Sheltering Our Kids (And a Giveaway)

If only we could keep our children in a bubble, point them to only the best resources and influences, and saturate their brain with nothing but truth. And yet, that would drastically stunt their growth and likely get in the way of all God wants to do in and through them. There’s a fine line between sheltering our kids and shielding them. So where do we draw that line? My guest today, Tessa Emily Hall, writes a helpful post that encourages us to point our children to Jesus. Read on–and be sure to enter Tessa’s giveaway at the end of this post!

Is Sheltering Teens More Dangerous Than Exposing Them?
by Tessa Emily Hall

unwritten-melody-quote01Is sheltering kids the answer to keeping them safe from the sin and danger that lurks in our world today? In effort to explore this question, I wrote a YA novel, Unwritten Melody. The protagonist in this story, Cassie, is a 17-year-old who has been raised by her overbearing grandmother. As a result of the strict rules, she develops a hunger to ultimately go against her grandmother’s wishes.

We all need rules and guidelines to follow, but could too much of this potentially lead to more harm than good?

Let’s look at the possible dangers that could result from this:

  1. Kids might long to break free from their bubble as they become desperate for “freedom”.
  2. Their walk with God could become based on rules and regulations (“religion”) rather than from a pure adoration for Him, wanting to obey Him, and an understanding of His Son’s sacrifice.
  3. They might not know how to witness to unbelievers since they’ll have no way to identify with them.
  4. If the kid is raised believing that being a Christian consists of all rules and no fun then Christianity might leave a bad taste in their mouth.dad-909510_640
  5. They might not have the chance to walk out their own faith without having to rely on the faith of their parents’.
  6. If the kid is resentful toward their sheltered lifestyle, when they’re given their first taste of freedom, they might rebel in attempt to make up for “what they’ve lost”.
  7. It might cause them to believe their parents sheltered them out of spite rather than love.
  8. They could become resentful toward their parents for keeping them from being “normal”.
  9. The lack of life they experience might cause them to experience depression. They might feel as though they’ve become a slave to rules, have no purpose in life, and aren’t worthy to live the life they’ve longed for. (This is a lie Cassie believes in Unwritten Melody.)
  10. It might cause them to develop a low-self esteem. (In Unwritten Melody,Cassie believes the reason she’s shy is because of the way she was raised by her overprotective grandmother. It’s this temperament that makes her feel as though she doesn’t measure up to other teens and has few friends.)

Since Satan is the ruler of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), we should be careful not to become influenced by the ways of the world. So how can Christians strike a balance between shielding and sheltering?

Encourage children to establish a personal relationship with Jesus. When they fall in love with their Savior and are lead by the Holy Spirit, they won’t have a desire to live a life cross-423157_1920that displeases Him. Show them that the rules set by authority are there to help them, not to keep them from having fun. And remember to always lead and discipline in the spirit of love.

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Parents should introduce their kids to Jesus. When it’s time to let go, they should trust that the Holy Spirit will lead, guide, direct, help—and yes, shelter their kids from the danger that threatens to put an end to their faith.

Even when kids do become exposed to the world, they’ll remain much safer in the hands of Jesus than they could ever be if sheltered only by their parents at home.

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Enter for your chance to win the Unwritten Melody Prize Pack! Two winners will be selected and announced on Tessa’s blog the final day of tour (Friday, December 9th) and will be notified via email.

unwritten-melody-giveaway

This prize pack includes…

  • E-copy of Unwritten Melody
  • Signed paperback copy of Purple Moon
  • Unwritten Melody mug, filled with goodies
  • Unwritten Melody swag, including a bookmark, pen, and poster
  • Starbucks mocha flavored instant coffee
  • Free Unwritten Melody: Page-By-Page Secrets PDF
  • Handmade journal
  • Typewritten thank you note

*This giveaway is open to the US only 

Enter here:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Unwritten Melody:

Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

unwritten-melody_webCassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

Buy it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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tessa-emily-hall_headshot1Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, Unwritten Melody, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of PursueMagazine.net, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. She also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.

When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website.

Connect With Tessa on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: When our daughter was young, we sheltered her–in numerous ways. We homeschooled, and I was very careful about who she spent time with and what I allowed her to experience. But I didn’t do this on a whim. I knew this was how God was leading me. Fast forward to her seventh grade year, and suddenly, God turned the tables on me. He told me it was time to release her–to the public school arena. Again, I followed His leading, though I was terrified her innocence would be shattered along with her faith. The opposite happened–her faith and reliance on her Savior grew, and God gave her clear vision into her encounters. In other words, she began to see a clear distinction between good and evil, light and dark, and she was drawn to shine with the love and truth of Christ.

