August 18, 2014

Sending a Baby to College?: From My Heart to Yours:

I share from a tender heart this morning. I have many friends who are sending their sweet babies off to college this month. A few asked me to re-post my post from 2011 when I took my sweet girl off to college for the first time. So below, I am re-posting that post. But BEFORE you read it, I want to encourage you  with a few words from my heart this summer as we sent Lauren off for her senior year at UGA. 

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Lauren speaking at her high school graduation June 2011

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Our July 2014  visit with Lauren while she interned for Major League Baseball in New York City!

We not only survived but thrived!!

These three years have gone by so fast. But may I tell you, Lauren and I have grown closer than I could have ever imagined! In her words (that make this mama’s heart sing), we have become more like girlfriends!! We truly ENJOY each other. We have taken some of the most amazing trips together. So the “goodbye” that initially shredded my heart into a million pieces has now blessed my heart more than I could have ever asked or imagined. And just a few weeks ago, she left me this message on Facebook.

“Fifteen Best Things about Being Close with Your Mom”

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a29039/best-things-about-being-close-with-your-mom/ via @Cosmopolitan (cut and paste)

So as you read the post below, keep my words above and my closing words tucked deep in your heart. The ache will lessen. The tears will subside. Joy will return. I promise! And always remember in the wait…His mercies are new every morning!!

My heart’s cry from August 2011

No one ever prepares you for the hurt that accompanies sending your baby off to college. Moms share their experiences. They give advice. They pray. They send Scripture. But when the moment arrives…nothing prepares you.

As we stood in the darkness of the parking lot outside Lauren’s dorm, I felt as if I could not breathe. Waves of grief overcame me. She hugged her Daddy. Next she hugged her brother. I stood, waiting for my turn, tears streaming down my cheeks. Finally she came to me. I held her for what seemed forever as we both wept…no words just tears. Finally, we spoke our last goodbyes. I watched her walk up the stairs to her new home. Everything in me wanted to run after her. I wanted to turn back time and take her home…just one more year with me. But I knew that was not possible.

It was time…time for her to journey into the next phase of God’s plan for her life…a plan I know is perfect…a plan I know is one planned by God since before time began…a plan to prosper and not to harm her…a plan to give her Hope and a future.

But knowing those truths does not make saying goodbye hurt any less. As we drove home, the ache in my heart grew.

Walking into the house brought waves of tears. It hurts so much. How do I walk this walk? How do I live each day knowing her bright, smiling face won’t be walking through the door every afternoon. How do I serve dinner every night with one less place setting? How do I go to Target knowing she isn’t with me to stop at Chick-fil-A to get our sweet tea? How do I watch “Bewitched” without her at 4:30 every afternoon? She is everywhere!!!

How will I walk this walk? The only way I know how…one step at a time…with my Lord guiding each and every step and with you, my sweet friends, whose prayers and words of encouragement have held me up. It is such a lonely feeling, yet you have helped me know I am not alone.

My friend Marlo Huffington wrote these beautiful words:

Let the sweet waves of loss wash over you for they will eventually give way to joy!

So, I will wait patiently for the Joy that always comes in the morning.

Until then, I rejoice for Lauren. Her first two days were so hard. But now she is enjoying Rush and making new friends. Nights are still a bit lonely as she misses “home.” But I told her soon UGA would be her new “home,” her “home away from home,” and it would feel good to be there.

And I was right…even though in that moment I didn’t want to be. All I wanted to do was whisk her back home. But Athens, GA has become Lauren’s home away from home with girlfriends who love her; a football team she’s rabid about (Go DAWGS),  a Christian community that has challenged and developed her faith, and an education that already has opened amazing doors for her. And, most importantly, it’s where God has grown her into an independent, capable and strong young woman! All things I know would never have happened had she remained here with us.

If you are one of those moms today (or have a friend who is), please leave a comment and share your (or her) name and your (or her) child’s name. We are not alone. Thousands and thousands of mamas all over the world know the ache in our hearts. I promise to pray for each woman and child by name. And let’s band together and pray for each other…that the God of all comfort will ENABLE us to entrust Him with our babies and FILL our hearts full of His peace, love and grace today!!

Blessings,

June 9, 2014

A Father’s Prayers for His Daughter…Meet Rob Teigen/Great Giveaway!

