31 Days: Day 11 – Reaching out in church

Outreach doesn’t have to take place outside the walls of our church or church family although that’s where we normally tend to place outreach. We have plenty of opportunities within our own church walls to get outside of ourselves and focus on loving those around us.

One of the first things I think about is new people visiting church. For those of us who have been churchin’ it for lightyears we don’t think twice about going to church. But for some people it’s a very hard thing. They’re uncomfortable or afraid they won’t fit in. They keep showing up but it takes more guts than anyone realizes.

So one of the things we can do to reach out within the church walls is to simply introduce ourselves and offer a warm welcome to people we don’t know. And then at some point ask if you can sit with them or invite them to sit with you. It’s okay that you’re not sitting in your “regular seat” – you know, the one you assigned yourself 54 years ago.  I’m a big believer in moving around for your church seat. It seems crazy but you actually can get to know people just by sitting next to them if you attempt to reach out in the slightest. We might be surprised at how much it can mean to simply sit with someone.

Another great way to reach out within our own church walls is by having people over. This is becoming a lost art in our busy and fast paced culture. I will be sharing some great resources in the days to come about this topic of hospitality as a means of outreach. The Lord has put two books in my lap in the last two months that have changed the way I think about this topic. I can’t wait to tell you more about it. I’ll be giving one of the books away and hope you’ll come back for a chance to win a copy.

So as you go to church tomorrow maybe just maybe think twice about planting yourself in the same pew chair you’ve sat in for the last 6 months. What if you looked for a new face. And then sat with them and introduced yourself to them. Who knows what doors God might open through your intentional seating assignment.

31 Days: Day 10 – Human Trafficking Outreach

My eyes were first opened to the reality of human trafficking (sex slavery, modern slavery) when I attended a conference in Atlanta. A copy of  “The White Umbrella” was given to everyone in attendance. For the next several weeks I read a chapter every day in carpool line and it broke my heart. It scared me and it made me overwhelmingly aware of the reality of human trafficking all around us, not just in other countries. My eyes were beginning to open. This video also had an impact on my tiny glimpse of seeing more into human trafficking.

Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children. However boys are not excluded and this man’s story is sad but incredibly powerful.

So what’s one to do when this seems like such a HUGE issue and it takes more than just you or me to do something about it in terms of making a difference. I think the first thing we can do is to educate ourselves on these hard topics. And it won’t be easy. It’s hard to read “The White Umbrella” and other articles of human trafficking. Reading about the pain of others, especially kids, rips a Mama’s heart out and you can’t help but think of your own children. The easy thing is to turn our heads, close our ears and let someone else read that stuff. Let the non-profits deal with it. But these people – the marginalized, the victims of abuse, the abandoned are at the very heart of Jesus. So when we take time to read these true stories we are reading about people who are precious and dear to Jesus. We are stepping into his heart for people.

But just reading and understanding what’s going on in the world of human trafficking isn’t enough to make a difference. We must take the next step and pray for these children. To take them to our God who sees and knows everything. Who cares. Who listens. We can spend a lot of time dwelling on how and why He could let this happen or we can trust He is who He says He is. He is faithful and good and all knowing. Of course we don’t understand why these things happen other than it’s a devastating part of living in a fallen world with sin. Or we can trust that our God loves and cares for each one of these victims. We don’t know their names but we can take them to the One who does. Prayer makes a difference. If you can pray you can make a difference.

After education ourselves and praying for the victims of human trafficking we may see that the Holy Spirit is calling us to go further in involvement. At that point we can look into organizations and ministries in our area that help with rescuing children, women and men out of modern slavery. You can give financially or you can volunteer to help.

I love what Atlanta Dream Center is doing on the weekends through “Princess Night”. Also the author of The White Umbrella has put feet to her prayers and burden through Wellspring Living. These are both places in the Atlanta area and they function on both paid staff and volunteers. I have a few friends who go onto the streets of downtown Atlanta on the weekends to tell prostitutes that Jesus loves them and there’s a way out of their industry (slavery) if they’re ready. They work with Wellspring and are trained before going out so they are cautious and fully aware of safety measures. They have a team of people praying for both safety and for God to rescue women out of slavery on these nights of outreach.

This article made my heart smile although I was uncomfortable with some of it too and I think that exposes my own still struggling legalistic heart.

