Page 1

faith ▪ family ▪ life

Happy Mother’s Day

Church Planting Moms provide hope for families

Not by Sight

Dove Award winner

Ginny Owens

walks by faith

Prodigal Love NEW!

Rachel Cruze:


Take a debt-free vacation

MAY 2015

U.S.A. $4.00

Gifts for everyone on your list. Whether it is Mom, that special friend, your child’s teacher, or the new neighbor down the street, your local LifeWay Christian Store will have that perfect gift to share your love and appreciation as well as the hope you find in Christ each day. Visit us today and see why we’re more than just a store.

Available Now at Your LifeWay Christian Store I ns pired by


Stores Nationwide • • 800.233.1123


May 2015

contents V O LU M E 6 9 , N U M B E R 8

Features faith 12 Not By Sight

Three-time Dove Award winner Ginny Owens learned long ago that seeing has very little to do with your eyes. by Lindsay Williams

16 Sooner Than You Think

Prepare your child (and yourself) for the possibility that they will invest in a college experience. by Hanna Seymour

family 28 Legacy Of A Son Gone Too Soon

Don’t squander the joy in the moment by worrying about a future that doesn’t exist yet. by Laura Sobiech

36 Prodigal Love

No matter what happens, your relationship with God remains. by Harriet Michael

42 Homeward Bound

The ladies of the award-winning trio Point of Grace celebrate a legacy of family and faith. by Caroline Lusk

life 52 Church Planting Moms Photo:

Training and caregiving provide life-giving hope for churches in Southeast Asia. by Susie Rain

66 Simple Gestures

On the Cover

It doesn’t take much to show your mother how much she means to you. by Gayla Grace

12 Not By Sight by Lindsay Williams 36 Prodigal Love by Harriet Michael 52 Church Planting Moms by Susie Rain 58 Debt-Free Vacation by Rachel Cruze Cover Photo: Getty Images



13 10 ⁄8 103⁄4 10 ⁄16


May 2015

contents▶Departments faith 12

new life by Jennifer McCaman When You Just Don’t Fit

 Allow Christ to lead you into God’s embrace.



grounded by Michael Easley Wonderful Counselor

 God’s Holy Spirit came not only to convict, but also to help us.


in the arts by Lindsay Williams One Great Big Family

48 single focus by Scott Attebery

Come Clean

 There is safety and security in trusting your Heavenly Father.


healthy living by Lisa Wade Joyful Heart

 A healthy life is a joyful life.




family time by Kelly Stewart Let It Shine forward progress by Michael Kelley The God Who Laughs

 Do you find youself standing against or with God?


for such a time by Trillia Newbell Why Quarrel?

a funny thing happened by Rhonda Rhea In Balance

 Keep God at the top of your list.


purse strings by Rachel Cruze Debt-Free Vacation



 Minimize the cost and maximize your family time.

60 from your kitchen

 Live a life not of this world.


 Whether served as an appetizer, meal, or dessert, beans are packed with protein and easy on the budget.


love that lasts by Gary Chapman The Impossible Spouse

 Consider four sources of irresponsibility as you seek to understand your spouse.


family coaches by Gary & Barb Rosberg The Blessing of Oneness

 Keep the spiritual, emotional, and sexual connection pure.

40 smart stepfamilies by Ron L. Deal


Grumpiness and the Gospel

 Give praise and thanksgiving to God for all of your days.


 Teach your family to be the light in a dark world.


 Sidewalk Prophets continues to grow its extended family, one fan at a time.


46 power of the home by Page Mathias

Parenting Stepsiblings

 Help foster blended family relationships by developing strong bonds.

45 parenting on purpose by Gary J. Oliver

Be a Barnabas

Make Room for a Legume

64 school zone by Jon Eckert

Not So Boring

 Help make social studies interactive and fun for your family.

in every issue 8 from the editor 9 contributors 34 captured by God 57 family-friendly media 69 men of honor 74 abide

 Be a person of encouragement.


HOMELIFE MAY 2015 101⁄2 103⁄4


Guaranteed Mother’s Day Delivery!

Celebrate Mom.

Order now 1-866-768-6517

FREE Customization & Poem Card!

Customized with Each Family Member’s Crystal Birthstone A mother’s love for her family is never ending. Celebrate the love, strength and infinite nature of your family with the “Family is Forever� Spinning Ring, an exclusive design only from The Bradford Exchange. Hand-crafted and lavishly plated in sterling silver, the ring’s center band features a goldtoned infinity pattern, which wraps around each precious family member’s crystal birthstone. The two outer bands are beautifully set with sparkling clear crystals. Plus, the ring actually spins to reveal the birthstones as you turn it! As a final touch, the inside band is engraved with the words “Family is Forever.� Rings with less than 6 birthstones will be set with clear crystals.

Beautifully Engraved with “Our Family is Forever� Lavishly Plated in Sterling Silver Shimmering Crystal Birthstones Center band actually turns when you spin it to reveal your family’s birthstones

A Remarkable Value... Available for a Limited Time This exclusive ring is an exceptional value at $119*, payable in 4 easy installments of $29.75 and backed by our 120-day full money-back guarantee. The ring is available in whole and half sizes from 5-12 and arrives in a custom presentation case with the poem card, “Family is Forever� along with a Certificate of Authenticity. To reserve, send no money now; just mail the Reservation Application. This gorgeous spinning ring is only available from The Bradford Exchange. So don’t miss out— order today!

A Fine Jewelry Exclusive from The Bradford Exchange Š2015 BGE 01-19587-001-BIM15













Reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Respond as soon as possible to reserve your ring.



th e


SEND NO MONEY NOW P.O. Box 806, Morton Grove, IL 60053-0806

j e w e l ry

Birth Month 1.






YES. Please reserve the “Family is Forever� Spinning Ring for me as described in this announcement with the birthstones I’ve indicated. Print the 3 letter month birthstone abbreviation at left (max. 6 names). Ring Size______ (If known)

Signature Shown actual size SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

Mrs. Mr. Ms. Name (Please Print Clearly)

To assure a proper fit, a ring sizer will be sent to you after your Address reservation has been accepted. We must receive your initial payment by 5/1/15 to guarantee Mother’s Day City delivery. Call 1-866-768-6517 or visit *Plus $9.98 shipping and service. Sales subject to product availability and order acceptance.



E-Mail (Optional)


online ~ this month at

▶▶May Family Time Calendar featuring daily Bible readings and talking points to help you disciple your family (see page 22) ▶▶Scripture art (see pages 11, 27, and 51)

VOLUME 69, NUMBER 8 May 2015

PRODUCTION & MINISTRY TEAM MICHAEL KELLEY Executive Editor DAVID BENNETT Content Editor DAWN WYSE Art Director EMILY ELLIS Publishing Team Leader SEND QUESTIONS/COMMENTS TO: Editor, HomeLife One LifeWay Plaza Nashville, TN 37234-0175 Or email us at MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL ERIC GEIGER Vice-President, LifeWay Resources FAITH WHATLEY Director, Adult Ministry AMY LOWE Manager, Adult Ministry Publishing ADVERTISING RHONDA EDGE BUESCHER Director, Media Business Development for Magazines

~incoming June ▶▶Welcome to Camp Faith ▶▶American Idol finalist Colton Dixon talks about his faith and the impact of his family ▶▶Our summer Christian fiction series begins ▶▶Honoring our fathers

One LifeWay Plaza, MSN 136, Nashville, TN 37234 Email: Media kits:

Printed in the United States of America HomeLife (ISSN 0018-4071, Item 005075226) is published monthly by LifeWay Press®, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, Thom S. Rainer, President. © 2015 LifeWay Press®. For inquiries visit, or write LifeWay Church Resources Customer Service, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0113. For subscriptions or subscription address changes, visit, fax 615.251.5818, or write to the above address. For orders with three or more issues shipped to one address, mailed monthly, at the ministry rate, visit, fax 615.251.5933, or write to the above address. Annual individual or gift subscription rate, $29.95. Save almost 50 percent off the cover price by choosing the ministry rate to place your order (three or more issues shipped to one address, mailed monthly), $1.95 each per month, plus shipping. Please allow six to eight weeks for arrival of first issue. Advertisement Disclaimer: This magazine includes paid advertisements for some products and services not affiliated with LifeWay. The inclusion of the paid advertisements does not constitute an endorsement by LifeWay Christian Resources of the products or services. We believe that the Bible has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter and that all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. The 2000 statement of The Baptist Faith and Message is our doctrinal guideline. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. HomeLife does not accept unsolicited manuscripts or queries and cannot accept responsibility for their return.



“Knowing we had doctors who would pray for us and care for us gave us so much peace.” Patty Marshall Breast Cancer Patient

Larry Marshall Prostate Cancer Patient

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I was still fighting my cancer when Larry was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was very devastating for both of us. But we believe God has a plan for us, and that’s why He led us to Cancer Treatment Centers of America®. They are focused on treating cancer with leading technologies and therapeutic options that help keep us strong throughout treatment, so we can go on living the life we love. Atlanta | Chicago | Philadelphia Phoenix | Tulsa

We just feel close to God here. The spiritual support, the love they show, the hope they give—there’s just a wonderful sense of peace. To learn more, call or visit our website:


©2015 RisingTide

No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results.

from the editor

Through the Lens of the Gospel There are certain points in every year that bring with them a variety of

emotions. May is one of those times. It is the month in which the day falls when we as a society have decided to celebrate motherhood. Mother’s Day brings with it flowers, cards, lunches and dinners out, and ill-prepared breakfasts in bed by well-meaning kids. It brings joy, gratitude, and an acknowledgment of those among us who continue to faithfully serve their families. It can also bring sadness. Among all of those flowers and cards and special kid-prepared breakfasts, there are people who have lost their mothers this year. There are also those who live with a sense of sadness because, for reasons unknown to them, they have not had children of their own. Because of all these different kinds of people, Mother’s Day can mean different things. How, then, are we to navigate a day with such a complex mixture of emotions associated with it? Not to be simplistic, but perhaps we can together move through it in the same way we move through every other day — looking at it through the lens of the gospel. Because of the gospel, we know that God is loving and wise. We know that He is good and sacrificing. We know that He knows what it means to both rejoice and to suffer. And because He does, we can do all of those things. So, let’s celebrate the moms in our lives this month. At the same time, let’s mourn with those who are sad. And let’s remind ourselves, through it all, that God does what is good and right, because of who He is.

Connect With Us:

Michael Kelley



A lyss a Joy P



Gary Chapman, Ph.D.

The Impossible Spouse (page 32) Dr. Chapman hosts two national radio programs: A Love Language Minute and Building Relationships — both are on the Moody Broadcasting network and can be downloaded at Gary is an author and marriage conference leader and serves on the staff of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. He and his wife, Karolyn, have two grown children.

MORE with

LifeWay LifeWay offers great online resources to help you get the most out of your education and fundraising efforts. Find what you need at the web addresses below!

Caroline Lusk

Homeward Bound (page 42) For more than a decade, Caroline Lusk has been involved in the Christian music industry as a freelance writer, editorial assistant and, most recently, editor of CCM Magazine,, and Christian College Link. Caroline lives in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband, Andy, and their two children, Eli and Everly.

Gift Guide

Made in U.S.A. Directory

Rachel Cruze

Debt-Free Vacation (page 58) Rachel is the coauthor of Smart Money, Smart Kids, along with her father, Dave Ramsey. As a seasoned communicator and presenter, Rachel uses the knowledge and experiences from growing up in the Ramsey household to educate America’s students and young adults on the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt.

Travel Guide

For more life and ministry solutions, scan the QR code below! HomeLife often includes websites that may be helpful to our readers. We verify the appropriateness of each site prior to publication. However, content changes frequently. We encourage you to use caution before visiting any website.

We love to hear from you! Write to us at:


faith new life


When You Just Don’t Fit Allow Christ to lead you into God’s embrace.


e’ve all been her at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a working mom in a room full of stay-at-home-moms, a newlywed whose friends are all in the baby-phase, a big city gal relocated to a small town, or the one cutting coupons while everyone else is waving credit cards, we’ve all been the outsider. We’ve all been the one who doesn’t fit in and it’s so lonely. But the truth is that the root of loneliness isn’t being disconnected from friends, but being disconnected from God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We were all born excluded from a relationship with God because of our sin. Even our very best good works could not earn us favor with a holy God. That’s why Christ came. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” God had compassion on us. He saw our spiritual condition and made a way to get to us even when we couldn’t get to Him. Romans 5:8 explains, “God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” Jesus was born into a sinful world, yet He was without sin. He was tempted, felt every human emotion, yet He never displeased His father. He was the only perfect One who ever lived (Talk about not fitting in!). He was the only One who could have endured the cross in our place. His sacrifice is the only way to salvation. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He

always lives to intercede for them.” Christ offers salvation and eternal intimacy with God. He alone gives you real and lasting family, community, and a sense of belonging. When you come to Christ, you are made new: new passions, new thoughts, new joys. You are never alone. Maybe you’ve been feeling like an outsider lately. Let those feelings drive you into the arms of Christ. He alone is enough to give you identity and new life in Him. He will never forsake you or leave you. He will also give you confidence to live for Him, even if the world doesn’t understand you. If you choose to believe Jesus died for your sins and to receive new life through Him, pray a prayer similar to this one: Dear God, I know I’m a sinner. I believe Jesus died to forgive me of my sins. I now accept Your offer of eternal life. Thank You for forgiving me. From this day forward, I will choose to follow You. If you’d like to speak with someone about how to have new life in Christ, call toll free (888) 537-8720. If you prayed this prayer for the first time, please seek out a local church. You were never designed to live for Christ on your own, you were made for community with other believers. Just like you, the church is not perfect, but full of other believers seeking to live for God. Take a risk and find community in a church near you. •

[God] alone is enough to give you identity and new life in Him.



Jennifer McCaman

feels the sinking feeling of an outsider every time she looks at a menu in a Thai restaurant.


Design by Mic ah K andros






Not By Sight by Lindsay Williams Three-time Dove Award winner Ginny Owens learned long ago that seeing has very little to do with your eyes.

It Courtes y Ginny Owens

was 2006. Singer/songwriter Ginny Owens had just completed her long-term recording contract with Rocketown Records, a well-respected independent record label founded by Michael W. Smith. The company was in danger of closing its doors permanently, leaving its roster of artists — including Ginny — in limbo. Unsure of her next step, Ginny decided to put some space between herself and Nashville and struck out for the Big Apple in search of some anonymity and clarity. She enrolled at Columbia University, where she studied fiction writing — a far cry from the life she had come to know as an artist who’s garnered multiple number-one radio hits, numerous awards, and career sales approaching the one million mark. “It was a little weird to go out on the weekends and do shows and then fly back in and get back into the city all by myself, to my place, and then go to school the next day,” the award-winning singer admits. “I was hoping not to do too much music, but I quickly found there was a lot of need for me to be involved in music in different spaces.”


