The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn 

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Parenting Unchained Review

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The most important lesson that I have learned as a parent is to be transparent and to be real. I learned that it was not my job to just be a dominant figure in my children’s life but to be a picture of a sinner saved by grace, standing on faith, secure in the gospel. I was to be a servant leader in their life allowing God to use me to lead them to Him… which meant teaching them what it means to be forgiven and to forgive.

In his book, Parenting Unchained: Overcoming the Ten Deceptions That Shackle Christian ParentsDr Dempsey writes: “our walk must match our talk. Parenting is a no-hypocrisy zone!”

Here’s another gem from the book: “The foundation for all things in life, including parenting, is your character, and that’s determined by your relationship with God. As you parent, God wants to mold your character right along with your child’s. Don’t ignore God’s work in your own heart as He directs your work on the hearts of your children. By doing so, you can follow Jesus’s advice to “first take the log out of your own eye, then you can see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).”

I can confirm Dr Dempsey’s words with my own experiences… you can read a little of my own parenting testimony here, Really, It’s Not You. It’s Me., and throughout other various posts in my blog.

In Parenting Unchained, Dr. James D. Dempsey reveals the ten most destructive lies about parenting. He writes from the heart about the way these lies infected his own parenting, and illuminates the Bible’s powerful truths that counter each lie. Both Biblical and practical, each section ends with home activities to help parents take immediate steps to develop their kids’ character–character that lasts when they leave home. 

The last chapters focus on the most important adjustments parents must make with teenagers to prepare them for independence. Weaving humor into strong warnings, Parenting Unchained points out the hazards that derail the parenting journey.

Satan has been pretty busy in this age. He has done a wonderful job of stringing parents out and convincing them they don’t have what it takes to adequately raise their own children. We have been told it takes a village and we can’t do it apart from Dr Phil.  The world has worked hard at trying to tell us that the best thing for our kids is to get them away from us and our influence as soon as possible. It has even come to the point that the world wants us to not even define our children’s gender, but to leave that for them to choose.

Dr Dempsey hits on this lie as well:

Parents outsource much of their responsibility to schools, coaching clinics, and even churches. One reason is that parents often believe they lack the specialized information needed to train their children, so they defer to others. This plays right into the hands of Satan, who wants us to believe that information is all that’s needed to make a good decision. We’re told that if we give our kids all the info they need, they’ll make good decisions and develop right thinking. But as information has increased and our kids have accelerated their intellectual growth, character training has withered. And our society is paying a price. The Information Age has produced smarter sinners!

Dr Dempsey goes on to share that, Satan wants to shut you up. One way he accomplishes this is by making you feel awkward about verbally sharing your faith with others, even your own children.

Satan wants you, as a parent, to be as uninvolved as possible with the foundational development of your children… make no mistake they are after the minds of your children and they are not ashamed to admit it.

Please don’t think that it was an accident that this interview played the morning of a holiday that our children were out of school… Satan is after our kids. Let us not get caught up in the rat race of life and forget that our #1 calling from God is to parent the children He entrusted to us.

You can get the kindle version of Parenting Unchained today (Dec 11th) and tomorrow (Dec 12th) for $0.99. If you are a parent, I would say this would be a $1.00 well spent ;-)

 

 

Just a few more of my favor quotes… this book is filled with some great stuff!

God disciplines His children, and His punishment stings, yet He always forgives His repentant children. Herein lies the most important instructional guide for us as parents: we must have rules (otherwise forgiveness has no relevance), but we must always convey the truth that rules are the result of the relationship, not the cause. Your message must be “I love you, therefore, these are the rules,” not “These are the rules. If you obey them, I will love you.”

…our choice of disciplinary acts should be made with discretion and to achieve a purpose, not out of reactions like anger or revenge. Waiting until we know what to do serves us, and our children, better than jumping in to correct before we have a clear idea of what we want to achieve. Take time to pray that the discipline tool you choose will teach the precise lesson the child needs to learn.

~ Dr James D Dempsey

 

Parenting Unchained disclaimer

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Do You Love Yourself

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In our Sunday school class at Central Baptist Church we are working through a book by Robertson McQuilkin called The Great Omission: A Biblical Basis for World Evangelism. In this book Robertson McQuilkin talks about the three main motives behind what most of us do… Those motives being the love of self, the love of others, and the love of God.

As I sat and listened in our class, our teacher asked if having love for self was wrong, I had to answer, no. As he asked this question two things popped into my mind, one being a Scripture verse (and I had to include a few cross-references of this verse) and the other being a conversation I had just had with my husband the day before.

The Scripture verse…

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18

***

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40

***

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:14

 

Think about it, if we do not love ourself, then how does that translate into our ability to love others? If we do not love ourself then how does that affect our ability to come to the mercy of God?

This leads me back to the conversation that I had with my husband. I rarely watch the news… especially sports news. As I was passing through the living room I overheard a sports caster say something about the Ohio State football team having gone through some major struggles. I asked my husband what struggles, and he shared with me that one of the Ohio State players committed suicide. What upset my husband so much was that this young man climbed into a dumpster and shot himself.

