Connecting our Kids with God’s Truth

As a mom of five, my greatest desire has always been to connect the hearts of my kids with the reality of God’s Truth. But sometimes it’s just plain challenging. Can I get an amen? That’s why my friend Courtney DeFeo is guest posting today – to show us a practical way to get our kids into God’s Word so God’s Word can get into them.

I have to be honest, some of my parenting decisions are made with the wrong motive. I just want my kids to make me look good on some days. Isn’t that sad?  I do care what other people think and say. I do care how my children behave, because it reflects on their mother dearest. I’ve also recognized this is a dangerous pattern for parenting and quite defeating if you try it for long.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of biblical virtues. You can find me writing, ranting or speaking about the topic on any given day. I LOVE watching virtues like generosity and service and responsibility come to life in my kids. And in the core of my heart, I have the right motives for these virtues. I want them to know Jesus personally and discover the fruit of following Him. However, it’s so easy to get caught up in focusing on these virtuous things so that our kids behave like good little Christian kids.

What happens though when a real life issue creeps up into their life? Will they know the motions to the song and the definitions in their head? But stand frozen in fear because their heart has never engaged personally with God? 

Let me illustrate…

My daughter Ella is 9 years old and she has been biting her nails for a while. We have tried every tactic to get this habit to stop. And, I’m not really proud of all the tactics we used, from bribing to demanding she stop. We were getting concerned and frustrated.

One day, Ella decided she really was tired of hurting and was embarrassed by her fingers. She wanted our help to stop. Although we had tried so many things, I could tell her heart was in a different place.

We pulled out this self-control virtue card and talked about the idea of self-control.

It hit me – here was that tension! I really wanted Ella to stop because her short nails reflected on me as a parent. And I am so glad God nudged me to see a bigger lesson was at play. I could get visibly frustrated with her and just make her memorize this self-control card. Or, I could encourage her that she could do it. Because she loves Jesus and he lives in her, she has the fruit of the Spirit – and one of those is self-control.

I reminded her of the definition: Showing restraint even when desires are strong.

I reminded her of a key verse we’ve discussed many times: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

I reminded her what she was doing was hard but not impossible and that I was cheering for her.

I reminded her that Jesus does care about struggles like this.

We did offer an incentive and we put some gloves on at night, but the difference was my attitude with my girl. I was her chief encourager, not her most frustrated coach. And her attitude went from “I can’t” to “I can.”

We didn’t talk about it much more, but something clicked in Ella. And I do think God cares about our struggles – even biting nails. And she did it.

I’m so so thankful God used this little (but huge) moment to remind Ella that He is alive in her and working. That self-control is something she will need in her life for many years to come. And the next time she needs restraint? She can look back on this time. When she called on her Savior and together they won.

Lord, I want the heart of my kids. I want them to know You. Please guide my days to show them You are real. Help me to let go of looking like a great mom. Let me be more concerned with my children and their hearts than any outside appearance or performance.

This story is exactly why I created the Virtue Memory Cards. My heart’s desire is that families will grow closer to God and experience Him. I would never want a family to pick them up and use them to look good or score points. They were designed to impact the heart.

You can help your child begin to tie everyday character qualities to Scripture verses by getting your Virtue Memory Cards today! Click here for more information.


If You Bring The Happy, Your Day Will Be Beautiful

I never thought or dreamed in a million years that three of my kids would get married in the same year.

Our oldest daughter, Hope, wed in February with an elegant, formal, uptown wedding complete with the unexpected twist of playing corn hole in our formal gowns.

Ashley, our middle daughter, will get married in the Alabama countryside next month with market lights, vintage furniture, a pizza and hamburger reception, and her favorite popsicles and donuts instead of a cake.

And our son, Jackson, will say “I do” this fall in a lovely garden ceremony in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Three kids. Three completely unique weddings. Three different states. All in one year. Hello 2016, you are amazing.

So, needless to say, we have been knee deep in all things wedding over here at the TerKeurst home. Our sticky farm table that just yesterday was full of coloring books, Candyland game pieces, and Legos is now full of white invitations, pictures of possibility for every celebration detail, and a glue gun that might have burned off one of my fingerprints during a wedding craft situation.

But more than helping to plan the weddings, I want to prepare my kids for their marriages.

I’m especially wanting to prepare them for day one of their marriage. And I’m quickly learning that weddings are perfect for teaching young couples a crucial lesson:

The most happy couples are the ones who are most able to embrace imperfections.

Honestly, I’m still learning this lesson myself.

Whether you are the mother, the bride herself, or a hopeful soon-to-be-bride, can I take your hand and whisper a truth we all need?

No wedding is perfect.

The more we resist this reality, the less we’ll enjoy this most special day. But even more tragic for brides, the less you’ll enjoy your marriage.