Try as she might, Ginny couldn’t stray from her musical calling. She began leading worship at area churches and even sang at a homeless mission regularly — an experience she calls both “humbling and so cool.” It was in New York that she began to realize that as a believer she was something of an anomaly — a foreign concept for the Jackson, Mississippi, native who grew up in the heart of the Bible Belt.



“I think I’ve finally just figured out I have to believe in what I’ve written about.”

“To say that being a person of faith was not respected would be a vast understatement,” Ginny shares of her time in the Empire State. “Faith [in] God was just something ridiculous.” Despite the fact that she found herself in unfamiliar territory, Ginny was surprised at how fast she found likeminded souls. “I felt like I got to know people really quickly, which a lot of people say can’t happen in New York,” she offers. “One day I asked one of my friends, ‘Why do we go deep so fast?’ And she was like, ‘We know in this city people come and go, and so we’re always really intentional about making sure we get to know them; and it’s not like there are many believers around, so it’s important to get to know them.’” Ginny adds she even had friends — all fellow believers — who would rent apartments in the same building simply so they could be in community with one another and serve those in their spheres of influence together. “It changed my perspective,” Ginny says. “People don’t go to church there unless they really want to. There’s such an intentionality with which people pursue God in their communities.” After spending a summer falling in love with the city, studying at Columbia, and building new friendships, Ginny began to teach songwriting at a local middle school. (She was actually a teacher prior to signing a record deal and has a degree in music education.) She had found her new home and a possible new direction for her calling. That spring, she set out to find a permanent place to live in New York. Her plans came to a halt, however, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This time, the path was clear. It was time to go home.

30-something singer and a childhood best friend. Her grandmother was gone within a week after doctors discovered that the brain cancer had spread all over her body. No stranger to debilitating diseases, Ginny herself has been blind since she was three as a result of a degenerative eye condition. However, she will be the first to tell anyone that truly seeing has very little to do with eyesight. It’s more about perspective and less about the visual in front of you.



While caring for her ailing mother, Ginny also continued singing, flying in and out of Jackson to play concerts on the weekends. Today, her mother is cancer-free, but for a season, illness seemed to be the theme of the young singer’s life. Within a six-month period, she lost both a cousin and her grandmother to brain cancer. Her cousin, leaving a husband and children behind, was only a few years older than the

{ 14

“I always hope that [people] are not only encouraged and comforted [by my music], but that they can see that there really are ways to look at even life’s darkest circumstances through a more hopeful lens.”


Not only did Ginny find herself grieving family members and anxiously becoming a temporary caregiver for her mother, but she was unsure about her musical footing, though her art was never far from reach. Since leaving Rocketown, she released three projects independently: 2007s Bring Us Peace, a Christmas offering; 2009s Say Amen, a hymns project at the request of her mother; and 2011s Get In, I’m Drivin’, a decidedly R&B pop record. It was during this time of loss and uncertainty that Ginny held tight to Philippians 4. “I just started to think, What does it look like to live with that kind of evenness in your soul?” she reveals. “Always hopeful, always joyful — unaltered by either overwhelming positive experiences and not shattered or completely broken by negative experiences.” With her mother’s health on the rise, Ginny was offered a job teaching songwriting at Belmont University, her alma mater, and decided to return to Nashville. She was immediately welcomed back into the songwriting community and began working on a brand-new album birthed out of the difficult circumstances of the past few years. “I think a lot of the songs on this record were just born out of that season of life [being] hard,” she attests. “How do we live in light of these circumstances? Every song became an exploration of that.”


“If Christ would be shattered for us, and He knows every human emotion possible, then that gives us the strength to live on in hope.”

her résumé. It’s obvious she feels the freedom to pursue her writing gifts in a myriad of ways — be it songwriting, authoring, or teaching. No matter what, she’s staying open, allowing God to complete His good work in her. “Maybe circumstances are bad, but God is good and life is good,” she continues. “There are so many things to grow from and to learn from, and we can take every challenging moment as an opportunity to do that.” •

Lindsay Williams is a full-time freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, Tenn. She contributes to a variety of print and online media outlets, including HomeLife, ParentLife, Homecoming magazine, Nashville Lifestyles, and, among others. She blogs regularly about Christian music at

Courtes y Ginny Owens


Her new album, I Know a Secret (Chick Power Music/Word/ Warner), brought Ginny full-circle as she reconnected with some of the songwriters and musicians who were instrumental in the genesis of her career 15 years ago. Monroe Jones (Third Day, Holly Williams), who produced Ginny’s landmark debut, Without Condition, and two additional full-lengths to follow, helmed the project, making her feel right at home during the recording process. Together, they crafted a 14-track collection that weaves together Ginny’s emotions, personal discoveries, and glimpses of God as she navigated one of the darkest periods of unrest in her life. At times, the songwriting process was brutal, unearthing hard-to-swallow reflections and sweet memories; but in turn, often lending multiple transparent and personal touches to the music she was creating. In one bittersweet moment, her cousin, Christi, sings with her on the album’s sole hymn, now a gift for Ginny herself in the wake of her cousin’s passing. Looking back, she realizes through this dark season of loss and ambiguity, she learned the “secret” to being content. “If Christ would be shattered for us, and He knows every human emotion possible, then that gives us the strength to live on in hope,” she affirms. “I always hope that [people] are not only encouraged and comforted [by my music], but that they can see that there really are ways to look at even life’s darkest circumstances through a more hopeful lens. I believe with my whole heart that’s because we serve a God who has made that possible.” Ginny remains unsure about what’s next for her, though she’s hopeful she’ll be able to give fans more music, more often now that she’s completely independent. In addition, she just released her first book earlier this year, adding author to

With the release of I Know a Secret, Ginny makes her return to Christian music — a homecoming that comes with mixed feelings for the award-winning singer. “You definitely can feel a lot of pressure,” she admits, adding that today’s world of social media and the business side of making music without a label is daunting. “I think trying to release a record independently is very hard, especially if you want to do it well and thoroughly [and] hit every mark,” she continues. “It just means you have to have a business brain, and I don’t really have one. So, I’m always trying to think about other things, like marketing [and] making sure logistics are happening. Sometimes it’s a little easier said than done.” At the same time, Ginny is grateful to have the ability to choose her own next step in her ever-evolving career. “It’s freeing to be able to do music that you love and collaborate with who you want to collaborate with, [but] it’s just a different time. You do it all from the convenience of your own space at home,” she says. “I think I’ve finally just figured out I have to believe in what I’ve written about,” she adds. “I write music and do what I feel like I’m called to do and just try to be wise about making good decisions, letting the rest fall into place.” For more information, visit



Sooner Than You Think by Hanna Seymour

Prepare your child (and yourself) for the possibility that they will invest in a college experience.



ust a quick run into the grocery store, she thought. She only had a few things to pick up. Chicken broth, two onions, a bag of lettuce, and cereal. As she searched the cereal aisle for her daughter’s favorite, a knot formed in her stomach. With no warning, tears began to stream down her cheeks. I’ll only need to buy this cereal a few more times before Jessie goes to college; then she won’t be in the house anymore. Maybe you haven’t broken down in a grocery aisle, but if you have a child bound for college — either this fall or in a fall too soon to be — you may already feel the time with your college-bound child slipping away. No matter how long you’ve been raising your child, those last days, months, and possibly years, seem to hold increased pressure with heightened expectations. Instead of placing unrealistic expectations on those last days, consider how to best set your child and yourself up for success. When your son or daughter looks back on their last days at home, how do you want them to be remembered? What three words would you hope they would use to describe it? Consider now how you might intentionally foster conversations with your child as college begins to appear on the near or distant horizon. For a decade, I have had the opportunity to support students as they transition into college life. Over and over I watch students who were raised in the church and in Christian homes grapple with whether or not they will continue in the Christian faith. In 2011, based on multiple studies from a variety of organizations, the Fuller Youth Institute released an estimate that 40-50 percent of high school graduates fail to maintain their Christian faith. In my experience, the bottom-line question each student seems to grapple with is, Why do I believe what I believe? When unable to answer that question adequately, students drift quickly. With this staggering percentage, and knowing your child may likely be leaving for college sooner or later, what is a parent to do?

• What will success look like your first semester of college? • How does your faith factor into that? • What will your top five priorities be your first semester? • Where does God fall in those? • How will you prioritize your Christian faith and values? Do everything in your power not to jump in and persuade a response. Keep asking questions. It’s okay if your child is unsure. Encourage them to explore what they believe now, before they are in college. If they have an adult small group leader or someone who has served as a mentor, encourage them to continue the conversation with one of them. Often, teenagers may feel safer exploring their faith and areas of doubt with someone other than mom or dad. That’s okay. Point them to another godly adult who will also point them to Jesus.

Pray for your child.

Commit to setting aside 5-10 minutes each day to specifically pray for your college-bound child. Pray that God will use this time to prepare their heart for their new chapter of life. Ask God to provide wise, godly friends and mentors to encourage your child during college. Ask for God’s wisdom and discernment in how to converse with your child about their faith journey. Pray that your child would encounter Jesus in a life-changing way and that God would grab hold of his or her heart now. Pray for your child’s future roommate. Pray for the friends God is already preparing to bring into their life. Pray for an adult who will love, encourage, and point your child to Jesus once at college. Praying for your child is quite possibly the most powerful thing you can do. Don’t dismiss it.

It is difficult to be in a place in life where we are seeking purpose. What we don’t realize is that this struggle is often a gift that leads us to a new place.



Begin the conversation by asking questions.

Your son or daughter has heard countless instruction and teaching from you, their Sunday school teacher, youth pastor, and so on. Your child knows what you believe. Instead of viewing this as a final opportunity to preach, begin spiritual conversations with your child by asking questions, such as: • You know what I believe about God and the Bible, but what would you say you believe? • How would you explain why you believe that?

Learn from others.

There are a lot of great, faith-based resources out there on how to best prepare your child for college. Don’t be afraid to grab one or two books on how to discuss faith and other college-related issues with your child. Whether these days seem far away, or you are experiencing the last days with your child living permanently at home, remember that you aren’t losing your place of influence in their life. It’s simply shifting. You will continue to be their greatest champion, faithful prayer warrior, and reminder of God’s infinite love. •

Hanna Seymour lives in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband,

Tyler, and works with college students at Belmont University. Hanna received her Masters in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina and writes a weekly blog at



faith grounded


Wonderful Counselor

We feel trapped and alone. Our spouse is distant

with no interest in Christ. They may be apathetic, detached, self-absorbed, or living in sin. Or maybe it’s our teen or a dear friend, someone we love whose passion or interest is at odds with following Christ. How do we live in the tension: feeling alone and knowing our close relationships are far from God? Jesus’ disciples knew something about loneliness.



JESUS KEEPS HIS PROMISE Sorrow filled the hearts of the eleven at the prospect of Jesus’ departure. If we can place ourselves in their situation, like them, we would prefer Jesus remain. As Jesus spoke to His close friends, He promised them He would not leave them alone but send the Counselor, the Helper, His Holy Spirit who would come, be with them, and have a critical ministry in the world.


God’s Holy Spirit came not only to convict, but also to help us.

Christ’s Spirit indwells the Christian. He is with us. He is present. He knows our sin, fear, anxiety, pain, loss ... and He loves us, cares about us, and is powerful to help.

The word paraklétos literally means “the one called alongside to help” but different Bibles translate the word as Counselor, Helper, Advocate, or Comforter. Jesus made this promise to His friends, and us, and He kept that promise. Jesus was not speaking metaphorically. Jesus promised to send His Spirit. Now, if we need “evidence” that the Holy Spirit came, we only have to look at the change in the disciples. During Jesus’ arrest and trials, His friends cowered and fled. But in Acts 2, we see a miraculous transformation. Men who feared now boldly proclaim Christ to those who aided and abetted His crucifixion. Jesus made good on His promise; He sent the Holy Spirit. And the disciples were completely changed by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence. If you have trusted Christ and Christ alone, His Spirit indwells you. He is at work, transforming you into something you are not yet. He is in the “business” of sanctifying us to be less like our sinful selves and more like our Savior. THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTS THE WORLD ABOUT SIN Note Christ’s precise words in John 16:8: “When He comes, He [the Holy Spirit] will convict the world about sin.” In John’s gospel the world is in opposition to Christ, yet Christ loves the world. In other words, John 16 seems to state that the Holy Spirit will work in the world, convicting those who do not know Him. This does not mean the Holy Spirit does not bring conviction to believers, but here Jesus says convicting the world about sin. Convicting means exposing something, bringing something to light, bringing a person to the point that they recognize their wrongdoing. Students of the Bible illustrate this like a courtroom procedure. The prosecution brings charges and evidence to prove a defendant’s guilt. So the Holy Spirit shows the evidence: a smoking gun, fingerprints, DNA, and

videotape proving we are sinners and guilty as charged. He is convicting the world about sin. But the Holy Spirit is not merely convicting to make people feel bad, or to pile on guilt. Someone said, “The Holy Spirit is better than a guilty conscience.” A guilty conscience can plague us. We may try to repress guilt, but it seems to mutate. Or worse, we drink the world’s Kool-Aid and “call evil good” to try and rid ourselves of guilt and shame. The Counselor is working to convict a person to admit their sin and to help them. The Holy Spirit isn’t here merely to make us miserable, He is here to make us holy. It is important to remember Christ’s Spirit indwells the Christian. He is with us. He is present. He knows our sin, fear, anxiety, pain, loss … and He loves us, cares about us, and is powerful to help. We’ve all heard the bad line about playing the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. Sure, as parents and friends we speak the truth in love and at times we must confront. But how and when we take those steps requires great care. But all along the journey, nothing stops us from praying for God’s Holy Counselor to convict the world about sin. Christ had to die and ascend to heaven in order to send the promise of His Spirit and His Spirit is at work convicting the world of sin. Draw near to Him and know you are not alone and trust Him to do the work only He can do. •

Michael Easley is a fan of John Wayne movies

and declares The Searchers to be the best Western of all time — because it’s John Wayne. He is a teaching pastor at Fellowship Bible Church, author, former president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, host of Michael Easley inContext, speaker, and Mexican food connoisseur. Michael and his wife, Cindy, reside in Brentwood, Tenn.



faith in the arts


One Great Big


Sidewalk Prophets continues to grow its extended family, one fan at a time.


