On Shifting Sand

This book by Allison Pittman takes place in the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma. As drought overtakes Russ and Nola’s small town, discontentment overtakes Nola’s heart. Russ does his best to care for the few people who have remained at his church. Nola bitterly performs her motherly and pastor’s wife responsibilities. She continuously compares herself to her perfect husband and finds herself lacking and feels neglected. She also has a strained relationship with her overly critical father. A stranger comes to town and Russ invites him to live in their home. Nola immediately has an attraction that she tries to resist but she finds the temptation too strong. Nola and the stranger start to build a relationship that eventually leads to a physical encounter. Nola and Russ come to a place of acknowledging what took place and they head down the road of reconciliation, forgiveness, and grace.

This is the first book I have read by this author. The Dust Bowl was a perfect setting for this story. The dry, dusty, dirty, empty town was a metaphor for Nola’s heart and body. The theme of adulterous sin within marriage is a difficult one to undertake and often taboo to talk about. Unfortunately, it happens more than people care to admit… even in Christian marriages. I applaud the author for the way she detailed the thought process that came with the emotional attachment which lead to the physical encounter. Jesus said that if a man lusts for a woman that is not his wife, he has committed adultery in his heart. While the Nola only had a physical affair once, her heart had strayed emotionally long before the physical ever took place. I think that often this is a typical cycle of events for women since we easily attach ourselves emotionally to those who love, care, and pay attention to us. I definitely recommend this book, however, if someone has experienced the affects of sin within marriage, this book may be difficult to read. It most likely will bring up emotions related to that experience (no matter which side of the story: adulterer or spouse) but it may also enforce the hope that comes with wanting a marriage to survive even the worst of circumstances.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Tyndale House provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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On Shifting Sand

By Allison Pittman / Tyndale House

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My Valley

Several years ago, I shared part of my personal testimony as a Mother’s Day post (you can see original post here). A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to share a devotional with my women’s Bible study group. A few days before I had to share,  I had a pretty personal conversation with Noriko that lead to me sharing my testimony with the women (most of which had not heard it before). I did make some changes from my original post but most of it is unchanged or just rearranged. I did not share all of this with Noriko [my exchange student from Japan who was with us during the 2013/2014 school year] just the parts below that I specifically mention her. So here is what I shared with my friends:

I was saved as a young child and grew up in a Christian but very dysfunctional home. As the oldest of 4 kids I had to grow up way too quickly while we dealt with severe illnesses, divorce, remarriages, constant moves, financial insecurity, and a whole lot more. When I was young; all I wanted in life was to get married and have kids. I dated several guys throughout high school and had serious relationship my senior year and after high school another serious relationship that lead to engagement. Shane and I started dating a few months after my previous engagement ended. We got married in 2002. I jumped into a marriage expecting it to cure all of life’s problems but I carried a lot of my childhood baggage with me. I quickly found out that life’s problems didn’t go away just because I switched households and who I was accountable to. We had a great first year of marriage. After that our careers (Shane-Military & Me-Nursing) and different shifts carried us in different directions and from there our marriage went downhill on so many different levels. We also experienced several difficulties which included me being in a major car accident which God totally and graciously spared my life. In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I had always wanted children and was very excited. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor didn’t say for sure that I was miscarrying. But as a nurse who had worked in the OB-GYN field, I knew what was going on. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote the following poem:

My Valley

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death;

You give me strength to sing.

Only you know why I am going through this trial.

I can rest in your comforting arms.

Not knowing what the future holds for this life inside of me;

I give this child to you.

Like Hannah gave you Samuel before he was born,

Like Abraham gave you Isaac before the sacrifice,

I trust your will.

When I rest upon wings as eagles;

You will give me strength.

I shall run through this valley and not be weary.

I shall walk and not be faint.

When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil because of sin that Shane and I each individually had let into our lives. We almost got divorced but during the time we were trying to reconcile we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together.

We moved to Okinawa, Japan where Kendal and later Audrey was born. For seven months after Audrey was born; I dealt with medical issues including a couple of surgeries. On top of that; our family experienced another major marriage crisis and I started to fall into depression. In 2009, we left Okinawa for about a month and went home to deal with our family situation. During that experience I started to learn what it meant to fully rely on God for comfort and strength.

