One blip of a moment that showed why simple traditions matter

In our first year of marriage, Steve played on a church softball team. One crisp Friday night, I sat on the bleachers cheering him on. A group of teenagers surrounded me. They were discussing Friday night plans. We had no children yet, so naturally I leaned in to spy on their conversations.

Lighthearted laughter, bantering back and forth. I smiled. I hope my teens have sweet spirits like this one day, I thought. A girl called out to one of the guys. “Hey, we are all going out to grab something to eat tonight. Want to go with us?”

“Not tonight! It’s Friday. Chicken and rice Friday. I never miss mom’s chicken and rice.”

My heart melted right into those hard as a rock metal bleachers. A teenage boy declining a Friday night out to go home to his mom’s meal. Because that is what Friday nights held in their home.

That was a turning point moment for me as a not-yet-mama.

I saw what I wanted to create in our family. I wanted a connected family. One filled with simple, yet meaningful traditions.

Start with the end in mind.

When an architect draws up a house plan, they ask their client what it is they want. The client will tell them their dream home and what they envision. They may say things like “I want to host large parties. Entertaining is important to me.” And the architect will draw up a plan that includes a design fit for their dreams and ideas.

When building begins, the builder works from the plan. The plan lays out the steps needed to reach the end goal and final result. Each step is intentionally taken to create the vision cast by the client.

In the same way, creating a family culture and establishing connected relationships involves looking down the road and deciding what is most important. Then you make a plan. Not a perfect plan. But. A plan.

With our families, we start with the end in mind too.

 

Here are a few ideas:

  • read aloud together. Start early and keep going when you think they’ve outgrown it. We are never too old to listen to stories. Some of my favorite memories are around books we’ve read together as a family. We’ve laughed and cried and celebrated.  We have a collection of memories around stories. It’s a favorite summer tradition in particular.
  • a simple weekly meal – like chicken and rice Friday. Taco Tuesdays are pretty popular. It’s simply nice to have something to all look forward to together. It’s steady and sure. Taco Tuesday arrives each week without much hurrah. Just a regular meal everyone counts on in a world that often is filled with setbacks and disappointments.
  • family dinners – sitting together to eat is important to me. Creating schedules to make that a priority is hard but worth it. For some families this is exceptionally hard. Try for at least one night a week. Or 2 or 3. Just set what works and stick to it.
  • weekly family night- Pick a night of the week for some family activity. Game night. Movie night. Go get ice cream. Again it’s that repeated activity that everyone counts on and looks forward to.
  • holiday traditions – The simpler the better. You don’t have to consult Pinterest and go over the top. Kids are typically quite pleased with less than we adults realize. It really is about the little things.
  • birthday traditions – My motto is always simple. I have a birthday banner from Zachary’s 5th birthday I saved. I hang it for everyone’s birthday. They all expect to see it when they wake up.

We have so many traditions, but they are super simple. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they are so simple, my kids wouldn’t call them a “tradition”. But to me a tradition is something we repeat together and come to expect we will continue to repeat.

My almost 16 year old son was invited to something recently. When he told me, I quickly said, “Go! You should go.” He responded, “No mom, that night is the same one as our annual tradition. It’s a tradition. I don’t want to miss it.”

And my heart did that melting thing it did some 18-19 years ago as I eavesdropped on teens I didn’t know realizing that I wanted to be a mom who created simple moments and meaningful traditions to foster connected relationships.

Traditions are a reminder of belonging. They connect us one to another.

You may remember I wrote a Christmas devotion titled Seeking Christmas. The heart of the book was to provide families with simple family traditions tied to the true meaning of Christmas. While the book is no longer in circulation, the spirit of Seeking Christmas, along with the ornaments and hide and seek activity, are alive and well.

I created Seeking Christmas to counter the materialism and consumerism of Christmas, while simultaneously creating traditions centered completely around why we even celebrate. My kids rarely remembered a material gift from year to year, but they never forgot the simple moments we built into our holiday season.

It was the experiences and activities they asked for. Not the presents.

So here it is. A 7 day Christmas ornament hide and seek activity. 1 ornament a day you hide, let your kids find it. Then you open the Bible together and read the scripture. Over 7 days you unfold a small part of the Christmas story.

