Thursday, January 19, 2017

8 Verses from Proverbs to Teach Your Children

Have you ever experienced information overload?

I'm a planner by nature.  If my family is taking a trip to a location we haven't visited before, I want to check out everything the area has to offer - all the hotels, restaurants, and the sights we might want to see.  But it doesn't take long until I just feel overwhelmed with ALL the information.

There are so many websites to check out - I could get lost in the internet for days.  How do I know which reviews are reliable?  Is that tourist attraction really worth our time?  Is that the best hotel rate I'm going to find?

Here's my point.  Sometimes we're so overwhelmed with information that we don't know where to start.

I believe that as Christian moms, we want to raise wise children.  This doesn't necessarily involve book smarts; rather, we want them to make good decisions and insightful choices.  I'm glad to know that we don't have to search all around to find the best ways to teach our children about wisdom.

The book of Proverbs gives us advice for every area of life, from relationships to money to how to conduct business to generosity and self-control.

Below I listed eight verses from Proverbs, each containing a basic principle you can teach to your children.  They're all fairly short, short enough that you could even memorize them together as a family after you discuss them.  (I've included a free printable of these verses at the bottom of this post.)

1.  He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. ~Proverbs 13:20  This boils down to choose your friends wisely.  This is important when our children are young, but even more so as they hit the middle school and high school years.  We become like those we spend our time with.

2.  Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. ~Proverbs 12:22  Tell the truth always, even when it's hard - and it will be sometimes, even as adults.

3.  He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. ~Proverbs 16:32  Learning to control your temper takes hard work - and the help of the Holy Spirit.  The second part of this proverb deals with any area of self control.  Handling your emotions wisely is more valuable than being physically strong.

4.  The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. ~Proverbs 13:4  In other words, the lazy man wants lots of things, but has nothing, while the diligent person will be made rich.  Work hard, be thorough, and you will be rewarded.  Gaining wealth isn't in and of itself a worthy life goal, but it's typically a byproduct of hard work and perseverance.

5.  He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. ~Proverbs 22:9  Bountiful here means "generous."  When you work hard - as we talked about above - you will be able to be generous, which brings further blessings on your life.

6.  A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. ~Proverbs 22:1  Your reputation is important.  As Benjamin Franklin said, "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it."

7.  Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. ~Proverbs 19:20  Listen to those who are older and wiser than you, and you will learn much.

8.  Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. ~Proverbs 21:23  How much trouble we would all avoid if we could control what we say!  While it will take more than a lifetime to work on this, it's good to help our kids begin to understand the importance of the words they use.  Those words can wound or heal, hurt or help.

When our kids were younger, I loved having stories that illustrated the principles in Proverbs.  I haven't mentioned them in a while, but Wisdom and the Millers and Those Kids in Proverbsville were books of short stories that we enjoyed reading together.

I created a free printable of these eight Proverbs if you'd like to have an easy way to reference it.

Is there another verse from Proverbs that you would add to this list?

Related Posts:
10 Bible Verses for Little Ones
10 Bible Verses for Teens to Memorize
10 Ways to Help Your Child Memorize Scripture

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Monday, January 16, 2017

What Does It Mean to Serve My Husband?

My husband and I have been married for 25 years.  That sounds like a really long time!

Over these years, I've developed so much love and respect for him.  He's a man of character, a wonderful provider for our family, and a wise, loving father to our girls.

You would think that knowing the great man that he is would have me scrambling to serve him at every turn.  But in spite of all that I admire about him, it's often not enough to motivate me to want to wash his clothes, iron his shirt, pack his lunch, or cook his meals.

You know who my heart naturally wants to serve?  Myself.

While sometimes my love for my husband is enough to propel me to do all those things that will benefit him, too often I'd rather neglect them, or push them aside, so that I can do what I want to do.

Why am I even concerned about serving my husband?  Jesus said in Matthew 23:11, "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant."  I know from Jesus' own example in His earthly life that if I want to be like Him, then I will serve others.  What better place to start than with my closest earthly relationship?

I also like this reminder in I Peter 4:10.  "As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."  As I minister to and serve my husband, I am stewarding or managing the amazing grace that God has shown to me.  I'm demonstrating God's grace to someone else, in this case, the one I've vowed to be with for the rest of my life.

So what exactly does it mean to serve?  One dictionary definitions says "to perform duties or services for another person."  I can handle that one.  But another one I saw said "to be a servant."  Talk about humility!  Signing up to be a servant to anyone is not something I instinctively jump to do.  Yet that's exactly what Jesus did when he washed the disciples' feet in John 13:3-5.

