Holidays can be tough

Holidays are meant to be a time of celebration but they can be tough — family conflict, added stress, feeling depressed 🥺 But 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 📖 has great wisdom for how to approach holidays: FORGIVE. REJOICE. PRAY. BE THANKFUL.

📖 v15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1️⃣ FORGIVE. Don’t let old feuds keep you from loved ones. Forgive ‘em. Do they deserve it? Probably not, but we didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness in Christ either. The word forgive literally means to send away. Send that grudge packing and kill em with kindness! 🤝

📖 v16 Rejoice always…

2️⃣ REJOICE. Be happy for the good fortune of others and celebrate with them. 🎉

📖 v17 pray without ceasing…

3️⃣ PRAY. Pray more and worry less. Prayer is active fellowship with God. Keep talking He’s listening. 🙏🏼

📖 v18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

4️⃣ BE THANKFUL. Not just for temporal, surface level stuff — be thankful for Jesus Christ, His finished work on the Cross, Eternity, and who you are in Him. He’s ALWAYS the biggest reason to be thankful, and He never changes! 🤲🏼 ✝️

✔️ FORGIVE ✔️REJOICE ✔️PRAY ✔️BE THANKFUL

7 Reasons To Foster

Last night I heard my wife tell a friend of ours and fellow foster mom “My only regret about fostering is that we didn’t do it sooner.” Our friend wholeheartedly agreed.

We realize it’s not for everyone in every season, but now might be a great time to consider getting involved in foster care in some way! There are lots of opportunities to help with foster care, many that don’t involve having kids move into your home.

Here’s 7️⃣ Reasons to consider getting involved foster care:

1️⃣ It honors God — James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” Anytime we help others who can’t return the favor we are in harmony with the heart of God. Our purpose in life is to glorify Him and when we do it’s deeply rewarding and satisfying. 🎯

2️⃣ It’s needed — A July 2021 Texas Tribune article stated “The number of Texas foster children placed in unlicensed facilities, like motels, churches and offices, surpassed 400 in June 2021” All of these aren’t due to a lack of foster homes, but that definitely contributes to the challenges of finding placements for these kids. 🤲🏼

3️⃣ Kids are awesome — with the right perspective it’s always refreshing to be around kids. They’re genuine, affectionate, and fun, and we all need more of that in our lives. 🤩

4️⃣ Fostering is a ministry the whole family can participate in. Before we started this journey we talked to our bio kids and got them on board. They’ve been more than ok with it, they’re a huge help. It’s a family adventure. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

5️⃣ It will draw you closer to Jesus — fostering is very difficult at times. Difficulties draw us closer to our Savior. Jesus understands every stress and emotion we go through. Fostering has brought us to our knees in prayer in a whole new way, and that’s a good thing. (Sometimes in our culture we think the entire goal of life is personal gain and comfort. How’s that working out for us? It doesn’t draw us closer to Jesus) ✝️

6️⃣ If you’re married it will unify you and your spouse — We always feel a little guilty going to a Christian marriage seminar or conference because we know they’re going to talk about the importance of a “date night” like it’s John 3:16 😆. We get few dates a year but fall wayyy short of the standards of most. But even though we’re not great at frequent date nights, we do see the value in doing things TOGETHER. For us, we’re never closer as a couple than when we’re serving TOGETHER in Christ’s name. Fostering has definitely unified us like never before. 👩‍❤️‍👨

7️⃣ It will open your eyes to hurts that need your help and prayers — The fact that we have a state entity called CPS or even a foster care system in place is heartbreaking. Even though we had friends who fostered, we had no idea of some of the pain and challenges going on in foster care until we got involved ourselves. It’s good to be made more aware and learn how to better pray for our broken world. ❤️ 🙏🏼

Hey, we’re far from experts, but if we can ever answer any questions for you about fostering or just pray with you, or help you consider fostering in any way, please let us know. It’s normal to have lots of questions and it’s not something to rush into! It honestly took us years to warm up to fostering. And like I said, we wish we’d started sooner. If we can help someone through the process of getting involved, we will! 📧: ccrblayman@gmail.com

Lessons From Luka

Lessons from Luka —

I love my son. And because I love him I keep him from some things, including the busy 2 lane highway that runs in front of our house. If I didn’t stop him he’d literally play in traffic. To him it looks reasonable, but I know better.

