When Following Your Heart is a Bad Thing

As a good mom, I should encourage my kids to pursue their dreams and set their sights on what they feel is right. At least that’s what our culture tells me I ought to do. It sounds like good advice on the surface. But is following your heart really a good message to be teaching my girls?

 

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Teaching Our Children to Love God for Who He Is

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing my absolute best as a mother. I want my girls to grow up knowing right from wrong – to be smart and to dream big. I want God’s best for them, and I desire that they succeed in all that they set out to do.

As parents, we have an amazing responsibility to our young ones. We do all that we can to raise them well. We teach them to share, to be loving and kind, and to stand up for what they believe in. But is this enough? Is it enough to be educated and successful? Is it enough to be a good person with integrity? In all of our efforts to raise well-rounded children, are we really teaching our children anything that matters in the end?

 

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Happily Ever After: When Jesus is Your Prince Charming | alyssajhoward.com

Happily Ever After: When Jesus is Your Prince Charming

Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl who dreamed of becoming a princess. She had a good heart and was kind to all. As fate would have it, she unexpectedly discovered a handsome prince. Upon meeting, they fell in love and lived happily ever after. The end.

I am the mother of two beautiful little girls. Needless to say, our home is filled with all things princess. They know these stories forwards and backwards. On the surface, the fairy tales seem pretty innocent. They can even be empowering. They teach young girls that kindness and love pay off in the end, that true beauty comes from within, and that every girl can indeed become a princess. These are all good things – right?

 

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Learning to Value Others When You Want to Shout "But It's Mine!" | alyssajhoward.com

Learning to Value Others When You Want to Shout “But It’s Mine!”

What is it that makes us feel entitled? We must be born with this tendency. This past week, my toddlers have gone out of their way to try to prove this point. The word “mine” is literally ringing in my ears. They both feel that everything belongs to them personally and that they are free to do as the wish with their things. If they want or need something, they expect the world to stop and cater to them. I would like to say that this type of behavior is something we all eventually outgrow, but I fear that we as adults simply find new “socially acceptable” ways of acting like toddlers.

 

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Love Defined: Choosing Patience When You Want to Complain | alyssajhoward.com

Love Defined: Choosing Patience When You Want to Complain

My 3-year-old broke her arm this week. I must say that she is one tough kid. Not only did she barely cry, but she went on playing as if nothing had happened. It wasn’t until the next morning that I even noticed she was favoring that arm. No swelling. No bruising. I took her in to get an x-ray and sure enough, it was broken.

 

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Surviving Christmas: Learning to Be Like Mary When You Feel Like Martha | alyssajhoward.com

Surviving Christmas: Learning to Be Like Mary When You Feel Like Martha

Without a doubt, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s also one of the busiest. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be fun, but it can also be exhausting. This year has been particularly trying for me personally with two toddlers running around the house. Surviving Christmas has become my main priority this holiday season!

 

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What Being a Parent Has Taught Me about God | alyssajhoward.com

What Being a Parent Has Taught Me about God

God is often described as our “heavenly Father.” Growing up, I thought I knew what that meant. It was easy for me to relate to being a child to a loving father because I was fortunate to have an amazing earthly father of my own. I understood what it meant to be a child. When I became a mom, however, my perspective changed.

 

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Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? | alyssajhoward.com

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s absolutely gorgeous! I love the pumpkins, the falling leaves, and of course drinking hot chocolate on a cool autumn day. There is, however, one thing I’m somewhat torn over…Halloween. Don’t get me wrong. I would love nothing more than to dress my adorable toddlers up in cute costumes and then show them off as we go door to door. There’s just one problem. As a Christian, how do I justify my Christian beliefs with Halloween? Can I still live out my faith and participate in this holiday event?

 

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Potty Training is Easy: Learning the Fundamentals of Our Faith

“Potty training is easy and fun!” I’m pretty sure no one has ever uttered these words. This past week has been a wonderfully delightful experience as my husband and I decided to take on the challenge of potty training our toddler. (Notice my subtle sarcasm.) Potty training is not fun, and it is certainly not easy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for no longer needing to use diapers, but cleaning up accidents is not exactly my favorite thing to do either. All said and done, we know it’s time. Our daughter has been ready for quite a while, and absolutely loves using the “big kid” potty. Now if only we could get her to tell us before she has to go rather than during! (Any tips?)

