An Example of Simple, Child-Like Faith

pugHave you ever had a family pet?  If so, you probably know the emotion of losing one or the thoughts of what would happen if you did.  We can get very attached to our animals.

Recently some friends of ours 12-year-old dog was lost in their neighborhood. The dog has numerous health problems, so they naturally assumed the worst. They were obviously upset about it and asked us to pray.  Thankfully a few days later they found their pug.  I wanted to share the story of how their 3-year-old son reacted to the dog’s disappearance and the example he is for us of a child-like faith.

Here is an excerpt from my friend’s email (I inserted some parenthesis explanations so you can follow along):

First, let me start by saying that God has shown me what an unwavering faith can do.  On Sunday, when we lost Lucy (the dog), Steve and I were sad.  I was careful not to cry in front of Aiden (their son) because I did not want him getting overly upset but he knew we were sad.  He told Steve and I, “not to worry, Jesus would take care of Lucy.”  Sweet and true, but I wasn’t sure if he really knew what he was saying. Then on Monday morning Steve was on the computer and I heard Aiden tell him, “Jesus will bring Lucy home,”, to which we answered, ”I hope so.”  That night as we were going to bed and Aiden was saying his prayers he said, ”Jesus, thank you for bring Lucy home”, not will you, not please do, but thank you.

This is when I knew that Aiden believed what he was asking and I was amazed and wanted to so badly to believe with him.  I must even admit that part of me was worried that he would be disappointed. He never wavered, he was sure, so I figured I would join him.  If he believed that strongly and was that convicted, I would go along with him.  I started agreeing with him and praying like he prayed, but I must admit I still had that piece of me that was a tad doubtful.  I even prayed that God would use this to help teach Aiden how powerful faith is.  Today when Aiden saw Lucy, he didn’t seem really surprised, as a matter of fact he said, “I told you Jesus was taking care of Lucy.”

Anyway, I learned so much on faith from a 3 year old this week and what I pray is that God will teach me how to be more like my son and help me to be a mother that builds that faith in this child, not let life destroy it.

What a great picture of a child-like faith!  I agree with my friend.  I want a faith like Aiden’s faith!

It reminds me how much I have learned from my own children.  What have your children taught you about God and faith?

Why divorce is so prevalent? What can be done about it?

A journalism student at Ohio University, Ty Komjati, asked to interview me for a story he was writing on the state of marriage and divorce.  I decided to share my answers here:

Question: A recent survey by the US Census Bureau showed approximately 40% of marriages end in divorce.  Why do you think this is happening?

I think there are many reasons in our society contributing to this number, but the main problems I see are:

  • There is a great lack of knowledge about marriage and how two very different people relate to each other.  (This has always been a problem, but is more noticeable today when combined with the other problems.)  My boys received more instruction learning to drive than most people receive prior to marriage.
  • There are fewer really solid marriages displayed for us to watch these days, whether from Hollywood or even in the church.
  • The cultural acceptance of divorce has grown.
  • The laws allowing divorce have loosened.  It is much easier these days to walk away.
  • Generally speaking, people are less loyal to anything these days.

Question: What needs to happen to reverse this growth?

Here are a few of my suggestions, of course I can only speak on behalf of the church:

  • Couples getting married need sound premarital counseling.  Churches rarely offer much of anything, yet they complain the most about the problem.
  • Churches need to teach about healthy marriages, dealing with real issues.  Typically the ideal marriage is displayed, and there should be an example to aim for, but we shouldn’t sugarcoat real life.  Most marriages will struggle at times, even the pastor’s marriage.
  • We need mentoring inside the church.  Couples with healthy marriages should reach out and mentor young married couples, especially through the early years.
  • We need to de-stigmatize the fact that marriages struggle.  Every marriage has struggles and needs help at some point. Sadly in many churches it is sometimes easier to divorce and walk away than for a couple to admit they need help.

A good marriage is worth the effort and it is possible to have a marriage that works.  How would you have answered these questions?

