For Adults

Seasons

By: Pam Jones

Ecclesiastes 3:1: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer and the leaves are falling. Here in southwest Pennsylvania, we experience all four seasons and I love it. I have a sense that again this year, winter will be ushered in all too quickly. As season turns into season, year after year, time changes things.

Wasn’t it just yesterday when I had three little girls at home to care for? Now, those girls have families of their own to take care of. Just as I can’t keep the leaves from falling to the ground, I cannot change the seasons of my life. Would we really want to change them?

If I had been able to keep those three girls from growing up, would it have been the best for them or me? I absolutely love being the mom of adult women, but it has required some adjustment. The leaves don’t fall before they change from green to a beautiful color. Life changes are a process but can also be a beautiful thing.

Seasons happen when the earth axis points toward the sun. It is summer for that hemisphere. When it points away, winter can be expected. It is simple science. We can go into winter kicking and screaming and sometimes I do. But it doesn’t change a thing. So, what can we do?

  • Learn to celebrate the season.   

Try to find something you can do to get through your current season. For instance, in winter, enjoy the snow, snuggle with hot chocolate at home, decorate your home for Christmas, etc.

When you are in a winter type season in your life, try to celebrate something about the season. This season might bring illness, loss of your youth, difficult financial time, or aging parents. I might not look or feel the way I did in my 30s, but I am thankful for the opportunity to be the age I am. Some people don’t get that gift. Neither of my parents lived to be 70, so celebrate those aging parents and the gift of everyday.

  • Don’t rush the season!   

I remember so well when my girls were small, we were homeschooling. There were days that I thought we would never be finished with school! When your child is small, the days get long and it is all you can do to make it through the day. Trust me, the days are long, but the years are short! I had well-meaning people tell me that when my kids were little, but I just didn’t fully understand until they were almost grown.

Don’t rush the season you are in. It is totally natural to want to get to the next thing. It will come soon enough, and you will only have the memories. Whether it is children, aging parents, waiting on a job…don’t rush through it. Allow God to walk with you.

  • Learn from each season.

I may not have always been the best learner, but I tried to glean valuable lessons from the hard seasons. Evaluate what God might be teaching you during this challenging time.

I’m a summer girl! I love vacation, travel, swimming, 4th of July, and sun!! But if I never go through fall, winter and spring, I will never realize how wonderful summer can be!

You might be a fall person. But if the green leaves don’t die, they will never turn those beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges.

The different seasons serve a purpose. They can all be helpful. As much as I dislike winter, the snow we get helps our grass stay a beautiful green all summer long. Learn through the hard stuff. It won’t last forever.

Seasons. I’m learning to embrace them and be content with life. Just as I raised three daughters, helping all of them with schooling, boyfriend issues, broken hearts, weddings, and getting used to motherhood. I know more changes will come for them and for myself. We can’t stop the seasons or even slow them down.

One constant I have had my whole life is Jesus. He has been with me since I was 10 years old. He was with me through early adulthood. He has been with me through heartache and the loss of my parents. Jesus is the constant!

Your parent, sibling, spouse, children, and grandchildren will love you, but there is no person that will love you like Jesus. He will go with you through every season. He is the only one who can do that!

For Adults

Choose Contentment

By: Dawn Elliott

We live in a society of discontentment.  Adults are always looking for a better job, more pay, a better car, a nicer house, and even more recognition.  Our children want more games, more toys, better sports equipment, the best position in sports, and better clothes. Our society is buried in debt and discontentment. The Bible commands us to be content and thankful, and, as parents, it is our job to disciple our children, teaching them godly priorities. Upon reflection, I realized that there are three essential things that I would like for my children to learn.

Contentment

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”  As Christians, we have all we need to be content.  Jesus has promised to always be with us.  We may not have everything that we want, and life may not always be easy, but we have a Heavenly Father that has promised to be with us and supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19)

Thankfulness

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It does not tell us to be thankful when things are good and life is comfortable, but it says to be grateful in all circumstances.  In the good, the bad, and the indifferent, God is still the same, and we have reason to be thankful.

