Category Archives: Colette’s posts

Can I Raise My Child to Choose Jesus?

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.com[blockquote cite=”Proverbs 22:6″ type=”center”]”Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” [/blockquote]

This verse is one that Christian parents hang on to with everything they have while raising children.  I know I did.  All three times, from the moment I knew that I was going to be a mom, I began to pray that my child would grow to be all that God would have him to be…that God would bring him to a complete understanding and acceptance of Jesus and that he would follow the principles of God every day of his life. If there was a way to ensure my child’s salvation I was determined to find it and do it no matter what. Who wouldn’t.  Is there a way to make sure our kids choose Jesus?

I know many people who were raised in Christian homes and yet DIDN’T choose Jesus.  I watched it happen too many times to count. Recently a mother of a rebellious teen asked me, “Doesn’t the Bible say that if we train our children in the ways of God then they won’t turn away?  Isn’t there a promise that says when they are old that they will come back to the Lord?”  After examining Scripture I am certain that this verse does NOT mean what many people think it means.  It can’t.  Even Solomon, who wrote Proverbs 22:6  had a son named Rehoboam who turned from the LORD.  Rehoboams last 17 years is explained like this “..he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” 2 Chronicles 12:14.

Godly training is extremely important. I believe that what Proverbs 22:6 means is that all the training a parent puts into their child will never leave him.  And, he will never leave the training; It will always be a part of him. Parents can’t accept Jesus FOR their children or make Godly decisions FOR them.  But they do have the privilege of showing Jesus to them in hopes that they will follow Him. Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Pastor, Jim Cymbala, has a daughter who walked away from her faith and her family.  After several years of living in sin, she laid in her bed unable to sleep, listening to NYC traffic in the middle of the night.  The Holy Spirit brought to mind what she had been taught.  She wept as she remembered the Godly songs and Scripture that had been poured into her.She gave her life to Jesus that night and reconciled with her parents that very day.  Thank God she couldn’t depart from the training of her parents!

I recently asked several people who never left their faith WHY they chose to be faithful to what they were taught in their Christian homes. I really enjoyed reading their answers.  Their words are filled with wisdom, especially for those who are raising children.  It is clear that Godly training led them to genuine faith in Jesus. This is what they wrote.

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I am a 4th generation Christian. I was raised by parents who taught me right from wrong, how to pray, how to love God, how to be obedient, and so many good things. They showed me what real Christianity looks like…what a real Christian is.  I was saved and baptized at an early age.  I never had a desire to leave my faith. I really believe that what I was taught was truth.  I didn’t stray because I love God.”  Janel, age 21

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I am a 2nd generation Christian. I was raised in a home where my parents taught me a lot of good things.  We worked and played hard but Jesus always came first.  I have been around church and Christians my whole life and I’ve never heard of one single person that has regretted living for God.  Quite the opposite.  Many people who look back on their lives have an overwhelming regret that they wasted time and didn’t spend time on things that affect eternity.  I am thankful that I learned the Bible and grew up with Believers.  I’ve had to face some very tough times and without God and my church family I couldn’t have gotten through. I see things differently when I think about the truth of eternity.”  Brett, age 31

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I am a 3rd generation Christian although I can trace Christianity in my family a lot farther back than that.  Why didn’t I leave my faith when I was old enough?  I saw an amazing, positive, genuine Christianity lived out in my parents lives.  They were not perfect, but they were real Christians.  They never spoke bad of others in our church, they loved being at church and they lived the same way at home as out of the home.  They told me how happy they were that Jesus saved them and lived that way….grateful for Jesus.  When I was old enough to make the choice: is my parents God going to be my God?  Well, it wasn’t a choice at all.  I wanted God and all that came with that.  I’ve never, ever regretted my decision.  Sue, age 51

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I am a 2nd generation Christian. Honestly, what kept me choosing Jesus is that my parents practiced what they preached.  How they acted at church was how they acted at home.  I watched them filter everything through the Bible and do their best to please God.  They were happy and fun and didn’t make following Jesus look like a chore or a list of  “don’ts”  They thanked and praised God for everything.   I wanted God for myself and to live for God the way that they did.”  Brie, age 34

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“I am a 3rd generation Christian. From as young as I can remember I was taught about Jesus. I learned who He is and about relationship with Him. If I chose one reason that I stayed faithful to God and Christianity I would have to link it back to the way Jesus was introduced to me.  It wasn’t about attending church… it was because I was taught and then understood about having a relationship with Jesus. About what He did for us so He could be with us.”  Matt, age 31

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“I am a 3rd generation Christian.  The reason I stayed faithful to God and how I was raised was because I was shown true Christianity.  Although I made some mistakes and poor choices I learned from them.  I learned that what I was taught is truth.  I was taught to hate sin and love grace; that all sin will eventually lead to destruction and that Gods grace is a gift to me.   I had to experience it as a young adult to really believe it for myself.  I am thankful that I was raised in a Christian home.  I am even more thankful for my salvation.”  Jake, age 29

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“I am a 4th generation Christian. Why didn’t I walk away from Christianity like some people do? My parents stressed the importance of having a relationship with Jesus and they lived it out in their own lives.  They didn’t have extreme rules or man made standards for my brothers and I.  They, along with so many Christians, modeled the love of Christ to me.  Because of that I want to go to church and  grow in my relationship with God.”  Kyle, age 26

“I am a 3rd generation Christian.  My parents taught me to put Christ first in everything, how every decision I make should reflect what God wants and to love others like Christ does.  They modeled this for me.  They encouraged me to learn from the positive and negative examples of others. I didn’t walk away from my faith because I realized that Gods commands are there for my protection and because He loves me.  My faith in God became my own. I want to please the Lord with my life because of all that He has done for me.”  Kaitlin, age 26

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“I am a 3rd generation Christian.  Why didn’t I walk away from my faith? My parents taught me true Christianity.  To love God and to compassionately love people.  My parents had good balance with rules in my life and they lived by the same rules. I desired the Jesus that my parents pointed me to.  He was real to them and I wanted that in my life.”  Sarah, age 22

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“I’m a 3rd generation Christian.  Why did I choose to stay faithful to what I was taught? My parents did their best to practice what they preached.  They backed everything they taught me with real love. I’m thankful that my parents actually “parented” me. They taught, instructed, disciplined and loved me. They glorified God in our home. I knew God was real because I saw Him in my mom and dads life.  It was during a difficult time in my life that my grandfather, a preacher, pointed me to Jesus. That was when Jesus became real to me and  I chose Him for myself.”    Jared, age 29

