Family Mission

One of the poorest areas in Laredo.

Early this year, my husband and I decided that we needed to do something a bit out of the ordinary for the sake of our girls. Like many American kids in their generation, they carry an entitlement attitude and have the expectation that we exist only to cater to them. This is despite our best efforts to not spoil them, to not buy them too many toys, to often say no, and in many ways to make life a little difficult for them. Honestly, our girls do not truly have a concept of hard work nor do they know what it means to experience need. So we decided to give them an experience that would put both of those things front and center. We decided to spend a month working at my parents’ ministry in Laredo, TX.

Laredo is a not-so-small city right on the border with Mexico. Although you will see some wealth, there is also poverty so extreme, that you wonder whether you are still in the United States, but you are. And my parents’ church has a mission in Laredo to reach out to the poorest of the poor.

Well, today was our first day and we hit the ground running. Our first task was to fill grocery bags of food that will be given to the elderly later in the week. We had to sort through various boxes and make sure each grocery bag had an adequate mix of goods. It was quite the operation, pulling boxes off shelves, taking empty boxes to the recycling, moving filled bags to storage, etc. But the most beautiful part of it all was seeing the determined look on my daughters’ faces as they diligently accomplished each of their tasks. It felt good to do this as a family and know that our efforts would bless the lives of so many people. This took up most off our morning.

After a wonderful lunch of deep-dish pizza, made by my mom in the church kitchen for us and all the volunteers, we went to Ein Gedi Ranch. Ein Gedi is a small working farm owned by the church in the middle of one of the poorest and most forgotten areas of Laredo. It was sad to find out that people will use this community as a dumping ground for their garbage. But this isn’t a land fill. There are families, children that live, work, and play here. And thanks to Ein Gedi, the children have a safe place to come play, to learn, and to eat.

While at Ein Gedi, we distributed shoes to children that had attended Vacation Bible School the week before. Each family waited patiently to receive their shoes while the local school district provided lunch. The church has a working relationship with the school district in their efforts to make sure poor kids are still getting at least one nutritional meal a day during the summer break. Since there were many volunteers helping with the efforts we let our girls play outside. They loved seeing the ducks and chickens and playing with the dogs that live there ignoring the outside temperature of 100 degrees.

After Ein-Gedi, there was still more work to be done. We returned to the main church to sort boxes and boxes of donated goods. Each donated appliance had to be tested to make sure it worked. Other items had to be thoroughly cleaned before going into its respective bins, and some items would just need to be tossed out. My husband pulled the boxes from the truck into the sorting room. My ten-year-old worked with grandma to price items that would be sold in the church store to raise money for their ministry. My five-year-old was the runner. She was sent to deliver things like tape to the church secretary or plastic forks to the church kitchen. I loved how serious to took this important mission taking off in a full sprint every time she was sent out.

We finished our day by making a run to Wal-Mart to buy shoes for the kids who did not get shoes earlier in the day at Ein-Gedi (their shoe-size had not been available). Their shoes will be delivered on Friday.

All in all, by the end of the day we were all exhausted and maybe even a little cranky. We will be sleeping soundly tonight, and hopefully we will be well-rested to start this all over again tomorrow.


Essential Oil Fit for a King!

I love my essential oils. I am by no means an expert on them, but I use them a lot for medicinal purposes, for repelling unwanted pests, and just because they smell so good!  You can therefore imagine my excitement to find out that the oil Mary of Bethany used to anoint Jesus’ feet was spikenard, an oil you can order right off of Amazon! (Technically, it is not exactly the same, but the raw ingredient is.) More importantly, I enjoyed finding out more about this oil and its significance in the Biblical record.

In all honesty, when I had read this account before, I had not paid much attention to the type of oil, and if I had, I would have been clueless about what it actually was. Most of us have heard of myrrh and frankincense (gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus as a young child), but I don’t really think spikenard has made into our every day language. However, as I was preparing to teach a Bible study to my daughter and her friends regarding this Biblical account, I was compelled to pay attention to every detail. One of those details was the use of spikenard.

