tiny miracles

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On June 6, a tiny newborn was rescued…a baby girl who was destined for death when she was placed inside a plastic bag in Georgia.

Instead, upon hearing a noise, investigators found the baby, who had only recently been born. They filmed the dramatic event with a body cam.

As I watched this video, tears streamed down my face. This little baby, named Baby India, should not have survived. We all know the dangers of allowing children to play with plastic bags, let alone placing a helpless infant inside of a plastic bag. A death sentence for certain once suffocation set in.

But Baby India didn’t die. She didn’t suffocate, didn’t starve to death, wasn’t found by a wild animal in the woods where she was placed. Instead, in God’s goodness and grace, He led rescuers to find her alive and seemingly healthy.

Indeed, even before Baby India was formed in the womb, the Lord knew her. Knew she would be rescued. He never left her side, not even once.

Requests to adopt Baby India have been pouring in by the hundreds. This precious child, whom someone determined shouldn’t live, instead has a future of life ahead of her.

In a world that condones and even promotes the killing of babies through abortion, this miracle baby survived. No, she wasn’t aborted, but rather someone attempted to kill her soon after her birth.

As I re-watched the video, I was reminded of God’s love for His Creation.

Indeed, He has a tender spot for children. We learn that children are a heritage from the Lord… (Psalm 127:3). Consider the words of Psalm 139:13-16:

Psalm 139 13-16

Miracles continue to occur each and every day – with full credit given to our Lord and Savior. Such was the tiny miracle of Baby India and her survival against the odds.

 

 

5 things moms need

 

5 things moms needs

Being a mom is the best, but sometimes hardest job.

We yearn to make a difference in the lives of our children. To be the best mom we can be. We love our children with all that we are and strive to bring honor and glory to God in the way we raise them.

But motherhood can be a challenge, too. The baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. The temper tantrums of a toddler. The drama of junior high. The teenage years with all of the frightening things kids have to deal with in today’s modern world.

No wonder we moms can become worn out and tired. I look back at the photos from when my daughters were little, and my eyes are almost consistently closed in those pictures. I obviously tried to catch a wink of sleep any time I could get it. 🙂

So what can a mom do? How can she refresh and rejuvenate? What things do moms seriously need in the best, but hardest years of our lives?

Moms need…

Time with God. Francesca Batestelli sings about meeting God for quiet time in the morning before the kids awaken and life gets hectic in her song “When the Crazy Kicks In.”

Time with God is critical. Crucial. Necessary. It starts our day off right. Prayer, then some time in His Word and being still before Him makes all the difference in the direction our day will go.

So what if you don’t have time in the morning to spend with the Lord? A later time with Him, while the children are down for a nap, for example, works too. The only problem is that we, as moms, tend to get so overloaded and busy with our day and all the demands pressing on us from every side that we give what’s left to Him, rather than what’s priority.

A supportive spouse. Every mom needs a spouse to come alongside her to be a co-partner in raising their children. To be a listening ear. To forge together to make dreams a reality. To be there just to hold her, even when she has spit-up on her t-shirt, hasn’t changed out of her jammies all day, or has been dealing with a rebellious teen and is uber-exhausted. Someone to listen as she decompresses about the day.

Speaking of supportive spouses, be sure to take some time for a date night. Enlist the assistance of a friend, relative, or teen babysitter to watch the children while you reconnect with your spouse.

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A mentor friend. Ideally, this would be a mom who has been in the trenches and has now graduated from a mom of littles to a mom of teens, or beyond. Empty-nesters work well for this role. A mentor friend not only is there for you when you need her, but she has sound advice (given when asked for, rather than unsolicited), is a devout prayer warrior, a shoulder to cry on, and has wisdom beyond our years as young moms.

Other moms make excellent mentor friends, as do godly women from church.

A best/close friend. We moms all need a fellow mom to text for an impromtu playdate, to call when things get crazy, and a bestie to share a good laugh with about all the adventures (and trials!) of being a mom.

