Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Best Lesson We Can Teach Our Kids At The End Of The School Year

The time from Easter to the end of the school year is always a struggle for me. After Easter, I’m ready for school to be over and for summer to start. And with Easter coming so late this year, I think it’s marked a new all-time low.

I’m tired.

Are you?

Getting out of bed each morning is getting harder for our family. Keeping up with all the correspondence, homework, and projects from school is overwhelming. And managing all their schedules?

It feels impossible.

On top of the daily grind, three weeks ago, our family lost a dear friend. The transmission blew up in one of our cars. And I changed careers.

It’s been a lot. A mixture of good and hard, enough to spin our lives a bit out of orbit. 

I know you’ve been there.

The other day, we were driving from one activity to another, discussing makeup work the kids needed to complete. Tensions were high and voices were higher, and before I knew it, two out of our three kids were crying.

It occurred to me…

The end of the school year is always hard for me, even with over 42 years of life experience to help me manage it. How much harder might it be for kids at the ripe old ages of 6, 9, and 12?

For families with kids in school, opportunities for extending mercy and compassion to one another abound this time of year, that’s for sure!  

On the one hand, the thought of how tired they must be made me want to scoop them into my arms, tell them to forget the makeup work, crawl into our king-sized bed, and pull the covers over our eyes.

But on the other hand, I realized every year this season presents a huge opportunity for learning:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"  Hebrews 12:1.
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

God desires for us to finish well.  

And God has this desire because He knows that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  Romans 5:3-5.

God will use the end of the race to refine whatever it is within our spirits that makes finishing well a challenge. For me, it’s my lack of patience and discipline when I’m tired, my fear of failure, and my all or nothing perfectionist tendencies. For my kids, it’s altogether different things.

But for each of us, the end of the race is an opportunity for refinement and growth.

Yes, the end of the school year will present countless opportunities for us to extend mercy and compassion to our children. And we should be about that business. But we should also use the end of the school year to teach our children how to finish well, even when we don’t feel like it.

So with 31 days of school left (not that I’m counting), we have a choice:

We can throw in the towel.

Or we can rally the troops.

Throwing in the towel will be easier in the short-term, but a rally will teach a host of lasting lessons to our kids.

As I’ve considered what this looks like for our family in the coming days, I’ve decided it’s time to get back to some basics we’ve let slide over the last few months: getting up and going to bed a few minutes earlier, packing lunches and backpacks the night before, daily sitting down to discuss homework and other responsibilities, and keeping the calendar clear of unnecessary commitments.

It’s also critical that we maintain our good routine of family devotionals and prayer first thing in the morning. Because starting well helps us finish well, right?

What about you? Do you feel like giving up but know you’ll be missing a valuable opportunity to teach your kids if you do? If so, what will your strategy be in the coming weeks to help your family finish this school year well? 

We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Feeling Inadequate? You're Not Alone.

It was one of those Saturdays. You know the kind where you try to fit 36 hours of activities into a 24-hour window? That’s the kind.

Two boys had baseball games on different sides of town, with barely a breath between them. Our daughter had back-to-back musical theater performances. And my husband was buried at the library trying to finish his spring doctoral assignments.

At home, dirty dishes filled the sink, clean laundry covered the floor, and the refrigerator was empty. Beds were unmade, personal belongings were strewn everywhere, and stacks of paperwork were begging for attention on the counter.

We were the exact opposite of the front cover of The Pottery Barn catalogue.

Our kids always need to be in three different places at the exact same time. So we’re in the dividing and conquering season of parenting, as much as I said “I’d never.” This means that I hadn’t yet been to the ballpark where our oldest son is playing baseball this season, and I didn’t know the ins and outs of finding his field.

The journey began smoothly. We piled into the car, had everything we would need to survive the next 8 hours, and headed off.

We got stuck in traffic, which made us late. Thankfully though, he had to be there thirty minutes early to warm up, so he wouldn’t miss the game. When we finally arrived, I saw the sign as we pulled into the parking lot and my heart sank.

