Saturday, February 28, 2015

"A Heart Not Distorted by Worry and Fear" by Courtney

"You have eyes—can’t you see? 
You have ears—can’t you hear?
 Don’t you remember anything at all?"

 - Mark‬ ‭8‬:‭18‬ NLT

This was Jesus on the boat speaking to his disciples after he had fed 4000 people with a couple fish and some bread. He gives them a warning about the Pharisees but they completely miss it. They turn his words into something else because they are worrying about the food they forgot to bring.  And what they have really forgotten is WHO they are on the boat with!

Father God, what a great reminder to me this morning of all I forget and all I miss when I take my eyes off you. I pray for each lady this morning that you would help us to remember you.  Remember the God who fed the thousands. Who parted the seas. Who healed the sick. Who keeps His promises. Who has loved and protected us.  Been our Rock and our sure foundation. Life throws crazy at us but help us to look to you, to hear you and see you with a heart not distorted by worry and fear.


Moms, what fear or worry do you need to give Him today? 

He loves you for all that you are ...and all that you will become! 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Attractive Transparency

               My eldest is asking, "Why would I want to have children?"
If I asked you if you liked being a mom…I’m thinking you are going to say a resounding, “YES!”
            If I asked you if you would recommend motherhood to married women, I think the answer would be another, “Yes!”
            Our churches and culture have in recent years encouraged a spirit of authenticity and relatability.  I continue to support the thought behind this.  As believers in Jesus its ok to be normal, to recognize the challenges of living in this sin fallen world and specifically that we “become clean” by being honest about our lives.
            It is in this thought process that I find myself in a quandary as I consider a blog post. That being said, how do we “be” transparent about life’s struggles and our personal battles and issues without living in a tailspin of despair and disillusionment?
            I think you know what I mean.  There are certain people we find ourselves avoiding because they are always being...shall I say, “transparent.”  They live in a constant snapshot of Instagram.  They share such details as how bad they slept, which leads to how they couldn’t get out of bed on time and then ran late all day.  Which turned into; no time for breakfasts, or quiet time or (heaven forbid) coffee.  They had a rotten day at work with co-workers, the children fussed and argued and wouldn’t do their homework or chores.  Get the picture? 
            I mean social media gives a whole new angle to “getting real.”  I know where they ate, who they were with, what they did, where they will go in the future, what music, TV program, app, font…and on and on the details go.  All in an attempt to “be real.”
            All that said, “Why would anyone want to have children, if your life was the only one they had ever watched?”  I ask this because I’m being asked.  If all the younger generation (including our children in our homes) only see us “being real” talking about “all I have to do…” and “how tired I am” and “we have no money” and “this kid is driving me crazy” do we think we are encouraging them to consider parenthood?

Titus 2: 9
“…so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”

            It is important to be real.  It is important to express our emotions and debrief our day.  I think the most important aspect of this transparent existence is choosing to what extent we need to tell all.
            I’m really not suggesting hypocrisy or duplicity.  Rather, I am asking that we consider to what extent we “tell all” or “withhold nothing.”  Proverbs has much to say about the wise who can hold their tongues.  Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything.  May we be prudent as we consider what we share.

            I want our eldest to someday say, "YES! we want children! One of our reasons include attractive transparency by the parents we know!" May we be ever mindful of making our transparency attractive. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Run to the Cross" by Stacey Wooddell Imbimbo

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
    For each day he carries us in his arms.
- Psalm 68:19 

I don't know about you but somedays I need a good reminder that children are a calling. 
My kids are not my hobby and I did not have children because it was the cool thing to do. I DESIRED to be a mom.
Somedays we can lose sight in the mundane tasks.  The huge piles of laundry that need to be folded and put away. Dirty dishes that pile up in our sinks. And the meals that are prepared as our precious ones complain about the broccoli. 
You stand there everyday as a picture of the gospel to your kids. How do you represent Jesus to them? Freely or  Resentfully? You are a testimony of giving up yourself and running to the cross.
Because at the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice.
 Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Make sacrifices where only the children would know. Place their value ahead of your own.
Run to the cross.
Lay down your perfectly clean house.
Lay down your hopes and your fears.
Lay down your desire to be recognized.
Lay down your insecurities. 
Because laying your life down for another represents the gospel.
And there at the foot of the cross, He will meet you. Jesus will carry your burdens. He will give you what you need to make it through the day. He will sustain you and renew your weary soul.
Run to the cross.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Childlike Faith

(written by Ryan, my husband)

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-3

We hear this phrase often and all have imagined or come to some conclusion to what exactly Jesus meant by it...