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In the years since then I have been allowing God to work on me in a way that I never have before that year. The biggest continuing struggle for me has been the anger and bitterness in my life. Each time I experienced a crisis it just added to the problem. I have been able to truly forgive those who have hurt me just like Jesus forgave me on the cross. And I have been able to make time to focus on my relationship with God and my family. I journey with God regularly by praying, writing, singing, and accountability and He continues to heal me on a daily basis. I have not made it to where I need to be yet; but I am daily running the race and pressing towards the goal of being more Christlike. Through everything; God has continued to bless me, my marriage, and my family as a whole.

A few days ago, Noriko (my exchange student) and I had a conversation that inspired me to share all of this with you. Keep in mind that often when we have to explain things to her we have to continuously use her translator for words or concepts she is unfamiliar with. So it is not always a quick explanation. She was asking why Americans have middle names. This led into me explaining that we often choose names based on meaning or family connection. Audrey means Noble Woman and her middle name, Lynae, pays tribute to both my mom whose middle name is Lynn and Shane’s mom who’s first name is Lynn. I told Noriko that Kendal’s name was even more meaningful and explained to her that I had lost 2 babies through miscarriage before she was born. We chose the name Kendal back during our first miscarriage based on the poem which I wrote “as I walk through the valley of death”. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” We thought that it would be a fitting name for a baby who overcame the valley of death and lived. Noriko seemed to be in awe over all of this.

At the end of my poem I referenced my favorite Bible verses Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

While I was Okinawa, I found a plaque that has the passage in both English and Japanese which is now hanging in our hallway. I showed it to Noriko and after she read it, I explained that when we are tired and broken and are going through things that bring us down, we put our trust in Jesus and he carries us back up so that we can fly again. In response, Noriko said that she likes Christian thinking 🙂

So in conclusion, I would like to emphasize that I give God all of the glory for continuing to work in my life through my trials. My message to all of you is God never promised that we would always be happy when we have Jesus as our Savior; instead he uses Paul’s testimony to tell us that Christians can have hardships far beyond our ability to endure.

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul says “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Through our hardships; God wants us to fully rely on him so that he can deliver us and heal us. God wants to draw us into a closer relationship with him. He will always rescue us but sometimes it is in the midst of our hardships. He doesn’t always remove us from circumstances but allows us to go through them in order to draw us nearer to Him. And he can always use our testimonies to impact other people and draw them into His kingdom.

(Eagle Photo found here)

True Beauty (Mother’s Day Series- 4)

Mother’s Day is finally here and as Pastor Brian pointed out in today’s sermon; Mother’s Day does not only celebrate moms but all women. I pray that all of you have had (or will have) a blessed day! If you missed any previous posts in my Mother’s Day Series; see the bottom of this post for links to them. Today, I would like to take some time to honor my moms (yes, I said: “moms”). Also, I have a guest writer further down that I will introduce in a couple of minutes.

There was a lot of bad things that went on throughout my childhood; but God put a strong woman in my life who got us through them all. My mom’s strength and faith kept our family moving forward even through the lowest points of life. Until recently my relationship with my mom was always rocky. As the oldest (I have 2 sisters and a brother); I had to grow up quickly and learned how to be independent at an early age. I don’t know where, when, or why my anger started to be a major oppression for me. But, I do know that a lot of it is because of the hardships our family endured as I was growing up. My mom did not have a Godly example for a mother as she grew up. When she raised us; she relied on the example of Godly women who God placed in her life at various times. She was never perfect but I know that she did the best that she knew how. She always put her children before herself; often sacrificing more than most moms do. As we have watched our mom; we have also grown to be strong and full of faith. Her example of what a Godly woman should be; will forever be the reason that all of us are serving God today. Thank you mom. I love you!

God put another strong woman in my life who became my step-mom. Because I was already an adult when she and my dad got married; she did not have the chance to actually be a mother to me. Instead she became a friend. She was unable to have children of her own; but God provided her with 4 from another family who she could call daughters and son. Even though she is no longer married to my dad; she is still a friend, a mom, and grandmother as far as we are concerned. I hope that she knows how blessed we are to have her in our lives.

