Page 1

a fresh take on faith & family

Until God Answers

Why you must persist in prayer Can a chore swap

change your marriage? The blessings of parenting children with

special needs

Margaret Feinberg on


The Wonder of Rest  JANUARY 2013

U.S.A. $3.95


5 great ideas

for family time

Are we servants or slaves? Slaves had no rights, but some servants did. So when readers see Christians called to be Christ’s slaves in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the radical nature of discipleship is clearer. Accuracy, one of the reasons you’ll love reading any of the HCSB digital or print editions. HCSB Study Bible Coming October 2010

see |

January 2013

Contents V O LU M E 6 7, N U M B E R 4

On the Cover

18 Until God Answers 34 Can a chore swap change your marriage? 42 Parenting Children With Special Needs 24 The Wonder of Rest 14 Five Great Ideas for Family Time Cover Photo: Kristina Krug



Yes, No, or Not Yet 18 Why you must persist in prayer.

by Mark Batterson

A Sanctuary in Time 24  Making space to pause isn’t just a holy opportunity but

a divine command. by Margaret Feinberg


The Great Chore Swap 34 A 48-hour experiment gave this marriage a clean sweep.

by Melanie Shankle

42 Remarkably Made

It’s a blessing to parent children with special needs. by Carol Mason Shrader

Quitting Time? 48  When it comes to extracurricular activities, when do you

let kids walk away, and when do you make them stay? by Camerin Courtney

improve Dreaming God-Sized Dreams 52 Three lies fear always tells you about your goals. by Jon Acuff

Organic Panic 56 The problem with pursuing diet perfection.

by Constance Rhodes

Post-Christmas Purge 60 Cut clutter, get organized, and give to someone in need.

© Thinkstock

by Christine Satterfield



contents▶Departments January 2013 grow 14 family time

) Hero in the Making

How does God measure a superhero? by Jason & Kelly Stewart

22 forward progress




+ new

More Than a Feeling

Where faith and discipline meet. by Michael Kelley

27 fyi



 The foundation for community, stats on Bible

45 my home life


Empty Promises The remedy for the sting of insecurity. by Jennifer McCaman

nurture 30 power of the home

Small Things, Great Purpose Simple but intentional actions make a difference. by Jason Hayes

32 love that lasts



the Same Team

Work together to manage expectations. by Gary Chapman

37 marriage mentors

Just the Two of Us Befriending couples when you don’t have kids. by Les & Leslie Parrott

39 fyi  Recognition that spouses aren’t perfect, the need


for mentors, and marriage by the numbers.

40 smart stepfamilies



Longing for Egypt God holds the future in His hands. by Ron L. Deal

A new perspective of God’s gifts. by Travis Voskamp

46 parenting on purpose

Losing It

How to respond rather than react. by Gary J. Oliver

47 fyi  Grace-based parenting wisdom, Bible apps for kids, and encouragement for single parents.

engagement, and the impact of a lost generation.

28 new life

Snowball Effect

improve 59 fyi  Strategic couponing, resolutions for families, plus

new + 62 from your kitchen winter safety tips.

Good Eats

Healthy family-friendly recipes that are tasty, too!

65 money matters

Stewardship 101 Need financial guidance? Start here. by Francine L. Huff

67 family-friendly media

Pump Up the Volume A playlist to uplift you spiritually and physically. by Andy Argyrakis

in every issue

    8 inbox and contributors  10 from the editor  12 pass it on 69 men of honor  74 real life

New this month page 14 ▶ family time

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. PLUS! Be sure to visit for daily parent cues to reinforce each month’s theme. Our Family Time Calendar suggests a daily Scripture reading and talking point to keep the conversation going.

page 22 ▶ forward progress

What does real-life discipleship look like? Michael Kelley’s monthly spiritual growth column will wrestle with issues that arise when you seek to live a life that honors Christ.

page 62 ▶ from your kitchen

HomeLife readers can cook! So, who better to share kid-approved and budget-friendly recipes than you? Each month will feature a few great dishes from HomeLife readers, plus a few tips to save you time and money. Have an original recipe to share? Email us at homelife

pages 27, 39, 47, 59 ▶ fyi

We all love quick-read articles. Check out our FYI pages to be in the know about the latest research, stats, tips, and resources on faith and family.



online ~ this month at

VOLUME 67, NUMBER 4 JANUARY 2013 PRODUCTION & MINISTRY TEAM Michael Kelley Executive Editor Dawn Hollomon Content Editor Stacey Owens Production/Content Editor Susan Maywald Graphic Designer

 Family Time ▶ January Calendar featuring daily Scripture readings and talking points to disciple your family (see page 14)

Chandra Bennett Editorial Team Leader Alan Raughton & David Apple Adult Ministry Specialists SEND QUESTIONS/COMMENTS TO: Editor, HomeLife One LifeWay Plaza Nashville, TN 37234-0175 Or email us at

 tips for making ▶ More Family Time easy and fun (see page 14)  printable recipe ▶ HomeLife’s cards (see page 62)  word art (see ▶ Scripture pages 13, 29, and 51).

MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL Faith Whatley Director, Adult Ministry Philip Nation Director, Adult Ministry Publishing Debbie Johnson, Ken Braddy & Amy Lowe Managers, Adult Ministry Publishing ADVERTISING Rhonda Edge Buescher Director, Media Business Development for Magazines Scott Hancock Advertising Production 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. © 2012 LifeWay Press®.

coming ~ in February ▶ Family  Time: Show Some Love  ways to make your ▶ 40 marriage rock  stewardship prin▶ Biblical ciples to teach your kids

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 bulk orders shipped to one address, visit, fax 615.251.5933, or write to the above address. Annual individual or gift subscription, $29.95. Bulk orders shipped to one address when ordered with other literature,$1.60 each per month plus shipping. Please allow six to eight weeks for arrival of first issue. To investigate the possibility of advertising in HomeLife, visit HomeLife does not accept unsolicited manuscripts or queries and cannot accept responsibility for their return. 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. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

 to help your little ▶ How ones navigate childhood friendships  part two of Kenny ▶ Plus, Luck’s “The Mantle” series (see page 69).

  partners with churches to give families biblical and practical counsel that champions life-changing discipleship, dynamic marriages, and effective parenting.

A better way safe to be

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inbox Encouraging Issue

I really enjoyed your September 2012 issue! Max Lucado’s piece (“Rising Above”) was outstanding and encouraging. The Men of Honor piece “Walking With a Limp” by Phil Callaway was very good also. Keep up the good work! Jennifer Robinson, email

Potentially Harmful Advice

I always read Marriage Mentors by Les and Leslie Parrott and usually learn something. September 2012’s advice on the husband’s pornography problem was potentially harmful, however.


Mark Batterson

“Yes, No, or Not Yet” (page 18) “Corrie Ten Boom said, ‘If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy,’” shares pastor Mark Batterson. “We’re supposed to be about the Father’s business, but we put a ‘y’ where there should be an ‘i’ and end up being about busyness instead of business. Prayer is the difference between busyness and business,” Mark says. “There is no substitute. There is no shortcut.”



The inference drawn from the goal Changed My Life! set for the wife is that she is partly I’m the coordinator for our moms’ responsible for his sin. Men will look at group at FairHaven Ministries in Hudporn whether or not they are enjoying sonville, Mich. I found your magazine intimacy with their wives. My husband a few years ago when I attended a has sinned this way, and once I knew Beth Moore conference. I love your what to look for, I realized he sought magazine! I find myself sharing your sexual intimacy with me less when he articles with my fellow moms, friends was viewing porn. The mentors’ sugges- — anyone who will listen. I can’t tell you tion was not fair or helpful to her, and enough how HomeLife has impacted could have been hurtful. my prayer life and how I live my life. You mentioned Every Man’s Battle, Thank you so much for publishing this. which is an excellent resource. Like I look forward to every issue! most efforts to change or develop Keri Roth, email habits, having a partner or group for We love to hear from you! accountability is most effective. Write to us at: Name Withheld, email Letters become the property of Editor’s Note: HomeLife and may be In no way did we intend to commuedited for clarity and space. nicate that the wife was responsible for her husband’s sin. The article suggests specific ways for spouses HomeLife often includes websites who struggle with pornography to be that may be helpful to our readaccountable with their spouse. Then ers. We verify the appropriateness spouses should work together to reof each site prior to publication. store intimacy in their marriage. However, content changes frequently. We encourage you to use caution before visiting any website.

Margaret Feinberg

“A Sanctuary in Time” (page 24) “Faith beckons us into an enchanting journey — one marked by mysteries of divine beauty, holy courage, and unending love. But in my life, any sense of the splendor of God had faded,” admits Bible teacher and author Margaret Feinberg. “I needed God to awaken me from my sleep. And so I prayed for wonder.” Through this prayer, God led Margaret to rediscover a sense of holy awe.

Constance Rhodes

“Organic Panic” (page 56) “Lately there’s an emphasis on eating only ‘pure’ or organic foods — an idea that sounds great, especially for those of us who view our body as God’s temple,” says FINDINGbalance CEO and founder Constance Rhodes. “But, like all extremes, this can lead to a legalistic lifestyle. [I wanted to] bring some much-needed balance to the conversation about God’s view of our bodies and our diet.”

a new chapter

Allen Cl ark

With Thanks Since 2008, HomeLife has been honored to have Dr. Gary Chapman serve as executive editor. His godly wisdom and practical advice have encouraged families and strengthened marriages. Beyond that, Dr. Chapman has been a champion for HomeLife and a joy to work with. We are so thankful for his passion for ministering to HomeLife readers. We don’t take it lightly that Dr. Chapman chooses to partner with us. Beginning with this issue, Dr. Chapman steps down as HomeLife’s executive editor, and Michael Kelley assumes the role (learn more on page 10). But don’t worry; Dr. Chapman isn’t going anywhere! HomeLife will continue to benefit from his invaluable counsel in his monthly marriage column, Love That Lasts (see page 32). We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to continue sharing Dr. Chapman’s relationship insights with HomeLife readers. HomeLife is more than a magazine — it’s a ministry to serve you and your family. Please pray for the HomeLife team as we begin this new chapter together.



from the editor A Fellow Traveler hands, so to speak. I remember when I was a child, growing up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle, seeing mothers and fathers carrying issues of HomeLife as they left church. And now, decades later, it’s an incredible honor to be associated with a publication that has impacted so many and for so long. For the past several years, Dr. Gary Chapman has shared insights, experiences, and practical suggestions that are Christ-honoring and biblically based. Though his are big shoes to fill, it’s my sincere desire to continue his standard of excellence. Besides being the new executive editor for HomeLife, I serve as the Director of Discipleship for LifeWay Christian Resources. I’ve written a couple of books, have a blog that I’m proud of most days, and occasionally have the privilege to speak at conferences and churches around the country. But most importantly, I’m a husband and a dad. Jana and I have three children: Joshua (8), Andi (5), and Christian (3). They are great kids, and they have a greater mother. The thrill of my life is to be included in their midst, stumbling around as the leader of this pack. The most accurate way you can imagine me right now is asking the Lord for grace to say the right thing to my kids and to honor my wife because once again, I’ve failed to do both. I’m a fellow traveler, another person who is trying the best he can to live and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a road I’m honored to be on, and one I hope we can learn from together. I’d love to hear from you! Email me your ideas and questions at homelife@ You can also find me at or on Twitter @_MichaelKelley.

Connect With Us:



Michael Kelley

Kristina Krug

Executive Editor. It’s a daunting title, one I’m approaching with my hat in

This “problem” is our reality. But as Christians, we are called to simplicity. If we cut back on food, clothes, This “problem” is our reality. But as Christians, we are spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress, we’ll called to simplicity. If we cut back on food, clothes, have room to better know Christ. Join Jen Hatmaker spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress, we’ll for The 7 Experiment—a mutiny against excess in the have room to better know Christ. Join Jen Hatmaker form of a 9-session Bible study. The result isn’t about for The 7 Experiment—a mutiny against excess in the reduced clutter but a greatly increased God. form of a 9-session Bible study. The result isn’t about reduced clutter but a greatly800.458.2772 increased God. 800.458.2772

pass it on



I pick up HomeLife every month in our church foyer. I read them all and I often pass on HomeLife in gift baskets that I make for someone who needs encouragement. I roll them up, put a ribbon around them, and place in a basket along with pretty smelling soaps and candles. I have one friend who tells me how much she loves the articles in HomeLife, as she has been a recipient and wishes her church had them. The wisdom is too great not to pass these magazines on to others! In a world where there is so much ungodly wisdom being given, HomeLife is refreshing to read and gives practical information for Christian families. Gratefully, Lisa Lantz, Cloverdale, Calif.

In what unique ways do you Pass It On? Email us at For each 2013 response we print, we will gift a free one-year subscription to the person of your choice.




Why do you read HomeLife each month? To grow in your relationship with Christ? To discover fresh ways to nurture your marriage and family life? For all the ways HomeLife ministers to you, you have the opportunity to bless others by passing along this copy when you’re finished with it. Need ideas? Here are some ways other HomeLife readers Pass It On.


© Life Way / Allen Cl ark




g family time

Hero in the Making How does God measure a superhero? BY JASON & KELLY STEWART

DECOR▼ Cost: $5-6 Time: 15 minutes •L  ine tables with superhero action figures. •F  ill votives or hurricanes with multicolored candies. •W  rite superhero sayings such as “Zap!” and “Pow!” on construction paper, then glue to skewers and place in candy-filled votives. •D  ownload hero pictures to display. FOOD▼ Cost: $10-20 Time: 30 to 45 minutes Hero Sandwiches: Serve deli meats, cheeses, hoagie rolls, and condiments.

Energy Sticks: Cut vegetables that can be placed on a skewer such as: carrots, pickles, celery, black olives, broccoli, and sugar snap peas. Then have kids assemble their own skewers.

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.



Kryptonite: Make green gelatin or color vanilla pudding with a drop of green food coloring.

With a little bit of planning,

you can have an incredible time with your family while strengthening your children’s faith. This month’s Family Time will challenge your family to be heroic for God with these activities and our family devotion. Show your kids how God measures a hero.

Superjuice: Rename the beverage of your choice. Talking Points: During the meal, ask family members to share who their favorite superhero is and what super power they wish they could have.

Find us on Facebook!

© Ge t t y Im ages / Ben McLeod

In a Jam Sandwiches: Make peanut butter and jelly and use a gingerbreadman cookie cutter to cut out the sandwiches.

Say: The Bible is full of heroes. Let’s lread Hebrews 11 to discover what’s necessary to be a hero in God’s kingdom. Discuss: Have family members share what they know about a few people listed and how they were heroes for God.

COSTUMES▼ Cost: $3 Time: 20 to 40 minutes

© Thinkstock

Superhero Mask: Using a craft knife, cut masks from stiff felt. Let kids decorate their masks with stickers. Attach yarn for kids to wear. Bands of Steel: Have your kids cut strips of yellow or gray construction paper to fit around their wrists. Let them decorate with stickers, markers, or crayons. GAMES▼ Cost: Free Time: 10 to 20 minutes Crashing Walls: Gather cardboard boxes or old appliance boxes to build a wall. Decorate the boxes to look like a brick wall or cityscape. Have children take turns breaking through the wall. Kryptonite Hunt: Cover paper towel tubes with green construction paper. In the tubes hide pieces of paper with a characteristic of a powerful superhero. Use words like strong, dependable, wise, helps others, or good friend. Hide them in your home or yard and let kids find them. DEVOTION▼ Time: 10 minutes Say: Who doesn’t love a superhero? Do we admire the costume, the courage, the drive for justice, the special powers, or something else? Is a hero made of bulging muscles and valiant feats, or is a hero someone who makes daily choices to do what’s right?

