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Teaching Your Kids How To Pray

Having an intimate relationship with Jesus is how I try to live my life day in and day out. Part of that intimacy should include a healthy and fulfilling prayer life. I openly admit often thought, time in prayer is something I struggle with (and time in the Bible, but that’s for another day.) As a child I was never taught how to pray. My home was not one that went to church every Sunday or prayed together before every dinner. I don’t say that to put down our home, it’s simply the truth.

When our family began to expand, I really wanted to raise up little Christians who learned how to pray at an early age. Not just repeat the Lord’s Prayer or remember at holidays we sometimes said grace. I wanted to raise kids who knew what prayer was and how to use it to communicate and have a dialogue with their Lord.

Simply praying my kids will learn how to pray isn’t going to cut it however! (See what I did there?) We need to train our children up to follow the Lord but we also need to train them up within Christianity. This includes training them on how to pray.

Recently I’ve been asked by a few friends how we have been working on prayer with our kids. I wanted to share with you all some of the ways we are teaching out children how to pray.

Model.

One of the best ways to show our children how to have a relationship with the Lord is to live our lives in way that models it. By modeling a healthy prayer life you will show you’re children what communication with God should look like. Beyond that prayer life showing your children this, having a healthy prayer life will help YOU grow. As a parent there are so many uncertainties and praying over those will make you a better parent.

What are some ways to model it? Pray before meals, as a family. Spend time in prayer alone in places your children can see. When you are upset, choose to pray instead of yell. Pray with your kids before special events or long trips. Let them hear you tell friends and family you will pray for them.

Explain How!

As adults, sometimes we forget that prayer does not come naturally. Even as an older Christian, I tend to forget that it’s not something all kids grew up being called on to do in Sunday School. We need to remember to truly explain how to pray to our kids. If you’re a regular going church family, I like to base how we pray off the Lord’s Prayer. I’m unsure if I read it somewhere or my pastor preached on this topic (And he will tell me if it was him!). Somewhere along the way though I was told we aren’t only called to recite the Lord’s Prayer but also base our daily prayers off it.

What does that look like? I personally sat down and read through the Lord’s Prayer, picking out what I believed each section or line was telling me what to do. We encourage the kids to:

-Acknowledge the all powerful God we are speaking too and celebrate his power.

-Thank Him for what He has given us this day

-Ask Him for what we need.

-Ask forgiveness for our sins and help forgiving others.

-Beg Him to show us the way our feet should lead us.

-Praise Him again, celebrating who He is.

We also like to use the acronym “PAGING God!”. Paging stands for Praise, Accountability, Guidance, I (Syndrome), Needs, and God’s Glory.

Praise:

We use this to sit back and praise all the amazing things God puts in our lives and does for us. This may be a specific “Thank you God for protecting us during a baseball game today.” It can also be as simple as “Thank you for today.” We celebrate who He is and the gifts He has given us today, yesterday, and for the months that have passed.

Accountability:

I am a firm believer that using words to identify areas you’re struggling in is a great tool. Your child may be struggling with a sin they commit, such as lying, or is on the receiving end, such as someone not being kind to them. We encourage our kids to pray for their personal accountability in their actions as well as their responses to others actions. I’m not going to jump on the pedestal and perform my entire spiel here (not yet anyway), but I do not believe Christians hold each other to the higher standard of living we are called to. Beginning that at an early age is important to me.

Within this, we also ask forgiveness for our wrong choices and mistakes. Giving your sin a name is a hard action but one that we need to learn as we grow.

Guidance:

This somewhat goes along with accountability but takes it a step further. After praying we are held to the standard of living Jesus calls us to live at, we must pray for His guidance in this. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have all the answers. I can’t expect my kids to either! Asking for the Holy Spirit to guide each and every one of our steps ensures we are listening to a power and knowledge far greater than ours. Our church also prays for guidance often and I love to model what the church does! We also like to take this back to praise and thank Him for how He has guided our way so far.

I (Syndrome):

My prayer is it is evident that I strive to be selfless and giving to all that enter my life. I do this because I am called as a Christian to give the clothes off my back to the least of us. That’s what my greatest commission-love my neighbor.

I’m not one to get down on generations, so I speak in a broad “all of human kind” sense: We are selfish, fickle beings. I am. My kids are. It is something I wish to dim down inside our personalities. With the “I (Syndrome)” we choose someone else to pray for. There have been times where it’s an easy person-one of their siblings, our Sunday school teachers, a family member. There have been times I challenge them, and myself and husband-leaders of this country, the kid who made fun of them on the bus, people who are not kind. Praying for others is not only a gift to them, it is a gift to us, as we strive to be more Christ-like in our day to day lives.

Needs:

Everyone has needs! Most often, by the time we get down to asking God what we need in our days, we have already covered the basic ones with accountability and guidance. However sometimes kids just want to ask God for something. My son often says “Let us have fun tomorrow.” It’s a simple prayer, but simple is important to kids. And if someone asks for something they’re not going to get (say a dog or car…because both have been prayed for at our dinnertime prayers…) it’s a great time to introduce the concept God isn’t Amazon. He won’t just send you what you want, in the time frame you want it in, because you ordered it up while bowing your head one night. The disappointment can be real but hey-even as adults, that’s something we struggle with, am I right?

God’s Glory:

Using a double G here, but this is something I am passionate about asking for in every prayer time. While we praise Him above, I want my children to know every single step they take and choice they make should be in the glory of God. In celebration of Jesus, who died for us on the cross and rose again. Pleasing to the Holy Spirit who is walking these steps with us. I want them to know WHO we are living for-it’s not the applause or the friends we have. It’s all for Him. So we ask that everything we do may please Him and bring Him glory.

(For your friendly little reference, this page!)

And finally…routine!

Now don’t look above and think “Lauren has it all together, I can never do that”.  Y’all I’m a hot mess. I forget to model it outside of prayer time at dinner most the time. If you’ve been around for any amount of time you know personal Bible time is the downfall of my life. I’m forever making the goal to spend more time in the Word and failing. We even chose to skip family bible study night at our church because it was too much for me to handle.

That being said, my 3 year old son will also now fold his hands up before meals and yell “Mama WE NEEDA PRAY”.  The kids wait expectantly for our grace. I’ve heard them pray themselves and it’s spectacular. I give all the Glory to God for that…but also, ROUTINE. We decided we would pray before dinner every night and by gone we have been doing just that. Sure, my 3 year olds prayers are “Thank you God for Everything-SAY AMEN”.  But he does them. And that’s what matters the most to me.

