The Missing Ingredient in Our Parenting

** The following article is copied from www.thegospelcoalition.com.

In our new parenting book, Equipping for Life, written primarily for young new or aspiring parents, we set forth three important aspects of parenting (we call them the 3 “Rs” of parenting): realism, relationship, and responsibility. While young couples often start out their parenting adventure with a healthy dose of idealism, in reality parenting is done by sinners on sinners and takes place in an imperfect world.

Additionally, the nature of parenting is often misconceived; it’s more than merely a task or assignment. Rather, it’s a complex and evolving relationship between parent and child, under God. Moreover, parenting needs to be given more of a priority than most give it; it’s a mistake to delegate parenting to teachers, coaches, or youth leaders and sideline essential parental involvement and engagement.

In this article, we’d like to share one insight that has increasingly deepened during the course of our own parenting journey that, if taken to heart and applied consistently, has the potential to revolutionize the way many of us go about parenting our children. This simple insight is that throughout our parenting efforts, character consistently must be made the key priority in everything we do and say.

Throughout our parenting efforts, character consistently must be made the key priority in everything we do and say.

In theory, this point may seem obvious, and few would likely disagree. In practice, however, many of us don’t actually parent in such a way that character is the overriding focus in the way we relate to and guide our children.

So, let’s briefly define character and then look at ways we can help our children develop character through the various life stages of parenting.

Importance of Character in Parenting

Character is who a person is at the core of their being. It affects all their relationships and accomplishments in life. And character doesn’t just appear in our children; we must be diligent to make it a focus, cultivating it in their lives, especially when they’re young. While many parents prize activities or achievements (sports, education, or good grades, to name just a few), character should be the priority and be valued as that which undergirds every aspect of life. In conjunction with establishing children in their personal faith in Jesus Christ, parents’ central concern should be on their child’s character development—as a response to what Jesus has done for them. At the core, we want to encourage our children to be more like Christ (Rom. 8:28–29).

As a child encounters various challenges and opportunities, his or her character is molded. The tendency for many young—and not so young—parents is to indulge their children, especially their first child and often also the youngest. However, if we pamper our children and permit them to get their way all—or even most of—the time, we’ll reap the consequences in the form of a spoiled, ungrateful child bent on getting his or her way. We’ll be training the heart of a manipulator who subtly but effectively subverts the role of the parent. This runs counter to the parental responsibility to foster traits of submission and cooperation within the family. The stewardship of developing character in our children is vital, not only for ourselves and our children, but also for the sake of family unity and dynamics, for the community of believers, and ultimately for the mission of God. It’s absolutely essential to stand firm as parents and make sure we’re parenting our childrenrather than the other way around.

Your primary goal in parenting is not to minimize conflict but to build genuine character.

Toward that end, it’ll be important to communicate from the beginning that you, not your child, is in charge. This isn’t a matter of trying to stifle our children’s development and self-expression or acting as overbearing despots shutting down all their initiatives. Rather, it’s a sign of true, committed love and of being responsible as a parent. As the book of Proverbs continually affirms, discipline is vital in childrearing, and the loving parent provides consistent correction and accountability (e.g., Prov. 6:23; 12:1; 14:24; 29:15).

As you move through the life cycle of parenting—from infancy to childhood to adolescence to early adulthood—the nature of your relationship with your child will inevitably change, but your commitment to building character should remain constant. This is what “responsible parenting” is all about.

In the short run, a laissez-faire, hands-off approach may seem preferable in that there may be less conflict, but it will not likely result in a young person marked by character and maturity. Remember—your primary goal in parenting is not to minimize conflict but to build genuine character.

Detriment of Misplaced Focus

So, as your child starts school, what is your main goal for them? Is it to see your son or daughter get good grades—straight A’s? Good grades certainly have some value and may be an indication of intelligence and academic ability—or at least of being able to do well within a given system of expectations—but they’re not always a reliable indicator of character (though they can be).

If not grades, is your focus as parents to promote your child’s athletic success? Being a good sports parent may be one of the signs of a “good” parent in this generation, but are you pushing your children too hard to excel in baseball or basketball or some other sport? You may be the perfect soccer parent, present at every game, capturing memorable moments on camera and posting them on social media—only if your child’s team won the game, of course—perhaps even the coach of your son’s or daughter’s team. You may sacrifice much of your time, especially on weekends, to invest in your child’s recreational pursuits. Yet your child’s heart may remain unregenerate, his mind set on winning at all cost, and his sense of identity staked on how well he did on the baseball or football field.