Proverbs 27 9

To recharge. Moms, we need to recharge our batteries. Life can be hectic, stressful, and seem to move at the speed of light. It’s easy to become exhausted and burned out, no matter what our stage as a mom is – a new mom, a mother of elementary kids, a mom to teens, or a mom to all of the above.

How do we recharge? Take a few minutes each day to put our feet up and relax.

Tackle a chapter in that book we’ve been wanting to read (or have been reading) for the past two months.

Take time to exercise. Many gyms include “drop in centers” for children while moms take an exercise class. Or, if you are the mom of toddlers, put them in a double stroller, pack some healthy snacks, and go for a walk.

Take a bubble bath.

Spend time with the Lord (see #1).

Spend a few minutes on Pinterest pinning your dream kitchen onto a new board.

Partake in a hobby you’ve neglected or one you’ve always wanted to try.

Organize a girls’ night out with your mom friends.

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Finding time to spend in the Word, call a friend, or even scroll through Pinterest can be difficult, if not nearly impossible. To begin, ask the Lord to help you carve out time. It may be at odd moments during the day, or even evening, but doing so will not only help your health and stress levels, but help you be the best mom you can be.

7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

7 ways to encourage your children

Everyday, we can make the choice to encourage or to discourage. To build up or to tear down. To make a positive difference or to make a negative difference.

There’s no one more important than our children when it comes to choosing whom to encourage.

The word encourage in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as to inspire with courage or confidence; to promote, foster.

So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children? Below are seven suggestions…

Encourage their character.  “A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.”*

As parents, are we helping our children to develop good character? Are we encouraging them to make good choices? Our kids will be, and are faced, with multiple decisions each day. Helping them to understand why good choices are important and equipping them with the knowledge and practice to make good choices is paramount.

One of the things we do in our home is to discuss with our children what they would do if faced with  a particularly difficult situation.  What would they do if they were asked to do something they knew was wrong?

C.S. Lewis gave the perfect definition of integrity. He said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”C.S. LewisMy prayer is that my children will have that kind of integrity.

 

Picture 095Encourage their dreams. I love the dreams of little children! My youngest once asked for a pet mongoose. I could have easily told her that there was no way we could have a mongoose and for her to be more practical. However, I chose not to. Instead, I encouraged her dream and we chatted about how fun it would be to actually have a pet mongoose (especially since they eat snakes!), and the tricks we would teach him.

Encourage your children to dream at every age and every stage of their lives.

Encourage their future. I pray regularly for our children’s futures, both during family prayer time and during my own quiet times with the Lord.  I have told my children that it’s exciting to see what God has planned for their lives. We often discuss Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Encourage their compassion. Compassion is one of the most important things we can teach our children. One thing we have done is to instill in our children the importance of serving others. For some ideas on how to instill compassion and servanthood in your children, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. 77 ways

Not only should we encourage compassion for others outside the home, but we should especially encourage compassion within our own families. One of the ways that we do this is to regularly pray for each other and to express our prayer needs daily to one another.

 

Encourage their imagination. As a writer, I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a creative imagination.  There are several ways I have encouraged my children’s imaginations. For one, I have always read to them. Reading is so important and can take us on adventures we would never otherwise take. When my children were old enough to begin reading themselves, I encouraged them to check out as many books as they wanted at the local library and to even have a “reading marathon” over the summer months. Reading is excellent for the imagination!

Several times, we have spread a blanket in the backyard and gazed up at the clouds. We take turns imagining what animals the clouds look like and which could we would choose if we could lounge on any cloud. The white puffy clouds always win!

My oldest daughter has a knack for art. As such, I asked if she would illustrate a story I wrote. She was delighted and it was wonderful to see her own imagination shining through in her art. I combined the story and her illustrations and asked the local office supply store to bound the pages together. We now have our own special book – not only a keepsake, but also a delightful practice in encouraging the imagination of a budding artist!

