Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Give Them a Strong Foundation of Faith

If we don't get creation right, we won't get anything right. Genesis 1 and 2 is the foundation that our faith is built upon and kids who hear the truth of creation at an early age will be less likely to fall prey to the theory of evolution and other entrapments of a humanistic theology. And it is our job as parents and grandparents to give them that strong foundation of faith.

So where do we start?

Right Here!

In my book for children, ages 4-8, kids will learn the truth of biblical creation and a day by day account of what God created on each day. Kids love numbers and they sure love rhyme and I have put them together to tell the story of creation in such a way that kids will want to hear it over and over again. And as they become familiar with what was created each day, they will build biblical knowledge that will produce an unshakeable faith in our Creator.

When God Created the World is available through amazon.com. Hope you'll check it out. It's great for your home library, church library or Christian school. Christmas is just around the corner and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

I also hope you'll check out my article in ParentLife magazine: Be a Leader Not a Follower: 3 tips for Raising Strong Leaders.

Thanks friends, let me know what you think. I love hearing from you.
Penny

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

He Heals the Brokenhearted.

I do not believe there are any coincidences or that things "just happen." I believe I serve the One Who controls all things and nothing is allowed into our lives that will not have a purpose, and all things He allows will produce fruit. Plain and simple, but it is a belief I hold dear and near to my heart.

My Bible reading this morning was Psalm 147; a psalm I love. (I say that about all the psalms.) As I read this psalm, I thought of what this day will hold for so many. Some will experience a broken heart, some will know great pain. And no matter our circumstances or the challenges we may face today, I am so thankful that I serve the One True God Who can heal each broken heart, bandage every wound, has all power over all things, has no limits to His knowledge, and loves to bless the humble. I knew that God had chosen this psalm to comfort my heart today and as I share it with others, I pray it will comfort you. Here are verses 1-6:

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God:
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem:
He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted:
And binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars:
He calls them all by their name.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power:
His understanding is infinite.

The Lord lifts up the humble:
He casts the wicked to the ground.


Is your heart broken? God will heal it. Are you wounded from the battles of life? God will bandage your wounds. He knows exactly how many stars are in the heavens, He named each one. He is mighty in power and His knowledge knows no limits. He looks at each humble heart and lifts it up.

In Luke 4:18, when Jesus began His public ministry He said this: "The Spirit of the Lord has anointed Me to heal the brokenhearted." Life is tough; life hurts. If that is where you are today, allow Him to heal everything that is broken and fix every hurt place. He can. He will. He is the only One with the power and knowledge to do it all. Thank you, Jesus.

Penny


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Scaredy Cat, Fraidy Cat, and a Hedge of Thorns.

My sister has two cats and their names are Scaredy Cat and Fraidy Cat. Their names say it all, right? One day she looked out her window and saw two little kittens hovering around her porch, but the minute she opened the door, they ran down the hill as fast as their little legs would carry them. She began putting food out for them and they would timidly walk up to the porch to eat, but guess what happened each time she opened the door? They took off back down that hill and stayed there until they were hungry enough to venture up the hill and to the food they knew would be waiting. Hence, the names Scaredy and Fraidy came into being.

Now, it wasn't a big deal for Scaredy and Fraidy to be intimidated by people, but it is a big deal when believers are intimidated, scared, and even afraid of what unbelievers will say about them or do to them.

In Luke 13, Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to face His final days here on earth. As He makes His way through towns and villages He teaches the rich truths of the gospel and touches the lives of those He meets. In verse 31 a small group of Pharisees warn Him that Herod will kill Him, just as he had killed John the Baptist and Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that he (Herod) can not. Others had tried. But each time He was safely delivered from their evil plans.

I know what it feels like to be intimidated by women who do not respect my conservative Christian convictions. I know what it feels like to be fearful to walk into a certain group or be asked ridiculous questions about my faith, and though I have not had my life threatened because of who I am or because of my beliefs, the fear is just as real.

Herod, the Pharisees nor anyone else could do anything to Jesus before His time. Jesus would not die before His time because He was in the will of God and was hedged in by a wall of divine protection. Did you know that you cannot die until God says so? Oh, people may say terrible things to us and about us, they may exclude us and ignore us and even threaten us, but we are surrounded by a wall of divine protection. If we are living in His will to the best of our ability, if we are faithfully serving Him, we are protected until our life's mission here on earth is over and then He safely takes us home to be with Him for all of eternity.

