Category Archives: Family

The ABC’s of a Healthy Home

abcs of a healthy home

There are so many traits that a home needs to have in order to be healthy and godly. While not every trait is going to be perfect all the time, if a couple is growing and maturing in the necessary areas, their home will be better for it.

While this is not an exhaustive list, we present to you today the ABC’s of a healthy home.

A is for Acceptance. This does not mean you accept sin, since that is never acceptable. It means that you accept personality differences and quirks.

B is for Be careful what you say. Proverbs 15:1 reminds us that a “harsh word stirs up strife.” The children’s song, “O be careful little mouth what you say” is very good marriage advice!

C is for Commitment. Marriage does not need to be viewed as a contract, because contracts can be too easily broken. Marriage is a covenant, meant to be fulfilled with commitment no matter what the external circumstances might be.

D is for Discipline. It takes both self discipline and the discipline of Scripture to be all that we should be in our homes.

E is for Expect rain. While everything may seem like it is roses and unicorns (or Fudge Rounds and M&M’s) on the wedding day, there are going to be times when difficulties come. Don’t invite them, but expect them. Oh, and prepare for them.

F is for Forgiveness. Christians are commanded to be forgiving people, and that should not just be reserved for “church folk.” Our spouse deserves forgiveness. After all, we have been forgiven in order to forgive others.

G is for God is first. The picture of a triangle is a good one. When husband and wife are individually growing closer to the Lord–at the top of the triangle–they are automatically growing closer to each other.

H is for Hold up your spouse. Lift him or her up in your words, both when they are present and when they are not. Do not berate your spouse, even if he or she is not present.

I is for “I” becomes “we.” When you get married, your pronouns need to change. It is no longer about “I.” It is now about “we” and “us.”

J is for Jump-start your marriage. No matter how good you think your marriage might be, do something to make it better. Read a book (11 recommended titles here). Attend a marriage seminar. Read a marriage blog or article. Listen to a marriage podcast. Go to counseling, just as a “tune-up.” There is always room to grow.

K is for Kick out temptations. If there is something that is tempting you to think things about your spouse that are unhealthy, kick those unhealthy things out. If there are things (or people) who are tempting to be unfaithful, kick them out!

L is for Love unconditionally. Agape love is not just a feeling. It is something that is done with the other person’s best interest at heart. (Sounds a lot like “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer…”)

M is for Manage your money and media. These two things can easily take over a marriage instead of being under control. Neither is bad in itself, but both must be managed, so they can too easily consume your time and energy.

N is for No negative criticism. There is a way to say negative things in a way that still brings encouragement to your spouse. Find it and use it.

O is for Openness. If it is in your mind or on your heart, it is “fair game” to speak about with your spouse.

P is for Prayer. Pray for your spouse, and pray with your spouse. A lot.

Q is for Quit complaining! If you are complaining about your spouse, you need to look in the mirror and ask, “Why did I marry this person?” You made the decision, so quit complaining!

R is for Respect. In words and actions, show the highest levels of respect you can for your spouse. (Husbands and wives need to read Ephesians 5:33 very carefully together.)

S is for Sacrifice. Jesus is our perfect Example, in that He gave Himself for the church. That is the standard, and it needs to shine forth every day in our homes.

T is for Tend your own garden. If you are feeling emotionally attracted to anyone other than your spouse, you need to take care of your own household. Tend your own garden. Put your mind back at home and put your efforts there first.

U is for Unity. “Whatever God has joined together, let not man separate.”

V is for Value. A virtuous wife’s value is “far above rubies” and her husband praises her (Proverbs 31:10, 28). Speak in words that show great value to your spouse.

W is for Watch your calendar. Put family things on your calendar first. Worship times, family devotionals, prayer times, dates with your spouse, and family vacations need to be a priority on the calendar before anything else.

X is for X-ray yourself. If your marriage is not what you might want, don’t just lob criticism at your spouse. Look at yourself and see where you need to improve.

Y is for Yearn for heaven together. Marriage is a wonderful way to help your spouse get to heaven. Long for that together.

Z is for Zealously love the Lord. He must come first, and He will bless your marriage if you put Him as the head of your house.

COMMENTS? Add your thoughts to the ABC’s of a healthy home in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

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Another Helpful Resource

One of the goals of A Legacy of Faith is to help families. I thought I’d use my space today to inform you about another resource. It is a resource that I believe you will find to be very valuable.

