Raising Children Who Bring Peace, Love and Hope to a Hurting World


I have four boys so there have been four Christmas nights that I’ve been up with a newborn. These quiet moments always give me a chance to reflect on the very first Christmas…

What was Mary thinking and feeling as she held her little one in her arms? Luke 2:20 tells us “But Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart” (NIV).

What was she pondering? Was she scared? Excited? Curious?  Wouldn’t it be nice if she wrote what she learned from others, what she learned from Jesus? (I hope to get to talk to her about it one day in heaven!)

I stare into my little boy’s face and wonder who he will become. Did Mary know who Jesus would become? Was she overwhelmed at the thought that God had entrusted her to raise His Son! A child who would bring Hope and Peace for all eternity. Was she afraid she might do something wrong?

As I hold my little one in my arms, I begin to feel afraid. Though I didn’t give birth to Jesus, I am raising a child of God! A child who has the potential to bring hope to a hurting world. A child who can bring the Good News to others! What if I mess up?

Do I have what it takes?

I stop and remember that God chose this child for me at this time. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “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” (NIV). Wow, just bask in those words for a minute. We don’t need to fear. He NEVER leaves us. He is always with us!


So what are some things we can do to invest in and mold these young lives so that they become followers of Christ and make a positive difference in this world? First of all … ask for God’s help every single day! Ask Him for wisdom because James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV).

One dozen suggestions for raising young men and women of God:

  1. Lead by example. Spend time reading God’s word and praying.
  2. Stay present. Look at your children in the eye and answer their questions.
  3. SMILE and remind them that they are LOVED – by you and by God!
  4. Say “I’m sorry” when you mess up. (We all mess up!)
  5. Talk about the goodness of God – sharing stories of what He has done in your life and the lives of others. Deuteronomy 6:7 – “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (NIV).
  6. Pray together – for their “owies,” for their friends and their concerns.
  7. Sing and/or read together.
  8. Practice ‘self-care’ so that you aren’t running on fumes.
  9. Go to church together.
  10. Download the Bible App for Kids. When they want to play on your phone, encourage them to play this first. Or play together!
  11. Love their daddy or mommy and invest in your relationship. If you are divorced, refrain from speaking bad about their other parent.

Do we have to do ALL of these things every day? No.

     12. The most important thing we can do is ask God for help. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you as you lead your children.

If you feel like there is something you can tweak to become the best mama to your children, do it.

Each day is new day!

Each day is a new opportunity to ask God for help. A new day to stay present in your children’s lives. Another opportunity to watch for what God is already doing in your child’s heart and life to encourage and support that!

Let’s look into our children’s eyes and remind them that God loves them and has GREAT plans for their future – He really does! “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

Kathryn Egly

Kathryn Egly is a wife, mom, and author. Residing in the beautiful state of Minnesota, she is a part-time teacher, and full-time referee to her four busy boys. When she’s not mediating epic battles over the last cookie, you can find her fueling up on her two secret weapons: coffee and Jesus. Kathryn’s faith, love for others, and her unwavering commitment to her family inspire her writing. With a touch of humor and a whole lot of heart, she shares her experiences through the written word, aiming to connect, uplift, and remind us all that we’re not alone in this wild ride called life. kathrynegly.com

Family Life Radio is listener supported. Those who listen give to make the music and content possible to shine God’s love, peace and encouragement into hearts, revealing truths that direct people in the way they should go.

If you feel led to give a gift today to help others draw strength, gain wisdom and experience peace through Family Life Radio click here.

Listeners Find Inspiration and Encounter God through Family Life Radio

Jesus Encounters –Stories of Transformation Series

When you switch on your radio and tune into Family Life Radio (FLR), you might just experience God in ways you never thought possible. As you are about to read, listeners have found strength, inspiration and an encounter with Jesus in their daily lives through the power of Christian music and the profound words of faith spoken over the airwaves.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me” (Psalm 139:1 ESV).

Sarah, who was seeking to rekindle her faith, found FLR to be a guiding light. She shared, “I decided I needed to find God again, and I found Family Life Radio. It brought me closer to God. It’s made me stronger.”

The words of 1 Chronicles 16:11 encourage us to “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually,” and Sarah found this strength through the daily messages and ministry (ESV).

Listen to Sarah’s story in her own words here.

Amy once struggled to grasp what it truly meant to follow Christ. “Through the music and everyone on the radio, it just encouraged me,” she said (ESV). Romans 12:2, which tells us to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” comes to life as Amy was inspired to view her faith from a different perspective.

Amy’s story in her own words here.

FLR doesn’t just uplift the listener’s personal faith. God uses it to foster stronger relationships with Him, as Daniel told us. “The music you guys play is awesome. I feel closer to our Lord Jesus Christ, to my wife and to my kids,” he shared.

Daniel’s story

Dave was inspired to live out his role as a father in a godly way. “You guys have been such an inspiration to me,” he said, echoing the words of Proverbs 20:7, “The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him” (ESV).

Dave’s story

Sheryl, who once felt at the end of her rope, found a personal message over the airwaves of Family Life Radio. “It was like somebody was talking to me personally,” she shared. In times of despair, we remember Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (ESV).

