The Time Has Come

Sweet Readers,
You have been kind and generous to lend me your time and attention in the last 5 years. Some of you have been around from the beginning; you watched my writing transform as I figured out what to say and how to say it. Thanks for sticking around! Some of you are newer; I pray that you have been encouraged in the time you’ve been here.

timeThis isn’t a post I want to write, but the time has come for a break. The first official break in 5 years of blogging. I had intended to take a month off when Trooper was born…but his “delay” in arriving threw off my schedule {in the very best of ways} and I was unable to take the break I had planned.

So, when will I be back, you ask? I don’t know. I really don’t. I am entering a season of crafting, reading, growing, repenting, praying, journaling, transcribing, and teaching, because that’s where my feet need to be for a time. I could be back in 3 months, or it might be 6 or longer. I might come back and post regularly or I might post sporadically. I haven’t planned that.  And at this point, I don’t want to plan it.

If you want to be alerted when the next post does come, I recommend entering your email address to be placed on the subscriber list. I won’t send out any emails until there’s a notification that I’m back.

In the interim, I will be posting at Rooted Families from time to time. It’ll be a great exercise in the sufficiency of Scripture, and I am grateful for the opportunity to utilize their platform for the glory of God.

So, here’s to a season of intentional growth, renewal, and respite. For me, my family, and for yours!

Blessings!

Help for the Journey

journey

Maybe the family discipleship series this month has piqued your curiosity. You want to know more, pursue the possibility within your own family dynamics — whatever that may be. Or, if you’re not quite “sold” on it yet, perhaps you need to do some more research, more thinking, more praying. That was our family for a long while. We liked the idea, but we weren’t sure how to make it happen. We wanted to incorporate it, but we didn’t know where to start.

For those who wish to dig deeper on the subject of family discipleship or desire encouragement for the journey, here are some great resources! Sermons, books, websites/ministries, conferences… Something for just about everyone.

Sermons

Books

Ministries

Conferences

  • D6 (Louisville, KY — Sept. 16-18)

Homeschooling

Homeschooling? Is that really a resource category?  We think so. The primary reason we will homeschool our children has nothing to do with academic performance, opportunity for advancement, or the local school district. We want to maximize the opportunities we have to “teach [God’s commands] diligently” to our children.

And if you’re looking for someone to walk the road of discipleship with you, check out Rooted Families’ coaching. They would love to coach you on your journey to intentionally handing down your faith, the most worthwhile legacy to leave.

What resources would you add to this list?

This post includes affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

{image by De Lima}

Bridging the Generation Gap

I was 11 when we moved. At the time, leaving my friends and all I had known for the previous 5 years was an emotional earthquake. My dad had not long before accepted a position as church planter. We had canvased neighborhoods conducting surveys and getting the word out. We met Saturday evenings in hopes of including military families from the local army base. I still remember tri-folding each bulletin by hand as we prepared for every service.

gapAnd then we moved back to my parents’ stomping grounds to care for my elderly grandmother. She was a spry woman with lots of life still in her, but since my dad was the only child still living, my parents made the decision to leave the position as church planter and move 4 hours south. It rocked my world.

My parents left “the ministry” and my dad took up a “secular” job as a computer-aided draftsman. Actually, as I see it now, he simply redirected our ministry focus. I’m so thankful they did.

There were plenty of tense moments as perceptions collided and misunderstandings happened. That happens in any home, and ours was no exception. At the same time, in looking back, I see an amazing opportunity to get to know my grandma on a level my adult siblings didn’t. Because of that treasured time, I want to be intentional about encouraging my parents and in-laws to invest in my children.

049For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
(Ps. 61:5)

Co-Disciplers

Pilot’s parents and my parents are all followers of Christ. As such, the LORD has been cultivating within me a deep desire to see them pass on their faith to Buddy and Trooper (and their cousins) in a way even I haven’t seen or known. That level of discipleship requires several things, especially with a 6 hour and 12 hour distance between our homes:

  • Intentional inclusion. For them to interact with all that is happening in our home, they have to actually know what’s going on. I try to send texts and letters separate from what “the rest of the world” sees on Facebook about funny things Buddy says or new milestones Trooper achieves.
  • Intentional time together. It currently can’t happen often, but it must happen at some point.
  • Intentional questions. I want to learn about my parents’ and in-laws’ experiences so I can encourage them to relate to the boys in those specific areas (think Deuteronomy 6!).
  • Intentional prayer. Honestly, I don’t ask enough questions. I don’t ask some, because I don’t want to sound rude. Others I hesitate to ask simply because it doesn’t seem like the right time. So I am learning to ask God what questions I should ask that would spur the grandparents on in their interaction with our kids.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. 
(Ps. 102:18)

The boys are still young and probably won’t remember specific words of wisdom handed down from their grandparents. I want to capture those for them. Because I know that time is precious and grandparents will not be around forever (this side of eternity), I am learning to make the most of each time together. For the glory of His name — not in my generation only, but for the generations to come.