20 Reasons I Love My Momma…

This year, instead of another card that someone else wrote, I decided to make my own Happy Mother’s Day tribute.  My mother is one of the greatest women I know.  I am blessed to have her for a mother.   She is the picture of a Proverbs 31 woman. She is strong, hard working, loving, and kind.  Here are 20 random things I love about my Momma:

  • I love you momma because you always care for others more than yourself.
  • I love you momma because you forgive easily.
  • I love you momma because you never stop loving those you love.
  • I love you momma because you smell nice.
  • I love you momma because you look for the best in people.
  • I love you momma because you are the greatest cooks I know.
  • I love you momma because you have shaped my life for good.
  • I love you momma because you have seen many trials in life but have an unwavering faith.
  • I love you momma because you support me in whatever I do.
  • I love you momma because you refuse to give up on those you love.
  • I love you momma because you laugh at all our corny jokes.
  • I love you momma because you pray for your children daily.
  • I love you momma because you are resilient to the struggles of life.
  • I love you momma because you open your home to others.
  • I love you momma because you are still trying to learn more about God.
  • I love you momma because you hurt for the hurting.
  • I love you momma because you encourage me to excel.
  • I love you momma because you allow your children to pick on you (sometimes too much).
  • I love you momma because you always choose relationships over material things of life.
  • I love you momma because you love everyone.

Happy Mother’s Day Momma!  The fact is, I love you just because you are my Momma!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers.  Most of us would be far less the people we are today without your unwavering love, devotion, and influence.

Picking Your Children’s Friends

chicago-prom-324Friends are friends forever…if the Lords the lord of them…

That is the song that comes to mind when I think of Nate and his friend Taylor.

Long before Grace Community Church, Taylor’s parents were friends of ours.  They were core members of our church plant and helped launch our small group ministry.  Nate and Taylor have both played significant roles in various ministries in our church.  They are both leaving for college this Summer and will be greatly missed, not only personally, but for their contribution to the church as volunteers.  Thankfully Nate plans to attend Moody and Taylor plans to attend Wheaton, so they will be less than an hour from each other. I hope their friendship lasts a lifetime.

Taylor’s parents were intentional with us in encouraging the boys’ friendship.  In fact, part of the motivation for our friendship was so the boys could be friends.  We began early in their life trying to get them together as much as possible.  It’s easy when children are young to control their friendships.  It becomes much harder when they get older to make sure they make wise choices in choosing friends.  When we launched our church they were two of the original youth group together.  Their friendship blossomed.  It has been such a blessing to both of them through their high school years to each have a friend to hold the other accountable.

My advice to parents is to surround your children with kids they can be encouraged by later in life.  Pick your children’s friends, while you can, based on their parents.  (I wrote a similar post about this type of parenting HERE.)  Look for people who share your values, share your discipline philosophy, and are heading their children in the same direction you want your children to go.  Then get your children around those children as much as you can.  Hopefully you will instill in your children the skills of picking the right kinds of friends wisely that will carry over into other periods of their life.

Thank you Taylor for being a great friend to Nate!  I love you and I am going to miss you almost as much as I will him.   I just won’t be sending you money. (Sorry.)

Have you ever tried to pick your children’s friends?  Do you wish you could now?

Prom Night Reflections

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It’s prom night!  My 17 year-old Nate looks sharp as he heads out for a night of fun.  I have the privilege of serving as co-chair of the After Prom event, which is a planned overnight activity designed to give students a safe night of fun, so I will be out all night and have church in the morning.  I guess it is my last opportunity, however, to serve in this role. Nate wrote his own post about the night HERE.

The whole night makes me a little reflective.  I remember senior prom like it was yesterday.  My date and I had an amazing time and it was a great way to end my high school experience.  I wouldn’t trade anything for the memories.

 

What about you?
What reflections of prom do you have?
What did you wear?
Who did you go with?
Do you still know the person?
Would they talk to you if they saw them today?
Was it a night you hope to always remember or one you wish you could forget?

Here’s What A Man Really Thinks

I don’t usually read forwarded emails (Please pay attention to that comment), but I received this about four times in one day and one was from my wife, so, sensing she may ask me about it later, I read it. Glad I did. Here are some things most men want you to know ladies, but for whatever reason they were afraid to say them. I’m not!  Some things need to be said.

