My Last Day of School

May 7, 2016, was my last day of school. After 20 years of homeschooling four daughters, our youngest finished her last day of senior year. It hasn’t been easy, but it was the best educational choice for our family and I have absolutely no regrets. I have learned so many lessons.

What I consider a lack of provision is often God’s direction.
When I began this journey in 1996, I thought I was homeschooling the oldest for only one year until we could afford private school. During that Kindergarten year, I discovered that teaching my daughter to read was ten times easier than potty training! Her love for learning opened up new possibilities for her and she declared a love for the nation of China that remains to this day. Her younger sister listened to our studies and she began reading at the age of four, though she was not yet in Kindergarten. We still didn’t have the money for school so I continued schooling them at home. 

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean I should stop doing it.
Homeschooling was incredibly hard in the early years. I felt alone. I felt lonely. I felt exhausted. I had a lot of “yellow bus” days—“Yellow bus, please come get my children!” At night, I tried to devise some good excuse not to do school the next day, but my OCD side took over and school almost always won. During the day I yelled and threatened and pulled out the phone book to call any school I thought would take them! In my heart, I sensed that I was supposed to keep homeschooling, so I did. But I wasn’t too happy about it.

Commit to the present and wait for the future.
In those early years, I was so focused on the future options for my children’s education that I had missed the present opportunity before me. I didn’t realize that indecision and uncertainly were robbing me of mental and physical energy. After much prayer, I committed to homeschooling every day of the school year and to reevaluate our options at the end of the year.

Change in my school started with me. 
My short temper and yelling was not helpful to create a good atmosphere of learning. Often my kids responded in the same way I responded to them. God revealed to me that if I wanted them to talk respectfully to me that I needed to model it to them. Little by little, day by day, He grew my patience and grace—for myself and for my children. Gratefully, the younger ones don't remember the yelling years.

I don’t have to have all of the answers.
Although my husband was supportive, I really needed to process and brainstorm with a fellow homeschooler. In His graciousness, God sent me a dear friend and ally who was as “iron sharpens iron” in my life. We discussed curriculum options and learning styles, individual learning challenges and how to challenge our kids to greatness. For ten years, we had our own two-family co-op where we partnered together to cover topics both academic and extra-curricular. She inspired me and challenged me beyond my self-imposed limitations. I was a better teacher because of her friendship.

Don’t underestimate what my children can do. 
In the course of our homeschooling, one had significant learning challenges. After years of working with a speech therapist, then a reading specialist, then a vision therapist, and then a tutor, she was still struggling. During the summer after eighth grade, she discovered Ben Carson’s autobiography, Gifted Hands, and set a goal to attend nursing school at Johns Hopkins. We discussed what it would take and I told her that she would have to “up her game.” At the end of her first semester of freshman year, that student had all A’s in her average to advanced high school level courses. Later, she decided on a different school, but continued her focused attention. During her high school career, she earned a total of 29 college credits with nearly all A’s. She is amazing.

Comparison kills joy. 
No matter what we did in our homeschool, it always seemed like someone else was doing something better, more creative, more academic, more something. As I began to plan each spring, I would ask God what He wanted my kids to learn and I planned accordingly. But many times I doubted that our school was academic enough, fun enough, thorough enough, challenging enough, etc. Instead of trusting God, I second-guessed my decisions and found myself frustrated as I tried to achieve the perfect homeschool. Eventually, I realized that the perfect homeschool is as unique for each family as each of the uniquely created students who are being educated.  

And so this is the close of one chapter and the beginning of another. Homeschooling was not easy, but it has been worth every minute. I “sail into the uncertain future surrounded by the faithfulness of God.”

 

Thoughts on Raising Independent Kids

Americans love independence. It’s central to our nation’s story. A group of discontent patriots from 13 colonies rebelled against a powerful nation to create a unified land of the free and the home of the brave. Independence inspired people to move west and later to fight for freedom and democracy in oppressed nations. America’s story is rooted in independence.  

Independence and Parenting
Anyone with a 2-year-old knows what independence looks like, but what does it look like in a 25-year-old young woman? I met a friend for breakfast who had worked a full time job for years, had purchased a new car, and had recently purchased a home. By the world’s standards she was incredibly successful. She explained that because her parents had taught her to be independent and only rely on herself, she found it difficult to depend on and trust anyone, especially God. Not only had this impacted her dating relationships, but she also realized that she had relegated God to a place of doing only what she thought she couldn’t handle on her own. Her statements caused me to think.

Independence vs. Interdependence
What did the Bible say about independence? Was Jesus independent? What I saw was a man who proclaimed His reliance on His Father and only did what He saw His Father do (John 3:19), a man who called His followers to follow Him (Matthew 4:19), not to make their own way. Could it be that Jesus’ life did not reflect INdependence but modeled INTERdependence? 

Interdependence and Authority
Our culture is filled with independence—independent bookstores, local coffee shops, independent films, etc.—so we can do things our way without the oversight of a larger, governing authority. But living under authority is God’s idea, not to take away our freedoms but to give us protection, guidance, and blessing. God says, I’ve set up these commandments God says, make your plans but I’ll guide your steps (Proverbs 16:9). Trust in me with all of your heart and don’t trust your own understanding. Acknowledge me and I’ll direct you (Proverbs 3:6-7). I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). I am the solid rock that will not change (Psalm 18:2).

Certainly there are ungodly and even evil authorities in this world and one example was reigning when Paul wrote to submit to governing authorities (Romans 13). We want to make submitting to authority a conditional request based on the character of the authority, but there is no condition in scripture. Even if we can’t trust the authority, we can trust that God will take care of us (Jeremiah 29:11). When we teach our children conditional submission to authority, it gives them a sense of pride which may cause rebellion at home or in future employment settings. 

Interdependence and Community
God created Adam and for a time he was completely independent, without influence, without companionship. God said it was not good for Adam to be alone, so He created Eve. (Genesis 2:22) God knew from the moment of creation that we would need each other.  The Bible says to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), to confess your sins one to another (James 5:16), and to call each other to be more like Christ "as iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17)

God calls us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2),  consider one another’s interests ahead of your own (Philippians 2:4) because He knows that if we aren’t actively a part of someone else’s life that we can become self-absorbed in our own. We need the wisdom, compassion, creativity, and kindness of others in our lives to help us to learn and grow and become fully who God created us to be.