To my husband it appeared that this young man was convinced that he was nothing more than trash. Would it have made the least bit of difference had this young man felt some, even just a smidge, of love for himself?

Is it not the fact that we have at least a bit of self love that leads us to want to be saved from the wrath of God and the fires of hell? If we don’t see the least bit of value in our lives, then why would even consider that God would find us valuable? If we do not have even the smallest amount of love for ourselves then what value are we going to put on the lives of others?

One of my most favorite things about sharing the gospel with people who have never really “done church”, who have never really heard the gospel, who are currently weighed down with the consequences of either their own wrong choices or the wrong choices of others is to share with them Psalm 139…

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

There is something amazing and transforming that comes with the realization that the Creator of the universe places value on your life… so much value that He left the glory of heaven to take on flesh, live among us, and die for us. He came to bring hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless, and love to the loveless. We are no more like Him than when we choose to love the deemed unlovable.

However, loving ourselves is not enough. If we only love our selves we will not bow our knee to the authority of Christ or choose to sacrifice ourselves for the cause of another. We will even use this self love to justify the destruction of others in order to advance our own lives.

Yet, once again, if the command of God is to love our neighbor as ourself. How can we be obedient to that if we do not love ourself? We also cannot love if we do not have the love of God within us, because God is love … we might call what we are doing or feeling “love”, but it’s most likely really just another way to meet our own selfish needs and desires.

In his book, The Great Omission, McQuilkin writes, 

The Father’s controlling motive in sending His Son to provide for humankind’s salvation was His love for the helpless and hopeless. John tells us that if we have been truly born of God and know God, we will love in the same way (1 John 4:7). In fact, “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (v.8).

God’s kind of love is proved by the sacrifice it makes. Our love is proved the same way (v. 11).

In the conflict of loves, we choose to save our lives, not lose them. But in saving, we lose.

He (God) loved us, of all people, when we were not only unworthy, but in fact, were fully worthy of the very opposite, His wrath. God’s kind of love depends not on the lovability of the object, but on the loving character of the one who loves.

It is in the reflection of the love of God that we are able to learn what it really means to love ourselves and to love others. Apart from His love our love is merely an idea made up of our own definitions and imaginations and expectations. This love will fail us and it will fail others. But God’s love, it never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

I love the next two verses to follow our quoted passage in Psalm 139…

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

Psalm 139:17-18

When God’s thoughts become precious to us, then we begin to see ourselves the way He sees us… it’s just like that child that sits quietly at a closed door while they hear their parents, who do not know they are listening, talk about how precious they are too them… even if they say it to them face to face… it means so much more to know they say these things even when they are not around, and especially after a time of failure that leads to needed discipline.

Beloved do you know that you are not trash? Do you know that you are loved by the One that names every star in the sky and numbers every hair on your head? Are you able to receive this truth? Are you able to lift up your head just enough to love yourself enough to come to the mercy of God… believing that He wants to call you His own?

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Get to Know the Author of Parenting Unchained

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I am working with the National Center of Biblical Parenting to help promote a new book by Dr James D. Dempsey titled Parenting Unchained: Overcoming the Ten Deceptions That Shackle Christian Parents

PU book cover

Here is a little bit of how this book came to be from Dr. Dempsey himself…

“I want to give you just a little background about the book so you can appreciate how God leads us even when we don’t know we need leading.  For nine years the book sat 90% finished under the working title of “The Ultimate Father Figure.” Over those nine years, I had to undergo a radical change to my approach to parenting because of my arrogance. God has ways to humble us, and mine was through my children as they grew up and left for college.

My wife, Gail, and I first heard Scott and Joanne in January of 2008, and we recognized immediately that we’d pursued a behavior modification approach to parenting and were seeing the predictable results. In September of 2013, I took the time to re-write the book using much of what we learned through our exposure to the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  I sent it to Scott and asked him to read it and give advice. He had kind words for it, and mentioned his three-fold test for books. Mine passed the first two, but he said it fell short in the third test: It was ‘not compelling.’ In his words, what would compel someone to pick up my book rather than the scores of parenting books out there? I was so glad to get his feedback because that set me on a course to make the book compelling (or at least more so.)

Almost overnight, and simply by asking God, the Lord gave me a new approach to the book, changing it from giving ten Biblical principles for parenting to sharing the ways Satan deceives Christian parents by trying to hide these ten principles.  I thought the re-write would take months, but in one weekend, it came together miraculously as Gail looked on in amazement.  She says she had never seen me write so fast and with such purpose.”

And here is a little bit more…

You’re an author. Can you tell us about your book?

The book’s title, Parenting Unchained, reflects the freedom that parents can experience IF they understand the way Satan tries to deceive them. You can’t avoid the pitfalls you don’t see!

What was the motivation for writing the book?

I felt that the Bible has much more to say about parenting than the few verses that speak specifically to parents. I saw in God’s interaction with the nation of Israel, and in Jesus’s interaction with the disciples, many great lessons on how to parent, so those lessons are explained. But most of all, I want Christian parents to avoid the parenting mistakes I made so that Christ becomes real to the next generation.You are self published.