At the dinner table the other day I was discussing with Matthew, our five year-old how Jesus in the book of Revelation says, "I stand at the door and knock, and if anyone answers I will come in and dine with him." I began to explain to our son that Jesus was talking about our heart and how He would like to come into our hearts and our life if we would accept Him… So Jesus is knocking on your heart and wants to come in... Matthew then asked, "Is that why my stomach hurts sometimes?"  With a big smile on my face I responded, “No son, that's not why your stomach hurts.”

Childlike faith is believing exactly what your Father tells you.  Are we believing every word our Savior is telling us? We should.  Our children are watching how we live and observing our belief in what God says in His word.  As it says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ".

Have you answered His knocking at the door of your heart?  If not yet but you’d like to, you can pray right where you are, right now!  God is listening for your voice to turn to Him and respond to His call.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children" by Marc Chernoff PART #2

Train a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
- Proverbs 22:6 


"10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children"  by Marc Chernoff PART #2

6.  Eat dinner together as a family.

Eating dinner together makes a difference.  According to The Secrets of Happy Families, children who have dinner with their families do better across pretty much every conceivable metric.  “A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, become depressed, and develop eating disorders.”
Additional research also suggests that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem in the long run.  The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that “the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems.  Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.”
Even if eating dinner together every night isn’t possible, you should make it a point to eat together as a family at least once a week.

7.  Create logical, reasonable rules and boundaries for your children.

Children don’t do well in a free-for-all environment.  It’s a myth that being too strict guarantees rebellion and being permissive drives better behavior.  From the research we’ve done, it’s clear that children who go crazy and get in trouble mostly have parents who don’t set reasonable rules and boundaries.  If their parents are loving and accepting no matter what they do — even when they are unruly — children take their parent’s lack of rules as a sign that they don’t really care about them — that they don’t really want the job of being parents in the first place.
On the flip side, parents who are consistent in enforcing rules and boundaries are often the same parents who become the closest with their children.  According to a Penn State study by Dr. Nancy Darling and Dr. Linda Caldwell, parents that set logical rules pertaining to key principles of influence, and explain why the rules are there, engage more closely with the children and ultimately have a happier, healthier relationship with them.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should over-do the rules, or make rules just for the sake of making rules.  Parents that are too controlling raise children that are stifled and bored.  And stifled, bored kids are likely to rebel.
Again, via Dr. Linda Caldwell, “Even busy kids get bored, for two common reasons.  First, they are doing lots of activities only because their parents signed them up — there’s no intrinsic motivation.  Second, they’re so accustomed to their parents filling their free time that they don’t know how to productively fill it on their own.”  And thus, they often turn to mischief or even substance abuse when their parents back off or aren’t around.

8.  Give your children an opportunity to make healthy peer relationships.

The peer group your children associate with has an enormous effect on their long-term happiness and educational aspirations.  As parents, we sometimes only talk to our children about peer pressure when it’s negative, but more often than not, it’s positive.  Living in a nice child-friendly neighborhood, going to highly rated schools, and making sure your children associate with the right peers can make a world of difference.
In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shows that the easiest way for a college kid to improve their grade point average and self-confidence in class is to simply pick a smart, supportive roommate.  He found that “when students with low grade-point averages simply began rooming with higher-scoring students, their grade-point averages increased.”  These students, according to the researchers, “appeared to infect each other with good and bad habits — such that a roommate with a high grade-point average would drag upward the grade point average of his lower-scoring roommate.”
Bottom line:  As a human being, you are the average of the people you spend the most time with.  And that’s why it’s not always where you are in life, but who you have by your side that matters most.  The same is true for your children.

9.  Make sure your children get enough sleep every night.

A tired mind is rarely constructive or content.  And it’s even worse for children than it is for adults.  According to the insightful book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into that of a fourth grader.  Even a loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to the loss of two years of cognitive development to the typical child.
There’s also a direct correlation between good grades and the average amount of sleep a child gets.  Teens who received A’s average about fifteen more minutes of sleep than B students, who in turn average fifteen more minutes than C’s, and so on.  The data from NurtureShock was almost an exact replication of results from an earlier study of over 3,000 high schoolers that’s referenced in the book.  Certainly, these are averages, but the consistency of the two studies stands out.  For children, every fifteen minutes of sleep counts.