I’m excited to introduce to you an amazing dad who has a beautiful heart for prayer. Rob and his wife, Joanna, have co-authored the books I am sharing today. I couldn’t think of a better time to connect you with Rob than just before Father’s Day. He has some amazing resources to share with the “dad” in your life. It might be your son, your brother, your husband, your uncle or even a friend. We all know God calls us to pray for our kids, but knowing and doing are two different things. Praying is hard…even intimidating. How do we do it? What do we pray? That’s why I invited Rob here today.

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Please share this post and Rob and Joanna’s books with a “dad” in your life. And Rob is not only guest-posting but also giving away THREE gift packs. So leave a comment today for a chance to win one of Rob’s great gift packs. Each gift pack includes Rob’s two books and the Conversation Starters!

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Meet Rob Teigen…

I’m thankful to Wendy for asking me to stop by her blog in honor of Father’s Day. Wendy and I connected when she contributed a wonderful story to my wife’s and my upcoming book, A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son: Praying for Every Part of His Life.  Her story is an encouraging example of the power of prayer in her life as a mom. This book follows on the heels of our first book about prayer, A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter: Praying for Every Part of Her Life. I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit about these books and my family with you today.

My wife Joanna and I have been married for over 20 years and enjoy life together with our four children. Josh is in college, Emma is 16, Leah is 13, and Anna is 10. This will be an extra-special Father’s Day for me because we’re just weeks away from finalizing the adoption of our 3-year-old son, Mason. That will make number five and we couldn’t be more excited! I have to laugh a little, though, about our crazy life where we’re paying for Pull-ups and college tuition at the same time.

A perfect day for me is a trip to the pool or a bike ride with the kids, and grilling up a meal to share at the end. With our hectic schedule, any time we’re all gathered around the table at once is a special event. I also like to drag my family to as many Christian music concerts as my wife (and budget) will allow. Books are big at our house–I’m currently reading John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life, Paul E. Miller’s book A Loving Life, and Moment Makers by Carlos Whittaker. I picked up a copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green for my daughter Emma and couldn’t put it down (please don’t think any less of me!). My favorite Bible verse for this season of life is Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”  Now that’s a promise!

Enough about me–I should let Wendy get on with the interview.  Thanks again, Wendy, and thank you to all who stopped here to read about how dads can bless their families through prayer.

What made you decide to write a book about prayer? 

I talk quite a bit about the tremendous value of spending quality time with our kids, passing on a spiritual heritage, and giving our children the security of a deeply committed marriage. But the longer I’m a father, the more I see that my most vital gift to my kids is releasing them to God through prayer.

When I lift my children up to God I remember they are His. I’m able to surrender my hopes, dreams, and fears to His control. He reminds me that I’m not just trying to raise “good kids,” but young men and women that have fully committed their lives to Him.  I want my kids to have hearts that are truly devoted to the Lord, and only He can change their hearts.

Also, I believe that prayer is where we seek wisdom to know how to handle life’s situations with our children.  When I have issues or challenges as a dad I tend to go to two extremes: I either jump in too fast to try to fix everything myself, or I become passive and hope the problem just goes away. In prayer I can ask God for help to know when and how to step in, or when to stand by quietly and watch God move in my child’s life in His own way and timing.

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Why did you feel it was important to focus on dads praying specifically for their daughters instead of sons? 

As I mentioned above I have two sons, and obviously praying for them is just as important as praying for my daughters.  However, I do feel that as guys we can have a harder time understanding the unique challenges our daughters face.  Some challenges are universal, like academic pressure, sickness, or loneliness, but girls have distinctive issues of their own. I know my daughters will face struggles with body image, gossip, confidence, and a biblical understanding of their value as women. I’ll need an extra measure of wisdom from God to know how to protect them physically, emotionally, and spiritually as their dad.

Why do you think it’s important for dads to pray for their girls?

My greatest desire as a parent is to see my daughters mature into the women God has designed them to be. Without God’s help, I might actually become a hindrance to what he wants to do in their lives. One of my favorite passages of the Bible is the foundation for my writing and strongerdads.com–Psalms 127 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stay in wake in vain.  It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives his beloved sleep.”  How many of us are worrying and working hard to raise “good kids” of our own making.  Releasing our kids to God through prayer sets us free from fear and the pressure to be perfect fathers raising perfect daughters.

