Redefining Competition

By: Amy Dalke

So you know how we normally hang out here on Mondays, right?

Well, this Monday, I invite you to join me somewhere else. I was asked to contribute to a series called 30 Days of Raising Boys, and I don’t want you all to miss it.

Whether you’re raising boys, girls, or both, motherhood is messy and wonderful and miserable and awesome all in a great day’s work. So do yourself some good today and read words that prove you aren’t the only one.

You’ll find the series home page right here: 30 Days of Raising Boys. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for links to all the posts.)

You can find my post for the series here: Raising Boys Who Redefine Competition

Let me just tell you something about these words I wrote. Luke played in a baseball tournament over this past weekend. And these words came back to punch me in the gut. Not because I needed to whip them out in my parenting arsenal…but because I needed to preach them to myself.

Which is another one of those times I’m convinced Jesus is all like #burn. (In a loving way, of course. Because I promise I don’t think Jesus zaps me or anything like that.)

Raising Boys Who Redefine Competition

My most favorite thing is that if you sign up before the end of October, you get the Big Book of Scriptures to Pray Over Your Children for free. 

See you next week!



Down! Set! Hut!

By: James Thompson

My son, Isaac, is “playing” Upwards Flag Football this season. He came to the program a clean slate: he couldn’t catch, he couldn’t throw, and well, he barely knew what a football was. I realized then how I had failed this boy during the “tryouts.”


“Tryouts” – an attempt by the program to assess the ability (or lack thereof) of all the boys in order to place them on teams with boys of similar skills (or lack thereof). On Friday nights, I now find myself sitting on the sideline watching him at practice, and on Saturdays playing against other teams. At practice, one of the boys on his team went out to catch a pass.

The ball passed through his outstretched hands and hit him right…in…the…face. He didn’t cry (although I wouldn’t have blamed him), he didn’t blame someone else (I guess he’ll learn that later), he just kind of stood there – stunned. His father, who was sitting next to me, told him basically “You’re okay. You’ll do better next time. Try Again.” He then went back to the huddle for the next play.

I hate to admit the whole thing made me laugh a little. And, when I say “a little”, I mean a lot. I cried more than the kid did.

A few plays later, my beloved son (with whom I am well pleased) got the handoff and immediately ran in the opposite direction. I’m sure I heard the father sitting next to me chuckle. On another play, Isaac rushed the opposing quarterback and grabbed his flag before he could even hand the ball off to the running back. It was beautiful.


I yelled “Way to go!” and “Good Job!” Isaac’s team was penalized for that play because the rules (of which I was not familiar) require that the handoff take place before the quarterback can be “de-flagged.” Well, at least it looked good.

These boys are learning a new sport. They start from a knowledge base of zero. They may have only seen it played on TV. It is unlike anything they have ever done. They have to learn where to stand (and where not to stand), what they are supposed to do on a play (block, get the handoff, or catch the ball), what needs to be done to be successful (avoid the other team getting your flag), and what the end goal is (to score). Along the way they’ll learn that you don’t score on every play, sometimes you need to rest and regroup, practice makes you better, and get up when you fall (not if you fall).


All of this reminded me of my Christian walk. I’ve come a long way. I have a good idea where to stand, what some of the plays are, some of what I’m supposed to do (and a lot of what I’m not supposed to do), and some of what to do to be successful (don’t let the D get my flag – D is for Devil).

But, what struck me most is that kid who got hit in the face. I have had that same experience as a Christian. I know what I’m supposed to do. I have studied. However, actually following Christ is different that it is on paper or discussed with others. It is often more difficult than I anticipate, requires more effort that I think it will (or that I may be willing to put forth), and I am not always successful.

And, yet, for some reason, it surprises me when I fail. It leaves me, at times, “stunned.” And, I’m sure there are many non-Christians on the sidelines laughing at my failures.

God is like the coach. He is there to instruct and encourage us. And, despite our best efforts, we all fail sometimes. Sometimes it hits us when we are not expecting it. Other times, we see it coming and think we got everything handled…wrong!  And, we get it right between the eyes!