We have all heard horror stories about in-laws. I never assumed that I would have a good relationship with the mother of whoever I married. But God had a different plan. He gave me another strong woman of faith who has to be the best mother-in-law in the world (I have the best father-in-law too)! I know that she loves me like she loves her own daughters. She has been supportive of me in good and bad times. I’m not sure that she has completely forgiven me for giving birth to and keeping her only granddaughters in Japan but since we have skype she doesn’t complain (too much :)). I am truly blessed to have her as another mom.

God also blessed me with a Godly heritage from my Grandma (and Grandpa) and other women in my family. Thank you for always being there and supporting me through prayer and encouragement. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the other wonderful Godly women who have become my family. They will always be apart of my family no matter where they live or how often I will see them. So that I don’t offend (in case I accidently miss someone); I am not going to post names. But most of you should know who you are. If we ever had a deep emotional conversation (laughing and/or crying), if you have at some point held me accountable by asking the tough questions or confronting my sins, if you ever listened to me as I leaned on you and cried my way through a painful moment in life; then you are one of these women. Thank you!

I am going to stop tearing up now and end on a more humorous note. Remember those Kendal Bloopers that I posted last month? Well today; Shane sneakingly gave Kendal a rose to give to me (and of course, I did not notice it behind his back before he gave it to her). She handed it to me and said, “Happy Mother’s Day”. I said, “Thank you! Its so pretty! Did you get this for me?” Kendal immediately and excitedly replied with, “No Mama, it’s my pretty flower. Daddy gave it to me!”

Now I would like to introduce you to my husband Shane;

who graciously honored my request to write a message for my blog today.

As long as I can remember my mom has been my biggest fan. In good times and bad, in right, and especially in wrong. She was always in my corner. Through her love and even her discipline; she did her part to raise me and make me the man I am today.

I later got married and found myself with yet another mom in my life. I was in awe of her strength and virtue. I don’t believe that I could “do no wrong” in her eyes (because I most certainly have). But I do believe that she never turned her back on me. Even when I was at my worst.

It must have been gut wrenching for my mother to watch me grow, invest time and energy into my life, only to let me go. I can honestly say that my mother did her job well in preparing me for that next chapter in life; but I didn’t really understand forgiveness until I met my mother in-law at my darkest hours in life. When I turned my back on my family, they both loved me through it. Though probably not “my biggest fan” they were one of my biggest supporters. Through both these lady’s example; my wonderful wife has learned how to be a woman and a mother of love and virtue. A fact that holds my respect.

My life in the military has allowed me to meet all kinds of people. I’ve been “adopted” over and over again by the families of my buddies. When one of us would go home for the weekend; we would all tag along. This would and probably did overwhelm the families houses we invaded. The couches we’ve slept on and the refrigerators we’ve raided. But the “MA” would love on us and invite us in as if we were her own. What is it about a mom that makes her want to do such a ridiculous thing as to raise more children. In our case, five or six hungry Airmen. I recall one particularly special woman whose hospitality helped me in a time when I was away from the home and life on my own was very new. She brought reliability back into our lives. Because she made it ok for us to to always “come home.” Interactions with my new found brothers at her house will always remain among my fondest of memories. I was deeply pained when I learned she had passed away. Though my pain was not the same as her real family; we all can say that we were truly affected as she was mother to us all.

It would be very easy this time of year, for all of us to get carried away, with yet another “Hallmark holiday” by paying our simple lip service to these ladies. Send them a card, make our  phone call and then go about our day. I challenge you to take this time to reflect on how your mother has helped you to be who you are today. I know that not all families were as complete as mine growing up. Maybe this time of year is yet another painful reminder of this fact. But I submit to you all that whether or not we had a good mother;  she has left an imprint on us in one way or another anyway. The simple fact that she gave us life is good enough for me. It’s what we choose to do with the life she gave us is what makes us who we are today. From her example good or bad we still learn about who we are and who we want to be. I am truly blessed and thankful for all the experiences I’ve had with my mothers. Everything from the good to the not so good has helped me become the husband, the father, and the man that I am today.

