The Lesson of the PB&J

by Deb DeArmond

The Disciples were an interesting cast of characters. They were dissimilar in their personalities and professional pursuits. Those distinct differences could be a gift, as they could combine their strengths while working together. But those differences also created challenges, as they often disagreed on a variety of topics. In Luke 6: 12-16, the apostles are identified by name. Two are described. Simon, who was called a zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who would become a traitor.

Luke 6 is a treasure trove—a hidden store of valuable or delightful things. One of my favorite passages is found there: “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28 CEB).

This passage supplied an everyday opportunity for my children at one point. I’m not sure we had a zealot and a traitor in the camp, but their ability to “pray for those who mistreat you” was often in question.

Three sons, with five years separating the first and last, was an everyday adventure. Bikes, skates, super-hero toys and basketballs. By the time the oldest two were nine and six, their personalities were diverse—which is the nice way to say they were nothing alike and rarely saw eye to eye. 

The background music during those years was a fevered pitch that made me cringe. The greatest hits on most days included those all-time favorites “That’s not fair!” and “Mom! He’s cheating!”

Sharing was a frequent challenge. I felt akin to Solomon as they trooped in for my decree as to the real owner of the toy truck or “How much longer does he get the skateboard before it’s my turn?”

While they never strayed into the “I hate you,” territory, the concept of “love one another as you love yourself” seemed out of reach in those moments. But the idea of keeping the peace seemed a bit more attainable. Determined to teach these two the value of fairness, working together, and sharing, I hit on a solution out of sheer desperation.

It was the last day before the weekly grocery run, and lunch fixings were in short supply. Two lopsided slices of bread and the scrapings at the bottom of the peanut butter jar created momentary panic . . . and a lifelong Bible lesson.

I made the sandwich and presented it to my younger son. “Jordan, you’ll cut the sandwich in half.” He pumped his fist. “And Cameron, you’ll choose first which half you want.” He smiled wide.

Jordan slumped in his chair and crossed his arms. He then leaned into his assignment and tackled the sandwich with the precision of a diamond cutter. His calculation was important, and both boys were satisfied. He was successful in his mission.

So was I.

That PB&J became their life lesson for God’s instruction loving one another. It also worked with son #3 – and now as full-grown men, I see the fruit of that Bible verse, as I watch them guide their children with the same principles. I’ve enjoyed observing my sons guide the combined group of my seven grandsons—with boy #8 on the way. Life in Jesus helps make the testosterone zone a fabulous place to be!

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17 NASB

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Deb DeArmond is an award-winning author, speaker and writing coach, helping others to achieve their goals whether in marriage, family relationships, at work, or in ministry. Her books reflect that path. Her newest release, We May Be Done But We’re Not Finished, encourages and informs women 50+ how to make the rest of their life the best of their life.

Join the conversation: What Bible verses are/were important to you as your raise/raised your children?

Parenting Can Have Its Moments

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

One Sunday afternoon, as I tackled the pile of dishes in the kitchen, I heard a distinct dripping sound coming from the foyer. Upon investigation, I found a large puddle on the tile floor. The ceiling above it was bowed with water. Where was all that water coming from?

I dashed up the stairs to find the hallway bathroom sink running full-force, plug down, water cascading over the edge like Niagara Falls. The bathtub was also plugged up and nearly filled to capacity. I shut the faucets off but could still hear water running. A quick check revealed the master bathroom had been rigged to overflow as well.

I knew there could be only one culprit—make that two—THE TWINS. I marched into their room to find them up on the top bunk surrounded by every stuffed animal in the house. “Hi Mommy!” my four-year old daughter cheerfully greeted me. “We’re playing Noah’s ark! Joseph is Noah, and I’m his wife!”

Apparently, with the animals safely aboard, they were just sitting back, waiting for the flood.

Motherhood has its moments, right? We had four children in the space of 3 ½ years. I could curl your hair with stories from those early days. Someday I’ll write a book.

Whenever I read James, I have to wonder if he was a parent. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 NASB).

This verse should be stamped on the forehead of anyone attempting to raise a family. Experiencing trials? It’s not a question of if, but when.