Say: Hebrews 11 shows us that the true measuring stick of heroism is faith. Faith is believing what God says is true and doing what He says. Another great Scripture to read as we think about God’s job description for a hero is Micah 6:8: “Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” We can all be heroes. It doesn’t require the extraordinary or the incredible but the faithful and the humble. Our heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 were ordinary people through whom God did the extraordinary. That’s His master hero plan, to use us to show how great He is by giving us the power and direction to do the brave and courageous. First Timothy 4:12 gives kids and adults some encouraging heroic training: “Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Ask: How can you be a superhero for God this month? Pray: Thank God for the true hero Jesus Christ, for Jesus’ faithfulness to our Heavenly Father, and for His mission of going to the cross. Ask God to give each person in your family the faith you need to follow and be a true hero for Him. •

Jason & Kelly Stewart are the proud

parents of four children and love to share fun family nights together. Jason has been on staff at LifePoint Church for nine years, and they are currently serving at their campus in the Seattle area. They are the creators of the ministry Family Muscle, which focuses on building strong families through strategic and intentional living.

Ask: What does it take to be a hero for God?

Join our community!

Memory MemoryVerses Verses January 6: “Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” — Micah 6:8 January 13: “Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” — 1 Timothy 4:12 January 20: “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.” — Psalm 7:10 January 27: “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” — John 3:17

Keep It Going: For a daily parent cue with a suggested Scripture reading and discussion starter, visit




family time calendar












Enter to win VeggieTales®: The League What’s your mission of Incredible training manual? Vegetables (See 2 Timothy (see 3:16-17.) /homelifeonline).







What’s your favorite superhero catchphrase?




Watch your favorite superhero movie. Memorize Micah 6:8.

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Who is the ultimate Choose to show mercy today. (See Avenger? (See Matthew 5:7.) Romans 12:18-19.)







Thank God for our military personnel, who are willing to show the “greatest love” (John 15:13) by risking their lives for freedom.


27 28 29 30 Memorize John 3:17.





family challenge

This month, be a real-life hero to someone. This could mean shoveling a driveway for an elderly couple, inviting a single friend to your house for dinner, or baby-sitting for new parents.

© Thinkstock

Memorize 1 Timothy 4:12.

God has big plans for you. Discover them one day at a time.

The NIV Once-A-Day Bible Collection delivers a simple plan for reading the Bible in one year. Keep track of your daily readings with the NIV Once-A-Day progress tracker on Facebook. With thousands of users, you’re bound to stay motivated. For more information, please visit today.

yes, no, or not yet

x Why You Must Persist in Prayer

G By Mark Batterson

Pray Through

ypsy Smith was born on the outskirts of London in 1860. He never received a formal education, yet he lectured at Harvard. Despite his origins, he was invited by two sitting presidents to the White House. Gypsy crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean 45 times, preaching the gospel to millions. Gypsy was powerfully used of God. Everywhere he went, it seemed like revival was right on his heels. But it wasn’t Gypsy’s preaching that brought revival. It never is. Preaching may move the hearts of men, but praying moves the heart of God. And that’s where revival comes from. One day a delegation of revival-seekers sought an audience with him, and Gypsy revealed his secret. They wanted to know how they could make a difference with their lives the way he had with his. His answer was simple yet profound, and what he said is as timely now as it was 100 years ago: “Go home. Lock yourself in your bedroom. Take a piece of chalk and draw a circle on your bedroom floor. Then kneel in that circle and pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival in that circle.”

There’s nothing magical about physically circling something in prayer, but there is something biblical about it. Before their first battle in the Promised Land, the Israelites were told by God to circle the city of Jericho for seven days (Joshua 6:3-5). I’m sure the battle plan was a little confusing to the army. Why not use the battering ram or scale the walls? What the Israelites didn’t know was that God would fight the battle for them. All they had to do was keep circling.



© Ge t t y im ages / Workbook Stock

The battle of Jericho is a picture of prayer. Prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you. When you hit your knees, God extends His powerful right hand. He fights your battles for you. Drawing prayer circles is a metaphor that simply means praying until God answers. It’s not just praying; it’s praying through. Prayer circling is a determinaPrayer is the difference between tion to pray as long as it takes, you fighting for God even if it takes longer than you ever imagined. and God fighting for you. Since the release of The Circle Maker (Zondervan), I’ve had a steady stream of emails a financial miracle until law enforcement intervened. They and letters from readers who have started circling their thought he was casing it! dreams, circling their homes, and circling their workplaces Drawing prayer circles isn’t some gimmick to get what you in prayer. An inner-city teacher circles her classroom every want from God. God is not a genie in a bottle, and your wish morning; a realtor prays circles around properties before listis not His command. His command better be your wish. If it’s ing them; and a team of doctors and nurses have turned their not, you won’t be drawing prayer circles. You’ll end up walkpatient rounds into prayer circles. A member of Congress is ing in circles. Drawing prayer circles starts with discerning circling the Capitol and an NFL chaplain is circling his team’s practice facility. One reader even circled his bank, praying for what God wants, what God wills. And until His sovereign



x will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from its power supply. And getting what you want isn’t the goal. The goal is glorifying God by drawing circles around the promises, miracles, and dreams He has for you.

Make the Rounds

You’ve got to praise Him if the answer is yes and trust Him if the answer is no. And if the answer is not yet, you’ve got to keep circling!

My friend Tony moved to Washington, D.C., in 1994 to fight for a noble cause on Capitol Hill. He was deeply concerned that innocent children were being introduced to pornography simply because adult channels were one click away from cartoon channels, so he authored legislation that would force the cable industry to fully scramble pornography channels. As Tony prepared to personally visit all 435 congressional offices, he felt led to circle the Capitol in prayer seven times. Tony knew he couldn’t win the fight without prayer. After seven circles, he even let out a Jericho shout. After praying a perimeter, Tony started knocking on doors asking for an audience with every member of Congress. Some of the offices applauded his efforts, but Tony was repeatedly told that his efforts were too little, too late. The telecommunications bill he was trying to amend had already gone to markup. Tony was told that there was no way the chairman of the congressional committee would reopen the bill to include his amendment because he would have to reopen it to everybody else’s amendments. Tony walked out of the 220th congressional office depressed and defeated. He was almost ready to throw in the towel when he had a burning bush moment. “I went over to a window, sat on its cold marble sill, and hung my head in defeat,” Tony recalls. “I said to myself, I should stop wasting my time and go home to San Diego. Never before, and never since, has God spoken to me so clearly. While I sat there looking down at the marble tiled floor, totally dejected, these words were spoken to me as clear as a bell: ‘Who is doing this, you or Me?’ I can’t explain how I felt when I heard those words, but I straightened up and responded, ‘You are, Lord!’ Instantly I was filled with more excitement than when I had first begun. At each of the following 215 offices, my presentations were given with renewed faith.” Tony made his last presentation at the Cannon House Office Building. His amendment still seemed like a lost cause, but it’s not over till God says it’s over. If your cause is Godordained, then the battle belongs to the Lord. It’s His victory to win, not yours. Tony continues, “I am not exaggerating when I tell you this. As my leg crossed the threshold as I exited the 435th office, my pager went off. Chairman Dingle had just agreed to allow my amendment to be added to his telecommunications bill.” Sometimes God shows up. Sometimes God shows off!



Watch God Work

God’s timing is impeccable, isn’t it? He’s never late. He’s never early. God is right on time, all the time! Is it a coincidence that Tony’s pager went off right as he exited the last office? I think not. I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe in providence. I believe there’s a God in heaven who orders our footsteps, who prepares good works in advance, who causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him, who fights our battles for us. And if you pray through, there will be a breakthrough! Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose patience. Sometimes God will push you to your absolute limits — the limits of your faith, the limits of your patience, the limits of your gifts. That’s how God stretches faith and builds character. Remember when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? God didn’t intervene and provide a ram in the thicket until Abraham had put Isaac on the altar, tied him down, and raised the knife. God pushed Abraham to the precipice of logic. He tested Abraham to see if Abraham trusted Him. Abraham passed the test and got a testimony. Maybe you’ve been interceding for child who has walked away from the faith. Maybe you’ve been believing for reconciliation in your marriage. Maybe you’ve been waiting for a healing miracle or a financial miracle. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking.

Finish Strong

None of my dreams have happened quickly or easily. There was nothing glamorous or glorious about our church plant in Washington, D.C. There were certainly moments when I felt like quitting, and I was tempted to think our efforts wouldn’t make much difference. After all, the average attendance our first year was 25 people, and those 25 people could have found a much better church to attend. But I was thinking in present-tense terms. If I had called it quits, I would have not only bailed on the 25 people I was pastoring at the time, I would have bailed on the thousands we’re influencing now and the tens of thousands we’ll influence in the future. I don’t know what you’re circling in prayer. And I don’t know if you’ve gotten a yes, a no, or a not yet. You’ve got to praise Him if the answer is yes and trust Him if the answer is no. And if the answer is not yet, you’ve got to keep circling. It’s always too soon to give up! What other option do you have? To pray or not to pray are the only options. If you keep circling, the walls will come down. •

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community

Church ( in Washington, D.C. Batterson is a bestselling author of multiple books including In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and SoulPrint (Multnomah). Check out his latest DVDdriven Bible study God Anthology (LifeWay) releasing this month. Mark is married with three children and resides on Capitol Hill in D.C.




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forward progress MICHAEL KELLEY

More Than a Feeling

Š Ge t t y Im ages / Pe ter Booth

Where faith and discipline meet



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© Ge t t y Im ages / John Rensten

Discipline that embraces faith changes everything. When you act, despite your feelings, you more times than not actually start to feel differently.

Gustave Flaubert, the French writer most famous for

his first published work Madame Bovary, once said, “One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.” In other words, you can exercise some control by sheer will over your actions, but feelings? Well, that’s a different story. You can’t control what you feel. You feel what you feel, and because you feel what you feel, it’s like spitting into the wind to try and control it. Right? Yes, I think. But like so many other things, you can be paralyzed into inaction by uncontrollable feelings. What happens when you feel one way, yet you know you should feel something else? What happens when you know, for example, that you shouldn’t be angry with your spouse or your kids, and yet you feel angry anyway? In your mind, you realize that your spouse didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. You know cognitively that you’re being way too sensitive. Similarly, you know that your 2-year-old didn’t mean to spill milk on your computer, and you further know that you’re actually angry at yourself for having it open on the table to begin with. You know there’s no basis for your hostility. And yet there you are, fuming with rage. What do you do then?

Act on Faith

Do you simply let yourself fizzle out? Do you wait to do something until you feel differently? No, you don’t. In a life busy with family obligations, you can’t afford to count to 10 over and over again until your feelings change. Instead, you act anyway, even when (and maybe most especially because) your feelings contradict what you know to be true. You apologize. Or you forgive. Or you sacrifice. You do so not because you feel like it; you do so because it’s good, right, and true. You do it, in other words, as an act of faith. You don’t feel like apologizing, forgiving, or sacrificing. Or obeying, for that matter. In short, you acknowledge what you feel to be real, yet you submit yourself to a greater reality. A more important truth. You refuse to be governed by what your

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senses tell you in the moment and instead believe something different. That belief is strong enough to look contrary feelings in the eye and not blink.

Feelings Will Follow

This is where the faith and discipline of discipleship begin to meet. They’re not at odds with each other; in fact, they shake hands. Maybe more than shake hands. They hug in a close embrace, gratified at their partnership. So you act. It’s a disciplined action, for the very definition of discipline implies doing something that you really don’t feel like doing. It’s like if you discipline yourself to go to a job in the morning or if you discipline yourself to choose rightly. In neither case do you really feel like doing it, but you do it anyway. Discipline that embraces faith changes everything. Suddenly, when you take the disciplined action of apologizing, forgiving, sacrificing, or obeying, you don’t do so as some kind of a martyr, feeling sorry for yourself along the way. Rather, you do so trusting that God will take the incomplete action you’re disciplining yourself to take and, through His grace, use it for good. But wait, it gets even better. When you act, despite your feelings, you more times than not actually begin to feel differently. Notice, though, that you don’t feel differently before you act, but as a result of acting. In this way, it seems, you bring the weight of the authority of Jesus Christ slamming down on your momentary emotions. With every action that contradicts your feelings, you hammer away at your sinful, selfish self. You remind your emotions that they do not rule the day — Jesus does. And what you find, time and time again, especially as your heart begins to change, is that in this domain — the domain of the emotions — Jesus Christ is still Lord. •

Michael Kelley, M.Div., and his wife, Jana,

have three children. He’s the executive editor of HomeLife and the Director of Discipleship at LifeWay Christian Resources. His works include The Tough Sayings of Jesus, Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, and Transformational Discipleship. Keep up with Michael on his blog at or on Twitter @_MichaelKelley.




y r a u t c San in e m i T

} { n Reawake to the wonder of rest.



© Ge t t y Im ages / A aron McCoy


By Margaret Feinberg

peeding through life at what I believed was a healthy pace, I ran out of gas without as much as a flicker from the fuel warning light. I completed projects and checked off to-do lists without hesitation until I woke up one Monday feeling like a ghost of my former self, hollow and faintly present. A quick self-inventory suggested something deep down inside was broken. It wasn’t that I couldn’t stomach another deadline, though I sat before a stack of projects. Or that I wasn’t sleeping well, though I tried everything I knew to sleep through the night. Or that I felt smothered by the onslaught of demands that popped into my inbox each day. Or that I sensed the shallowness of being consumed by a hundred meaningless activities. Or that I could no longer shove away the isolation that comes from being only partially present to everyone in my life — including God. I knew I needed to talk to someone who could pinpoint the source of my exhaustion, but I cringed with feelings of embarrassment and shame. Would the admission that I needed help certify that I was permanently broken, disturbed, losing my mind? I disregarded the voices of disgrace. With the assistance of a friend, I found a Christian counseling center. Sitting in the counselor’s office, my emotions felt like an oil fire with smoke billowing everywhere. My red-hot reaction was to smash what had driven me into a thousand pieces, but I knew that sooner or later I’d find a replacement. Freedom wasn’t found in tossing the treadmill, but in discovering a maintainable pace. Though God had been echoing the invitation to enter His rest, I hesitated to respond because somewhere along the journey of life, I had developed a mangled perspective. For me, downtime felt like detention: a forced confinement in which I was restrained against my will. I viewed respite like a tether holding me back rather than a resilient spring propelling me into the fullness of life God intended. As a result, I spent a lifetime outrunning downtime and missing out on one of the greatest wonders of all: rest. The counselor challenged my distorted view. Through our discussions I came to see rest as a divine invitation to make the physical, emotional, and spiritual confession that God is Lord of all. If I affirm that God holds everything together, then I’m free to establish a sustainable rhythm as I entrust everything and everyone to God. When I enter into God’s rest, I crawl into bed knowing the world lounges safely in His hands. But the biggest epiphany came when I realized that apart from the divine gift of downtime I cannot fully awaken to the presence of God. Rest refreshes our physical bodies, expands

our mental capacities, and increases our spiritual awareness. Yet I had slept through some of God’s most spectacular displays because I had failed to rest. With this wondrous discovery beating in my heart — a lack of rest makes me drowsy to God’s presence — I desperately wanted to awake. Staring at the counselor, I begged him to tell me what to do. He advised me to take responsibility. The pace of my life was my making, and only I could undo it. The grassy meadows and still waters described in the 23rd Psalm awaited, but I had to choose to answer the invitation of the Good Shepherd.