The same can be true of things our Heavenly Father withholds from us. They seem reasonable to us, but He knows better.

Here’s where Luka teaches us, even though he gets mad at me for not giving him his way, he reaches out to me for comfort. He gets so mad he’s moved to tears, but his instinct is still to reach for me to dry those tears. I know he’ll grow out of it. But for now, he serves as an example.

God doesn’t give us everything we want. He protects and we don’t get it. When that happens we can get confused and frustrated and turn away from Him, or trust Him can bring our hurt to Him and let Him comfort us.

It’s important to remember that, like little kids, we don’t see the big picture. He does. And while it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around, He loves us way more than I love my kids. His love is a perfect fatherly love. His way is the perfect way. We can trust Him. We should go to Him for comfort.

#LessonsFromLuka

COMMITMENT IS UNDERRATED

COMMITMENT IS UNDERRATED.

The value of commitment has fallen on hard times. Feelings and novelty often rule the day. We reason, if I’m not feeling settled and satisfied, I must need to move on to something new. Wrong 😑 Most of the time we don’t need something new. We just need to re-up our commitment to what we already have.

It’s amazing how resolved commitment can change our perspective. If I know I’m committed to something, why bellyache about it, doubt it, or be casual about the energy I give it? Commitment informs attitude. Attitude informs effort. If we’re being honest, commitment, attitude and effort are about the only things we have any control over.

Ultimately we commit to our relationships and responsibilities knowing they’re from the Lord! He has us where we are, doing what we’re doing, sharing life with the people he’s placed us with, for a reason. Who are we to critique His providence or take it for granted.

It’s Monday 11/1/21. It’s a great day for renewed COMMITMENT.

•Make a COMMITMENT to care for your spouse sacrificially
•Make a COMMITMENT to parent your kids with love and intentionality
•Make a COMMITMENT to your place of employment, to do your job with excellence
•Make a COMMITMENT to serve your community however you can
•Make a COMMITMENT to do the right thing, even if no one else does or no one else sees it.

Make all of these commitments (and more) under the banner of the most important commitment of all:

Make a COMMITMENT to honor God by loving Him and loving others (Matthew 22:37-39)

#commitment #reup

Helpful Bible References…

As part of a lesson I have done a few times over Psalm 119, I’ve shared several Bible verse references that I’ve found helpful for different situations. A couple times I’ve had someone ask me to share that list afterwards. I figure if they found it helpful maybe some of y’all will too. It’s obviously not exhaustive or perfect. I honestly just wrote these down to use as an example. I love the Bible and if this helps someone better navigate it then see below:

**********************

Psalm 119:12 says “Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!” A statute is a decree from God. It is the way the divine lawgiver has seen fit for things to be. Notice the author of Psalm 119 is asking for the Lord to TEACH him his STATUTES. In effect, he’s asking God to instruct him on the way things are supposed to be. We should follow his example and ask God to teach us his statutes. The Bible has a lifetime of life-shaping learning for us. It answers the BIG questions of life. Like, who am I? Why am I here? What is wrong with the world? And what can be done about it?

Mainly, and most importantly, we find in the Bible, the story of Redemption that is found only in Christ Jesus and his finished work on the cross for our sins, giving us eternal life by faith in Him. That’s the meta narrative. And you can find the thread of Jesus’s story of redemption running from Genesis to Revelation. As the kid’s ‘Jesus Storybook Bible’ says “Every story whispers his name.” The Bible is all about Jesus.