 

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Milestones: Crying Out for Spiritual Growth

The day our first daughter was born, it all began…milestones. We documented everything. It’s crazy how many “firsts” there are in the first year of life! Every holiday was a first (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, etc.) There’s also the first time she ate solid food, her first words, her first tooth, etc. And don’t get me started on the biggest milestone of them all…the day she became mobile! It was time to baby proof the house!

I also love how my youngest daughter is starting to communicate. She only has about 5 or 6 words that she uses correctly; but between that and hand gestures, I’m starting to get a little glimpse into her personality as well as her wants and needs. Did I mention that her words are incredibly cute? She asked me to go “nigh nigh” this afternoon. Yes, you read that right. My one-year-old asked if she could take a nap. Too cute!

 

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Does God get as excited about our milestones as we do for our children?

I believe He does. For one thing, the Bible tells us that there is great rejoicing in heaven when someone repents and gives their life to Christ. (Luke 15:3-10) In the parable of the prodigal son, the father is overjoyed and throws a party when the lost son returns home. As God’s children, I believe with all my heart that He rejoices over our milestones, both big and small.

 

Milestones equal growth. Every time I take one of my daughters to the doctor, they check to make sure particular milestones are being reached. They do this to make certain that my daughters are growing properly. In the same way, spiritual milestones are a clear indication that spiritual growth is taking place.

 

When a baby learns to walk, they become mobile and can do more things. When they learn to talk, they can communicate their thoughts, feelings, and desires. These are all important steps when it comes to growth and development. These milestones are what eventually lead them to independence and effectiveness as adults. Spiritually speaking, we can’t be effective without hitting certain spiritual milestones as well. We can’t be born again, and then choose to remain a helpless infant for the rest of our lives. We have to choose to grow.

 

You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. – Hebrews 5:12-14 (NLT)

 

I believe that God delights in us as His children, just as we delight in our own children. I look forward to my daughters’ milestones. As much as I love the stages of life they are currently in, I desire growth for their lives. I look forward to the day when I can have long conversations with my girls. As they grow, we get to do more things as a family as well. I love my babies, but I don’t want them to be babies forever. I want to see them grow into young ladies. In the same way, God longs for us to grow in Him.

 

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. – 1 Peter 2:2-3 (NLT)

 

I love how this verse tells us to “cry out” for nourishment. Just as a baby cries when she is hungry, we are called to crave the things of God in the same way. So what does the Bible mean by “pure spiritual milk”? I believe 2 Peter gives us a clear succession of growth. It starts with faith in Christ and ends with us being “productive and useful” as Kingdom builders:

 

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)

 

As someone who has been a Christian for as long as I can remember, I know how easy it is to become spiritually dull and inactive. Know that God is looking forward to your next milestone. Just as we pull out the video camera every time our children do something new and exciting, God rejoices over our progress as well. Let’s choose to learn and grow and be effective in our walk with Christ.

When was the last time you experienced a spiritual milestone?

 

Milestones: Crying Out for Spiritual Growth | alyssajhoward.com

 

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Something Worth Imitating

Something Worth Imitating | alyssajhoward.comHave you ever noticed how toddlers like to imitate everything we do as adults? My two-year-old literally “baked” cookies today for all of her animal friends. She even wore her oven mitt when taking her pretend cookies out of her pretend oven. She loves to imitate mommy. My one-year-old is the same way, only she copies her sister as well. She is always trying to do all of the cool things that her big sister is doing. It’s quite adorable if I do say so myself! Unfortunately, little ones also pick up on our bad habits. I’ve learned the hard way that I need to be careful to live a life worth imitating around my girls. They imitate everything I do…both good and bad.

Children are always watching and learning, even when we don’t think they are.

 

I think we sometimes forget that as Christians the world is watching us. They watch us succeed, and they watch us fail. They observe how we cope with life’s struggles and how we deal with anger and disappointment. They watch how we speak to others (or about others) and also how we raise our children. They see our marriages, both good and bad. It’s easy to go about life and forget that the world is watching, but they are. Continue Reading

A Realistic Look at the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31

When speaking of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, Bible teachers often focus on the attributes that make her a good mother, wife, and keeper of the home. But this passage goes far beyond that. It describes her as a woman who is well-rounded with a good head on her shoulders… smart and resourceful. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 provides both food and clothing for her family as well as her servants, manages the home and its finances, takes care for the needy, sells her own handiwork, and speaks wisdom and teaching to others. (She is one busy lady!) Continue Reading