The Art of Raising Prayer Warriors: Part 1

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

img_7925_fotorI have to admit, I hated praying. For years as a professed Christian, I spent no more than five minutes each night. Every once in a while I might do ten to fifteen minutes, but seriously, looking back at it now I realize how pitiful that was. I was far from fulfilling I Thessalonians 5:17 where it says to “Pray without ceasing.” God was still graceful and answered many of my prayers, but I came to realize that my pathetic prayer life stunted my spiritual growth in multiple ways. I was not receiving the full blessing that comes with being in communion with our heavenly Father. Even though I spent a lot of time studying the Bible, my discernment, my ability to resist temptation, and my ability to fight the spiritual battle were all weakened because I lacked a real prayer life. But through the encouragement of a friend, I have come to enjoy prayer and to seek it in ways that I had never done so before.

Early this year, I started thinking of how I could encourage my children the way my friend had encouraged me to not only pray more but to love it. I don’t want my girls to waste years missing out on something so amazingly powerful like I did. I therefore meditated on it and I discovered that a lot of the same reasons I had disliked praying were the same reasons my children did not enjoy it either. I asked God for wisdom and direction on the things that I could do encourage them to become prayer warriors and now I want to share what I learned with you in a series of blogs. This is the first one.

This first strategy is simple and straight forward. You have probably heard this shared many times, but it works and I have seen the fruit of it this past year with my girls.

Make sure they see AND hear you pray. Children learn best from watching you, especially young children. It may seem that in their multiple distractions, they don’t notice what you are doing, but they do. They don’t miss a beat and if they don’t see you praying, they will wonder why they have to do it. Both my nine-year-old and my four-year-old are quick to point out any inconsistency with the things I say and the things I do. I, therefore, know that I have to model praying behavior for them if I expect them to listen to my encouragements to pray.

Just as important as it is for our kids to see us praying, it is also important for them to hear us praying. We will sometimes seek to pray in a quiet place away from the noise of our children. Or we might be tempted to quit praying when the kids interrupt us. There are certainly good reasons to do that and we do need quiet in our own personal prayer lives. However, I want to encourage you to also pray in spite of your children’s commotion. Even though it is hard for us to concentrate, it does something for them. It really does. Believe or not, they are listening.

A couple of years ago my then two-year-old was role playing with her toys. At one point in her story, one doll started praying for the others. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I was surprised because the words that came out of my child’s mouth were almost verbatim phrases she had heard me pray. Up until that point, I had not even known she had been listening, but she obviously had been.

Now I am getting to enjoy the fruits of modeling prayer for them. My four-year-old sometimes wakes up early and she will find her way to my war room (a.k.a. family room) where I pray in the mornings. She snuggles next to me. We have had enough conversations about what I am doing that she knows to try to be quiet, but many times she is not quiet. Sometimes she is asking me a million questions, but many times she is repeating everything that I say. The latter is music to my ears because I know that she is learning how to pray. And just this morning, I was praying and my older daughter was getting ready for school. She then found her way to the couch on the opposite end of me and bowed her head. There was no nagging on my part. I had not even asked her to come pray with me. She did it all on her own.

BONUS TIP: Form a prayer/play group. Yes it will be loud and yes it may be hard to concentrate but prayer is powerful in numbers. Just as important, your children will  see and hear you pray together. What a wonderful testimony for their young lives and a wonderful way for them to learn about prayer.

 If you think this article would bless someone, you are welcomed to share it!

Why I Stopped Praying for the Election

For far too long, I have been fretting about what the future of this nation means for my daughters. I have prayed tirelessly over our future leaders, over our laws, over this godless culture, over this coming election. I obviously want my daughters and their children to be raised in a safe and wholesome society that honors God. The word does say in I Timothy 2:1-2 that we should pray for all those in authority so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life and so that is what I was trying to do. And yet, what I saw where things getting worse instead of getting better.