10.  Help your children maintain a gratitude journal.

In 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently, Angel and I discuss the powerful benefits of keeping a gratitude journal.  And the good news is, it works for children too.
Again, via the NurtureShock: “In one celebrated example, Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, asked teenage students to keep a gratitude journal — over ten weeks, the young undergrads listed five things that had happened in the last week which they were thankful for.  The results were surprisingly powerful — the students who kept the gratitude journal were 25% happier, were more optimistic about the future, and got sick less often during the controlled trial.  They even got more exercise.”
Bottom line:  Children who keep a gratitude journal are happier, more optimistic, and healthier.  As soon as your child is old enough, help them start one.


Angel and I have learned a lot from the research we’ve done, but one thing really stands out to me.  It’s clear that truly happy, well-nurtured children become successful people almost automatically.  In other words, healthy parenting creates happier children that are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults in the long run.
Also, happiness by itself, for all of us, is a tremendous advantage in a society that emphasizes high performance.  On average, happy people are more successful than their unhappy counterparts in all walks of life.  Because they feel better, they put in higher levels of effort and get better performance reviews, have more prestigious careers, earn higher salaries, and they’re also more likely to maintain happier, healthier relationships.

Which number stood out to you? Why? 

Pray that God would help you see your area of weaknesses and ask Him for help in that area!

Life is a journey! Don't beat yourself up...just allow those moments of revelation to catapult you into action!

Commit your plans unto the Lord 
and they will succeed. 
- Proverbs 16:3

To see the full article :

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children" by Marc Chernoff PART #1

Train a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
- Proverbs 22:6

"10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children"  by Marc Chernoff PART #1

Children have never been perfect at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them.

When you ask parents what they want for their children, what are the most common replies?  They want their children to be smart and happy, of course.
From what we’ve studied, the education and well-being of their children is more important to parents than just about anything else — health care, cost of living, public safety, and even their own well-being.  And believe it or not, most non-parents also say they’re concerned about the well-being and intellectual growth of society’s youth; this concern seems to cut cleanly across gender, ethnicity, age, income and political affiliation.
As new parents, Angel and I get it.  We feel the same way.  We’re concerned about our son’s education and happiness.  So we’ve spent quite a bit of time researching just that — how to raise a smart, happy child.  If you’re looking to do the same, I’ll save you some trouble.  Here’s what our extensive research tells us:

1.  Walk the talk — always set a great example.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you live your life every day.  Don’t tell your children how to live; LIVE and let them watch you.  Practice what you preach or don’t preach at all.  Walk the talk.  Your children look up to you and they will emulate your actions and strive to become who you are.
So BE who you want them to be.
In other words, be the change you want to see in your child.  Give what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.  Every single day.
Your children are the greatest gift life will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility it will place in your hands.  Take time with them, and teach them to have faith in themselves by being a person they can have faith in — a person they can trust without question.  When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.

2.  Reduce YOUR stress, and thus the stress level in the household.

Not easy, I know, but believe it or not what children want from their parents more than anything else is for them to be happier and less stressed.
In a survey of a thousand families discussed in the book The Secrets of Happy Families, a researcher asked children, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?”  Most parents predicted their children would say something about spending more time with them.  But they were wrong.  The children’s number one wish was that their parents were less tired and less stressed.  They wanted their parent’s household to be a less stressful place to live.

3.  Believe in your children.

The greatest compliment you can give to a child is to believe in them and let them know you care.  When you see something true, good and beautiful in them, don’t hesitate to express your admiration.  When you see something that is not true, good and beautiful in them, don’t neglect to give them your wholehearted assistance and guidance.
The simple act of believing that your child is capable and worthy makes a big difference.  It gives them confidence and makes them feel qualified to do great things.
In The Heart of Social Psychology, a research study is discussed where elementary school teachers were told that they had certain students in their class who were academically above average.  These students were in fact selected at random (they were not necessarily above average in any way).  Absolutely nothing else was done by the researchers to select these children.  Yet by the end of the school year, 30 percent of the children arbitrarily named as “above average” had gained an average of 22 IQ points, and almost all had gained at least 10 IQ points.
In other words, when the teachers were told certain children were “better,” those kids did better in school.  When someone you respect believes in you, it helps you be the best you can be.  Give your children this opportunity.

