Thursday, February 28, 2013


If you are like us, you are passionate about training your children to hear from their Father God. Scripture is full of the ways God speaks to His children. This post is 6th in our H@HKids! series. They are written for your older children to be able to read on their own and for you to read and discuss, maybe one section at a time, together as a family. You may want to go back and copy off the others (just click on the numbers below) in the series on Hearing God from our friend Colleen Coombs. They are a wonderful resource for your family devotionals:
One, Two, Three, Four, Five

To find out more about Colleen Coombs and her ministry to children, check out No More Crumbs Ministry.

Isn’t it amazing how creative God is that he uses so many languages to speak to us?! It makes me so excited to share these with others, as so many people don’t know that God wants to talk to all of His children.

Another language that God uses is Impressions. Impressions are feelings, emotions, or ideas that you have about a person or situation, that come from God. It can be something God puts in your heart to do that can help others.

In Jeremiah, God talks about putting things in our hearts and minds. When He does this, he is showing us that He is our God and we are his children.

Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10 & Hebrews 10:16
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
  I will be their God, and they will be my people...”
One of the best examples of God using Impressions is Nehemiah! It was an impression that God gave Nehemiah that moved him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem - and in only 52 days! This was one of the greatest building undertakings in the Old Testament and it was accomplished based on an impression from God!

Nehemiah 2:11-12
I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

Nehemiah 7:5
So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return.

In Ezra, we see that God is the one who ‘moved the heart’ of the king to make a proclamation. Ezra also praises God for putting it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord. So we see that once again God can speak to those that don’t yet know Him. 

Ezra 1:1
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing.

Ezra 7:27 
Praise be to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way.
In the story of the bleeding woman, she felt in her heart that if she touched Jesus’ clothes she would be healed. And she was!

Mark 5:27-29 
When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
God gave Titus the same concern for the church that He had given to Paul. This concern led Titus to go and help the church in Corinth - all because God impressed this upon his heart!! (II Corinthians 8:16-17). God puts things in our hearts so we will accomplish the plans He has for us in the Kingdom. 

Revelation 17:17
For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled.

A Word of Knowledge is knowledge given to you by the Holy Spirit that that you would have no way of knowing on your own. It does not come from our own experience. It is a Gift of the Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:7-8
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.

A Word of Knowledge is the Holy Spirit sharing information about certain people and situations. It is God showing us a problem, a sickness, or other situation revealed by the Spirit, so we can pray and act according to His will.

Words of Knowledge give godly understanding and facts about circumstances that does not come from others. This spiritual knowledge agrees with God’s word – which is true, factual, trustworthy, and pure.

There are over two dozen examples in I Samuel 9 and 10 of specific words of knowledge God gave to the prophet Samuel. Here are a couple of examples:

I Samuel 9:15-16
Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.”

I Samuel 9:19-20
“I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart.  As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?”

In I Samuel 12:1-18, we see that God gave Nathan a word of knowledge concerning David and Bathsheba. He knew that they had sinned before God and he told David how angry God was with him.

Elisha is another example of God speaking through a word of knowledge. He knew Gehazi was lying to Naaman about some silver coins. You can read this story in 2 Kings 5:25-27.

In the New Testament we see God revealed the truth to Peter about the money Ananias and his wife held back from the church and then lied about in Acts 5:1-4. 

Words of Knowledge also work with gifts of Healing. When God reveals an ailment, injury or sickness, it is because He wants to heal this. Words of Knowledge and Words of Wisdom often work together: knowledge is like a foundation that wisdom builds on.

The Gift of Wisdom is the wisdom of God about people, places, or situations. It is a wisdom that comes from the Spirit of God and has nothing to do with what we have learned, which is the wisdom of the world. Through this gift, God lets us know how he wants us to deal with a specific situation in the present or the future. This Spirit-given wisdom gives the best solution for a disagreement or problem. It gives the best answer to a difficult question and the best way of acting in a tough situation. 

You might even say, “This was not an answer that I got by preparing and thinking about it for a long time. It was given to me when I needed it and it was from the Holy Spirit.”  This results in bringing glory to God!

1Corinthians 12:8 
“To one is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom.”

Proverbs 2:6
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Luke 21:14-15
But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

The person best known for hearing God this way was Solomon! He was known for the words of wisdom God gave him. He was the wisest man that ever lived because God gave him His wisdom, not mans.
I Kings 4:29
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.

