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.

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.

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.

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 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.

The Blessing of Technology Boundaries: Three Key Principles for Christian Parents

After I posted the article on technology in the January newsletter, Covenant Eyes asked if I would write a guest blow.  It may sound familiar, since some portions are based on the January newsletter, however the majority of the article has never been published on our site. Read the article on the Covenant Eyes blog...

Help Your Child Develop a Prayer Life

Many Christian parents want to pass on their faith to their children. We are no different; we want our girls to have a vibrant relationship with the God who loves them so much.  That relationship is built through spending quiet time in God's presence, reading His love letter the Bible, and communicating with Him through prayer. Like any goal, it doesn’t happen by accident; it requires a plan of action. In our home, we have used different strategies for different ages.

PRESCHOOL 

It’s never too early to introduce your daughter to the power of prayer. Preschoolers are capable of praying more than “God is great; God is good.”  When my youngest was only two, we visited a 99-year-old saint who attended my church when I was a young girl. During our visit, we had a time of prayer. Each of us placed our hand on this precious prayer warrior and offered a prayer of blessing. The last to pray was the 2-year-old who babbled something incomprehensible. The woman was moved to tears that such a young child would pray for her. Here are some to introduce your preschooler to prayer:

  1. Explain that prayer, talking to Jesus, is like talking to their friends.
  2. Remind them that God hears every prayer they pray.
  3. Give them opportunity to pray from their heart. If they have trouble thinking of anything, start off with “Thank you, God, for...” and let them fill in the blank.
  4. Pray before each meal--even at restaurants.  This lets them know that God is important no matter who is watching.
  5. Make a prayer book. Place pictures of your family, friends, pastors, missionaries, etc. in an inexpensive photo album. As you flip through the book, your daughter can pray with you or repeat after you: “God bless____________.” Unfortunately, I didn’t think of this while my girls were preschoolers.

ELEMENTARY 

When our girls were old enough to read on their own, I made them a prayer card that doubled as a bookmark in their 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 daughter can read cursive. Here’s how to make a prayer card for your daughter:

  1.  Choose a 3×5 card, with or without lines. Look for one in your daughter’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 on the heart of 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 daughter. Choose one or two character traits that your daughter 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 you’re struggling with diligence, you could copy Proverbs 10:4. Each day your daughter can read the verse and pray that God would change her heart. If your daughter reads the scripture each day for several weeks, she’ll 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 daughter as you make changes. Pray together about which trait(s) your daughter needs to develop and encourage her as you see growth in her character.

UPPER ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL 

Encourage your daughter to begin a prayer journal. Many Christian and non-Christian bookstores carry bound books with lined or unlined blank pages or create your own with a 3-ring binder and dividers. Here are some suggestions to help your daughter prepare her journal:

  1.   Use a prayer plan like ACTS: Adoration – telling God how great He is Confession – repenting for what you’ve done wrong Thanksgiving – thanking God for His blessings Supplication – bringing your requests to God Prayer isn’t a laundry list of requests; it’s about building a relationship.
  2. Make a list of daily prayer requests, similar to the list above or help your daughter divide the requests: Monday for Missionaries, Tuesday for neighbors and those who are sick,  Wednesdays for Pastors, Thursday for family, Friday for Friends, Saturday for School.
  3. Make a chart for prayer requests, include a space for the date you begin to pray for the request, the date it was answered, and the answer. Seeing so many answers to prayer will grow your daughter’s faith.
  4. Record the scripture you read each day. Write one sentence summarizing the scripture in your own words and one sentence about how it applies to your life.
  5. Write your prayers to God. Encourage your daughter to write her feelings, reminding her that written words should be respectful and represent only what she would speak to others.
  6. Listen to God. In my own journal, I record my thoughts and prayers in cursive writing and what God is impressing on my heart in all caps.  Later, I can easily look back and focus on God's encouragement to me.  Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue.

