Teaching our kids to take responsibility for their actions and choices can be difficult but is a gift we as their parents can give them.
How many times now do we turn on the news, listen to the radio, or overhear someone express how someone else’s actions forced a certain reaction from them.
I hear it all the time in our house of 5 kids. “But s/he made me do it!”
Anytime that phrase “he made me do it” gets thrown out, I can’t help but chuckle. (Not only because my first instinct is always to laugh, but because I remember trying to place blame on someone else too.)
I mean really, who wants to get in trouble for their actions? No one! It’s so much easier to try and pass the buck than to accept responsibility…or is it?
This is another lie that Satan tires to thrown our way.
Taking Responsibility Provides Relief
It may be difficult to accept responsibility, especially when we royally goof up, but it provides a relief too. It forces us to confess and repent, and it takes the weight off our shoulders of hiding what we have done.
Yes, we still have to face the consequences but we can beg and plead for grace. Grace is often extended when we readily admit that we have done wrong and are actually remorseful over it.
It’s when we try to cover up our guilt to save ourselves that we pile on the consequences. We see this as adults and we see this when dealing with children.
I didn’t do it…
As an only child, I often tried to blame spills and messes on my cat. Blaming the cat became a habit that was difficult to break.
One day I accidentally, ran into a potted plant and instead of taking the time to rectify the situation, I just went on with my day and when my mom asked about it, I blamed the cat.
I was quickly caught in the lie because the cat had died a few weeks earlier. So not only did I get in more trouble, but I gave my mother a reason to question my truthfulness.
Losing her trust was more difficult to deal with than picking up the dirt would have been.
Taking Responsibility is Empowering
Teaching responsibility is a lesson we must teach through our examples more so than our words. We know that kids always focus more on what we do than what we say. Gifting the example of putting our pride down and choosing to act right no matter what anyone else does, will bless them throughout their life.
I tell our kids all the time:
No matter how the other person reacts, you get to choose your reaction.
So whenever anyone acts in a horrific way towards us, instead of sinking to that level, we can choose to be kind and remind our kids that Jesus calls us to love everyone no matter how they react towards us.
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
– Jesus, Luke 6:27-28
Isn’t that empowering! It’s exciting to think that our moods and actions are not dictated by someone else. When we teach our kids this, they then can stop thinking they are a marionette puppet in someone else’s puppet show. They can know the truth that their choices have the power to do good in a world full of evil and they do not have to be overcome by it. Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ who through his Spirit can gift us the ability to love those who hate us and try to mistreat us!
Let’s take that stance with our children. It’s our responsibility to teach them to take responsibility for their actions. It takes time, patience, and consistency, but our families and our society will benefit greatly from it. More importantly, our Lord will be glorified because of it!
As we walk this faith journey with our Lord and Savior, he blesses us with perfectly timed encouragement along the way. He knows when our hearts need a little extra nudge, reassuring our faith to trust him to perform the seemingly impossible!
Perfectly Time Encouragement: Praying Luke 1:26-37
The Lord has given us an entire book filled with examples of how he takes care of his people and blesses them in unimaginable ways. Let us dive into the Bible and bolster our faith as we see how the Lord has always provided perfectly timed encouragement.
Your timing, Lord, is perfect!
Why do we doubt that you love us just because things aren’t falling into place the way we believe they should?
It is obvious all throughout Scripture that you have a plan. Your plan is to restore our relationship with you. Everything you do is to bring everyone to that point.
Lord, we praise you for your ways and how they are higher than ours. We don’t always understand them. We don’t even always look beyond ourselves and our desires.
But in your amazing graciousness, you bless us with precious gifts!
At just the right time, after waiting for Elizabeth to be pregnant for 6th months, you then sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, who would be surprised to learn your plans for her.
Everything was perfectly timed so that Mary would be encouraged by what you were about to do with her. You are constantly prepping our faith to grow and be encouraged even through the difficult times.
Oh, Lord, may we take hold of each of these gifts you’ve given us at the perfect time, even if they are gifts that seem more like hardships. The blessing of getting to walk this life with the Creator of the world guiding our steps is an honor.
Let us cherish these blessings like Elizabeth and Mary cherished the miracles you did in their lives!
In the One who shows us that honoring God and his timing may be uncomfortable, but is always worth it – Amen!
Lord, we praise you for never showing favoritism!
