The Faith of my Daughter


Rising up a child in the faith is a constant thing. We can’t just let Children’s Ministers and Youth Group leaders be responsible for the spiritual training of our children. Parents must also cultivate a deep faith in our children and constantly set an example. I’ve tried to do that, by answering my daughter’s questions, and keeping our faith alive at home. In addition to regular church attendance, my daughter watches her parents pray, attend Bible Study, and listen only to Christian music. Sometimes I wonder if I am being successful. Monday morning I got my answer.

My 10 year-old daughter had knee surgery yesterday. I spent quite a bit of time in prayer leading up to her surgery, asking God to guide the surgeon’s hands, keep the medical staff alert and accurate, and for my daughter to not feel significant pain. I prayed for quick and complete healing. I alerted my church and posted my prayer request on Facebook; many friends lifted my daughter up yesterday morning. I knew she was covered in prayer.

After my daughter was prepared for the operating room she asked for a moment of privacy – to pray. A 10 year-old asking for privacy to pray! My heart leapt for joy!

Children surprise us sometimes, don’t they? Just when we think they haven’t heard a word we said, we find out that they have been listening – intently. Proverbs 22:6 tells us “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This verse tells us that what we do as parents does matter and should give us encouragement to continue set the right example and to train up our children in the faith.

That my daughter’s faith is growing should not come as a surprise to me. During the summer of 2014 my daughter asked for a Bible and a cover. She wanted to pick a Bible that was meaningful and useful to her. That trip to the Christian book store was a wonderful experience. We prayed she would select the Bible God wanted her to have. I watched as Elianna opened different versions, read some verses, and finally selected a simple, NIV Bible. She still uses that Bible frequently and has highlighted numerous passages. She was only 9 at the time she chose it.

My daughter knows the words to most of the Christian music we listen to, and often signs along. She knows my favorite songs and has a knack for knowing when to play a specific song for me. Until yesterday I didn’t realize what a big deal this was. I just thought she was playing music like any tween would. But when we drove her home from the hospital, it was Christian music she wanted to listen to. It calmed her and gave her peace.

My daughter’s story of faith goes back to when I was pregnant with her. I had prayed for a daughter for many years, but had lost several precious babies to miscarriage before I became pregnant with my daughter. To honor God for this special, precious gift of a baby, we gave her a name that would also be her testimony: Elianna. Elianna is a Jewish name that means “The Lord has responded, or God has answered my prayer.”

I have prayed other prayers for my daughter: for her safety, her spiritual growth, to do well in school, to meet and marry a godly man, and to have a career that will bless many. Parents, prayers for your children are powerful, and our great God hears them all. Won’t you pause for a moment and lift up your precious child (ren) to Him right now?

Father God,

We lift up the child(ren) You entrusted to us. As parents, we ask for wisdom to guide them to You and be godly examples. We pray earnestly for them to know You and accept Salvation through the precious blood of Your Son, Jesus. We pray for them to be obedient to You. We pray for our child(ren) to trust You fully and grow deep roots of faith. We pray for them to gain spiritual wisdom so they can make the right choices and follow the perfect path You have for them. Lord, we ask you to protect our child(ren) from every harm. Grant them wisdom to recognize the tactics of the enemy and flee from every temptation. Help them be strong in this broken world, and grant them the ability and courage to share Jesus with many others. Amen.

May you recognize how the Lord has richly blessed you and your precious children!


Image: Google Images



Heart Lag and Pop-Tarts

Today, I am blessed to have a guest post from my friend, and Director of Missions, at the church I attend. Recently, Teresa led a mission team to Rwanda. This is what she sent to the other travelers upon their return.

 On Returning

By Teresa Sherwood

To Returning Mission Teams:

I’m sure a lot of people have asked you this week if you have jet lag, but has anyone asked you if you are suffering from heart lag? I know for myself, returning from these kinds of mission trips can bring on a few days (or maybe more than a few) of feeling somehow disconnected, as though I don’t quite belong here. Several years ago, I encountered this feeling in a profound way and, in sorting through it, I discovered that it was not only a matter of the heart but a very real spiritual challenge.

It was the year of our first high school mission trip to Mexico. We had spent the week working at an orphanage where the conditions for the children were really deplorable. When we left, we knew that we had only scratched the surface of meeting the needs of these little kids who had laughed and played with us all week. On the last day, we were honored with a fellowship time that included LOTS of songs and prayers and, as a very special treat, we were served Coke and Pop-Tarts. Little 4-year-olds came around and served each of us, making sure we had all eaten before they did. We all understood the value of their gift and we were humbled by it.

I arrived back home last Saturday night and by Monday morning I was on a flight to Vancouver. There, I met up with my husband, Donnie, who had been attending a meeting. Then we embarked on an Alaskan cruise. As I sat at a table overflowing with food, looked out at the beautiful, cool mountains, and made small talk with the well-dressed new friends at my table, I was overcome by the memory of the little faces for which my simple presence had been a blessing. I thought of the children who never had enough to eat, who slept in sweltering dorms, and who lacked clean water. I felt their presence at the table and, rather than anticipating the beautiful five-course meal, I realized that I was thinking of Pop-Tarts. I found myself asking my God why we lived in a world where some had not enough and others had too much. And why was I one who had too much? I looked at the other people at the table and realized that they didn’t feel the presence of these children, and they probably didn’t know how valuable Pop-Tarts can be. I realized at that moment that I had left a part of myself in an orphanage in Mexico and it had been replaced with an abiding sense of the spirit of God’s children.