Consider it all joy, my brethren…

How much joy did I experience as I mopped the floors that day? There was no cheerful whistling nor a single happy thought as I repeatedly wrung out my mop, I can assure you. But is that what James meant by joy?

A look into the grammar of the original language reveals that James was identifying the type of joy a person should have. It is a state of being, not an emotion. If it were, we could equate joy with happiness. But seriously—who could possibly be happy about spending time reserved for a Sunday afternoon nap soaking up gallons of water? Not this girl.

Joy is something deeper, more consistent than what certain circumstances would allow. It can be had in any situation, because it is a steady, thankful trust in a God who uses even the hard things for His glory. It is not so much of an emotion, but rather a way of thinking. It is the lens through which we should view everything this world throws at us.

Trials are an opportunity for us to put the viewpoint of joy into practice.

The testing of your faith produces endurance…

There’s something else in James’ exhortation worth noting: “…the testing of your faith produces endurance…” How do trials like water dripping out of a ceiling test our faith?

What we believe about Him is the content of our faith. In His kindness, God allows trials for the purpose of testing those ideas and revealing what we need to reevaluate—in a good way! Trials grow our understanding of Him.

So, next time a trial comes down the pike, think: how is God revealing Himself? What He may be showing you can produce endurance in your ability to trust Him. Even the little challenging moments of parenting can have a real impact on our spiritual well-being.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.                                                                                             2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB

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Parenting Can Have Its Moments – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Do you have a parenting trial story? Please share! (Surely I’m not the only one!!)

 

 

Building Redemptive Relationships

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

I’m forty-four, and I’m still learning how to maintain healthy relationships. God recently sparked a major mind-shift in me on this, one that arose smack in the middle of tension, confusion, and heartache.

But in the end, the situation resulted in incredible hope and peace.

My two most important relationships are with my husband and daughter. Naturally, I am motivated to love them well, in a way that deepens intimacy, creates wholeness, and builds trust. I’ve discovered that being purposeful in those things long term has a greater impact than a quick solution for an immediate problem.

As the saying goes, we can win the battle but lose the heart.

This past week, my daughter has been dealing with some hard stuff. It’s been crazy-difficult to watch her struggle. My instinct is to want to immediately “fix” the situation. Whenever I give in to that tendency, however, not only am I getting in God’s way, but I miss out on opportunities to participate in His transformational work.

When I seek His heart and will, not for the problem, but for the person, my vision becomes clearer. More Christ-like. God is much more concerned with His work within us than external problems.

But our natural inclination is to focus on the now. We want solutions, to alleviate the pain of today. It’s easy to forget how often God uses our struggles to bring about His greatest and deepest work. This was my mind shift—to focus on growth rather than behavior. In short, to reach, protect, and equip the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” To the ancient Jew, the heart involved much more than a person’s emotions. It was the core of their being and encompassed their will and intellect as well.

My daughter is facing the prospect of merging two families from different cultures. As her mom, I was tempted to center on the small, immediate solutions. But God impressed on me: This conflict is a good thing. You have an opportunity to show her what healthy dialogue looks like and how to communicate with others who may not share her perspective.

So, setting aside my “fix-it” tool belt, I chose a mentorship role. I planned a picnic for her, her future fiancé, and my husband. Together, we simply talked. We addressed tough issues, shared thoughts and feelings, and honestly…solved nothing.

But something greater was built that afternoon. A foundation of trust was laid, hopefully one that that will enable a lifetime of good communication. They got a chance to experience healthy discussion and learned how to persevere through hard conversations with a balance of love and truth. This will have a much greater impact on her future marriage than any decisions she and her boyfriend make today.

It’s easy to believe the immediate problem is the problem. But God’s vision goes so much deeper. Scripture says He uses all things for our good (Rom. 8:38)—to mold us into the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:39).

God’s goal is never merely behavior modification. He works toward our transformation. The process is more important to Him than any quick fix. I’m learning to keep the big picture in mind. I want to trust in His wisdom, know He has a plan, and is even now working that out in those I love.