You choose to use and favor those who love you. Neither their wealth, social status, nor education qualify them. You qualify them!
You showed favor to a poor girl and used her for an amazing purpose!
She could not even imagine what those words, “You are highly favored. The Lord is with you” meant. But she loved you and even though she was initially taken aback by the greeting, you knew she would be willing to walk the path you had laid out for her.
Lord, we pray as well that we will be ready to be blessed by you. Your blessings do not always come in a pretty bow, but they bless the soul.
The blessing you gave Mary, would cause her to be ridiculed and thought a sinner by those who loved her most, but you walked through those struggles with her and blessed her in ways they could not see.
Let us remember that choosing to follow you is not always an easy road. But the blessing of being favored by you is more important than being favored by the world.
In the One who came to earth as a baby and needed a mother – Amen!
Lord, your checklists are pretty amazing!
From creating the world to planning a way to restore our broken relationship with you, you have always had a detailed plan in place.
And here…here you show us how sometimes you make your plans known to those who are willing to walk in your ways.
Those who are willing to obey you find favor with you.
Mary found favor with you and even though she was startled by the appearance of a heavenly being, your assurance of explaining your plan helped her focus on why Gabriel was there.
Your plans didn’t end with Jesus raising from the dead. You have personally called each one of us to reach out and share with others this amazingly detailed plan.
Jesus will come back one day soon. How we look forward to that day!
Let him find us diligently pointing others to you!
In the One who is the Son of the Most High God and reigns forever – Amen!
How? It’s a question we have all asked you, Lord?
Sometimes we ask out of doubt and sometimes we ask in awe.
Your ways are so much higher than ours ways, yet in your goodness when in awe Mary asks, “How?,” you explain.
Praise you, Lord, for allowing her and us to understand. You knew the entire world would all ask this same question!
How would a baby be born to a virgin?
As believers, we know you make what seems impossible possible, but how?
You point to two things, the Holy Spirit and what you’ve already done with Elizabeth’s barren body, to bolster our faith that the impossible with you is happening again!
Let us be a people of faith, who in awe say “how,” and trust you, as the Creator of it all, to do what is only possible for you to do!
In the only One whose power is great enough to do what seems impossible and bolsters our faith with the Holy Spirit and the truth of your past actions daily – Amen!
Playing Hide and Seek is one of the funnest games for kids. But what if we added a twist and created a game with prayers? A game where others get blessed, but don’t know by whom? This is the Secret Agent Prayer Game!
Praying Like Secret Agents
To explain how to be a prayer secret agent, grab this month’s free Family Time Training Activity called Secret Agent Prayers.
It’s perfectly explains how there is a time and a place for everything and that includes prayer.
Sometimes, we pray publicly where others can hear and sometimes we pray secret agent style!
The Blessing of a Secret Agent Prayer
Knowing that someone has taken the time to pray specifically for you is one of the biggest blessings in life. But keeping that prayer anonymous can be difficult and a LOT of FUN!
First we start with praying about for whom we should pray?
God knows who needs extra blessings and prayers today. So let’s ask Him.
God, you know you needs extra prayers today. Who can I send a prayer to today?
Whomever comes to mind, write a prayer for them.
You can also write a prayer for someone you might see that day or someone who has blessed you!
Here are some ideas:
Other Family Members (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc)
Workers from businesses you frequent
The person who is on the street corner
I had each of our four older kids whisper into my ear who they chose to pray for so that the others wouldn’t know.
Now, write out the secret agent prayers!
Writing out prayers is a wonderful gift both for the writer and the recipient.
Sometimes, asking a child to write out a prayer might make them freeze. If you need, prompt them with your own words or let them copy these words onto their own paper.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”
It’s fantastic if your kids will write it in their own handwriting. It shows an extra level of care that one took the time to personally write the note. But if they can’t write yet, let them color and add their own flair to the written prayer.
This should be something fun and enjoyable, so if writing is a sore spot for kids, then find a way to allow them to personalize it. Maybe, clip out letters out of a magazine and allow them to glue the letters onto a page.
One of our kids, jumped up and down excitedly asking if s/he could include a picture drawing with the prayer. Whatever gets them excited to pray for someone else is great! Let is be as simple or intricate as they are willing to create.
Most importantly, include who it is for BUT do not sign the prayer with your name!