Entering God’s rest required more than taking a

catnap or pressing the snooze button but also becoming deliberate and intentional about the way I lived. That evening my husband, Leif, and I discussed what it meant, not just for me, but for us, to unwrap the gift of rest in our lives. We needed to develop life-giving rhythms, a sustainable pace. Our approach to everyday life required a change. We committed to realigning our lives. We woke up earlier, added exercise to our regimen, and reset our mealtimes. The tipping point — when we both committed to finish work by 6 p.m. and established a reasonable bedtime. Adjusting to the fledgling schedule, we found ourselves becoming more rested and fully present. Secretly, I hoped to be as productive working nine hours If I affirm as 14 and struggled to accept that God smaller yields of accomplishholds ment at the end of each day. Limiting my time at work everything meant reducing the number together, then of projects I took on. For the I’m free to first few months, I swung like a broken sprinkler head toward establish a excessive extremes. I said no to sustainable everything — including some rhythm as things I should have said yes to — but slowly discovered a more I entrust balanced approach. I gauged everything potential participation in everyday activities with the knowland everyone edge that every yes costs me to God. three nos. My daily decisions soon became more thoughtful, intentional, and prayerful. I wasn’t just giving myself; I was giving my best self to my relationships and work. With rest, I noticed God-moments I might have missed before. My prayers grew clearer. Studying the Scriptures became more meaningful. When life was rushed, I felt like I was reading a cookbook backward — nothing connected or made sense. Now I felt more attuned to God’s voice in the Bible. Sometimes you have to slow to a stop and reset before you can experience divine presence. My hunger to know God increased as I learned to develop a healthy rhythm in life and rediscovered the wonder of rest.



Like a great comet catapulted across a starry night,

God’s holy encore awed me. All the adjustments in daily life Often, many of us get to a point in our spiritual prepared me to rediscover one of the most beautiful gifts in walk where we feel like we've heard it life: Sabbath. This delightful treat of God isn’t one He keeps all. We know all the Christian answers. to Himself but shares freely with humanity. God established We go to church to simply check it off the Sabbath from the beginning of time for all time. In a world our list. This may be accompanied by a marked by endless demands to work and produce, God issues sense of loneliness, frustration, emptian invitation to rest. Scholars debate which came first, the ness, or loss of identity. We feel like word Sabbath — or Shabbat, as it’s known in Hebrew — or the there’s something missing in our lives. word “ceasing,” since Shabbat is derived from the Hebrew word   Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness sh-b-t, meaning “to cease.” Regardless, the primary meaning of of God (LifeWay) was created to renew our sense of wonder Sabbath reminds us that if we do not master the art of ceasing, and remind us that God is all around us all the time. It exwe cannot master the art of rest. plores topics like rest and prayer, and in the process, leads Making time to pause isn’t just a holy opportunity but a you to a moment of spiritual awakening that makes you divine command. Despite studying one of the most important curious to know God more. ritual observances in Judaism and listening to dozens of teachings on its importance, the Sabbath had remained negotiable in my life. I treated the Sabbath like a rainy day fund, convincing provides the space we need to recognize the false gods that myself that a single cloud justislip into our lives when we’re distracted. This holy day gives fied a withdrawal. The Sabbath us the opportunity to remove them and recalibrate our lives With rest, became a time bank to purchase to God. I noticed all kinds of things I couldn’t Moses notes that the Sabbath finds its roots in Genesis — the story of creation in which God is revealed as One who God-moments afford the other six days of the week. I thought I could draw on celebrates the good, the tov, of creation with a rhythm as natuI might have the account as much as I needed, ral as exhaling. With each passing day, the heavens and earth missed before. any time I needed, without splash to life until the sixth day, when God declares the formconsequence. Not until I woke ing of humanity as tov me’od, or abundantly good. The work of My prayers up and confessed, I can’t do this creation is a good and purposeful work performed by a good grew clearer. anymore, did I realize all of my and purposeful God. Of all the days, perhaps the seventh is withdrawals had left me bankrupt. the most eloquent and insightful as to the nature of God. From Studying the In the weeks following counsela literary perspective, the Sabbath forms the pinnacle of the Scriptures ing, I restudied the Sabbath in story. Like the dramatic kiss of a soldier returning from war, became more Scripture. After an unforgettable this is the moment we’re not meant to miss. In choosing rest as encounter with God on Mount the grand finale, God reveals Himself as One neither driven by meaningful. Sinai, Moses delivers the 10 anxiety or fear but One who finds gladness in both the work of Commandments to the Israelites. creation and the creation of work. Of all the edicts, I chose to be the most deliberate in breaking On the Sabbath, the world rests firmly in the palms of God. the longest one. While many of the Commandments are short Neither the stars nor the birds fall from the sky. But unlike the and direct, like “Don’t murder” and “Don’t steal,” Moses spells other days of creation, the entry is missing the closing refrain, out what it means to honor the Sabbath, highlights acceptable “Evening came, and then morning: the [insert the numeral] day.” behavior, and even offers a brief history of the day’s imporAll other days close with the same chorus, except the seventh. tance, alluding to God’s affections for humanity. Why? Maybe because God is inviting us to enter rest and The only other place where Moses becomes as long-winded reminding us that the invitation has no expiration date. is the second commandment, which forbids idolatry, maybe This scriptural detail is a source of great comfort because it because failure to rest, like idolatry, supplants God with means that no matter how many times we reduce the Sabbath lesser affections. Moses pauses to emphasize the ease with to nothing more than an hour of church or five minutes of which we can find ourselves ascribing value to anything shut-eye or another long day of hard work or play, the invitaand everything other than God. At times we’ll be tempted to tion to enter the rest of God has no end. The Sabbath is a construct our own idols, but despite their appeal and allure, sanctuary in time with doors that remain wide open — even attributing worth to anything other than God comes at great for the bankrupt like me. • cost. The forbidding of idols isn’t meant to detain us from Excerpted from Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg, © 2012. Published by Worthy Publishsomething good but to protect us from something destructive, ing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., Brentwood, Tenn. Used by permission. Tell us what you thought of this excerpt on Twitter: @WorthyPub, use hashtag spotlighting the breadth of God’s love. #livewonderstruck.

Though I had always seen these two commands

as separate in the past, I now viewed them as walking hand in hand. Apart from developing a healthy rhythm of rest, we succumb to idols and their constant demands. The Sabbath



Margaret Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher and speaker

at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive, and Extraordinary Women. Her books and Bible studies have sold more than 600,000 copies. Margaret lives in Colorado with her husband, Leif, and their superpup, Hershey. Learn more at



▶Bible Engagement Though the majority of churchgoers desire

to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think about biblical truths, a recent study conducted by LifeWay Research found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Scriptures. The survey found▼

90% 59%

of churchgoers “desire to please and honor Jesus in all [they] do,” and ▼

find themselves “thinking about biblical truths throughout the day.” However, when asked how often they personally read the Bible, only▼

19% A Lost Generation Forty years ago on

January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion and has led to the loss of more than 55 million children.   The Bible places particular significance on the number 40. Consider Noah on a big boat in the storm; Moses and the Israelites trying to find the Promise Land; and Jesus fasting and praying in the dessert.   In fact, the Bible refers to 40 as a “generation.”   I was a young college student who was passionate, vocal, and pro-choice. Little did I know that my own selfishness would lead me to make a choice for abortion a few years down the road.

  As we pass this life-changing anniversary, I’m still passionate, vocal, and pro-choice. However, this time, my prochoice message declares the words of Deuteromony 30:19 — "I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live."   I’m counting on the promise found in Revelation 12:11, which assures me we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the words of our testimony. It’s become my passion and calling to protect and defend the next generation. — Pat Layton, author of Surrendering the Secret (LifeWay) and A Surrendered Life (Crossbooks). Learn more at

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responded with “every day.” Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said, “Bible engagement has an impact in just about every area of spiritual growth. You can follow Christ and see Christianity as your source of truth, but if that truth does not permeate your thoughts, aspirations, and actions, you are not fully engaging the truth.” Source: LifeWay Research, survey of 2,930 Protestant churchgoers

The reason

most community is shallow in our world is because it’s built on temporary foundations. The reason most relationships don’t last is because they’re built on commonalities that change over time. When the common bond changes, the relationship changes. If relationships aren’t built on something deeper than finding good restaurants, working at the same company, or having kids in the same activities, they will change whenever the common bond is no longer there. Community is only as strong as what it’s built upon. And nothing is as strong as the gospel. Adapted from Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger (B&H).




dependent on your job, family, talents, or even your health. It’s a concrete confidence that weathers any storm. You can’t earn favor from God; you can only receive it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.” Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was enough. Romans 8:1 confirms, “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus.” That’s real security. Maybe you’ve recently felt the sting of insecurity or tried the promises of the world and discovered they’re imitations of the real thing. Accept Jesus as Lord, and you’ll experience true worth. He’s ready to make you a new creation, so you can serve Him in the world with full, lasting security.

The God who made you wants to save you.

Empty Promises

The remedy for the sting of insecurity BY JENNIFER MCCAMAN

Whether an attorney or a stay-

at-home mom, single or married, 16 or 60, we’ve all felt the sting of insecurity. We may wonder why friends don’t include us sometimes, why we can’t afford the same things that others can buy, or whether our spouse still finds us attractive. The world promises security in many forms: the perfect body, popularity, career advancement, a successful spouse, well-behaved children, excelling in hobbies and talents. The truth is, these promises are empty because insecurity cuts to the core of who we are: our souls. We still buy the lie — a quick fix until we’re left questioning ourselves again.

The Real ‘Me’ Before God

That’s where Christ comes in. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There’s



truth in our insecurity: We are total failures; we aren’t good enough; we’re hopeless in our weaknesses. We cannot enter the presence of the holy God because our souls are saturated with sin. But there’s great news. John 3:16 explains, “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.” Even in our brokenness, He loved us. He sought us. While we were stumbling from one quick fix to another, God had mercy on us. Romans 5:8 declares, “God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” His love is so extravagant that He loved us before we knew Him.

One Real Promise

The God who made you wants to save you. He’s the only One who offers eternal security. Security in Christ isn’t

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. Thankfully, we were never meant to follow Christ in isolation. Part of His plan for us includes uniting us with other believers to grow and serve together. To learn more about salvation, baptism, and growing in the Lord, visit your local church and join a community of believers. If you’d like to speak with someone about how to have new life in Christ, call toll free (888) 537-8720. •

Jennifer McCaman lives in Bangkok,

Thailand, with her husband and her son, who’s almost 2. Read more about her journey at

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new life


Allen Cl ark





Small Things, Great Purpose Simple but intentional actions can make a big difference. BY JASON HAYES A FEW YEARS AGO, my wife, Do you know a family who is using the Power of the Home to reach out to others? Let us know at



Carrie, and I planned a special trip to Walt Disney World with our oldest son, Hayden. It was a rare opportunity for us to focus just on him for a few days and celebrate his birthday. It wasn’t a long trip, but we anticipated it for weeks in advance. We watched videos online about the park, and we made sure we were getting a steady diet of Mickey

Mouse on TV in preparation. Carrie and I were probably more excited about it than Hayden was. Finally, the day arrived for us to leave. We arrived at the Orlando airport without delay. We hurried to a designated area where a luxury bus was waiting to take us to our resort. Upon arriving at the resort, we walked to the counter to check in. Then it happened. We were asked a question that would alter the rest of our experience. The lady at the counter asked, “Are you all celebrating anything special with us this weekend?” We quickly affirmed we were celebrating Hayden’s birthday. Then, in response, they gave him a wonderful button that designated his name and the occasion. We wrapped up there and hurried toward our room. However, we hadn’t even made it out of the lobby before we began to sense the power of the button. A gentleman at the doors bent down to Hayden and said, “Happy birthday, pal!” Then another lady at the counter in the gift store offered a similar nicety. Then it happened again in the restaurant. And, for four days straight, this happened almost everywhere we went. I was impressed, we had a great time, and Hayden was feeling pretty good about himself. Of course, the last night of our trip seemed to come too quickly, but we were committed to making the most of it. The park was offering extended hours for resort guests, and we weren’t going to miss out on any last-minute memories we could make. Evening arrived, and we enjoyed lots of rides, laughed a ton, and even took in the night parade and fireworks. Just before we left, we were sitting by the merry-go-round eating late-night ice cream cones, and Hayden said something I’m sure I won’t ever forget. He lifted his head and looked at me intently with his big, blue eyes. “Daddy, thank you for inviting all of these people to my birthday party,” he said. With tears rolling down my face, I was almost speechless. I initially wondered if I was somehow being secretly recorded for some scripted

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power of the home

You might just begin to see ministry in and around your home as something a lot less intimidating and a lot more attainable.

commercial where they had fed Hayden this wonderful little line. But it was just our family, and he was sincere. All of those warm birthday wishes over the week had set in, and Hayden honestly thought all of this was for him. Plus, he thought Carrie and I were responsible for it all. Of course, I hugged him with pride and replied as any responsible parent would: “You’re welcome, son. You’re welcome.” Ha! I couldn’t bring myself to say anything else. The moment was too special.

Engage With the Gospel

Now, what’s the point of all this storytelling? And what does it have to do with the Power of the Home? Here it is: There’s great value in simple yet intentional interactions.

Cooking Up Hospitality By Carrie Hayes

© Istock Photo


or some reason, my oven is just not baking right. At first glance, it seems to be working perfectly. My muffins are golden, the cakes are fluffy, and the cookies rise as desired. Then, I take a bite and realize it’s not cooked all the way through. If you leave something in longer, you burn the outside. If I take it out as directed, then I’m eating something less than desirable.   This is a good reminder for us all as we think about our ministry in our homes. We can get an outfit ready, our houses ready, and the dinner ready. But, if our hearts aren’t ready, then our ministry may be less than we hope. Next time you are hosting, take a few minutes to seek the Lord. Take a deep breath and be reminded that your best ministry will always come as a result of who you are, not how good everything looks.

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In the past, I’ve described our family’s commitment to unleashing the power that we believe exists in our home. We think there’s an opportunity there that can’t be matched and can’t be missed. It’s an opportunity to live out what’s most important to us around those with whom we are closest. We’ve committed to making our home an extension of the local church, our primary hub for spiritual growth, the central environment for our family’s development and health, and ground zero for missional living. I could take any one of these tenets about the home and explore the principles of simplicity and intentionality. Consider missional living for a moment. How do you truly engage your neighbors with the gospel? Think simple and intentional. At Disney, they asked a question and responded to the answer. We should do the same. Ask your neighbors their names as you go for an evening walk. Then remember their names and call them by name the next time. Ask them how they’re doing. And pay attention. Then, follow up the next time, and show you actually cared in the first place. If someone expresses a need, then respond. And when they ask about you, tell them … including the faith you have in Jesus. Before you know it, you’ll begin to see that enough of these simple but intentional interactions make a big difference. Offer hospitality that’s unmatched. Serve relentlessly. And love unconditionally. You might just begin to see ministry in and around your home as something a lot less intimidating and a lot more attainable. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to share about a God-given gift that offers far more joy than any birthday button could ever provide. •

Jason Hayes, M.Div., and his wife, Carrie, have three sons. Jason is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Knoxville, Tenn. He’s also the author of Blemished and Follow Me (LifeWay). Learn more at




© Ge t t y Im ages / altrendo im ages

love that lasts GARY CHAPMAN

On the Same Team Work together to manage expectations and negotiate. Many wives ask me: How do I get my husband to work with me as a team? As one wife said, “It’s like we live two lives. He’s involved with sports and TV, and I raise the children and keep the house clean. I thought marriage was supposed to be a shared experience.” And the truth is, marriage is designed by God as a shared experience. Scripture is clear about that. In fact, God said that in marriage “they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). That speaks of a deep, intimate relationship in which spouses will work together to accomplish God’s plans for the marriage.



