Category Archives: Family

Don’t Follow the Dog!

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He usually played in the back yard or in the field that adjoined it, but on this day, he found himself being lured into the front yard. His attention had been drawn to a cute little dog he hadn’t seen before. 

He was only allowed to cross the gravel road for one reason. If one of his parents gave him permission to retrieve the mail from the mailbox on the other side of the road, he could do so, but only after hearing the familiar, “Be sure you look both ways!”

But on this day, he crossed the road without looking both ways and without permission. He couldn’t waste that much time. His new friend was already well ahead of him. 

Before he knew it, he was in the woods across the road from his house. Yes, those woods. The woods his parents had made sound so terrible. His new friend apparently hadn’t seen any danger, though, so he had happily followed him into the “forbidden forest.”

Before long, a new realization dawned on him. He had no idea where he was. He also had no idea where his new friend was. He was surrounded by briars. He was all alone. He was scared. He wanted to go home, but he did not know how to get there.

He was very glad to hear his dad’s voice calling his name!

He knew he might be in trouble for doing what his parents had told him repeatedly not to do, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He had no desire to ever be in those woods again. He didn’t care if he ever saw that dog again (which he didn’t). 

Later, he discovered why his parents had warned him so sternly about those woods. There was an old abandoned well in those woods. He learned that his dad’s heart sank when he saw the evidence that his only child had been dangerously close to that well. The well was so obscured with leaves, limbs, etc. that the father feared that there was a chance that his son’s body would never be found if, indeed, his son had fallen into the well.

The little boy never knew he was in that much danger. He just knew that his “adventure” wasn’t as exciting or rewarding as he had thought it might be and that he was more than ready for the comfort and security of home.

About sixty years later, that “little boy” has five grandchildren, all of whom are older than he was when his carelessness could have cost him his life. In those sixty or so years, he’s seen his story repeated countless numbers of times.

He’s seen far too many people follow a person, a lifestyle, a philosophy, and any number of other things so far “into the woods” that they become totally disoriented and estranged from the people who really love them. More importantly, they have become so confused and entangled that they don’t think they can find their way back to God.

For more than thirty of those sixty years, He has attempted to warn people about the dangers of being lured in and/or lured away by improper influences. He’s also spent quite a bit of time trying to reclaim those who have become ensnared by Satan and his devices (cf. 2 Cor. 2:11).

He has shed tears of joy when a precious soul has returned home. He has also shed tears of sadness when one has gone into eternity without ever returning home.

You have a Father who loves you, a Savior who died for you, and brothers and sisters in the Lord who care deeply for you. You’ve got way too much to lose in an unguarded and reckless moment.

Please take it from one who has been there — Don’t follow the dog!

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Moving is Hard Work!

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Jim and I have just moved, and it was hard work. We moved from a 5-bedroom house with 3 bathrooms to a 3-bedroom house with 2 bathrooms all within the same city. The old house had a huge walk-in attic and it was full. It also had a large shed and a two car garage with a storage room off of it. We now have a small attic, no shed and no storage room off of our garage. 

Downsizing seemed like a very logical thing to do at our age (and it was), but little did we know that it would be so difficult. Deciding what furniture to move and what to sell was the least of our worries. My biggest worry was trying to figure out how we ended up with so much stuff! I guess after 45 years of marriage most people have accumulated quite a bit, but what we were sorting through seemed excessive.

I learned some lessons during this process:

We all have too many possessions. I remembered a story Jim told me after he returned from doing mission work in India several years ago. He told of a family who had a tarp over their meager space out in the open – and that was their home. They didn’t complain, but seemed happy to have a covering over their heads. As I sorted and unpacked boxes of items I hadn’t used in years to determine if I needed to keep them, I felt ashamed that we had accumulated so many things. Those things had become a burden to me. They were unnecessary.

I remember Jesus talking about a young man we refer to as “the rich young ruler.” He was interested in obtaining eternal life. He knew the Law and had kept the commandments from his youth. However, he had accumulated many things and when Jesus told him to go and sell what he had and give to the poor, he “went away sorrowful because he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:16-22).

