Five Foundations of Healthy Fathering

Fathers Blog

(Excerpt from Father Memories © 2012, 1992 Dr. Randy Carlson. All rights reserved.)

Becoming the father you always wanted

  1. Did your father provide emotional security? 

Emotional security is a foundational element in healthy child development. A child raised without emotional and physical security comes to believe that life is like walking on quicksand. People can’t be trusted and risk-taking is unpredictable and dangerous. One client of mine recalls clinging to a flagpole on the first day of kindergarten because he feared going to school. That was a typical response to life for someone who missed out on feeling secure in his early years. 

     2. Did your father value you as a person? 

We all entered life with one thought: “Meet my needs!” People who were not valued as children grow up deprived of the dignity and affection they deserve. Often, they respond to this deficiency in one or two ways. Some adults still squawk, kick their feet and throw tantrums to get their way and elicit the attention they crave, even though it is negative attention. Others battle a deep sense of inadequacy and pull inward, feeling unaccepted and unworthy, and find it a struggle to develop intimacy in their relationships.

    3. Did your father teach you healthy touching? 

The skin is the largest sense organ in the body. Touch brings pleasure or pain. My wife, Donna, knows that when she rubs my back or massages my feet I purr like a kitten. Touch connects people in a way nothing else does. It is an expression of sensual love, tender affection and brotherly concern. 

If your father abused the gift of touch, or did not offer touch, you have been set up for problems—women especially. Ross Campbell says in his book, How to Really Love Your Child, “In all my reading and experience, I have never known one sexually disoriented person who had a warm, loving and affectionate father” (Campbell 1977).

    4. Did your father set boundaries and enforce them with consistent discipline? 

My friends and I once attempted to play volleyball without clear boundary lines for the court—a frustrating experience. After the first volley both sides were arguing about whether the ball landed in or out. It’s a great way to develop childish behavior at an adult party! The point is, clearly established boundary lines give us the freedom to function without confusion and tension. Behavioral and relational boundaries give freedom and limits, protection and safety. 

Children routinely test the boundaries and argue about the limits, but they want and need them. When those guidelines are enforced by firm, loving and consistent discipline, the child can more easily bridge the gap from childishness to self-discipline and self-control.

Loving discipline leading to self-discipline is a key to healthy self-esteem. 

Individuals who do not establish and enforce healthy interpersonal boundaries set themselves up for others to take advantage of them. They develop all sorts of relational problems as adults.

    5. Did your father teach you the right values and help you build a belief system that leads to wise, balanced and moral living? 

Was right from wrong explained and modeled by your father? Distorted values lead to neuroticism, despair and failure. In his book on building self-esteem in children, James Dobson lists values that lead to emotional and physical health: 

“The Bible provides the key to God’s value system for mankind, and in my judgment, it is composed of six all-important principles. They are: 

(1) devotion to God

(2) love for mankind

(3) respect for authority

(4) obedience to divine commandments

(5) self-discipline and self-control

(6) humbleness of spirit.” 

“These six concepts are from the hand of the Creator, Himself, and are absolutely valid and relevant for our lives” (Dobson 1979).

Not surprisingly, Dobson credits his own father for the values that were instilled in him as a child and wrote this tribute on the dedication page:

“This book is dedicated in deepest respect to my father, whose influence on my life has been profound. I watched him closely throughout my childhood, yet he never disappointed me. Not once did I see him compromise his inner convictions and personal ethics. Thus, his values became my values, and his life charted the path for my own. Now it is my task, in turn, to be found worthy of the two little ones who call me ‘Dad” (Dobson 1979).

That is the way it is supposed to work. Hurray for fathering at its best!

 


Sources:

Campbell, Ross. How to Really Love Your Child (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1977), p.73.

James Dobson, James. Hide or Seek: How to Build Self-esteem in Your Child (Revell, Old Tappan, N.J., 1979) p. 171.

A Must Read for all Dads!

Pastor Zane Anderson Pastor Zane Anderson

5 Characteristics for Effective Fathering

Perspective! It’s the ability to see things for what they really are, to discern or distinguish clearly, to grasp or to understand what is truly important or significant!