My hats off to you ladies. I am your biggest fan. ~~Shane

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“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:28-30

To all of the wonderful women in our lives: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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Mother’s Day Series:

My Valley (Mother’s Day Series-1)

Mommy Brain (Mother’s Day Series-2)

“The Next Survivor Series” (Mother’s Day Series- 3)

My Valley (Mother’s Day Series-1)

Today as the first installment of my Mother’s Day Series; I am going to share with you a good portion of my testimony which I have not really done yet on my blog. Before I start; I would like to emphasize that I give God all of the glory for continuing to work in my life through my trials. God never promised that we would always be happy when we have Jesus as our savior; instead he uses Paul’s testimony to tell us that Christians can have hardships far beyond our ability to endure. Through these hardships; God wants us to fully rely on him so that he can deliver us and heal us.

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on ourbehalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

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I was saved as a young child and grew up in a Christian but very dysfunctional home. As the oldest of 4 kids I had to grow up way too quickly while we dealt with severe illnesses, divorce, remarriages, constant moves, financial insecurity, and a whole lot more. When I was young; all I wanted in life was to get married and have kids. I dated several guys throughout high school; the most serious relationship being my senior year with a guy that most people thought would last into marriage. When that relationship ended after graduation; a new one soon began with someone else. That guy was older and swept me off my feet into a quick engagement. During the engagement; I was having relationship problems with my parents and was told to find somewhere else to live mainly because of my attitude. I moved in with my best friend for about a week. I continued to try to mend my relationship with my parents even though I was not living at home. My fiance’ wanted me to meet him in Pennsylvania where he was visiting his family. I knew that if I did that; it would be even harder to reconcile with my parents. I felt that he was making me choose between him (who I had known for about 6 months) and my parents. When I insisted on staying in Delaware instead of meeting him in Pennsylvania; I could tell from his tone of voice that the relationship was over. By the time my fiance’ returned from his vacation; I was back in my parents home. We went out one evening and he broke off the engagement. Looking back I think that the Holy Spirit was working on my heart that week.

Shane and I started dating a few months after my previous engagement ended. We have been married since 2002. I jumped into a marriage expecting it to cure all of life’s problems but I carried a lot of my childhood baggage with me. I quickly found out that life’s problems didn’t go away just because I switched households and who I was accountable to. Our best year of marriage was our first. After that our careers (Shane-Military & Me-Nursing) and different shifts carried us in different directions and from there our marriage went downhill on so many different levels. We also experienced several difficulties which included me being in a major car accident (God totally and graciously spared my life). In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I was so excited! I had always wanted children and had begged Shane so many times to start trying since we got married. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor’s didn’t say for sure that I was miscarrying. He ran some blood work and I had to repeat the blood work at two day intervals during that week. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote the following poem:

My Valley

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death;

You give me strength to sing.

Only you know why I am going through this trial.

I can rest in your comforting arms.

Not knowing what the future holds for this life inside of me;

I give this child to you.

Like Hannah gave you Samuel before he was born,

Like Abraham gave you Isaac before the sacrifice,

I trust your will.

When I rest upon wings as eagles;

You will give me strength.

I shall run through this valley and not be weary.

I shall walk and not be faint.

For a long time after my miscarriage; I was in emotional pain. I had a friend who was pregnant during that time and when I could I put my emotions into caring about her pregnancy. I held her baby shower at my house and offered support when I could. One morning I got a call from her right after I left work from an overnight shift (I think it may have been a double shift). She was in labor and asked me to come be with her and her husband in the hospital because her mom was not going to make it into town in time. As tired as I was; I excitedly told her that I would be there. That day was a day that I will always remember. Supporting her during that time was a huge blessing. And witnessing the miracle of a new life come into the world was amazing! Holding that beautiful baby somehow filled a hole in my heart. I don’t think that my friend understands how much God used her in my life.

When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil for several reasons. We almost did not make it before we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together. We moved to Okinawa, Japan where Kendal was born. We chose the name Kendal back during our first miscarriage. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” Based on my poem (above); we thought that it would be a fitting name for a baby who overcame the valley of death and lived. Since then God added Audrey to our family as well.