Sheryl’s story

Family Life Radio has also been instrumental in shaping the faith of children, as Karen and Angela highlighted. Karen shared how the radio has inspired meaningful conversations about God with her children. Angela spoke about the joy of seeing her children sing Christian songs with delight. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children” (ESV).

Karen’s story
Angela’s story

Ken, who found solace in times of need, and Allie, who reconnected with her faith, are examples of God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV).

Ken’s story
Allie’s story

These stories from listeners like you are just a few among many, underlining the transformative power an encounter with God can bring through the ministry of FLR. It’s not just about the music, the teachings or the daily devotions.

It’s about encountering Jesus, being inspired to live intentionally for Christ and feeling His presence in every aspect of your life.

So, tune in, seek Him and feel closer to God as you journey through your day. You never know, your own story might be the next testimony of a life transformed. We hope you’ll share it with us here.

Family Life Radio is listener supported. Those who listen give to make the music and content possible to shine God’s love, peace and encouragement into hearts, revealing truths that direct people in the way they should go.

If you feel led to give a gift today to help others draw strength, gain wisdom and experience peace through Family Life Radio click here.

Jesus Encounters – The Woman at the Well

Stories of Life Transformation

Any true, long-lasting transformation starts with an encounter with Jesus.

You can find the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-42. This woman, who was living a broken and sinful life, experienced an encounter with Jesus that changed her forever.

As she went to draw water from the well, Jesus asked her for a drink. His simple request opened the door of her heart to a conversation that would lead to her salvation. Jesus spoke to her about living water, and she came to understand that He offered her the gift of eternal life.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14 RSV).

He tells her that whoever drinks the water He gives them will never thirst. He’s referring to the living water that He offers. Different from the regular water she’s drawing from the well, it’s the eternal life that Jesus offers. It’s a metaphor for the salvation that He offers. The living water Jesus offers will be a spring of water welling up to eternal life, which is a life-changing transformation.

Once an outcast in her community, she went back to her village and told everyone about the man who had told her everything she had ever done. And even though she remained nameless in the Bible, her transformation story caused many in her community to believe in Jesus.

Her story is a powerful example of God’s love for you.

No matter how broken or sinful you may feel, Jesus eagerly offers forgiveness and new life for anyone who will receive from Him. All you need to do is come to Him in faith.

Later in the book of John, Jesus speaks in front of many people during a festival. He calls out to anyone who is thirsty to come to Him and drink (John 7:37). Again, Jesus is offering something that will quench a deep spiritual thirst.

How have you been transformed by the love and grace of Jesus? All He asks of you is to come to Him with an open heart, ready to receive the gift of eternal life.

Because of the transformation in the woman at the well’s life and her willingness to share what Jesus had done in her, people believed.

What are people believing about Jesus because of your words?

Are you sharing your story of transformation about how Jesus changed your life? If not, will you so that others may also believe in Him? Click here to share your story with us.

May we, like the woman at the well, experience the transformative power of Jesus in our lives. May we live in the hope and joy that comes from knowing Him. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

Family Life Radio is listener supported. Those who listen give to make the music and content possible to shine God’s love, peace and encouragement into hearts, revealing truths that direct people in the way they should go.

If you feel led to give a gift today to help others draw strength, gain wisdom and experience peace through Family Life Radio click here.

Energizing Your Spiritual Journey

Awaken to God’s Light and Revive Your Faith

Are you feeling lost or stuck in your spiritual journey? Do you feel like you’ve been sleeping, going through the motions without really waking up to the joy and beauty of the life God has for you? If so, let this blog encourage you because the Lord is calling you to wake up to his light and glory.

As it says in Ephesians 5:14, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (NIV). Paul’s words here are an invitation to you and to anyone who feels stuck in their faith, to all who long for something more. It’s an ask to leave behind the darkness and enter into the light of Christ.

Let go of the old and embrace the new.

Saul’s salvation story is one powerful example of spiritual awakening in the Bible. Saul, a devout Pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians, believed he was doing God’s will. While he traveled the road to Damascus, he had a dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ, who asked him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me” (Acts 9:4 GNT)?

Blinded by the light and led to Damascus, Saul fasted and prayed for three days there. During that time, he received a vision from the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was baptized and began preaching about Jesus, completely changing his life and his mission.

Saul’s story demonstrates even the most devout and zealous people can experience a spiritual awakening and turn their lives around. Like Saul, we may think we’re doing God’s will, but sometimes we need a dramatic wake-up call to show us the truth.

No matter how far we may stray from God, He always waits for us to return to Him.

If we repent and turn back to God, He will open His arms and welcome us back into His family.

So how can you awaken to the life God has for you? Here are six steps you can take:

  1. Repent

Repentance is the first step towards awakening. It’s the acknowledgement that you’ve been living in darkness and that you need God’s help to change. “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19 ESV). Confess your sins to Him and ask for his forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

      2. Surrender

Once you’ve repented, it’s time to surrender to God’s will. Surrender your desires, your plans and your fears to Him. Trust that He has a good plan for your life, even if it’s different from what you expected.

Surrender isn’t something you do once and done; instead, it’s a daily recommitment. Galatians 2:20 says, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me” (GNT).