How are you including your parents in passing on your faith to your children?

More food for thought:

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What Does Family Discipleship Look Like?

Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I have experienced this in my own life. I measure ahead of some, behind others. It’s easy to play the comparison game, which encourages us to seek discontent with our present circumstances and abilities. But what if we used the fact that every family is different to our advantage rather than our discouragement? What if the plethora of choices, options, and ideas within the Body of Christ actually exists for our benefit, our edification?

bible

As we pursue a lifestyle of intentionally relating to our siblings, parents, and children with Christ at the center of our interactions, there will still be variation from family unit to family unit. And that’s ok! Scripture doesn’t say we all need to do it the same way, at the same time. God’s Word does  show us the key times and ways we should seek family discipleship:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6 gives us a great starting point. The primary goal of any family discipleship is to teach and encourage others to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  If our motive is to have devotions with our kids or “family worship” simply because our friends are doing that with their kids or it seems like “the right thing to do,” we are attempting a right action from a wrong motive. Burnout and mediocrity are sure to creep in before long, and then the whole idea gets shelved.

When we endeavor to talk with our spouses, our children, our parents, and our siblings in an effort to foster their love for God, we are engaging in family discipleship. It can happen:

  • Throughout the day, as we talk about our struggles and ideas or as we learn new information. Should that struggle lead us to or away from God? Does that idea line up with what God says in His Word? How does this show us who God is?
  • At a specific, set-aside time — whether daily, weekly, or monthly. Some families sing hymns together, read a portion of Scripture, work on memorizing God’s Word, pray for each other, or any combination of those activities. The ages and stages of our children’s development will impact what family discipleship looks like in different seasons.
  • As we decorate our homes with God’s Word. It is easy to use pithy sayings from the culture in our home, because they are often catchy or cute. Because God’s Word is truth and brings life, even an index card with a verse written on it and taped to the bathroom mirror can refresh those who read it and meditate on it.

Family discipleship may sound overwhelming, like “one more thing” we need to do. As God renews our mind to recognize the opportunities, we will find them abundant. We will also find great joy as we see those closest to us grasping the Truth in normal, ordinary, everyday life. But we must start. We may take it slowly, one step at a time, but we must start.

How will you start today?

More food for thought:

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The Call to Family Discipleship

discipleship

The sufficiency of Scripture affects every part of our lives. God is not silent on some of the things we assume He is, and one of those things is the value of the family unit. Family is God’s primary means of declaring His works from generation to generation. He instituted this setting for talking of His ways, learning His statutes, seeking His face.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts. (Ps. 145:4)

For many of us, our parents did not do this. Perhaps they were not followers of Jesus and had no Christian legacy to leave. Maybe they were first generation believers and unaware of the critical nature of discipleship in the home. They may have been handed a long legacy of Christian values and principles but the active discipleship was missing as we grew up. As a result, the majority of Christian moms and dads, brothers and sisters, have no intentional shepherding taking place within the family unit. God’s order is missing, and our walks are not what they could be.

Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children. (Ps. 90:16)

The more I pore over Scripture, the more verses like these jump out and grab me. In His wisdom, He allows us –in whatever family capacity we are placed– to participate in His glorification. He doesn’t have  to do that, but He chooses to. The question is…

Will we join Him in the endeavor?

It will turn our dreams and aspirations on their heads.  To join His cause is to prioritize Him above all else, to allow Him to train us to see what is important, and to let go of the peripheral issues we have held so dear.

It will consume our energies.  To embrace the opportunities within our four walls is to set aside self-indulgence, cravings for “me” time… in essence, self.  It requires us to choose His glory over our to-do list and our personal goals.

It will be hard…and it will be worth it.  To watch the next generation grasp His grandeur, to witness our spouses growing in grace, to engage as our siblings learn to apply the truth in their lives… There is no greater joy.

When God established the family unit, He set forth a good thing, an instrument to accomplish the glory due His name. If we call Him our Lord, we must be willing to do things His way.

What’s holding you back?

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Journey with us as we explore concepts of family worship and discipleship. And be sure to check out our ministry spotlight this month, Rooted Families!

Valuing the Unit

Susie is taking dance. Bobby kicks for the football team. Extracurricular activities can splinter our families if we aren’t careful. Families have televisions in multiple rooms so each person can watch what he/she prefers. IPods come out and ear buds pop in when the family treks by car. Shared experiences are harder and harder to come by. We are surrounded by parents raising individuals with individual mindsets.

unit

At what cost?

