Thursday, May 21, 2015

What YOU Can Do this Memorial Day

Warning: this Memorial Day post is not going to help you host the best cookout, or make the sweetest cupcakes. It is not going to help you cook a great feast or entertain your kids at the pool. It will, however, give you some ideas and inspiration on what YOU can do to make this country better and honor our military men, women and families. 

Memorial Day is a special day set aside to encourage every American to stop what they are doing, pray for our military, and give respect and honor to those who have lost their lives while protecting our great country. 

While everyone knows the meaning of Memorial Day and why we celebrate it, many of us get caught up in the cookouts, parties, pools opening, and an extra day off work to sleep or get things done. Why is this? Is it because we don’t know what else we can do?   Is it because we don’t know how to honor those men and women who are serving, have served, or who have lost their lives while serving?

On this Memorial Day, let us not focus on what our military is or is not doing or whether or not we agree with the wars that have been fought or are still fighting. Instead, let us focus on what we can do, right now, to help our selfless brothers and sisters who gave us and who are still fighting for the land of the free. 

Here are two paths you can take:

1.       Pray for and help those who are mourning the loss of a veteran. Bring them a meal, pray over them, spend quality time with them, and thank them.  Many young people these days have lost the knowledge on how to be respectful and show honor. It’s not rocket science; it’s called following God’s commandment for our life.  We OWE respect and honor to those men, women, and families who lost a life while serving. In Romans 13:7 Paul writes “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes. If revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect, if honor, then honor”.
2.       Pray for and help those soldiers who are wounded and who are suffering from mental illness as a result of their experiences while serving. Just as there are many who lost their lives, there are many, many soldiers who  feel as though they lost their life because they feel like a different person; either physically, mentally or both.  For every one of the soldiers that falls within this category, there are just as many families who are suffering right alongside their loved one.  Soldiers who were wounded either physically or mentally and who do not get the help they need run a high risk of facing divorce, abuse, job loss, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.

If you are finding yourself in a situation where you want to help, you want to do something but you don’t know of anyone in your community or you don’t know where to start, then donating or volunteering at an organization that helps veterans is a good place to start. I promise you that every dollar or minute spent counts. 

The Wounded Warrior Project and the Veterans Crisis Line are two that my family has supported throughout our adult years.  You might be wondering “what is my $25 or $100 really going to do for one of these organizations”? Let me tell you: it could save a life. I know because I worked at a Suicide Hotline and saw, first hand, veterans deciding not to end their lives because of the hope and encouragement that the Veterans Crisis Line provided. 

Lastly, Memorial Day is also a day of celebration. We can celebrate our freedom, our love for our country, our gratitude for our military, and those service men and women who did not lose their lives. 

By the grace of God, my brave and humble grandfather survived the deadliest campaigns of WWII: Camp Gloucester, Guadalcanal, Peleliu and Okinawa. He died just a few months ago at the age of 93. He fought, he survived, and he lived a very long and happy life. That is something to celebrate. 

 I cannot celebrate his life or my my freedom, however, until I have done my part in giving respect and honor to those who fought and did not survive, or those who fought and are barely surviving now. 

This Memorial Day, Please join me in honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project or how you can help visit:

To learn more about the Veterans Crisis Line and how you can help visit   and watch this sort video.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Christ Focused Parenting: How to Praise our Kids

Whether we want to admit it or not, our personality rubs off in our parenting. I'm a positive person, and therefor I praise my kid a lot.

In fact, I probably praise our toddler a little too much. Too much praise? Is that even possible?

I believe it is.When we praise our children all the time, we run the risk of teaching our children that their value, and love, is based on what they do, rather than who they are.

Praise is good for children in that it helps develop self confidence; however, studies show that children who are praised for their effort are more confident than children who are praised for their desired outcome.

This concept also applies to Christianity. Too often I hear Christians measure their self worth based on their behavior and actions. Too often I hear parents measure their child's worth or success based on their behavior and actions. 

It is not our actions, or our good deeds, that make us a Christian. Rather, it is our faith in Jesus Christ, as God's son, who was sent to earth to die so that we may be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life (John 3:16).

Once we have believed, then we change the way we live based on our desire to be obedient to God.  God has given us a free gift, so why turn it down? Why put a contingency contract on it?

Praise your child for their effort, and don't go overboard. Children are not born with a natural desire to work hard, it is something that develops based on their environment. Children who feel good about them selves for trying, versus their performance, are more likely to have a hard work ethic as an adult.

