The Beauty of Being

by Leslie Hollowell

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Confession: I have a really hard time being still.

This past week I was at the beach with friends and for the life of me, I could not lay still in the sun. I’d rather be walking, swimming, throwing frisbee or something…but to sit STILL, not moving and getting more freckles, unfortunately, is a bit hard for me to do.

I have also come to realize that I struggle a bit being still before the Lord and “Being” in His Word.

Psalm 46:11 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  

James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only…”

How can I Be a doer of God’s Word if I’m not taking time to be still and know that He is God through His Word?

I am learning if I can’t BE still before the Lord and be a woman of His Word, there will be an even bigger struggle as I seek to BE a doer of His Word and teach these truths to my son. I am daily striving hard to make time to BE still and BE in His Word, in order that I might BE a doer of His Word. As a doer of his word, I must learn to put into practice all that God tells me to be. This is not important only for me, but as I learn to be in His Word and do what He has called me to do, I’ll be much more equipped to teach and train the Next Generation.

Momma’s, we have been called to “not hide these things from our children, we must tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and wonder’s He has done.” (Psalm 78:4)

We have an obligation to truly take time to “BE Still and Know that He is God” in order to help our children learn to “Be Still and Know that He is God.”

In studying the many things God’s Word tells us about “Being,” I’ve realized that these are practical and beautiful ways I can strive to model and train my son in order for him to begin being a “doer of God’s Word and not just a hearer only.” (James 1:22)

Below are just a few reminders from God’s Word on what He has called us to BE. Continue reading →

What About Mom?

Wendy Anderson Schulz

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While every part of me wants to hang on to summer, our family is officially back to school today. The return of school brings the return of many of our school year activities and sports.  Kid’s activities and sports get a bad wrap for taking over family schedules and ruining everything from dinner to sleep schedules, but I have to admit, I love watching my kids try their hand at a new sport, grow deeper in their faith in Bible studies, and see their impact on the world through volunteering.  I know God has crafted and created them uniquely, and I love seeing different aspects of their gifts and character grow as they experience new things.

As I have been preparing our fall calendar, trying to keep the reigns on both our schedule and budget, I have heard the Lord whisper to me,What about you, daughter?” 

What about me Father?

I once heard a pastor speak about God’s love for His children by saying, “If God had a wallet, He’d carry your picture in it.”  I just love that.  In the busy season of motherhood it is easy to forget that we are also beloved daughters.  Our Heavenly Father delights in seeing us grow and use those gifts He uniquely weaved into the fiber of each one of us.

God whispers to me, “What about you daughter,” because He loves me. He cares about my soul, heart and body being fed and strengthened and challenged just as much I care about those things for my daughters.  No, that’s not correct.  He cares about it more, because His love is so much greater.

So as I worked out our fall schedule and budget, I factored me in for the first time in many years.  I asked God to show me where I need to be in this next season. He was clear, “Go and be a student of the Word.”  So, after 10+ years of being the person who organizes and leads programs and studies, I have signed up to attend one.  I am attending a weekly bible study at a church I respect, but have never attended.  I am going as a student.  I know my Father is proud and excited, and has something planned for me through this study.  I imagine that if God had a group text of besties, like I do, He would have sent out, “She did it! She’s all signed up and registered!”  Oh, He loves me.

Our heavenly Father loves you too.  My sisters, you are His beloved daughters.  He has good plans and blessings just for you.  He doesn’t want you to miss them.   So as you plan out your fall, scheduling your family, work, activities, and budget, do not leave yourself out.  Lay your calendar before the Lord and ask him for advice.  Continue reading →

Seasons of Transition: Erring on the Side of Grace

Laura Jones

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Summertime for military families means one thing: transition. Moving trucks descend upon the neighborhoods like hungry mosquitoes the day after school lets out. Cardboard boxes and tape rolls and worn out dollies litter the front yards up and down the streets. Where we live, about one-third of the families turn over every summer; that is a lot of change for a child, whether the child is the one leaving or the one staying behind.