So sweet friends, whether you’re trying to introduce more prayer to older children or want it as part of your life as your babies grow, here are my best tips. From a totally not perfect, but trying her darnedest Christian friend! Remember-God wants time with you and your babies. He doesn’t care if it’s perfect or composed. He hears even your smallest “Lord I need you,” whispered from your breaking point after a long hard day.

Do you pray with your kids? Or is that something you hope to do someday?

7 Good Friday Reflections

7 Reflections for Good Friday(&An Easter “basket” Idea for the Whole Family!

It is Friday-Good Friday. Today we solemnly sit back as we acknowledge the cross Jesus died on for you and I. We are acutely aware the torture He endured. Whips on his back, laced with stone. Nailed to a cross He was forced to carry there. Hung beside criminals, taking the spear in His side and wearing that crown of thorns that we bestowed upon Him.

That I put there.

As a Christian, Good Friday is a reminder of the pain my Savior accepted humbly to save me. Jesus could have stopped that crucifixion. He had armies of angels at His command. Yet, there He sat, the King of all Creation, Son of God…willfully taking the weight of the sins of all man kind onto His shoulders.

My sins.

Today of all days, I’m able to truly take a step back and recognize that the nails that held Jesus to the cross were not what kept Him there. What kept Him there was my sins, that He loved me so dearly He was willing to die to save me from them. Sins I did before I became a Christian. Ones that I continue to do today.

Good Friday for me is wondrous time to take a step back and give true thanks for what Jesus did for us. He allowed-yes ALLOWED- this to happen out of pure love. This is the person I aim to become more like every day. The Great Councilor is who I want to fill myself up with as I empty myself of this world. This is the King of Kings. Yet there He hangs carrying the weight of my cross.

It’s also an amazing reminder that I am still living in sin every day. I don’t share this as a huge revelation: I am a sinner. Yet, while I was still a sinner…while we were all sinners, Jesus died for us. The strength behind those words causes me to sit down and pray. It forces me to reconsider how I am living my life now. Here and now. In this day and every day.

I try to take part of Good Friday to reflect on these questions and realign my vision and dreams with what Jesus died for. Yes-He saved us. Good works will never be worth more than the blood and body of Christ. But because He willingly bore the worst parts of this world to save us. The least I can do is live a life that is mostly pleasing to Him.

I reflect on:

And Sunday is coming! Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. We don’t do the bunny so that takes a lot of pressure off of the day for us. This year however we wanted to do something for the kids to truly celebrate the day. I put together an Nature Journal Station!

The idea of a nature journal actually came to me while pursuing Instagram the other day. Heather, a woman I follow AND LOVE on Instagram, shared a post just mentioning the idea of nature journaling. I LOVED even the phrase “nature journaling”. We are hiking, fishing, camping, picture taking, dirt loving people. My kids spend most the summer days outside and I have no qualms with this.

Bringing our love of nature to our love of art sounded like an amazing concept!

I was just going to start putting together a little box to keep this all in, but I decided, why not give it to the kids on Easter? It would give them something to tell their friends they got. We would be celebrating the greatest gift of new life and it’s the beginning of spring this year.

Plus-this earth is a wondrous gift from God as well!

The box simply has some water colors, crayons, colored pencils and various other items. I ran out and grabbed them each a sweet little “artists journal” as well. Doodle and my husband-because we are all getting them!- each got nice art journals. They are truly the artists in the family!

I hope you all have a blessed weekend and this finds you in a place reconciling yourself with Christ! Thank God for Good Friday-and Happy Easter!

Loving Your Spouse Using

Loving Your Spouse With Words of Affirmation

As most of you know I am a huge fan of The Love Languages. I find the entire idea behind it fascinating and more importantly-true! I’ve written about the Love Languages before and I’ve also talked about How To Love Your Children According to Their Love Languages. Today I want to share with you a little bit about words of affirmation!

My highest scoring love language always has been words of affirmation, with no shock to the people in the audience. It’s the strongest in how I love and in how I receive love. My other love languages sometimes gain or lose in momentum but words stays at the top. This is a challenging aspect of our relationship because Josh’s lowest love language? You guessed it-WORDS OF AFFIRMATION.

Thus the past six years of our relationship? A lot of me trying to explain what it is that helps me feel loved. It’s been trial and error as he, bless his heart, fumbled around in a love language he really isn’t very good at. (I told him I was going to tell y’all that, so no worries.) I wanted to share just a few ways to show the love through words of affirmation. If there are any other husbands or wives out their trying to get it right, this is for you. Straight from a word obsessed wife…how to love your spouse when their love language is Words of Affirmation!

The Basics of Loving With Words of Affirmation:

Praise Them!

When you’re out or about, compliment them! talk about how they make you happy, tell others about how strong they are. Make sure they hear it. When you’re hanging out at home, randomly tell them you love them. Send them a text message throughout the day to remind them you’re thinking about them.

Gents, take advantage of “Woman Crush Wednesday”! Ladies, use that “Man Crush Monday”! Take a moment to write a sweet message on your status or leave the compliment on their Facebook wall. Let me say this very clearly- your spouse isn’t trying to be needy. I struggle with the fact that it feels so *needy* to ask for my husband to say how much he loves me, but it’s truly not that. I feel more loved when he compliments me or says kind things than I do if he buys me expensive jewelry or does all the dishes. It’s just who I am.

Don’t insult them in front of others

And on the flip side, my friends, do not insult them in front of others. I urge you to be truly careful with your words. I can tell you almost every thing my husband has said negatively about me. As words can build me up and warm my heart to love, they also have the power to destroy. When your spouse has words of affirmation as their love language, be aware of your words. We should always strive to use words that are acceptable to God no matter what the love language is, however in these cases, you may need to be even more aware. Your words can build your spouse up-but can also destroy them.

In the chance you do hurt them, make sure you apologize using real words! The simple commentary of “I am sorry” isn’t always how a person whose love language is Words of Affirmation may need those words for an apology as well.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

And for my favorite part of this post…a list of 20 ways to love on your spouse when words of affirmation is their number one(or two!) love language. These are all things that I would totally want for myself! 

What else could you do to show a person who has the love language of words of affirmation love?

7 Foster Care and Adoption Prayers to Pray - Copy

7 Prayers For Waiting Children

I was looking back through my previous posts and found that the stats on my post, “7 Prayers for Foster  Care and Adoption” are BOOMING. I had written this post about six months ago highlighting all the areas foster care and adoption needs prayer. Today, I want to share another post on a similar subject-7 Prayers to Pray for Waiting Children.

