Happy 21st Birthday Courtney

Birthdays are a BIG event in our home ūüôā ¬†I love to celebrate life and today we celebrated the life of Courtney who turned 21, she is gift to our family. ¬†So how do we celebrate birthdays? We have we several traditions. ¬†Some of our birthday traditions include the “birthday person” getting to pick what they want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and eating on the “You Are¬†Special” red plate. ¬†As our girls have grown they can also pick a favorite¬†restaurant. ¬†We play the¬†Birthday Song¬†by the Beatles and dance together. ¬†Lastly, to honor the person we share what we appreciate about them as the spoken word breathes life. ¬†

What family traditions does your family have? These are the glue that shape your family by creating a sense of unity, warmth and closeness. Traditions create memories that fill your mind with belonging, peace, love, joy, and security. 

It’s hard to believe 21 years have¬†already¬†gone by so Courtney in honor of your special day I want to share twenty-one things I appreciate about you.¬†

0) You believe in others and encourage them. ¬†You challenged me to blog more often and said, “everyone has something to share.” So here I go ūüôā

1) You are wise 

2) Your love for Jesus SHINES brightly because you put Him first

3) You love your family & friends well, thus you are loyal

4) You have a way about you that makes everyone feel that they are really important

5) You are a gifted listener

6) You don’t take sides, and know there are two sides to every situation. As Cayley said, “she listens and then will respond so what do you think you should do?” “Do I need to hear this or should you go to the person?”

7) You are a peacemaker

8) Wow! you are so creative musically and artistically 

9) You are enthusiastic 

10) You are passionate 

11) You know who you are spiritually and operate in that truth

12) You are a learner thankfully as you are reading about a book weekly

13) You are a gifted writer

14) You are adventurous and go where God is leading you even when it might not make sense to others

15) You are a Jesus follower not a people pleaser

16) You go deep with a few verses trying to be everything to everyone

17) You understand there are seasons in life

18) You are a giver of life by speaking life into people, even people you don’t know. ¬†I still remember the first time I was with you and you went up to someone you didn’t know to tell them how precious they were to God. ¬†It brought tears to my eyes.

19) You are not afraid to share Gods love with others and live to see His name proclaimed

20) You are beautiful inside and out.  Your smile is so welcoming and breaks down barriers others may have.

21) You are my daughter and I am so proud of all you have become and how you continue to grow more beautiful with each passing year. I Love you and will miss you as you head back to California tomorrow.

Happy 21st birthday, on your actual day with just a few minutes to spare ūüėČ

Do you live in the PEACE that God promises you?



God's Promise


God’s Promise

As moms we tend to worry about our children’s health and safety from the time we conceive them until they are grown adults. When they are young we fear they will catch some sort of illness, run into the road after a ball, fall to their death, etc‚Ķ. Once they learn to drive, a whole new set of fears can encapsulate us especially when they miss curfew.

My older daughters have traveled on various mission trips to places I can only dream about (Africa, India, Albania, Thailand). I could fear they would catch some sort of diseases, that they would encounter hostility from the native people, or fear for their safety etc… Thankfully, years ago, God through various trials had me come to the realization that fear was a sin because ultimately I was not trusting Him. You know what? God does a much better job protecting and caring for our children than we ever could.

Austin had it’s 1st homicide of 2012 right next door to where my daughters have lived for the past three years on King St. which is a nice quite street not to far from the UT campus. They weren’t home New Year’s day as they have been staying with us for the Christmas holidays but imagine the shock of their roommate when detectives woke her early Sunday morning asking questions and then informing her about the murder. Needless to say, the news being so close to them makes them reexamine how they do things such as being alone in the house, being out late at night, etc. I think they need to take healthy precautions but not live in fear as it could paralyze them and rob them of joy.

Last year, while Caryn and Courtney were in India they were in a crazy car accident that could have been life changing and it in ways it was, as they walked away unharmed knowing more personally that God is their protector. Someone said, “I’d rather be in India in the will of God, than in Austin, not in His will.”

I really like Philippians 4:8. It’s my antidote for fear which many years ago would consume me. I wasted lots of time fearing things I didn’t need to be thinking about. Things such as “what if ….” or “if only ….” I like what Linda Dillow, author of Calm My Anxious Heart, has said about fear, “fear is like a rocking chair which rocks back and forth but never gets you anywhere.” When I am living in fear I am not trusting God.