It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s a tradition. It’s for the busiest of busy families. It’s made to stand alone or build upon however you choose. It’s flexible. You don’t have to start on a certain Sunday or December 1st.

You can buy the download to create your own ornaments for $1. I will also be loading some printed, ready to ship ornament sheets on the shop so stay tuned for those. I only have a few sets leftover from my recent Pop-Up shop. So grab them while they are here.

 

 

Today I say goodbye to a dream

6 years ago this very month, Seeking Christmas arrived on bookshelves. It was a dream I’d worked on for years. Roadblock after roadblock seemed to meet me along the journey. Eventually, I received the letter from the publisher that my proposal was accepted and they’d like to offer me a publishing contract.

Here’s what I asked my blog readers in August 2013:

Do you……

  • Find your anxiety level rising as Christmas approaches
  • Feel the commercialization overshadows what really matters
  • Wish you could simplify Christmas
  • Feel the hectic pace and busyness makes advent devotions impossible
  • Desire to capture the true magic
  • Long to create memories & traditions with depth & meaning
  • Wish there was a devotion for today’s busy family
  • Want more than just a devotion
  • Want an experience
  • Want to address all of the above AND complete half of your gift list

For 6 years I’ve prayed for Seeking Christmas to catch fire. Sadly, it never lived the life I dreamed it would.

Does that mean it was a failure?

I suppose that depends on how you choose to view the entire experience.

I hired a consultant while I developed Seeking Christmas. From the very beginning, he told me my path was never about the book. Honestly, I didn’t get it at all. In my mind, it was all about the book. I was deeply passionate about the family, traditions, and memory making. Of course, it was about the book.

He tried to help me see beyond this one project, that I had more to offer than a Christmas experience book.

I thought a publishing deal was the end. I thought it would release and the rest was history. I thought it would be the christian Elf on the Shelf.


I quickly realized ALL the marketing rested on my shoulders.

To that point I refused to buy into the “build a platform” idea. I said I’d NEVER speak publicly. God began to show me if I wanted to share this with the world, I needed to do the actual work of sharing.

I began speaking at women’s gatherings. It was one of my greatest fears. Turns out I fell in love with speaking and something I was terrified of turned into something that brought me incredible joy. Connecting face to face with women ignited something else in me.

This step led to the preparation for me to lead women’s ministry at my church. Again, I needed time face to face with these women to hear their struggles and understand their hearts.

Because of Seeking Christmas, I began to consistently write on my blog in very intentional ways. My writing skills developed right before the eyes of my readers. You’ve watched me grow through all kinds of seasons.

All along, the sales of Seeking Christmas were pitifully low.

I’ll be totally honest, part of me wishes I’d never published it. All the writing conferences I’ve attended, they stress the importance of a first success. If you release a flop of a book, you are toast for future books.

But then I look at all God did in me and this ministry, and I see that without stepping out to publish Seeking Christmas, nothing else would have followed. Seeking Christmas drove me to develop in areas I wouldn’t have on my own.

Mainly, Seeking Christmas taught me to say no to fear. It taught me to trust God when I can’t see “success” in the way I’ve always viewed it. It taught me that success occurs in the process rather than the end result. It taught me to release my fear of failure and accept that failure might actually be the success I needed most.

Over the summer my copyright attorney called to ask about updating some filings. I let him know I planned to simply let Seeking Christmas go. I would not continue to pay the publisher to keep it in the distribution system. I was done.

I’ve not fully processed my feelings over it yet.

The prideful part of me feels embarrassed. I look back and see how naive I was. Driven by passion and desire, full of hope that it would bring a gift to families I deeply desired they experience.

The cynical part of me wonders why I spend so much time trying to help people solve their problems or share my discoveries. Do people even care?

Then I look around at this loud online world and wonder why I’m even still here on this blog space.

Then I hear God’s whisper. He gently reminds me to show up for the ones who are looking for help, encouragement, or a dose of inspiration.

So today I officially say goodbye to a once held dream for Seeking Christmas. It’s no longer available on Amazon or online book retailers. I have in my inventory 15 copies you can buy from my store here.

Just for fun, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.

My family has cheered me on through every passion, idea, & project. They’ve encouraged me to follow my dreams and never quit. Today, is hard because it feels like a quit. But I think at times, we have to quit something to prepare for another.

