From Friendship to Family

I’ve been focusing on marriage and parenting for the last two weeks, with a nod to the crossover these words have regarding friendship. This week, I’d like to share words from my pastor, Matt, with specific focus on friendship, although I’m sure you’ll see that everything he says carries over into marriage and parenting as well. After that, I’ll share a few more resources with you.

  • A friend shows up.
  • A friend sticks around.
  • A friend pays attention, takes the initiative in meeting a need, and goes the extra mile without being asked.
  • Friends pursue a common goal. For believers, that means—most of all—they pursue the Lord together.
  • It takes great courage to be a friend. 
  • All true friendships require a willingness to be second, to love to the point of sacrifice, to open oneself up enough to speak the truth (with kindness!) and, as Proverbs 17:17 says, to “love at all times.”
  • Married? Be friends!
  • Single? Be a friend to at least a few who need your friendship and bring you joy.

(And, parents, without losing your position of authority, remember to be friends with your kids!)

More resources:

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Family Values, and Valuing Family

Photo by William Fortunato on

First, let me explain. I used a colorful question mark as my photo last week. My daughter graciously alerted me to the fact that it was NOT formed from beads, but from pills. It was really too late to do anything about that, so, in case any of you are confused, it was just a silly error on my part. Now, on to the good stuff:

A couple of good friends asked me to write about marriage and parenting, so I started a long list of thoughts and challenges last week. As I continue, I think you’ll find that, in almost every case, what works in marriage works in parenting as well. Calm kindness carries the day.

  • Love the other person more than yourself.
  • Beware those time-sucking, attitude altering screens we now have all over our homes and in our pockets. Discover better ways to rest and play together.
  • Believe the best of one another always. Never assume the worst.
  • Take walks together often; they open up special opportunities for communication.
  • Say “yes” and “I love you” many times every day.
  • Follow all of God’s rules, but don’t put much stock in the ones man makes up.
  • Tithe, and spend less than you make. Teach your kids to do the same.
  • Be generous to one another. (And generosity doesn’t have to be expensive.)
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Because You Asked

Photo by Anna Shvets on

A couple of good friends asked me to write about marriage and parenting. As you will see, some of this may be familiar to those of you who know me well. In that case, consider this a refresher course. Some of you may be neither married nor parents. If so, consider this a course in how to be a good friend, exuding kindness, patience and compassion. In most cases, you’ll discover the same words that apply to a good marriage usually apply to good parenting.

My favorite sermons, podcasts, and advice books are filled with clear instructions, sentences I can turn into actions. So, I’m going to offer clear, actionable advice here, and I’m going to do it in bullet form—way, way too many bullets for anyone to tackle in a week or a month. I’m hoping you’ll go through this list and prayerfully choose areas where you think you ought to improve. Focus on those until you’ve mastered them well enough to move on to a few more. If this list leaves you wanting to ask a question or get more details, let me know.

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Suntan Lotion

My grandson Nick is learning to ride a bike, while his little sister Kate can now pedal a trike. We took them on a long practice run one afternoon last week. The sun was out, the birds were singing, the breeze was blowing…and Kate’s fragile skin was beginning to burn.

Loving grandmother that I am, I said, “Let’s go back to the house. I need to get you some suntan lotion.”

Normal two-year-old that she is, Kate said, “I don’t WANT any suntan lotion!”

I got the lotion anyway, smoothed it onto her arms and cheeks, then watched in amazed amusement as Kate proceeded to proudly explain to anyone who would listen, “I have suntan lotion!”

Lesson learned: Take a few extra moments to explain things to children, and life just might flow along with a bit more ease. Kate didn’t know what suntan lotion was. She didn’t want something she didn’t understand, and she didn’t trust me (she is two, after all) to provide only good things for her. She did need that lotion, and she did appreciate it later, but she could have saved herself some distress if she had simply decided she could rely on me to make good choices for her. Furthermore, that sort of trust on her part would have pleased me.

Deeper lesson learned: We do the same thing to our Lord! When we don’t understand something and forget to trust God’s all-knowing will, we balk. We forget Who knows best. We refuse to rely on the promise that he has our best good in mind. We deny him the pleasure of our firm belief in Him—our trust, our submission to his will. Sure, we may look back later and appreciate his provision, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that right away?

We, after all, are no longer two-year-olds. It’s time we grew up in our faith.

Photo via

House Rules Revisited

Last February, a local MOPS group asked me to talk about the house rules Steve put into place when our children were small. I’ve written about those rules in previous blogs, but thought this might be a good time for a review. Before you take a look, and hopefully click on a few of the links to past blogs, let me reiterate the most important part of what I told those young moms:

These rules, sometimes with a tiny bit of tweaking, apply to us as adults every bit as much as they apply to the children in our lives. So, if you have no kids, have no fear, this blog is still for you! And as we all spend more time at home with our families, perhaps this will serve as a helpful review.

Don’t argue when it doesn’t matter:

Be happy for what you have, and if you fuss, you lose:

 Obey the first time, and be kind:

Pray for someone every day:

 Don’t hit, and be respectful (of others, of our Lord, and of your own body.)

Got a favorite? A rule you’d like to add? Please take the time to comment.

Brownies and a Dime (or A Little Bit of Sin) by Beth Smith

Brownies Michelle Tsang via unsplash.comI love this story about “a little bit of sin.” Two teenagers wanted to see the latest movie, one their father was quite sure was inappropriate.

“There’s only a little bad language in it,” they pleaded. “There’s almost no violence, and, while they talk about sex, you never see any on screen.” The father was adamant. The teens were upset. Eyes were rolling. Grumbles were rumbling.

But this was a very creative dad who loved his children and wanted to make a point. He headed to the kitchen to bake a batch of brownies. The house was filled with the tantalizing aroma of the coming chocolate treat. The teens soon made their way to the kitchen, begging for brownies.

“Help yourself!” the father said, “But before you dig in, you should know that I added just a little bit of dog poop to the recipe. There’s not much. You won’t be able to see it. I’m pretty sure you won’t even taste it. It probably won’t hurt you a bit.  So go ahead. Have all you’d like.”[1]

They got the point. That’s the way sin is in our lives. It doesn’t matter how much or how little, it’s still there.

First John 1:10 says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him (God) out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” Fine! But how about those of us who have really messed up? Some of us have had this thought, “I’ve done so much wrong, really evil stuff. I know I’m beyond redemption, beyond forgiveness.” Not true! Those who are forgiven much love him all the more. None of us are beyond His forgiveness. We’re like the lost coin in the parable that Jesus told. Let me recount it for you.

Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and carefully search until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15: 8-10 NIV).

The lost coin in this scripture was a silver drachma. It was probably only about the size of a dime, but it was worth about a day’s wages. It was worth the search! And we’re worth the search. If we’re feeling lost, either eternally or temporarily, we can be sure that God desires to find us and to help us find him. He searches for us and joyfully receives us.

Next time you see a dime, let it remind you to cry out, “Here am I, Lord. You’ve found me.”


Photo by Michelle Tsang via

[1] , accessed 6/2/2015 reported that, “Our earliest sighting of this item comes from a August 2001 web site posting, and it has since appeared in at least one gook. However, even in its earliest incarnation the author was not identified, which makes it difficult to determine whether the story is a true account or a work of fiction.”  This author found it uncredited on several websites.