Category: family/parenting

Every Good & Perfect Gift…Our Daughter’s Marriage

Raising a child up to leave home is one of the most glorious, painful oxymorons of life. Parents are handed a soft, sweet-smelling, beautiful creature, perfectly helpless and perfectly captivating. They pour their time, love, energy, tears and prayer into that gift and beg the Lord to protect her, lead her, and give her good gifts in her life.

Then He does. And then with the same fervor and tenacity with which we held on to that beautiful child and our hopes for her, we must let her go. And we must rejoice in doing it, for it is as it should be.

We are given a gift, we invest everything, then we let go. Hard, but right.

We gave our daughter to her husband Saturday. I’ve talked about the process of letting go, but all I’ll say now is that I watched on this transformation of two lives becoming one with perfect peace and a happiness that bubbled over. They shared their hearts with each other, Kyle promising to lay down his life for Bria just as Christ has done for the church, and Bria expressing her gratitude to Kyle for this sacrificial love, already demonstrated, that makes her feel safe enough to give herself to him forever. There was such sweetness and sincerity and I think every guest was awed just a little by it. It was so pure, so purposeful and so perfect. God’s grace.

I thought I would be a puddle of tears and I barely teared up. God was so gracious to give me the gift of sheer enjoyment and rejoicing. I rejoice because my daughter and my son-in-law are pure-hearted followers of Christ. And not much can go wrong from that start.

And truly, all I could think as I watched Bria and Kyle beam at each other is,

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

And I praised Him for this gift to us all and for the gift of His Son, reflected in the glorious institution of marriage.

(I wanted to share a few pics. You can click on an image to enlarge it.)

Photography by Chandler Farms Photography

To My Children, On Gratitude

From a couple of years ago…thoughts on Thanksgiving.

Bria, Ashton, Alexa, Avalee, Brooks, Mallie, Kyla, Ellia & Jax,

If there is one trait in this life that will give you a rich, fulfilling one, it is GRATITUDE.

The ability to see the beauty in simple pleasures; the ability to let what you have blind you to the things you don’t.

Gratitude is knowing that God is enough, no matter what your circumstances.

Gratitude is not taking your life for granted. It is remembering that a healthy body is a gift, a warm house is not a right, and food at every meal is a luxury to most of the world.


Children, I won’t apologize to you because you don’t have all the technological gadgets your peers do. I am not sad that we can’t buy you your own car when you turn sixteen, or that you are saving your money to buy a special thing you’ve been wanting.

From my observation of the world these forty years, this will help you, not harm you.

Gifts are nice when they are gifts, but they can be too much. So much that you forget, and take for granted, and become ungrateful and feel entitled.

I love you too much for that. I praise God with the psalmist for having “neither too little nor too much”. I thank Him for daily bread and I want you to grow up doing the same.



I want you to find contentment in simplicity, looking to the relationships around you for your deepest joy.
And I want to thank you SO MUCH, that you prefer people over prosperity. Lots of people worry about our younger children taking something away from our older ones, but not once have you worried about that.


You have reminded us that they add something to your lives. While the others worry, you’ve even asked for more siblings…oh the purity and rightness of a child’s thoughts! That we would be able to think like you do!


Gratitude is so easily robbed in our culture! We live the largest irony in stating that “money doesn’t make you happy” and then sacrificing our lives to disprove our theory.

So, I pray this Thanksgiving season that you would hold on to gratitude. Be thankful for every sunrise, every warm bowl of soup, every night your Daddy comes home, for every clean item of clothing in your closet, for peace, when others are at war….be thankful, and even if it were all taken away, tune your hearts to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

















Raising Boys Into Men: Tend the Field

I think we don’t look enough into our little boy’s face and see the man, or into our daughter’s and see the woman. Enjoying and celebrating their childhood is normal and good, but it can be too easy to hover there, forgetting the goal, forgetting to grow them up, forgetting they are men and women in the making, even now.

