Browse > Home / Archive by category 'Advice and Tips'

| Subscribe via RSS

Before They Go to School … Have This Conversation

September 6th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Lysa TerKeurstI look around the dinner table and feel that desperate ache not uncommon to women who deeply love.

Whether it’s my own family or those who just feel like family, I want so much for them. These young people who are so full of possibility and dreams and bright futures … they have my heart.

Yet my heart feels fragile in the hands of these young people. They are smart. They are grounded. But they are young.

It takes me back to me at that age.

And that scares me.

I remember feeling so grown up and crazy excited at the chance to be in charge of my own life. Ready for independence. Ready for love. Ready for the next chapter of my life.

Chasing what felt good and thrilling, I quickly learned the wind blows in dangerous directions sometimes. Going with the flow led me places I didn’t intend to go. And I woke up one morning ashamed of my choices, wondering how in the world I got to this place.

How?

I cringe thinking back on it. And I cry. Because I don’t want that experience for these people I desperately love.

So, in the midst of the laughter and casual banter, I turn the conversation at the dinner table to a word I want them to know and live.

Pre-decide.

Decide today who you want to be. In this moment of togetherness, surrounded by family, and saturated in love — decide.

Decide what your answer will be when the talk turns ugly and the laughter turns mean against that girl who desperately needs you to be her friend.

Decide what your answer will be when someone invites you to the cool party full of drinks and drugs.

Decide what your answer will be when the boy says it’s no big deal to stay the night.

Decide what your answer will be when “friends” laugh at your Christian views and challenge you to lighten up.

Pre-decide.

Decide today who you are going to turn to if you do get into trouble. Remember the people at this table. Remember who truly has your best interests at heart. Remember who you are.

Pre-decide.

Decide today to turn around any mistakes from your past by asking for God’s forgiveness and walking in His grace.

Decide today to ignore the enemy who wants to trick you and trip you and take you out.

Pre-decide. And only say yes to the decisions that lead you in the direction of becoming more like Christ. This is the Best Yes.

Yes, pre-decide.

And then we go around the table and tell what we are pre-deciding this year. And my heart feels less of that ache.

I’m not so foolish to think this will act as a bad choice immunization. We are all susceptible. But it is a way to infuse their heart with a memory of a pre-decision.

And with that the plates are cleared, the cookies are nothing more than crumbs, and it’s time to go.

Here are some great Bible verses to pray for our kids as they head off to school this year:

• Galatians 1:10
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (NIV)

• Romans 12:2
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

• Joshua 24:15
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (NIV)

• Proverbs 29:25
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (NIV)

So, along with these Scripture verses, I whisper a few last words that are a “best yes” for them as they pack up to go …

Go where wisdom gathers, not where wisdom scatters.

Make decisions today that will still be good tomorrow.

And (insert voice cracking and tears welling up), remember how much I love you.

Dear Lord, You are so good. Thank you for entrusting these people to me. I pray You’ll guide my family in Your way as we enter a new school year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Be further equipped to have these kinds of discussions with your kids, your spouse, your coworkers, your fellow ministry leaders, etc. with Lysa’s new book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless DemandsClick here to purchase your copy.

Every decision points us in the direction we are about to travel. So we’ve got to get good at chasing down our decisions. We need to look ahead to see where they will take us — and make sure that’s really where we want to go. Click here to download Lysa’s free “Chase Down That Decision” Tool from her new book The Best Yes to help you or your kids practically think through a decision that needs to be made.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Which of the above Scripture verses will you pray for your child? Write it down on an index card and personalize it using your child’s name. Then, put the index card where you will see it often during the day as a reminder to pray.

Lysa TerKeurstClick here to pin the imageClick here to download this free printable PDF

4 Ways to Test Your Feelings

September 6th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

By Dr. James Dobson

Question: By what means can I test my feelings and impressions? What are the steps necessary to prove the will of God? 

Answer: The best answer I’ve read for those questions was written in 1892 by Martin Wells Knapp. In his timeless little booklet entitled, Impressions, he described those impulses and leadings that come from above (from God) versus those that originate from below (from Satan). Just as the Holy Spirit may tell us by impressions what His will is concerning us, so also can our spiritual enemies tell us by impressions what their will is. And unfortunately, there is often a striking resemblance between the two kinds of messages. According to Knapp, one of the objectives of Satan is to get the Christian to lean totally on his impressions, accepting them uncritically as the absolute voice of God. When this occurs, “the devil has got all he wants.” 

