Monthly Archives: February 2011

black & white girls

There’s nothing wrong with racism…

“There’s nothing wrong with racism…” my husband told a black pastor in Washington D.C. They stared at each other for several uncomfortable seconds until Brad broke the silence, “…unless the God of the Bible actually exists.” The pastor’s face lit up as the power of the statement sunk in. “Oh that’s good! That’s very good!” he said with a smile.

The reality is, apart from God, morality is a fairy tale just like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny! When Brad does radio shows he challenges anyone to call in and prove his statement wrong. Inevitably atheists will call and declare they don’t believe in God but they’re moral. Here’s my husbands response:

I don’t know you. You may very well adhere to moral standards. However, apart from the existence of God you can’t explain to me why I’m obligated to treat you in a moral fashion.

We want our children to grow up with a strong moral compass. We want them to be honest, hard working, kind, generous, and extend love to all people. However, with the God of the Bible banned from the classroom and expelled from the public square it’s no wonder the younger generations have a blurred sense of morality.

Bringing God back into the public debate is essential, but the best thing we can do for our children’s future is to teach them who God really is and why it matters. Our homes are the most powerful change agent our country has.

I have dear friends who give their life’s blood to save the lives of the unwanted unborn. Others fight injustice, racism, abuse and child pornography. As vital as these battles are, there is one we all must fight and win. If we don’t fight this one, all other battles are fought in vain. We must fight to make time to teach our kids who God really is and why it matters.

I’m going to be bold here and say that if there isn’t time in your family life to explore together the character of God and why it matters in every day life, something needs to go. There is nothing you’re doing that’s more important for your children’s future… nothing.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with lying, cheating, racism, homosexuality, drug abuse, pedophilia, abortion or rape…unless the God of the Bible exists.

gift-green w: tulips

The Forgotten Gift

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. –John 14:27 (NLT)

These words of Jesus speak to my heart. Peace of mind and heart is a gift from God. Nothing the world has to offer can provide such a priceless gift.

Whatever concerns consume your thoughts today I encourage you to join me in bringing them to Jesus. Imagine laying them at His feet and then lift your eyes to focus on Him and Him alone. Imagine His eyes, full of love and compassion. Imagine His smile, radiant and pleased that you are trusting in Him. Imagine His arms, reaching out to comfort and strengthen. Imagine His power, extended on your behalf.

Worry is a result of not trusting God. Worry declares that He’s not strong enough to handle the problem, not loving enough to care, not faithful enough to do anything about it or not merciful enough to act on our behalf in spite of our sin.

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. –Romans 8:6 (NLT)

Some say, “I can’t help worrying. It’s in my head. I can’t help what I think.” Yes you can! You can’t help what pops into your head, but you can absolutely help what you do with it once it’s there! Our sinful nature wants to focus on the worry. Sin tries to solve problems apart from God, and apart from God there’s good reason to worry!

The only way to stop worry in its tracks is to focus on who God is and give thanks that He really is in control of every situation. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus your thoughts on the fact that God loves you enough to do what’s best, He’s powerful enough to do what’s best, He’s faithful to do what’s best and He’s merciful to do what’s best even though we deserve the opposite!

God’s gift of peace is waiting for each of us today. Let’s not leave it unopened!

Dinner table pic

Family Dinners

My husband was talking with some friends today about our family dinners. They were surprised that we sit down together at least five to six nights a week.

“How do you do it?” they asked.

“I tell them to be at dinner.” Brad said with a smile.

One friend lamented how hard it is to get everyone together.. Schedules, meetings, athletic events, etc. make family meal time a thing of the past.

“With such crazy schedules,” he asked, “how do you get them all to the table?”

“I tell them they have to be there.” Brad said again.

It’s really that simple. When my daughter had ballet practice from 6-7:30 we ate before or after, but we ate together. When my son has tennis practice or lessons we plan the mealtime accordingly. The meals aren’t fancy, but even if it’s cereal we eat it together. We don’t have many non-negotiables in our house, but dinner is one of them. Why?