The key then–prayer. Momma’s, make prayer the most important part of your day. Pray for your kids regularly, and pray for yourself–that God would reveal their hearts to you and give you clear wisdom as to how to raise them. Because only He knows what they’ll face and what they’ll need to experience to prepare them for that. (If you and your group would like to hear more, ask me about my Parenting to the Heart talk. I’d love to come share what God has shown me with your Bible study/women’s ministry/moms group. Contact me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com to find out more.)

Your turn! How have you achieved a balance between shielding and sheltering? Do you believe over-sheltering kids could lead to more harm than good? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Living by Grace on Facebook.

Visit Sarah Ruut’s blog (scroll down) to learn where else Tessa will be on her blog tour. 

Cherishing What Matters

Photo by Stuart Miles taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Stuart Miles taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Sometimes I approach Thanksgiving with a bit of a hum-bug spirit, thinking of all the to-dos and obligations. Other times, like this year, I toss those to-dos and self-imposed expectations aside to simply be. To enjoy time with family, the colors of fall, the smell of roasting turkey.

This year feels especially significant as it’s our daughter’s first Thanksgiving home, post college. Oh, how we’ve missed her, which might seem strange, considering she’s only 45 minutes away, and comes home quite often. But if you’re a parent, you understand. Our hearts hold tight to those precious gifts God once placed firmly in our hands. Today my sweet friend and fellow ACFW writer Ginger Solomon tells us about a special Thanksgiving blessing she received one year. As you read her post, think of your family and the love that holds it together. Or, if family is tough, think of the close relationships God has developed in your life. And hold tight to them. Invest in them. And thank God for them

A Special Thanksgiving Blessing by Ginger Solomon 

On this day twenty-two years ago–well, technically yesterday, but it was Thanksgiving Day that year—I delivered a turkey of my own at 2:19 in the morning. My turkey weighed 9 lbs and measured twenty-two

Photo by kangshutters taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by kangshutters taken from freedigitalphotos.net

inches long. He’s a big boy now, or rather a man, growing to a pretty tall 6’5”.

Every year, I give thanks for that child and the six others God has blessed me with.

Psalm 127:4-5 says, “Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” (NLT) Well, I’m not a young man, but I still feel blessed.

Many people thought I was crazy after I announced pregnancies four through seven. I mean really, didn’t I know what caused that? Yes, people did have the audacity to ask those types questions. Most times I just smiled and ignored them.

Sometimes when I took them all to the store with me, which I did have to do for a while—my oldest was thirteen when the baby was born—I’d get odd looks, or a my-you-have-your-hands-full.

But even though I had some tough days—as most moms do—I wouldn’t trade any one of them for the world. They are unique individuals and will bless society with their gifts and abilities.

IMG_0496My first child (24) will graduate from nursing school with an RN next month. Child two (22)—mentioned above—graduates in May with a BS in Engineering(Computer). Child number three (18) just started college, aiming for a BS in Engineering(Mechanical). Child number four (girl #1; 17) will graduate high school in May. She wants to be a children’s pastor. Children five through seven (15, 13, & 11) don’t quite know what they want to do yet, but whatever it is, I’m ready to be amazed by God.

So this Thanksgiving as you wipe dirty hands and faces, worry about spilled something, struggle with getting a child to bed because he or she ate too much dessert, be thankful. That child will grow up and teach you much about trusting God.

And if you don’t have a child of your own, or yours are grown, help a mom out when she looks a little frazzled. Carry her groceries. Wipe a face. Hold a hand. Clean up a spill. If you’re a stranger, offer to push her cart while she carries the baby or consoles the toddler. Pay for her groceries, her lunch, or just a can of soda.

Even if all you can offer is a smile, she will be grateful that you’re not frowning at her because her child is having a bad day.

I pray blessings on your family from our family. Happy Thanksgiving.

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When Solomon author imagenot homeschooling her youngest four, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for two blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and is a fan of Once Upon a Time and Dr. Who.