Resting in who He is frees me to love well, focusing on long-term growth.  This is what it means to develop redemptive relationships.

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Building Redemptive Relationships – insight on #GodsLove on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Jennifer’s latest book is Restoring Her FaithShe left belief behind…but could this family change her mind?

With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds that his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Join the conversation: Have you ever had a role in someone’s long-term development?

 

Perfect Parents—The Myth We Need to Release

by Edie Melson

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Psalm 27:17 NIV

For anyone who has a child, the thought of perfect parenting elicits a range of emotions, from hope to discouragement to outright terror. We all hope we’ll be good parents, but most of us realistically expect to fail in some ways. And every parent I’ve ever spoken with lives in fear of being such a bad parent that they will mess up their child permanently.

I’m writing this as I look back over my parenting journey. We have three grown sons, so the intense time of parenting is past. Sure, we still give advice—when asked—but for the most part we’re finished.

Looking back was scary at first. I was afraid of the regrets and remorse I’d feel, from all the shoulda, woulda, coulda scenarios. But the process of evaluation wasn’t nearly as terror-inducing as I expected. I’d like to encourage you with some of the insights I gained.

The most important part in my parenting review was that I was looking back from a secure vantage point: standing beside God. By that, I mean I prayed first and asked Him to share His perspective on my journey as a parent. He showed me several things I hadn’t noticed.

He reminded me that He wasn’t like the animated stork that I’d seen in the cartoons I watched on Saturday mornings growing up.

He NEVER delivered the wrong baby to the wrong parents.

He chose my husband and I as parents for our boys before the beginning of time. And He did it knowing the mistakes we’d make, as well as the parts we’d get right. He used us, good and bad, to help shape our kids as they grew. Until I began this process, I’d never considered that perspective before—that God chose us as much for our weaknesses as parents as for our strengths. I’d never thought of this verse in the context of parenting before.

Does that absolve us of guilt where we’ve been wrong? Absolutely not. But it gives me a hint that perhaps God is true to His word and can bring good out of bad.

The other thing He shared with me was the fact that perfect parents don’t guarantee perfect kids. I could have done every single thing right as a mother but because of free will, any of my sons could have chosen the wrong path.

How do I know this is true? Because God is perfect, and look how we turned out. He did everything right, but we still chose to go our own way.

So when you look back (or ahead) as a parent, remember that your child’s future isn’t in your hands. God’s got this, and He always has.

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: Can you think of a weakness you have that God has used in your parenting?

 

Passing on Faith to Our Children

by Shirley Brosius

When I was a child, I loved coming home from school and biting into a soft sugar cookie, warm from the oven, with a glass of milk, of course. My mother spent hours each week baking for our family of seven—cakes, pies, custards—from scratch. She passed along her sweet tooth to us all. I still like my cookies and milk.

Besides physical nourishment, my mother and father shared their love for God with me. They prayed before meals, sat by us during bedside prayers, read Bible stories, and took us to worship at church–without fail. With their encouragement I became aware of God as his rain watered the fields of our farm and his sun coaxed seeds into seedlings. Some nights my parents woke me and carried me outside to watch the splendor of an Aurora Borealis–created by a magnificent God.

There are similarities between baking cookies and passing on our faith to our children. Baking cookies takes time. Passing on our faith is not a sprint, but a marathon, one that lasts throughout our children’s formative years. My parents “trained” us foremost by their consistent examples. They lived out biblical principles. They trusted God—no matter what. Through sickness and health, through good crops and failed crops, there was never a question of God’s faithfulness to us.

Baking cookies requires a variety of ingredients. We had many fun family experiences at our church—spring strawberry festivals and fall harvest parties. But we also had sobering moments of faith, like Holy Communion when we knelt to confess sins. We attended funerals of aunts and uncles, much younger than my parents. Even through their tears, my parents’ faith in the goodness of God never wavered.

Baking cookies means following a recipe—and recipes differ. “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6 NASB) refers to working through a child’s learning style. Some can be reached through logic, others through art or music. My father often asked me to play hymns on our piano while he and my mother sang. Then he closed with prayer. This simple little “service” moved me. I sensed the holiness and respect my dad felt for God. Our Creator gave us a rich variety of personalities and preferences, and reaches out to each of us in very personal ways.