There are more than 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting for a permanent home. These children range from age 0-21, though the median age is 8 years of age. Some require extra love through trauma and developmental or emotional disabilities. Others wish to be placed with their biological siblings. I’ve talked about how to know if you’re ready for foster care adoption before.

However, maybe you don’t think you’re ready to adopt from foster care. Maybe that’s something that is not in the cards for you! I’m a firm believer even if you never foster or adopt you can help children in foster care.

Today, I want to share for my praying friends a week worth of prayers to say over children in foster care who are waiting for their forever families.

Prayers For Waiting Children:

Speediness

With children waiting for adoption, time matters so much. We’ve all seen the posts on Facebook that show a child holding a sign that says “After ___ days in foster care, I am adopted!” Those posts always touch my heart so deeply…but what hits me hardest is when I do the math.

I remember I once saw a child who had a number over 3000. That means she was in foster care, living her life in limbo, for over ten years. Ten years. That’s double the length of my marriage, y’all. Some of these kids will sit in foster care for years and years, unsure of where they will end up calling home after they age out. Pray for the courts. Pray for the speed of the social workers. Pray for the waiting families. Pray that they all move at a speed that is acceptable when a child’s life is hanging in the midst of decisions.

That families are led to adopt “hard to place” kids

Many of the children who waiting for forever homes are considered “hard to place”.  Some have special needs, some have medical needs. Others have trauma in their history-and some are just older than what most are looking to adopt. I encourage you to pray over these children especially. That families can see past what is written on a piece of paper and inquire about the child behind it. Also, pray God equips families to care for and adopt these placements.

And pray, very specifically, that more families are led to adopt these waiting children.

 Relationships with biological families are maintained (When Safe)

While this is obviously not an option for all children, when it is safe, pray that biological ties are maintained. Often children are separated from their biological siblings. Pray that families are adopting siblings separately establish and maintain a relationship when it is in the best interest of children. I would also encourage prayer for biological family members as adoption happens-this can be a hard time in their lives.

For the families fostering these children

As a forever child in a fostering family, I’ve often said that I wouldn’t trade this for the world. However, watching a child you’ve lived with for years sometimes move on…it’s hard. I’ve discussed the heartbreak of foster care before. Even when a child is moving on to another home that is good for them, it hits the foster family. Many of us(not all, because as with every demographic, there are bad foster parents) put our all into these children. Even when we know they are not going to be with us forever-especially when we know that.

I encourage you to pray for the families that will be saying good-bye. Pray healthy connections are made and continued after adoption is finalized.

Future Adoptive Parents are prepared for these Children

As I stated above, many children waiting for adoption have special needs. Not all are developmental; some are cognitive, emotional, medical or trauma related. No matter what needs they have the parent(s) who will someday adopt them may need a special set of skills. I firmly believe these are skills that are learned, not ones they acquire at birth.

Pray for the waiting families, that they learn and grow in all the ways they need to adequately assist these children. I also encourage you to pray the friends and churches these families belong to as well. The church can be a great help or hinder to foster and adoptive families. Pray they find one that is a help-or create the help within the church themselves.

That Hopeful Adoptive Families Know Their Limits

I have an entire post on this for foster care: Reasons We Say No To A Placement. When praying over waiting children though, I hope you add this to your prayers. I have heard of quite a few families that take in a child with needs too severe for their family and home and a child needs to be put up for adoption again.

That kind of strain is so detrimental for a child who thinks they found a forever home, only to move on to somewhere else again. While behaviors can change and are not always known, pray for discernment for the waiting families.

These Children Do Not Give Up Hope 

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be waiting for a forever family-and there’s a real possibility, you my friend cannot either. Pray for these children’s hearts. When you are bowing your heads, pray that they have faith God will provide. In the midst of your day, pray they hold steadfast to a hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. If you are reading through The Word and happen to come upon a verse on hope, pray it over these 100.00+ waiting kids.

Again, if you are interested in pursuing foster care adoption, I am always available to answer any questions you may have that I can. I leave you with go to website I provide for families: AdoptUsKids.

What’s another way you pray over waiting children in foster care?

Ladies-It's OK If You Don't Feel

Ladies-It’s OK If You Don’t Feel Strong

This past week, the world acknowledged and celebrated women on International Women’s Day. We all took a day out to recognize the strong women we know. I love this day-I love to thank the women in my life I know for being amazing role models, overcomers, and all around truly good people.

I’ve been blessed my entire life to be surrounded by strong women. I had a mother who had me in college and still went on to graduate, successfully help provide for our family and raise not only her five biological children, not only two adopted ones, but foster others and love so many through the school system. We have a Mema who can kick your bottom at an arm wrestling match while whipping up a dinner with the other hand and simultaneously being the most gentle human you’ve ever met. And then there was a Nana who showed what strength was beyond imagine as she kicked cancers butt and came back with the more grit and passion for life than before.

I have friends who have overcome trauma and struggles I cannot begin to fathom. Ones who have chosen forgiveness and grace over obvious and in my opinion, justified, revenge and anger. We know women who left abusive marriages, who have doctorates after being told they never could, and who have fought and won the war against mental illnesses, addictions, cancer, and more.

You could say I specialize in surrounding myself and my daughters with strong women.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was raised amongst them, my daughters will be too. My prayer for my daughters is for them to know the world can and SHOULD tremble at their feet. That they are capable of all things they put their mind to. I am so passionate that my kids are aware God created them for a special purpose, whether it’s to cure cancer or kiss booboos, and that they are strong in which they choose. Beauty pageants or crossfit challenges-I want them to always see their strength.

But I know how daunting that it can be-I know that we don’t always feel strong.

I struggle often with feeling like I’m not. Strong, that is. It’s so easy to see the failures, the weaknesses, the areas in life I’m less than spectacular. And I think many women, moms especially, feel the same way. We’re imperfect people and despite our strength to overcome some hardships and battles, we are often too close to each situation to see the magnificent strength it takes to beat them. 

I’ve said to a friend, “You were so strong to leave this relationship” and the response I got? “No, I was weak to stay in it so long.” How different our perspective is when on the outside looking in versus being the one in the story.

Sometimes people focus so intently on our perceived weaknesses, they forget how strong we truly are. I know I do.
I’m not saying this to induce a plethora of messages telling me how strong I am. I have plenty of people who tell me that anyway, and while I appreciate them, I hope this article doesn’t come across as just that. No, I want to share with all the women (and possibly men!) out there who sometimes feel weak a few ways I remind myself just how strong I really am in those moments.