When a wife feels that her husband is not working with her, or the husband feels that his wife is not being a helper, the marriage seems less than ideal. So, how does one spouse get the other to enter more fully into the partnership of marriage? The answer lies first in identifying expectations. We come into a marriage as two individuals with different visions of what a marital relationship should look like. Our vision is often shaped by what we saw in our parents’ marriages. For example, the husband whose wife wanted him more involved with the children and helping

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When feelings are expressed in anger, you’re not likely to gain the desired change. her with the house was likely following his father’s model. His wife’s picture of the ideal husband has never entered his mind. Get your expectations on the table by making lists of what you expected when you got married. Consider the following categories: • Food: purchasing, preparing, cleanup • Clothes: purchasing, laundering, storing • Household: sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, dusting • Lawn care: mowing, trimming, planting • Vehicles: purchasing car, cleaning, repairing • Vacations: planning, saving Once your expectations are understood, then you can negotiate the areas in which you want the other to be more involved. The objective is to find out how you can build a team in which each of you feels that the other is engaged. The result is that you gain a sense of togetherness rather than living with feelings of isolation. The key word is negotiate. You cannot preach your spouse into changed behavior. Statements that condemn do not motivate positive change. You may feel like saying, “I don’t understand how you can sit there and watch TV and never offer to help me while I’m working!” But when feelings are expressed in anger, you’re not likely to gain the desired change. When we feel condemned, we either fight back or run and hide. Neither response helps the marriage. A better approach is to look for something you like about your spouse and express appreciation. Do this as a way of life. Then, periodically, request change. You might say, “If you would like to help me, here’s something I would appreciate.” Because your spouse feels appreciated for what he or she is already doing, your mate will be more likely to respond positively to your request.

Make Changes Together

We all have patterns of behavior we’ve developed through the years. Some of these are helpful to the marriage, and some are detrimental to the marriage. The problem is, we’re not always aware of what the detrimental things are until they’re brought to our attention. How you bring them to your spouse’s attention is the important thing. To solve this problem, I recommend initiating a “marriage improvement month.” Say to your spouse, “I’ve been thinking about us, and I don’t want to be just an ordinary couple.

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I want to be an exceptional couple. Would you be open to giving me one suggestion each week for the next month for how I could be a better wife? If you would like, I will give you one suggestion for how you could be a better husband, and both of us could grow. Would you be open to this?” If the answer is yes, you are on the road to positive change. If your husband agrees to give you a suggestion each week but is not willing to take a suggestion from you, I would encourage you to go for it. Before the month is over, I think you will see a change in his attitude. I remember one wife whose husband was willing to give her suggestions, but not open to receiving them. After four weeks, he said, “This is not fair. I need to have you give me one suggestion each week next month.” It was the turning point in their marriage because love stimulates love. As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” •

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 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.



By Melanie Shankle

The Great

Chore Swap A 48-hour experiment gave our marriage a clean sweep.




few months ago, I received an email from the editor of HomeLife asking if my husband, Perry, and I might be up for the challenge of switching household duties for a short time in the name of spouse appreciation. Because I’m never one to shy away from a challenge (unless it seems really hard or might require me to eat a bug), I agreed that it might be a fun experiment. I mean, it’s just a couple of days, right? How hard could that be? Especially when, deep down inside, I knew that switching household chores meant that I was free and clear of all cooking responsibilities for 48 hours. Is that the “Hallelujah” chorus I hear? I approached Perry to ask if he was game, and he responded, “Sweet! Does that mean I get to sleep in on Saturday morning and stay in my pajamas until noon?” Because he’s a comedian. However, there was a bit of truth in his words. (Don’t hate me. It took us a long time to get to this place.) I’m a professional blogger and just released my first book. Weekdays are often when I feel like I might drop dead from the schedule and frantic pace of trying to keep my ducks in a row.

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That, and there’s nothing our child’s elementary school likes more than sending home 58 different pieces of paper every day, each requiring a parent’s signature. So we decided it might be better if we switched places during the week.

Start the Swap

So, Perry and I declared the next Wednesday our official starting point. That morning, I blissfully drank coffee and checked email while Perry scrambled to figure out how to pack a lunch and a snack for our finicky 9-year-old daughter. He was also in charge of preparing breakfast, and I secretly enjoyed that Caroline decided to forgo her usual breakfast of cereal for eggs and toast. It’s like she read my mind. Ultimately, Perry made sure Caroline was dressed, fed, and off to school on time while I sat smugly sipping my coffee — until I realized it was trash day. I was now the one in charge of taking out the trash. That fact became clear when I heard the garbage men honk their horn outside. I made the mad dash of shame, overflowing trash bag in hand, out to the curb knowing that Perry would never let me live it down if I forgot the trash component of his responsibilities, especially since we had fish for dinner the night before. The rest of the day went by pretty smoothly. I was giddy with the realization that I didn’t have to think about going to the grocery store or devising a meal plan. Perry picked up Caroline from school and began to help her with her homework when he mentioned that this was the day he usually mowed the lawn. Seriously? I’m not opposed to mowing the lawn. It’s just that I don’t know how to start the lawn mower, check if it has enough gas, or anything else related to lawn maintenance. That’s the benefit of being married to someone who owns a landscaping company; the yard magically looks better once a week. I guess I assumed we had a yard elf — a handsome 6-foot-tall yard elf who wears a giant hat while he mows. But I wasn’t going to let a little lawn mower ignorance stand in my way. I headed out to our back shed, wheeled out the lawn mower, and tried in vain to start it. It seems that, in light of the fact that it’s 2013 and I have a phone that can tell me where I am on the planet at all times, there should have

been more advances in lawn care equipment. Like, why can’t I just push a button? Why does this mower still have a starter cord that must be pulled with brute force? Mercifully, Perry walked outside and started the lawn mower. I proceeded to spend the next 17 years of my life mowing the grass, uphill, in the oppressive Texas heat. When I finally limped my way back into our air-conditioned house, Perry and Caroline were studying her spelling words, a task I normally find akin to the experience of watching C-SPAN for hours. Suddenly, I found that I was I sat smugly feeling deeply envious of sipping my the cushy job of helping our daughter learn the differcoffee — until ence between horse/hoarse I realized it and course/coarse in our climate-controlled kitchen. was trash day. I went to take a shower and apply a few bandages on emerging blisters while Perry started dinner. I felt like he was kind of showing off when he announced he was making fried fish with homemade french fries. Whatever happened to Hamburger Helper®? Why was Perry so fancy all of a sudden? Dinner was delicious, and Perry made sure Caroline got ready for bed while I did the dishes, since that’s usually his responsibility. I realized I was sad to miss out on the bedtime routine even though there are nights the whole thing drives me crazy with requests for “one more glass of water” or “I need a tissue” or “can you sing one more song?” Many times I feel like a nightclub performer with all the songs Caroline requests between 8-8:30 p.m. every night. I continued to clean up the kitchen as Perry tucked Caroline into bed and managed to get out of her room after reading just one story and singing one song. That was proof that even children know how to prey on the weak.

Pay the Piper

Perry and I collapsed on the couch and agreed it had been a good day. We talked about how much we appreciate what the other does. Then Perry reminded me that it was the time of day when he sorts through our bills and balances the checking account. You can’t possibly know this about me, but I’m terrible at math. Numbers make me break out in hives. One of the reasons I got married was because I made a D in a personal finance class in college. I knew I would never be able to function without someone who would add and subtract numbers for me. I got out the calculator and a stack of bills and began to, literally, pay the piper. Or the exterminator. Or whomever.



Find the Blessing

The things Perry does around the house make me feel cared for and valued.

The next morning I woke up and brewed the coffee, since that’s one of Perry’s normal tasks. He started a load of Caroline’s laundry because that’s what I do, since she prefers to wear the same pair of black running shorts at least three days a week. Fortunately, Perry is proficient at laundry since he has done his own from the beginning of our marriage. In our newlywed days, we lived in an apartment with a coin-operated laundromat. I informed him that I only did laundry once a week and couldn’t meet his clean clothes demands and, thus, he was on his own. Thursday looked pretty similar to the day before except that I didn’t have to mow. I changed a few burned-out lightbulbs on the back porch, but that was the extent of my manual labor.

Perry’s Take

I have to say that I never believed Melanie would actually get out and mow the yard, but she did it. However, I think it’s safe to say she’ll never do it again. While I didn’t mind cooking dinner and handling all the bedtime responsibilities, I don’t think it’s really my thing. I had no idea how frustrating it can be to help Caroline learn her spelling words, and it’s not necessarily something I’d want to do every week. I’d rather mow the lawn in the oppressive Texas heat. I think at the end of two days, Melanie and I realized there’s a good reason why we’ve divided the household responsibilities the way we have; it’s what works best for both of us.



Perry cooked dinner again that night, opting for tacos instead of anything remotely ambitious. I took his easy meal prep as a sign that in a mere 24 hours, he had embraced my strategy of figuring out different ways to cook ground beef. After he got Caroline down for the night, Perry and I sat on the couch and spoke honestly about our distribution of labor experiment. We agreed that we preferred our own roles. Yes, there are days when I feel like a caterer preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner; but I prefer that to taking out the trash, worrying if the latch on the gate is locked, or feeding the dogs and cleaning up after them. I enjoy my nightly routine with Caroline and missed that time when she actually wants to talk about her day. As frustrated as I sometimes get by her delay tactics, I wouldn’t trade it for doing the dishes every night. I certainly have no desire to pay our bills and figure out our finances. That was just an exercise in pain. Perry said he didn’t realize how hectic my evenings sometimes are as I try to get dinner on the table, homework finished, and library books put in backpacks for the next day. I think it made him appreciate the times I collapse on the couch at 8:30 p.m. and don’t move until I shuffle off to bed. We have pretty traditional roles in our marriage. He’s in charge of filling up my car with windshield wiper fluid, getting my tires balanced, and making sure the trash is out before the garbage men honk their horn. I’m in charge of meals, homework, and packing lunches. Sure, I have to clean the toilets occasionally and wipe down the bathroom sinks because people seem to think their toothpaste remnants magically disappear, but I wouldn’t trade those tasks for almost anything. The things Perry does around the house make me feel cared for and valued. The things I do make me feel needed and that I’m doing exactly what God would have me do: make my family my priority. I think our experiment helped us realize that we’re doing exactly what we’ve been called to do and to find the blessing in the midst of it. Balanced checkbooks, old lawnmowers, and all. •

Melanie Shankle writes daily at She lives

in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Perry, and daughter, Caroline. Her first book, Sparkly Green Earrings (Tyndale House), comes out this February.

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Meanwhile, Perry had his feet up on the coffee table and was watching some TV show about people living off the land in Borneo, which, at that moment, seemed infinitely easier than balancing our checkbook. To my credit, I think I did all right. At least the bank hasn’t notified us that any checks bounced or that our balance is off by $432.



marriage mentors

Just the Two of Us these couples would speak into our lives with their wise mentoring. These mentoring relationships became important to us. As a result, we developed a passion for a new kind of relationship we call Marriage Mentoring in which a more experienced married couple links up with a younger couple to invest in growing their marriage.

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Another purposeful strategy for enlarging your friendship circle is to facilitate a small group.

Challenge ▶

My husband and I have been married for 10 years and have no kids. We’ve found it difficult to make friends because most couples our age have children. Any suggestions for a lonely couple?

Strategy ▼

We were married 14 years before we had our first child. During that season of our marriage, we were both completing graduate degrees — on top of full-time jobs. So we can relate to your feeling of loneliness as a couple. Friendships among couples often form around the shared activities and schedules of children. If you don’t have

kids a few years into your marriage, you can feel as if you’ve been left on an island of solitude. Here’s what helped our social calendar. First, we expanded our friendship circle to include couples who were older than us — empty-nesters. We loved their ability to be spontaneous and found that they loved our youth. What we never could have anticipated is how deeply

Additionally, these friendships caused us to reach out to couples younger than us — pre-child couples whom we discovered were glad to receive our hospitality and friendship. Another purposeful strategy for enlarging your friendship circle is to facilitate a small group. These groups can be intergenerational and are a great way to cultivate deeper relationships with couples while learning from one another. Personally, we’ve found a six-week group experience to be ideal. Whatever resource you use, initiating a small group with other couples will work wonders. Having been married for 28 years with two busy boys of our own, we look back on those initial lonely days as some of our richest times of connection and fellowship. With these suggestions, you’ll likely feel the same way. •

Les & Leslie Parrott, both Ph.D., are New York Times best-selling authors and founders of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University and the Marriage Mentoring Academy ( Their books include Love Talk, The Complete Guide to Marriage Mentoring, and the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Visit their site at



we’ve trained over 250,000 marriage mentors and we’re just getting started.

join us, it’s easier than ever. Ready to take your marriage to a whole new level— and have fun while you’re at it? For the first time ever, you can become a certified marriage mentor anywhere, anytime with our new, online Marriage Mentoring Academy. Each session is like going on a mini-date with your spouse. Join the growing band of couples who are already enjoying the boomerang of blessing through marriage mentoring. Use the coupon code LIFEWAY to receive a 10% discount today!

Drs. Les & LesLie Parr ott #1 NY tiMes Best seLLiNG aUtHors



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LESS THAN PERFECT Many couples marry while happily holding on to intentions of gracefully dodging major conflict. They see a few possible waves in their relationship, but their visions are filled mostly with a smooth, calm sea of contentment and companionship. In their minds, marriage will be perfect (or at least close to perfect). They believe they will live and love happily ever after. Despite the idealized image of love that many of us hold on to, the reality is that every marriage is made of two imperfect people. Since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the likelihood that sin (selfishness, for example) won’t enter the home is more than remote. A marriage involving two imperfect people can never be free of mistakes. But that’s the beauty of it. All the bumps and wrinkles that couples encounter along the way can actually help them to sharpen each other and to grow as individuals in their relationship with Christ. In fact, the bumps are part of the adventure of marriage. — Dawn Pick Benson (from

And Two Shall Become One

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Say “I do” to Marriage Mentoring

Created in 2002, National Mentoring Month was designed to

focus attention on the need for mentors. Though founded to assure better futures for young people, there’s a growing need for marriage mentoring, which pairs a couple who may be experiencing difficulty with a mature couple who has already waded through similar waters.

These mentor relationships allow couples the benefit of insight that mature couples have gained from their experiences. Most couples navigate some difficulties in their marriage, and many of them find that discussing their problems or questions with another couple rather than turning to family members, their pastor, or even a marriage counselor is easier.

Adapted from

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James C. Dobson said, “Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.” Fewer of the population are finding that person, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2012. The number of new marriages has been decreasing since 2000, but those who do marry are staying married. The widely held belief that every two marriages ends in divorce isn’t exactly true. Though the marriage rate has dropped 17 percent over the last decade, the divorce rate has dropped 10 percent. The people who do find that individual they can’t live without keep their commitments, and as a result, there are fewer divorces nationwide. Source:




smart stepfamilies RON L. DEAL

Jon wrote to me asking for some

encouragement; what he really wanted was a solution. “My wife and I have been in the Crock-pot for two years,” he started, referring to an analogy I use in my book The Smart Stepfamily (Bethany House) about the way family members come together — or cook — in a blended family. They aren’t forced together quickly as in a blender, and they don’t cook instantly as in a microwave. Rather, they gradually soften and connect as do ingredients in a slow cooker.

Longing for Egypt

Jon continued, “We struggle with the many challenges you talk about. Specifically we deal with my ex-wife and her nagging for more money. Also, we face my wife’s ex-husband and his anger issues. And then there are our five children, a few of whom come and go according to their visitation schedules. Sometimes we really feel we need a shot in the arm of encouragement. We pray together every day, read meditations, and go to church, but we often get the urge to go back to Egypt.”

Control the Uncontrollable

Though stepfamily life can be challenging, God holds the future in His hands. 40


The Israelites who, after watching God lead them out of bondage in Egypt, started longing for the security of the very place that once enslaved them.

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© Ge t t y Im ages / richardhwc

Jon and his wife wondered if life would be easier if they went back to divorced life.