I Kings 10:24 & II Chronicles 9:23
The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.

In the New Testament we see Stephen heard God’s wisdom. This wisdom was so wise that the Jews could not even argue with it!
Acts 6:9-10
Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyreneand Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
We see that Joseph, in the OT, had this wisdom from God which helped him to become very powerful in Pharaoh’s court. God spoke wisdom to him in order to fulfill His plans for the future of Israel.
Acts 7:9-10
“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh King of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
God gave Paul this kind of wisdom before the council of the Sanhedrin and also to encourage the churches.
II Peter 3:15
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Have you ever been in a tough situation and suddenly knew just what to do? Well that was God speaking words of wisdom to you. The great thing about wisdom is that God promises us He will give us His wisdom if we just ask and believe

James 1:5 
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” 

Can you think of a time when you felt the need to call or write someone – a friend or relative? What happened when you did this? I bet the person was so blessed by what you did and knew God had told you to do this! Ask God to speak to you in these languages and see what He does! It's a great idea to journal everything God speaks to you so you have it to remember later.

May God bless you each with ears to hear and hearts and minds to receive all that God wants to speak to you!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


From Beth Templeton:

If you're like most of us, you wonder if all this talk about relationship and grace means that we just let our children do what they want. 
Are we saying it is ok for them to misbehave? 
Don't we have to "lay down the law" sometimes?
Are you saying we become lazy parents? 
Don't we have boundaries? 

Absolutely, we have boundaries and rules! I like what Tim Kimmel says in his book, Grace Based Parenting, about family rules. He talks about how some we write in pencil, some in pen, or a sharpie-- and I would add some we write with our blood! He explains that Grace helps you to determine the rules and boundaries for your family, it does not eliminate them. Grace is the power of the cross put into effect in the life of your family-- it is no mushy free-for-all! Grace does indeed call forth and require certain behaviors, for it sees who the child is in Christ and works to disciple and train to that reality. Grace is often firm, but never harsh. Grace is intentional and passionate. The Apostle Paul spoke about the effect of Grace in his life in 1 Corinthians 15:10, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

Grace Empowers
Grace will empower you as a parent, calling you to deeper places of love, both between you and your Father and between you and your child.

To me, the main difference that Parenting in Grace makes is in how I attend to the sin of my children, not that I don't attend to it at all. Under law, when my child disobeys, I make them pay. And I withdraw relationship, at least for a while. I let them know that their actions have created a distance between us. That my displeasure and disappointment, along with their behavior, has resulted in the withholding of my love and approval. Sound familiar? Yikes! I suspect we have all done this to some extent-- it is a normal human emotional response. 

But I am learning that in Grace I need never use emotional distance as a parenting tool. For the Lord has promised me that because of Jesus and His finished work on the cross, He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) He has made it clear that I have access to Him at all times, not based on my bad behavior that day, and not even based on my good behavior! No. My access to His love is mine through the Goodness of Jesus, His righteousness imputed to me. So, as I learn to enjoy this relationship, I am able to mirror that in my relationship with my child. 

God is Parenting Me As I Parent My Child
You are going to find that God comes alongside you to parent you through the process of parenting your child. Many of are truly pioneering a new thing. Maybe your parents did not know the Lord the way you do. Father God wants to parent you even now. I am 24 years into this parenting adventure, and still rely on the Lord to show me a new approach for a particular child at a particular time. I am learning, growing and changing-- because I can! Under the Law there is rigidity, lots of black and white. Under Grace there is the movement, growth and freedom that is inherent in relationship. Relationships are not static are they? 

We want to Parent our Child the way God Parents Us. How would you describe God’s treatment of you?
He is altogether lovely, and so very kind. Think of how He has parented you. Has He ever come to you wagging His finger in disgust, so ashamed of you, telling you you must get your act together before He can even deal with you. Never! The more we experience this wonderful love for ourselves, the more able we are to give this to our children. 

Grace Accesses the Power of God
Under Grace I have the freedom to love unconditionally. 
Grace is what enables us, and our children too, to access the power of God! Because of Grace I can turn to the Lord even at my worst moment and receive His help. Because of Grace I can teach my children that when they sin they have not cut themselves off from me because I am angry or disappointed in them. Nor do they have to hurry up and behave better before I will allow them to draw close. I may need to take some time to let my emotions calm down and align my feelings with the Truth, but I never need to punish my child by withdrawing my approval or love. They too have access to the power of God that helps them in their weakness. They too discover that grace empowers them to obey. 