Then the Lord revealed something to me through prayer groups and intercession that changed my whole outlook. He showed me that I have been focusing and putting too much trust in this nation. I have been putting my trust in men and thinking that if only the right leader was elected, things could turn around. That kind of revelation rocked my world as I have loved this country since the day that I immigrated here decades ago. This revelation shook my foundations as an American patriot. My heart sank, but as I continued to pray and search the scripture, my heart found hope.

He has shown me several things in scripture but this week, I was moved by what I read II Chronicles regarding Hezekiah. What struck me was what this king of Judah did when he first came into power. II Chronicles 29 teaches us that in the first year of his reign, Hezekiah set himself to cleanse the temple of the Lord. Think about that for a minute. He did not restructure alliances. He did not build up the military might. He did not change governing laws. He cleansed the temple and the reason that he did it is revealed in verse 10 where it says, “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.” Hezekiah was going to get himself and his nation right before God before worrying about anything else.

In the age of grace, and post Jesus fulfilling the requirements of the law, what does that mean for us? God has been showing me that we need to cleanse our temple, both at the individual and the corporate level. He has taken me through a process of examining, and reexamining my heart and priorities (I have still work to do). But he has also showed me that while we fret over candidates, and transgenderism, and guns laws (the list goes on), we have ignored the fact that the American church, with some exceptions, is dead.

Now, I know that many will say, “How can you say that? I go to church. I teach a Bible study. Our congregation is growing.”  I will say, that is what I thought too. But when I look at the early churches in the books of Acts, I see churches that were on fire. People lived their faith, day in and day out. What I see in the American church is that we live our faith one day a week. The rest of the time, we are fretting over our professional advancement, on our kids professional advancement, and on how to maintain our comfortable lifestyles. Our churches are active maybe one or two days a week, but the other five days our churches are empty and lifeless.

Our churches are constantly pointing the finger at the sin made by unbelievers who don’t know any better, and fails to look or consider the sin within its own walls. For example, while we rail on the fact that babies are being aborted, what are we doing to reach out to women and help them provide for their children?Are we the type of church that a young, scared teenage girl would go to for help if she got pregnant out of wedlock? For every aborted baby there is a father who failed to provide. What are we doing as a church to teach boys and men how to be fathers? Are we showing grace, and mercy, and the love of Jesus or are we just bringing down judgement?

So instead of focusing so much time on praying for our nation and the coming election, God has changed my focus to pray for the body of Christ. He does not want a church that is lukewarm. He wants a church that is on fire. He wants a church that is reaching out to the poor, healing the sick, taking care of the elderly, providing for the orphans and widows, releasing people from bondage. He wants a church that is fasting and praying and interceding continually. He wants churches that are busting out the seems most days of the week doing His work. Because when that happens, we are truly living for His Kingdom and showing ourselves worthy of that citizenship. This country may one day fade away, but His Kingdom will live forever.

Thinking Before Speaking

For the summer, I decided to teach my daughters one verse of scripture per week. The idea is to pick verses of things that we as a family need to work on. This week’s verse is Proverbs 29:20:

 “Do you see a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope in a fool than with him.”

Once I explained what the word “hasty” meant, my nine-year-old daughter nailed it. She said, “It is when you speak without thinking.” How often do we say things without really thinking them through? We speak out of emotion, but do not take the time to consider how hurtful those words could be to the hearer. I hear many adults (myself included) blurt things out, but once something has been said, it is hard to take it back. I realized that thinking before speaking is a habit I can teach my daughters from a young age and that is what I decided to do.

So for this week, my young ones will be focusing on how they speak to each other and how they speak to us as parents. I will be encouraging them to take the time to think things through before proceeding verbally. This is something I also need to work on as a wife and a mother and I let them know that I too needed help in that area. I will be keeping them accountable, and they will be keeping me accountable all while maintaining God’s word at the center of it. It is a beautiful thing.