A few years ago, I left a part of myself in Africa, under a tree. I gave myself away to a little girl in a yellow dress and she gave me a piece of herself that will always be with me. In that moment, I found once again how truly real the love of Jesus Christ is as it passes among His children.

I have never been able to answer the question of why some have not enough while others have too much, but I have found that God is completely present in both want and plenty. I do not believe that God would have us neglect the beauty He has created or fail to enjoy the goodness of the world. But I do believe that He calls us to put it in perspective, to understand that we neither need nor deserve such gifts. We simply thank God for them and then give.

If you are finding that you struggle this week with difficult feelings, I pray that you will explore them, pray about them, and offer them to God. He is probably making a place in your heart for something new, a blessing that will expand your territory.

Thank you for sharing yourselves. You are a blessing.

 “Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness shall be as bright as day.”  Isaiah 58:10

 I don’t know about you, but I will never look at a Pop-Tart the same way again. 

Blessings on your day.

Encouraging Confidence in our Ourselves and Our Children

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

I’m participating in a Bible Study on confidence. The book seems to have been written specifically for me, but the all the ladies in my group feel the same way. How could they feel any lack of confidence? They are all prettier, smarter, thinner, or more educated than I am. Each one seems to be a better mom. The truth is many people struggle with a lack of confidence.

How early in life do our perceptions, attitudes, and circumstances begin to affect our confidence? We know our attitudes and behaviors start to be shaped when we are small children. As kids we let the words and actions of others have a deep, lasting impact on how we value ourselves. Circumstances can have a disastrous effect on us and we believe many lies. Adults often live with leftover negative emotions from their childhoods. Sometimes these feelings of inadequacy penetrate our adult thinking and have a negative effect our confidence. I know these incorrect thoughts have caused me to lose confidence.

I don’t want this to happen to my children.

My daughter, Elianna, just turned 10. She’s been doing gymnastics and cheerleading for years. I’ve watched her confidence shattered by the words and actions of certain coaches and even other parents. Several years ago she came to believe she couldn’t do a back handspring. Elianna was little. The right choice at the time was to change coaches. Now she can do several back handsprings in a row. She got her confidence.


Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Now that confidence teeters because she’s struggling with another stunt – being a cheer flyer. Although her confidence is wavering, this time the process is different. Her coach is encouraging her, helping her with every step of the process. She sets smaller goals to help my daughter gain confidence. My husband and I also encourage her, and we let Elianna know what we expect from her. Our standards are high, but not so high she can’t reach them.

That’s how it is with God. He encourages us and prepares the way for us. If we put our trust in Him, our confidence will soar and we will be able to accomplish the tasks he has set before us. Proverbs 3:26 tells us, “For the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.” And Isaiah 41:10 states, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Those verses are more than verses for cheer leaders who want to perform stunts; they are promises from God for all of us.

I pray for my daughter (and son) to have the confidence of God, not just for sports, but to have the confidence to accomplish all that the Lord sets before them. It’s a big prayer, but it’s what God wants for all of us. He’s all we need to accomplish His will for our lives.

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

 Our kids are going to face many challenges and dilemmas as they grow. We are forced to work with people who want to bully us, or try to shatter our confidence in other ways. Sometimes people will withhold love if we don’t behave a certain way. We need to teach our kids to believe in themselves and have the confidence to stand up to people who are less than nice. That confidence comes from our Lord. Are we modeling that truth for our children?

 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

We must learn to replace falsehoods with God’s truth. But we need to do more than use these tools for ourselves. We need to pass these tools to our children so they will grow up to be confident, godly men and women. The Bible gives us a lot of information about our identity in Christ. Let God’s perspective fill you, and your children.

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

 We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). As we let go of the falsehoods others have said, or circumstances that shatter our confidence, we must teach our children the same truth. As you talk to God about changing your thinking, ask Him to help your children develop correct thinking and confidence in Him. The Message paraphrase of Romans 12:2 urges us to reject the flawed thinking of our culture and those who surround us: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You will be changed from the inside out.”

We must teach the confidence God gives us, and His sufficiency early in life, but how do we do that? I think the answer is simple, but hard to do. We have to let go of our strong wills and turn ourselves over to God. We have to ask Him to increase our faith, so we aren’t tempted to try to solve problems in our own strength. Then we need to pass that truth onto our children. We also need to learn to forgive ourselves, and those who have hurt us.  Forgiveness doesn’t excuse someone else’s behavior; it merely prevents their behavior from destroying our confidence.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

May you and your children feel and believe the full measure of the confidence our Lord desires you have.