Yes, We Do Have Rules!
So yes, we do have rules. For instance, we have decided that in the Templeton family we are going to worship with other believers-- that is, we go to church. That is a rule that we have written in blood, so to speak. It is in our relationship with Jesus that we make this decision. If you are a child in our home, you go to church. Grace helped us decide this rule, but we have found that grace also has helped us love our children through seasons where they have struggled with it. 

We have had many rules over the years that have been penciled in, ready to be erased and adjusted or rewritten according to the season we are in. Rules in Grace exist in the context of a loving relationship, whereas rules in the Law exist for the purpose of preventing or avoiding sin. And I'm sorry to say that try as we might, rules simply cannot play that role. 
But regardless, Grace sees the breaking of a rule as an Opportunity to train and to teach, not as an opportunity to extract payment through punishment and judgement. 

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? Hebrews 12:7-8

And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].
2 Corinthians 9:8

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


From Beth Templeton:

We want to get at the hearts of our children, because when we correct behavior without reaching the heart, we bring our child under the law, which brings them under condemnation. (2 Corinthians 3:9) And we know from Romans 8:1-3 that

"now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins."

External Structures and Internal Beliefs
I’m all for changing behavior! I’d much rather have a child not whine than whine, or not lie than lie. Absolutely! But we don’t want to be like the Pharisees whose focus was primarily and even solely on the externals, never getting to the heart.                                         
“For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy-- full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” Matthew 23:25-26 
Applied to parenting, this approach is more of a focus on the cultural rather than the structural realities in our homes. In other words, in Grace we have the freedom to go beyond the external structures created by our rules, into the inward beliefs and ways of thinking found behind our child's actions. I know Stephen and I have found that this issue of deep inward beliefs and thoughts is especially critical for our adopted children, for they have experienced things in their own lives that have "told" them lies about themselves and about the world they live in. You know these ugly "friends" that whisper things in your precious child's ear--
"you don't belong. you are bad. there is something wrong with you. you are a victim. you are rejected. you can trust no one. you are, in the end, alone. you need to do what it takes to survive. you don't have what it takes. no one understands you....." 
These lies are so deeply rooted, and I often find myself so very thankful, once again, for the Amazing and Powerful Grace that is my inheritance as we love our children, for Grace is greatly needed. As I mentioned in my previous post, sometimes we just wish we could slap a good rule on the problem and walk away, but instead we see the Lord, Emmanuel, God With Us- calling us to do as He did for us-- to walk straight into that place of lack or that lie or that fear in our child's heart and love them from the inside out. 

Training and Punishment We have written in past blog posts about the difference between parenting with training and discipline rather than with punishment. (Take a look here, and here.) It is so helpful as we learn to parent from the inside out to have clarity about the difference. 

To train is to develop or form the habits, thoughts or behavior of a child by discipline and instruction.

So, training is something we do to help our child move forward. It is focused on their Identity and Destiny in Christ. We train for the purpose of moving them into that Identity and Destiny. We train in preparation for what is ahead. 
With training and discipline we teach our child how to grasp the effective love of God for themselves and to enjoy the free gift of their inheritance and all the benefits of that powerful love, not to avoid the need for it! 
Training recognizes sinful behavior as an opportunity to teach and shepherd rather than seeing it as something that should be quickly hidden from view. Training embraces the opportunity, messy and unpleasant as it may often be, to love a child in and then through an issue so that what is hidden is brought into the light and exposed to love and discipline.

Proverbs 3:11-12
“My son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” 

Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.”

Psalm 32:8-9
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.”

Directing the Flow
I love the definition of the word used for Teach in Psalm 32. It is the word yarah-- to instruct, direct; to point, shoot, aim; to cast in a straight manner; to direct the flow of something.

The way God teaches us when we need to be corrected is to direct the flow of our lives, of our behavior, so that we are pointed in the forward direction of our destiny in Him. 

Note the difference with punishment--
Punishment is a penalty inflicted as payment for an offense or fault. So, where training is forward looking, punishment is backward looking. It seeks to exact payment for something that as happened in the past.

As we love our children from the Inside Out, let's set our hearts to train and correct our children knowing the the issue of their sin has been dealt with on the cross, freeing us up to focus on directing the flow of their lives in the direction of their destiny rather than focus on dealing with their sin. 