What has that been like?

I was blessed to be able to publish under the banner of the National Center for Biblical Parenting, so in some ways the process was similar to traditional publishing. Working with them gave me the ability to put their logo on the spine, which brings credibility. They provided the cover artist and interior designer, plus advice on formatting. Dr. Scott Turansky of the NCBP provided the ‘tough love’ editing I needed to improve the book. I’m very grateful to him and proud to be associated with the NCBP. 

What will we learn in your webinar?

Because churches need to involve and train parents, I try to promote close interaction between parents and children’s ministry workers. Participants will learn essential attitudes and actions kidmin workers must cultivate in order to involve parents. You have to make these connections and build relationship before you can train them.

Who should register for your webinar and why?

Anyone involved in children’s ministry, including senior pastors, children’s ministers and teachers will benefit. Parents are the key to developing the next generation of spiritual champions, so we need to connect with parents and form partnerships with them. A great way to start is to get them involved in the ministry to children at church.

If you have any more question to ask Dr James D Dempsey feel free to ask them in the comment below or email me at nicolelhvaugh@yahoo.com if you want to keep your identity between me and you ;-)

You can also join Dr. Dempsey on Thursday December 11th at 9pm for a Parenting Unchained Facebook Party

FB party Parenting Unchained

And beginning Monday Dec 8th through Dec 12th you will be able to purchase the ebook/kindle version of Parenting Unchained for a whopping $o.99 on Amazon!

99 Parenting Unchained

 

I have read this book and look forward to sharing my review of it  :-)

Parenting Unchained disclaimer

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The Mercy Seat for The Mercy Tree

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I awoke this morning singing this song, Mercy Tree by Lacey Sturm. I am currently writing on the Ark of the Covenant as I prepare Devotions From Exodus Part Two for publication.

There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel

Exodus 25:22

Our God has always desired to meet us at His mercy. The Law of God has always rested underneath His mercy. From the very beginning with the fall of man, with the deception of Eve, and the disobedience of Adam, God’s mercy is what came to confront them in the garden, not His wrath. His mercy has always triumphed over judgment, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

I believe the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament held the heart of God on stone. In Genesis 6 we read how the heart of God was grieved that man was so wicked and the intent of his heart was evil all the time… when we take the time to really look at the law of God we can clearly see it is God teaching us His heart and teaching us how to love Him and others. The law of God would bring the judgment of God, and yes, the Ark of the Covenant would contain the commands of God, and it is by these commands that all the world is judged (Romans 11:32), but there was something beautiful and awe inspiring that was to be constructed to sit upon the Ark… it would be called the mercy seat.

Once again mercy would come before judgement.

The mercy seat would be where the high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice. It would be by the blood of this sacrifice that God would forgive the sin of the individual person and the entire nation of Israel. If you look back through the prophets and the history of Israel recorded in Kings and Chronicles, you will see that when Israel would fall away from God and into the worship of false idols this would always be her darkest times and this would also be when the feasts, including that of the Passover would be set aside and the law of God would be ignored and even lost.

It’s funny how accustomed we become to mercy… we come to expect it… to feel entitled to receive it.

If we want to receive of that mercy, we have to come in the realization that we deserve His judgment (Romans 3:19-20), because only the guilty seek mercy (Luke 18:9-14). To deny that we need the mercy of God is to deny that we are sinners and to deny that we are sinners is to deny the free gift of life that is offered to us. It is to be so blinded by pride that we cannot see the glory of the God that loves us beyond the truth of who we are… and it is to continue to live in the lie.

The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament held the heart of God on stone. The Advent was the coming of the heart of God on flesh. At the appointed time, God exchanged the heart of stone contained in the Ark of the Covenant for a heart of flesh in the body of His Son (Ezekiel 36:26). Our God exchanged the Mercy Seat for the Mercy Tree.

 

 

And at that Mercy Tree once again mercy came before judgment…

And Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.

Luke 1:46-50

***

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:9-11

***

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

Luke 22:19-20

***

But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34

***

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Luke 24:44-49

God always desires to meet us at His mercy…

Beloved, have you met Him there… there at the foot of that Mercy Tree?

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Why I’m Thankful For Hanes White T-shirts

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Today is Thanksgiving. I have not participated in the thankful challenge this year, but the other day as I sat and watched my husband being prepped for a medical test, with his long-sleeve button up hanging on a hook behind me, sitting there in his denim jeans and white Hanes t-shirt, I was reminded once again why I am thankful for Hanes white t-shirts.

Hanes White

When I was a little girl one of my favorite things to sleep in was my Daddy’s Hanes white t-shirt. I did not want fancy pajama’s when it was time for bed I wanted to snuggle into my bed wearing my Daddy’s t-shirt. My Daddy is 6’4″, so as a little girl when I would put that Hanes t-shirt on, those short sleeves on my Daddy would come almost to my wrist and that t-shirt was almost long enough on me to cover my ankles. I was covered in the reminder that my Daddy was with me when I laid down to sleep.