My friend and brother in Christ, Lance Cordle, preaches for the church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. In 1999, he began publishing The Family Friend. The subtitle says that it is “a collection of articles and quotes to aid your family in daily living.” Lance describes this publication as “kind of a family-article Reader’s Digest.”

I have checked with Lance and he has told me that he would be glad to send this monthly publication to anybody who contacts him to make a request. The normal schedule is for The Family Friend to be sent out on the second weekend of every month. You can receive this either by “snail mail” or by providing your email address to Lance.

Most of the past issues are archived. You can find them at on the Calvert City website by clicking here.

If you would like to subscribe to this helpful publication, please send a request to Lance at lance AT calvertchurchofchrist DOT com. In the subject line, type “Subscribe TFF.”

I hope you’ll take advantage of this helpful resource!

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Momma’s Fresh Peach Pie {Recipe}

mommas fresh peach pie

It’s that time of year again. The peaches are ripe and plentiful. I know a little bit about peaches because that was my dad’s favorite fruit. This time of year always stirs some memories within me now that both of my parents are gone. Dad would spend more than he normally would for this precious fruit just because he loved it so much. Oh, he complained a lot about the price, but he still bought the peaches.

What I remember even more vividly than his love for peaches was the way my mother would always use them to please him. She peeled and sliced them and served them for breakfast along with the bacon and eggs she cooked. She even worked hard to preserve them so that he could have some in the winter. But nothing was better, in my opinion, than her fresh peach pie.

My mother worked as a surgical nurse – long, hard hours – often being called back to work during the night for emergency surgeries. Her uniform was always starched and ironed and pure white. Her white shoes were always polished and shining. She kept an immaculate house. She served us good meals and sewed clothes so we would have something new to wear occasionally. All of these things were very important to her and she made sure she taught me much of it. She had made a commitment to be a good mother – and she was one of the best.

She also had made a commitment to be a good wife, even though my dad was not a faithful Christian for much of their marriage. She lived every day of her life helping other people and everyone benefitted from her service. Dad and Mom were married for 60 years before my dad left this life. He watched her live a faithful Christian life for all of that time. First Peter 3:1-2 is one of my favorite passages: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” My dad came back to the Lord for the last years of their marriage. I know her example around him had much to do with that decision.

I still make fresh peach pie from Mom’s recipe. My daughter makes fresh pie from that same recipe. I am hoping that she will teach my granddaughter to make that same pie.

Let me share her easy recipe with you. I hope you are committed to being the faithful wife and mother God intended for you to be. Maybe her pie will help you toward doing something pleasing for your family.

mommas fresh peach pie recipe

[Feel free to print out or pin on Pinterest!]

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life.  

Proverbs 31:10-12

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Marriage is All About “U”

marriage is all about u

We have often heard it said that marriage is not all about you. A good marriage is one where a great deal of sacrifice takes place, and where the other person’s needs are put above our own.

But, maybe, marriage should be all about you…or, actually, all about “U.”

There are three “u’s” that a marriage needs to have. Each of these can be found in Genesis 2:24, which states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become on flesh.” Based upon those famous words, notice three important things about marriage.

1. Unique. Leaving father and mother implies that this new marriage is establishing a new, unique home. While the parents still should have input from their years of wisdom and experience, they should allow this new home to flourish and, yes, to work through mistakes on their own.

2. United. The word “joined” carries the idea of “glued.” Nothing should be able to separate this new home, because the husband and wife are so glued to one another. Every other relationship (work, children, parents, etc.)–save the covenant between a person and God–must be subordinated to the relationship between this man and this woman.

3. Union. They are now “one flesh,” which means more than the sexual relationship. In every humanly-possible way, this man and woman should be “one.” Dan Winkler suggests five areas this must be true:

  • Natural (the helpmeet relationship)
  • Intimate (they must remain monogamous)
  • Sexual (the marriage bed is undefiled, Hebrews 13:4)
  • Spiritual (they should help one another glorify God and go to heaven)
  • Permanent (“’til death do us part”)

So, as you can see, marriage really is all about “U!”

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What I Learned when I Quit Facebook

what i learned when i quit facebook

I like to communicate. I like a room full of people. I like activity. I like to share ideas and thoughts and dreams with others. I am a people person. The advancement of social media for a person like me has caused a reaction similar to that of my six-year old daughter when she recently tried a new dish. She took one bite and said, “Where have you been all my life?!”