Over the years I’ve come to discover perspective is pivotal in every area of life. Life is full of crossroads, those various intersections where a particular choice needs to be made and having the right perspective can make all the difference in making the correct decision or taking the right road.

Yet, it’s so easy to lose our perspectives, get sidetracked and miss out on what is truly important because we lose sight of what is essential. In this blog, let’s look at perspective and specifically how it relates to some very significant people – fathers.

We’re approaching that wonderful day in which we pause to “honor” our fathers! And it’s so right that we do that to express our love, our appreciation and our gratitude for the role they have had in our lives.

Over the years, I have met a number of fathers who would feel they didn’t have a good father. In fact, I am one of them. I have wrestled with the question – “How could I honor my father with all the pain and hurt he caused in our lives.

I feel the answer I received from the Lord was, I don’t honor him in relationship to what he did or what he didn’t do for our family, but I could honor that he was the one the Lord used to bring me into this world. It’s almost like I honor the position of fathering without having to say my father was a good father.

Being a father today is no easy assignment! Fathers face unprecedented challenges and extreme pressures through the various ages and stages fatherhood requires us to navigate. It’s a never-ending battle against a godless culture that seeks to shape us as fathers.

Add to all that, the reality of the enemy, Satan targets fathers because he knows the power we wield to impact and influence our children.

All through God’s Word we’re told the family is the cornerstone of God’s divine order and purpose. The father’s place, his role in the home, is so significant and so very pivotal!

My prayer is that we might gain a fresh perspective as it bears on our roles as fathers, and grandfathers (including me).

Grandfathers, what an incredible opportunity we have to impact our grandchildren. You don’t want to miss it.

Grandchildren need –
Your stories.
Your attention.
And your love.

No matter what they call you – Papa (that’s me), Pops, Grandpa, Grandad or another endearing name – you have something significant to impart into their lives!

Grandfathers, you’re not done!

I found myself recently reading from a small New Testament Epistle titled I Thessalonians. It’s the Apostle Paul’s first letter addressed to a church he pioneered or fathered. It’s a letter rich with feeling and emotion. Dripping from the pen of the apostle is the heart of a father.

Even though it’s written to a church, it contains some powerful principles that can apply to fathers.

Woven into the fabric of 1 Thessalonians 2 you’ll find five characteristics which cause us as fathers to be effective in our role, our God given assignment.

“So that you might walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own Kingdom” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9 NASB1995).”

5 Characteristics for Effective Fathering

Follow me as we make our way through these powerful passages and allow the Lord to give you some fresh perspective on your role, your calling as a father!

  1. Fond Affection

“But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.
“Having thus a fond affection for you, we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel but our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 NASB1995).

Paul could have used half of a dozen words to describe his feelings in verse 8, but he chose a word used nowhere else in the New Testament to express his fond affection – agape/philo. A term of endearment, it speaks of a warm attachment for the expression of emotions. It’s a word for touching or holding.”

I remember our first child; he was just a newborn when my wife Jan handed him to me. He was so tiny. I thought I was going to break him. She said, “Just hold him close!” That’s fond affection!

Dads, why do we stop doing that? Where does it say our children outgrow the need for fond affection?

There is something powerfully bonding about our touch. Yet we often become distant dads. Like two ships quietly passing in the night, we’ve bought into the lie that men don’t show emotion. Yes, we have emotions but so often hide them.

Your family, specifically your children, long for fond affection from you.

2. Impartation

Let’s look back to the Scripture. Paul said, “… we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel but our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NASB1995).

Our children hear our words, but they are impacted by our lives. So often today, we substitute things for relationships. Your children long for your time and attention.

They are watching! Your children are watching a lot of things, but especially how you handle life – how you face challenges and navigate those crossroads you encounter!

I have a penetrating question: What are you imparting?

You’re imparting something. Hopefully they are the right things, like the ability to make decisions and stick with them or to establish clear and consistent boundaries for life.