Visit her online at her Website, her group blog Inspy Romance, her Facebook Author Page, on Twitter @GingerS219 and Pinterest

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. What’s your Thanksgiving and Christmas look like? Will you have family close? For those who have strained family relationships or are mourning the loss of loved ones, I’m sorry. That’s tough. I hope you have a strong support group around you to help you enjoy this time. I hope you’ll find a way to make Thanksgiving special, however that looks for you. For those who will get to spend time with their loves ones, don’t let the to-dos take away from the must-dos of showing love, spending time, sharing laughter… eating massive quantities of pumpkin pie. With a decaf, almond milk latte, of course!

Time to Breathe

Yesterday was a pause, remember, and reflect day where I celebrated all God has done in my life and renewed my committment to follow whole-heartedly after Him. Which implies I will consistently take the time to actually listen for His direction. That’s the hard part, isn’t it? Especially when things get crazy. Today multi-published author Cara Putman shares her thoughts on calendars, stress, and taking the time to breathe.

Please note, she’s giving away a copy of Shadowed by Grace to one of you, randomly selected from the comments below. Also, don’t forget about Faith-Filled Friends’ month long give-away. 🙂 If you haven’t been over there in a while, now might be a good time. Tuesday, I talked about some of my friends’ greatest fears–finding themselves in my novels. ha! You can read this fun yet thought-provoking post here.

putman-LR-1Taking Time to Breathe by Cara Putman

It’s a new year.

If you’re like me, you’ve got a new calendar out … and are praying for a short reprieve before its nice, clean blocks begin to fill with new events, tasks and activities.

My family graduated from standard blocks several years ago to the kind of calendars that provide separate blocks each day for up to six family members. Even so the days get filled and hard to read.

Is it even possible to stop?

To pause?

To breathe?

Not unless we commit to make it a priority. I can complain that life is busy, or I can take a pocket of time to step back and intentionally evaluate where I am, where my family is, and where we want to be.

So what should we do? I have a few suggestions…just remember I’m talking to myself just as much as making suggestions to you.

1)     Pause and ask God what He thinks of your schedule. Should some things end for a season? Are there things you should add? Are there things you should do as a family?

2)     Evaluate your family’s pulse. Are you all tired? Is there an attitude creeping in that is tired-boy-899951-ma reflection of a harried life style or too little sleep? Do you need to make some adjustments?

3)     How many activities can each person/child do? I’ve known families that only allow one per child. Or all children do the same sport. What works best for you?

4)     Are there on-going responsibilities you’ve taken on that you should release? Just because you’ve taught Sunday school for five, ten, twenty years, doesn’t mean you should continue to do so. Do you need to step out of the way so someone else can step up and grow?

What would you add to this list of suggestions?

Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. An award-winning author of seventeen books with more on the way, she is active in women’s ministry at her church and is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. You can connect with her online at:

FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

ShadowedbyGrace_CVRShadowed by Grace:

Rachel Justice is desperate to save her dying mother. She doesn’t want to leave her, but she accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy and photograph war images. No one knows her photography is a cover and that Rachel is really seeking to find the father she never knew, hopeful to get some help with her failing mother. Dedicated to her mission, Rachel is focused on completing it. Soon, though, she finds her priorities and plans changing when she is assigned to Lt. Scott Lindstrom, on mission as a Monument Man. Their meeting will have far-reaching consequences. Will this derail her plans? Will she ever find her father? Is her faith enough to carry her through?

Buy it here.

Read the first chapter here.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. Do you regularly take time to reflect–on your faith walk, personal growth, AND schedule and commitments? I’ve found, come December, I’ll notice a large number of tasks have been added to my calendar, many that were accepted almost accidentally. Accidental commitments don’t move me in the purposeful direction God’s planned, which means, there are times I must cut back. Then again, there are times He nudges me to add something new. But if my schedule’s loaded with the accidental, there’s no room to embrace God’s new. 😉 Join the conversation in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

What are some ways you stay on top of your schedule? How do you keep yourself centered in God’s will for you and your family?

Some other articles you might find helpful:

Finding Meaning in the Mundane

Living 2014 With Intentionality

Time to Quit 

Additional book length resources:

Mommy Pick-Me-Ups by Edna Ellison and Linda J. Gilden

Deeper Still by Edna Ellison

Lives Intertwined

                    I’ve shared in previous posts how difficult our move to Nebraska has been for all of us. It has been less than two months now, but a blip, and yet, already we feel at home. Why? Because God placed us in a community of believers that opened wide their arms and have accepted us as family. The other night, reflecting on all God has done through the grace-filled men and women at our church, my husband and I discussed how difficult life must be for those who don’t have such a community.