Prayer is such a key part of a relationship with our God. The earlier we teach our children about prayer, the earlier they establish that vital spiritual discipline.  Earlier is better, but it's never too late to start.  If your child is older, model to them the importance of prayer by praying before meals, talking about how God has answered prayer, and offering to pray with them about challenging situations in their life.  My dear mother prayed blessings over us each day just before we walked out the door to get on the bus.  And of course, pray for your child and ask God to give them a desire to be in relationship with Him.

These are just a few ideas God showed us to teach our daughters about prayer.  Ask the Creator of creativity to show you how to best reach the heart of your daughter and help her develop a vibrant and powerful prayer life.  I'd love to hear ideas from your family about how you have taught your children about prayer!

In His Presence

This is a summary of a teaching I gave at a women’s conference entitled “In His Presence.” I only hope this will whet your appetite to seek Him more. We serve an incredible God who wants to be in relationship with us.  I’ve known God for many years, but the reality of His desire for an intimate relationship with me has changed my life.  I was raised in a very conservative denomination, saved at the age of 12 and baptized in water shortly after.  The only time I remember feeling God’s presence was when I felt convicted when an altar call was given.  I wasn’t sure what God’s presence looked like or if I wanted it, but something inside of me was hungry for more.  The last several years, God has been revealing Himself to me in such sweet ways.  I’m learning that I am His precious daughter and that my value is not in what I do, but in who I am.  I’m also trying to comprehend the idea that He wants to be with me as much and even more than I want to be with Him.  This isn’t something I made up.  The Word shows us that God has always desired to be with us.  There are countless examples in the Bible of God pursuing His creation, but I’m going to focus on just a few.

Creation

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Genesis 1:27

God created man and woman in his image.  Then He created a beautiful garden for them to live in and enjoy.  He walked in the garden with them and talked to them face to face.  This was the perfection of relationship with God with no walls between them.  As we all know, sin entered the world.  Adam and Eve immediately reacted by trying to hide—they tried to hide their nakedness, and then they tried to hide themselves from their Creator.  Our all-knowing God was well aware of their sin, yet He asked, “Where are you?”  He didn’t say, “Get away from me,” or “I never want to see you again.”  When you lose something valuable, you search for it.  God was searching for His precious children.  However, the consequences of sin—punishment, separation, and death—remained.  From that moment, God put a plan in place to reconcile the sin and to restore intimate relationship with His creation.

Tabernacle

When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai.  For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud.”  Exodus 24:15-16

Hundreds of years passed.  God chose to give His son Moses very detailed instructions about how to build a tabernacle, a “place of dwelling,” built to hold the presence so God could dwell with His people.  It was as if God said, “I want you to know where I live so you can come and be with me.” Interestingly enough the same verbal form used for God’s walking back and forth in the garden is used to describe God’s presence in the tabernacle.  God’s heart was to restore the relationship that had been lost in the garden.  However, God could not dwell with sinful people, so He made a way of reconciliation—a way to restore friendship and harmony with His creation through the shed blood of an animal sacrifice.  This system provided for the forgiveness of sins and restored intimate relationship with one man, the high priest, who was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies only once per year on the Day of Atonement.  God was pursuing His people.

Crucifixion

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:16-17

More years passed and the Israelites made many animal sacrifices, day after day, year after year.  In the fullness of time, God established a new covenant by sending Emmanuel, “God with us.”  Up until this point, God’s presence was found in a building—in Moses’ tabernacle and then in Solomon’s temple—but God was not satisfied.  God sent his Son, Jesus, in bodily form, to live among sinful people—not to condemn them, but to be in relationship with them.  While Jesus walked this earth, He was able to meet face to face with many of His precious ones, though He was still limited to relationship with those He came in contact with.  Ultimately, Jesus became the once and for all sacrifice to make permanent reconciliation for every sin we would ever commit.  When Jesus was dying on the cross, He declared, “It is finished.”  At that moment, the curtain that hid the holy of holies in the temple was torn in two—from top to bottom—as if God was saying, “I’ve made a way for you to be in relationship with me.  All of you.  Nothing can separate us.”  God opened our eyes to a facet of His beauty we had not seen before.