As I poured my energy and time into this study, I wanted to find out what spikenard was, how it was used by the ancients, and what its significance was in the anointing of Jesus. Spikenard was a highly expensive oil or ointment (as mentioned in scripture and confirmed by outside sources) derived from a plant that was used not only by the Jews, but many peoples from the Middle East and Asia. It was imported from the areas of present day India, China, and Nepal as the plant is native to the Himalayas. The ancients used it to season food, prepare bodies for burial, medicinal purposes, and as a perfume (See Charles Hatchet, On the Spikenard of the Ancients and Raoul McLaughlin, Rome and the Distant East.)

Jews used it as a component in incense burned at the temple in Jerusalem and apparently to bury their dead. Although I could not find first-hand sources, several online articles mentioned how Jews in Biblical times used it as one of the primary ingredients to prepare bodies for burial along with myrrh. Because nard was produced as an oil and/or ointment, it would allow more powdery substances like myrrh to stick to the body. In the John 12 account of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet with this expensive oil, Jesus himself declares in verse 7 that “she has kept it for the day of my burial” (HCSB version).

Regardless of what it was used for, Nard was highly valued and used by upper classes, including kings. For example, Spikenard appears to have be the primary fragrance in a perfume found in King Tut’s tomb. Therefore, it is only fitting that such an oil would be used to anoint the feet of the King of Kings! And if the oil was one of the primary ingredients for preparing bodies for burial, it brings even more significance to the humble act performed by Mary of Bethany. It shows that she knew exactly what she was doing, and was the first of Jesus’ disciple to acknowledge that he was indeed headed to the cross.

There is also an interesting correlation between the cross and how this oil is used today. While in hospice care, it is used to help patients transition from life to death because spikenard has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety, to calm both body and mind (See and this article). When I read this, it brought my thoughts back to Jesus and what he must have been going through in the days prior to the crucifixion. We know from the record in Luke 22, shortly before his arrest, that Jesus was in agony over what was to come, enough so that he was sweating blood. If we backtrack only a few days to when Mary anointed his feet and filled the room with the scent of nard, I can only assume that the weight of what was before him was already weighing heavily on him. And I wonder, could the nard have been a small detail in how our Heavenly Father (through Mary’s loving action), was helping Jesus relieve some of that anxiety? We won’t know for sure on this side of heaven, but I do wonder. But even if the scent of nard was not physically helping to relieve some of his stress, Mary’s willingness to minister to him in that way certainly was.

Today, you can find spikenard as an essential oil. It is most likely not in the same form as it was used back in Biblical times as modern distillation processes were not existent (although Hatchet makes a good case that the Indians had a primitive form of distillation that they used to produce the nard ointment/oil). However, current research, some of which is in line with how the ancients used it for medicinal purposes, shows that nard essential oil can be used for a variety of purposes. Personally, I am just enjoying putting a few drops in my diffuser along with orange essential oil and meditating on the Bible record, but I also wanted to pass along this information for anyone that might need it.


Benefits of Using Nard Essential Oil

Fights bacteria and fungus


Relieves anxiety, calming the mind and body

It boosts the immune system

Promotes hair growth

Relieves insomnia

Lessens sensitivity of nerves to pain

Reduces fever

Helps eliminate body odor

Provides relief from cough and other respiratory problems.

See these articles for more information on how to use it. Remember to do your due diligence especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding when using essential oils.

Spikenard Stimulates the Immune System and Relaxes Both Body and Mind

Spikenard Essential Oil, Uses and Side Effects

If you like this article, please be so kind to share!


Five Powerful Prayers for Your Kids

Parenting is hard. My oldest is now in her “tweens” and I am encountering a whole new range of issues to deal with. Honestly, the toddler years were simpler, but that is a topic for a whole other blog. As I go through my ups and downs of parenting, I have come to learn to fall back on what is tried and true, God’s word. I now pray scripture over my children. I cannot say it was my idea, but something I learned from a godly woman much wiser than myself who has already been in my shoes. When you combine God’s word with prayer, you just know it has to have a powerful impact. So here are prayers inspired by scripture that I pray over my own children and hopefully they will inspire you to find verses that you can pray over your own kids.

From I Chronicles 4:10:

“Lord, bless my daughters and enlarge their spiritual territory, and that your hand may be with them, and that you would keep them from harm so that it may not bring them any pain.”