Today’s post comes from a fellow Christ to the World writer. Vona Elkins Bankston’s dramas are broadcasted, via radio-waves, across the globe, sharing the saving message of Jesus Christ with millions, many in areas hostile to the gospel. Today she talks about leaving a faith-driven legacy. Her story reminds me, our church body is more than a gathering of people–it is an interconnected body, a family, divinely designed to provide love, community, and support.

A  Legacy of “Living out loud”  by Vona Elkins Bankston   

Psalms 145: One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your mighty acts.       

Nestled at the bottom of Bankhead Forest in Northwest Alabama, lies a little community called Wren. As you look to your left going south, you see a stately church with a steeple rising toward the heavens as a monument to the grace and love of a faithful God.

Since 1847-1848when the first Pleasant Grove Baptist Church was established… to the present time, the church has embraced the mandate given by Jesus Christ in Acts 1:8:  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  This community of believers, (now in the third building) has been living out loud through evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and worship.

Recently the Young Adult men’s Sunday school class led by Rodger Nix, heard of a young couple with many needs who had moved into the community. The father was battling cancer; the mother was working alongside him in a tree grinding business trying to eke out a living for them and their four year old daughter.

The little church they attended helped as much as possible but were unable to provide that which the family needed most– better housing.

 Knowing his time on earth was drawing to a close, the desire of the father’s heart was to see his wife Deborah, and daughter Shirley Mae, settled into a warm, comfortable home before he passed from this life.

By talking among themselves and spreading the word around, others in the church and community joined in with the Young Adult Men’s class and started remodeling a house about five miles from the couple’s mobile home.  Materials were donated, monetary gifts were received and skilled laborers donated time and talent. The women joined the effort by providing household goods and furnishings.

A few weeks before his death, Gregg asked if he could come in person to express his gratitude to the church and the volunteers for being the hands and feet of Jesus to him and his family. There were few dry eyes in the church that morning as the little family stood before the congregation.

Not many weeks after that Gregg went to be with the Lord. The house was not quite ready for Deborah and Shirley Mae to move into, but Gregg died, knowing a comfortable earthly home would soon be ready for his little family to move in to.

 11 Corinthians, 5:1 says:   For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Gregg died at peace,  knowing he could look forward to living  in a house not made by human hands but by the hand of his loving Heavenly Father.

By “Living Out-Loud”  the Young Adult Sunday School Class left a legacy that will reach into future generations and witness to the mighty acts of God.

Vona Elkins Bankston has 3 married children,7 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.

She writes Biblical monologues, skits for my church,and dramas and HEAR THE WORD Bible studies for Christ to the World Ministries. She belongs to a writer’s group called “STEPPING STONES” OF NORTH ALABAMA. Currently, they are writing short devotionals for a local newspaper. She has a heart for missions and believes the methods for reaching people can change, but the message must remain the same.
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Life is tough. Tragedy and difficulties are bound to come. When they do, will you have a close family of believers to lean on? If not, how you can begin to develop those vital relationships *today*? No church body will be perfect. Humans are going to mess up. They’ll let us down, say and do things they regret. As will we. Finding community isn’t about finding perfection but instead, relationships. Don’t let unrealistic expectations or past hurts keep you from experiencing one of God’s greatest gifts–Christ-centered relationships.
 
 
I want to give a shout-out thank you to all the August’s Reach Out Donors:
 
Eddie Snipes with I Called Him Dancer, a novel quite fitting for this campaignJoAnn Durgin with Second Time AroundEileen Rife with Second Chance, another novel with an outreach focus; and Ann Lee Miller with Kicking Eternity.
 
Do you have a Reach Out story to share? Send it to me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com. Authors, agents, and publishers, if you have a book you’d like to donate to my Reach Out Campaign, shoot me an email at the same address.
 
Have a great, interdependent week in Christ!

Standing Together

Today’s post comes from a very dear forever friend of mine, Robin Prater. I love using the term “forever friend” because it reminds me not to take my relationships for granted. It reminds me to work at them, to make time for them, to hold tight to them. This is a strange idea in our independent, individualized society, but it is a biblical one. In fact, the Bible extends beyond friendship, uniting believers across the globe into one family.

Our family has moved frequently in the sixteen years Steve and I have been married, but through the moves, I’ve determined to hold tight to my friends from the past. This desire arose after reading a passage in Scripture where Paul named a number of believers, sending his greetings. Basically, throughout his travels, Paul took the time to stay connected with the people from his past.