Community. We were designed to live in community. It wasn’t good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Children are a blessing (Ps. 127). The aged possess gray hair as a sign of wisdom gained (Prov. 16:31). Neglect any part of this design and you achieve the antithesis of community: isolation.

Isolation sounds ideal to the individual. No sharing or compromise, I get what I want. No disagreements, I’m in charge. This, we think, is the good life.

The good competes with the best.

With no sharing comes no opportunity for self-sacrifice. With no disagreements comes no opportunity for compassion. Individualism and isolation stunt our growth as Christ followers. We may not fully realize that stunted growth of one person in turn hinders community growth.  We don’t live in a bubble; every choice we make affects those around us.

The first institution in Scripture is the family. When we look at God’s design, we see parents, children, grandparents, and aunts and uncles bringing Him glory by sharing or handling disagreements with sensitivity and care. We see the young seek the counsel of the old(er). We see the parents and grandparents co-discipling the next generation (Deut. 6). We see the priority of God’s Word.

It’s not that we can’t each have our own interests within the family setting. We most definitely can, and we should use those for His glory. The danger comes in neglecting the unit for the sake of the individual. Stepping away from the God-ordained place for the passing down of faith to the next generation has grave consequences. Following the God of order means recognizing and protecting the framework He put in place for the family, doing everything in our authority as parents to bolster the relationships closest to us.

This prioritization will look different in each family. Here are some ways to make it happen:

  • Shared mealtimes
  • Limiting extracurricular activities
  • Choosing to serve your church as a family
  • Worshipping together at church
  • Reading Scripture before bedtime
  • Memorizing a passage from God’s Word together

However we flesh it out, discipling our children should follow the pattern God gave us in Deuteronomy 6:

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (vs. 7-9)

More food for thought:

Journey with us as we explore concepts of family worship and discipleship. And be sure to check out our ministry spotlight this month, Rooted Families!

{image by elestren}

Looking Through Christ-Focused Lenses

The sufficiency of Scripture flies in the face of our postmodern mindset. Pluralism keeps us from finding truth since that belief says there is more than one way to God. As Christians, we might trust God’s Word where it makes sense, but what about the “big questions” of life?

christ-focused

As a teenager, do we look at God’s Word as sufficient to direct our post-secondary track? Sure, He doesn’t lay out which college we should attend in the pages of Scripture, but He does guide us. We are to spend our life doing “all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), allowing the Lord to “direct our steps” (Prov. 16:9), and seeking “first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

As a young adult desiring marriage, He doesn’t tell us who to marry but He outlines characteristics of excellent covenant partners — becoming one AND finding one. Equally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14). For men, 1 Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 2:6-8.  For women, Prov. 31 and Titus 2:3-5.

As a married couple, He doesn’t say how many children to have, but He says that a father of a “quiver full” is blessed. Children are a heritage, a reward (Ps. 127).

As a parent, God’s Word may appear silent in many decisions, but He promises that it is all we need for “life and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:1).

We assume God’s Word says nothing about the clothes we choose to wear or the “minor” crossroads we encounter in different life seasons, but it is sufficient.  Will we always agree with the way someone else interprets a portion of Scripture? Nope, and that’s okay. But to neglect searching the Scriptures simply because it doesn’t seem  to talk about XYZ or because we don’t think  God’s Word talks about it is to call God a liar (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

I’ve done it. I’ve neglected to trust His Word 100%. This is why I now stand so firmly on the doctrine of sufficiency — because the last thing I want others to see is inconsistency in the God who never changes.

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How have you experienced that Scripture is enough?

Scripture is Enough

I have a confession. One of those serious, please-hear-me-out  confessions. A somber admission. I need to tell you something.

sufficient

Here goes:
God’s Word is true. 100% inerrant, totally infallible. For most of my Christian walk, I have been assured of this! Yet there have been many, many times I did not trust the sufficiency of Scripture in every area of my life.

Sufficient. Adequate for the purpose; enough.  (Dictionary.com) 2 Timothy 3:16-17 assures us that God intends for His Word to be this kind of guide for our lives.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

As Rob Rienow puts it, God’s Word deals with each of these areas:

Look at these four powerful words:

  • Teaching–how to think right
  • Reproof–how to not think wrong
  • Correction–how to not act wrong
  • Training in righteousness–how to act right

I have sought worldly counsel (parenting books, for example) as a higher authority than God’s own Word. I have trusted the advice of a well-meaning Christian blogger more readily than I have opened Scripture to see what He says. I have neglected to delve into the Word when needed, choosing rather to rely on the small number of verses I have memorized.

I have not modeled the sufficiency of Scripture for you, because I was not aware of my struggle to believe it is  sufficient. Until now.