From Psalm 119:133:

“Keep steady my daughters’ steps according to your promise and let no iniquity get dominion over them.”

From Colossians 1:9-13:

“I pray that my daughters might be filled with the knowledge of your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that they may walk worthy of you Lord, fully pleasing you, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of you God. May they be strengthened with all might, according to your glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness. May they always give thanks to you Father, who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of your dear son.”

From Proverbs 4:20-23

“Father I pray that my daughters may be attentive to your words, and may they incline their ears to your saying. May those words never escape from their sight and may they keep them within their heart. For they are life to those who find them and healing to all their flesh. May they keep their heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

From Ephesians 3:14-19

“Father I pray that you may grant my daughters, according to the riches of your glory, to be strengthened with might through your Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. I pray also that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of you Lord.”

If there are prayers from scripture that you pray over your children, feel free to share in the comments below so that we may all benefit from it.

If you enjoyed this article, please be so kind to share it!

Christian Media: Ignoring the Nations

Before I delve into what I hope is constructive criticism of Christian media, I want to say that I am thrilled on how far Christian media has come. The choices for Christian families on movies, print media, and radio has increased significantly since I was a child. My children have access to Christian apps which in my view is one of the coolest things. These are things that were non-existent when I was a kid. However, despite my gratitude at the expansion and growth in Christian entertainment and educational tools, I do want to call attention to a problem I do not believe is getting enough attention; that is the continued use of mostly Caucasian people and culture to represent characters, whether in movies, cartoons, or print media. I don’t want to belittle the willingness and the heart that our Caucasian brothers and sisters have put into making better Christian productions, much of which has been spirit inspired, but this is an area that we can do better and I believe that for the sake of the gospel, we must do better.

My eyes were opened to this issue only recently despite my Latin American origins. For many years I was oblivious to the issues that dark skinned people face because frankly, I am pretty light skinned. As is common for most Hispanics, I have both European and indigenous blood running through my veins. Because the European side dominates I am what many of my family members would call me, “blanquita,” that is white. But I married a tall, dark, and handsome Puerto Rican and our first child is dark skinned, just like her daddy. My second child was born looking more like me with much lighter skin than her sister and upon her birth, I heard words that stung. Family members would comment on how beautiful and “blanquita” she was. The implications behind those comments hurt because I knew that not one of those people had ever said about my first child, “Look how beautiful and dark she is.”

Fast forward several years later my oldest daughter asked me a question that unsettled me more than those insensitive comments by family members. While watching a Christian cartoon on an app, my dark-skinned child asked, “Mom, why are there no people in this show that look like me? Why are there no people with dark skin?” The implication behind my daughter’s questions was this, “Isn’t the Christian message for people like me as well?” It broke my heart to think how excluded my child must have felt at that moment from Christianity. It hurt because I knew that Christ meant for his sacrifice to be for all people regardless of their background or race.

The cartoon that my child was watching was a re-telling of a Bible story in the Old Testament. It is an illustration that could have been made to look historically accurate, but it was not. It is more likely that most of the people in the Bible were dark-skinned because of the geographical region of where most Bible events took place. Therefore it only only makes sense to try to portray them as such and not continue this habit of making them Caucasian. As Christians, our reasons for doing so should go beyond any social justice cry to do so. We are called to share the gospel with all peoples and if that is our purpose, why do we continue to exclude so many from the images that we portray and the stories that we tell?

Just by sticking to historical and cultural accuracy of Biblical accounts, we will appeal to much larger audience than is currently the case. And if we portray a fictional story or an event, let’s tell the story of Hispanics, or Indians, or Native Americans or African Americans or Asians that are Christians. This also means that more Christians from different racial and cultural backgrounds need to step up to the plate. We need to tell our stories and have movies, and books, and magazines, and apps that represent our cultures and our race and the way we look. Not for our sake, but  for the sake of the audience.  I know that if my child who has had very little experience with racism and and has been raised in a Christian home could feel so excluded, it makes me wonder how other non-Caucasian children feel to hardly ever be represented within Christian media?