I’ve also learned my efforts to stay connected with people from my past have nothing to do with their actions. Meaning, I am called to love and reach out, even if others don’t reciprocate because true love is not conditional–isn’t based on the actions of others.  God says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This means God expects me to do all I can to follow the way of peace and stay united with His family. If they reciprocate, lovely! If not, I am to love anyway.

Standing Together in Faith and Friendship by Robin Prater

Okay, how blessed was Daniel? I mean really, he was surrounded by friends who were not only great examples, but stood by his side in faith. To have that circle of friends can give you the encouragement and inspiration you need to make it through any situation.

“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me-a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13

I was taking some time reading in Daniel and it was his relationship with his friends that stood out to me in the very first chapter. They all had a strong faith in God and they walked that faith. I mean, here they are together and all of a sudden they are thrown into a scary situation. All throughout the story of Daniel you see no fear from these young men. King Nebuchadnezzar would have scared the daylights out of me, but for these young men they stood firm in their faith. At no point were they even disrespectful or rude. They remained kind and compassionate even though their entire lives were changing before their eyes.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

They were selected because of their stature, strength and wisdom. These were good-looking men. Wise young men. Men with faith that is not wavering. I look at our world today and see how difficult it is for young adults trying to find their way in the world, but were things really all that different for these young men? I think the difference is they were focused on God. They were dedicated to Him and were ready to surrender all for their King of kings.

“Walk with the wise and become wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” Proverbs 13:20

So, these young men are held captive. I wonder if they were even able to say good-bye to their families. They are now being trained to learn the Babylonian language and literature of this time. They were to be trained for three years then they would be ready for royal service. Can you imagine? This king wants to change everything about these young men. He even changes their names! Daniel is now called Belshazzar. Hananiah is now called Shadrach. Mishael is called Meshach and Azariah is now called Abednego. These Hebrew men are facing change of every kind. Nothing is the same, except one important aspect of who they are. They are children of God. Their faith remains therefore they are complete in Him and Him alone. Nothing else matters to them. They could have ended up anywhere. Their faith is so strong. I want a faith like that. I want that unwavering faith that remains even in times of fear and change. They had no idea what was facing them.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I too look at Timothy. He had a wonderful friendship with Paul. Paul was his accountability partner. He was his teacher and example. They were friends who could talk, laugh and walk this road together, lifting one another up in encouragement. I love these words:

“Preach the Word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” 2 Timothy 4:5

That too is what, Daniel, did. He walked with his friends in faith, knowing that God had a plan and they were safe within His hand. Friends must love one another enough to correct each other when we are wrong and love them enough to give them your heart. These friendships were lasting because they took time for one another. They didn’t put each other off. They made themselves available.

These young men were great because of their faith in God, but also in the fact they had godly friendships. They had friends that were willing to stand with them and not cause them to stumble. Can you imagine the late night talks they had? The laughter and closeness that brought them through the days of struggle?

Look at David and Jonathon, Ruth and Naomi, and Elijah and Elisha. These were great and lasting friendships.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

We can look to these powerful friendships for our example. We must be the kind of friend we want to have. We are blessed with the most amazing friend of all, Jesus Christ. He gave His life for you and me. He will walk with us through every season of life. He is the Friend of all friends. The wonderful thing is, He chose us! He chooses us for a friend. That should make us feel overwhelmed in love. To be called His friend should be the greatest compliment of all.

“You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. You didn’t choose Me. I chose you.” John 15:14-16a

Robin Prater is a sinner saved by grace who knows the beauty of God’s redemption. She hopes her blog, the Robin’s Nest, brings glory and honor to Him who forever continues to bless this girl with His love. She would love to hear your story. She too would be humbled to hear how this artice has touched your heart. Leave a comment here or reach me at srprater@gmail.com. She loves how God brings His people together through experiences and passions. We can make a difference in the lives of others if we will make ourselves available and reachable to others. Like you she is a work in progress. Imperfect through her sins, but perfected through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ

A Pair of Jeans, A Clothes Line, and A Moment of Nostalgia, by Barbara J. Robinson

Yesterday I spent about three hours cleaning house, but by the time my husband got home at six, you couldn’t tell. Dinner preparations were strewn across the kitchen, school books and assignments in the sitting area. Mail both my husband and our daughter had sifted through was scattered across the kitchen island, coats and gloves were draped over chairs, and shoes piled in numerous locations. After school snack crumbs covered multiple surface areas–not just in the kitchen. Markers, scissors and yarn were left in numerous places like bread crumbs documenting the movements of our creative daughter as she fluttered through the house.