      3. Seek God’s Word

The Bible is the living, breathing Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). Not only can it ignite your heart and awaken your Spirit, but it feeds your soul with spiritual nutrients that sustain you. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 GNT). Read it, meditate on it and apply it to your life. Let the truth of God’s Word fill your heart and transform your mind.

      4. Pray

Luke 21:36 says, “Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man” (AMPC). Spend time in prayer every day, talking to God and listening for His voice. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and to guide you on your journey.

      5. Fellowship

Surround yourself with other believers who can encourage and support you. Join a church or small group where you can worship, learn and grow together. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (ESV).

      6. Be Accountable

Accountability is an important aspect of any pursuit, including the pursuit of spiritual awakening. Here are a few ways you can seek to be more accountable in your pursuit:

  • Find an Accountability Partner

Find someone you trust who is also seeking spiritual growth and ask them to be your accountability partner. Meet with them regularly to share your progress, challenges and victories, and to pray for each other.

  • Join a Small Group

Join a small group at your church or in your community where you can connect with other believers and discuss your spiritual journey. This can provide you with a supportive community and a sense of accountability to others who share your goals.

  • Set Goals

Set specific, measurable goals for your spiritual growth and write them down. Share your goals with your accountability partner or small group and ask them to hold you accountable to them.

  • Track Your Progress

Keep a journal or use a spiritual growth app to track your progress towards your goals. This can help you stay accountable to yourself and to others and can also provide encouragement as you see how far you’ve come.

Accountability is not about perfection or judgment. It’s about supporting each other in our pursuit of spiritual growth and helping each other stay on track.

Awakening spiritually is a process.

It may not happen overnight, but if you take these steps and seek God with all your heart, He will shine his light on you and awaken you to the fullness of life He has for you.

Family Life Radio is listener supported. Those who listen give to make the music and content possible to shine God’s love, peace and encouragement into hearts, revealing truths that direct people in the way they should go.

If you feel led to give a gift today to help others draw strength, gain wisdom and experience peace through Family Life Radio click here.

So, You’re Planning A Wedding …

Planning MarriageIt’s wedding season, a joyful and exciting time often accompanied by overwhelming pressure. In the midst of finding the right location, saying yes to the dress, creating an invite list and dealing with family expectations, couples can forget the reasons they are getting married in the first place. Some couples even find themselves making a pact to just get through the wedding planning so they can enjoy life together afterward.    

But what about that life after the ceremony? Couples who are laser-focused on surviving the wedding finally get to the next day of the rest of their lives together, look at each other and say, “…now what?”

In working with couples for almost forty years, I’ve often had people ask me, “If we are right for each other, why do we need to prepare for regular life together?” I always tell them that no matter how much you love each other, it’s important to remember that you have lived a lot of life doing things a particular way…your way. And it’s not unusual for people to believe that their way is the only way. Once you get married and find out that your soulmate does things totally differently than you do, you need to be prepared with tools to communicate your differences and ultimately create new patterns of life together.

Learning things like how to prioritize quality time with each other and what strategies help with effective conflict resolution are all a part of the process. Premarital preparation helps couples navigate potential landmines ahead of time, setting them up to navigate those moments in ways that build up their relationship instead of tearing it down.

There are several options when it comes to marriage preparation. Some couples choose to go to premarital counseling. Typically, in this type of experience, couples will look at factors like how they were raised, their personality and how it meshes with the one they love, unspoken expectations, what conflict looked like in their home growing up, and more.

This experience gives people insight into themselves and the person they love, along with their families. Hopefully, it also helps couples look at areas that could potentially create conflict down the road.

In addition to premarital counseling, many couples have also found premarital education to be exceptionally helpful in preparing them for a healthy, long-lasting marriage. Premarital education varies from premarital counseling in that it gives you information and the tools to build a healthy relationship, equipping you to know how to:

  • Communicate in a healthy way
  • Manage conflict so that it builds up your relationship
  • Effectively managing finances together
  • Set boundaries with in-laws—how to leave and cleave
  • Understand what intimacy looks like in marriage (it’s not just sex)

If couples have this knowledge and apply it, they have a significantly greater chance of building a life together that is healthy and resilient.

An example of something every couple experiences but few actually know about is a little chemical called phenylethylamine, or PEA. In effect, it’s a natural amphetamine—a stimulant that triggers the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which provide the rushes of pleasure and the “butterflies” we’ve all felt at some point. PEA is high during those lovestruck days of dating and marriage; however, it dwindles after a couple of years.

Planning a Wedding

The presence of PEA is what allows you to overlook a lot of things that would normally get on your nerves. As the PEA begins to dwindle, the person you once found thrilling may seem boring, frustrating or worse. Behaviors once considered “cute” — or that could at least consistently be overlooked — become sources of conflict. This can leave couples feeling confused, upset or even unloved.

Receiving this information as part of premarital education helps couples realize that this is normal, instead of thinking there must be something wrong with their relationship. Couples can be prepared and know how to intentionally create romance and care for one another as they move forward in their marriage.