When seeking God’s will Knapp recommends that each impression be evaluated very carefully to see if it reflects four distinguishing features: 

Scriptural. Is the impression in harmony with the Bible? Guidance from the Lord is always in accordance with the Holy Scripture, and this gives us an infallible point of reference and comparison. If this test had been applied by the young couple that was contemplating sexual permissiveness, mentioned earlier, they would have known that the “approval” they obtained was not from the Lord. Furthermore, the numerous religious movements which obviously add to Scripture or contradict its primary concepts would not have been born if the Bible had been accepted as the ultimate and complete Word of God. 

The most important aspect of this first test is that the entire Bible be used instead of the selection of “proof texts” or “chance texts.” A reader can find support for almost any viewpoint if he lifts individual verses or partial phrases out of context. We are commanded to study the Scriptures, not toy with them or manipulate them for our own purposes. 

Right. Knapp’s second test if impressions involves the matter of rightness. “Impressions which are from God are always right,” says Knapp. “They may be contrary to our feelings, our prejudices and our natural inclinations, but they are always right. They will stand all tests.”(1) 

I am acquainted with a family that was destroyed by an impression that could not have passed the test: Is it right? Although there were four little children in the home, the mother felt she was “called” to leave them and enter full-time evangelistic work. On very short notice she abandoned the children who needed her so badly and left them in the care of their father who worked six and seven days a week. 

The consequence was devastating. The youngest in the family lay awake at night, crying for his mommy. The older children had to assume adult responsibilities which they were ill-prepared to carry. There was no one at home to train and love and guide the development of the lonely little family. I simply cannot believe the mother’s impression was from God because it was neither scriptural nor “right” to leave the children. I suspect that she had other motives for fleeing her home, and Satan provided her with a seemingly noble explanation to cover her tracks. 

As Knapp said, “Millions of impressions, if compelled to answer the simple question, `Are you right?’ will blush and hesitate and squirm, and finally in confusion, retire. 

Providential. In explaining the importance of providential circumstances, Knapp quoted Hannah Whitall Smith, writing in THE CHRISTIAN’S SECRET OF A HAPPY LIFE: “If a leading is from the Holy Spirit, the way will always open for it.’ The Lord assures us of this when he says: `When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice’ (John 10:4). Notice here the expression `goeth before’ and `follow.’ He goes before to open the way, and we are to follow in the way thus opened. It is never a sign of divine leading when a Christian insists on opening his own way, and riding roughshod over all opposing things. If the Lord goes before us he will open all doors before us, and we shall not need ourselves to hammer them down.” 

Reasonable. The apostle Paul referred to the Christian life as a “reasonable service.” Accordingly, the will of God can be expected to be in harmony with spiritually enlightened judgment. We will not be asked to do absurd and ridiculous things which are devoid of judgment and common sense. Knapp said, “God has given us reasoning powers for a purpose, and he respects them, appeals to them, and all of his leadings are in unison with them.” 

Perhaps, the most common violation of this principle is seen in the pressure some people feel to force every chance conversation into a heaven-or-hell confrontation. Such individuals believe they must witness in every elevator, preach to any available group of four or more, and turn every routine encounter into an altar service. Of course, each Christian should “be prepared to give an answer” when the opportunity is provided, but the gospel should be shared in a natural and tactful manner. 

Another frequent disregard for the test of reason is seen with impulsive behavior. It was Knapp’s view, and I heartily agree, that God deals with us as rational beings and He rarely requires us to act on sudden suggestions or impressions. G.D. Watson stated it similarly, “The devil wants you to be in a hurry and rush and go pell mell and not wait for anything; whereas Jesus is always quiet and He is always calm and always takes His time.” Likewise, the psalmist David instructed us to “wait on the Lord.” 

From Emotions: Can You Trust Them? by Dr. James Dobson. 
Request this resource HERE.

5 Back-to-School Confidence Boosters for Your Kids

September 6th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
confidence boosters

The first day of school at my house ran the gamut from, “I am so excited to go back to school!” to “My stomach hurts. I don’t want to go to school.” In other words, there were years my kids couldn’t wait to go back, and there were other years when the dread they felt made my heart ache for them.

