Thursday, December 31, 2015

Morning Expectant Prayer - Terrie Chevaillier

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly- Psalm 5:3

How should I pray for my kids? What should I pray?  When should I pray?
There is a lot of direction found regarding these questions in this verse.

What: Pray

When: In the morning

Who: Me to the Lord

Why: To lay my requests down before Him

How: With my voice and waiting and watchful expectation

I love this truth as I have applied it to my life in regards to parenting and marriage.  You know there are times when you just feel that you have done all you can do and unless God intervenes, you don’t see a way or an answer.

I have seen that it’s in the expectant waiting that my faith grows.  His Word encourages us to lay these things that tempt us to worry and fret and to exchange our doubtful heart to God for an expectant heart that believes that we will see Him work in our situation.

Depending on what season of life you are in, it might be tough to wake up before kids and get in prayer time.  Just do what you can whether its’s before they leave for school or as soon as your drop them off.  Accountability helps too.  There have been seasons where I would get up early and check in with a few of my friends in a group text message who also wanted to spend some extended morning time in the Word and prayer.  We would just text, “up” and it helped when I didn’t want to get out of bed so early and pray. 

Pray about it and see how God might lead you to grow in this area in 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis - God is Eternal

Family Fun Icebreaker: What is a positive early memory about your life?

Topic Question: How is God Unique?

Today’s Big Idea: God is Eternal

This section focuses on how is God unique. Scripture explains to you that God is eternal; He does not begin, and He does not end. God was not born as you were born. God does not die either. This fact makes God unique, but the truth about God’s eternal nature is often difficult to understand. God made everything that exists. In our world, things begin and end. Remember, however, that our understanding is limited. There is much more to our world that is beyond our knowledge. God is beyond our understanding, too. There is more to God than you are able to understand and, when that happens, God asks you to trust Him through His Word. He divinely inspired people to write these ideas down in scripture so you can understand certain truths about Him.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and
the world, from beginning to end, you are God. (Psalm 90:2 NLT)
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
(Colossians 1:17 NLT)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

Probably everyone’s main question for God when they get to heaven is: “God, where did You come from?” The concept that God did not begin at some point is a struggle for many people to understand; the parallel truth that God does not end can be equally difficult to handle. You simply need to accept this idea with a childlike faith for now, and ask God about it later in heaven.

Discuss with your family: Is God’s eternal nature a struggle for you to believe? What helps you accept the truth that God is eternal?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you believe the message He gives
you in the Bible about His eternal nature.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mary and Her Mom - Lisa Clark

I love the mother/daughter dynamic.  Guess it’s because I’ve got two daughters and was a daughter myself.  Fancy that.  But it always gets me thinking at Christmastime about the dynamic between Mary and her mom.  Was her mom a mess when she heard the news?  Did she take it personally, “Where did I go wrong?” You know the drill. 

My imagination leads me in a different direction though.  I have to think that God picked Mary because she was precious in His sight.  She loved Him with her whole heart.  She was raised to know God and loved Him with her whole heart.  Her mom must have been a rock star! Right?! Way to go Mary’s mom! You did it, girl! You raised the mother of the Messiah! Props!

So this godly woman raised by a godly woman had to tell her godly mom she was pregnant. 

Think about it.  Ponder that moment in your mind.  Mary’s mom’s heart must have sunk.  She must have thought about what others would say.  The church ladies.  What would they say about her as a parent? The rumors.  I don’t know if it showed on her face before her daughter, but inside she must have been heartbroken.  She was just a mom. 

And yet God prepared her for this moment.  It was because she was the parent she was that God chose her child to give birth to the Savior of the world.  This moment wasn’t about her as a mom, it was about her daughter’s destiny.  It takes spiritual maturity to go from “where did I go wrong?” to “God is in control.”

Having eyes to see God’s plan takes daily determination to sit at His feet and bask in His glory.  Worshipping Him on a daily basis.  Getting to know Him through His word.  Then our gaze stays on Him and we are less likely to make it about us. 

Oh, to be like Mary’s mom. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

From a Daughter's Perspective - Taylor Slack

For starters, if you haven’t met my mother, you’re missing out. And honestly, you could call her right now, and she wouldn’t hesitate to set up a time to chat over hot chocolate (because that’s just who she is and she likes hot chocolate more than coffee). Over the years, I’ve gotten the blessing of having quite a few of these chats; some harder than others, but always a blessing because they were with the best mom out there. I know I may be slightly biased, but I can live with that. 

Lora Slack - a God-fearing, single mother of three girls who loves baking cookies, laughing, Hallmark movies, dancing with her eyes closed, and is a beast of a financial advisor. Not only is she my mother, but has also come to be my best friend.  To try and describe her in words would be doing aher a complete disservice, but if I can give you a light glimpse of the phenonmenal mom she is, I’ll take a chance. Out of respect for all of you, I have narrowed it down to three characteristics/ actions of my mom have impacted me and still continue to do so.

  1. My mom is genuine. She is confident in who the Lord created her to be and doesn’t put on a façade or show for people. When you meet her, you actually meet her. You see her strengths and her weaknesses. You see where she depends on the Lord, trusting in Him more than herself.  She is real and honest- in the good times and bad; she doesn’t pretend like everything is going just perfectly when it’s not. For a daughter (especially a perfectionist and people pleaser), this is huge. I grew up seeing a woman who made mistakes, who wasn’t perfect, who was the same person around everyone, and who was confident and content. My mom taught me what it looks like to be who you are, living dependently on the Lord.