But also in the Bible we find out how life works and how God interacts with his people. How God would have you to respond in different situations. Here’s some Bible references that I go to for different situations:

James 3 teaches you the importance of what you say and the words that you use

1 Cor 13 – shows me what real love looks like

Proverbs 6 would tell me not to be lazy

When I wonder if my life is in line with Jesus teaching I think of Matthew ch’s 5-7

When I think of death I think of John 14 and 2 Tim 4

When I want for things I know I dont need I can think of Matthew 6

When I’m tempted to forget what’s most important I can think of Romans 1:16

When I feel like my life isnt producing what it should I think of John 15

When I wonder if I am the only one facing this level of temptation, I think of 1Cor 10:13

When I think I just can’t take another thing I think of Philippians 4

When I think i’m suffering I think of Job

When I feel afraid I think of Psalm 23

When I doubt my salvation I think of 1 John 5:11-12

When I look at how much fun it seems the word is having in sin I think of Psalm 16:11

When I think of how I can share the good news of Jesus Christ I think of Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9, Romans 12:1-2

When I start to think it’s not worth it I can think of 1Cor 2:9

When I start thinking kids are a burden and not a blessing I think of Psalm 127

When I want a picture of the way a mans life ought to be i look at Psalm 128

When I think of the tip of theological significance, I think of Romans 3:21-26

When I want to say I can’t do it bc I lack ability I think of Moses

When I lack courage I think of Joshua 1

When I wanna run from my calling I think of Jonah

When I wanna shoot off at the mouth too quick I think of Peter

When I feel alone and betrayed I think of Joseph ch 37-39

When I want a heart for God I think of David and 1 Samuel

When I think of marriage I think Eph 5

I know theres a ton more, but these are some examples of places in the Bible that I go to often, in my Bible and also in my head and heart.

PARENTS: GIVE YOUR KIDS THE GIFT OF TIME

PARENTS: GIVE YOUR KIDS THE GIFT OF TIME ⏰ + 5️⃣ suggested ways…

The Bible teaches us to make wise use of our time (Eph 5:16-17). This is especially applicable when it comes to our kids. It’s been said that to a child, love is spell T-I-M-E.

In today’s world that prizes performance and achievement, kids need time with us when they’re not performing or we’re not lecturing. Time that builds “relational equity.” Time without an agenda other than for them to be listened to, loved and valued.

We can’t afford to get this wrong. 2 Samuel 14 records the sad story of David’s son Absolom turning against him. And while much of the story is complex and especially ugly, it’s a story that we in modern times know all too well. Dad is too distant from his rebellious son, son rebels even worse, and it spirals from there.

Everyone is busy. Time is short. But we can do this.

About 10 years ago I was traveling and serving on a short term mission trip with a pastor named Mike that I really admire. Mike had it all in my opinion. He’d been a D1 athlete in college, earned an MBA, and was successful in the business world prior to being in ministry. He’s a gifted communicator of the Word and at the time we were serving together, he was literally known throughout the world for his heart for God and ability to train pastors. Well, one evening on our trip, after a really long day of serving and training in Romania, I walked by the training area and overheard Mike on an important Skype call…with his kids. And I just paused there for a minute and listened, and learned. He was genuinely interested in the events of their daily life. He was very encouraging, tender and loving. This man had worked a 13 hour day, fighting international time differences and jet lag (I know I was). He could’ve been getting some much needed rest or attending colleagues who’d hang on his every word. But he wasn’t too tired or too important to spend time with his kids. It wasn’t easy, but he gave them his love, energy, and encouragement through his time. Time well spent.