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“I am a 4th generation Christian.  My parents demonstrated how to love God and how to faithfully serve Him. They showed generosity and hospitality to others, had a hunger for Gods Word and showed me the power of prayer.  I grew up in a church where people encouraged and invested in me.  All of these factors surely influenced who I am today.  I am thankful for my heritage but this didn’t make me a Christ follower.  I repented of my sin and asked Jesus to be my Savior at a young age.  After 38 years, even though I have not always been faithful Jesus has always been faithful to me.  Why didn’t I walk away from Christianity?  Because I love Jesus.  If my faith was based on the behavior of others, the circumstances of life or my own ability to measure up to Gods glory, I too might depart.  But I am compelled to look at Jesus.  Is it the prayers and godly example of  the generations before or saturation of the scriptures that give me power to stand fast? Here lies the mystery and power of the Spirit of God.  We can do the very best we know how to do, but its the Spirit of God that draws people to Himself.”  Michele, 43

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Can we raise our children to choose Jesus? No. That is a choice that is theirs alone. But we can do our best to model our love for Jesus to them.  I never asked the people above to tell me what their parents did right or to give credit to them.  The question was simply, “why didn’t you walk away from your faith like so many do?”  I think it’s interesting that all of them pointed out that their parents genuinely modeled Jesus. If I could live motherhood again, I would pour even more of Jesus into my children than I did. More of Jesus and less of everything else. Because in reality it is He thats makes life stable, wise, successful, and purposeful!  In Deuteronomy 6, God gives the Israelites clear instruction before they entered a new land, where there would be unbelievers who would influence their children to turn away from thier faith. He told them to teach their children the laws. Teach them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might. He told them to remind their children of all the things that God had done, like how he rescued them from bondage and all the miracles in the desert. All so that their faith might be strong and continue from one generation to the next. Don’t get weary in training….It may be the very avenue that is used so that your child chooses Jesus!

“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in they grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that it is in thee also” 2 Timothy 1:5

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Colette[/custom_headline]

Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Philippe Put http://flickr.com/photos/34547181@N00/15589452139 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

two words that have strengthened my faith

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comThis morning I was thinking over  the many Bible passages that have changed my life and my thinking.  The words “But God” are mentioned 42 times and as I was reading the verses, one after the other, it brought me to tears. I realized how much these two words, written together, have strengthened my faith.

But God.

After Jacobs father in law deceived him over and over I read, “BUT GOD suffered him not to hurt me”. Genesis 31:7

Joseph’s brothers had deeply wronged him.  As he faced them years later he told them not to be grieved or angry. He said “It wasn’t you who sent me here, BUT GOD…he has sent me to be a ruler.”  Gen. 45:8 Joseph said it again “ye thought evil against me BUT GOD meant it for good.” Gen. 50:20 A passage in the New Testament says “And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph in Egypt…BUT GOD was with him”. Acts 7:9

Saul was intent on killing David and the Bible says “Saul sought him every day, BUT GOD delivered him not into his hands”. I Sam. 23:14

David, speaking of death, writes “BUT GOD shall redeem my soul from the power of the grave”.  Ps. 64:7 And, “My flesh and my heart faileth, BUT GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”Ps. 73:26 David says, “BUT GOD is the judge”. Ps. 75:7  No matter what the circumstances.  He is The Fair and Righteous Judge.

Mark writes “Who can forgive sins BUT GOD alone.” Mark 2:7 And Luke writes “BUT GOD knoweth your heart.” Luke 16:15

My favorite “BUT GOD” verses speak of Christ. And of us. “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him from the tree, and laid him in a sepluchre. BUT GOD raised him from the dead.” Acts 13:29.     BUT GOD commendeth his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Rom 5:8

There is so much more that is written…BUT GOD chooses the foolish things to teach the wise.  BUT GOD alone gives and takes away.  BUT GOD who is rich in mercy shows his love. BUT GOD is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted above which you are able but will always, always, always make a way of escape.

[blockquote type=”center”]BUT GOD.[/blockquote]

IT IS MORE THAN I CAN UNDERSTAND.  Creator God, the Most High, who looks upon the earth to see if there is any that seek Him.  He steps into our circumstances and although we deserve eternal separation from him he doesn’t offer us what we deserve. He offers us these words. Wait a minute! Hold on! Time out! BUT GOD….Meaning, instead of what is deserved He offers us grace and protection and redemption and eternal life. If those words never entered human stories where would men be? Each time they were written the entire direction of the story changed. Preceding those words was despair and after those words we see the goodness of God. Jacob, Joseph, David, Mark and all mankind…which includes you and I…are given God-breathed hope and meaning to every situatuation we ever walk through. BUT GOD….He showed his love for us and while we were yet sinners He died for us. Eternal hope. The good news of Jesus. No matter what happens in our life, God has a purpose, He is the judge, He accomplishes His will always for a greater purpose.

Two of the greatest words ever written, BUT GOD.  This is what I am meditating on today.  My prayer is that these words bless you as much as they have me.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]To God Be the Glory, Colette[/custom_headline]

Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Infomastern http://flickr.com/photos/infomastern/12737852125 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Do you believe in God?

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comI walked down the streets of NYC in awe.  In awe of the variety of people, of sin, of poverty & materialism, of smells…some good and some horrendous. I saw homeless teens taking shelter in cardboard boxes and people digging through garbage for scraps to eat.  No one else seemed to be alarmed by these sights. I was taking it all in for what seemed like hours as a heaviness eventually settled on my spirit.

Then I heard someone preaching from what I thought was the Bible. There were groups of men monopolizing corner after corner on street after street. They were dressed in robes and stood on ascending, throne-like platforms. As I got closer I heard clearly their confusing message.  They screamed into microphones… words of racial hatred and Bible mixed with blasphemy. They shouted loudly in Hebrew, and made hissing sounds, at several Jewish men who ran past me.

The man on the top of the platform yelled into his hand held mic “YOU, lady with blonde hair, DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?” Out of hundreds of people walking by, he was looking and speaking directly at me. I yelled back to him “Yes, I do believe in God.”

Later I thought about this experience and wondered how I would have felt if an evil man had held a gun to my head while asking me the question, “Do you believe in God?” The same question that the young college students in Oregon were asked this past week. They stood up and and declared their faith in God. And then were shot and killed.

[blockquote cite=”Hilary Mantel, author” type=”center”]I cannot unbelieve what I believe.  [/blockquote]

Where does such faith, such belief, come from?  A convicting, amazing faith that sees beyond this life and chooses Jesus over all else?  Unless a person knows Jesus, God incarnate, they cannot possibly understand.