Interdependence and Celebration
Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, consider that more than 200 years ago a group of patriots, some who were men of faith, banded together to fight injustice and to form a more perfect union. Patrick Henry, the voice of the revolution, could not have done it alone. Thomas Jefferson, the pen of the revolution, could not have done it alone. Some were leaders, others were followers. They needed each other. And, of course, they needed God. Today the country will be celebrating our independence from England, but I’ll be thinking of the interdependence that made it all possible.

HEAV, Here We Come!

Excitement is building around here. My dining room is littered with tablecloths, metal piping, boxes of books, wrinkled curtains and more! We are anxiously finishing the final details on our workshops and our new booth. We are truly blessed to be a part of this incredible event. If you haven't already registered for HEAV, click on the photo and take a look at everything they have to offer! 

We look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. Stop by and see us at Booth 111.

"Scrape the bowl, and start again."

Some seasons of life are busier than others and this past year has been especially busy for our family. Somehow even when my schedule is tight, I often seem to take on even more, sometimes at the expense of things in my life that are important.

This morning, I woke up with a picture in my mind of a hand mixer twirling in a mixing bowl filled with ingredients becoming cookie dough, and these words came to mind: 

Scrape the bowl, and start again. 

Turn off the hand mixer. Choose to unplug, slow down, and be present in every situation. I created you to enjoy this life I’ve given you.

Scrape the bowl, and start again.

When you mix ingredients, chunks fly to the sides of the bowl. You can look at those disconnected pieces and see failure or weakness because you could not keep everything together, but I do not judge you. Leave the past in the past. Every day is an opportunity for a new beginning.

Scrape the bowl, and start again.

Those pieces of dough are necessary if you want a tasty outcome or a balanced life. Take time to gather all of the pieces on the sides of the bowl and gently fold them back into the mix. Take your time. Don’t let the process become a burden, but find joy in the small things.

Scrape the bowl, and start again. 

I am grateful for a God who cares about the concerns on my mind and gently restores my anxious heart. Today, I’m going to scrape the bowl, and start again. 

Stuck Between Seasons

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This morning, as I was homeschooling the last daughter and simultaneous trying to work out details for a women's conference I am coordinating, I found myself very frustrated. I was disappointed in myself because I wasn't able to post a blog last week.

Later, I was fulfilling an order from our store when I happened to glance up at the schedule for #Intentional Parenting 2015. March is supposed to focus on grace. Ok. Got that. Maybe I can write something on Wednesday, I thought.

As I put the packages in my mailbox, I passed a very interesting perspective in my flower bed--a daffodil trying its best to bloom in the middle of snow that hadn't yet melted. It is as if spring is trying to make an entrance, but winter's finale still continues. (We've had ice and about 12 inches of snow in the past two weeks and there is a potential of more snow for us later this week!)

My heart was stirred that in some ways I'm like that flower; I am stuck between seasons. I can see so many things ahead in the future and I'm working to see things move forward, but now is not the right season. God was saying that it's ok that I didn't post a blog. It isn't priority in this season. I need to keep my priorities in line with His perspective and finish my assignments for one season before I fully embrace the next. 

As I typed this blog, it was an ah-ha moment: Grace. God was giving me grace, favor I didn't deserve.  He wasn't judging me or condemning me so neither do I condemn myself. My takeaway from today: giving grace must begin with receiving grace. That's a great topic for a blog...some day.

Discreet Ways to Answer Difficult Questions

If your children are anything like mine, they ask a lot of questions. Questions that require factual answers are pretty easy, but questions about relationships and reproduction can be tricky. As parents, it is our role to guard our children’s hearts and to teach them a godly perspective in every area of life. Here are some suggestions for how to approach some tricky subjects until your child is ready for more details.

Answer only the question that is asked.

The story goes that a boy asked his mom, “Where did I come from?” His mother got very quiet, took a deep breath, and started into “the talk.” The boy listened patiently and his mother sighed deeply as she finished her last sentence. The boy quickly spoke up. “That’s not what I meant. Joshua said he came from Cincinnati, Ohio, and I just wondered where I came from.”

Sometimes we give our children more information than they need or they are ready for. Our family philosophy has been to answer the question asked. Sometimes the answer leads to more questions, but other times it satisfies the curious child until another day.

Keep discussions in a biblical context.

Please Note: I have substituted “socks”  for a similar sounding word, not because I am embarrassed to use the real word, but because I don’t want the article to be blocked by internet filtering software. 

Yes, it’s important to give your children the facts about “socks,” but it also important to put the information in the context of how God created it. Don’t just explain the details about the act, but give the context that when a man and woman are married, God created a way for them to have a baby that also gives the couple pleasure and causes them to grow closer emotionally. It’s also important for them to know that certain behaviors are 

Keep it simple.

Before you ever get to “the talk” you’ll probably get a lot of questions, especially if mom or someone close to your family is pregnant.  Here are some answers we’ve given to challenging questions. Yes, they are simplistic, but we had future discussions to expound upon the nuances of these topics. You can use anatomical terms, if you prefer.

Q. Where do babies come from? OR  How does the baby get in there?
A.  There is a seed inside the mommy that grows into a baby when God says it’s time.

Q. How do you get pregnant? (or some form of the question)
A. Several options: 
When a woman treats a man like her husband, there is a tiny seed in the mommy that begins to grow into a baby. 
Before I was ready to have “the talk”: Right now, your body can’t have a baby but when you can I will be sure to tell you.
Close to having “the talk”: That’s a great question. I’m not ready to have this conversation today, but let’s set up a time where we can talk about it real soon.  (And then schedule something, like a Lady Day, Purity Weekend for girls or Passport2Purity for boys or girls, and follow through.)

Q. How did she get pregnant if she isn’t married?
A. She treated a man like her husband.

Q. Is the baby in your stomach with all your food?
A. No, God made a special place like a bubble (or use anatomical term) where the baby can grow, and eat special food, and be protected.

Q. How do babies eat when they are in your tummy?
A. God made a special tube (called an umbilical cord) that connects from mommy’s tummy to the baby so the baby will have food to eat and grow.

Q. How does the baby get out?
A. God was so smart and made a special hole just for the baby to come out when it’s time. (Depending on the child and the specific situation, I may go on.) That works for most mommies, but sometimes it isn’t safe for the baby to come out of the hole so the doctor has to cut the mommy’s tummy and help the baby come out.  