As an evangelist I use social media for the gospel’s sake. I have had countless Bible studies and private spiritual discussions involving counseling online. I have left “chat” immediately to meet the very people I have been chatting with at the church building to baptize them. I do not deny many friend requests because I want to be a link between people and God. This is my job. I know Jesus is the only mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5), but I want to be a link between people and the mediator. I care for souls and this love for people influences my decisions within the social realm.

But social media can take over your life if you are not careful. I had to cancel my Facebook account once and start again when the number of friends reached over 3000. Slowly but surely it began to build again. By the end of last year, I needed a break. I decided to quit all social media for a month with absolutely no cheating. I did not look on anyone else’s page. I did not ask questions. If people started talking about anything related to social media I walked away. It was a refreshing experience. Several realizations came in the process.

1. Social media can become an addiction just like anything else. It can drain time and energy and productivity. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a blessing in many ways and it is not wrong to engage in it. But if you want to know if you are addicted I have one easy litmus test: Do you ever sit in your office or at home at night on your computer, phone, or tablet refreshing newsfeed? Yeah, you may have a problem.

2. Social media can keep a person from engaging in real relationships. If you have to use media to have a relationship with someone, you may be living in a false reality. Some use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to create a person they want people to see but is not truly them. They post certain pictures and say certain things in order to project the person they wish they were. Looks can be deceiving. The best person you are is the person you are in public – talking with people, working, and being a regular part of society. The world deserves the real you. You need to contribute and be functional in the outside world. Never hide behind technology.

3. Social media keeps us in the loop. It’s the 21st century. Some people might want to think about deciding to enter it with the rest of us. I was amazed at how much information I was gleaning from social media, especially Facebook. My timeline for gathering information or finding out about situations was considerably affected when I left. If you want to minister to people information is valuable. I lost several opportunities to be a Christian influence when I stepped away for a month. In truth I am definitely closer on some level to people whom I communicate with electronically. If you don’t answer email, text, return calls, or do any social media in today’s world you are almost a hermit. Sometimes people reject these avenues of communication because they really are very private and just want to be left alone.

4. Quitting anything you habitually practice is healthy for you physically, mentally, and spiritually. I would suggest at least a short break from anything that consumes a fair amount of your time. You are missing out on the rest of the world if you dwell too often with the same people in the same places. You need to drive outside of town on a clear night and just look at the stars for a while. You need to take your kids fishing or to the park. You need to go have a long and meaningful one-on-one conversation with an older person you love who will not be here forever. If you will step away for a few days or weeks you will be practicing one of the fruits of the spirit: self-control. And let’s face it, self-control is the hardest spiritual fruit of all for anyone to grow – and the tree God wants us to be growing cannot plug in to an electronic outlet. The only real and lasting power is in His Word.

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”

– Philippians 3:7

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A Disconnected Connected Society

a disconnected connected society

Posts, tweets, pins, links, updates…

The list goes on and on.

IMHO, we are becoming the most disconnected connected people who have ever lived. (By the way; did you see how cool I am? I know tech speak for “in my humble opinion!”)

We know what is going on with somebody half-way around the world whom we have  “accepted” as a “friend” (even though we’ve never met them), or “follow,” are “linked in with,” or are in some other way connected electronically. At the same time, we have no idea what is going on with our spouse who is sitting right next to us; our children who live in the same house; our real friends who have been there for us at difficult times in our lives; the people who live next door to us; and/or a host of other people we used to know and spend time with before we got hooked on our electronic devices.

People who know me know that I’m sort of a sucker for this stuff. I guess it started with the iPhone.  I was among the millions who were “wowed” by it. I couldn’t believe that one little device was capable of doing all that it could do.

It took me a while to get an iPhone, but, once I did, I was hooked. Although I’ve gone to the dark side and now have an Android phone (and tablet), I’m still intrigued by the possibilities that electronics provide for us.

I’m also intrigued and saddened by what I am observing; that is, when I look up from my phone or tablet. Increasingly, I am seeing (and sometimes participating in) a scenario in which family members, friends, etc. can all be in the same room and are all communicating. The problem is that they (we) are communicating with somebody somewhere else. Instead of sharing their (our) lives with those who should be the closest to us, something as trivial as a joke or a cute picture is being shared with somebody who may not even care enough to look at it.