For seven months after Audrey was born; I dealt with medical issues including a couple of surgeries. On top of that; our family experienced another major crisis and I started to fall into depression. We left Okinawa and went home to deal with our family situation. During that experience I started to learn what it meant to fully rely on God for comfort and strength. Since then I have been allowing God to work on me in a way that I never have before. The biggest struggle for me has been the anger and bitterness in my life. Each time I experienced a crisis it just added to the problem. I did a women’s study dealing with anger; and since then I have grown tremendously. I have been able to truly forgive those who have hurt me just like Jesus forgave me on the cross. And I have been able to make time to focus on my relationship with God and my family. I journey with God regularly by praying, writing, and singing and He continues to heal me on a daily basis. I have not made it to where I need to be yet; but I am daily running the race and pressing towards the goal of being more Christlike. Through everything; God has continued to bless me and my family.

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My message to Mother’s who have lost children or women who have not been able to have children (or to anyone experiencing hardships):

God wants to draw us into a closer relationship with him. He will always rescue us but sometimes it is in the midst of our hardships. He doesn’t always remove us from circumstances but allows us to go through them in order to draw us nearer to Him. My prayer is that you will find comfort in the arms of Jesus.

Do You Pray For Your Family (Part 2)

As if yesterday’s list of Biblical virtue prayers and scripture was not enough…

I have a whole lot more!

There are now a total of 58 virtues listed on the Biblical virtue prayers page here.

This blog post is Part 2 of this series.

For the Part 1 blog post click here.

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Some tips for reading this list:

***This is a good guideline for praying for your children but also for praying for your spouses and/or yourself. So you can easily substitute the words “my children” with: “I,”  “Spouse’s Name,” etc.

***Claim and believe that God is working each one of these Biblical virtues into your children’s lives (or your spouse’s life or your own life). I recommend praying 1-2 virtues per day (throughout the day). Work your way down the list. When you have finished the list; start back at the beginning!

***The virtues listed here are in alphabetical order.

***The Biblical virtue is in blue, the Prayer is in black, and the Scripture is in red.

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ALERTNESS– Father God, please help my children to learn how to watch and pray so that they will be alert and not fall into temptation.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Mark 14:38

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ATTENTIVENESS– Lord, I pray that my children will pay attention to you and your Word so that they do not drift away from you.

“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Hebrews 2:1

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CAUTIOUSNESS– I pray, Lord Jesus, that you will help my children to be cautious and not hasty when making decisions in their lives.

“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Proverbs 19:2

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DETERMINATION– Thank you, Lord, for giving my children the determination they need to finish the race so that they may receive their reward from you in heaven.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

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DILIGENCE (HARD WORKING)– Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, as working for the Lord, not for men.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” Colossians 3:23

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DISCERNMENT– Oh Lord, give my children the discernment that they need to keep their eyes on you so, that they do not stray from the path you have set for them.

“Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:24-27

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DISCRETION– Give my children the ability to see any danger and the wisdom to turn away from it.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3

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ENDURANCE– Lord, help my children to do good and not give up so that they may reap a harvest in your timing.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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FORGIVENESS– Lord Jesus, I pray that you will teach my children how to forgive others and that they will recognize the forgiveness that you freely gave to them.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

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GENTLENESS– Show my children how to be humble, gentle, patient, and loving with others.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phillipians 4:5

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HOSPITALITY– Father God, may my children learn how to be hospitable to those around them who are in need.

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

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INITIATIVE– I pray that you will give my children the initiative to overcome evil with good.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

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LOYALTY– Heavenly Father, I pray that my children will be loyal to you but also to their family and friends.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

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MEEKNESS– Teach my children to have a meek spirit so that they will know your peace.

“But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” Psalm 37:11

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OBEDIENCE– Lord Jesus, I pray that you will give my children an obedient heart that desires to please you.

“But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice…” 1 Samuel 15:22

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

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ORDERLINESS– Help my children to do everything in an way that honors you and your Word.