© Ge t t y Im ages / HIDEHARU NAITO

Similarly, Jon and his wife wondered if life would be easier if they went back to their divorced lives before they were married. Most people don’t ever really want to go back to Egypt, they just don’t know how to control the uncontrollable stressors in their life. What Jon actually wanted was an instant solution to his problems. Knowing that will help you understand my reply:

“It’s good to hear from you, Jon. Just the other day I was thinking about my life, my faith struggles, and the Israelites looking back at Egypt. It occurred to me that, perhaps, one of the reasons they lost faith when caught between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea was that they were stuck trying to imagine a controlled future. That is, they were picturing what was coming next and

{ } Help for


The best encouragement for STEPFAMILY STRESS ongoing stressors is finding shelter in a When faced When it comes group of stepwith a difficult to conflicts family couples ex-spouse, stay between homes, who can support in close comif you cannot you and provide munication with find a workable understandyour spouse relationship ing. Being with about how you consult with a people who will interact with family mediator understand the ex. Resist or therapist who your frustration blaming each can be a neutral is comforting. other or letting facilitator toward If your church your frustration cooperation. doesn’t have a spill out on the group, start one children. yourself.



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MINISTRY TIP When you’re counseling couples and families, don’t be afraid of not knowing. Sometimes ministry leaders have a Messiah complex and want to give solutions to every problem. But what is needed most is sitting patiently with people in their pain, sharing the heaviness, and calling on the Lord for strength. In addition, teach people not to run from recurring frustrations but to press through them with spiritual integrity.

couldn’t see how they were going to control it. You can just see them saying, ‘We can’t go forward — there’s no hope that direction. We can’t go backward or stay here. We’re sitting ducks.’ Of course, all of this doom is imagined separate and apart from God’s presence. “I often do that, don’t you?” I continued. “If you ask me about my walk with God today, I can tell you how I interact with Him and what He’s teaching me. But the second I consider the future, I find myself alone trying to figure it out — all on my strength with my resources, my wisdom. No wonder we get anxious and look back at Egypt — the future is doomed if it’s all up to us. But what if we imagined God with us in the future, providing wisdom for the moment and strength to endure whatever it is we have to face? When it comes to your challenges — ex-spouse, child support, and parenting five kids — perhaps trusting God to be with you in the future is more important than knowing what you’ll do on your own power once you get there.” There’s a part of me that thinks I didn’t serve Jon well with my response, like I left him hanging without any solutions. That’s the human part of me that wants to fix things for people and that thinks I really have the power to do that. That’s the same part of Jon who was looking for a magical solution. But the spiritual part of me knows that I’m much better off not knowing how to fix every stressor in life and be dependent upon God, than constantly looking for ways to be in control, independent from God … and so is Jon. •

Ron L. Deal, M.M.F.T., is the director of

blended family ministries for FamilyLife, and author/co-author of a series of DVDs and books for stepfamilies including The Smart Stepfamily, The Smart Stepmom, The Smart Stepdad, Dating and the Single Parent, and The Remarriage Checkup. He and his wife, Nan, have three boys.Learn more at




By Carol Mason Shrader

he Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was 15 miles from the parking garage. Or maybe my shuffle-stepshuffle just made it feel that way because my leg muscles were almost gone after 10 weeks of bed rest. Or maybe the anxiety of wanting to see my three newborns after a long night apart made the distance feel insurmountable. Or maybe it really was as far away as it could possibly be. Whatever the reason, by the time I arrived at the NICU each morning, I was eager to hold my sweet babies. So the morning I arrived at Benjamin’s incubator only to be greeted by the nurse with, “You can’t hold him today; his heart rate is unstable and he needs his rest,” I was devastated. Disappointment mixed with concern as I opened the “porthole” and stuck my hand in to rub his little back. Immediately Benjamin’s heart rate stabilized. After a few minutes of watching his monitors and realizing all his numbers were good, I went to find the nurse, eager to convince her to let me hold him. When we returned, Benjamin’s numbers were elevated again. I reached in, patted his back, and spoke to him gently. His numbers regulated. The nurse told me to remove my hand. She placed her hand on his back, and his heart continued to race. She pulled her hand out and told me to put mine back in. When I did, his heart rate returned to normal. After a few minutes of watching Benjamin’s heart rate vacillate from racing to stable as we took turns touching him, the nurse threw open the incubator and handed my 3-pound baby to me. “Take him,” she said. “It’s obvious you’re what he wants anyway!” It was the first time — of many — that God would use Benjamin to remind me of the joy that accompanies parenting children with special needs.

Parenting children with special needs is a blessing.

on, , Mas njaminaby swing e B s abe e b Tiny b laire in on l Intensive . and C Neonata weeks old in the Unit at 4 Care



Created for Purpose

Benjamin, Mason, and Claire were born three months premature. As a result, both Benjamin and Mason have cerebral palsy. For Benjamin, that means he has extremely limited gross motor skills. He uses a power wheelchair to navigate his world. Mason’s diagnosis means his motor skills are impaired, and he uses cuff crutches, which we call “power sticks,” to walk. My husband, Wade, and I weren’t completely shocked to receive the cerebral palsy diagnosis; with three babies, we knew the boys were behind in reaching milestones. And yet, when the doctor looked at us days before their first birthday and confirmed the diagnosis, I knew we had reached a turning point. Immediately statistics were hurled at us: statistics about whether Benjamin and Mason would walk, talk, or be able to feed themselves; statistics about their life span; and even statistics about the effect of their diagnosis on our marriage.

Photos courtesy of the Shrader family.

Benjamin, Claire, Mason, and Cate (6) celebrate the triplets’ 15th birthday at the zoo.

Claire (14), Our family -- te (5), Benjamin (14), Ca and Mason (14).

Family fun wher is easy -- Wa e accessibility Mason (15), Mo lt Disney World! m Benjamin (15), Claand Dad, ire (15), and Cate (6).

Away from little ears that My best friend supported me long-distance with her prayers. After discussing our prayer requests with her pastor, heard and processed everything we said, my husband she called because he told her I “must be incredibly strong and I discussed the “w” for God to give me two special children.” word at length. We knew I wanted to hug her for trying to encourage me, and yet, I Benjamin was bright. We was relieved she lived so far away. Because she couldn’t see also knew that when my weakness — couldn’t see how absolutely wrong her pashe was exhausted, he tor was. I didn’t feel strong at all. And I certainly didn’t feel On c couldn’t think, talk, or incredibly strong. Unive ampus a process information. But even as I wrestled with my sorrow, I was thankful to Benjarsity --t Mississ and min (14) Mom, Cippi Stat We didn’t want him know the One whose strength is made perfect in weakness , e Maso a n (14 Dad, Cla te (5), (2 Corinthians 12:9). I knew the One who wrote my story long to start kindergarten ). ire ( 14), exhausted each morning from before I was even created in my mother’s womb — the One walking into the school. We decided, with who wrote the story of my children before they were formed reluctance, to try a power wheelchair. in mine (Psalm 139:13-16). I will never forget the day we placed his smiling little body God was faithfully whispering truth in my ears — truth into the chair and turned it on. He grabbed the joystick and that reminded me that these amazing boys were no different took off! My heart was pounding with following the diagnosis than they were fear right up until the noises coming before. God had created them with a from Benjamin broke through my fear. plan. I would cling to that knowledge God was faithfully He was laughing with his entire body. in the days and years ahead. His truth whispering truth Within minutes, he was navigating reminded me that my role as mom around the space, giggling, driving, and didn’t change with any diagnosis. I’m in my ears — truth talking all at the same time. He had never called to take care of them, encourage that reminded me been able to move in his own space and them, cheer for them as they reach their that these amazing talk at the same time. He was thrilled. full potential, and, most importantly, to That day God used Benjamin to teach lead them to the cross. A diagnosis of boys were no me that my paradigm was wrong. A cerebral palsy didn’t change any of that. different following wheelchair did not place limits on this Even as I rested in that truth, I the diagnosis than child of mine. Instead, a wheelchair had fears about what Benjamin’s and opened doors that had never before Mason’s futures would hold — how they they were before. been available to him. We ordered him a would look and how I would navigate chair immediately. the completely foreign waters of theraThe summer Benjamin got his first pies, adaptive equipment, and surgeries. chair was also the summer Mason had major spinal surgery. He was in the midst of post-surgical rehab when kindergarReminded of Glory ten began, so the boys began the school year in their own Benjamin was 5 before I allowed anyone to say the “w” word wheelchairs: Benjamin’s new power wheelchair and Mason’s around him — wheelchair. In my paradigm, a wheelchair manual wheelchair as well as a walker instead of his usual imposed limitations and labels. power sticks. Frankly, a wheelchair screamed that this disability was During their first week of school, they drew self-portraits. not something to be outgrown. I struggled. I was anxious to know how Mason viewed himself. So drivUsing a walker, Benjamin could slowly navigate in and out ing home from school one afternoon, I asked him if he drew of preschool, but he was completely exhausted by the activity. To make things easier for him, I carried him around our house, his picture with power sticks. He said no. I asked, a bit sadly, if he had drawn himself with his walker; he said no. I paused, and he sat in a stroller outside the house.



But even as I rested in that truth, I had fears about what Benjamin’s and Mason’s futures would hold — how they would look and how I would navigate the completely foreign waters of therapies, adaptive equipment, and surgeries. worried that he had begun to identify more with himself in a wheelchair. He sensed my pause and jumped right in: “Mom, I drew myself without anything … just like I’ll walk in heaven.” That day God used Mason to remind me of His glory — and exactly what our goals on earth should be.

1. Remember your role has not changed: You are still to

Perfected in Weakness

Recently, I was seated in the school auditorium as the stage lights came up, and there, standing center stage supported by his crutches, stood my handsome teenager Mason. Introducing the musical the audience had come to see — a version of The Ugly Duckling — Mason told them this was a personal story, a story about him. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as my son shared how oftentimes throughout his life people had chosen to avoid him, rather than befriend him. He went on to describe those friends who are willing to see past his disability. Mason then shared with the audience the verse that spoke such truth to me in those early days after we received the boys’ diagnosis: “I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well” (Psalm 139:14). It was one of those moments in my mommy-hood in which, once the tears were dried, I took a deep breath and realized an incredible joy. It was the kind of joy that says even though I know my work isn’t done, I see a glimpse of the big picture God is painting by allowing my boys to have special needs. God’s glory is made perfect in our weakness — when Benjamin rolls into a room, he commands an audience. When Mason bravely enters with his crutches, he does the same. When all eyes are turned to them, they have the opportunity to shine a light for God that does not exist for many of us. •

Carol Mason Shrader is a full-time cheerleader to four

wonderfully made children — Benjamin, Mason, Claire, and Cate — as well as for her husband, Wade. Though Southern-born, she writes from the desert in Phoenix.

First-Rate Friends Help your children be good friends to children with special needs:

1. Remind your kids of all they have in common. Children with special needs are more similar than different. My boys love video games and action heroes.

2. Help them realize that physical disabilities aren’t contagious. You can hold hands, hug, and spend time with a child with special needs, and you will not “catch” the disability.



Joy After the Diagnosis love, encourage, and knock down barriers to help your child reach his or her full potential. 2. Seek counsel from those who are further down the road. This looks different for everyone but there are: a. Support groups — Contact your local hospital. b. Blogs — Especially with a new baby, late-night encouragement is sometimes best. Many moms use a blog to share, vent, and connect. Use a search engine for special needs and find one (or 10) that speak to your heart. c. Books — Extraordinary Kids by Cheri Fuller and Louise Tucker Jones (Focus on the Family) was helpful to our entire family. d. Unexpected places — Be open to conversations with strangers. When the boys were 3, we were at Walt Disney World and met a family with an adult son with cerebral palsy. They were so encouraging and have been pen pals since. We also met a young college student at a bowl game; this young man with cerebral palsy and a power wheelchair has encouraged us so much through his life by showing us what is possible. 3. Take time to talk — really talk — to your spouse. Ignore any statistics thrown your way and focus on recommitting your marriage. Hold tight to each other through the joy, the struggles, and the fears. 4. Commit Psalm 139 to memory. It will be invaluable.

3. Encourage them to ask questions. My boys are happy to answer questions regarding their wheelchairs, crutches, or the reasons they need them. Ask; it’s much preferable to staring.

4. Tell your kids that they don’t have to shout, speak slowly, or use baby talk. Just because a child is in a wheelchair does not mean the child is incapable of hearing you. Talk naturally.

5. Help your child understand. Set aside a half-hour to “experience” the friend’s disability. The activity can be as simple as having your child attempt a fine motor task with socks on his hands or spending a half-hour without getting out of his or her chair, depending on others to meet needs. 6. Most importantly, model this behavior for your children. If you treat a child with special needs as worthy of your friendship, your child will never pause before making the effort.


my home life (L-to-R) Lane, 8; Leila, 5; Megan; Travis; Beacon, 2; and True, 4

Snowball Effect

With the right perspective, I can enter each day with wonder. BY TRAVIS VOSKAMP

Living in West Texas has its advantages. One is that

the weather patterns are somewhat predictable. Spring is cool and breezy; summer is hot, dry, and windy. Fall is punctuated by cooler, pleasant temperatures and wind. Winter is mild with brief windows of frigid temperatures usually carried to our neck of the woods by a brisk wind from the north. Besides the differing wind speeds and directions, the seasons in West Texas are much like the scenery: bland and uneventful. However, every winter here is almost always one day that changes the lives of everyone in our town — a day when it snows. When it snows, our town rejoices. We Midlanders love a good snowfall, but life as we know it comes to a halt as we stare at the falling snow. Our four kids stare anxiously at the morning news, anticipating the cancellation of school. Getting four kids dressed for snow play is a process. Because of the lack of snowfall in West Texas, we don’t have many snow clothes in our wardrobes. We layer using their pajamas and sweatshirts to keep out the chill. Layering kids for cold weather play is a lot like preparing astronauts for a

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space mission. It takes a competent team and a lot of work. During our last snowfall, my wife and I suited up our little astronauts and watched as they sped past us for the snow and were excited just to be in the glorious white stuff. Seeing their joy, I felt I had lost something valuable. I remembered being little like them and being excited about the snow. I remembered building snowmen and making snow angels. I recalled those moments vividly but was perplexed about why I’d changed over the years. I think I lost my awe and wonder for God’s gifts in my life — even snow. Witnessing my kids’ response to the snow helped me to see that God’s works are awesome, and with the right perspective, I can enter each day with wonder. •

Seeing their joy, I felt I had lost something valuable.

Travis Voskamp and his wife, Megan, live with their four chil-

dren in Midland, Texas, where he is a teacher. He spends as much time as possible drinking coffee, longboarding, and playing tickle monster with his kids. Travis has written a book of valuable life lessons like learning to play in the snow, and he can also be found on the web at

How is God working in your home life?

Email your 600-word story, along with your contact information, to We will pay $75 for each submission that is printed. We regret that mailed submissions cannot be accepted.




parent line WITH GARY J. OLIVER

prayer impact my anger? What are some situations and circumstances that set me up to react rather than respond? Are there certain days of the week or times of day when I’m more likely to experience anger? What might my primary emotion have been — hurt, frustration, or fear? What’s different about the times I’ve responded in healthier ways?

Question ▶

When one of my kids disobeys, I often “lose it” and react with anger and sarcasm. How can I change?

Answer ▼ It’s essential

that you gain a better understanding of anger, the most powerful and one of the more-frequently mentioned emotions in the Bible. Many biblical references to anger (such as Joshua 7:26 or Jeremiah 44:3) refer to God’s anger — so anger isn’t always bad. Most of us don’t understand our anger. We allow it to control us and cause us to react rather than respond. When we allow that to happen, anger can become the most destructive emotion.



On the positive side, anger can be a warning sign that something is wrong, that we are in danger or that there has been an injustice. Anger can also provide an energy boost to help us deal with an issue we might otherwise avoid. Anger is always a secondary emotion caused by a primary emotion such as hurt, frustration, or fear. Whenever you have anger you always have at least one other emotion feeding it. Here are a few questions to consider. How does my time in the Word and in

Anger is energy, and with God’s help, you can choose whether to spend it or invest it and whether to react or respond. Though you may have little control over when you experience anger, you have significant control over how you choose to express that anger. Learn how to identify and deal with the primary emotion that’s causing your anger, and, ultimately, you’ll become a more effective parent. For many parents, both the experience and expression of anger have become habit, which can take time to change. The good news is that with God’s help we can change and grow. As we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and apply promises in God’s Word, we can develop new, healthy, and biblically consistent emotional responses. •

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

director of the Center for Relationship Enrichment, 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

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Anger is always a secondary emotion caused by a primary emotion such as hurt, frustration, or fear.



