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Take Time to Live Intentionally

Over the last month I have become lethargic. This season has been full with my husband launching a new business, with periods of insomnia and multiple sicknesses. I have been in survival mode. I have stopped doing any planning, journaling, or seeking to simply evaluate where I am going. Aimless walking is the feeling stirring in my soul. I felt lost. I’m running haphazardly. I am thankful for the grace that God supplies for these seasons, but also for the grace he provides to guide me out of the forest again and onto the straight and narrow path before me.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalms 90:12)”

My time is certainly limited with my calling to nurture my three little ones, but I want to make each moment count. This life is precious and short. I want to be faithful with the gifts God has given me to be used to impart life in my home and extending out from my doorstep. I want to bring life to every relationship entrusted to my care – my husband, children, and the brothers and sisters and needy around me. Investing intentionally in my relationships is what I am called to do. I want to live for Jesus. And we have a faithful guide, the Holy Spirit, who promises to walk before us. Through prayer, He directs us as to the most effective use of our time. He is faithful to inspire us.

I want to balance my time so my family gets the meat and not the scraps of my time and energy. I want to take simple practical steps to build up, encourage, and strengthen these relationships. How can I spend quality time with each of my little ones? How can I encourage my hubby? I’m not trying to take on a boatload of projects…I’m just praying weekly about one way to bless each of these precious lives. One simple action. One doable act. I am certainly not limited to one…but I feel a greater chance of accomplishing any if I start with one and then let the juices flow to inspire more.

I want to think each day how I can bless another today. An email of love to my hubby. Getting down and dirty with my kids. A simple text message with a verse or word of encouragement to a friend just to let her know she is in my thoughts. A small handwritten card with truth to inspire a weary soul. A simple pot of soup to nourish a needy family. A bouquet of flowers from my garden to bless a sister. I want to write words of truth.

We need focused time…It might be a weekly planning retreat or just an hour or two before the week begins on a Sunday evening to think, pray, and plan. Designate a specific time when you could intentionally plan for your week.

Taking a few minutes on a daily or weekly basis can redeem many a wasted hour. You may not get to every dream on your list, but that’s okay. We are not striving for perfection, but God glorifying intentionality in the grace that He supplies. This last week I took a chunk of time on a Friday afternoon to sit down and just prayerfully think. The results?

This week has been filled with sweet intentional moments…visiting a dear friend in the hospital while her son goes through surgery, taking a walk one-on-one with my little guy and talking about trucks and wind in the trees, surprising hubby with his favorite treats, planting flowers in the garden with my kiddos, acting out “The Wheels on the Bus” around the yard, and reading books in the front yard enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Scattering God’s love to those entrusted to my care. It does not have to be extravagant. It just needs a little love. I want to savor each moment that I have been given and live it to its fullest. I feel blessed to be His hands and feet and I just can’t stop…

Free printable: My Weekly Intentional Living Plan. 8 simple questions to evaluate at the start of each week in helping to grow in Christ-likeness and living a generous intentional life in each priority relationship in your life.

Here’s some further inspiration to get you started:
15 Little Ways to Bless Your Husband

12 Ways to Love Your Husband Without Saying A Word
Take the 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge
Reaching Out to the World from Your Doorstep
100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child
100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids
100 Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference

My favorite quote that inspires me again and again in this call to be intentional in the short life I am living:

Only one life,
T’will soon be past.
Only what’s done
For Christ will last.

“So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian. I can do only what one woman can do, but I will do what I can. Daily, the Jesus who wrecked my life enables me to do so much more than I ever thought possible.” – Katie Davis, Kisses From Katie

Photo Credit

Comments { 31 }

Praying for the World Around Our Dinner Table

The Lord has been doing a stirring in my heart about the importance of prayer. It is a discipline that is easily slipped under the table. I want to be intentional about teaching my children how to pray. I want them to grow up with a heart and love for others. I want them to be aware of the great battle for the gospel that is taking place outside our doorstep. I want them to care for the lost. How can this be done?

I stumbled upon an idea on Pinterest a few months back about putting together a prayer pail. It has been the best thing we have found to help cultivate a heart and love for prayer in our family.

Basically, you take large craft sticks (the wider popsicle sticks), and write the names of individuals, countries, ministries, neighbors, and whoever or whatever the Lord might lay on your heart to begin praying for on a regular basis. We decorated a cute mug and labeled it with stickers as our “prayer pail.”