op/worship outfit Sidewalk Prophets might only have five people performing on stage, but the group considers every member of their audience a part of their band. More than that, they consider every fan a part of their family. “If it’s true we’re the children of God, that means we’re brothers and sisters in Him, and we want to treat each other as such,” says lead singer Dave Frey. “We want to tear down the wall that sometimes stands between performer and audience member and let [fans] realize we don’t need any pedestals, that’s for sure.” Along with Frey, members Ben McDonald (guitar), Daniel Macal (lead guitar), Cal Joslin (bass), and Justin Nace (drums) have found creative ways to invite fans to join them on their musical journey for more than a decade, often playing acoustic sets outside in the cold for people who couldn’t get in to sold-out Winter Jam concerts, and being some of the last people to leave the venue in order to meet as many people as possible. For the group’s sophomore album, Live Like That (Fervent Records), the band brought fans into the studio to



sing back-up, and even asked them to submit photos of people who have inspired them to love like Jesus. The images were then used to create the album’s cover art. In addition, fans helped the band put a down payment on their first bus through a Kickstarter campaign. Furthermore, the group discovered their newest member, 20-year-old Macal, through open auditions on YouTube. “It’s about finding common ground and what Christ would do — going out and meeting people and taking time,” Frey offers. The singer insists the key to building strong connections with fans is consistently finding creative ways to engage them on and off stage. “If you’re loyal to people, they’ll be loyal back to you,” he contends. “Hopefully, we’re a band that wears our hearts on our sleeves and lets people [get to] know us. I really do think we’re the same guys who started the band thirteen years ago.” “The best part of touring is hearing what God’s doing in other people’s lives and realizing He’s the same God no matter where you are,” shares Frey. “When we go out to the signing line at the end of the night and get a chance to talk to people, even if it’s just for a few minutes, it fills us up. They usually offer us encouragement about songs we wrote for our own specific reasons, and how God has used them in ways we never imagined.” The band, who easily logs 250 dates a year, took their relationship with fans to the next level this spring with a 30-plus city outing February through April. Dubbed the “Great Big Family Room Tour,” the band let fans pick the cities they visited, playing intimate acoustic sets from Maine to California. Lamps and couches transformed the stage into a living room,

and the band members even greeted guests at the door to personally escort them to their seats. “We just want [people] to have a unique experience with Jesus. Our hope is that we can come together as friends and family. We want it to feel like family, first and foremost,” Frey says of these unique evenings. As the band travels the country, sharing their musical gifts with others, they hope people leave their concerts passionate about the specific callings God has placed on their lives. Frey asserts that we can all use our talents to serve Christ right where He places us. “We want people to realize you can worship God in so many ways,” he says. “My mom was a teacher for 38 years and just retired. Let me tell you, she served God in that school. There are moments when an astronaut can serve Jesus in ways mightier than a poet or musician. It’s just amazing how many roads we each walk. They’re all different roads, but God keeps us on them so that we might serve Him, being the hands and feet of Christ.” •

Crafting a New Album in the Poconos The band is putting the finishing touches on their third studio effort due out late summer or early fall. They spent three weeks crafting new songs in a secluded lake house, thanks to a fan who offered their home in the Poconos as a writing retreat. “They had an indoor pool at the house, and we were spoiled beyond belief,” Frey says. “Once again, our fans came to the rescue.” Frey reveals the band’s forthcoming album is extremely eclectic, serving up everything from ’80s rock, to folk, to worship. “It doesn’t really fit in a genre, and I love that,” he shares. “I’m excited for people to hear what God has been laying on our hearts the last few years.” For more information, visit

Lindsay Williams is a full-time freelance writer and editor based in

Courtes y Side walk Prophe ts

Nashville, Tenn. She contributes to a variety of print and online media outlets, including HomeLife, ParentLife, Homecoming magazine, Nashville Lifestyles, and, among others. She blogs regularly about Christian music at



faith family time


Let it Shine Teach your family to be light in a dark world. DÉCOR ▼ Time: 20-30 minutes Cost: $15 The décor for your family time is all about the glow. Plan to enjoy this family time after dark. Make the room you are using as dark as possible by covering the windows with curtains or other light blockers. Purchase glow-in-thedark necklaces, tubes, and bracelets to use as decorations and for the games. MENU ▼ Time: 30-45 minutes Cost: $10 Make buttered noodles with a twist by adding a teaspoon of colored dye to the boiling water. The dye will change the color of the noodles. Cook pasta or noodles according to directions and add butter when hot. Finish the meal with neon sundae desserts by using vanilla ice cream and neon toppings, such as sprinkles, cherries, and colorful fruit. ACTIVITY ▼ Cost: $5-$10 Supplies: glow sticks and a white balloon Glow-in-the-Dark Volleyball: Insert several glow sticks into a white balloon. Form two teams and play a game of balloon volleyball.



The purpose of this month’s Family Time is to gather together,

have fun, and spend time discussing how Jesus told us that as His followers, we are to be the light of the world. Your family will look at ways they can shine for Him in your community.

DEVOTIONAL ▼ Time: 20 minutes Say: I am going to turn off all of the lights and we are going to play a game in the dark. I want everyone to guess how many fingers I am holding up. What about now? And now? (After several guesses, turn on the lights.)


You’re short on time, and your kids are short on attention. Family Time is a devotion centered on a fun theme to help you live out Deuteronomy 6:5-8 in creative, memorable ways.

Ask: Can you see me now? Were you able to see how many fingers I was holding up in the dark? If we played this game with the lights on, how much easier would it be to know how many fingers I hold up? Being in the light makes all the difference! Say: Light is what makes everything visible. Light illuminates our world, so it makes sense that God uses light as a way to describe not only who He is, but how Christ-followers are to look to the world.

✁ Read: Matthew 5:14-16 Ask: Who is the light of the world? We are! What is the light supposed to do? Shine.

Read: John 9:5 Say: Jesus was answering a question the disciples had just asked about why a man was blind. In the midst of His answer, Jesus tells them that He is the Light. Jesus is our light, our hope, the only One who makes the darkness disappear and illuminates our world. Ask: Does turning on a light make you feel safe? Even a small light makes those things that are in the dark visible. We don’t have to wonder if we are going to step on a toy because we can see it. Sin is often described as darkness because where sin is, God is absent. Thankfully, Jesus has provided a way to move out of darkness and into light. Read: John 8:12


Ask: According to this verse, who will never walk in darkness? Say: When we follow Jesus, He promises that we will have the light of life! Darkness can’t exist where there is light, and in the same way, because Jesus is light, the darkness loses its power over us. We can live each day forgiven. We are able to let the light that Jesus has brought to us shine for all to see.

Say: As Christians, we have the light of Jesus living in us, for the purpose of sharing it with others. Jesus instructs us to let our light shine so that people will not look at us, but see the Father, for His glory. These verses remind us that we are to display the light to others, and offer our light to their darkness, so that anyone who doesn’t know Jesus will be drawn to Him. Ask: What are some ways we can let our light shine to those around us this week? We were made to shine because we are simply reflecting the Jesus who lives in us. Pray: Jesus, thank You for the privilege of reflecting You. We were designed by You to bring light to a dark world. Help us to shine brightly this week, so the world will see our deeds and praise You! Amen. •

Memory Verses May 3 ▶ “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” ~ John 9:5 May 10 ▶ “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12 May 17 ▶ “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.” ~ Matthew 5:14 May 24 ▶ “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16 May 31 ▶ “I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness.” ~ John 12:46

Kelly Stewart, MSSW, and her husband, Jason, have four children. They love to share intentional and interactive family nights together at their home in Roseville, Calif. Follow Kelly at Keep It Going: For a daily Family Time Scripture reading and discussion starter, visit



faith forward progress


The God Who Laughs

He is the God who provides, who saves, and who delivers. But He’s also the God who laughs. This laughter of God is either immensely comforting, or incredibly frustrating, and which one depends on your standing in relation to Him. Psalm 2 gives us the picture of the laughing God, and also the picture of these two responses.



The psalm begins like this: “Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the LORD and His Anointed One: ‘Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.’ The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the LORD ridicules them” (Psalm 2:1-4).


Do you find yourself standing against or with God?

If you’re not standing against God, then you’re hiding behind Him. You are taking refuge in Him.

The issue at hand in this psalm is one of authority. The kings of the earth, those of great power and prestige, look at the sovereign rule of God and determine that they are better charters of their destinies than God Himself. From their perspective, His rule and law is oppressive; it’s something to be shaken off if true freedom is to be pursued and gained. So, they rebel. They conspire. They fight. And the Lord laughs.

God. Instead, those who are aligned with Jesus are those who are taking refuge in Him: “So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son or He will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for His anger may ignite at any moment. All those who take refuge in Him are happy” (Psalm 2:10-12).

ARE YOU STANDING AGAINST GOD? God chuckles at the feeble attempts in relation to His great power. He smirks at those who think they have any true authority or power. God grins at the arrogance and naivité of these potentates. And He laughs at their misshapen perspective, for what they think are chains of bondage are really the constraints of love. And what they think are the shackles of oppression are really the vanguards of grace. This sets up the exclusive nature of this psalm, for there are two distinct people represented here. The first group are the rulers and those who follow Him. It’s those who are rebels, both by their nature and their choices; those that are at war with Him either knowingly or unknowingly. And all of us have been at that camp at one point or another in our lives. We all have been beating on the chest of the One so big He doesn’t feel the fists. But the thing that’s penetrating to me about this psalm is not this group, it’s the other one. See, sometimes we think the opposite of this group are the allies. If these people are the ones standing against God and His kingdom, then the other group of people must be those aligned with Him … right? Yes and no, I think. The reason why it’s yes and no is because this psalm doesn’t present those who are aligned with God and His Son to be allies. It’s not a picture of two opposing armies, one commanded by the mighty general of

ARE YOU HIDING IN HIM? It’s that last part that’s getting to me: All those who take refuge in Him are happy. That doesn’t sound like someone who is aligned with God; it sounds like someone who is hiding behind God. This is the true “other side.” Sometimes we might think that God is fortunate to have us — our talents, our gifts, our smarts, our stuff — on His side. In fact, He’s pretty lucky that we’re not on the other side in this battle. How fortunate for Him! But if that’s the case, then the same arrogance that marks the rulers of the earth is present in us as well; it’s only a little bit more camouflaged. In this psalm at least, if you’re not standing against God, then you’re hiding behind Him. You are taking refuge in Him. The Lord of Hosts, the One who laughs, doesn’t need me this day. And if I stand against Him, I am swimming more upstream than I can possibly imagine. But if I am with Him, then I am hiding behind Him. Blessed are we who do that. Blessed are those who are hiding in Him. •

Michael Kelley lives in Nashville, Tenn., with

his wife, Jana, and three children: Joshua, Andi, and Christian. He serves as the Director of Group Ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources. As a communicator, Michael speaks across the country at churches, conferences, and retreats, and is the author of Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God, Transformational Discipleship, and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.



faith for such a time


What about our interactions with those around us? Do we look like the world or are we reflecting Christ?

Live a life not of this world. What happens when you make a movie about assassinat-

ing a dictator? Your company computers get attacked and emails get leaked. At least that’s what happened to Sony Pictures Entertainment after announcing the release of a movie featuring the assassination of a North Korean leader. James 4:1 asks this rhetorical question: “What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?” James was writing to Christians who were selfishly ambitious (3:14). Their ambition and desires were at war within them. They had unfulfilled passions and desires and were causing quarrels and fights within the body. James describes these passions as worldly. They were asking but asking for the wrong things and asking for their own benefit. He explains, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires” (4:3). James continues to say that anyone who is friends with the world becomes God’s enemy (v. 4).



Trillia Newbell is the author of United and Fear and Faith. She has also written for Desiring God, Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She is the consultant on Women’s Initiatives for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, and they reside with their two children near Nashville, Tenn.


Why Quarrel?

This is some serious rebuking from James. He equates quarrels and fights as worldly and the passions that they derive from as opposed to God. The correlation between our quarrels and the North Korea debacle falls short in that the North Korean government is not Christian, but it is a great example of how our divisions and quarrels reflect the world. We can be quick to distance ourselves from these situations with platitudes like: “I would never do such a thing.” “They are just evil and dangerous people.” But what about our interactions with those around us? Do we look like the world, or are we reflecting Christ? Are we gossipy, quarrelsome, or jealous? If you said yes to any of the above, you are not alone. We are all tempted in one way or another in anger and to be quarrelsome. No one is immune to the deceitfulness of our (worldly) passions. Conviction and revelation of sin is one of the many gifts of God and it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). As it is easy to dismiss our temptations as little, we must realize that all of it — including the hidden bitterness, jealousy, or the outward quarreling — deserves wrath. This is one reason why grace is so amazing. God poured out His wrath on His Son so that we would never have to experience such judgment. There is forgiveness available to us because of Jesus. We must actively ask the Lord for grace to resist these temptations so that we can indeed be in the world and not of it, by His grace. •





or bear children


t h e y

w i l l

b e


p e o p l e


along with their descendants. ThinkStock

ISAIAH 65:23




Don’t squander the joy in the moment by worrying about a future that doesn’t exist yet. ach would have turned twenty years old this month. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, when he was fourteen years old and he died two years ago, when he was just eighteen. Sometimes I think about the man he would have become, what he could have brought to this hurting world if he’d had the years of life so many of us are granted. Yet, in his short life, he learned to live in a way that most of us take decades to figure out. In living his life with hope in the face of death, he taught us how to truly live. I remember one afternoon sitting with him on our living room couch, just days after he’d come home from his first chemotherapy treatment, the sun shining in on us that cold December day in 2009. The house was empty except for the two of us; his dad was at work and his three siblings were at school. Zach was homeschooled now that the chemotherapy had compromised his immune system — traditional school was just too dangerous. I’d been thinking about why God had asked us to do this “thing,” why He’d allowed Zach to get cancer, and I wondered what Zach thought about it.



“So, what do you think God has in mind with this whole cancer thing?” I asked. He thought for a moment then responded, “I don’t know, but I think it’s for something big.” His starting point in this battle was to see things in the context of a bigger plan, a plan that he knew was there but that he couldn’t necessarily see or fully understand. He chose to see things beyond his life here on earth in the context of eternity. As his mother, I was relieved. I knew that if he understood he was part of something bigger, then he also understood that his life still had meaning and worth, even in the midst of tremendous suffering. As the cancer continued to grow, despite the most potent chemotherapies, the realization that we could actually lose Zach to the disease began to sink in. I had watched Zach suffer patiently for almost two years, and I was so incredibly proud of the way he chose to truly embrace each day, no matter what. After one particularly harsh treatment that would leave him extremely sick for days, we packed up Zach’s comforter, pillows, and guitar. Zach was so sick I’d asked him if he needed a wheelchair because he’d barely had enough energy

Ge t t yIm ages

We can spend enormous amounts of time and energy speculating on what may or may not happen and, in the end, most of the time, it just doesn’t matter.



to get himself dressed that afternoon. He refused the wheelchair, picked up his crutches, and headed down the hallway of 5B at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital (his second home for the past two years). As he slowly crutched his way down the long hallway to the elevator, somehow he found enough energy to muster up a smile and wave to each of the nurses as he passed by their stations. I marveled at how Zach, in the midst of his intense suffering, had learned to live outside of it. He did not allow what he suffered to contain or define him. At the tender age of sixteen, he was teaching me, his mother who was decades older, how to truly live and find joy each day. I started thinking about the lessons he was teaching me by the way he chose to live his life. And I started thinking about how he had something to teach our hurting world. BE EMPATHETIC. Zach had an enormous capacity for empathy; the ability to put himself in another’s shoes. He took the time to pause and connect with those he met, no matter how brief that time was; and his ability to understand people helped him to think outside of himself while battling cancer. Being empathetic oftentimes freed him from the temptation to despair in his own circumstances. Even when things got really hard for him, Zach knew there was someone out there who had it much worse than he did, and somehow that made his own suffering easier to bear. LIVE IN THE PRESENT. We live in this very small space in time called “the present.” We learned early on in the battle not to squander the joy that can be found in the moment by worrying about a future that doesn’t exist yet. We can spend enormous amounts of time and energy speculating on what may or may not happen and, in the end, most of the time, it just doesn’t matter. Tomorrow will come, but not today. JOY AND HAPPINESS ARE DIFFERENT. Happiness depends on things outside of ourselves and is fleeting; joy comes from within despite our circumstances. Look for joy every day and nurture it. With every moment of joy comes a choice to allow it, or to stifle it with resentment, anger, and bitterness. Our attitude tends to follow that which we dwell on.