“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” 1 Corinthians 14:40

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RESOURCEFULNESS– Teach my children, oh God, to be trustworthy with all you put in their path and help them to be known for their honesty and resourcefulness.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10

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REVERENCE– Father in heaven, give my children the desire to give their life to you and worship you whole heartedly.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” Hebrews 12:28

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SENSITIVITY– Oh Father, help my children to be sensitive to the needs of those around them so that they can be a blessing to them.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5

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SINCERITY– Father, give my children the ability to do good and love others with true sincerity.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22

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THOROUGHNESS– Lord, help my children to be thorough in the work that they do so that they are pleasing to you.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” Colossians 3:23

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THRIFTINESS– I pray, Lord, that you will teach my children how to be wise with their money and possessions and that they will always know that you are the one who has provided for them.

“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:11

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TRUTHFULNESS– Instill a honest spirit into my children so that they will speak in truth.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25

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VIRTUE– Heavenly Father, I pray that you will continue to make my children virtuous so that they will be known for their Godly character.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8

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Do You Pray For Your Family? (Part 1)

UPDATE: There are now a total of 58 virtues listed on the Biblical virtue prayers page here.

This blog post is Part 1 of this series. For the Part 2 blog post click here.

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One of the things that I have become in the habit of doing is praying for my children. I pray every night with each of them before they go to bed. I also pray for them throughout the day; sometimes with them listening and others to myself. I have been getting into the habit of praying for my husband as well. I have to admit that I am not very good at praying for him but the more I do it; the easier it becomes.

I have a “Parent’s Prayer Calendar” that was given to me several years ago. I am not sure who gave it to me or who originally designed the particular one I have (I have seen a few variations). I would like to share the prayers with you (I have added other virtues that I have found). Each day has a Biblical virtue, short prayer, and a Bible verse.

I am also going to post this as a page for my site. This way it will be easy for you (and me) to come back to it in the future.

Some tips for reading the list:

***This is a good guideline for praying for your children but also for praying for your spouses and/or yourself. So you can easily substitute the words “my children” with: “I,”  “Spouse’s Name,” etc.

***Claim and believe that God is working each one of these Biblical virtues into your children’s lives (or your spouse’s life or your own life). I recommend praying 1-2 virtues per day (throughout the day). Work your way down the list. When you have finished the list; start back at the beginning!

***The virtues listed here are in alphabetical order.

***The Biblical virtue is in color, the Prayer is in black, and the Scripture is in red.

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BOLDNESS-I pray that my children would fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel of Christ Jesus.

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:19

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COMPASSION– Lord, I pray that you would clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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CONTENTMENT– Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12

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CONFIDENCE– Lord, please give my children the confidence that they need so that can accomplish anything that is required of them, knowing their strength comes from you.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

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COURAGE– Lord, may my children always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

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FAITH– I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may take hold of the eternal life to which they were called.

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:5-6

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

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FAITHFULNESS– Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3

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GRACE– I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

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GRATITUDE– Lord, help my children to live lives that overflow with thankfulness, always giving thanks to you.

“always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

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GENEROSITY– Lord, I pray that my children would be rich in good deeds, generous, and willing to share.

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19

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HEART FOR MISSIONS– Lord, please help my children to develop a heart for missions, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples.

“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Psalm 96:3

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HOPE– God of hope, grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Sprit.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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HUMILITY– Father God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all.

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:2

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INTEGRITY– Lord, may integrity and uprightness protect my children because their hope is in you.

“May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.” Psalm 25:21

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JOY– Heavenly Father, grant that my children would be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

“…Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6

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JUSTICE– God, help my children to love justice as you do and act justly in all they do.

“For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.” Psalm 11:7

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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KINDNESS– Father, I pray that my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

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LOVE– Father, grant that my children would learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who lives in them.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”   Ephesians 5:1-2

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LOVE FOR GOD’S WORD– Lord, may my children regard your Word as more precious than gold and sweeter than honey.

“They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19:10

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MERCY-Oh Father, grant that my children would be full of mercy and compassion as you are Lord.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36

“As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11

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PASSION FOR THE GOD– Lord, please instill in my children a soul with a craving for you, a heart that clings passionately to you.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalms 63:8

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PATIENCE– God, strengthen my children with all power so that they may have great endurance and patience.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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PEACE– Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace.

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:19

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PERSEVERANCE– Lord, teach my children to persevere in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race set before them.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

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PRAYERFULNESS– I ask, Lord, that my children would be committed to prayer and never give up and that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

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PURITY– Create in my children  a pure heart, O God, and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10

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RESPECT– Lord, help my children to show proper respect to everyone, as your Word commands.

