Letters On Pursuing the Intentional Life (part 1)

Our dear friend Trisha recommended us a book that I read with much gusto. Jean Fleming’s words are exactly what I needed in this season of my life.

And because we are on the same season, but in totally different circumstances, my friends, Trisha, Melissa, and I thought that it would be wonderful to write each other letters to converse about this book.

Would you like to join us? Please, go ahead and read Trisha’s introduction and first letter here.

 

Becky

Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Nine

Thank you, Friends, for coming again to our weekly meeting to discuss the book, We Never Stop Being Parents.

This week it is an honor and a great joy to introduce you to my friend Angel Warner. We met a few years ago when we left our sons in College, and we can honestly say that our sons have been blessed by this family. The Lord has given them grace to raise godly children and many of us are now enjoying the blessings of their hard labor. God is good!

Thank you, Angel.

****************

Chapter Nine.

Our Dreams, Their Dreams, though unsure of the source, I have often heard it said that the most important decision after choosing to serve God with one’s life is the answer to the question: Alongside whom shall I serve Him? 

For parents, even of children who have been given grace to rightly choose God as their master, the potential answer to the second question can be the source of much concern, and rightly so. As married people themselves, parents know firsthand the pitfalls of being joined into one flesh with another sinner. Moreover, married couples are joined to new families who are likewise comprised of sinners. The potential for conflict and trouble grows exponentially, but so do the opportunities for all involved to grow in wisdom, maturity, humility and grace. In chapter nine, the authors do a wonderful job of demonstrating some of the ways in which parents can fall off the rails if they are not seeking to guide their adult children by biblical principles. Deferring to preference when our children are selecting life mates has the potential of doing serious and long-lasting damage to our relationships. But, as in all stages of parenting, we have God’s Word to guide us toward prudence.

As has been pointed out in the other chapters we’ve read so far, our relationship with our adult children must shift from authority to counselor. The same holds true as our young adults select spouses. Because we want the best for our children, Christian parents begin praying early that God will be preparing godly spouses for them. As we pray, we naturally begin to envision the ideal characteristics we’d like to see in our future sons and daughters-in-law. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. The problem comes when we create idols: phantom men and women who will be members of our particular church, children of our dearest friends, skilled and witty conversationalists, gifted musicians or artists, on it goes, even down to physical features. As the authors so wisely point out, the problem is that these are our daydreams, and our children have no biblical obligation to make our dreams come true. For parents to try to impose such an obligation where none exists is to usurp the authority that belongs to the Lord as the sovereign over our lives and those of our children. In some Christian circles, fathers have been taught that they are the supreme authority even over their children’s marital choices. It is true that, for a season and to illustrate heavenly realities, fathers act as prophets, priests, and kings in their homes. However, this temporary authority is designed to help fathers point their children to the Lord who is the true Sovereign. Fathers who can see themselves and this temporary authority rightly should delight in relinquishing their adult sons and daughters into the care of a King whose judgments, mercy, and leading are without error. Thereafter, parents must trust their children and all their decisions into His care. Our dreams are not as important as God’s will. 

We have been through this process four times now, and I can say without reservation that it can be challenging. We have one son-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and one daughter-in-law to be. We dearly love each one of them, but we have had to confront our pre-conceived notions each time. I have to admit that this was most pronounced with our daughter, not because of her choice, but simply because she was a daughter. We had taught her (and all her brothers) the principles of biblical roles in marriage and male headship. It is one emotional milestone to marry off a son; it is quite another to walk one’s baby girl down the aisle and place her into the care of another man who will become her head. My husband and I found that it required us to exercise a new level of trust in the Lord’s care for our daughter. In contrast, when sons marry, there is something very humbling about watching the father of a young woman walk down the aisle and place his baby girl into the care of your son. This has been a summons for us to pray fervently that our sons will be godly, merciful, tender, strong, and faithful servant-leaders who will love these women who have been entrusted to them. In either circumstance, trusting God to lead our adult children in our stead is both freeing and sanctifying. Our children are called to their own journeys and their own struggles. They may choose spouses who surprise us. They may handle their trials in ways that we would not. Yet, if we truly believe that God is sovereign, we can trust that God is using these things to mature them in grace. We have seen this at work in the lives of our married children and have been amazed at the refinement that is being produced through trial. Likewise, we can see how God has used our relationships with our married children and their spouses to refine our own growth in grace.