Several weeks later, He continued His quest for relationship with His children.  He sent the Holy Spirit—one who dwells inside of us.  Since that moment, He had revealed Himself to us in greater ways.  Our God is able to be in relationship with many people—simultaneously!  Everyone everywhere has the opportunity to be in His presence--my mom in PA, my new friend Janico in Africa, and Karen my sweet sister in Christ in China.  We all have the opportunity to daily live in relationship with our God, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, yet our eyes cannot yet look on all of His beauty.

Heaven

The final piece is Heaven, a place our Lord has prepared for us to live with Him forever.  We’ll experience and know every facet of who God is.  We will be able to gaze on the fullness of His beauty.  This is the culmination of the plan He put in place thousands of years ago to restore the relationship that was lost in the garden.  Once again we will be able to walk with Him and talk with Him face to face!

What does it look like to experience His presence?

Maybe you’re thinking, “If God wants to be with me so much, how is it that we keep missing each other?”  In my early days of being a Christian, I had an agenda for my quiet time with God.  I made a list for what to do—10 minutes for prayer, read one Old Testament chapter, one New Testament chapter, one Psalm, one Proverb.  There is certainly a time for prayer and for Bible reading, but I believe that sometimes God wants to just be with us.  I’m sure God liked my checklist as much as my husband would like if I had a checklist on our date:  hold hands, give compliment, kiss, end of date.  Intimacy is not found in a checklist.  Intimacy, by definition, is marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity; relating to or indicative of one's deepest nature; essential; innermost; marked by informality and privacy; very personal; private. Intimacy in marriage doesn’t come on the first date and neither does intimacy with our Heavenly Father come quickly.  The Lover of our soul wants an opportunity to lavish His love on us.

I’m certainly not an expert, but here are a few things that have drawn me closer to my Savior.

1.  Holy Spirit

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  Acts 4:31

The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, part of God Himself.  Before I was filled with the Holy Spirit, my only experience with God’s presence was being in the right place at the right time.  It depended on the location or the company.  After I was filled, His Spirit came to live inside of me.  His Spirit gave me boldness to witness; His Spirit gave me peace; His Spirit gave me wisdom beyond my knowledge.

2.  Praise and Worship

Psalm 100:4—Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.

Praise and worship is the gateway to His presence.  Most of our church services begin with a musical expression of praise and worship which is an invitation for God to come and be with us.  I find that there is great peace when I play praise and worship music in our home.

3.  Be Still

Ps. 46:10  Be still, and know that I am God.

I had the first two for years, but the last puzzle piece has started to fall into place in the last 18 months.  I discovered that God often spoke to people in the Bible in the quiet times.  I’ve never been good at being still.  At 12 months I learned to run, not walk, with both hands high in the air.  My parents often said that if I kept going at a million miles a minute, I would burn out before I was 20!

Ex. 33:14—My presence will go with you and I will give you rest (OR dispel your anxieties)

Throughout my years on this earth, I often recognized that my heart was not at peace or at rest, but I just thought that was life.  I pushed through and often reacted badly.  But now I know better.  Now I know to quiet my mind, quiet my hands and focus on His goodness—another word for glory.  I may feel torn in many directions, but being still helps me focus.  Sometimes He asks me to set things aside and move forward.  Sometimes I ask God questions like, “Why is this bothering me?”, “What do you think about me?”, “What do you want me to know?”  Sometimes I write what He says to me, but sometimes I hear nothing.  Even then I know my time isn’t wasted.  Sometimes I feel his tender affection, like recently when my mom needed to be moved to a nursing home.  Sometimes I feel nothing immediately, but I realize my heart is lighter two hours later.