“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:17

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RESPONSIBILITY– Please grant that my children would learn to be responsible for each one should carry his own load.

“for each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:5

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SALVATION– Lord, I pray that my children would obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

“You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it.” Isaiah 45:8

“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” 2 Timothy 2:10

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SELF CONTROL– Father, help my children not be like many others, but to be alert and self-controlled in all they do.

“So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.”   1 Thessalonians 5:6

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SELF DISCIPLINE– Father, I pray that my children may develop self-discipline, that they may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.

“for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair” Proverbs 1:2-3

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SELF ESTEEM– God, help my children develop a strong self-esteem rooted in the realization that they are your workmanship.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

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SERVANT’S HEART– Lord, please help my children develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men” Ephesians 6:7

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WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO WORK HARD– Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” Colossians 3:23

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WISDOM– Father, I pray my children would ask and that you would generously give wisdom to them as you promise.

“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

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But I’m RIGHT!

I love it when God uses two (or more) sources, in a short amount of time, to enforce His message to me…

Today at church; our pastor continued his series “A Disciple’s Journey” and titled today’s sermon “In Vulnerability.” He spoke about how we all want to be right and don’t like to be wrong; which causes a lot of arguments. Jesus is God and so He is always right. Even so, he remained silent while standing on trial before the Sanhedrin in Matthew 26:57-68 being questioned and mocked. When he did answer; he spoke with humility accepting that he would still be mocked and scorned.

Our pastor spoke of an Asian concept (we live in Japan) called “Saving Face.” Basically, people often do not admit their short comings or admit that they are wrong because they do not want to be shamed. We do not want to be wrong because that would make us vulnerable.

Our pastor closed his sermon with the following thought: “When we are willing to trust God; we are willing to be vulnerable because victory comes through defeat.”

Today after church; I was preparing for my weekly Bible study on Anger that I facilitate. This week we will be watching Dr. S. M. Davis’ sermon called: “How To Help A Man With His Anger.”

In it he says that almost everyone has had to deal with someone who has a problem with anger. Then he says, Sometimes it happens when you are right and the other person is wrong. Christians are often in the greatest danger; not when they are wrong but when they are right. When you are right and someone else is wrong; it is much easier to become bitter. That is the reason that Jesus tells us to go the second mile or turn the other cheek.”

At the beginning of his message, Dr. Davis says, “It is too easy for us to get caught up in someone else’s actions that we forget the importance of our reactions. God isn’t going to judge me for someone else’s actions; he is going to judge me for my reaction and the actions that come from it.”

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

Over and over in working through my anger problems; I have come across the concept that people who always have to be right will always be in the midst of conflict. The following question is often asked: “Would you rather be right or be happy?” Yes, we all say that we want to be happy but most of us show in our actions that we want to be right. I can’t count the number of arguments that I have had over the years with my husband and many others because I insist that I am right and they are wrong. My husband often says to me something along the lines of “You would argue with me that the sky is green and the grass is blue!” He usually says that when I am arguing with him over something that isn’t really that important (where we should go to dinner or where we should park the car, etc.). Unfortunately, my husband and I will often argue like there is no tomorrow and it usually is because one or both of us feels like we are right. I often feel defeated or without hope because I don’t always see how our conflicts are being resolved or I feel our marriage is moving in the right direction far too slowly.

What I have been learning through the marriage and anger studies that I have been doing over the past year; is that I can’t put I time limit on God. As long as I let him; God will continue to mold me and change me into who he wants me to be. He will also continue to mold and change my husband. His plan may include “fixing” us on different schedules or timelines through different means. As much as I think that I know what my husband needs to do to change himself; I need to remember that God knows better than I. I need to focus on changing myself and work through my problems (as hard as that is).

Today my pastor quoted Oswald Chambers: “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading. It is a life of faith, not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing Who makes us ‘go.’ The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success.”

Bottom line is that I need to trust that God knows what he is doing in my life and in my marriage.

I will leave you with the following quote from Dr. Davis (in his sermon “What Impatience Does”):

“Patience is accepting a difficult situation

without giving God a deadline to do something about it.”