  1. My mom is patient. Growing up, I didn’t always see that. I took her for granted and never understood what an impact her patience had on me. But watching her raise my two little sisters, I step back in awe. I don’t know how she does it, but she is beyond patient, all the time. Yes, she has her breaking moments, but more often than not I see her on the floor doing algebra, cleaning up the mess we left in the kitchen for the 18th time, letting 13-year-old hormones run their course so the issue can actually be discussed, waiting in the car for 3 girls trying to get ready for church, and the list could go on for days. In these actions, I see her patience and in her patience I experience her love for me and see an example of what it truly looks like to selflessly love.

  1. My mom is joyful. Not the happy all the time, smile plastered on her face joyful, but the deep, peaceful joy that comes from knowing and loving Christ. She certainly laughs a whole lot and will keep you smiling from ear to ear, but she is also the one that will sit with you, listen for hours, hold you, and remind you of truth. I used to believe that being joyful meant you had to “be happy all the time,” but my mom has taught me that joy comes from a dependence on and hope in Christ- nothing can shake that. So, from the adventures in canoes where we all end up in the water hysterically laughing, to the countless late night cookie baking parties,  to the moments where the situation wasn’t exactly what we hoped for, I have witnessed what joy in the Lord looks like and acts like.

I honestly could write for days about my mom, our relationship, and how blessed I am by her. But I think the best thing I could say is thank you Mama. Thank you for always being there for me, for making my lunch day after day, caring for me when I’m sick, for letting me learn how to fail and get back up again, for being the best cheerleader, for laughing with me until our stomach hurts , for always listening, for teaching me about Jesus and showing me His love, for everything else you do every day, and for being a rockstar of a mom. And to all the moms- thank you for loving and raising us well. No matter how many times we roll our eyes or walk away, we are beyond thankful for you and love you a whole lot.

Monday, December 14, 2015

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis - God is the Purpose Giver

Family Fun Icebreaker: What is a rewarding use of your time to you?

Question: Who is God?

Today’s Big Idea: God is the Purpose Giver
Scripture describes God as the Purpose Giver. God gives purpose to your life. He creates you to know Him and for you to guide other people to know Him, too. God does not need your participation, but God wants you to participate. God does not need anything from any of us, but God blesses those who choose to serve Him. God designs each person for the purpose of being in His community, or the group of His believers called “the church.” He creates a specific role for you within His church; if you follow His plan, you can experience a more fulfilling life. God’s community provides like-minded fellowship, unity, and encouragement. In joining His community and telling others about Him, you can truly feel the abundance of His blessings for you. Then, when you share your story with others, you can illustrate the difference He makes one person at a time.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.
"If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11 NIV
"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
Everyone wants to feel that they matter. In God’s community, you have value and you matter! God makes plans for your life and He designed good things that He desires for you to do. God shares in Ephesians 2:10 that He has a plan and a purpose for each person who believes in Him.

Discuss with your family: It can be hard to recognize your purpose in life; take baby steps in recognizing God’s direction for you. To start, when have you felt that you were doing something that gave you purpose in your life?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you see the purpose that you are to serve.

I will be praying for you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Find Hidden Bargains - Natalie Reid

We have a guest blogger today! Natalie Reid, also known as Coupon Crazy Mommy. She has some great practical advice that we will be sharing every once in awhile. For more of her posts, check out her website at

There’s a reason we call it bargain hunting. It’s because great deals must be found, they don’t find YOU. But it’s easy to discover bargains, and the current issue of Consumer Reports’ “Shop Smart” magazine outlines a few ways. Here are my thoughts on those and a few simple steps that’ll save you money every time you shop:

1. Use Coupon Codes – Before making any online purchase, go to sites like RetailMeNot or Ebates to find any current promo codes available from online retailers. You can almost always find codes for 15-20% off or even FREE shipping!

2. Compare prices – Comparison shopping is incredibly easy now. There are sites like Google ShoppingPricegrabber & Shopzilla, and even mobile apps like Red Laser you can use while shopping at retail stores. Red Laser recognizes products by cover art or barcodes, allowing you to compare local and online prices, plus see reviews, specifications, videos, and more to help you make the best purchasing decision.

3. Buy Off-Season – Stocking up on items at the end of each season will get you the biggest bang for your buck. You’ll often find apparel and household items up to 75% off retail. Just stash these items away, and you’ll be ready to take on each new season and save a lot of money, too!

4.  Join the Club – Sign up for newsletters or join the eClubs of your favorite stores and restaurants. Be sure to use a secondary email address because you’ll get a lot of marketing emails, but you’ll also receive exclusive promo codes, sneak peaks at sales, coupons and even FREE stuff (especially on birthdays!) Check out this list of my favorite birthday freebies.

5. Make friends – Some of the best ways to get deals is to be friendly with store employees. They’re usually in-the-know about upcoming sales and will gladly share info because they want to please their customers and also move merchandise. Whenever my favorite Kroger employee sees me coming, she’ll rush over and tell me about all the great Manager Markdowns available. Now, that’s my kind of customer service!