After you are saved, you have a mission; God weaves together your talents and your spiritual gifts and then He gives you work to do. Work in your home and work outside your home and work to do in the church. People may not like what you're doing and how you are doing it, they may even try to stop you, they may do all sorts of things to discourage you, but they cannot because you have a hedge of protection around you.

The term "hedge of thorns" is an Old Testament term. When the Israelites were at war, they would take thorn bushes and make a hedge of them and then stand behind the hedge and fight their enemies. No enemy wants to charge a thorn bush! I don't even like the small ones on my rose bushes, much less the large thorn bushes that dotted the landscape of Israel. In New Testament times, it became a way of praying for God's protection from those who wanted to stop the Christian movement. Have you ever prayed and asked God "to place a hedge of thorns around you and your loved ones to protect them from their enemy?" Oh dear friend if you have not, I encourage you to begin to pray today for that hedge of protection. When God places that hedge of protection around you, your husband, your children, your home, your church, absolutely nothing and no one can penetrate the hedge. The enemy may get close to the hedge; he may shoot an arrow or two and he may cause an injury, but he cannot take your life. Only God decides the number of our days.
And that, ladies, is what gives us the freedom to safely move around our little worlds and serve Christ, our families, and our church, knowing that God is in complete control of what happens to me; He holds the hedge.

Now, I may make some foolish choices and go against God and because of those choices He may pull the hedge back just a little bit, but He still has all authority over my life and He controls the hedge. The Pharisees, the leaders of the Jews, nor anyone else could take Jesus' life and when the Pharisees told Him that Herod was going to kill Him, read what Jesus called Herod, and what He told them in Luke 13:32, 33.

Jesus could not be intimidated; He knew Who He was and He knew exactly what He was doing. Ladies, don't let the world intimidate you. You DO NOT have to use the restroom with men. You DO NOT have to condone the killing of innocent unborn babies and you DO NOT have to be intimidated by reports of jobs, the economy or anything else. If you are a Christian and you are standing with Christ, the world may throw some mean stuff at your hedge, even other believers may not like your stand on biblical truth, but as long as that hedge is around you, they can't get you. Jesus had an assignment from His Father and no one could stop Him and we, the church, have an assignment from our Father and no one can stop Him.

Ask God today to keep high that hedge of thorns around you; keep it high around your family, your church, our nation and the nation of Israel. Our God is faithful and He desires to give us blessings beyond measure and He'll fight for us; all we have to do is stand behind the hedge.

Now I would like to be able to tell you that Scaredy and Fraidy got over being a scaredy cat and a fraidy cat, but alas, they did not. In fact, they had kittens that learned the traits of their parents and they, too, were scaredy cats and fraidy cats. (another post for another time) But the moral of this silly little story is this: don't be a "fraidy cat or a scaredy cat", but be a spiritually strong woman of faith that refuses to be intimidated or moved by the evil forces of this world because: "I'm behind the hedge."

Love to hear from you.

Penny

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Every Mom Should be a Christian Mom; And Here's Why.

Finally it is May in Kentucky and there is no place like Kentucky in May. When it is May, I can relax and know that winter is over and it is finally spring. May means flowers and lots of green stuff. May means rain, thunder, lightening, and Mother's Day. And Mother's Day can bring out deep emotions. As a young Mom I always felt like I needed to be "doing" more, "teaching" more, "being" more. And even though I failed many times and made a ton of mistakes, and even though I couldn't give my kids everything they wanted, I am so thankful that I could give my kids a Christian Mom.

A few years ago I was asked to speak at a Mother's Day event in Gallatin, Tn, and the lady who was chairing the event asked me to speak on this subject; Why is it Important For Every Mom to be a Christian Mom? And since that is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, I readily accepted the challenge.
You see, I believe that we can't be the Mom we need to be to our kids without the Lord Jesus Christ, and before we can have Him actively guiding us in this lifelong journey of motherhood, we must first accept Him as our Savior.

So here they are: 4 reasons why I believe every Mom should be a Christian Mom.