When my husband and I got married, and I pulled our girls out of the tub, there were many times that they wanted to sleep in either my pajama’s or my husband’s t-shirt, and well guess what this Momma did? I wrapped them babies up in a fuzzy towel and we went to the master bedroom to get them their choice of the night… and I would tell them every time, “Guess what Mommy’s favorite thing to sleep in was when she was your age? Papaw Wayne’s plain old white t-shirt!

Close to a year ago, I was upstairs in the master bedroom, aka Mommy and Daddy’s room, and I had the laundry dumped on the bed as I was folding away, I grabbed one of my husband’s Hanes white t-shirts to fold and I just stopped…

I stopped and I held it out in front of me and I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving. I flashed back to when I was a little girl wearing that Hanes white t-shirt of my Daddy’s. Wearing the shirt of the man who would make sure I had food on the table and a roof over my head. He would make sure I was warm when it was cold and cool when it was hot. He would make sure I made it to the doctor when I was sick and he would make sure those doctor bills were payed. He would make sure there were clothes on my back and shoes on my feet. He would make sure that I knew that if anyone tried to hurt me they would have to kill him first and if for some reason they hurt me when he was not there, he would kill them. He would be the reason I never feared the night and looked forward to the next day with no worry or care. Then, one day, he transferred all that responsibility to another man… to the man whose Hanes white t-shirt I was folding.

The man who wore this Hanes white t-shirt that I was now folding stepped in to fill many roles in my life. He stepped in to be the one who would make sure I had food on the table and a roof over my head. He would make sure I was warm when it was cold and cool when it was hot. He would make sure I made it to the doctor when I was sick and he would make sure those doctor bills were payed. He would make sure there were clothes on my back and shoes on my feet. He would make sure that I knew that if anyone tried to hurt me they would have to kill him first and if for some reason they hurt me when he was not there, he would kill them. He would be the reason I never feared the night and looked forward to the next day with no worry or care… and then he would also be the one who would commit to doing all those things for our children.

How on earth could I ever complain about being the one to fold those white Hanes t-shirt? I couldn’t. Folding that Hanes white t-shirt is an honor for me… it is a reminder to me that I am loved by three of the greatest men that God ever formed in the womb.

My Daddy…

My husband…

and my Jesus, because God used both my Daddy and my husband to bring me to my Jesus. As a matter of fact, I imagine that when Jesus comes riding in on His white horse to redeem and defend His bride and bring her home, that under that Armor of God there will be a Hanes white t-shirt ;-)

There seems to be a growing trend for we women of the modern age… the trend of thinking we are more than we ought.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Romans 12:3 

That wonderful man of mine was up this morning and started a crock pot of green beans for Thanksgiving dinner and a load of jeans and then he sat down to watch a little TV and from my office, in the background, I heard this…

This seems to the perfect time for many women to “suffer” through the last few months of marriage, you know for the kids, because when the holidays are over, they are going to kick hubby to the curve… rarely because he is abusing them or the kids… usually it’s just because they are tired of having to actually live out the gospel. They are tired of having to extend grace and forgiveness and mercy seventy times seven times. If you follow my blog you know I am not being condescending… I have been that woman. However, by the grace of God and the desire to walk in obedience to Him and not my changing feelings I love my husband more today that I even imagined was possible… and I can’t even fathom how much more I will love him after fifteen more years of folding his t-shirts.

I LOVE folding that man’s Hanes white t-shirts.. but shhhhh don’t tell him that ;-)

Normal?

What is normal?

I agree with the Momma in the movie clip above… our imagination of normal does not exist. Normal is a beautiful messy forgiveness wrapped ball of mercy dipped in grace with a bow of love on top!

That man of yours is a mystery… he comes with a story that is going to take you years to read… and the more you read beloved the more you will grow to love this man who chose you… and whom you chose back. And not to mention, that there is absolutely nothing that I find my husband more attractive in than his denim jeans and plain old Hanes white t-shirt!

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Benjamin Watson Says It Well…

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I was going to post my own thoughts on what is currently going on in our nation as a result of an event that no one ever expected to make such an impact in our nation… in this nation where violence is on every nightly news channel no matter the size of the town… we never know which story will draw the eyes of the nation… the Ferguson moment has. As I said, I was going to post my own thoughts, but when someone else posts something first, that seems to say exactly the right thing… why not just share there words?

Therefore…

“At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”

Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints

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Parenting Unchained Giveaway

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and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.

Acts 16:26

Let me introduce to you one of my new favorite parenting books…

In Parenting Unchained – Overcoming the Ten Deceptions that Shackle Christian Parents, Dr. James D. Dempsey reveals the ten most destructive lies about parenting. He writes from the heart about the way these lies infected his own parenting, and illuminates the Bible’s powerful truths that counter each lie. Both Biblical and practical, each section ends with home activities to help parents take immediate steps to develop their kids’ character–character that lasts when they leave home. 
The last chapters focus on the most important adjustments parents must make with teenagers to prepare them for independence. Weaving humor into strong warnings, Parenting Unchained points out the hazards that derail the parenting journey. 

