Over the years our family has served others in various ways. Sometimes it has been only me, heading over to the church to provide childcare for the moms attending the weekly bible study or Wednesday night service. At other times it has been my husband and I together, assisting the leaders for our couples class by helping lead discussions or even filling in for them when they could not make it to a class. We have even served as a family by preparing meals for foster care families, just to ease the dinnertime burden once or twice a month. As moms, we all know how stressful it can be at times just to get a simple meal on the table!
As we march forward into the fall season and upcoming holidays I have been thinking of things our family could do together to serve others. Here are a few ideas I have come up with, and I hope they will be helpful to you!
• Invite a neighborhood family, or family from church, over to enjoy dinner in your home.
• Deliver homemade pumpkin bread to a neighborhood shut-in. Stay and visit a while!
• Take the entire family to an elderly neighbor’s home and rake the leaves in his yard. This will save him time looking for someone to do the job, as well as save money he likely needs for other things!
• Find out if there is needy family in your church and provide Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas gift for the family that they might not receive otherwise.
• Sponsor a child
• Choose one day per week to run errands for a pregnant woman or new mom. She will thank you for it!
• Wash the dishes for you teenage son, even though it is his job to do each day.
• Walk the dog for your daughter.
• Clean out the air conditioning filter for your husband.
• Deliver blankets to a homeless shelter in your area.
• Give a needy family a ‘pounding’, which simply means you gather a group of folks together and each person provides a pound of food. Our church family did this for us when my husband was in college. Not only did it lift a financial burden, it has been a wonderful example of Christ’s love that I have carried with me for nearly 18 years!
Do you have specific ways in which you like to serve others? Please share them with us!
Wendy is a homeschooling mama to five who loves to encourage others along the homeschooling journey. She also considers herself a ‘foodie’ and is always ready to try a new recipe in the kitchen. You will find Wendy writing about homeschooling, food, and other life events on her blog, Following in His Footsteps. She has also recently begun a new venture with Southern Test Kitchen. Be sure to visit and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, too!
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Marriage has become a lost beauty - a lost journey of grace. It isn’t often we are blessed to glean the wisdom from those who honor their covenant vows for many years. We pray that this Journey of Grace – this opportunity to read Lessons Learned over 50 Years of Marriage will encourage you in your walk…..
We celebrated our 50TH anniversary on February 2nd; it has been a wonderful journey. I come to humbly offer some advice that has kept our love alive and our hearts knit together through our “Journey of Grace.” I pray you will heed these Scriptural principles so your love and your marriage will be an example to your children and to those lives you touch through the years.
- A successful marriage requires commitment for a lifetime. Remember you made a vow to God and to your mate.
- Love is a choice.
- Walk in love, walk as children of light, be filled with the Spirit, and submit yourself to him as unto the Lord. Ephesians 6
- Don’t forget your first love. Pursue him like you did before he proposed.
- Memorize and heed 1 Corinthians 13
- Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath (anger). Ephesians 4:26-32, Proverbs 15:1
- Always forgive…it’s always your turn!
- Till the weeds in your garden of love. A marriage is give and take but mostly give.
- Always be best friends.
- Life isn’t always sunshine; learn to survive the storms with the Lord’s help.
- Don’t try to change him. You loved him like he was when you married him.
- Glorify God together. Romans 15:7 “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”
- Agree to wait when you disagree. Don’t insist on always having your way. You aren’t always right! (You are commanded to submit.)
- Don’t share the most intimate or the most controversial issues with your mom or your friends.
- Never override his decisions with your children. Always have a united front!!
- Study the Word like you did for your hardest exam. You need more than a light devotional.
- Memorize the Word. Psalm 119: 11
- Meditate on the Word. Joshua 1:8
- Learn to pray together every day. If you stay in the Word and on your knees, the problems become nonissues.
- Use the Bible as your guide. Psalm 119: 105
- Share your faith. When you tell others about Christ, it is one of the most intimate forms of worship.
REMEMBER: We are engaged in Spiritual Warfare! Satan wants your marriage, your testimony, and your family, but “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Download the FREE Printable –> Journey of Grace
Fruitful Growth in the Faith
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Lord has equipped you to live godly and will empower you to be an example to others. Be sure that you know Christ in a personal way. May the Lord bless you as your continue your journey together. We give the Lord the praise and glory for His goodness to us. We are where we are today because of Christ alone.
Lovingly, Sherry Sturm
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Last month I encouraged you to develop a general vision for the new school year. Leading with vision is the key to family unity, peace, order, and effectiveness. This month, I have some suggestions for fashioning a vision for each member of your family. One of the benefits as you go through the process of discussing vision with others is building relationships. As you listen to their hearts, their dreams, and their desires, and they yours, you grow closer together. This is invaluable for you as a leader because that kind of concern and care adds value to your relationship in the minds of those you are called to serve.