Sitting down to dinner in our once clean-now-cluttered home, I had to laugh. My tidy house had been family-ized!

As a mom, today’s post was a breath of fresh air. My house is normally sanitary, yet it is rarely clean. But you know, that isn’t such a bad thing. I’d trade my daughter’s giggles and my husband’s hugs for an immaculate kitchen any day!

Today’s devo, written by B. J. Robinson, first appeared on USADeepSouth.com. It has been reposted on her personal blog, http://barbarajrobinson.blogspot.com, and A Woman’s Voice.

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Scotty’s Jeans

I jumped out of bed early every morning with the spirit, energy, and vitality of youth, cleaned house, and took care of the family duties. Far too busy to treasure the day with a son in the first grade, I took pride in the fact that I kept a spotless home and had dinner on the table when my husband returned from work.

I hung Scotty’s small jeans outside in the sunshine and fresh air. I can still see them blowing in the wind, hung neatly, all in a row, jeans of every color: brown, black, green, navy, maroon, and blue. I took pride in the fact that he had a pair of jeans in each color for school.

Before I knew it, my son grew, left home, married, had children of his own,  and made me a grandmother multiple times. Those precious family days were a treasure that didn’t last. All too soon, spring turned to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter. What I wouldn’t give to hang those precious little jeans on the line and watch them blow.

I no longer clean house like it’s the most important thing in my life. What I once took pride in is dull, boring, and humdrum–just another ordinary, routine day. Now, there are no small jeans blowing in the wind. No first grader rushes home to excitedly tell me about his school day. Those are all things of the past, things that didn’t last.

Now, my little grandson’s mother throws his jeans in the dryer as she rushes to get ready for work. The hands of time slip by like a silent thief in the night, as precious days fly with the speed of lightning. Off to work. Off to school. Years fly. Days of the past, treasured days,  just don’t last, but precious memories do.

 

First printed in USADeepSouth.com as Colored Jeans on the Clothesline: Such Precious Days Don’t Last. Permission given to reprint revised edition.

B. J. Robinson lives in Florida with her husband, Cocker Spaniel, Sunflower, and an adopted shelter cat named Frankie. She’s a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild (CWG), Longridge Writers Institute, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and CWG. Visit her at http://barbarajrobinson.blogspot.com.

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For all my overtired parents out there, watching your teen come into the house like a cyclone can be a bit frustrating, but sending them off to college with suitcase in hand is even harder. Teach them to be tidy and respectful of your time, yes, but do it with a hug and a smile, because it won’t be long before those hugs are few and far between.

As as always, if you loved today’s devo and want to see it in my top three of 2010, “like” it, fb share it, tweet it or leave a comment.

 

A Moment of Reflection

This morning I received a phone call from my nephew. He’s four. At first, I thought it was a prank. Initially, all I heard was heavy breathing and a mumbled voice in the background. Apparently, it took a few seconds for him to get the nerve to speak. The background voice? That was my sister  coaching him. Telling him to talk…into a piece of plastic…to a woman she said was his aunt but whom he couldn’t see. Ah, to live in the head of a child!

But once he got going, he didn’t waste any time getting to the reason for his call. (I wish I would have taped it!)

“Thanks for the—what is the surprise for me and Abby?”

Apparently, my package had arrived.

I laughed, envisioning my giggly nephew prancing through the house, asking my sister again and again, “When can I open my surprise from Aunt Nenny? Please, please can I open it today?” (And no, you cannot call me that. That name is reserved for family members under the age of five.)

His enthusiasm sprinkled joy on my day. But as soon as I got off the phone, I picked it up again. To call a friend who wasn’t viewing the holidays with the same enthusiasm. A friend who would need a steady dose of prayer to get her through.

Maybe you can relate. Perhaps you’ve recently lost a job, or are clinging to a decaying marriage. Or maybe those family members you’re about to visit sour your stomach. If that’s you, if you find the holiday’s to be a bit more grueling than joyful, then this song’s for you. Make this holiday season a time of reflection–a time that you go back to the moment of truth. The day you first talked to Jesus and He reached out for you.  And remember, He’s still reaching for you. He’ll never let you go.