Christians and Viral Stories: A Caution

lakewood-church-flooding

Photo courtesy of Lakewood Church

Last night we had a prayer service at our church for Houston. When I got there, my friend Anna said, “You know we are praying for Houston tonight, right?” However, what I heard her say was, “You know we are praying for Osteen tonight, right?”

We laughed… but, yes. I prayed for him too.

I do not agree with much of what he preaches, but I still do not understand why some Christians will share information that attempts to discredit other Christians. By calling out Christians as hypocrites, especially in a false news story, you damage the good that other Christians are trying to do.

Common sense should have told many people that there was much more to the story than a big-time Pastor not opening up his church doors to people in need. If people would have paused for a moment, instead of immediately clicking “share”, perhaps people would have logically considered other reasons the church may not have been immediately opened as a shelter – instead of jumping on the “he’s such a hypocrite” train.

A rule of thumb I use for any viral news thread… wait 24 hours before sharing – if it is even worth sharing by that point. I check the credibility of the sources, consider their motives, and I do my best to cross-reference the information. This gives time for the real story to come out and facts that may have been missed, skipped, or altogether left out of “news” stories in an attempt to bash or discredit someone.

The reality in this situation is:

  1. With a history of their building flooding, Lakewood had online services on Sundayand cancelled classes all weekend, so as not to endanger people with the flooding that was expected to affect their building and the safety of people traveling to and from the church.
  2. Lakewood had flood damage. How can you house people when the building may not be accessible or safe?
  3. By the time the story went viral, Lakewood had not yet been asked to provide shelter from the City of Houston. Rather, they were asked to point people to other shelters that were smaller and more manageable.
  4. Lakewood had already partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to do what they could to help flood victims.
  5. As soon as they were asked by the City of Houston, Lakewood opened up as an emergency shelter.

Friends, let’s be cautious of viral news stories and how we share them. Let’s give a little more time for the stories to flush out and the truth to be told. Often times a story will end very differently than where the story began.

The Chores are Working!

ListJust having moved (again), I decided it was a great time to start a new routine with our kids. Enter… new chore charts and cleaning bins. I scoured Pinterest for something I thought would work for our family and combined a few different ideas. We told the kids that helping out around the house is just part of what we do as a family. And, since they are part of the family, they need to be part of the solution to keep our house tidy as well. The kids are not earning money for these chores, however, they can earn money for additional chores.

Each day our kids have standard chores to do around the house and then most days of the week they have a “weekly” chore. When I was describing this idea to a friend, she told me, “It’s just SO much work trying to teach the kids how to do all of this. It’s easier if I just do it myself.” YES! In the short term, it is easier and quicker to do this  yourself.

However, two things jump out at me… 1) We are trying to raise our kids to be responsible adults and live independently from us. I don’t think there’s an official age for this to start, but there comes a time when the kids need to learn responsibility and take ownership. For us, this started awhile ago and continues with this new routine. 2) Cleaning the bathroom may be quicker to do on your own initially; but as you teach your kids how to do clean for themselves, you can actually save a lot of your time in the long run.

So… what are we doing?

BinsOur daily chores consist of their morning routine (making their beds, getting dressed, brushing hair and teeth, etc), feeding the dogs, unloading the dishwasher, picking up their room, and their evening routine of getting ready for bed. Their weekly chores range from taking out the trash, sweeping/vacuuming, cleaning their rooms (which includes changing their own sheets and doing their own laundry), helping to clean the kitchen and bathrooms, and helping me cook dinner.

The first week it took me a LONG time to help them learn how to effectively clean certain areas – like the bathroom and kitchen, and helping our 7 year old learn how to do his own stinky laundry. However, now that we are in week 3, most of these are done with very little help from me. To do this, I also created cleaning bins that have everything we need to clean that specific room. They are filled with cleaners, washcloths, microfiber cloths, paper towels, dust pan and small broom, magic erasers, and dust and mop pads. And to boot, these bins come with a check list of how to clean each particular room. It’s awesome. I love it! And, best of all… IT’S WORKING!

I wanted to wait until we were on Week 3 before posting these ideas. It always seems easy enough in our house to do something for a week. But, when we can establish a routine LONGER than a week and keep it up consistently, that’s when I know I’ve found something good! OH! And I found this awesome mop on Amazon. No chemicals needed and it cleans incredible. Just make sure when you use the wet mop that you get it fully wet and then rinse in your sink! No buckets needed!

Well, since today is bedroom day, I’m off to go clean mine now, while the kids finish tackling theirs! Two loads of laundry already going and all I did was help my son pour the Scent Booster… cause when you have a 7 year old boy, you NEED a Scent Booster!

Q. Do you have a chore routine in your house. If so, what do you do?

30 Day Wife Challenge

bridal-636018_1280While researching topics of marriage for our new book, I ran into this blog post, 30 Days to A Better Wife. While we have already implemented some of the writer’s suggestions, the post got me thinking.

What if, for the month of September, I led a 30 Day Wife Challenge?

Our marriages should be one of the most important relationships in our lives. However, we often spend very little time nurturing and investing in this relationship. I understand how it happens. Life gets busy!