6. Consider secondhand – If you’re searching for specific items, check out Ebay, Craigslist or your local Facebook Trading Post (mine has nearly 12,000 members!). Recently my son needed soccer cleats; and instead of paying $30 for a new pair, I snagged a barely worn pair for just $6!

7. Aim for FREE shipping – Most online retailers offer FREE shipping sporadically throughout the year and oftentimes around holidays such as Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and others. Many retailers with brick and mortar stores (i.e., Walmart, Sears, Toys R Us, etc.) offer FREE site-to-store shipping. And take note, National FREE Shipping Day is usually 7 days before Christmas…so sometimes it pays to procrastinate.

8. Get In with the Outlet – Online outlet stores aren’t just where items go to die. There are incredible bargains to be found on sites like OverstockAmazon Outlet and my personal favorite, Woot. They offer one HOT deal each day in each of their categories (i.e. Tech, Home, Sport, Kids).

Thursday, December 3, 2015

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis: God is the Protector

Family Fun Icebreaker: What helps you feel safe?

Topic Question: Who is God?

Today’s Big Idea: God is the Protector

Scripture reveals that God is the Protector. He protects His children
according to His purposes. Once creation changed and sin entered our
world, you were no longer safe. Today, safety is always a need. God provides
physical safety for you and your family: when you are at home, driving in
the car, at work or school, and in many other ways in your daily life. God
also gives you spiritual protection. You have a spirit, or a soul, within you
that lives on eternally after death. There is a struggle within your soul and
mind to do either good or evil. God tells you in scripture that evil is present
in this world, constantly trying to tempt you into evil. God shares that
if you let Him, He protects your mind and soul, guiding you to take the
correct actions in life. How you respond to God determines where your soul
lives eternally. By accepting His help to live life the right way on earth, your
soul can live with Him in heaven eternally.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my
rock, in whom I !nd protection. He is my shield, the power that
saves me, and my place of safety. (Psalm18:2 NLT)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God
transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and
pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

Physical safety is a common prayer request. Prayers such as, “God, please
keep me and my family safe” or “God, please protect me as I travel,” are
some of the biggest requests of God on prayer lists. Since the world around
you is unpredictable, it is a good idea to seek God for physical health and
protection. Yet, too often people forget to ask God to safeguard their spirit,
heart, and mind; it is just as important to seek sanctuary for the spiritual
side of life.

Discuss with your family: God gives safety from physical harm. How does
God protect your mind, heart, and spirit?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to show you how He protects you.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Good Stewardship - Sarai Akin

Brent and I were high school sweethearts. Been together for 17 years, married for 12 yrs. Sadie is 10, Ty is 6 and Eli is 3. We are members at Grace Community Church in Lindale where we actively serve in the GRACE K!DS ministry. I fell in love with Sky Ranch when I attended a leadership camp there as a high schooler. Summer 2016 will be our 6th year having own kids as campers there

In years past, we have paid summer camp tuition in full while requiring that Sadie (10) and Ty (6) earn their camp spending money (usually between $50-$75 each).  This year, Brent and I are committed to paying the majority of their tuition but have upped their required contribution beyond just spending money.  

To help them reach their goal through a visual tool, I created a custom 12-piece magnetic puzzle, each piece worth $25.  From now until May, they can save their chore money (after tithe and savings contributions) to purchase a puzzle piece towards their camp tuition.  We will have a designated space on the family fridge so they can see their puzzles slowly build over time.  I also invited grandparents and aunts to participate by giving them the opportunity to buy a puzzle piece as a birthday or Christmas gift in lieu of toys, games, books, etc. 

Our world of excess and entitlement runs counter to biblical principles of God’s sovereign ownership of all things and our responsibility to be stewards.  The Sky Ranch puzzle is one tool we are using in our home to emphasize personal financial responsibility.  We plan to give Sadie and Ty 1 puzzle piece each at Christmas to get the game started.

Friday, November 13, 2015

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis: God is the Provider

Family Fun Icebreaker: As you focus on the good in your life today, what
are you thankful for?

Topic Question: Who is God?

Today’s Big Idea: God is the Provider

God defines Himself as the Provider in the Holy Bible. Jesus, God’s Son,
explains in scripture that God provides for all of your needs. It is easy
to worry about everyday life, focusing on the negative and all the things
missing. If you focus on the good, however, you can see that God truly
provides for you. Scripture says to not worry about everyday life because
God knows your needs; He provides for you all along without you being
aware. He even knows about the needs that you don’t know about yet. Open
your eyes and see His provision for you. Be thankful for the provisions that
you do see! Scripture shares that “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs
17:22 NASB). Allow your heart to be joyful by noticing all that you have
to be thankful for!

Talk with God: Read the scripture aloud.

"Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “"at is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. "They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than birds! (Luke 12:22-24 NLT)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

God knows your needs, spiritually and physically. He knows your desires
because He knows the things you don’t tell anyone else. He knows your
real need for Him, too! Thank Him. To live a life full of gratitude, or
thankfulness, helps your heart feel happy! The more you think of things to
be thankful for, and truly thank God for them, the happier you feel.