Photo: Gerry Garro

Bible Study: A Confident Heart by Renee Swope


A Gift for Jesus


Several years ago my family started a new Christmas tradition. Each of us writes a letter to Jesus, telling Him what we will do for Him in the coming year. It is our gift to Christ. We put those letters in a beautiful box and place the box under the tree after Christmas Eve Services.

After the presents are opened on Christmas morning, that box remains under the tree.  Sometimes we have guests over, and they remark on the unopened box. This is an opportunity to share our faith.

Those letters stay in that box until we begin decorating for Christmas the next year. We can then look at our letters and see if we met our goals in how we were going to serve Christ during the year.

This exercise has been a great way to help my children understand the great gift of Jesus, and the real meaning of Christmas. It also helps me to focus my service for Christ.

Matthew 2:11

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Have a blessed Christmas Season.


Image: google images


They Are Watching

Cousins 11-28-2013

Psalm 127:3 ESV

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

We don’t see my brother-in-law or his family very often, they are a 12-hour drive away; but they drove in a few days ago for a family visit. My children looked forward to their arrival; my 8-year-old even kept checking the door and asking, “When will they get here?” They did arrive, and it was wonderful to see everyone again, and see how much the children have grown. It was such a joy watching the cousins play together.

As adults caught up on family news, the voices of our children and laughter filled our home. It reminded me what a great gift our children are. Our lives are richer and fuller because of our children. At the dinner table, conversation was fun. From sports to the pet lizard, we tried to cover all the topics. Eventually, the conversation turned to a discussion about our faith. I was so pleased to see my children participating in a conversation expressing their faith, and equally pleased that my in-law’s faith is strong.

Some days can be such a struggle. Getting the kids off to school, then sports practices, homework, and trying to get a family meal on the table can be trying, because the same rushed routine happens day after day. Weekends are even busier with games, errands and chores. Keeping our faith at the center of our lives is hard work. Sometimes it seems that everything we say or do falls on deaf ears. Then there are times you feel too tired to cook the meal for a sick neighbor, or you don’t really have time to lend a helping hand, but you did anyway. You try to set the example.

Then one day, you realize the children were listening, they were watching…

3 John 1:4 ESV

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Blessings on your day.


Photo:  Rod Garro


Leaving a Spiritual Legacy


2 Timothy 1:5

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.


I have some treasures to pass down to my children. There’s my great-grandmother’s Bible that she brought with her from Ireland. I also have a bracelet from another great-grandmother. It has her name engraved on it. I have a few of my own treasures, special Christmas ornaments, jewelry and other collections to pass down. There’s the Bible, with hand-written prayers in it, when I prayed for my babies. With any luck, we can also leave them a financial inheritance. But these objects don’t really matter. The greatest gift I can leave my children is my faith. That is not a one-time gift. The gift of faith is a gift my husband and I give by example every single day. I can take my kids to church, but if I don’t practice my faith, what good is it? I’ve come up with a short list of ways to help leave a spiritual legacy for our children.

  1. Pray for your kids every day. And pray for guidance for yourself too.
  2. Pray for your children’s friends, acquaintances, teachers, coaches and other mentors.
  3. Encourage your kids to invite friends to your church.
  4. Be an active member of your church family.
  5. Talk openly about your faith, and what God has done for you.
  6. Read the Bible as a family, have family devotions.
  7. Pray in front of your kids – not just saying grace at meal times. Let them see you pray.
  8. Let them see you live your faith, like taking a meal to a sick neighbor or participating in mission projects.
  9. Let them see you give your gifts to the church, and teach them to tithe too.
  10. When life lessons come up, discuss with them how to handle them in a godly way, but talk to them on their level.

What would you add to this list?

I also thought this was a good article on leaving a spiritual legacy:

Blessings on you and your family.


Image: google images


Is Gratitude is a Learned Behavior?


Ephesians 5:19-20

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christmas is coming, and my children have presented us with their wish lists. The items on the lists are not inexpensive. Interestingly, they already have similar items. We don’t deny our children toys and electronic gadgets, but the items on their wish lists represent the newest, biggest, or best items in those particular categories.

I wonder what happened. We have tried to raise our children to be thankful for what they have, and to live within our means.

I think the “desire for stuff” is a learned behavior, and is detrimental to having a grateful spirit. Our culture bombards us with commercials of all kinds of products that say “buy me and you will be happy,” but that happiness is fleeting. It only lasts until the next better product comes along. It’s a vicious cycle.

How do we stop the cycle?

I believe gratitude is a choice. It’s a behavior; therefore we have personal control over the behavior. When things aren’t going the way we like, we can choose to wallow in self-pity, or choose to look at all the many blessings we do have. It’s then we may see how rich we really are.

One way to see our many blessings, and cultivate a grateful spirit, is to squelch the idea that we don’t have enough. The idea that we need more primarily comes through advertisements. So, we’re cutting off the TV as an experiment. While I can’t stop the flood of all the advertisements we are exposed to, I don’t have to bring them into my home. Let’s see if I can cultivate gratitude in my home, by eliminating what is detrimental to gratitude.

How do you cultivate a grateful spirit?


Have a grateful day.


Scripture is from

Image is from Google images