Some of the people we have included:

Grandparents, Relatives
Leadership in our church
Our City
Our President
Our neighborhood
Sick friends or family
Members in our community group
Our sponsored children
Non-Christian friends we are seeking to show the love of Christ to
Other charity organizations we give to: Pregnancy Resource Center, Orphan home in India, Wycliffe Bible Translators, etc
Persecuted Church around the World
Human Trafficking
Ministries in our church

Then, every night around the dinner table, each family member takes a craft stick and prays for the listed person/ministry. For our littlest members, my husband and I will pray and have our child repeat after us, so that they can grow in understanding how to pray. Both our children absolutely love this routine. Every night they will faithfully remind us to pick a stick! And without doubt, they are eager to pray. It is the sweetest thing. We have no excuse. It helps keep us accountable and faithful in praying for the needs of others around us. Our eyes are being opened to see that there is greater needs beyond our own. And as we seek God’s face together, I am confident that God is going to do mighty things! There is power in prayer.

The prayer of a righteous man avails much!

Comments { 29 }

Training Our Boys to be Men – Part 2

by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

To read part 1, visit here.

As moms, we have a vital role in releasing our boys to God’s destiny — through our consistent discipline and biblical encouragement. Empowered by God’s grace, our boys can hit God’s target for their lives; but we need to aim these arrows “toward” God’s bulls-eye, not merely “away” from the ground, or the sky, or some random tree. In parenting (led by our husbands), it’s much more fruitful to focus on the YES-side of advancing God’s kingdom, rather than on the NO-side of man’s legalism.

Boys long for adventure, and they long to be men.

Just look at this awesome newspaper ad from over a hundred years ago. The famous explorer Ernest Shackelton didn’t mince any words, and he didn’t make it sound easy as he was recruiting men to accompany him on a dangerous South Pole expedition . . . and thousands volunteered.

II Timothy 2:1-7, and 19-22, contains 7 KEYS for training our boys to be men:

vs. 1 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

KEY # 1: Let’s train our boys . . . to to be strong in God’s GRACE — We need to teach our boys to love God and to obey whatever He says, not relying on their own strengths or abilities (or being discouraged by their weaknesses or inabilities), but trusting in God’s grace and relying on His power. What God will tell our sons to do, He will enable them to do.

vs. 2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

KEY # 2: Let’s train our boys . . . to LEARN and to LEAD. — We need to train our boys to be teachable and completely submitted to God. They need to learn how to be under authority, and how to be servant-leaders — so others can eventually follow their leadership.

Our boys being boys -- Patrick, climbing a mountain -- Josh, killing a rattlesnake -- Mark, riding a quad

vs. 3 “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

KEY # 3: Let’s train our boys . . . to ENDURE HARDSHIP.– Let’s raise our boys to not be wimpy, but strong and uncompromised; to have a heart for the persecuted, the lost, and the needy; to stand-firm against injustice; and to boldly advance God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

vs. 4 “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”

KEY # 4: Let’s train our boys to be . . . UNENCUMBERED and SOBER-minded. — We need to train our boys to not be like the world, bogged-down, selfish, or distracted. They need to learn to guard the gates of their lives (their mind, eyes, ears, and tongues) — to focus on God’s glory.

vs. 5 “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”

KEY # 5: Let’s train our boys . . . to GIVE it ALL they’ve GOT! — to be men of integrity and character, with discipline in every area of life — spiritually, mentally, financially, educationally, socially, and even physically.

Our son, Mark (preparing to "ride" a giant sturgeon), and son Philip (with a trophy salmon)

vs. 6-7 “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.”

KEY # 6: Let’s train our boys . . . to WORK HARD. – We need to teach our boys to understand the value of money, and to know how to invest in the future — to make a generous difference for God’s kingdom, with self-control and financial patience.

vs. 19-22 “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

KEY # 7: Let’s train our boys . . . to be SET-APART for God.–We need to raise our boys to more than “ordinary” and “common” guys, but boys who are God’s chosen vessels — set-apart to push back darkness, and to advance God’s kingdom.

Our son-to-be, Trae Childs, doing rugged missions in Niger, W. Africa - and my husband Jon in E. Africa

My husband and I have always believed seriously in the need to train our boys to be men. Today’s world needs righteous men to advance God’s kingdom, not just sons who aren’t “too bad” or merely “good little boys.” As women, as wives and as moms, let’s release our husbands, our young men, and our boys — to rise up and take leadership against the sins and injustices of this world, for the glory of God.