The results of our first lesson? Surprisingly, my daughters enjoyed our lesson with my older daughter commenting after we finished, “Mom, that was fun.” It certainly was not the reaction I was expecting, but I welcomed it gladly. It was not a long dragged out lesson. It was no more than 15 minutes and everyone was able to participate, even the four-year-old. Throughout the day, we have randomly been reciting the verse to help us memorize it and my oldest daughter is thrilled that she can now recite it on a moment’s notice.

Are there areas in your family dynamic that need improvement? I recommend finding the applicable scripture in the Bible and work on it together as a family. You will be surprised how much the children will actually enjoy it (as I was) because you are spending quality time with them. Also, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities to your children. Just as much as they need to know that they are under your authority and need your guidance, it is helpful for them to see that you are also under authority (Jesus) and you too need His guidance.

Removing the Sin to Remove the Violence

Another school shooting. Another violent end. As I find my emotions raging, I try to bring myself down and reflect on the God that made me and the God that created us. I try to reflect on His word and His words of wisdom in times like these. Otherwise I think I might just go crazy. In my reflection, I came across these verses.

Psalm 141:4-5 Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.

Let those words sink in. Meditate on them. The Psalmist here gives us the anecdote to preventing evil deeds. It is reproof and correction. He is begging for righteous men to correct him when he begins to stray so that he does not fall into wicked ways.

It is no wonder that as a nation we find ourselves in the place we are in. We have become so afraid to correct and reprove in fear of offending, that we are now letting evil run amuck. We are in a society where we teach children that everything is okay because we don’t want to ruin their sensibilities. We in turn produce children that feel entitled, selfish, and eventually some of them become wicked. And even if our children don’t initially turn out to be bad kids, we produce weak-minded children easily manipulated by evil doctrines. They are easily manipulated by the internet, by a godless entertainment industry, by wicked thoughts.

My husband had an experience recently that is telling of how far our society has strayed. While in class for a course that he is taking, he noticed that there was a young man that was continuously holding a conversation while the instructor was trying to teach. Many where annoyed by this man’s lack of respect for the professor but no one was willing to correct the young man. No one, until my husband stepped in. Yes, he chided the young man. Yes, he probably embarrassed him. My husband is a former Marine so I know it probably was not pretty, but the young man was silent for the rest of the class. And although he might be mad and embarrassed for a time, he will probably think twice before doing the same thing again in another class.

That hold incident forced me to ask the question, where were the other men or women of courage? What puzzled me even more is the thanks and pats on the back my husband got from his classmates afterwards. What once would have been expected, an adult correcting and disciplining an unruly young man, is now so out of the ordinary that my husband’s actions where a surprise. But by everyone else’s response, I could also tell that my husband did what everyone wanted done, but no one had the courage to do.

Here is the bottom line, if we do not step up and correct now, even if it is not our own children, sin will fester in their hearts. Sin is what leads men to do evil and wicked deeds, not the weapon itself. I have my opinions on gun control. Personally, I am all about background checks but I also know that unless states share criminal histories with one another, background checks are useless. I am also for stricter penalties for irresponsible gun owners (leaving a gun within reach of a child for example). However, the gun doesn’t cause a man or woman to do evil things. I know this because we own many guns, and I my neighbors own lots of guns, but neither we nor they would ever be the type to randomly shoot people.

It is a sin issue. We want to change our violent society? We need to target the sin in men’s hearts and there are many ways of doing it. One is reproving and correcting our children and youth. We also need to stop glorifying sin through music and movies. And we need to give room to the only one that can completely heal us from a sinful past, Jesus Christ. And for those that we cannot influence, we can do what the Psalmist says, “my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.”

Get Ready for War!


Amazingly, the War Room is now the number one movie in America! My heart rejoices knowing that such a powerful movie is moving the hearts of God’s people and calling them back to a life of prayer. Prayer should not be relegated to five minutes before we go to bed. It should be a central part of our time and efforts. And that is what the movie showed.