In prayer, I find peace and faith to trust in God’s power in the lives of my girls. I find guidance when I don’t understand their emotions or their needs. I find encouragement when things get tough—he promises to use every situation for our ultimate good. I find security by relying on him for their protection.

Dads, let’s start praying for our daughters’ needs before they’re in a full-blown crisis! I’m praying about my girls’ boyfriends and husbands now, even though those relationships are still a few years away on the horizon. I’m asking him to provide them with wisdom and self-control now, knowing that future jobs, grades, and driving habits will depend on it. I’m asking him to surround them with caring Christian friends today, so that they have a positive support system in place heading into their teen years. Praying for our daughters doesn’t guarantee everything in life will go perfectly, but it does build our faith and equip us for whatever comes.

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What would you say to encourage dads who feel like their prayers don’t change anything? 

We have to remember that God is the potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8).  We can trust that God will use every situation in our children’s lives to mold them into the people he’s designed them to be. He can use pain and disappointment to teach patience and faith. He can use heartache to show himself as Comforter and Healer. It is through difficulty that our kids can discover how much he loves them.

We often want to use our prayers to change our child or our circumstances, rather than asking God to change us.  God blesses us with children for many reasons, but especially because they stretch our faith!  Nothing will bring us to our knees or make us aware of our total dependence on God like the needs of our children.  Go read the gospels—you’ll be as amazed as I was to see how many of those that came to Jesus were begging for help and healing for their children. Keep your eyes on God and the big picture of your life with your children. You will see his faithfulness and be amazed.

God loves you. God loves your child. He is mighty and able to do whatever we ask for them. He is good. Don’t quit praying—he hears you and he is with you every moment.

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What would you say to the dad (or mom) out there who is struggling with the choices his daughter is making?  How should we pray for them?

We need to remember that every one of God’s children was a prodigal at one point or another.  It was his kindness that led us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Some of the best opportunities God gives to show his grace and unconditional love to our daughters are when they blow it.  Pray that God softens her heart to his truth.  Pray that she will see the painful consequences of sin and rebellion to God and turn back to him before she has to experience them for herself. Pray that she will come to the end of herself, see her need for the Lord, and run to him to experience the love, forgiveness, and mercy that he freely offers.

Pray that as her parent you can love her in spite of her choices. Ask for wisdom to know which limits and discipline will be the most effective in training your child. Ask for the strength to be silent when you want to criticize or lash out in frustration. Ask for the heart of Christ who loved us and gave himself up for us while we were still determined to go our own way.

What would you say to the dad whose daughter has made mistakes and she’s now paying for those mistakes?

That’s really hard!  None of us want to see our child experience painful effects of their wrong choices. It’s comforting to know that those consequences can do valuable work in teaching your daughter a better way. Put your arms around her and walk that road by her side. Remind her that God is not surprised by her sin. The first thing he did when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden was to seek them out and find them.  There were huge consequences for their disobedience but God made the clothing to cover them and made a way for their salvation.  He wants to do the same thing for your daughter. He is able to make her new—he wants to clothe her in his righteousness and draw her into a forever-relationship with him.

Pray that the painful consequences she’s experiencing will create a longing in her heart for the mercy of God. Ask him to open her eyes to see the freedom and joy that a life of obedience will bring. Ask him to humble her heart to admit her need for a Savior. And ask him for a tender heart as her dad that can love and forgive your daughter no matter what she’s done.

Any other thoughts on A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter before we wrap this up?

I would encourage dads to just get started! Create a new habit of praying for your daughter every day. Get excited—you will see your faith grow stronger and real change happen in your family. You will grow in compassion and understanding of your child. You will create a rich legacy that can continue on in your daughter’s life as she prays for her own children someday. You’ll invite the power of God into the middle of your life as a father—prepare to be blown away by all that God will do!

Thanks, Rob, for sharing from your daddy’s heart today and for your generous gifts! If you would like to purchase any of Rob’s resources, click on the title below and it will take you directly to it. And visit Rob’s web site strongerdads.com.

A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter 

88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates

A Mom’s Prayer for Her Son (to be released 10/14)

I can’t wait for A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son to be released! Leave a comment today for Rob sharing how you incorporate prayer in your children’s lives. I will announce the three winners in my next post!

Blessings,

May 9, 2014

When Your Heart Needs Mending…

Has someone broken your heart…betrayed you? Lied to you? Abandoned you? Forgotten you?