So yeah, I can talk about the neat & tidy outreach like visiting the elderly, mentoring, and spontaneous giving and those things are important but getting involved in something like human trafficking is truly serving in the trenches. It involves risk and being uncomfortable. It’s not neat and tidy by any means. “Risky and in the trenches” doesn’t mean it’s any greater of any outreach. Because outreach is sending a message to others that Jesus fully loves and he is enough. You can do that while sharing and showing that message to a prostitute as much as you can with a 90 year old toothless granny or your neighbor next door. The Holy Spirit is our guide and as we pray and ask him to show us outreach opportunities he will open our eyes and help us along the way.

Father, you are our Revealer. You expose the deep dark things that are hidden. Today we pray for those that are being held in captive and have become accustomed to a way of life they think they can never leave. Rescue them Abba Father. Send someone to share a message of hope. To show a different way. To provide everything they need to leave. Give those girls the courage and faith to step out and trust the ones trying to help them. Reveal, rescue and redeem these victims O Lord. In your powerful name I ask these things, Amen.



2 Tips in training money $mart kids

1. Let them make money by working. 

In order to teach kids how to manage money wisely they need to have the opportunity to work for a weekly amount of money even if it’s just one dollar.

Mitchell and Sophie have the opportunity of making $5.00 a week in household chores if they do them all. They also have non-paying responsibilities around the house that they are expected to do just because…. well, because they live here. Mitchell mowed a neighbor’s lawn this summer so he made some extra money and this got Sophie wanting to make more money.

So she decided to earn extra money by making a lemonade stand. I rolled my eyes and prayed she’d have a few customers because I really didn’t think it would go well but she really really wanted to do it so I let her.

She made $13.50 her first hour and she’s only selling it for 50 cents!  The second day she hired out help and made $40 in less than 2 hours. She hired me to make the lemonade ($1.00) and split the profit down the middle with the friend who helped her sell. HA!! Doesn’t the UPS Truck, Taxi van (?) and police car crack you up??? It totally blessed my soul that they would buy lemonade from the girls. (And yes, I was watching closely….. Mama bear showed her face upon every lemonade transaction.)

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2. Teach your kids to do 3 things with every dollar earned. (Give.Save.Spend)

Whether it’s $1.00 earned or $20.00 earned we teach our kids to do the same three steps: They put their money in three different envelopes: Give (tithe 10%) Save (saves 10%) and Spend (what’s left over – 80%). Sophie is saving up for a bike so all her Spend money will go towards a bike soon. Her “Save” money goes into her savings account to offset college expenses. We/she deposits it in her savings account every six months. And every six months she puts all her Give money together and gives that money in an offering at church. Mitch does the same thing. And we do the same thing with our money.

It’s a discipline that has the potential of changing your child’s life when he or she is older. If they can get into the practice now of giving, saving and spending it will become a life long habit that will give them a strong foundation going into marriage.


Want to teach your kids good financial cents? (ha! ha! I couldn’t resist) Then check out Dave Ramsey’s materials. The Financial Peace Junior kit is awesome and very affordable. I love it out of everything out there I’ve tried as far as chore charts, payment charts, etc.  There is actually a Financial Peace Junior Bible Study that is downloadable. Our church is starting this study for kids 1st -5th grade this month. The envelopes you see in the picture came in the Financial Peace Junior kit. It comes loaded with some other great resources as well.

Linking with Jennifer, Holley and Kristin


3 gifts that can change the course of your child’s school year.

A lot of schools start up today in our area and possibly in yours too. We all remember those first day jitters and excitement. New backpacks, new school clothes and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils accompany little feet walking into hallways.

Soon enough though the newness wears off and the pressures of school work, mean kids and peer pressure can take its toll on our little ones and even the big high schoolers. As parents we can feel helpless at times sending our kids out the door with only a hug and a kiss not knowing what they could be walking into that particular day.

Whether you have a little one or a big one at school consider giving these three gifts to your child this year.  I promise it WILL make a difference. A difference in their school day, their school year and a marked difference in their life. And better yet – they’re free!

1. Read the Bible together as a family every morning. 

Be aware that this will not come easy. Satan will throw up every possible hinderance and road block on school mornings that you attempt to do this. But I promise you it will be well worth the time. Equipping ourselves and our children with the powerful word of God is school day changing, school year changing and life changing. Why would we not fight for this? Need a good Bible reading plan? Check out this app (what we’ve been using as a family) or this. There are a lot of good bible reading plans. Or just start with a few verses in Proverbs each day. It only takes setting the clock for an extra 15-20 minutes to do this. You can’t do anything better than this to start out your day.