I am thankful that I can trust God with ALL details related to the health and safety of my daughters. I know God is with us in every situation as seen in Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you. Also in Psalm 73:23-24 I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with counsel, and afterwards you will take me into glory.

My heart goes out to the family, friends, and students of this young lady whose life was tragically taken. I am trusting police will quickly find who is responsible and for justice be served. More importantly as moms may we live in the peace God promises us.

Raising Truly GREAT Kids

Last weekend (March 7-8)¬†Jon and I attended a Family Matters conference in San Antonio, lead by Tim Kimmel, called “Raising Truly GREAT Kids.”¬† Great kids is something I think we all desire but is it possible?¬† I believe that it is possible and I appreciated his wisdom and encouragment shared.¬†I will try to share a few highpoints.¬† Visit their web site and I recommend the following resources I have read:

  1. Raising Kids For True Greatness;
  2. Grace Based Parenting;
  3. Little House on the Freeway
  4. plus many others.          

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Psalm 127:1a

Obstacles to Raising Truly Great Kids:

1) The Antagonistic culture we live it.  Many parents encourage their children to grow up to fast through placing an enormous emphasis on:

  • Education
  • Beauty
  • Sports

Parents are raising their children in a society that does not recognize moral absolutes and without moral boundaries parenting is extremely complicated.

Parents are encouraged to embrace the success illusion based on the accumulation of things, accomplishments, and recognition at the expense of close relationships. 

2) Our hurried lifestyles are counter-productive.¬† I’m sure you all would agree that families are under constant stress.¬† Tim Kimmel wrote a great book “Little House on the Freeway” that greatly helped our family when Caryn and Courtney were in grade school.¬† A few wisdom winners we applied:

  • Eating together as a family at least 5 nights a week.
  • Our girls were limited to 2 outside activities which allowed for evening meals together as well as¬†weekends together.¬†
  • We’ve attended either a marriage or parenting conference every other year for the past 20 years.
  • Celebrating each other and special¬†milestones.
  • Reading together as a family.
  • Reading from the “Children’s Story Bible.”
  • and much more.

3) Our ineffective parenting styles mislead us.¬† This was true for us early on as we would buy into a particular parenting philosophy. We learned to listen to the differing philosophies out there¬†but sought¬†God as to¬†what¬†we needed to apply¬†or discard based on each of children’s personality and¬†bent.¬† There are many parenting styles out there such as:

  1. Fear Based parenting.
  2. Shame based parenting.
  3. Image control parenting.
  4. High control (helicopter)parenting.
  5. Duct tape parenting.
  6. Life support or 911 parenting.

4) Our job as parents is complicated¬†with unexpected challenges.¬† Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a book or conference out there with all the answers and a clear job description?¬† Well there is not as I have read many books and learned the need to depend on God for direction and insight.

Raising Truly Great Kids [Grace-based parenting] Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Psalm 127:1a

God desires us to raise children who love Him, live for Him and make an eternal impact in their world.¬† I recently heard someone say,¬† “many young Christian adults never go to the mission field because of their parents.”¬† These parents¬†insist their child needs to get a college degree, then the right job or mate, etc… Often as parents we default into 2 dangerous extremes when it comes to raising children – ¬†legalism or license (over-permissiveness).¬†However, the happy medium is grace based parenting which is a balance between grace and truth; focusing how you do what you do vs. what you do.¬† It is treating your children the way God treats His!¬†

Grace-based parents:

  • Accept children regardless of merit.
  • Serve children’s needs without a sense of obligation.
  • Joyfully recognize their child’s God-given potential and do what they can to develop that potential for God’s glory.¬†

Grace-based parents give their children: 

  • freedom to be different (weird, bizarre, strange, goofy, quirky, etc.)¬†
  • freedom to be vulnerable.¬† Children are allow to express their fears, feelings, inadequacies, short comings, etc. knowing they will be heard.
  • freedom to be candid making it easy for them to voice things that may be troubling their hearts.¬† As a family we would hold weekly staff meetings and at times we would give the girls an opportunity to confess anything weighing upon them without fear of consequences.¬† This was a time to come clean of sin.¬† Also we would ask have we done anything to damage our relationship with you?¬† We desired to keep short accounts and ask forgiveness if necessary.¬†
  • freedom to make mistakes.¬† A grace based home is a place where disappointments are endured, moral setbacks are properly processed, and a relationship is never ended because of sinful actions.¬† When a child is the hardest to love, that is when they need love the most.¬†

This was a video shown that so wonderfully displays grace.    Also read and reflect on the Prodigal son story in Luke and how he was received back.