Q. Where is the hole?
A.  The hole is close to the hole in the mommy where the urine comes out.

Q. What’s circumcision?
A. God asked the Israelite men to mark themselves in a way that mean that they belonged to God.

Q. Where is the mark?
A. On the man’s private parts.

Q. What is adultery? 
A. When a married woman treats another man like her husband, even though she isn’t married to him or when a married man treats another woman like his wife. The Bible says that the people who do that won’t go to heaven. 

Q. What is fornication?
A. When a woman who isn’t married treats a man like she would if he was her husband or a man who isn’t married treats a woman like he would if she were his wife. The Bible says that the people who do that won’t go to heaven.

Wait for the right time.

Obviously, the answers above are simplistic responses most suitable for the younger set. In time, there was “full disclosure” and complete explanations, including any scriptural references that applied. 

Our girls were all pretty curious, but one was exceptionally so. At the age of nine, she asked me directly, “What is ‘socks’?” I must admit that it caught me off guard. I’m sure I took a long pause, made a plan and then responded, “Oh, you mean on the standardized tests where it says, ‘“Socks”: Male or Female’?”  She told me, no, that wasn’t what she meant.  I told her that I didn’t think she was ready to have this conversation. (I was sure I wasn’t ready either!) I also promised that we would have the conversation in the future but that if she couldn’t wait, she should come back and ask me again instead of asking someone else. We went through this scenario twice before we finally had our Purity Weekend and I was able to answer all of her questions.

Later, I asked my sweet daughter what had caused her to ask about “socks.” She said that when someone mentioned the word, everyone seemed to react in a panic and she wondered why. I thought I had acted nonchalantly when the word unexpectedly popped up, but evidently my concern and fear were greater than my acting ability. It certainly made me more aware of my own responses to unexpected situations.

Remember, you are the parent. Don’t let anyone else’s time frame or fear that your child will find out from another source become the determining factor for your family. God can protect your children from hearing things they aren’t ready for and He will stir your heart when it is just the perfect time to tell them about the birds and the bees. I know, because that’s what He did with every one of mine. Trust God to direct you. He is faithful.  

Purity Is about More Than a 3-Letter Word

Pure: without any extraneous and unnecessary elements, free of any contamination

In a culture saturated with sensuality, it is a gargantuan challenge to raise children who are pure yet are also “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). There are many scriptures that call all believers, no matter what age, to live a life of physical purity, but there are also scriptures that call believers to have a pure heart and to think about that things that are pure.* 

Nothing Ever Changes

You may feel that purity is an impossible goal in the current world we live in, but truly our culture is not so different from the culture New Testament describes. Galatians 5:19-21 provides a warning to the believers in Galatia who engage in certain behaviors, a list that sounds very much like the challenges for Christians in our 21st century. Satan’s schemes haven’t changed, but neither has God’s call for us to live free from the contamination of sin.

In the scriptures it is clear that God calls His children to be physically pure, but there are also many scriptures that call us to be pure in heart—in our thoughts, intentions, and attitudes. God’s idea of purity includes being free from contamination like jealousy, anger, rivalry, envy, and anything else that doesn’t reflect who He is. Raising pure children in a pleasure-driven culture isn’t easy; it requires intentional parenting. 

Set a Standard

When God entrusts us with His precious little ones, He is asking us to be His agent, one empowered to act for or represent another, to raise His child as He would. Since Satan masquerades as an angel of light and children are not born with the wisdom and experience to recognize evil, it is our responsibility as parents to establish boundaries that reflect God’s standards. 

Setting a standard is important, but it is equally important to explain why the standard is important and to connect it to God’s expectations so that someday they will be able to set their own wise guidelines. It is our responsibility to educate and maintain standards in areas such as  interactions with friends, management of money, and use of media, just to name a few, but it also means that we need to hold our children accountable for impure actions or attitudes by confronting the sin and bringing correction—an infinitely more challenging role than merely enforcing rules.

Set an Example

When I was studying to be a teacher, I learned the saying, “More is caught than taught.” I believe there is some truth to that. Our children are observing us every day and learning about acceptable behavior for adults. If we have one set of guidelines for our children and another set for ourselves, it makes us hypocrites but it also demonstrates to our children that standards of purity don’t matter as much or at all when you’re an adult.  

If we want our children to be adults who live pure lives, then we must show them the way. If we want our children to grow to be adults who love God, then they need to see us loving God. If we want them to speak respectfully to us, then we need to speak respectfully to them and our own parents. If we want our children to be free from anger, rivalry and envy; then we must lead the way. When we set an example of godly character, we are saying, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). We need to be the kind of adult we want our children to become.

 

*For specific references, please see: http://www.openbible.info/topics/being_pure. Click on the scripture to change to a different version.

Why I Don't Want to Raise Religious Children

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One of my 2015 goals is to read more but my love of reading is inversely proportional to the amount of time I have to read. (SAT study with our youngest is affecting my vocabulary!) I just finished Mimosa, by Amy Carmichael, and I am currently reading Thinking. Loving. Doing., a collection of writings by various authors which was an assignment for my teacher2b daughter at Regent University. 

Theology ≠ Religion

In the chapter I read today, the author recounted a story about a Christian University that had renamed the “Department of Theology” to the “Department of Religion.” He went on to define the difference between religion (the study of human beings and how they react with things they consider sacred) and theology (the study of God). It is an important distinction that is often not understood.

Religious ≠ Christian

As Christian parents, we want to pass our faith to our children and so we teach them to pray, to read their Bible, to go to church, maybe even to fast or tithe, based on Biblical mandates. These behaviors may inspire our children to become religious and devout, but being religious is not the same as being a Christian. 

Christian = Follower of Christ

Christians, “little Christs” as the word is translated, are followers and imitators of their Savior, Jesus Christ. They have a relational connection to the God of the universe who is the Lord of their lives. Their behavior isn’t based on completing a legalistic list of behaviors to avoid guilt, but a genuine motivation of love for the God who first loved them. Christians pray, not just at meals or in church, but to communicate with the Lover of their souls. Christians joyfully go to church to learn more about Christ and to serve and to worship God for who He is. Christians read their Bible throughout the week, not to check off an obligation, but because the Word is life, like refreshing water for a dry soul. 