Where there is no vision the people are unrestrained
Proverbs 29:18 indicates that problems arise where there is no vision. Why? Because one of the purposes of vision is to provide restraint. Without vision, each person in your family will come up with his or her own vision on a daily basis. When those visions are not the same, conflict occurs. However, when everyone is agreed upon the vision for the family and also sees how their own personal vision fits in with everyone else’s vision, many conflicts are avoided and peace and unity are the benefits.
Your wife will love it
Some of the most memorable times in our marriage when we were discipling our children were the times Alma and I got away together for a weekend to develop vision for each of the children. My vision for the weekend was to give Alma all the time she wanted to tell me about them. I arranged for a sitter to stay with the kids for about two and a half days. Then I surprised her with the location for our time away together. Usually we went to a Southern California beach city or to a friend’s cabin in the mountains.
The plan was for her to have my undivided attention as she gave her evaluation of each of the children. I took notes. Wow, would it have been much easier had we had an iPad or a laptop computer! I usually took a legal pad and pen to record the important points, both positive and negative. I have to admit it took a great amount of self-restraint to not argue or debate with her. Although I wanted her viewpoint first, often our perceptions weren’t the same (Are we the only ones that have experienced this?). Because I listened first, she was more desirous to hear about my viewpoint afterwards.
The fact of the matter was that she knew the kids better than I did. She lived with them all day, taught them, administrated their activities, and monitored their work and relationships. When I came home in the evenings, we ate and played together, did some chores, and had family devotions before bedtime–hardly a view of real life. I desperately needed her input as we set the vision for each child. As we talked, I was listening for how each child needed to grow in six general areas of life.
We developed vision in six areas of life
One of my visions for our time together was for us to develop vision for each of the children in six areas of life that could be discussed, negotiated, and agreed upon when we returned. Usually it took a day and a half to gather information. I felt a little like a private detective gathering facts on each one. The six areas of life for which we sought vision were these:
• Spiritual: Bible reading, Scripture memory, prayer, heart condition.
• Physical: Exercise routine, sports activities, health.
• Character: Two character qualities were focused on from the list of qualities found HERE
• Relational/loving others: Selflessness vs. selfishness, how they handle offenses, discernment in friendships, and ministry involvement.
• Educational/academic: Course of study, curriculum, who is teaching what?
• Life skills: Listening, typing, finances, service skills, leadership, etc.
As I listened, we noted how the children had grown in each area so we could compliment and encourage them. I also asked the Lord to show two points in each area where they could improve. Of course, all of the ideas were submitted to God’s Word to make sure all the options were biblically based and fit within the overarching principle of loving God and others. Then we developed goals for the next six months.
Develop a Vision for Marriage
One of the blessings of our time together was my getting her view of my life and priorities as well as her getting to hear my perspective of her life. By the time we finished, Alma and I each had a vision for our own lives in the six areas mentioned above. We discussed areas where we had grown as well as areas in which we needed to grow. This was so helpful! We continue to do this in our lives because of the tremendous growth that comes from living with vision. We have benefited in our marriage, in our ministry to others, and in our relationship with God because we have submitted ourselves to the Lord and to each other. Because we discuss our visions together, pray and seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance, we have a basis for unity and direction in our lives that protects us from much division and conflict.
Children must understand and see the vision
Before going home, Alma and I had agreed upon the vision for each member of the family as far as we were concerned. However, our vision concerned more than ourselves. Therefore we met with each child to discuss their vision. We encouraged them in the areas where we had seen growth and advancement. Then we asked their input regarding the six areas mentioned above. Did they think we were on target? Would they like to make any input to the vision? We brainstormed on character projects, who might help them learn specific life skills, relationships they thought needed improvement, the Scripture passages they would study and memorize, books they were going to read, activities, and ministries in which they wanted to participate. When we finished with each one, we were agreed as to the direction we and they were going for the next six months.
Go with the flow
The value of having vision is that it establishes a flow that helps you make decisions. When faced with options or activities that surfaced in the moment, we taught the children to submit themselves to the already agreed upon vision. If it fit within the vision, then it could be considered. If it didn’t, it wasn’t really something to consider–God had already given wisdom for making that decision when He gave the vision. Each Sunday, Alma and I took a few minutes to rehearse the vision and schedule for the week to make sure we didn’t have any conflicts and pray about any changes that needed to be made based on health, stress level, emotional state, and relationship challenges. Our primary goal was to go with the flow of the six month vision.
It’s the direction that counts
Think of where you and your children will be ten to fifteen years down the road if you take small steps each six months. Everyone will mature and grow in the areas where you provide vision. If there is no vision, most people live for themselves. You want to encourage your children to learn to live by vision and realize that vision is a gift from God. It is important not to make your vision a law, but instead, use the vision as a general means of unifying and ordering the next six months’ specific priorities. The specific vision might change, but the general vision doesn’t.