1. Only a Christian Mom can pray for her kids and be heard by God.
I know this might upset some, but it is still true; we cannot pray effectively for our kids unless we know God intimately through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. I cannot imagine raising kids, staying committed in our marriages and facing all the ups and downs of life without Christ. He is my Sustainer, He is my Strength, He is my Everything. As a Christian Mom I can talk to Him about all things big and small and know He hears me; the only prayer for an unbeliever is, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." Kids desperately need a Mom who can pray for them, and only Christian Moms can pray for their kids.

2. Only a Christian Mom can get her child rearing convictions from God's Word.
Raising good kids is tough. We compete with worldly influences that threaten to erode the very fabric of our family and society. But when Mom is a Christian Mom, she has the Holy Spirit residing within her and as she reads her Bible, as she prays, He is continually speaking to her heart and giving her those convictions that will influence how she raises her children. Kids need a Mom with strong convictions from God's Word.

3. A Christian Mom can give her child a biblical worldview.
I know this is blunt, but here it it; I am so sick and tired of a world view that leaves out God and His perspective. Israel is the apple of God's eye, (Zech. 2:8) He blesses those who bless Israel, (Genesis 12:1-3) and He promises to prosper those who love Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)
And that's our biblical perspective. Nothing can change that. To have a biblical worldview means we view Israel and all world events from what God tells us in His Word. It is also treating others the way we want to be treated, treating others with respect and fairness, loving the unlovable and being the hands and feet of Jesus in this sin cursed world. It means we're honest and trustworthy and we follow the example Jesus lived for us while He walked this earth. Sometimes it means we point out the discrepancies in the newscasts. Sometimes we speak out against a worldly perspective and it often means we stand against the culture. But the point is, we make sure we have a biblical world perspective ourselves, and then we give our kids a biblical worldview.

4. A Christian Mom sets high standards and encourages her children to reach their God-given potential.
Dr. Charles Stanley often reminds us of this: look your best, do your best, be your best.
When we encourage our kids in those 3 areas of life, we are giving them the tools they need for success and putting them in a position to receive God's blessings and calling upon their lives. Set the bar high for yourself Mom; expect great things from your kids. Let them see you looking your best, doing your best, being your best. Be the Mom who encourages her children to reach their God-given potential.

There is so much more I could add, and we may touch on them another time, but just know this: as a Mom, you have the highest of all callings in life. You influence the next generation and oh how we need Christian Moms doing some influencing for God. As a Christian Mom you have God's ear and you have His heart. He wants you to succeed and He wants your kids to "rise up and call you blessed." Proverbs 31:28.

But here is the best news of all; Christian Moms don't have to go it alone; only Christian Moms are guided by a loving, kind, holy Heavenly Father Who is on your side and who is cheering you on. He understands you, He knows your heart.

Oh I believe every Mom should be a Christian Mom and today if you are not, you can be:

Admit you are a sinner. Romans 3:23.
Ask God to forgive you of your sins and ask Jesus to save you. Romans 10: 9,10:
If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and will believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, You WILL be saved, With the heart, people believe unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Believe Jesus...receive Jesus.

Romans 10:13: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Mother's Day


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Sisters: Martha and Mary

I have four sisters. We are very close, have many of the same convictions and opinions, and there are times when we even have our own "language". Older sisters are bossy and little sisters are tattle tales, but the most important thing that my sisters and I have in common is that we love the Lord with all our hearts. And whether it is a biological sister or a woman that just "feels" like your sister, when you have that love for Christ in common, girl you got something there.

My favorite sisters in the Bible are Martha and Mary. I love their different personalities, their contrast and contradictions and I love how open and honest they are presented to us in Luke 10 and in John 11.

We are first introduced to this family in Luke 10. Since Martha is mentioned first she is believed to be the oldest. They lived with their brother Lazarus in the small village of Bethany. Bethany was about 2 miles southeast of the Temple's eastern gate and in the gospels of Luke and John we are told that Jesus enjoyed spending time in their home when He was in Judea. Matthew 8:20 tells us that Jesus had no earthly home and when He visited Bethany, He made Himself at home in the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

Martha and Mary are a fascinating pair. I'm sure if we had known them personally we could see the family similarities, but from what we read in scripture, they could not have been more different, except in one thing;
they both loved Jesus. He was the focus of their earthly existence and in John 11:5 Jesus' feelings for them are very clear: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

We aren't given the backstory on how this family became so dearly loved by Jesus. Did they hear Him teach and became believers early in His ministry? As all devout Jewish families of their time, they were looking for the Messiah. Their hearts were already tender, waiting patiently for God to fulfill His promise so it certainly is reasonable to believe that when they heard the truth they knew it and they believed He was the long awaited Messiah. But for all we don't know about how they met and became so close, we do know that in their home Jesus could relax and enjoy the hospitality they so readily offered Him.

