To The One Who Didn’t Get Away

I hesitate to write this post. My purpose is to show that good men are out there. Many times I hear women talking negatively about their husbands, how they are lazy, useless, or negative influences in the home. My husband is not perfect on any measures (though if you ask him he is “pure of heart”), and we don’t have the perfect marriage, but I can admit, I have a pretty good guy. I imagine many of you do, too.

Here is to the one who didn’t get away. To the one who brings me flowers (and my favorite adult beverage) when I start my day at the vet with sick dogs and have to bury a farm kitten before going into 6 client sessions. To the one who didn’t laugh at me for needing him because we lost a kitten who I had only had for a week, or mock me for being stressed about a sick dog that both went to the vet “just in case.” He simply loved me.

Here is to the one who smirks when I add one more thing to my already busy schedule, only to be there to load my truck with everything needed for my next party, or client, or event. He knows what to load for each not because I have told him, but because he pays attention.

Here is to the one who loves me on days that I am working through another wave of emotional healing and am filled with anger towards no one in particular. I have cursed at him, yelled at him, and told him I don’t want him anywhere near me. He says nothing, but will pick up a Mexican Cola for me on his way home from work the next day.

Here is to the one who makes plans for San Antonio trips with a backstage look at the Penguins. He doesn’t care about penguins, he cares about me. To the one who does laundry on weekends because I am running around with one of my many businesses. The one who cleans the kitchen and makes dinner plans. To the one who mows our lawn and gets estimates for gutters, even though he doesn’t think we need them.

Here is to the one who will make an 18 hr round trip in one day to pick up a Golden Retriever. The one who supports me in running halfway across Texas to rescue a mule. The one who meets me for lunch when I have a cancellation. The one who says “whatever you want babe” when I ask about ordering books, or shoes, or whatever I feel I need.

Here is to the ones who goes to work every day at a job they may not love because they love their family. To the ones who stay home and watch sick kids, so their wives can work that day instead. To the ones who drive a worn out vehicle, so we can drive the safer one. To those who tell us when we are wrong and hold us accountable.

Here is to the ones who set healthy boundaries for us, when we can’t seem to say “no” ourselves. To the ones who are at ball games and parties. To the ones who quietly do what a Husband is to do in leading his family. The ones who don’t get much recognition in social circles as everyone else is complaining.

Here is to the good guys, the ones that didn’t get away.

God’s Story ~ Kristin Weis with The Demand Project, Part 1

Jason and Kristin Weis

 

Last Fall I sat down with Kristin Weis, one of the founders of The Demand Project. She explained that The Demand Project is an organization located in Tulsa, OK, whose mission is, “Fighting to eradicate sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.” They do this through four areas: Prevention, Prosecution, Rescue, and Restoration.

As we talked, she shared her and her husband, Jason’s, God Story of how The Demand Project began. Their story is an amazing journey of God’s provision. Join me this month for Part 1 of their story about how God first prepared and called them to this work…

Tara Cole: Were there ways you saw God preparing you for this ministry beforehand?

Kristin Weis: I did! In the church we were going to, we got involved with Whiz Kids. We were tutors. We also started to work at the Children’s Hospital, and even if we would go in and hold babies all day, we would do that.

Then we did another mission through the church. It was called Lifeboat 14. Lifeboat 14 is named because that is the only lifeboat that came back for the Titanic victims. We had an apartment complex where our church would bring the ministry to the apartment complex.  We rented it out through the church, and we would bring the kiddos in and do Bible studies with them, teach them how to cook, play games, and pick up trash in the neighborhood.

We were trying to change the lives of the people just in that community. I think that’s where our strong sense of changing our own community versus going out and telling the whole world how to live while we’re dying right here came from. I think that’s probably where that was birthed. So in working with kids, we knew that we would do something in this, and Jason and I did all this together.

One thing that is awesome about Jason and I is you don’t always find that spouse who has the other half of your mission. The other half of your calling. It’s interesting how The Demand Project is built because we have the Prevention, Prosecution, Rescue, and Restoration.