Happiness and contentment in life have nothing to do with the possessions you have. If I thought that the happiness and contentment Jim and I have in our marriage was based solely upon the “things” we possessed, I would be most miserable. Houses, cars, furniture, clothes, jewelry, and anything else you may have are worthless when it comes to happiness and contentment. Relationships are what really matter – with God, with your spouse, with your children, with your church family, and with others with whom you may come in contact.

Success in life is not measured by what you have accumulated. The world measures success by how much money you make and by how many things you are able to accumulate. Sometimes it takes years for us to learn that we are measuring our success in this life by those around whom we live. Hopefully, at some point we learn that God measures success by our faithful service to Him. When we live our lives being faithful Christians and remembering that our citizenship is in heaven and not on this earth, we are successful.

Houses and possessions are temporary. Thousands and sometimes millions of dollars are spent to build dwelling places and to fill those dwelling places with finery. Storms, fires, and floods can wipe all of that away in an instant. When we become so attached to earthly possessions, any disaster will devastate us. But when we realize that this world is not our home, we are just passing through and our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, life here on earth becomes our temporary home.

Hard work is good for you. Jim and I (along with our children and many wonderful members of our church family) packed, toted, sorted, lifted, and moved what seemed like enough possessions for several families. Jim said often that he was looking forward to the day when he could just go somewhere without a box in his hands. We have made it to the smaller house, with fewer possessions, and more peace of mind. The work was hard, but so educational. I’m so grateful to God for what we have. He has blessed us beyond measure. I love the “lightness” I feel of having less to keep up with and clean. I’m grateful for all of the helping hands we had during this process. But I am most grateful for a loving heavenly Father who moves with us wherever we go.

“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”  Philippians 4:11

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An Important Tip from An Eight-Year-Old

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Some sermons are heard and some sermons are seen. Human behavior can be extraordinarily moving and thought provoking. There were even times in the life of the Son of God when He marveled at the actions of certain individuals. He marveled at the faith of the centurion (Matt. 8:10). He marveled at the unbelief of His own countrymen (Mark. 6:6). And I believe He marveled when He saw the widow give all her livelihood at the Jerusalem temple (Luke 21:1-4).

It is with this in mind that I recall last Wednesday evening. Returning home from Bible class my young daughter traveled with me as we stopped to get a smoothie. We went inside and as they were preparing what we had ordered she saw the tip jar on the counter. Seeing a host of one dollar bills in the transparent container she asked me if this is how people paid for their drinks. I explained to her that tips are something given as a courtesy to say “thank you” for a service that has been provided. I told her it was just like when we go to the restaurant and leave cash on the table.

Before the words were out of my mouth she was already opening her change purse. My daughter always has at least one purse of some kind that has something in it. And she probably has a book or two, and a doll, and a stuffed animal, and the kitchen sink. She said, “I am going to give them a dollar.” I told her that would be very nice. She was so happy to give it. She knew it was an extra, that it was not required. She knew it was an open expression of thanksgiving. She knew it was an opportunity to bring joy to someone else. She gave it so freely and openly. I know her well enough that if it had been her last dollar, or if I had told her that people usually give a twenty, it would have been the same story.

As we left I had a similar feeling to the feeling I believe our Savior experienced with the widow and her two mites. My daughter had made no comparable sacrifice to the poor widow, but there was a resemblance according to the level of their faith. What makes a widow give her last penny? What makes a child give everything she has only minutes after she receives it?

Faith.

Faith in God that he will provide. Faith that the giving of something does not determine that we are losing anything. Faith that understands the importance of doing the right thing and not worrying about the end result. Faith that says it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

While my heart was overflowing with warmth for my daughter, there was also a part of me that felt ashamed. I wish I could find within myself the simplicity that exists within the heart of an eight-year-old. We grow up and we begin to think that we actually own things. But we don’t. And then one day we will leave this place and find that the only thing we ever owned was the opportunity to make a daily choice concerning the stewardship with which we had been entrusted. And it will be in those moments, the moments of our decisions, that we will determine the success of our existence. Our earthly impact, and our eternal destiny, may be defined in essence by something as basic as our attitude toward transparent containers filled with a few one dollar bills.

“…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 18:3

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How To Lose Young People (in Three Words)

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There comes a time when we have to loose young people. At some point in their lives, they have to be on their own. 

Parents have to “let go” and let their children start their own families, careers, etc. Some secondary school, trade school, college, or university will be the last place of formal education for them. Home congregations will have had the last opportunity to instill truths from God’s word (at least on a regular basis) as they move on in life.