Those who lack faith will not understand how Christians can stand in the face of death with sadness, yet boldness; those with faith know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Those who lack faith will not understand a belief in something you cannot see; those with faith see Almighty God and His glory in everything. We see with spiritual eyes the purpose and meaning of this temporal life. Temporal… short, fleeting and passing quickly like a vapor. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

[pullquote cite=”Isaiah 26:3″ type=”right”]Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.[/pullquote]Those who lack faith may not understand why, in the face of death one would not save himself, if even out of fear alone; those with faith understand grace and peace. How it pours over one who needs it every single day and in perfect timing. We also know that Christ gave His life for us so that we can have life eternal.  I’m not sure every person who says they are a Christian would stand strong for Jesus in the presence of their murderer.  But I do know that genuine Christians would; there is no other choice.

Those who lack faith will not understand why God would allow such things like the tragic death of innocent students; those with faith understand that God is Sovereign. That nothing passes through His hand without his permission and that even the most horrible things are exchanged for a greater purpose. No heartache is wasted.  (Psalm 139)

[pullquote cite=”Revelation 21:4″ type=”left”]And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.[/pullquote]Those who lack faith may not understand why parents and families and a nation must suffer at the hands of such awful tragedy; those with faith feel deep sorrow and weep for the hurting.  We know that God miraculously heals broken hearts and comforts those who are suffering.  We know that one day all things we despise… sickness, sorrow, heartache, physical death and evil will come to an end. We know that we must walk through life so that we can understand good and evil. So that we learn to hate unrighteousness with all that is in us. We are living among the consequences of sin in a fallen world. One day there will be no more tears. It is then that we will understand the meaning of love and righteousness in all its fullness.

Those without faith can’t understand how Christians can believe in eternity; those with faith know that the dash between our birth and physical death is a tiny dot on a long line of never ending life. “For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

It is open to everyone….this invitation to receive faith in Jesus; this hope beyond understanding and peace that is not explainable.  This faith that gives one the ability to grasp the incredible love story of God-incarnate humbling himself to walk with us and become the payment for our salvation.  So that mankind might be saved from eternal separation from Himself.  So much is not fair in this upside down world.  Like homeless teens living in cardboard boxes. Or people eating out of garbage cans.  And, students being murdered for their faith.  But Jesus promises to make all wrong, right.  To settle every score and bring peace and righteous judgment.  He will do away with evil and we will forever praise Him.  He is the ONLY HOPE for all men.  It is for these reasons that we can never deny Jesus or that we belong to Him.  Not ever. As Hilary Mantel stated so simply, “I cannot unbelieve what I believe.”

My heart aches for the families of the murdered students in Oregon. Their loved ones proclaimed their faith in God through Jesus with their very lives.  Then their faith was made sight and they heard ‘Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the JOY OF THE LORD.” (Matthew 25)

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Singing hallelujah, Colette[/custom_headline]

Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Fey Ilyas http://flickr.com/photos/renneville/3161518829 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

So, you want to raise amazing, stable and successful kids?

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.com[blockquote cite=”Lisa Wingate, Author” type=”center”]Your children are the greatest gift God will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands.  Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God.  Be a person in whom they can have faith.  When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.  [/blockquote]

Over the course of my life, specifically the past 16 years as a counselor, I’ve met some really terrific parents. And, sadly, I’ve worked with parents who shouldn’t be parents. One forced her daughter, as discipline, to eat next to the dog and his bowl on her hands and knees with no utensils. Another thought good training was to lock her child in the cold basement in the dark so she could think about what she had done wrong. The parent was sure to remind the young girl to watch out for spiders. When I asked, no one in the room could remember the offense. No surprise there. And not that it even mattered what the child had done. No child deserves that. Obviously some people don’t understand the privilege and responsibility it is to raise kids. We need a license and training for many things… to drive a jet ski, to cut someones hair or polish toenails professionally. But to raise kids nothing is required. I look at the effort and money that parents put into their children’s sports or dance lessons. Or how much is put into making them dress cute or creating their elaborate birthday celebration. My point being that the real important things are often let go. Many of the things below….things that make up a responsible and stable adult….are often never addressed. It’s disheartening.

[pullquote cite=”Charles Portis, Author” type=”right”]If I had received good instruction as a child I would be with my family today and at peace with my neighbors.  I hope and pray that all you parents in the sound of my voice will train up your child in the way they should go.  [/pullquote]After meeting with a struggling, rebellious teen boy and his parents recently, I compiled the following list. I sat alone and wondered if this teen would have turned out differently had these things been poured into him. I do, however, understand the concept of free will and wrong choices that have nothing or little to do with parents. Teens sometimes just choose to do wrong things even with good parenting. I remind those parents that they did their best and that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. That even God’s children, in the garden of Eden, chose to do wrong. I also remind them to continue to pray for their child because their story isn’t over yet. It is not my intent to cast blame on hurting parents. I would never do that. It is my intent to encourage parents to deliberately and intentionally pour good and excellent training into their children.

It takes an awful lot of intention and dedication to be a great parent.  The following list is for the many parents who desire to do a great job training their kids. I commend and pray for you as you diligently work at such an important task… raising amazing, stable and successful adults.

Teach kids how to problem solve.

Teaching your kids to problem solve starts early. When they don’t know what to do because their toys are being taken or how to get along with their siblings….these are teachable moments to help your kids problem solve. Parents can grow impatient and just say things like “stop fighting” instead of actually helping children to solve problems. Parents may say “go to your room” because they don’t want to be bothered. Kids need help problem solving. They need to learn how to resolve conflict in their life and if they don’t get help they will grow continually frustrated and angry.

Teach kids to manage emotions.

It is proven that people who have high emotional intelligence are the most successful people on the planet. Someone can have an extremely high IQ but not know how to deal appropriately with emotions, the emotions of others or their own.  That person will struggle through life. It is also true that before most sins were committed in the Bible, there was an out of control emotion that preceded the sin. One of the first examples of this is Cain, who was angry and jealous. He then murdered his brother. Teaching your kids to handle emotions is one of the most important things a parent can do. I see many parents who yell and scream out of anger and then are baffled when they see the same behavior in their children.

Teach kids what to do when they are tempted to do wrong.

Many parents want to avoid this one altogether. They think, maybe if their kids are protected from the temptation it won’t be a temptation at all? Or maybe if issues aren’t talked about, then it won’t ever be an issue? Truth is, kids of all ages need to learn what to do when, not if, temptation comes into their lives. A wise parent discusses hard topics. How I wish I could relive this one with my grown sons when they were young. Unintentionally I think I left them on their own to fight some temptation that came their way. Now as a counselor and in hindsight, I see the huge importance of this training.

Teach kids to show respect.

Respect is essential to being a stable, successful and respected adult. The most amazing people I know have respect for God, others, authority, themselves, and life.

Teach kids how to give.

Kids are natural takers. It takes training to show them the blessing of being givers.

Teach kids to love others.