The Value of Eternity

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  What I have here on earth will mean nothing in eternity.  The only thing that will matter is what I have done for Christ and His kingdom.  

My children will best learn these lessons if I model them in my everyday life.  Our children tend to emulate our actions and attitudes, so what are we teaching them?  My prayer is that I will be content and thankful and that my children will learn by my example.

For Adults

Lesson Learned

By: Mitzi Munsey Satterfield

Learning that your precious baby was born with a serious illness is a difficult challenge for any parent.

Rachel was our third child. She was a beautiful baby, but our celebration soon became solemn and sad.  Rachel was born with a very rare chronic illness that would affect the rest of her life.  We would learn to depend upon God in ways we never dreamed.

I believe God gifts children who are born sick with an extra portion of grace. Their illness is their reality and they often do not realize how different they may be. Rachel was a happy child, but after her renal transplant at age seven she experienced what “feeling good” really meant.

Prayer is always necessary, but I also want to share some practical tips I learned in my journey with Rachel.

First, get organized.  A notebook to keep all doctor notes, appointment dates, medication lists, test results, and questions to discuss at the next visit made all the difference.  That notebook never left my side for 18 years.

Educate yourself about your child’s illness.  Find out about support groups or any resources that might help. Learn about every medication your child takes, its purpose, and side effects.

Respect your child. Rachel learned at a young age how to communicate with adults. I encouraged her to ask questions of the doctors. I knew her understanding of her illness would change as she aged. My ultimate goal was for her to learn to make appropriate medical decisions for herself as an adult.

Do not neglect your other children.  After Rachel’s birth my life was totally occupied with her survival. When she was two months old, I realized I had not hugged her brother and sister enough.  I immediately made some changes.

Encourage your child’s relationship with God.  Pray constantly that she will seek the Lord early in her life. In one particularly painful medical procedure Rachel turned her tear-filled eyes toward me and asked why did Eve eat that apple.  She was five years old, and already understood the origin of sin and the consequences of Eve’s sin.

Rachel did accept the Lord as her Savior at a young age. I am so grateful to God that my precious girl is now a happily married school teacher, a graduate of Welch College, and a vibrant Christian.

She recently had her second renal transplant and is doing very well.

PS: Read Rachel’s story on the Shine blog for girls.

For Adults

Big Lessons for Small Choices

By: Diana Bryant

One of my favorite Sunday School classes ever was a group of tenth through twelfth grade girls several years ago.  We studied scripture, but we also spent quite a bit of time applying scriptural principles to their everyday life situations.  We discussed, analyzed, and looked for principles from God’s Word to apply to the many choices they were facing as they prepared for independence, college, and career choices.

One area we examined was finances.  The girls were just starting part time jobs and were enjoying having cash to spend.  Even then, some had more, some had less.  Some had to use their earnings for their school basics, while some were able to use their paychecks however they wanted.

This critical period in the lives of our young women is an excellent time to instill biblical principles concerning the use of money. While they still have somewhat of a safety net, there are so many things we need to teach them. They can learn from the things we say, examples we give, and from mistakes they make.

            *Talk about giving. Give them projects to support and goals to meet.  When giving becomes a    habit with a small amount from a small paycheck, it’s easier for it to stick when the amounts   grow.

            *Teach them that being wise with their money gives them choices.  If you’ve spent carefully,     many times you can choose to go or not go, do or not do, or buy friends birthday presents if    you want. A bad credit score severely limits your choices in many ways. Learning to delay           gratification is a valuable life skill, so teach the satisfaction of saving for things they want.           

            *Share how you make financial decisions. Share examples of God’s provision in your life. Share times you’ve made the wrong decision and what the consequences were. You don’t have      share all the details, but teach them that all actions have consequences. That applies to financial            decisions as well – some short term, and some with longer lasting effects.