I like the way this particular definition is framed - "to render assistance; be of use; help."  I think that one best describes what I want to be for my husband.  In fact, it relates to my calling as a wife, as God created Eve to be a "help meet" for Adam.

I certainly need the Holy Spirit's help in this area.  If my goal is to make my husband's life easier, I think I need to start with these three basic principles.

1.  It's an attitude.  I think a right attitude comes first.  I can perform the actions without this, but I think my husband would sense that it's not genuine.  If I want to check myself, I can ask, "Is my attitude about doing this for my husband the same as if I were doing it for Christ?"  Would I complain about serving Him?  Sometimes it means we overlook a habit that annoys us, or demonstrate patience when we feel like we've served enough.

2.  It's actions.  I think serving my husband starts with the right attitude, but if that attitude doesn't display itself in actions, I'm not really serving!  I think this looks different for every couple.  What does YOUR husband like?  Mine likes a hot breakfast most mornings.  Your husband may not care about that one bit.  What specific actions show him that you are wanting to help him?

3.  It's prayer.  I know I've recommended it before, but Stormie O'Martian's book The Power of a Praying Wife does a good job detailing areas of your husband's life to cover in prayer. Kat Lee from Inspired to Action typically tweets out a daily post of something to pray for your husband, like "God, fill him with your joy.  Refresh him with your spirit."  Our husbands need to know that they have a wife who is praying for them.  (I've gotten back into doing my monthly family prayer list in January.  Having that list of five requests for the month helps me make sure I pray specific prayers for him daily.)

Do we only serve our husband when he's in a good mood and treating us well?  No.  I think that's where the love of God can really shine through us. We can be lovely even when he's not.  It is, however, an act of the Spirit through us, since it's not our natural reaction to serve a person who's not loving us in the way we want to be loved.

Easy words to write here, hard to live!  Already knowing I'll be tested in this area very soon! :)

Related posts:
3 Ways We Can Invest in Our Marriage
A Christlike Love for My Spouse
7 Ways to Let Your Husband Know You Love Him

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Letter to My Teenage Daughter: God Made You Special

Dear Daughter,

To quote a famous novel, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."  (You know I'm a Dickens fan, though I've never made it all the way through A Tale of Two Cities. ;)

I think that captures what it's like to be a teenage girl sometimes.

On a good day, life is, like, ultimately good, like, happiness unbounded, like, dancing around the house and hugging your sister.  Yes, that marks the best of times indeed.

Then there are the worst of times.  The tears for no reason...though those are better than the tears flowing because of a friend's betrayal, or a classroom humiliation, or rejection from some group to which you so desperately wanted to belong.  The worst of times brings self doubt, and a critical eye turned inward, and sometimes, a broken spirit.

On those days in particular, I want you to remember that God made you special.

I know you think I'm just saying that because I'm your mom...and I am.  But I'm also saying it because it's true.

In these teen years, while you're growing and changing and learning who you really are, it's easy to want to be someone else.  You see what makes a certain girl popular, why that girl has so many friends, how she seems to know just what to say or do to attract boys.  Perhaps it's that other girl's confidence when she gets up in speech class or another friend's ability to excel in every sport that you want for yourself.  And maybe you feel less than, inadequate, because you don't have those same skills.

It's so easy to say "be comfortable in your own skin."  Yet sometimes you can feel like your skin doesn't fit, that it doesn't look right to other people, that it's not who you want to be.

But who you are is special.  God created you.  He tells us in Psalm 139 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Yes, you know that phrase, "fearfully and wonderfully made."  But that's certainly not always the first thought you have about yourself.  Let's dig into it for a minute and see what it means.

In the original Hebrew text of the Bible, the word fearfully means with great reverence, heart-felt interest, and with respect. The word wonderfully means unique, set apart, marvelous [Darling Magazine, May 2012]

You were created with great reverence and heart-felt interest,  The very God of the universe is interested in you and in how your life plays out every day.  You are unique and marvelous, a one-of-a-kind creation.  Every personality trait, every quirk, the activities you enjoy, the pursuits you're really good at ~ they're all gifts from a Creator who makes no mistakes.

Introverted or extroverted, musical or artistic, a watcher or a doer, detail-oriented or a free spirit, you are the way you are for a reason.  God has a plan for your life, a purpose for you to fulfill, a life to live that no one else can live in the same way.  You're not exactly like anyone else, and that's just how it should be.

Remember these three important things.

You are made in the image of God.  Cultivate that part of you that longs for a relationship with Him.  Let His love, peace, and grace seep into your soul.

