March 30, 2009

Introduction to Priority Parenting

It’s heart warming for me to play a supportive role in the lives of our daughter and son-in-law as they parent our granddaughter. Benj and Mary are a unique team! They work together very well, which brings a lot of security to Julia’s life. Their preparation for parenting started long before Julia was born. I would venture to say even before she was conceived. The thing that I admire about them is that they have prepared with purpose. They are submitted to the Lord and His purposes. They continue to look for resources to help them be the very best parents they can be. Some of us fail to plan at all for the most important aspects of our lives. I remember when Tim and I were young (wait a minute, we are still young!) and newly married. We wanted children right away. We both wanted a large family and had agreed on having twelve children. It took me a long eleven months to conceive, but finally Rebekah, our first bundle arrived. Eighteen months later, Rachel came along; twenty two months after Rachel, Bethany; and lastly, nineteen months after Bethany, Mary, our youngest, was born. Due to health complications, I was only able to carry four children. Our reproduction endeavor turned out to be a sprint rather than a marathon. We had an overall plan back then, but had never really thought about the purpose in it, except that we knew we believed in procreation. Needless to say, we chose the crash course in parenting unlike Benj and Mary.
We all have days when we feel like we are good parents, and others when we feel that we have failed miserably and are convinced that we are the worst parent in the world. This is normal! There are no perfect parents! The hard days in our roles as parents can be like surfing a wave “we can let it overwhelm us or let it lift us and carry us. It’s important to allow ourselves to be challenged to become better parents. It’s never beneficial to give in to self-defeating thoughts that tend to cripple and discourage.
Due to some of the questions that have come up lately in conversations with parents of younger children, I’m going to spend the next few posts sharing some parenting philosophies that Tim and I have learned through the years. In introducing these articles, want to note that there are several approaches to parenting. There is the “how to” approach and the “why” approach. I will focus on the “why” approach because, if parents understands the goals of parenting, they will be better prepared to apply the information that is available to them. There are also the psychological approach and the biblical approach. I will focus primarily on God’s design for the family and the biblical philosophy regarding children and their make up. Whether you are a Christian or not, the principles we will cover will be beneficial to you as you consider your overall approach to parenting your child. Keep in mind that these posts are only overviews. They will only address the high points. If there is any particular concept you would like further information about, you may email me. To be continued…Grace-Works

March 25, 2009

Happy Generation!

I have been meeting with a group of young married women in my home for the past few weeks. All of them have been married under seven years, which makes me feel very old. We are reading and discussing a book together. I must tell you that it is so refreshing to be around these women and their children. They have so much life and energy. I am also very blessed by their desire to know the truth in God’s Word. The book that we are reading and discussing has been challenging to all of us! It has been great to have an opportunity to share some of the mistakes I’ve made through the years. Hopefully they can avoid making the same ones I’ve made. The last couple of discussions have included the concepts found in Titus 2:3-5, where Paul is telling the older woman to teach the younger and then he gives a list of what to teach (read it when you get a chance). In our discussion, I surmised that in our culture there aren’t many environments where we spend quality time with people who are older or younger. How can the young women learn from the older if they are seldom around them? In many environments, age segregation starts at the cradle and ends at the grave. We have robbed ourselves of so many rich experiences by not pursuing opportunities to be with all age groups. I have some really strong opinions about this particular concept and have to remind myself to observe the instruction in Titus 2—to be discreet, which means modest in my opinions and passions. Nothing warms my heart like the scene I observe on Sunday mornings as I look out across the congregation of our Church. There are entire families sitting together worshiping as a family unit. And what makes it even more special is when I see the Pops and Maimes (grandfathers and grandmothers) sitting there with their families as well. This is just one sweet picture of age desegregation. I have often wondered why children are perceived as such a nuisance that, on one of the most significant days of the week, for one of the most important things a family can do together, we would send them away to be cared for or ministered to at an age appropriate level. Okay, okay… Now I’m abandoning my discretion. All I really want to say is, you might begin to think about how you and your family can be less age-segregated in your everyday life. What opportunities can you make for you and your children to be around someone from a different generation? If foolishness begets foolishness then what does wisdom beget? Are you and your children walking among the wise? It’s much easier to think about this as it pertains to our children but we must ask ourselves as adults, am I gleaning enough from those who are older and wiser to sustain me in the future? Am I seeking instruction from those who are a bit further down the road than me? Be encouraged today to think outside the box. Ask yourself these hard questions. A Hebrew proverb reads “Happy the generation where the great listen to the small, for it follows that in such a generation the small will listen to the great.” I’m so glad Grace-Works!

Enjoying Another Generation

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March 24, 2009

New Blog

I just want to let everyone know I have been working on a new blog. It is a bit different from this one. Check it out at . May the fun begin! I’ll update you on the details later.

March 16, 2009

Bethany and John Ryan

Bethany on her birthday morning!

Bethany as a little munchkin!

Happy Birthday Bethany!