A legacy isn’t something you leave when you die, but what you impart to others while you are alive, good or bad!

I’ve been a pastor for a whole lot of years. I discovered I didn’t really impact my children from the pulpit. Away from the pulpit, during the everyday course of life I impacted them the greatest!

Paul told his spiritual children, “… you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NASB1995).
He is letting them know they were valued; they’re significant to him.

Dads, how we need to let our children know their significance, their worth. Don’t assume they know it. It’s our job to build a healthy self-esteem into them. It’s so needed today! There is so much “out there” that is seeking to confuse and destroy their sense of value and worth. Speak it; show it; write it!!

3. Hard work

“For you recall our labor and hardship, how working night and day as so as not to become a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel” (1 Thessalonians 2:9 NASB1995).

Paul is an apostle, but he didn’t use his position to excuse himself from his responsibilities. Rather, he modeled the importance of work.

Your children will form their attitudes about work from you!

4. Spiritual Leadership

“You are witnesses and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10 NASB1995).

In the home, so often this is left up to the mom. Yet the Bible is clear about our responsibility to ‘take the lead’ spiritually. We are to create the spiritual atmosphere and appetite in the home, setting the spiritual pace of the family. Our children, indeed, our wives need to see us worship, hear us pray, listen as we read his Word! The incredible impact it will have!

5. Your Words

“Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each of you as a father would his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11 NASB1995).

The words you say are so powerful. In Dan Benson’s book, The Total Man, one section asks, “Is dad really needed?” and he shared a survey with shocking results: for every one positive comment, ten negative comments accompanied it.

As fathers, we can camp on one or two irritating things about our child and never point out the positives. It’s so easy to tear them down rather than build them up!

“Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV).

Dads, let’s speak life!

Here are three ways you can speak life into the hearts of your children and grandchildren:

  • Exhort them.

When you exhort someone, you stretch the potential, you call that potential out of them and challenge them to come up higher.

  • Encourage them.

When you encourage someone, you lift their spirit; you motivate, inspire and applaud them in such a way that you cause them to believe in themselves.

  • Implore them.

As you implore another person, you help them to stay at something, inspiring them not to quit but to keep going and discover who they are.

I want to say it again: it’s no easy assignment being a father today. There are forces at work relentlessly against us. In so many ways we are subtly being seduced away from family priorities.

And dads, childhood goes by so quickly. Before you know it, they are off to college, getting married and we’ve missed the opportunities to truly impact their lives!

Big returns never happen in the future without sizeable investments now, so make the deposits.

To all the dads reading this, I’m one of you! I’ve wrestled with those feelings of inadequacy. I have had to cope with the baggage of my past. I’m acquainted with those fears that often haunt us, as fathers … the guilt of mistakes I’ve made and the things I wish I could do over.

But I’m so grateful we have a great High Priest, who understands our weaknesses and invites us to His Throne of grace to receive His mercy and help us in this incredible role of being a father!

I want to exhort you – Don’t quit; don’t give up! Keep fighting those forces that are relentlessly coming against you! With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can break those cycles of your past and be the kind of father you are destined to be!

Your family needs you.
The church needs you.
Indeed, our nation so desperately needs you!

 

Pastor Zane AndersonZane Anderson served as a senior pastor for over 40 years, and currently leads as an Apostolic Overseer for several churches across the nation. He travels internationally to minister and is a sought after speaker at local churches, Bible colleges and conferences around the world. He has zeal for the local church body and desires to train and develop strong leaders. His gifting as a prophetic voice has helped people around the world move into the ministry that the Lord has purposed for them.

Proclaim Your Own Independence Day

Happy Independence Day

21 Verses to Declare Your Freedom

When discussing the Declaration of Independence, we often skip straight to the preamble. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …” Many mistakenly think those are the first words of the Declaration of Independence, when in reality a very powerful introduction exists. 

Authors write introductions to their books to educate the reader as to what they can expect. You could even say the introduction is the most important part of the book because it prepares the reader to read in congruence with the goals of the author. The introduction to the Declaration reads:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another … a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

This introduction is extremely important because it carries a profound spiritual implication within its political stance. It is a declaration of division and separation, two words that don’t always carry a positive connotation, unless it’s a separation from something harmful, like a stronghold.