Here’s 5 suggested ways to get relational equity time with kids:

1️⃣ Bed time. Parent kid relationships, especially in the teen years, often include tension. The Bible says don’t let the sun go down on your anger so before bed is a good time to check in. When they’re little you can read to them, Bible stories or something else that engages their little minds. I’m the lamest dad ever 😆 so I have my teen kids turn their phones in at night. That means they can’t go to bed without coming to my room and my night stand. It works! Tell them goodnight. Share something from God’s Word with them. Give ‘em a hug. 📖 🛌 😴 And bedtime is a great time for the 2nd thing…

2️⃣ Pray with them. It doesn’t have to be super articulate or spoken in Old English. Kids don’t like fakes anyway. Just talk to God in front of your kids. Tell God you’re thankful that you get to be their parent. Pray that they make Jesus the main thing. Pray for their protection. Pray they have godly friends and good relationships with teachers, coaches and other people who lead them. I often make it a point to pray for their future spouse and that God would make me a better dad. Whatever’s on your heart, let God and your kids hear it. Kids listen intently to what we pray for them. Time in prayer is always time well spent. 🙏🏼 🙏🏼 🙏🏼

3️⃣ Take note of something they are passionate about that you’re not, and ask them about it often. They’re not the same as us. Notice how they relax as they inform you about an interest of theirs. You’re getting to know them and they’re getting your time. 🧐 📝 🗣 😃

4️⃣ Feed them. Kids of all ages love to eat! And something about a meal together fosters quality relationships. I’m sure it sounds kinda ‘Little House On the Prairie’ but we still try and get our family to the table to eat. There, more times that not, everyone has to share their “high – low”, the best and worst part of their day. I get a pulse for our family each time we get to do that. Even if you don’t get to the table, take them for sonic drink or ice cream or whatever they like. They tend to open up to mom and dad more when they’re enjoying caffeine and calories 😉 🥘 🥤 🍦

5️⃣ Take it outside. Hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, bike rides, taking sunset pictures, playing ball in the yard and many other outdoor activities represent opportunities for relational equity time with kids.

I’ve taken all my kids fishing with me and all enjoy it. I think Phoebe likes the sunflower seeds we chew while fishing better than the fishing, but she’s still glad to go 😆 But with each of them it’s something we do together. Even when my grown kids were teens and we had challenges seeing eye to eye, we still loved fishing together. 🎣 🦌 🥾 🚴‍♀️ 📷 🌅 ⚽️ 🏀 🏈

These are 5 suggestions and there are many, many more. The method isn’t as important as the principle—give your kids the gift of your time. They need it, and so do parents. Life can be rough at times, but no amount of worldly pain can take away the joy of children that we love and they love us.

Use your time wisely.

Final note — the aim of this post is to help others in an area that I have struggled with myself, not to make parents feel guilty. Our model for this is our Heavenly Father who always has time for us and never relates to us on the basis of our performance. No one is perfect as He is. Please don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been through a busy season and haven’t spent as much time with your kids as you’d like. Pray about it, receive God’s grace, and move forward. It’s about direction not perfection. 🎯

#time #parenting #relationalequity

PARENTS: 5 WAYS TO CULTIVATE PEACE FOR YOUR KIDS

PARENTS — LET’S STRIVE TO GIVE OUR KIDS THE GIFT OF PEACE + 5 WAYS TO CULTIVATE PEACE FOR YOUR KIDS

Proverbs 17:1 says “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” That means it is better to live off plain bread and water and live in peace than to eat like a king and live in chaos and conflict.

It’s hard being a kid. Harder than it was for you and I. They need their home to be a shelter from the storms of life, a safe haven of peace. 

You might be thinking, well my house would be a lot more peaceful if it weren’t for these crazy kids. And you might be right. But the adults can set the tone for peace. 

Here’s 5 ways to cultivate peace for your kids:

1. Love your spouse — one of the best things you can give your kids is a good, peaceful relationship with their mom/dad. They sense when things aren’t right between mom and dad. They also sense when mom and dad love each other. Divorced? You can still do all that you can to get along with your ex for the sake of your kids and the glory of God. Romans 12:18 says “if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” This verse definitely applies to seeking peace with our spouse/parent of our kids. 