Christian = Lover of Christ

And Christians love others extravagantly. John 13:25 says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Christians love. The only way we can truly love is to be filled with the One who IS love. Love is the key. When we fall in love with the God who created us and Jesus Christ who gave His life to pay for our freedom, I believe we will want to pray and read our Bibles to stay connected relationally, and to share God’s powerful love with others who have no hope. When our children see us live this way, they will follow in our footsteps and connect themselves to the God we love.

Lover of Christ = Light to the World

If we as parents only expect our children to do religious things and they obey, we have successfully raised religious children who may appear to be Christians on the outside. But if we set expectations by our example and encourage our children to develop a vibrant relationship with Christ, we will raise Christian men and women who will live like Jesus, pointing others to the Father through their extravagant love.

How Our Family Celebrates Valentine's Day

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Our family likes to celebrate. We celebrate holidays and people and babies who haven’t yet seen the light of day. Valentine’s Day is no exception. In the course of homeschooling, we taught our young girls about St. Valentine and the historical basis for the celebration, but we also focused on Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate the love of God and the love of family. 

Love is Giving

Our sweet little ones grew up and somewhere along the line, our gift of miniature heart-shaped boxes of chocolates morphed into bags of Lindt truffles and Valentine’s cards carefully chosen by Dad and signed by both of us. But that’s not what my girls are looking forward to this Valentine’s Day. 

Love is Sharing

I’m not even sure when our tradition began, but I remember thinking that girls want valentines. They want to feel special and valued and loved. I figured that if they didn’t get that at home, they would search for it elsewhere. So 10-plus years ago I decided to share my valentine. 

Love is Faithful

Yes, I think it’s important that our girls know that their dad and I are in love and that I am his #1 woman, but celebrating Valentine’s Day with overpriced restaurant dinners and red roses isn’t the only way to show our love. The girls see how my husband honors and prefers me every day of the year, how we serve each other, how we have faithfully planned date nights every month for the past ten years, and how we want to be together. Just the two of us. As much as possible. So I don’t mind sharing for a few years, because after that he’ll be all mine.

Love is Honoring

Since my birthday falls during the week of Valentine’s Day, we have a date to celebrate both occasions and then we celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family. We try to honor the girls as we would someday expect their husbands to, by making it a special evening with dinner served in the dining room on china or our nicer plates. The menu usually includes a new recipe of something elegant, sometimes several courses, and always concludes with a delicious dessert. Sometimes the girls dressed up, sometimes dad cooked, and sometimes we moved a table into the family room. But the best is what happened after dinner. 

Love is Belonging

Every year Harold turns on the same CD, one that he and I often listened to while we were engaged, and then he takes a turn dancing with each daughter—yes, I get a turn, too! I love to watch the whispers, the giggles and the smiles as they each have their moment feeling special, and treasured, and loved. Sometimes the daughters went back for a second dance, sometimes they dressed up in my old bridesmaid gowns, sometimes sisters danced with sisters since our family is sorely lacking other male dance partners. But at the end of the night, each girl knew that they belonged to a family who loved them dearly.  

Love is Preferring

This year we were honored to be invited to participate in a special dinner event at our church on Valentine’s night. Of the two daughters at home, one was working late and we considered having the other join us at the event, but we realized that our youngest would probably only have two more Valentine’s Days with us. She was overjoyed to learn that we had chosen to stay home and that we will be continuing our Valentine Family Celebration tradition.  

Love is Timeless

Life changes so quickly but we never outgrow love.  Last year we celebrated with only the youngest. The other daughter living at home had chosen to be a part of an amazing regional event of Christian young people who were gathering for prayer and worship, another daughter was settled in Dallas, and another was serving as a missionary in Mexico. In April, our missionary daughter returned and that night, her Dad put on the “dancing CD,” held out his hand and said, “We missed our Valentine dance.” As I type this, I am still teary-eyed as I remember the love in his eyes and the tears on her face as she was once again reminded that she was special and treasured and loved by our family. Some would say that it was a little late, but love is always on time.

Teaching Tool: Prayer Bookmark

When our girls were old enough to read on their own, I made each of them a prayer card that doubled as a bookmark in her Bible. This simple tool helped our daughters develop their own prayer life. You can make this card on a computer, but these directions are for doing it the old-fashioned way, by hand. Be sure to write clearly and print unless your child can read cursive. Here’s how to make a prayer card for your child:

  1.  Choose a 3×5 card, with or without lines. Look for one in your child’s favorite color or use a white card and make it colorful with markers or stickers.
  2. Begin on a side with no lines. Hold the card in a vertical position with the longest side going from top to bottom. Begin by listing names of your family, one name per line: Ex. Dad, Mom, brothers, sisters, grandparents, other close family members.
  3. Next, (on the same side) list pastors, missionaries, teachers, or others in authority.
  4. Lastly, include things that are important to your child, like a friend who is ill. My oldest daughter included the country of China because she felt called to missions at a very young age.
  5. The opposite side is for your child. Choose one or two character traits that your child needs to work on. (ex. honesty, diligence, contentment) List the positive trait and a Bible verse about that trait. For example, if you need to work on truthfulness, then you may want to copy Psalm 34:13. If your child is struggling with diligence, you could copy Proverbs 10:4. Each day your child can read the verse and pray that God would change his or her heart. If your child reads the scripture each day for several weeks, he or she may even memorize it without any trouble.

Of course, the card will not be accurate forever and will have to be updated every 3-6 months. Involve your older child as you make changes. Update the names of the authorities and ask your child what requests he or she might want to pray about. Pray together and talk about which trait(s) your child needs to focus on in prayer. Most of all, give encouragement when you see growth in character and highlight the answers to prayer that your child may not have recognized. A Prayer Bookmark is a small tool, but I believe that it can plant many "prayer seeds" in the hearts of children. 

 

 

 

29 Reasons to Pray as a Family

Some earlier blogs mentioned praying at meals and before bed, but truly that is just the tip of the iceberg! Prayer is less about a memorized schedule and more about a lifestyle. Our children learn about when to pray by the examples we set.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.       Philippians 4:6-7

God wants us to bring all of our cares and concerns to Him--any time, any place--no matter how trivial they may seem in comparison to a world full of great need. If it matters to us then it matters to God. No matter what your situation is, pray. Pray alone, but also pray as a family in the everyday moments of life and watch God do amazing things.  