But no matter where my kids were on that spectrum, I tried to find ways to boost their confidence before heading back. A great place to start is to assess how prepared they are academically. Even before the first day of school, recall how they ended the last school year. Did they finish strong? If not, talk to them in an encouraging way about how you know they’ll do great this year. Then, come up with a plan with them for how they’ll manage their studies and their homework. Help them feel reassured that you’ll do all you can to help them succeed. This is a biggie because if your kids launch the school year with academic struggles, it can affect every aspect of their school life from friendships to their relationship with their teacher.

You’re their number one cheerleader, mom, so use these 5 Back-to-School Confidence Boosters for Your Kids.

1. Friendship Factor.

Think about your child’s friendships. Can you invite friends over before the school year starts to get him used to being around them again? Have you heard about any new children joining his grade at school? Consider if any of those children would be a good fit for your child, and try to plan activities for the new child and your own child. Walking into the classroom and seeing a familiar and friendly face is a huge confidence boost to a child. If your child needs help to make friends more easily, here are 4 steps to making friends you can share with her.

2. Fresh Motivation.

Getting your kids excited about buying their school supplies is a simple way to give them fresh motivation to go back to school with a smile. And be sure your child has something special to wear on the first day of school. If they don’t really care about clothes, try to get them a fresh, new backpack – even something as small as a pretty hair accessory for girls or a cool haircut for boys. Of course, we want them to realize their true value lies within, but a child’s confidence soars when they are comfortable about how they look and how they’ll fit in.

3. Have a Plan.

Another great way to build your child’s confidence for the new school year is to make sure that you have an overall plan for objectively looking at the different aspects your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Use our free eBook Make Every School Year Count for ideas on how to help your child with their organization, time management, communication and more.

4. Celebrate

Kick off the new school year with a bang! We love the idea of a Back to School Feast. It can be as simple as you and your kids toasting a meal with sparkling grape juice, or you can use some of our Back to School Party Ideas and get a little fancier. You can make your back to school celebration a surprise also.

day of the night5. Prayer Power.

The night before the first day of school say a special prayer for your child – with your child. {Tweet This} Ask God to be with your child every hour of the day and to give him all of the confidence and joy he’ll need to have a good day. Then, show them our 10 Ways to Pray for Your Child at School Printable and let them know you’ll be praying for them every day.

Let’s Talk: How do you boost your kids’ confidence before they go back to school?

Source: imom.com

30 Day De-Clutter Challenge

September 6th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
This de-clutter challenge will get your home back in order without completely overwhelming you and feeling like a never-ending job! (affiliates included)

Even though I despise clutter, it keeps finding a way back into my life over and over again. When we moved here a year ago everything was in it’s spot and there was nothing out of order. I liked it that way and the whole place just felt fresh and clean.

Fast forward a year later and I’m looking at the television stand with DVD’s strung out all over, 4 junk drawers instead of one, and a big pile of who knows what on the counter.

It’s time to get back on track. If I want to live in a place that feels calm and un-busy I need to fix it. This de-clutter challenge I just wrote out seems like it will be the best place to start. It is way too difficult to try and fit it all in a weekend!

And while you’re at it, you could do the 30 day happiness challenge at the same time! You should also check out Make Over Your Mornings if they are as crazy as mine were.

30 Day De-Clutter Challenge

  1. Empty out one junk drawer
  2. Purge your closet of the things you no longer wear
  3. Go through your movie collection
  4. Clean out your television stand
  5. Go through your mail pile
  6. Clean off your kitchen table
  7. Purge two kitchen cabinets
  8. Discard old books
  9. Clean out your wallet
  10. Clean out your purse
  11. Purge your makeup drawer/bag
  12. Clean out empty/almost empty containers in the shower
  13. Purge your bathroom cabinets
  14. Go through your families shoes (donate what doesn’t fit)
  15. Purge 2 more kitchen cabinets
  16. Organize your linen closet
  17. Purge your medicine cabinet
  18. Go through your freezer and dump old items
  19. Clear off your kitchen counters
  20. Empty another junk drawer
  21. Go through your fridge and dump old items
  22. Purge 2 more kitchen cabinets
  23. Get rid of unused accessories (jewelry, hats, etc.)
  24. Clean out your car
  25. Discard kids unused toys
  26. Organize toys that are left
  27. Go through board games and electronic games – donate unused
  28. Organize and discard cleaning supplies
  29. Purge 2 more kitchen cabinets
  30. Clean! Get your newly organized home all sparkly
  31. When you’re done and your home is as organized as it’s ever been, I suggest printing off this cleaning schedule and follow it. That will keep everything tidy and not at all overwhelming. You’ve worked too hard to have your house be a mess again!