I realized how moving stresses out children several years ago when our firstborn was just a toddler. My husband was sent overseas for a year to Korea. The packing was limited, but the movers still showed up to crate his belongings. It was our first long separation as a family, and our daughter was too young to understand things like his overseas orders or the Korean armistice. When he left, she just missed her dad.  As a toddler, she lacked the ability to communicate her emotional experience to me about his departure. So she did what toddlers do; she acted out.

My response, which revealed my inner legalist, was to crack down harder on her little frame. I thought she needed more structure, more discipline, more law.

I was really wrong.

I turned to a dear Chaplain friend for counsel. What was wrong with our usually compliant child? Did I need to discipline her more? Why won’t she just obey? You can imagine my questions. I felt like I was failing. Surely, there was something I could do to make her understand and act accordingly.

With a tone of calm correction in his voice, he said that during times of transition within a family it is best to “err on the side of grace.” That was it: 6 words. They have since guided us through every move, every deployment, every birth, and every other season of transition.

Err on the side of grace.

I get my mistake now after years of thinking through his counsel to me. I was bringing down the full weight of the law on her young frame, and what her soul needed was an outpouring of grace. Her behavior was a symptom of a deeper issue—an issue she did not have the emotional maturity to articulate. Grace was the balm for the loss and confusion she felt about her dad’s absence.

According to Strong’s Concordance, grace is a feminine noun that means “undeserved favor.” It is freely given, unmerited, and without strings. Continue reading →

Run the Race Together

by Katie Reno

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Physical activity is either something you naturally love or you fight to love. We’re in the middle of the Summer Olympics and WOW; there are so many inspiring stories. Many athletes grew up dreaming about getting a gold medal. The stories that tug at my heart are the athletes who had to fight to get where they are today. These athletes either had difficult childhoods or no hope to become great in life. There was usually a person or community of people who believed in them to do great things and  pushed them when they doubted their athletic ability. This special person took the time to help the athlete achieve the big dreams.

A few years ago I picked up the love of running. I definitely wouldn’t call myself the fastest runner in the world. I’m actually pretty slow. It isn’t a natural activity that my body seems to know how to do without training. But I don’t love running because of the physical side of it. I remember not understanding why people would meet up in the early hours of the day and sweat before enjoying a nice breakfast and coffee. That was my thought until I took part and realized a huge reason why they do it.

The community around running is what’s contagious. I have personally been able to do a few half marathons, 5ks and relays with friends. Each race has helped me gain deeper friendships that I could have missed out on. Training for any kind of marathon takes physical and mental discipline. PEOPLE were what pushed me forward.

Two years ago a group of friends decided to train for a half marathon together. We woke up early every Saturday morning for a few months and ran several miles each time. We would share all kinds of stories to pass the time. There were moments of laughter, moments to push one another (physically and mentally), and sometimes moments to just flat out cry if it was a bad day. These girls became like family and I looked forward to seeing them on Saturday mornings.

On a (rare) hot October day, we were ready to conquer the half marathon. My only goal for the day was to run the 13 miles without stopping. I was confident in my training and knew I could finish well. Four miles into the race I started feeling tired and couldn’t shake it. I remember telling my friend I needed to get a drink at the next water station to hopefully push me. After the water stop, I developed a mental wall of doubt in my mind that wouldn’t leave. My legs were hurting and I was moving slower every minute. What was going on?! It was as if I had never run a mile in my life and then randomly woke up to run a race.

By mile six I was walking, which led me to officially beat myself up for not reaching my ONE goal for the day. I remember feeling this huge weight of disappointment. My sweet friends were feeling good and could have left to push towards getting a great race time. They trained just as hard and deserved to reap the benefits of it. But that’s not what happened. Laura and Leah chose to stay right beside me to tackle the mental wall of doubt in my head. For the rest of the race I would run some, then walk. They would encourage me, speak truth and keep me moving forward — especially when I wanted to flat-out quit.

We finally finished the race that day — together. It will be forever marked as my worst running experience (ever), but will also be forever marked as a defining moment of what I believe God intended in friendship.

I hear the word “community” a lot in my generation. Women all around seem to long for deep friendships. You know what kind I’m talking about — the friendships that welcome vulnerability, fears, hurts, and weaknesses. These types of friends allow themselves to get uncomfortable at times to help one another become stronger. Continue reading →

Learn It. Live It. Pass It On! 

by Jean Stockdale

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In Deuteronomy 32:46 Moses spoke to the children of Israel saying, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.”