This is one of the greatest commands in the Bible. I believe that too many kids are modeling the behavior of critical parents and listening in on conversations that are unloving to each other and about others. Loving others is key to understanding God the Fathers heart.

Teach kids what being a real Christian is.

A real Christian is one who loves and abides in Jesus and His good news, the gospel. A real christian loves God and loves others in practical ways. Without this training they won’t understand their purpose on this earth. All throughout scripture we are told to “Love the Lord with all of our hearts”.  The truth is that once God has our hearts, their hearts, then all of the other things fall into place.

Teach kids how to manage technology.

Otherwise, just like emotions, technology will manage them.

Teach kids how to communicate effectively.

The skill of communication is so vitally important to having success in relationships and in this life. Much of my counseling with adults is helping them to communicate appropriately. It amazes me when I ask the question “What is negative communication?” and people struggle with the answer. It’s as if they have never been taught what is appropriate to say and what isn’t. Actually, maybe they haven’t? Effective communication is a great gift and teaching your kids to master this art will do them well.

Teach kids to stand up for what is right.

There was an elderly bus monitor being horribly abused on a Greece NY school bus by a group of Junior high boys. Someone video taped the incident, it went viral and then made national news. I spoke with several kids who attended school with those boys. When asked what they would have done if they were on the bus they all answered “nothing”. Digging deeper, I found that they all knew that an elderly person being abused was wrong, but they didn’t know what to do about it. So they decided that they would do nothing had they been in the presence of the abuse. What if one of those kids on the bus had simply texted a parent for help? Kids need to be taught how to stand up for what it right. Or they won’t.

Teach kids how to set goals and how to work hard at reaching them.

Successful people are goal setters and hard workers. It’s not a natural thing for most people to accomplish this important life skill. Ask any hard working person and they will tell you of someone who modeled that for them.

Teach your child what to do when they have messed up.

Teach them how to be restored to others and to God. Many kids that I work with have guilty and shame-based consciences. This always produces anger and acting out. They are relieved when they are given a plan of restoration. Kids have a hard time separating who they are from their wrong doing. I’m so thankful for the gospel of Jesus that separates me, and who I am in Christ, from my sin.

There is more that could be added to the list above….how to handle money, to be disciplined, to eat healthy. But I encourage parents to at least think on this list and ask for Gods wisdom as you intentionally train your kids. You will never regret that you taught these things.

God the Father, as always, is our greatest example of a good and loving parent. He came to the earth incarnate to walk out a living example for us to follow. He doesn’t over correct, over control, or over discipline his children. Nor is He slack in His instruction. He is a balanced and good father who trains us continually.

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

[blockquote cite=”Colette Fabry” type=”center”]The goal in parenting is not to create perfect kids or to be perfect parents. There is no such thing. The goal is for flawed parents to consistently model the beautiful message of the gospel. In real life.  In real time. Every moment of every day. And thats only possible through abiding in Christ and He in us.  [/blockquote]

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Give me Jesus, Colette[/custom_headline]

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what a real hero looks like

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comEarly in the morning on August 12th, after nine months and a long, hard day of labor a woman gave birth to a baby boy. He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. She had asked God to give her a child, and he was the answer to her prayer. She was still mourning the death of her first precious child, Stella, when she conceived Luca Charles. And while many people slept, at exactly 12:39 a.m., she welcomed him.

The ultrasound showed a problem with Luca early on. She remembers the day clearly. But it took many more days to absorb the meaning of all the words. Anencephaly. Won’t live. Option to terminate. Words she and her husband didn’t want to hear. Choices that were not choices.

Terminating the pregnancy would mean terminating life. A baby’s life. Lucas’s life. Her Lucas’s life. The baby boy she had prayed for and already loved. For her there was never a choice to end his life.

bbc_imageKara Gagliano is a hero. Because in a world where so many would have chosen differently, she chose life. So many people chant that it’s the mothers body and she can choose what to do with “the fetus”. It was never a choice for Kara to end her son’s life. To solve a problem. To prevent her suffering. Our world seems to have lost sight of what a true hero is. A hero is brave, courageous and one who does all they can to save someone elses life.

Most heroes don’t want to be called a hero. I’ve heard them say things like “I just did what anyone else would do”.  Most heroes are modest and don’t even recognize that they are extraordinary. Kara is a hero.

She knew that the safest place in all the world for Luca Charles, her son, was in her womb where his heart beat with hers. Where he was loved. She believed that she didn’t have the right or desire to take his precious life. Only the obligation and the desire to protect him and allow her body to nurture his.

And all mothers who have ever carried a child to term cheer for her. All who have felt the baby-kicks and hiccups inside of their wombs cheer for her. All moms will tell you that it is life they are feeling inside of their wombs. Real life. They will tell you that it is a privilege and responsibility to sustain their baby’s life, inside and outside their womb. All women who pray to God to fill their barren wombs cheer for her. And those who have miscarried. All who value life. We cheer for Kara today.

Many people may believe she had a hard choice to make. But to her it was not hard and it was never a choice at all to choose life.

So for nine months inside of her and for 18 minutes in her arms…she carried him. She sang to him. She prayed over him. She loved him. For 18 minutes she kissed his precious face. And at exactly 12:57 a.m. her baby entered into heaven. Passed from this life to the next as she said goodbye for now.

IMG_7102Kara was one of my cheerleaders when I was a Varsity Cheer Coach. I still see her in my mind. Her high-school face smiling as she yelled and jumped…and cheered. Back when problems in her life were not yet so big. But today, Kara and I switch roles. I proudly cheer for her. And I cry with her as we say goodbye to her son. For now.

Baby Luca, whose name means “light”. Mom Kara, whose name means “beloved”. They lived out the meaning of their names, on Luca’s birthday.

His birth was precious. Kara and Dave and Luca were surrounded by family who wore green shirts with the Bible verse “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart”. Baby Luca came into this world as a little light in a dark world, surrounded by family who deeply love him.

They serve a God who is the giver of life.  They bless and honor Him with theirs…even when their prayers aren’t answered their way. They understand that His ways are not always our ways. And like their Luca, they are a light for Jesus.

Thank you Kara.  For showing this world what a hero truly is. For showing us that life is precious and sacred and a beautiful gift from God.

Happy Birthday Luca!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]This little light of mine, Colette[/custom_headline]

Kara graciously gave permission for us to post her story. Her response when asked about it was this, “Colette that is beautiful. Yes I would love it if you would share that on your blog.” Thank you, Kara, for the hero that you are.

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We love to see our readers’ support of Kara – and by signing up for our email newsletter you can do just that. When AWriteHeart receives 500 new subscriptions we’ll donate $500 to the anencephaly charity of Kara’s choice. To subscribe, scroll down to the “Subscribe to awriteheart.com” form and enter your information!