God’s vision is our security
Teaching your children about vision and living according to God’s vision for your lives is important because it provides security. Vision predetermines all action. No one functions without vision. They either adopt the vision of another or they determine their own. Everything flows out of one’s vision. For instance, before an artist even chooses a canvas, much less touches the paint brush to the canvas, the vision is firmly in mind. From the canvas size, to the paint brushes used, to the colors involved–every decision was predetermined by the vision for the painting.
I think vision has such a powerful influence because we are made in God’s image and He functions according to this vision principle. His vision for us predetermines all of His words and actions toward us. Acts 4:27-28 states this principle. “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” The point is that purpose always predetermines actions because it “puts a boundary ahead of time” around the activity. That’s what predestined means. Our confidence and security lie in this wonderful truth: God has predestined us (has a vision for us) to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore all of His actions and words toward us are predetermined by that vision. Nothing can come to us that doesn’t have the purpose of Christ-likeness as the generating principle. God’s vision for us is the source of our security, and when we go with the flow of His vision, we experience harmony, peace, order, and security.
Lead with vision
Will you lead with vision? I hope so. Although my target audience is men, if you are a wife and mother, you can benefit from running the home and the areas for which you are responsible with vision. Having shared Alma’s and my experiences with developing vision, I hope you will seek God for His vision for your lives. I know He will be faithful to meet you if you seek Him humbly and with an attitude of surrender and faith.
Remember that your direction is important. Perhaps to begin with you won’t be able to do everything you wish, but you can take steps today to seek the Lord for vision for today and then walk in it. Some of you have very important decisions to make, and with vision you can avoid much conflict and destruction in your family. As you experience the benefits of leading with vision in the small things, you’ll want to expand your horizons and trust the Lord for more.
By Norm Wakefield, Spirit of Elijah Ministries
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By Kyle McManamy, Apologia
One of the most important lessons I learned during my first year of marriage is that my wife and I can interpret the very same thing very differently. Sometimes this results in a shared joke, as in what “running late” means or how many books are too many for our overburdened shelves. (I think the idea of “too many books” exists only in theory.) But the truth is that we often see a shared experience differently because we come to it with different dispositions, backgrounds, personality types, love languages, or learning styles.
This dynamic is not unique to my marriage. All of us typically focus on certain parts of reality while overlooking others, often leaving us with a skewed, limited, and maybe even false interpretation of people and events. Consider how we tend to think of Jesus Christ.
My pastor occasionally refers to people in ministry as priests, prophets, or kings. The “priests” are those who gravitate toward serving in caregiving, nurturing, and supportive roles. These are the folks who first to think to cook a casserole for a neighbor or step forward to make newcomers welcome. The “prophets” call the people to Bible study, deeper commitment, and taking a bold stand for the truth. “Kings” tend to delegate and manage teams, motivate and inspire, and direct projects to completion. Each of these ministries adds tremendously to a church, and the church would truly suffer if one of them were absent.
When we think of Jesus, most of us can readily identify how He exemplifies the prophet, priest, and king, but each of us tends to see Him more clearly in one role before the other two. If you personally relate to Jesus in terms of His tenderness as a gentle caregiver, healer, and comforter, you may find it harder to relate to the Christ of Revelation 19 who leads an army to war. Or if you are deeply moved by Jesus’ calls for repentance and wholehearted devotion, you may find it more difficult to comprehend His tenderness toward Judas on the night of his betrayal or toward Peter after he denied Christ.
It’s not unusual that we miss a side of Jesus when we read the Word or when we pray, worship, and live. Yet it’s vital that we come to know our Lord and Savior in all His aspects. If you have trouble relating to this passage by Scottish theologian James Stewart, you have some adjusting to do:
- He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with him, and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine.
- No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break, his whole life was love, yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all of our stark realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples’ feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes.
- He saved others, yet at the last Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.
If you need to see Jesus more clearly, or you want to be sure your children to know Him in all His fullness, take a few moments and read John 10:1–21 again. Consider how this passage speaks of who Jesus was and is. See how He is specifically revealed in the passage as prophet, priest, and king.
Throughout His time on earth, Jesus often caught people off guard. Nicodemus the Pharisee, who sought Jesus out under cover of night, was a teacher of Israel; yet he marveled as Christ revealed Himself through the Scriptures. John the Baptist heralded the coming of Christ, yet his own followers would later be taken aback by Jesus’ methods of ministry. These people met Jesus face to face, so is it any wonder that we, too, should be taken by surprise when He catches us off guard?
In “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis compared modern Christians to “an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” Don’t be satisfied with knowing Jesus Christ mainly as prophet or priest or king. Don’t settle for less than “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” in all His fullness and glory (Philippians 3:8). He promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him (Luke 11:9).
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