Pray

Pray in the morning;
Pray at meals.
Pray when your child gets a new set of wheels.

Pray when you plan;
Pray before bed.
Pray when you’re sorry for something you’ve said.

Pray when you’re worried;
Pray when you fear.
Pray when the next step isn’t so clear.

Pray when you’re lost;
Pray when you’re confused.
Pray when you’re about to do something brand new.

Pray when you disagree; 
Pray when there’s division.
Pray when you need to make a big life decision.

Pray when you’re angry;
Pray when you’re hurt.
Pray when you’re searching for a lost shirt.

Pray when you celebrate;
Pray when you’re sad.
Pray with your child when they’ve done something bad.

Pray when you’re lonely;
Pray when you’re grieving.
Pray when someone you know needs healing.

Pray when you’re shopping;
Pray when you lack.
Pray when you’re tempted to regret and look back.

Pray when you’re together;
Pray when you’re apart.
Prayer is a bond that connects you by heart.

5 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged in Prayer

It’s not easy talking to an invisible person. If prayer is talking to God and God is invisible, then prayer can seem like talking to an invisible person. Most kids have a hard time carrying on a conversation with people they can see, so talking with someone they can’t see or hear can prove to be most challenging. Here are a few ideas for incorporating kids into prayer time:

1. Set an example by making prayer a priority.

Leading by example is the most important aspect of teaching anything to your children, and prayer is no exception. When we pray, our actions say that it is important to talk to God. When we participate in mealtime and bedtime prayers, we show our kids that prayer isn’t just for kids. When we stop in the middle of indecision and pray for God’s wisdom, we’re modeling our need for God’s direction. When we ask our children to join us in praying for something, we are choosing to value them as a member of our family team. Take time to pray.

2. Actively involve kids in prayer times.

Whenever you pray, look for opportunities to include your children. Encourage them to speak a prayer request or give thanks for a blessing and even to lead in prayer (pray the first prayer and pray the ending prayer). In our family, if someone prays something that we agree with, we may say, “Yes, God!” to agree with them. I believe the girls listened carefully so they could add their agreement. We also recited the same phrases at the beginning and at the end of our bedtime prayers each night which keep the kids involved in prayer time, or we might lay our hands on a family member we are praying for. Keeping kids actively connected to prayer time helps keep them interested.

3. Prepare for prayer.

Sometimes kids don’t pray for anything because they can’t think of anything to pray. Before prayer time talk about needs for your family, friends, church, missionaries, or even nations. You can ask, “Do you know anyone we need to pray for?” “What do they need?” “Who would like to pray for them?” Having a discussion about prayer needs helps children shift the focus from thinking of their own needs to considering the needs of others. Having a specific prayer request to pray for gives them direction in the prayer time and helps them to feel a part of the process. A little preparation goes a long way. 

4. Keep a prayer journal. 

When our oldest daughter was 10, she decided that she wanted to have a neighborhood Bible study to teach her friends about God. I suggested a few topics and a format for their time, but she made the decisions and led the group while I sat in the room in case she got in over her head. During their weekly meeting there was a time of prayer where each one could present to the group her prayer requests or answered prayers. Victoria or I recorded the date and the request in one column and recorded the answered prayers in the column next to the request. Each week we were amazed at how God answered the heartfelt prayers of His children. By the time the group disbanded a year later, nearly every prayer had been answered! 

Sometimes we forget how many prayers God answers because our memory is short. Consider keeping a family journal for family prayer time and record prayers that have a clear answer such as “Help me to find my watch” or “Keep us safe on our trip.” You may want to keep a separate page for other requests like “God, help me to be more like you” or When your child sees how God answers prayers, they will pray with faith and anticipation anticipation , You may also want to encourage your older children to keep their own journal of God’s faithfulness. Not only will it grow their faith, but it will be a treasure for years to come.

5. Tell the stories of God’s faithfulness to your family.

A dear friend told us that they kept a book of stories that recorded God’s blessings and miracles in their family. This was different than a prayer journal because it included not only the request and the answer but the complete story of the need and how it was met. Since our girls were not yet able to read, we made our own book with pictures, “The Moore Book of Faith and Miracles.” Each time the girls looked at the pictures in the photo album, we repeated the stories of God’s miraculous power that helped Popples recover from a stroke, provided the van we wanted at a price we could afford, and healed one of the girls so she no longer required surgery or medication. These stories built faith in little hearts and showed them that God hears and answers our prayers, which I believe encouraged them to pray with boldness. Whether or not you make a book, tell the unique stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness to your family.   

These are a few of the ideas that God gave our family, but there is no right or wrong way to get kids engaged in prayer. The best way is whatever stirs your child’s heart and motivates them to connect and to stay connected with God in prayer.

"Yeah, team! Hallelujah!"

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GOAL #2: Bedtime Prayers

My posts generally include sharing my heart, but I feel especially vulnerable writing about a very special routine in our family and how we connect with God and each other.

For the Littles

When the girls were very small, we decided that prayer before bed was going to be a priority for our family. Our routine was quite simple: dinner, bath time, pajamas. While their hair was drying, Daddy played with them and usually got them really excited and hyper. Then he declared it was bedtime and we all knelt around the coffee table in the family room.  Most nights we read a section of a child’s storybook Bible and then we prayed together. 

We definitely had a plan for bedtime prayers so we could keep our easily distracted toddlers engaged as much as possible. We had the girls say, “Thank you, God, for…” and they would fill in the blank with whatever they were thankful for. We also included asking God for needs that the kids might be aware of, such as healing for a sick loved one or safety for a traveling friend. At the end, we would “God bless” every relative we could think of and finished with “AMEN.” After prayers, we gave “hugs and kisses around,” which translates into “hug and kiss each other and go to bed.”

For the Middles

In the middle years, we got rid of the coffee table so we migrated to the couch. The traditionalist in me sometimes misses kneeling though I don’t think it made us more holy or our prayers more answerable. As the girls got older, they saved their pajamas for after prayer time. Somewhere along the line, we added the introduction to our prayer time: “Thank you, God, for our team,” and the rest cheer back, “Yeah, team! Hallelujah!” Not only did it remind the girls that we are a team, but it also kept them involved in prayer time.