God has always intended for us to have a generational belief system of faith. That is a living faith passed from one generation to the next. By EXAMPLE and INSTRUCTION teach your children to be careful to DO ALL the words of this law! Moses implied that the parents were already well-grounded in the things of God. The examples of their godly lifestyle in conjunction with their Biblical verbal instruction would serve to pass the faith in the one true God from one generation to the next.

We as parents cannot take our children farther in the faith than we have traveled, so it is incumbent upon us to be students of the Word and obedient doers of the Word.

James 1:23-24 says, Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Being a doer of the Word involves spiritual disciples like learning the Word of God, living out the reality of Jesus Christ, and passing the faith along to the next generation. Continue reading →

Crashing Waves and the Storms of Life

by Erin Mullen

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You know that moment with your kids, when you have the very conscious choice to either run and get the video camera (let’s be real…the iPhone) or to organically, plainly take in the moment at hand? Just experience it without a screen in front of your face? Simple. Real. Present. No chance for Instagram, let alone latergram.

I had one of those moments today. To run or not to run? It’s such a gamble! Can I trust my memory? Can I really tuck this away? Savored. And actually recall it later?

I stayed. Eyes fully aware. Trying to memorize every movement of delight. Every challenge. Every win.

You see, the kids and I got a last-minute chance to hop in the van and head to the beach. This melancholy, choleric loves a calendar and a good list of things to get done each day. Not to mention, I have a routine! But let’s get real…it’s the beach! It all went out the window. This momma packed suitcases and sand toys, and was out the door fast!

Today was day two, and the kids were in full swing of sandcastle designing (which ends up being just a hole in the ground), boogie-board pulling, and focused, no-shell-left-behind collecting. But let me fast-forward ahead to my above video-taping dilemma moment.

It was near the end of our play day, and I had resolved that my Raising Girls book was just not going to get read that afternoon. So I took my little, curly-headed sweetie by the hand and made my way out into the water. To my great surprise she began to plunge her goggled-self under oncoming waves like a pro. It did not take long for my other two minions to notice one sibling getting undivided attention and come running. Soon, all three were repeatedly, without hesitation, throwing themselves into each oncoming wave.

It was in that moment that I decided to take it in. To stay. This moment was not going to be shared with anyone. It was just for me.

And you know what? Even through the crashing waves and giggly shouts from my pack of monkeys, God whispered. With each crashing wave, God spoke to my heart, “Isn’t this what life is like?”

At that moment, my eyes, ears and heart were straining to take it all in. Not one word. Not one attempt. Not a single thing lost on me.

I watched as my kids never gave up, stayed joyful, responded and rebounded, succeeded and fail, loved and kept on loving. In that moment, those steady waves and diving children started to give me a visual of what options I have in my present journey to healing.

Continue reading →

Changing the Future, One Small Step at a Time

by Lee Stewart

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Our country reels with news stories and wicked injustices and I’m over here just trying to wipe sticky stuff off the table. People discuss elections and policies while I ponder whether to sign my daughter up for ballet. While the world is covered in a new wave of evil, I’m trying to wipe crumbs off my feet.

I feel small. I feel like I can’t make a valuable contribution from way over here in the laundry pile. I feel bullied by the future and what it holds. But then I look at my children, and I see it—the future is not a bully. It’s looking up at me. Our children are the future in flesh and blood. We put our arms around hope every day.

Sometimes it’s easy for parents to forget the deeper meaning because we’re busy with our hands to the plow. Parenting is an “in the field” sort of job. It’s a time for application more than contemplation. Even my prayer life is often an internal conversation, surrounded by little voices asking for more juice, or telling me to watch another somersault.

As my fingers touch dishes, messy faces, and dirty diapers, I have to remember. As my arms embrace my smallest neighbors and tuck them in each night, I can’t forget this—children are the tangible side of the future.

While heavy burdens are draped over the world, I feel the contrast of what’s going on in my own life. I’m fed and clothed. I can freely worship. I feel like I’m on neutral ground while so many others, by comparison, are walking in hostile territory.

What difference can I really make?