Check out Conquer Your Clutter! This comes with 38 tools to help you restore sanity to your home, family, work and life and right now it’s 93% off!!

If you’re looking for something more robust, something to hold your hand and slowly walk you through step by step, this 60-day de-clutter course is incredible. It two months your life will be totally free from clutter and you will feel amazing!

If you’re struggling to get rid of things I really suggest the Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. She talks about the reasons why we hold onto things and have a hard time letting go then she walks you through how to do it. 

P.S. Want to start your own blog? Check out my journey from working mom to stay at home mom all from this website.

Good luck!


Liz Nieman

Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.

Source: loveandmarriageblog.com

10 Activities You Can Do With Your Kids That Are Good For The World

September 6th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Teach your children about helping those around them! Create more positive energy in the world and help good go round with Cheerios.

1. Plant some wildflowers!

Get outside, get dirty, and create some beauty! In the process, you'll be doing important work for the bee population. Check here for tips on gardening with the bees in mind.

Get outside, get dirty, and create some beauty! In the process, you’ll be doing important work for the bee population. Check here for tips on gardening with the bees in mind.

2. Learn about national parks online and help your child become a web ranger.

Your child will become an advocate for the earth's beauty.

Your child will become an advocate for the earth’s beauty.

3. Find a local 5K or marathon and make some encouraging signs; then head over and cheer on the runners!

Load up on poster board and glitter pens for a day of sign-making, then put them to use making people feel good!

Load up on poster board and glitter pens for a day of sign-making, then put them to use making people feel good!

4. Have your child help you go through their closet to find clothes to donate.

You could even stage a mini fashion show! Together, you'll quickly realize which outfits they've outgrown, and your child can choose where to take them. Check here for some places that will take your donations.

You could even stage a mini fashion show! Together, you’ll quickly realize which outfits they’ve outgrown, and your child can choose where to take them. Check here for some places that will take your donations.

5. Donate used books to the local library.

As your kids get bigger each year and outgrow picture books, make it a tradition to gather your books and donate them. You'll be helping support the library and making some lucky other children very happy!

As your kids get bigger each year and outgrow picture books, make it a tradition to gather your books and donate them. You’ll be helping support the library and making some lucky other children very happy!

6. Bake cookies for the neighbors.

Teach baking skills while you make a sweet treat that will brighten someone's day.

Teach baking skills while you make a sweet treat that will brighten someone’s day.

7. Create a lemonade stand and donate all the proceeds to a charity you choose together.

Take this classic activity and give it a good spin — picking a charity will help your child learn about important causes, and giving the money they earn to something they care about will feel great.

Take this classic activity and give it a good spin — picking a charity will help your child learn about important causes, and giving the money they earn to something they care about will feel great.

8. Create handmade thank-you notes and deliver them to your local service people.

It will make your mail carrier's day!

It will make your mail carrier’s day!

9. Volunteer your time at a local animal shelter.

Shelters need all the help they can get, and your kids will have the time of their lives. Plus, a love for animals is best cultivated early.

Shelters need all the help they can get, and your kids will have the time of their lives. Plus, a love for animals is best cultivated early.

10. Visit a local nursing home together.

You'll bring great joy to the nursing home residents and also help your kids develop empathy and understanding.

You’ll bring great joy to the nursing home residents and also help your kids develop empathy and understanding.

Animation by Marjan Farsad / BuzzFeed © 2017

One last easy way to make good go round is to gather round, literally. Make a circle with your family and take a picture. Share it on social media using #GOODGOESROUND, and Cheerios will help secure meals for families in need. Go to Cheerios.com/goodgoesround to learn more.

Cheerios exists to create more positive energy in the world. Make the world a better place, with Cheerios!

Source: buzzfeed.com

Pray for These 5 Areas of Your Child’s Life That Satan Wants to Attack

July 31st, 2017 | 2 Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Alicia Michelle is an author, speaker and blogger. But first and foremost, she’s a mom of four. And here, she shares 5 powerful ways to pray for the areas of your child’s life that Satan will surely try to attack.


There’s a reason why so many of us begin praying for our children while they’re still in the womb. We understand that we’re in a war.God’s Word describes it this way in Ephesians 6:12“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

And while we’re all targets for the enemy’s schemes, Satan is smart enough to recognize that attacks on our kids are especially powerful.