In Luke10:40, Martha is the perfect hostess. Excellent cook, spotless housekeeper, warm, friendly and very welcoming to those who came to her door. The feminine translation of her name in Aramic means "Lord." It was the perfect name for her because she definitely was the lord of her home! Don't you know when she said, "Lazarus, fill that wood box and bring in another bucket of water" Lazarus was quick to get it done. And when she said, "Mary, go milk the cow and bring in the eggs" she did it without a word of complaint.

On this particular visit, as Jesus is sitting and talking with Lazarus, His disciples, and maybe some of the other men from the neighborhood, where was Mary? She was there, too. The only woman in the room. She didn't care that it was considered bad manners and inappropriate, she was focused on one thing and that one thing was every word that came from Jesus' mouth. And another very significant thing happened in that room; Jesus did not ask Mary to leave as a Jewish Rabbi would have done, and for the first time, a woman was allowed to be a part of a men's Bible study.

In Luke 10:40, what was Martha doing?
But look at v 41: Jesus knew Martha's heart and He knew that Mary wasn't the real problem;
Jesus said, "Martha you are anxious about something and you're troubled about a whole lot more than how much work Mary is putting into this meal."

Do you do that sometimes? I do. I get upset at someone for some minor thing because I'm really concerned about something else that's going on and I make a big deal out of something that isn't a big at all. Jesus said, "Leave Mary alone. She has chosen to do the most important thing, and what she is doing she will never loose."

Look at v 42: Mary chose the "good part" and weeks later she chose the "good part" again.
Jesus and the disciples had been invited to a supper at the home of Simon the Leper. A person with leprosy would not have been able to be at a dinner party much less host one in his home. The Bible tells us that lepers were considered ceremonially unclean and they were banished from public places and gatherings. So according to Luke 6:19, Simon was one of the lepers Jesus had healed.

Simon was a wealthy man and we know this by the size of the dinner guest list. He was probably an unmarried man because Martha was there acting as hostess. Many Bible scholars believe she was what we would call a professional caterer. Simon may have been a close friend of the family and Martha had volunteered to serve at his dinner party. John 12:2 tells us that Lazarus was also present and it was a group of Jesus' closest friends who had come together to express their gratitude for what He had done for them. But many of them had come to see Lazarus. After all, who wouldn't want to see the man who had been dead for 4 days and at Jesus' command had come forth from the grave. So Lazarus is there, seated with the other men, Martha is busy serving the delicious meal she has prepared, and once again, Mary walks into a room of Jewish men, probably discussing the Law and the prophets and look at what she did, John 12:3: she took a pound of ointment of very costly perfume and she anointed Jesus' feet. After His feet had been bathed in this sweet smelling substance, she took down her hair (another taboo for Jewish women of that time) and dried His feet with her hair. Some complained, especially Judas, but Jesus commanded that they leave her alone.

Martha was the one who put on the apron, tied her hair back in a bun, put her hands in the bread dough, and went to work serving everyone in the house. But.. there was a problem with her servant heart; she had become too self-focused, self-absorbed and she was in a "religious trap." Martha turned her attention from Jesus and began watching Mary with a critical eye. But Mary was so consumed with the words Jesus was saying that she was oblivious to the good smells coming from the kitchen or the subtle hints from Martha that she needed some help. Mary had a love for Christ that allowed her to worship Him with complete abandonment.

Ladies, it is just the natural instinct of women to want to "do" rather than to "be". It is so easy to get caught up in ministry and forget that faith and worship must always take priority over the work. And for this reason we have a tendency to feel a little sorry for Martha. She worked hard to prepare delicious meals, created a warm and inviting home for her guests, and was known for her hospitality. She really knew what it meant to serve, (do) but she, too knew what it meant to "be". Lets go back to Lazarus' tomb.

In John 11, Lazarus had become very sick and Jesus was a 2 day journey from Bethany. When He received word that Lazarus was sick, He stayed 2 more days, then it took Him 2 additional days to get there and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had been in the grave 4 days.