We both do the assemblies and the prevention, but then he takes over the prosecution with legislation, the cyber investigation, and the law enforcement. Then I come in with the rescue and restoration part of it. So we’ve broken the organization out to be two-fold. It’s four titles to it, but he’s got a whole half and I’ve got a whole half, and we meet in the middle and do it together. So it’s pretty amazing how God did prepare this.

Tara: I saw where you all had heard the news report in 2004 of a little girl who was abused, and then you picked up your family and moved from Colorado to Oklahoma. Why did you all choose Oklahoma?

Kristin: I know. What a strange place to go to a training ground?

Tara: Yes!

Kristin: When we saw that story, and we believe she was two, and we heard everything that happened, we heard about the thousands of people who watched [the abuse] online. We’re fighters so that just boiled our blood and made us so angry. We didn’t know where to turn, we had no idea what to do, but we knew we needed to do something.

So I was going to see a prayer minister, and I told her that we wanted to figure all this out. She was praying for me, and she could see that there was a lot more to the calling on our lives than what we knew. Her strong, strong suggestion and I say it nice like that, but it really wasn’t a suggestion, it was God saying, “This is what you’re going to do.” She said, “You need to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Go to Victory Bible Institute (VBI), and you need to go and get trained up for what you’re about to do because the very thing you’re fighting can destroy you if you’re not careful.” I didn’t really know what she meant at the time because I’m thinking, “Nothing is really going to destroy us that we’re fighting.” But you don’t know how perverted it is and how emotional the fight gets.

Even just driving in today, I was having one of those mornings. I hadn’t even put on my eye makeup yet because I was having one of those mornings. Jason is overwhelmed with cases with predators, and the case doesn’t just start and end after he gets them. Then you’ve got to do all this stuff in the meantime while we’re trying to do all these events, and I’m trying to work with my rescued girls, and it’s just getting to be overwhelming.

And I don’t know why, but I passed by a house in Jenks. I had a really horrible feeling, and I imagined almost the story we had seen [on the news], and it just crushed me. All the way to work I was feeling that empathy for a child starting their day out being raped. You know most of us start our day out by eating breakfast, getting our clothes on our back, putting on our shoes, maybe we’re yelling at the kids to get in the car, “We gotta go!”  But the trauma these kids have to go through every day.

So when she said that I don’t think we quite understood the depth of it.

But then we got to VBI. It was a miracle how it happened. It was right when the housing was plummeting. No houses were selling around that time. We were in a cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood in Castle Rock, CO, and when we put our house up for sale. Well, let me back up…

When she tells us we need to move to Tulsa, Jason says, “Absolutely, no way, are we moving from Colorado to Oklahoma!”

Tara: Right, it’s the opposite!

Kristin: (laughter) Yeah, totally opposite. My family was in Colorado. My mom had Sjogren’s disease, so she was dying, and we had the only grandchildren in Colorado. So this was not going to go over well.

When she said to go and Jason said, “No.” It took one year from the time she told us to go and for every door to shut on Jason to get him to the breaking point of understanding we needed to go. But in the meantime, we started to do off campus classes through VBI, and it just wasn’t enough. It was awesome to learn the power of the Lord. We were going to church. Jason had never been to church before he met me. So we knew God, but we didn’t have the revelation of the relationship with Jesus.

Tara: I understand.

Kristin: You get that. Very different. So we started to get the revelation as we were with the prayer minister. We started to change churches and go more charismatic and more Holy Spirit led.

After that year, I went back to the prayer minister, and she said, “This is the time for you to go. You need to go home and tell Jason he is to quit his job. You’re going to bear the burden of all the money until you leave. Get all your affairs in order, and you need to go.” I said, “Okay, let’s just stop this right now. That is plenty for me to do. Because now I’ve got to go home and tell him.”

So I go home and sit him down, and I say, “Here’s the deal. The kids can go to school at Victory…” He broke emotionally, and he said, “Let’s go!” So that was that moment where we put the house up for sale. Like I said, no houses were selling, ours sold within a few weeks. From the time we figured out we were going to go, it was six weeks. We had told the family. They thought we were going to ruin the kids. My mom could not believe I was leaving her. We got the house up, came to Tulsa, found a house, enrolled the kids, enrolled ourselves, and we’re here within six weeks. It was huge, and we had been in Colorado for quite some time.