Thank them when someone compliments your strengths and stop apologizing for your “weaknesses”

When someone tells you you are smart, strong, kind, resilient-say thank you. I know it’s so easy, so quick, to dealing with “Oh no I’m not.” But here’s the kicker-you probably are. Yes, yes, yes you are. Most people don’t simply say “Oh you look beautiful,” with the intent of lying to you or faking it. They say it because it’s true. So OWN YOUR STRENGTHS. When someone compliments them, nod. Say thank you. Tell them something you think is a strength they have back. Strong people have no qualms about complimenting another on their strengths.

On the flip side, stop apologizing for your weaknesses. This is one I do far too often and one I am trying so hard to overcome.
Surround yourself with people who validate you and build you up.  For example; y’all I can’t sing. CAN NOT. I’m talking a chorus teacher once told me to consider playing an instrument instead of being in chorus.

I’ve spent years at church apologizing for my inability to sing when in actuality…no one even notices! Unless I’m standing next to our minister of music or up front belting it out into a microphone…NO ONE NOTICES. When you apologize for your weaknesses it draws more attention to them while reminding you all the areas in life you don’t feel strong. So stop that! Right now! The people you surround yourself with shouldn’t mind the small and insignificant things you aren’t especially strong with. Which brings me to…

Surround yourself with people who validate and build you up. 

I’m not about the life where you only surround yourself with people who agree with you and let you do whatever you want while cheering you on. Accountability is something I think is necessary, so necessary that I’m currently writing a post about finding accountability partners in the church. No, I’m not talking about only hanging out with yes (wo)men.

I’m talking about spending your time with people who know your value and see your worth.

Who we are around builds up or destroys who we are. It’s really that simple. If you spend your time with people who actively pick apart your choices, who insult your strength, who refuse to acknowledge the effort you put into things…you will begin to believe those things are true about yourself. Be with people who build you up. Who tell you the strengths that you are forgetting. Who want you to know how truly worthy of love you are.

Keep a journal of all the reasons you are strong and able.

I was actually taught this in therapy when I was struggling with PPD. My therapist had me write down reasons I was a good mom and I kept this little book to look back on, as a way to reframe my thoughts before they got off the track and spun out of control. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Find a little journal and keep track of your strengths. When someone compliments you on one, write that in there. Write what you’ve overcome. Write all the things you’ve done that have proven those who doubt you wrong. Then keep this book somewhere where you can pull it out and look at it whenever you need the reminder.

Be okay with being weak, with failing, and with not always being able to do things.

The simple fact of the matter is this-we will not always be strong. There are some times in our lives we will be weak, we will feel weak, and we will struggle. Times will come when we aren’t able to succeed. Talents exist out there that we won’t have. I can’t do everything-can you? I’m not always kind, smart, perfectly made up with a bow on top. None of us are. At some point we need to sit back and be okay with the areas we are “weak” in or the ways we “fail.”

 If you don’t have a talent, that’s okay. As long as you have a love. I’m going to bring us back to singing. I love to sing worship songs. When I am home or in the car, I have them blasting and I am jamming along. I’m not winning any awards. But I love it. I enjoy it. If you enjoy doing something it’s okay to just enjoy it-to not be the star, to not have a God given talent, but to love doing it anyway.

Recognize the One who makes you strong.

For me, as a Christian woman, this is the most important one. I am not strong on my own and I will not succeed separate from God. He is the one who gives me strength through all things He has predestined in my life. When I am feeling weak, I often forget to pray. In the moment, I want to do it all, be it all, succeed at it all. I don’t want anything to get in the way of perfection and something really big already has-me. I will never be perfect. But possibly, even more importantly, I will never be strong without Him.

A favorite of mine in the Bible is Ephesians 3:17-19(NLT)

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
If you are feeling weak, take a moment to read those verses and recognize your roots must be in God’s love to keep you strong. Open your Bible and find verses that speak of strength in Jesus, from Jesus and with Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the passion and fearlessness He provides.
And finally, while leaning into God for strength, rely on others. We live in a world that is so focuses on independence equating strength, but that is not always the case. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ in those weak moments. Rely on them. Trust them with your strengths and your weaknesses as you grow totgether. I bet the more you rely on others, the smaller your weaknesses feel as they begin to fill in where you need it.

At the end of this post, I hope you know it’s okay if you don’t feel strong. But I also hope these tips can help you in those moments you’re doubting yourself; because I would bet if I were a betting woman, you are so much stronger than you feel.

 How do you remind yourself how strong you are when you don’t feel it?

food restrictions

Why Your Event Needs To Meet Dietary Needs

Maybe you’re planning an event for your child’s first birthday. Or you’re putting together a dance for your church. Or there’s a potluck dinner with friends happening. No matter where you’re going, what you’re doing, or who you will be with…if you’re like my family and friends, there will be food.
We joke often at my church that they will know we are Christians by our love; but they will know we are baptists by our potlucks. Food is a central part of so much of our fellowship. Often after a child is born, we are making meal trains. Someone is hurt and the immediate reaction is, “Well can I make you a meal???” I’ve even been known while meal planning to factor in at least once a week we will be having some kind of meal with our church family.
One thing that has become increasingly important and visible to me through all this eating(thanks church family for the pant size growth!) is that there are so many dietary needs out there I never really recognized until the past year. I have to say, after becoming so involved with so many members, it feels a little selfish how unaware I was. Especially as I was a vegetarian for 3ish years…I should know what it’s like to have less options to eat! But as a whole our family struggles with no food allergies, except my intolerance to blue dye, and we eat almost everything. At this point however, in our biweekly group, we encounter a vegetarian, a few gluten free humans, someone who stays away from dairy and a lactose intolerance.
We’ve become pretty sensitive to dietary requirements and I think, quite honestly, it’s something you need to think of as well.


There are REAL LIFE THREATENING consequences to just ignoring allergies.

I was going to say a lot about this but I want to share something my friend Naomi wrote for her page. Naomi has a son with a rare disease that makes it impossible for him to eat certain foods-who better to hear this from than a woman living this daily (I’m sharing this with her permission, however the boys name has been changed!)