2. Discipline like a good referee — a good referee makes the rules and boundaries clear. When there’s an infraction, the penalty is assessed and they move on. Our kids are gonna push the limits and mess up. When they do, discipline them appropriately and move on. Holding mistakes over their heads comes from and unforgiving spirit and doesn’t foster peace. Ever. 

3. Drop the sarcasm — Typically parents are better with words than kids. And if we are not careful we can begin to use them as a weapon. What ought to be a simple instance of correction turns into an occasion for condescending sarcasm. I’ve worked with students a long time and heard repeatedly that they don’t appreciate sarcasm. They likely wont be able to articulate how much it bothers them. So it just sits in them and robs them (and your home) of peace.

4. Be a thermostat for peace not a thermometer — a thermostat regulates temperature, a thermometer just measures it. Sometimes we as parents fall into the nasty habit of responding to our kids emotions rather than setting the tone for peace with our own outlook. Take time to pray “Lord make me a vessel of peace to my home.” Then strive to bring the peace. 

5. Be at peace yourself — this is the most important one! We can’t give our kids what we don’t first possess ourselves. Peace within only comes from God. By faith in Jesus Christ we can know the Prince of Peace, live forgiven, and be at peace with God. But that relationship with God has to be cultivated. Stay in his Word. Pray. Worship. Stay in Christ-centered community. These things and others cultivate peace in us and allow us to impart peace to our kids. 

No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace. 

Most parents will do just about anything for their kids, including make sacrifices to buy them anything they need. Peace is something money can’t buy and you can’t put a price tag on the value of a peaceful home for your kids. They don’t need the latest and greatest technology or toys, but they do need a home that is marked by PEACE that comes from God.

🙏🏼 7 GAME DAY PRAYERS FOR PARENTS OF ATHLETES 🙏🏼 🏈 🏐 🏀 ⚾️ 🥎 🏃🏽🏃‍♀️

I once read a bumper sticker that said “as long as there are tests there will always be prayer in schools.” 😂 Very true. But it’s also true that as long as there are sports to be played there will always be parents (dads for sure 😅) praying for wins! Haha. And prayed the right way, with the right heart, there’s nothing wrong with praying that. But our prayers should certainly not be limited to asking for wins.

1Thess 5:16 says “pray without ceasing.” Sports are no exception. Prayer is a way to humble ourselves, honor God, express our needs to Him, and have fellowship with Him. Prayer also gets us in the right mindset and helps us we things through the lens of Christ. We can never pray too much!

As parents of athletes we can make every game day an occasion for prayer.

HERE’S 7 GAME DAY PRAYERS FOR PARENTS OF ATHLETES:

1️⃣Thank God for the gift and stewardship of fatherhood

2️⃣Thank God for the great gift of sports

3️⃣Thank God for giving your child the ability to play and to play on their team

4️⃣Thank God for their coaches for shaping them athletically and as a people

5️⃣Ask God that they play their game in a way that reflects God in every way possible

6️⃣Ask God that your athlete and their team would end the game free from injury, but also free from regret. That they’d play with a great attitude and maximum effort

7️⃣Ask God to give you as a dad/mom a measure of His grace to keep you in the right frame of mind before and after the game.

Pray these 7 things before every game and wrap it all up “in Jesus name, Amen” and game days will never be the same.

As moms and dads we’ll always have a few regrets, because we’re human. But we’ll never regret time we spend in prayer. Maybe especially on game days. 🙌🏼

Dads of athletes — 🏈 🏀 ⚾️ 🏐

**Disclaimer: this is not an area that I’ve been anywhere near perfect. **Disclaimer #2: yes, this can sometimes apply to moms too 😉

Sports represent one of the greatest opportunities that we have as dads. But unfortunately they can also be an area where we blow it. Our kids love us and love sports but if we aren’t careful they can end up resenting us and wanting to quit sports 😢

