Monthly Archives: May 2011

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Happy Memorial Day!

My dad served in the Air Force after dental school. We were fortunate he was never deployed to Vietnam and our family was able to stay together throughout his service. This is the only picture I could find of me with my dad in his uniform.

I’m so thankful for the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces. The little girl you see in the picture was very proud her daddy was in the United States Air Force. I have many memories of living on the base, but there’s one thread that is woven through each one: Everyone was proud to be an American, warts and all.

It’s so easy to focus on all that’s wrong with our great country, but there are still many amazing things that are right about the United States of America. They’re the things worth fighting for.

I’d love to hear from you.  What do you think is great about America?

I hope you have an opportunity to thank our service men and women for all they do to keep America safe and strong.

May God continue to be a guiding light for our future and may His people be a source of America’s strength, wisdom and love for the world.

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Taylor Swift: “Mean”

A friend posted Taylor Swift’s new music video “Mean” on Facebook. Taylor chronicles the painful path of three kids who are working through the geeky phase of life while setting their sights on a bright future. Before the frogs become royalty, however, they must endure the taunts and cruel jokes from “mean” kids. The ending is totally predictable, but it’s still a joy to watch! It’s very well done.

One question has plagued my thoughts since watching the video… Throughout her ballad she asks, “Why are you so mean?” Taylor touches on an answer but it’s so brief I missed it the first time through. I love the fact that the song cheers on the underdog, but my heart also breaks for the mean kids. Why are mean kids mean?

There was a mean girl in my life. She tormented me in grade school. I still remember her biting critiques of my clothes, my hair and personality. We performed a musical number in 5th grade. I poured my heart into it. Afterward she told me I ruined the whole performance and was a total embarrassment. She was beautiful, popular, impeccably dressed and “cool”… everything I was not. There were many tearful conversations with my parents during those years. I asked the same question Taylor Swift asks in her song, “Why was she so mean?”

Mom and Dad didn’t have an answer. On the outside everything about “mean girl’s” life seemed perfect. My parents loved me and encouraged me. They told me “mean girl” did not define who I was, and then they did something that has had a profound affect on who I’ve become; they planted a seed of compassion for “mean girl”. We couldn’t see the source of pain or anger, but her cruel words were signs of a broken spirit desperately trying to feel important and valued. Mean kids are usually mean because they’re hurt or angry. It’s not an excuse for their behavior, but it is a window into their soul.

I’ve tried to pass that seed to my children. My husband reminds us often that Jesus died for everyone, not just the people we like or get along with… He even died for the mean kids! We want our kids to draw on His strength to stand up against abuse, His wisdom to know when to walk away and His love (even for our enemies) that defies human understanding. Sometimes God even uses us to love the mean kids into His heart and hands. Now that’s something to sing about!

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Chocoflop!

Saturday night I made Chocoflan, a fabulous Mexican dessert pairing chocolate cake, flan and caramel sauce. We were having our staff team over on Sunday night to celebrate the arrival of our newest team members. Because the bundt pan dessert is best when refrigerated for 24 hours before serving I was determined to bake it before going to bed. I should have just gone to bed!

The usual one-hour baking time stretched to almost two hours… even then it didn’t look done. I took the Chocoflan out of the oven at 1:30a.m. The recipe says to “plate” the dessert after a one hour cooling period. Fearing if I did it in the morning it wouldn’t come out at all, I waited.

Chocoflan became Chocoflop at 2:30 a.m. when I flipped the dessert onto my cake plate and… well, I think the picture says it all!

I looked at the mess on the plate, turned off the kitchen light and went to bed. I didn’t even cover it. I was too tired to care.

The next morning I tasted the mess and it actually tasted great but I didn’t think I could serve it. I asked my daughter if she saw the cake. The pathetic look on her face squashed all hope. “Sorry mom” was all she said…yep, totally unusable.

I was getting ready for church, wondering if I’d have enough time to make another Chocoflan when my precious husband walked in with a smile. “We’ve come up with a solution for the Chocoflan!” he said with more enthusiasm than I thought appropriate given the circumstances. “We think the Chocoflan should become Choco bread pudding!” I couldn’t help but laugh. He was so pleased with his creative problem solving!

“It would be a shame to waste it,” I chuckled. “It does taste good.” That’s when Chocoflop became Chocoflan Mexican “Bake” with caramel and chocolate sauce drizzled on top for a decorative touch! It was a hit!

Don’t you wish all our flops were so easily turned around?  I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life, and will make a lot more before my earthly journey is over. I’m so thankful for the assurance that God will take my flops and make something infinitely better than I could ever imagine! We don’t need to be afraid of failures, however, facing our failures apart from God’s creative, all-powerful and gracious help… now that’s something to fear. Let’s take all our flops to Him and watch what wonderful things He can do with them!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

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Is it a Problem or an Opportunity?