In our work at WinShape Marriage, we want to help couples walk confidently into marriage with their eyes wide open. Our “Marriage Prep” experience is an example of premarital education; it is biblically-rooted, researched-informed, experiential and fun. It is designed to teach about PEA, as well as the importance of play and laughter in your marriage, how to support each other’s walk with the Lord, how to intentionally love each other well, and many other key tools for a successful marriage.

If you are preparing for marriage, I strongly encourage you to take the extra step and invest in premarital preparation. Why go into marriage hoping you can figure it out when there is information to be discovered to help you get off to the best start possible?

Some of my favorite resources are:

Julie Baumgardner


Julie Baumgardner is the Senior Director of WinShape Marriage. She has nearly 40 years of experience of helping marriages and families thrive. Prior to joining WinShape, she spent 20 years as the President/CEO of First Thing First. https://marriage.winshape.org/



Family Life Radio is listener supported. Those who listen give to make the music and content possible to shine God’s love, peace and encouragement into hearts, revealing truths that direct people in the way they should go.

If you feel led to give a gift today to help others draw strength, gain wisdom and experience peace through Family Life Radio click here.

Learn how to attain the peace God wants for you!

Resetting PrioritiesChose peace with the proper order

New Year’s Day receives all the fanfare. It gets the parade, the displays, the ball drop and the television specials. Everyone seems to focus on significant life transformation at the beginning of the year, but the real change happens in the fall. Fall is the ideal time for reengagement. It is time to re-up on commitments made. It’s the testing line to see if what you committed to in January held true.

When the summer is over and vacations have passed, fall welcomes us back to reality. New school years begin; holiday preparations are made and the weather changes. The bright green leaves that once swayed in the summer breeze turn colors as their life cycle ends.

God allows beauty to be the trademark of seasonal death. Amateur and professional photographers break out their cameras, hoping to capture the colorful foliage as the season falls.

Spiritually, fall signifies awareness. It asks the question, “What do I need to allow to die in my life?” More often than not, it’s the habits and hang-ups that have dislodged our sense of proper priority.

What should my priorities be? you may ask. This is the wrong question. If you ask one hundred different people this question, you may find one hundred different answers. Each life is unique, crafted by God for a specific purpose, but this does not give us liberty to shrewdly sculpt our lives however we choose.

Choose Peace with Proper Alignment

1 Corinthians 14:33 gives us some insight into God’s character regarding proper spiritual priority, “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (NKJV).

One of the challenges we face in life is discerning how to achieve the peace God so frequently mentions. Peace is the result of order, not disorder. Clarity, not confusion.

God so kindly crafted proper spiritual alignment.

Chances are, if you are feeling discombobulated, it’s because your life is no longer aligned with His best intentions.

Proper spiritual alignment is separated into five areas, and these areas apply to everyone. They are not flexible. They do not care about your opinion. For proper spiritual alignment to occur in your life they must be cemented into their respective positions.

So how should your life be aligned? Let’s start with an easy one. The answer is easy, but the application of this priority is far from simple. You may be tempted to glance at the second priority and skip the first, thinking it’s too elementary to read, but I encourage you to slow down. Understanding is paramount if these priorities are to take root in your life.

Ok, here is the gimme. The first piece of the puzzle is God.

  1. God should be priority over everything and everyone.

All that is good flows out of your intimacy with Him. If this river gets dammed, you’ll find famine and parchedness in every other area of your life. Yes, you know this.

You’ve heard this before, yet, as of 2021 only 11% of Christians read their bible daily. For all our blustering knowledge, we lack very little understanding and even less execution. Thankfully, we did a little better on the prayer front. 68% of Christians pray daily.

What do those statistics mean? At first glance it would seem to imply we talk more than we listen. We pray, but we spend little time reading His letter to humanity. We have more access to the Bible today than any other time in history, yet they remain closed on our bookshelves or as an artistic centerpiece on the dining room coffee table. It may not even hold a prominent position among apps on your smartphone.

What does it mean for God to be the priority? Preeminence. He gets your first and your best. He should be your first thought in the morning. He should receive the first of your finances, and He should have the best of your focus.

Everything flows from our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

It is the lens with which you should filter every decision. Your relationships and purpose should all reflect Him. If He is not first, the foundation begins to crack. Sure, the house may not fall immediately, but left unattended and uncorrected, a faulty foundation will result in catastrophic destruction.

On June 24, 2001, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condo in Miami, collapsed. At the time such a disaster seemed unheard of. With all our modern building codes and technology, how could a condo simply collapse? A few potential reasons existed, like location, subsidence and time, but many people chose to focus on human error in the inadequate construction.

This is a “duh” moment for anyone who has read Matthew 7:24-27. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (NIV).

If you want a healthy, properly aligned spiritual life, start by examining the foundation. Can you honestly say God is the priority in your life, and no others before Him? (See Exodus 20:3-5.) God is first, and it will make even more sense when you see the subsequent priorities and how dysfunctional things could become if it is any other way.

      2. The second priority is yourself.

This may come across as narcissistic, egotistical hogwash, but before you jump into the deep end of the resistance pool, consider this single statement.

You cannot give what you do not have.

When God is first, His plans for your life flow out of that relationship. He begins to shape you before He shapes others through you. He has work to do in you, so you can be the best possible witness for Him.