In I Corinthians 9:20-22 Paul tells us:

“And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became as I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

If our goal is to spread the gospel to all peoples, then we need to do a better job of representing different cultures within Christian media. Kudos to those outlets that are making an effort in this area, and there are definitely some that are. However, in general, we need to be more intentional about it because in large part, we are ignoring the nations. Paul may not had had print media, nor cartoons, nor movies, but in the most basic sense, he understood that he had to conform to the culture of the people that he was reaching in order to appeal to them. If we want to reach more than just the Caucasian population, then we need to re-think how we are going to portray the Christian message through images. Those images need to speak to people and children of different backgrounds and say, “Yes, Jesus died for you too.”

“Unicorn” Rose Swirl Cake

We recently celebrated my daughter’s five-year-old birthday party and her theme of choice was unicorns. As we planned each detail, she and I came up with a beautiful birthday cake that got a lot of praises both for the design and the taste. A few of my friends have asked me for the recipe, so I thought it would be a good idea to share not only the recipes, but instructions on how to put this baby together. I am not a baker so I had to do a lot of google searches to make this happen, but hopefully my blog will provide you a one-stop shop so you don’t have to do your own research.

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you probably know that I like healthy eating. And in the past, I have made whole grain cakes, sprouted grain cakes, cakes with spinach, etc. However, I need to warn you, that is not the case for this cake. I threw in the towel and decided that this is a once a year event and I wasn’t going to worry about the excess sugar, color dye toxins, nor the evils of white flour. Although I used mostly organic ingredients and replaced some of the ingredients for healthier options, it is still a not-so-good-for-you cake, but it was sooooooo good!

Well this delicious cake was a chocolate cake because, simply, that is what my five-year-old requested. I do not use some secret family recipe that was passed on through the generations nor did I develop some amazing recipe (Did I mention that I am not a baker?). Nope. This recipe was taken from the back of a Hershey cocoa box. A few years back I had used that same recipe and I remembered people loved it so there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Thankfully for me, that recipe is still printed on their cocoa powder boxes and you can also access it online. Hershey’s own “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” Chocolate Cake Recipe is to die for and I highly recommend it.

In order to make my three layered 8″ cake, I had to double the recipe (and use the left overs to make cupcakes). I used mostly organic ingredients with the exception of the Hershey cocoa and the baking powder/soda. I also substituted coconut oil for the vegetable oil. (TIP: If you do use coconut oil, I recommend you warm up the milk so the oil does not clump up.) Once you are done with the cakes, put them in the fridge for a few hours before putting on the icing. Trust me, it will make your life easier.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted a cream cheese frosting because I genuinely dislike buttercream icing. At first, I was not sure if cream cheese frosting would work well for the details my five-year-old wanted on her cake, but after a little google search, I came across this recipe that uses cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lots of powdered sugar. The recipe worked well for all the decorations just as the author said it would. Make sure to follow her advice to keep the icing from getting too warm in your hands. It makes a difference. You will either need to make two batches or double the recipe to frost the cake and for the filling. However, if you want enough for the cupcakes I mentioned above and maybe to give yourself a little wiggle room, buy enough ingredients for three batches.

I cannot take too much credit for the design of the cake because I had a lot of help from a very intentional five-year-old girl. As she and I perused through Pinterest, we couldn’t find a design we both agreed on. Instead we pulled our favorite details from various cakes to come up with her “perfect” unicorn cake (Feel free to look at our Pinterest board to see where we got our inspiration). Notice that our unicorn cake does not have a unicorn anywhere near it, but my five-year-old felt the color scheme is what made it special. The final product fit perfectly with her party decorations and motif and more importantly, she was thrilled with it.

To actually decorate the cake, you want to first cover the cake with frosting. Roses line the sides and the top is covered with multi-colored jimmies. The roses are actually called “rose swirls” as I found out. To fit four rows, I used the equivalent of a Wilton 129 drop flower tip. If you want larger roses, you can use a Wilton 2D tip (the 2D works better for the cupcakes). I recommend you get at least four tips so that you can have several bags of frosting ready to go. It will allow you to move easily from one color to the next. I didn’t have the extra tips so I had to finish one color, wash the tip, and move on to the next color. It was a bit of a pain. This video shows you exactly how to do the swirls and it is as easy as it looks. Just practice a couple of times before you put it on the cake.

Well friends, that is basically it. I hope you enjoy making this cake and good luck!

And if you liked this article, be so kind to share it!

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.