This week and next, we will be covering topics related to family discipleship. Some of these may be tender issues, striking a chord in your heart. I pray these posts will be a springboard for your family, but I beg you to search out the Scripture as ultimate authority. As we discuss different aspects, I encourage you to support your views with Scripture.  Don’t be surprised if I ask you for passages where you have gleaned your stance. I want to be challenged and encouraged, too! Most importantly, I want both of us to see that God is not silent on this, and He desires that we pursue His plan in His way above our own comfort, familiarity, or agenda. May His name be praised.

{image by abcdz2000}
This post includes affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

Ministry Spotlight: Rooted Families

If you're looking for an excellent ministry to bolster your home discipleship efforts, check out May's Ministry Spotlight, Rooted Families!

Sometimes a simple conversation can have a great impact on our walk with Christ. It can challenge us to rethink familiar patterns, habits that are not based on Scripture, priorities that pursue temporal ventures over eternal treasures. I’ve had a few of those conversations with the people behind this month’s Ministry Spotlight.

Rooted Families began in 2012 as Jaymi and Kara Blankenship desired to see parents and grandparents intentionally pass their faith down to the next generation. Realizing the need for resources as families navigate the unfamiliar waters of discipleship, Rooted Families was born. Because they have not yet walked the path of grandparenting, they invited Kara’s father, Ben, to address those needs.

Rooted Families aims to “encourage and equip you to invest in the spiritual growth of your family.” They do this by offering blog posts on personal spiritual growth, marriage, and discipleship of children and grandchildren. If you’re looking for someone to walk with you or help you develop a plan of action in discipling your family, they are trained life coaches and would gladly serve you in that way. Know other families in your church that would be interested? They are available for speaking engagements as well.

Rooted Families will be at the D6 Conference this September in Louisville, KY, and they would love to see you there!

How you can get involved:

  • Subscribe to the Rooted Families community. You won’t get massive amounts of email flooding your inbox; you can watch for the Rooted Families Connect newsletter once a week.
  • Spread the word on social media! A tweet or share on Facebook will go a long way to get the word out and help the RF ministry grow.
  • Pray that they would boldly proclaim His truth in this generation, and for the parents and grandparents who desire to declare God’s wondrous works to the next generation.
  • Give. Support them financially as they develop the resources families stepping out in faith are seeking.

This is just the beginning. For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be embarking on a family discipleship series. You will probably hear me reference Rooted Families along the way. Get ready to be challenged, and come with your questions and discussion. It’s gonna be good!

2015 Goals: April Progress

Goals for 2015: Progress Report

April was a very unique month for me. I often knew I wasn’t accomplishing my goals, but matters of greater importance rose to my attention. And somehow, I’m okay with that in the month of April. May should be different. Here we go:

Bible: One book per month, plus one chapter in Psalms, corresponding day in Proverbs. I read Genesis in the month of April. Details I had never noticed jumped off the page. I love how God’s Word is living and active. Book for May: Luke.

Reading: a book by Elisabeth Elliot. a book on relationships (marriage or parenting). a Christian living book. a business book or a “fun”/miscellaneous book. 4 total per month. This was not a month for heavy reading. Yet again, I didn’t read an Elisabeth Elliot book. And I only read 3 books total. To date, I have finished 19 books with 5 in progress.

Marriage: Weekly love letters. I wrote 2.
Weekly board/card game.  Didn’t happen. Two weekends were busy with friends, and we got out and enjoyed the weather more often than staying inside.

Littles: Verses. Buddy almost has 2 Corinthians 7:10 down. He’s ready to read the next one!
Reading aloud.  We finished Farmer Boy, and Buddy asked if we would read another “Laura and Mary book.” On we tread to On the Banks of Plum Creek!
Develop a chore/”helper” list of tasks for Buddy.  I made a “work list” with 9 pictures for Buddy in February. He thrives with that thing. I haven’t developed his “morning routine” list yet, as our mornings look a little different now than they did even a month ago. Maybe this month that will work out.
Keep up with Trooper.  So far, so good! He cut another tooth on top, which meant a hard couple of nights. And he can scoot across the room {backwards} in 7 minutes flat. It won’t be long until he’s moving in the positive direction!

Writing: Post 3 times a week.  Didn’t happen each week in April, and that’s ok.
Journal.  Just write. Accomplished. I journaled far more in April than in the previous 2 months. It was wonderful.
Gratitude journal.  Still counting!
Work on one major/more intensive writing project.  In the works.

Financial: Pay for Multi-enginepaid!
Officially begin debt snowball (and record progress). Pay off first loan. No progress made with this; hopefully a little bit of progress will be attained in May!

Craft Stash Christmas: No progress made. 2 done (from January), 22 to go. I’ve actually set aside time in my schedule to work on this now, so there should be some progress in May.

How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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