One thing I most appreciated about this chapter was the continual exhortation to exercise love, even if we are disappointed in our children’s choices. It is so easy to be critical and narrow in our definition of who warrants our love. The biblical principle, however, is that we are to exercise love toward others—no qualifiers. There are times when adult children may enter into relationships that go beyond mere preferences crossing the line into sin. In the section “We Are Free to Love and Welcome”, the author states:

“By remembering the gospel message, that we are both sinful and flawed yet loved and welcomed, we can welcome this uninvited visitor warmly. When you keep the doors open, you’re helping your own cause because the uninvited visitor will view you as a friend and perhaps even a counselor. No one wants to take counsel from someone who really doesn’t like them. If you openly welcome your child’s new friend, you will remove the pressure of disapproval, and your child may then actually invite your counsel.” (p. 144)

Of course, there is a distinction between loving a sinner and enabling sin. True love does not make provision for the practice of sin. I believe this makes the author’s point above more poignant. It’s a fine line to walk, but when we are warm and loving, our children are more likely to be understanding of our refusal to facilitate immorality. Here again, obedience to the biblical principles, in this case exercising love and upholding righteousness, may not be easy, but God plainly tells us that He will bless faithfulness to His commands. Thus we have another opportunity to take Him at His word and show our children that our faith is genuine.

Finally, after reading this chapter, I found myself reflecting on two underlying theological aspects of the larger discussion. The first is indicated in the initial illustration about the father who refused to embrace his daughter’s romantic choice simply because the young man held doctrinal positions that were different than his own. While his reaction was extreme, if most of us were honest, we’d probably have to admit to this same type of bias in our own hearts. Of course, we would prefer that our children marry people who embrace our theological leanings. It certainly would make for fewer potential landmines in table conversations. Yet, to look askance at someone who does not is evidence that we are not discerning the body of Christ as we should. His church is much larger than our particular segment of the Christian faith, and we should embrace opportunities to exercise grace toward our Christian brothers and sisters. How much more so when they are part of our own families?

The other theological principle is that of generational faithfulness. If we truly believe that we and our descendants are in a covenant relationship with God, then we ought to be thinking in terms of how we are part of God’s plan to pass on the truths of the covenant to future generations. There is simply no way we can be part of this plan if we jeopardize our influence by ungracious behavior toward the parents of our grandchildren. Any hard-heartedness on our part will prohibit our witness. We must earn the right to be heard; we must demonstrate that we can be trusted; we must humble ourselves taking on the attitude of servant-hood to our adult children, loving them and showing them respect. Only then can our message convey a sincere love for our Lord and His covenant.

May our Lord help us to live with grace as we seek to be a blessing to the next generation.

Angel Warner

****************
Angel Warner is married to her best friend, David. They are parents of eleven (7 by birth, three by marriage, and one by engagement). Their greatest earthly delight is their family, which now also includes a grand-daughter, their first grandchild. More than anything, Angel lives in wonder and gratitude for the continual faithfulness, love, and mercy of the Father. She, her husband, and youngest daughter live in beautiful Geneva, Illinois, and are in the process of restoring a 1927 home—their third historic restoration project.

Embracing Technology with Some Family Rules -by Julie Etter-

Last week my dear friend Wendy shared with us her family technology policy, and today I am grateful that my friend Julie Etter is willing to share with us how she and her husband are managing technology issues in their family. It is certainly a blessing to have more than one advice on this matter. Technology, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, blogs, all these are issues that concern all of us, and we must have a plan to safeward our families.