Here was Dr Dempsey’s motivation for writing this book:

I felt that the Bible has much more to say about parenting than the few verses that speak specifically to parents. I saw in God’s interaction with the nation of Israel, and in Jesus’s interaction with the disciples, many great lessons on how to parent, so those lessons are explained. But most of all, I want Christian parents to avoid the parenting mistakes I made so that Christ becomes real to the next generation.

I don’t know about you, but I have learned that it is much better to learn from the mistakes of others, than to go through making the same one’s myself. I have plenty of them to make on my own as I face new unexpected territory every day, and so any help I can gather from someone else who has already gained some wisdom from walking the path before me… I have learned it is wise to listen and learn. 

I will be sharing my review of Parenting Unchained after Thanksgiving… but until then, here is an opportunity to enter to win your own free copy of the book and also some other awesome prizes!

 

Parenting Unchained Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Parenting Unchained: Overcoming the Ten Deceptions That Shackle Christian Parents, we are joining other memebers of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with a Kindle Paperwhite, $25 Amazon Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of more than $300!

Here’s what you could win:

Kindle Paperwhite 6″ eReader ($119 value)

Unlike tablets, Kindle Paperwhite is designed to deliver a superior reading experience:

  • No screen glare in bright sunlight
  • Read with one hand—over 30% lighter than iPad mini
  • Battery lasts weeks, not hours
  • Built-in light—read without eyestrain

Your Kindle comes loaded with 2 biblical parenting books right at the start:

Parenting Unchained Kindle Edition ($4.99 value)

In Parenting Unchained – Overcoming the Ten Deceptions that Shackle Christian Parents, Dr. James D. Dempsey reveals the ten most destructive lies about parenting. He writes from the heart about the way these lies infected his own parenting, and illuminates the Bible’s powerful truths that counter each lie. Both Biblical and practical, each section ends with home activities to help parents take immediate steps to develop their kids’ character–character that lasts when they leave home.

Home Improvement Kindle Edition ($4.99 value)

This book contains eight principles every family needs written by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. You’ll learn practical, handon ideas for helping your kids deal with their anger, constructive ways to end discipline times, and keys that will help children change their hearts, not just their behavior. Turansky and Miller offer tried and true strategies in a refreshingly new family-friendly format. This is the parenting book you can read to your kids.

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Buy even more books for your new Kindle!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($39.85 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.

The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

The Family Toolbox ($99.95 value)

The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.

As your family works through the lessons, teens learn 16 Life Success Principles and parents learn valuable tools.

Philippians in 28 Weeks Digital ($18.95 value)

It is easier to share the Word of God when it is etched upon your heart. Philippians in 28 Weeks™ is a delightful and painless way to commit the entire book of Philippians to memory. This streamlined approach uses memory cards carefully constructed to present Philippians thought-by-thought, copywork versesjournal questionsweekly reflections,recitation charts to test your retention, and an optional tracking tool called “The Log.”

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents, age 18 and older. Void where prohibited by law.

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Join us for the Parenting Unchained Facebook Release Party. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the author of Parenting Unchained will be present to answer your questions!

RSVP today so you won’t forget!

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Wake Up! It’s Summer!

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He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Proverbs 10:5

As I right this the temperature outside is a balmy 25 degrees. It definitely does not appear to be “summer” at all… however it indeed is the season of summer. We’ll get to that point in a moment. First let’s take a look at Proverbs 10:4

Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

The Hebrew word for negligent here in this verse can also be translated as deceitful. As I pondered Proverbs 10:4-5 together, my mind went to our present day. We live in a day where the goal is to look as busy as possible with as little work and effort as possible. You can see this in our current ad campaigns all over television and the internet. It reminds me a lot of a scene in Tom Sawyer…

Tom is able to use deceit to get everyone else to do the work for him, yet he is going to take all the credit. He is taking advantage of others. As I continued to ponder this verse it reminded me of a commercial where a mother walks out of the kitchen holding a pie or some type of dessert, before she walks out, she throws flour all over her face and then walks out the door breathless, putting on the air that she has been slaving away in the kitchen, when in fact it was prepared for her, she just heated it up. When her family applauded her “hard work” she willingly took credit. We also have these commercials, where a certain company attempts to convince us that we don’t actually have to clean our house, or car, or belongings, we just need to sprit and spray their aromatic product on it and it will give off the impression that it is clean and fresh.

Yeh, right.

As little of work as possible, yet making it appear as though we have done much.

opportunity-is-missed-edison

Sadly not only is this sentiment prevalent in our current American society… it is prevalent in our American churches… and in our everyday lives. Satan has done a wonderful job of keeping us very busy doing lots of things that have absolutely no eternal value. Just like Tom Sawyer above, he has us doing his work and we don’t even realize it… yet in the end he will get the credit.

How many times have you found yourself running around crazy doing things that appear so important, but in light of eternity it’s just busy work. There was one thing in public school that I despised, busy work, it was meant to do nothing but keep you in that room and to keep you quiet. It held no educational value, was not even relevant to the subject of the class, it was not adding to your knowledge, it was not equipping you for anything. It was just keeping you there. It was designed to consume your time. That’s it. My favorite part was when you handed it in to the teacher as you exited the class, they didn’t even look at it, just tossed it straight into the trash.