Anyone who has ever flown has heard these words over the intercom, “In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the panel above your head … secure your own mask before helping others.” It sounds great when we are flying, but we give little credence to this advice in any other area of our lives.

Listen, your family, friends, children and community need the best version of you.

  • How is your health? Are you eating properly and getting enough sleep? Are you taking care of your body so you can take care of the bodies around you?
  • How is your mental health? Are you taking breaks, getting away and allowing yourself time to mentally heal? Are you going to a counselor or receiving biblical counsel?
  • Are you financially free, so you can give generously to God and to others?

At first, the notion of focusing on yourself may seem anti-Jesus, but never forget that He died so that YOU can have life more abundantly too (John 10:10).

Don’t believe the lie that everyone else can walk in the fullness of God but you need to be the martyr.

The Apostle Paul exclaimed, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV). Paul lived a life worth imitating and so should you. Don’t talk the talk but not walk the walk. Prioritize what God is doing in you.

     3. Prioritize your family.

You may not have family around you, and in this case, you could substitute for your friends. In fact, for many their friends are closer to them than their immediate family.

This is where you follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 NIV).

Your greatest legacy will be the generation that follows you.

It’s not your money, not your stuff, not your degrees nor your individual accomplishments. It will be the letter you have written on the hearts of your loved ones. We will come back to this one after you read the next two priorities.

     4. Work.

The Bible has many strong statements about work, but 1 Thessalonians 3:10 stands out, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat’” (NKJV).

God created us to work. Yes, because of our sin in the garden, we have made to work harder than God intended, but work is part of our DNA. Society has never been kind to those who refuse to work. For some, it carries a great deal of shame.

Before we get to the last of our list of priorities, take a moment and review the order of the priorities we should have as Christians so far:

  1. God
  2. Self
  3. Family
  4. Work

Hopefully, you can see how any of these out of alignment will create undue stress on the other areas. If you value yourself above God, you’ll give way to selfish desires built on satisfying your flesh. That will then take precedence over your family, as their needs will become secondary to your wants.

If you put your family over God, then you’ll idolize the temporal. You’ll skip church for soccer practice. You’ll not raise your children in the way they should go, and you shouldn’t be surprised when in their adolescence and adulthood they vacate the faith altogether. If it wasn’t a priority for you, it’ll be less so for them. As the saying goes, what we do in moderation, our children will do in excess.

If you put your work above God or above your family, you’ll breed dysfunction at home. Your spouse and kids will have a fractured relationship with you, and they will have to struggle with unforgiveness, and father or mother wounds into their adulthood. Left unhealed, they’ll pass that on to their children. What you saw as a “provision” will breed dysfunction.

There are no scenarios where this list of priorities can be in any order other than it is. But there is one more priority that must be kept in its place. Church. That’s right. Should you place serving above your spouse? Your kids? Your work? Of course not! What benefit is it to serve excessively but lose your job, your health or your family?

Your service to the Lord will be an overflow of healthy priorities.

When God is first in your life, you’ll not force your family, you’ll feed them. You’ll not lose them, you’ll lead them. They’ll serve with you out of a generous, thankful spirit, not a reluctant one.

Take some time this fall and evaluate your priorities. You may say, “My priorities are a little out of alignment, but we’re doing ok.” Let this be a warning to you. A little out of alignment for a long period of time will eventually lead to pain. Deal with it now.

It seems so elementary, but if you “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), everything else will align healthily, and the fall won’t be a season of death and grieving but a season of hope. What has been dormant in you will soon emerge and the life you’ll experience will be better than you ever thought possible.




25 Ways God’s Character Leads Us Onward

Author, artist, creative business strategist and founder of GraceLaced.com, Ruth Chou Simons, joined Family Life Radio in a conversation about her new book – Pilgrim, in which she shares 25 ways God’s character leads us onward. Check out her conversation with Family Life Radio’s morning show.

Please enjoy this excerpt from Ruth’s very authentic introduction. 

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself in such a hurry or so focused on where I’m going that I miss the street signs meant to point the way and help me discern where I am. I get lost, miss the turn, or think I’m somewhere I’m not—all because I’m not paying attention to the very guideposts meant to inform my journey.

A guidepost, by definition, points the way on a path that may be difficult or hard to navigate.

Sometimes the way of the Christian life seems unclear or complex. Sometimes our walk with Christ feels like an unsure road to understand. But the Bible, God’s Word, is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path, as we read in Psalm 119:105. We’ve not been left to wander

aimlessly on this journey heavenward. No, our Savior shows us the way, by being the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

I wrote this Pilgrim journey so that we might walk this road, courageously and confidently, together as Christ-followers. Through the guideposts of grace that appear in this book—guideposts that affirm key truths in the Bible—we will find that we are not alone, not abandoned, and no longer need to strive to secure our own footing or define our own paths. Instead, we discover that God writes our stories, paves our paths, leads the way, never leaves us nor forsakes us, and goes with us wherever this earthly journey takes us.

Here, we’ll explore reminders from Scripture that point us forward on our journey with Christ –guideposts that direct our hearts and minds to the truths of the gospel, the attributes of God, and the core foundations of our faith. We’ll encounter reminders of God’s character and how He leads us onward as pilgrims – the same reminders that have shaped believers who’ve gone before us in ages past. Some of these faithful pilgrims penned hymns that elucidate these truths in ways that stick with us long after the melodies fade; these accompany us on this journey as well.