I could tell you that family dinners are a priority because statistics show eating together will increase the chances for healthy, happy and academically successful children. I could say that it saves money (eating out is expensive and fattening!). I could quote the statistics that revealed a startling fact: kids who eat dinner with their family at least five times a week have a dramatically lower chance of smoking, drinking or doing drugs. But, although we’re thankful for those benefits, they aren’t the motivating factors.

We have dinner together because we’re… a family, not 4 people pursuing individual lives who happen to live in the same house. It’s our time to stop the motion, look each other in the eye and listen, really listen, to what’s going on in everyone’s life. It’s the only time during the day it happens and it’s worth fighting for.

It’s never too late to start having family dinners. Whatever you’re doing now, increase it by one dinner a week. Don’t freak out about the dinner prep. Remember, you can have cereal! Talk about how everyone’s day went. What was the best part of the day? What’s happening tomorrow? What did you learn in school? Just start asking questions and let the conversation take on a life of it’s own.

Our kids are only around our table for a few short years, but what happens around the table will stay with them for a lifetime.

child's eye pic

Walmart and Cosmopolitan

Last week I did something that’s out of my comfort zone. Sometimes fear of not doing something overwhelms the fear of doing it…

I walked by the rows of check out lanes at Walmart and at the end of each row was a bright red issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. So what you say? The plunging neckline on the cover model nearly revealed her navel along with her cleavage. I saw it and thought of our children.

Every child who walks through the checkout lane with his mom sees, at eye level, a seductive, half exposed woman next to a large text saying, “GET NAKED.” Did you know that the human brain remembers everything? We may not be able to access all the memories, but they’re there. God knows it, that’s why He continually encourages us to be careful what we look at. Every child that sees the Cosmo cover has that picture in their head for the rest of their lives. And we wonder where addiction to pornography begins…

I’m so tired of seeing our children’s innocence being destroyed everywhere they go. Not even the grocery store is safe anymore! As a result, I’m becoming bold in my old age! Ignoring my beating heart, I approached a manager who happened to be standing in front of the check out lanes!

“Excuse me, are you a manager?”

He smiled, “I’m an area manager. Can I help you?”

I smiled back, “Yes. Do you see the Cosmo magazines prominently displayed at the end of each check out lane? Every child who comes in here has to see that woman’s chest and the words, “GET NAKED,” next to it. I don’t want my kids, or any other kids, forced to look at it just because they’re innocently shopping with their mom, do you? I know magazines buy shelf space and you’re limited on what you can do, but can’t you at least cover the picture?”

He was very gracious and said he would pass along my concern on. It’s been a week and nothing has been done. On Friday I asked a second manager to cover the picture. If I don’t see a change, I’ll call it to their attention again, and again, and again!

If enough of us graciously challenge the status quo we can make a difference. Next time you grocery shop, look at the magazines that line the check out gauntlet and think about your children. What are they seeing? Do you want that picture in their heads for the rest of their lives?

chocolate strawberry pic

Valentine’s Day…do we have to?

I was single for more than 30 years. In high school my friend, Nora, and I would dream of the day we would have a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. In the meantime we lived vicariously through our friend, Risa, who always seemed to have a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day! Throughout College, Grad school, and various jobs, a few boyfriends came and went, but still no boyfriend on Valentine’s Day! Actually, I was once “dating” a guy long distance, but the 1,500 miles between us made celebrating difficult!

You can imagine how excited I was my first year of marriage when Valentine’s Day approached. Finally, I would really get to celebrate the “day of love”! My husband of six months, however, had other ideas.

A week before the big day I mentioned it to him. His response wilted my newly married, fairy tale dreams. “Why do we have to celebrate Valentine’s Day?” his voice dripped with frustration. “I resent the fact that Hallmark invented a holiday just so they can sell a lot of cards and candy. I’m not going to let them dictate when and how I tell you I love you.” I don’t know, maybe it was the look on my face, but Brad knew immediately that he’d blown it…big time!