The Man Rules
Finally , the guys’ side of the story. We always hear ” the rules” from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side.

Please note.. these are all numbered “1 ” ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports It’s like the full moon
or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1.. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days..

1. If you think you’re fat, you probably are.
Don’t ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.
Not both.
If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself..

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched.
We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” We will act like nothing’s wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, Expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine… ! ! Really .

1. Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball
or golf.

1. You have enough clothes..

1. You have too many shoes.

1. Thank you for reading this.
Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;
But did you know men really don’t mind that? It’s like camping.

I don’t know where this originated, but it’s good.

What would you add to the list?

(PS.  Sweetheart, these are really for every other man. I’m good.)

What To Do With A Marriage After An Affair

I wish it never happened to anyone and I hope it never happens to you, but in my job I hear it almost every week.  It’s a word we are afraid of, one that can destroy,  and certainly one that will break a heart.  Sometimes people admit to it, but mostly they deny it.

The word is AFFAIR.

I once thought that word was guaranteed to end a marriage, but after seeing countless marriages put back together and actually strengthened following an affair, I now believe it definitely does not have to be the final chapter of a marriage.

Again, I hope you never hear the word, but if you do, here are some steps to take:

  1. Expect numbness.  For the first few days or even weeks you may not feel anything. That’s okay.
  2. Decide where you want to go with the marriage.  Do you want to make it work or not?  This is something both of you must decide. You will not be able to move forward in any direction until you do.  (This may take a week or a month or more, but if you want to save the marriage, you have to make that decision.)
  3. Get counseling quick.  This is not an issue you can solve on your own or just ignore.   If you intend to save the marriage (which I hope you do) then you will need help.
  4. Get a plan to restore your marriage and work the plan.  This will be a difficult, long process, but the results are worth it.
  5. Eventually you will need to forgive your spouse for the hurt he or she has caused you.  This is a work of grace, but it is necessary to restore the marriage.
  6. Build safeguards into your life to protect your marriage in the future.
  7. Invest in other marriages.  Once your marriage is healthy and you’ve recovered, you will have valuable experience to help others.  Don’t be afraid to let God use you in this way.

This post addresses the offended party, not the one in an affair, but even for you, the word “affair” doesn’t have to end your marriage.  I’m praying for those who read this that it won’t mean that for yours.

Feel free to comment with tips, stories, resources, or suggestions of your own.  Our goal should be to strengthen and save marriages.

Witnessing to Family and Friends

Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” (Mark 6: 4 MSG)

Jesus experienced something I think most of us have at times as believers.  Sometimes the hardest people to witness to are those we love and know the most.  I know countless pastors who have lost siblings, parents and childhood friends, but have limited success witnessing to them.  It’s been a struggle for me at times also.

Do you share this experience?  Is it hardest for you to witness to your own family and friends?  Why do you think that’s the case?  How do you combat the fear or do you?

The Best Comment I Ever Received (So Far)

I always said that I wanted to be a father deserving of those corny plaques displayed at the Christian bookstores.  If my boys ever gave me one of them, and I deserved it, then I would feel I had accomplished what God called me to do as a dad.  I’m thinking now that I may need to contextualize that standard with the culture of the day.

Recently I posted on my blog “How My Family Has Shaped Me”.  One of the comments will possibly be one of my favorite comments of all time.  I will treasure this always.  Here’s the comment:

New comment on your post “How My Family Has Helped Shaped Me ”
Author : Nate Edmondson
E-mail : nathanieledmondson@gmail.com
URL    : http://www.nateedmondson.com
Comment:
As much as I critique, I also want to say that I realize the only reason I’m able to succeed at all the things I succeed in is because you have worked with me my whole life. You’ve taught me how to speak, how to lead, how to love, etc. So thanks for that. Don’t expect another positive comment for another 62 days…

I love it!  Have your children honored you recently in some small way? How did it make you feel?  What signs do you look to know that you are on the right track in your parenting?