My prayer is that through this exploration, you’ll discover the themes of grace that punctuate not only the moment of salvation in a believer’s life, but all the twists and turns, hills and valleys that shape our journeys – before, behind, ahead, and along the way.

These truths are reminders of God’s way, not yours or mine.

They are indicators of God’s story, not our own. Lord willing, these guideposts of grace will serve to remind us, again and again, season after season, that God is at work right where we are.

If you’re weary, fellow traveler, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone, and there is great hope for the road ahead. I’m here to remind you that you can lay down the heavy burden you’ve been carrying for miles and miles, and – if you’re willing – let your Savior carry it for you instead. He is at work more than you know. There are guideposts of grace everywhere we look, friend, and they accompany our Pilgrim journey, even now. We just have to cultivate eyes that see and hearts that believe these guideposts are ours – for me and for you. Will you join me—as God leads us onward in this Pilgrim journey, together?

Ruth Chou Simons is a Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning author of several books and Bible studies, including GraceLaced, Beholding and Becoming, and When Strivings Cease. She is an artist, entrepreneur, podcaster and speaker, using each of these platforms to spiritually sow the Word of God into people’s hearts. Through her online shoppe at GraceLaced.com and her social media community, Simons shares her journey of God’s grace intersecting daily life with word and art. Ruth and her husband, Troy, are grateful parents to six boys — their greatest adventure. Learn more at gracelaced.com.

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Hope in Tragedy – Shiloh’s Story

Even in tragedy, one family feels God’s peace

“I grew up in church, practically born on a pew,” Chad Smeaton said. Someone was always playing Family Life Radio on the in the radio, in the car. And we always had it on with our children.”

Summer says her story is the same. She also grew up in church. “My mom always had Family Life Radio on. I have listened to Dr. Randy Carlson and Intentional Living for twenty plus years now.”

Chad and Summer made the decision to move their family of seven from Michigan to Tucson at the end of October 2021. Chad said, “It was a big decision for our family, but we felt like the Lord was leading us, and He opened up some great opportunities for us.”

Summer’s parents relocated to Tucson from North Carolina first. Chad and Summer agreed the move would allow the kids – Cadence 17, Shiloh 15, Zion 13, Haven 12 and Brad, six months – to be near their maternal grandparents and her side of the family more.

“Moving our family, mid-school year – it was stressful … the kids already had their friends – established connections. It was a lot of change in a short amount of time,” Summer recalls.

They decided to homeschool the kids and tried to get them connected in their new community by joining their local church. “It’s definitely been a bit of a transition,” Chad continued, “especially for the kids, who have had to make new friends, but we’re trying to focus on being intentional and responsive in our interactions and relationships.”

Chad and Summer agree the parenting discussions on Intentional Living have been so extremely valuable. One of their biggest takeaways – is choosing to respond rather than react, and they find the worship important too.

Candid Truths

At times they wondered if they’d made the right decision as they hit walls and fought an uphill battle. The Smeatons continued to stress about their children making friends. Chad and Summer knew for teenagers, that’s not an easy thing.

But in the midst of the struggle, Summer said, “because of God’s grace and the goodness of His love, confirmation after confirmation would pop up and reaffirm our decision.”

Depression is a part of Summer’s story. She admits she’s been very open and candid with her children about her journey. She said, “I feel depressed, and sometimes have suicidal thoughts. So, I know it’s important to plug them into to the right counselors and get them the right help.”

Summer said, “Shiloh was hesitant and kind of fearful about meeting new people, but also excited because he knew his father and I weren’t going to make a rash move and just disconnect everyone from their friends and their schools.”

“Before the move,” Summer continued, “Shiloh went through a physical transformation. He used to be kind of a husky kid. Unfortunately, he was bullied for it. It opened a door for insecurities and just lack of self-confidence.”

Summer acknowledged, “It’s stressful. You’re fifteen years old, and ask, ‘Am I going to be accepted? Am I going to have friends? And Am I going to be bullied here?’” She knows the enemy used those negative thoughts to distract Shiloh from the truth and the enemy used that to whittle away at the confidence that he had gained after losing weight.

Chad took the initiative to check in with Shiloh. He asked “How are you? Where are you at?” Together the Smeatons parented proactively and checking in and asking, “What’s your mental space?” To which they say Shiloh would typically always say he was okay.

Summer Smeaton says Wednesday, January 12, 2022, initially played out like any other ordinary day. Shiloh wasn’t feeling well so she let him sleep in a bit before getting up to work on some homeschool assignments.

“He seemed fine; he seemed okay,” Summer recalls. He got something to eat, logged on to his computer and realized he was missing some English assignments. Summer said, “I was getting onto him about what he needed to turn in … reminded him he had soccer practice.” The plan was to get ready and take Shiloh to soccer practice.

Breathtaking Heartbreak

Shiloh took his soccer bag and went into the bathroom, and Summer said, “I’m thinking he’s getting ready for soccer practice.” But, he wasn’t getting ready for soccer practice.