For me, being still is like having a heart adjustment.  Many people go to a chiropractor to have their spines aligned.  In a moment’s time, the adjustment is made and everything is realigned.  Unfortunately, it’s not quite like that.  A heart adjustment takes some time.  Being in God’s presence is a heart activity.  Think of an old dried up sponge and another sponge that’s soaking in water.  When the stress of life comes and twists our life, what will happen?  The old sponge that is not filled with the water of His presence will shed pieces of itself.  On the other hand, if we have been soaking up God’s presence when those stressful times come, we have an abundance of His presence to give.  We can only give what we have inside.  God wants us to be carriers of His presence and to give out of our abundance.

So why don’t we come to him?

It sounds so easy—and it’s free!  I’m sure each one has reasons, but here are some reasons that have kept me from intimacy with my Father.

1.  Walls

Sometimes we build walls that keep us from intimacy with God.  Walls can be built through fear, unconfessed sin or judgments made about people or situations. When there is conflict, we respond like Adam and Eve.  We try to hide and separate ourselves, but God only says, “Where are you?” and continues to pursue us.

2.  Busyness

We each have 24 hours and the choice of how we fill them.  There are so many things vying for our attention—things that are important, things that are necessary, things that are valuable.  Sometimes we need to be like Martha and care for our families, but we also need to be like Mary who chose what is better. (Luke 10:42)

3.  Anger/Disappointment

Life can be painful, even for those who follow Christ.  Maybe you have led a life honoring to God, but people around you have made different choices.  Circumstances of life bring pain which can lead to disappointment, anger and bitterness.  These three can harden our hearts as we try to protect ourselves from the pain of these emotions.

Ultimately it is our choice whether we position ourselves to experience His presence, whether we choose to come to Him with no agenda except to spend time with the one who loves us or whether we fill our days with the urgent.  I find that I need to realign my heart every day.  When I am tired, he brings me rest.  When I am worried, he gives me peace.  Today, take some time to be still.  Put on some peaceful music and pour out your heart to Him.  Listen to what He is saying to you.  Be still and enjoy the presence of your Father.

Jude 24-25  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever, AMEN.

Wisdom for a New Year

This year I want to make a difference.  I want this year to count more than all the others that I’ve lived thus far.  I don’t want to leave a word unsaid, a deed undone.  Life is short.  Yes, it sounds cliché, but the statement is true nonetheless.   I realize more than ever before that every day is a gift and it is our choice what we do with it. My Auntie Eleanor put my thoughts into words.  Though she was confined to her home and sometimes even bedridden, she regularly sent friends and family words of encouragement.  Titled “Love More in ’94”, this poem was sent to a friend just months before she passed away.

Mend a quarrel

Seek out a forgotten friend

Write a love letter

Share some treasure

Give a soft answer

Encourage youth

Keep a promise

Find the time

Forgive an enemy

Listen

Apologize if you are wrong

Think first of someone else

Be kind and gentle

Laugh a little

Laugh a little more

Express your gratitude

Be honest in pain

Grieve without embarrassment

Gladden the heart of a child

Take pleasure in the beauty

And wonder of the earth

Speak your love

Speak it again

Speak it still once again

By:  Eleanor Ginder

Remember and Reflect: Celebrating a New Year

The beginning of a new year is a great time for new beginnings: new eating habits, new exercise programs, new personal goals, and new projects.  For my friend Karen it means a new Bible, since she buys a new one each year so that old markings don’t distract her and she can receive fresh revelation.  For the past 25 years, I’ve celebrated the new year by making resolutions. Last year, I began a new tradition.  One of our pastors introduced our family to Remembrances and Revelations, a discussion guide worksheet to help us reflect on the past and intentionally plan for the year ahead.  Some questions are directed to the family, such as “What great works of God have we experienced this year?”,  “What has God taught us this year?”,  “What scriptures have we memorized?”, and “What mission is God calling us to in the coming year?”  Some questions should be completed with each child individually, such as “What was the greatest disappointment of the year and why?”, “What do you wish was different in our family?”, and “What was the most special event of the year and why?”  As your child answers these questions, it will give you a window into their heart and soul.  The thought-provoking questions helped us to reflect on the past and to prioritize and be more intentional about our goals for the coming year.