Next time I'll share some thoughts on the role of rules and boundaries as we Parent in Grace. 

Join us on Facebook!

Friday, February 15, 2013


From Susan Hillis:

I often talk about how much I wished, 15 years ago, that I knew someone with 10 kids who was 15 years older and could download years of lessons and wisdom and create ideas and fun into my memory bank, so that I could make these random, emergency, and even planned withdrawals regularly, as need and opportunity arose.  Alas there was no such woman in my life.  Now at the stage at which I find myself, with 10 kids, ages 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, I realize that I could do a much better job than I am doing, of being for someone else what I wished someone would have been for me.  

Do you ever remember being teased when you were a child, by some bigger kid taunting you with, "Copy-cat, Copy-cat, you are a Copy-cat!"  
I do, and it always sounded like something really bad!  Well, I am here to say that the best things I have done over the years have been a result of me wanting to copy...wanting to copy someone who exemplifies kindness or wisdom or faith or humility or determination....wanting to understand what it means to copy Jesus by 'walking in His steps,' as we read in Peter.  My most memorable two experiences with determining to copy someone are these: 
  • When I was 16 and was a very poor swimmer, my best friend Teri proposed, "hey Susan, let's take lifesaving classes together and then work as lifeguards this summer!"  I was 'in,' and every night for several weeks, I dove into a cold swimming pool to swim 20 laps, choking and sputtering my way down each lane and back, as I saw Teri in the lane beside of me, ahead, swimming with grace and ease.  Although my body felt like I was drowning, my mind kept repeating, 'if she can do it I can....if she can do it I can....if she can do it, I can.'  
  • When I was 19 and a very new believer in college, I read Jim Elliott's Shadow of the Almighty and determined that I wanted a walk with the Lord characterized by that level of intimacy and abandon.  Again, it was, 'if he can do it, I can.'  Or more accurately, 'if God and Jim Elliot can live out this kind of intimacy, then it is within reach for God and me to have this kind of intimacy.'

Combining Fun and Meaning
One of the best principles I have copied as a parent is combining fun and meaning. Let me explain.  In our American culture, we tend to separate our social and our spiritual activities. Yet years ago, I saw I could copy a better way. When Brian and I lived in Colombia, South America, I was delighted to see that the Colombian believers lacked these artificial separations. For example, we could share an evening laughing and playing games and telling jokes, and as the Colombian friends left our home, someone would say, 'let's thank the Lord.' This person would then grab a hand of someone standing close, we would all circle up, and spontaneous praise would just break forth....
"Senor y Padre, te alabamos porque siempre eres bueno.... Lord Jesus, we praise you that you are always good, that You are all-powerful and tender with us, that You are exalted above the heavens and You also let us know you with intimacy. Lord tonight we praise You for these friends and for laughter. As we leave we ask you protect us and remind us that wherever we are, we are Your vessels, intended to be lights in the darkness. Bless us as we go out from here.  Amen."

Camp Loaf-a-lot and Camp Sweat-a-lot!
So, as a mom, one of the things I have most tried to practice is combining fun and meaning.  Probably my favorite example of this is the mother-daughter and mother-son retreats I did for years, starting at age 10.  Honestly, I started it only with the girls and after a couple of years the boys asked "hey mom, why don't you do those kind of retreats with us?"  (Brian also started doing these with girls/boys).  I would take the kids out of town to a cabin or mountain house or beach for a couple of days, having prayed about what topic we should focus on and having identified a number of fun things to do.  Above is a picture of one of the years I took the girls to the beach for Camp-Loaf-a-Lot, at the same time Brian took the boys to the mountains to work at Camp-Sweat-a-Lot!  
Typically on these retreats we would have lots of fun -- playing in the ocean, horseback riding, caving, hiking, to name just a few.  And I would have a short bible study for Friday night, late Saturday afternoon, and Sunday after lunch before heading home. The topics I prepared were ones they would be facing as teens, and included things like, identity, friendship, dating, 7 questions to answer before buying the ring, being perfume (for girls), being a princess (for girls), being strong (for boys), having courage (for boys).  To this day those retreats are some of our funnest memories.  

