The Guys in My Life {7.27.16}

There are a lot of guys in my life. My Dad was the first guy I loved. My “forever love” is of course my husband, Pete. We have four sons, a son-in-law, grandsons, brother, brothers-in-law, nephews and a host of other guys who have been a part of our lives. Our only daughter and I have been outnumbered for years but that’s ok. It kind of makes us feel special and we’re surrounded by some fantastic guys.

This summer I had the opportunity to spend some time with three guys that I want to recognize. These young guys (ages 9, 10 and 11) impressed me so much that I can’t stop thinking about it and praising God for them. Each one of them have a bold, brave and humble spirit with a confidence that comes from knowing who they are, whose they are, that they are loved, and that they have a responsibility which they take seriously. They are fun-loving kids and I enjoyed spending time with each of them. However, that’s not what has impressed me the most. strong and courageous Each of them have no hesitation to pray both privately and publicly. I’m not talking about “now I lay me down to sleep” or “thank you for this food” prayers. Their prayers are heartfelt, timely and personal. They are not ashamed, embarrassed or intimidated when it comes to their faith. These guys have prayed at restaurants, in front of each other before going to sleep, whenever and wherever without hesitation. I am so proud of them I could bust! They are living out this scripture to be strong and courageous and I don’t think they even realize it! Many adults, even though they have a strong faith, still find it difficult to publicly pray to  or praise God. I know…I was once one of them. God has brought me a long way with regard to praying publicly and it all started with children. He is so gracious.

Matthew 18:4-6 “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Sam (10), I had the blessing of spending 3 days a week with you this summer. We played games, the piano, rode bikes, watched movies, went swimming, joined reading clubs at our local library and did a Bible study together. We studied Titus, Ezra and Proverbs. We read, discussed and wrote down our observations. I could not be prouder of you. You inspire me to be a better person and set a good example as you watch me live my life. Thank you for still thinking it fun to spend time with Grandma.

Jonah (9), You are new to our family but even though you spent some overnight time with us right away, you were not intimidated at all. You volunteered to ask the blessing over our food when we went out to eat. You didn’t even mind when I put you on the spot to pray with Sam at a family gathering. You are a very social person yet secure in your own skin. It is a blessing to have you in my life.

Caleb (11), I knew your parents before I knew you and then you and Sam became friends. What fun! God gives us unexpected blessings all the time. I am so thankful you were able to have a sleepover this summer with Sam. You also impressed me with your faith and bold confidence. You felt quite comfortable praying in public and in our home. I hope you join us again.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

There are many guys and girls who are just as great as the three I have mentioned above. These three just touched my life personally this summer. praying boys.jpg How about you? Are you encouraging a child? Are you leading by example? Are you praying for them? They need us – all of us.

Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

I want to encourage these guys’ parents to keep leading, keep praying, and keep teaching your children. They are our future and when I look at them, the future seems bright. The fruit you are producing in your children is visible and good. You’ve done a fantastic job but your job is not yet finished. They will encounter opposition, ridicule, etc. and need to be strong to stand firm. So, don’t stop – keep praying, keep ministering, keep walking in faith. You are their role model of what it means to be Christ-like.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

We all need to pray for the children in our families, country, and other parts of the world. Pray they all will receive love, guidance and instruction in the Lord. Pray they will not let society, peer pressure, teenage years, etc. to come in and steal their bold faith and witness. Pray for a renewed faith as they continue to grow and that they will be bold witnesses in their schools, neighborhoods, future workplaces, and communities. Prayer is powerful. It’s something we can all do and that we all need.

Thanks to all the guys in my life. You are a blessing!

Encourage a Child, for Goodness Sake! {3.17.16}

What does it mean to encourage? What is goodness?  This is what the Webster 1828 dictionary says:

ENCOURAGE. To give courage to; to give or increase confidence of success; to inspire with courage, spirit, or strength of mind; to embolden; to animate; to incite; to inspirit.
GOODNESS. The state of being good; the physical qualities which constitute value, excellence or perfection; as the goodness of timber; the goodness of a soil.

Children have been on my heart and mind a lot lately. The children in my family, community, state, nation, and the world at large. I believe our children are in crisis. The lines between right and wrong are blurred. Sometimes there seem to be no boundaries at all. Even if they don’t act like it, or even think it, children need boundaries and want to know that we care enough to set and keep them. Families are falling apart. We are all busy, distracted, and caught up so much in our daily “to do” lists that sometimes we don’t even have time to think, let alone listen to our children. {I know this first hand I am sad to say.} The responsibilities we have before us are daunting to say the least. With our fast paced world, we accomplish much but feel the need to do even more. We don’t seem to get away from our work and technology. When was the last time we turned off our phones and TV’s and communicated with each other, or played a game? Do we even know what to say? Are we anxious about what we are missing on Facebook or Twitter while we are “unplugged”? encourage 2

We all need encouragement – you do and I do. But, what about our children? They need encouragement too, not just direction and discipline. Maybe we are in situations where we do encourage our children on a regular basis. I pray that is true. But, what about the children around us (in our neighborhoods and communities)? Is anyone encouraging them? We can be the ones to take a positive interest in them. We often times we see admirable qualities in action and can encourage, even if we don’t know them. I have seen admirable qualities in our neighborhood children. I have commented on it to some of their parents, but really don’t remember telling the child. They are the ones who need to hear it the most. Sometimes we see an admirable quality that is being used in a negative way. We can comment on that in a positive way as well. It just takes a little finesse (and Holy Spirit’s guiding). I encourage you to think about what some of those qualities might be: determination, steadfastness, kindness, play well with others, integrity, or compassion…you fill in the blanks. Then, encourage someone.

encourage teen 2And, let’s not forget our teenagers. They may be the most vulnerable to negative influences. Think about it…they have temptations to evil all around them. Most of us adults really can’t imagine the pressure they live under every day. Someone is always trying to sell them something – beauty, fame, money, drugs, sex – you name it. All we have to do is turn on the TV to see it. We all, even as adults are bombarded by what we are told by the media – how we need to live and look, what we need to have and do, etc. Think about the teens who see these same ads. Their brains aren’t even fully developed yet. Their reasoning is often times not as good as ours, and ours gets mixed up. They, like all humans, want to be loved and appreciated. If we don’t feel it in a proper way, we’re subject to temptations of the evil forces who promise it (whether face to face or through internet deceit). Their hormones are racing, adulthood is just ahead, and they are finding their way. Perhaps they are the most targeted and less equipped to fight the battle. How do we relate to teens? Do we ignore them, try to avoid them, or encourage them to goodness?

1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

I wonder how many opportunities I have in a given week to encourage a child. How many have I wasted? As God has put this on my heart, I hope it will prompt you to keep your eyes open for children who need an encouraging word from you. So, let’s encourage a child, for goodness sake!