Discuss with your family: Often the things that you call “needs” are really
just things you want. What is the dfference between needs and wants?
When has God provided you with a need after you asked for His help?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for a thankful heart for God’s provision for you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Puppet Master Mom - Lisa Clark

Moms who tend to be the puppet master for their kiddos tend to be their husband’s, too.  I’ve watched it and it’s sad.  It’s sad for several reasons.  First, the kids can’t make decisions.  They don’t know which way is up.  Can’t figure things out on their own and tend to be underachievers.  It’s ironic isn’t it? Puppet master moms seem to want the best and so much for their children.  Their intentions seem noble, but the outcome almost always works in the reverse.  

Secondly, their husbands are immobilized from being the head of the home.  Their hands are tied because mom will railroad her way in and through every situation.  And then one day she looks up and has no real relationship with her husband and her kiddos are in a world of hurt. 

Release the strings, mom.  Today.  Release and let go.  It’s not too late.  As a vessel of the Holy Spirit, you are capable of doing GREAT THINGS for your family! But living their lives is NOT what you’ve been called to do.  You are accountable for YOUR life and your children and husband are accountable for theirs.  

Control seems to be in our DNA as moms, but it is single handedly handicapping our children and families.  Let go and let God.  It’s not a cliché.  It’s real.  He can redeem your days and actions and intentions TODAY.  Claim His promises! Jeremiah 33:3

Thursday, November 5, 2015

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis: God is the Father of All

Family Fun Icebreaker: How does the person to your right encourage you?

Topic Question: Who is God?

Today’s Big Idea: God is the Father of All

Scripture explains that another name for God is your loving, heavenly
Father. Every family receives their name from God. Whether or not you
have an earthly father active in your life, you possess a heavenly Father who
is active in your life. If you will turn to Him, He is always there to comfort
and encourage you. The Bible refers to God in Aramaic as “Abba,” which
means “Dear Father.” Jesus is God’s Son who was sent to earth to reveal the
Father to you and me. Jesus explains that when you pray, you are to say,
“Our Father who is in heaven” and refer to God as your “Father” (Matthew
6:9 NASB). Jesus also tells of how the Father plans to guide you through
your life, such as leading you in the right direction, giving you wise counsel,
providing for you, strengthening you with His Spirit, listening to you, and
encouraging you.

Talk with God: Read the scripture aloud.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

To recognize God as a Father is comforting to most people. Sometimes,
if there a negative experience of a father in your life, it may be more of a
challenge for you to think of God in this way. Try to think of God as the
good Father that you always wished for; encourage yourself to see Him as a
trusted friend who is there to help build you up.

Discuss with your family: A father is the spiritual leader of his family. He
provides financially, protects, mentors, and loves unconditionally. Do you
see the parallel of the heavenly Father to an earthly father? How does it help
you to think of having a heavenly Father who assists you with those same
responsibilities, except this Father knows all, controls all, and has power
over all?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God, the Father, to encourage you to learn
more about Him.

Friday, October 30, 2015

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis: God is the Creator

Family Fun Icebreaker: What do you like to create?

Topic Question: Who is God?

Today’s Big Idea: God is the Creator

In scripture, God defines Himself as “the Creator.” The Bible shares there is
nothing that God did not create. God did not have to create everything, but
He did. He chooses to create YOU! In the beginning, according to God’s
Word, everything that He creates is “very good.” Problems arise shortly
after creation and mankind enters into sin, behavior that turns against God.
After mankind’s rebellion, God chooses to care and provide for us; He did
not abandon mankind to struggle through life alone. God designs a plan
and a purpose for His creation. He makes a way to restore your relationship
with Him. He wants an interactive relationship with you!

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 ESV)
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! (Psalm 95:5-7 ESV)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

You are God’s creation. He is a powerful Creator with a speci!c interest in
YOU! It is amazing to think that a God who creates planets, solar systems,
and billions of people wants to personally know you and for you to know
Him. He has many other things to think about, but He still remembers to
think and care about you. The more that you get to know God, the more
you see evidence of His compassion for you.

Discuss with your family: When you create something, do you usually
take care of it? Since you are His creation, God feels the same way about
you. Can you share ways that God takes care of you?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you see Him in His creation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thankful(ness) - Lisa Clark

Each fall I get the “thankful(ness)” bug! You know, “let’s all start getting thankful ‘round here, okay?” Fall means pumpkins, good food, family, celebrations and thankfulness.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!

When the girls were little, we’d have Thankfulness Jars and they would contribute their posts to the jar everyday. It was a tradition to read what each family member was thankful for the evening before Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving Eve, I guess.  Everyone would pull a slip of paper from the jar and read it and then the writer would proclaim, “That’s mine!” It kept us focused on the season and what was really important.

Having a thankful heart changes everything.  It takes the focus off self and puts the focus on ALL we have to be thankful for.  If you have a child that seems to see the glass half empty, this exercise in thankfulness will really help them refocus and be aware of their less than thankful attitude. 