However, the cry heard from many quarters has little to do with loosing young people. Instead the cry from families, educational systems, and churches is:

“We are losing our young people.”

Parents lose sleep and shed tears because of some of the things their children believe and do. School systems struggle to merely keep order in a classroom; much less help students prepare for the real world when they graduate (or quit). Church leaders go into panic mode when there seems to be fewer young people attending worship services and Bible classes as has been the case in former times. 

Sadly, the “solution” proposed and practiced by many is actually a sure-fire way to totally lose the next generation (and generations to come). This “solution” can, as has been suggested in the title, summed up in just three words:

Cater to them.

Instead of being parents and having guidelines and rules for your family, cater to your children. Make sure they are always happy. Make sure they have everything they could ever want. Make sure that they, instead of you, call the shots. If you follow this advice, you will be well on your way to losing your children–and having more heartache than you can imagine.

Instead of demanding a certain level of behavior and competence in the school system, cater to the students. Make learning exciting and fun. Before long, there will be no more learning; only excitement and fun. We may not only lose our children as far as making a contribution to society is concerned, we may lose the society in which we hoped they would compete.

Instead of teaching our children God’s plan for marriage, the home, the church, worship, etc., cater to the least knowledgeable members of a congregation — regardless of their age. Why should an old, dusty book matter as long as people are finding what they think they want out of life? Let’s teach that “the here and now” is really all that matters. Whatever comes after that (if anything) will take care of itself.

The Bible has many examples of young people who stood for and practiced what was right; even when they had to stand alone or as a part of a very, very small group. They did this because of a deep faith in God. We will not run the risk of truly losing our young people to the world and/or to Satan if we help them to have a faith like them.

May God help us to do just that.

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Quick Children’s Devotional Idea [Video]

I recently did a Periscope with a short devotional idea for kids. (Yes, it was one that actually worked!) Here’s a quick description of how you can do this same devotional for your kids.

 

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10 Lessons on Parenting from a Small Family Farm

[NOTE: This week’s guest post comes from Josh Ketchum. To learn more about Josh, check out his bio following today’s article. Also, note that this will be our final guest post until December, as we will be taking one week off, then relaunching our podcast on September 4.]

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We purchased 20 acres in Graves County, Kentucky, in the fall of 2013, and are now in the process of building a home on the property. We have four children ages 2 to 10 (3 boys and 1 girl). While the experience has been a real challenge at times to manage the extra work and stresses, it has also been lots of fun and a great blessing. We currently have 5 Dexter cows, 12 pigs, 7 Barbados Blackbelly sheep, a horse and pony, and some Bantam chickens. Here are 10 lessons we are teaching and learning ourselves, with our small family farm.    

1. Hard work – We grew up on farms and learned the value of working hard in physical labor.  We wanted our children to be taught how to work and hopefully find joy and reward in it.

2. God’s creationBeing exposed to the intricacies of the animal world and how God majestically designed each plant and animal is amazing.  It causes us, as a family, to marvel at God’s wondrous creation and providential care.  It also helps teach about man’s superior role to animals, and their purpose as food and labor for man. 

3. Systems and unique roles within a system We live in a world filled with systems that interact and relate to one another.  Our goal is to see the farm as a system in which all parts play a unique role contributing to the success of the overall system.  The key is figuring out how to use the unique contribution for the overall success. (For example, pigs can make a mess rooting up a nice pasture, but it can be a very  helpful contribution if they are rooting up a future garden spot.) 

4. Sexuality One of the most cited lessons people tell us our kids will learn, and we have observed them learning, on the farm is sexuality.  Much of the interaction and management of the animals has to do with males and females and their producing offspring.  The farm life teaches about basic desires and how God intended for procreation to take place.

5. Individuality  Farm life and outdoor life in general allows for kids to develop their own individual interests and pursuits.  One of our sons likes hunting, our little girl loves the pony, and another son loves to accomplish tasks, while the future opportunities are endless for them to pursue their interests.

6. Family goals and teamwork The farm creates needed family projects that require everyone to work together.  These can be fun, family recreation times that allow for teaching and gaining a sense of accomplishments.  Whether it is planting a garden, moving a fence line, or making a concrete ramp, there is something about taking down a project together!