As Jesus approached the grave, someone ran and told the grieving sisters that Jesus was asking to see them. Mary stayed in the house, sobbing, completely broken over the death of her brother. But not Martha! Look at v 20; as soon as she knew Jesus was near she left Mary in the house crying and she ran to meet Him. And please get this ladies, this is so good, this is so powerful, this is so needed for us today; v 21, Martha said to Jesus, "Lord if You had been here my brother would not have died. (V 22) But I know that even now, whatever You will ask God for, God will give it to You."

For me this is the most extravagant expression of faith I have ever read in the Bible. There is nothing more final than death, but Martha knew that even death was not final if Jesus said it was not was final. V 43, Jesus went to the grave, called out Lazarus' name in a loud voice, and he came waddling out of that tomb, still wrapped in the grave clothes.

Ladies, Martha knew the truth of Luke 1:37; Nothing is impossible with God.

I love Mary's devotion and I love Martha's fighting spirit. Many, many times I have been consumed with a need so great that it seemed impossible, even for God, and I have prayed Martha's prayer;
"Jesus, if You will ask God I know He will give it to You."

Charles Stanley said this about that verse: "God isn't after your time, or your talents, or your bank account. He desires YOU. He already owns the world and everything  in it. So the only thing you have that He wants is your heart."

There are things in ministry we need to "do". But Jesus just wants us to "be".




Wednesday, January 6, 2016

High Maintenance Relationship? 3 Ways to Improve Every Relationship.

Are you in a relationship that is......hard? It may be with your sister or brother, a parent, friend at work, someone at your church, or maybe your relationship with your husband or child is going through a difficult period and when you are together it is just..hard.

A relationship that is "high maintenance" can affect every single part of our lives. Ever loose a good night's sleep because you kept reliving in your mind the angry words, the strained silences? When a difficult relationship goes on too long, it can even affect our health; we can't eat or...we eat all the time, our work and productivity suffer, and...we take our feelings and emotions out on those we love.

Maybe one of your New Year's resolutions ( I prefer to call them goals) is to work harder at those hard relationships and the place to start is with ourselves. In Proverbs 8, Solomon has some great advice on lots of things pertaining to life, but especially on how to improve our relationships with those we love and care about. The New Year is a great time to purge some old feelings and "hang ups" as we used to call them, and look at life from a different perspective. But good relationships don't "just happen". They take work and a lot of love. There are so many things that go into building strong marriages, good parenting, life long friendships, and strong family bonds, but here are 3 things every believer can build into every single relationship we have and we can begin to see an improvement almost instantly. You may have others and I hope you will share them with us, because every woman I know struggles from time to time with a relationship that is "high maintenance."

In v6 Solomon said, "Hear;" And in my Bible there is a semi-colon after the word, hear. Solomon says to his sons: "hear;" and then he pauses. And when the wisest man in all the world, (not to mention the richest and most powerful) says "hear" then doesn't immediately say anything else, I'd stop what I was doing and "hear"!

The first thing that will make or break a relationship is: Truth.

In v7 Solomon says: "I am going to tell you the truth."
Always telling the truth is the cornerstone of good relationships. Without it, we have no integrity. In our marriage, truth is everything. In parenting, truth is everything. In our relationships with friends, co-workers, church family, if we aren't known for our honesty and truthfulness, we cannot be trusted.
Ladies, it is difficult to say the hard thing. It is difficult to speak truth when a lie would get us so much further down the road. But Solomon also wrote in chapter 31 that a husband's heart can safely trust his wife, and he can trust her because she tells him the truth.
Children need to know Mom tells the truth. They listen when we talk on the phone, when we talk to their Dad and grandparents, the pastor, our neighbors, and they hear the discrepancies. Truth equals trust, and without truth we have no trust.

Consistency .

I have little patience with moody people. I look at it this way; we all have troubles, we all get mad, but that doesn't give me the right to ruin your day with my bad mood.