In the end, who is going to watch all those videos? What does it really matter if your son’s team won or lost a given game? But his character will have been affected, for better or for worse, and it’ll be too late for you to turn back the clock.

Role of the Spirit in Developing Character

Rather than focusing on good grades or athletic (or other) achievement, invest the bulk of your efforts on helping your child develop character. Since character is who a person truly is in their heart, exemplified in what they do when no one’s looking, good character means integrity—a stable core of conviction that isn’t easily shaken by peer pressure, cultural influences, or shifting circumstances.

As you seek to shape your child’s character, which values will you seek to impart? And what will be your strategy to teach and reinforce those values? Character isn’t formed by default or by chance. What’s more, children tend to imitate their parents’ behavior, so we’ll want to make sure that we ourselves are people of integrity.

So how do we accomplish this aim?

First, we can recognize that, while requiring parental focus and commitment, developing character in our children can’t be done apart from the Holy Spirit’s work in your child’s life. If we take on the task ourselves, the burden of forming character will be overwhelming; we just can’t build character in our children through our own efforts. The Spirit will do his work in our children as they enter their own relationship with God and as they themselves strive to be men and women of integrity and moral excellence by God’s grace.

Developing character in our children can’t be done apart from the Holy Spirit’s work in your child’s life.

A catena of Scripture passages on the Spirit shows that the Spirit produces in all of us (including our children) what is pleasing to God. As they walk with him, are led by him, livein him, keep in step with him, and are filled with him, they’ll set their mind on spiritual things, and the Spirit of the risen Christ will infuse their mortal bodies with supernatural strength to surmount their sinful nature. Paul encourages believers to “walk by the Spirit” and be “led by the Spirit,” and writes that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:16, 18, 23). He adds, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24). He also urges believers to be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) and affirms that “those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5; cf. v. 11).

In this way, our children will be able to please God and “do all things through him who strengthens” us (Phil. 4:13). Again, the apostle Paul strikes the balance beautifully when he urges believers, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13). Encourage your children to strive actively to “work out their salvation,” trusting that God is at work in them, both to have the resolute will and the actual power to live the life God wants them to live.

If you’ve introduced your child to Christ—and he or she has received him and become a child of God—you have the opportunity to nurture their spiritual lives by impressing on them Scripture about the work of the Spirit in keeping with the above-cited passages. The last thing you’ll want to do is condition your children to live the Christian life in their own strength!

Final Plea

It’s character, parents! Focus your energies on developing character in your children. Don’t worry too much about good grades or athletic achievements. Those do have their place, but character trumps scholastic or athletic accomplishments in the end because Christlike character is a permanent, lasting fixture of our children’s lives, both in this present life and also in the life to come. Winning a tournament or playing at a recital, on the other hand, are temporal achievements—here today, gone tomorrow.

It’s character, parents! Focus your energies on developing character in your children.

Therefore, parents, care more about inculcating virtues such as integrity, honesty, and selflessness in your children than being unduly preoccupied with or blinded by external badges of honor.

The virtues God celebrates are Christlikeness and the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If your child were to take his or her final exam in these characteristics, how would they do? Would they get an “A” or “F” in self-control, for example, or somewhere in between? What about the other virtues on the list? And how would you do? We know these are convicting questions.

While ultimately character is the result of the work of God’s Spirit within us, Scripture nonetheless urges us to “make every effort” to actively pursue these virtues and even to excel in them (2 Pet. 1:3–11). So, parents, let’s get to work and strive to build Christlike character in our children by the grace of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit!

31 Questions to Help You Be a Better Parent

** The following article was copied from family life.com.

Feeling passionate about parenting? If you’d genuinely like a shot in the arm for your parenting, perhaps these questions can get you started. But remember: Their effectiveness is proportionate to your level of honesty, humility, and most of all, dependence on God’s power to make His presence a reality in your children’s lives.

1. What are the most significant cravings of each of my kids’ hearts?

2. How am I doing at building a relational bridge with my children? Do I “have their hearts”? Do they feel connected with and encouraged by me? Do I feel connected with them?