I’ve never had the privilege of sitting right behind home plate in the front row of a major league baseball game. I don’t expect I ever will have that privilege.

However, as I’m sitting at home miles away from the stadium, I’ve watched as that center-field camera zooms in to the home plate area. I have seen people who occupy a seat I can only dream of having. I’ve watched them texting, emailing, or doing something other than watching the game. I’m wondering how much money they spent on those tickets — and why.

When was the last time you went to a sporting event (maybe even a little league game in which your child was playing) and just watched the game?

When was the last time you enjoyed some of God’s wonderful creation without feeling compelled to share your experience with the world?

When was the last time you and your spouse had an uninterrupted real conversation?

When was the last time your entire family sat around the same table at the same time and enjoyed a meal without any electronic interference?

When was the last time you “unplugged” and just lived life with those whom you love?

I’m beginning to think that there is, in fact, a disconnected connected society. I’m beginning to also think I’m a part of that society.

How about you?

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Hosting a Neighborhood Ice Cream Social

hosting an ice cream social

We love our neighborhood, but more than that, we love the street we live on. For the past couple of years, especially, we have greatly enjoyed getting to know our neighbors a little bit.

But, as we all know, people are busy. Getting to know one another is difficult and takes effort. It requires us to be intentional.

Leah and I have been kicking around the idea for some time about hosting some informal, simple events to get to know our neighbors–especially those on our street–better. Last week, we held our first, and it was fantastic!

We decided to have a simple ice cream social, and make it a come-and-go, informal evening. There was nothing fancy about the night, and I think that helped it be a success. The expectations were low, so people didn’t feel like they had to “put on” for others. In all, about 30 people were present.

Here’s how we did it, and you can, too.

1. Simple promotion. We made super simple flyers (see below) that gave our  neighbors the date and time, and asked them to let us know if they were attending. With school getting ready to start back, we called it a “Back to School” night, but we told folks that was just an excuse to get together. We took one evening, and walked up to each house. If they were home, we invited them personally. If not, we just left the flyer on their door. Nothing more was done by way of promotion.

ice cream for blog

2. Simple night. Ice cream, a couple of toppings, some cookies, and lemonade on a very small table. That was it. That’s all we had to set up and get ready (and the ice cream wasn’t even homemade). We figured the simplicity of the food would help people just enjoy the conversation. A couple of our neighbors agreed to help with the cookies, so the whole night only cost us about $40. Again, this was not about putting on some kind of “show.” It was about keeping things laid back and inviting.

3. No agenda. We just let people talk, and did they ever talk! We had said the evening would be from 7:00-8:00 PM, but we had folks stay until about 8:30. There were people who had never met, though they live just a couple of houses apart, who talked for nearly the entire time! This was not meant to be a Bible study or an invitation to purchase something. We wanted people to just enjoy getting to know each other better.

On our street, there are 16 houses, and about 30 people came. That’s not bad! As you can see, all this happened even though there was almost no preparation required. When all was done, we think the night went as well as we could have expected.

We also saw two “outcomes” that made us feel gratitude for having held such a night. First, people wanted to get a list of emails and phone numbers to pass around, so we could more easily keep up with one another. We were glad to gather these and I sent them out via email later that night.

Second, and best of all, people were already coming up with ideas for future get-togethers! It was a joy to hear ideas of cookouts and more “socials” like this first one. While I don’t expect these to happen all the time, I do think we’ll see a handful of these events in the coming months.

In a time when people complain because they don’t know their neighbors and so few people seem to want to be friendly, this night was a breath of fresh air. It may take some initiative, but I think neighbors want to know one another. So, do something simple and hold an evening to allow your neighbors to interact. You might just be surprised at how well it goes.

The best compliment we got all night was by a fellow sister in Christ who lives down the street. After thanking us for having this event, she said, “This is a very Christian thing to do.” We hope so, and we hope this encourages you to do something similar in your neighborhood!

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Home is People {Quote for Pinterest}

Today, we have a great quote for you. It shares the age-old idea that home is not a building, but it is the people.

We have made this quote where you can pin it on Pinterest, to share the encouragement with others. Enjoy!

home is people quote

 

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Being the Bad Guy

being the bad guy

Parenting is not for wimps. I know a young couple who married in 2013 and had their first child this year, about a year after their wedding. In a recent conversation I asked them if their newborn was resting well at night so they could get some sleep. They said it was off and on but getting better. They informed me that they realize now that nothing could have prepared them for some of the things that go with parenting.