He understands that if he can grab their hearts and establish false teachings in their mind from the earliest age, all he has to do is sit back and watch the dominos fall. 

Yes, it’s a terrifying thought to know that our children have an enemy that actively plots to hurt them.

But here’s the great news:
The Bible promises that nothing, nothing can thwart God’s good plans for our children.

No plan from the enemy can snatch our kids out of God’s awesome covering. And speaking of that enemy, we read in Revelation 20 that he has already lost the war. Amen!

As Christians, our job now is to fight! And as Christian parents, these great battles for our kids’ hearts are fought in prayer as we use God’s Truth to claim victory, break down half-truths and ask for divine guidance (2 Corinthian 10:3-5).

However, as a parent, it’s incredibly easy to be overwhelmed by this task! We know that we’re supposed to be praying for our kids. But what specific areas are our kids most susceptible to satanic attack?

Truly, there’s no one answer to that question! Every child is unique.

Yet, I believe there are 5 general areas where our enemy tends to attack this generation of kids. Let’s take a look at each of them and discover how we can best pray against the enemy’s evil schemes.

Area #1: Self-Worth

We want our children’s inner thoughts and self-worth to reflect the thoughts that God has about them.

Instead of being filled with puffed up pride or mere “self-love,” we desire that they believe the truth. They are beautifully handmade by a Creator who loves them so much that He gave His son’s life to have a relationship with them.

We want them to understand how much God values them, and that nothing or no one can change who they are in Christ.

How Satan Attacks: 

He teaches them that life is all about them and their pleasure.

He tells them that they need to ignore that voice of conviction that tells them things are right or wrong.

At the same time, he is quick to condemn them for their mistakes. He likes to “rub their noses in it” and tell them they aren’t worthy.

How We Can Pray: 

Dear Jesus, help our kids know that we are all born as sinners and separated from God because of our wicked hearts. However, at an early age, help our children grasp the life-transforming concept that they don’t have to live as a sinner under that condemnation. 

Teach our children that they have the opportunity to accept a new, beautiful identity that is called “good,” not because of what they have done or what they look like, but because they are secure in who YOU say they are: treasured, delightful, known and protected. Let them not place their self-worth in accomplishments they may or may not achieve. Instead, let them discover these deeper truths about who You believe they are and build every decision they make on that sure foundation. 

Area #2: Body Image

We want our kids to have a deep reverence for the intricate way their unique body is formed. And because of this respect, we want our kids to grow up honoring their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit.

We want our kids to treat their bodies with respect by honoring the boundaries God suggests, such as sexual exchange only between a man and a woman within the confines of a marital relationship.

While we want our kids to take care of their bodies through healthy food choices and regular exercise, we also want them to understand their physical appearance does not define them.

How Satan Attacks:

The enemy is hard at work in this area today! First, he tells our kids they’re not uniquely made. Rather, he suggests they’re simply a result of a random combination of genes that’s taken millions of years to create.

Then he convinces our kids that they are mere animals with physical desires that should be fulfilled at any cost. He wants them to believe that physical pleasure (such as sexuality outside of marriage) is normal and right and that anyone who tells them differently is being judgmental.

In terms of health, he uses television and the media to oh-so-subtly promote certain body shapes as ideal over others. Tweens and teens are especially weak in this area since their bodies are rapidly changing on the outside and they are asking pivotal questions about self-identity on the inside. He convinces them that every measure must be taken to achieve these ideal body images, including those that lead to eating disorders and drug abuse.

How We Can Pray:

Dear Jesus, we weep with you over the number of our kids who are buying into the lie that sexual pleasure is something to experiment with. We pray that our kids would treasure their sexuality as a true gift from You. That they would honor that gift by saving it as a precious treasure to give their future spouse. We ask that you would help them to be strong in the face of their own desires. That they would choose purity in the face of temptation. 

Lord we also ask that you’d protect our kids from the idea that they must do anything and everything (including abusing their bodies through eating disorders, drug abuse, or other harmful behaviors) in order to attaining a “preferred” shape or figure. We pray you’d protect our kids from that kind of destructive thinking. And that if they’re tempted to take these kind of drastic measures, that you’d send someone in their lives to stop them. Help them to remember over and over that their identity is not in how they look on the outside but what you see as their potential and worth on the inside.