Does God punish us when we preform under par? Goodness no. He forgives us of our sins and even delivers us from evil. He wants our hearts, not our list of awesome accomplishments.

Make sure your child knows that your love for them is not based on their actions, but rather that you will always love them, no matter what, because they are your child and they are God's child. Teach them that God is love, and that we love others unconditionally because that is how God loves us.

This might seem obvious, but it is all too easy to let anger, frustration, annoyance, and foolishness get a hold of our emotions. We know that we love our children unconditionally, but is our behavior showing that? Giving the cold shoulder, looking angry, rolling your eyes, and raising our voice are not loving behaviors. Our discipline should be purposeful and not based on how we feel in the moment.

We are all sinful, so at some point we will loose our temper and let our emotions get the best of us. When that does happen, it is how we approach our shortcomings that matters. I think it is important that we look our children in the eyes and say something along the lines of "I'm sorry I raised my voice. I felt angry when you ____. I love you and I am sorry. Now, we don't _______, it hurts people and God wants us to love each other".

Are your days at home revolving around a list of dont's? Watch out for how often you use this word. Sometimes I have days where I feel like don't is the only word in my vocabulary. "Don't stand on the table, don't put the whole role of toilet paper in the toilet, don't sit in the dogs water bowl, etc". I find that when I avoid saying don't, and instead say "Hey, is that a chair or a dog bowl?" It is way more effective.

Likewise, Christians who try and live by a list of right versus wrong get so caught up in their behaviors that they miss the big picture: that Christ like behavior comes as a result of living a life of gratitude, love, faith and dependence on God.

We want our kids to make good choices, to be happy, to be Godly, to be loving people. Does making them feel guilty for misbehaving make that happen? Does praising them for every time they do something perfect make that happen?

I don't think so.

In Galatians 4: 15 Paul writes "What has happened to all your joy?  I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.  Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth"?

 In this verse Paul is trying to convey the message that God does not want us to live our life feeling guilty and inadequate because we aren't living up to God or our own expectations. God wants us to be joyful always. If we feel guilty and inadequate, we need to examine our own life focus.

This principle goes for our children too. Do our children feel happy at the end of the day because of how much they are loved? Or because they got an A on their science paper, or because they got 5 stars on their chore chart and got a treat?

I truly believe that the way we parent is a direct reflection of our own relationship with our heavenly father. Give our life over to God, and our children will be blessed.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dear Moms, Remember this on Mother's Day.

“We are starting to think about starting a family” I tell my mom one day. 

“It will change your life completely” she responded.

A few years later, I have to say, I completely agree....

I never knew I could feel joy that hurts my every bone.

I never knew I could feel so alone while being surrounded by people who need me.

I never knew I could walk out of a room, head held high, and completely at peace, as my child wails in a shopping cart…..over a lolly pop. 

I never knew that I would be faced with difficult situations daily. I never knew that my heart and mind would be stretched to the limits.

I never knew what tired felt like, until I became a mom.

I never knew what it meant to put others first, until I became a mom. 

I had no idea that I would find myself crying on the floor of the nursery, begging God to help my child sleep.

I had no idea that my needs could matter so little, compared to the needs of a child.

I understand now more than ever that…..

In 100 years, it won’t matter what show I watched, or what kind of car I drove. It won’t matter if my body was perfect, or if my mother’s day was extravagant. 

What will matter is that I took the gift God gave me, and while investing every ounce of my being in to this child, grew into the person God created me to be.

What will matter is the legacy that I leave when I come home to Jesus. 

What will matter is not the gossip down the street, but the lives that are changed by my son… who learned what it meant to follow Jesus…from his mom. 

I am not just a mom. I am a woman, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, an encourager and a child of God who has been blessed beyond measures by a little boy. 

Remember, on this Mother’s Day, and every day, that our children are God’s children and that we have been given an incredible and challenging gift to be their mothers. It is not always easy, but God is able to use us in incredible ways through our everyday interactions with our children. 

Mother’s Day is not about the perfect gift, or the perfect day. Motherhood is a gift. Let us focus our attention on the infinite number of ways we are blessed by our children today, and the infinite number of blessings that are coming our way….

Heavenly Father, Bless us today. Open our eyes to your beauty in the midst of our earthly messes. Keep our families safe as we walk through this uncertain world. Keep our eyes focused on you in the midst of mealtimes, bath times, homework time, and play time. Give rest to our tired mind and bodies and the wisdom we need to make good decisions. Thank you for each of our precious children that you have blessed us with. May the world someday be better, because You made me a mom.

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