“John’s allergy cannot be treated with an epi-pen, but that does NOT mean it is not a life-threatening allergy. On the contrary, there is not a medication that can be administered during a reaction. That is why we wait them out at home, constantly monitoring his blood pressure, alertness, and hydration levels.
– I have had well intentioned friends and family shrug off the allergy, insisting he’ll out grow it or that it’s not that big of a deal if he gets ahold of something. To put it rather bluntly, while well intentioned, those people are wrong – and typically speaking out of a selfish desire for things to be easy.
– Food labels are checked religiously. Even if it’s something we’ve had before. Recipes can be changed.
– Anytime John* starts crying for an unexplained reason, I immediately prepare for a reaction. If there is even the remotest concern that he’s been exposed to something, I watch him like a hawk for an extended period of time. Because it takes 2-3 hours for the reaction to even begin.
– Anytime John has a food he has not had before, we have to trial it, giving small amounts building up to a regular serving. His trigger foods cross the ‘normal’ pattern of 2 or more allergies being in the same ‘family’ (ie oats and rice or chicken and turkey). Thankfully, we have not experienced any other trigger foods, but we are keenly aware they could exist.
– We don’t know if he will outgrow this or not. Many – even most – children do. Others do not. When it comes time to trial the trigger foods, you can trust and believe the whole house will be on high alert.
– It is terrifying to know that your child could get ahold of something that could send him into shock and threaten his life. It is heartbreaking to know that your children are going without foods they’d like to have because it just isn’t safe. It is expensive to make everything allergy-safe (for not just John, but Paul’s more typical igE allergy to dairy and gluten). It is exhausting to be on high alert anywhere but at home. It is isolating trying to keep your kid safe. It is sobering to know that while this is challenging, there are other children with this rare disease who are allergic to ALL foods.”

(You can find more writing by Naomi on her blog: Living out 127.)

I want you to take a moment and reread that. This is something families with allergies must go through every day, before attending a meeting or church function. I find people who are so quick to shrug off peanut allergies, not recognizing all the while that their choices could very well be life or death for the people coming. Kaycee, at Kaycee Simpson, brings another good point to light: labeling! “One suggestion I would have is for people to put together a little place card, even if it’s on a 3×5 card with the basic ingredients used in that dish, especially if it has nuts in it.I am absolutely in love with this idea and intend to begin making it happen for out church dinners. 

Beyond what we offer for food, we must be mindful of meals for those who struggle with issues such as diabetes. A friend points out: “My husband is diabetic and so we can’t do any snacks or appetizers. Or for example, we go to a wedding and the cake is served later, after the meal so my husband can’t have any because he already ate and have his medicine…..I guess for us it’s more about timing than anything.”

Wow. I never would have even considered that, despite having family members who do struggle with diabetes. Timing is so important when it comes to meals and fellowship. I woul even add in that when catering to small children as well, it’s important to be mindful of timing. While there’s not a surefire way to remedy this, it is something to take into consideration.

Food is meant to be a social experience, as I said, we use it with fellowship constantly. Emily, at The Joyful Stepmom, adds, “I’m Celiac and must eat gluten free. I understand not providing for every single possibility.. But food is a very social experience. When I sit at a social dinner and just sip my water and pass on the meal, I”m fine. I get it. But I’ve found it’s awkward and upsetting for those around me. Providing for dietary needs doesn’t help just the person, it caters to the overall atmosphere of all guests and the experience in general.” 

I love her last line so much. It’s true: I don’t want to sit next to someone who can’t enjoy meals with me. I want to partake in eating for fun, laughing and enjoying our time together. I would feel so uncomfortable if a person sitting next to me couldn’t eat anything from a long table of potluck meals because no one made a meal that was vegetarian or skipped out on cheese. I’ve been that person-and it’s not fun.

Providing food that meet needs at your event isn’t that hard.

As Phylicia from Phylicia Delta points out, it’s not that hard to simply provide some veggie plates to go along with the food. “We eat Paleo, so basically meats and veggies, but it has been super hard (sad even) to attend events that are loaded with carbs, carbs, carbs and not a vegetable in sight! (Baked beans are not a vegetable)”. Ask someone to pick up a veggie or fruit platter instead of making yet another pasta. Chances are people in your group would be happy to help out and someone will be so grateful that you did it.

So I urge you. Before planning your next get together, before just showing up with a pasta salad, take into consideration if there are options for those people who cannot or choose not to eat certain foods. It will be appreciated-and you are creating a space where people feel more welcome and loved. 

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G.I.F.T-A Lent Challenge for Kids

I know this post is coming a little late, as Lent began two days ago, but I almost didn’t write it at all! I wasn’t sure if anyone would really have much interest in our Lent challenge…and I let doubt come in and push it off. Then a few sisters encouraged me to share what we are doing and I decided, LET’S DO THIS.

What is Lent?

Before this year, all Lent was to me was a season where I pretended I was going to give up breadchipssugarsoda, anything that was “bad”, for a season. When I was younger our church would mention it and we would all sign up. I would proudly tell my Mema exactly what I would give up for Lent and she would tell me hers. To be completely honest, Mema usually won. In my childhood mind, Lent was a time to “win.”

Then we came up to my years struggling with an eating disorder and I’m ashamed to say, I used Lent as a means to restrict food even more than usual. I would purposefully abstain from bad foods. I would claim to be fasting different things that had higher calories. I talk about how my eating disorders most lethal weapon was taking away my faith.

My favorite post I’ve read on the matter of what Lent is for can be found on Arabah Joy’s blog. I was written by a woman I follow on Instagram who writes at the blog Joy Pursued. The post can be found here.

My basic understanding when I began writing this challenge up for our children was this: Lent was a time to prepare our hearts for the gift of Jesus and Resurrection Sunday. It was 40 days to reflect the time Jesus spent in the desert, being tempted by the devil yet never faltering nor failing us.

I really wanted to make clear this was a season to prepare our hearts for Jesus, not to simply give up something we kind of like. 

So I dove began praying over what we could do for those forty days as a family that would bring us closer to Jesus. And in my moments of prayer, words began to stick out to me. Fasting, of course. There’s no denying that fasting is a real way to connect with Jesus. Prayer. Loving others. Serving others. Giving. Being thankful.

I wracked my brain to try and find a way to put this all into a little box and pretty metaphor and in the midst of prayer it came to me: GIFT.

What is GIFT?

GIFT, very simply, stands for Giving, Intercession, Fasting, and Thankfulness.  Upon reading more posts about Lent, the more I felt convicted to talk about these four areas for Lent.

Each night at dinner, I am presenting the challenge for the next day. The challenges that are daily are based on giving, intercession, and fasting. Each night at dinner we will also be sharing what we are thankful for and writing it on our thankful board.

Why Giving? Why Intercession? Why Fasting? Why Thankfulness?