We pray that our children would treasure their health as a gift from God. That they would have a passion to eat nutritious food and to stay active in order to do their part to take care of this treasure.

Area #3: Influences

We want our kids to be surrounded by those who can influence them toward God’s great purpose for their lives. We also want our kids to grow to become those people who influence others in powerful ways for the greater good.

How Satan Attacks:

Satan’s easiest way to attack here would be, of course, to simply surround our kids with bad influences. But he’s a little trickier than that.

While he still does try to place negative influences in our children’s lives, he knows that we are good parents who do our best to protect our kids from the bad influences.

So he often attempts the opposite: He does everything in his power to (subtly) keep the good influences out.

He keeps our kids away from God’s word. He keeps our children’s parents (that’s us!) too busy and distracted to influence our kids as needed. He strengthens our children’s natural tendency to laziness and complacency.

Using books, television, news reports and social media, he slowly simmers our kids in the false thinking that truth is relative and not absolute. Through this process, he affirms the falsehood that an individual’s godly influence is irrelevant and can even be considered offensive and judgmental against others’ beliefs.

Slowly, he convinces them that they can’t make a difference. That they really don’t have the power the change things anyway, so why even try?

How We Can Pray:

First, oh Lord, forgive us for the times when we have misplaced our priorities so that we haven’t been available to model a strong relationship with You in front of our kids. Help us to understand the power of our influence in our children’s lives and to reorder our schedule so that we can be available to both directly and indirectly offer the godly influence that our kids desperately need. 

Second, while we do pray our kids be protected from negative influences, we also pray you surround them with friendships and mentor-type relationships that portray what it means to have an authentic relationship with Christ. In turn, we pray that you would raise our kids up to be the influencers of the next generation. We pray that you would allow godliness and righteousness to dwell in their hearts so richly that these evidences of your truth spill out of them and to every person they encounter. 

Through it all, we pray that they would not be prone to laziness or complacency. Rather, we pray they would believe that even a single candle burning in the dark makes a difference and would boldly stand up for truth, even when it’s unpopular.

Area #4: Passions

We want our kids to live purposefully and passionately, always seeking God’s direction. We want them to grow up with a willingness to persevere, a deep understanding of the cost (and joys) of commitment, and to be unwilling to settle for complacency and comfort.

How Satan Attacks: 

He distracts and confuses them. He encourages them to use emotion to guide their decision-making instead of seeking to align their passions with what God is already doing.

In addition, he doesn’t want our kids to understand or appreciate their unique personality and talents that God has divinely given them.

Instead, he encourages them toward laziness. He convinces them to be content with seeking self-pleasure and the easy way out. Through mindless pursuits, he keeps them numb to the better life of magnificent beauty that comes from following God’s wild and wonderful best path.

How We Can Pray:

God, help us to know how to guide our kids in their passions by blessing us with the divine wisdom to know when to joyfully open up the gates toward new freedoms and desires, and when to curtail our children’s passions because they’re not able to accept the responsibilities yet in full. Help us model to our kids what it means to live passionately for You by boldly following the dreams you’ve placed in our heart, never settling for complacency.  

Help us to direct our kids with both cautiousness and courage, not allowing our own fears about “what if…?” get in the way of how You want to use them in the world. We pray that our children would continuously seek your ways and your wisdom, regardless of what life brings. We pray that they would understand their importance in the world. That you’d make clear to them at a very early age how they can use their God-given talents to play a role in Your passion to show both truth and love to the nations.

We want our children to have a healthy relationship with money. They should understand that possessions are not equated to a person’s worth nor do they bring ultimate happiness. We want them to understand the things of this world can bring us enjoyment, but lasting joy is found only in God.

Area #5: Money, Possessions and Work

We want our children to have a healthy relationship with money. They should understand that possessions are not equated to a person’s worth nor do they bring ultimate happiness. We want them to understand the things of this world can bring us enjoyment, but lasting joy is found only in God.

How Satan Attacks:

Like Eve in the Garden, the enemy teases and tempts our kids with good looking “fruit” (worldly possessions) that he promises will solve their problems and bring fulfillment.

He convinces them that they need to do everything they can to get ahead (including compromising their values, if need be). Because having lots of money and possessions is the ultimate goal.

Through a spirit of ingratitude, he keeps them insecure, empty and preoccupied with thoughts of what they do not have so that they’re always looking for more.