What breaks my heart, is that I fear Satan has a lot of believers… and blinded unbelievers… consumed with “busy work”.

each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:13-14

We can be busy little worker bees for Satan himself and just like the line of kids painting Tom Sawyer’s fence we have been deceived into thinking this is the right, good, and profitable thing to do… but it’s nothing but wood, hay and straw. It makes it look like we have been slaving away to others, and we gladly put out to the world how “hard” we are working, and how much we are doing, but in reality we have missed the opportunity to do the real work, because it would require more of us than we are really willing to give. It is easier to look busy doing our idea of God’s work. It’s easier to make the Father’s house a place of business than it is to actually submit to the will of God and be busy about the Father’s business.

I fear we have forgotten that it is summer. I fear that we have found ourselves asleep, worn out from work we were never meant to do, and the harvest is suffering because of it.

He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Proverbs 10:5

I fear that we have forgotten that God is not impressed by the sweat of our brow, but by the submission of our hearts.

We need to wake up… for it is summer. Why do I say that when it’s currently this “chilly” outside? Let’s take a look at the calendar that God laid out for us when He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Feasts of Israel have always represented God’s plan of the ages… representing the death of Christ, His resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the day our Lord returns. As you look at the chart below notice that these feasts occur in two seasons, Spring and Fall…

BiblicalHolidays

and what season occurs between Spring and Fall? Summer. As we look at this chart, we know that Pentecost has come (Acts 2:1-4). Spring has come and gone. Yet, that trumpet (Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16) has yet to sound that Fall has arrived. Therefore beloved, that means it is indeed Summer.

It is the day to be gathering!

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Matthew 9:35-38

Do you even see the people?

In this electronic age, have we forgotten how to see?

not seeing not seeing 3 not seeing 2 not seeing 1

There are times I have looked around my own living room and taken a picture just like one of these… oh we look so busy, busy, busy…

About a month ago I went to a restaurant to pick up a to go order. As I was driving off with my food there was an older woman with a cardboard sign that said something about being hungry and needing money… I never have cash on me, never. Therefore, I drove on past, but as I did, the Spirit quickened me to the food that I had in the passenger seat beside me… so I turned around at the light and drove back to where the woman was and rolled down my window. I told her I did not have any money but I had some food and I handed her one of the to go meals out of my window. As I looked her in the eye, and she reached for my food, she said, “I am not doing this because I want to” I just looked her in the eyes again and told her, Ma’am I know…

Jesus didn’t just help the people that he thought really deserved it and would amount to something if they just had a hand… he just saw the people and had compassion on them. He didn’t wonder if they were working the circuit or taking advantage of Him… my goodness think about it, WE ALL ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF HIM.

Now granted Jesus had the upper hand of seeing into the hearts of others… we don’t have that… but what we do have is the gospel and the example of our Lord and the knowledge that He sees into our hearts.

How often do we not give, do we choose not to see, because we have come to our own conclusions of what they are “really up to”.

How many times do you find yourself rolling your eyes and saying, “ugh, I hate people”

Take a moment and evaluate the “ministries” of your church and your own personal ministries… (yes, if you are believer, if you are saved and redeemed, then you are filled with the Spirit, and you are supposed to be in the business of ministry). My husband’s job doesn’t allow him to teach a Sunday school class or to be over the men’s ministry, or even to volunteer often at an off campus ministry, but you would not believe the men he has the opportunity to “minister” to at work because he doesn’t hide or downplay his faith and he prays daily for God to open up doors for him to do just that… and when the opportunity presents itself, he takes it. Preaching the gospel is more than just leading someone in the ABC’s… it’s leading other to the Light by being the light. My husband, no doubt, is a minister of the gospel, though his past would never allow that official title inside the church building.

Do you just play it safe and stay busy, busy, busy, “ministering” to your private little comfortable circle? It’s easy to be busy and appear to be working hard while keeping it in your own pre-selected holy huddle… but what happens when a stranger tries to step in?

Beloved, let us wake up. It’s Summer. It’s time to gather. Let us not miss the opportunity to be a part of the harvest because we are sleeping, because we don’t want to see, or because it looks like work… Don’t let us fall prey to the Tom Sawyer’s. Let us not allow Satan to convince us that we are working hard for God, when in fact we are just consumed with busy work, aka dead works (Hebrews 6:1-2).

It’s something I am always having to ask myself…

I find myself every several years having to step back and say, Okay, God am I working to build my kingdom or Yours?

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I hate adoption

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A Repost from Those Sweet Bare Feet

We hear all about the adoptive parents side– how challenging it is, how difficult it is to raise traumatized children, but we never hear from the adoptive siblings point of view.  All my life I have heard of what incredible parents I have (and I do), but never once has someone told me what an “incredible job” I have done or what my thoughts were on having adopted siblings.  Mainly, because I was just a kid when it all begin.  I understand that, and that’s okay.  But I’d like to share my honest opinion on adoption.

adoption

When I was seven my parents started down the road of adoption, I was elated, so overwhelmed with excitement at the fact that I was going to have a new sister or brother.  I remember meeting them for the first time, and they felt like family.  We got along and we were happy.  Until the baby boy started screaming in the car and the little girl was cussing me out at bedtime.  I lost part of my parents the day my two new siblings got in the car and made the long journey home with us.  I lost a part of myself that I’ll never have back again- and although that’s hard, I am thankful for it.