There are many things families can do during this time of year to stay thankful and “others” focused.  Here are some ideas:

            Organize a canned food drive in the neighborhood
            Volunteer at a food bank or kitchen for the homeless
            Clean out closets and take excess to a shelter or a family in need
            Memorize scripture using thankful, thanksgiving, thanks, etc.
            Write letters to family members blessing them and thanking them
            Random acts of kindness in your neighborhood or school
            Serve at church, school or home

Start a new tradition this year and have a “30 Days of Thanksgiving!”  Be intentional and stick with it! Getting all family members involved in projects like this encourage unity and harmony within the family unit.  Also, allow each family member to contribute a dish during the Thanksgiving meal.  Ask them their favorite, then let them prepare that particular dish.  Happy Thankful(ness) Month!!! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis: God is the One True God

Family Fun Icebreaker: What makes you unique?

Topic Question: Who is God?

Today’s Big Idea: God is the One True God

In this section, as you focus on who God says that He is in scripture, you
find there are several ways that God defines Himself. When you begin
a relationship with a friend, you get to know your friend by listening to
the things that they choose to say. How do they reveal themselves to you?
Starting a relationship with God is the same way; to know God, you have
to get to know God for who He is and how He reveals Himself. What
does He choose to tell you about Himself? In scripture, the Holy Bible,
God shares that He wants you to know Him personally. He uses creation
to reveal Himself to you (Romans 1:18-21), and He gives you His Words
through scripture. God inspires normal men to write His Word to tell other
people about Him through the Holy Bible. He gives His Words to men to
write down so that you can know Him (2 Timothy 3:16). One thing that
God consistently shares in scripture is that He is unique; there is no one like
Him! No one can take His place. He is the One True God.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. (Isaiah 46:9 NISB)
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. (Jeremiah 24:7 NIV)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

God creates everyone and everything by speaking it into existence. You are
not like God. You cannot create by speaking things into existence. You do
not have the same abilities that He does. His power and ability are beyond
anything we understand. God is one of a kind. God is so special, it can be
intimidating. "e good news is that, if you ask Him, His Word tells us He
gives you a heart to know Him. He really does want you to get to know who
He truly is, and He will help you understand Him.

Discuss with your family: To understand God, you need to start with the
things that make God unique. How is He different from anyone else that
you know? What are some things that make God unique?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to give you a heart to know Him.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Battle Ground and the Battle Plan - Terrie Chevailier

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning- Exodus 17:11

I find great direction and wisdom in these verses from Exodus 17 where the Amalekites had set out and attacked the Israelites.  Moses sent Joshua out to fight them with some other men.  As long as Moses had his hands up, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  SO- when Moses hands grew tired, Aaron and Hur held his hands up for him! I encourage you to read the full story in chapter 17.  After you read it- hear are a few thoughts I want to encourage you to pray over?

The Battle Ground- Where is the battle ground in your home?  What is that reoccurring issue that seems to steal, kill, and destroy?  Finances, friends, rebellious child, marriage discord, strife, broken relationships?   In this story from Exodus, the battle was the Amalekites attacking the Israelites. 

Prayer- Once you have identified the battle, you can see it from a different perspective and go to war in prayer over the situation just as Moses did for Joshua.  If you haven’t seen the movie War Room, go see it!  It will help you understand what it means to fight strategically in prayer over these situations.  Notice that when Moses hands were lifted that Joshua was winning.  When Moses grew tired and weary and lowered his hands, the Amalekites started winning.

Friends- Exodus 17:12-13 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset, So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Who are your Aaron and Hur’s?  They would be faith filled friends who love God’s Word and prayer.  Call them!  Ask them to join you in the battle in prayer.  Don’t go at it alone.  Moses didn’t and we shouldn’t either.

Victory- Don’t stop praying until you see the victory!  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dear Sky Ranch - Jennifer Bownds

Dear Sky Ranch,

I would love to share one of the 2000 reasons why I love Sky Ranch.  Last year we had an event that happened in our home that was life changing for my daughter.  She was in 7th grade and was going through a rough time with friends.  She was having to choose between giving up friendships and following Christ and His ways or going with what the world and peers said was cool.  She was trying to discover who her true friends were.  She struggled with this for weeks.  

One day I picked her up from school and she cried all the way home.  She specifically asked me why God would put her through this when she was trying to do the right thing.  I could tell she was at her breaking point with what to do with this situation.  We came home and by now she was sobbing.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

From A Dad - Skeet Tingle

Greetings from a SkyDad!   Thank you for desiring to create Christ-centered homes and raising kids that love and honor God!  Sky Ranch is committed to leading youth and families to know and follow Christ and SkyDads is specifically committed to standing with dads, providing encouragement and resources for them to soar in their roles as Godly husbands and fathers. We know that being a dad these days isn’t for the faint of heart, it is tough work! We know because we are dads.

While Angie and I were raising our four children born within four years, there were a LOT of days that I felt like I wasn’t “getting it right” as a dad.  In my efforts to be a good spiritual leader in my home, I would often end up doing nothing because I was overwhelmed, sometimes discouraged, and just plain tired!  I compared myself to other dads and, instead of gaining ideas of how to lead my family, the comparisons would leave me thinking that I was never doing enough.  Does that sound familiar?

What would pull me out of those places? An obtainable focus. Encouragement.  And a step in the right direction. 