“God gives us their childhood (especially their teenage years) to let them practice making decisions

under our roofs. Simple logic would say that if children are going to struggle and make bad choices, it’s better that they do so while they remain involved with loving parents to help them through it. When parents don’t let them practice, children often overreact to the freedom when they go to college or go out on their own. Unfortunately, those mistakes can do greater harm to them (and to others). Gracebased parenting is shrewd about helping children grow up and develop independence before they are sent out on their own.”

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— Dr. Tim Kimmel, author of Grace-Based Parenting


▼C’mon, Get Appy▼

As Christian parents

raise children with biblical foundations in a technologydriven world, one of the best ways to share the truth of God’s Word is through smartphone and tablet apps. Here’s a list of some of the features that the best available apps have. ▶ Biblical Illustrations: Knowing that children like stories and comics, designers and developers have built apps with pictures of Bible events and stories that kids will find interesting. ▶ Trivia and Puzzles: Children learn biblical truths while playing games and answering simple questions.

▶ Interactive Bible: The foundation for learning biblical truths is studying the Bible itself. By designing high-resolution images and interactive elements, children stay engaged in the Word as they enjoy stories that come to life with creativity. One of the best apps for children is available for both the iPhone and iPad. Used in tandem with the corresponding ongoing curriculum, The Gospel Project for Kids app is a free tool for parents to share with their preschool children. The key feature is a calendar that gives parents one or two simple things to do with their kids each day of the week, such as games, music, and other activities. Kids can see how Jesus isn’t just part of the story — He’s the point of the story!

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Being a single parent can make you feel like you are the lone firefighter on a call with breakout fires everywhere. As soon as one blaze is extinguished, another breaks out. ◆ If you get discouraged because the to-do list is only half done at the end of the day, instead of looking forward, seek a past perspective. Reflecting on the challenges of yesterday that seemed so insurmountable will help you have more confidence in today. ◆ Also set personal goals and monitor your growth spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. The Bible tells us that Jesus grew in these five ways while living His life on earth. If you are to become more Christlike, then you need to keep an eye on each of these areas to achieve personal balance. ◆ Be gracious to yourself. Time invested in growing deeper with God, your children, family, friends, and even in understanding yourself will always pay the biggest dividends in the end.



By Camerin Courtney

Quitting Time? 48


When it comes to extracurricular activities, when do you let kids walk away, and when do you make them stay?


hirteen-year-old Zach was miserable. He’d tried out for his school’s basketball team and didn’t make it. So his parents encouraged him to join the wrestling team. Though Zach had no prior experience with wrestling, he decided to give it a go. However, when practices started, he had to learn a whole new skill set. Even though sports had always come so naturally to him, it was hard. It wasn’t fun, and Zach wanted to quit. Suddenly Zach’s parents faced a dilemma countless moms and dads with kids in extracurricular activities struggle with every day: Do they allow their kids to quit or encourage them to continue? Here’s how three families answered that question.

© Ge t t y Im ages / im age bank

The Commit

Alby shared how that verse and the quote “the hotter the fire, the more pure the gold” helped him understand why times of struggle are important. Zach seem comforted and kept at it.

The Quit

When homeschooled Gwen started first grade, her parents signed her up for their church’s Awana program, just as they’d done with their older daughter, Mina. Soon they noticed that Gwen often didn’t want to go. “As parents, we wanted to encourage consistency,” Gwen’s mom, Jen, says, “but we didn’t want to force her into it, either.” So Jen and her husband talked it over with Gwen those first few weeks, trying to understand her perspective, and together they prayed for wisdom. Because Awana had been their idea and not Gwen’s, they opted to let her make the decision. “We explained that we would leave the choice up to her, but that it could not be a week-by-week decision,” Jen explains. “We expected her to choose what she felt [was] best for the duration of the school year and stick with it.” Gwen opted out of Awana that year and occasionally showed disappointment due to her decision. When Awana time rolled around the following year, Gwen was excited to sign up. “She not only embraced it, but she made up for lost time as well,” Jen says. “It was exciting for us as parents to see that Gwen had grown and reassuring that we had made the right choice for her.”

The Compromise

Anna, the daughter of two music enthusiasts, began violin lessons at age 3, just like her older brother, Henry. Now 10, “My wife and I knew Zach needed some structure and Henry still loves the violin with a passion. Though Anna was challenges,” explains Zach’s dad, Alby, a P.E. teacher and footoriginally excited about the violin, last year she began comball and basketball coach. “I knew that wrestling, like most plaining every week before her group lessons. sports, teaches daily discipline and perseverance, especially “My husband, Matt, and I had catered our work schedule since it was outside his comfort zone.” around our kids’ lessons,” Anna’s mom, Ingrid, says, “so it Before Zach joined the wrestling team, his parents outlined was kind of a big deal to decide if she should continue or if the pros and cons and told him he needed to commit if he decided to join. “The commitment was part of the selling point we should let her quit.” Plus, Anna showed a lot of promise at the violin, an instrument that takes many years to master. because my wife and I knew he would benefit from having to There were also a lot of emotions complicating the deciovercome the mental and physical challenges,” Alby says. sion. “Anna is a pretty strong-willed It wasn’t long into the season when child with an opinion about everything,” the practices became a daily struggle. If you can’t readily Ingrid explains, “and she’s at a fickle But those times of struggle provided identify the root age when she often does things just some great teaching moments. “We reason your child to make a point.” Ingrid, a piano and had great talks about how much this clarinet teacher, also admits it’s harder experience is like life — like needing to wants to quit, keep to let your child quit something that’s a go to work but sometimes not wanting talking — and passion in your own life. to — and about how nothing prepared After discussion and prayer, Ingrid me for life more than experiences like he listening. and Matt decided that Anna could try was going through,” Alby explains. The a new activity this year — as long as she continues her oncefather and son also talked about how taking the easy way out a-week private violin lessons, which she wasn’t complaining doesn’t allow us to build character. about as much. So this year Anna is taking gymnastics and “Zach and I had some great conversations about how God continuing to build her violin skills. So far, the compromise uses situations like this to help mold us into His image. I shared with him how Galatians 6:9 (“So we must not get tired is working well, and they plan to reassess at the end of the year and decide how to move forward from there. of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t Which decision is best for you and your child? “I think a give up”) became a life verse for me in college when I was lot of this decision depends on what you’re observing in going through an 0-9 football season, and I was the captain.”



your child,” says Sissy Goff, a counselor and author of several parenting books, including Raising Girls (Zondervan). “You could have a six-month rule, where they have to try anything for at least six months. Then, if you see them doing well, but just not wanting to practice, you could encourage them or require them to continue. If they’re really not taking to it, they could choose something else from a list that you provide.” Here are some other factors to consider:

Pay attention for the true motivation to quit. If you can’t

“Keeping your word and commitments to me are all part of what is important to teach our children as believers.” — Sissy Goff

readily identify the root reason your child wants to quit, keep talking — and listening. Some OK reasons to quit are your child can’t keep up with homework because of the activity; the coach is behaving inappropriately; or your child has given this activity a good try and now wants to explore other interests and/or talents. Some things that don’t justify quitting are fear of failure; it’s too much work; your child is tired of losing; or your child has a minor conflict with a teammate.

If your child does quit, let him or her live with the consequences. When Gwen would regret

her decision to pass on Awana, her parents didn’t waffle and let her opt back in. “I think the child should be expected to take responsibility for and experience the consequences that result from quitting,” Gwen’s mom, Jen, explains. Likewise, Sissy suggests letting your child tell the coach or teacher about his decision. “It can be a valuable lesson for the child to have to let the adult know,” she says. “You could go with your child, depending on his age, to notify the coach or teacher in person. If he’s older, and you trust the adult, he could speak to the coach or teacher himself.”

Don’t try to live through your kids. “It’s

tempting to try to fulfill our dreams through our kids,” Ingrid admits. “But parents have to differentiate between ourselves and our kids.” David Elkind, professor of child development and author of The Hurried Child (Perseus Publishing), suggests avoiding this temptation by letting children try varied activities when they’re younger and then involving them in decisions about which activities they can try as they get older.

Keep your family’s priorities in focus. In

recent years, many youth sports leagues have become more competitive and even require extensive travel. “Youth sports have gotten out of control,” Alby says. “Many have lost perspective of what the goal even is. Our family is steering our kids away from certain sports because of the requirements that just don’t work for our family.” Sissy says she sees many over-busy families in her practice. “I work with too many girls to count who are overcommitted and start to struggle with anxiety as a result. Anxiety is



considered a childhood epidemic in our country, and too much pressure significantly contributes to that.” To combat overcommittment, Sissy suggests families maintain at least one night a week when every family member must be present for dinner. “More would be great, but at least one night is so important to the life of a family,” she says. “A lot of families I work with also limit sports to one per season, which seems to be a good balance.”

Whatever you decide, make it a teachable moment.

Though this might be a difficult decision, even the struggle can be formative for your children. “Teaching your kids the importance of commitment will be reflected in making sure your child gives any activity a certain time frame,” Sissy advises. “And then not quitting a team before the season is over can help a child learn what it looks like to be accountable and responsible to team members.” Alby saw his son learn valuable lessons during their dilemma. “He seemed to understand that he was learning far more during his rough wrestling season than he ever would have making the basketball team.” Alby and his wife think the lessons Zach learned through this experience were invaluable. “I think what we can teach our children here is integrity,” Sissy says. “Keeping your word and commitments are all part of what is important to teach our children as believers.” •

Camerin Courtney, a writer in the Chicago area, was involved in softball, piano, and dance lessons in early grade school when her parents made her decide between the three. (Dance won.) Visit

Join the Club According to a 2010 study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), among high school seniors: 40 percent participated in athletics, 23 percent in music/performing arts, 14 percent in academic clubs, 10 percent in newspaper/yearbook, 9 percent in student government, 32 percent in other clubs. Compared to high school seniors who aren’t involved, the NCES found that seniors who are involved in school activities were less likely to cut class, were three times as likely to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, were twice as likely to score in the top quarter on math and reading tests. And 68 percent expected to get a college degree, compared to 48 percent of students who aren’t involved in school activities.


Allen Cl ark




dreaming God-sized dreams 3 LIES

fear always tells you about your goals




By Jon Acuff

used to think I was horrible at accomplishing my goals because I didn’t know my way around a Post-It® note. In my head, I assumed people who are awesome at accomplishing goals tend to be to-do list professionals. They had lists for home, lists for work, and lists for laughter. “To-do Monday: ‘Chuckle about a limerick at 1:15.’” They had multicolored pens, notebooks, apps, and systems upon systems to navigate their goals. Me? I was lost. I couldn’t put together a to-do list to save my life. So I focused on them. I bought apps, journals, and tools by the fistful. I set resolutions, missions, and visions until I couldn’t see straight. Do you know what changed? Not much. Why? Because to-do lists weren’t the reason I was failing to accomplish my goals. They might have been a contributing factor, but they weren’t the big dragons in my forest of goal failure. Fear was. And the reason is pretty simple: Fear only bothers you when you do things that matter. Fear doesn’t bother you if you decide to be average. Fear will give you a free pass right to the grave if you decide to rock vanilla your whole life. The minute you start to set some goals, though, and dare to be awesome? Fear will get loud. Fortunately, there are three recognizable lies fear always tries to tell us would-be goal setters.

▶LIE NO. 1

© Ge t t y Im ages

It doesn’t matter.

“You’re not fooling anybody.” That’s what my friend Thad always says when he sees musicians pretend they don’t care on stage. You’ve seen the type. They stand up there with a guitar and a face that says, I don’t care if you like this song. Whatever. This is stupid. I’ll play it. Whatever. They act like they don’t know how they got there — as if perhaps they were just walking down the street, saw an open stage with a guitar, and picked it up. It doesn’t matter to them. Whatever. Thad doesn’t buy it. He knows how much they care about that moment. They worked hard to get booked at that venue. They practiced long hours, dreaming up songs and notes. They built elaborate sets in their minds and replayed the movie version of that moment a thousand times. But fear tells you if you care too much, you’ll get hurt. In these moments, fear will try to hand you an apathy shield. Here, this will keep you safe. This will prevent you from being hurt. What fear doesn’t tell you is that apathy forms a wall, but that same wall blocks you from joy, too. It cuts you off from

happiness and the thrill of seeing a tiny piece of your dream come true when you accomplish a goal. Don’t listen to fear. Apathy is a foe, not a friend — a numbing agent that doesn’t distinguish between joy and pain. Beware the temptation to use it as a shield. It will block you from hope, too, not just hurt. It’s OK — and right — to care deeply about your goals.

▶LIE NO. 2 Put your feelings in charge.

Fear always tries to put your feelings in charge. It wants you to wake up in the morning and think, Do I feel like writing my book today? Do I feel like staying up late and working on my business plan? Do I feel like meeting my goals? And guess what your feelings are going to tell you? No. Feelings are important, but they turn into lazy little jerks when you ask them to run your life. Accomplishing goals is a choice just like loving your spouse or going to work. I don’t wake up each morning and ask myself, Do I feel like loving Jenny today? Because guess what? Some days the answer is no. Maybe my feelings are



bruised from some argument or petty inseFear doesn’t bother you if you decide to curity that’s kicking around my heart. I don’t be average. Fear will give you a free pass feel like starting the morning with a ride on a tandem bike followed by a picnic with my wife right to the grave if you decide to rock like the people you see in stock photography. vanilla your whole life. The minute you I choose to love my wife. I made a commitment. I honor Jenny and that commitment with start to set some goals, though, and dare my decisions. to be awesome? Fear will get loud. You don’t feel like going to work every day. You don’t call a meeting with your feelings before you leave the house and say, “Hey, guys, how are we feeling about work today? You feel that’s it! I’ll rescue 30 minutes in the morning! I sure am a like going to the beach instead? OK, that makes three weeks hard worker when it comes to accomplishing my goals! in a row, but what can I do? You’re in charge!” If only. I didn’t teach myself to write in the morning. FailNope, you go to work. Some mornings you bound out of ure did. A freelance writing project blew up, and I needed to bed, and other mornings you have to drag yourself into that save it. All I had to do was write and manage the design of a cubicle like it’s a prison. new brochure. Don’t let feelings make your choices. Some days you won’t Only I didn’t have any time to do that. I had a full-time job, feel like being awesome. People always seem surprised by other freelance clients, a beautiful wife, two kids under age that. They ask me if I ever don’t feel like writing. They ask if I ever feel like quitting or if it ever feels difficult. The answer is 3, and an Atlanta commute. The traffic in Atlanta is horrible. yes. On at least 90 percent of days, those are the first feelings The worst thing is that the electric road signs say things like, Four right lanes closed due to accident. They can’t all be I have before I sit down with a blank piece of paper. right lanes. I see what you’re trying to do, Atlanta. You’re tryI might feel great once I get into the middle of the page, but ing to trick me with words. Oh, perfect! If the four right lanes when it’s blank and staring at me with those haughty eyes of are closed, then the four left lanes should be open! Yay! sheer nothingness, I feel like quitting before I even write a Recognizing that I was stuck, I was forced to set my alarm single word. clock 30 minutes earlier so I could write the brochure before But feelings don’t get to make my decisions. And feelings I went to work. For about 10 days, I got up early every mornshouldn’t make your decisions either. ing to work on the project. Months later, when I started my first blog and realized I needed 30 minutes to work on it, I knew where to look: The same place I found the other 30 minutes. I’d love for you to learn from my crisis. I’d love for you to You don’t have enough time. rescue your own 30 minutes without failure cracking the Fear will always tell you that you don’t have enough time to whip that drives you out of bed in the morning or keeps you accomplish your goals. You’re too busy, and you’ll never get up late at night. them done. And a funny thing happens when you rescue 30 minutes. What fear doesn’t tell you is that sometimes starting a goal You tend to find a second 30 minutes and then a third 30 takes as little as 30 minutes. minutes. Working on your goals is fun. Once you do it for 30 Does 30 minutes really matter? I mean, that’s only oneminutes and discover how enjoyable it is, you can’t help but eighth of the time it takes to watch an episode of a singing look for more time to do it. competition these days. Can a half-hour make you awesome? You’ll be getting up early or staying up late more times a It can. Because you don’t just rescue 30 minutes, you rescue week than you can possibly fathom right now. 30 minutes in the morning. But it all starts with rescuing 30 minutes. That’s what Thirty minutes in the morning are the hardest to rescue you’re going to do this week. Thirty minutes. Find it. Rescue because you’ve trained every part of your life to rail against it. Spend it all on awesome. living that way. We’ve all programmed ourselves to fill our I don’t know what goals you have in your life. Maybe you’ve days so fully that there’s absolutely no space left for thinkgot goals for your career, your family or your faith. Regarding about how to accomplish our goals. That’s why you have less of the exact nature of your goals, I know one thing — such great ideas in the shower. It’s the only time of day when fear is going to get loud when you start working on them. you’re quiet enough for them to sneak up on you. There’s Don’t believe it. • nothing to read in there to distract you. I’ve tried. I’ve read my shampoo bottle a million times. The manufacturer doesn’t do animal testing, and the shampoo is perfect for soft, Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter: luxurious follicle repair. Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job (Lampo Press) Rescuing those 30 minutes isn’t easy, and I didn’t stumble on and Stuff Christians Like (Zondervan). He is a member of the Dave Ramsey team and a nationally sought-after speaker. He lives in mine casually. I didn’t just decide to get up 30 minutes earlier Nashville, Tenn., with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on one morning because I’m such a go-getter and realized, Gee, Twitter @JonAcuff and read his blog at