Stephen Mansfield’s book, Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men, (run, and do not walk, to Amazon to buy this book) has rekindled a vigor in me to raise men, reminding me of how desperately our society depends on it. Mansfield, a brilliant writer and a godly man, gives four “maxims” of manhood.

One of them is this: “Men tend their fields.”

Mansfield explained that he was a bad defensive player in football until one of his genius coaches taught him an important life lesson. He drew a box on the field and told him, “This is your territory. Don’t let anyone in here. Guard it, protect it. It’s yours.” Once, when he let a player through with the ball, the coach told him to meet him on the field the next cold, November morning. When they met, the coach handed Mansfield a pair of scissors and told him he wanted him to “mow” his patch. He said if he took care of it, he would be more likely to guard it. It took Mansfield a week or so to cut all the blades of grass in his patch of field. The plan worked and Mansfield said he became obsessive about that patch. No one ever crossed it again.

Real men own their territories (whatever that is, in each season of life). They guard it, take responsibility for it, care for it, protect it, nurture it and love it.

It’s action. Men do. Real men act like men.

And it shouldn’t come as a surprise, that if we don’t teach them to act like men now, they likely won’t suddenly turn into men as adults.

To tend fields, they must be given fields. From a young age, we can get them practicing responsibility for their fields in their bedrooms, their hygiene, their schoolwork and their chores or jobs. As they become men and learn how to take responsibility for their fields, they grow into men who will do likewise with their families.

We can’t coddle them, tend their fields for them or cushion them from consequences. To do that is to castrate them and set them toward failure. We have too many men who don’t know what it means to have a fierce loyalty to his family, understanding the buck stops with him, because he was never taught the importance of tending his field.

There is a gross misunderstanding by feminists and the feminist-minded that take-charge men are bullies. Some males are bullies, but those aren’t men. (Raising Men in a Man-Hating World)

Real men don’t abdicate or dictate, or wait on someone else or shift blame when things go wrong, or become apathetic. They take charge, they own their responsibility and they nurture those in their care. They emulate Christ who described himself as a shepherd. He owned his field. He tended his flock. The call to men is still the same.

If we don’t have a proper understanding of what a man is supposed to be, we raise our boys wrong. I am challenged to parent with the end in mind. To build habits in my little boys that will grow and serve them in manhood. Do you realize that our work now will greatly impact their wives and children?

A whole generation depends on our vigilance.


What Parenting Really Is (Because We’re Not Perfect)


This is my sweet daughter. My first born who will marry the love of her life in 33 days. It’s both glorious and gut-wrenching, as I’ve written about.

Preparing to turn loose of one of your children forces a lot of soul-searching. There are always regrets. That’s normal. (I wish I had spent more time on X.)

It is surreal to walk into her bedroom and see it being dismantled. The place where she has been almost every night of her life for over twenty years is about to be empty. (Deep breath.) And a whole lot more hard stuff I’ll refrain from writing.

But yes, it causes me to look back over the twenty years with her at the joy and the time that seemed to fly too quickly. One thing I’ve realized the older I am, is that you really don’t ever “get” this parenting thing. I mean you do, but it’s always changing. What you need as you mother little ones is not the same thing you need to handle the deep questions of your adult children. Nor is it what you need to carefully handle the emerging ones as they grow into their own independence.

As Bria and I have more heart-to-heart talks lately, I know I made mistakes. In my zeal as a first-time-mom, I probably did what many first-time-moms do and expected more than I should. But now I get to look at her and as she gives me enormous grace for my imperfections, I assure her that she, too, will make mistakes. There is no perfect parenting. And that’s OK and normal.

You need to know that: there is no perfect parenting.

What there can be, though, is deliberate parenting, and extending grace to your children when they mess up the way you hope it is extended to you when you mess up. I don’t mean chucking authority and abdicating our responsibility to train and guide them, but to do it with a tenderness and understanding so they know, no matter what in life, we’ve got their backs. Children need that kind of security.