Reflecting on the movie, and as begin to host prayer events in my house, I wanted to put together a cheat sheet, especially to those that are new to prayer to help them improve their prayer life. It will help you not only elongate your prayer, but also improve the quality of it by using Biblical principles. These are principles that I learned from women in my life that are prayer warriors that will spend hours on their and knees and who actually hear from God (not surprisingly). These are the Miss Claras in my life. Obviously, prayer does not have to follow this pattern exactly, but I have found that including these elements will help keep your heart in the right place day after day and you will see God move in your life more and more.

Get ready for War!!


Evaluate Your Strategic Environment

1. Praises and Thankfulness: 

Begin your prayer by praising God either through words or songs. Through your praises you will be reminded about how big He is and how little the enemy is in comparison. Through thankfulness you will strengthen your faith. You will be reminded about all the things that He has done for you and all the ways that He has blessed you. It will give you confidence that He will come through for you once again.

Psalm 69:34 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with     thanksgiving.

Psalm 95:2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Phillippians 4:6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Psalm 9:1 ….I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

Set Up Your Defenses

2.    Forgive and Be Forgiven: 

Because prayer is such a powerful force, if you start praying more, you become a bigger target for the enemy. The enemy will look for weaknesses in your life to attack you or your family. Therefore you need to make sure your walls are built up high to keep the enemy out. All he needs is a little open crack to wreak havoc so patch up those cracks quickly. Open cracks include unconfessed sins especially a failure to forgive others.

During this portion of you prayer you want to forgive anyone you have not forgiven and you want to ask for forgiveness for your errors. Be specific, acknowledge your sins/mistakes and ask for forgiveness. It also puts you in a place of humility and helps you search your heart to make sure the petitions you ask of God are coming from a pure heart.

Matthew 6:15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Luke 17:4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

3. Ask God for Protection:

This is essentially where you set up spiritual forces around your perimeter. You do this by asking God to protect you either through His mighty hand, through his angels, and through what Jesus accomplished by his blood (think Passover Lamb).

Psalm 91 (the whole thing) but some specifics part of it… verse 11: For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. verses 9-10: Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge, no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Colossians 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Go on the Offensive

4. Put Forward Your Petitions:

This is the time to tell God your needs. It is the first step in going on the offensive by identifying the targets.  Give him every detail and make your requests specific. This is your time to “gossip” with God. Tell him what bothers you, what things in your life are affecting you. If you think about it that way, you will find that your prayer just turned from a five minute prayer to an hour prayer.

And think about your requests. Do they line up with the word of God? Is your request something that would please God to do based now what you know of the Bible? Asking for the latest new gadget to show off to your friends probably does not line up with the word of God, but asking for healing for a family member or asking for your financial needs to be met so that you may provide for your family and be able to give to others probably does.

I John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

James 1: 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

5. Let God Lead You in Prayer:

At this point you want to quiet your heart. Let God talk to you. If something comes to mind that you should pray for, then do it then. I have often found that it is at these times that God tells us what areas in our life and the lives of others need prayers. These are the times that God tells you what areas the enemy is attacking and encourages to pray more fervently for those areas. This is the time where you are actively engaging the enemy and where somewhere in the spiritual world God is focusing his forces against the enemy’s minions! This is where the supernatural happens! This is where the miracles happen!

John 4:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Luke 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

READ Daniel chapter 10 to see how God’s angels actually engage in war against the enemy.

Surviving Long Runs with a Toddler

Long Run CoverIf you are like me and like to run, the only way to make that happen is to tow along the baby or toddler. Running when my little girl was a baby was a lot easier because she would sleep most of the time. However, I soon found out that running with a toddler was a whole different story. They don’t sleep and they don’t like to sit still! At least mine doesn’t. It started to become frustrating for her and therefore frustrating for me.