3. When I’m honest, what top five values do I feel most compelled to instill in my children? Would those line up with the top five values God would want my children to have?

4. What are each of my children’s greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses?

5. Am I being faithful to pray diligently, deeply, and watchfully for my kids? (For a great FamilyLife resource on this, click here.)

6. Which child in our family is most likely to be overlooked, and why?

7. Which child tends to receive most of my attention? Why?

8. How do I believe other people see each of my children? How do I feel about that? What portion of others’ opinions could I learn from, and what should I set aside?

9. Are my children developing more into givers than takers?

10. What life skills would I like my children to develop this year?

11. What are the events on the timeline of my children’s lives that have the most impact?

12. In what ways have my children exceeded my expectations?

13. Do I have any expectations of my children that have become demands that I clutch out of fear, rather than hopes that I seek from God by faith?

14. In what ways do I feel disappointed by my children? What can I learn from this? (For example, about what is valuable to me, about how God has made my children, about loving as God loves, etc.) What should I do about this in the future?

15. What is my greatest area of weakness as a parent? My greatest strength? What are my spouse’s?

16. In what ways are my children totally unlike me?

17. What did my parents do particularly well? In what ways do I hope to be different? (Is there any forgiveness that needs to happen there?)

18. What events from my childhood are important for me to shield my own children from? Are there ways that this has led to excessive control?

19. In what areas are my children most vulnerable?

20. What do I love about my kids? About being a parent?

21. How well do my spouse and I work as a team in our parenting?

22. How am I doing on preparing my children to be “launched” as thriving servants for God in the real world?

23. What can I do to equip my children to love well? To be wise? For successful relationships?

24. How is my children’s understanding of the Bible? How would I describe each of their relationships and walks with God?

25. Who are the other influential people in my kids’ lives? As I think of my children’s friends, teachers, coaches, etc., how can I best pray that they will complement my parenting and my kids’ needs?

26. Am I replenishing myself and taking adequate rests, so that my children see the gospel work of grace, patience, and peace in my home?

27. What are each of my kids passionate about? How can I spur on and develop their God-given passions?

28. How am I doing on teaching them biblical conflict resolution? Am I teaching them to be true peace-makers … or peace-fakers, or peace-breakers?

29. How authentically do I speak with my kids? Am I building a bridge of trust and security through my honesty and openness with them?

30. Am I striking a good balance between protecting my kids and equipping them for whatever they may encounter when they step outside of my home, now and in the future?

31. What great memories have I recently made with my kids?

Building Bridges with Your Kids

** The following article was copied form theparentcue.org.

Picture it. Family movie night. You’ve just popped an industrial-size bowl full of popcorn. You’ve got a mug of hot chocolate for each kid, with exactly 13 mini marshmallows each. Everyone’s snuggling under blankets and settling in for some much-needed R&R.

Then, the big question . . .
“What do you want to watch?”

It’s a dangerous thing to ask. You could end up with the latest Disney animated masterpiece. You might be in for a treat like the Greatest Showman. Or you might hear those three disastrous words . . . The Emoji Movie.

(I apologize if it’s your favorite. But, well, I can’t even.)

If you’re anything like me, you last about 30 seconds before you start glancing over at your phone. You think to yourself, “They probably won’t mind if I check my email.” Then you check football scores. You look at your Instagram likes. Your kids seem totally engrossed in the movie, right? What’s the harm?

A simple cue can signal something fundamental to your kids. That’s the good news and the bad news.

Picking up your phone might not seem like a big deal. But let’s be honest. If your daughter looks over and sees you checked out from the movie—something she likes; something she chose—what does that communicate to her?

As a parent, you probably bump up against this tension all the time. I know I do. Sure—you’ve got some interests in common with your kids. But you’ve got your “adult things.” They’ve got their “kid things.”

To a certain extent, this is perfectly healthy. All of us need some space and some autonomy in our lives. We’re different people with different likes and dislikes.

Going out golfing with the guys? Watching football on Sunday afternoons? Perfectly normal, in moderation. Your kids are going to have their own interests that will seem completely baffling to you, too. (For me, it’s those YouTube videos of adults unboxing and playing with kids’ toys. They love it. I just don’t understand.)

But here’s the danger: If everything you enjoy is separate from your kids, you may slowly, unintentionally, distance yourself from them.