Our goal is to encourage as many people as we can toward a better relationship with Jesus, and you can help us by sharing our posts with others! A huge THANK YOU to all of our readers for your love and encouragement!

~Colette & Melissa
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blessing, abundance, trial, and drought

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comToday I walked through Wegmans, which I believe is the greatest supermarket in the United States. I saw a clear case with a black mushroom in it called a Burgundy Truffle. Its price is $599.99 per pound. I looked around at all the food. Everything you can imagine and then some. There were fruits and vegetables of every kind and even a hundred different types of bottled water. Water! We understand what it is to be full. To eat until we can’t fit anything else in our stomachs. We are a blessed people.

This afternoon I was reading about the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy 8 they were entering a season of blessing and abundance. Their wilderness journey, the difficult trial of drought and hunger, had just ended. In this chapter God is telling them why they had to go through that hard time and what they were to learn from it:

It was to humble them.

They had pretty much nothing of value and had to rely on God for every basic need, such as food and water. They had the same clothes and shoes for who knows how long. Poverty humbles. And humbled hearts find it easy to turn to an all sufficient God.

It was to prove them.

It showed their character, determination, and strength. Or the lack of those things. And character or lack of character is meant to turn hearts to a righteous and perfect God.

It was to see whether they would keep God’s commandments.

He showed them the Father-child relationship and because of that they would understand how important it was to walk in his ways and to fear him.  And living this out will turn hearts to a loving and fair Abba Father-God.

It was to give them the experience of true hunger so that they would understand their need for God.

They were to remember that when they  were “filled up” with abundance, they must lift their hearts to God (Deut. 8:10,14). He warned them that if they turned from Him and forgot where their blessing came from, they would be destroyed. Understanding this turns hearts towards our Provider-God who does not share His glory.

God told the Israelites that they must never take credit for their blessings. He told them that it is God who blesses with wisdom and knowledge and the ability to work.  It all comes from his hand (Deut. 8:17-18) Lastly, He said that if they decided, in their abundance, to forget Gods commandments then they would perish. He said it so clearly. “You will perish” (Deut. 8:19). Understanding this shows the grace and goodness of a holy God that gives what is needed.

I’ve watched so many people over the years. People in famine or in abundance, people in trial or in peace…people who know what Gods Word says about how to live life. And many chose to do things their own way and stray from God’s commandments: they choose to marry unbelievers and be unequally yoked, to choose sin, to grow prideful or hateful or unforgiving or bitter. God absolutely promises that those choices will lead to destruction – destruction of something or someone and the absence of His presence and blessing.

I remember the days when Matt and I were poor. We were young, newly-married college students and although we both worked, our tax statement showed our yearly income to be under $9000.00. Poverty level. As difficult as it was to go through, I am so thankful for that time. God did some pretty amazing things for us during that “drought and hunger” season. Our needs were always met and our faith grew strong. It definitely made us appreciative of what God did for us then… and now. Our trials throughout life are for the exact same reasons as the Israelites…to humble us, to prove us, to show us the importance of keeping his commandments, and to always remember where our blessings and strength comes from. From God and God alone.

Today’s reminder caused me to lift my heart high to God with thanksgiving and praise for all that He has done…in times of poverty and in times of blessing.  In both of those seasons there is the potential to focus on self.  But clearly, the answer is to focus on an all sufficient, loving, righteous and Holy God who we get the priviledge to call Father.

Psalm 121:2 My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]How can I say thanks, Colette[/custom_headline]

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Our goal is to encourage as many people as we can toward a better relationship with Jesus, and you can help us by sharing our posts with others! A huge THANK YOU to all of our readers for your love and encouragement!

~Colette & Melissa
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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Guilherme Jófili http://flickr.com/photos/gjofili/4337577836 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“In The Presence of My Enemies”: thoughts about Gracia Burnham’s book

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comI’m always in the middle of reading a book, and every so often I come across a really great one. This past week I read Gracia Burnham’s book “In The Presence Of My Enemies”, the true story of her kidnapping by a terrorist group in the Philippines. She and her husband Martin, along with several others, were taken hostage in the middle of the night and kept in torturous conditions. Sadly, after 1 year and 11 days, Martin lost his life during a rescue attempt by the Philippine army. They had survived 16 gun-battle rescue attempts, and on the 17th the Burnham’s were shot, she in the leg and he in the chest. The book kept my interest with every single word and I had a hard time putting it down.

Gracia and Martin experienced a living nightmare. While most Americans were trying to make sense of 911 and the craziness and sadness of that, these two missionaries were in the middle of the jungle wondering if they would ever get home to their three children. Reading this book, I saw such real Christianity lived out. Not many people can say that they experienced anything near this kind of horror. But people do live out difficult trials and can learn from Gracia’s insight – I know I sure did.

Her words taught me that…

The toughest of times have the ability to strengthen relationships.

I noticed something pretty amazing about Martin and Gracia.  During the most difficult times they learned to rely on each other. Instead of turning on each other in frustration and fear, they helped and comforted each other. They shared a toothbrush, learned to sleep leaning against one another and continually watched out for the other. They didn’t let this awful trial come between them, but instead, they learned to work together and allowed it to strengthen their marriage.

My heart sunk to the bottom of my toes. Everything we owned in this life was back there in that backpack. The sheet we pulled over us at night, my long sleeved shirt, our toothbrush…A horrible wave of guilt swept over me. How stupid of me. I just lost it all. ‘ Oh Martin, I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry!’ I cried between sobs. My husband did not reproach me. He just quietly answered, ‘You know honey, we’ve got to save our energy for walking. I forgive  you. And you need to forgive yourself. Its going to be ok.'” ~Gracia Burnham

During difficult times it’s wise to know when to speak and when not to.

When either Martin or Gracia wrestled with discouragement and despair, the other gently listened. They just let the other feel whatever it was they were feeling and didn’t jump right in to fix each other with words; I’m sure they barely had the energy or even the ability, but nonetheless, they just loved each other through their feelings. When Gracia spent several days crying, Martin let her. He held her and he wiped her tears or let her sit by herself. He knew that she had to work through things on her own. He realized that he couldn’t heal her heart, but that he could support it.

[pullquote type=”right”]The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…Proverbs 37:23[/pullquote]” ‘Oh, I’m not giving up my faith’, I’d tell Martin.  ‘I still believe that God made the world, He sent his Son, Jesus, and Jesus died for me… I’m just choosing not to believe the part about God loving me. Because Gods not coming through.’ …I was really mad at God. After about three days of living with this torment, I was totally miserable. When I wasn’t at the river crying, I was in the house crying. Martin learned not to say anything, because he knew this was something I had to work through myself… I knew that I had a choice. I could give into my resentment and allow it to dig me into a deeper and deeper hole both psychologically and emotionally or I could choose to believe what Gods word says to be true whether I believed it or not.  This was a turning point for me…I simply gave in and handed all my pain and anger over to the Lord right then and there….From that day on, the Lord somehow let me know in my spirit that he was still faithful.” ~Gracia Burnham

 Trials are meant to strengthen our faith.