So we ended up going to VBI and trying to dive into what was this trafficking thing is, and that’s where our path began.

 

*********************************************************

Next month we will continue with the rest of Kristin and Jason’s story about how God worked in their lives as they came to Oklahoma and learned what trafficking was.

If you’d like to learn more about trafficking today and how you can help, please visit their website: TheDemandProject.org. There you will find out more information about trafficking in the US and Oklahoma, and ways you can give and help.

The Demand Project also has a Golf Tournament coming up on Monday, June 27, that you can register for to help support this organization that is doing so much for the victims of trafficking. Here are the details about it:

When: Monday, June 27th – Registration (7:30am) 18 holes (8:30am)
Where: Golf Club of Oklahoma

Why? Proceeds from this tournament will go to fund The Demand Projects Cyber Team. A group of elite, current and retired Law Enforcement and Military Officers with vast experience in targeting, investigating and prosecuting online predators that seek to exploit children for sex. People like Sandi McGann .

Link to Register

Per Person – $225

Foursome – $900

If you register before May 30th you will receive complimentary admission to the night before PAR-TEE that includes dinner, entertainment, and a silent auction.
*Photo Credit: TheDemandProject.org/about

When Intentions Turn to Regret

 Regret

 

Today, I attended the celebration of life of a woman who left this world too soon. I never got by to tell her “bye.” I didn’t take the opportunity, even once I knew she was in hospice, to stop in. I felt I would be a nuisance. I thought she would have plenty of people around and it would be awkward for someone who thought themselves to be a stranger to see them in that state. I made many excuses, but I didn’t go. And now it’s too late. I told her husband, an old rancher I would stop in at the farm someday. I know what someday means for me. It’s not that I intend to not do these things, I have every intention. Then, it’s too late.

I intend many things. I intend to learn a language, I intend to study more, I intend to get up early, I intend to run each morning, I intend to keep up with family, I even intend to write this post which has been running through my head since I found out my acquaintance passed away. I intend, but then I don’t do.

I get caught up in the business of life, in the hustle of reaching my goals and finding my way. I don’t intend to leave relationships behind. But I do. I feel the guilt of what I don’t do, but I don’t make a change. I don’t intend to stay on the same path. But I do.

 I know that in me, that is, in my fallen human nature, there is nothing good. I can will myself to do something good, but that does not help me carry it out. I can determine that I am going to do good, but I don’t do it; instead, I end up living out the evil that I decided not to do. Romans 7:18-19 (The Voice)

Here we see Paul having the same struggle. It is comforting to know I am not the first one and likely not the last to deal with this.

As you go through your week, share your struggles with us in the OAC community here or on Facebook. Let’s pray for one another to become more of what we need to be and have busyness take less of a hold in our lives.

Let’s  Pray:

“Father I ask peace for those of us who struggle with priorities and get caught in the hustle and bustle of life. I ask you give us direction and help us focus on what is important this week. In Jesus name.”

 

 

 

The Many Faces of Evangelism

Soul winner preparing the soil

I have gardened and landscaped for a long time now. Living with an unstable man for many years, we moved often. This gave me the opportunity to hone my gardening skills, as each place we moved to was another blank canvas for me to practice gardening and landscaping on.

An important lesson I learned by the sweat of my brow is that there is a part of gardening called soil preparation that is time-consuming and hard work that looks nothing like the job of seed planting or harvest. I also learned the hard way that if I did not take the time to prepare the soil properly, then I was simply wasting my time in planting – there would be no harvest, which for me meant no flowers, because I major in annuals, perennials, and bulbs with a tuber or rhizome thrown in for good measure.

So today I just completed serious repair work on a garden in a day and a half with the help of my dear husband that just ten years ago would have taken me half that time by myself. And I needed a lot more breaks!

These days when putting in a new garden or flower bed, I use the lasagna gardening method. In a nutshell, a lasagna garden is created in layers: Identify where the new garden needs to go, do not shudder because there is a healthy crop of Bermuda grass growing there, mark out your garden area and beginning with a layer of cardboard, cover the potential garden spot. Now after this, the official lasagna garden books and people have specific formulas that make for the best gardens. I diverge and bit and use some of what I have on hand, like leaves from our two large maples, some top soil, a good compost, and sometimes some peat moss. The idea is to layer, one at a time, these ingredients for your garden. Do not bother with stirring them together, simply make your layers, then plant.