When the Apostle Paul elaborates on strongholds, he is not referring to a physical building, a tower, or a fortress. He’s referring to a way of thinking, a personal worldview filtered through his intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV).

As we journey through life, we inevitably pick up some unwanted attachments, or strongholds. What are strongholds? Things that hold you strongly. If you happen to travel to the southwest part of the United States, you may come across the jumping cholla cactus. It doesn’t look as gnarly as some of the other cacti with large spikes like the Saguaro. In fact, from a distance it almost looks furry, but if you don’t mind your step and happen to brush up against it, you’ll quickly understand why people so desperately avoid them. The spines of the cholla have microscopic barbs and they attach so easily; it appears as though they “jump” onto your clothes or skin. As you can imagine, they are horribly painful to remove. 

Much like the jumping cholla, sin tends to attach itself to our souls. We are exhorted to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” (Hebrews 12:1), but we are never prepared for the pain that comes from the separation. We are so pain averse that we’ll allow the sin to stay attached to our mind, will and emotions. Often we’d rather deal with the discomfort of its painful barbs rather than remove it from our lives and be free.

Yet to be a child of God, freedom is your right and your inheritance. As our nation’s forefathers declared, sometimes it become necessary to dissolve the bands that have held you in connection with your past mistakes. 

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Sometimes you must grit your teeth and trust the Lord to walk with you toward freedom. 

You must declare that you will no longer allow the enemy to dictate the course of your life. You must declare that you redeemed. This Independence Day, begin by claiming your independence over the strongholds of sin. 

You can often start a good habit in 21 days, so here are 21 verses to declare over your life. 

Declare one each day for the next 21 days.

  1. “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done” (PS 118:17*).
  2. “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (PS 27:13).
  3. “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).
  4. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
  5. “God’s plans are to prosper me and not to harm me. He is given me a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
  6. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
  7. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
  8. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14)
  9. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
  10. “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
  11. “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” (Isaiah 41:10).
  12. “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill” (Numbers 23:19)?
  13. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten …” (Joel 2:25).
  14. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30).
  15. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).
  16. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  17. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
  18. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
  19. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
  20. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
  21. “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Many people gave their lives so that this nation could be free from tyranny and oppression, from strongholds. In a similar manner, Jesus gave His life for you to walk in freedom. You are free. You are under no obligation to sin. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to declare your own Independence Day, and it will be a celebration with all of heaven. 

*All Scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted.

Picnic Moments Add Value to Relationships

Picnic Moments

4 ways to ensure you aren’t picnicking alone

Summer invokes euphoric feelings of relaxation and fun. Children can’t wait for the last day of school so they can sleep in, play with friends and go on vacation. It’s common to visit a nearby park on a warm summer day and see families or friends sitting on a large blanket with picnic baskets and coolers, enjoying sandwiches, fruit and sweet tea while shooing the flies away. 

Such simple moments often prove to be memorable. They are the moments when nothing else matters except the people in front of you and where nothing specifically profound or life altering happens, but that’s the point. 

Life doesn’t have to be filled with adrenaline pumping thrills to be memorable. Sometimes it’s the uncomplicated purity of a picnic that sears an unforgettable feeling into your soul. Relationships are unique that way. It’s the unexpected, partially planned efforts to connect with another person that become lifelong memories. 

Yet, we often allow the routine and mundane to suppress our intentional availability for deep connection.

Whether you care to admit it or not, you tend to imitate the people you are around the most. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, but this isn’t entirely accurate. Recent studies have shown that you’re not just influenced by your friends. You are influenced by your friends’ friends. 

In a 30-year study, they found that if a close friend gains weight, you are 45% more likely to gain weight in the next 2-4 years. But here is what’s crazy. You are 20% more likely to gain weight if your friend’s friend gains weight (Christakis and Fowler).