4.  Praise your children for their effort, not their intelligence.

Based on the point above, this might sound a bit counterintuitive, but when you praise a child’s efforts you are bringing attention to something they can easily control — the amount of effort they put in.  This is immensely important because it teaches them to persist, and that personal growth through hard work is possible.  They come to see themselves as “in control” of their success in life.
Emphasizing God-given intelligence takes progress out of your child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.  In turn, your child may begin to think that innate intelligence is always going to be a missing ingredient for them, and disregard the importance of their effort to learn and grow.
With that said, a word to the wise: Don’t over-praise your children for no reason.  Make sure your gestures of praise are warranted.  Because if every single move your child makes is based only on rewards like constant praise, when the praise stops, the effort stops too.  And that’s not good because it means they won’t be able to perform well when you’re not around.
The best thing to do?  Again, praise purposefully when it’s truly warranted.  And when your child gets stuck, give them a chance to learn that frustrating issues can be worked through.

5.  Don’t read TO your children, read WITH them.

Got a youngster who’s learning to read?  Don’t let them just stare at the pictures in a book while you do all the work by reading every word to them.  Instead, call attention to the words.  Point to them.  Point to the pictures that illustrate them.
Read WITH them, not to them.
Research shows this tactic helps build a child’s reading comprehension.  When shared book reading is enriched with explicit attention to the development of a child’s reading skills, it truly becomes an effective vehicle for promoting early literacy.  Perhaps even more importantly than that, it makes learning more fun.  And as you know, fun times are happy times in a child’s mind.

Which number stood out to you? Why? 

Pray that God would help you see your weaknesses and ask Him for help in those areas!

Tomorrow we will post ways sure to keep your eyes out for it!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thank you Julee and Mark and LaRhonda and Travis

I have felt the conviction to pray for our children’s spouses from the time I began to pray for our children.  Through their years I have remembered their parents in prayer too.  This blog post focuses on the need to pray for the parents of our children’s one day spouses.

No, I don’t know the author of this blog, “Teach Me to Braid.”  Her name is Em, she is a mom with very small children.  I loved her perspective. 

I thought you as a reader of Parakaleo would be encouraged by a very specific prayer for the parents of your children’s future spouses. 

I cannot thank Julee, Mark, LaRhonda and Travis for all they did to give me the most wonderful son-in-law and daughter-in-law.  They didn’t just “happen.”  God used their hands to mold and shape those who are caring for our older two children and will one day care for our grandchildren.

Words are inadequate Julee, Mark, LaRhonda and Travis!  I love, appreciate and respect each of you!  Thank you! 


if my child marries yours

If my child marries yours...

I just want you to know that I'm praying for you.

When I'm awake at night - feeding babies, burping babies, giving tylenol to a feverish toddler, covering up chilly toes, tucking green monkeys under little arms - I think of you. Because chances are, you're awake too, doing the same sorts of things. Taking care of tiny children that I already love because they will someday hold the hearts that are beating against my chest tonight.

I'm praying that you'll stand firm against the pressures to overcommit and hyper-schedule, that you'll shut out the voices that tell you you're not doing enough, that your kids aren't doing enough.

I'm praying you'll have the wisdom to know when to pick that crying baby up out of her crib and when to just sit outside her door, your fingertips pressed to the wood, willing her to feel your love and comfort and just finally fall asleep.

I'm praying that you will take those children to church...that the mothers and fathers of our future grandchildren will grow up knowing what it means to worship, even when that means missing out-of-town basketball tournaments and marathon sleepovers.

I'm praying that your love for and commitment to your spouse will swell with each year you're together, that you will grow to love the legacy you are creating just as much as you adore the person you're creating it with.

I'm praying that you take lots of pictures so that I can see where our grandchildren got their sticky-out ears and their mischievous grins.

I'm praying that Jesus will give you just enough strength each day to keep you from losing it but not so much that you forget Who that strength comes from.

I'm praying that we will be friends.

Will you pray those things for me too?