A year or two ago when I originally put in the garden in question, I did not have all the cardboard needed for the bottom layer, so I substituted plastic leaf bags. Don’t do this. It is a bad idea. Whereas the cardboard breaks down and allows plant roots through, plastic does not. My tall plants had too shallow of roots and toppled over.

Now we come to this weekend. My job was to dig up and cautiously save the plants I wanted to keep, then identify and pull the plastic out from under the layers of soil, replace with cardboard, then add more layers of soil. My old body which has mostly sat doing schoolwork for the last six years or so was in shock, asking me what in the world did I think I was doing?! So I took up my fence, then rested. I pulled the plastic out of the garden, then rested. I put the layer of leaves down (do you know how heavy those bags can get from autumn to spring, being snowed and rained on?). Then I rested. At this point, my husband came to check on my progress, had mercy on me, and hoisted the bags of compost, then top soil to the proper garden spots. I opened the bags, dumped them out, and spread the layers. And so it continued through to the finish. Whew!

It took me, with my husband’s help, a day and a third to prepare the soil and less than an hour to plant the seeds and water them in.

Why do I tell you all of this? Because it is like the apostle Paul mentions in I Corinthians 3:7, 8:

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.”

Paul is speaking of winning souls for Jesus here.

I tried for many years to be a seed planter/harvester for Jesus. I took my children along with me on door-knocking, soul-winning campaigns, and I still believe in those. I also believe it is excellent training for children. On rare occasions, I would actually have someone come to Jesus. I am a slow learner, but after years of trying with little to no success, it occurred to me that, just maybe, seed planting/harvesting was not one of my kingdom gifts.

I know, I know, seed planting and harvesting get most of the attention, and we are all to be harvesters, at least that is what I have heard a lot of through the yearIriss in the religious tribes I have been a part of. But what if that is not my gift? Paul says that one planted, one watered, and God gave the increase.

Like the lack of success that I had in gardening when I did not bother to prepare the soil, so it is with human hearts. If all of us are focusing on planting seed and harvesting, who is preparing the soil? And remember, soil preparation is time-consuming, hard work, and looks nothing like the job of seed planting or harvesting.

I would encourage you to explore your gifts when it comes to evangelism. Don’t let fear stop you! Try seed planting. Maybe you were given that gift. But also try harvesting, watering, and soil preparation. You may have been given a gift that looks nothing like harvesting that is vital for kingdom growth. And remember that it is God who gives the increase.

Hugs,

Cindy

Learning How to be Fully Present

mindfulness

Image Source: Unsplash.com by Carlie Jean

Several weeks ago I took a day to myself. No internet, phone or connection to the outside world for 8 hours, and it was great. During this time, I thought about where I want my life to go in the future. I worked through creating a life plan to allow me to refocus my energies towards what I want to be doing, rather than what I feel that I have to be doing.

One of the things I thought about was a FaceBook post which was speaking of a high-level horse trainer. The writer expressed when she was in the arena with this trainer he was completely focused on her and her horse. When he answered a question from the audience, he was focused on that person. She talked about the feeling of being in the presence of someone who is completely present in each step of their life. She expressed the sense of knowing he was focused on her and only her during that time.

Completely present. What does this even mean for my life? I am not able to write this blog post without thinking about what I need to do in a few hours, how I need to work with my client in 30 minutes, what I need to do next with the business, how the house needs to be cleaned. The list goes on of what I need to be doing rather than what I am doing. Completely present.

Mindfulness is a current buzz word. Mindful living, mindful eating, mindful mindfulness. But, what does it mean to be mindful? In my life, this means slowing down and tasting the food I eat. It means being present in each conversation I have and not allowing my mind to wonder. It means organizing my days to allow for downtime. It means taking control of my life.