So, you’re not just the average of your friends, you are the average of your friend’s friends and their friends. Research shows if your friends are happy, you are happier. But even if your friend’s friend is happy, you’ll be 6% happier (Christakis and Fowler).

When taking this into account, the impact and weight of the “one-another’s” in scripture become far more noticeable. You may be doing great, but if your friend isn’t doing great, it can negatively affect the collective group, not just one person. This doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for your own emotions, actions and efforts. It simply means relationships matter, and if you have a picnic with the wrong people, you may find yourself hating picnics, hating friendships, even hating the fact that you tried. What was supposed to be memorable and delightful has now turned malicious and divisive. 

This fear keeps us in a cocoon of selfish introspection. Are you afraid your effort to connect with someone will leave you rejected, defeated and hopeless? Or perhaps you’ve tried before and got burned. They betrayed your trust or hurt you physically or emotionally, but you CAN’T give up. You’ve got to try again, to hope again. 

Life unshared is only half enjoyed. 

Relationships matter, friendships matter. Just a quick search of the scriptures and you’ll find:

  • Proverbs 17:17 NIV– A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
  • John 15:13 NLT –  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Even Jesus understood the meaning of friendship and not just servitude. 

  • He said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15 NIV).

So how in the world of overbooked schedules and incessant phone notifications, are you supposed to build deep, meaningful relationships? How are you supposed to stop the never-ending chaos carousel long enough to talk about something besides your kids, your job or your depressing trip to the gas pump? 

Three words: value, moments and boundaries. In this blog series, we’ll focus on adding value.

First, you have to commit to adding value to other people. In his evergreen book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie notes, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” 

4 Ways to Ensure You Aren’t Picnicking Alone

Everyone loves the person who helps them succeed. If you want to build deep meaningful relationships this summer, add value to someone else’s life. How do you do that? It’s easier than you may think. 

  1. Listen

Nothing makes a person feel appreciated more than when someone takes time to actively listen, dedicating all your focus, attention and energy to what the other person is saying. 

 

Most of the time we don’t listen to understand, we listen to respond. 

  • Fight the urge to make it about you. 
  • Listen to their words.
  • Observe their emotions.
  • Empathize with them. 
  • Provide feedback when appropriate. 

 

When people feel heard, they feel valued. If you can fight the temptation to shift the spotlight to yourself, you’ll reap the rewards. As noted above, they’ll be influenced by you and will begin to behave like you. In no time at all, they’ll be actively listening to you, and you’ll have developed a mutually edifying friendship.

          2. Help. 

Helping someone doesn’t have to take a lot of time, energy or physical exertion. For some reason, when we think about helping, we always think about moving day. We envision lifting dressers and breaking our backs hauling insanely heavy sofa beds. But helping can look much simpler. Helping may mean: 

  • A 15-minute trip out of your way to pick up some eyeglasses for them. 
  • A text message reminding them to pick up their child at school. 
  • Sending an encouraging Scripture when they are having a bad day.

         3. Give a gift

Anyone who has a love language of gifts will tell you the gift doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be thoughtful. In his book, Giftology, John Ruhlin says, “It’s not the thought that counts, but it’s the thoughtful thought that counts.” For example: 

  • Give a young couple a date night by babysitting their kids for a couple of hours. 
  • Treat someone to coffee or give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant. 

Proverbs 18:16 says, “A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.” A thoughtful gift at the right time could lead to a fruitful relationship. 

        4. Find the new. 

We are creatures of habit, but sometimes those habits are boring, exhausting and detrimental to our well-being. In fact, 61% of Americans are trying to break unhealthy pandemic habits (Black 2021). 

 

Adding value to someone may mean introducing them to something new. 

  • Invite them to an escape room, visit a museum and read every placard.
  • Take a road trip. 
  • Try a different restaurant offering food they’ve never tried. 

Even if they don’t like the experience, they’ll remember the effort, the thought, and the experience. You can be sure even if it’s a subpar experience, they’ll talk about it the next day at their workplace or mention it to their family members. You may find them suggesting an activity for the next outing. 