Happy Birthday Lovely Lady! My third daughter Bethany was born on the 15th day of March, 24 years ago. Her birth was quite eventful. I went to the hospital early on the morning she was born for a scheduled c-section. Everything appeared to be going just fine except the epidural I was given didn’t seem to be working. After administering the maximum amount of medication, the anesthesiologist was convinced I would be numb by the time the surgery began. When the physician came into the operating room to start the surgery, he poked me with what felt like a needle on my oversized abdomen and based on my response said, “Oh, sorry. I guess you can feel that.” Needless to say the failed epidural caused me to have to be put to sleep for her delivery. My recovery room experience was horrendous. My sweet gentle husband told the attending nurse not to touch me again until we spoke with the Doctor. I was so glad to have him there to stick up for me. After speaking with the Doctor, we were convinced that either the nurse didn’t get the memo that I had had a c-section or she was taking out her frustration on me. Of course all the pain went away when I got to see my sweet little baby girl. She had dark hair and dark eyes and was obviously unique from the moment I saw her. She captured my heart just as her sisters had. From our first encounter I knew my heart was set to take the very best care of this fragile little life God had entrusted to me. At two weeks old, she quit breathing during an evening feeding. Tim and I did everything we could to get her to breathe but to no avail. Now remember, this was before 911 was in affect and we lived 30 minutes from the nearest hospital. Tim handed her to me and telephoned a local physician who lived down the street from us. The physician told us to get to a hospital and Tim responded with “there isn’t enough time.” When he hung up the phone, he fell to his knees and cried out for God’s mercy, convinced that she was gone. I just couldn’t give up. I proceeded to work on her and just as the physician was walking through our front door she took a breath. I quickly handed her frail body to him and he proceeded to examine her. He said he thought she was going to be fine except for maybe some bruising from us trying to get her to breath. I cannot put into words how helpless and weak Tim and I felt that evening. It was a stern reminder to us both that we as parents have certain limitations in the lives of our children, but their heavenly Father is without limits and cares for them more deeply than we ever could. Bethany quit breathing again the following evening around the same time. We took her to the hospital this time to try to figure out what was going on. After a five day hospital stay, and an enormous amount of trauma, we were told that there was nothing wrong with her and that she had had coincidental choking spells. Anxious and relieved, we headed home knowing that the affects of the whole experience brought us to a new found dependence on the Lord, especially in the area of parenting. Through the years of her life, Bethany has brought us a tremendous amount of joy! I truly believe that the enemy had a plan for her the evening she quit breathing that was different from the Lord’s. There have been other times in this journey of stewardship in Bethany’s life when her Dad and I have fallen to our knees and cried out for God’s mercy and, always, the Lord was there to give wisdom, strength, protection, courage, grace, and forgiveness as it was needed. I am so thankful that the Lord’s purpose and plan for her can not be thwarted by the evil one, his devices, or her or her parent’s weaknesses. My heart is overjoyed today as I reminisce over the life of this beautiful woman. She is not only my daughter but my friend and my sister in Christ. And, I have no doubt that her life will continue to bring praise honor and glory to her King, JESUS. I love you Bethany and hope you had a wonderful birthday!

March 9, 2009


Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me to continue writing through your comments and email. It brings my heart joy knowing that all this writing is benefiting someone other than me. It has been a wonderful outlet! I told Tim that it’s like unclogging a main artery to my heart. I have a fresh appreciation for those who are courageous enough to put their words in print. I have been thinking a lot lately about how much I need people in my life to spur me on and inspire me. Because I love definitions, here is how the free online dictionary by Farlex defines inspire: to affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence; to fill with enlivening or exalting emotion; to stimulate to action; motivate; to affect or touch; to draw forth; elicit or arouse; to be the cause or source of; bring about; to stimulate energies, ideals, or reverence. Wow! You would think that in order to inspire someone, you would have to really work hard at it. On the contrary, what I have found is that those who truly inspire are those who are busy being who they are created to be, whether anyone is observing them or not. I personally have been inspired by the character of many in my lifetime. To name a few: my husband by his fervor and passion to live biblical truth; my father by his patriotic commitments, along with his integrity; my mother by her ability to persevere through enormous difficulty; my daughters, each in their own unique way, but primarily in their continued desire to live lives that honor God; my son-in-law by his tenacity to pursue the dreams God has put in his heart; all my friends and family members who continue to seek after God with all their hearts even in the midst of a world that is hostile toward their beliefs; Christian leaders who persevere through opposition and preach the truth of God’s Word uncompromisingly, no matter the cost; and, on a lighter note, Author and Speaker Emily Barnes for teaching me all about taking tea! A person who can be inspired by another is one who has learned an important aspect of survival in this life. Many times our pride will keep us from allowing others to speak into our lives. Proverbs 18:1 tells us “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” There have definitely been times in my life when I have not allowed others in. After going through a period of isolation, I realized how much I needed other people. It is so tempting to try to be an island because it initially seems safe, peaceful, or just easier all around. It doesn’t take long to realize that isolation only brings stagnation and growth becomes obscure. We were created to have fellowship with one another and without it, we will grow weak and vulnerable (Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching). As I make attempts at welcoming others into my life, I realize the importance of seeking out those who also appreciate being inspired. These individuals seem to be the ones who are growing. “Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with spark, or motivated.” (Johann Gottfried Von Herder) I have noticed that when I am truly inspired, I have an unquenchable need to affirm the one who has inspired me. Hopefully in return, they are compelled to continue being who they were created to be and consequently inspiring others. When was the last time your ideals were stimulated? When were you last divinely influenced or touched? If it’s been a while and you can sense some stagnation in your life, it may be time to get in the boat and sail off the island of isolation toward the mainland where inspiration abounds. I believe there are great things awaiting you there! Open your heart and allow someone in! Grace-Works!