How We Can Pray:

Heavenly Father, help us to model a healthy example of how to handle possessions and money. Help us to work hard, but to not wear ourselves out in order to get rich so that our children can witness a positive, godly view of hard work and the pursuit of success. 

We pray that our kids would persevere in whatever vocation you give them. That they would work with cheerful hearts as if they were serving you directly. 

We pray our kids would see at an early age that money and possessions are a gift from You and thus must be always held with an open hand so that You can use those gifts to bless others. 

We ask that our kids would find their value in their true identity as a child of You, not in the possessions they do or do not have. We pray for contentment and gratefulness in whatever situation they’re given—rich or poor. We pray they would have a steadfast commitment to work hard with the talents you’ve given them so that they could support themselves, their families and use their money as a way to bless others in need. 

Ultimately, we pray that they would discover that the greatest “wealth” they could possess would be in relationships, especially in a relationship with You.

Brothers and sisters, let’s commit anew today. Let’s begin regularly fighting against the enemy’s schemes by powerfully praying for our child’s life in these areas!

We Were in Marital Hell

July 31st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

Struggle and Victory and How to Build a Strong Marriage Foundation

Through God’s work in our lives, we’ve beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.

by KAY WARREN // @KayWarren1

I’ve always been a church girl. Most of my earliest memories are tied to the people and the small churches my dad pastored in San Diego, California. I remember feeling the pressure to be the perfect pastor’s kid who knew all the right answers to Bible trivia questions. I recall the heavy pressure to be a model for other people and especially the pressure not to embarrass or cause shame to my parents by exposing our family flaws.

Many of my experiences are probably common to others who grew up in a pastor’s home, but a few incidents weren’t related to my dad’s job, and they marked me in ways that have taken me years to overcome. I was molested by the son of the church janitor when I was four or five. I remember not telling my parents because it was “bad” and because as a young child I didn’t have the language to express what had happened.

The deepest place of confusion and internal struggle for me as a teenager was finding pornography at the home of neighbors where I babysat. I was both fascinated and repelled by this forbidden material. It was clearly taboo for a Christian young woman who sincerely wanted to live a pure and holy life for Jesus, but somehow one night I picked it up and looked at it. Instant self-loathing, guilt, and remorse. How can I look at pornography? I love Jesus! I want to be a missionary! I’ll never look at it again, I told myself. And I didn’t. Until the next time I babysat. And the time after that. And the time after that. And before long, I was hooked. The good girl who loved Jesus with all her heart had a secret fascination with pornography, and the shame about killed me. I couldn’t reconcile my temptations and my faith; I was torn apart on the inside. Worst of all, I couldn’t tell anyone about it.

Love and marriage

I continued in this state of internal conflict and failure, all the while knowing I was in deep trouble. I wanted out but didn’t have a clue how to change. Then I met Rick Warren when I was 17 at a training to be part of a summer youth evangelism team that would travel to Baptist churches in the cities and towns of California. We reconnected a year later as freshmen at California Baptist College, a small liberal arts college in Riverside, California, and became casual friends.

He asked me out to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in the fall of 1973, and I grudgingly went. A week later—eight days to be precise—he accompanied me to a revival. When we got back to campus, we prayed together to close out the evening. Sitting in the dark, I heard him say, “Will you marry me?” I recall instantly praying and asking the Lord what I should do. I heard God respond, Say yes. I’ll bring the feelings. And so with my 19-year-old understanding of life, romance, God, his will, faith, and my desire to be obedient to him, I said yes. Kay Lewis and Rick Warren got engaged.

Not “the perfect couple”

As I walked down the aisle and stared into the shining eyes of the earnest, kind young man who had asked me to marry him, I knew I was loved. The way he looked at me on our wedding day became an anchor I would hold on to during the darker times when I wasn’t sure we were going to survive the mess our marriage had become.

Our brand-new marriage took an instant nosedive. We didn’t even make it to the end of our two-week honeymoon to British Columbia before we knew our relationship was in serious trouble. We had been warned about five areas of potential conflict all couples have to deal with, and we immediately jumped into all five of them: sex, communication, money, children, and in-laws. We were so young—barely 21—and inexperienced, and when sex didn’t work and we argued about sex, and then argued about our arguments and began to layer resentment on top of resentment, it was a perfect setup for misery and disenchantment.