325381_piggy-back-rideEncourage their friendships. We talk often about friendships in our home and about the kind of friendships that are important. The Bible has much to say about friendships and what type of friends to choose. For example, Proverbs 16:28 talks of why being dishonest and being one who gossips separates close friends.  Proverbs 18:24 states the importance of a friend who sticks closer than a brother (ESV).  John 15:13 is a profound statement of friendship: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In our home, we have talked frequently about three different types of friends: gold friends who are there for you through the good times and bad; silver friends who are fun to be with, but you can’t always count on them; and bronze friends who are more like an acquaintance because they aren’t “true” friends.

We also discuss how good choices for friends is critical because of the amount of influence friends have on each other.

Encourage your children to be the kind of  friend that would honor God.

Most importantly, encourage their walk with God.
Are you children growing in their walk with the Lord? Have they accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior? The most important thing we can do is encourage our children to have a close relationship with Jesus. After all, that’s the only thing that will last for eternity.

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*Quote taken from gotquestions.org

leaving a godly legacy

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According to Webster’s Concise Dictionary, the word “legacy” means anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor.

Several summers ago at my grandpa, Papa’s, funeral, I was asked to write a lifesketch and speech in memory of him. As I began to work on the speech, I was convicted once again of the importance of the legacy we, as parents, leave behind for our children.

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Papa had so many people who loved him. In writing my speech, I gave a lot of thought to legacies and what they mean.

Why is leaving a lasting godly legacy important? What is a Godly legacy?

I once heard a quote from Austin L. Sorensen that went like this: “A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father.”

Austin Sorensen

Wow, that’s a powerful statement and something we, as parents, should take very seriously.

How can a child find something of God in his or her father? For example, are Daddy’s arms always open whenever there is a problem? Is Daddy a refuge in times of trouble? Is he a shield from the bad day at school or the fight with a best friend? Is Daddy loving, caring, and full of grace? Is he forgiving? Does he put the needs of others first? Is Daddy someone his child can trust? Is he an encourager, is he patient and kind?

God is all of these things, and these are just a few of the glimpses of God a child can see in her father. To see such things in her Daddy helps her to see that God is all of those things and more, only to perfection.

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Parents (and grandparents!) don’t realize how important they are in their children’s lives and this is just another testament to this fact. I can testify as Papa’s granddaughter that I saw him exhibit traits such as being a pillar of strength, protective, loving, and caring. He was a hard worker, provided for his family, and desired justice, yet not revenge.

When I consider Papa’s legacy, I am inspired to consider my own legacy that I am building in my children.

In the song “Legacy” by Nichole Nordeman, she sings about her desire to leave a godly legacy.

As a mom, I want my daughters to remember me as someone who was compassionate, loyal, kind, one who loved Jesus above all else, was a faithful prayer warrior, a woman with a servant’s heart, and a fighter for the underdog.

Huge steps to fill. I pray I will achieve those lofty goals, but most of all, the eternal goal of sharing with them the priceless gift of our Lord’s sacrificial love.

When you reach the end of your life, will you have accepted the grace offered by the Lord Jesus Christ? Will God be saying to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

Matthew 25 23

I am thankful for the blessing of Papa and the many years the Lord gave him to us. And I’m thankful for the glimpses of God that we saw in him.

Whether we are moms or dads, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, or grandparents, may we all leave behind a legacy that speaks of Christ and His saving grace that lives within us.

 

 

 

 

 

5 ways to make your child feel loved

5 ways to make your kid feel loved

We tell our children we love them often – and our words are important. But how can we put action to those words and show them we love them? Here are five easy steps.

1. Pray with them. We pray corporately several times daily as a family – in our family Bible studies, before meals, etc. However, one of the things I have found especially important is to pray separately with each of my children as well. In those quiet times we prepare to spend with the Lord, I ask each child what specific prayer requests they have for others, for themselves  – are they struggling with a subject in school? Having difficulties with a friendship? Dealing with an illness?

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2. Spend time with them one-on-one. These moments are some of the most precious. My oldest daughter and I both love to write. We brainstorm ideas together, have “inside jokes” about a writer’s life, and discuss “problem characters.” My youngest daughter and I ran a 5k to raise money for breast cancer last year. It can be, but doesn’t have to be big events. Sometimes the littlest most ordinary times together make the best memories.