Many of us work non-stop, whether we work outside the home or inside the home. If you are a mama, you are on call 24/7. Baby’s need diaper changes, children skip nap times, dinners don’t cook themselves, children need to be fed… non-stop… all day long… errands need to be run, households need to be managed, and toilets need to be scrubbed (sometimes daily when you have a young son learning how to use the toilet properly) – can I get an AMEN??

By the time it is bedtime, we are D.O.N.E., sometimes just barely holding on, unable to give just.one.more.thing.

Unfortunately, in these exhaustion-filled days, we have the tendency to unintentionally put off investing in our marriages. We assume the next day, the next week, the next year, we will have more time. Date night? Hmm… how about next week? And when next week rolls around, date night has been overtaken by something else… something that must have been important, but you can’t even remember what that something was anymore.

Friends, time is the one commodity we can never gain more of! So, if we want a love&respect-filled marriage, we must make our marriage a priority. So, why not in the chaos of today – we start now!!

Whether your marriage is struggling or thriving, this challenge is for YOU! If you believe that one intentional act of love, each day for 30 days can change or improve your marriage, come join me HERE! Each day for the month of September, I will be sharing one tangible act of love to remind our husbands how much we appreciate and love him!

Click here to join our 30 Day Wife Challenge!

20 Ideas to Help Children Have Happy Dreams

laugh-417268_1280Every night as we tuck our children into bed, we give them a happy thought.

This started when our children began to have bad dreams and became afraid to go to sleep. Our assurances and the night lights didn’t seem to help, so we started to give them something happy to think about to send them off into dreamland. While we’ve been doing this for at least 6 months, and they’ve worked so well for us, that we thought we’d share them with you too ! (These are also really great conversation starters for dinner time!)

  1. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you do together?
  2. If you could make your own movie, what would it be about, and who would be in it?
  3. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?
  4. If you were to build a boat, how would you make it, and where would you take it?
  5. If you created your own park, what would it look like?
  6. If you were asked to be on TV, what show would you want to be on, and what role would you play?
  7. If you could have any super power, what would it be, and what would you do with it?
  8. If you could plan our next vacation, where would we go and what would we do?
  9. If you created your own candy village, what would it look like?
  10. If you were in charge of school, what would you do all day?
  11. If you could have been in The Lego Movie, what character would you play?
  12. If you could be any animal in the ocean, what would it be?
  13. If you were a cartoon character, what would you look like?
  14. If you could create a brand new animal, what would it look like, where would it live, and what would be special about it?
  15. If you could do anything tomorrow, what would it be?
  16. If you were to build your own house, what special parts would you put in it?
  17. If you could give any gift in the world to one person, what would you give, and who would you give it to?
  18. If you were to create a robot, what would the robot look like, and what would the robot do for you?
  19. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  20. If you could fly to the moon, how would you get there if you couldn’t take a rocket ship?

One thing I LOVE about these happy thoughts is that every morning at breakfast, I try to remind the kids about what they started dreaming about before they went to bed. We have some of the best and some of the oddest conversations about their ideas. But, we learn a little bit more about how their brains work, what is important to them, and how we can better love them. These conversations are priceless!

Q. Comment below! What other conversation starter ideas do you have?

5 Simple Ways to Pray for the Hurting

The Christmas season is both beautiful and so incredibly difficult for so many people. Many families might be welcoming a new child via birth or adoption or in-loves through marriages, while others are just trying to get through the holiday season as they grieve the loss of someone special through divorces, failed adoptions, or death.

As we rejoice with those who rejoice this Christmas, let us not forget to mourn with those who mourn. Here are 5 simple ways we can pray for our loved ones who are hurting over the next few days.

boy praying1) Pray for their feelings of anticipation. 

Wondering what Christmas Eve may or may not feel like when one less stocking is hung by the chimney with care, or what it may feel like to wake up Christmas day without a loved one seated at the table, is excruciatingly painful. What you may not realize is that your loved ones have probably been struggling with these feelings of anticipation on, or even before Thanksgiving ever hit.

2) Pray for peace.

When one is grieving it can often feel as though the world is moving around you, while you stand still. The holiday seasons (especially the first) without a loved one is SO difficult, with rapidly changing emotions from despair to panic to stress to anger and everything in between. To find peace in the middle of this emotional chaos is often so difficult.

3) Pray for ALL members of the family. 

Often times some family members will get overlooked during times of grief. A child who may not be able to verbalize their pain. A spouse who doesn’t want to talk about what happened. A parent who is still struggling with the shock of their loss. If you know of a family who is hurting, pray for each family member by name.

4) Pray against Satan attacking your loved one’s weaknesses.

When one is grieving, it is very easy during the Christmas season to look around at what everyone else has and end up in a spiral of emotions.

5) Pray for courage and strength to continue taking one day at a time.

Grief is unpredictable and there is no one way to go through it. Sometimes we must take one day, and sometimes – one hour at a time. Christmas day will likely be one of those one-hour-at-a-time kind of days. As you spend time with your family and friends on Christmas day, take time to pause and pray for others you know who are hurting!

And friends, let me tell you, prayer is AMAZING and your family and friends who are hurting, so desperately need this right now. But, please don’t stop there. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, send a message or pick up the phone and call someone going through a tough situation and let them know you are praying for them. Please don’t feel like you are reminding them of their loss. They are already thinking about it… every hour of every day. Reaching out will mean the world to them as you remember their family and hold them close in your thoughts and prayers!