Summer stepped outside for a minute. And when she came back in, her daughter Cadence was coming down the hall, crying so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Summer said, “She couldn’t communicate anything.”

And finally Cadence said, “I think Shiloh hurt himself.”

Summer ran to the bathroom door, and called his name, but there was no answer. She busted the door open and found Shiloh in the bathtub. She saw a note on the ground with the gun.

“All that I could think of was to speak life over him and pray because growing up in church in having faith – that’s what I knew.”

Even as Summer made the 911 call, she says a sense of peace came over her. She believes it was the Spirit of God intervening and bringing some sense of calm to her so she could communicate to the emergency response team. Her children were all doing school. It was traumatic for everyone as she was on the phone with 911, calling Chad to let him know, continuing to pray over Shiloh and putting pressure on his wound.

In that moment, Summer continued to believe death would not take him.

At the hospital, Summer was told right away not to expect life and to prepare for that.

“But knowing the God we serve and knowing that miracles are still for the living, I believe it was my heart as mom fighting and warring for my son.” Summer did not accept the doctor’s report but continued to speak life and believe for a miracle until the very end.

“I know the miracles are not just in the Bible, but I heard them all throughout my life. And so, why not believe that for us? Why not believe that for my son?”

Summer still knows God as the God of Miracles, even though it didn’t happen for Shiloh. “He is faithful, and I don’t understand,” Summer said. “I’m not going to pretend that I have healed. But sharing Shiloh’s story is a part of our healing. I’m not whole,” Summer said. “I still feel very broken and shattered. I have days that are harder than others. I have days I don’t feel like I’m going to make it, but God is giving me strength.”

God is giving the Smeaton family strength. They see glimpses of God’s mercy and His faithfulness even in this. It is their hope that God can put purpose to their pain through what they share.

They hold fast to Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (NIV).

Summer says it feels very much like a wilderness season. “I don’t feel [God] right now. I know He’s there. I know God is faithful. I know He’s not left us. He’s not forsaken us. I know that because I walked it before. And every time in retrospect … I didn’t experience His presence, but now I see Him in these little areas.”

“We lost our son; our lives will never be the same. We are forever changed, but even in tragedy, we feel God’s peace. Even in this, we feel His love.”

The Smeatons have experienced support and love from a body of believers in the community. People that they don’t even know offer support and encouragement. And they want to offer God’s comfort and peace to others through their own tragedy.

If you or if you know someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are resources available for you and your friend. Often, Christian pastors and counselors are excellent sources to call. Attempting to tackle suicidal thoughts on your own as the victim or helper can be challenging, if not unproductive. There are qualified people who can help you. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by calling or texting the numbers 988 at any time, day or night 24/7, to visit with someone who understands.

Cindy’s journey took her through challenges way beyond what she thought she could ever endure.

How Cindy made it through COVID-19 and Trauma

As Christians, we believe that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Cindy Mansfield’s story speaks to the power of prayer and faith in God’s goodness and mercy.

“It was the day before the wedding that we received this horrible phone call,” Cindy said. “My son was on a business trip and was in a chartered bus. And on the way back, they had this horrific accident.”

Cindy’s son was near death.

She said, “We just went immediately to prayer asking the Lord to save our son, Ricky.”

By the time Cindy and her husband, Richard arrived at the hospital in Lubbock, Texas, Ricky had just come out of an 18-hour surgery and survived. As days turned into weeks and weeks became months, Cindy knew that Richard had to get back to the church they pastored. She told her husband, “I can’t leave my son’s side. I’ve got to be here for him.” And so she stayed longer.

Eventually she returned to Alburquerque only to have her husband test positive for COVID a few days later.

… and a few days after that, Cindy also tested positive. Cindy said, “I knew I couldn’t get back to my son’s side.”

Then Richard became extremely ill; his oxygen dropped down into the 70s. Cindy said, “I looked at Richard and literally, it looked like he had lipstick liner on his lips. It was purple.” At their doctor’s direction, she immediately called for an ambulance.

“The loudest noise I had ever heard – and it kept me up for days – was the doors on the ambulance slamming shut.”

Cindy stood in her driveway thinking, What’s going to happen, Lord? My husband’s not doing well. My son is in Lubbock, Texas, trying to stay alive.

Cindy faced a series of challenges that tested her faith and stretched her beyond what she thought she could ever endure. Her son’s life-threatening accident, her husband and her own battle with COVID-19 and her son’s prolonged hospital stay were all painful and overwhelming situations. But in the midst of it all, she turned to God in prayer, seeking His intervention and comfort.

In the Bible, we see numerous examples of people who faced daunting situations and found strength and hope in God. David, for instance, faced many trials, including the threat of death, betrayal by friends and the guilt of his own sins. Yet, he wrote in Psalm 34:19 that “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (KJV).

And Paul, the apostle, suffered greatly for the sake of the gospel, including imprisonment, beatings and stoning. But he declared in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (ESV).

Even in our darkest moments, we can find hope and strength in God’s promises.

Cindy experienced this firsthand when she listened to worship music and heard a good word from Family Life Radio. With the sound of the slamming ambulance doors on repeat in her mind, Cindy said, “I walked in and the house was empty. And the first thing I needed to hear was worship music. I needed to hear a good word.”