2. Pray for your child/ren every day. 

I am a firm believer in writing and documenting prayers.When I look back and see what I’ve been praying for my kids and how God answers those requests my faith is strengthened. I can point out to our kids how God answered prayer and is alive and working. Ask your kids how you can pray for them and also tell them how you are praying for them as God puts specific things on your heart throughout the year. Mom’s In Prayer is an excellent resource that brings Moms together in prayer once a week. This has been a part of my kids lives ever since they started school. On the way to school my kids will often ask, “Mom, who are you praying for today? Will you ask the Moms to pray about this_________.” And I love that they too are now counting on this weekly corporate time of prayer.

3. Send them off with a word of encouragement every single morning. 

This morning our daughter had rough morning including tears and frustration. She looked at me and said, “Mom, is it going to be a good day today?” I assured her it was but she wasn’t totally convinced and she asked, “How do you know?” Quickly the Lord impressed on my heart a visual of the morning glories that are in our neighbors yard. I said, “Soph, it’s because God’s mercies are new every single morning. And this morning you have new mercies that you didn’t have yesterday from God.” I wanted to show her the morning glories and explain how they work – they only bloom once and are good for that day. They usually fall off at the end of the day and then new blooms come in the morning. And so I was able to send her off with the encouragement of “Look for your new mercies today sweet girl. They are there for you.” Other days are simply, “Hey, you are going to have a great day today.” Or “Sophie, you’re a good friend and today you have another chance to be a good friend to someone who needs it.” Our son needs to hear the encouragement that he is going to make wise choices today and will be a better person because of it. Speak life over your kids as they leave the comforts of their home. And on those really rough mornings when you don’t feel like saying anything encouraging at all remind them how much you love them – always and no matter what.

So here’s to the start of great new school year! May God grow your family as you spend time in his word, pray and speak life into your children.

Linking with KellyLauraJen, Jennifer, Barbie, Sharita, HolleyKristin and Mom2Mom

How I found myself in the middle of a live Frat party this week.


My sweet Christian friend who is sharing her story of redemption and freedom from drug addiction started sharing her story through a variety of social media platforms. One of which is Periscope. I wasn’t familiar with this app so I was playing around with it trying to figure out how to follow and watch her daily 2pm coffee chats. Well somehow – I swear I don’t know how – I found myself in the middle of a live virtual Frat party in which I was asked to show specific body parts!!!!!

Say what?!! You are kidding, right? No people. I am not kidding.

I could see the party going on live – close up – but they can only see a comment thread from everyone else who was watching or following. Clearly I just clicked on a random “live” event and had no clue what I was doing. I figured I was about to view a live Christian ladies event…. yeah but no.

I was so appalled that I gave the granny talkin’ to to this group of wild thangs and then got out of there fast and ran and told on them to my Christian speaker friend. I suppose my user name didn’t help much (@bowlofwedgies) and is giving me great pause and reconsideration at this point in my social media career. But seriously there is some crazy stuff out there with apps. You have to be so careful.  Christian speakers use Periscope so people can hear them speak live and I was under the impression that it was for Christian speakers but nooooooooo. It’s really not. In fact when my friend was speaking via Periscope I was outraged at some of the comments she received from random followers – called “trolls”. Her husband would block users that were being totally inappropriate or mean. But I love the fact that she is still speaking through Periscope because this is a great platform to be sharing Jesus. The opposition is great and we’re told we’ll be persecuted when sharing Truth. It shouldn’t scare us – we should approach it with caution and with great boldness.

So friends, if you’ve never been to a frat party you’re not missing anything. I know this because I found myself in the middle of one for about one minute and one minute too long! It’s not worth it. And to my teenage and college friends who feel that virtual attendance to such parties is not the same thing – you’re wrong sweet people. It is the same thing. Guard yourself online. Set up boundaries. This world has no concern for your personal integrity or purity. It will be the Holy Spirit who helps you in this area so depend on him heavily.




God uses other people to speak truth into our kids lives – foster it!

I love for our kids to have other godly people to pour into their lives besides me and Randy. Of course our parenting relationship is key in teaching and training our kids. But I also think our kids need to hear some of those same messages from other people. It adds another layer of truth from a different voice and I think that’s healthy. This is why Sunday School and Youth Group are so important. But even beyond that – mentoring, discipleship or even just divine random words of encouragement and speaking truth.