Are the challenges you face today problems to be solved or opportunities to see God work? I’m convinced the answer to that question not only determines how you will experience the day, but it also influences the way your children view God. You are the most powerful role model your children have for who God really is and how that reality is played out in daily life.

If you’re like me, you’re painfully aware of your own spiritual pitfalls. When Brad and I discovered we were going to have our first child Brad said, “Well, we should probably start a college fund and a counseling fund ‘cause with us as parents you know they’ll need both!” We laughed nervously and began saving!

How can we be good role models for trusting in the attributes of God when we blow it ourselves? We do it with transparency and we do it one day at a time.

Transparency must be paired with wisdom. You know what your kids can handle. What’s important is for them to see their parents choose to trust in God’s attributes even when their emotions pull them in another direction. We’ve often brought challenging circumstances to our family prayer time. We tell them, “this seems like an impossible problem, but God is bigger than this problem. For God this isn’t a problem at all! This is an opportunity to see Him work in amazing ways!”

Our children have seen scores of “problems” become opportunities to see God’s attributes at work in our lives. If we had shielded them from the difficulties, they would have missed God’s supernatural solutions and their view of Him would be diminished.

One day at a time. The Apostle Peter can be our example. He was a broken man after doing that which he swore he’d never do, deny Jesus…

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know Me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly. Matthew 26:75 NLT

We all blow it. No one is immune except God Himself. Jesus met with Peter, forgave him and empowered him to lead a spiritual revolution! If God can use a rag tag group of men and women to pass on the message of Jesus to the world, He can use you and me to pass on the message to our kids… flawed as we are!

God has been taken out of the public schools and the public square. He’s been removed or warped beyond recognition in most media outlets. Sadly, God has even been rendered irrelevant in many of our churches. The home provides our first, last and best chance for children to once again embrace the God of the Bible, believe in His Character and Truth, and live in His Power, Love and Grace.

May your day be full of opportunities to see God work!

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Playing with dolls…

What do you think about dolls? Whether it’s by design or happenchance, dolls have a powerful influence on our children. Cultural morals and values are passed on, for good or for ill, through the dolls that make their way to children’s rooms. We can control some of the lessons learned by being wise in the dolls we buy. However, the most powerful teaching tool is often overlooked… you and me.

Do you “play dolls” with your kids? I had to force myself to slow down and make time to “play dolls” with my daughter. My “baby girl” is a teenager now, and in retrospect I wish I had done it more often! Playing dolls gave us many joyful memories and powerful teachable moments. My sweet girl wasn’t aware I was teaching her how to dress and how not to dress as we chose outfits for our dolls. It never occurred to her I was role playing God’s heart by having my doll be kind to “Cindy doll” when “Mandy doll” was mean to her. Dolls can ask questions about Jesus and have dialogues about spiritual things at times when such discussions might be hard to have ‘face to face’. A lot of life lessons can be absorbed as we “live life” through doll play.

FYI: Some life lessons are best kept out of the doll-playing arena. A Spanish toymaker has developed a breast-feeding doll named Bebe Gloton (or Gluttonous Baby). I’m sorry, but this is over the top. Young girls can pretend to nurse the baby by wearing a halter top designed with removable daisies for breast feeding (imitating a nursing bra). “Gluttonous Baby” cries incessantly until it is put to the breast . Once its mouth is on the nipple it makes loud sucking sounds… are you kidding?!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big supporter of breast-feeding but our little girls are already exposed to far too many opportunities to glorify adolescent pregnancy. They don’t need nursing baby dolls to seal the deal.

I’m passionate about helping parents teach their kids who God really is and why it matters. None of us do it perfectly, but as we learn to weave His truth and character in every area of life (even “play”) we begin to lay a foundation for our children that will not crumble in life’s storms.

If you’re looking for some great alternatives to the dolls that are flooding the market, check out the dolls at http://www.faithandfriends.com/ and http://www.girlsngrace.com/.

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Should there be a National Day of Prayer?

Should there be a National Day of Prayer? Some argue that we are no longer a Christian nation and thus should eliminate all religious references in the public square. A day that allows for voluntary prayer for our country is no exception. Others are so discouraged by the moral decline in our culture that they’ve given up. Prayer for America, in their humble opinion, will do no good so why waste the effort?

Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said about a recent Federal Court ruling to strike down the National Day of Prayer Statute, “This decision is a tremendous victory for religious liberty. Congress has no business telling Americans when or how to pray,” (CNNjustice.com). So, let’s see if I got this right; we should promote religious liberty by striking down a day set aside to encourage people to voluntarily exercise their religious liberty. What?!