Be authentic.  Like what you like, be who you are, don't conform to fit someone else's standard for you.  Be gracious, kind, and thoughtful, but be you.

Give grace to all those girls around you.  In spite of what it may look like from your vantage point, they have doubts and insecurities just like you do. You might never know how an encouraging word helps them through their own difficult day.

So, on those worst of days, my dearest daughter, take heart.  God has a plan for you, a plan to bring you a future full of hope and promise. (Jeremiah 29:11)  He will never leave you or fail you.  (Deuteronomy 31:8)

And your dad and I?  We're your biggest fans, your loudest cheerleaders, your prayer warriors.

We love you, just the way you are.



Related posts:
A Letter to My Teenage Daughter:  Hold Onto Your Heart
7 Ways to Show Love to Your Teenage Daughter
10 Bible Verses for Teens to Memorize

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Monday, January 9, 2017

What Ruth Teaches Me About Trusting God

Like many young girls, Ruth and Esther were two of my favorite Bible characters when I was growing up.  Both were brave and courageous, and both had to make hard choices when it came to following their faith.

I've studied the book of Ruth on my own several times, and my husband recently taught a series on her in our Sunday School class.  I've learned a lot from Ruth, but the overarching lesson that speaks to me is her trust in God.

I first see it in chapter one, when she tells Naomi, "your God will be my God."  We know that Ruth lives out that faith once she's settled in Bethlehem, because in Ruth 2:12, Boaz says to Ruth, "...and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust."

I'm amazed at Ruth's ability to leave her future in God's hands.  She willingly followed Naomi to an unknown country and faced an uncertain future.  I would love to interview Ruth and find out what inspired her faith, and how she came to know the God she so fully trusted.  Was it her husband's testimony?  Was it her mother-in-law's example?  Did she compare Jehovah to the false gods of her homeland?

In my 40-plus years, I've come to realize that learning to trust God is going to be a lifelong process.  If I want to be a woman who trusts God like Ruth did, here are a few lessons I can learn from her story.

1.  There are no coincidences with God.  Ruth 2:3 says, "And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz..."  Ruth headed out to work, and "happened" to end up in the field of a kinsman redeemer, one of the few people who could provide a better life for Ruth and Naomi.  God knew exactly which field He wanted Ruth to be in, and He guided her there.  His plan for taking care of her was already at work, even when she had no clue about what was happening.

Just so in our lives, every step is planned, every circumstance is orchestrated.  Even when we can't see or understand the direction our life is taking, He is working behind the scenes to direct us in the way He wants us to go.  Philip Yancey said, "I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse."

2.  There is confidence in obeying what you know to do.  In Ruth 3:5 we're told, "And she [Ruth] said unto her [Naomi], All that thou sayest unto me I will do."  Ruth did as her mother-in-law instructed her, and followed the plan for approaching the kinsman redeemer, Boaz.  Even though she may not have understood the customs, she obeyed what she knew she was supposed to do.

When I'm doing what I know God commands me to do in His Word, I can be confident in leaving the outcome to Him.  On the other hand, if I'm going my own way and doing my own thing, how can I trust that God is going to bless me?

3.  There's value in sitting still and waiting.  I've long loved this passage in Ruth 3:18.  "Then said she [Naomi], Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall..."  I can just imagine Ruth pacing around the house, stopping to look out the window to see if anyone was coming who might could tell her how things had gone between Boaz and the nearer kinsman.

I think we'd all agree that seasons of waiting on God to work can be agonizing.  We often want to take matters into our own hands, to see if we can move things along in the direction we want them to go.  Yet how many references are there in the Bible to waiting on God!  One of my favorites is Psalm 27:14.  "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."  Truly, it takes courage to wait, yet this verse tells me that He'll provide the strength I need while I wait.  Just as with Ruth, good things - yes, the best things - can come to us as we're willing to wait on God.

As we enter this second week of the new year, let's all seek to follow Ruth's example of trusting God, with our present as well as with our future!

Related posts:
7 Steps to Becoming a Wise Woman:  Trust God
What Mary Teaches Me About Praising God
What Eve Teaches Me About Doubting God

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Salutes

Cassandra lists 5 Things All Kids Need to Hear from Their Parents.

Sophie's school is doing an Unplugged Challenge for the month of January.  I love this devotional that she wrote and shared with the students.

Kristen has 5 Family Goals for the New Year.

I've been struggling with breakfast ideas for my girls lately, so I think I'll try a batch of these Healthy Breakfast Cookies.  Neither one of them like eggs much, which is too bad, since I took this Sausage Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole to church last Sunday and it was delicious!