Let’s train our boys to be men.

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth . . . ”
Psalm 144:12

Comments { 37 }

Training Our Boys to be Men – Part 1

by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

A while back, at a ladies retreat, one of the women’s speakers began to passionately address the needs of today’s Christian men. As she asked a hypothetical question, “Where are all the MEN today?” several young women pointed toward me and shouted, “They’re at the Dunagan’s!”

Wow. As everyone laughed, I shook my head and smiled, and enjoyed an incredibly proud momma-moment (and I could hardly wait to get home to share the story with my guys!).

My husband, and our five sons (currently ages 11 to 25), have definitely had their share of adventures — climbing mountains, hiking into remote unreached villages, running triathlons and a marathon, sleeping all night in frozen igloos, and bringing justice into war-torn areas (both in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of a Rwandan genocide, or preaching during civil wars in Sudan or Congo; or for one son, in commanding USMC snipers in front-line military battles). Right now, I have one 15-year-old son tanning a bear hide in our backyard; one college son preparing for a mission trip to Germany; and one newlywed son starting a remote Bible school in SE India. They’re tough guys, physically and spiritually. They do pullups. They know how to pray. And they know how to give their mom some big strong hugs!

Our college son, Daniel, on top of Mt. Hood -- and preaching the Gospel in East Africa

My husband, and our boys, are dangerous men for the kingdom of God; and they’ve lived through more dangerous situations than I can remember: smuggling Bibles into Communist China, preaching in a tin building being stoned by angry Islamic rioters, and surviving a life-threatening storm on an Antarctica-bound expedition.

So as a woman, and as a mom, how do you think that affects me?

Well I’ll tell you one thing. As a wife and mother who wants her men to be mighty for God, I have learned that “worry” is not my friend. Being fearful is not the “responsible momma-attitude” to have; being worried is not the same as showing love; and fear doesn’t do anybody any good.

Fear is the opposite of faith.

Do you realize the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6, to “be anxious for nothing.” Moms, did you hear that? NOTHING. That means NO THING. NOT EVEN ONE THING. No worries. No fear.

We’re not to worry about money. We’re not to worry about the future. We’re not to worry about our husbands. We’re not to worry about our boys.


Try that when your husband is preaching in an area controlled by witchdoctors who want him dead, or when your son is fighting in Afghanistan and you haven’t heard from him in a month.

Our son, Patrick, commanding his USMC platoon, and returning from Afghanistan

But by God’s grace, it’s possible, and it’s a thrilling way to live.

If I want my men to be dangerous for the kingdom of God, I need to be dangerous too. Over the years, God has shown me that I need to be WARRIOR in prayer and intercession, and not a WORRIER.

Today’s world desperately needs REAL MEN; and as mothers in God’s kingdom, we need to do our part to raise our boys to make a difference.

Recently, William Bennett addressed the situation of today’s men. In an article, “Why men are in trouble” he writes how woman have made huge strides in achievement, but men are falling behind. Did you know that men now account for less than half of today’s college degrees? Young men are lacking in maturity, in work skills, and in the discipline (and desire) necessary to provide for a family.

The current situation has led many young men, even in the church, to be floundering. Many guys are without self-control, without work, and without a fervent passion for God. Young men hunger for adventure, yet their desires will never to be met by watching high-action movies, or by becoming an expert in video games. And they don’t need us as women and as moms to tell them to just sit still in church and be good little boys.

Our newlywed son, Josh, ministering at a Bible school he recently started in SE India

We need to release our husband from our fearful (we can do it better) control; and together as a husband and wife, we need to raise our boys for daring kingdom leadership.

As wives, and as mothers, we need to let our men be men.

Comments { 82 }

Screaming Babies & Praying Mommas

by contributing writer Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry.

Finding God’s balance for motherhood and ministry is sometimes a difficult (and continually changing) tug-of-war; but I believe the struggle is healthy. As a homeschooling mother of seven, I place a high priority on God’s calling to care for our own children; however, I also feel a call of God’s heart for the needs of world missions. Multitudes across the globe desperately need God’s salvation and millions of orphan children are in need.

God cares about my kids and God cares about the lost. As a mission-minded mom, how can I keep these two “pulls “on my heart in balance — in a way that will truly please the heart of the Lord?

Most of the time, just doing another load of laundry, or drilling the kids on grammar, or reading a bedtime story . . . doesn’t seem very important. But God sees the big picture. He highly esteems motherhood and He values a faithful mom who is willing to lay down her “big dreams” . . . to serve her family.