7. Death and Loss A farm saying goes, “If you have livestock, you will have deadstock.”  While we haven’t had anything besides some chickens die in our first year, we most likely will in the future, and lessons are taught to us all when there is death and loss.

8. HealthWe are trying to raise as healthy of animals as possible. We are concerned with their health, thus we monitor their diet, provide clean water, and care for wounds.  All the while, learning how to maintain our own health. 

9. Lifetime learningThe entire farm adventure has been a learning process for our family.  As parents, we are trying to display an example of learning and growing for our kids.  We want them to be lifetime learners, being willing to find their own answer, gain experience, and continue to try new things.

10. A sense of responsibility  A local counselor says that most all of our anxiety and depression issues could be overcome if we had to do something everyday to provide food for ourselves.  The family farm teaches responsibility, and requires you to be steadfast and consistent on a daily basis.

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Josh Ketchum serves as the pulpit minister for the Seven Oaks Church of Christ in Mayfield, Kentucky. He also runs Life in the Kingdom, a daily blog that you will want to check out and subscribe to. Josh is married to Amanda, and they have four children.

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Our Homsechool Room and Curriculum [Video]

For today’s post, Adam and Leah recorded a video. In it, they give you a quick tour of their simple homeschool room, as well as some thoughts on the books and materials being used this year. Enjoy!

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The Joy of Family Reunion

[NOTE: Today, we are pleased to bring you a “follow up” post of sorts. A few weeks ago, Daniel Gaines wrote our guest post. In his bio, we shared that he and his family were facing a separation, due to a medical condition with one of their children. Now, the family is all back in the states together. We are honored today that his wife, Tiffany Gaines, took the time to share some thoughts about their reunion that will encourage you.]

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Hair fixed, makeup on, perfume sprayed, and 3 kids in tow, I anxiously watched the clock in the terminal click to 1:47 pm. He was finally here! I knew his plane had touched down and he was on the runway in Alabama. Together at last.

My heart ached with anticipation. The children asked anxiously, “Where’s daddy? Is he here?” When he finally descended the stairs it was a flurry of movement with the children running, arms open, screaming, “DADDY!” Tears of joy and relief rolled down my cheeks. Everything was perfect in this moment. We were all together.

1 Corinthians 13:7 reminds us daily that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” For two months, I had been a single mom 10,000 miles from my husband. The days crawled by as I organized doctor appointments and took care of the kids alone. I was constantly reminded of the perfect design God had created in husband and wife, father and mother. Our family puzzle was incomplete and the load was getting increasingly difficult to bear alone.

In Tanzania, Daniel would have loved to share the load of daily parenting and discipline. He was lonely and ached with the knowledge that he could not be with his wife and children daily. We had made the decision for me to return home with all 3 children because our son was needing medical care that was unavailable in Tanzania. But Daniel had remained in Africa to continue the work we had committed to. I can only imagine how difficult it was to watch his entire family board a plane and leave him behind. Tears flowed down my cheeks that day as well as I held the hands of 2 preschoolers and walked down the aisle of that plane with my daughter in anticipation of two 9 hour flights and an unknown period of time without Daddy.

But on this day, the tears were of relief and joy as I was reunited with my love.

We hugged. We laughed. We gazed into each other’s eyes. We prayed and thanked God for the blessing of our family being together again. The boys hung to his legs and our daughter held his hand as we walked from the terminal. The days that followed were filled with a feeling of completeness that had been missing for so long. Our puzzle piece was back where it belonged. I had dreamed of this moment for 2 months and it was finally here.

I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics to a favorite song, “God’s Family.”

And sometimes we laugh together, sometimes we cry.

Sometimes we share together heartaches and sighs.

Sometimes we dream together of how it will be.

When we all get to Heaven, God’s family.

Although we go through trials, there will be joy. As a part of God’s family, we experience these same feelings. Romans 5:3-5 gives our Christian family so much hope: “… but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

We can know that, although trials come our way, God has equipped us to endure with the hope of an amazing family reunion one day. We will ache with the anticipation of being together with our Christian family. We will cry tears of joy and relief after enduring this life and know that everything is perfect because we will be together, God’s family.