Today we celebrate our 19th Valentine’s Day and he’s never complained about it again! We laugh as we recall how he tried to explain that his comments weren’t a reflection of his love for me. He said he would prove his love by buying me a card, flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day. I said I didn’t want any of it and he could just forget it for the rest of our lives…not my most mature moment!

Figuring out this radical thing called love is a life long education! I haven’t been a model student myself. If grades were handed out, I would receive a lot more F’s than A’s! But, we hang in there and keep trying. That’s what real love is about.

Brad shows me he loves me in a million ways throughout the year. I’ll take that over a Valentine’s card, flowers and chocolate any day…but the chocolate never hurts!

girl-red-hair

Did I say that?

I heard about a mom who invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”

“I don’t know what to say,” the girl replied.

“Just say what you hear Mommy say,” her mom encouraged.

The little girl bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Oops! Don’t you hate it when that happens? We work so hard to put on a nice face to the world and then our kids innocently expose the real us! Every guest in that room has probably felt the same way before they hosted a dinner party, but no one wants it broadcasted!

I don’t know how the guests responded, but I know how God responds to the ‘real’ us. He loves us, laughs with us, helps us turn our lemons into lemonade and He never, no never, abandons us.

What a relief!

P.S. Be careful what you say around your kids!

heart with musical notes pic

Three siblings, three songs…

I’m the oldest of four—same mom, same dad, but very different kids! Music sums it up well…

My senior year of high school I sang a solo in the Fairview talent show (Pops Festival). I wore a long flowing peach dress that shimmered ever so slightly in the spot light. A harp accompanied as I sang the Barbara Streisand ballad, My Heart Belongs to Me…it was beautiful…

Two years later one of my sisters also sang a solo in Pops Festival. Laura is amazing. We fought like cats but in many ways I envied her. When Laura hit the stage she lit up the theater singing, Hit Me with Your Best Shot! The hot pink pantsuit and the back-up rock band made the performance complete…no one could’ve done it better!

The next year my brother found himself on the Pops Festival stage…I guess it runs in the family! He stood in the spot light, acoustic guitar in hand and crooned a country song called, Rio Grande Railroad…I’m sure that more than a few teenage hearts melted!

Three siblings with three very different styles—don’t you love God’s creativity? I can’t forget my youngest sister who pursued cheerleading rather than singing and is absolutely the funniest person I know! I’d take her over Rosie or Joy Behar any day…and I wouldn’t have to cover my kid’s ears!

It’s true that differences can spark conflict, (one of our babysitters went home in tears after spending several horrific hours with me and my siblings…not a proud moment) but differences also make life together rich with blessings and fun! Enjoy the differences in your children. Cultivate their unique gifts and talents.  Help them discover how to use those abilities to help others and honor their Creator.  Along the way, teach them to appreciate one another and encourage them to be each other’s greatest cheerleaders.

beach-flower pic

Protecting your kids from predators

The most dangerous of all predators are often overlooked—those that prey on our children’s view of God. Don’t misunderstand, I abhor sexual predators, however, view-of-God predators strive to steal much more than our bodies. A friends’ story may help you understand…

She was sitting on the beach enjoying the late afternoon sun and some personal Bible study time. A shadow moved over my friend and before she could utter a sound, a strong hand covered her mouth, dragging her to her feet. A gang of young men surrounded her. Moving as one, they pushed her toward the pier. No one heard, no one noticed.

When they reached the pier, each man took turns raping her. Finally they held her head under water, attempting to kill the evidence. She never knew why they let her go, but suddenly the restraining arms were gone and she was sucking the life giving air again.

Recovering from such unimaginable trauma took lots of time and loving support, but it was her understanding and faith in God that brought her back from the brink. Her view of God provided the foundation to heal the brokenness and rebuild what evil had tried to take away. Today she’s a joyful wife and mom.

The sexual predators she encountered on the beach stole much, but they couldn’t steal her soul. View-of-God predators infiltrate every area of life with the goal of doing just that.