Keep Having Fun With Me
I will close with one last story.  Many of you know that we lost our son Jonny in a family bike ride on the day before his 10th birthday.  I will always remember Cristi looking deep into my eyes and saying, with a pleading tone shortly after his death, "Mommy, will you promise me that you will keep having fun with me and Trevor?"  (To which I replied something like this, "I am sure at some point I will be able to love having fun again, but it may take a while and we will have to be patient about this.")  I felt surprized to realize that this is the aspect of our relationship she most seemed to fear losing, at that young tender age.  And now, as I have been learning so much from the Lord about joy, I see that the fun memories we share with our children lay such a foundation of bonding for joy and blessing and connection....both with us and with the Lord. So as we are doing all these fun things with our kids, it becomes so natural to combine fun and meaning, and to say, 
"Hey sweetie, you know how happy we feel right now having all this fun at the beach?  Well, let me tell you, there is a deep joy we can have in our close relationships with the Lord, that makes our hearts keep this kind of joy inside of them, whether we are at the beach or even doing homework. No joke. I feel it often. In the Bible there is a man named Nehemiah who talked about this and he said in a verse in that book of the Old Testament, 'the joy of the Lord is our strength.'  In fact, there is a song about it that we often sing - remember, 'the joy of the Lo-o-o-ord is my strength....' "  
And right there we would sing it, and we would break out singing it as we had fun over those days of the retreat.

So today, let's look for ways to combine fun and meaning with our kids, wherever we are in life.  Maybe even by putting on coats and laying on the front yard tonight and picking out our favorite star, and by each of us, thanking God for what each of us likes about that star....and asking God to make us twinkle for His glory.  (yes, we have done this - so just be a Copy-Cat!).  
God bless you, dear friend.  And for you, for me, for all of us and all of ours today, may the Joy of the Lord be Our Strength.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Welcome back to Scott Means for this month's MARRIAGE MONDAY. At Hope at Home we believe that giving attention to our marriages can only be a blessing to our children. Scott and Jenni are part of Northlands Church and the Hope at Home Team. Many of you will remember Scott from Hope at Home 2011 and 2012, and from his excellent marriage blog, Journey to Surrender.

Do you scoff or cringe at the thought of Valentine’s Day? 
“Who has time and energy for romance? Certainly not me!”
photo credit: evdoha /
I get it that life is crazy sometimes (okay, honestly, most times). There are always so many things bidding for our time, attention and energy. 
Still, I implore you not to write off this season of your life as a romance free era. I know it’s tempting to think that there will be more time to focus on the intimacy in your marriage later on. But the truth is that later never comes. Trust me, I know.
My wife, Jenni, and I have been married more than 30 years, and still our crazy-busy life has a tendency to infringe on the time and effort we give to romancing each other. That is just the day and age we live in.
Romance on a Time and Energy Budget
The thing is, you can romance your spouse without a huge effort. In fact, I often say that little love expressions, done consistently, will have a bigger impact on your relationship than grandiose expressions done only once in a while. 
But here’s the deal: husbands and wives typically have vastly different needs when it comes to love expressions. That whole Mars and Venus thing is pretty true. Wives typically have a desire to feel cared for and emotionally connected and enjoy romantic displays of affection. Husbands, on the other hand, want to feel respected, admired and appreciated and to be shown physical displays of affection. 
So you have to try to give love, not in the way you want it expressed to you, but in the way your spouse wants it expressed. That can be a hard adjustment to make!
Here’s my little love expression list for husbands – in wife-language. 
  • Put a little note on the dash of her car that says “I’m thankful that you are my wife.”
  • Prepare her coffee or tea. As you hand it to her say “I added extra love.”
  • Text her and say “I can’t stop thinking of how much I love you.”
  • Invite her to have lunch with you, if that is possible for your work situation.
  • On your way home from work, buy her a small treat you know she’ll enjoy for tomorrow’s breakfast.
  • When you get home from work, hold her extra long. Say “this is the best part of my day so far.”
  • Offer to rub her feet or shoulders while you are watching TV.
  • Pour her a glass of wine, ask her about her day, and really listen.