Our prayers have always been quite interactive. When Harold’s great aunt came to visit one year, someone prayed and thanked God that she was with us. The girls erupted with a “Yeah!” which was a surprise to one with hearing loss and a strong belief in reverent prayers. At the end of the prayer, she asked, “What happened?”

Back to our prayers. “Yeah, team! Hallelujah!” We continued to pray for things we were thankful for and for personal and family requests. Harold and I often prayed for peaceful sleep and happy dreams for the girls since some struggled with both. 

And then we added an ending: “Help us to love what you love, and hate the things you hate. And thank you, Jesus, for being with us all the time. AMEN.” And of course, there were still “kisses and hugs around.” I’m not sure when we first started this prayer, but I heard the first part on Focus on the Family and knew that it was for our family. Harold readily agreed. The original was “Love what you love and hate what you hate,” but the oldest daughter was concerned and pleaded that we shouldn’t hate anybody, so we made adjustments. We added the second part because we wanted the girls to know that Jesus would never leave them, no matter where they were geographically or spiritually. I’m not sure I considered it to be a permanent part of the prayer, but it has stuck.

For the Teens

Today, our girls at home are in their teens and twenties. Not much has changed, except that two live away from home and sometimes Skype in for bedtime prayers. We even include visiting friends in our bedtime prayer routine and bless them and their families. We all gather before we go to bed, well, at least before Harold and I head to bed and often share about the day's events and talk about what our schedules hold for the next day. We take turns leading bedtime prayers and no one is required to pray, but we each speak out to pray for what stirs our heart. We still thank God for our team and for the many blessings in our lives. We still pray for the needs of our loved ones and pray for each other. It is such a precious thing to hear one child praying for the needs of another. Since our girls are very aware of world events and the persecuted church, our prayers often include missionaries or countries featured in the news. We still end our prayers with the same memorized sentences, followed by hugs and kisses around.

I believe that no matter how your kids are, they never outgrow bedtime prayers and connecting with God with a thankful heart. Does your family pray before bed? I’d love to hear about your family’s routine.

Prayer=Connecting with God

If you want to build a good relationship with someone, you need to regularly connect with them. Prayer is connecting with God, whether we speak or we listen. As our children learn to pray, it grows their connection to Christ. For the next two weeks, we’ll focus on some goals in the area of prayer. Let's start simple.

GOAL #1: Mealtime Prayers

One of the simplest ways to introduce prayer in your family’s routine is to consistently pray before each meal. If this is a new idea for your family, I have some ideas for you! If you’re already praying before meals, good for you! You may want to take a moment to consider a few things that may help your family continue to grow in this area: 

  1. Do your children know why you pray before meals or is it just a habit?
  2. Do each of your children take turns praying before meals?
  3. Are your children praying from their hearts or just from their heads?

Make Connections

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I try to find biblical reasons and references for what I ask my children to do. Jesus set an example for us in Matthew 14 when he gave thanks and blessed the food before he fed the five thousand. Later in Matthew 26, he blessed the food at the Last Supper in the same way. Consider reading those chapters together as a family to introduce mealtime prayers or to reinforce why you do what you do. Here are some other benefits of praying before a meal:

  1. Pausing to thank God before we eat shows that God is important to our family and that we value connecting with Him.
  2. It is an act of self-control when we choose to pray before we eat, overruling our growling stomachs and natural desire for food.
  3. Thanking God for our food acknowledges that He is our Provider, not our job or our paycheck. 
  4. A prayer of thankfulness also cultivates a heart of gratitude, even for food that may not be our favorite. 

Say the Word

There is no formula for what to say or special words you have to use at a mealtime prayer. Jesus thanked God for the food and then He blessed it. Many people also include a prayer to bless those who prepared it or a blessing that the food would “strengthen and nourish our bodies.” I once visited a church where every member prayed for their pastors during each mealtime prayer. Ask God what He wants your family to include. 

Prayer is talking to God, so speak like you to do to a friend. If you are working so hard on making the prayer eloquent, then the focus is on you and not the prayer. Not only will a simple, heartfelt prayer help your young children understand what you’re saying, but it will show them that they are able to pray, too. 

We did try to keep the length of the prayer proportional to the age of the child. For the infants in a high chair, a lunch prayer might be, “Thank you, God, for our food. AMEN.” For toddlers, you may want to find a rote prayer, such as “God is great,” that helps them know what to pray. In time, they should become more comfortable with praying from their hearts. 

Lead the Way

If this is new to your family, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind. 

  1. Communicate with your family that you are beginning a new tradition and give an age-appropriate why. (ex. to help us connect with God, because the Bible asks us to pray, etc.)
  2. You may want to put something on your table, like a candle, to remind you to pray before each meal.
  3. Consider what posture your family will have when you pray. When my kids were little, I had them fold their hands and bow their heads. Some families hold hands to make a circle. When I was growing up, we just rested our hands in our lap so we didn’t sample the food during prayers. 
  4. It may be easiest for parents pray for a week or so to set an example. Eventually, you’ll want to rotate among family members so everyone has a chance to lead in prayer. 
  5. Under no circumstances should you force a child to pray. If you are facing opposition, address them in private after the meal. Pray with your spouse that your child will have a change of heart.

If your family already prays at meal time I’d love to hear about your traditions, and if this is new to you, tell us about what you are doing for your family!

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far

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The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

It’s funny how true that is. Many days I walk past a mirror and think, “I have become my mother.”  It’s true for our physical appearance, but it is even more true of who we are on the inside. The things I value like God, church, family, cleanliness, organization, and creativity are all things that my parent’s valued. No one ever said, “This is what we value.” Their behavior showed me every day what was important and what was not accepted or tolerated.

Our children will most likely become who we are.  

This is a sobering thought for some of us. We can so easily see our weaknesses and hope that our children don’t fall into the same patterns. But if those are the patterns our children see day after day and year after year, they are the easiest for our children to replicate. 

Do what I say, not what I do.

That doesn’t work. If we want our children to value prayer, we need to make it a regular part of our family life. If we want them to value serving, they need to see us serving others. If we want our children to guard their hearts and minds when it comes to entertainment, we need to guard ourselves and set an example. Kids, especially teens, quickly lose respect for parents who have one standard for the children and another for themselves.

Yeah, team! Hallelujah!