How do you recognize a view-of-God predator? You start by knowing who God really is! The better you know Him the easier it is to spot the imposters. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for decades. I thought I knew Him, but I discovered a few years ago that I, too, was a victim of view-of-God predators. Not only that, I was passing their lies on to my kids without even realizing it!

It’s time to take on the view-of-God predators in our culture and fight for our children and grandchildren! Make time to shore up your own view of God. (DiscoverGod.com can help you in your journey!) Your children and grandchildren will be eternally grateful!

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring. –Hosea 6:3

Alligator pic

There’s an Alligator in the yard!!

My neighbor Dawn had created a beautiful Koi pond in her front yard. Unfortunately, an alligator from a nearby swamp found Dawn’s Koi an irresistible treat!

What would you do if your next-door neighbor called screaming that an alligator was in your Koi pond? Dawn, an Ohio farm girl, didn’t hesitate. No alligator was going to eat all of her Koi!! Grabbing a hard-pronged rake, Dawn raced to face her intruder.

The young gator was happily gorging on her expensive fish when Dawn reached the pond. Hooking the reptile in the jaw, Dawn lifted it and headed toward a fenced retention pond. All was going well until, with one mighty swoosh, the alligator was free. Now it was the alligator’s turn to be mad. It turned and headed for Dawn.

Dawn stood her ground. When the alligator charged she brought the blunt side of the rake down on its snout and continued to pound. Finally, the alligator had enough. It turned tail and ran into the swamp never to be seen again. Ohio wins!

I did let my kids play in the yard after the ‘alligator’ incident, but not alone…and not without a hard-pronged rake nearby! Florida is full of wonders, but it’s our job as parents to teach kids how to handle the dangers so they can enjoy the benefits.

Parents face a daily balancing act. The Internet, TV, movies, books, friends, education options…so many opportunities, so many predators. I don’t advocate turning off electronics and isolating children from the culture. However, too many of us neglect to stand guard, ready to protect, educate and equip them to handle the dangers.

Standing guard is time consuming, schedule disrupting and sometimes downright boring. It means watching what they watch and reading what they read. It’s knowing the content of video games and monitoring what they’re being taught in school. It means being willing to protect our kids with the same zeal Dawn had for protecting her fish!

We must be on guard for predators who relentlessly search for ways to reach our children and steal their young minds. They are as real and as deadly as an alligator in Florida.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

Teddy bear by wall pic

“I’ll never love again…”

Diana was nine when she determined never to love again…

Her mom died when she was five and her dad said goodbye to his six children at the cemetery. He abandoned them with no explanation. The siblings were separated, divided among friends and relatives. No one wanted Diana.

She finally found happiness with an elderly aunt and uncle until tragedy once again ripped it away. First her uncle died and then, only a year later, her aunt lay on her death bed.   Diana knelt by her side begging her not to die. “I’ll do anything,” she cried. “I’ll stay home from school and care for you. Please don’t leave me!”

The next morning her aunt’s empty bed crushed her hope and confirmed her fears. Diana made a decision that day, “Everyone I love dies or leaves,” she thought. “I’m not going to love anyone again…then they won’t die”.

The walls she erected around her tiny heart were invisible and impenetrable. She grew into a woman whose outward appearance was flawless, and yet the girl inside was plagued with fear and a vain search for security… until she met Jesus.

The day Diana met Jesus her abandoned heart found a home that would never fail and a transformation began. I know—I was there.

My mom (Diana) changed before my eyes. It didn’t happen all at once, but what I saw set the course for my own destiny. Joy, laughter and love blossomed in her countenance. The only circumstance that changed in her life was Jesus. It’s the only circumstance that matters.

Life changing decisions are made when we’re children. My mom was nine when she decided not to love again—a decision that guided the next 23 years. I was eight when, alone in my bed, I asked Jesus to be my Savior and Friend. That decision led me to pray for my parents broken marriage. As I watched Jesus transform their lives and renew their marriage, a passion to tell the world about His saving power was born in my young heart.

Give your children the gift of Jesus’ unfailing love. He’s the only One who can give them hope when they feel abandoned and courage to love again.

I love you Mom!

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Psalm 27:10