We were at the wrong baseball complex. 

By the time we arrived at the right complex, my “can-do” attitude had changed to “I cannot do this for another minute”. It’s mind-blowing how quickly this can happen to me.

Anyone else?

I pulled into the parking lot, opened the van door, and began shouting for my son to “run, run, run” to his field. Off he went. But little did I know, there wasn’t just one baseball park in this complex. There were two. And I’d sent him to the wrong one.

Ten minutes later, we were running from one side of the complex to another, hoping to find Field 6 somewhere along the way. We ended up out of breath, in another parking lot, with soccer fields everywhere, but not a baseball field in sight.

I stopped in the middle of the parking lot. Called my husband. And burst into tears.

“I’m a terrible mother.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

“How could God be leading me to minister to moms when I can’t keep it together in my own home?”

My husband patiently listened on the other end. When I finally took a breath, he said all the right things and calmly helped me figure out where we needed to go.

It was a trek.

So I breathed deeply. Wiped my tears. And hollered to the troops, “Follow me!” Off we ran to find Field 6.

As we approached the park, I could see the other players’ moms sitting in the stands. One of them caught my eye and shouted, “Hey! You’re just in time, but you look flustered!”


As I settled in to watch the game, I shared the details of our adventure. Even the part about crying in the parking lot. And one of the moms said, “Wow. I thought I was the only one.”

Then it hit me.

Motherhood isn’t something we master, is it? It’s something we wade through. And all too often, we swim in the seas of inadequacy and isolation.

“I’m not enough, and everyone else is,” we tell ourselves.

But the truth is all moms feel this way, I think. The problem is that we keep it to ourselves, and that makes us feel less than and lonely.

God hasn’t led me to minister to moms because I have it all figured out. God has led me to minister to moms because I am a mom. I understand the mother’s heart. And I’ve discovered that vulnerable and authentic living is a gift I can give to other moms in the trenches with me.

So here in this space, we hope to give that gift to you through vulnerable and honest conversation.
We hope to share stories that might begin to dismantle the feelings of inadequacy and isolation that plague so many of us.

And we hope to inspire and encourage you to see more clearly that by God’s grace, you are enough, and that God is doing a mighty work in your family day by day.

Will you join us for the journey?     

Monday, April 3, 2017

Introducing Jennifer Knott -- Sky Mom's Ministry Director

Hi there!

My name is Jennifer, and I'm excited to announce that I’m the new Sky Mom's Ministry Director. The journey to this role has been a long one -- a lifetime in the making, I think. And I’m confident this is the next right thing God has planned for me in ministry. I look forward to sharing more about the ways in which God has used my story to bring me to this new place very soon.

I’m a pastor's wife and a mom to three kids.

I've been married to my best friend, Kory, for almost 18 years. We serve in one of the local churches in Plano, Texas. We were born in the same hospital, grew up on the same street, had the same third grade teacher, and his aunt babysat me, but we didn’t meet until my cousin set us up on a blind date in 1994! Kory is a gifted preacher and pastor, my biggest supporter, an amazing dad, and a lot of fun. When we aren't serving in ministry, we enjoy date night, camping with the family, cooking, traveling, and entertaining in our home.

Taylor, our oldest, is in sixth grade. She’s a free spirit, an old soul, and never meets a stranger! Taylor is in the youth group at church, where she is involved in a community group and youth choir. Outside of church, she participates in our local children's theater, plays the flute in the school band, and takes piano and voice lessons. She’s also a competitive swimmer.

Zachary, our oldest son, is in third grade. It's a toss-up as to where he gets his red hair because we have it on both sides of the family! Zachary is an extremely compassionate and affectionate child, and I’m smitten that he tells me I’m beautiful daily. He enjoys school, plays the piano, sings in children's choir at church, is gifted in art, and is currently playing baseball. This summer, he wants take a swing at golf.