Like most toddlers, mine is full of energy and does not like to be strapped in for extended periods of time. That did not work well when I aimed to run at least six-miles at a time while pushing 40 lbs plus the weight of the jogging stroller, making my run even longer. The temptation was there to just stick an iPad in front of her and let her watch a cartoon or play a game so that I could complete my work-out. Although I did do that once or twice, I cringed because I wanted her to enjoy being outside as much as I do. I finally found techniques that worked. I don’t always use all of them but a combination of a few of these allows both of us to get as much out of this mommy-daughter time.

FullSizeRender1. Stop to Stretch. After the first mile or two, we always stop to stretch. It is so incredibly cute to see her copy me and try to do everything I do.  I also like to add a couple of silly things such as, “Reach your hands all the way up to the sky!” or “Hop on one foot!” or “Do the wiggle!” When we stretch together, it seems as though she sees herself as part of the run and she is more likely to be calm during most of our six-mile loop if she feels that she is part of the process.

2. Have a Conversation. I often find that my little girl will sit and enjoy nature if I talk to her about it. We look for birds, search for crazy looking trees, and point out beautiful flowers. We talk about how God created them and what our favorites are of each kind. It is also a great time to practice basic skills. If I am running near the lake, we’ll identify the colors of the kayaks or count the number of bike riders that pass us by.

I know this means I can’t turn up the volume on my iPod and zone out, but I have found that if we talk for 10 minutes, she will sit on her own and enjoy the view for another 10. Then I can enjoy a song or two. But even if she does not, she get so much out of me engaging her in conversation and if I listen, I get a lot out of it too.

3. Sing Songs. Since I lack any singing genes, this may not be so enjoyable for anyone else that may be sharing the running path with me, but my toddler gets a kick out of it. Usually, she picks the songs and we have a blast with our renditions of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star,” “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” and “Jesus Loves Me.”

4. Identify Reachable Mile Stones and Let Them Play. I really hated to stop while running mostly because I hated the feeling I got when I started running again after a long break. However, when I was running by the lake, I felt a little selfish strapping my kid in and not letting THEM enjoy being there as well. Now, during our run, we make two stops. One of them is to just throw rocks into the water. The other one is to explore one of their piers. I feel this works because if she has something to look forward to, she will sit and wait. On one occasion, I was feeling very tired and wasn’t planning on doing more than two miles. However, because she insisted on hitting one of our mile stones, I managed to run four-miles instead. My little three year old ended up being a great encouragement and helped me push myself.

If you are really hard core, and don’t want the interruption in the work out. This is a good time to do push ups, squats, or burpees while your little one runs around and burns energy.

5. Have Them Run With You. Little kids are more likely to sit still if they are tired. Sometimes, and if she is up to it, she runs along side of me. Kids are imitators and especially at that age they just want to do everything you do. She enjoys the idea of “running” just like me and I like it because I feel like I am instilling in her a love for running. After a block or two of sprints and stops and pretending that she is just too fast for me she is wore out and will remain in the jogging stroller until the end of our run.

6. Bring 2 or 3 Figurines, Small Dolls, etc. Although I will not bring the iPad, I do keep a few toys handy. It grabs her attention and she will sit in the stroller and put her imagination into high gear. It is another simple way of keeping her entertained and giving me the time to keep on trekking.

7. Bring a Healthy Snack. I tend to run mid-morning which coincides with snack time. To avoid a meltdown, I always make sure to have a good healthy snack on hand for her. It gives her yet another thing to look forward to as we make progress.

Some of you may not like the idea of having interruptions while running and you certainly can ignore that advice. I myself was very hesitant at first and it is what led to my frustrations. However, I found that I get as much of a workout with the interruptions as without them. More importantly, my toddler now looks forward to our runs instead of dreading them, and that just makes life so much easier for the both of us. .

