Make Investments In Parenting by Sonya

I truly believe that raising a Godly family brings glory to God.  HE has entrusted us to take care of His children and family. We are to take this job seriously. I know there can be a lot of sacrifices in raising a family but it is definitely worth the investment.  As the Graber Family, we’ve made up five family values that we want to live by:

1.        Honor God with our words and actions.

2.        Love each other.

3.        Honor your parents.

4.        Forgive others.

5.        Always do your best.

We have these values framed to remind us what we stand for as a family and how important God is at the center.  Teaching them in God’s ways will sow seeds into your family and to the next generation and next. “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:6)  There are expectations that we teach our children that help guide them into the future.  For our family we have taught our children first time obedience where they need to listen to us the first time and not waiting to count to three to finally do it.  We expect them to honor us by obeying right away when we ask them to do something.  This is also a form of respect so that when someone else in authority asks them to do something, they will respond in the same way.  Respect and honor is huge in our family and we expect them to treat their siblings in love and respect as well. Treating others, as we would want to be treated is a golden rule that we live by and loving God and others as stated in the greatest commandment, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” These teachings take time and consistency as parents.  It is worth the investment to see your reward of respectful kids.  It is just not respect for people but for property as well.  We have taught our kids not to litter and to pick up someone else’s litter if we see it.  Also we expect them to leave things in order the same way it was when we arrived to a certain place. This could be at a restaurant, friend’s house, the pool, any place it is respectful to leave that place better than how we arrived.  These examples are just a few of our expectations that sow seeds into a Godly character.  Investing the time into parenting is priceless and you will see the reward as you raise up the next generation. Putting forth the hard work and effort towards your family is worth the investment. Don’t grow weary, as you will reap the harvest of Godly children, which is pleasing to God!

Live As If Drianna’s Watching by Kenika

 

I was born into a rather large family. My mother is the oldest of eleven, and my father is one of ten siblings.  In case you didn’t pay attention to the math that is 19 aunts and uncles.  In addition I have great aunts, great uncles, countless cousins, second cousins and so forth.  Surprisingly, with all of this family on both sides, I can only boast one niece.  Her name is Drianna and she was born to my brother, and his then girlfriend, when I was a preteen.  That was one of the happiest days of my life! I felt like I was getting the gift of my very own baby doll.  I absolutely loved dressing her up in her super cute outfits, and doing her hair complete with headbands and bows.  It was such a joy having this little person around, her father and mother never had to press hard for a babysitter as I was always willing.

Ever since she was born, I always had awareness that she was watching me (and my older sister).  Drianna is biracial, but at a very young age would get upset if we referred to her as anything but black like we are.  She has absolutely gorgeous, curly hair, but when she was about five or six years old, she would make statements like, “Auntie, I want my hair to be straight like yours.”  At one point, she took scissors to her head and (tragically as I see it) chopped off all of her beautiful hair.  I hope she’s not embarrassed by this story…too late. Today she is a well-adjusted, college student who is fully aware of who she is and where she comes from, but I have to think that our influence on her led her to pose those questions about identity.  As a middle school student, she was determined that she was going to go to college at Grand Valley State University, study abroad and then move to Florida one day.  My mother, her grandmother, would chuckle when she said this because she knew it was exactly what I had done.

Knowing that she is watching me has been a huge motivation in my own life. It has helped to shape my decisions, the way I conduct myself, and the example that I am attempting to lead by.  When I think of striving, I think of her.  In times when I’ve considered giving up, I think of her.  There have been moments recently when I didn’t want to fight for what I believe in, and all I could think was what would that show her if I gave up?  She’s the easiest girl in the world to love with her bubbly personality, and warm and caring heart.  I never ever want her to be disappointed in me in a way that could have been avoided.  Her eyes have always been watching me, in my book, and they always will. It is a humbling way to live life knowing that your decisions not only affect you, but those around you.  For some it’s your children, or other family members, or even friends.  I always want to live a life that she can be proud of, and if she desires, would be able to model herself after.