To bridge that distance, a lot of families take vacations where they’re forced into close proximity with each other. That can work. Making memories together can certainly add valuable relational deposits. But that also begs the question: Do we really want to present quality time as an exception? Do we want the status quo of our family to be defined by parallel, but separate lives?

Our simple cues communicate more than we realize. As a parent, that’s a sobering reality. But remember how I said it could be good news, too?

I believe our kids notice when we take small steps in their direction. Not giant, sweeping, expensive overtures. Little things that communicate value.

When your daughter starts to tell you the funny thing her friend did at school, what if you shut the computer and gave her your full attention (and eye contact)?

Maybe you didn’t quite finish your project during work hours. What if you chose to put it away until after the kids’ bedtime so you could carve out time for family dinner at the table?

What if you asked questions about your son’s action figures and came up with your own silly chapters to add to their backstory?

None of us gets this right all the time. There’s always more we can do to build bridges to connect with our kids. But I think one of the biggest reasons we miss those opportunities is that reaching out seems intimidating. The gap seems too wide. We forget that intentional small steps can have a cumulative impact. Over time, they can send you confidently in the direction you want to go.

When my kids were just starting to walk, I remember that all I had to do to connect with them was sit down on the floor. When I did, they would head straight for me. They’d giggle and flop all over me. It was so simple and so pure. All it took was a decision on my part to be present.

I think the same principle is true for older kids, too. Maybe it just looks like a night in front of the Emoji Movie.

Parent Network Podcast

On The Parent Network Podcast we connect with parents and friends who can help equip and encourage us along our parenting journey.  Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.  We release a podcast twice a month.

Father’s Day: 10 Things You Should Ask Your Kids For

** The following article was copied from www.allprodad.com.

Most dads think of Father’s Day one-dimensionally. We tend to look forward to kicking back, enjoying a few guilt-free hours watching the US Open on television. A Father’s Day gift guide might include a nice card or two, a needless tie, and maybe a day-off when it comes to active parenting, policing the drama that goes on around the house. But the foundational idea of Father’s Day is that of celebrating the relationship, not catering to the dad. We are dads so that we can do dad things that mean something, and we have the best celebrations when stuff happens that draws us closer to our kids.

With that in mind, consider setting the agenda for Father’s Day this year and actually putting some ideas out there that will help solidify what to get for father’s day. Here are some suggestions, the 10 things you should ask your kids for this Dad’s Day.

1. Time

If you’re a dad, you’ve already done the math. You know it’s going to be no time at all until they head off and live the rest of their lives. Do what it takes to grab some memories before they grab the car keys.

2. Honesty

It’s a fact that we can’t love what we don’t know. Make it clear to your kids that your love wants to know more than it wants to judge. It’s the love that heals, not the disapproval.

3. Advice (theirs)

Father knows best? How’s that working for you? How about asking for “Kids (might) know best?” Trust them enough to let them in to your open-ends and loose-strings. You’ll be surprised how much they already know.

4. A one-page note of their favorite memory

Get the kids writing and sharing stories and remembering good “Dad moments.” These are golden, and good for both dad and the kids.

5. Hugs

It doesn’t matter how old the children are, hugging dad should never go out of style. Be proactive on this one. Ask if you have to, but get it done.

6. Big ideas

Ask the kids to share their vision with you. This is a little different from advice, it’s “big picture” stuff. Ask your kids things like, “How would you solve world hunger?” Ask them what they think about big ideas such as space travel, world peace, and racism. Then listen.

7. A gift with staying power

Ask your children to think about a Father’s Day gift that won’t disappear in a day or two. Or ask them (for example) for one hour every Sunday afternoon for the next three months so you can pick their brain. Ask them for the commitment to walk a mile with you three times a week. You can even ask them to read you their favorite comic strip every day for a month. Ask for gifts that don’t end the moment they leave their hands.

8. A fresh start

We all need a little redemption. How about coming clean with your kids and asking for a fresh start? Maybe you’ve been harsh… Or maybe they’ve been consistently disrespectful… Maybe you’ve lost ground…Whatever is going on, try to model humility and see where the relationship goes.

9. A glimpse into their world

Prepare a list of ten “I’m too old, I don’t get this!” questions and have a Q&A session with your kid(s). Maybe they can respond with a list of their own. Who knows, you may end up communicating!

