleasures of hosting a podcast and be engaged in ministry is the sweetness of getting to rub shoulders with women who deeply love the Lord and are kindred spirits. Ellie Holcomb is such a woman. Her deep love for God, His word, a joyful reverence for life and a deep love for children combined to give us such a wonderful time to visit recently.

Ellie’s whole life has been surrounded by music and she has invested her own creative artistry by not only producing music that inspires, but also the most wonderful new children’s book, Who Sang the First Song.

With captivating illustrations and a delightful story, your children will want to read this book over and over and over again until it is deep inside their little hearts. I know you will be lifted up as you hear our conversation together.

Ellie said, “ Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to sing (in fact- my parents have been known to say that life with me as a kid was like living in a musical)! So I got curious about who sang the first song. What did the world sound like as God created it?! I loved these questions, so I set out to write a book so that we could explore not so much HOW God made the world, but WHY He created the world and each one of us. My sincere hope is that children (and the adults reading to them) would be reminded of who and WHOSE we are...and that as we remember how God created us and loves us, our hearts and lives would sing for the joy of being loved!”

-Ellie Holcomb

Ellie has also created songs to go along with the book. With Sing: Creation Songs, Ellie Holcomb created a beautiful, Scripture rooted, children’s musical project that fits perfectly with her current musical catalog. With this new collection, she wanted to write songs that were directly inspired by both God’s word and His beautiful Creation, so each song is tied to specific Scripture and full of rich imagery from the world around us. She wants children to be able to sing these songs and see evidence all around them of what they are singing.

I wrote most of the songs for this record during the spring, and I’m pretty sure I ended up moving outside each time I wrote,” she shares. “I was completely inspired by Creations’ song, whether it was the birds, or the stars, or the trees reaching high towards the heavens, or flowers blooming so colorfully that they looked ready for a party.”

I know you will love hearing her share about her love for children and love for passing on a spiritual heritage. I so enjoyed our time together.

To find Ellie in other places, just look for Ellie Holcomb and you will find her.


Sing: Creation Songs
By Ellie Holcomb
Who Sang the First Song?
By Ellie Holcomb

We Read God's Word Daily (Our 24 Family Ways #2) & Podcast

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Way #2 We read the Bible every day and pray to God with an open heart. 

Memory Verse

"All scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction  in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

II Tim 3: 16-17

When Sarah was giving a talk several years ago, she said something that heartened me. She remembered waking up early in the mornings to find me sitting in my favorite chair in the living room or another in my bedroom, reading my Bible.

"I knew her diligence and devotion was what shaped her life, and it always made me expect that I could learn and hear from God in my own life," Sarah shared as she talked of what personal integrity looked like in reality.

The habit of coming to God every day, taking time specifically to seek Him, to listen to Him, to ponder His ways and engage in His truth is the most profound action that will shape your life.

I hardly need to say I was not perfect, and some stressful, crisis seasons found this habit not happening every single day. Yet I found that reading God's word and praying was essential to my ability to continue taking one more step in the direction of my own ideals--the fuel for my strength when life was exhausting. It is a habit I want to help others learn how to develop.

If I am serious about God, I must be serious about investing in Him. Others need the truth He teaches me. More voices and messages invade the sound waves of our brains today than ever before. Living in a melting pot of cultures, where all religions and values and morals drift together and are said to be equal; where all varieties of moral behavior are validated and find acceptance; where television and film and the internet smudge the clear borders of truth every day, promoting violent behavior and dark themes; means the call to teach children has never been more important or profoundly necessary.

We must not underestimate the draw these voices have in our lives and those of our children as they become young adults and begin to make decisions that will determine the outcome of their lives. They must know the voice of the real, true, loving, living God; not just platitudes of moral rules. Only real wisdom and scripture will do.

Building Foundations that Cannot be Moved 

We build the foundational belief system and understanding of truth and God's nature and ways, in our children's minds, one day at a time, one brick at a time. For our children to have a strong standard of truth invading and speaking to their invisible thoughts, their minds must be filled with thousands of teachings of scripture so their brains will have a "go to" place when they are making decisions about their lives.

As so many women have heard from me over the years, "In the absence of Biblical conviction, people will go the way of culture.”

In other words, if a child has not been taught and trained and instructed in the wisdom of God's word and learned to pray to become familiar with His voice, then the child will grow up to listen to the voices he has invested in the most.

If a woman has not invested her mind to engage in true biblical principles, she will not have the ammunition in her soul to fight the values and voices of culture.

A heart that is filled with and informed by Biblical convictions does not just happen. It is shaped intentionally over many years, day by day, circumstance by circumstance, repeated literally thousands of times.

It all starts with a mom who is willing to train and disciple her children and to pay the price of commitment, time, and winsomeness and preparation over many years of time.

So we read the Bible every day in our home and pray with an open heart, and now our children do the same, because that habit was the very life and inspiration they breathed into their hearts day in and day out.

Do not be hard on yourself, mama. Just start out with 5-10 minutes, and build a habit worth following!

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." 

Deut. 6:4-9

Children Need Freedom and Fairy Tales!