So here's the scenario: you and your husband have a silly argument on the way to church. You walk into your SS class with the "look" on your face, don't speak or if you do it is a short answer, and that is the signal to "stay out of my way."
But please get this: Being moody is another way of bullying people to do what you want them to do. It is a way of controlling people and situations and it will do more to alienate people than just about anything else you can do. When someone is in a bad mood, what do we do? We try to get them in a good mood by giving them what they want. And when we do that, we are enabling them to abuse us. Yes Ma'am we do. And the more we give in the more they control others by their moods and it is a vicious cycle that we can't break out of. And Mom, kids catch on very quickly. Teens soon learn that a "mood" can work on just about anything. A "sulled up" face in the grocery store can get a Milky Way. And a few tears can get bedtime extended another 30 minutes. But here is the sad thing; moody people sabotage their own relationships and they don't even realize it. Ladies, we don't speak or act wisely when we are moody. And.....we loose the respect of others. Get out of that bad mood, fake it till you can actually smile, and don't put your family and everyone else through another one of your "moods."

If you are sick; say so. If you are angry: say so. If you are in trouble: say so. Someone will appreciate your honesty and actually want to help you through it. It really does work! Lack of consistency in how we treat others is a form of evil peer pressure and it will destroy relationships. Ask God to help you approach every situation, every relationship with consistency. Consistency in our speech, in our actions. You will be amazed at how instantly your relationship with your husband and kids will improve when they see you responding (not reacting) consistently to everything, no matter what it is, with the same quiet, gentle, trusting spirit every single time. Yes, we will get upset. Yes, we will get scared, frustrated, concerned, even angry. But when we determine to respond in a non-threatening way, not hold a grudge, it builds respect into our relationships, not to mention tons of trust.

Forgive.

Memory is a wonderful thing. The older I get, the more sweet memories I have. But memory ceases to be a good thing when I remember the hurt someone caused me. The untruths, the criticisms, the hurt feelings can soon become a grudge and if left to itself, a grudge can become bitterness to my soul.

The only way to blot out a bad memory is to forgive. Proverbs 10:12: "hatred", or holding onto a grudge will stir up a fight or trouble in a relationship; but what will love do?

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, there was not one single sin that His shed blood did not cover. Jesus forgives all sins. There are no big sins, no little sins, they are all sin.

In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked Jesus how many times should I forgive someone; 7 times? And what did Jesus say, verse 22?

The point is, forgiveness should be so automatic, so part of our forgiven nature, that we forgive. We forgive when we are asked to forgive, and when we are not. We forgive when the other person acknowledges what they have done, and when they do not. We forgive when we want to, and we forgive when we do not.
Marriage will not survive without forgiveness. We cannot be successful parents without forgiveness. We cannot have good relationships in our church, with our friends and family, in our job, without forgiveness.
We forgive because "love covers all sins." Proverbs 10:12.

You may be starting this new year with a difficult relationship looking you square in the face. You've tried being nice, you've tried getting along to just get along, you've told them what they wanted to hear, you've looked the other way. Try these 3 things in that relationship and don't just try them once;
allow them to become who you are.

Truthful.
Build integrity into every relationship by being someone who can be trusted to tell the truth.

How you live your life; consistent. Don't try to control people and situations by your moods. Pay attention to how you treat people, put a smile on your face and don't let your mood dictate how you act or react.

How you respond; forgiving. And every time that memory or bad thought about someone comes up, say out loud if possible, or in your heart if you can't say it out lout, "I forgive." Forgiving isn't for the other person and forgiving doesn't mean it was ok for them to hurt you and it doesn't mean you'll just forget it and go on; it means I am releasing myself from holding a grudge and allowing bitterness to eat a whole in my heart.

Ladies, God wants you and me to make an impact on our world. He wants us to be women of truth, consistency, and forgiveness. In this new year, don't be content with those "high maintenance" relationships that drain you physically, spiritually, and mentally. Invest some truth, consistency, and forgiveness into each one and watch how God can turn that high maintenance drama into peace.

Happy New Year, I'd love to hear from you!
Penny

Friday, December 11, 2015

Parenting Through the "Morally Formative Years."

I don't like bullies. I don't like the fear and humiliation they impose on others and I don't like seeing the self esteem of a child crumble under the vengeful eye of a bully. I have been bullied and.....I have bullied. In some instances, it wasn't meant to be taken in that way, but it simply happened because I was careless with my words or actions. Then there were those times when it was a simple matter of revenge, that "I'll get you back" attitude. And oh how sad to see a Mom bully her own children. The one person a child should be able to trust and depend upon, becomes the one whom her child fears and is forced to suffer the humiliation of being bullied.