10. A dinner date

You may have to help pay for this one. But dinner out, one-on-one with each child, can be the most fun and the most productive parenting experience.

The Parent Cue Podcast – Celebrating Father’s Day

Check out this great podcast from our friends at The Parent Cue celebrating Father’s Day and dads everywhere.

When Your Son Needs Fatherly Approval

** The following article was copied from www.ftc.co.

Andy awoke from his nap with a croupy cough. If you’re a parent, you know the strained, barking cough. It’s usually not very serious. The virus causes the airways to swell and makes breathing more difficult. Serious or not, it’s a disturbing thing to hear.

A few hours later, we were out at my mother-in-law’s house and Andy had a coughing fit. He struggled to get enough air. With the help of his big brother, we calmed him down and decided to take him to the doctor. Better to go now to the urgent care center than to the ER in the middle of the night.

Andy’s a smart kid. He knows what it means to go to the doctor, and he wasn’t too excited about it. He gets that from me. Unless I’m unconscious and therefore unable to protest, just let me be. We loaded him up and drove off with him repeating “Go to the doctor?” over and over. He was okay, but concerned. I assured him the doctor could help.

We arrived, checked in, and he saw the first of many amazing sights of the doctor’s office. A family had brought happy meals into the waiting room for their children. I didn’t judge. I’ve done weirder things to keep the peace. Andy loves McDonald’s. “Maybe this doctor isn’t so bad,” he must have thought.

We were called back a few minutes later. They asked him to stand on the scale to get his weight. Last time, he refused to do it. I wasn’t there, but my wife remembers the scene well. This night, however, he stood up tall and looked at me with a smile.

We entered the room and he jumped up on the table, ready to be examined. A few minutes later, the nurse came in, asked some questions, and took a few initial vitals. I stood by my son, showing him what to do when the nurse asked. “Just put your finger out like this. He’s going to put that thing on it.” “Just be still, he’s taking your temperature.” He did as instructed.

The doctor arrived a few minutes later. By that time, Andy was feeling good. The doctor looked in his ears, asked him to open his mouth wide, and listened to his breathing. Andy obeyed all his orders with a close eye on my face to ensure I was watching. After the doctor left the room, and he had obeyed all the orders, Andy looked up at me with a smile. “I did it, Dada!”

He did it.

I had no idea the whole night was a test of my approval. Andy believed he passed. He did. But he was the only one testing. He had my approval all along.

What Andy needed that night more than a trip to the doctor (turned out he was fine and didn’t need any treatments) was the approval of his father. Don’t we all?

I know too few men who feel the approval of their fathers. They grow up wondering if they’re pleasing to him. For some, that uncertainty results in rebellion. For others, it results in man-pleasing. In either case, it’s a tragedy. Some sons do disappoint their fathers. But, by and large, I would guess that most sons by the fact that they’re sons have their father’s approval. They just don’t know it because their fathers never say it. They navigate childhood hoping the home-run will bring praise, the A-filled report card will elicit pride, or the diploma will ensure proof of pleasure. They go into adulthood wondering if their job is enough not only to provide for their future family but enough to please their father’s expectations. Are they man enough? Are they good enough? Are they a disappointment?

I wonder what kind of world we fathers of young boys could create with the simple words, “I’m proud of you, son.” Those words must not come only after home runs and buzzer beaters or good report cards and graduation. They must come in the mundane, in the doctor’s office and the playroom and at the kitchen table over Sunday dinner. Your influence is more massive than you realize.

What would you give to hear your father’s words of affirmation on a normal Saturday evening or Wednesday afternoon? Why hold back with your sons now?

Of course, our fathers will fail us and we will fail them. No one is perfect. And it’s also true that our affirmation alone isn’t enough to unleash all the good we wish it could. There is real sin residing in us all. But there is a Father above who approves of us because he never disapproved of his Son. Through his work, we have approval for eternity. If nothing else motivates us–and even if some words are hard for us to say for a variety of reasons–we can look to the words of the Father to the Son, “This is my beloved Son of whom I am well pleased.” Approval flows from heaven and floods this earth in Christ. Let’s advance the tide in our day. Let’s tell our sons of our approval before it’s too late.

