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Raising up Warriors a Culture Apart
Whether you’re homeschooling your children, raising them overseas, or even just teaching them to love God in your own home, it can be a bit terrifying knowing they will soon have to step out into that scary world out there and fight who-knows-what evil. We shelter them from it as long as we can, work hard to give them good values, limit their time on social media, make them memorize verses, take them with us on our ministry trips, teach them “Jesus loves me” (sometimes even in English!).
Secretly, we’re hoping this little human God placed in our care will one day grow up to save the world. Or at least make it a better place.
But this isn’t a movie. And we don’t yet know the evils they will face out there or what choices they will make.
How can we prepare our children to fulfill the purposes their Father God formed them for?
Arm them well.
When our kids were still preschoolers, the Lord told me, “These children are Mine, placed in your care for a time. You think you have 18 years to train them up in My ways, but you don’t. Right now they lean on you like you lean on Me. But by the time they reach age 10 or 11, they will lean on something or someone else. That Someone must be Me.”
1. SWORD TRAINING.
Ephesians 6:17, Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
That was a definite fear-of-the-Lord moment for me. I scurried as fast as I could to put into effect some kind of daily Bible reading.
Because they were still toddlers, we used hand motions or songs to memorize Scripture. But once they started first grade, we began reading through the Bible every morning, using the New International Reader’s Version (third grade reading level). The format God led us to use took about 10-15 minutes to do together, but we read and talked while they ate breakfast, so it didn’t add any more time to their busy morning.
At first, the kids were highly distracted and it was difficult to stay on track, until we talked about it together, and then began starting that precious Bible time each morning with a prayer like, “Lord, please block out all distractions and guard this time together in Your Word. Take Your truth and plant it deep in our hearts so we will believe it, stand on it, and walk out in it all the days of our lives.”
Beginning each day with a feast on the Word not only edified, but empower us. Often, God brought into the children’s paths situations to practice what He had just taught them that morning. To this day, our now-grown children tell us that daily Bible reading together was the most powerful way God drew them to Himself.
By the time they graduated from high school, we had read the whole Bible nearly twice through together. This was the method God led us to:
- Ask God to block out all distractions and speak to us from His Word.
- Read aloud a portion of Scripture (usually a few verses, sometimes a chapter).
- Talk about it together as God led, asking questions, etc.
- Memorize any verses God highlighted for us.
- Pray the passage back to Him together.
At around age 10-12, both our kids wanted their own personal quiet times with God. Depending on their schedule, they did this before breakfast, as soon as they finished school, or before they went to bed. So, I gave them journals and encouraged them to write, and even draw, what God was showing them each day from His Word.
They wanted to use a devotional book in their quiet times, but because they had grown up overseas in a home filled with Jesus, not many devotional Bible studies for their age were deep enough or covered issues TCKs face (like finding where home is), so the Lord led me to write Dare to Become a Man of God and Delight to Become a Woman of God, for ages 10 or 11 and above, from a mother’s heart, filled with deep truths from Scripture the Lord was telling me they needed to know for those tender pre-teen years and beyond.
I thought to study each of the books separately with the kids, as one is for boys and one for girls, but they wanted to study them both together. As my son said, “I need to know what my wife needs to know.” So they studied them in their quiet times, one chapter a week, and we got together on Saturday mornings to talk about what God was teaching us.
Soon after, several of their friends also began studying together with their parents the lessons on walking in the Word, listening to God’s voice, overcoming conflict, finding freedom from lies and strongholds, and loving well. Then youth Bible study groups began forming throughout the city, and even in other parts of the country. God taught those young people and their parents, to wield their “swords.” And now that this “army” has graduated and returned to their passport countries for college and beyond, their passion for Him has grown all the more, and they’ve stepped out on their own mission adventures throughout the world.
I realize that not ever child is as hungry for the Lord as ours were, and every situation is different. I can share with you in my next blog some things God led us to do to help foster that hunger, but a good God-breathed Bible study plan to do with your children daily, an easy-to-read version of the Bible, some instruction on journaling so they can write what God’s teaching them in their quiet times, and a deep devotional Bible study workbook were all keys the Lord used to keep our children wanting more of His Word.
Now that they and their friends are older and facing many of the pressures singles face today, the Lord led me to write these Bible study workbooks for ages 14 and above: Dare to be a Man of God and Delight to be a Woman of God, with accompanying prayer journals.
Raising Up Warriors a Culture Apart, Part 2
With all the dangers in the world today, it can be terrifying to think about our children leaving the shelter of our home to step out there all on their own. For now, we keep them in a Christian bubble, even picking their friends for them when we can. But when that day comes for our warriors to leave home and face the enemy head on without Mom and Dad to shield them, will they be ready? Will you?
In my October blog (Part 1) on “Raising Warriors a Culture Apart” I shared with you some ways the Lord asked us to arm our children well with “sword training.”
This month, I’d like to share the importance of arming them with Kingdom Culture decision-making.
If you’re telling your children how important it is to seek the Lord before you make decisions (Proverbs 3:5-7), but you’re making all their decisions for them, how will they learn to practice what you’re preaching to them?
And if they see you making spur-of-the-moment decisions all day long without seeking Christ first, how will they know what it looks like to listen to God and follow His lead?