▶LIE NO. 3



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By Constance Rhodes

Organic Panic



The Problem With Pursuing Diet Perfection

© Punchstock / im age zoo


5 Signs You Might Be Orthorexic:

• You spend more than three hours a day mericans are all too familiar thinking about healthy food. with eating disorders. Most of us know someone who strug• You find your quality of life decreasing as gles or has struggled with the quality of your food increases. anorexia, bulimia, or binging. But there’s a new food obsession on the rise — orthorexia • You base your self-esteem on eating healthy nervosa. Unlike other eating disorders that focus on the foods and have a lower opinion of people amount of food, orthorexia hinges on the quality of food. who don’t. Though healthy eating is a very good thing, there’s a point where mindful consumption crosses the line into obsession. I have a friend who is fixated on eating healthy. She • You feel guilt or self-loathing when you eat doesn’t see it as an obsession, but as someone recovering “incorrect” foods. from an eating disorder, I can easily spot the signs. My friend is hyper-focused on eating “right” and will only • You derive a sense of self-control from shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. She regularly goes on eating “properly.” fasts and cleanses to rid her body of “impurities.” When we eat out together, my friend often seems anxious as she scans the menu, intent on sticking to her all-natural diet. She’s quick to extol the virtues of particular foods and condemn those that don’t meet her rigid criteria. revenue by 2010, the movement continues to grow exponenWhenever I’m around my friend, I feel conflicted. I’ve been tially each year. in recovery for more than a decade, but I’m still susceptible On one hand, this growth is good. The more access we have to being triggered into old patterns of food rules. to organic foods, the easier it is to shift from diets loaded with Frankly, I wish I could eat more organically. Food that chemicals and byproducts to fresher, more natural ones. And God created is clearly better for our bodies (which God also there’s nothing wrong with preferring a healthier diet. created) than food created by man, but I can’t afford to eat For some people, however, focusing organic foods all the time. What’s on the quality of food can lead to an more, I don’t want to be in bondage unhealthy obsession in which eating to food ever again. An obsession with “It’s good to eat and life are out of balance. This can get eating healthy is still an obsession. healthy food. But if even more complicated for those of us who, as Christians, want to honor our Health Kicks a focus on healthy bodies as a temple of the Lord. In his 2004 book, Health Food Junkfood begins to crowd ies (Random House), Dr. Stephen Bratman was the first to suggest Health as Holiness out the rest of life, that healthy eating could become In a recent article published on the then that focus is an unhealthy obsession, though he Her.meneutics blog, Rachel Marie coined the term orthorexia nervosa Stone, author of the soon-to-be becoming a problem.” several years earlier. When I asked released Eat With Joy: Redeeming — Dr. Steven Bratman Dr. Bratman the difference between God’s Gift of Food (InterVarsity Press), healthy eating and obsession, he put gives a glimpse into the spiritual motiit this way: “A good analogy would be vations that lead some people toward workaholism. It’s great to work hard. But when work begins to health food obsessions. take the place of relationships, of living a full life, of creativity, “I’ll come clean and confess that I once found the pursuit of friendship and recreation, then it’s a problem. of dietary purity and righteousness very compelling,” writes “The same is true with orthorexia,” he continues. “It’s Stone. “I was convinced that honoring God with my body good to eat healthy food. But if a focus on healthy food meant a devotion to principles of dietary goodness and begins to crowd out the rest of life, then that focus is health and ecological soundness …” becoming a problem.” Stone isn’t alone. I’ve talked with numerous Christians A popular problem, it would seem. In the last 10 years, who find themselves motivated to diet at least partly out of the organic food industry has exploded. With $27 billion in a desire to be more righteous or holy. This belief helps fuel



Whether you feel controlled by unhealthy foods or by the need to abstain from them, you’re not experiencing the freedom Christ died to give. the popularity of Christian diets, such as Rick Warren’s “The Daniel Plan,” a natural food-focused diet, which is promoted as “God’s Prescription for Your Health.” Such programs are well-intended and can do a lot of good. But dieters should take care not to allow themselves to go awry on such plans.

Research indicates that highly restrictive diets often lead to deprivation-induced binges. That’s why 95 percent of dieters regain everything they’ve lost within five years. This means that many people who successfully lose weight on healthyeating programs are bound to gain it back, which can bring frustration, shame, and even isolation. Even for those who don’t need to lose weight, anxiety about the quality of one’s food can lead to unhealthy restrictions. Depriving the body of important nutrients creates a mental and emotional drain that may go unnoticed. Additionally, since most people can’t afford to eat exclusively organic, many find themselves trading an addiction to over-eating for the bondage of over-spending and debt. This doesn’t sound like freedom either. There’s also the relational aspect of eating clean, which is another term for eating whole, unrefined foods exclusively. “I was getting more than a little picky about what I ate, and more than a little judgmental, too,” writes Stone. “Too many food rules can make it hard to love your neighbor.” An ironic yet not necessarily new dilemma, if you think about it.

Healthy Freedom

In my own relationship with food, I continually refer to this verse: “‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but I will not be brought under the control of anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Whether you feel controlled by unhealthy foods or by the need to abstain from them, you’re not experiencing the freedom Christ died to give. And you’re potentially limiting the impact you were created to have on this earth. Would Jesus eat a healthy diet most of the time? Probably. Would He be willing to eat a greasy burger with someone who needed some time with Him? I have to think He would. In the words of Stone, “It’s better to eat McDonald’s with love than to eat organic in isolation.” •

Constance Rhodes is the founder and CEO of FINDINGbalance, a Christian nonprofit dedicated to helping people eat well and live free. Learn more at



© Punchstock / im age zoo

Healthy Hazards

When Does Organic Matter? Some fruits and veggies are more important to buy organic than others. Environmental Working Group ( publishes their “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fif teen” lists each year. Here are 2012’s:

Dirty Dozen

These test highest for pesticides, so it’s better to buy organic. 1. Apples 2. Celery 3. Sweet bell peppers 4. Peaches 5. Strawberries 6. Nectarines 7. Grapes 8. Spinach 9. Lettuce 10. Cucumbers 11. Blueberries 12. Potatoes

Clean Fif teen

These test lowest for pesticides. 1. Onions 2. Sweet corn 3. Pineapples 4. Avocados 5. Cabbage 6. Sweet peas 7. Asparagus 8. Mangoes 9. Eggplants 10. Kiwis 11. Cantaloupes 12. Sweet potatoes 13. Grapefruits 14. Watermelons 15. Mushrooms



Is Couponing Worth the Time?

© Thinkstock

“Using coupons

may not be for everyone. Depending on your circumstances, you just may not have the time or resources to apply to couponing. Still others see couponing as a lot of trouble. The key to using coupons

is to be strategic about your usage. It certainly does require you to work a little bit harder, but that work comes in being organized and planning your shopping trips.” Source: Kelly Hancock, Saving Savvy (Worthy)

~SNOW PATROL~ WINTER SAFETY TIPS Kids love a snow day, but icy conditions pose some risks. Here are a few tips for keeping your children safe during the winter:

• •

New Year’s Resolutions for Families ○ ○

4. We will find a place that provides opportunities for the entire family to be physically active together or offers child care and after-school programs.

5. We will add physical activity or play time to the calendar. 1. We will add at least We will schedule an one fresh fruit snack evening walk, a fitto our daily routine. ness class, or a kid’s soccer game with the 2. We will switch to same commitment whole-grain breads, as other important pasta, and cereals. meetings. 3. We will spend 30 minutes playing together outside as often as possible, regardless of the weather.

6. We will pick a fun run/walk or 5K a few months away, sign up, train as a family, and participate in it together.

Adapted from

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1. Chill out. Limit snow play to three or four hours at a time. 2. Bundle up. Children should dress in layers. Don’t forget hats and mittens. 3. Don’t flake on sunscreen. Sunlight reflects off the snow at different angles, even if it’s cloudy outside. 4. Stick together. Children should play with others while they’re outside. Establish a buddy rule with one or more of your children’s friends. 5. Skate around the issue. Choose play areas away from roads, fences, and water. 6. Drop the ball. Children should choose outdoor games that don’t involve snowball fights. If made from packed snow, snowballs can cause injury. 7. Forgo snow cream. Don’t allow your children to eat snow; it can be dirty. 8. Sled safely. Children should always sit up or kneel on a sled. Lying down increases the risk of head, spine, and stomach injuries. Adapted from



~Purge~ Post-Christmas

Cut clutter, get organized, and give to someone in need.



By Christine Satterfield


hether you were blessed with an abundance of Christmas gifts or found too many end-of-year sales you couldn’t pass up, there’s a good chance you entered 2013 with more gadgets than you had last year. Instead of buying storage bins or stuffing more in the closet, use the new year as an opportunity to do a post-Christmas purge. I realize that purging perfectly good household items can be difficult. You’ve worked hard. You’ve scrimped, saved, and found great deals, but you’ve ended up with more than you need. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? •Y  our closet is overflowing with clothes, but you can’t find a thing to wear. •Y  ou have six small appliances in your kitchen that you’ve only used twice. •T  he garage is packed with so many boxes there isn’t room for your vehicle. As a Christ-follower, you want to be a good steward of all you have. Our goal should be to use everything we own as tools to further the kingdom and “collect for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). However, storing duplicates and extra parts in a box where moth and rust destroys, and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19) doesn’t get you closer to the goal. If you’ve found you have more stuff than room to store it, spend time clearing out the clutter and then find someone who needs it more than you.

© punchstock / fanc y

Clear the Clutter

If you’re ready to clear the clutter, determine what you have time to tackle. Don’t feel pressure to conquer the entire house. Small steps eventually lead to big impact. Start your de-cluttering journey by getting a trash bag and a box for collecting items to be donated. As you move through your home, you’ll likely find empty bottles, old makeup, and other items that should be trashed rather than donated. As you consider adding items to the donation box, ask yourself the following questions: • Does it add value to my life? • Do I use it? • Do I like it? • Does it fit? • Is it a duplicate? • Can I easily replace it if I actually need it one day? • Could someone else benefit from it? If you find you don’t need the item, but it’s still a struggle to let go, consider putting it in a separate pile and pray about it throughout your de-cluttering day.

Donate to Others

Once you’ve made headway in your quest to streamline, don’t be tempted to stash the box in your home. Instead, give out of your excess. Determine the best donation option and give it away. • is a software solution that permits an organization to accept cars, RVs, boats, and cellphones. They process and sell the inventory and then donate the proceeds to the nonprofit association of your choice. • is perfect for the family who wants to de-clutter large items. Just type in your zip code to find a charity that will pick up your donations for free. • Adoption fundraising yard sales are becoming widely popular. If you have friends in Teach your the adoption process, there’s a children good chance they would gladly take your cast-offs. that • Refugee centers and spouse generosity abuse centers always have a has need for donations. Since the centers provide free-of-charge spiritual living quarters and furnishrewards. ings to residents, anything from bath towels to frying pans is needed. • Just ask. If you have several good items in need of a home, send an email to family or tell friends on social media what you’re giving away. You just might be purging the exact item they want.

Set an Example

Teach your children that generosity has spiritual rewards. As the writer of Proverbs so eloquently stated, “Kindness to the poor is a loan to the LORD, and He will give a reward to the lender” (19:17). Generosity leads to a heart change. When you provide for those in need, you not only store up treasures in heaven, but you also break the hold that possessions can have on you. When your kids see you have a spirit of generosity throughout the year, they’ll grow up with a giving heart as well. An earthly advantage to remember is that a clean, organized home far outweighs the benefits of keeping that rarely used (fill in the blank) you’ve been saving. Less clutter means less cleaning and less maintenance; plus you’re more likely to actually find — and use — what you have. •

Christine Satterfield is a pastor’s wife and mom to two rowdy

boys. She’s the author of Create Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule and blogs professionally at and




from your kitchen

Good Eats

Healthy family-friendly recipes that are tasty, too!

Whether or not your

Contributed by Mandisa As a single woman trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I’ve discovered recipes that aren’t just good for me, but are super easy! This is a great one that takes less than 30 minutes to make and freezes well so you can store it for later.

New Year’s resolutions include shedding a few extra pounds, a stick-to-your ribs family dinner this winter doesn’t have to include gravy, potatoes, or butter. With some of the heartiest veggies now in season — kale, broccoli, winter squash, carrots, beets, cauliflower — keeping your resolutions on track and your waistline in check is totally doable. Creating healthy, yet comforting, meals isn’t complicated, either. Just start with these three easy, yummy recipes submitted by a few HomeLife readers. •

HomeLife is looking for family-friendly, budget-conscious, original recipes from readers like you. Simply email us your recipe, name, contact info, and family photo to homelife@lifeway. com. 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.



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Photo: R andy Powers / Food St yling: Sandr a Wood

Share Your Recipe With HomeLife!

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Pumpkin Quinoa Makes 4 servings Ingredients 1 cup dry quinoa 1½ cups vegetable or chicken broth 1 ( 15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) ½ onion, chopped 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground ginger ¹⁄8 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) ½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Contributed by Kat Spottswood As a registered dietician, I love creating healthy recipes. This can be served as a side or as the main course. You could have it for for breakfast, too, if you want, like oatmeal but with more protein.

Not familiar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)? Find this gluten-free whole grain in most grocery stores near the beans and rice. Quinoa is quickcooking (ready in 20 minutes!), adaptable, and packed with protein.