I felt Gracia’s struggle and if I were her I would wonder: “Why would God allow this? Where is He? Does He even care about me or even know where I am?” She had to wrap her brain around her faith and what it looked like before her abduction, versus what it looked like in captivity. Trials do this to everyone, especially if you are being held against your will, hungry, tired and thirsty. She chose to believe Gods promises such as,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Not because she felt the truth of those words right then, but because God can’t lie.  She learned that God walks through hard and difficulty with us and doesn’t rescue us immediately from trials. He supplied so many needs and Gracia began to be thankful for each one. She told one story about a care package miraculously finding it’s way to them. Gracia watched as their captors rummaged through the box before giving it to them, helping themselves to a package of candy bars. She was angry. She was happy to receive the soap and peanuts and all the wonderful supplies in the box, including a new pair of Martin’s prescription glasses…but she was so mad about the stolen candy bars. God worked in her heart and she changed her attitude to one of thanksgiving. So many of us do the same thing…focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do. Reading her raw struggle was awesome and such a valuable lesson.

[pullquote type=”right”]Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5[/pullquote]”We began making little piles of all the wonderful things.  But at the same time, we couldn’t stop thinking about those Snickers bars. The bounty we had wasn’t quite enough somehow. And then we looked at each other and said, ‘You know, this box has arrived from our mission out of nowhere–and we’re complaining about what the Abu Sayyaf took? We should be rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness.’  We decided we needed to share. Martin began going from group to group giving…We had asked the Lord earlier in the month to send us something nice for Thanksgiving and realized something incredible: It was Thursday, November 22– Thanksgiving Day!”  ~Gracia Burnham

 The picture is always bigger than what we can see.

Although Gracia would never have chosen to go through what she did – to enter into such suffering and the heartache of losing her husband – through her very words I was able to see part of a bigger plan. Deep in the jungle, amongst 50+ terrorists, men who may have never heard the name of Jesus, Gracia and Martin shared the gospel.  They lived it and spoke it in the midst of the most horrendous trial.  Gracia taught the other hostages the words to “How Great Thou Art” and they sang them while the terrorists listened. Martin had several conversations with others about God and in his kind and gentle way he was able to share Jesus. I know that when this couple gave their lives to be missionaries they never imagined that this was how they were going to be used.

“…I was able to harmonize while we sang the song (How Great Thou Art) every day and sometimes several times a day. The Abu Sayyaf never hissed at us for singing it….More than once Martin said to me ‘Maybe God has us here just to praise him in this very dark place.'”  ~Gracia Burnham

We are stronger than we think.

Gracia never thought in a million years that she could endure what she did…walking miles with no food and sleeping night after night in mud…being bitten by bugs, filthy for weeks at a time, separated from her children…the fear and terror of being shot at, running for her very life, living with out the basic essentials,  the humiliation of having to go to the bathroom in front of strangers and the heartache and shock of watching her husband as he was shot and as he took his last breath on this earth. But she did it. And she did it well!  What an amazing example of strength and resilience.

I looked back at where Martin still lay. The red spot on his shirt was larger now. His complexion was pasty white. And then I knew–the man I loved more than  anyone in the world was gone. I wanted the world to stop in that moment, to reflect on my dreadful loss, to mourn the senseless death of my wonderful husband. Unfortunately, the circumstances demanded otherwise.  I had to think about getting myself off this mountain alive.” ~Gracia Burnham

Click for purchase information!

After reading her book, I want to hug Gracia Burnham and give her a life supply of candy bars!  I can’t wait to read her next book, called “To Fly Again”  I have no doubt that she did!  Through the pages of her book I feel as if I know her, that she is a kindred spirit.  Her story glorifies her God, and my prayer is that yours and mine will as well.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]This is my story, this is my song, Colette[/custom_headline]

 

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]ONE MORE DAY! Enter our July Giveaway NOW!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we have published in July, Colette has added ONE MORE of her FAVORITE THINGS to this month’s giveaway! 

As of this post, the giveaway includes:

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner,
a lilac scented Yankee Candle,
a beautiful salad tong set from anthropologie,and
“In the Presence of My Enemies” by Gracia Burnham!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!

1. Subscribe to our email newsletter – click HERE!
2. Follow us on Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!! The giveaway ends this week!!!
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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Horia Varlan http://flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4268896468 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

broken arms and broken people

Colette @ awriteheart.comI sat near a group of boys who were watching an internet video of a compilation of people whose bones were being broken. Cell phones had captured footage of athletes, skateboarders, goof-offs, and casual arm wrestlers, each one in excruciating pain. The boys watching were mesmerized by the awful sights. They replayed each incident over and over because the brokenness was shocking. I looked at the video and watched a couple of the nauseating accidents. The injured would see their broken limb, scream and turn away in terror. It actually brought tears to my eyes to watch. I noticed that just about two and a half million people had viewed that particular video. People have a hard time taking their eyes off of brokenness.

This is kind of how I felt reading the news this morning. Broken people giving solutions to broken politics, broken men and women changing their identity, broken people wounding and killing parishioners as they sit in church, broken souls enclosed in broken flesh literally arguing that wrong is right and right is wrong. The last one I read before I slammed the lid of my laptop was about people selling the body parts of aborted babies. Brokenness is defined as “something or someone that is fractured and damaged, no longer in one piece or in working order.” Yep, that about sums up our world.

As Jesus stood and looked over the city of Jerusalem, the Bible says that he wept (Luke 19:41). This word, wept, in its greek translation means more than just sadness. It means that he grieved with his entire being as He looked on the brokenness of those that he came to heal. I wonder what would happen if we grabbed the heart of Jesus for the brokenness of our world. Not anger or hatred…but true grief over brokenness.

In the middle of brokenness we must…

Remember why we are here.

Isaiah 61:6 reminds us that we are called the Priests of the Lord and Ministers of the most High God. We, who were broken and made whole, are given the privilege of tending to the needs of the lost and hurting. We are commanded to bind up broken hearts, to wrap tightly and bandage their wounds.  When we show kindness and love to those who are broken, when we genuinely point them to Jesus, when we cry with them and hold them while they weep…we are binding and wrapping tightly. So often we can only see the ugliness of peoples brokenness and are repelled by it. Instead we must remember that behind the brokenness is a heart and a soul that needs healing and freedom. Needs Jesus.