Here’s a little trailer my family made with me 🙂

 

Seeking Christmas from Ernie D.–Clear Impact Prod. on Vimeo.

I say goodbye to the dream I held in my heart for Seeking Christmas today, but I look forward to what God has next, which I never would have stepped into without walking the road with this book for the last 6 years.

But you know what I will still have that I hope families will use? The ornament download. I’ll be updating my shop to offer the ornaments with a family activity. I hope the heart of Seeking Christmas will live on even if the book isn’t around. And now that I think of it, maybe this is the very best way. Maybe all along what I want most is families to get into the actual Bible together. Maybe this will simplify that for them in a hectic, materialistic season.

Hey, I appreciate you. You are the absolute best readership I could ever ask for. Sometimes I can’t believe you are still here with all that is available online to read. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My job is not to make my kid’s struggle easier.

My job is not to make my kid’s struggle easier.

My job is to lean in and point them to the cross.

The struggle is real.

Life is a struggle. If we as parents continue to step in and right their world and make everything fair and perfect, what a disservice we offer them in the long run. Because ultimately we are creating a false sense of reality for them.

In my fierce attempts to protect my child from failure, mistakes, unfairness, and hardship, I elbow Christ right out of the way. I step in and say to the One who wants to be my child’s Comforter, Defender, and Rescuer, “I’ve got this. I’ll smooth this path for him and make it all better.”

Sadly, Christ is left out. Our kids aren’t pointed to the cross. Rather, they begin to see the world as a place that is supposed to be fair and good to them. In reality, this world is fallen and broken. In God’s mercy and love, He sent His son to make it all right. And on this earth, we won’t experience perfection and goodness in all situations. This is when we turn toward Him in faith and say, “I trust in You. You love me. You care for me. One day I will stand with you in eternity and see the world as it should be.”

I had a friend tell me stories of parents calling him when their adult children didn’t get the job. They wanted to know why their child wasn’t chosen. Parents calling the coach and demanding their kid be placed on a team they simply weren’t cut out for. Parents racing to school after the child left homework at home. AGAIN.

It is ok for our kids to struggle. It’s ok for them to fail so they can learn. If we consistently rescue them, how will they ever grow strong?

It’s hard to watch our kids struggle. But if we don’t let them now, while we can talk them through it, they will not be prepared when it really matters.

7 years ago I wrote a post about the importance of struggle. I shared a story in which I struggled to allow my child to struggle. 7 years later, I believe in this more than I realized I would. Click through to read that post with me. The Struggle with Struggle.

 

When Your Child Tells You He Wants To Be In Control Of His Life

“Mom, I have a very important question for you.”

I climbed in the bed, sitting as close as possible. Bedtime. The time they open up and want to talk about all the things.

“You know how I like freedom and independence right?”

I nodded. He continued, “Well, I wondered. Can I make all my own choices for my life from now on? Can I make my own decisions without you guys choosing for me?”

Because he was completely serious, I knew not to laugh or even chuckle. Anyway, I never want to belittle his ponderings.

“Well, Andrew, making choices and decisions for your life comes with great responsibility. It takes much practice and failure to learn.”

His question actually sparked an important conversation I hope he tucks away.

Andrew began to question why his 15 year old brother stays up so much later than him. Why he can’t choose his own bedtime. I explained that Jacob has established trust with us over the course of 15 years. He’s not perfect. He’s made mistakes. But he’s begun the habit of making wise choices. With wise choices comes greater freedom. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility.

“Andrew, you aren’t prepared to carry the load of responsibility that will come with so much freedom. Not yet. I believe one day you will. But we need some practice in smaller areas first.”

He nodded with a heavy sigh.

The following day, I shared the conversation with the older boys. I explained that Jacob has proven we don’t need to dictate a bedtime. He doesn’t misuse the freedom. I explained that when trust is built, it’s a beautiful thing. Freedom in the hands of someone who guards and protects how they walk that freedom out is lovely.

I believe it’s Dr. Kevin Lehman who never gave his kids curfews. He let them choose what they thought was acceptable and found they always came home earlier than he would have even required.

We all long for some breathing room.

Andrew was quiet for a moment. A moment is about as long as he can remain silent.

“Well, are there some choices I can make on my own at least?”

“Yes, I think we can come up with a few. Let’s spend some time thinking about it and discuss in a few days.”