When Vonette Bright began rising at 4 a.m. PST in order to call Congressmen and Senators asking for their support of a resolution to proclaim a National Day of Prayer, her goal was to encourage people to voluntarily pray. When she stood alongside President Reagan as he signed the statute, they were not mandating that Rev. Lynn had to pray, but rather giving him an opportunity to join with his fellow countrymen (if he so chooses) and to pray for our beloved country…in whatever manner he saw fit.

America needs prayer. Ask most anyone you meet. There is a small minority who would like to take away our right to pray in the public square. It’s makes me wonder what they’re afraid will happen if Americans unite in prayer.

I know what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of what will happen to our beloved America if we don’t make prayer for our country more of a priority… no matter what day it is.

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Kids are never too old to learn…

Whether your kids are young or old (like maybe…50!) they’re still watching and learning from their parents… or “parent-in-love”. My recent hospital stay with Vonette Bright is a perfect example…

Day one: We flew home from South Dakota. Brad spoke at a huge event in Sioux Falls and I sang. The message God has placed on Brad’s heart received a standing ovation from the audience of more than 700 people. They heard about a big God who is still at work and who is the only lasting solution to our crumbling culture. God really is THE issue and 700 people in Sioux Falls got it! (If you haven’t read Brad’s book, GOD is the Issue, I highly recommend it…yes, I’m biased!)

When we arrived home we headed to the hospital. Mother was very ill with acute bronchitis and struggling to breathe. I spent a long, sleepless night with her. To all you night nurses out there—Thank You!!!!

Day Two: Had a few hours at home and then back to the hospital for another sleepless night. She insisted on applying her make up… she wanted to be presentable. I smiled. What a Lady!

Day Three: Mother had a bronchoscopy to improve her breathing. Before the procedure, she asked me to pray that she wouldn’t say anything to dishonor the Lord. She’d heard that sometimes people do that when partially sedated and she was worried she might do it too. She didn’t ask for prayer for herself, but rather for her witness for Jesus…

Day 4: After another sleepless night on the lounge chair from… well, you get the idea… I woke up on my 50th birthday. Eight hours of sleep in three days was taking its toll and I was a scary sight to behold. Mother was the first to wish me a Happy Birthday! She had had someone bring my gift to the hospital the day before so I wouldn’t miss it. Again, she was thinking of someone else before herself… then she asked me to go home and take a shower… just kidding!

Today, a week and a half later, Mother flew to Washington D.C. to celebrate the National Day of Prayer. Again, she’s an amazing Lady!

In the hospital I watched her carry herself with grace and humility even when she felt her worst. I watched her think of others above herself at a time when most of us would be thinking of little else except our own circumstances. I watched her reach for her Bible throughout the day and share God’s message whenever possible.

God allowed Vonette Bright to be in the hospital but I think I was the one He considered the patient. I needed to be reminded of the truth that she lives out without a conscious thought: put people first. The taskmaster in me needed a strong dose of that medicine.

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Teachable moment…your kids and OBL

How did you respond to the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise? I heard about it after I dropped the kids at school this morning. The news of his death provides a teachable moment for our children about the justice of God and the heart of Jesus.

So, what was my reaction? Stunned, relieved, joyful… Joyful—is it okay for me, a follower of Jesus, to be joyful about the death of another? I think it depends on what I’m joyful about.

I rejoice that justice was realized. The knowledge that a man who remained committed to inflicting harm on innocent people can no longer hurt anyone is good news. I rejoice for the message that his death sends to the world: evil will always pay the ultimate price… it may take a while, but justice will be served.

At the same time, the heart of Jesus within me mourns the reality of a soul condemned to eternal torment. I know that many say he gets what he deserves. It’s true, but when compared to our Perfect and Holy God, eternal torment is what we all deserve. I wouldn’t wish hell for anyone… eternity is a very, very long time. Jesus died for you, for me, and yes, even for Osama bin Laden.

It appears OBL rejected Jesus to the end. Although he committed many horrific crimes, they all pale in comparison to rejecting God’s Son. Bin Laden’s actions on 9/11 were simply symptoms of a root problem: his open rejection the God of the Bible and His Son’s saving Grace. That’s the message I want my kids to hear and to ingrain in their hearts. Whenever they think of Osama bin Laden I want them to think:

1. Apart from the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ, man is capable of great evil.
2. God’s Justice will be done. We can’t hide from God. Our actions do have consequences.

By the time our kids come home from school today their heads will already be full of information about OBL’s death. It’s up to you and me to help them process that information and put it in perspective… Gods’ perspective. Point them to God’s Justice as well as His Mercy and Love. The Family Adventures at DG4kids.com can help. Let me know how it goes!!!!