Sometimes it makes us cry. Sometimes, we are just left stunned. What happened? The good thing is that God is also like that father on the sideline telling us when we fall short that “We are okay. We’ll do better next time. Try Again.”

N.T. Wright wrote “Jesus himself taught his followers a prayer that includes a clause asking God for forgiveness. He must have thought that we would go on needing it.”

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,

your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

Wow.  I never thought of it that way before.

So, when you fail (and you will), ask for forgiveness, you’ll do better next time, and get back in the game.


Parenthood…is downright terrifying.

By: Amy Dalke

Parenthood is daunting. Downright terrifying, when we consider the implications of raising the next generation.

And I do not consider myself a parenting expert. (At all, mind you.)

But I do know that fathers and mothers have the God-given responsibility to shape the lives of the kids they brought into the world. We are instructed throughout the Bible to instruct them, and train them up in the Lord.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 says:

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”

So what are we teaching them?

Or better yet: what are they learning from us?

father's hand lead his child son in summer forest nature outdoor

I read something last week that hit me between the eyes, and prompted this blog post:

“The integrity of faith starts in the family.”

The context of this statement highlighted the importance of living what we say we believe. Of course this is important in all settings, but I was significantly struck by how crucial it is that we live integrated lives in our homes.

Integrity is defined as “the state of being complete or whole”; it comes from the Latin word, integer, which means undivided.

Does the story we tell in public, add up to what our children see within the four walls? Or do they get a divided view, where one half doesn’t equal the other? (We hide nothing from them, you know.)

A child’s belief system is built upon what he sees, and hears, and learns from his parents’ behavior. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” just won’t cut it.

When we construct a hypocritical model, you can be assured they will quickly learn to put on the plastic for themselves.

I have heard so much talk recently about how tragic it is when kids who have grown up in the church, desert the faith when they leave home.

Could it be that the “faith” which was modeled in the home, was disproportionate to the veneer of faith that was donned on Sunday mornings?

If we fail to model our own instructions, and hope on a whim that our children pick up a good trait here and there, then we should not be surprised when, as young adults, they think God is a waste of time.


Lord, have mercy, if these words steps on toes, I pray they come across as though saturated grace.

Because I’ve been there. I have stood toe to toe with this truth, and have come up short.

How could I ever expect Luke to easily set aside fears, when his mom was often stressed out over “the issue of the moment”? Is it so strange that his words are sharp and biting when he’s angry? It shouldn’t be. Since my words have a tendency to come out that way.

Parenting is not a job we can afford to take lightly; our role as Dad or Mom is the most critical one we will ever play, because training up a child directly influences his/her entire future. What we teach and model as parents affects what they believe about God, what they believe about themselves, and what they believe about others.

And it’s much more than what we say…but has everything to do with how we actually live.

So I challenge you to think about what faith looks like in your house. Are you painting the picture of faith you want to pass on to your kids?

Are you living out what they hear you say you believe?


p.s. Just so you know, I found myself flinching at every other word in this post. But I’m thankful for the reminder, because we do well to examine ourselves often…

Note to Moms: The Most Difficult Lesson

by Gail Armatys, M.S. 

Life Purpose Coach/Facilitator

HeartSong Life Purpose Coaching Center


My silverware drawer is full again.

No, our home was not broken into, and my 30-year old silverware wasn’t stolen and returned. No, not that.

My last child has grown up in the blink of an eye and has moved on. The result? No shortage of spoons and forks before the dishwasher is run. We have now entered a time of plenty in the silverware department.

Oh, this exodus was expected. We prepared for it. Physically, mentally, spiritually seeking wisdom and strength so often it could be considered a chant.

‘Help me!

These kids are driving me crazy!

Will school ever start?

Help me!

As she is preparing to walk out the door

There goes a piece of my heart.’

As mothers, we hoped this day would come sooner, or we prayed it would come later. Perhaps a little bit of both, off and on.

Our son was ready. I thought I was, too. It’s not that the leaving of my older children wasn’t tender as well. It’s that this one is my l,l,l,l,l,last.