*Above all, teach them that everything we have comes from God and we are to be good stewards of it all – time, money, talents, possessions, everything! While finances are necessary, our security and value are not in how much money we have, it comes from God alone.  A valuable truth!

For Adults

Before You Say No

By: Ana Batts

Summertime is my favorite. VBS. Summer Camp. A break from school. So many adventures.

And now that our oldest children are in high school, summer comes with even more opportunities. Mission trips. Volunteer opportunities. E-TEAM. Truth and Peace.

All those things are great. And expensive.

It is easy to simply say no to these opportunities because funding them is terribly daunting. Here are a few tips that we have found helpful with our fundraising for these summer opportunities.

1. Figure out what your family’s financial contribution will be. In the end, fundraising only goes so far. Having a plan from the outset helps keep the finances from getting too stressful.

2. Don’t expect your church to be the primary source of fundraising for your teen’s summer adventures. We are blessed to be in a church that is incredibly supportive of our teens. But remember, churches and church members don’t have unlimited funding.

3. Think outside the box. Does your teen have a special talent? Crafting? Make something to sell.

Building? Build something to sell.

Cooking? Bake something to sell.

Photography? Offer to take family photos on Mother’s and Father’s Day weekends for donations.

Do you have access to equipment that your teen can safely use? Cutting grass. Weeding flower beds. Power washing sidewalks. All are great ways to turn time into donations.

4. Timing is everything. Take advantage of times people are already planning to spend money on special treats or gifts. Timing makes your efforts more successful.

Bake sales are great anytime but bake cakes and pies around Thanksgiving or Easter. Make special treats around Valentine’s Day.

Spring cleaning and fall yard clean up are other great seasonal opportunities.
Holidays offer unique opportunities but taking advantage of those requires advance planning. Everyone is fundraising in April and May. Don’t wait to start in the spring.

Don’t procrastinate. Plan ahead. Spread the word early.

5. Plan for your teen to work for their trip(s). Babysitting. Yard work. Cleaning house. Wrapping Christmas gifts. These and others are service opportunities and are great ways to practice serving while generating donations. Even more than that, working for these opportunities can help build a grateful heart and a good work ethic.

The first year of fundraising is always the easiest. If your teen decides on a second summer of E-TEAM, Truth and Peace, or other similar adventures, expect that it will be harder.

Plan accordingly. Start earlier. Work harder.

It is definitely worth the effort.

For Adults

The Words of Our Mouth

By: Diana Bryant

There’s an old, old saying that goes like this: Little pitchers have big ears. It comes from the 16th century and was used by parents to signal each other that their little children (pitchers) were around. They might overhear something that was not meant for their ears (handles on the pitchers). It’s a rather obscure picture today, but the point is still true that adults should be aware of what they say within the hearing of children.

Many first-time parents have learned that the hard way. When in a very public setting, their children repeat something said in supposed privacy at home.  Most of the time it just gets a laugh, but can be more than a little embarrassing, or at the least require some explanation.

Children, both young and old, learn much of their vocabulary and expressions from listening to the grown ups in their lives. Parents, teachers, and grandparents will often hear words they have said, expressions they use, and even their inflections coming from the mouths of their babes.

Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 tell us that the words that come out of our mouths actually came from our hearts.  Do our children hear us gossip when we’re with our friends?  Make fun of others? Are we critical of people without considering our audience? Our kids form many of their opinions of other people and shape their reactions to situations from expressions we use, ideas we express, and emotions we display.

A common thing heard by our kids today is an abundance of ways to take the Lord’s name in vain.  Taking His name in vain is so much more than just swearing. It has been abbreviated, appears in jokes, and is used so commonly that it loses it meaning and shows no reverence. Besides the obvious commandment, scripture is full of the fact that God’s name is called hallowed, precious, majestic, and glorious. In fact, we teach our children how our heart feels about God by the language they hear us use.  Regardless of the words we use to teach them, we teach them even more by the words and expressions we use in their presence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14).