I didn’t know Andy needed my approval. I wonder if you know your son needs yours? You have him in the house for a little while, and if he doesn’t know you approve of him now, he’ll wonder all his adult life if he’s ever lived up to your expectations. You have that much power. Use it wisely.

7 Scripture Verses for the Single Parent Journey

* The following article was copied from www.crosswalk.com.

Single parenting is not for the weak. Everything, yes, that’s right, everything falls on your shoulders… especially when your kids are young. Here’s some to name a few: all the meals, the bills, the laundry, the homework, the after school activities, the bath times, the bedtimes. And, y’all that’s just the easy stuff! Then comes the responsibility of actually raising a Christ-loving productive member of society. It can seem overwhelming.

When I was a single parent, trying to do everything on my own left my spirit totally depleted and my nerves on edge. My children and I were having daily meltdowns like ice cream cones left out in the July heat. We were a sticky hot mess. I had to change. So, I learned it was impossible for me to survive without the supernatural peace and strength of Jesus. I leaned into the Word and applied it to my everyday life. It didn’t mean our lives were perfect; it just meant that we weren’t on our own. These verses helped me through my single parenting journey.

Acceptance: I didn’t dream of becoming a single parent when I was little girl. But, sometimes life happens and we don’t get a say in the roads we take. Instead of fighting my circumstances (a losing battle I should say), I had to learn to accept it. I couldn’t change the fact that I was a single parent, but I could control how I responded to it. I learned to find joy through Christ in the midst of a difficult situation.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”(Philippians 4:12-13)

Guidance: To parent well, we have to guide and shepherd our children’s hearts. That responsibility is heavy for married parents, but when you’re single parenting it can seem almost seem impossible. Every night, I would repeat the day’s conversations and interactions with my children over and over again in my head. Did I handle that right with my daughter? Was I tender enough with my son? Have I scarred them for life? That’s just in one day! I had to recognize that the Lord purposefully chose me to be my children’s parent, and He is guiding me every step of the way.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21)

Speak Love: Being a single parent can make the most patient person lose their entire jar of marbles. When we are pulled in a trillion different directions and little Sally just took a drink out of your sweet tea with her green runny nose, we can say things we don’t mean out of sheer exhaustion. Our words have so much power over how our children see themselves and relate to the rest of the world. I know we all make mistakes, but let’s try to lift our children with our words, and not crush their little spirits.

“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)

Protection: Becoming a single parent wasn’t an easy journey. The children and I were emotionally bruised and battered along the way. So much so, I had become conditioned to chaos. After the dust settled, and we had this new “life”, I was always waiting for some other kind of traumatic event to happen to knock us off our feet. Every phone call caused anxiety because I didn’t know what kind of news it would bring. But, living life in high anxiety didn’t work for me. I knew the Lord was in control, but I had to put my trust in His protection.

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” (Psalm 3:3-6)

Strength: We all need strength being a parent. But, it seems that in being a single parent, we need supernatural strength. We need strength physically for the everyday needs. But, we also need strength for the emotional attention of the long talks before bedtime with the teenage daughter, the loving hug that can cure the skinned knee, and the sheer will that it takes to make eye contact with a toddler that is telling you a story that is amazing to them, but all you can think about is that bar of dark chocolate that you’ve hidden away. Finding strength in the present is the investment in our children that will reap a beautiful return in the future.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’” (Mark 10:27)

Faith: My children were raised in a broken home. They have seen and felt things that no child should. But, just because life has been hard doesn’t mean that God is not good. Yes, we went to church and Sunday school, but the Christian walk is so much more than that. I felt a deep desire and responsibility to intentionally guide my children to Jesus in the everyday situations. You know, I can’t make them choose to become believers, but through my personal faith, I hope to share His unfailing love.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19)

Finances: For me, I used to worry about money constantly. We were barely making ends meet on a good month, but throw in a sick visit or a school fee… and well the budget was blown to smithereens. I found I was putting my security in money instead of the Lord and it was making me all off balance. The Lord had always met all of our needs; what would make Him stop now? Me worrying about it didn’t do anything but cause a few extra wrinkles and a whole lot of gray hair.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

 

Written By Shannon DeGarmo; speaker; author of The Bounce Back Woman; Featured Contributor of Keep the Faith radio; Contributor of LifeWay’s HomeLife Magazine. Check out Shannon’s website (www.shannondegarmo.com) and visit her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.