Here is my list for wives, in husband-language: 
  • Tell him how much you appreciate how hard he works to provide for the family. Acknowledge the sacrifices he makes on your behalf.
  • Ask his opinion about something and follow his suggestion, even if you don’t agree. Note: don’t ask him unless you are willing to take his advice.
  • Tell him you want to make him something special for dinner as a show of appreciation. Ask him what he would like to have, and make it for him.
  • Don’t correct him for a whole day – not even once (unless it involves life or death). Be aware of every time you are tempted to do so.
  • Give him a serious 15 second kiss, and tell him how handsome he is. Yes, ladies, your husband needs to know he is attractive to you.
  • Tell him something he does that really turns you on (something not explicitly sexual).
  • Wrap your arms around him and tell him how happy you are to be married to him and why.
None of these take a lot of time or effort, but all of them say “I love you” loud and clear. These things are not hard to do, but all of them help to build an atmosphere of romance in your marriage. The key is to do them consistently. 

Date-In Valentines Day Ideas
So what about the big V-Day? 
Maybe you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year but a night out just isn’t in the cards: sitters unavailable, adopted child not home long enough yet to leave, budget too tight, getting fixed up just sounds exhausting, or whatever. Because going out always takes more time, energy and money, why not try doing a date at home
I have a few low effort date-in ideas to share with you.  These were part of my latest Pathways Newsletter, the monthly email digest on all things related to intimacy in your marriage. (If you want to subscribe to my newsletter, click here. For signing up you also get my free e-book, The 14-Day Intimacy Challenge.) 
I gave husbands the idea to set up a romantic bed-picnic. It is a great date-in plan that can be even more romantic and fun than an expensive meal out. 
“Tell her days in advance to be available after the kids are in bed on Valentine’s day, but don’t give away any more than that. In the morning of the day, give her an invitation to dinner. If you have a little bit of computer savvy, print up an invitation to a romantic picnic - in bed...”
Read the rest of my bed picnic idea and dozens of other romantic suggestions in the February Husband’s Romance Edition of my newsletter.
A date-in idea I gave the wives is to set up an indoor “beach party” after the kids are tucked into bed.
“What you’ll need: bathing suits, beach towels, bright lamps (simulated sunshine), a space heater, a little beach music, coconut oil, and some cold drinks. Beach lounge chairs can add a bit of fun and comfort too. 
“Have him wait (or better yet have him put the kids to bed) while you set up your bedroom, or another room, for the beach party. Heat the room up nice and toasty, spread out the beach towels and pour the drinks…”
You’ll find more details on this idea and many more romantic ideas in the February Wife’s Romance Edition of my newsletter. 
Conversations and Connections
Keeping the romance alive in your marriage requires an intimate connection. Intimacy is all about knowing and being known by your spouse. The best way to do that is through conversation. However, for many husbands, myself included, deep conversation is not their strong suit. 
So for Valentine’s Day, both my newsletters featured a great tool for building intimacy through romantic conversation. Go ahead and download my “20 Questions for Romantic Connections.” Print it out, and keep it handy. Spend a few minutes each day (or every few days) filling in the lists together and connecting over questions like “20 Dream Dates” or “20 Places We Want to See.” 
It’s a fun and easy way to build intimacy. 

Regardless of what you decided to do about Valentine’s Day, I want to encourage you not to wait for an easier time to work on building and maintaining the intimacy in your marriage. Every little bit of effort you put toward it today will pay huge dividends in the future. 

Come on over to our FACE BOOK PAGE and enjoy daily encouragement and community with other adoptive and foster parents, and those who are called to come alongside. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


From Beth Templeton:

Have you ever asked yourself if the fact that you are a Christian makes any real difference to your parenting? Does my relationship with Jesus cause me to parent differently than my worldly neighbors? How does my revelation of the gospel of God's Amazing Grace change and inform the way I raise my family?

We here at Hope at Home are passionate about seeing the beauty of the Gospel lived out in our homes. What does it look like where the rubber meets the road? In the real life moments:  
when your toddler is in the thick middle of a fit or a rage? 
when a child is sad because she has no friends?
when your son lies about doing his homework? 
when everyone is in the car to go to church and you begin to          back out of the driveway and realize someone is missing (turns out they are inside screaming, "I can't find my shoes!")

We can sit in church and bible studies and go on the occasional retreat or mission trip, but if we don’t flesh out what we are learning (those truths that we give assent to and believe), in the day to day realities of our homes, then surely we are missing something!

Relationship, not Rules
Tana's wonderful post on Discipline and Punishment brought a refreshing clarity to one of the key ways our parenting looks different because we are the recipients of Grace. It boils down to this I believe-- the Gospel is about 
Relationship, not Rules
But oh how we wish someone would give us a list of rules to live by! There is something about the simplicity of a list of rules that is awfully attractive! Neat and clean and simple, right? A quick read of the Old Testament cures us of that notion though. I have definitely become a FAN of GRACE!