Over a 12 year period my parents adopted 10 children– every single one of them unexpected and so worth it.

But over the years I have struggled. Struggles that girls with only biological siblings will never know and friends will never truly understand.  I have been lied to, lied about, stolen from, spit on, cussed out, hit, bit, and accused.  I have heard “Well, Kristianna gets whatever she wants…” “Kristianna is perfect…” and each time it crumbles my heart a little more.  I have heard that I’ll never understand the backgrounds these children have had to suffer through and to give them grace because I have always had what I needed.  In some ways that’s true, and in some ways my heart can’t bear the pain.

It’s hard being an adoptive sister.   The harder you pretend all is well, the further you get from the truth. Because all is not well. Adoption isn’t a fun way to gain siblings, it involves restoration and rebuilding a life that has been torn to the ground and trampled upon. All is not okay and it never will be.  Adoption is a fight. I’ve had days when I am so weary I don’t want to get out of bed. I have had days when I cussed out God and told Him to rewind it all and give me my life back.  I have had days when I ignored my sister because of how much her words cut into my very soul“we all hate you.”. Sure, she has faced her fair share of suffering, but day after endless day I face my own heartaches because of their pasts.

I will be completely honest, I hate people who abuse and abandon children. I hate women who desire drugs and men over their own children.  I hate men who cannot own up to the fact that they have children to be raised. I hate laws that make children orphans.  I hate poverty that rips families apart.  And I hate adoption.  Because adoption means there is pain and suffering behind the adopted, it means years and years of recovery. It means losing a part of who you are and who your parents are because of it.  We will never be carefree again, because carefree doesn’t exist when there is a child who has threatened to kill foster siblings in the past.

I think God hates adoption too.

Because adoption means brokenness.

Adoption means that the Garden of Eden has been destroyed and Adam and Eve have been engulfed in sin. Adoption means that the world He created in those few glorious days, the world that knew no sin, is forever lost.  It means the human made in His own image ruined their purpose. It means failure and emptiness.  Adoption is shattered pieces that will never fit properly together again, yet, at the same time, adoption is what holds those pieces together.   Adoption means perfection will never exist again, because there will always be scars and pasts that we cannot change. It means God sacrificing to bring light into a dark and hopeless world.

Hallelujah, redemption lives.

Jesus hung upon that cross in humility to suffer for the world of imperfection because He knew adoption was the only option.  His blood would not be our own, His flesh would have no biological relation to ours.  But He would rescue and redeem. His blood would be poured out for lost children He was choosing to call His very own. When all the heavens would see us as unworthy, there was One who became small enough to redeem.  He bent low, and didn’t demand us to change our ways, but told us we were wanted. We were worth all the suffering, all the nights of tears and nightmares.  He reached into the darkness to bring us into the light.  He didn’t care where we had been or what we had endured, He only whispered “you are not alone anymore”. 

Adoption is not beautiful.

Adoption is messy and terrifying.

Adoption is bridging the gap between darkness and light.

Adoption means children who walk through hell and endure what no child should.

Adoption means broken pasts and hearts full of scars.

But adoption is worth it.

Because adoption is redemption.

And I watch as their distress and heartaches pour over into my life and I cling to grace.  Because grace is the only thing saving us all. I cling to the One who has chosen me as a child when my own heart was only sin.  He calls me “child”, and I call them brother and sister. Adoption doesn’t always make sense- that He would love us as His children, or that we should love them as our own.  But love doesn’t ask questions. It’s not easy, but it’s good.

She walks around with a shirt that says “Family rocks”, she’s the one who was literally kicked to the curb.  The one who is terrified that family is not forever, that we are only temporary. That maybe she is not worthy of a family.  It’s a real fear, and it’s not only one she is carrying but so many children who are facing life with nobody to say you are not alone anymore.  One hundred and forty-three million– it’s a statistic that will make no sense to those who have never held an orphan in their arms. But they are walking around with their hearts beating, but they feel they have nothing worth beating for.  They will grow into adults always questioning why they weren’t worthy of a family.

We are called to adopt because adoption is reflecting the Father’s love and grace upon us. As Christian’s, Christ requires only that we believe and follow Him, but as Christ followers, we should long to be like our Father. You have the ability to show a child that we’re all unworthy, but there’s a Father’s love that gives us a new identity and there’s redemption that creates a new beginning. It won’t be easy, but it’ll worth all the hard days, and the times when you feel like you are drowning.  It will be worth the rages and the stealing and the heartbreaks and headaches. It will be worth the sorrow and the pain and the long days of recovery. Because once upon a time, we were that beautiful mess of wounds and tears and emptiness.

I hate adoption because adoption means my siblings have walked through hell and back again. But I love redemption because it’s making broken things into glorious ones.  It’s taking pieces that are shattered and piece by piece redesigning them into the masterpiece they were meant to be. We are all being changed and made new in this love we cannot understand, this grace that is drowning us all.