At the same time, He sees the lost and the reality of heaven and hell. The blood of Jesus is the only way of salvation and the “unreached” must hear the gospel. Over 1.6 Billion people are still waiting to hear of the cross. According to UNICEF, there’s a minimum of 143,000,000 orphans in the world and many of these children are in desperate need. Unsaved people. Unborn babies. And so many real-life needs.

How can we balance this two-sided pull?


“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

―Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China


The “healthy” motherhood & missions tug-of-war

If you’re a mission-minded mother (a Christian mom with a heart for others), I’m sure you’ve felt this tug-of-war between motherhood and ministry. Our children need to know that we love them; but they also need to know that we have a heart for others. Our kids need to know that we care about their needs, but they also need to know that they’re not the center of the universe, and that others have needs too. Finding the balance can be a struggle; but I believe the process of finding God’s daily divine balance is a healthy evaluation process, both for ourselves and for our family.

We all face this struggle . . .

Perhaps the phone rings, and your friend begins pouring our her heart about a desperate situation. Maybe a fragile marriage is falling apart, or someone at church was just rushed to the hospital. These needs are real, and often urgent. How do we find the right “combo” for each day, and each season of our lives? How do we balance these pressing needs with the ongoing “everyday” needs of our own family?

This personal testimony of “The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies” is from one of our Africa mission trips years ago. The story has continually reminded me to seek the Lord’s divine calling for each day. I have found that the key to finding God’s balance is to stay in communication with God through prayer; however, He sees the full picture of both motherhood and ministry.

God sees the world’s needs, and He also sees the needs of our children. He can help us to see both in His divine daily balance, and God can speak to us . . . as a mom.

The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies

About five thousand women gathered for a week of ministry, teaching, and worship. The accommodations for our East African village conference were humble. Bamboo awnings covered with tarps provided shade from the hot sun, and most of the women simply brought straw mats for sleeping. Many women also brought little children and nursing babies, whom they cared for as they listened to the sessions.

One morning, I got up and took an early morning prayer-walk, and I was blessed (and challenged) to see hundreds of women gathered for a time of fervent prayer.

As I walked quietly behind the group, I noticed a few women who were praying very hard and loud, but then I noticed that these women were totally oblivious to the needs of their little babies–sitting with bare bottoms in wet little puddles in the dirt, screaming at the top of their lungs. As I watched for a few moments, I wondered what God thought about their fervent prayers. One by one I picked up the babies and tried to help them stop crying, handing each one to his or her momma.

Later that day I shared with the women about the importance of balancing our ministry with our family priorities. Yet I was also challenge on a personal level.

How many times does God see my own out-of-balance efforts, like when I’m at work on the computer or busy with a mission project–and my little kids are plopped down in front of one-too-many videos?

I want God to hear my prayers, and I want my efforts to be actions of obedience. I need to keep balanced; but it’s not a one-time solution. Every day, we need to come to God to allow Him to tune each string of our instrument. Each heart-string needs to be stretched to just the perfect sound . . . that will be pleasing to the heart of God.

Let’s pick up our babies and love them.

And together with our kids-in-tow, let’s get a family-vision for world missions!!!

“Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.”

–Proverbs 4:26

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Operation Christmas Child – Meryl’s Story

Just a few short months ago, I received a note via twitter with this image attached. She said, “A long time ago you sent me a gift. I just wanted to say thank you.” It was a short note that I had quickly added to my Operation Christmas Child shoe box over ten years ago. The recipient, a sweet young lady named Meryl had found me. I was completely baffled. I had never heard from someone who had received my shoe box before, and now, here stood a sweet young lady who just wanted to say thank you, even after so many years. She was graciously willing to share her story with me of the powerful impact of a simple gift.

- Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.

    I’m from Lima, Peru. I’m 23 years old and I’m a teacher. I live with my parents and I have an older sister named Sandibell. Thanks God I have a nice relationship with my family. I attend to Way of Life Church (Iglesia Camino de Vida) and I serve in children’s ministry.

- How did you receive a OCC shoe box?

I received it in a Christmas event for children which took place in my church, in which the Pastor’s wife told us that she had a special surprise for us and then she gave every child a OCC shoe box. She also told us that those gifts were sent with love from USA through the Operation Christmas Child Ministry.

- What was it like to receive a OCC shoe box?