We are all on the same team. We are all learning what it means to love and follow Christ in every area of life. My husband and I may be a little ahead of our children in the process, but we certainly don’t have it all figured out. As a tangible sign to our kids that our family was a team, we changed our bedtime prayers. Each prayer begins with the leader: “Thank you, God, for our team.” Family: “Yeah, team! Hallelujah!” It was just a small way to say, “We’re in this together.” The tradition continues to this day. 

THE PLAN isn’t just about kids; it’s about families who are choosing to focus on becoming a reflection of Christ as they come in contact with the world and as they interact with each other. It isn’t easy, but I’ll be cheering for you. Go, team, go!

Tomorrow we begin with the first trait--Prayer.

The Perspective that Changed My Parenting

A water-damaged picture beside my kitchen sink, taken Mother's Day 1999 

A water-damaged picture beside my kitchen sink, taken Mother's Day 1999 

Once upon a time, I was a mom of four girls, ages six and under. My life goal had been to be a mom, and I wanted to be the best one ever. But no one told my girls that. They argued and fought and screamed and cried and complained to go to church and said unkind things to our adult friends—all things that normal children do to embarrass their parents. I read parenting books, prayed, cried, and disciplined—sometimes for the same repeated disobedience many times in one day. Their character wasn’t growing, but my anger sure was. I considered myself a failure before the oldest was even 10.

Man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. (I Sam. 16:7)

God showed me one day that I was trying to raise “trophy children” so everyone would see that I was a good mom. Truly, my primary goal was that their outward behavior would be socially acceptable and make me look successful. (That sounds so selfish and ugly, but it's the truth.) I repented, and God changed my perspective. This time my goal was not a temporary behavior change for a particular situation, but a forever heart change that would cause them to make godly choices for a lifetime.  

When I asked my girls to do something or to change their behavior, I tried to connect my request to a Bible verse which helped them understand that it was God’s request, not just mine. This perspective had some unexpected benefits. First, it caused me to carefully consider each request and align it with God’s Word. I also tried not to ask the girls to do something that I could do myself, like retrieving an item. I also realized that when the girls chose not to obey, I didn’t take it personally or get bent out of shape about it, because I realized that they were choosing not to obey God. That perspective disarmed my emotions of failure because their obedience was not about me personally.

Doing the right thing for the wrong reason doesn’t make it right.

God calls us to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Prov. 22:6), but it isn’t so that we’ll look like successful parents. That would be all about us. He wants our children to have pure hearts so that they will “shine among them like stars in the sky.” (Phil. 2:15) Our goal is to train our children to love God and to make wise choices that honor Him when no immediate reward is involved and no one is watching, to be bright lights that lead the way for others to encounter Christ. That change in perspective of parenting has made all the difference in the world for me and my family. Tomorrow we PREPARE.

THE PLAN

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Do the next thing.

Elisabeth Elliot introduced me to this phrase that continues to give me direction in chaos and confusion. I don’t need to formulate a complete plan. I just need to do the next thing. One thing. And then, do the next thing.

This is not an easy concept for a slightly OCD person like myself who really wants to start EVERYTHING new in January. The idea of starting a new habit or routine in April just seems wrong to me. But I have found that I can only change so many things at the same time and maintain those changes over time. For me, small changes over time produce big results in the future. After all, raising children isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. 

You need a bite-sized plan for a God-sized goal. 

As Harold and I were setting goals for our young children many years ago, I ran across I Thessalonians 5:23-24: “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. the One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” This one verse helped us to categorize the goals we set for our daughters’ lives: Spirit—how they related to God, Soul—how they related to others, and Body—how they guarded themselves. My husband and I talked about the behaviors and heart attitudes that we believed were critical in the godly character formation of the girls and then created a list of goals for each category. 

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. ~Tony Robbins 

Achieving a goal begins with putting it in writing and breaking it down into smaller action steps. THE PLAN outlines the character trait goals that we chose for our family. I wish I could say that the girls mastered every one in the span of a year. The truth is that we’re all still a work in progress, but we look more like Jesus that we did when we began this journey. 

There is more than one way to raise a godly child.

There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all solution to raising children who love and honor God. THE PLAN is only one tool in the sea of many options that helps parents to be intentional about raising godly children. (Click here for a printable copy.) It is a simple chart that suggests one or two character traits to focus on throughout the month. I’ll be posting scriptures, activities and ideas from our family that focus on that particular trait. You may choose to focus on one or both of the traits for the month, or you may focus on one trait for several months. You’re the parent and God will give you wisdom about what is best for your family. The goal is not a number completed; the goal is a changed heart. 

The first change starts tomorrow—PERSPECTIVE.

#IntentionalParenting2015

Happy 2015! 

For the past week my email box, Facebook feed, and online advertisements have been filled with systematic plans for meeting new year goals—Couch to 5K for the running enthusiast, a 12-month plan to organize your home, a 30-day menu and shopping list for clean eating, daily email assignments to declutter your brain, and the list goes on. This morning, it occurred to me that I haven’t seen one article about one of the most important goals in my life—raising godly children. 

Achieving a goal doesn’t just happen. 

Achieving a goal takes a plan, behavior changes and lots of hard work. After talking about losing weight for the last 20 years, my husband finally achieved his goal in 2013 and lost 80 pounds. (Yep. 8-0) He made a plan to use the My Fitness Pal app to chart a course and record everything he ate. Finally, he bought a used bike with a comfortable seat and disciplined himself to ride. Nearly every day. In about 6 months, he had lost 50 lbs. A year later he had reached his goal weight. Eighteen months after that, he has kept it all off.

One bite at a time.

The saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” When you have a big goal, it’s easier to achieve when you break it down into smaller goals. Raising a godly child is huge goal and sometimes overwhelming, so I’ve made a 12-month plan broken down into various character traits. I am not promising to blog every day, but I am committed to post at least weekly to provide some ideas for you and your family. I welcome your questions, but I hope you’ll post your suggestions for the others who are also following this series. 

As with any goal, it always helps to have someone who is walking beside you in the journey. If you are married, I highly recommend that you and your spouse decide together what this will look like for your family. If you’re a single parent, you may want to find another parent who will act as a sounding board and an encourager. I may not live in your town, but I hope this series will be a source of support for you, too. You can do it!

During this year, I plan to post ideas and our own family experiences on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #IntentionalParenting2015. I hope you’ll do the same so we can share experiences and encourage each other.

Big goals require big changes. 