Crystal, China, or Pottery

I am reading a wonderful book by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond called Kingdom Living for the Family. It has helped me reshape how I think about my relationship with my husband and how God created us differently and gave us different functions. However, I was touched by the authors comment on I Peter 3:7 “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

I am a woman that loves to do Spartan Races,  got her Master’s from the Naval War College,  traveled on her own to some very remote places—so it is difficult for me to look at myself as the “weaker vessel.” However, I think the author explained this verse beautifully but at the same time convicted me that I need to leave behind my secular way of thinking and replace it with Kingdom thinking.  My “accomplishments” as defined in today’s culture matter little in God’s kingdom. Who I am as a wife, a mother, a friend, a neighbor and how I reflect Jesus Christ in my every day living is what really matters. This is what the author said on page 75 and I hope it blesses you like it blessed me.

“This verse about the wife being the “weaker vessel” is another aunthood I had misinterpreted all my life. I thought it meant that the husband was superior to his wife. I thought it said that I was strong and she was weak. The word “weaker” is comparative rather than superlative, meaning the wife is just a little weaker than the husband is weak. It says nothing at all about the husband being strong.

I had also interpreted the word ‘weaker’ to signify that she was inferior; and, therefore, to mean that I was superior. Once again I had read the verse incorrectly. God asked me what kind of vessels we had into our home. I told Him we had pottery, china, and crystal. He asked Me which of these I considered the strongest and which was the weakest. I replied that the pottery was the most durable. We could toss it in the dishwasher with little special care, but the china and crystal required special handling. The Lord wanted to know which of the vessels I considered the best. Well, the china and crystal are the most expensive. The crystal is the best we have in our home. So, the Lord showed me that is the way with my wife. The ‘weaker vessel’ is more easily broken. Ida Mae confesses that she tends to crack easily! But she is also the best I have. She needs and deserves special care.”

I am fine crystal and I am easily broken. And I am thankful for a husband that treats me with special care and a God and Savior that can put all the pieces back together.

Parenting with Grace and Truth

Grace Truth CoverDuring a small group discussion last night, I was reminded how God may at times be displeased with us and will correct us, but his acts of mercy and forgiveness are even more pronounced. This morning as I reflected on that discussion, I remembered a wonderful verse that embodies that sentiment.  John 1:17 says, “But the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ gave us truth but also gave us grace. Truth sometimes hurts, especially when it is in the context of our mistakes and failures. But in Christ’s eyes, truth does not come without the grace, the forgiveness, and the love. And that is exactly how Jesus Christ related to people. He gave them truth. He told sinners that they needed to change their ways, but at the same time he gave them grace. He loved them, forgave them, and looked past their sinful nature. Ultimately, he died for them. He died for us.

I realized this morning that that is exactly how I should approach parenting, with truth and with grace. Our children need to be told the truth when their behavior is not up to par and when they have missed the mark. Discipline is an important part of parenting to help correct their incorrect thinking. However, they also need to see grace from us. They need to know that our love is not dependent on their perfection or on how good they are, just the way God’s love is not dependent on how well we behave. It is by grace that we are saved.

I saw this play out in two different ways with my eight-year-old daughter. A few days ago I sat down with her and in my most calm tone told her that her behavior the past week needed improvement. I was actually quite proud of myself for showing extreme self control. I left her room and went downstairs to finish dinner. When my husband called her down to eat, uncharacteristically she did not answer. My husband and I looked at each other and went upstairs to find out what was going on. We found her sobbing in her room, “I am such a bad kid! I cannot do anything right!”  My husband gave me a look of, “What in the world did you tell her?” I swore to him that it wasn’t anything bad other than to point out that she needed to do better in certain areas.

My daughter does tend to be overdramatic, but we could tell that she was genuinely feeling bad about herself. Of course, we hugged her and kissed her and explained to her that it was important that she be corrected, that bad behavior would have consequences, but that by no means meant that we thought she was a bad kid. She calmed down and I believe she understood us and believed us, but it certainly made me reflect on how I could have handled that better. It also made me question whether my daughter is seeing enough grace from us her parents to know that we love her unconditionally and that reminded me of a time when I got it right.