   When I received the OCC shoe box I was 12 years old and I felt happy and thankful. I also felt surprised that someone who didn’t know me and didn’t speak the same language than me could send me a Christmas present from a far country. I remember when I opened the box I found your letter; at that time I didn’t speak English so I asked a friend to translate me the letter, and there is a part in your letter that touched my heart, which reads as follows: “May you see the love that Jesus has for you through this gift that I send with all my love and prayers.”.  I could definitely see God’s love through your gift and it made me feel special. Thank you! :)

- What difference did receiving a shoe box make in your life?

    To receive the OCC shoe box showed me one more time how wonderful is the love of God that touches people’s hearts to bring joy to children and make an impact in their lives as well as your gift did in my life. It encouraged me to continue sharing more about God’s love and mercy.

What led you to find me so many years later?

   I always wanted to thank you for the gift which was a blessing to me. A few months ago I found your letter among my things and I decided to look for you in order to get to know you and thank you for the nice gesture of sending a gift which God had designated it was for me.

- Do you have any other thoughts about this ministry that you would like to share?

I consider that OCC is a ministry of blessing to many people, not only for children who receive the gifts but also for people who send them because they have the opportunity to make many children smile, show them more about Jesus love and more about the wonderful plan He has for each of them.

I was so blessed and encouraged to hear Meryl share her story. I am motivated once again to partner with this ministry!

How can you get involved?

Pack a shoe box. The holidays are upon us, and the perfect time of year to minister to the hungry, lost, and hurting. We have a wonderful opportunity to send a simple shoe box gift through the ministry of Operation Christmas Child to a needy child around the world this Christmas. It is as simple as gathering a shoe box, collecting some fun goodies and treats, and sending the message of God’s love to the nations. OCC is one practical, hands-on way to participate with your family in cultivating a love for giving, and receiving unimaginable joy in return this Christmas! Learn how to pack a shoe box and find a drop off spot in your area. Collection week is November 14-21, 2011!

Please watch this video describing the mission of Operation Christmas Child:

Pray! Whether you can give a shoe box or not, don’t neglect to participate with this ministry through the power of prayer. Pray for the country, community, and family that will receive these shoe boxes. Pray for the Lord to redeem and change the lives of these children around the world. Join the prayer network.

Track your package! OCC has a awesome new feature of following your shoe box which allows you to see where your shoe box goes. Make your shipping cost donation online and receive a special tracking label to attach to your shoe box and be amazed how God directs it.

Comments { 18 }

Teaching Our Girls to Cry

By monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

Right now is a very exciting time in the life of our girls. Our oldest daughter, Christi (a recent college grad), is now engaged to an awesome third-generation missionary from Niger, West Africa; our brand-new daughter-in-law, Anna, is working with our son to pioneer a new mission including an orphanage and Bible school in S.E. India; and our youngest daughter, Caela, is thrilled to be chosen as Christi’s maid-of-honor. It’s also a great time in ministry. My daughters and I are launching a brand-new vision, called DARING DAUGHTERS to inspire teen girls for missions and fulfilling God’s purposes. Our heart is for teens and ‘tweens (girls, ages 10 to 20), along with moms and mentors.

Christi & Trae in Niger, West Africa -- quite a ways to go to get to know the family!!!

Christi, ministering to children in a slum area in Cambodia

Christi & Trae -- on their Engagement Day, at our home in Oregon

It’s a time of joy in our family . . . yet even in the midst of dreaming about fun girly-stuff like wedding colors and bridesmaid dresses, our heart remains focused on the needs of this world.

Recently, I found a weird verse that I shared with my girls. It’s from Jeremiah 9, and in context, the prophet was talking about how horrible it was that Israel had fallen from God’s ways. The nation was dealing with wickedness, deceit, idolatry, and all kinds of evil.

In verses 17-18, the Bible says,

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for skillful wailing women, that they may come. Let them make hast and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run with tears, and our eyelids gush with water . . .”

Isn’t that kind of strange? God was calling for the professional criers and the wailing women. There was a need for tears, but a total lack of mourning and grief. Then in verse 20, Jeremiah 9 says,

“Yet hear the word of the LORD, O women, And let your ear receive the word of His mouth; Teach your daughters wailing . . .”

Wow. This verse really stopped me.

I’m a mom with daughters, and I’m always on the lookout for what God tells me to teach my girls. So here, God is saying to teach my girls to cry . . . to shed tears . . . and even to wail. God is talking about big stuff, like rebellion against God, and not caring about sin.