Remember to proclaim freedom to those who are bound.

We do that by demonstrating it in our lives…in our walk and sincere talk. Many people don’t even know that they need healing. And if they do know it they don’t understand the way to freedom.  But offering hope, not condemnation, will cause them to grab the key to freedom, which is Jesus. Recently a man came into my office and asked “what is it about you Christians? My chiropractor is a Christian, my doctor is a Christian and then you. You are all so happy. What is that all about??” Living out a demonstration of our joy in the Lord is proclaiming freedom in Christ. Isaiah 61:10 says it so amazingly “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he that clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”  Everyone notices when people walk around in their wedding garments and Isaiah reminds us that our JOY in the Lord should stand out like this.

Remember to  keep our eyes on Jesus.

If we dwell on brokenness..our past brokenness, others brokenness or this world and its brokenness…we will be overtaken with grief and hopelessness. Through Christ there is healing, hope, life, newness, freedom, joy and complete salvation. Looking at brokenness reminds us of what we are saved from and we must look at it with great joy that the Messiah has come to deliver mankind from the mess of sin. When you look at the sun setting each night and rising each morning, remember that he died and rose again so that we might be set free. And just as the sun brings light to this earth, may we remember to mimic our Savior.  Does the lost world look at how we live and do they see us treat people as Christ did when he walked the earth?  He fed them, talked with them, ate with them, healed them and ministered to them.  Lets keep our eyes on the Son…and be reminded to love others like He did.

Remember that He is the healer and the one to be glorified.

Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Psalm 124:8.  I love the way this verse reminds us that brokenness is the Creators problem and He is the answer, the help needed and who has a plan to fix it all.  I noticed that each hurting person in the video cried out for help.  “Call 911” or “Call my mom! ”  They called for whoever they knew could help.  Our help really is in God.  Brokenness is ugly and brings with it such terror. With wholeness there is beauty and peace. And yet, God allowed brokenness in order for us to understand wholeness. Which then proclaims His glory. Isaiah 66:5 says “let the Lord be glorified“.  in other words, let him be seen. Show him. Show his goodness and his righteousness. Its all about showing HIM. It amazes me… that a perfect God would take imperfect people in an imperfect world to show Himself. That is incomprehensible, pure grace. Isaiah 66:18 reminds us that one day “…it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory” Yes, its true that every knee will bow and confess him as Lord. Until then, as we face brokenness, lets commit to glorifying the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Remember the Word of God.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  II Chronicles 7:14 We are never told to yell and argue with people over sin.  Gods people are to turn from THEIR OWN wicked ways….. to humble themselves, pray, seek Gods face, turn from their wicked ways, and THEN God will heal the brokeness in our land.

Yes, people have a hard time taking their eyes off brokenness.  But there is good news.   In Isaiah 61:1 it says “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…men shall call you the Ministers of God.  It shocks us because what we are seeing, the brokenness in our world, is pretty unbelievable.  Christian, we can’t allow the despair to consume us.  We must respond to it, not in fear and anger, but in love and kindness, proclaiming the good news of Jesus.  We are commanded to do this!  There will be a day when all will be made right but until then, may God be glorified in our ministering to the brokenness of this world.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Let your light so shine, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got EVEN BETTER!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes: 

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner,
and a lilac scented Yankee Candle!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!
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what it takes to be a great leader

Colette @ awriteheart.com[blockquote cite=”John Quincy Adams” type=”center”]If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.[/blockquote]I heard bickering and yelling from a group of little children to the left of me.  One of them shouted, “You’re not the boss of me!”  It made me smile thinking how this dance begins early in life. This leader/submission dance. We find ourselves both in leadership and in submission all throughout life. The greater responsibility in getting others to freely submit lies with the leaders behavior. Most leaders go about it all wrong, like the children I observed. They push and pull to get what they want. Leadership is meant to bring order but so often it yields the opposite. 90% of counseling is due to chaos of some sort: children not obeying, marriages failing to live out loving submission to each other and to God, employees and employers in conflict, families in confusion, and on and on.

It doesn’t matter how many people you lead – one or a thousand – these principles from God’s word will make you a great and successful leader, guaranteed.

Great leaders are humble.

[pullquote type=”right”]Pride cometh before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18[/pullquote]Just yesterday a college professor informed me that the majority of leaders struggle with unhealthy self-centeredness and pride.  I think of Saul and how he started out his leadership. He was humble and submitted to God. Then later in his  leadership journey he turned purely narcissistic, concerned for himself alone. In so doing he lost respect and power. And like all arrogant leaders his end came fast and hard.

Shortly after I received my counseling degree, I was offered a job. As I sat across from my new employer he said sincerely, “What can I do to make you successful? Whatever that is, I want to do that for you”. I have never forgotten that impactful, humble statement…and it was 20 years ago. I learned that a great leader is a humble leader.

Great leaders give.

[pullquote cite=”Jim Rohn” type=”right”]Leadership is action, not position.[/pullquote]For God so loved the world that He gave…The greatest leader of all gave. He poured his love, His kindness, His power, His purpose, His grace, His blessings, His mercy…on US. He gave His Son who gave His life for mankind. It’s easy to submit to God when we truly understand how much He gave. And when leaders do the same, give instead of take, they become GREAT leaders.

I received a card in the mail and inside was a rare $2 bill. It read, “Thank you for being an important part of our staff.  Your unique personality, skill, and dedication add so much to our team.” It was hand written and signed by my employer. It sits in the back of my dresser drawer and although it was 30 years ago,  I still remember. Giving can be in the form of a lot of things….appreciation being one of them. We don’t forget great leaders who give!

Great leaders are servants.

[pullquote cite=”Jim George, author” type=”right”]Serving others prepares you to lead others.[/pullquote]John 13:14 says ” If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  The principle of foot washing to the disciples of Jesus was this: Serve others and Jesus will serve you. The most high God, in the form of man, washing dirty feet?  It makes me shake my head in awe. Serving is true leadership. Leaders must not forget that without people there wouldn’t be leadership….and serving them brings natural and willing  submission. God’s way makes me smile…the way up is down, the first shall be last…give and you’ll receive. It may not always make sense but it’s true, great leaders are servants.

[pullquote cite=”Alan Woods, author” type=”right”]We all have been called to be foot washers.[/pullquote]My dad, in training for the Pastorate, was given a job to do.  He was asked by his pastor to clean the bathrooms of a school. For free. My dad did that for five straight years. He went week after week and I never heard him complain. After working a full time job, teaching karate, raising a family and going to school full time…He cleaned dirty, smelly toilets. His pastor, Les Hobbins, understood an amazing truth that he knew my dad would need to understand…Great leaders are truly servants.