It may feel counterintuitive, but if you want a friend, you must first commit to being a friend. Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) says it this way, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”

There are no shortcuts to meaningful relationships, and while everyone needs alone time, no one wants to spend their life picnicking alone. 

Click here for our Free Summer Resources for Families.

See more of our family blogs for the summer – check out “A Beautiful Metamorphosis.”

Sources:

Christakis, Nicholas A. M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., and Fowler, James H. Ph.D. “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years.” The New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved 5/24/2022 from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa066082 

Christakis, Nicholas A. M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., and Fowler, James H. Ph.D. “Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study.” BMJ 2008;337:a2338. Retrieved 5/24/2022 from https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a2338  

Black, Michelle Lambright. 26 Jul 2021. “61% of Americans Trying to Break Unhealthy Pandemic Habits.” Value Penguin. Retrieved 5/24/2022 from https://www.valuepenguin.com/pandemic-habits-survey  

A Beautiful Metamorphosis

A Beautiful Metamorphosis

5 Specific Ways You Can experience a fruitful and refreshing summer.

What is your first response to change? Even if it’s an exciting and positive change, transitions can be stressful because the adjustments require more focus, energy and reliance on God.  

As seasons change, we must weave our way through and adapt. Fall brings with it an often welcomed cooling off of temperatures and, in some areas, a feast for the eyes in changing colors of leaves.  Spring brings lovely flower buds and the warmth we long for as we head out of the chill of winter. 

What do you look forward to when summer is around the corner? As children, we yearned for summer vacation from school. Families often look forward to a fun get-away, whether it’s a journey far away from home or a camping trip in the cool of the mountains a couple hours away.

Changing seasons drive up to 500,000 Monarch butterflies to travel approximately 3,000 miles from North America to the California west coast or central Mexico mountain forests in the fall. They hibernate there until about mid-March when they fly back north for the summer, fighting against strong winds, dodging obstacles and fleeing predators. They know, by their God-given internal compass, when it’s time fly. You can see thousands flying together. 

In the spring, the adult Monarchs mate and feed on nectar and water. They lay their eggs on milkweed leaves, which is the only plant the newly hatched larva will eat. Larva is what scientists usually call this stage, known by most as a caterpillar — the eating and growing stage. Nine to fourteen days later, the larva hang upside down in a chrysalis for about a week. It then emerges and shows off its metamorphosis as a beautiful orange and black adult butterfly.  This cycle repeats until the last generation of the summer migrates south in the fall. 

Although this is an extreme example of what may accompany seasonal change, summer brings with it big adjustments for most families. You may or may not be traveling much or a very long distance, but the effects of this new season can definitely be felt by each member of your family.  

Butterfly

The routine of the fall with its time-directed events like work, school, homework, sports, the arts, holidays (and all that goes with them) gives way to the lazy, or at least more flexible, days of summer. 

How do you manage this transition?

After a bit of a breather from the school year activities, things can seem unsettled without some sort of routine. Fortunately, with God as your guide, like the Monarch, you too can be led by God to maneuver against the odds to a fruitful and refreshing summer. Just as He provides for these fragile insects to make their way forward thousands of miles, He will give you what you need to bring new discoveries and refreshment to your family. 

God has promised when you trust Him and not yourself, He will make your paths straight.  If you seek God and act on His wisdom, you will be refreshed (Proverbs 3:5-8).  Don’t you just love the sound of the word refreshed? It summons images of a peaceful, bubbling stream, or a cool beach wave caressing your toes as you relax on the warm sand. 

Other than making a beeline for the mountains or the beach, how do you get this summer refreshment on a regular basis? 

Invite God to help you:

  • Plan some quiet time, at least an hour would be helpful.
  • Grab your Bible, your calendar, a pen and a notebook.
  • Pray and ask God to lead you.
  • Take some time to read your Bible. 
  • Ask God what His plans are for your family. 
  • Ask Him to show you areas to strengthen your family. 