Yolo by Bombi

YOLO? Ain’t nobody got time for that? These are recent, infamous words from our pop culture. If you’re like me, just for fun, you feel the need to insert these phrases into just about any sentence, period. All jokes aside, these words ring more wise than funny. What should we have “no time” for? I would say, there’s no time to waste when we’re about the Father’s business. As much as there are time wasters that send us on the wrong path, there are time wasters that keep us on the couch.

Maybe there are some of you that wait for something so huge to hit you upside your head before you want to do something for the Lord. Now that “something” could be simple like saying hello to your neighbor and slowly building rapport so that eventually you have cultivated a relationship and in turn you’ve planted a seed that will one day take root and grow into salvation. It can also be something that is a bit more challenging or seemingly complicated. You’ve had that chunk of money stored up for what seems like decades. You want to use it for that boat you’ve dreamed of but one day, while in prayer, you get a mental picture of a little child in a third world country. This child looks so sick, thirsty and hungry. Her eyes have pain and she’s calling to you. Perhaps God is calling you to bless a child like this one you envisioned, a child living in a village in some far away land. However, you’re still unsure you’ll take the opportunity to give because well, you still don’t completely feel led. Time keeps ticking.

I once heard a preacher tell a story about a man that was running from the call of God. The man kept saying, “I just don’t feel led to do anything for God.” He was being a time-waster. Then one day the preacher had a piece of lead and asked the man to touch it. He then told the man, “See, you’re feeling lead! Now, stop running and answer the call of God.”

Ephesians 5:15-16 (KJV) says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The amplified Bible says it this way, “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.” Before you know it, time has passed you by and opportunities are passing you by.

The days are straight up evil, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see this. God created you on purpose and with purpose. This world needs you, it needs Christ in you, and it needs Christ! I’m encouraging you (myself included) to make the most of your opportunities to live out your life for Christ and know that this whole “You Only Live Once” stuff is really true. YOLO people, let’s make it count!

A Promise Well Kept by Trish

 

A few years ago I was admiring the purse of a friend of mine.  Anyone who knows me is already well aware that after Jesus and my family I love purses, perfume, jewelry, make up, shoes, etc. I’m SUCH a girl and I love it. So when I see something I like on someone else, I LOVE to celebrate it with him or her. As I was giving my speech on how fabulous this handbag was, my sweet friend says, “When I’m done with it, it’s yours”. Of course that was not my intention in giving her props about her purse, and to be honest I didn’t really think she was serious, but it was a nice “gesture” in return of the compliment I gave her.

A few months later when I saw this same friend, she says, “Wait! I have something for you.” She handed me the same purse I had admired months earlier. Although I was moved that she would actually give me this purse (did I mention that it was fabulous?!) I was more in shock (literally) that she was true to her word. Her words spoken were not empty and without a reminder from me, she honored her own word and made good on her promise.

So many times, as we spend time adoring our Father, He begins to reveal to us what His plans are for our lives and in the moment that He’s downloading this to us, our hearts are filled with gratitude. So, why then do we act surprised when He actually manifests His promises? Perhaps it’s for the same reason I was surprised when my friend was true to her word. We’re so accustomed to empty promises that when someone actually follows through, we’re not sure how to receive it. Can I remind you, it should be the norm that when anything is said or promised it should automatically be so? But let’s take it one step further, the fact is we deal with human nature- sometimes forgetful without any ill will associated, sometimes words spoken from passion and not purpose or follow through and sometimes just lies and flattery. But not so with our God, He doesn’t offer a promise as a “gesture” in exchange for your adoration. His promises are “yes and amen” meaning if He said, it MUST come to pass. In other words, if He’s declared a promise over your life, you can take it to the bank!

Our response to His Word is faith. We take His word, meditate upon it, guard it and activate our faith to see it accomplished. He spoke, “Let there be”…and so it was.

What promises are you waiting in expectation for? Re-ignite your faith to BELIEVE and watch Him bring it to pass. Don’t be shocked when it does, our Father God cannot lie, it is not in Him to lie. He is faithful and true. Instead, determine to wake up each day with the mindset that says, “I’m one day closer to seeing my promise being fulfilled!” Each time your prayers are answered acknowledge that once again, His Word is a promise well kept!