Now I need to shift gears on you a bit. I can’t leave this post here and allow you to walk away thinking it’s merely parenting advice and a sweet story. God has been doing a very deep work in my heart lately. I can’t say I’ve handled it so well either.

But God in His kindness has allowed enough circumstances to press in on me to force me into a place of dealing with what’s easier to stuff in the the dark closets of my soul.

Shame lives in the dark. And it’s time I allowed His light to bring out areas I’ve never surrendered to Him.

Do you remember at the beginning of the year I shared how I didn’t want a word for the year but God gave me one anyway? It was surrender.

You see, Andrew asked a question that if I’m honest, I hold in my heart as well. And maybe you do too? I can resist God when I fight to maintain control. When I have to have my way. When I want to essentially be in control of my own life.

It’s pride. And the thing about pride is that is has so many faces.

I did something that was harder than I realized it would be. I made an appointment with a christian counselor. It is something I’ve felt God nudging me to do for a very long time. But I’ve become a master at telling myself everything’s good and I’m fine. To make that call, I had to admit that I’m actually not fine. I’m not ok.

But maybe it’s ok to not be ok? I’ve spent my life being dictated by an inner perfectionist, even as a child of God. I’ve felt a need to have everything right. And when it’s not right the controller inside me kicks in to make it all right. And then I leave no room for the Holy Spirit because I’m elbowing Him out of the way.

Man. What a gracious God we serve! So good beyond what we fathom. So patient. So kind.

The very day Andrew posed this question, I found out Steve and I would be teaching a lesson on pride vs humility to the kindergarten thru 5th graders at church. I laughed. This is so like God. The very thing He has been trying to refine from my heart is the very thing I’m going to have to teach on?

God didn’t place me in the role of teaching because I’ve figured out how to walk in humility. Nope. It’s so I can lower myself to student and learn. Surrender. Let Him teach me.

Lastly, He told me to get down. Literally, physically lower my physical body. On my knees, on my belly. Get low.

Humble myself before Him. Surrender fully to Him.

Lord, thank you that you love us too much to leave us in our selfish pride and arrogance. Thank you that you will go to extreme measures to shape and mold us into the vessel You desire. We open our hands to You in surrender. We love you, Lord.

 

A generation screened to death

(9 minute listen)

When life loses its wonder

When one of my boys was young elementary, I chaperoned a field trip to an aquarium. Everything we encountered was magical and enchanting, yet a little boy in my group continued to complain, “This is soooooo boring.”

Initially, I ignored him. But he wouldn’t stop.

“When are we leaving?”

“This isn’t fun.”

Each comment he made sucked the joy right away from all the other kids. The rest of the group quieted down their own excitement. I saw these other kids question what they thought was cool and exciting.

Negativity is like that. Spreading like the vicious cancer it is.

I asked the little boy, “What do you think is fun?”

“Video games.”

A rock wrapped my heart and pulled it straight to the depths of my stomach.

Of course this kid was unimpressed with life. His brain was being rewired. He was being screened to death.

Video games seem innocent. They are not.

The goal is to addict

Dig in, do some research on how these games are created. The goal of the developers is to addict our kids. This should be common sense to us. It’s a business. If they can’t hook you, they lose money.

Many tech developers send their kids to tech free schools and their kids aren’t living on screens. They only put them into the world for our kids. Not their own. What does that tell us?

It’s only getting worse. Each new fad game released has to up the bar. It has to beat the game losing its grip.

These games do NOT have your child’s best interest in mind. They have a mission to entertain all the way to addiction.

We are screening our kids to death.

We are killing what could be in them and our families. You may think I’m being overly dramatic.

Listen, satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And he comes as an angel of light. And he’s a master deceiver. In other words, we will see and encounter life threatening choices and see them as no big deal.

Parents, we are modeling peer pressure to our kids.

I can’t tell you how many parents have said to me the reason they give in is because all the other parents give in. Lord, have mercy on us.

We are stronger than this, parents. How often do we tell our kids, “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to.”?

Yet, what do we do when we see all the other parents letting their kids feast on these games? We follow the masses. We let peer pressure decide.

We need to be stronger than we are.

Do you know what I’ve never heard a parent say to me? “I wish smart phones and video games were this popular when I raised my kids.” Never, not once have I heard this.