Emphasize the joy! In your thoughts and conversations with others, make the moments of joy the starting point rather than the afterthought. Hard days are full of beautiful moments; look for them and embrace them. It is in the deepest suffering that the sweetest joy can be found. SUFFERING CAN BE A CHANNEL OF GRACE. Suffering gives us the platform of a story that people will listen to. The way we suffer matters! We all have a distaste and fear of suffering. When we suffer, people pay attention; they want to see how we do it. If we remember that our trials are a part of a bigger plan and that ultimately, by our example, we are sharing our faith, then our suffering can be an effective tool of evangelization. Offering the story of our suffering for God to use as He chooses is a powerful way of unleashing grace into the world. Unbelievable and extraordinary things can happen when we unite our suffering with God’s grace. DON’T LET FEAR OR CIRCUMSTANCES STOP YOU. Zach didn’t start writing songs or singing until the last year of his life. Zach had a crash course in how to live life to the fullest by not allowing fear to rule him. He didn’t have the luxury of believing he had a long future to figure things out, and he didn’t have the burden of believing he had a lot to lose by taking risks. He was willing to share himself and make himself vulnerable to share a message he needed to share. He set his suffering aside and worked through a tough time to create something beautiful when many would have closed themselves up and turned inward. As a result of his willingness to share himself despite his grim circumstances, he was able to achieve some amazing things in the last months before he died. MAKE THE WORLD BETTER. At Zach’s visitation, I had several teenagers tell me that he changed their day by simply acknowledging them. Zach was passionate about making life better for those around him. A simple smile at someone who is hurting can turn their day completely around. A word of encouragement or sympathy can give someone the strength they need to move forward. Oftentimes we get hung up in thinking that we need to do something profound and big to make a real difference in our world. There are big things that we can do to bring hope

Ge t t yIm ages

Offering the story of our suffering for God to use as He chooses is a powerful way of unleashing grace into the world.



Fly a Little Higher Laura spent three years walking the road of cancer with her teenage son, Zach, and blogging about their battle. Zach died May 20, 2013. His mother chronicled the journey in Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech. Copyright © 2014 Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Publishers Zach is mentioned on Twitter at least once every hour by those who have been inspired by the way he lived life.

to the world, but most of the time, it’s the little things that matter the most and have the most far-reaching effect. Never pass up an opportunity, especially the easy ones, to make life better for someone else. BE OPEN TO THE TWISTS AND TURNS OF LIFE. Life won’t always go the way you plan — as a matter of fact, it won’t go the way you planned — and that’s okay. Roll with it and be open to the lessons to be learned and growth to be gained. We rarely know what is best for us and tend to seek what is easiest for us. There is a life beyond this that we are preparing for, and we need to keep that in mind when we are tempted to shake our fists at God. God sees the bigger picture and He loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves. He will not abandon us in our time of need; we simply need to be open to His grace. He wants to pour out His grace in our times of trouble. You will be surprised by the grace that you will be given and where you end up. HOPE IS A POINT ABOVE THE HORIZON. We sometimes think that God couldn’t possibly want us to suffer the way we do. We forget that true hope is something that goes beyond anything material or earthly, and we get stuck in a cycle of despair. When we found out that Zach was terminal and only had a year to live, I wrestled with God over where to place my hope. In the cancer world, we hear the word hope a lot. We hope for a

cure, hope for more time, and hope for a miracle. I’d envisioned as a point on the horizon what I hoped for: Zach to be cancer-free and all grown up living a normal life. But when that earthy hope was taken off the table, that point on the horizon that we had worked so hard to reach was gone, I had to figure out what to hope for. That’s when I realized that hope isn’t a point that rests on the horizon — it’s in eternity. We are a part of something bigger than ourselves and this life, with its hopes and dreams, is simply the antechamber to a life much more beautiful in eternity. Zach’s life was short; he didn’t get to grow to be the man I dreamed he would become. What he became was so much more, and his impact on this world was huge. He lived a life of faith and joy in spite of his suffering. He was a boy in a hopeless situation, yet brought hope to a world that desperately needed it. He didn’t let the fear of the unknown keep him from jumping in and trying new things. He chose to create beauty in a time when he could have chosen instead to despair. He didn’t allow what he suffered to rob him of the joy of the moment. And he knew the world could be changed with a smile or simple word of encouragement. My son, Zach, was a boy who knew that it was all for something big. •

Laura Sobiech was born and raised

in Minnesota. She has been married to her husband, Rob, for twenty-four years. They are the proud parents of four children: one married, one in college, one in heaven, and one in high school. In her free time she volunteers as an EMT/firefighter at her local fire department and can knit a wicked awesome pair of socks.

family love that lasts BY GARY CHAPMAN

The Impossible Spouse When you entered marriage, you probably assumed

that you were marrying a responsible person. You knew that your roles would be somewhat different, but you assumed that you would both use your gifts and talents for the benefit of the marriage. After a few years, or maybe a few months of marriage, you may have discovered that your spouse is not the responsible person you thought you married. You may find yourself



thinking, It’s just not fair. I work hard. Why can’t she? Or you may reason, I don’t think I’m expecting too much. I just want him to be responsible. This irresponsibility may be total or partial. The first step is to always analyze the source of the problem. You must come to understand what is going on in the mind of your spouse. What lies behind this lack of ambition? Let me suggest four possible sources.

Ge t t y Im ages

Consider these four common sources of irresponsibility as you seek to better understand your spouse’s motivation.

You can’t change your spouse, but you can, and do influence them by your attitude and your behavior.

PARENTAL ROLE MODELS First, your spouse may be following the model of their mother or father. Look at the parent’s lifestyle. Is your spouse simply doing what he/she learned from their mother or father? We are all influenced by the model of our parents. REBELLING AGAINST PARENTAL ROLE MODELS On the other hand, a second possibility is your spouse may be rebelling against the model of parents. Maybe a parent was a workaholic, and he or she was never there for him/ her. So, your spouse decided that work was bad, and that he/ she would never repeat their parent’s mistake. Often, these efforts lead to the other extreme. SELF-CENTEREDNESS A third possibility is that your spouse may have developed a self-centered attitude. At the root of many irresponsible individuals is pure and simple selfishness. Perhaps his or her parents gave him/her few responsibilities growing up. He or she developed the mindset that the world owes them a living, and sooner or later the world will deliver. RESENTMENT Fourth, your spouse’s behavior may be an expression of resentment toward you. Whatever you request, they will lean in the opposite direction.

These are not the only possibilities, but they are four common sources of irresponsibility. The more clearly you can understand the source of your spouse’s behavior, the more likely you are to determine positive steps that you can take to stimulate constructive change. If you are going to be an agent of positive change in a marriage with an irresponsible spouse, you must always consider what motivates his or her irresponsible behavior, what is going on inside the individual. Unless you are able to address these issues, you are not likely to see positive change. Sometimes your efforts must be geared toward getting your spouse to a Christian counselor. The problem may be so severe that neither spouse will be able to handle it alone. Other times your efforts must focus on identifying the role your own behavior has played in compounding the problem of irresponsibility in your spouse. Taking responsibility for your own attitude and behavior is often the first step in getting your spouse the help they need. You can’t change your spouse, but you can, and do influence them by your attitude and your behavior. •

Gary Chapman, Ph.D., hosts two national

radio programs: A Love Language Minute and Building Relationships — both are on the Moody Broadcasting network and can be downloaded at fivelovelanguages. com. Gary is an author and marriage conference leader and serves on the staff of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. He and his wife, Karolyn, have two grown children.



family captured by God

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. — ABRAHAM LINCOLN



Ge t t y Im ages



Prodigal Love by Harriet Michael




have just about had it with my child!” I exclaimed into the telephone. Have you ever said those words, too? God blessed me with four children so, unfortunately, I have had the opportunity to say those words and feel that way too many times. Some of those times I even had good reason to be exasperated with my child. Three of my children are grown now, and the fourth is well on his way. But in those years of rearing children, mine have each taken their turns being a prodigal. Some spent longer in the distant country than others, but they have all been there at least once or twice. One particular moment comes to mind when I exclaimed those words into the phone to my close friend. That day I was beyond irritation by one of my child’s actions. I was about ready to either throw my hands up in defeat, or be provoked to some serious anger toward him. So, I did what I always do when I need to vent — I called my close friend, Susan. For ten minutes or more, I grumbled to her. I told her

Ge t t y Im ages

No matter what happens, your relationship with God remains.

all the ways my child had crossed the lines and challenged the boundaries his father and I had set. I shared my heart with her, telling her both how upset I was, and also my disappointment, hurt, and fear. My friend listened patiently, allowing me to vent fully. But then she reminded me once again why she is my “go to” person when I need to bounce a situation off someone and gain a different perspective. Susan wisely said, “I know what you mean; my son does it, too. He plows through lines we have drawn and almost dares us to discipline him sometimes. But whenever he exhausts me and I am ready to really let him have it, something always comes to my mind.” She had my full attention as I eagerly listened on the other end of the phone. Susan took a deep breath and continued, “I can’t help but remember that I have options in how I can respond to my child. I can respond to him according to what he deserves, and I would be just in doing so. Or, I can respond to him according to the relationship I have with him. He is my son and I am his mother. Nothing will ever change that. No matter what he or I do, that relationship exists. And then I think about how glad I am that God responds to my sin according to His relationship with me instead of according to what I

“I think about how glad I am that God responds to my sin according to His relationship with me instead of according to what I deserve.”


deserve. Don’t get me wrong, I still discipline our son, but I also make sure he knows I love him and I’m glad he is my child.” What a gracious and loving Heavenly Father we have. We claim the truth, “So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:7). He has adopted us as sons and daughters and made us heirs to His kingdom. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. •

Harriet Michael is a freelance writer in Louisville, Ky. She was reared in Africa as the daughter of missionaries. Harriet has four children and one grandchild.

mix ad-B_Layout 1 2/20/15 12:29 PM Page 1


Faith, Family, and Love...

phy hotogra laus P lsea C © Che

The Waltons star’s moving debut novel about three generations of women navigating marriage, motherhood, and independence.

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.— America’s Independent Publisher

An inspirational story of a woman trying to regain her former music fame… until love strikes a more meaningful chord.

Visit LIFEWAY.COM/KLEANREADS for more books that celebrate your values.

family family coaches


The Blessing of Oneness Keep the spiritual, emotional, and sexual connection pure, confessing temptation to one another.

My husband was distancing himself from me sexually. His internet history of pornography websites told me why. When confronted, he confessed that he caved in to temptation and apologized for his actions. Can you help us?

Strategy ▼

This question is one of the most frequent, heartbreaking questions we receive. These are real issues facing men and women alike in the area of sexual purity. First, we all have “two dogs” that live inside of us: a good dog and a bad dog. We are all tempted, yet, we are still accountable for our response to the temptation. Our passion is to “run from the bad dog” into the safety and security of Jesus, and one another. Yet, the temptation is very real.



Second, our hearts are given to harden. They don’t become hard overnight. We drift from our anchoring in Christ and His righteousness. This husband may have drifted rather than jumped into pornography. Perhaps he experienced some disconnect with his bride which led to conflict, control, and ultimately withdrawal. That is a dangerous pattern, indeed. When a man withdraws, he runs the risk of going what I call “subterranean,” which is when he acts out. He may give in to patterns of self-stimulation rather than physical intimacy with his wife, such as

Dr. Gary & Barb Rosberg have

been coaching and encouraging couples to experience a great marriage for more than 25 years. Together, they have published resources to strengthen marriages and relationships through the 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love. You can receive daily coaching from Gary and Barb through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and


Challenge ▶

pornography and other behaviors that threaten intimacy within marriage. The good news for this couple is that the wife was discerning enough to move closer in their communication by confronting her husband. Clearly for him, and all of us, yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit’s conviction would be the best response. This would lead to open communication and repentance. However, this bride spoke up, and her husband’s relief led to repentance and the road to reconnection. The antidote? Guard your hearts. Keep the spiritual, emotional, and sexual connection pure, confessing temptation to one another. Easy? No. A daily opportunity in a marriage? Yes. We have found over and over again that when a husband and wife walk in sexual purity, guarding their hearts as Solomon directs us, they experience the blessings of oneness and celebration of true sexual intimacy. •

marriage fyi

“When we live with a lack of anxiety about the future, even in those tightrope kind of times, we communicate the truth that our God is indeed worthy of our trust.”

~ Matt Chandler

▼Lukewarm About Diversity▼ Sunday morning

remains one of the most segregated hours in American life. Eight in ten congregations are made up of one predominant racial group. Do church-goers feel the need to become more ethnically diverse? Fifty-three percent say no. African-American and Hispanic-American churchgoers are more likely to admit to needing more ethnic diversity. Source: http://www.lifewayresearch. com/2015/01/15/sunday-morning-inamerica-still-segregated-and-thats-okwith-worshipers/




The U.S. Small Business administration has identified seven common persistent mistakes that entrepreneurs make when consulting a mentor. The same applies to life and faith-life mentors as well. mmChoosing an

unenthusiastic mentor

mmSetting expectations too low mmExpecting your mentor to do your work mmNot accepting input mmDoing all the talking mmWorrying about secrets mmBeing too persistent and needy






Parenting Stepsiblings Help foster blended family relationships by developing strong bonds. When both adults bring children to a marriage, their children become stepsiblings. Understanding how stepsibling relationships work and what parents can do about them is an important part of good blended family parenting.