What made it worse was that everyone considered us the perfect couple. When we returned from the honeymoon, already miserable and shocked at the depth of our unhappiness, we felt like we had nowhere to go with our wretched pain and marital failures. I had told Rick about being molested as a little girl—he was the first person I ever told—but because I was so unemotional about it, he figured it wasn’t that significant an incident to me and basically forgot about it. I kept my occasional ventures into pornography a complete secret. Between the effects of the unaddressed molestation, the resulting brokenness in my sexuality, and the off-and-on pornography fascination, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that sex didn’t work.

The weight of misery

Rick and I managed to limp our way through our first year of marriage, all the while he was a youth pastor to a vibrant group of kids who filled our small apartment at all hours of the day and night. We were young enough and naïve enough—and thoroughly conditioned by our strict upbringing—to not recognize the damage we were causing to ourselves by hiding and pretending everything was okay.

On our second wedding anniversary, we moved for Rick to pursue a master’s degree in theology so that he could become a senior pastor. We still had massive problems with sex, communication, and money, and we were in marital hell. The common understanding of the day was if you love Jesus enough, your marriage will be happy. What was so confusing was that we loved Jesus with all our hearts and were committed to the local church. How could things be so bad?

The fact that we were miserable weighed on both of us like a giant boulder, but we didn’t see any way out. I think we hoped that one morning we would just wake up and find it was all a bad dream and that somehow all our problems would simply vanish. We wanted to honor the sacred wedding vows we had made before God and our loved ones, so divorce wasn’t on our radar. But neither could we visualize living in such pain for the rest of our lives. We just didn’t know what to do or how to create a healthy marriage out of the shattered pieces of conflict, disappointment, dysfunction, and resentment.

Sticking it out

Over time, as we both grew as individuals and as we sought counseling together, we began to experience healing in our marriage. Yes, we faced many rough patches over the decades of our marriage, but I’m so glad we stuck it out through our painful first few years. God has worked in our life together—and he’s used our marriage struggles and failures to draw us closer to him and to each other.

Through my decades of ministry, I’ve talked to hundreds of women and couples who were in lonely, unfulfilling marriages—marriages in which their dreams had turned to dust. Where the passion had long since been buried under the daily grind of careers, children, pressure, stress, and unfulfilled longings. Some of these marriages ended with a loud bang as anger and bitterness corroded any sense of decency and humanity and compassion for the other. Some ended with shock, soul-shattering pain, and disillusionment as betrayal made a mockery of the vows of faithfulness. Some ended with a quiet whisper—silence—as boredom, illness, financial struggles, or any other of myriad issues made even dry, brown grass on the other side of the fence look so much greener than the barren wasteland on their side of the fence.

From the trenches

I don’t approach this subject from the Hallmark-card version of marriage but from the blood, sweat, and tears of the trenches where our marriage was forged and is sustained. I know what it’s like to choose to build our relationship; to seek marriage counseling again and again; to allow our small group and our family into the struggle; to determine one more time to say, “Let’s start over” and “Please forgive me, I was wrong” and “I forgive you.” I know what it’s like to admit that my way isn’t the only way to see the world and to try to imagine what it’s like to be on the other side of me; to choose to focus on what is good and right and honorable in my husband instead of what drives me crazy; to turn attraction to another man into attraction to my husband.

I know what it’s like to have vastly opposing opinions on how to handle and cope with a mentally ill child; to have fear and anxiety and panic threaten to swallow up normal life; to become consumed with the needs of one member of the family. I know what it’s like to be cracked open by catastrophic grief and to share it with your spouse when you’re so different; to figure out how to grieve and mourn together when your mentally ill child takes his life in a violent way and your grief is public because you’re in ministry and your glass-house, fishbowl existence is fodder for scrolling headlines on CNN.

We’ve beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union. We’ve weathered my breast cancer and melanoma. We’ve survived the mental illness and suicide of our son Matthew. And now we know. We know we are the best thing that has ever happened to each other. I am in love with the man God brought into my life so many years ago. Each of us is not who the other was looking for, but each of us is who the other desperately needed to become the person we each are today. Yet, it’s also been the very best thing that has ever happened to either of us. We wouldn’t be who we are today without each other. I’m a better Christian, a better woman, a better mother, a better friend, and a better minister because of Rick. He says he’s a better Christian, a better man, a better father, a better friend, and a better minister because of me. The shrieks of iron sharpening iron have often sounded like gears grinding on bare metal, but the result has been profound personal growth in both of us.