March 4, 2009

"The Hard Work"

I’m in Branson Missouri as I write. Tim and I will be heading home today after celebrating the twenty-ninth anniversary of making our marriage covenant. No, I didn’t say wedding anniversary because the wedding was the least important part of what we actually did on that cold winter day in March of 1980. The most meaningful part of that day was the fact that we made a covenant with one another that has kept us together through many difficult seasons. I really don’t think either of us knew what we were getting into when we made that covenant but the making of it was something that we were both committed to. Tim and I spent our anniversary weekend speaking at a marriage seminar in Lamar, MO. and I can honestly say it was a very meaningful way to spend our time together. We so enjoyed the group we were with. They were like sponges soaking up truth. It was refreshing to be around so many couples who desire to honor God through their marriages. At the close of the seminar Tim sang a song to me, as he typically does, that he wrote for me on our twenty-fifth anniversary. I share the words with you partly because it’s so special to me but also to make a point.

My Promise

It’s been a long time now
We’ve been together girl
I’ve come to know that you love me
in ways I have never known
We’ve shared good times and bad together
And our love keeps growing strong

I’m with you no matter the weather I’m here to stay
I’ll be here through the rain and the sunshine it works that way
We’re a match that was made in heaven
But the flame is kept here on earth
To love and cherish, this is my promise to you
This is my promise

I will warm you in the winter when it’s cold outside
I’ll be your friend and will listen, even if it takes all night
We’ve shared good times and bad together
And our love keeps growing strong

It’s been twenty-five years since I said “I Do”
I’m not gonna lose you now
One day at a time, for better or worse
I’ll be here in the morning

I’m with you no matter the weather I’m here to stay
I’ll be here through the rain and the sunshine it works that way

I’m with you no matter the weather I’m here to stay
I’ll be here through the rain and the sunshine it works that way
We’re a match that was made in heaven
But the flame is kept here on earth
To love and cherish, this is my promise to you
This is my promise – This is my promise

Through our years of ministering to couples, we have heard this phrase over and over,“You’re a match that was made in heaven.” I will admit to you that though some may have said this to us as a compliment, it was usually followed up with “our relationship wasn’t made in heaven and that’s why we struggle so much” which, in that case, would make me a bit annoyed. Many think that couples who live joyful harmonious lives together have some sort of magical or supernatural gifting that is only available to some. But I believe the truth of the matter is that those whose marriage relationship is honoring to God are those who have chosen to do “The Hard Work” as I like to call it. “The Hard Work” refers to the surrendering of your will to God’s will. This includes:

• Choosing to love unconditionally even when it is undeserved
• Making the decision to serve your spouse when you are tired and have nothing else to give in your own strength
• Choosing to see your spouse through God’s eyes and not your own
• Freely giving the gift of forgiveness that you have freely been given
• Choosing maturity when it would be so much easier at that time to take offense
• Allowing the Lord to work in your own life so that you will be better suited for the relationship
• Accepting differences without being angry about them
• Deciding to be a godly influence rather than trying to change your spouse
• Being quiet when you really want to speak and speaking when you would rather be quiet
• Choosing to trust the Lord when it comes to “The Hard Work” in your spouse’s life as to whether he/she is doing it or not
• Respecting yourself and your mate by having healthy boundaries
• Not allowing your spouse to become an idol in your life by choosing their acceptance above God’s acceptance of you.

This list could go on, as you well know. The interesting thing about “The Hard Work” is that once you have made the decision to do it and step in that direction, something supernatural does happen and the Lord empowers you with the strength to do what you never thought possible. This doesn’t negate the fact that you have to take the first “Hard” step and continue to make “Hard” choices. It’s never easy for anyone! Whether you and your spouse are a match made in heaven or not, the flame is kept here on earth by continuing to stoke it and give it the oxygen it needs to burn. I want to stress the point that the oxygen our marriages need is called surrender. Where surrender begins, the struggle ends. I don’t mean to simplify the difficulty that some of you face, but I do hope that you would consider the truth in God’s Word as you face those difficulties. My marriage relationship would not and could not have survived this long had it not been for surrender on both Tim’s and my part. In the many years we have been encouraging couples, we have never seen marriages survive or restored apart from surrender. I encourage you today, whatever issue you are facing, choose to do “The Hard Work” and surrender to the Lord. I must add that your surrender alone may not bring about a solution but a solution will not come about without your surrender. Grace-Works.