With encouragement from a friend and support from Angie in our home, I started doing something.  It wasn’t big, fancy or perfect, but we began having a short five to seven minute family devotional every morning.  No matter what

We would all pile onto the couch or sit up to the breakfast counter when our children were little.  I would read a Bible story and pray over my family.  As they grew, extra curricular activities and sports began to be a regular part of the family schedule. We realized that mornings were the only time we were all together at the same time!  Now, our grown kids will tell you that although they don’t remember specifics from those times, they DO remember that we gathered before the Lord as a family every morning, read His Word and committed our day to Him.  Morning devotionals became their “normal” and God multiplied my meager offerings to Him as a dad with my wife and children.

It all began with another dad encouraging me and my wife supporting me.  Skydads encourages fathers in their role of modeling our Heavenly Father’s love to His children, helping dads be Godly character leaders who will change their families, their children’s schools, their communities and, ultimately, the world. We are committed to help you and your husbands succeed as a couple and as parents.

Here are some of the basic encouragements that have mattered to me as a dad:

Stick with it
Keep showing up. Take the next step. Be faithful. Do something. Persevere. Run with endurance the race set before me.

Be strong and courageous   Joshua 1
God doesn’t just make us brave. He wants us to choose courage by trusting Him.  And He is also constantly reminding us not to be afraid.
Choose courage. Choose not to be afraid.
God is for you, for your family, and He is able! I would say to dads, remember God loves your wife and your kids infinitely more than you do!

Stay focused
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and on His perspective and His priorities for your family. He wants them to know Him, love Him and trust Him.  Don’t over-complicate this.

Stay connected
We are not created to do this journey alone.
We are called to abide with the Lord, to stay connected to the “vine” (John 15:5).  And we are called to stay connected with the community of believers and with other men.

Finally-stay surrendered to the Lord
The biggest gift you will give to your wife and children is your transformed self. What you do for your family and how you do it will flow from who you are and who you are becoming in Christ.

Seek Him first today!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Gossip Mill - Lisa Clark

Psalm 39:1
"I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth..."

I had an hour, long phone conversation with a mom this week heartbroken over recent events involving her college- aged son.  The conversation began like this…”Hi Lisa, can you pray for me?”

Through her sobs, I understood she needed prayer and the only other person she knew to call for prayer was unavailable.  At that moment, I thanked the Lord for literally clearing my schedule an hour before.  I now knew why He cleared it.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tips from Tori: First Born Going to College!

 "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you every step you take"  Joshua 1:9

Before College
  1. Pray with them for their college experience and future roommate!
  2. Buy dorm room stuff along the way making it easier and not fussy to complete all at one time.
  3. Take time to clean out their room at home TOGETHER, collect mementos and put in memory boxes so when they come home from college their room at home is fresh and inviting.
  4. Write notes to your future college bound student that you will strategically hide during move in day.
  5. Have a family picture taken…preferably, in front of your home! Print these pics to have around the house for when you return without your new college freshman.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

222 Friends - Terrie Chevaillier

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.2 Timothy 2:22

Over a year ago, I attended a retreat and the teaching for the weekend was on the book of first and second Timothy.  In the book of Timothy, Paul is writing to young Timothy about leading a life of godliness and teaching and encouraging others to do the same.   2 Timothy 2:22  was my “take away” verse from the retreat.

I have prayed it daily for my children, said it to them, texted it, and talked about it A LOT as two of mine are now in high school.  It matters who they run with!  I have started calling these people 222 friends from 2 Timothy 2:22.  In fact, the other day I just texted #222.  If you have never used a hash tag- start here!  They will never forget it.  #222

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wise Counsel - Lisa Clark

Moms, are you the wise counsel your children need you to be?

Proverbs 3:13-18“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.”

Wisdom.  It’s not what we wake up longing for is it? We want to be thin.  Beautiful.  Loved.  Adored.  Thin. 

But wisdom probably finds herself way down on our list of things we long for.  It’s just the way it is in 2015. 

But I’m here to say that we need it more than ever, Mom.  Our children are longing for us to counsel them with wisdom straight from the word of God.  That’s where we will find wisdom, grow in it, long for it and find our beauty, riches, honor and peace. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SkyMom Testimonial: Drop off and Pick up - Lisa Tyson

July 29, 2015
We have three children—16 and 13 year old boys and an 8 year old daughter. Everyone gets to pick “one thing” for summer. This year, my middle (Chase), chose Sky Ranch. This is not Chase’s first “camp experience” but it is his first Sky Ranch experience. I was not worried about him being away for a week at all. He is all about having fun, so from what I heard, this is the perfect place for him. 
I expected excellence and was not disappointed upon arrival. We looked around camp, got him to his cabin, met his counselors, unrolled his sleeping bag….all excellent. What I did not expect, was the feeling that overwhelmed me when the covered wagon trailer pulled away from his cabin and I waved goodbye. I realized that, while he has been away before, he has never been away when I was not able to call/text/FaceTime….I had left my precious handful of “all boy” middle child in the care of people I did not, and would not, know. Would they keep him safe? Would they make sure he did not get too hot or dehydrated? Would they make him wear sun screen and a life jacket to ride the jet ski? Would they make him take a shower and brush his teeth? So many questions run through a mom’s mind as you drive away leaving a child behind... But my ultimate, and most important question was this: Would they point my son toward the Cross of Christ? 
My questions were answered as I listened to the parent CD on the way home. YES. Yes to everything! He would have fun. He would be kept safe. He would be allowed to be “all kid” and “all boy.” Most importantly, He would be pointed to know the Lord. This week, my Daily Update Email tells me that he is learning about the Names of God. I cannot wait to hear all about it. From the smile on his face in the pictures, I am certain I miss him far more than he is missing me.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

He Directs and Delights - Terrie Chevaillier

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23

Hey Moms!  School is about to start and I know there are lots of details to be talked about, thought about and prayed for.   Who wants their 2015-16 school year steps directed? 