My daughter has a chore chart that tracks her responsibilities throughout the day. One missed chore translates to money deducted from her allowance (meager as it may be). On one particular day, she neglected one of her responsibilities so I deducted a point. By the end of the day, before her daddy came home (he is the one that checks her chart each day) I told her that I was going to re-add the point she had missed. She gave me a funny look and said, “What was that for?”

“Nothing,” I said, “I was just being gracious.” (I believe that response was God inspired.)

“What is gracious?”

“Gracious comes from the word grace. Grace is unmerited favor. That means that you get something even though you did not earn it.”

“Just like Jesus died on the cross for us because he loved us even though we did not deserve it?”

“Exactly! And that is the reason that we now have eternal life.”

She had a huge smile on her face, looked at her chart, hugged me, and ran upstairs. What had once been an abstract concept, became real for her right there and then. She understood grace. She understood love.

Thinking back to the whole “bad kid” episode, I realize that after correcting her, I needed to point out all the things that make her so wonderful. Especially for my very sensitive child. I needed to balance out my chastisement so that she would also feel loved and worthy. She needed to feel grace. And that is what parenting is, a balancing act between grace and truth.

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Easy Red Lentil Kale Soup

photo_fotorThis is one of my go-to recipes for a quick easy winter lunch, especially this winter. It has been so cold that almost the entire family (excluding my eight-year-old who hates soup) looks forward to no matter how many times I make it. It warms the soul and it is yummy too. The best part is that it is super easy!

I use home-made chicken stock as my base. I regularly buy a cut-up whole organic chicken. I will use the chicken for chicken salad sandwiches, wraps, or tacos and I will freeze the stock to use at a later date. I think that for this recipe you could foreseeably use store-bought chicken stock, but it may take some of the yumminess out of it.

The other key ingredient is kale. I love kale for so many reasons but it is an awesome cold/flu season food. It is extremely high in Vitamin C (not to mention Vitamin K and A), high in antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflamatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients. You really can’t go wrong with kale as far as your health goes.

The final ingredient is red lentils. The real reason I love these is because they cook so quickly! But red lentils are a great source of fiber and protein and I even hear that it can help prevent weight gain.

That is it. Three ingredients. Can anything else be so simple?

Easy Red Lentil Kale Soup
Print Recipe
An easy winter soup that is healthy and nutritious too!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Easy Red Lentil Kale Soup
Print Recipe
An easy winter soup that is healthy and nutritious too!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings: people
  1. Combine the chicken stock, lentils and kale in a small pot. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft. That is it. You are done. Serve hot with some fresh bread!
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What does the Bible tell us about vaccines?

Courtesy of the CDC

Courtesy of the CDC

Nothing. I know there are a lot of parents out there that are struggling with this decision. Some of us vaccinate but we may question one or two vaccines. It is not easy being a parent today. We have to constantly make decisions for our kids on what they can watch on TV, on what to eat, and on their health for example. The problem is that we have imperfect information and we do not know what “expert” to trust. For those of us that are Christian, it would be so much easier if there was a verse in the Bible that said, “Though shall vaccinate,” or “Thou shall not vaccinate,” but alas, that is not the case. It appears on the surface that we are left in the dark about this very important decision and we are left wondering who to believe.

Pro-vaccination advocates tell you that you can trust the science and yet some of us have had a few experiences with the medical community that makes you question the “science.” I have gone to the doctor for something simple as backspin, and I have had three different doctors give me three different diagnosis, one of which told me that I had to suffer with this for the rest of my life. He was incorrect by the way. On the vaccine issue, I do remember back when I barely questioned the vaccination process, going to my health center and inquiring about the flu vaccine. My doctor told me something to the effect of, “We are no longer giving the flu shot here because we got a ‘bad batch’ and a lot of the kids here got febrile seizures. We stopped giving it all together until next season. But you can go to CVS and get one there.” Whoa! What? Really? All that kept going through my head was “bad batch” and “febrile seizures.” How does that happen? And so began a very painful journey of research to decide whether to vaccinate my kids, which vaccines to give them, and when I should vaccinate them.