That’s why when I heard an incredible story from a friend of ours about sharing her faith with her physical therapist I just had to have my kids hear it too. My friend, Cathy, came over to share what all God did (amazing story!!! will share here later) and as we got started I asked her if it was okay for Mitchell and Sophie to sit in and listen. She agreed and both kids were wrapped into the story as much as I was.

The one thing I’d worked with the kids on this summer was learning the Romans Road verses that tell us of our problem and need for Jesus – the solution and answer to our greatest issue.  Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10 are all short scriptures that sum up salvation. To me this is an incredible tool to have in our pockets as believers. I want my kids to know how to lead someone to Christ and be able to show them from scripture. I printed the verses on strips of paper and we worked on putting them in order, playing “sparkle” a game that helps them memorize, role played and did some other things to help get these verses into their minds.

We can help our kids memorize and get stuff in their minds all day long but only the Holy Spirit can get his stuff in their hearts. So I feel like the day Cathy came to visit us was a day the Holy Spirit used to do just that – reach their hearts. We didn’t rehearse Bible verses and order of verses that day. Instead they got to hear how the Holy Spirit led Cathy to tell a nonbeliever about Jesus. It was hearing how this stuff works in real life – on the streets – at work – at play. A connection was made and we’re still talking about it in our family. Cathy actually just shared this with our church yesterday morning which was pretty cool.

So I’m going to keep praying that God puts godly influences in my children’s lives because they need to hear the voice of truth from multiple sources – not just their Mom and Dad. But hey – if we were the only ones speaking truth into their lives it would be okay. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel like you have an incredibly great support system around your children. Pray for God to raise up people in your child’s life that will speak godly truth into them.

Father, I pray for our kids today and that you would raise up other godly influences in their life to add echos of the same truth we are trying to instill in them. Reach their hearts with your love. Open their eyes to more of you and let them follow you all the days of their lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Anti-Bullying Conversations at Home

Bullying is a serious thing no matter what type of environment our kids are in – homeschool, Christian school, public school. If they live in this world and you let them out of the house they will experience bullying in some fashion – either personally or around them. It’s not always easy to know what to do in those situations. It will help our kids to have thought through and talked through what they can do when a bullying situation arises.

This tragic story broke my heart and led me to have a serious and specific conversation with our kids about what types of videos are appropriate to take and what’s not.

I love how Dateline is addressing the bullying issue by educating both parents and kids on what it looks like to bully and how to effectively address bullying. I showed this video to our kids and they really liked seeing what other kids did in a bullying situation. Watch for the Dad’s response to his daughter. It is priceless. I almost cried when I saw it. Loved it so much.

It’s a few weeks until school starts but we’re starting the conversation on bullying now, watching some videos, hearing real stories of the effects of bullying and talking about how to distract a bully and support others who are being bullied.

Are there other good resources out there for our kids to know about when it comes to bullying? Please share.

Linking with Laura today.


Helping our kids navigate social media

Our teenage son is wanting to have his own Youtube account so he can upload videos. He has no other personal social media outlet at this point because I’m a nazi Mom when it comes to protecting my kids online. I’ve seen too many families and kids hurt by the crap that’s out there. Addictions started by accidentally discovering porn and major self image issues because of bullying and cruelty online. However I do think social media can be a great way to express oneself and to point others to Christ if done appropriately. And let’s face it, it’s the world our kids live in. We can’t keep the from it forever. But we can guide them through it and set some healthy boundaries.

We use a screening service called “Net Nanny” for all our digital devices in our household. We love it. So through Net Nanny you pull up safari and it blocks out based on your settings (low, moderate, heavy) junk that’s out there. You can also monitor your child’s Facebook account through this service as well.

So here’s some basic guidelines that we are working through with our kids before they have any kind of an account where they’ll be taking and uploading photos & videos.

1) Post to God’s glory – doesn’t mean everything you post has to be about God but be sure He’ll be happy with what you’re posting.

2) No taking pics/videos or uploading pics/videos of yourself or others in inappropriate ways:   *no bathroom shots *no undies pics *no private part pics  (you’d just might be surprised at how this needs to be communicated even among Christian kids. Sexting somehow seems totally okay in the minds of many kids.)