I am constantly overhearing conversations on this topic. I have to literally bite the sides of my mouth to keep from piping into a side conversation. I listened to a mom and a dad (not married to one another) discussing the problems they were facing with their kids’ attitudes and behaviors they believed linked to video games.

The mom ended by saying, “But the games are really good for them. It teaches social skills because when they go to school they have something to connect over and talk about with each other.”

We’ve bought justifications.

In the history of the world has social skills ever been a mainstream issue? Nope.

You know why? Because we were created in the image of God for community and relationship. This is what we were made for!!!! We don’t need to be taught how to connect with each other. Especially kids. Kids are so natural and innocent as they enter friendships and relationships. They talk about everything and nothing.

Screens are killing our ability to connect socially.

Screens are creating death in so many forms in the life of our kids, and we must wake up before an entire generation is lost.

Kids need to be bored.

Boredom is a friend of childhood. It is not our role to remove boredom and keep our kids entertained, occupied, and busy. Yes, they drive us crazy when they are bored, but so what? If they see we don’t budge, they will figure out their own boredom issues.

Kids can’t solve problems because we are too good at solving the problems for them. Oh, you are bored, here watch You Tube, play the XBox, watch movies.

In this state of constant screening:

  • imagination dies
  • invention never gives birth
  • insight lies in a dark cave never discovered.

A mind screened to death.

Something powerful happens in boredom. We become still and quiet. Inventive and creative. Deep thinking begins.

A mind never bored never has the opportunity to discover deeper insights. And we all suffer for it.

We are exchanging long term joy for short term convenience as parents when we put a screen in the hands of our kids.

It’s not easy to grocery shop with babies and toddlers. But how else do they begin to learn the world doesn’t revolve around them and their needs and their entertainment. So much life to see at the store, but more often than not all I see are glowing faces of kids head down in a cart.

They don’t encounter the smiles of strangers or small talk with the bagger. They don’t have to worry about developing patience in a long line. They can simply bury their head in a screen, entertained as the subconscious thought develops that their needs, their entertainment is of utmost importance.

As these kids are screened to death, they are numbed to real life. We all lose in the long run.

We are setting up patterns of addiction.

Kids are living on dopamine hits they are saying are as powerful as any drug on the market. We can’t live with our head in the sand over this issue any longer. The research is available. The resources to understand what is happening to their brains is astounding. The question is – do we want to know?

We are partly living not wanting to know. When we know, we suddenly are faced with making choices and decisions we’d rather not deal with.

When we know, we can’t un-know.

Say cocaine was legal, yet I know the ramifications it would have, would I allow my child to enjoy it simply because all their friends were? That’s ridiculous. Of course, I wouldn’t.

Screens are legal, but lethal in many ways. Over time, they kill so much of what could have been. They kill moments. They kill memories. They kill relationships. They kill creativity and imagination. They kill passions and desires.

They are killing families. Suicides and teen depression at record highs. When will we pay attention? When it’s our own kid? Then will we care more?

We have a choice.

  • We can choose to create a culture of connection in our home.
  • We can share with our kids the whys behind our choices. When kids understand the why, everything changes. They understand.

It’s never too late to make a change.

It’s easier to set healthy boundaries and patterns when our kids are young, but it’s never too late either.

The last thing I’ll say in this post. I get many letters privately on this topic. I’ve cried over some of them. It’s why I just can’t stop talking about it. One theme I hear repeatedly is that mom and dad aren’t on the same page. I don’t have an answer to this. All I can say is pray. God desires unity.

 

For more posts on this topic, browse through the Electronics category of my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Scrolling through life – Are we living distracted by screens or focused on life?

Living distracted by screens?

I sat behind this family. A pre-teenish aged girl, head down except for brief moments coming up for air, or rather, back into real life. Head back down.

Scroll.

Scroll.

Scroll.

I struggled to disengage following her phone habits. Her distraction from life around us was totally distracting me. The thing is, this is the norm for many teens today. But let’s be fair. The struggle is real for us adults as well.

When she engaged in real life, she complained to her parents about being bored. When she was bored, she picked up her phone.

Scroll.

She bounced from one social media platform to the next.

This isn’t unique to this girl. It’s all of us. It’s me too.

How often do I reach for my phone out of boredom, looking for that next hit of entertainment or distraction?