This is all easier said than done. I often catch myself looking at my to-do list and going over the day’s work in my mind. I often find I am eating for the sake of “it’s time” rather than enjoying my food. So my first step to being mindful is to stop my mind when I am in conversation with someone, put my phone and planner down, look at them and be present. I know it will take a while before I am completely there, but one step at a time will make a journey.

How You Can Help Sex Trafficking Victims Today {The Demand Project}

Sex Trafficking Trapped Girl

 

Sex Trafficking is a hard topic. It’s hard to talk about, to read about, to believe it’s happening just a few miles away.

Just like you, I have wanted to walk away. As I have read about girls being gang raped and drugged so they would be compliant, and children sexually abused by parents and videos of the abuse being posted online, I have wanted to cover my ears, squeeze my eyes tight and pretend it’s not real. That it’s happening somewhere else, to someone else, and not women and children right here in my city.

It is happening right here in my city and yours to women and children just a few miles away.

But there is something you and I can do. Those women and children need our help, and helping is not as hard as we might think.

On Saturday, October 24th, I went to Riverside Crossing in Jenks, OK, to do the Walk for Justice with The Demand Project. I had never done a walk before and almost didn’t go. I was so nervous as I walked into the event! It was kind of chilly, I had baby with me, and I had no idea what to expect.

I went anyway and was moved by what I learned.

The Demand Project is doing so much to help women and children right here in Tulsa! They are involved in all parts of the prevention to restoration equation helping the victims of child exploitation and sex trafficking to become survivors.

The Demand Project’s story began in 2004 when the founders, Jason and Kristin Weis, heard a news story about a man sexually abusing his 3 year old daughter and then posting it online for others to watch. They were moved to action, picked up their family and move to Oklahoma, so they could receive the training they needed to fight against child exploitation and trafficking. As a result, the Weis formed The Demand Project.

They fight this battle in several ways. One is to educate children, teens, and parents on the risks in the apps and websites they use everyday. The Demand Projects also works with agencies on the front lines who troll the internet to catch child predators.

Kristin herself is a licensed professional counselor who goes with the police to crime scenes and is there waiting to help the girls as soon as they are rescued, and Jason even became a Jenks police officer last year to continue the fight from that side.

But at the walk and from their website I also learned they need our help. We don’t have go on the streets to help. Sometimes it is simple things like filing paperwork, setting up an event, scheduling a presentation, and writing a newsletter. The Demand Project has many, many, behind the scenes jobs where you can help today, learn more on their website “What You Can Do” page.

They also need your donations, I know it doesn’t feel like much. It often just feels like we’re throwing money at a problem, but the more I talk to advocates for child exploitation and sex trafficking the more I see just how much your money does help. These are not organizations that are on the government’s payroll. To fight they need your money to allow them to get the word out, support those who are busting down doors and rescuing victims, and to care for the victims after they are rescued.

They cannot do it alone.

Whenever I question my ability to help, God brings to mind a girl a few miles down the road who is trapped in a hotel room being given drugs so she is compliant for the many men she will see today. He reminds me Jesus took the little boy’s loaves and fish and feed thousands. He can do so much with a willing heart. Pray about it and give your little to God.

We cannot abandon those who have no choice to walk away. {Tweet That!}

 

Today here is where you can get involved

In Oklahoma:

The Demand Project

DaySpring Villa

In South Texas:

Tamar’s Tapestry

In Tennessee:

Thistle Farms

In Florida and Illinois:

Sela Freedom

For other organizations in your area see National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

 

4 Ways to have Quiet Time with Children

reading with my boys

 

I know. Children and quiet time seem incompatible, but they don’t have to be. Like you, I want to share God with my boys on a regular basis. I want to build this habit into their lives early on. But, I have three active boys and have wondered where on earth do I begin?

What I’ve learned in the last five  and a half years is quiet time (and quiet is relative) has to be built into the fabric of my days in order for it to happen. These four time are ones that work well for our family and help quiet time to become a habit and not lost in the hussel. I hope you’ll find them helpful for your family, too.

 

1. Breakfast

The best time I’ve found to have quiet time with my boys is to read Bible stories to them at breakfast. It’s the one time of day I know they will have their bottoms in the chairs and be a captive audience. I just choose my favorite children’s Bible storybooks (some of those are listed on our Resources page) or the Bible (the New Living Translation is my favorite for kids) and read a story to them.