Remember, it’s a secret agent prayer, so they will be blessed without knowing who did it.
Time to Deliver our Secret Agent Prayers
Now, it’s time to put on your secret agent hats and deliver the prayers. This might take some extra thought.
You want to deliver the prayer without the recipient knowing who it’s from. It’s ok if they find out but then it’s not a real secret agent prayer.
How to deliver your secret agent prayers?
Tape a secret agent prayer to a neighbors door or car window.
Send the prayer in the mail.
Slide it inside your friend’s locker at school.
Place it on your teacher’s desk.
Slip it into a book that the person is reading.
Write a prayer on the mirror so others will see it with the shower steam.
Hide it in a lunch box or a cereal box.
What other ways can they think of?
Interestingly enough, a couple of our kids chose to pray for people who we cannot deliver a letter to at the moment. For example, one wanted to pray for a homeless lady s/he gifted something to a couple of years ago. Another wanted to pray for their great-grandmother who has already passed. We talked about how even though we can’t deliver a physical prayer to them, we can still pray to God who will use that prayer for his glory.
Teaching our kids to pray anytime about anything is the most important lesson to gift them!
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18
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Be encouraged by these Family Time Training Activities as well!
As we walk along with God, we must take the time to pray and listen. In doing this, we can understand when to go, even if we don’t understand the why and what for at the exact moment.
A Time to Pray and Listen.
Taking the time to pray and listen to the One who holds our future is so important. He reveals bits and pieces to us along our daily journey. Sometimes, he says, “Just trust me and go.” Other times, he gives us something more tangible.
Early this year, through prayer I knew–KNEW–I was supposed to step out and take on a leadership role in our homeschool community. So I went through the process. I did the interviews and the training. I went through everything.
Misinterpreting the Reason
A few months later, something else happened in our lives and it took me aback a little. Just a little.
Beginning to question what God had called me to step up and do, I remember thinking, “God you specifically told me to step out and do this.” I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was something I had to do, so why now was this other situation happening?
The answer came in the form of a picture. Being a visual person, I see pictures before the words ever come. I saw Phillip talking to the Ethiopian eunuch, baptizing him, and then being whisked away.
You see, I hadn’t missed my calling. But I may have misinterpreted the reason.
I’m still praying on this one, because honestly it still isn’t completely clear what the next step will be. But what I do know is that God has a plan. His plan is not for me to necessarily stay comfortable in the role he has called me to fulfill.
I quickly realized that my job is to trust and follow him wherever he may ask me to go.
With Phillip, God needed him to talk to the Ethiopian eunuch. Once that task was finished, the Holy Spirit whisked him away in what I visualize as a small tornado! LOL! (It doesn’t say that, but that’s what I visualize.)
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Phillip, ‘Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.'”
Look at how specific that is! He had a clear picture of exactly where he was supposed to go. When we take time to pray and listen, we can hear our Lord’s directions.
“So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.
‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”
Did the Lord reveal the whole plan before Philip moved?
Did you notice that the Lord didn’t reveal his whole plan at once but once Philip started obeying and going along, he gave a little more direction?
First, the Lord told him to go south on the desert road. So Philip started going down that road.
Then, the Lord told him to go hang out next to the chariot. Boom! Once he was given more specific direction, Philip didn’t waste anytime.He ran!
Then, he waited! He waited for an invitation from the Ethiopian eunuch to share about Jesus.
“Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reach Caesarea.”
Walk in Trust and not in Details
Sometimes we want to know the whole plan before we get moving, but that is when we need to walk in trust and not the details. It’s not a bad thing to ask God, do we go now or wait, but in order to do that we have to pray and listen. And once we have an answer we must start walking.
We cannot let our comfortableness in a situation keep us there. We must be willing to go about our Lord’s work, just like Philip was. God literally whisked him away the moment he accomplished what he needed to do with the eunuch.
Are We Willing to be Whisked Away?
This is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. Am I willing to be whisked away or am I so comfortable where God has placed me at the moment, that I’m willing to fight him to stay comfortable?
I think it is ironic that in the above situation, I hunkered down in what I thought he had called me to do, not realizing that maybe he just needed me there for a briefer reason than I initially realized. Maybe, God has a bigger plan than I can’t see. Maybe, just maybe, I was focusing on harvesting when he was only asking me to water.