Reed, our youngest -- the one I often refer to as "Little Bit" -- is in Kindergarten. His debut into full-time school sent this mama into a tail spin for a little while last fall! Reed has a witty sense of humor, a loving heart, and is always ready to wrestle with his dad. Though I miss him at home, he has enjoyed being at school with his siblings. He sings in children's choir at church, played soccer in the fall, and is currently playing baseball.

I’m an attorney and a certified mediator. For the past ten years, I’ve had the privilege of working a flexible schedule as a business litigator so that I could effectively balance the commitments of family, ministry, and my work. This has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me in my adult life.

As a partner in ministry with Kory, I’ve served in countless roles within the local church. Most recently, I served on the women’s ministry leadership team as we launched a new ministry in 2015. I’m currently serving on the church building committee while it oversees a building renovation, and I sing on one of our praise teams.

Outside of family and ministry, I enjoy connecting with women whenever I can, writing my personal blog, reading, practicing yoga, trying new recipes (which requires more yoga!), and traveling.

I love families. I can’t even tell you how much. I believe that healthy families are one of God’s greatest gifts to the world because they are uniquely positioned to make a difference in the communities where they live. One of my heart’s greatest passions is to facilitate small groups on the topics of marriage and family. To encourage moms and dads as they strive to build healthy, strong relationships with Christ, each other, and their kids. And to inspire them to see their families as opportunities to bring the Gospel to the world.

I also love Sky Ranch. In fact, our family is immersed in the ministries of this camp. It began with renting facilities in Van for youth weekends back in the 90s and has culminated with participation in Launch Camp, Family and Overnight Camp, Parent/Child Weekends, and even the outdoor educational experiences created in partnership with the schools. For our family, being on camp is one of the most life-giving experiences we enjoy all year, and we’re always counting the days until we get to come back.

It is my privilege and honor to partner with an amazing team of men and women to bring the gift of Sky Ranch to other families and to minister specifically to moms -- the hearts of the homes we serve. If I can do anything to serve your family in a specific way, please let me know.

I covet your prayers as we begin this journey together!
Jennifer Knott

Monday, March 6, 2017

Jesus Is Omnipotent

Family Fun Icebreaker: Which superhero has the greatest power? Why?

Question: How Does Jesus Help You Relate to God?

Today’s Big Idea: Jesus Is Omnipotent

After a hopefully peaceful discussion with your family, picture the superhero that you decide has the greatest power and compare their power to God’s power. The power of God is greater than anything mankind can imagine. God-sized power created the universe and everything within it, such as planets and people. Jesus has the same power as God, the Father. Scripture shares that all things are created by Jesus (John 1:3–4) and held together by Him. Read Hebrews 1:1–4. Jesus is all-powerful. Jesus is different than an ordinary person. As an ordinary person, you can’t make anything hold together without glue! No one can. Jesus helps you understand God, the Father, by sharing that nothing is impossible with God. And now you know why — if God is all-powerful then He really can make anything happen. Jesus shares too that if you trust in Him and ask anything that agrees with God’s will, He will help you.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18 NLT

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. Hebrews 1:3 NLT

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
There is hope in knowing the truth about the power of Jesus and knowing that nothing is impossible for Him.

Discuss with your family:
If you are in a relationship with Jesus, who has unlimited power, and you ask for His help, how can that be good for you?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God, the Father, to encourage you to trust the real power of Jesus.
I will be praying for you!

Stacy A. Davis, Author
Exerpt from Come One, Come All, a Sky Ranch Family Devotional
© 2016 Stacy A. Davis, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2017

He Knows Your Heart

Family Fun Icebreaker: When you don’t know an answer, whom do you go to?

Question: How Does Jesus Help You Relate to God?