Ephesians 6:4 says “Fathers, do not exasperate your children” It literally means do not wear your children out 😬Wonder why this command is directed specifically at dads??? 🤔😅 If you’re a dad of an athlete you should definitely know why! Obviously sports is not the only place where this command can be applied, but as dads we have a tendency to lose it a little when it comes to sports. One time after one of my son’s 4th grade basketball games I went on a rant in the car ride home. Somehow I ended up yelling about sacrifice, WW2 and Normandy Beach 😳 …to a 4th grader…over a basketball game. My whole family was just staring at me like I’d lost my mind, and I kinda had! 🤦🏻‍♂️

Avoiding exasperating kids is a constant struggle but a time when we can be especially exasperating is right after games. We want to say something and for most of us saying “hey buddy as long as you had fun who cares what the scoreboard says” 🙄 doesn’t cut it. So what do we do? We need something in between a berating and a participation trophy. 🎯

Here’s 5 postgame tips to avoid exasperating our child athletes:

  1. Tell them you’re proud of them, because you are.
  2. Tell them you love them, because you do.
  3. Give them a hug, because they need it.
  4. Tell them you absolutely love to watch them play.
  5. THEN, if you’ve done these 4 things and you still feel like critique is necessary, try and keep criticisms to the areas of attitude and effort. If their attitude and effort was good, no need for criticism 🤷🏻‍♂️ Here’s why—they already know when they mess up. And their coaches will help them with adjustments. Don’t let your time with them after the game become something they dread.

Dad’s, for the most part your kids want to please you. Your opinion and approval mean so much. Make the most of the opportunity to love, support and help them, not exasperate them.

We’re not gonna really get better at this without a change in our heart. The goal is to relate to our kids the way our Heavenly Father relates to us. He’s patient, loving, but also loves us enough to address our hearts (attitude) when needed. Dads, the closer we get to our Heavenly Father through faith in Christ, the better sports dads we’ll be.

Also, nobody’s perfect on this front. Our kids are kinda raising us too 😆 Give yourself some grace. It’s about direction not perfection. ✊🏼

It’s been 10 years…

It’s been 10 years since my friend and mentor Todd Wortham went home to our Heavenly Father. It was unexpected for us, but not to God.

Todd taught me the Bible but he didn’t just give me truth, he gave me himself. He shared his life. He gave me a picture of how life could be. Todd saw life as an adventure. He modeled living for Jesus Christ and believed God’s Word held real authority. He emphasized being intentional and living passionate with eternity in mind. He believed in grace and the power of God—Todd knew everything about me and still believed God loved me and could use me!

He stood up for what he believed in and he did it the right way. He was a proud Texan and a History buff. He loved the USA and had his grandfathers WWII flight suit on display in a case. He was a Dallas Cowboys fan and an Elvis fan (and impersonator 😂) He loved good music! He also had an eye and appreciation for good art. And anyone who knew Todd knew he LOVED to have fun. Laughing, crying, and then laughing till you’re crying were all commonplace with him.

MAN…I still miss him and think about him a lot more than you’d think!!! So many decisions I make and the direction of my life is because of things God used Todd to teach me. One time he told me to leave a vapor trail of the Holy Spirit’s work behind me wherever I went, he DEFINITELY did that himself.

The necklace I wear was his. He gave it to me on a week long hiking trip in the mountains in Colorado in about 2002. He shared with me that the necklace was a gift from his mother when he was a kid. He explained the story of the ichthus— it was a symbol used by Christians to identify one another during the time of persecution under the Roman Empire. The greek letters stand for Jesus Christ God Son Savior. Todd put the necklace around my neck and said “I want you to wear this with the boldness of Christ.” I can still hear his words and his voice so clear in my head. Today I feel a renewed commitment to that call to boldness as I reflect on Todd.

Today, I’m sad but mostly thankful. What a man! What a life! What a legacy! And what a great God we serve to have made Todd Wortham and blessed me and so many others through his life and example. I’m gonna see Todd again! One more quote from Todd and I’ll quit rambling. He once said in a sermon “I love living for eternal things!!! I have no regrets. None.” …Me too, bro. ME TOO.