The Gospel is very clear about giving: time, money, our spiritual gifts…it tells us all to give. Whether we are tithing or volunteering, we are to be cheerful givers. While my children are currently “okay” givers, especially when it comes to material things, I want to raise them to give as much as they can. I want to raise them to believe that their discomfort is acceptable as long as they are giving to others whom they love dearly. And I want them to understand that they should love every other person in this world dearly. Our giving challenges are focused in all forms of giving.

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17

But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24

I have also felt a huge push towards prayer, or intercession the past few months. I’ve read a few books on the matter lately and have felt so called to cultivate a healthy prayer life. In that I want to create a healthier prayer life for our children as well. While I believe we are okay with giving, I fear we have not pushed prayer as much as we should. We hear of the stories where Jesus went out on his own and sat in prayer, we hear of the power a healing prayer, we are told He hears our every prayer. Yet here we sit, not using this wondrous gift as much as we should. Our prayer challenges are all about praying for others, praying together, and praying in intercession.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4: 6-7

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Fasting is a spiritual tool that has also come to my mind and heart recently, but in different ways. I’ve been trying to inentionally fast from television during the late hours I’m not sleeping, from my phone while we are all together as a family, and I’m planning a fast to try and hear God’s voice clearer later this month. The fasting we are doing as a family will not come a full food fast or anything like that. We will be fasting from television, snacks, saying unkind things and the likes.

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6: 16-18

And our final challenge is in thankfulness. We try very hard to talk about how thankful and grateful we are each day, but we have fallen off the wagon recently. So much so Josh and I have had a few talks about what we could do to help reinstate our usual dedicaton to thankfulness. This Lenten season came at the perfect time. Each day we will be writing down what we are thankful for on our board.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34


Our list is pretty great, all of it, but to save some space, I only want to share a few of the ideas we are using. I hope upon reading these you come up with some ideas that work really well for your family as well!

Pray for a leader in the church

Clean the church

Pray for someone you don’t like

Make cards for shut ins in the church

Research a charity

Pray for the charity

Donate money to the charity (These three are my favorites I think. I cannot wait to see my kids research injustices and choose who to help)

Pray for our pastor

Pray for our church family

No television for the day

No snacks

Give up something you love for 24 hours

Pray for someone you don’t like

Don’t say anything mean today

Smile at people you meet

Clean up an outside area

Help with a chore at home

Clean up our yard

Make cookies and give them to people

Collect loose change and donate it

Donate clothes or toys

Pick out a canned food to donate

What are you doing for Lent? Are you giving something up? Are you recognizing it with your children?

The Church is Failing Foster and Adoptive Parents

The Church is Failing Foster And Adoptive Parents. 

I’ve been living the foster care and adoption life for over a decade. I’ve been a Christian my entire life and with the exception of what I fondly call “the dark years“, I’ve been a pretty active church goer in that time. At this point in my life, I can’t remember the last Sunday we didn’t go to church. Our weekends are filled with fellowship functions and the two minute drive from our home to the church is one made frequently throughout the week.

When we began fostering I found a world of wondrous support systems online-both through Facebook and Instagram. If you’re ever considering foster care or adoption, I truly recommend getting on Instagram and connecting. It’s such an amazing system of kind words, hard love, and people who truly understand.

What lacked wonderfulness, however, was this underlying theme I kept hearing in Facebook groups or Instagram chats.

The church is failing foster and adoptive parents.

I don’t say that lightly. I don’t say it as a hard truth-maybe you belong to a church that does amazing things for its foster and adoptive families; I know I do. But as a general comment, as a person who has lived immersed in the world of foster care for over a decade, as an observer of so many Christian friends feeling unwelcome or uninvited or unloved-the church needs to step its act up.
As I mentioned, I’ve been pretty lucky overall to be blessed with a church that has some active ministering going on in the life of adoptive and foster families–but we are far from perfect. In hopes of not missing any needs that should be addressed, I went out and asked in a few groups, on my Facebook page and Instagram what people thought their church did well or the church needed to know about foster care and adoption. I wanted to share some thoughts with you from them as well as from me, in hopes this may be shared with leaders and deacons in your churches. Foster and adoptive parents are parents, like any other set, but we face certain difficulties that are very different from being birth parents. (Which, I am both, so I see both sides!)

What do foster and adoptive parents want the church to know or what do we need the church to do better? I find it can be broken into three main categories: inclusion, education, and support. 

Inclusion

We all have heard that inclusion matters. For foster children, most of whom are in foster care at no fault of their own, it’s so hard to deal with these moments when they don’t feel like they belong-even within their own church. For foster or adoptive parents, who may feel unsure of their standings with friends or family because of this choice-they need to feel the church welcomes them as well.
“But we don’t make our foster or adopted families feel unwelcome!” I know, you’re horrified I would accuse any church of that. You may feel like you’re being inclusive; you say hi to the foster family or adoptive parents in church. You invite them to bible studies. You and your church are so not part of the problem in this area. But…hear me out.

How do the volunteers in your church work? In my state and others, before leaving our children with an adult the adult must be checked of a criminal background. If your church doesn’t do a background check before allowing someone to volunteer with their children(something as a foster/adoptive mother AND previous teacher will never understand): it is not being inclusive.
Is there a special needs ministry in your church? While foster and adopted children by no means are the only children with neurodivergent minds, there’s a high percentage who are. Beyond the occurrences of neurodiversity that happens naturally, there’s also sometimes traumas, experience with behaviors that are destructive and dangerous, or exposure in the womb. A special needs ministry, along with the training that would take place with it, is necessary to include your blended families into the congregation and church family. Even if it seems small, if one child is able to experience Jesus better-is that not what being the church is all about? Go into your churches and talk about the policies surrounding special needs kids. How do you handle behaviors that are horrifying and completely out of the realm of “normal”? How do you handle trauma?


And speaking of policies-in this day and age, another policy protocol is brought to light: social media. In MA, we are not allowed to post photos of our children’s faces. (We are now, but while you’re fostering you are not). Have your church leaders talked about what to do in the event of a church function-how do they handle the kids who are not able to be photographed and published? What about with volunteers? A strict policy needs to be put into place, acknowledging what is necessary to keep these children safe. And this policy must be shared with any and all volunteers who work with youth.
While there are some areas of inclusivity I mention that are steps beyond the normal treatment of biological newborns being born into the church family, that’s a comment I heard often when asking about it as well. While I’ve never adopted an infant, I have heard a resounding sigh from the adoptive community, that for many people, adding an adopted child was treated so differently than having a biological child. Essentially, the repeated thought shared with me was this, “if your church does it for a new mom who just had a baby, do it for a new family who just adopted one(or an older child as well)!”
All children are children of God and when welcoming new ones into the church-treat them equally! I heard stories of some churches making sure adopted parents got a baby shower as well, setting up meal trains, offering a respite night to foster families. While a baby shower was far outside what I needed with our foster to adopt kids, I can see where it’s a positive experience that really helps adoptive moms feel like any other mom! One thing my church did , that I absolutely ADORED, was allowing us to dedicate our kids after we finalized their adoption. Despite dedication usually happening as an infant, they went out of their way to make sure we’ve done it for all our recent adoptions. That was such a blessing on us.