3. Listen. Really listen. So many things compete for our attention. Work duties, household chores, other children, etc. When we look our child in the eye and really hear what they are saying, we are showing we love them. I have personally found that the car is one of the best places to strike up conversations. No ear buds, no smart phones, no TVs. Just great conversations (unless, of course, we are all joining in singing with our favorite Christian artist on the radio! :))

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4. Find out what’s important to them. Recently my youngest daughter told me that she really appreciates when I plan out the day ahead with her. She enjoys knowing exactly what we’ll be doing that day and helps her to prepare.

5. Discuss the easy and the hard topics. We, as parents, should be the first line of information for our kids. We’ve always had an open-conversation-policy in our house where our daughters can discuss whatever topic they’d like, as long as they do so respectfully. We’ve had some fantastic talks about fun topics, but also some great discussions about the hard things: drugs, eating disorders, politics, abortion, etc. Be sure that your discussion topics are always age-appropriate.

In James 1:17, we are told that every good gift is from above. Children are such a gift and a blessing that the Lord has given us. May we, as parents, be worthy.

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6 Ways to Encourage Other Moms

mom13Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love ~Mildred B. Vermont

Motherhood has been said to be the best, yet sometimes hardest job in the world. And I agree. So how can we come alongside other moms and encourage them in this job?

Here are six ways to make a difference in your mom-friend’s life:

Schedule mom time. Whether one-on-one or in a group, plan some mom-time. It can be as simple as meeting at the playground, taking the kids for ice cream while the moms chat, or spending some time at the public pool. What a nice break to chat with and catch up on all the happenings (we moms benefit from playdates too!) Here are some great ideas for arranging a girl’s night out for a group of your mom friends.

Offer to babysit. Date nights can be few and far between, especially when children are babies and toddlers. Present a coupon to your friend offering to babysit her kiddos while she and her husband re-connect. What an awesome gift for your mom-friend and her marriage!

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Be a listening ear. Recently, through tears, I spoke to a fellow mom about something close to my heart. I was grateful for the time she gave me and the down-to-earth suggestions she offered to me with unparalleled grace. Ask a mom-friend how things are going, take the time to listen – really listen without judgment – and to be her sounding board. Sometimes we moms carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. To have a trusted friend with whom to share those burdens is priceless.

Offer to pray. What a powerful thing prayer is! Ask your mom-friend what her specific prayer needs are and then dedicate to praying for those needs. Sometimes telling someone we’ll pray for them can sound so cliche and can often be forgotten in the midst of our busy days. Remedy this by not only truly praying for your friend each day, but also praying with her whenever you’re chatting on the phone.

Accept her as she is. For some reason, it seems as though mothers often receive the brunt of the criticism and are held to higher judgment. Why do we moms judge each other so harshly? I’ve seen moms judge other moms regarding choices and number of activities (or lack thereof) of another mom’s children; judgment about the way other moms are raising their children; the differences in priorities in families and what they choose to allow or not allow their children to participate in; or even how many sugary snacks fellow moms allow their children to eat in a week.

Moms, this should not be so! Instead, we need to come alongside fellow moms and accept each other the way God made us. Not to say we can’t offer suggestions when warranted (or asked for!) but unsolicited and unkind advice is never appreciated.

Sadly, there also seems to be so much rivalry between moms. Case in point: stay at home moms vs. work-outside-the-home-moms; homeschool moms vs. those who send their children to public school; moms who feed their kids organic health foods vs. the macaroni and cheese moms; sports-minded moms vs. the musical moms; jeans and t-shirts moms vs. business attire moms, married moms vs. single moms; and the list goes on. Put a group of women in a room and this becomes a sad reality as we size each other up in ways we should never do.

Commit to accepting your mom-friend as she is. Be her biggest fan and her most trusted confidante.

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Send an encouraging note. What about mailing a thoughtful note to your mom-friend telling her she’s doing a great job and how much you value her friendship? Such a gesture is sure to make her day.

Never more in our lives will we need close friends than as we journey through motherhood. And moms are some of the most awesome and important friendships God will ever bless us with.

How do you encourage your mom-friends?