This promise found in Psalms tells us that when we are seeking to follow Him and His way that He not only directs our steps but He also delights in every detail of our lives.

So who are the Godly?  Godliness is characterized by having an attitude that recognizes that God created the world and everything in it and therefore seeks to develop a relationship with Him.  It is someone who has a reverence and a respect for the ways of God and the things of God.

Some of the school year details we are starting to think about is who will my child sit with at lunch?  What if she doesn’t know anyone in her class?  Will he make the team and actually get to play? What if she doesn’t get into her first choice college?  What if the group he hangs out with breaks apart and his friends start making bad choices?  What if my child makes bad choices?

Any thoughts sound familiar? If so, claim this promise from Psalm 37:23.  Post it in your car, write it on your chalk board, text it to your children, pray it over them out the door and back into the door of your home.  Tell them that He delights in every detail of their lives.  They need to know this.  Teach them how to claim His promises for themselves and encourage them to have a detail journal that they ask God to delight in and then encourage them to listen for how He wants to direct them in the detail.

And when you come to the end of this school year, prepare to stand amazed as you look back and see just how He directed the steps of your family!

Monday, August 10, 2015

2015-2016 SkyMoms Theme!

Jesus, Take The Wheel! (Of this Mini-Van!!!)

Moms, it’s so hard to stay in our lane isn’t it? We get so sidetracked on other things, that it’s hard to keep the main thing the main thing when raising our children.  But when we LET GO AND LET GOD, we relinquish control to the One who SHOULD BE in the driver’s seat!

Our key verse for our SkyMoms Luncheons and gatherings during the 2015-16 year is – 

Don’t you love it? He will take hold…if we let Him! Remember, God is a gentleman.  He will not bulldoze His way into our lives.  We have to admit we need Him and make room for Him to take the wheel.

Red Light – STOP  
  We must ask ourselves, “Am I ready to stop looking around and comparing my children to every other child out there and accept him for who God created him to be?”

Yellow Light – Slow Down
  We must admit we are not perfect parents and will never be, and know that when we drift into other lanes, it’s okay! We can get back on course!

Green Light – Go!
Go and build a firm foundation for your family, keeping Jesus at the wheel of your life and your families lives.

Can’t wait to see you at one of the SkyMoms Luncheons this year all throughout the D/FW metroplex, and beyond!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Top 10 Things I Wish I Had Known - Sue Beddingfield

1)  That when she was little, she might use her swim goggles as a headband - in every picture, all week, daytime or nighttime.

2)  That the things she has learned over her eight summers at Sky Ranch continue to percolate and come out over time. Just this past week while we were in Guatemala on a mission trip, she talked about a game they had played in Morph summer before last and the impact it made on her life.

3)  That if you hang with Rope Myers in Young Riders long enough, you might end up buying a horse!

4)  That, not only do the kids learn, they also have the chance to teach and positively influence others in their cabin - even when they're little.

5)  That Sky Ranch counselors and staff know how to keep any potential homesickness at bay (even in a 6-year-old who insists she's ready to go to camp - primarily because she saw picture of horse on the Sky Ranch website.  See #3 above).

6) That you, mom (and dad!), might very well cry when you drop them off - and when you fetch them - but they're all happy tears, knowing your kids couldn't be in better hands than with the Sky Ranch ministry team and counselors.

7)  That when you see a photo online of your child standing on a horse, don't panic - they're with a World Champion rodeo guy and he knows exactly what he's doing. (See #3 above). Plus your kid has the biggest smile on her face that you've ever seen!

8)  That, year after year, regardless of which cabin or age or camp level, your child will see Jesus in the faces, words and actions of her Godly-role-model Sky Ranch counselors.

9)  That, even though the Sky Ranch system allows you to, it's best not to look at what your camper is buying with her Ranch Bank (milkshake with add-ins, pucker powder, wall cross - gift for mom but I didn't realize it when looking!, Dr Pepper, milkshake, 3 Musketeers bar, milkshake…).  Hey, it's only for a week or two each summer.

10) That one place, through Launch Camp, Summer Camp, Young Riders Camp, Champions Rodeo Camp, Leadership Camp and Family Camp, could so dramatically and positively affect us - from helping us define what our family stands for (Truth, Courage, Love) to finding the place we most love in Colorado to helping our daughter determine what she wants to do with her life to serve the Lord (be a Sky Ranch counselor and possibly work in Camping Ministry)!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

What I Wish I Had Known - Lisa Clark

I'm not an overachiever by trade, so getting my girls ready for camp was a breeze.  Just keepin' it real! I always made sure they had enough clothes and one or two things for the theme nights.  I sent some care packages and letters.  I certainly didn't go to the extreme that some moms go to by any means.  So my take on this question is a little bit different...

I wish I had known that this would be the beginning of her personal spiritual journey.  I wish I had known that this week of camp would launch her into a season of personal bible study and devotion.  I wish I had known that this one week would begin a lifetime of hunger for God's word and an eagerness to meet him everyday for quiet time and worship.  I thought it was camp.  But God had other things in mind.