STEPSIBLING RELATIONSHIPS Here’s what we know about stepsibling relationships. First, as we might expect, biological ties between half and full siblings create a stronger bond and loyalty than between stepsiblings. Being a half sibling makes it feel more “real” to kids than being a stepsibling. Further, just as in the larger stepfamily, there



is a natural insider/outsider dynamic between those who have some biological connection to each other (half and full siblings) and those who don’t (stepsiblings). Together, these dynamics mean stronger bonds for half and full siblings, which translates into more frequent interaction and a deeper sense of being family. At times, this may leave stepsiblings feeling disconnected or left out.1 Second, we know that time helps foster stepsibling relationships. Young children under the age of six who naturally have more time with siblings, and who enter the family at a developmental age in which they are open

Being part of a stepfamily brings loss to some children and a sense of gain to others.

to new people in their life, are more likely to develop and maintain closer relationships with stepsiblings throughout their lifetime than children who enter a stepfamily in the elementary or teenage years. In fact, the connection is so strong it more closely resembles full sibling relationships. Third, becoming part of a stepfamily brings loss to some children and a sense of gain to others. Children who feel displaced from a biological parent or full sibling by new family members, for example, experience added loss. However, for some children in this situation, gaining a stepsibling is cause for celebration.


family smart stepfamilies

CREATE RITUALS AND TRADITIONS A good example of creating rituals and traditions would be if a stepmom whose stepkids were fragmented by visitation and school schedules during the week and took them for ice cream every Friday after school. This outing THE TIES THAT BIND Foster opportunities for kids to develop would provide her with some special “let’s celebrate making it through the common interests so they can encourage one another. Orchestrate outings or week” time with the kids, and develop trips to encourage relationship building. an expectation of fun. One couple I know builds up birthdays as a special If they take to one another immeditime to celebrate one another. They ately, wonderful. If not, keep bringing engaged the stepsiblings the preceding them together around activities they month around how they could make the enjoy, but don’t demand connection child with the birthday feel cherished or affection for one another; let them and appreciated. This fostered warmth figure it out. in the siblings toward one another. PARENTING SIBLINGS Intentional parenting for stepsiblings essentially means fostering relationships between them in order to bridge the natural gaps that separate them.

More Tips for Parenting Stepsiblings


Your marriage is the gateway to stepsiblings finding the motivation to get along. If your marriage is healthy, your kids will be more motivated to consider one another as family.



Adult stepchildren should be allowed to negotiate their own relationship with step-

siblings. It’s not uncommon for them to be cordial, but not close, given busy lives, raising their own families, and living in different areas.


Regarding physical affection, young children are most comfortable with this and are the most coachable. Teenagers, however, have an entirely different level

of awkwardness about this and need space to figure it out on their own.


If kids are uncomfortable with each other, make sure both parents are involved in family outings or activities so they have a buffer person available to them.

MINISTRY TIP When it comes to parent education, we generally limit our training to sibling conflict. Add to your parenting material a discussion of stepsibling relationships and how to foster closeness over time.

BREAK UP COALITIONS If you notice a sibling coalition excluding or mistreating another child, actively pursue breaking it apart. Martin had two daughters, ages eight and six, who were the “twin queens of the household”. The girls didn’t much like it when Sonja, their stepsister, became a part of the family. The sisters deliberately mistreated Sonja, left her out of play time, and said hurtful things to her. Appropriately, Martin took charge of the situation and made it very clear to his daughters that they were not to treat her this way. He and his wife put consequences into place and followed through to stop the behavior. MANAGE CONFLICT Be intentional to coach children through their inevitable sibling conflicts by teaching problem-solving skills. Stepsibling relationships are actually less negative than half or full sibling relationships and stepsiblings have fewer extreme feelings about the other. Plus, stepsiblings also have more positive communication between them than do half or full siblings. Apparently, for biological siblings, it appears that clearly being family frees siblings to be more angry and conflicted with one another, but stepsiblings tend to hold back on negativity. I guess that means that as stepsiblings bond over time, you can expect their conflict to increase. • 1

The research summaries in this section are taken from Pasley, K, & Garneau, C. (in press). Stepsibling relationships. In R.E. Emery (Ed.), Cultural sociology of divorce: An encyclopedia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Adapted from The Smart Stepfamily (2014) by Ron L. Deal, Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing. Used with permission. All rights to this material is reserved.

Ron L. Deal, is president of Smart

Stepfamilies™, director of FamilyLife Blended™, conference speaker, and author/ coauthor of a series of DVD’s, books, and curriculum for stepfamilies including The Smart Stepfamily, The Smart Stepmom, The Smart Stepdad, Dating and the Single Parent, and The Smart Stepfamily Marriage. His one-minute radio feature, FamilyLife Blended, can be heard daily on stations nationwide and online. Learn more at FamilyLife. com/blended.



Homeward Bound ˜ ˜

The ladies of the award-winning trio Point of Grace celebrate a legacy of family and faith.

by Caroline Lusk




very morning, everywhere in the world, there are moms who wake up spinning plates. Whether they are stay-at-home moms, work parttime or full-time, a mother’s work is never done. When it comes to motherhood, there is one guarantee in life — it’s not going to be easy. Day in and day out, moms juggle spending time with their children, maintaining a household, working … a lot. Whether a mom works outside the home or stays home, the tasks are always demanding and endlessly rigorous. And then our hearts come into play. “Mom-guilt…” it’s real. But it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Rather, it can motivate moms to look deep into their lives and weigh the energy, passion, and time they are investing in one thing or another and honestly deciding if it’s all worth it. For Shelley Breen, Denise Jones, and Leigh Cappillino, who make up the multiple-award winning trio Point of Grace, they know a thing or two about the juggling act. For over 20 years, they have been on the road, in a studio, around the world singing, ministering, and heeding the call placed on their lives. Just like the rest of us, though, they are all too aware that their call frequently pulls them away from their families. “We can get in the rat-race of trying to be too busy,” says Denise. “It’s a constant battle to choose to be present in our kids’ lives. That’s one of my battles — not getting so busy on the stuff that doesn’t matter … and choosing to be present.”

E “We’ve missed so many birthdays, weddings, graduations,” Leigh adds with a bit of a wistful look. “But you know, my daughter was at one of our shows recently and talked with some of the people who were there. She told me how over and over again, she would hear people say what an impact our music has had on their lives. She said, ‘Mom, you’re really making a difference.’ That makes it a little easier to pack those bags.” And week after week after week, Point of Grace has done just that … packed a bag, boarded a bus or a plane, faithfully walking out the path God has laid before them. While the hours have been long and the miles been far, Denise, Shelley, and Leigh all agree that they’re never far from home. “Home represents me being loved,” says Leigh. “If we are loved and have a purpose, life is so much sweeter. I know what I do matters for whom I do it. I have two homes — my home in Tennessee and my home out on the road. At both, I know that I’m loved and I have purpose.” Perhaps it was this dual sense of home and purpose that most profoundly influenced the latest album from the trio, Directions Home (Songs We Love, Songs You Know). Like most musicians at the genesis of a project, Denise, Shelley, and Leigh had more questions than answers. “It gets a little harder every time you embark on a new record,” says Shelley. “You want to do something you haven’t already done.”


The Journey Home

After 25 years, though, finding that new idea isn’t easy … until they realized that the next new thing had been right in front of them for years. “In our live show, whenever we do familiar songs, it seems to bring the audience in. That familiarity resonates with audiences. And that’s what we want to do — to connect,” says Shelley.

And that’s where the fun started. With a clear vision in front of them to record songs that they loved and had been touched by through the years — both old and new — the women started collecting. With each new song came memories, hopes and, oddly enough, a common theme. “When we were about six songs deep, we realized they were all relating to the journey of life … the journey towards home,” Leigh says. Previously recorded songs like “The Climb,” “You’re Gonna Miss This,” “Only Love,” and “Home,” were taken apart and put back together in a style that only Point of Grace could deliver. Intricate harmonies and a stripped-back approach to production gave new life to the songs, along with an added dimension of faith. “When you’re a Christian, you view everything through that lens. It’s kind of impossible not to,” says Shelley. As the track listing solidified, with the addition of “Friend of a Wounded Heart” (a throwback to their very first tour, years ago with none other than the artist who first recorded that song, Wayne Watson), Matt Maher’s “Lord I Need You,” the classic hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and the first single, “Something in the Water,” recently recorded by Carrie Underwood, each song was allowed to develop naturally. Nothing was forced. “A lot of times when you’re recording, you try to serve radio,” says Shelley. “This time, we really tried to serve the song. We didn’t have to worry about measuring up to anyone else’s standards — just our own.” They met those standards with the help of the extraordinarily talented musician and producer, Andy Leftwich. A mandolin and fiddle player, Andy has been a part of Ricky Skaggs’ 14-time GRAMMY award-winning group, Kentucky Thunder. With his wife, Rachel, taking point on vocal arrangement, the production of this album brought to fruition the ladies’ hopes for the songs — to be delivered in a style that was fresh and original, but indisputably them — and ~ Leigh Cappillino achieved the sound they were aiming for. “We really envisioned that this record would feel like you’re sitting around a group of amazing musicians doing a live show,” says Denise. Mission accomplished. With access to some of the greatest musicians in the world, the music contained within Directions Home is second-to-none, as are the guest artists — Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs.

“If we are loved and have a purpose, life is so much sweeter. I know what I do matters for whom I do it.”



These moms are making a difference and setting an example for their children as profoundly as the one their parents set for them.

The Families Behind the Music

It’s the kind of legacy that emerges only in the midst of utter dedication, great humility, and a stalwart belief in the mission behind the music. It’s the kind of legacy mothers build when they have been called. And faithfully, for over two decades, these mothers have heeded that call and prayerfully stepped up to fulfill it. Despite their destination or touring schedule, however, home remains their priority and it is truly where their hearts lie — a legacy that began in their childhood homes. “I love being on the road, but I’m a homebody at heart,” says Shelley. “My parents set such a good foundation for my sister and me. They were so diligent to make sure we were in church and had that rhythm in our lives. Growing up in a house whose parents loved each other and loved God taught me so much about loving people and making them feel special. My mom was super-selfless in that way.” “I learned my passion for people from my mom,” says Denise. “She was always at church. She loved God. She was constantly loving people. Whether it’s taking food by or visiting with someone … I didn’t appreciate it growing up, but now I can. I remember watching her read her Bible. She was desperate for God’s Word to pour over her at all times. In hard and good times, I saw that my mom was all about recognizing truth and living by it.”

Worth Doing

For Denise, Shelley, and Leigh, truth revolves around God first, family second, and career somewhere down the line. “Having kids is such a good way to set boundaries in your life,” Shelley says. “When your kids are in school all day, you only have a few hours every night for just a few years. You have to make the most of that time with them. My mantra is, if it makes a memory, then it’s worth doing.” With children ranging in age from two to teens, the three women of Point of Grace are decidedly at varying stages of the parenting game. Denise, who has been married for 22 years, is preparing to send her children off to college. Shelley has a few more years with her only daughter, and Leigh is still celebrating their latest addition, a toddling two-year-old. A memory-making moment likely looks vastly different in each of their homes, but is equally as important, precious, and prized. All things considered, that these music veterans



and trailblazers would put out an album now that recalls those many memories not only makes sense; it’s a gift of nostalgia to everyone within earshot. And, be they originally Christian songs or not, this is the kind of music that awakens that spiritual yearning for home and refuge within each of us. “A lot of these songs that were originally secular songs refer to home as a literal place on a map,” says Shelley. “But the Bible tells us the longing for eternal home is set inside every heart. Some people search for it their entire lives.”

Life Is Good

Those people have become somewhat of extended family for Point of Grace. People who have heard a song, attended a show, or in some way have been a part of their ministry. People who have inspired the servant attitude within the trio that has kept them going for so long. “The thing that propels us on,” Shelley continues, “is that we love God and we love to serve people. I think that’s one of the things that has given us longevity and invitations to come back. Having done this as long as we have, there was also a lot of room to take this project exactly where we wanted it to go and we were able to create an album that we love.” They also happened to create an album that celebrates God’s favor in their lives and hearts and families. “The bottom line is that life is good,” Denise says. “We are celebrating all those moments that God’s given us. I’m now watching us as women who are truly maturing in the Lord. Life is good because God is good to us. It’s not always circumstantial; but even in the tough stuff, we’re learning how to celebrate and appreciate life.” So, when the tour bus rolls into town, it is with gratitude, humility, and purpose that these ladies pack those bags and head out. While that departure is unlikely to ever be without some sense of “mom-guilt,” it is equally as likely to be one made in the confidence of those who know they are walking the path that He laid before them. As they continue to touch lives around the country, the words of Leigh’s daughter ring as true today as they ever have — these moms are making a difference and setting an example for their own children as profoundly as the one their parents set for them. That’s the kind of life that makes lasting memories while generating a legacy of surrender, devotion, and faith. That’s the kind of life that makes those bags a little easier to pack. •

Caroline Lusk shas been involved in the Christian music

industry as a freelance writer, editorial assistant, and most recently, editor of CCM Magazine,,, and Christian College Link. Caroline lives in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband, Andy, and their two children.


“A lot of people ask us who we would want to sing with,” shares Denise. “Vince and Ricky are both often mentioned. They are phenomenal musicians and extraordinary voices. We had no idea it was even a hope and a prayer for us to collaborate with them. Andy was the main reason it actually happened.”

family parenting on purpose


Be a Barnabas Being men and women of encouragement helps protect us against having hardened hearts.

Question ▶

I grew up in a home where love was expressed in the form of criticism. It’s impacted who I am as a person and a parent. What can I do to make sure I don’t leave that legacy for my kids?


Answer ▼

If someone were to give you a nickname that characterizes your temperament or some outstanding aspect of your personality what would it be? In Acts 4:36, we’re introduced to Joseph, who was born in Cyprus, but whose nickname was Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement. How’s that for a great nickname? The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of encouragement (1 Thes-

salonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13). Somehow, being men and women of encouragement helps protect us against having hardened hearts. What is an encouraging environment and why is it important? An encouraging environment is a place where our kids feel valued — where we spend more time building and encouraging them than scolding and correcting them. Where they are treated with honor and respect. Where we identify and call out their uniqueness.

An encouraging environment is one where parents spend more time praising them for being successful than criticizing them for falling short. An encouraging environment is one in which parents respond (rather than react) to their children’s pleasant as well as painful emotions. An encouraging environment is one in which it is safe to make mistakes. In fact, our kids learn that it’s not only safe, but that God can actually use their mistakes and failures to help them learn and grow. This kind of environment puts Romans 8:28 and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 into perspective. We help our kids learn to respond to mistakes by asking, “What can I learn from this experience?” and “How can I do it better next time?” If your kids were to give you a nickname, strive for it to be Barnabas. •

Gary J. Oliver, Ph.D., is the executive

director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, a university and seminary professor, and the author of more than 20 books including Mad About Us: Moving From Anger to Intimacy and Raising Sons and Loving It! Learn more at




Grumpiness and the Gospel Give praise and thanksgiving to God for all of your days.

