Raising Kids in the Age of Anything-Goes-Sex, Terror & Religious Persecution

I couldn’t turn the channel fast enough.

All five of us piled on the queen bed watching a cooking show when the commercial break brought an invitation to watch 50 Shades of Grey. My teen daughter gave me a look that told me her peers were talking about this film, too, as I fumbled for the remote. My 7th grade son asked what it was about, “Because it looks just like a love story,” he said.

That’s what they want you to think. It’s a movie about violence and sex. The world wants us to think it’s about romance and love, but it’s not. I’m shaking.

I flipped to the next channel and the latest news of terror in the middle east filled the room.

kids

My 8 year old looked at me with her deep brown eyes and said, “The world is scary.”

I turned the TV off and wondered how to teach my kids about real love-the kind that makes us pray for our neighbors in the war on terror while shutting out the lure of our anything-goes culture.

I want to pin recipes on Pinterest and google how to make a sliding barn door.  I want to protect them from the world. Some days I want to live in my bubble and not think about how the rest of the world lives.

Two days later 21 people were beheaded in Egypt. More death. More terror.

More Christians.

It hit close to home. And it made me long for another home. Because I can’t protect my kids from the world we live in.

It made me think about living widely obedient and what that really means.

It made me wonder at my upcoming trips with my daughter to a predominately muslim world. (Updated to add: We work with women, some who are Muslim. I certainly don’t think every Muslim is “bad” any more than I think every Christian is “good.” I’m simply being honest–these events make me pause and wonder, “Is this safe?” But I still go.)

I can’t say anything that’s not already been said in all the Internet noise this week. There are as many opinions as there are shades of gray.

And in our constantly changing world, some things don’t change:

I’m still teaching my kids right from wrong.

I am reminding them of absolute truths in a culture that decides day-to-day what is politically correct.

We still choose to follow Christ.

We think and pray for our brothers and sisters who live the same way even when it means death for them.

Experts tell us ISIS doesn’t want to rule the world, they want to end it. And as I raise my children to follow Christ, I must also teach them truth:

One day this world will end. But it will not be the end.

5 truths our kids need to hear in our world today:

1. God is in control- Our world can be a very scary place. But no matter what happens here or over there, God is in charge. It might look really bad, but He is not surprised by what happens and somehow, someway God will work things out for our good. He loves us and He is in control.

2. There is right from wrong- Domestic violence, pornography for men and women, living a life that doesn’t matter, loving and hating others-these are the right from wrong choices we make everyday. Truth does not change, no matter what society or media says.

3. The world does not live like we do-Attending church on Sunday and school on Monday, owning a Bible, going where we want, when we want, this is called freedom. But nothing about it is free. It cost something. Someone.

4. Prayer is a weapon-Sometimes we feel helpless and hopeless when we watch the news or hear how bad the world is, or we are fearful it will effect us in same way. There is something important we can do-we can pray for the world and for our own faith. We wear our bracelets to help us remember to pray for the oppressed. It feels small, but it’s not.

5. There is hope-no matter how bad it gets-and I personally believe it will get worse-from terror to shifting cultural truths, there is always hope. We call it The Blessed Hope. This world is not the end and I want my kids to know that life is temporary. Eternity is forever. And one day, Jesus will right all the wrong in the world and we will live with Him forever.

I whisper truth in their ears. I comfort them with these words. We hold onto these promises together.

For Husbands On the Day After Valentine’s Day

A Guest Post by Terrell Welch

The card aisle is bare today. Red and pink flower bouquets are half off. There’s been a run on chocolate. It’s the day after Valentine’s Day and most of the gifts are gone.

A few years ago after God did a miracle in my marriage, I ran across a little book that changed holidays around my house. I realized my days on the earth are numbered and I decided I wanted to leave my family my heart for when mine stopped beating.

A couple of weeks ago as I was thinking about Valentines Day, I sat down with a good friend over coffee.  My friend Steve is a rare find.  He’s the kind of friend that a man needs.  He’s real and honest and within a couple of minutes we were talking about our relationship with God and our relationship with our wife.  Steve shared about his prayer time with his wife.  It was thoughtful and meaningful.  On the drive home that night, I decided my letter for Valentines Day would be a prayer for my wife.  If I could ask God for anything on behalf of my wife, what would I want to say?  And honestly, could I write a prayer for my wife without the bias of asking God for things that would benefit me?

10981444_10202461614700578_4482982596606141447_n

Husbands, today, I’m hijacking Kristen’s blog and sharing my prayer for her…to encourage you.

Jesus, I thank you for my beautiful wife. She is truly amazing. I thank you that over twenty years ago you made our paths to cross in college. I am honored to call her my dearest friend and confidant.