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It Goes Without Saying

It is a common phrase. It is often used when one means, “Well, of course, I shouldn’t have to make that point, should I?” Then they add the phrase, “It goes without saying!”

I wonder, though, if too many parents have that same attitude when teaching and training their children. Do you? Are there things that you are assuming your children know, but leaving those things unsaid? Here are 3 areas where words should not go without saying.

1. Etiquette. Some parents leave any words regarding manners unsaid. Maybe they think their kids will just grow into it. Maybe they think manners are not important in the grand scheme of things. Personally, I think that manners are becoming rarer, seemingly by the day. It could be that in our post-modern world anything that is a standard is shunned. I think that there ought to be a standard in our conduct. Of course, the Bible is the ultimate standard in our conduct, but the idea of “manners” really originates from the idea that there should be a common standard of behavior. Children need to be taught to say “thank you” and “please.” Children need to be taught to answer with “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am” or “yes sir” or “no sir”. They need to be taught to answer politely when spoken to. Why do children not know this in our day and time? They don’t know this because their parents are leaving it unsaid. The truth is, parents have to say it every single day for many years before it starts to stick. Don’t give up.

2. Biblical Doctrine. Some parents leave words about doctrine unsaid. It seems like some parents think that just exposing their children to doctrine a few times a week is enough. It is surely necessary to expose them, but we can do so much more. Parents ought to make sure their kids are learning the doctrine of the Bible. There are so many ways to do this. Parents should be implementing family devotionals. Parents should be doing their best to make sure their kids know basic Bible facts [resources like these or these can help.] Parents ought to be teaching their kids about worship and how to worship. Don’t leave words about doctrinal and spiritual things unsaid. 

3. Family Legacy. Some parents leave too many words about family unsaid. Parents need to be building a strong family unit by developing traditions. Parents need to be making sure their children know how important they are to the family unit. Parents need to be teaching their children about their family heritage. We will leave a great family legacy, unless we leave words about our family unsaid.

As parents, we need to be certain that we are actually speaking the words to our children that we want them to hear and know. Say the words, be clear, and teach and train your children.

I mean, that goes without saying, right?

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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

What I Missed : A Letter from “Randy”

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Dear World,

I couldn’t quite understand all the words. The sound was muffled, but I picked up a few things. I heard a pleasant voice say, “Welcome,” and I figured out some instructions about filling out some paperwork. I knew I would have to wait for a few minutes, but I could not figure out what we were waiting for.

It was hard to hear everything where I was. It was warm, and I was always taken care of, but sounds are garbled inside a mother’s tummy.

Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. My name was supposed to be Randy. At least, I heard that name sometimes and I liked it, so I like to think that would have been my name. I’m pretty sure it was my daddy’s name. I like that!

Through my short time in my mommy’s tummy, I got glimpses of things that would have been great to do. I couldn’t understand everything, but I heard people talk about walking, riding bicycles, and going on trips. Just blowing bubbles in the sunshine would have made my day, or so I would like to think.

My mom sounded like a nice lady. I pictured her that way. I could imagine her smile and her hugs. While I never knew what she looked like, I just knew she was a pretty lady. Isn’t every mother beautiful?

Anyway, back to my story. We waited for a few minutes and then we moved. I never really had any say in the matter. When mommy moved, I went with her. It was just the way things were. I loved my warm place inside mommy’s tummy, and didn’t mind going wherever she went (except the dentist…neither one of us seemed to like that place).

This time, though, something wasn’t right. I could hear my mommy crying a little. She seemed upset, but the other lady in the room calmed her down. I did not understand every word, but they were saying something about a “procedure,” and about mommy’s “right to choose.”

Then, the other lady leaned right into mommy’s ear, so I could hear, too. I heard her say, “Don’t worry, in a few minutes, you’ll be right back to normal and able to go on with your life the way you want it.”

Those words made me miss so much. I will never take that walk in the sunshine. I will never learn to ride a bike or swim. I will never feel my mother’s hugs. I will never blow bubbles in the sunshine or make smores at a bonfire. I will never climb on a trail or catch a butterfly. I will never work hard to pass a test. I will never ask a girl on a date. I won’t know the feeling of marriage, the joy of the sexual union, or the bliss of becoming a father.

You see, I missed all that because my mother killed me.

And because of your leaders, you helped pay for it.

Sincerely,

“Randy”

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

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