3) Never post personal identifying information like your full name, address, age.

4) Don’t use bad language.

5) Don’t cut other people down.

6) Don’t post to brag or build yourself up.

7) Limit the selfies. 

8) Be helpful to others in your posts.

9) Don’t lie in your posts.

10) Try to point to God in creative ways in your posts.

11) Nevah evah link “likes, thumbs ups and comments” to your worth and identity. “Likes” don’t determine anything about value so don’t look to the number of likes to affirm who you are or what you’re posting about.

12) This world can be cruel and at some point you will get negative or mean comments – determine now that you will not let that crush you. See #11.

13) Remember that God’s view and the world’s view will always collide on this earth. Be a light and represent God’s view whenever posting on social media. Constantly ask yourself, “Is what I’m looking at and what I’m posting representing God’s view or the world’s view?”

What else would you add to the conversation with our kids on uploading to social media? 

Linking with JJennifer, Holley and Kristin today because I like these chicks.


4 ways to help your kids have summer devotions

Oh how fast the Summer can fly when you’re swimming, camping and vacationing! And it’s so easy to let our time in God’s word be neglected. How much harder for our kids to keep their time in the Word if they’re not being encouraged by their parents. So here’s just a few thoughts on how parents can help their kids cultivate their walk with God.

1) Make devotions a part of your kids daily routine. Put it on the chore chart or however you communicate daily household responsibilities. This is a personal area of growth and maturity that can become just as regular as brushing teeth and taking a shower. Don’t feel bad about making a scheduled time for reading God’s Word as part of your child’s day. Some people resist “making” their teen go to church or their child read the Bible for fear it will turn them away if they don’t desire to do it in the first place. But consider the fact that we are called to train and disciple our children in the truths of God’s Word. And like any trainer will tell you there will be times when our trainees do not want to do what we ask them to do. It doesn’t mean you give in to their desires. You do what you know is best for them at that time for a greater purpose while praying God shapes their heart in a way that can only be shaped in communion with Him.

2) Show them how to have personal time in God’s word by doing it with them the first few times. Find a great devotional book for kids such as:

The adventures of Average Boy Devotional Book or Jesus Calling for kids (not letting me link for some weird reason). Both are excellent books. Average Boy Devotional book is hilarious and great for boys ages 8-14. Jesus Calling is great for younger ages as well.

Get a fun snazzy journal for them to record what they learned from the daily devotional as well as write any prayer requests.

3) Make it simple. No need to get all preachy and long winded. Let God’s Word speak for itself and the Holy Spirit speak through your kids. And then talk about it together. Pray and then end for St. Pete’s sake. If we turn this into a day of church at home you just might lose them.

Eventually our kids can do this on their own and that’s what we want for them….to become independent in their God-dependance.

Right now our son has more independence in his devotional time than our daughter. He’s 14 and she’s 8 so that makes sense. Mitchell takes his own time and uses his iPod to look up verses and answer short questions after each chapter in his Average Boy Devotional book. Sophie reads on her own and records in her journal but then she checks back in with me and shares with me what she has learned from her time with the Lord. I love this part of our relationship. Mitchell and I touch base a few times a week and talk about what he’s learning. It’s been really awesome to see them transition to time with God with me to time with God themselves. There is no greater joy than to know your children are walking with the Lord. And this is one way we can help our kids walk with the Lord.

4) Watch for the fruit of God’s word and reference it. What good is reading God’s word without putting it into practice? So when you see your child putting what they learned into practice or you see evidence of the truths they learned in their devotional time be oh so quick to point it out to them. Recalling where God is at work will help them watch for God sightings on their own.

Have you found some good kids’ devotionals lately? If so, I’d love to hear about them.




Secret Keeper Girls was a BLAST!

We had the best time at the Secret Keeper Girl Crazy Hair Tour last Saturday! Mom’s of tweens, (ages 8-12) if you ever have a chance to attend this conference with your girl I promise you it will be an awesome time together with your girl. FUN, Spirit-led, Biblical truths that you want your girl hearing from other people than just you….and so much more. Awesome event. Only $15 and so worth it. Get your girls friends and their Moms to go with you too. It’s this good people. Really, it is.

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Sophie and I are going to be working through this book together on Saturday mornings at McDonald’s. I also have two others that we’ll be going through in the future together. There are some really good materials through Secret Keeper Girl that hit important topics with directness and from a strong Biblical foundation.