Great leaders submit to God given authority.

[pullquote cite=”King David” type=”right”]Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me… [/pullquote]Every day of my life I pray King Davids words, Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. We are influenced by many things and can be tempted to loose sight of truth.  So often we don’t even see the intentions and impure motives of our own hearts. It doesn’t surprise me that David, a great leader who had fallen and rose up again, wrote these words. He understood that if he didn’t stay accountable to God, he would surely fall again. He understood that only God can keep our hearts clean and our spirits right.  If man chooses himself as his final authority he will certainly fail. I see clearly through Davids words, that he figured out the importance of submission to Gods authority.

In preparation for teaching, I wanted to understand what it is to be blind. Blind folded, with my husband as guide, we walked the entire mall and the parking lot. I trusted my husband completely because I knew that he could see what I could not.  I learned a lot that day and was able to make spiritual application to all of it. One being this: God sees what we cannot. I have no problem giving myself under the authority of a God who sees and knows all things. It’s the safest place to live out life. Great leaders certainly understand the importance of submitting to God, EL Roy, the Strong One who sees.

Great leaders are trustworthy and loyal.

[pullquote cite=”John Maxwell” type=”right”]Leaders must read the people, then lead the people. They must understand the timing, the people, the situation, and the priorities, then act accordingly. Their action depends upon how they read these factors.[/pullquote]Miriam was a leader in the Bible who had many good qualities. But the reason she was removed from leadership was because she spoke against her brother and was complaining to others. She stirred up trouble by not controlling her words. God, in a great example of wise leadership, took care of the problem by stopping the destructive dissension and removing its source, Miriam herself.

I have found it easy to submit to leaders in my life who are trustworthy, loyal and who speak kindly. And I have watched leaders handle discord and dissension both the right way and the wrong way…which leads me to ask for wisdom continually. The Bible tells us that if we ask God for wisdom he promises to give it to us in abundance. Great leaders need wisdom as much as they need air to breath. And they most certainly need it to be trustworthy & loyal problem solvers.

The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power, but love, not force, but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion.  Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve”.  ~John Stott, Christian theologian and ranked by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Let’s all strive to live out GREAT leadership…being humble, giving, trustworthy & loyal servants as we willingly submit ourselves to a Holy God.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Make me a servant, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got Better – AGAIN!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes: 

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner!

Julyday4

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!
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the amazing things that happen when we are thankful in ALL things

Colette @ awriteheart.com

[blockquote type=”center”]In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18[/blockquote]

I went for a long walk on a beautiful day. Thinking on thankfulness, I wasn’t too sure about the verse above and being thankful in everything. I rephrased it into a question. It’s the will of God to give thanks in all of the circumstances that have to do with me? I had lived a long time believing that God didn’t want me to be thankful for certain things. Things I considered bad, wrong or unfair in my life. I took a deep breath, began walking faster and first thanked God, out loud, for all that was good. Easy!

[pullquote type=”right”]”How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?”[/pullquote]Then I thanked God for what I considered bad in my life. For every heartache I’d felt, for what I didn’t think was fair, for what brought me pain and tears, for any thing…past and present…that had gone wrong. Some situations popped into my head that I didn’t even realize that I was gripping onto with anger and bitterness. Let me tell you how hard that was. It was agonizing. It brought actual physical pain to surrender everything, in thanks, as something that was passed through God’s sovereign hand. I would think of a difficult time and before the words of thanks came out I stopped. I wrestled internally with God and asked Him if I was really suppose to thank Him in that? I continued, “How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?” I couldn’t stand to even think of it let alone be thankful in it.

I wondered if this is what the Bible meant in Hebrews 13:15 and Psalm 116:17 by a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise – the kind that costs something. Then in my struggling I was reminded of Job. The awful trials that good man endured were terrible. Satan was behind all of them and God allowed it: the destruction, the deaths, the sickness, the heartache, the hurt. He allowed it for so many reasons: to test Jobs faith, to show Himself strong, to show Job that God is all he needed, to give us all a living example throughout history about God, His sovereignty and His love for this man who, again in the end, was blessed abundantly.

The same holds true for Joseph. In the end he was thankful in all that had transpired in his life. The abandonment, the mistreatment, the separation from his father…all of it God used for good. The very thing that hurt Joseph became the avenue that God used to bless him. God was the faithful One in his life and He elevated Joseph to places of leadership. Then one day Joseph had a decision to make: would he curse his brothers and repay evil for evil? He didn’t. Instead he wept and embraced his brothers with sincere forgiveness. GOD was the hero of Job’s story. And GOD was the hero of Joseph’s story.

That day as I walked I told God that I want him to be the hero of my story as well. I thanked Him IN it all and because of that I was then able to be sincerely thankful FOR it all. I released all thanksgiving to Him. I thanked a sovereign God for allowing even the most difficult things in my life. I realized that he allows them for my good and for his deserved glory.   Had I never experienced difficulty, how would I understand in the sufferings of others?  Of Christ?  How would I be able to teach and understand forgiveness had I not been faced with situations that needed both my forgiveness and my need for forgiveness?

[pullquote type=”left”]Nothing compares to the cross. [/pullquote]Towards the end of my walk, I thought of the cross. For many years I have said and sang songs of thanks for the cross. The place where the most atrocious thing happened. Where God, who came in the form of Jesus, was hung and beaten and paid the price for all sin. Giving thanks in that? Had it not been for the cross and Christ’s crucifixion, that awful and precious act, we would be lost forever. God has a plan and a purpose for all things. All things. Nothing compares to the cross. Not any hurt or sorrow that I have or ever will have compares to the heartache of the cross. How thankful I am for the horrible, beautiful cross!

Amazing things happen when we are thankful in ALL things!

  • Our perspective changes and we can safely trust a sovereign God whose greatest characteristic is love. We no longer need to harbor bitterness, blame or anger because we know that God has a bigger and better plan…..for pure good and His glory.
  • There is a miraculous shift in the deepest part of our heart.
  • We are set free from burdens that we are not suppose to bear.
  • The cross becomes more and more our center.

I encourage everyone to spend time in thanksgiving to God for ALL things, the good and the bad…because nothing is wasted in His hands. I have watched many brokenhearted people do this. It’s one of the most difficult, emotionally draining commands given. But also one of the greatest and deepest healing things a person can do.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name. For the Lord is good…” Psalm 100:4 That we can enter in at all is unfathomable – THIS is the amazing grace of God. For this grace and for all things I am truly thankful!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Give thanks with a grateful heart, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got Better![/custom_headline]With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes Godiva Chocolates, and a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie – Colette’s favorite store!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!

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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by eschipul http://flickr.com/photos/eschipul/6792993194 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license