1 Peter 1:3 tells us that everything you and I need to be able to parent our children is found, not in a list of parenting "do's and don'ts," but rather in our relationship with Jesus:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Grace is a Person-- the Person of Christ. You and I are co-laboring with Grace, with Jesus, as we parent our children. 
So, as we face the innumerable decisions demanded of us as parents, we see that God has graciously given us what we need by getting to know, really know, Jesus. 

Since the gospel is about relationship, not rules, so our parenting needs to be about relationship, not rules. 

And just to be sure we are on the same page-- we are not talking about cultural grace here. It’s not about being nice (gracious) or overlooking someone’s weaknesses. 
We are talking about Heavenly Grace, biblical grace that accesses POWER from heaven, applying the full effect of the cross. This Grace is the power to parent each one of our children.

Sin Prevention vs. Identity Discovery and Nurture
Under the Law, there are strict, rigid rules enforced by punishment, accompanied by shame and fear-- the fear of being caught and of being punished, and the shame of being exposed. As a result, a strong desire to hide and lie develops. The fact of the matter is that no matter how many rules we put in place, we cannot keep our children from sinning, can we? Rules have their purpose, but we see clearly in scripture, as well as in our own lives, that creating and enforcing a list of rules does not result in godly behavior and intimate relationship. 

When we look around us we see that most parenting is really all about trying to deal with the problem of sin by establishing rules in the hopes of preventing the opportunity for sin to manifest. We see this parenting approach in Christian and non-christian homes, don't we? The goal is clearly sin-prevention, rather than identity discovery and nurture. 

On the other hand, under Grace, the relationship is the focus, not the rules. I think of it as Parenting from the Inside, Out. We absolutely do deal with sin, but we deal with it "in Christ," that is, in relationship. There is NOTHING that we can do to make God love us more, nor is there anything we can do to cause Him to love us less. So from that eternally safe vantage point, we are learning not to be sin-conscious, but rather we are learning to be Christ-conscious. We are learning to rely on our relationship with the Lord, being aware of Him as we parent our children, rather than being primarily aware of a list of rules. And we begin to enjoy the freedom of asking, "What is the Lord doing? What is He saying?" rather than, "How can I stop this behavior?"

I remember a few years ago Susan Hillis and I were both in the process of addressing significant issues with our two of our adopted teens. The issues were similar, at least in the outward appearance, and we were both practicing being more conscious of Christ in us and in our children than conscious of the manifestation of the sin itself. The next day we both began to share what we felt the Lord was saying. Susan said that the Lord showed her that she needed to handle the situation by treating her daughter as if she were a little girl. Not in a condescending way, but in a way that would address her needs and get at the root of the behavior. As many of you who are raising adopted children know, sometimes the behavior we see is that little girl or boy who still is reacting out of the pain of their past. How kind of the Lord to help Susan see what was really going on underneath the teenage anger. And I shared that as I was taking a walk and praying through the situation, having no sense of what Stephen and I should do, felt the Lord say, "parent him like a man." A completely different approach than the Lord gave Susan. He began to show me that what our son needed at that moment was for us to engage with him as if he had more emotional maturity than he was showing. I believe the Lord had us take that approach because what our son needed was for us to call forth the maturity that he so desperately wanted. 
In both of these situations there were consequences and action was taken, but our parental response was forward looking as a part of our child's training in their identity, rather than backward looking in reaction to their behavior. 

When we parent out of the relationship we have with Jesus, we find a refreshing and life-giving approach to the issues we face, not based on a rigid list of rules, but informed by an intimate knowledge and love. 

We will see our children walk as godly young people not by our external rules, but by the ever-increasing revelation (theirs and ours!) that we are indwelt by the Living God--
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) 

In some follow up posts I'll talk about parenting the heart, and rules and boundaries. Grace does not throw those out, you know, it simply does not expect them to accomplish what they cannot. So stay tuned! 

Hope at Home has an active Facebook Page and we'd love for you to join our community there. It's a great place to enjoy encouragement in the Lord for your parenting and to connect with other parents who "get it." We also keep you updated with Hope at Home events and share helpful resources. It is a real joy to do this together!!
Follow us on Twitter, @hope_at_home_