How often do I reach for my phone for the high of escape?

When I don’t feel like listening to one more complaint or argument, I pick it up.

Scroll.

When I feel awkward waiting for a friend to meet me, I pick it up.

Scroll.

We watched an entire family sitting at a table at a restaurant never looking up until the food arrived. 2 parents, 4 kids – scrolling through life. Missing the life of each other right before their eyes.

What stories went untold? What laughs never broke free? What impact or influence never passed one to another?

Real life vs fake offering

So much life missed trying to stay up on the fake life a screen offers.

We are missing the best and accepting the counterfeit.

This is nothing new.

‘When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”’

Exodus 32:1

They were tired of waiting, so they reached for the counterfeit.

They chose fake over real. They chose immediate gratification over lifelong satisfaction.

The very next verse shocks me.

‘Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’

Exodus 32:2-5

Aaron so quickly went along with the people and not only joined the masses but led them in their rebellious desires.

We do too.

We know we are trading real life, real connection for the false idol. Yet, we follow. We accept what never satisfies.

As we scroll through life, we are indulging our flesh. We indulge our desire to be entertained. We’ve created our modern day golden calf. We worship at the altar of our screens.

We have a choice to make.

These screens we scroll through will never give us what we truly crave. It’s like eating a diet of candy. Over time we will become sick.

I believe at various times God brings us enlightenment and we have a choice in what to do. We can continue down a path or make corrections.

When we find our scroll is invading our life, maybe a break is what is needed.  A fast in order to refocus our attention and reclaim the moments we’ve been missing.

Focused on Life?

There have been moments that happened I’ve looked back on and thought, “If I’d been buried in a screen, I would’ve miss that completely.” At the same time, I know for a fact I’ve missed countless moments as I’ve lived distracted by the scroll of my phone. I’ll never know what I missed. But I have a choice in each moment to claim it or let it pass.

I want to live a life full of beautiful moments. I want to have relationships that can stand the test of time and life. I want to create memories we can talk about around the table in 20 years.

Living an intentional life means looking ahead at what we desire and choosing today the steps we need to take in order to arrive.

It’s looking ahead and deciding what we want our Thanksgiving table in 20 years to look like and realizing it takes action today to achieve that. Meaningful relationships and moments take nurturing.

Intentional living is living life on purpose rather than scrolling through life mindlessly.

What are we nurturing today?

If you’ve followed along here for some time you know I’m passionate about guarding our families from screen intrusions. When I started writing online my goal was to encourage others to live an intentional life. Ironically, this was before screens were at play. It didn’t take long for screens to begin to dominate in homes and I’m determined to keep preaching this message.

The first post I wrote on this subject circulated into millions of homes. I received messages from parents who felt alone in their desire to raise children who could live with heads up and eyes ahead focused on life. They realized they aren’t alone. If you’d like to read that post you can find it here A Letter to My Sons – The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics.

You can can find other posts I’ve written on this topic by clicking here.

And if you aren’t subscribed to receive posts via email, click here. I rarely post more than once a week and promise never to spam you. I count it a privilege to encourage and inspire you to live an intentional life.

 

 

 

 

 

Be Very Careful the Words You Speak – It’s Life and Death

Power of Words

If we realized the power of our words and thoughts, we’d be much more careful in the choosing of them.

What we think and believe impacts how we live and the person we become. What we speak shapes our future.

I cringe when I hear adults speak of their future teens negatively. Statements such as, “I dread the rebellious teenage years.”

Who said they’d be rebellious?

Or “Well, I know one day my teen won’t want to be around me.”

Yeah? Says who?

Why would we say these things?

I desire to create an environment my kids want to be around. I want to love them well and enjoy them. We are in the teenage years now and this is by far my very favorite season. I speak this out to my teens, telling them how fun they are to be around, how much they make me laugh.

Why would we speak fear-driven thoughts? Why would we plant these seed thoughts in our children? They are listening and absorbing. They will absolutely rise to what’s expected of them.

Speak life.

Speak power and authority.

Speak destiny.

Speak God’s Word and promises.

At some point I noticed the trace of a trait in one of my sons I wanted him to notice and build on.

He is confident in who he is. He’s not easily persuaded and he’s ok not looking like the world around him. I wanted him to see how strong of a character trait this is.