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“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” ― C.S. Lewis


     Research of every kind indicates that constant media intake, lack of outside time, over-entertainment, too much exposure to sexual material and immoral values at an early age, and many other of the ills of our age are destroying the souls of children. Many are being pushed and pulled, dragged from one activity to another, and forced to fit into the time boxes convenient to adults.  This stress is wreaking havoc on a generation of children who show the evidence of adult illnesses at early ages, small vocabularies, vastly growing obesity levels, and so much more.


     Children are starving for real life and drowning in the midst of an empty one. The old fashioned way of raising children seems to be the healthiest way to raise emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually resilient children. Children are natural imitators, so we must fill their lives and minds with worthy people and ideas, with heroes to imitate, so they can practice what they will be when they grow up.


     May our children not grow up to imitate addiction to the computer. May they not learn passivity displayed by adults ignoring their needs while paying too much attention to Facebook, blogs, and cell phones. May they not copy the habit as they observe parents dwelling hour after hour in front of impersonal machines, while neglecting to honor and invest in real time relationships.


Sarah, my oldest daughter, often speaks about what it means to have a soul thoroughly alive. She describes rooms in the soul and heart that need to be attended to, in order for beauty, intelligence, creativity, emotional health, a sense of a joyfully fulfilling life to grow. These are truly fundamental needs which must be met in order for a person to flourish.


     Children's brains are being robbed of intellectual exercise because they are not doing the things that children have done throughout history. Children need lots of freedom and time to use their imaginations, in order to synthesize all they are learning and thinking about. They need to be read to, and to have their brains filled with moral strength, values, and stories that inspire.


     When they are constantly entertained by media, their brains actually become clinically slowed down,  because they are overstimulated. A child's undeveloped eyes and brain cannot deal with too much visual stimulation, so the brain actually shuts down in areas when bombarded.  Because they are deprived of what their bodies and brains are designed to have--rest, free play, curiosity, interaction with real people and real experiences, problems to solve, fairy tales to spur their imaginations--there is a diminishing of long term emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Unfortunately, most children are not given the freedom to exercise life choices in the oxygen of creative play, and have forgotten how to exist without constant entertainment.


     Children need to be outdoors. They need time to be bored so that they will have to figure out how to occupy their time creatively.


     They need to be around books, to have lots and lots of imaginative stories read to them and then have time to pretend the stories. They need lots of time with adults so that they can pattern their values and manners and relationships after mature people, rather than always being in the company of immature children or media images which display violence, foolishness, and questionable values.


     Children will reflect their environment. Excellence and creativity are the result of a life well-ordered and planned--intentional living out of what is real, true, acceptable, and good. 


     May all children be blessed with the gift of play, imagination, free time and the space to be outdoors to explore. May they wonder at the marvels of God's creation. May they have the treasure of real human beings who hold their hands while exploring the world, who rock them to sleep and sing them real songs and scratch their backs at bedtime and tell them their own love stories. And may they daily hear the words of their creator God, marvel at His excellence, and grow to love Him with all of their hearts.

Autumn Quietly Reminds us that Life is Quickly Passing By & Podcast

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Overwhelming, take your breath away, beauty on my walk in Oxford this week.

Autumn is my favorite season of the year.

The chill crisp air washed with the golden light beams smiles at my child heart that still hopes for excitement and possibility in my days. The vibrantly painted leaves wrap a love song around my heart and whisper of His playful invitation to find Him while he dances about in the light and shadows of my late afternoon walks.

As I breathe in the beauty and take time to look and hear, signposts of life are surrounding me everywhere. The leaves that were so green and flourishing a few weeks ago, are now drying and falling to the ground to make room for another year, another harvest in the future. The changing weather whispers, “change is coming, your days are shorter than they used to be.” With each leaf swirling delicately toward the ground, are reminders that we all have limitations to the story we live in life, I see the autumn more clearly than ever before.

You will not have this season ever again to invest in, to pour out your life, to store up wisdom, to patiently serve others. This is the message of fall, time passes.

My life is changing and I must recognize the way that time marches on.

I don't have as much time left to invest love, kingdom messages, and worship of God as I used to have--

My children are grown and I cannot take them into my lap, tell them a bedtime story or have them come to me for all their needs, questions or decisions.

We are very close, best of friends, by God's grace. but now, they help me, counsel me. I wait for their calls--they do not do my bidding anymore, they make their own choices of how to invest their time, love and messages.

What a season of delight to have had my home full of giggles, discoveries, while I was the centerpiece of life. What a gift to be a mother and to embrace the season of raising my children, who are now the best work of my whole life.

With all seasons, God speaks to us through nature and His own visual art. In splendid glory and bursting color, autumn teaches us that life is always changing. Life and this season right now, is about to change. Life passes quickly and the autumn of any part of our lives reminds us that one more year, journey, season is about to pass. Another season is gusting and whirling quickly forward to blow away the leaves and to bring the stark reality of another season, its own beauty and its own limitations.

We will never have this year, this day, this moment in which to invest again—it will be fleeting and over, as one autumn marks another year soon to be past.

The beauty of the dry, dying leaves reminds us that the glory of the season is almost gone, and so we must do our best to cherish the days if we are to be wise.