But here’s the thing: As of yet I don’t know His timing and when He will call me away from it, so I will continue to walk in obedience until he points me otherwise.
How will I know? By taking the time to pray and listen.
Friend, I encourage you to take time to do the same.
Thy will be done. Saying those words produces strong feelings in me. What about you? Are the words comforting? Do they make you ready to run? For me, it is both comforting and alarming. It makes me wonder what is about to happen, but also gets me excited to see what God is going to do.
Thy Will Be Done: How can this be both comforting and alarming?
From my own personal life experience, I’ve learned that when God calls, He typically starts to lead me in a way that changes my world and throws me out of my comfort zone. I’ve always considered myself a risk taker BUT God’s idea of risk is much greater than mine and yet, it is the safest thing of all. Because His ways are not our ways, He calls us to something more than this world has to offer. There have been many times that He has called me away from my wants and desires even when I thought they were based on His leading.
Fighting God’s Will in South America
I’ve seen God test my willingness to follow His lead. Maybe in actuality, I was the one testing God to see if I could conform His ways to my will instead of the other way around.
As a freshman in college, I was preparing to go on my first official mission trip. Every week our group of 4 people would meet for training and learn how to encourage open conversation and plant seeds of hope in the lives of others. We were raising funds and praying over the location we were destined to go. Four months into raising funds, we learned that our plans were being changed. Now instead of going to Argentina, which was the ONLY place I agreed to go to in South America, we were told we would be going to a town in Venezuela that was 90 miles from the Colombian border.
I pitched a fit or maybe more truthfully, I refused to go. I went to the office and stated how we had planned to go to Argentina. This was the only country I felt comfortable going to and we needed to get back to that place instead of wherever they were now sending us. I didn’t pray for understanding or for God to soften my heart on this. Instead, I dug my feet in and tried to fight to go to where I felt comfortable. God had different plans.
His ways are not our ways.
God knew I would never willingly choose to go to Venezuela, but He put me on a mission team destined for that very place–a place I soon fell in love with. I came to love Venezuela and it’s people so much that I returned the following summer.
God had big plans. He had been using teams for years to plant seeds in the hearts of people in Merida, Venezuela. That summer, we were able to continue planting seeds, as well as witnessing several dedicating their lives to Christ. It was thrilling! I got to see Jesus alive and well in the hearts of fellow brothers and sisters. The passion for Jesus was contagious and I came back living more impassioned for Christ than I ever had before.
Fighting God’s will in America
Years later, after my husband and I had “settled” into our cozy suburban neighborhood and started our family, God once again decided to change our lives. Looking back now, He called us to something earlier, but we were just to caught up in what we wanted to truly listen to what He wanted.
When we started changing how we prayed and asked God to lead us instead of just blessing whatever plan we had, He took our lives in a completely different direction. I’ve mentioned it before so I won’t go into details again but I will say that it was this time that God took us away from many of our physical “treasures.” He asked us to treasure Him more than our things. My perspective has definitely changed. Now, I look around at the things we own and feel as though I am ready to walk away from it all, if that is what God calls us to do.
Between Venezuela and many other times when I decided to fight God’s will (did I mention I’m stubborn?), I realized something about myself:
I was determined to love God with all my heart and serve him with all I had, as long as I was comfortable.
It felt like I’d been sucker punched the moment I realized this truth. God doesn’t want to live in our confined boxes and He definitely doesn’t want us to. We can’t experience God’s amazing ways when we aren’t willing to walk in His splendor.
Lord teach us…
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
– Psalm 143:10
Will their be times of pain and discomfort?
YES! We can see this truth throughout the Bible. Every single person who followed God’s leading in their life had some form of discomfort. Why would we think that our lives should be any different? Do we really think that we deserve the nice house, the nice cars and all are nice things? Are we willing to give them up if called? If we struggle with answering “yes” to this question, then we may be finding ourselves only living for God as long as we are comfortable. This is a very dangerous place to be. It’s a place that Satan can work to encourage us never to leave.
(Now, am I not saying just because we have a nice house, a nice car, and nice things that we are not living for God? NOT AT ALL! But I am saying if we are putting those things before Christ, even if we don’t realize it, then we really need to question, if we are living for God or living for ourselves?)
We do not need to be afraid of any pain or discomfort that will come when we are walking in God’s will! God will give us a perfect peace when we follow Him.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.