Do you know a family who is using the Power of the Home to reach out to others? Let us know at



The morning started off fairly

normally but quickly went downhill. I was talking with our oldest daughter in her bedroom about a discipline issue. She was loudly trying to renegotiate the consequences of her discipline. Her two youngest sisters were yelling and fighting over toys in their adjacent

bedroom. Eventually, both of them were mad and crying. I asked my second-born daughter to please pick up her things in the hall — for the third time. Instead of obeying, she tried to push her way into the bedroom where I was talking with her sister, who was pushing back on the door yelling, “Privacy!” At this point, she turned to go downstairs, tripped on her clothes left in the hall, and fell down. She started howling in pain. Our golden retriever, Scout, chose this moment to bolt up the steps into the madness. The tension in my heart had been growing, but now the falling incident and the dog’s entrance sent me over the edge. Lord, what do I do now? Parenting books don’t prepare you for these kinds of scenarios. I still secretly hoped our girls would just magically play nicely together, say kind words, and obey the first time. Where did I go wrong? I walked out in our tiny hallway where I could see all their beautiful, cranky faces and said in a

Ge t t yim ages

family power of the home

very loud voice, “We are not a family who yells at each other! What is going on here?” Then, I did the only thing I could think of at the moment. I sent each girl to her bed for 30 minutes to calm down, and I went downstairs. In my heart I called out, “Lord, what do I do now? Help!” I walked to the kitchen sink and looked at the pile of dirty dishes, feeling terrible and discouraged. I glanced up at the windowsill and spotted my little red painted stone that said, “Joy.” On the other side of the windowsill were special nature items the girls had saved from family walks — two creek rocks, a piece of mica, a magnolia flower bud, a dried rose, half a hickory nut, a gray feather, and eleven tiny pinecones. I

started to calm down. In the center was a picture of my four girls lined up in birth order eating popsicles, smiling. I glanced at the Bible verse I had cut off an egg carton — Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I thought to myself, I just need to rejoice in these small things, but God has something bigger to teach me that morning.

When a family desires to know Jesus and obey Him, their home will look different.

The Gospel Hope We All Need

I sat down at the kitchen table and looked up Psalm 118 on my computer. I was desperate for the Lord’s presence and His wisdom. The Holy Spirit calmed my heart as I read through the psalm and saw a beautiful picture of

Signs of Love by Greg Mathias My wife and I are on the edge of uncharted territory for us — the teenage years! We know these upcoming years will hold both joy and pain. There will be many opportunities for learning, growing, and leaning into God. In preparing for this new season of life, I have specifically focused on cultivating a language of love and trust with my daughters. Often, it is expressed in our own sign language that lets us express how much we love each other even in the midst of chaos. I take every opportunity to hug my girls, laugh with them, and let them know that it’s always okay to hold my hand. These little signs of love will help me stay connected with them as we navigate the waters of teenage life. As Page and I look toward this new season, we know that during turbulent times, our kids need the anchors of faith and family, and chances to express affection and feel loved. What are you doing to cultivate signs of love in your home?

God’s goodness and faithful love. The writer calls God his helper, refuge, strength, and ultimately his salvation. Rejoicing in God’s salvation, the writer says he will proclaim what the Lord has done. Then I read verse 24 in context about rejoicing in the day the Lord has made. It’s referring to the day of salvation secured for us by Christ. So this psalm was about praise and thanksgiving to God for His day of salvation, not just thankfulness for my day. God was quick to raise my heart and mind from the irritation and disappointment of my conversations with the girls to point me to a deeper place of joy and thankfulness for experiencing forgiveness of my sins and having a relationship with Him. This is the gospel hope I needed that day. When a family desires to know Jesus and obey Him, their home will look different. Sinful attitudes and grumpy days are a reality, but the foundation of the home is thankfulness, praise, and joy in the Lord. With this understanding in my heart, I was much better prepared to have a simple conversation with my girls after their 30-minute timeout. I took the Psalm writer’s cue and turned to the Lord in our time of distress and called on Him to help us turn from our sin, and have grateful hearts of love and kindness. •

Page Mathias holds a Master of Arts


in Intercultural Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She, her husband Greg, and their four girls, live in a small town in North Carolina where they live out their family motto “To be seen and heard for Jesus.”



family single focus


God is willing and able to cover me with His love.

There is safety and security in trusting your Heavenly Father. From my reading chair, I could hear the sound of my

son, Bryce, running his bath water. After a few minutes, I realized that I could no longer hear any water running. For that matter, I couldn’t hear anything. It was strangely quiet. I waited another minute or two and then I heard another sound. It was water draining from the tub. I knew Bryce was up to something. I walked down the hallway to the bathroom and peeked in the doorway to find my son standing there without a stitch of clothing on his body. Moreover, he was completely dry — except for his hair, which was the only thing he got wet! “Bryce, were you trying to trick me into thinking you took a bath when you really didn’t?” “No, sir.” I decided to take the “stare your child down until he confesses” approach. After about three minutes of a silent stare-off, I realized my son might be more stubborn than I am. Eventually, he confessed to the crime, but only after a long conversation. I explained to him that while his lie hurt my feelings, his refusal to confess hurt even more.



I thought about that after he went to bed. Why was his refusal to confess the more hurtful offense? Because it communicated that my son did not feel safe enough with me to lean on my mercy. He would rather continue trusting in an unsustainable lie than to trust in the security of my love. That sounds a lot like the way I act before God, sometimes. In the moments when I feel most vulnerable, I often neglect my greatest source of comfort by misrepresenting the truth. Like Adam and Eve, I am naked and ashamed before God, yet I still try to hide. All the while, God is willing and able to cover me with His love. What does that say about my trust in God’s mercy and grace? That night, before he went to bed, I had a talk with my son. I explained that he could always share his mistakes, failures, hurts, and feelings with me. But then, I took it one step further — I asked him to share them with me. In the same way, God is not only available to hear our confession, but He asks us to share our burdens with Him. There is safety and security in trusting our Heavenly Father with all our struggles, deficiencies, weaknesses, and failures. •

Scott Attebery is a widower and executive director of DiscipleGuide Church Resources, but his favorite title is “Dad.” He is the author of Navigate: Understanding and Pursuing God’s Will. Learn more about him at Follow him on Twitter @scottattebery or at


Come Clean

parenting fyi Mother’s love is something that no one can explain. It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain. It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may. For nothing can destroy it or take that love away. —Helen Steiner Rice

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen Biking Is Not Just for Kids Anymore According to The League of American Cyclists, the country has taken to biking as a

means of transportation. There are currently more than 882,198 cyclists commuting to school or work each day; a rise of 62% from 2000 to 2013.

Do you know that some sunscreens can prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, and help prevent early signs of skin aging? It’s often difficult to determine what sunscreen to purchase, but here’s a little help.

1 5

in Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.

Top 5 growing bike commute cities by region are: mmEAST: Sommerville, MA., Cambridge, MA., Washington D.C., New Haven, CT., Philadelphia., PA. mmMIDWEST: Ann Arbor, MI., Bloom-

ington, IN., Madison, WI., Minneapolis, MN., Champaign, IL.

recommends consumers choose a sunscreen which states on the label: mmSPF 30 or higher mmBroad Spectrum, which means a

mmSOUTH: Gainesville, FL., Miami

sunscreen protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays, both of which can cause cancer.

mmWEST: Davis, CA., Boulder, CO.,

mmWater Resistant, for up to 40 or 80 minutes. (Sunscreen can no longer claim to be waterproof or sweatproof.)

Beach, FL., New Orleans, LA., Charleston, SC., Richmond, VA.

Palo Alto, CA., Berkeley, CA., Mountain View, CA. Thinkstock

mmThe American Academy of Dermatology





family healthy living


Joyful Heart I have been writing about health and wellness for years and

I recently realized that I haven’t looked up the meaning of the word health since my 7th-grade health class: Health: (noun) 1. The general condition of the body and mind with reference to sound and vigor. 2. Soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment. 3. Vigor, vitality. There is nothing in the definition about a specific diet or exercise program. None of the latest fad drink concoctions that claim to cleanse your liver and wash away all your bad eating decisions are named. I don’t see mention of a wheat grass shot, fruits and veggies, or the suggestion to meditate until you are a zombie. So, what is healthy and how do you get it? To some people it is an urban myth. It is something they hear about but have never seen for themselves. People go after it by trying one new thing after another. But, as far as health is concerned, most people will not continue to make healthy choices if they do not like the options they choose. What may give one person “sound and vigor” or “soundness of body” may not be the same for the next person. Let me give you an example. I can’t stand beets, watermelon, or raisins. I feel sick just thinking about tasting any of them. All are considered “healthy”; however, if I personally were to eat any of them, I would be far from having “soundness of body or mind.” I’m just sayin’! I would rather eat a live beetle than a raisin. There are many healthy activities and foods to choose from. Exercise comes in many forms. If you don’t like something, then make a new choice. The idea is to choose as many things as possible that will give you “freedom from disease or ailment.” We’re inundated with endless lists of things marked “good for” or “bad for us”. Do your research



Healthy is eating real food … moving your body and doing activities that make you happy, and living a life of gratitude and balance.

and understand the facts behind what will be the best choices for you. Just because I mark a box of donuts “fat-free”, that doesn’t make them fat-free. If a health expert tells you to eat a pound of prunes a day to cure whatever ails you, that doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest. It’s hard to have vigor, strength, energy, or determination if you are running to the bathroom all day. My suggestion is to not jump on a bandwagon. Never put yourself on a fad diet or deprive your body and soul. My personal definition for the word healthy is (and may be different than yours): Eating real food, and especially food that pleases and nourishes you, moving your body and doing activities that make you feel happy, and living a life of gratitude and balance. Proverbs 17:22 says it this way, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” •

Lisa Wade is a healthy lifestyle coach, a pastor’s

wife, and a speaker. She and her husband are the proud parents of six children. Learn more at facebook. com/


A healthy life is a joyful life.






created in

Christ f


good works. Susan M ay wald Design

Ephesians 2:10






Church Planting

Moms Training and caregiving provide life-giving hope for churches in Southeast Asia.

Hugh Johnson Photo


he young woman gingerly crawls off a motor scooter, grateful for the ride. Last month, Kalliyan Seng* could make the two-mile trek from her home on a bicycle. But now that she’s nine months pregnant, and ready to give birth at any minute, it’s harder to pedal that distance. The woman steadies herself then waddles in for a weekly pregnancy health class. She’s greeted by community health workers and IMB missionary Nancy Potter.* Women, in various stages of pregnancy or post-pregnancy, surround the ensemble, chatting. Nancy looks around the crowded room and smiles. If someone had told her a few years ago that churches in this part of Southeast Asia would start as a result of pregnant women learning to be healthy, she might have scoffed. Most of these women don’t even have a third-grade education. Their families live on less than $1 a day. Some are malnourished and sick. It’s definitely a ragtag group. Yet, God uses these women as catalysts for spreading His Word. “I’m not sure if it started with the women because when you are pregnant, it’s nine months of uncertainty or what,” Nancy says. “But if you look at how most of

It’s definitely a ragtag group. Yet, God uses these women as catalysts for spreading His Word.



“We disciple and train the leaders and they go to the next village. They communicate at a deeper heart level.”

the new village house churches started, it’s through women. One came to faith and then started praying for everyone else. Other women then join her and they pray for their husbands.” As if to accentuate Nancy’s point, Seng scoots across the floor to the missionary nurse from Oklahoma. The reason she came today was really to ask everyone to pray for her husband. She prays that she will deliver a healthy baby, and that this will lead her husband to ask questions about her newfound faith.

Lifegiving Care

Like most attending the prenatal classes, Seng did not know anything about Jesus. The former Buddhist came to learn about giving birth and how to take care of her baby. In this poor rural area, death is a common reality when giving birth. Some of the highest maternal mortality rates are here. Five women die every day during childbirth, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Surviving childbirth isn’t even an end to the fears for these young mothers. For every 1,000 births, around 50 children never see their first birthdays. For years, Nancy and her husband, William,* held malnourished babies, wondering how long the children would survive. They cringed every time they heard of mothers squatting in an unsanitary home to give birth. Their hearts broke when these women died without hearing the gospel. So the Potters, who have medical backgrounds, created a simple curriculum to teach about healthy prenatal and post-pregnancy care. Now, they see around 250 healthy births a year. The health classes use local Christians to teach everything from washing hands to burping babies. Each lesson ends with a biblical truth and prayer. This approach combines aspects of a discipleship and church-planting program called Training for Trainers (T4T) with human needs. “The first time we tried this, I couldn’t get anyone interested in going out with me,” Nancy remembers. “All it took was one time for that first generation of believers to catch the vision. Now, we disciple and train the leaders and they go to the next village. They communicate at a deeper heart level. What we are seeing now is a real acceleration of the gospel.”

Houses of Peace

Seng, like most of the new believers, came to faith after the health workers repeatedly visited her home the next day as “follow up.” When a “house of peace,” or a family that is interested in learning Bible stories and letting others join them, is found, a small group is formed. William says they like to slip



mothers into two groups as soon as they can. One becomes the human needs time (pregnancy health class) and the other is a freestanding Bible study/discipleship group that hopefully turns into a church. Sovaan and Maly Lim* opened their tiny home to a small group back when Maly was pregnant. Local Christians came each week to pray, sing praises to God, and teach a

COUNTER CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: • National believers in Southeast Asia receive education in the “Training for Trainers” (T4T) approach to church planting. • By meeting the physical needs of local women, believers are also able to help address their spiritual needs by introducing them to the gospel, many for the very first time. • A local child joins her family at a house church gathering. • The idyllic rural scenery belies the difficulties of living at the water’s edge in this Southeast Asian community. Every year the river floods its banks and inundates vast areas of farmland for months at a time. • Robert Potter*, 8, watches with his dad, William*, as a factory worker unwraps a water pot that has just been shaped in a hydraulic press. The Potter family ministers to local inhabitants through a variety of human needs projects including health care education, sanitation, and water purification.

Hugh Johnson Photos

FROM PREVIOUS PAGE: • Women in rural Southeast Asia often have very limited knowledge about basic health care. Nancy Potter* visits local villages to teach health classes alongside national women she has trained. These classes introduce basic concepts such as home hygiene, nutrition, and prenatal care.

Bible story. Maly came to Christ one year later, but Sovaan remained a drunkard and gambled away the family’s money … but he kept watching and listening. Maly and the other women wanted to bring their husbands to Christ. So Nancy incorporated lessons on “how to be a godly wife.” Then the women gathered everyday, praying for their husbands to come to faith.