Kids and teens are drowning in a lack of identity and a strive to fit in with the rest of their friends.

“I see in you such a strength. You really know who you are in Christ. And because of this, you don’t have to try to fit in with others or be tempted to take part in what they do because you know who you are.”

It was a passing comment honestly. I spoke it in truth, but it was a glimmer I want to glisten and shine over time.

Weeks later I overheard a conversation of his. He explained to someone that he isn’t persuaded to follow others because he knows who he is in Christ.

I stopped. I stood overwhelmed at the power my spoken words held in his thoughts and beliefs about who he is.

Pray

Lord, may we choose our words wisely. May we speak life into and over our kids, our families, and ourselves. May our words be seasoned with salt. May we reflect your love and your truth in everything we speak. May we cast out fear thoughts and lies spoken from the depths of darkness. May we walk in the light You’ve shown.

Words and Stories I’ll Never Forget

10 years ago I sat in a doctor’s office. He said something I’ll never forget. “In all my years as a doctor, I’ve learned something about fear. In many of my patients with cancer I’ve found their biggest fear in life was getting cancer.”

He went on to talk to me about fear. He wasn’t really talking about cancer. Nor am I. And I’m not making any kind of health statements at all. Please hear me on this.

I’m simply sharing a statement he made that impacted how I decided that day to think. The point he made is the power of our thoughts and our mind to impact our future.

If we fear something, often we actually live into that very fear. Again, please don’t misunderstand. I’m speaking about fear and the grip and influence it CAN have. I’m not at all saying that all of our sicknesses and diseases came because we thought them into being.

Fear Not

God has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear is straight from hell.

Years after this comment from my doctor, I listened to a Ted Talk on the power of our thoughts. He told a story of a patient told he was dying of terminal cancer. He was given 3 months to live. 3 months later he died. The autopsy revealed he had no cancer. He was told he was dying. He believed he was dying. He died in 3 months. This story has never left me.

Over the last year, God has brought my way more information, more books, more conversations, more sermons on the power of our minds than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I don’t believe that is a coincidence.

Recently, one very dear to me confessed a deep fear of cancer in their future. They’ve never had a scare, but it surrounds us. Because years ago God brought people and conversations into my life on this very thing, I knew how to talk to this person. We began casting out fear knowing it’s not from God. We began praying God’s Word claiming a sound mind.

It’s Our Choice

I’m choosing to speak life, think life, live in God’s light.

Will bad things happen still? Yes. Will sickness and death happen despite our happy thoughts? Yes.

Am I saying we just think and talk happy and nothing bad happens? For sure, not. Not at all.

We live in a fallen world. Sickness, death, sadness will be all around us. One day every tear will be wiped away. That is our hope.

We can choose to speak words of life, hope, goodness, and love.

When we see the hint of godliness in our kids, let’s speak it out loud to them. When we see them encourage a friend to tell the truth rather than lie, speak that out to them. “You are a young man who walks in truth and honesty. I love that about you.”

When we see them wake up to their alarm on their own, we can say, “I love your initiative and self-discipline to wake up and handle your business on your own. I can’t wait to see how that serves you well in the future.”

When we see them walk away from a sibling argument, we can say, “I noticed you exercised self control over your tongue. Thank you for being a person who seeks peace.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21

Lord, equip us to use our tongues wisely. Guard our minds from believing lies or listening to the voice of fear, which is not your voice. Make us attentive to You. Speak life into us that we may be so filled by You that You flow out of us to all around us. Amen.

P.S.

Have you read Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf? It’s an excellent read I highly recommend. She combines the science of the brain with the Creator of our minds. It’s fascinating and unlike many books of its type, it’s not written over our abilities to process the information shared. She also has a fantastic podcast I love listening to. It’s short and impactful each episode.

P.S.S

If you are looking to experience God in fresh and intimate ways, I invite you to grab your copy of Illuminate today. It’s 14 days of devotions centered on who God says He is.

Illuminate will give you a practical way to learn to switch your focus and stop giving more attention to fear than to the One who says ‘fear not’.

If you are tired of living by fear, anxiety, and worry, Illuminate will be a sweet balm to your soul. It’s available in 2 formats: Ebook and Audio (with pdf download).

Here’s what some are saying:

ebook devotional

Get the ebook version here.

Get the audio devotional here.