As they are getting older, I do some discussion about the stories and how my sons can apply what they are learning. We might talk about how the little boy shared his lunch with Jesus (John 6:1-15), and I’ll ask them how we can share with others. Yes, having quiet time during breakfast means I almost always eat cold food, but I figure in the long run it’s worth it.

 

2. Car rides

This is one of my favorite times to do quiet time with my boys. Every day I take them to school and pick them up. On the way to school, we like to pray together. I’ll ask them for one thing they’d like to thank God for and what they would like pray about that day. Right now their answers are food, friends, family, but I suspect as they grow older those will begin to change.

We also like to sing to our favorite Christian songs in the car. Now that they are getting bigger they might ask me what a song means, and we’ll talk about it. But usually we just turn up the volume and rock out to our favorites.

 

3. Play time

Yes, you heard me. Quiet and Play don’t always go together, but if you have active kids this is a great way to incorporate quiet time. I’ve had my boys act out stories like David and Goliath, Noah, and others. You can do this through play acting, Legos, dolls, Little People, just about any toy can play a part in a Bible story. We might talk about the story some, but for now since they’re young, the main point is to teach them about God’s love, power, and provision in the past. As they grow, we’ll begin applying those ideas to their future.

 

4. Bedtime

An all time favorite for many families is bedtime. During your bedtime reading grab a Bible storybook, too. We’ve found this is also a great time to practice having the boys say their prayers. Since they are still young it’s often family, friends, toys…but sometimes they surprise us and show what’s really on their hearts. Just this week, my #1 son prayed for a friend at school who was having trouble obeying the teacher. Hearing his concern for a friend showed me the ideas we’ve been teaching him the last five years are finally beginning to take root. Yeah!

Yes, I know you’re exhausted at bedtime and sometimes it’s all you can do to hold out to eight o’clock. But the extra few minutes spent in quiet time with your kids will be worth it in the end. I promise!

I have found incorporating quiet time with my boys in these ways really helps time with God to not get lost in the busyness of our days. Instead, it becomes a habitual part of them, which lays the foundation for the relationship I hope they will continue to build on as they grow older.

Looking at a list can be overwhelming but I challenge you to choose just one of these times and begin to make it a habit for your family. Which one will you choose today? If you’re already practicing quiet time with your kids, what are some other ways you’ve found work well? I’d love to hear them!

 

8 Ways to Plant God’s Word in Your Children’s Hearts

rocks
morgufile

Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.~1 Corinthians 3:8, NASB

I love seeds. They are so full of potential life! I have planted many, many seeds through the years. Then replanted. Then replanted again. Finally, I learned what a particular type of seed needed to grow and then gave it to them. Voila’. Flowers.

There is a work of preparing the soil, which looks nothing like seed planting, but trust me, if the soil is not well prepared for the seeds, the time is wasted in seed planting. I have found the work of soil preparation to take up much more time and be a lot more difficult than seed planting.

It is no different in our lives. One of the most challenging, time consuming, and vital ways to prepare the soil of our children’s hearts to receive the seed of God’s word is to let them see us living out God’s will. Live what we believe. Do what we preach. Let them see that living in God’s will is fun, enjoyable, the best way to live! They need to see us making our own quiet time a priority. They need to see us sitting with our Bible and/or devotional book open in our lap not only at church, but many days during the week. They need to see that it makes a difference in our lives; that it is important to us.

A natural outgrowth of soil preparation is seed planting. No worries when it comes to seed quality. The seed of God’s word is extraordinarily full of life!

morgefile
morgefile

Following are some ideas that worked for me at various times through the years in planting the seed of God’s word in my children’s hearts. If one idea does not work, don’t stress, try a different idea. All ideas will not work for all personalities of children at all times. You know your children best.