Our family has struggled a bit with what to do with technology. We have been encouraged by many to throw it all out, and others have said just embrace it, we live in the technology age. While we love the idea of the simple life and living without all of the distraction, the simple truth is, we enjoy technology. Not only do we enjoy it, but we do live in a technology age.  There are three main reasons that we have chosen to responsibly embrace technology: 1. Since we live in a technology age, our children need to learn how to use it in a responsible and God-honoring way. 2. We believe technology is not different than any other past time that can be overused. It really boils down to self-control and we desire to train our children (and ourselves) in using self control in what seems to be the latest craze. 3. We aim to not have “extreme” reactions to things that are not biblically mandated.
We live in a time where technology seems necessary. Even our Amish neighbors seem to find this to ring true. We see them with phones in their barns, carrying around cell phones, hiring others to drive them places, etc. I cannot make a trip to the library without seeing an Amish person on the computer. Simply put, our children are going to need to use technology. We desire to be the ones to train them in the proper use of it. We want to set standards and goals before they leave our home to discover them on their own.
I always find it ironic that a parent has completely banned technology because “it is so addicting”. However, their children will spend the whole day shut up in a room, without fellowship, reading a book, drawing, or anything else you can imagine. Now, do not get me wrong, I realize these things are a bit different than wasting brain cells on a video game, but there are still a couple of core issues that stand true: 1. They have shut themselves off from the family. 2. They lack the self control to stop when it is time, and find fellowship with others.
I am blessed to be married to a man who finds danger in the “pendulum swing”. What I mean by this is it is always concerning to see someone swing from one extreme to another. You almost always see alarming results from this action. His favorite teaching on this came from a seminary professor who encouraged his students to “remain at the center of Biblical tension”. Unless scripture is clear, it is best to not jump on extreme bandwagons. In our many years of working with families, we have seen many children rebel after being raised in extremes that are not mandated in scripture. To pretend technology does not exist, would be quite dangerous to a young adult who leaves the home to find it everywhere and they have never learned how to use it responsibly.
Therefore, for the reasons listed above, we embrace technology. However, there is a need for rules. We find that these rules have to be changed from time to time as the children mature and as they deal with different sin issues. After each school break, we find the need to tighten the belt again. Here you will find our latest list of requirements for technology with our children. Please know that these rules fit the needs of our children and are not meant to be taken as law by others. Also, we believe in grace. If you see us making allowances, it may simply mean our children earned some extra grace that week.
  1. Television is limited to weekends for school aged children. Exceptions will be made if the parents desire to watch a family show/movie with the children and all chores and homework are done.
  2. Preschool aged children may watch television/movie once per day at the mother’s discretion.
  3. All electronic equipment stays on the table unless it is being used for school. After schoolwork is done, it may be used, but must come back to the table by 7:00 pm for pre-school aged children and 8:00pm for school aged children.
  4. You may SKYPE, with permission, with friends that have been approved. SKYPE hours most be within appropriate time range of our time zones, not those whom you are trying to SKYPE. Exceptions to the time of day may be made on Friday nights.
  5. Email may be checked in the morning and evening.
  6. Facebook maybe used after all schoolwork and chores are completed. You are allowed 15 minutes.
  7. There are to be no accounts which the parents do not have access to and the parents have the right to check them. Remember, even in the work place, nothing done on work email or computers is private. This is a lesson you need to learn and for your protection.
  8. At the parent’s discretion, we will have a “technology ban”. We will “pull the plug” on all technology that is not work or school related for 1 month in order to be sure we are connecting as a family and our priorities are appropriate.
  9. Each child is required to meet with your mother to develop a list of things to do which are productive and do not involve technology. As with your technology, these activities should not take the place of your time with God and building relationships with those in your family.

Again, I find the need to change these every few months as our families needs a sins change. 

***************************

Bruce and Julie have a beautiful family, with 5 precious children. They have a love for teaching, (and yes, they both are some of the best teachers at VPSA!) they love spending time with their church community, spend lots of time chasing after the little ones, and driving the older ones around to all of their commitments. Bruce and Julie are very special friends to my husband and I, we love them very much!

And again I ask, What are some of the ideas your own family is using to set technology boundaries? How are you setting limits in your home regarding all things related to technology? How do you set limits for yourself?

Learning with you,

 

Becky

>From Melissa’s Kitchen to Yours – Fresh Yogurt Popsicle with Fresh Fruit-

>My friend Melissa shares with us a summer recipe that will sure make our summer days brighter!

Katie Lloyd Photography

 

The alarm clock rests silently. School clothes give way to bathing suits. Sunlit evenings stretch before us. Summer has finally arrived. A recent stretch of brutally hot weather brings to mind my own childhood summers. Long days of playing until lightning bugs began to speckle the twilight sky. Drawing hopscotch boards on the pavement with the sharp edge of a rock, dancing under the water hose, and riding bikes to the store down the street. And the counting down of days until the ice cream truck would make its weekly appearance in the neighborhood. The colorful truck was full of enough sticky, sugary concoctions to tempt any child’s palate.