Remember that this guide is only a tool, not a biblical mandate!  You can use some of it, part of it, or none of it.  Ask God to give you a plan for your family.  Since our family will be traveling on New Year’s Eve day, I plan to bring the Remembrance and Revelation guide so we can discuss the family questions together.  In January, I hope to carve out some one-on-one time with each child so we can complete the individual portions together.  No matter how you use this tool, I hope it will be a blessing and help bring your family closer together as you begin 2011.

Under Construction: Our New Online Store

Some of you may have noticed that our online store is temporarily under construction while we make some adjustments.  When our new store opens, you’ll find some changes.  After much prayer, Harold and I believe that God is leading us to make some adjustments to our ministry. First, we are discontinuing all products that aren’t exclusive to Daughters 4 God.  We will continue to carry our self-published titles such as Lady Day, The Gift of Purity, the audio products, and our sterling silver jewelry.  It is impossible for us to offer the other products at prices to compete with Amazon or CBD.  At this point, I’m planning to review new products for raising daughters, but we will not be offering them for sale.  Fewer products mean less time managing inventory and more time for writing and for ministry at our local church.

Second, we anticipate that our new store will have audio and pdf downloads priced less than a hard-copy product.  Some of you have asked for a “Cleaning Game” download so you don’t have to pay shipping.  We think that’s a great idea and we’re working to make that a reality.  We’re also hoping to add more audio teachings as well as some other books that are in development.

Third, we will not be traveling to homeschool conventions as we have in the past.  (We still haven’t decided about MACHE for 2011…)  It has become more difficult for us to travel together.  Harold took on a new role as Associate Pastor last October which means he can miss fewer Sundays, and the oldest two will be in college in the fall but still living at home.  Yes, we could leave Harold and our two college students behind, but that’s not what the Moore family does.  We’re a team and we minister together.

We believe that this is God’s plan for this season.  We will still look for opportunities to share our heart and our experiences, but just a little closer to home.  That’s a tough one, since we’ve made so many friends over the years.  Thank you for all of your encouragement and support.

Ruth Bell Graham once saw a sign along the road and asked that it be epitaph.  Her tombstone reads:  “End of Construction.  Thank you for your patience.”  I suppose I feel the same way, like I’m always under construction.  There’s another flaw, another weakness, another insecurity that my Creator lovingly reveals to me.  But I’m so grateful that He also shows me His complete sufficiency for every area of my lack.  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)  “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 1:6)  His construction process is not always easy or pleasant, but always necessary and beneficial.   Our construction, both personally and for D4G, continues but thank you for your patience.

The New Daughters 4 God!

Welcome to our new home!  We’ve been building and redecorating for more than a year, but it’s great to be moved in.  We’re glad you’re here and we hope you enjoy your visit.

What’s new?
More than 12 months ago we began to rework the website.  A friend had done our previous site, but our oldest daughter, Victoria, designed a new site and most everything was ready to go last spring.  However, we ran into some challenges.  We realized the site needed to be created using a different program, so Victoria had to start from scratch and learn how to use a new computer program.  I completely underestimated the amount of work it would be since this was all new to us.  I am so thrilled that we are finally “live” (on the internet) and so very proud of Victoria and her hard work.