There are far too many times I’ve heard of families feeling as though they are unable to attend churches long term because these matters haven’t been dealt with by the leaders in the church. Many of the issues I mention above have to do with acceptance and inclusion, but those won’t happen without….

Education.

I cannot stress this enough-the world needs to become more educated on foster care and adoption in general-but the church has an extra burden to educate themselves on these types of families. Period. There’s no room for excuses, justification, or brushing it off. The church needs to place a larger push on educating its leaders, pastors and volunteers on matters that come up within foster care and adoption.

Okay-great for me to say that right? But what does that mean?? What exactly should we educate our leaders and volunteers on?
Well, first you could start off with the basics and just go over some of the vocabulary. There’s many words or letters in child services that it helps immensely to know what they mean when talking to families involved-even the children! My kids knew who their GAL was, but do you know what that even stands for? Does your pastor or youth group leader? In our home, we’re also passionate about birth family positive language and family positive language. It’s important leaders in your church are aware of what those things are.
Education can also go deeper on issues faced specifically by foster care/adopted children. Suicide rates within the adoptive community are high-as well as the risk of sexual abuse. A plan should be in place if a child or teen-or adult-comes to a leader in the church with risky behaviors. Or they disclose facts that need to be reported. Are all your leaders aware of how to report situations or disclosures of abuse or neglect? These things are so important to have into place.
Education on challenges overwhelming our kids are also internal. Children in foster care are more likely to struggle with PTSD, traumatic memories, and mental illnesses. Volunteers must be educated in handling behaviors of all kinds-behaviors that go beyond pushing each other in lines. And the answer to acting out with these behaviors should not equate being unwelcome in the church. This brings it back to the inclusion point.
And at the end of the day, what do we need most?

Support.

Both inclusion and education go a long way in filling in holes where support is lacking. Fighting towards a diverse, understanding, inclusive and well educated group of leaders in the church creates a safe place for adoptive and foster families to go. When those things are covered, we no longer are left worrying about our child in Sunday school or policies to make sure they’re safe. When these needs are met, we are able to relax, share in fellowship, attend church, and gain what church should be about-worshipping Jesus.
There are a few other ways you can support a family during the foster care or adoption process and one I heard a few times is simply financial support. As the church-we are CALLED to help these children. If a church is unable to give money, at least it could step up and help fundraise.


As I mentioned in the inclusivity part, throw a baby shower. See what size clothes are needed for foster parents, especially if they have a high turnover rate. Start a meal train. I’ll be completely authentic here and say, making food after giving birth is nothing. Making food with two completely new to me children who tried to run away?? So much harder. Offer support in that manner.
Offer support through love, compassion, and just being there for a foster or adoptive parent.

I’ve said this before, I will say it again, this can be a really lonely path to walk. I have no doubt in my mind God put me here and is the guiding backbone to having chosen foster care and adoption. I know He called us to this lifestyle. And I am blessed by it immensely-it is only through the foster care system I have loved six children, four forever, and I count everyday with them as a blessing from Him.
As I mention in “10 Things Moms of Kids with Mental Illnesses Want You To Know,” not all of those days are easy and some of them feel so isolating. We need your support. We need you to be willing to hear us cry over things you cannot comprehend, pray for things you do not understand us requesting prayers for, accepting our families just as they are that day-because some of us change day to day.
Offer to take a foster or adoptive mom out to coffee. Ask if you can be CORI’d so you can be a person who is able to sit with them while a rare date night occurs.


Go to court with them and hold their hand on court days. Do you want to know the hardest day of my entire life as far as foster care goes? It’s not the day that we were told we were not approved to adopt a little girl we had fallen in love with. It’s not the day we watched a little boy be reunified, despite knowing it was for the best, watching our kids hearts being broken. It’s the day I had to testify; completely alone in a courtroom and feeling like no one was there for me, on my side, or even understood how hard it was to say what had to be said despite loving everyone involved in the case so darn much.

But is any of this the church’s responsibility?

I believe it absolutely is. In our walk to be Christlike, let’s not allow our comfort to come before helping those amongst us. Let us not quietly stand by the sidelines but dive headfirst into relentless love and unwavering support.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

How can you help a foster or adoptive family in your church today? What can you do to encourage your church into taking some of these action steps? Has your heart been moved to push for changes?

FBCNA Winter Wonderland Dance

FBCNA Winter Wonderland!

In case you missed it last year, our church has started having an annual dance every year to get together in fellowship and share fun times together. This is our second year and the second year I’ve helped create this event! We have so much fun and I just wanted to share some tips and tricks, as well as a very easy and cheap tutorial for games to play while at the dance.

We set up a few games that we had going during the night. I had read about a marble game where you sucked it with a straw on Pinterest. I’m not sure how anyone made it work-we struggled to get the marble into the air and move it from place to place. I acknowledge failure on my part (I’ve been told it was pompom balls or *THE HORROR* cotton balls…so now I get it).
Not shockingly, a game where you simply guessed a number and possibly won a bunch of candy and a water bottle was a hit. We also did a newlywed game, which I played instead of hosting this year, and that was a huge hit as well!

But the real winner? The heart shaped game of pong I created earlier that day. It was super easy to make, cute and cheap, and a TON of fun.
When I say cheap-I mean cheap. I ran to the local dollar store and bought a white poster board, 24 cups, and two things of colorful tape. Like any good crafter(I’m not) I had a glue gun on hand(still in the packaging from when I ordered it at Halloween time) and I added a few sparkly hearts and blue for decorations(I stole these from my children).
And any doubt it will be to difficult?! NOT AT ALL! I simply put the cups in the shape I wanted to glue them down and one by one, went along gluing. The shape was simply a pyramid, like the pong you played in high school, with two cups at the top to create the heart like feel.
Voila! Super easy, super simple, and super fun! My one recommendation is this-I couldn’t find ping pong balls so I borrowed some of the babies ball pit balls and they were a little too big. But other than that-no regrets. It seemed to be fun for everyone involved. We didn’t add any liquids to the cups, not because we’re the kind of Baptist that doesn’t drink, but mainly because it was indoors and below freezing outside. You could easily add water for some outside, summer fun.