If you are serious about raising godly children, it will require planning, change, and incredible dedication. I believe that the goal is worth the sacrifice. Tomorrow I’ll post the plan, but the behavior changes and hard work are up to you. 

A Private Message That Forever Changed Our Family

I never intended to homeschool high school. As a high school student, I did well in English, history and foreign language; but I had needed a tutor to make it through Algebra 2, and I never took a science course beyond Biology. (I didn’t need to for my degree in music.) I hadn’t been successful when I TOOK those classes and I couldn’t imagine that I would be remotely successful TEACHING them. I was sure that it wasn’t God’s plan for me to homeschool high school. 

In June, just three months before high school was to begin, I was attending a women’s conference and the speaker said, “God can give you wisdom beyond your experiences.” I knew that God was sending me a message; He wanted me to homeschool high school. Part of me was angry. “God, when I had agreed to homeschool, I didn’t think that high school was part of the deal!” The insecure side of me felt too inadequate. The selfish side of me was looking forward to only having three to homeschool and didn’t want to be responsible to teach those challenging subjects. But after talking with Harold, we said, “Yes.” In return for our obedience, God poured out abundant blessings I could never have imagined.

Our family has grown in unity. Each of us has grown in character and grown closer to each other. We have learned how to serve each other, and we have learned how to work together to serve others. Our girls are more than sisters or classmates; they are truly each other’s best friends. As parents, these years have allowed us to grow strong relationships with our daughters that will stand the test of time.

Each daughter received a customized education that best prepared her to achieve her future goals. All of my graduates took college courses during high school, which prepared them to excel in their college studies and gave them space in their college schedules to pursue a minor or other field of interest. The flexibility of homeschooling allowed our girls to use their time to explore and pursue their God-given callings through life experiences, travel, education, and extra-curricular activities.

Most importantly, our girls flourished spiritually. Homeschooling allowed us to mentor and disciple our daughters through the critical teen years. We were able to read the Bible and discuss it together, to talk about the consequences of choices made in various situations, to memorize scripture together, and to guide them as they learned to make wise choices. Though we used carefully chosen textbooks and materials with a God-centered worldview, we also educated our daughters in other world views and religions so they could think critically about the influences in their lives. As a result of intentional spiritual discipleship, each daughter has established her own vibrant relationship with God and is positioning herself for continued growth.

I’m not saying that you have to homeschool high school if you want your child to be a Christian, because truly there is more than one way to raise a godly child. I am saying that homeschooling was God’s choice for our family and the experience has been an incredible blessing that has forever changed our family. I am grateful that God loved our family so much that He sent me a private message.

   

How to Bless Your Children by: Harold Moore

When our daughters were very young, Joy and I were exposed to our first teaching on the power of the blessing.  The significance of blessing is woven throughout God’s Word but we often don’t hear sermons or teachings on the importance and the impact blessing can have on us and particularly on our children.

I like to boil down teachings to simple “take-aways” (something I can remember) and, as a guy, a “to-do” list, which helps me stay on task.  For me, the “blessing”, in its simplicity, is a declaration of God’s truth and favor over an individual.  A verbal or written blessing brings life, vision, and hope to the recipient.

With a better understanding of the potential impact of blessing, I recognized that as much as I loved my daughters, I was not intentionally speaking blessing over them on a consistent basis.  I also realized that as my daughters grew they would become more interactive with other people and involved in a variety of social and community situations – from expanded friendship, church, ministry, and work.  They would be bombarded by lots of words every day, but very few of those words would speak to their heart about their value, worth, or truth of God’s purposes and plans for their lives.  In fact they could very easily declare the opposite.

How could I, as their dad, speak blessing over my daughters so that they would consistently hear God’s truth about them and their lives?  If I could come up with a plan it would help me remember to do it.  And if I did it consistently, my words would carry far more weight then those of friends, co-workers, and others. Now I had a new task on my “to-do” list.  The solution: “Saturday Morning Blessing Time @ The Moore’s.”

For our family, Saturday mornings are the most consistent time we are all together.   On Saturday’s I make breakfast for the family (giving Joy a cooking break).  After breakfast and before we cleaned up the table and kitchen, I gather the family together and I simply pray/speak blessing over my daughters and my wife.  I don’t always do it the same way and I don’t have an agenda what I’m going to speak over them nor do I have a set time or duration for the blessing time.  Life is often complicated with schedules and with demands for our time and sometimes it doesn’t happen. But it happens more often than not – and it certainly happens more often than it did before I became intentional.  The goal is not to add another “religious” activity.  The goal is to do it and to do it consistently.

Here are simple “take-aways” for you and/or your spouse:

Set a time (day/time) that your family could most consistently gather together for blessing time.  It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time.  Start with 10 minutes and see what happens.  Make that time priority for your family but if circumstances force a change, give yourself grace and re-schedule.

Pray blessing over each family member.  Speaking blessing over the entire family is great and valuable but nothing will have the impact of looking your child or spouse in the eyes and proclaiming the truth of God over them and reminding them of their value and worth.

Bless them with truth.  You could speak a scripture truth over them, bless them with reminders of how they are beautiful and created in the image of God, or speak about the future God has for them - to prosper them and give them hope.  You could bless them by proclaiming the godly spouses that God is preparing for them or the protection of God over them wherever they go.  The possibilities are endless.  Ask the Holy Spirit to place in your heart what they need to hear. Don’t be religious sounding. Bless them in your words.

Here is a short example of a blessing I could speak over one of my daughters:

“Father, thank you for Elisabeth.  I thank you for creating her as a beautiful woman, both inside and out. 

Elisabeth, may you be blessed, knowing how valuable you are.  God’s hand and favor is on you because He created you and called you to do mighty things for His Kingdom.

I bless you as you seek His face and follow the call He has placed on your life.  May you always walk in His presence and know that you are never alone, for He is with you always.  I bless you and your work in school – that you will be blessed with clarity and understanding for all that you are learning. 

I bless your future – that poverty and sickness will never overtake you and the favor of the Lord will rest upon you, that He will provide protection and provision all the days of your life.

I thank God that He has placed you in our family.  You are a blessing to me as your Dad and to your whole family.  May you be blessed knowing how much you are loved.”

Make the words your words and speak them in ways that connect to your child or spouse.  The genuineness of the Holy Spirit speaking blessing through you will impact your family for generations. 

Harold.