For some, bullying is hurtful words, embarrassing pranks or being left out of the group. But for some, it means the loss of life, the ultimate extreme of bullying.

Like every Mom who loves her children, my heart broke as news reports gave the details involving the murder of Tyshawn Lee, a 9 year old boy who was lured into a situation that he never returned from. And those details reminded me of the suicide of a young high school student several years ago, Phoebe Prince. Two very different situations; Tyshawn was murdered, Phoebe took her own life, but the result was loss of life before either of them had an opportunity to live it.

I remember where I was when I heard of Phoebe's death; in my car, listening to Break Point with Charles Colson. The nation was shocked when the details revealed that she had been the subject of many lies, pranks, humiliations, most of which involved social media and it had become so intense that this 15 year old girl felt she had no way out. In his commentary, Mr. Colson made this statement that has stuck with me for years and caused me to try and do a better job of influencing the children in my realm of influence to know and understand that morality is important, it matters, and this was his statement;
"Children are no longer trained by loving parents in their morally formative years."

Morally formative years. Those precious short years from birth through 7 or 8 when our value system, our sense of right and wrong, our conscience, our sense of compassion and empathy for others, our value of human life are shaped and developed. It is the time when the foundation of our moral and ethical code is laid down and if that foundation isn't laid by morally strong adults, it will become a crumbling foundation that devalues people and their feelings, their rights, and their very lives.

With all the chaos that invades our lives and our homes, the influence of the media, movies, books and music, how can Moms and Dads shape the ethics and morality of their young children? Well I certainly don't have all the answers, but I'd like to share a few things that I believe are necessary in raising children with good ethics and morals during their morally formative years:

1. Mom and Dad must be on the same team.
Satan is a divider. His agenda is to divide you and your husband on moral and parenting issues so that he can conquer your family. Don't let him. Your husband has a responsibility that you, Mom, will never have; he is the God-appointed leader of your home and your family and God will require an accountability of him that He will not require of you. (our accountability is for another post at another time.) Your husband needs you to be on his side, make sure you have his back. You are the key player in your husband's success as a leader and you'll help him succeed when you let him lead and together you will present a united front to your kids that says, "We love you too much to allow you to "raise yourself." (another post for another time, lol)
When parents communicate with each other, it is so much easier for them to communicate with their kids. There's just something about working together in our marriage that God puts His blessing on and it spills over into our parenting and our kids reap the benefits. Mark 3:25 tells us this: "A house (family) divided against itself cannot stand."

2. It's the day to day living that makes the biggest impression on our kids.
Wouldn't it be so nice if we could do 1 or 2 big parenting things a week and that's all it took to raise kids who possess high standards of right and wrong? But it doesn't work that way. God has given us the 1st 10 or so years of our children's lives to teach them right from wrong, good from evil, the truth from a lie, but we can't wait until they are even 6, 7, or 8; we have to start when they are babies by building trust. As we are building trust, we add to it things like kindness, being polite, helping others, being careful how they speak and respond, insisting on respect and showing them respect, gentleness, being careful with our tone of voice, and a good ole fashioned "yes Ma'am" never goes out of style. Seeing morality in the daily lives of their parents goes a long way in shaping their own morality.

3. Children must be taught right from wrong, good from evil.
And Mom, we have to take it up a step; we have to make a concerted effort to teach our kids right from wrong. We can't expect someone else to do our job. It is not the responsibility of the church or the school to parent our kids. It is our job. A good church, a good school will re-enforce our teaching, but Mom, "the buck stops here." We're the adults and we need to act like it. Teach them to be kind. Show them what it means to show and accept love. Show them compassion for others. Expect them to tell the truth, be honest, not take things that do not belong to them. Teach them by example that it is not ok to make fun of others, call someone a derogatory name, do harm to someone's reputation or to them physically.

Kids need to be held to an accountability for their actions, but the accountability starts with us. Do the Mom thing and train your children in their "morally formative years", those precious, fleeting years when their conscience and morality are formed. Train them to care about people and to see people as created in the image of God. There are no "do overs" when it comes to parenting; it's a one time gig. Love your kids, make sure they feel secure in your love, then put everything you have into teaching them that they are important and valuable to God............... but so is everyone else.

Penny