Our decorations were again 100% thanks to the amazing Jen Solak. I’m forever amazed by her creativity and talent.

A few tips?

1. If there’s going to be a dinner part, make sure you’re providing options for the people involved who have food allergies or sensitivities. We make sure to take care of our gluten free and allergic friends and family every year and I know I’ve been told they’re very thankful to not have to worry about it.

2. Triple check EVERYTHING with the venue before hand. We had some really cute water bottles-and then found out we couldn’t bring our own water in.

3. A suggestion I really want to put into place next year-nanny share! A good number of our church family has kids and there were a few couples who couldn’t come because of baby sitter situations. I want to suggest a few central houses with a few baby sitters at each!

4. Use Spotify Premium! Seriously, this isn’t a paid ad-it’s just something that helped so much! We had a microphone, a speaker and Spotify Premium. All suggestions were played, no extra DJ cost. It was awesome.

5. HAVE FUN! Y’all, we can get so caught up in trying to make sure everything looks perfect and has the perfect feel and everyone is taken care of…just have fun. Especially if you’re one of the dance planners.

I cannot wait until next year but for now, I’m just basking in the glory of another great dance-and feeling thankful thankful thankful to the people who put in the effort to make it work!

Why & How

Why and How to Share Your Testimony

Every so often, we get a testimony Sunday at our church. This is a Sunday where members of our congregation come and share their testimonies. We also have the Teen Challenge come every few months and they share their stories as well, something I mentioned in Four Things My Church Does Right. These Sundays come and we hear testimonies of our wonderful Father and all He has helped these people overcome, survive, and conquer.

Don’t tell my pastor, but that might be my favorite Sunday of the month!

As long as I can remember, others sharing their story of salvation and redemption has sat on my heart much stronger than many other things. I sometimes feel even more connected to testimonies in the here and now than I do to the testimonies of redemption and greatness in the Bible. (Though those are so worth reading as well…I mean PAUL Y’ALL) God has played such a role in each and every believers life and being allowed the privilege to hear how He has affected others is something I am so honored to do.
Hearing how others have experienced Gods goodness and great power, listening to stories of His faithfulness, tales of hope, praise, renewal and brokenness-these are just a few beautiful parts of a persons testimony. 
One of my favorite parts of testimonies are that they don’t always have a clear before and after, but often show the continuous and steadfastness of Gods love. Just because you accept Jesus as your lord and savior, life isn’t always pretty and perfect afterwards.
Please don’t think I doubt the miraculous power of God; I know He is capable. But the choice to walk in the faith doesn’t always mean a sudden or complete healing. Sometimes you’re still dealing with your mental illness. Sometimes, your addictions, whether to drugs, food, alcohol, sex, whatever, are still present and are present for years to come. As humans, we all also have the terrible ability to stumble, turn our backs on Jesus, and ignore the Holy Spirit at work within us. Our testimony is a never ending, always changing part of who we are in Christ.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel‬ ‭36:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

That’s an amazing part of our different stories and sharing them. Our testimonies are not always simply “I chose Jesus”. It’s the lifelong walk with the Holy Spirit walking inside us as we fight to keep Jesus at the center of our life. It’s picking up our cross, where Jesus left it, all our sins already forgiven and the burden of them taken from us, pointing to The Lord as we share our testimony. 


So, why share your testimony?

I believe in two huge reasons to share your testimony. Number one being very simple-your story does not belong to you.
God has written your story out and He is in charge of your testimony, your destiny, your life. It’s only fair to share it in respect, giving the glory of who you are today to Jesus. You were given this life and God can use your testimony. To resist sharing it takes away from those around you.
Sometimes I think Christians feel like their story doesn’t show enough glory to Jesus, so they don’t share their story. They have been Christian since birth, there’s no huge turning point…it’s a story that won’t help anyone. I argue that’s not true at all. Even the simplest stories may touch a persons life.
I also think some people are hesitant to share their story for the opposite reason; they feel their stories are too intense or they have shame over their stories. Now I get this. I truly do. I often wonder how many of our church members would be horrified to hear how low my rock bottom was. But isn’t that even more of a testament to God’s power? Look how low I was-look how far I had fallen. It’s such a humbling reminder that no matter how far you wander from Jesus, He will still be there the day you walk back. 

Your story, your life, your faith is all created by God and you should listen when He pushes you to share it.

The second reason? You never know who is listening. 
One of the best parts about talking about your testimony is possibly touching someone who is in a place you have been. I had the blessing once of telling a part of my story on my blog and a few friends coming forward and telling me they had been struggling with something very similar.
God gave you your story. He may put you in another’s life with that story to share with them and help lead them back to Him. He may put a child in your life who needs to hear it gets better and Jesus gives you the hope in that. He may have you sitting next to someone, in the pew near by, who needs to hear how you’ve healed. That is why I choose to continuously share my testimony. 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

How to share your testimony?

In your church. If your church does a testimony service, ask them if you can share your story. Whenever someone begins to talk about Gods goodness and salvation and renewal, tell them about yours. Don’t fear the judgment of man if you share this story-the ones who will change their opinions on you because of how you sin are not the ones who matter. The One who forgave those sins and the person who may find the courage to change their ways as well-they’re the ones who are important in this storyline.

In Facebook groups or on your page. I’ll admit it now, I know some people find me annoying because I often talk about how far I’ve come or my kids have come, by the grace and loveof Jesus. But again-I share these stories because God puts it on my heart to let people see the changes He can make in lives.

With your friends or small groups. I am a big fan of sharing your testimony with your friends or small groups within the life of the church. Within our small groups, we may come to find others who have seen what we’ve seen-who need encouragement and mentoring to keep moving towards God’s Will in their life. I certainly find it easier to talk to someone who has been in similar spots as I have been in.

Share on someone’s blog!(or make your own!) I love blogging-duh, right? I think it is such a blessing to have the ability to share your testimony to the big wide world, to people who connect with where you’ve been, to show how truly AMAZING our God is. The feeling of “I’m not alone” is an amazing one. The feeling of “I’m not alone” followed by “I have this great power who died for me to ensure I am never alone”? That is other worldly. If you want to start a blog, as a hobby, this post is really great at helping you do just that. You never know who you will find reading and connecting with you. You never know who you may assist in finding their way to Jesus.
I challenge you-find a way to share part of your testimony today. Let others know what God had done for you and live so immersed in His Word and Light others are forced to ask how you live in such a way.

How will you share parts of your testimony?