I’m learning about that grace…how to give it to myself as well, and how to give others the benefit of the doubt the way I hope they give it to me.

That’s what walking through this life is. Learning, growing, grace. Being deliberate but being real. Expecting much, and extending much.

I’ll probably walk through this thing nine more times. This is just the beginning and I’m thankful for that grace, that I can learn and hopefully improve as a mom.

And I see God’s grace in the lives of my children, that even despite our mistakes, He is making it right, renewing our strength each day, and allowing us to see the fruit of our labor.

Parenting is little more than being tirelessly intentional, admitting when we’re wrong, asking forgiveness, getting back up and going at it again. It’s keeping our eyes on the goal–seeking first the Kingdom of God and ushering our children into that chief pursuit alongside us.


To My Friend, On Seasons of Change

Winds of change: my daughter and her fiance, Kyle

We might as well just get some things out in the open. It will make life so much easier for both of us.

I know life is about change and that some change is very good, but it’s still change and so, can I just say, “I don’t always like it”?

And I see that your life is changing too–that’s just how life works–but I’m guessing that sometimes you don’t like it too, but maybe you’re just smiling because everyone else is and maybe, you just want to say, “I don’t always like it.”

You and I, we’ve built our lives around rhythms and seasons and we grow in the cadence of an ordinary day. Like sunrises and sunsets, our days wrap us comfortably in their habits and routine.

But wait, the seasons are changing. Our routines are getting interrupted by driver’s licenses and engagement rings and now a reading of “Goodnight Moon” isn’t quite enough to hold everyone’s attention. Can we just sit again on the floor, all of us, and stay there?

No. The answer is, “No, we can’t.” Because a life that doesn’t ebb and flow becomes stagnant. A routine that doesn’t stretch and change is a routine that prevents people from growing.

The truth is, I don’t like change, but a parent who wants healthy children must be flexible (and selfless) enough to bend with the inevitable. Do I want what is good for my children, or do I want to keep myself comfortable?

So if you see me crying as I plan a wedding or watch my son growing into a man, know that I know this is all good and right. Change just hurts sometimes. And it’s OK to cry.

And when I see you looking wistfully back at a nursery full of toddlers, I’ll understand your tears, and gently nudge you on, the two of us reminding each other that life is full of good things, even the change.

“I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth.”

If King David Had an I-Phone (Technology Threatens Creativity)

We mused over the Psalm of David this morning, and I stopped mid-sentence, because that’s when it came to me, and said to my kids: “Aren’t you glad David didn’t have an I-phone!”

Imagine it: Selfies with sheep. Status updates about how bored he is. Tweets about what a rough life he has. No doubt photos of the lion he killed WITH HIS BARE HANDS, the perfect makings of a narcissistic hot-head.

Despite all that we’ve gained with fast-paced technology, I’m afraid much has been lost. Having the world of information in the palm of our hands, alerting us to every message, update and Tweet, tempting us to record each moment instead of live it, does something tragic to our creative side: it distracts it away.

Not only are we too distracted to create and produce meaningful things, we lose the very ability as the world of instant, fast and byte-sized, short-circuits the mental inertia and stamina great creations require.

King David produced some of the most magnificent literary works in the world because he had time, quietness and focus. Those are important things. Important enough to fight for in this era where “newer and better” fiercely compete.

Perhaps expression and creativity will simply evolve and adapt to this new challenge. But still I wonder if the great works like the Psalms will become fewer and farther between.

My challenge to you as a parent, as I combat this technology over-load myself, is that we would resist the pressure to let our children hop on the hamster wheel of social media, especially at young ages, in an attempt to give them plenty of room to create, think and become. They won’t die without a device, or with hefty restrictions, or whatever you choose. They WILL thank you when they’re older, and they recognize what a gift they have been given by your taking.

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