Lord, I ask you to help me cherish Kristen and treat her with gentleness and kindness. I often fail to cherish her like I should. I cannot thank you enough for what she means to me.

I pray you would give her the hours she needs to get the work done that needs to be finished.

I ask you to inspire the words she writes and use them to bless others and glorify your name.

I pray you would give Kristen confidence in her ability to parent and guide our children, that mother would be a cherished title.

May she connect with and reach thousands of women around the world.

Give her wisdom as she advocates for Mercy House and the oppressed.

May her genuine heart and love come through in all she does.

I pray that you would give her patience with our children.

I ask you to help her love our family well.

I pray you would bless her going in and coming out.

I pray you would protect her as she travels around the world and to Chick-fil-a.

I ask you to continually expand her faith and vision for what women in America can do for impoverished women in the world.

Lord, give Kristen the desires of her heart.

I ask that you give her children that follow hard after you.

I pray that you give her physical health and rest.

Help her to overcome fear and trust you.

Help her to be obedient to your words.

I ask you to wrap her in your love-that she may experience your favor on a daily basis and that will know she is loved.

I pray that you would let her experience abundant joy and pleasure in serving you.

I pray that her bath would always be hot and her tea would always be sweet.

Thank you Jesus for giving this girl to be my wife.

Amen.

Men- I want to challenge you to pray over your wife regularly. Loving our wives well is a gift we can give them and our children every day.

 

Four Things We Can Do in Our Pain to Help Ourselves and Our Neighbors

My husband reached for his phone and his finger paused mid-dial. I turned to ask him who he was calling, but I stopped as a shadow of grief clouded his face and I knew . . . for just a split second, he forgot she was gone.

I put my hand over his and reminded him forgetting was also part of healing.

Losing Rhonda, my husband’s sister and my dear friend, left a void in our family two years ago. Life has moved on, like it tends to do, but it’s different without her amazing laugh and fun personality. Grief is the kind of pain that constantly changes but never completely goes away. It’s the kind of pain you have to live with.

Pain is often the norm in our lives, not the exception. Think about all the seasons of life and how each brings beauty and happiness and often pain along with it. I once heard we wouldn’t recognize joy if we didn’t first know pain. We experience it in so many ways — through physical suffering, depression, financial struggles, betrayal, new seasons, and grief.

Pain feels helpless. And sometimes hopeless.

20150211-Psalm231

Recently, our family took the challenge of memorizing Psalm 23 together. My husband and I learned it as children, but it was fun to relearn the passage with our kids as we quoted it verse-by-verse around the dinner table. As I listened to my 8 year old say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” she stopped and asked, “What does that mean?”

“It means that every life will have valleys of pain, but Jesus is with us, so we’ll be okay,” I answered.

Continue reading over at (in)courage…

The Lessons We Teach Our Kids When We Buy Fair Trade

We stood at the mirror and I brushed her blonde hair into a ponytail. She still lets me fix her hair most mornings. I told her to grab a headband from the cabinet. It’s her signature school hairdo since she’s been growing her bangs out.

I tucked her hair beneath the new blue corded band and tied it under her ponytail. “Do you know who made your headband?” I asked.
FullSizeRender

“Who, mom?” Our eyes met in the mirror. It was one of those obvious questions we don’t always ask.

And so I told her about the woman in Haiti who became an amputee in the earthquake that devastated the country 5 years ago. “There’s an organization who helps women with prosthetics and they teach them how to sew,” I told her.

My answer opened up a meaningful conversation with my 8 year old. For the next 10 minutes, I answered questions about earthquakes and amputations, prosthetics and mostly, hope.

IMG_1977_copy_grande

I walked over to the drawer that holds our headbands and held up a bright turquoise one made by my refugee friends from Burma and Nepal. I smiled remembering the day we prayed we’d have enough yarn. I looked a little closer at the kitenge headband from Rwanda, thinking about the girls at No.41 who are given sewing jobs instead of the street once they age out of the orphanage they grew up in. I ended up choosing my chevron print hairband for my hair. It was made by women in India, women who are no longer subject to the horrors of trafficking. Every one of these Fair Trade Friday partners do much more than make cute things that provide jobs for poor women–they do it in the name of Jesus.

When we buy fair trade, we do so much more than add another headband to our accessory pile or another beautiful paper bead necklace to our jewelry box. We offer more than a fair wage to a woman in an oppressed country. We get the opportunity to tell a story that is begging to be told.