We don’t see the ice cream truck around here anymore. What I do see these days are grocery store aisles of frozen treats filled with sugar and preservatives. My family – your family – deserves better. I found this basic popsicle recipe online, and use it all the time. Homemade popsicles are simple and delicious. Best of all, they are packed with nutrition.

The basic recipe:

2 cups vanilla yogurt (or plain with a tsp. of vanilla extract)
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit of choice (or any combination)
1 Tbsp. honey

Blend well (I use an immersion blender, but a regular blender or food processor would also work great) and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

This recipe is adaptable for any taste. So far, we’ve tried strawberry, blueberry*, and strawberry/banana. Each flavor has been a hit. Up next – peach.

*I would recommend blending the blueberries alone before adding the yogurt and honey. The skins need to be broken down quite a bit.

Thank you, Melissa, this is already making my mouth water!

Becky

Do you like today’s image? You can buy it here.

>From Christina’s Kitchen to Yours – Amaretto Cake –

>Today my dear friend Christina Lum, shares with us her wonderful recipe for Amaretto cake. Can you just imagine that? Perfect for a nice dinner this summer, what do you think?

Thank you, my dear friend for your generosity!

Amaretto Cake

350º F (180ºC) 1 hour (ovens vary)
Christina’s oven 325 º for 45 minutes.

1 box cake mix (yellow or butter)
1 small instant vanilla pudding cake
4 eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
½ cup Amaretto (Disaronno)
1 cup chopped almonds (slivered work too)

Combine ingredients well and pour in well greased and lightly floured bundt pan.

 

Glaze
¼ cup butter
½ cup water
¾ cup sugar
4 Tablespoons Amaretto (I always put more)

When cake is finished baking, before removing from pan, poke holes in top and pour ½ of glaze in the holes with a spoon. Then turn over onto a cake platter to remove from pan and repeat process of poking holes and putting in the glaze.

 

Note: Keep in an airtight cake pan for a few days before serving. The glaze should make the cake very moist — that’s what you want! Oh, it’s sooo good!

 

Enjoy,
Christina

p.s. This cake is a welcoming birthday and Christmas gift. I usually give it in a glass cake pan and tie it with a beautiful ribbon!

And just so you know… Christina recently won the latest giveaway we had for our facebook friends of Doctrines in the Kitchen; she is now enjoying The Pioneer Woman Cookbook! Please, give her a handclap! 🙂 (hey, be sure you “like” us on fb too!)

Thank you Christina, I am blessed to call you, my friend!

Becky

 

*Have you interceded for your husband today? Let our prayers for our husbands by a constant in our lives. (Read the post and enter the giveaway here)

*Do you have a summer recipe that you would like to share with us? Email it to me at: dailyonmywaytoheaven@yahoo.com

>From Christina’s Kitchen to Yours -Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting-

>Summer is a good time to try new recipes. So I will be sharing with you every week a recipe from the kitchen of some of my friends.

This week Christina shares with us her recipe for Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese topping.

 

This is, hands down, the moistest Red Velvet cake recipe I’ve ever made. I discovered this recipe, adapted from the New York Times Heritage Cook Book, a few years ago on a blog called Pinch my Salt. I’ve done it a few times and my only variations, if you will, are that I use shortening (as the original recipe calls for) instead of butter.

 

Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (Sift once before sifting again as per directions below with other dry ingredients)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk @ room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder and set aside.
3. In a large bowl (using a hand mixer or stand mixer) beat butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.
5. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk.
6. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then the second half of buttermilk.
7. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
8. Make sure you have cake pans buttered, floured, and nearby.
9. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Add cake batter and stir well to combine.
10. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven.
11. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
12. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.
13. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
14. Remove the cakes from the pan.
15. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting (I like to double the ingredients below & add a little more confectioners sugar to make it extra sweet!)

16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages) softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick) softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
sifted
pinch of salt

1. Blend cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth.
2. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in confectioners sugar, salt and vanilla extract.
3. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy.

Thank you, Christina!

May your day be sweet, dear friends!

Becky

Would you like to share a recipe with us this summer?
Contact me at dailyonmywaytoheaven@yahoo.com