Anna -- with one of the precious girls from "Aasha Children's Home"

The newlyweds -- Josh & Anna Dunagan -- already with 20 kids!!!

As moms, how often do we allow thoughts about the injustices of this world to penetrate into our hearts, to the place where we would care enough to cry? Or care enough to motivate our girlfriends and our daughters? All across the globe, and in our own nation, and right down the street, and (sadly) even blaring into family rooms through televisions and movies, there’s horrible stuff going on.

It’s stuff God calls SIN and INJUSTICE.

Even while living in God’s joy and peace, there should be seasons when the needs of this world should make us so sad, and so shocked, and so ashamed (especially as mothers who deeply care for the next generation). At times, we should be compelled to our knees, where we should cry, and even weep. Yet as women and as moms, most of us are just too calloused . . . or too busy . . . or too tired.

Moms, we need to quit striving, and to quit caring so much about what others think . . . about us, and about our homemaking skills, and our motherhood successes (or failures).

Instead, we need to care more about what God thinks. He loves us so much, and He loves our daughters, even more than we do. For both moms and daughters, our calling is to simply walk with Him and to abide in Him, and to follow His leading, day-by-day. As we each draw closer to Him, He will show us His daily divine balance, to keep our family (and for our daughter’s future family) in His order, as He will also show us how to help others.

Our youngest daughter, Caela, having fun with orphan children in Uganda, East Africa

Caela, praying for a girl at Guma Na Yesu Children's Home in Uganda

Needs that should concern a godly girl . . .

As Christian women (of all ages), we need to allow ourselves to see the big needs of this world, especially those that concern women, and girls, and children . . . like teenage pregnancy, abortion, pornography, the plight of orphan children, child slavery, human trafficking (especially of young girls), hurting and broken hearts, neglected children, and so many unsaved women and lost children who desperately need the love of Jesus.

Many of these are feminine needs that should “pull” on the God-given “nurturing” and life-giving hearts of our daughters. In this next generation, it’s going to take a mighty army of godly daring daughters to minister to these needs. But will our girls even hear about them?

It’s a responsibility of godly motherhood to instill in our girls a heart for the world’s needs (just look at Proverbs 31:8-9, about pleading for the cause of the speechless and those appointed to die, or verse 20, about extending our hands to the poor and the needy). As Bob Pierce prayed, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

As women of God, we need to care. Will our girls grow up to be pampered or passionate? Will they be cute, or compassionate? As moms, let’s ask God to give us more of His heart and His perspective. Our little girls don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details of the world’s horrible evils; but as they’re old enough to understand, we need to teach our daughters to pray, and to pray HARD!

Our daughters can be radiant pure lights . . . to reach a very dark world.

We need to teach our girls to cry.

If you’re a mom with teen daughters ages 10 to 20, or a woman with a heart to mentor a younger generation for Jesus, I invite you to come see what my girls and I are up to. We’ve just launched a DARING DAUGHTERS blog, twitter, facebook page, and blogtalkradio show; in March, we’re speaking at the Teaching Them Diligently Homeschool Convention (in South Carolina); we’re leading a DARING DAUGHTERS Retreat (at Christian Renewal Center in Silverton, Oregon); and Christi and I are writing a new book for teen girls entitled Daring Daughters & Dirty Feet (coming, Lord willing, in 2012).

Learn more at Daring Daughters.

Comments { 33 }

Money & Mission-Minded Families

By monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry.

As Christian families, we need God’s perspective on finances, and a vision for how our resources can help to expand His kingdom – especially in tough times.

In our family’s living room, a small handcrafted treasure chest displays simple coins from around the world. Most of the pieces are dull and worn, while some a new and shiny. Our children often enjoy fingering the various francs from France, pulas from Botswana, and euros from Europe, to mention just a few. My favorite is an intricate gold-and-silver-colored piece from Italy, although, as with most of these coins, I have no idea of its worth. Some of the coins are no longer in circulation; some of the countries they’re from no longer exist. All are simply extra pocket change left over from years of past mission trips, each saved as little souvenirs and little reminders that money is only a temporary “little thing.” Each coin is (or was) valuable only because some government somewhere determined it would have value.

But money is also a “big thing” – and we can’t underestimate the importance of training our children to have a godly perspective toward money and financial stewardship.

Our money represents our life; our time, our talents, our education and experiences, and our priorities. In fact, if we really want to find out what is important to us, we can simply look back through our checkbooks and credit card statements over the past few months. Our true priorities are right there in black and white (or red!); and the numbers don’t lie.