When need to know the little bags that hold our fair trade items each month means food on the table for families in Kenya, Costa Rica and Zambia. And that’s why we include them- not just for reusable packaging, but for life.

fair trade bags

We all know we can’t always buy fair trade. And even when we want to, it’s sometimes a challenging, time-consuming option. But sometimes we can.  When we give a gift that empowers a woman, we are giving much more than something nice. We are giving something deeply important and receiving something even more.

IMG_8130

The other day Terrell and I looked at a small warehouse space down the street from us that we thought might be the answer to the Fair Trade Friday product that has taken over home and life. We have nearly 700 in our monthly club now and at just .33 cents a square foot, we had to consider this unexpected God-nod. When we told the property owner what we would do with the space, he asked, “What does fair trade mean?”

It means a child wasn’t chained to a chair to sew your clothes.

It means a woman can feed her family.

It means an amputee can work again.

It means hope for the hopeless.

Because it’s about the story behind the new blue headband.

The one our kids need to hear.

IMG_8131

Join the monthly Fair Trade Friday Club! February is full, but we are now taking names on our March Wait List.

But we do have One-Time Trial or Gift Fair Trade bags and today you can get $5 off. Check out our newest options for Home, Kids and Men’s  (with Limited Edition Mother’s Day boxes coming soon!) Or buy our Original One Time Trial or Gift Box with code: 4hope

6 Reasons Dads Should Date Their Daughters Before Anyone Else Does

She twirled around the house in her pink sparkly dress.

“Daddy is going to love it,” she said as she got another peek of herself in the mirror. “I look amazing.”

I walked away smiling and told my husband his date was ready.

He straightened his tie, bowed and held out his hand. “May I have this dance?”

She giggled and said, “Yes, we need to practice.”

And they danced in the kitchen.

It was their first Daddy Daughter Dance together and I think this picture an hour later says what I cannot.

dadddy daughter dance
She will never forget this night with her dad. Neither will he.

6 Reasons Dads Should Date Their Daughters Before Anyone Else Does:

1. Dads have a profound impact on their daughter’s lives

A father’s role in his daughter’s life is one of the most important she will ever know. “Research clearly says that daddies make all the difference in the world,” says Kevin Leman, national speaker and author of What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter’s Life“I have tremendously more impact on my daughter than my wife does.”

10959402_10206360584920309_5783166749323744745_n

2. Dad sets the dating standard

“What you are doing as a man is prioritizing your time,” Leman explains. “Most kids grow up knowing Dad is a pretty busy guy. Your daughter needs to know the sacrifice you’ve made in your priority list; making sure she comes up No. 1. The fact that you affirm your daughter’s femininity and treat her special says to her, ‘Honey, seek somebody special in life. Seek someone who is going to treat you right.'”

1506616_10152596053036975_2701247047579536855_n

3. A dad makes his daughter feel special on a date

Many girls seek approval and attention at some point in their life. If dad is giving it regularly, it satisfies that craving. If he doesn’t, she might look for it elsewhere.

10959370_10152596052956975_4216473427422997068_n

4. Daughters might just open up with the one-on-one time

Our oldest daughter painted nails and applied eyeshadow and lip gloss to the girls who didn’t have moms present in the glamour room before the dance. Later, her dad took her out for a Starbucks and he just listened. She talked and then she really talked. Watching my 15 year old and my husband return to the house holding hands is something I won’t soon forget.

58303739-DSC_19738

5. It’s the perfect opportunity to just have fun

Dads are busy with work and the pressure of providing. A date is a great time to let loose and just laugh and have fun. At one point during the dance, my 8 year old said, “Daddy was dancing so hard, he had to get a napkin off the table to wipe his sweaty head!” She thought it was awesome because she knew he was having a great time with her.

58303745-DSC_19364

6. Regular dates with dad keep him involved in her life

One day, our daughters will date someone other than their dad. And as far off (and even difficult) as that might sound, it’s part of life. And when dad makes his daughter a priority and spends one-on-one time with her, even in the difficult stages and phases of parenting, it becomes a natural shift for when another young man enters her life. I love this from Desiring God: “Have her boyfriend in your home. And I don’t mean just once for dinner. I mean welcome him into your family with some regularity. Let him see you love your wife and children. Model manhood for him — the manhood you want to see in his relationship with your daughter. And remember that your home is probably the safest place for them to get to know each other, rather than out and about on their own without loving boundaries and accountability.”

10959402_10206360584920309_5783166749323744745_n

Dance, anyone?

If Dad can’t be present or chooses not to be, try to find a Godly man to fill his shoes-a grandfather, uncle, etc. And we don’t have to teach kids their fathers are flawed, they see that eventually. But we can all teach our kids that God is the perfect Father of all.

Photos by Lindsay Portugal & Taylor Robbins