Although Cindy was alone, she had Family Life Radio. “They filled my home with God’s peace. It was just an enormous amount of peace that I never knew I could experience in such pain, physically and emotionally.”

Through her experiences, Cindy found that prayer, worship and the support of her community could bring her comfort and peace in times of hardship. As Christians, we can take inspiration from her example and remember that God is always with us, even in the most difficult of circumstances. As we do, we can overcome any obstacle, endure any trial and find strength and hope in His unfailing love, just as Cindy did.

5 Keys to Unlocking a Lifestyle of Unwavering Faith

Remembering Abraham, Daniel and Mary

Unwavering faith is a beautiful picture of the kind of faith that we should strive for as Christ followers. This kind of faith is stationary, fixed and steady, offering no confusion or doubt. The writer of Hebrews described our belief in Christ as an anchor for our souls, strong and trustworthy, providing hope even in the midst of life’s storms (Hebrews 6:19).

Let’s take a closer look at three people from the Bible who lived a life of uncompromised faith: Abraham, Daniel and Mary.

Abraham – Destination Unknown

Abraham, known as the “father of faith,” left everything to follow God. In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to leave his home, his family – everything familiar – and travel to a new land that he had never seen. Abraham obeyed without hesitation. Can you imagine what a difficult decision that might have been for Abraham. God asked him to leave everything he knew behind to follow God’s plans.

Abraham’s faith in God was stronger than his fear of the unknown.

Abraham also proved his faith when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, even though it went against his natural instincts as a father. “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted’” (Hebrews 11:17-19 NLT) Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

5 Keys to Unlocking a Lifestyle of Unwavering Faith

Abraham’s steady faith rose from his belief that God was faithful and would keep His promises, no matter what. “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises” (Romans 4:20-21 NLT).

Daniel – Obedience in All Things

Daniel lived during a time of great persecution for the people of Israel. Despite the danger he faced, Daniel continued to trust in God and live according to His will. Even in the face of great dangers that potentially could cost him his life, Daniel remained steadfast in obedience to God.

One of the most well-known stories about Daniel is the story of him being thrown into a den of lions for refusing to worship the Babylonian king. “The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God” (Daniel 6:23 NLT). Daniel’s faith in God protected him from harm, and he emerged from the lion’s den without a single tooth mark.

Daniel’s testimony is more than miraculous events.

Daniel purposed in his heart to live according to God’s will, even in the small things.

“But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods” (Daniel 1:8 NLT).

5 Keys to Unlocking a Lifestyle of Unwavering Faith

Daniel placed his unwavering faith in God’s character. He knew that God was faithful and would care for him no matter what persecution he faced. Three of Daniel’s closest friends refused to worship the Babylonian king. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18 NLT).

Like his three friends, Daniel trusted that God was able to save him from harm, but even if He didn’t, he was willing to remain obedient to God.

Mary – Agreement with God

Mary, the mother of Jesus was chosen by God to bring His Son into the world, and she accepted her assignment with complete trust in God. Just imagine the opposition and ridicule she must have faced as a young, unwed Jewish woman in her community.

Mary responded to the angel, Gabriel, when he told her she would bear a son in complete agreement with God’s plans. “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her” (Luke 1:38 NLT).

Mary submitted completely to God’s plan.

Mary’s unshakable faith was tested throughout her life, especially when she witnessed the crucifixion of her son. But even in the midst of such intense pain and suffering, Mary remained anchored in her hope in God. “Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, ‘Dear woman, here is your son.’ And he said to this disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from then on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-27 NLT).

5 Keys to Unlocking a Lifestyle of Unwavering Faith

Mary’s faith was based on her trust in God’s character. She knew that God was faithful and would keep His promises, no matter what. In Luke 1:46-49 (NLT), we read Mary’s response to God’s plan for her life: “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”

So how can we grow in our own faith and live with uncompromised faith like Abraham, Daniel and Mary? Here are five keys to consider:

     1. Develop a strong relationship with God through prayer and reading the Bible.

This will help deepen your understanding of God’s will for your life and give you the strength and guidance you need to follow Him faithfully. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (NLT).

     2. Seek to live in obedience to God’s commands and principles, even when it is difficult or goes against your own desires or expectations.

This may look like making sacrifices or taking risks, but it is essential for living a life of uncompromised faith. James 1:22-25 says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (NLT).

5 Keys to Unlocking a Lifestyle of Unwavering Faith

     3. Trust in God’s plan for your life and have faith that He is always with you and will guide and protect you.

Especially when things are difficult or uncertain, you can trust that God is working for your good and for His glory. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT).

     4. Surround yourself with other believers who can support and encourage you in your faith journey.

Being part of a community of fellow believers can provide accountability, guidance and fellowship, which can help you to grow in your faith and live with trust in God’s faithfulness to do as He has promised. “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT).

     5. Be willing to share your faith with others.

As you share your story, invite others to church or simply living your life in a way that honors God serves as a witness to His love and grace. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (NLT).

A life lived with unwavering, uncompromised faith requires your commitment to follow God and His will for your life, no matter the cost. It will take courage, trust and obedience, but it offers you the reward of a life of purpose and fulfillment.