It’s really very simple. If we have a heart for the Lord and for the lost, we will give our resources to glorify Him and to help spread His Gospel message; and if our children are raised with this perspective, it will affect their bottom-line attitude toward the purpose of money. Both parents and children need to acknowledge regularly that everything we have ultimately belongs to God: our life is God’s, our home (or bedroom) is God’s, our car (or bicycle, or special toy) is God’s, our money is God’s.

We’re all simply stewards of God’s “stuff.”

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, J.G. Morrison urged Nazarenes to increase missionary support, as he earnestly pleaded: “Can’t you do just a little bit more?”

When times are tough, our families need to “sow in famine” (like Isaac in Genesis 26:12) and “lay up treasures in heaven” (like Jesus commanded in Matthew 6:20). Physical needs worldwide are greater than ever; orphan children desperately need help; sacrificing missionaries need continual support and prayers; and billions of people need to hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

During today’s economic downturn, let’s do more for the needs of world missions. Let’s be faithful stewards of the many resources God has given us, and let’s encourage our children to participate.

As mission-minded families, let’s do just a little bit more.

The post is adapted from my book, The Mission-Minded Family. Right now, our mission outreach, Harvest Ministry, is running a special on my two-book-set (The Mission-Minded Child & The Mission-Minded Family — at our COST!). We also have a new FREE 30-page guide using these books (to mentor your family or a small group in a 4-week study). If you’re interested in learning more, please CONTACT me through our website, and put “MM-FAMILIES SUMMER SPECIAL” in the subject line, and I’ll send you more information (with no obligation). My heart is to motivate families for missions — right now, right where you’re at!!!

Missionary Hudson Taylor said, “The Great Commission is not an option to consider, it is a command to obey.” I say, “Missions is not just for missionaries; God’s call is for all!”

Blessings to you and yours!!!

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Give Them a Heart for the Fatherless

Guest post by Shannon Hazleton from Our Blessed Life.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 1:27 (ESV)

Mamas, do you want the hearts of your children to be closely knit with God’s heart?  Teach them to love orphans! The Bible is full of scripture conveying our Father’s heart for the fatherless, and commanding us to care for them as well.

Indeed, to be a Christian is to love orphans.

Yet, when I was young, I knew nothing of the plight of 147 million orphans worldwide, many of whom are abused, hungry, sick, and needing special care. So how can we, as a family, get involved and teach our children God’s heart in the process?

Do a Word Study

Older children can do this as a project on their own, or the whole family may get involved.  Using a concordance or an online Bible program, conduct a search for keywords such as “orphan” or “fatherless” and discuss the many passages you find.  Pick one or two verses to commit to memory or post on the bathroom mirror.

Reach Out to Adopting Families

Some of our closest friends recently adopted three special needs children from Eastern Europe.  Whenever they were conducting a fundraiser, we were sure to spread the word and help.  And what a blessing it has been to get to know those children since they have come home to the States.  If you know a family in your community or church is adopting, get to know them.  Ask how you can help.

Read and Pray

Early on in our own adoption journey, my young daughters found me looking at children’s pictures on Reece’s Rainbow.  “These boys and girls don’t have a Mommy or Daddy,” I explained to my 4-year-old.  It wasn’t long before my girls were asking to see those pictures daily, and including many of those children in their bedtime prayers.

I also recommend visiting No Greater Joy Mom’s blog, who has adopted some wonderful kiddos, and passionately advocates for orphans, and Katie Davis’ blog.  Katie is a young woman living in Uganda, who has become “Mommy” to 13 orphaned girls.


Anton & Lena - our soon to be adopted kids

This one has impacted our family the most.  If someone would have told us a year ago that by August we would be traveling to a country in Eastern Europe, and adopting not one, but two young children, who happen to be HIV+ … Well, I would have laughed and thought that person was definitely wrong.  Surely God had not called us to that path.

But in the last six months, God turned our world on its side.  Through a few books my husband Jeff was reading (Radical, by David Platt, and Adopted for Life, by Russell Moore), God began to open our eyes, as Jeff would find himself in tears while reading over his lunch break at work, or I would find my own heart stirred as he read portions to me in the evenings, after the children had gone to bed.  Messages that were preached on Sunday mornings only seemed to confirm was God was saying.  His Word was opened to us like never before, and the message was clear: rescue the fatherless.

Our hearts were convicted.  And there was only one answer, yes, Lord.