Thanks to Victoria, our site looks very different.  We now have an articles link which incorporates articles and my personal blog, which Victoria will help me technically moderate.  (I will post as often as I can, but no promises.)  Our store will soon carry a new banner with the new look, as well.   And that’s not all that's new…

New Book
Not only do we have a new website, but on April 16 we will release a new book entitled, “The Gift of Purity:  Letters to a Daughter About Guarding Her Heart.”  God gave me this idea while I was planning for Anna’s “Purity Weekend.”  I had used Passport2Purity, with adaptations, with our oldest two daughters and both weekends were quite memorable.  I had often told people that it was my favorite product we had.  As I revisited it, I realized that our family had changed and that I needed to make more adaptations.  Many of the examples were very unfamiliar to our daughters who have been homeschooled since Kindergarten.  I knew I needed to make changes, but I was a little worried that the weekend might not be as effective.

Instead of adapting the product, God led me to create a new one, The Gift of Purity.  Some of the same topics are discussed, but within the context of courtship and marriage.   Anna’s “Purity Weekend” was filled with beautiful moments that she and I will always treasure.  It is my prayer that The Gift of Purity will be a blessing to your family and strengthen your relationship with your daughter.

New Focus
While I was perusing new products to add, I became overwhelmed with the number of products available.  It occurred to me that we needed to set up guidelines for choosing which products we will sell.  It was a simple solution.  I didn’t start this business to sell anything; I merely wanted to collect my favorite resources and be able to put them in the hands of parents who desired to mentor and disciple their daughters.  I realized that the only thing I want in the shoppe or on the tables at the shows are things that I love.  We decided that Daughters 4 God will only carry books that we have read and books that we have used or would use with our own family.  We realize that each family has different standards, but we hope to provide a consistency in our product line that you can trust.  

New Products
During the fall and winter months when there are no homeschool conventions, our family has been reviewing new products.  Based on your comments and suggestions, we’ve added quite a few new titles.  We have also discontinued others because they don’t seem to meet your needs, are now out of print, or because they don’t match our new focus.  Visit the web shoppe to see what’s new!   

New Collection
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the request for a “sons version” of Daughters 4 God.   I never thought we’d carry products specifically for raising boys, but after much prayer, we are adding a limited inventory of books for raising godly sons.  Of course we haven’t used these books with our daughters, however I would use them if I had sons.  We pray that you and your sons will be blessed by the new resources.     

 Nothing New Under the Sun…
Some things haven’t changed.  We continue to be committed to supporting parents as they raise godly children.  We will continue to value excellence in our products and services. We will continue to respond to your questions by phone or email.   We will continue to place God and our family above our ministry, knowing that our testimony is useless if we aren’t doing what we encourage you to do.  Finally, we will continue to value your support and encouragement.  Our goal is not to make a million but to make a difference. 

May God bless you as you raise generations for His glory,
Harold and Joy Moore

It's up and coming!

Hello, friends! This is Victoria, Joy's eldest daughter.  I wanted to let you know about some exciting changes going on for Daughters 4 God.

We're looking forward to attending the homeschool shows across the nation this year.  We're even traveling to some new locations in the next few months! Mom and Dad (Joy and Harold) have been speaking recently, and are looking forward to more speaking opportunities in the future. There's a few new exclusive Daughters 4 God products on the horizon, as well as many other new products joining our online store and homeschool booth. Lastly (for now, anyway! <grin>) we're re-doing the entire Daughters 4 God website, including this blog!  (I know you are all jumping for joy!  I know it's long overdue!)  This blog will soon become "article central" with frequent updates from Joy and the rest of the Daughters 4 God gang.  You'll be able to read past articles and even interact with others as you post your questions and/or comments regarding the many article subjects.

We are so excited about all these changes, and are especially thankful to all of you for supporting us with your encouragement and prayers.

This blog will have some "work done" to it in the next few days, and I appreciate your patience as we re-write, re-design, and re-organize all things Daughters 4 God!

I hope to see many of you this Spring/Summer as we travel to the homeschool shows!

Blessings to you and your family, Victoria

*UPDATE 03.17.09*

Hello again, friends!  I just wanted to keep you updated on our new website.  It is very close to being live, and we are very excited!  Also, the store is down at the moment - but we're working on it and it should be up and running again soon.

Thanks for your patience!