  1. It is important to make good use of teachable moments – moments that our children are open to hearing what we are ready to teach.
  2. Work at having children memorize scripture and memorize along with them. To make it more fun you can make a pie chart or graph to color in as each verse is memorized. Plan a fun celebration to have at the end of memorizing a chunk of scripture.
  3. Sing with them songs they learn in class at church. Teach them Bible verse songs, the books of the New Testament song, the books of the Old Testament song, 12 Apostles song, etc. Children love music! It is a great way to teach. It doesn’t matter if you can sing on tune or not.
  4. Back during the days of Nintendo I was able to find several games that worked with the Nintendo which had Bible based messages. That way, playing the video game was fulfilling a purpose.
  5. At gift giving times think of looking for gifts from Bible book stores. There are all sorts of interesting gifts. For example, books and games, pencils and t-shirts with verses on them, simple children versions of Bibles with pictures in them, CDs, and DVDs, among others.
  6. Make it a habit to go to church and take your children. They need good, sound friends, not only when they are very young, but especially in the tumultuous teenage years. I know that all friends found at church will not be stellar, but there will be far fewer “bad companions” found at church than out in the world.
  7. Decorate your home with Bible verse pictures. There are many choices available, anywhere from those suitable for a child’s room, to those beautiful enough for one of the main rooms in the house.
  8. Even while they are young consider and prepare for sending your children to Christian Universities.

Look at the tiny black seeds in the seed picture above. They are the ones that grow into these tall red plants in the picture below. The plants in the picture are teenagers. They have not yet reached their full height with glorious plumes.

Big plants

 

We simply never know when we spend time preparing the soil, planting the seed of God’s word in our children’s hearts, watering and nurturing the planted seed what the appearance of the finished product will be, but God states that his word will never return to him empty.

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:11, NASB

Much of my own memorization, love of scripture, and respect for God’s word came from my growing up years when my parents drug me to church and Bible classes. So start early. If early has passed, start now, where you are, but positive changes must be seen in you for a teenager to take any changes seriously. Make it fun. People, including children, were drawn to Jesus. People in general and children in particular are not drawn to a somber person with a crabby expression on their face.

In addition, let’s adopt as our mantra Deuteronomy 6:5-9:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts [soil preparation]. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates [seed planting].

Blessings,

Cindy

Preparing the Soil

 

Amber Grow

 

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.He who has ears,[a] let him hear. ~ Matt. 13:1-9, ESV

It amazes me how many people I run across who answer “none” as far as spiritual faith goes.  I ask the question “do you have any particular spiritual or religious belief?” and their answer is “no”. Even five years ago when I was in my first job out of graduate school I would get answers more akin to “my parents go to such and such church”, “I was raised (insert flavor of church here)”. Now, more often than not I get “none”.

I also speak to people who hold a faith, however they do not teach their children because they want them to make up their own minds regarding spirituality. I want to shout WHAT?!?!? This is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of your child’s life and you are leaving it to chance? I have met parents who are more interested in indoctrinating their children on sports teams than teaching then about Jesus. Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

So, how do we prepare to plant a seed in our children’s hearts?

  1. Prepare the Gardner: Be in the Word daily. If you are not properly prepared and knowledgeable about what you are planting it will be difficult when it comes to your child. Live your beliefs and let your children know that your personal daily quiet time is important. I know it has been mentioned multiple times before, but seeing mom immersed daily in the Word while I was growing up was a steady comfort through the turmoil.
  2. Prepare the soil (1): Soil needs to be soft. A child’s heart can harden from absent parents, abuse, neglect, implications or statements related to them not being enough. This could be good enough, smart enough, strong enough etc. A child who knows that they are loved by their parents will have a heart prepared to learn and grow. In my work I teach parents and children about what I call the Target Zone. (Also called the Window of Tolerance in Integrative Parenting by Wesselmann, Schweitzer, and Armstrong). When children are in this Target Zone they are able to learn and grow. When children are out of this target zone is when the stress response is engaged (fight, flight, freeze, faint, funny). Children can go one of two directions. They can become hyper-aroused (hitting, yelling, panicking) or hypo-aroused (shut down, isolating, daydreaming, zoned out). Providing the emotional support for children to be in this Target Zone will allow for their heart and mind to be open to learning.
  3. Prepare the soil (2): Soil also needs to be fertilized. How do we fertilize a child’s heart? By giving it love, affection and discipline in the correct doses. If you put every option of fertilizer into the soil it will be too much and may rot your plant. Just as too much of a good thing can cause rotten roots, too much of a good thing can also cause a rotten child. Create the balance between “yes” and “no” and always leave room for grace.
  4. Prepare for the proper time: The timing needs to be right, you can’t plant sunflowers in the winter and expect them to grow. I talked with someone several years ago who told me their parents believed in “Proverbial discipline”. They would be spanked while their parents quoted “Spare the rod spoil the child” and “Beat the child he will not die.” While they remember these moments years later, I’m not sure that it provided an affinity for the scriptures. Remember that scripture is for the edification of others as well. Use bedtime for reading Bible stories, use time in the car for playing Faith-based music. Children are naturally curious, allow them to use that curiosity to learn about the stories in the Bible.