Today’s Big Idea: Jesus Is Omniscient
When you don’t know the answer, do you search for it online before you ask a person? You can get all kinds of answers online. Often they are right, but sometimes they are wrong or distorted. Then what? Answers from Jesus are better than an online search. When you are in a relationship with Jesus, there are advantages. Jesus is all-knowing. Jesus said, "The Father and I are one” (John 10:30 NLT) and “Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” (John 10:38 NLT). Jesus truly knows God, the Father. And Jesus’ answers are the same as answers from God. God has entrusted everything to Jesus including your thoughts and heart, so his answers are more personal and answered with you in mind. Jesus helps you relate to God because He has the exact same character and nature as God, the Father. Jesus knows what God knows.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

(The disciples are speaking to Jesus) “Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” John 16:30 NASB

(About Jesus) God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. John 1:3–4 NLT

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
Scripture also tells you that God, the Father, and Jesus know your thoughts before you even form them into words, and God knows your heart and the reasons that you do what you do, so there is no point in lying or not talking to Jesus about your true thoughts.

Discuss with your family:
Why is it helpful to be in a relationship with someone that really knows you?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you trust Jesus for answers.

I will be praying for you!


Stacy A. Davis, Author
Exerpt from Come One, Come All, a Sky Ranch Family Devotional
© 2016 Stacy A. Davis, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Valentine's Day Tradition by Lisa Clark

Early on we established a Valentine's Day tradition out of necessity. I had our youngest the end of December, and she was still so little and I was still pajamas...that we decided to stay at home for Valentine's Day.
I cooked a home cooked meal (see below for our family favorite recipe - POPPY SEED CHICKEN), pulled out the china, and made my famous slushy strawberry drinks. Brad brought home flowers for all of his girls and we had the best time. We enjoyed it so much that we continued for years to come. As the girls grew older, we'd play "slow dance" music, and Brad would take his turn dancing with each girl, ending with the two of us.
During dinner, we'd go around the table sharing what we "loved" most about each other..building each other up, laughing with each other, maybe even crying a little.#useyourwords
Remember, the world isn't telling your loved ones how special and loved they are. That's your blessing. #family #raisingsinners #biblicalparenting

Poppy Seed Chicken
2 cups chicken (cooked and shredded)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tubes ritz crackers (crushed)
2 tbsp buter, melted
1 tbsp poppyseed
Spread chicken in greased baking dish. Mix soup and sour cream. Pour over chicken. Mix crackers and poppyseed. Sprinkle over soup. Drizzle butter over crackers. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Jesus is the Perfect Sacrifice

Family Fun Icebreaker: Have you ever done extra chores to help another person have less chores?

 Why Is Jesus Sent to You?

Today’s Big Idea:
 Jesus Is the Perfect Sacrifice

Taking on the duties of another in kindness is a form of sacrifice. God sent Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for your sins. Scripture says, “But our High Priest (Jesus) offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” Hebrews 10:12 NLT. Jesus came to make a new covenant, a new agreement, between you and God. If you believe that Jesus paid the price for your sins, God will forgive your sins and no longer even remember your sins. Then, you will be welcome to pray to God while on earth and receive His help. And you will be welcome in God’s home (heaven) later on. The Bible shares that all people are eternal, meaning we all live forever. The eternal life that God gives welcomes you to live out your eternal life with Him in His home, heaven. But to be welcome there, you have to approach God on His terms, repenting of your sin. Once you are forgiven, you can have a real relationship or fellowship with God. You can be friends with God!

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. Hebrews 5:9 NLT

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
 Hebrews 10:10 NLT

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
God is serious about sin, and as long as you are sinful or rebellious toward God, He will not let you have access to heaven or Himself. God will keep you separate, away from Him. It is only through your repentance of sin and belief that Jesus paid the price for your sins personally that you can have a real friendship with God.

Discuss with your family:
Since heaven is God’s home, does it make sense that to be welcome there, you must follow His rules to get in and live there? What do you think God will say to someone who makes up their own rules and ignores God’s rules in an attempt to get into God’s home in heaven?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you trust in Jesus’ payment for your sins.

I will be praying for you!

Stacy A. Davis, Author
Exerpt from Come One, Come All, a Sky Ranch Family Devotional
© 2016 Stacy A. Davis, Inc. All rights reserved.