Today is the day in which I may pour out love by writing a note, making a call, serving a cup of tea, praying for one I love. Perhaps this is the day I might bring inspiration, Serving and touching hearts, Pointing in this moment of glory, the divine creator. Teaching what is true and right and good, Modeling faith, forgiveness, mercy and unconditional love.

The ministry of motherhood must be personal—back rubs, giggles, eyes really seeing into the face and soul of the one being listened to, words of affirmation and trust, and prayers before the throne of God diligently whispered from a heart that knows only He can create the life of Christ inside the very ones I serve…

May we understand, computers and social media waste so much time, cell phones can rob us of the facial expression, the hand held, the warm embrace or moment together watching the sunset; and chores are never more important than those they serve.  Frenzied activity sucks up time and steals light and life from the real, right in front of us, little one needing the planting of love, and faith, hope and truth.

A real little human being requires the nourishment of real love poured out daily, gentleness served up with a willing heart and the attentiveness of an adult who is willing to serve. These little ones must have our healthy gift of love, time and patience, as a flower needs real water, and sunshine over and over again if it is going to bloom to its fullest potential, so those in our lives need the sunshine of our words of blessing and the water of our coming along side them day after day.

I think I will find some way today to encourage my own precious ones—a phone call, an email, a message to lift them up today.When this day is past, I must hope that I have used it well and invested wisely because I will never have it to live over again, and soon, very soon, the autumn of motherhood will remind us, that this season of planting and harvesting is almost over.

I wish you blessings of wisdom as you measure your minutes and days,

Grace as you choose what will last for eternity in the minds and hearts of those who will carry you with them in their hearts the rest of their lives.

Today, I am praying for you, because this day, this season, matters so much.

Take time to notice the miraculous, to hear the music, to dance to the joy that today might bring and to rest in the endless love of one who is preparing a feast for us in the not too distant future.

What Is Most Important: Loving God (Our 24 Family Ways #1)

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24 Family Ways #1

"We love and obey our Lord, Jesus Christ, with wholehearted devotion."

Memory verse: "And He said to them, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment." Matt. 22:37-38

Rainbow light shone through a multi-colored stain glass window which looked like it was a passage to heaven. Our normally wiggly, chattery clan became silent as they walked into the lovely chapel and heard the quiet music wafting up to the very rafters where the light was shining through. Oddly enough, the beauty, formality and music hushed them and they sat mostly reverently through the hour-long service.

"Mama, you felt like you had to be quiet 'cause everything was so special, pretty, and respectful," piped one of my little ones, when asked what they thought of the new church we visited.

This was the first time our family had ever attended such a formal service together, and it was enlightening to see what the effect the sacred place of exquisite design and beauty had on the attitudes of my children.

Almost every time I read a story about someone who saw the glory of God, the effect of His blinding splendor was that they bowed down in fear, in reverence, hiding their eyes from the glory of God. The starting point for any real training must be a reverence, respect, and proper awe of God, Himself.

The first "way" of Our 24 Family Ways is about learning to see the sacred, and to honor things that are holy. If we do not learn to understand that some things are special and set aside as a picture of great and intrinsic worth, designed to show the eminence and infinity of God's glory in our own homes and lives, we will never learn to honor God.

Honor of God begins with an honor of what is holy in our lives. All people are made in God's image, so they are sacred and have great worth in eternity. Marriage, the commitment of two people to enter into a union and pledge before God of faithfulness is sacred and holy.

Many things that used to be considered sacred--human life, the elderly, churches and burial grounds, people in position of authority and accomplishment, parents, marriage, teachers, public figures--all of these are often torn apart, ridiculed, and devalued in contemporary culture. When every vestige of truth can be ridiculed, cynicism runs so rampant that no one can believe in innocence, modesty, or sincerity anymore.

At this time in history, where very little is considered sacred or holy, we must seek diligently to create not just knowledge of what the word holy means, but to place tangible practices in our lives where we and our children come to learn that some things are sacred and set apart and deserve our reverence and worship.

Honor starts with the respectful ways we treat others in our home--the way we speak to our children with respect, the way we give our attention to and interact with our husbands, the way we treat strangers or others who come across our paths.

When we learn to give value to others by serving them, we will be much more likely honor God--and honoring God is the first commandment. Loving God and honoring Him with our whole hearts is the starting place for appropriate worship, which says He is worthy of our praise and service our whole life long. Honor is a heart attitude.

Most of our churches are places where there is casual dress, talking and chattering, informal behavior, so much so that the behavior and jokes told and manners of most people could not be differentiated from the behavior they would display at a restaurant or in any other casual place.

We make fun of our Presidents and leaders and feel no guilt or twinge of conscience for voicing every sort of opinion on Facebook. We criticize our preachers and leaders. In the name of "freedom," we excuse any kind of behavior and speech, with no sense of propriety or restraint. If there is nothing sacred in our lives, then how do we hope to pass on a sense of awe, Godly fear and respect to our children?

How have you instilled reverence and devotion to God in your children? 

Have you seen things that have intrinsic eternal value degraded in the culture of your world?

Name several ways you can establish a practice of valuing the sacred in your own life.