Blessings, Victoria

*UPDATE 03.20.09*

I have happy news for all of you! =)  Our store is up and running again, which means that our new website should be up within 24 hours or so.  We're getting excited!  Blessings! - Victoria

Help Your Daughter Develop a Prayer Life

girlpraying

Every Christian parent wants to pass on their faith to their children. I am no different.

Like any goal, it doesn't happen by accident; it requires a plan of action. In our home, we have used different strategies for different ages.PRESCHOOL

It's never too early to introduce your daughter to the power of prayer. Preschoolers are capable of praying more than "God is great; God is good." Once when my youngest was only two, we visited a 99-year-old saint who attended my church when I was a young girl. During our visit, we had a time of prayer. Each of us placed our hand on this precious prayer warrior and offered a prayer of blessing. The last to pray was the 2-year-old who babbled something incomprehendable. The woman was moved to tears that such a young child would pray for her. Here are some ideas for your preschooler:

1.Explain to your preschooler that prayer is talking to Jesus is as easy as talking to their friends.

2.Remind them that God hears every prayer they pray.

3.Give them opportunity to pray from their heart. If they have trouble thinking of anything, start off with "Thank you, God, for" and let them fill in the blank.

4.Make a prayer book. Place pictures of your family, friends, pastors, missionaries, etc. in an inexpensive photo album. As you flip through the book, your daughter can pray with you or repeat after you: "God bless____________." Unfortunately, I didn't think of this while my girls were pre-schoolers.

ELEMENTARY

When our girls were old enough to read on their own, I made them a prayer card that doubled as a bookmark in their 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 daughter can read cursive. Here's how to make a prayer card for your daughter:

1.Choose a 3x5 card, with or without lines. Look for one in your daughter's favorite color or use a white card and make it colorful with colored gel pens 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 on the heart of 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 daughter. Choose one or two character traits that your daughter needs to work on. (Honesty, Laziness, List the trait and a Bible verse about that trait. For example, if you need to work on honesty, then you may want to copy Psalm 34:13. If you're struggling with a lazy child, you could copy Proverbs 10:4. Each day your daughter can read the verse and pray that God would change her heart. If your daughter reads the scripture each day for several weeks, she'll memorize it without any trouble.

Of course, the card will not be accurate forever and will have to be updated every 1-2 months. Involve your daughter as you make changes. Pray together about which trait(s) your daughter needs to develop and encourage her as you see growth in her character.

UPPER ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL

Encourage your daughter to begin a prayer journal. Many Christian and non-Christian bookstores carry bound books with lined or unlined blank pages or create your own with a 3-ring binder and dividers. Here are some ways you can help your daughter prepare her journal:

1.Use a prayer plan like ACTS:

Adoration - telling God how great He is

Confession - repenting for what you've done wrong

Thanksgiving - thanking God for His blessings

Supplication - bringing your requests to God

Prayer isn't a laundry list of requests; it's about building a relationship.

2.Make a list of daily prayer requests, similar to the list above or help your daughter divide the requests: Monday for Missionaries, Tuesday for Wednesdays for Pastors, Thursday for Friends, Friday for Friends, Saturday for School.

3.Make a chart for prayer requests, include a space for the date you begin to pray for the request, the date it was answered, and the answer. Seeing so many answers to prayer will grow your daughter's faith.

4.Record the scripture you read each day. Write one sentence summarizing the scripture in your own words and one sentence about how it applies to your life.

5.Write your prayers to God. Encourage your daughter to write her feelings, but written words should be respectful and represent only what she would speak to others.

6.Listen to God. In my own journal, I record my thoughts and prayers in cursive writing and what God says in all caps. Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue.

These are just a few ideas of how we taught our daughters about prayer. Prayer is such a key part of a relationship with God. The earlier we teach our children about prayer, the earlier they establish a vital spiritual discipline. Ask God to show you how to best reach the heart of your daughter and help her develop a vibrant and powerful prayer life.