I don't really pray for your child. Maybe I should. My husband does that, and I think it's wonderful. But chances are, your child is just fine. And chances are, a lot of the time, you aren't. Chances are, if you're anything like me, you're very tired. And some days, you get so discouraged. Sometimes, your temper erupts, your selfishness wins, and your smile is fake. Sometimes you forget to change the baby's diaper, to spend time being silly with your toddler, to really see your spouse. So it's you I am praying for right now, in the still darkness, with this baby fist pressed up under my chin and this sweet, sleepy breath on my ear. May you feel these prayers when you need them the most.

We are in this together, you and I. We are building something beautiful with each onesie folded, each invisible owie kissed, each story read.

You don't know how much it means to me that you give your children everything you have every single day...even on days when it's not much at all. Because your child will fall asleep next to mine for fifty-some years. Your child will be the one holding my child's hand when our first grandchild is born. And when they face the darkest days of their lives, it will be your child and mine, facing into the struggle together.

I'm pretty sure that our longest days - the ones that are brim-full with hair-pulling moments, impossible messes, and toddler meltdowns - those are the days that we are fashioning hearts. And someday, one of the hearts I'm helping create will crash into one of your love-crafted hearts, and what spills out as a result of that's kind of up to us. I promise to tend to these hearts with utmost care, to plant in them humility and peace and selflessness...especially selflessness. I promise to plant Jesus seeds in these hearts every chance I get. And I promise to keep praying for you.

I'm praying that you will hug your boy tight when he's sad or lonely or scared. Because someday, my girl - all grown beautiful with babies of her own - will be sad or lonely or scared. And he'll need to know how to hold her. Teach him.

And let your daughters hear you speak righteous words that bring life and hope. Because someday, my sons will be worn and weary, and the words you're placing in your daughters' minds today just might become the balm to my sons' souls.

I'm doing my best to do the same. And sometimes...much of the time...I fail. Pray for me too.

Someday we will sit on opposite sides of the aisle...all fancy and with gobs of tissues tucked into our fists. We'll watch our silly, sticky, sweet babies somehow transform into brides and grooms and make the same promises to one another that we ourselves have kept...against all odds and only by His grace. And we will watch these children create families of their own with the ingredients we have given them. The ingredients we are slipping into their souls today.

But until then, I'm sitting here in the dark with babies in my arms.

And I'm praying for you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Working It Out" by Fran Maynard

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
What is your favorite book?  Was it life changing or maybe a momentary escape from the crazy of your life?  Recently the books I’ve read, the scriptures I’ve been studying, the documentaries we've watched, all point to one thing, that we live in a sad and fallen world...  
Philippians 2:12 Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
I am in a place of working out my salvation.  Maybe you’ve been here too?  Don’t get me wrong I know and love Jesus deeply, but I am terribly saddened by all that is happening around us.  I often wonder why we get to Iive and flourish with an abundance of plenty while people less fortunate then us are starving and dying.  And so our family is taking some time to figure out what this means to us...
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves James 1:22
Please don’t miss this important point, as mammas we have a primary responsibility to our families and that is to honor and respect our husbands and to raise up disciples.  Lately I am feeling strongly that we also need to make it our mission to incorporate meeting the needs of others through prayer, the gospel, food, basic needs, and the giving of our time and resources.  Hopefully if we are doing this right our children will see our lives shift from revolving around us to being more about those around us. (To those of you who are already doing this, YAH!!!)
Some simple ideas to do this: 
I heard this one from a friend and I can't wait to try it.  Your family chooses a country you want to pray for and then makes a meal from that country, all the while taking time to pray for them throughout your day and night or week.  You could go to a soup kitchen or write to someone in prison.  Try praying as a family for ways to serve our Lord and be ready to go and do.  Maybe make a meal for a single mom or a widow.  Go on a family missions trip or cut down on your luxuries to give to a family who is adopting or who is a missionary.  

Lord Jesus we come to You from this broken world and implore You to fix our eyes on what matters most to You.  Please Lord change our hearts to desire a way of life that reaches others for your glory.  Lord help us to love your people the best way that we can.  Give us those opportunities Lord, we are able, willing, and ready... AMEN    
Matthew 25:35-40For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.  THen the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prision and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Isaiah 1:17 Say no to wrong.  Learn to do good.
Work for justice.  Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.  Go to bat for the defenseless.