We have to open our eyes even wider. Not just to the visible world, but to the invisible. We cannot minimize the battleground in our homes. This will leave us unguarded, at best. At worst, complacent.

Every believer does battle with a real enemy. But every believing parent is raising up little soldiers to go into battle as well. We are told to put on the whole armor of God. “That you may be able to stand. . .that you may withstand . . . stand, therefore.” There is a real enemy whose aim is to knock us down. He wants to devour us by convincing us it’s better to stay down than to get up again. Continue reading →

Leave, Cleave and Weave

by Dianne Dougharty

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She was a 20 year old mother of three, ages three and under, having left family and all that was familiar to support her young husband in his desire to pursue a college education. They lived in the Tony Sudekum Housing Project in Nashville, Tennessee in 1957. He attended school while holding down two part time jobs in order to feed his family and pay his educational bills. She cared for her children and kept the home so that he could complete his degree.

Following college, they moved to Kansas City, Kansas, so he could attend seminary and earn a graduate degree. After one year, he was offered a small church in St. Joseph, Missouri. This opportunity would provide a parsonage (free housing) and a regular income to support his family. So, he accepted the call, commuting back and forth to seminary for one year. While there a fourth child, a baby girl, was added to their family.

During their time in St. Joseph, she attended a junior college. They pastored for 3 years before moving to Lawrence, Kansas to attend Kansas University. While there he earned his Ph.D. and she earned her under graduate and Master’s degree. Once he graduated from the Ph.D. program, they returned to Nashville where she earned her Ed.S. and her Ph.D.—all while raising four children!

I know this couple well—they are my parents! I remember that little parsonage. My sister, brother and I shared a small room at the end of the hall. Our army bunk beds were adjacent to one another. The covering on our beds consisted of olive green wool blankets stamped with U.S. ArmyContinue reading →

Online Book Study—Breaking Up with Perfect

Are you looking for a new book to add to your reading list? Maybe you have a group of ladies interested in studying through a book together? Our friend Amy Carroll at Proverbs 31 Ministries is offering an online study of her book, Breaking Up with Perfect. The fun starts this coming Monday, August 1! We wanted to give each of our readers the opportunity to join this group of ladies who are ready to say bye-bye to the pursuit of perfection and the shame that comes from never quite getting there. Read below for all of the details from Amy about this exciting group!

Hello, ladies! I’m so excited that the Online Book Study of Breaking Up with Perfect will begin next Monday! It’s going to be a great time of connecting and growing together.

amycarroll.org Continue reading →

How Do I Encourage My Kids to Love Jesus For a Lifetime?

Side by side, my 20-year old daughter and I entered the large doors of our former church, the place where she had been dedicated as a baby.

As we looked around the foyer, we saw many familiar faces waiting to go into the service.

One life-long friend said a brief, “Hello.”

Then, she quickly went back to her little huddle of friends.

Is there a secret to raising children who will love and follow after Jesus for a lifetime? No. But there are some steps we can take to encourage them to fall in love with and stay in love with the Lord for the rest of their lives. Why not stop by and read about these inspirational ideas?

Another long-time friend entered the foyer and caught sight of my daughter.

This friend made a bee-line for my Emily and swooped her up in a huge hug.

When my friend finally released her from the embrace, she told her how beautiful she looked. Then, they talked for about 10 minutes.

After the service as we were driving away, my daughter mentioned how much she had appreciated the kindness of my friend who had hugged her and been interested in her life.

As I thought about the way both of my friends had responded, I realized that there was quite a contrast.

The first friend had not connected with her or tried to engage her in much of a conversation at all. The second friend had blown her away with kindness, affection and genuine interest in her life.

Both of my friends are godly women who love Jesus and their families; however, only the second friend really made a genuine effort to connect with my daughter.

I am so grateful for this second friend.

~ Why am I bringing this up?

~ Why does this matter so much?

Very simply: We are losing an entire generation of kids–ages 13-35.

They are the millennials. They are the largest generation at over 65 million. And, according to Barna.org, 52% of them are completely unchurched!

You can read more in an article I wrote about this generation HERE.

 

So, How Do You Encourage Your Kids to Love Jesus For a Lifetime?

Today, I’d like to propose four ways.

Continue reading →