Of course, we (my husband and I) are now lovingly referred to as “empty nesters”. WooHoo! Really? While extra time with my best friend and husband (who is the same person, incidentally) is something I desire, the word “empty” has a very hollow ring to it. When my heart is so full of thanks, praise, and hope (mixed in with a little motherly guilt and sense of loss), and the house so full of memories – how can it be empty?

I remember and cherish kids chasing each other and their friends, cats, dogs, – loving one another, playing, fighting, making up games and rules, and laughing. Good times  – mostly. And I humbly acknowledge that although we have been dubbed ‘the parents’ we may have, in fact, learned from them as much or more than they learned from us. (Don’t tell them.)

As I think about Momhood (made it up) and the beauty of the calling, my mind turns to Mary, mother of Jesus. First, I think of her obedience when the Angel of the Lord told her that she would bear the ‘Son of the Most High’. Without argument, she said, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’  Wow! And I’ve been known to grumble over – well, too many things that don’t matter.

Unfortunately, Mary and I may differ in the area of immediate obedience. But without a doubt, like Mary, I was called to be a mom. If you are a mom, God planned for this. Even more, He intended that we be the moms of the make and model of our specific children. (The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree? Maybe.)

More about Mary… after the birth of Jesus, Mary listened to the story the shepherds told about the angel of the Lord appearing to them and sharing the good news of baby Jesus. ‘All who heard were amazed…But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ Luke 2:18-19

That’s it! This is what we, as mothers, do. As our children take the next step all the way through to taking flight, we treasure and ponder their lifetime of moments in our hearts. Admittedly, some are more treasure-worthy than others. And many of their moments last way too long and keep us on our knees. But now, or in time, we hold them dear. They are special. They belong to our hearts and we, like Mary, will contemplate all that it has meant for us to live out the role of  ‘Mom’.

In the end, among the many lessons God has had for me while raising our children (and I know there are more learning opportunities yet to come) the greatest and by far the most difficult one has been that my kids are not mine at all. I can agree in my head and say the words easily. Yet, with more difficulty, I’ve been learning to live it.

Yes. My kids belong to Him: the One Who knows the number of hairs on their heads, Who created their inmost being, Who sees them coming and going, Who knows their motives and hearts’ desire, Who designed them as they are (Ps 139), Who called on us to bear them, hold them, guide them, love them and …let them go.

So what’s my point?  Enjoy your Momhood.  It is meant to be. Cherish the moments, the routine, the fun, the mistakes, the discipline, the growing, and the forgiving. Pray through the trials.  Do not grumble. God sees.  He is cheering you on. You are fulfilling His plan…even after they take flight.  For Momhood never really ends, it just changes with time and with us. This is how it is meant to be.

So give more hugs, more smiles, and more thanks. But don’t buy more silverware. In the blink of an eye, you’ll realize you have plenty.


Oh, Lord. Thank you for calling those of us who are moms to be moms. Thank you that my kids are surviving me. Thank you for the love lessons you taught me through so many experiences. Thank you that what I do each day matters – even the day-in, day-out, ho-hum routines. Please protect and guide each child from the age of little chubby feet to the times when those feet dance, run, drive, and take flight. Help me to humbly continue to serve them, pray for them, and be here for them. For I know that your work in and through me and my Momhood shapes hearts… and the world. In Jesus’ holy and precious name I pray. Amen.

Purpose Steps

  1. Write down the many roles you have in your life. Mother, sister, aunt, grandma, friend, boss, student, employee….you get the idea. Where does the role of ‘mom’ fit on a prioritized list of these roles?
  2. With all the competing demands of your schedule, are there any activities that you can/should eliminate to allow more time for your prioritized roles? If so, consider deleting them.
  3. Give thanks for each child by name – out loud.
  4. Breathe deep. Reflect on and enjoy the special moments of Momhood – before and after they take flight.

Listen to Your HeartSong

Click the Link!

Time Has Gone, M.L. Rivas

For real – Waiting for the bus.  Kindergarten.




Waiting for the bus (posed this time).  Senior.

He actually drove himself to school.

Gail and Hudson_Sr year

It happens that fast.

Live the Song Written on Your Heart.