Whatever it is, start today! Tend the gardens of their hearts as a master gardener “And when they are old they will not stray from it”.

Taking time to “See” our Children

Daily I struggle with focusing on my family and really paying attention to them.  I get so caught up in working, cleaning, and just doing that I forget to be a student of my children. This past Monday while I made my weekly round of my gardens checking on their health, God spoke to me about the importance of doing the same with my family members. Do I really study them on a regular basis to see how they are doing? Do I make sure they are thriving and not just surviving? Truthfully, I don’t.

Cole  02

Usually I see them for a few minutes as we eat breakfast together and do our daily devotional, going through the motions but not really seeing them. We work together as we do chores, rushing through them to get on to something better. Then later in the day, I might see them in passing as they go by my office door or stop to ask for a snack or drink. We might spend a few minutes together in the afternoon if there’s time between activities and supper, and then it’s off to bed with rushed stories, prayers, and bedtime hugs.  This is usually the way it is, but not the way I want it to be.

As I read the book Hands Free Mama, I’m reminded that quality time doesn’t always mean a huge chunk. Sometimes it just means moving my gaze from staring out the window during breakfast mentally reviewing my to-do list to looking my children in the eyes as they explain their latest invention. It can mean smiling and relaxing while we do chores together instead of racing through them and trying to get everything “right.” Mainly, it means being fully present in the moment.

Sometimes quality time can mean big chunks of time. Lately through friends on Facebook and my Bible reading, I’ve been convicted about the importance of the Sabbath day rest. After one of my friend’s Father died this past month, she posted that she always remembered him taking Saturdays to spend with the family, even though he was a busy preacher. Then as I read through Exodus this spring, I was reminded of how the Sabbath day is the only one of the 10 Commandments we don’t really keep anymore. However, rest must be truly important if God even commanded the land to be given rest (Lev. 25:3-5) and He himself took time to rest (Gen. 2:2-3).

So this past Sunday, I tried hard to take time to rest. Not just take a nap, though that was part of it, but to put aside the to-do list and the phone and really spend time with my family. It was hard at first. I had to overlook that the house needed straightened, and at first it felt like I was “watching” myself playing with my kids instead of really joining in the fun. As I marched with Liam around the house in a marching band and then built a tree house with Lincoln Logs, I found it easier to really play and rest.

This extended time with my family gave me the chance to really see them and learn more about them as we played together and just enjoyed each other. I saw Luke’s eyes sparkle in the sunlight, and Liam’s excitement over the frog he caught. I saw Ethan’s joy in a tickle fight, and his excitement over the Lego creation he had built. These are moments I would have missed had I been doing my usual Sunday survive and veg (if I got the chance) routine.

These moments are precious but there is so much more to them. If we constantly rush through our days and don’t really see our kids, that’s the picture they’ll have of God, too. They may grow up to think God also doesn’t have the time for them and is uninterested in them. Teaching our children about God and His word is extremely important, but until they see a clear picture of God in us, they will not believe His word. Now we don’t have to be perfect. We can’t be. However, we do need to be aware of the picture we give them of God.

As we go through this week, let’s commit to each other to stop surviving and rushing through our days. Let’s take time to be in the moment and see those around us as we go throughout our day. This doesn’t mean changing up our whole day, though it could, but instead just slowing down a notch or two and being in the moment. Today let’s be there and really see our families and those around us.

When you took time to slow down today, what moments did you see that you might have missed?

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Fall 2015 Study Website