Have you made a choice that you feel is unforgivable? Irreparable? Irreversible?

These are emotions that take our hearts hostage. They lock us in a prison. We feel hopeless, alone, unworthy, unloved. But we are not without hope. We are not forgotten. And we are loved. We are worthy. Why? Because we are a child of the Living God, and we are precious in His sight. Our God is a God Who loves unconditionally, forgives freely, and heals fully. He alone holds the key to our freedom.

Yet so often we run from Him.

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My friend Suzie Eller is here today to remind us that we don’t have to run from God. In fact, Jesus invites us to come to Him…all who are weary and burdened…all who are lost and alone…all who are persecuted and abandoned.

Here’s an excerpt from her new book, The Mended Heart. And… be sure to read through to the end for a chance to win a copy.

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“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me. He has put His hand on Me to preach the Good News to poor people. He has sent Me to heal those with a sad heart. He has sent Me to tell those who are being held that they can go free. He has sent Me to make the blind to see and to free those who are held because of trouble.” Luke 4:18 (NLV)

 

“Why can’t you get it together?”

 

“If you would just try harder.”

 

Have you heard any of these statements? Maybe you’ve even said them to yourself.

 

Perhaps those who stood on a hot hillside in Nazareth were asking themselves the same questions. Many tried hard to follow all the religious laws, but knew they fell short. Would Jesus give them more rules to follow? Imagine their surprise as Jesus spelled out His personal mission statement:

 

I’ve come to open the eyes of the blind.

 

I’ve come to set the prisoner free.

 

I’ve come with good news for the poor in spirit.

 

I’ve come to heal the brokenhearted.

 

The crowd must have been shocked by His words, for they expected a warrior, not a heart surgeon. Jesus Himself was setting the record straight. He came so that we might be made whole … through Him.

 

For those who had been trying harder, striving more, it was a transforming message. They were accustomed to following rules or meeting expectations of man, rather than resting in the power of their almighty God.

 

When I became a believer, I didn’t understand Jesus’ mission statement. I was dealing with untended brokenness and trying everything to fix myself. When I grasped the power of Luke 4:18, this truth changed me:

 

The power of the cross is not found in what I do, but in what has already been done for me.

 

Jesus didn’t mean for us to do this alone. It’s not our strength or power that will transform us. Yes, we make changes. Yes, we open our broken heart to His tender touch. Yes, we allow Him to move us in uncomfortable directions to discover new paths — and leave old ones behind. But we are in a partnership with God … and He’s bigger.

 

I also discovered I didn’t have to earn God’s love. Maybe, like me, you thought God would love you one day, when you had it all together.

 

Jesus’ mission statement proclaims that He loves us today. With our baggage and hurting hearts. When we grasp that kind of love, it changes us. It compels us to return that love, and to trust Jesus from our hearts.

 

This trust helps us listen for His voice. We sense when He is teaching or redirecting us. We weigh temptation in light of our love for our heavenly Father. This relationship helps us discover our “true selves, [our] child-of-God selves” (John 1:12, The Message).

 

Last, Luke 4:18 reminded me that I didn’t have to run away just because I felt broken.

 

A hurting heart can send us running down paths we may regret, searching for something or someone to ease our pain. Jesus’ mission statement invites us to stop running and rest in Him, expectant that our true selves will emerge with His healing touch.

 

The truth of Luke 4:18 is ours today to hold close, for Jesus came to heal our hurting hearts.

 

Dear Jesus, for the longest time I’ve been concentrating on my efforts, but today I expectantly rest in You. Thank You that the power of the cross is not in what I do, but in what has already been done for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Suzie has been gracious enough to give away one of her books on the blog today!  Thank you, Suzie. To purchase a copy of Suzie’s book click here. And for a sneak peek at Chapter One, click here.

To enter to win, leave a comment today and share how God has met you in a broken place. Maybe through His Word…the prayer of a friend…a worship song…the whisper of His Holy Spirit. Or if you’re in a broken place, let us know how we can pray for you. Suzie will stop by throughout the day to celebrate with you and/or pray for you.

**The winners of Wednesdays giveaway of Living So That are…

Luanda who posted on 5/7 at 5:45 a.m.

Rebecca who posted on 5/7 at 1:26 p.m.

Congratulations! Please e-mail me at deuteronomysix@aol.com with your full name and mailing address so we can send you your book!