For Adults

How Do You Feel About Laundry

By: Dawn Elliot

In a recent conversation with a young newlywed, she was lamenting how much laundry her new husband generated and how much she hated doing laundry. As we chatted, I shared with her two things.

First, I reminded her of how long she had prayed for her husband and how God had answered her prayer by allowing her to marry this godly man that she loved. Philippians 2:14 tells us to “do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Is that always easy? Absolutely not. It takes practice. And do you know how our children best learn this? When we model it. I never remember my mom complaining about household tasks, even when we came in late at night after a basketball game with dirty uniforms. She happily washed them and had them ready for the next day. Her example reminds me not to complain about household tasks but to thank God for the blessing of family and the love and the work that comes with that blessing.

Secondly, I challenged her to think of doing her husband’s mountain of laundry with an attitude of service. Galatians 5:13 reminds us to “through love serve one another.” It goes on in verse 14 to tell us that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Any command in Scripture should start in our own homes. Where better to put the principles of Scripture into practice than with the ones that we love the most. I will quickly admit that this “practice” is not always easy. I prayed for boys; I got boys. Do you know what comes with boys? A filthy bathroom. Bathroom cleaning is not my favorite chore, but it is definitely a way for me to practice serving my family with love.

While the world tells us to focus on ourselves, God’s Word tells us to serve one another in love without grumbling.  

What about you? How do you feel about laundry?

For Adults

Time

By: Anna Fox

“I just don’t have enough time.” “There are not enough hours in the day.” These phrases quickly roll off our tongues, yet if we listed how we utilized our day, it would often show we wasted a lot of time. What are we passing down to the next generation in this state of busyness? I work with ages 0-18 and have heard, “I just don’t have enough time” from every age group. This phrase has been paired with not enough time to do personal devotions, our family is too busy to do family devotions, and we don’t have enough time to come to small groups.

Do we utilize our time in a way that teaches the next generation that our walk with Christ is essential and intentional? Does it teach that we see the importance of obeying Scripture about being faithful to the local church and fellowshipping with other believers? When they become adults, will they know the importance of having a walk with Christ, attending church, and serving in their local church? Or is our lifestyle teaching them that Jesus died for us so that we can live for Him when it is convenient?

Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Another version says, “So be careful how you live. Do not live like ignorant people, but likewise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have because these are evil days.” Biblical stewardship is more than being good stewards of our finances and resources; being a good steward also includes time. The word steward is seen in Scripture as referring to a person (servant) entrusted with great responsibility for his master’s belongings. We are to make the most of the time the Lord has given us.

All things belong to Him, including our time. When we realize that our purpose on earth is bringing God glory and that He should be part of everything we do, does that change our perspective on how we view time?

The girls in your life are trying to navigate school, homework, sports, band, church, and their walk with Christ, and it becomes overwhelming. Our job as mentors, parents, and adult figures in their lives is to help them develop a biblical worldview. We should be teaching them that everything we do must be filtered through Scripture and seeking where the Lord is at work and joining Him.

Here are some practical ways to help them navigate this:

  1. Be honest with the girls in your life about your struggles with being a good steward
  2. of time. Start the discussion that our days belong to the Lord, and we are to make
  3. the most of our time and be good stewards.
  4. Have a practical discussion on how your family will adjust to allow the Lord to be
  5. Lord of ALL things in your life and family’s life.
  6. Ask your teen what areas they struggle with regarding time and help them navigate
  7. that through a biblical worldview with practical solutions.
  8. Have intentional daily, spiritual talks with your teen. It does not have to be a sit-
  9. down family devotion, but instead, in everyday situations, talk about what the
  10. Scriptures say and how you can obey it.
  11. Take time to self-reflect on what your family’s lifestyle teaches about the
  12. importance of church attendance, small group or Sunday school, serving in the local church, and then adjust.

Serve together as a family. Create a bond with your teen in the local church that goes beyond youth group so that when they become adults, they stay connected because they already are connected. Teach them that if they are believers, they have a spiritual gift that needs to be utilized in the local church.