“Even up to four months ago, I didn’t think we’d ever have any men in our small groups,” Nancy says. “But then, the husbands saw their wives’ countenance change. They saw healthy babies where in the past there was only death … and that provided a natural presentation of the gospel from their wives.” Then, one by one, the men came to Christ — including Sovaan. “We are seeing baptisms almost every month now,” William says. “Most (churches) started as a result of the pregnancy health classes and local believers going out and sharing the gospel.” Sovaan breaks out into a big toothy smile. Jesus is now his favorite topic of conversation. In fact, he and Maly just finished inviting everyone in the village to come to their house for church. At a T4T training, they were challenged to share with neighbors. “I learned about the words and truths of God at the training,” Sovaan says. “Now, it’s our turn to take this lesson and teach to the people in our village … then we will go share in the next village.” • *The names were changed for protection.

Susie Rain is an International Mission Board writer and editor

living in Asia. She has traveled to more than 100 countries writing about God’s work among His people.




In Balance Keep God at the top of your list.

Have you ever had one

of those world-tipping inner ear things? It’s about the worst kind of imbalance. It started small when it happened to me. My body kept trying to lean to one side. I felt like any minute somebody might come up behind me and try to stick a couple of sugar packets under my left foot. Then, as inner-ear malfunctions are accustom to do, the thing accelerated and suddenly the world was very … how can I describe it? Very Star Ship Enterprise. The kind of Enterprise where some space anomaly has the ship flailing back and forth. I felt fine as long as I was lying down. But it was a busy season. I’d been meeting myself coming and going, and lying down made me remember everything I needed to do. At one point I thought I could sneak up on a couple of to-do list items without my ears knowing. I was moving slowly, oh so slowly … when suddenly, it felt like I was boldly verti-going where no one has verti-gone before. Fortunately, I’m not a great housekeeper when I’m overly busy, so there was a nice, soft pile of laundry in the floor. I crash-landed there, thinking how thankful I was that it was clean laundry and not dirty. I had several minutes of contemplative time, staring up at the ceiling, waiting for it to stop spinning and for the nausea to let up. In those moments, I decided that resting — even with a big to-do list — wasn’t such a bad thing. I have to force myself regularly to reevaluate my busyness.

The Lord will never call me to do anything He won’t give me enough time to do.



To step back from it and really analyze it. Sometimes I do it by choice. Sometimes, I confess, the Lord compels me. At least once while lying in a pile of laundry. Balancing often requires more than just reorganizing a schedule. It requires making decisions about what God has called me to do and what He hasn’t. The truth is, the Lord will never call me to do anything He won’t give me enough time to do. The schedule becomes overwhelming when He gives me a to-do list, and then I add more to it myself. I end up with no balance, overdoing things that don’t matter and underdoing those that do. There aren’t enough sugar packets to fix that kind of imbalance. When we’re persistently out of balance, we find ourselves vulnerable to burn-out, illness, depression — shields up, red alert! Stepping back and reevaluating doesn’t mean we put ourselves first. Actually, as we seek the Lord first, we find ourselves free to serve Him better, and to serve Him more carefully and intentionally. That’s exactly how we’re called to serve. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15-17, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Sometimes wise-walking looks more like lying down — listening, seeking — even resting. Paying careful attention will keep us from stumbling out of the will of God. So rather than having every moment filled with busyness, life is better when I seek Him first, and then just plain give God space to work. Yes, “space.” All of it. Because that kind of space is the final, final frontier. •

Rhonda Rhea is a speaker, humor columnist, and author of 13 books, including Join the Insanity. She recently co-authored Get a Grip with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea, and hosts the TV show, That’s My Mom. Rhonda and her husband, Richie, live in the St. Louis area and have five grown children.


life a funny thing happened

family friendly media life May Mentions

I Will Follow

by Jeremy Camp Sparrow Records Jeremy Camp has become one of Christian music’s lead voices since his impressive 2002 major label debut. I Will Follow finds the award-winning songwriter with inherent renewed passion following a crossroads that led him to re-evaluate the direction of his ministry. Rich in diversity, the album is a journey into Camp’s soul. His lyrics have never been more poignant, and his vocals have never sounded better. Sonically, there’s a sprinkle of unique experimentation edging out every cut, thanks to the production creativity of Seth Mosley (Newsboys) and Camp’s willingness to push boundaries. I Will Follow is easily Camp’s best effort yet.

Cross: Unrivaled Christ, Unstoppable Gospel, Unreached Peoples, Unending Joy

by John Piper and David Mathia, General Editors B&H Publishing Cross captures the great summons to the unreached and unengaged peoples of the world. Book contributors include John Piper, David Platt, Matt Chandler, Thabiti Anyabwile, Kevin DeYoung, D.A. Carson, and more.

Catie Conrad: How to Become the Most (un)Popular Girl in Junior High Brushstroke app

Everyone loves taking great photos, and once those photos are taken, we love adding cool filters to make the photos even better. A new app called Brushstroke allows you to take these photos and transform them into beautiful paintings, all in just a couple of touches. The app has even partnered with a third party organization to allow you to send newly created “paintings” to be printed on a canvas. Use Brushstroke to turn that picture of your family into a masterpiece that you can sign, and even hang on your wall!


by Angie Spady B&H Publishing Catie Conrad — a typical, tween, Christian girl, want-to-be diva, isn’t sure which is worse: the drama at school, or her stressedout life. Luckily, things get put into perspective as Catie finds that with faith in God, all things are possible.



life purse strings BY RACHEL CRUZE

Debt-Free Vacation Ge t t y Im ages

Minimize the cost and maximize your family time.



Summer is almost here. And that

can only mean one thing: your head is somewhere else, probably on a beach somewhere, or maybe in the mountains or a theme park with your kids. Am I right? We always talk about how expensive the Christmas season can be with all the gifts, but summertime brings its own share of money challenges. Whether you have a family with kids, or whether you are single and loving life, there’s an expectation that summertime has to include going somewhere for a week, staying in a hotel, and eating nice dinners. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. I love a relaxing vacation as much as anyone else. But the problems start when you go on vacations that you can’t afford. Those bills start piling up around the time you’re Christmas shopping. By January, you’ve got bills for all those Christmas gifts while you’re still trying to pay off last year’s vacation. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It really doesn’t have to be that way. It’s absolutely possible to take a summer vacation without going into debt. Here are a few suggestions.


PLAN I’ve said this so many times, but I can’t emphasize it enough, unless you have a tablecloth made of $100 bills, you’ll need to save for your vacation. This requires time, which might mean you need to start budgeting for your next vacation, right now. STAY HOME You don’t want to go into debt. So, if the numbers don’t work, there’s nothing wrong with taking a year off from traveling and going on a “staycation” instead. Treat your home like a condo:

Don’t forget that a vacation is a want, not a need. The best vacations are the ones that don’t follow you home.

take a year or two off from traveling. It won’t kill you. Don’t forget that a vacation is a want, not a need. The best vacations are the ones that don’t follow you home. •

no major chores or do-it-yourself projects. Just relax and explore some of the activities you can do right in your hometown. RESEARCH If you have a little money saved for vacation, you want to stretch it as far as possible. Use the internet to look for freebies like breakfast or additional nights at hotels. Search for coupon codes or discounts if you’re going to a place like a theme park. When it comes to researching good deals, you can never be too thorough! CHANGE YOUR THINKING If you can’t afford a weeklong vacation at the beach, what about a threeor four-day weekend in the mountains? How much money could you save by not eating out on vacation — or by staying in the garden-view room instead of the ocean-view room? Or, instead of going on vacation in summer, what if you planned an off-season trip, maybe during fall break, when rates aren’t as high? Be open to alternative, cheaper options. Remember, the purpose isn’t to spoil your fun. The purpose is to set you and your family up financially to have even more fun later. If you simply can’t afford a vacation without pulling out your credit card, just

Rachel Cruze is a seasoned

communicator and presenter, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Her new book Smart Money Smart Kids, co-authored by her dad, Dave Ramsey, debuted at #1 on The New York Times best-sellers list. You can follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelCruze, online at rachelcruze. com, or at rachelramseycruze.



life from your kitchen

Make Room for a Legume Whether served as an appetizer, meal, or dessert, beans are packed with protein and easy on the budget.

Contributed by Pam Vice “This is a recipe that I simplified many years ago to make it more kid-friendly. It has converted more than one bean hater! It’s hard to resist because it smells so very good.”

U. S. News called beans the “undervalued superfood.” Very low in cost, beans provide a source of protein, have no cholesterol (and help lower bad cholesterol), are low in fat, are high in soluble fiber, and have tons of vitamins and minerals. So, why not add some beans into your diet? Rinse canned beans to lower the sodium, or cook your own from super-inexpensive dried beans. Either way, you’ll benefit your health. Enjoy these ideas for using beans from some of our HomeLife readers. •

HomeLife is looking for family-friendly, budgetconscious, original recipes from readers like you. Simply email us your recipe, name and contact info to homelife@ We will pay $25 for each recipe that is printed. We regret that mailed submissions cannot be accepted. Recipes become the property of HomeLife and may be edited prior to publication.



Share Your Recipe With HomeLife!

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip▶

Contributed by Jane Bonacci “I love having ingredients in the pantry that I can use to whip up a last-minute dish if needed. This dip is one that is made mostly from pantry items, so you can make it any time of the year. If you like hummus, you’ll like this.”

Makes 6 servings Ingredients 30 ounces canned white cannellini beans, drained, and rinsed 1 small jar roasted red bell peppers, drained 1 Tablespoon grated shallot 1/2 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed) Cayenne pepper, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1/4 cup chopped scallion

Directions In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine drained and rinsed beans, bell peppers, shallots, garlic, and olive oil, and puree until smooth. Add lemon juice, dill, cayenne, and black pepper. Puree until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings, remembering that the flavors will develop with time and get more intense. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in scallions. Cover and place in refrigerator for an hour to let flavors meld. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to four days.

◀Red Beans and Rice Makes 6 servings Ingredients

1/2 pound smoked sausage, diced 1 pound pork sausage, browned and crumbled 30 ounces canned red or kidney beans 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon each of basil, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper cooked rice

Directions Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 3 hours. Serve over hot rice.

kitchen tips

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

• Serve this yummy recipe with crackers, a baguette, raw vegetables, or pita chips.

Red Beans and Rice • Never cook dry kidney beans in a slow cooker. The temperature may not get hot enough to kill off the toxins in the beans. If you want to cook them in a slow cooker, boil beans on the stovetop for 10 minutes first.



◀Fudgy Black Bean Brownies Makes 12 servings Ingredients

Contributed by Renee Pajestka “These brownies are super fudgy and not dry at all. They aren’t exactly like a regular brownie, but the flavor is awesome.”

15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed, and drained well 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder 1/2 cup quick oats 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup honey 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar 1/4 cup canola oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup dark chocolate chip (reserve a few for the top)

Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8” x 8” baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large capacity food processor, combine the beans, cocoa powder, quick oats, salt, honey, sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract, and baking powder. Process until very well combined, about 3 minutes. Stir in most of the chips and save about a tablespoon to sprinkle on top. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until they look dry on top and are set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30-40 minutes before cutting.

kitchen tip

Black Bean Brownies

• These brownies are gluten-free, eggfree, dairy-free, and much lower in fat and calories. This is a great recipe to have in your arsenal if a family member or friend has allergies.



the market place As God Works Through Us...

Memorial Tear® LOVE NEVER ENDS

...share the challenge at LifeWay. Memorial Tear® Memorial Tear Rose® STER $35.95

STER $64.95


At LifeWay, you’ll be engaged in work that will fulfill and challenge you, and best of all, make an impact on the world. Learn about current employment opportunities by visiting our website at




Order for your church!

Order for your church!

Order for your church!

life school zone BY JON ECKERT

MAP WHERE YOU GO Have your kids map your trips for you and let them see the amazing places they are going. Use your smart phone to see in real time 3-D how you are progressing across maps and terrain. CIVICS, ECONOMICS, AND FAMILY What impacts do government decisions and our economy have on your family? Talk about how you save money, how taxes work, and why we vote. We are tremendously blessed to live in the United States; help your children see the blessings God has given us through an appreciation of social studies. •

Help make social studies interactive and fun for your family. We have all seen surprising “man-

on-the-street” interviews and surveys that show only 29 percent of Americans can name the vice president of the United States. As a country, we have lamented this lack of knowledge for decades, so why do many of us remain ignorant? We could postulate many answers ranging from poor instruction in schools to apathy, but much of it can be summed up in the words I hear from students, “Social studies is boring.” How is this possible that our students find history, geography, civics, and economics boring when we live in one of the greatest countries in the history



of the world? Here are a few tips that might help the students you care most about see social studies differently. TAKE A TRIP TO HISTORY History is all around us and going to historical places brings our heritage to life. If you have the resources, travel. Seeing where men and women fought and died for our liberty provides a different appreciation than reading about it in a textbook. Many sites now have phenomenal interactive resources for kids — particularly in Washington, D.C., where museum admission is free. If you can’t travel, find a local historical society or talk to a veteran.

History is all around us and going to historical places brings our heritage to life.

Jon Eckert, Ed.D., is an associate

professor at Wheaton College, former elementary and middle school teacher, and a parent. He enjoys playing basketball and spending as much time as possible with his wife and children.


Not So Boring

life fyi



Composting: Can You “Dig” It? To start a compost pile, choose a shady, dry location for a 3x3x3 (and up to 5x5x5) bin. Layer brown and green ingredients, such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, vegetable and fruit waste, and coffee grounds. Add enough water to soak the ingredients. Cover with a tarp, and wait. Source:

▼Honor a Veteran▼ The National Education Association


asked funeral directors and cemetarians how their organizations observe Memorial Day.


fly the flag at half staff until noon.


fly a POW

MIA flag.


provide public decoration.


take part

in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. while "Taps" is played.


celebrate in other ways such as visiting the graves of fallen soldiers. Source: http://www.nea. org/tools/lessons/51904. htm Source: http://www.nea. org/assets/img/content/ memorial-day-infographic.jpg





s a young mom, I thought Mother’s Day should be all about me. Surely I deserved recognition for my never-ending sacrifices as a mom and stepmom to five children, right? However, after driving away from my parents’ home recently with tears spilling down my cheeks, I sensed God asking me to honor my mom with the time we have left. No longer able to deny that dementia is consuming Mom’s every fiber, I must acknowledge this is the last Mother’s Day she’ll know me as her daughter. I’d never considered how to truly honor my mom. What does that look like? Why is it important? Honoring our moms starts with a thankful heart for the role they’ve played in our lives. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the influence of my mother. Perhaps you struggle with a thankful heart toward your mother. Many adults have leftover anger and disappointment from a childhood wracked by hurt that makes it almost impossible to consider honoring their moms. If this is the case for you, I challenge you to examine your heart and consider making amends, if possible. Honoring your mom doesn’t mean you agree with past behavior; it simply acknowledges her place in your life. It might require professional help to deal with your feelings and set appropriate bound-



Gestures by Gayla Grace

aries for your current relationship, but I encourage you to put the past in the past and move forward in broken relationships. I’m not saying it will be easy, but holding onto unforgiveness keeps us in bondage and poisons other relationships. We experience many other blessings, in addition to enjoying a long life, when we choose to honor our parents. We allow family legacies to be passed down as we make time for our children to get to know their grandparents. We bask in knowing we’ve done the right thing, preventing regrets later of what can’t be changed. We reap the rewards of deeper relationships and meaningful memories we can savor long after they’re gone. And we more likely receive the same respect and honor in return as our children watch our actions. Honoring our moms on Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be extravagant or complicated. A simple gesture is often more meaningful than a formal undertaking. Here are three suggestions to consider.