Hallelujah, brokenness cannot survive when redemption lives. 

adoption family

 

See original post at Those Sweet Bare Feet here: I hate adoption

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Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (wrapping it up)

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Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying,“Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.”

Numbers 13:1-2

In the last post, Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 4), we looked at the second part of that beautiful verse in Isaiah that instructs us how to help others…

Encourage the exhausted,

and strengthen the feeble.

Isaiah 35:3

We have dug deeper into what it means to encourage and strengthen others. We have seen that we encourage from the front and we strengthen from the back. We have learned that we must encourage with conviction, to comfort, with passion, and we must do it in person. We have learned we must strengthen from behind, even from our failures, and with patience. We have been reminded that we live in a world where people are hurting, where people are falling, where people are discouraged, and weary. There is much rubbish around… and we have a choice to make.

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We can listen to wisdom.

Or we can listen to folly.

We can speak wisdom.

Or we can speak folly.

Let’s rewind to the day that the children of Israel stood on the brink of the promise land. There they were. Two years have passed since the Lord brought them out of Egypt. In these two years they have faced many testings to prepare their hearts for the promise land. The Lord has revealed Himself in great judgements, in a pillar of fire, in a cloud of glory, in the thunder of His voice, in the presenting of His covenant. He has delivered them from Pharaoh, had mercy in their unfaithfulness, been patient with their grumblings, supplied their every need, defeated attacking enemies, He has been with them every step of the way. There have been ups and downs, squabbles and rebellion, shouts of anger and shouts of praise. Yet, here they stand staring in the face of the fulfilled promise of God.

The Lord tells Moses to send out spies, one from every tribe, every one a leader among them. Every. One. A. Leader. Among. Them. Theses were men of influence. These men were chosen because they had the ability to influence their tribe. Here’s the thing ladies… YOU ARE A WOMAN OF INFLUENCE.

If Momma

There is a reason this quote is so popular. Whether or not you influence is not the question. The question is how are you influencing? We women have the ability to control the thermostat of the home and not just the home, but the place of business, and the church. Gossipy busy bodies in the church, in a place of business, or even in our homes cause as much havoc and destruction as false teachers.

Ladies, let us not be deceived into believing that what we do or say does not natter. It matters. We don’t have to have a platform or a stage to influence others for the kingdom of God. We are given the opportunity to give birth to and raise and train up future kingdom warriors.

Your mission might be one child.

Your mission might be a whole nation of children.

Both are equally important.

Several months ago my husband and I took our two youngest daughters to Helen Keller’s birthplace. We walked through the home and listened to the guide share about Helen and her trials and triumphs. She was a young girl who lost her sight, her hearing, her ability to communicate. She was lost in the prison of herself… until one woman showed up at her door, Anne Sullivan.

As we walked around the grounds of the property we stopped at a display where they were playing a recording of a speech that Helen made to the Lion’s Club. Anne Sullivan introduced Helen. As Helen walked up and touched Anne on the face, my husband turned around and looked at me and said, “Anne came to help Helen when she was twenty years old, Helen was her life’s work. She spent a lifetime focused on helping one person, and look what came from it.”

One woman who chose to invest her life in a child, one specific child.

Here these men were, sent out spies, all leaders expected to influence their tribe… all seeing the same thing. Yet, how different their perspectives were when they returned to report.

Ten of the twelve could not get past the circumstances. Ten of the twelve put the eyes of others on the greatness of the challenge before them. Ten of the twelve said no we can’t. Ten of the twelve influenced fear.

Two of the twelve saw past the circumstances because they knew their God. Two of the twelve tried to put the eyes of the others on the promises of their God. Two of the twelve said yes we can. Two of the twelve influenced faith.

There would be only two of the twelve that would take up resident in the promised land. The two that used their influence to encourage.

The world is attempting to do a very good job at convincing we women that raising our children is a waste of our time and ability. We shouldn’t have to make the choice to be the ones that encourage and influence our children. Let’s leave that up to the professionals… high quality educated people who know best… lets lower the compulsory age and lets lengthen the school days and hours of attendance. This will, after all help you to get back into what you were really called to do, and in turn it will build our economy… because that’s what is really important. The economy.

The-hand-that-rocks-the-cradle-is-the-hand-that-rules-the-world.

Ladies, you have no higher calling than to love the Lord your God and to love others as yourself, those others begin with our husband and our children, and then the other women that God has placed in your path. Older women are to encourage the younger how to love their husbands and how to love their children (Titus 2:3-5). I am not saying a woman shouldn’t work outside the home, but that career outside the home should never take priority over the calling within it… and we need to encourage one another and strengthen one another, and help each other keep our eyes off the rubbish and on our Refuge, so that it doesn’t.

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)
  • You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)

You are first to proclaim the excellencies of Him within the walls of your own home. You are first to be salt and light to your own house.

What if your life’s work is one?

Oh beloved then let it be so for the glory of the One!

Be a woman of encouragement and influence for the glory of the gospel and the glory of God.

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