Like nibbling on a cookie dipped in milk, the end result of sharing our faith is amazingly satisfying. Like my parents, I dedicated my life to training my own children and now grandchildren in the faith. I know that as I live before them, I am simply passing on a legacy of faith.

Pour a cup of coffee and nibble a cookie as you pray about who might benefit by hearing your God stories and seeing your faith in action.

 “You shall teach [these words] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up…” Deuteronomy 6:7 NASB

Shirley BrosiusAbout the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she enjoys passing on her faith—and cookies—to two married sons and five grandchildren.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number 51zEKWNLLkL._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book, Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: In what ways do you pass on your faith to your children?

Mommy Guilt

by Julie Coleman

When you are a mother, guilt is a state of being. I personally am plagued with guilt every time I stop and think about my effectiveness as a mother. There are a thousand things I would do differently if I were to relive the years of raising my children. I would pray for them more often. Spend more one-on-one time with them. Make them do more chores. The list goes on forever.

A working mother has an extra portion of guilt.  Trying to maintain a teaching career while raising a family was definitely a challenge. Sometimes my children got the short end of the stick.

I taught at the Christian school where my children attended. One day my daughter’s fourth grade teacher came into the faculty lounge at lunchtime. She sat down next to me and said, “Julie, you have to hear what Melanie gave as a prayer request this morning.” This couldn’t be good. I braced myself. Doris continued, “She said: ‘Would you please pray that my Mom would cook us a homemade meal? It’s been soooo long.’”

The entire table erupted into laughter. That particular week, my husband had been gone for business. Most nights we had stopped at McDonald’s on the way home, so that I didn’t have to face cooking and homework while solo parenting. I sat up straighter in my chair. “OK,” I promised. “Tonight, I am going to make meatloaf, potatoes, and green beans. Comfort food. My days of being a bad mother are over. At least for this week.”

That afternoon, we had a faculty meeting after school that went until 5 PM. I wearily gathered up the papers from my desk and headed down the hall toward the parking lot. On the way, I stuck my head in Doris’ room. “Keep praying,” I told her. “We are going to Wendy’s.”

Yes, guilt is a burden. Most women I know exist in a state of guilty feelings. We never can do enough or do it well enough.

What does the Bible have to say about guilt? You might be surprised.

Guilt is never referred to as a feeling. In Scripture, guilt is a condition. It is the condition into which we are born. We inherited it from our ancestor, Adam. Romans 5:18 tells us “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men….” One bite of the forbidden fruit, and we were all doomed.

Of course, thankfully there is more: “… Even so, through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” (NASB) When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, the Heavenly Judge banged the gavel, and those who believe are set free. One man’s act condemned us. The other One’s act paid our debt in full.

So technically, we are not guilty any more, at least in God’s sight. Yet we do sometimes feel the crushing weight of guilt upon us. When this happens, we need to discern the source of the thoughts that put it there.

One of the many benefits to our salvation is that the Holy Spirit resides within us as a guarantee of our salvation. He does more than inhabit us. He guides us and teaches us. This includes letting us know when we are in the wrong. His conviction for our sin is a healthy thing. It prompts us to repentance and to make peace with those we have wronged. But once we have confessed the sin, and, if necessary, have gone to those we have offended, it is over. Water under the bridge. Time to move on.

Yet still, we may hold tight to guilt, refusing to forgive ourselves. Satan loves this. The Bible calls him “The Accuser.” Guilt is an extremely effective tool of his. It makes us focus on ourselves and our frailties, instead of on Christ and His sufficiency. Guilt can be paralyzing. We are loathe to repeat the same mistake, so in our shame, we stop trying.

Recognize the difference between conviction and guilt. Conviction is redemptive in nature. But guilt: not from God. Let the forgiveness that has been so freely given wash over you. Bask in His grace. Because you are free. Even if you eat at Wendy’s.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”                                                                                                                                                     Romans 8:1-2

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What makes you feel guilty?