EXPRESS GRATITUDE As someone who’d rather write words than speak them, I don’t naturally express appreciation. I’m making an effort to show gratitude toward my mom for the investment she’s made in my life. I’ll never forget the day when I asked Mom’s opinion on a career decision I needed to make. As she relayed her thoughts, with tears in her eyes, she said, “I wish I’d done more with my life.” I was surprised at her words as I heard her regrets of only small advances in the career world, not recognizing the invaluable occupation she’d chosen as a devoted mom. Realizing her need for affirmation of sacrifices the world considers insignificant, I began to give examples of how her work at home as a mom, wife, and homemaker had influenced my life. Gratitude can also be expressed through a written tribute, detailing childhood memories, and expressing appreciation for the positive qualities and values your mom has passed down. A tribute depicts specific ways she’s influenced you and the value of her role in your life. It doesn’t have to be long and complicated to be meaningful. GIVE TIME SACRIFICIALLY My youngest sister lives several states away from our mom, stays busy with a family and a demanding career, but makes time to call, send notes, and plan extended visits to my parents’ house whenever possible. Her priorities show honor and allow special time with Mom to reminisce about years past,

It doesn’t take much to show your mother how much she means to you.

make memories with grandchildren, and help Mom adjust to her new stage of life, while conveying the significant position Mom holds in her life. If you live a distance away from your mom, it’s hard to commit to frequent visits, but extended stays provide valuable time together. Giving of our time sacrificially isn’t easy and takes intentional effort. WALK IN HUMILITY WITH HER Parenting roles reverse as our moms age, forcing us to assume responsibilities outside the norm. Helping with laundry, going to the store, taking over bill-paying and financial responsibilities, driving her to the doctor, or even becoming a regular caregiver demonstrate ways to walk in humility through the aging process. We also walk in humility when we consider our mom’s opinions on life issues, acknowledging the wisdom they’ve acquired with their gray hair. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to show honor and love to your mom, without attaching expectations to her response. If you’re a mom yourself, it’s natural to savor the appreciation you receive and deserve on this special day. As I watch my mom’s last season quickly drawing to a close, I want to show her honor and gratitude, creating special moments in the process, without regrets in the end. •

Gayla Grace writes, speaks, and coaches on family and

stepfamily issues as a wife, mom, and stepmom to five children. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and counseling, and ministers to stepfamilies as a speaker at national conferences and through her website:






GOD MULTIPLIES Millions of people were powerfully impacted by Experiencing God. Designed for a new generation, this eight-session Bible study focuses on the core teaching of that best-selling resource. The personal components have been streamlined to make daily study easier. And it’s ideal for small groups. Leader material and leader helps are included, so even someone with no experience can guide a group. God is ready to work. Are you ready to join Him? | 800.458.2772 | LifeWay Christian Stores

written by men ~ for men

menofhonor “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”

iStockphoto • English Standard Version (ES V )

2 Chronicles 16:9



menofhonor ▶ Earthquakes and Jailbreaks This summer several thousand men will gather in Nashville and

Kansas City for The Main Event. We have seen God move in amazing ways over the past several years through this transformational experience. It is incredible to join an arena filled with men worshiping God. In the Bible, Paul and Silas find themselves at their greatest point of need, and turn to the Lord in the middle of the night and worship — the type of worship that leads to earthquakes and jailbreaks! However, the prisoner that gets set free is not the one behind man-made bars; it is the man sentenced to death in his own sin. That day, not only was the jailer set free but also his entire family. The men that gather at The Main Event will be coming under every circumstance imaginable. The one thing they have in common is that Jesus wants to set them free. If you can, come join us for worship. We are expecting earthquakes and jailbreaks.

The promise of enjoying Jesus’ glorious kingdom is made possible by His gracious provision.

Jason Ellerbrook LifeWay’s Men’s Ministry Specialist

by Tony




Christ exemplified hospitality.

esus ate with sinners throughout His earthly ministry. He received children gladly. He taught us to invite the lowly to parties and to welcome strangers. He prepared breakfast for His wayward disciples, including Peter who had betrayed Him. He ate with the Emmaus disciples after His resurrection. Before His



departure, Jesus said He was going to “prepare a place” for His people. Jesus also instituted the Lord’s Supper, giving new meaning to the Passover meal, and told us that He will drink it again with us when “the kingdom of God comes.” Jesus’ miracles were sneak previews of the kingdom of God to come. In the coming kingdom, there will be no demon-possessed men, no storms to calm, no sicknesses to cure, and no tears of the bereaved to wipe. Each time Jesus

performed a miracle, He gave us a taste of what’s coming. His first miracle was significantly at a wedding party. The King gave us a glimpse of the ultimate party to come. Happiness, joy, fellowship, and sweet communion with the King awaits His bride. The promise of enjoying Jesus’ glorious kingdom is made possible by His gracious provision. Paul tells us that we were formerly “strangers . . . having no hope and without God in the world” but then

WELCOME TO THE TABLE “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

2. Many of

Jesus’ striking moments occurred around meals. Make eating with your family a priority.

3. Enjoying

a meal with others can help people relax and let down their guard. Use mealtimes to

build relationships and talk about things that really matter.

4. Jesus wel-

and outcasts to parties. How can we invite people into our lives who may need us more than we need them?


The kingdom of God is a party. Does your life spread the fragrance of celebration?

comed strangers

1. Jesus began


His ministry at a wedding. How can we engage people where they are instead of only inviting them to church?

adds the good news: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Christ came out to us, to bring us in to the family, at great sacrifice and cost. Now we enjoy the unspeakable privileges of the King’s hospitality. The question that we must ask ourselves is whether or not we’re practicing Jesus-like ministry. Many Christians see Jesus as a personal moral example (and rightly so), but not as a social example. But why not? When you become a Christian, your social life, how you interact with others, should change also. Do you have a reputation for hanging out with shady company for the purpose of showing them grace? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a cavalier spirit, and certainly not condoning sin. But I’m definitely advocating Jesus-like ministry.

Jesus was separated from sin, but never isolated from people. And He definitely wasn’t the incarnate killjoy. Sinners loved being with Jesus. The poor and vulnerable found hope in Him. It was the religious neatniks that got upset with Him. What about you? Does your social life look like His? Following Jesus includes following His practice of hospitality — joyous, authentic, generous, countercultural, and hope-filled hospitality. When Jesus says, “Come follow me,” He isn’t calling us to offer a class or start a program, but to follow His way of life. And that way includes opening up our homes and lives to others. But before we’ll do this, we must open our hearts. • Taken from his new book, Ordinary (B&H Publishing), Tony Merida is founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC. Tony is married to Kimberly, with whom he has five adopted children.




Men’s Resources Bible Studies

If you’ve tried to type something into a phone lately, you may have noticed that these gizmos come with autocorrect, a wonderful invention that can efficiently mess up our day. Just ask the guy who sent his friend a text: “I sold my Grandma for $2,000.” “You sold your grandma?” the friend replied. “I mean my Grand Am car!” Another guy texted his wife: “How long can boneless children last in the freezer?” I think he meant chicken. A 28-year-old was ecstatic about his new job with the police force and texted a friend, “Just picked up my new unicorn.” The friend responded, “You get your own unicorn? Wow. Best job ever.” Here’s another text: “Just watched the news. Weatherman says to prepare for flamingos this weekend.” “Oh, no!” replied the friend. “Anything but flamingos!” “What? Flamingos? I meant flooding.” Imagine having an auto-correct that really worked. Not one that changed “flooding” to “flamingos”, but one that fixed our mistakes before we even made them. I have said things I’d love to take back. Rephrase. Blot out. I’ve written things I’ve regretted. Unkind things. Graceless things. Things I wish could be softened, muted, deleted, struck from the record. Usually these have been said to the people closest to me, the ones I love the most. Forgiveness. A million quarrels have been stopped dead in their tracks by it. Forgiveness is a wonderful idea. Until we have to practice it. Yet, “I forgive you” is a grace-filled auto-correct that can kick-start a lifelong friendship, reunite a family, and save a marriage. Not long before she died, Marghanita Laski, a wellknown secular humanist and novelist, admitted on TV, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness. I have nobody to forgive me.” In Micah 7:19 God says that He will trample our sins under His feet and throw them into the depths of the sea. God has forgiven the inexcusable. We must, too. One caution, however. If you forgive someone today, say it face to face. Don’t be like the wife who texted her husband, “I forgive you dead husband.” Her hubby responded, “Thanks. I assume you meant, ‘Dear.’” I sure hope she did. •

Phil Callaway is a speaker and host of Laugh

Again radio. His new book is Tricks My Dog Taught Me About Life, Love, and God (Harvest House). Six years ago Phil joined a procrastinator’s support group. They plan to meet in June.



▶▶What Keeps You Up at Night? How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams by Pete Wilson (LifeWay): This small-group Bible study helps participants activate faith and trust in God that will propel them forward through fear and anxiety to peace, faithfulness, and trust. Get a proper understanding of the nature of fear. Develop habits for coping with fear and get tools for living an anxiety-free life. Learn to move forward despite doubts, questions, and fears as you step toward your purposedriven adventure with God. (6 sessions)


▶▶Jesus Continued … Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You by J.D. Greear and Trevin Wax (LifeWay): Throughout his Christian life, J.D. Greear felt disconnected from God and unsure about J. D. G R E E A R how to interact with Him. T R E V I N WA X Although he had learned a lot of truths about God, these truths didn’t seem to bring him any closer. All of God’s work seemed stockpiled in the past. God seemed like a busy teacher who had given an assignment and then stepped out of the room, leaving students to get the work done on their own. But Greear discovered it doesn’t have to be like that. Over the course of this study, you’ll see how you can have a satisfying, powerful relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. (8 sessions)




▶▶33 The Series, Volume 5: A Man and His Marriage by Bryan Carter, John Bryson, Tierce Green (LifeWay): This six-session study covers important but often misunderstood details of marriage, including biblical foundation, servant leadership, friendship, threats, and sex. It concludes with specific, practical ideas that can help you bring new life to your marriage. (6 sessions)

For more event information or other resources for men, go to


The Best Auto-Correct

LifeWay’s Info and Offers Showcase


To learn more about our advertisers’ products and services, simply visit to check boxes of the advertisers from whom you would like to receive FREE information! Artist and Speaker Guide 1. Answers in Genesis 2. Behind the Voice 3. Dr. Dennis Swanberg 4. The Crazy Tie Guy 5. Vision America Action

25. Midwestern Baptist College 26. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 27. Oklahoma Baptist University 28. Union University Evangelistic 29. Billy Graham Online Training 30. CBH Ministries 31. Compassion 32. The Gospel Project

Books 6. Christian Aid 7. Thomas Nelson 8. Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing 9. Tyndale Publishing

Legal Services 53. Asiatico & Associates, PLLC Music and Videos 54. Tyndale Publishing

Finance and Stewardship 33. Ridge Rock Financial

Church Consulting 10. Auxano

Relocation Needs 55. Apex & Robert E. Lee Moving & Storage

Fundraising 34. Dutch Mill Bulbs 35. Wreaths Across America

Church Resources 11. Easy Risers 12. KidCheck 13. The Gospel Project

Transportation Services 56. Little Passenger Seats

Gifts/Supplies 36. Collectibles Today

Education 14. Baptist College of Florida 15. Billy Graham Online Training 16. Bob Jones University 17. East Texas Baptist University 18. Erskine College 19. Fuller Theological Seminary 20. Grand Canyon University 21. Hannibal-LaGrange University 22. Jacksonville College 23. Louisiana Baptist University 24. Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

48. Mango Languages 49. Master Books Curriculum 50. Reading Eggs 51. Robinson Self-Teaching Home School Curriculum 52. Schabacker Publishing

Travel 57. Elvis Presley’s Graceland 58. Escape to the Southeast 59. Monroe-West Monroe 60. Pigeon Forge 61. Premier Christian Cruises 62. Sandy Springs 63. Sevierville 64. Shocco Springs

Homeschool Resources 37. Apologia 38. Brinkman Adventure’s 39. Central Christian Academy 40. Cornerstone Academy 41. Dynamic Literacy 42. G.A. Henty Historical Adventures 43. Go Phonics 44. Interface Ministries 45. International ALERT Academy 46. Liberty Online Academy 47. Little Passenger Seats

Worship Services 65. LifeWay Worship

Request FREE Information Complete this form and mail it to us: LifeWay Christian Resources, LifeWay Ad Partners, One LifeWay Plaza, MSN 136, Nashville, TN, 37234 Circle a number below to receive FREE information from that advertiser. 1































































LifeWay ’s I nfo and O f fe r s S howcase


HomeLife, May 2015

life abide

You can’t do everything. But that doesn’t stop you from trying. Wash, rinse, dry, fold, repeat. Cook, eat, clean, repeat. At the end of the day, you feel like you should have tried harder. Done more. Given more. Cared more. Your deepest caring seems only to skim the surface of your intentions. Your effort at sacrificial giving leaves you wanting. You feel guilty when you can’t be all things to all the people in your life all the time. You can’t do everything. But God can. And He did. At one moment in time, God did it all. He handed over His Son in grace to die on the cross. The Father gave everything so that you could have it all. There is nothing you will ever do that will compare with what God has already done. Receive the gift of life God offers you through the sacrifice of His Son. Live the life He has purposed for you. In every thought, task, and relationship, call on God’s Spirit to lead you in His way.


Ge t t yIm ages

Romans 8:32


Open a Welcome Certificate today! 800.347.CCCU (2228), ext. 556 *APY= Annual Percentage Yield. $500 minimum, $5,000 maximum per member. Annual Percentage Yield (APY) assumes that dividends remain in the account until maturity. A withdrawal will reduce earnings. No additional deposits can be made during the term of the Share Certificate. Rate, term, and conditions are solely within the discretion of the Board of Directors. Must be opened within 30 days of joining the Credit Union. At maturity, the certificate will renew into a 12-month term share certificate at the prevailing rate. A penalty will be imposed on early withdrawals from certificates. We may limit the amount you may invest in one or more accounts to a total of $1,000,000. APY is accurate as of 02/20/15 and is subject to change without notice. Christian Community Credit Union is privately insured by American Share Insurance up to $250,000 per account. By members’ choice the Credit Union is not federally insured or insured by any state government.

Follow us

Homelife-May 2015