This might include silencing and putting away all cell phones and committing to visiting over frequent family meals. It may mean turning off the television while you eat and chatting with your family instead.  Maybe your family needs to laugh more together, so some creative ways to incorporate humor into your time together may come to you. 

Family

5 Specific Things to do – 

  • Pray specifically for each of your family members.  It might be time to consider doing that “thing” that one of you has been talking about for quite a while. It may stretch you a bit, but pray about giving it a try, whether it’s camping, attending a car show, doing a craft together, seeing a play or learning a new game.
  • Listen to what God impresses on your heart about each member of your family and write these impressions down.
  • Look into what might be available and within your budget to enhance each child’s inclinations and gifts or needs, checking against your family calendar. Maybe swim lessons are necessary or put a mission trip in in the plans.
  • Choose areas you’d like to help them improve upon, like reading plans or math games.
  • Jot ideas down as you think of them.

Lean into God so you don’t become overwhelmed with all the ideas and areas to explore. Choose ways to help each family member grow in these important areas: 

Spiritual – commit to reading a devotion together each day and pray for one another.  Or challenge older children to read from their Bibles and journal what stood out to them and have them share it with you.

Intellectual – read a book aloud together. Some of the nuances will become a part of your family’s communication and light-hearted interaction.  You may decide to watch a thought-provoking movie together once a week over popcorn and pizza.

Physical – take frequent walks to the park, catch a frisbee or hike to explore nearby paths, play Marco Polo or volleyball in a pool. 

You can feel confident as you seek God’s direction and move forward with your plan for a summer of refreshment and growth, in these three individual areas and as your whole family unit. 

If something isn’t working, don’t hesitate to scrap it, but keep trying. What’s the next, maybe more simplified, idea?

If you’re in a season when schedules don’t allow for as much interaction as you’d prefer with a family member and you’re like ships passing in the night, try keeping a spiral notebook of messages to each other. This can help you stay connected until you can be together, and it can become a memento of this season.

Family Fun

Support One Another by Doing Life Together

Summer can be a time of rest and renewal from a strenuous and event-filled school year. As Isaiah the Prophet put it: 

He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV).

God gives exceptional strength, endurance and beauty to the Monarch butterfly.  There are specific routines that must be followed for this creature to survive and flourish. He gives internal direction for what is required for multiplication and growth.  Then thousands of them hang together until it’s time to fly together.

God gives you much more. He provides “wings like eagles” as you wait for and trust in Him. He strengthens you to care for your loved ones. You may feel weak right now. You may be exhausted at times. Seek Him and His answers for your family so you can also stick together and be a support to one another through your summer journey, with all its ups, downs, twists and turns. 

May this season bring you great hope, having at your disposal the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-20).  Think about the greatness of that power! Tap into the nectar of God’s resources as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The colors of your love and the beauty of your family will be even more awe inspiring than thousands of Monarch butterflies. You will have the strength and wisdom to be on your way to creating an exciting journey together.

Mom & Me Selfie Giveaway

A nice card, some flowers and definitely chocolate – all great ways to honor mom! This year, Family Life Radio would like to help you do something extra special for her… and it’s as simple as taking a picture.
It is easy…
1. Post a selfie of you with your mom here and tell us in a few sentences what makes her so amazing!

Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, Max. file size: 256 MB.
Name(Required)

2. When we tell you, call 888-888-9976 and tell us what makes your mom special.
a. Kankelfritz and Friends: 7:05 a.m. PDT/10:05 a.m. EDT
b. Middays with Shannyn Caldwell: 9:30 a.m. PDT/12:30 p.m. EDT
c. Afternoons with Dave Moore: 3:00 p.m. PDT/6:00 p.m. EDT

Be listening!
We might be sharing YOUR story during Kankelfritz and Friends, Middays with Shannyn Caldwell or on Afternoons with Dave Moore between May 2-6, 2022. If we share your story, you’ll receive a music CD or facial skincare mask for calling and the mom in your life will be entered for the Grand Prize (a $200 Spa Day!) given away on Friday, May 6, 2022, on the Afternoon Show with Dave Moore!

For details and official rules, click here