Photo: R andy Powers / Food St yling: Sandr a Wood

Directions Rinse quinoa thoroughly. Combine quinoa, broth, and ½ teaspoon salt in medium pot. Bring to a simmer then reduce to low, cover and let cook until all water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Fluff with fork when done.   Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add cooked quinoa and pumpkin to onion and heat through. Add remaining salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and cayenne pepper if desired. Stir well.   Add toasted walnuts and serve. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Fiesta Chowder Makes 12 cups Ingredients


1 pound of ground chicken breast 1 small onion, minced 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 (14.5-ounce) can of Italian-style diced tomatoes 1 (12-ounce) package of frozen chopped spinach, drained 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen sweet corn kernels 2 (15-ounce) cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained 1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained 3 (14.5-ounce) cans of no salt added diced tomatoes 1 package of ranch dressing mix 1 package of taco seasoning mix Salt Pepper

Brown chicken with onion and garlic. Pour all ingredients into pot (starting with tomatoes and frozen vegetables) and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes (the longer the ingredients have to marry, the better). Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Serve as is or with tortilla chips (baked preferred), and/or cheese (low fat or fat free).

healthy tips ▶ Be sure to buy ground chicken breasts, not just ground chicken, which includes dark meat. ▶ This recipe also works well with extra-lean ground turkey or beef.



Turkey and Spinach Stuffed Shells Makes 8 servings Ingredients Contributed by Nancy Cornwell Our family doesn’t like ricotta cheese, so I experimented with using cream cheese instead. It turned out so well! Now this is my go-to recipe when I need something to cook for my new mom friends.

½ box large whole-grain pasta shells Olive oil 1 (10-ounce) package ground turkey 8o  unces fat-free cream cheese, room temperature 1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained ½ small onion, minced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 jar spaghetti sauce (of your preference) 1 to 2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella

Directions Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta al dente per box directions, adding a little oil to the water to prevent sticking. When finished, drain pasta. Meanwhile, brown the turkey, drain, remove from pan and set aside. Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil in the pan you cooked the turkey. Add the spinach and heat through. Pour half the jar of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, turkey, and spinach. Fill the shells with 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling. Then place in the sauce. When all shells are filled, pour the rest of the sauce over the top and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

kitchen tip This recipe makes 8 servings. Split into two 8-by-8-inch pans and freeze one,

Photo: R andy Powers / Food St yling: Sandr a Wood

or double the recipe and freeze three.



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money matters


money trying to impress others? Part of being a good steward is recognizing that God has and will continue to provide for all your needs. Needs and wants, however, are two totally different things. Good stewards are keenly aware of this and discipline purchases accordingly.

© Ge t t y Im ages / / Paper Boat Cre ative

Track your spending to see patterns of behavior that need correcting.

Question ▶

How can our family become better stewards of the money God has entrusted to us?

Answer ▼ It isn’t always

easy to break habits that have developed over many years, but setting specific goals can help. Tithe faithfully. Proverbs 3:9 instructs, “Honor the Lord with your

possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest.” Tithing is an act of faith that shows you acknowledge God as Lord over your money. Fix your attitude. Do you have an “I-need-it-now” mentality? Do you spend

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Get rid of debt. In 2009, the average credit card debt for American households with a credit card was $8,329, according to the Nilson Report. You’ll need an aggressive plan to get out and stay out of debt. Look around your home for things you can sell to raise cash. Use any extra money to pay off debt. Track your spending to see patterns of behavior that need correcting. Make purchases with cash. If you don’t have cash to pay for something, then you can’t afford it. If your current income isn’t enough to cover your necessary expenses, consider getting a second job or starting a part-time, home-based business. Stay committed. Being a better steward requires financial planning and a commitment to seek wisdom for dealing with money. Don’t expect everything to fall into place overnight. But if you keep at it, you’ll begin to break habits that have been holding you back. •

Francine L. Huff,

a former news editor and bureau chief with The Wall Street Journal, is the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women (Revell). To learn more, visit



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ra b

family-friendly media i Pump Up the Volume BY ANDY ARGYRAKIS

Staying in the right frame of mind throughout a workout is an essential element for keeping those muscles moving. For many, © Thinkstock

listening to music is the ideal way to push through the tiredness, though secular songs often rule the gym’s airwaves. However, Christian music fans have great options, too. This iPod-friendly playlist is sure to rev up listeners both physically and spiritually. Avalon

Group 1 Crew

“Testify to Love”

“Night of My Life” (Fervent)

Steven Curtis Chapman “Dive” (Sparrow Records) When interpreted literally, “Dive” is a catchy pop ditty about taking a dip in the pool, but metaphorically, the message of developing a deep and consistent faith is truly inspiring in and out of the gym.

“Eye on It” (Forefront Records)

Jeremy Camp

(Sparrow) The family-friendly American Idol alum seeks authenticity across gritty guitars, meaty dance beats, and the soulful vocal prowess that only Mandisa can deliver.

(Sparrow Records) Pop music never sounded sweeter thanks to this foursome’s sky-high harmonies, worshipful lyrics, and bursting beats that would be especially ideal for warm-up or cool-down modes.

This top 40-styled celebration of life’s many blessings keeps the beats per minute at an all-time high, meaning it’s quite capable of helping to burn calories during a heavy-duty cardio day.


“I Am Free” (Inpop)

The Aussie favorites have always offered a steady diet of electronic pop and alternative rock on overdrive, but this tune is indeed a vertically framed standout that remains among its most stadium-shaking to date.


“Take My Life” (BEC Recordings)

Considering this troubadour used to be a football player, it isn’t surprising that this guitar-charged tune about surrendering one’s life to Christ sounds perfect for the gridiron.

The longtime dc talk leader turned solo superstar sings about keeping his eye on the heavenly prize over frenzy-filled arrangements that seamlessly span pop, rock, and hip-hop. Mandisa

“What If We Were Real”


“Awake and Alive” (Atlantic)

With pleading vocals, monstrous guitars, and thundering drums, this Skillet staple guarantees a jolt of physical energy, but also reinforces the goal for Christians to always be on fire for their faith. Superchick

“Rock What You Got” (Inpop)

The female-fronted modern rockers turn in an electronically tipped dance track with plenty of groove and swagger, amplified all the more by several self-esteem affirmations.

Mary Mary

Casting Crowns

“Courageous” (Reunion Records)

The title track to the famous faithbased movie isn’t only a battle cry for boldly evangelizing believers, but also a means to sculpt their bodies alongside its contemporary, momentum-building instrumentation. Kirk Franklin

“Looking for You” (GospoCentric)

Gospel music’s ultimate crossover sensation strikes musical gold on this throwback to the percolating disco days, which also provides a reminder that the Lord is present in life’s smallest details.

“Shackles (Praise You)”


(Columbia) With the ultimate call-and-response chorus of worship within the context of deliverance, this urban gospel gem is both a gleeful hand raiser and mighty foot stomper.

“Meant to Live” (Columbia)

MercyMe “Move” (INO/Columbia) The song’s title begs for motion, and the guys in MercyMe have no trouble clapping their way through the funky favorite about giving God the glory, even in the face of adversity.

“Fire It Up” (Tooth & Nail)

Rock veterans Switchfoot sing of striving for greatness on this grimy guitar jam that’s nothing short of the textbook anthem to push yourself to the max.

Thousand Foot Krutch

Frequently played throughout major sporting events, “Fire It Up” is a faith-friendly roof raiser with boundless power chords and fist-pumping choruses.

Andy Argyrakis is an entertainment writer and photographer whose credits include the

Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Christianity Today, CCM Magazine, and He lives in Chicago with his lovely wife, Katie, and spends his spare time working out to the beats of the hottest faith-based tunes.

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tony evans

r e k c e u r t Jeff S

Bobby Bo


July 26-27, 2013 Nashville, Tennessee

Derrick Boles Tommy Bowden John Bryson

Bryan Carter John Croyle Tierce Green

David Hampton (& Band) Alex & Stephen Kendrick Kenny Luck

Eric Mason Mark Merrill Lorenzo Neal

Your faith, your family, and your freedom are on the line. Are you willing to fight? Assemble your men and join an amazing group of pastors, coaches, and leaders who have been in the fight and are ready to share their stories, lessons learned, and strategies for victory. Events subject to change without notice. Sales tax applied to event cost, if applicable.

written by men ~ for men

menofhonor If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?

© Veer / Alloy Photogr aphy

1 Timothy 3:5



menofhonor ▶ Modeling Christ Model leadership for your family by following Christ, and you will be a leader worth following.

God designed men to lead their homes. What does this look like?

In Ephesians it’s clear that men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (5:25). Many men could confuse this type of leadership as submission. However, Jesus never gave up His mantle of leadership. He took leadership to the ultimate level by modeling service and, ultimately, the perfect sacrifice.   If you want the respect you deserve as a husband, you must learn how to out-serve your spouse. If you want to be honored as a father, you must learn how to sacrifice for your kids. Model leadership for your family by following Christ, and you will be a leader worth following. Patterning themselves after your leadership will change their lives, and following Christ will save their lives. Lead them like Jesus, and lead them to Jesus!

LifeWay Men’s Ministry Leader

By Kenny Luck


The Mantle of Leadership

I’ve heard the expression

“mantle of leadership” my whole life. Privately, I’ve always wondered, What is a mantle exactly? A mantle, I discovered, is nothing more than something that covers or surrounds something else. The fuzz covering the horns of a male deer, for example, is called its mantle. Repeat after me, fellas: Covers and surrounds. Functionally, when the word mantle is applied to manhood, it means we have influence. Our character and conduct cover and surround the people we lead. Bringing the definition home (literally), our mantle as men covers or



surrounds our wives and children. For better — or for worse.

A Reflection of Leadership

God Himself is quite interested in our mantle, especially in our families. In fact, the Bible talks about how our influence in the home is the truest reflection of the quality of our leadership. God also seems to think that our mantle in the home is the most important predictor of our leadership in other zones of influence: “[He] who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. If anyone does not know how

to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Repeat after me: Manage well.

The Apex of Validation

The fantasy we swallow is that a “manly” professional life somehow makes up for our emotional and relational immaturity at home. Two decades of work with men have proven this for me. Millions of men self-deceive and self-destruct unnecessarily in boyish attempts to be validated at work or with the guys versus at home with the family. Want to know why we do this? It’s easier emotionally.



Consider these to help you carry your mantle at home.

© Ge t t y Im ages


WATCH: “The Mantle” series by Kenny Luck with a group of guys. Go to everyman and enter mantle in the video search bar.

2. START: a

© Ge t t y Im ages / flicker

“Leading a Family” class for men at your

your leadership at home?”

church. The DVD leader kit offers eight powerful sessions of mantlebuilding muscle for men. Go to /kennyluck.

• “What’s one thing you will do this week to carry the mantle of leadership in your home?” • “How has your father modeled the mantle in your life? What would you keep or change?”


SHARE: “Your Manswers” to questions about the mantle article. Go to everyman and click on the “The Mantle” blog article. Here are a few to help

When we don’t have the character to meet the demands of reality at home, we grab for significance and influence somewhere else less demanding emotionally. Outwardly successful? Maybe. But inside we’re haunted by the reality that we lack meaning that only strong relationships in the family can provide. By contrast, the wisest and happiest men are those who discipline themselves toward family relationships. They weather whatever emotional cost is necessary to slay the inner dragons of pride and fear that prevent them from winning big at home. Apex validation to these guys is the respect and trust of their wives and children earned through sacrifice for what God has declared to be more significant: their family. A man can’t run from his mantle just like a deer can’t prevent fuzz from growing over his horns. Boys run from reality. Men face reality. Nothing fuzzy about that. •

4. LOOK:

you get started: • “Where is your leadership in the home going? Are you leading

the ones you love to healthy destinations in their relation-

ships God and lives?” • “How is your relationship with God positively impacting

for parts two, three, and four of “The Mantle” series in future issues of HomeLife.

Kenny Luck is the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and the

founder of Every Man Ministries, which helps churches and organizations develop healthy men’s communities (




Men’s Resources Books

Have you noticed that girls are chasing the boys

now? They are like hungry lionesses preying on limping antelope. One called looking for my son. I asked, “Is this Christy, Britney, or Tiffany? There are so many, I get you mixed up.” This works. Go ahead, try it. Since my son is receiving calls from lovely girls who will make fine wives for someone in 20 or 30 years, I’ve decided to issue a short edict to help them out. Rule One: If you would like to talk with my son, please do so in the church foyer. Bring your Bible. Rule Two: If you call my house to talk with my son, please know that your call will be monitored for quality assurance purposes. Rule Three: The following locations and activities are acceptable for your date: Rule Four: My son cannot use my minivan to drive you to a mall. The van is already booked that year. Rule Five: Please do not touch my son. Do not lean against him unless you are falling over and are in danger of injuring yourself or plunging from a cliff. Rule Six: I’m aware that it’s considered fashionable for girls your age to wear Lindsay Lohan T-shirts that do not reach your low-slung pants or necklines that sink lower than the American dollar. My wife and I want to be fair and open-minded about this, so you are free to show up in such attire. My wife will affix it properly to your body with a glue gun. Rule Seven: Above all, remember that we’ve been praying for this boy since God gave him breath, and we will continue. If you’re The One, we’ve been praying for you, too. When he chooses a godly girl, we will be happier than Mr. and Mrs. Turtle when they finally exited Noah’s Ark. Until then, chase Jesus first and watch everything else fall into place. Rule Eight: If you read this and are still smiling, go ahead and call. Our number is 1-800-321. If you get through, just remember that your call will be monitored for quality assurance purposes. •

Phil Callaway is a popular speaker and

author of Laughing Matters (Multnomah). Two of his children are spoken for. The phone lines remain open. Visit Phil at



▶ How Can I Know? Answers to 7 of Life’s Most Important Questions by Robert Jeffress (LifeWay): What are the seven most important questions in life? And more importantly, what are the answers? Utilizing the best research, Jeffress presents these questions and answers in a logical, concise way that anyone can understand and share with others. All resources available for purchase at

Events ▶ All-Pro Dad Simulcast (January 2013): Here’s a great outreach opportunity for your church. Invite dads in your area to team up with Tony Dungy to hone their skills as fathers while giving their children a day they will always remember. This event, to be held at churches all over the country, was created with fathers of elementaryaged children in mind. To learn more, visit

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

© Thinkstock

Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Son

▶ Dream by Kenny Luck (LifeWay): Every little boy has a dream of one day doing something great. You did, too … a long time ago. But the distractions and disappointments of this world seem to have stolen your dream. That dream is still within you. This compelling study by Kenny Luck is a daring challenge to stand up and experience God’s powerful, personal vision for your life.

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What will your family resolve to do to grow closer to Christ this year?

By having a regular family devotion and setting aside time to be available to our mates and children without any agenda or plan.

Allison Ball, Castlewood, Va.



As the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus … and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” It’s so easy to look at all the bad things happening in the world today or perhaps the problems we face in our own families and lose sight of what’s most important in life. I find when I start my day in the presence of Jesus and rest in Him, it gives me a different perspective. He promises, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He waits for me to focus on Him.

Valarie Peery, Clinton, Ky.

Our family has decided to memorize a Scripture verse weekly. The four of us will take turns picking out a verse, and we will all memorize and talk about it that for the week. The kids decided we should write them on an index card and place them in different locations so it will help each of us. Kristia Reynolds, Spring Hill, Ky.

My neighbor gave us some used hymnbooks several years ago. Because of my desire for our family to grow closer to Christ, we’ve decided to focus on one hymn a month as a family to teach them to our children since those songs are so rich in theology and tradition. During the month we will talk about the Scripture verses that the hymn is based on, or we may learn something about the author of the hymn. What a joy it will be to hear the kids singing one of those hymns!

Shannan Inman, Ruston, La.


Jim and Carol ignite a room with hilarious, moving, powerful theatre called Acts of Renewal. In retreat settings, Jim and Carol have delighted audiences across the country as they use live theatre, engaging speaking and activities to explore healthy vs. non-healthy relationships. Couples come away with some great tools for how to move toward a healthier future of their own. Jim and Carol combine humor, heart and an honest style that speaks to audiences right where they are in their lives.



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