Anti-vaccination advocates will tell you that the flu vaccines have preservatives that are harmful and that there have been countless cases of people having bad and deadly reactions. They will tell you that the testing is done by the pharmaceutical companies themselves instead of third parties and therefore cannot be trusted. I know people personally who have told me that the vaccine caused their child’s condition and I have no reason not to believe them. And yet, it is hard to ignore the amazing transformation of a country like India when they introduced the polio vaccine and how it practically eradicated polio in that country (although anti-vaccine advocates have questioned this success). I also look around here in the US and do not see illnesses that were common when I was a kid like the measles (at least until the recent outbreak) or the chicken pox and I just find it hard to believe that that was not the result of vaccines.

After looking at a number of reports, and studies, and charts, and stats, I became even more confused and I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. Stats provided by anti-vaccination groups certainly support their position. The stats provided by pro-vaccionation advocates supports theirs. This whole issue has forced me to do some inner soul searching and go back to the one that I CAN trust and that is God. The bottom line is that I don’t know what the right answer is and the Bible does not speak to this specific subject. However,  I do know that I can trust my God and the Bible does tell us that when we face difficult times to bring it before Him in prayer. Phillipans 4:6 “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Therefore, I know that I can lay this problem before Him and tell Him my concerns:

God, I want to do your will. I want to be a good steward of these children that you have given me. I want to love them and protect them as you have required of me to do. Do I protect them by vaccinating them or do I protect them by not vaccinating them?  Part of me is distrustful of the vaccines and pharmaceutical companies. But within each of these companies are good people, smart people, and people that love you so that in my simple mind it cannot be all bad. I know some of these people personally and many are godly people. Part of me also gets fearful when I see these outbreaks and I want to rush my kids to get every vaccine under the sun. But if I do vaccinate, does that mean that I am not trusting you? The other part of me aches for the parents of children with compromised immune systems and I want to do right by them, but  does that mean that I go against my instincts as a mom to protect my own ? Lord, I am conflicted. There is so much information out there and my brain cannot possibly comprehend it all so I put this decision before you. Only you know what the right course of action is and so if I choose wrongly, know my heart and that my intentions where good. Direct my paths. Make everything work for your glory. 

I have made my decision on what to do about these vaccines and I am done worrying about it because I have laid my course before God. I have given it to Him and now my job is twofold. One, is to trust that God will hold true to his promises (Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the LORD and your plans will be established.) The second is to be gracious with those that disagree with my decision.

One of the most unfortunate consequences of this measles outbreak (other than kids being sick) is the vileness that has come out from both sides of the fence. Most of us are parents are just trying to do what is right for our kids and yet I have seen some of the meanest and most vile insults directed towards the other side, particularly towards parents that do not vaccinate. There is a lack of compassion and most parents that I know that do not vaccinate are good and intelligent people. Most of them actually decided to take that route because their child had  a bad reaction. It might not have been deadly or life changing, but who am I to tell a mother that heard her child scream inconsolably for more than four hours after a  vaccine that she shouldn’t trust her instincts? Who am I to tell her that she shouldn’t vaccinate?  It is just plain mean spirited and yet we all know that condemnations, insults, and angry words will rarely soften someone’s heart to their point of view. I do not want to be like that. I want to stay true to Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. I want to learn from different points of view and I want to be loving and kind when I discuss these issues because that is what Christ would want me to do.

So in the end, what did I decide to do regarding the vaccines? Only God knows. Just kidding. You are welcome to read an earlier blog that details my decision and how I got there.

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