We only have one life to live for Christ. He has entrusted us with these girls to be their parents or mentor. Make the most of the time you have with them by teaching them how to make the most of their time by serving Christ in all areas of life.

For Adults

Riding To Victory

By: Brittany Hernandez

A couple months ago my husband and I bought bikes. I totally got a purple mom bike with a basket. Its pretty much amazing. I try to at least 4-5 times through out the week go on an evening bike ride ALONE!

I like to take 30-60 min and ride around town and listen to some worship music and just pray. At first it was a little difficult. Those hills were killing my legs. To be honest I was not enjoying it but I knew I needed the time alone, and I was getting a work out in.

What I have started to notice is those hills getting a little easier to climb, and noticed that when I continue to peddle downhill I build up momentum for the next hill. This may sound silly to you, but the other night as I was ridding I felt like God was showing me a picture of life. There are always hills to climb. Some small, some a little bit larger. But at some point you start to go back down. How true is that in life.

Sometimes we have battles and mountains we have to climb. Sometimes we are down low in the valley trying to get up the mountain but the pain is so much to endure it seems impossible. But, the more we peruse and keep pushing upward and the more consistent we stay in the word and prayer the more momentum we have when we have to climb. I don’t know where you are at right now. I don’t know if you are just getting started or have been peddling like crazy. I do know you have to start somewhere and stay disciplined. But with hard work and the determination to life a life of victory and truth you can do it.

So if you are trying to peddle out of the valley up the hill and you are tired, keep pushing. Do not give up. Greater is He! It is worth the climb and the pain of the ride. When the ride is over, there is victory.

For Adults

The Promises of God

Promises can be found all over the place!  Ads on television promise everything from to beautiful white teeth to cars that parallel park themselves. Pill bottles promise you’ll lose 20 pounds or have more energy. Sometimes your children promise “I’ll feed him and walk him and clean up after him!” when a new puppy is in question. If you think back over your life, memories of promises broken stick with you much longer than promises kept. We expect promises to be kept, and when they aren’t it causes disappointment and discouragement. Proverbs 13:12 tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick”.

Christmas reminds us of the biggest, best promise kept! The promise of a Savior and the hope of eternal life with the God who created us. Talk about hope! Because that’s what promises really are – a reason to hope. Those promises, all that hope, is found throughout scripture. The Bible is full of hope for our everyday lives, hope for our future, hope for answers to our dilemmas and wisdom to navigate our lives.

Knowing and recognizing the kept promises of God can be a great thing to share with your daughter. Look for opportunities to point out how God provides, and when He keeps His promises.  Talk about the promises, use them to reassure, quote them to encourage, and refer to them when there are decisions to be made.  To do this, you have to know the promises and recognize them yourself.  Maybe you could make it a point in your devotional time this coming year to search out, memorize, and meditate on God’s promises. Perhaps you’ll want to list them, and note examples from your own life experiences of God’s faithfulness.  Then look for opportunities to share those with your daughter.  Help her see that they apply to her too, if she’s a child of God. Help her to recognize God working in her life.

Seeing God’s faithfulness should also make us more careful with our own promises.  If you promise to pray for someone, pray, maybe stopping right where you are to bring their need to the Lord. If you promise someone an answer “soon”, figure it out and give them their answer. If you make a promise to your children that you are then not able to keep, explain why and offer an alternative solution. Since we know kids learn by what they see in our lives everyday, help them learn trust and respect by keeping your word. Try not to make promises to your kids that you can’t be sure you can keep, perhaps telling them you will “do your best”. When your daughter experiences a broken promise from a friend, a boy, or a teacher, talk to her about resilience, forgiveness, and learning how to how to deal with disappointment.

This Christmas, undoubtedly there will be some “promises kept” and some “hope deferred” in all those packages under the tree, but let’s make sure to emphasize as much as we can the incredible promise God kept on that first Christmas!