Our daughters, ages 16 and 14, on Christmas Eve.  

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

3 Things To Pray for in the New Year

If there's anything that causes us to evaluate our lives and think about ways we can improve ourselves, I suppose it's the start of a new year.  It's a fresh slate, a time of beginning new habits, a chance to plan ahead.

While I know I learned some lessons in 2016, I didn't see, in hindsight, as much spiritual growth as I would have liked.  As we've looked ahead to 2017, I discussed with my daughters ways we can grow in our spiritual life, hoping that we could all set goals for the coming year.  We thought of seven areas we can concentrate on when we want to grow spiritually (in no particular order).
  • Prayer
  • Bible reading
  • Memorizing Bible verses
  • Meditating on Scripture
  • Witnessing
  • Giving
  • Ministry (church, serving others, etc)

I chose two areas that I want to focus on this year - prayer and meditation. (I'm sure this means you'll be getting posts about these topics off and on throughout the year. ;)

With those ideas in mind, I thought about the next 365 days, and what I want to see happen in my life and in the lives of my family.  I think the following three requests can be made by all of us, no matter how we hope to grow in the coming months.

1.  Pray for God to order your steps. 
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way." ~Psalm 37:23
I actually have Sues to thank for this one!  In a comment on a previous post, she said that this is a prayer she prays each day.  I love this idea, as a daily prayer and as an overarching request concerning the way God will guide us in the year ahead.  We know that God is in control of every aspect of our lives, that each circumstance that comes up is no accident, but a moving of His hand.  He wants to grow and change us into His image, and to teach us to rely on Him as we recognize how much we need His help and power.

I want to have a heart that is ready and willing to follow His plan without question, to submit to His will without complaining.  It has to do with accepting daily "interruptions" as from Him, and allowing His schedule to supersede mine.  I am definitely still a work in progress here!

2.  Pray that you and your family will grow spiritually.
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." ~2 Peter 3:18
I want to look back at the end of 2017 and be able to see concrete growth in my spiritual life. That may involve trials that I've come through with a greater understanding of God's peace and grace. It may be a temptation I've overcome by God's grace. It may simply be a habit I've mastered that's allowed me to learn more about Him through studying my Bible.

I think the best way to ensure that this will happen is to develop a plan.  For example, since I've chosen prayer as a focus for the year, I'm getting back to writing out my monthly prayer list for my family (something I've not been doing for the last couple of months).  I'm also following this Scripture writing program for January.  Each day I write out a verse about prayer in my journal, and then meditate on that verse for the next 24 hours.

Not only is it good to make a plan for ourselves, but we can also do it for our families.  Maybe there's a particular Bible study you want to do as a family - or you could choose a Bible character or a book of the Bible to dive into.  Maybe it's just reading a verse from Proverbs together each night and talking about what it means.  Having a plan to grow spiritually doesn't guarantee it will happen, but it does give us a better chance at success!

3.  Pray that God will be glorified in all you do in 2017.
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." ~I Corinthians 10:31
We were created to bring God glory (Isaiah 43:7).  How often I'm tempted to do things for my own glory, so that I will be recognized by others.  This can affect my marriage and certainly my parenting.  Maybe I want my kids to obey so that others will think I'm a good mom.  I need to realize that God gave me these relationships to steward for Him, to raise my kids so that they will ultimately bring Him glory.

If I'm seeking to bring God glory, then I'm living in humility.  As I look at my goals for the year, am I using them to bring glory to Him?  Will my body be a better temple if I eat healthier foods and exercise?  Will I be a better wife if I set a goal to do something special for my husband every month?  Will I know His word better and learn what actually glorifies Him if I get into my Bible every day?  If our ultimate goal is to glorify God, we can apply that principle in every area of our lives.

I pray that each of us will grow in our walk with God in 2017, that we might look back at the end of our year and see how He has guided us, and be able to give Him praise and glory for what is accomplished!  

What else are you praying for in 2017?  Do you have a particular area of your spiritual life that you want to focus on this year?

Related posts:
Praying God's Blessings on My Family
Top 10 Most Influential Books
10 Traits of a Wise Woman

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saturday Salutes

Rachel reminds us what it means to be A Mom Who Shows Up.

Cassandra shares 4 Signs You Have a Good Marriage.

While Christmas is over, I've pinned these 10 Easy Ways Your Family Can Share the Gospel During the Holidays for next year.

I'm going to be making this Creamed Corn Casserole soon!!


Looking forward to starting 2017 tomorrow!  Praying that God will grow each of us into the wives, moms, and women He would have us to be in the coming 12 months.

Happy New Year!!
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