There’s a little known secret about imperfections. What makes things most beautiful, most memorable, and most notable are the unexpected gifts wrapped in imperfections.

Do you want to know one of my favorite memories of my entire wedding? It’s the only detail brought up time and again at family gatherings. My youngest sister, who was only two years old at the time of my wedding, belted out the Happy Birthday song during the lighting of the unity candle. It was obviously unplanned, but became a completely delightful gift of imperfection.

Of course, some wedding day imperfections aren’t nearly as cute and are way more distracting than a two-year-old’s song. I get it. But I can’t change it. Not for my kids’ weddings and not for yours. The unexpected will happen.

But here’s the great news. Imperfections help others uncross their arms, relax, and giggle. People will love you even more when they see you display grace in a tough place.

At Hope’s wedding, we had a slightly alarming incident where one of the guest’s dresses caught on fire after it got too close to the candles that lined the aisle.

But when I asked Hope about how she felt the wedding went, quirks and all, she said: “Mom, you prepared me in the best of ways for my wedding day. You instilled in me the heart of happiness no matter what happened. Your constant reminder of, ‘if you bring your happy, your wedding will be beautiful’ rang in my head for all of our wedding weekend festivities. I could’ve easily focused on something that didn’t go ‘right’ and let that ruin the moment for me… instead I laughed off the imperfections and thought to myself, ‘this will be a great story one day.’”

So embrace the unexpected.

Smile at the crazy.

Laugh at the unplanned.

And relax.

If you bring the happy, your day will be beautiful.

(Thank you Brian Schindler for capturing these beautiful memories.)


3 Questions to Ask Before You Turn into a Quitzilla

My friend Nicki Koziarz has written a fabulous guest post for all of us who have a tendency of letting our emotions dictate whether or not to quit something. I wish I could send this blog back in time to my younger self because y’all. For real. I quit so many things when they got hard. So, I think you’ll really appreciate the wisdom Nicki is sharing with us today.

My friend Melissa and I used to work out together. I say used to because, hello, my name is Nicki, and I’ve quit everything.

Anyway, I signed up for this boot camp in one of my I’m-so-desperate-for-change stages. My thighs were getting gigglier, and my muffin top was no longer sucking in, despite all the fancy undergarments I bought.

For the first few weeks boot camp was a really good thing. I felt great after I worked out, my muscles were stronger, my clothes were fitting better, and I had a new circle of friends working toward the same goals.

But like a lot of things I begin, my commitment to boot camp began to waver.

One Thursday morning Buck, our boot camp teacher, was in a pretty bad mood. Normally he was super encouraging, but on this particular morning I felt like he was fed up with me.

He probably was; I would have been fed up with me too.

The last part of our workout that day was these things called planks. Planks are basically putting your entire body weight on your elbows and holding your body up for as long as required. R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s.

Buck had instructed us to hold our plank for a certain amount of time; I can’t exactly remember what the time limit was. But it was an eternity, I promise.

So in my head I counted the plank out, and Buck counted according to his stopwatch. But for some reason my count and Buck’s count were very different. When I finished the count in my I head, I dropped to the ground. But Buck screamed at me to get back up!

With wide eyes I looked at my friend Melissa who was right beside me and said, “Did he just YELL at me?” She confirmed, “Yep.” Well then.

Well, I did not get back up. In fact, I started crying. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because the tears just kept on coming. I felt like a mortified wimp.

I know Buck wasn’t trying to humiliate me; he was doing what I paid him to do, push me.

But in that moment, on that day, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I quit! And I became quite the Quitzilla: furious, fed up, and fast to walk away.

Here I sit almost two years later typing these words, wondering what I would look and feel like today if I hadn’t given up so easily.

But it’s not just workouts I tend to want to give in to the temptation to give up. So before I make that decision to quit, I’m asking myself a few questions to help keep my inner Quitzilla at bay.

1. Are my feelings dictating my commitment?

Whenever I have quit something because I’ve been angry or upset, it’s always led to regret. Keeping my feelings in check has been so helpful!

2. Have I given this decision twenty-four hours?

Taking the time to reflect before we quit something is incredibly important. Twenty-four hours almost always provides another perseverance perspective I desperately need.

3. If I quit, am I reflecting God?

I want to represent God in all things, not just the easy things. So asking myself this question before I quit helps me keep His viewpoint in place.

If you think you might have a Quitzilla in you, or if you just need some encouragement to keep going, I’d love to invite you join Proverbs 31 Ministries for our next Online Bible Study! We’ll be going through my book 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit and study the life of a woman who had every right to give up, but didn’t, Ruth.

The Online Bible Studies team is giving away 2 copies of the book to Lysa’s readers! To enter, head here to sign up for the FREE OBS and then leave a comment here on the blog sharing your favorite Bible verse that helps you persevere.