Which leads me to this next thought…

In doing pre-marital counseling, when I ask young couples what their plan is for having children I often get this response: “Well, we are going to wait until we are ready to be parents.” Although I know what they mean, I often laugh inside because, as a father of three, I know by now that you are never ready for most of what parenting entails. As one of my former elders used to say, “You do the best you can and let the rough end drag.”

We now have a teenage son, a ten-year old boy with middle-child syndrome, and a little spitfire of a daughter who is about to be seven (if we let her live that long). Discipline is becoming more difficult by the minute. They are challenging us in new and different ways.

I often have to go to the back of the house with my wife to huddle and diagram plays. We have to agree on everything. We have to back each other up. We have to disallow any defense from getting through and tackling the quarterback. Parents, raising children is a team effort. It is serious business. If you don’t have a plan you are going to lose the game!

I know we are just getting started with this teenager stuff, but one thing the Tatum parents have agreed on is the willingness to be the bad guy.

Case in point: Our teen recently received a cell phone. We have no plan on it so no calls or texts are yet happening and there is no internet package. But he knows how to get on a few free web spots like youtube and some gaming sites. We have limited his usage, we see his content, and the rule was no using the phone except in the family room. But the other day he had retreated to his room and was on the internet; thus, he was breaking the rules. (I knew he had done this more than once and warnings were issued).

So no messing around – I took the phone. It is gone indefinitely. I told him that he had broken the trust he had been issued. We had a conversation about the dangers of what is out there. He knows it may be a long while before he ever gets it back. It has been over a month so far and I am in no hurry to return it to him. He is doing just fine!

Because I love my son, and because I love his soul even more, I am not concerned if this restriction makes him mad at me. The biggest mistake parents make in discipline is allowing their desire to be buddies with their growing teen trump their responsibility to be the bad guy.

Parents, I am begging you, listen to me! If you want to be their friend when they need you to be their instructor and rule-maker and disciplinarian you are blowing it. They may not like you now but they will love you later. They will be your friends later when they understand why you did what you did. Right now they will call you harsh and foolish and at times their hormones may even make them say they hate you. I guarantee at some point they will lash out. This is life. This is parenting. You have not been called to this noble job of preparing the next generation in order to allow an immature minor who has been charged to your trust to have their way.

Love your kids enough to be the bad guy. It may take awhile for your kids to get it. But one day, when your grandchild gets their first cell phone, your frustrated middle-aged child may use it to call you for advice. And you will smile.

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4

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How Strong is the Hedge Around Your Marriage?

how strong is the hedge

It took a special tank.

After the Normandy invasion of World War II, the Allied army–and particularly the Americans–got bogged down. One reason that had nothing to do with Hitler or the Germans was the landscape.

If you’ve seen a stereotypical movie about Europe, you have probably watched a scene where someone tried to work their way through ridiculously-huge hedgerows. If it was a comedy movie, they probably made it through, but were cut up and scraped.

When I think of hedges, being American, I think of little short bushes in front of my porch. But that’s not what the Allied army faced after D-Day. They faced those almost-stereotypical sized hedges. Literally, few tanks could make it through.

So, the Rhino Tank was created. It was a tank outfitted with special “tusks” that could cut through these huge and intimidating features of the landscape.

I suppose, since he wrote a book with the title, it was Jerry B. Jenkins, who came up with the idea of putting “hedges” around our marriage. His book outlines various hedges that every man needs to have around his relationship with his wife in order to truly protect the sanctity and innocence of their relationship.

But I wonder: which kind of hedge are you building?

Is the hedge you are building around your marriage the little dinky shrubs like I have in front of my porch? I can take a small pair of trimmers and cut them virtually to the ground. With a few minutes and a shovel, I can remove them completely. They may be hedges, but they aren’t much protection.

Instead, we need to build the tank-resisting hedges! Any and every precaution that can be made to protect your marriage should be taken. There is no move that is too small. There is no expense that is too great. There is no effort that isn’t worth making.

After all, Satan is not going to come after your marriage with a small pair of trimmers. He’s going to be driving a tank, trying to destroy your home from any angle he can. Build a hedge he cannot penetrate, then cover that hedge with prayer.

How strong is the hedge around your marriage?

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