Through our own adoption journey, our two oldest biological daughters (ages 3 and 5) have begun to learn that the world is bigger than our little family, and that there are children who don’t have families, and have never heard the name of Jesus.  (Though their little minds can scarcely imagine what that is like.) And it blesses our hearts to see them pray for those children, or hear them say, “we can be their family!”  The step we have taken towards adoption has been life-changing and family-altering.  It has been scary and difficult at times, and the journey isn’t over yet.  But we are already reaping bountiful blessings.

Not all of us will be called to be an orphaned child’s ‘forever family’, but we can be a prayer warrior for an orphan, or sponsor a child through ministries like Gospel For Asia or Compassion International.  This is a wonderful opportunity for our children to pray for, and even write letters to sponsored children.

No matter the age of our children, we can open their minds to a world that is different from their own, and help knit their hearts to the heart of the Lord.

“Father to the Fatherless,… God places the lonely in families…” Psalm 68:5 (NLT)

Shannon Hazleton is a busy stay-at-home wife to Jeffrey, and Mama to three little ones at their home in Nederland, Texas.  They will travel soon to bring home two more beautiful little ones from Eastern Europe.  She writes at Our Blessed Life.

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Ways to Bless a New Mom

Guest post by Jessica Fisher at Life as Mom.

Fifteen years ago I was a young wife dreaming of the day we would turn two into three. Even though I had helped my mom with my four younger siblings, I had no clue what motherhood really entailed. I know that – now.
What a surprise I was in for!

Six children later I have a learned a few things about adding a baby to the family. Thanks to generous family and friends I’ve discovered some amazingly helpful ways to bless a new mom – because they blessed me so abundantly.
Taking my cues from them, I offer these suggestions for you as you help friends and family greet their new little bundles of joy:

Bring a meal.

Food is a great way to bless others, especially those who’ve just had a baby. My newborn days were always ravenous ones. With breastfeeding, baby duties, and a healing body, I found it hard to find time or motivation to cook, but it seems like I was always hungry. I loved it when others brought us a meal.

Consider bringing a meal or two, preferably early in the day so that the family can eat when their schedules – and sleeping baby – allow.

Some tips for meals on wheels?
:: Bring kid-friendly foods for families with older children. Meals that can be served “not touching” are always appreciated. Offering meat, starch, and vegetables as separate dishes allows picky eaters to fill up on what they like. (Tired moms with new babies don’t need to fight food battles in the early days.)
:: Consider bringing a few extras like muffins, scones, or even an egg dish that can serve as a quick breakfast the next day.
:: Use dishes that you don’t need back so that the family has fewer dishes to keep track of and return.
:: Observe food preferences and allergies.
:: If your budget allows, bring two meals, one to eat and one to freeze and enjoy later.

Offer childcare.

As I added to my new family, I was very conscious of not neglecting my older children. I didn’t want them to feel left out or ignored. Yet, sometimes I was just too exhausted for much play. It was so nice when friends fill in the gap. If the new baby has older siblings, offer to come play or even take the bigger children to your house for the afternoon. In this way, Mama can rest (providing that Baby cooperates) and not worry about the older kids.

A caveat: Please be mindful of exposing Baby’s family to illness. Worried about offending others, new moms may be hesitant to say, “Keep your cooties to yourself.” However, it’s no service to your friend if her kids all get sick. Even if it’s “just the sniffles” steer clear of the new baby’s home for the first few weeks.

Clean house.

An offer to mop floors or scrub a bathroom is sometimes hard to extend – or accept. But the newborn days are ones during which Mom should be enjoying her baby and resting in stead of cleaning house. Offer to fill in the gap.Something as simple as vacuuming or pulling a few weeds can help the new mom rest more easily, knowing that there aren’t nagging tasks to tackle.

Just hang out.

While rest and seclusion from outside illnesses are important during the early weeks, fellowship with the outside world is vital to combating a new mom’s cabin fever. I have great memories of friends coming to visit — with food in hand. Their (healthy) kids played in my backyard with my older children while we moms chatted and caught up. And in many cases, I had a clean bathroom when they left!

It doesn’t take much time or money to bless a new mom. It takes effort and love, though. But the results are well worth it. You and your friend will both be blessed.

What do YOU do to bless a new mom?

Mother of six, Jessica Fisher writes about parenting hacks at LifeasMOM and posts delicious ways to act your wage at Good Cheap Eats. She is also the author of Organizing Life as MOM – a 125+ page e-guide complete with customizable planning pages and inspiration for home management.

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