The first year we picked Camryn up from Sky Ranch she proclaimed, "That was the best week of my life!" Well, okay! Can't top that I don't guess.  Life was going to be downhill after this week.  But lo and behold the next year we heard these words, "This week was even better than last year!" What????? Yep.  Relationships and a deeper dive into biblical truth made it all better.  It just got better and better.  The camp hadn't changed.  Her heart had.  Her desire for truth had grown.  She was desiring the things of God.  And that made it better...sweeter.

I wish I had know how valuable these precious weeks at Sky Ranch were for the overall spiritual development of my child.  Every time I see her with an open bible, or worshipping her Savior, or praying with a friend, I'm reminded of the stepping stones that led her there and once again I'm thankful for her time at Sky Ranch.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What I Wish I Had Known - Terrie Chevaillier

I just picked up one my sons from Sky Ranch this past weekend and even though I knew a few things to be true, I found myself wishing again that I had not forgotten what I knew!  If you are a mom, I am almost certain you can relate.

I knew that he would be exhausted, but somehow I forgot as I kept expecting him to be more talkative. Some of these things come out slowly throughout the week as he shares the experiences he wants us to know about.  Even though he says little- it doesn’t mean that big didn’t happen.  I knew all of his clothes would be wet and damp but somehow forgot about that and put it off until the next day! 

I wish I had known that my boys didn’t really care about the care packages as much as I obsessed over them being perfect.  This year it took less than two minutes to run down the candy isle at the grocery store when I was already there grabbing my groceries (no special trip) and picked five different sour type candy bags (enough for the entire cabin as they love to share) and grabbed some manila envelopes and stuffed the candy in there and used a big sharpie and wrote their name on the outside and cabin number.  Done!  What had taken multiple days in years past, was trimmed down to five minutes total by year fourteen!

Perhaps why I grew to not obsess so about the gift bags was because I have come to know the much larger gift that keeps on giving that we get at Sky Ranch.  On year one as campers, I wish I had known when my oldest starting attending at the age of ten that he would gain relationships that were beyond my imagination in terms of mentoring and Christian community that would take him into his twenties. Had I known, perhaps on those days when I was tempted to think all was not well and I had screwed up and hadn’t done this thing or that thing right to help him on the pathway to “success” that some of the most godly wise men and women would be his best companions, I am sure my soul would have quieted itself within me!  The list is so long now of those we love and stay in touch with from Sky Ranch that it causes me to say, “thank you God- you see and you provide.”

What I do know is that I will always tear up at the front gate the minute I see the big Sky sign and when they play the video at closing ceremony, I feel God’s love and care for my children in a depth that I don’t experience any other time of the year. 

I hope that you get to know what I wish I had known and what I now know.  God’s unconditional love is on display at Sky Ranch!  Go see and then tell!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What I Wish I Had Known - Stacy Davis

The first time that I sent my first child to Sky Ranch summer camp, I recalled my own days as a camper at Sky Ranch.

I was a "city girl" who first attended Sky Ranch at 6 years old and continued as a camper for the next 9 years. From those years as a camper, I knew that it was going to be warm (okay - hot!) and anything in the water - the lake, pool or waterslide is the place to be!

So as a mom, I knew to pack several swimsuits because your swim suit is not always dry from the previous day. And I knew that by the end of the week my trunk was going to smell like the lake - just accept it! It happened every year no matter what I did. 

From my camper days, I knew that being sweaty and a little dirty all the time was just a part of life at camp. Again, just accept it. It realized that it made me "the city girl" a better person somehow to be able to accept myself as sticky and dirty. Plus, everyone else it too.

As a mom, I knew to not fuss if at camp pick-up my child was messy, uncombed or dirty. You try looking good with a pile of crumpled clothes that smell like the lake and are probably a little damp because you threw the wet dirty clothes in with the clean ones!

Keeping my wet clothes separate from my dry clothes is a useful life lesson to learn and actually helpful when I was in college (which is a little scary!)...and is best learned through experience!

From camper days, I knew the most important time of day to me was cracker barrel (snack time) and it was the time that I could buy candy or ice cream myself. No parent controlled my purchase! I was free to pick! It was empowerment somehow!

And I knew the worst feeling was to be told that you didn't have enough money in your account the last day. Truly heart-breaking!

As a mom, I knew to put more than the recommended amount in the account so it did not run out.

As a camper, I remembered that a very special bond that develops each year with each cabin of girls and the counselors. It is the bond that you get when you have gone through an experience that strengthens you. The friendships formed impacted me for the better.

 As a mom, I knew that by sending my children to camp there would be an inward growth that I would not necessarily see right away, but they were learning.

From my camper days, I learned two important lessons. I was the oldest child and more cautious, it was tough for me to leave my family and stay somewhere else. I learned to trust God to take care of me. He is always present, even when my family is not. I also learned that other people really do care for me and that I will be okay. Both truths helped me when I moved away for college.

As a mom, I knew that I was giving my children that same hope and encouragement of wherever you go, you are not alone. God is always with you and there are others that God sends into your life who love you and you will be okay. Such simple, but valuable life lessons to learn!