Will You Let Peace Put You Back Together? Summer Devotional 4

“Sarah, I need you to pray with me right now.”

That was how I ambushed a new friend at a writer’s conference just a few days ago. What had started as a joy-infused time of skill sharpening and networking had now ushered in my anxiety gremlins as I rehearsed a list of shortfalls.

Article ideas left unpitched.

Website updates still back-burnered.

A book idea living as a stack of sticky notes and nothing more.

Yes, the world won’t stop spinning on its axis over such things, but as a performance-oriented, people-pleasing gal, I scrabbled for a toehold of confidence against a rock-slide of insecurity. My peace threatened to go to pieces.

Have you been there lately? Whether your anxiety stems from a confidence crisis or something a lot bigger, you feel like peace is gone. If so, then we’re in this thing together. I can be a yellow-caution-taped disaster area when it comes to anxiety, and I never stop needing to be reminded of the spiritual fruit called peace. Read More

How Will You Stay Joyful? Summer Devotional 3

This week I’m sweating for Jesus with some fantastic rising  7th graders who’ve chosen to serve needy families by doing yardwork  and hosting a VBS in a Houston-area park.

Translation? LOOOONG days of dirt, fire ants, and other creepy crawlies, not to mention stuffy church-van rides and lots of last minute changes to their VBS plans. But, hey, they’re middle-schoolers, and they figure out ways to make it fun! Each day they also debrief about the things they want to celebrate and the areas where they want to grow.

One growth area these kids chose for our team? Being joyful even when they’re tired, grumpy, and frankly, don’t want to lift one more shovelful of mulch.  

Our site leaders loved that idea, and they also challenged us to make it stick: “Just how WILL you be joyful when things are hard?” They pointed us to the account of Paul and Silas in Acts 16 to look for answers, so what better place to continue our study of the fruit of the Spirit as we look at JOY? Read More

Is Your Love Growing? Summer Devotional 2

I love sweet, summer strawberries. I also love new shoes, puppies, vacations, and my family. Like everyone else, I throw that word “love” around a lot, but I also know the way I feel about my husband and kids is different than the way I feel about relaxing poolside in July. Something in that kind of love we have for family motivates us to overcome obstacles and make sacrifices we wouldn’t normally make.

Makes sense, then, that as we dive into part two of our summer series on spiritual fruit  that we determine what kind of love Paul means when he says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22). The quick answer is that what we translate as “love” is the Greek term agape, usually defined as unconditional or selfless love and identified with the love God has for humanity. Christ-followers should be characterized by an ever-maturing love for others that looks like the love that motivated Jesus to lay down His life to save us.

That’s a powerful kind of love!

So, how do we recognize God’s agape growing in our lives and how do we make sure we don’t run out of it? Read More

Who’s Your Soul Gardener? Summer Devotional 1

Summer is smoldering away here in Houston, and it’s got me craving bowlfuls of berries. One of my favorite summertime treats is simply fresh or frozen blueberries with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of natural shredded coconut. My kids call it my pretend ice cream and look at me with pity while they eat their Bluebell, but I’m as happy as can be. Fruit just makes life sweeter, right?

So, I love that fruit pops up all throughout scripture and especially that it’s used as a metaphor for what our lives look like when the Holy Spirit is at work. This summer, I’ll be using one passage in particular as a framework for Bible study. Hope you’ll join me as we let Galatians 5:22-23 send us on a fruitful journey.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  Read More

As Those Baby Birds Leave the Nest, Here’s How We Partner with God through Prayer

As we wrap up this month of “launch strategies” for all the teenagers in our lives, I’ve reached out to another mom with a college-aged daughter so she can give us a peek ahead at the next stage. Guest blogger Lianne Robinson, a friend and fellow-writer from my own college days, shares what it’s like to trust God with His plans for young adult children. Take it away, Lianne, and ROLL TIDE.

Do you ever feel like your prayers aren’t making it all the way to God’s ears? I’ve sometimes felt like I was standing at the door to Heaven’s waiting room, wringing my hands and wondering if I was close enough to God for Him to hear me. I’d like to share a story of when I perceived this to be the case.

Since my daughter, Emma, was nine years old, all she has ever wanted to do was be in the Million Dollar Band at the University of Alabama. All through high school, Emma took flute and piccolo lessons, marched every fall, participated in many honor band festivals, and excelled as a section leader and award winner. She applied to the University and was thrilled to be accepted.

Emma excitedly auditioned for the MDB in February 2018. It was her senior year and we waited almost 4 months to find out if she had made it. I vigilantly checked her email every day to see if we had heard any news. When I would wake up every morning, I would pray this prayer in expectation: God, please let this be a good news day! If it is your will for her to be in this band, please let it happen. If it’s not, please help our hearts to understand.

It went on like this day after day until the end of April. I was not with her when the email came in. I read it first and was crushed to see the word “unfortunately” in the first sentence. Where would we go from here? Read More

Hand Those Kids Their Crowns!

It’s only fitting as we round out our month of parenting strategies for launching teens that graduation announcements are arriving daily. I love them, but they sort of terrify me as reminders that my first baby will be a senior next year. To my friends letting us share in your joy, thank you! Your babies have grown up beautifully, and I’m in awe of how you’ve gotten them to this milestone. I also have it on good authority that the next stage brings new joys and challenges and that they will still need you in their corner, even if it’s not in the same way. You’ve got this!

The milestones are worth pausing to celebrate, though, because those celebrations are part of a third “launch-minded strategy” for releasing kids into adulthood: empowerment. Along with apprenticeship (the on-the-job-training portion of raising teens) and mentoring (the way we impart wisdom), empowerment plays a role in releasing our kids to become the adults they were meant to be.

Empowerment means fostering and celebrating chances to hand our teens the responsibility for their own lives. It’s how we communicate, “Bravo! I see maturity! Here’s the privilege that goes with that responsibility.” In fact, being a launch-minded parent, one who’s committed to training and teaching “apprentice adults,” means we’re looking for and creating opportunities for growth that will dictate that release into more freedom.

And when we DO see maturity? We’re meant to whoop it up with joy while we diligently hand them more rights to rule their own lives and chart their own courses. I call it “handing them their crowns” because of an Old Testament example from a king who nearly fumbled the launch process (and oh, can’t we relate to that feeling!) but in the end, got to celebrate his son with a big ol’ hallelujah. Read More

Why You’re Still Your Kid’s Best Mentor (Even When You Think They’re Not Listening)

This month we’ve been digging into the hard work of parenting teenagers, knowing that our job is to make them launch-ready for adulthood. Add in the ever-shrinking amount of time between now and that launch point, and it’s easy to feel panicky. Some parents may deal with that panic by reminiscing over baby pictures, laying on extra hugs, and planning special family times.

Me?

According to eye-witness testimony from my children, I’m on a one-mom quest to turn every single moment into a Life Lessons Lecture.

They’ve politely asked me to stop. Or at least rein it in a bit.

So, does that mean I’ve given up trying to get wisdom into my kids? Heck, no! But it does mean I’ve been moving to a more subtle mentoring or coaching style of parenting, one that’s heavier on the listening and lighter on the lecturing. I’ve also brought in some assistant coaches who back me up in beautiful ways. Read More

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