We need to model Kingdom Culture decision-making in a visible, audible way, and encourage them also in seeking God first now, while they’re under our roof, so it will already be their habit when they get out there in the real world.
How can we model Kingdom Culture decision making? (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- Make it your own habit. Every day, you are making decisions, big and small. Get in the habit of handing God each decision: “Should I buy this or not?” “Is there someone You want me to call or meet with today?” “How do You want me to handle this situation?” “What do You want me to make for dinner today? Do You want us to go out? Where? Seat us at just the table with just the waiter You want us to show Your love to.” “How can I show my children love today?” “How can I bless this person?” “How do You want me to discipline this child in this situation?” etc.
- Don’t hide it. Let them see you pray and listen to God. Our quiet times are definitely important, but also pray in front of your children. Let them see you stop and ask God how to respond in each situation before you decide. Pray out loud, so they can hear you. “Lord, this traffic is really bad. Is there another route You want me to take?” “Lord, I don’t know what to do in this situation. Please show me.” “Lord, Jimmy is having trouble getting his homework done. What do You suggest we do to help him?” etc.
- Invite them to seek the Lord together with you. Pray together with them about the situations and problems your family faces, asking God what He wants to do about that.
- Let them practice making decisions with God’s guidance. As God leads, when your children begin showing some wisdom and responsibility, give them freedom to pray and ask God what He wants them to do before making decisions; like whether or not to go to youth group when they’re tired, or to a movie their friends are going to, etc. You can share with them advantages and disadvantages on either side, but give them freedom to make mistakes. Then you can talk about things together afterward. This is great training ground for when they get out there in the real world and have to make decisions on their own.
That might not seem practical to you, especially when you’re in a hurry, or it feels awkward or embarrassing to pray about everything. But I could give you hundreds of examples where it made all the difference in the world, not only in my life, but in our children’s.
And I can also tell you how disastrous not seeking the Lord can be.
When our son began hanging out with a boy we thought might be a bad influence on him, my husband and I decided we’d tell him he couldn’t spend so much time with that boy. But just before I talked with him about it, I remembered we hadn’t asked God first. So, I asked, “Lord, what do You think about that?”
His answer came immediately in that still small voice of His in my heart and mind: “I think you should ask him what I want him to do.” So, I went to our son, shared our concerns with him, then told him to pray about what he should do.
“I don’t need to pray about it, Mom. I already know what God wants me to do. He wants me to be his friend.”
Two weeks later, that boy came to Christ through our son’s influence!
Not only do the decisions we make often have eternal results, but influencing our children to seek God first by modeling it ourselves will make all the difference for the rest of their lives. And our own.
Finding Home in the Heart of a TCK
I’m a TCK. I don’t normally like labels, but if the shoe fits, might as well wear it, right?
TCKs are people who, when you ask us, “Where are you from?” we just sort of stare.
And then we fumble out some dumb answer that is nothing like what we feel. Because if I truly answered that question, then you‘d be the one staring at me!
Why can’t I just give a quick, one-word answer, like, “Tulsa,” or some other tangible point on earth that has a house and picket fence, or however the locals live there?
Locals? Do they even say that in America? Sigh. Can you tell I’m not “American”?
Most TCKs have no idea where on earth to call “home.” We’ll never look like, sound like or “be” a native of the country we grew up in. And we’ll never feel like, talk like, think like, or act just like the people from the country our passport says is ours.
Those two cultures have blended inside us to form a “third” culture. Which I guess is what earned us the label Third Culture Kid.
I’ve lived in so many countries now, they’re going to need a new label for me.
Or maybe I already know who I truly am. Because, you see, my home isn’t on this earth. It’s in Heaven. Or, more specifically, Christ is my Home. Wherever He is, that’s where I’m at home. His arms around me, His voice in my ear, laughing at my stupid jokes and loving me just as I am. Just the way He created me and raised me up to be, with all the heavenly qualities of all my many cultures blended together.
I guess you can call me a KCK — Kingdom Culture Kid. Because I don’t do things the way everyone else expects me to in their many, boxed-in ways.
I’m free. I want to do things the way my King does, not the world, no matter how great some cultures think they are. Oh, there are sweet, heavenly things in each of my earthly cultures, and those I think I’ll keep. But the rest of the expectations people have of me … well, I’m just not going to dance to those tunes anymore.
I was never going to please all those people anyway.
No, I dance to a different tune. I know it. They may not like it, but that’s okay. Because I’m free! Here, with my head pressed against the chest of the One I love, I can hear His heart beat, and dance to His rhythm!
Yes, Jesus, You are my Home. Wherever You are, that’s where I want to be. Whatever You’re doing, that’s what I want to do. John 5:19.
When people look in my eyes, when they hear me speak, when they see my life, I want them to know Who my King is and desire to belong to the Kingdom I call Home.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Moms, whether your daughter is a TCK or not, you’ll love studying together with her author Mikaela Vincent’s Delight to Become a Woman of God, a Bible study workbook for young women ages 11 and up on listening to God’s voice, drawing near to Christ, unlocking her beauty, and loving well, so she can become the woman of God He created her to be.
And here’s the version for young men, Dare to Become a Man of God:
With so many difficulties today’s singles face, Delight to Be a Woman of God and Dare to Become a Man of God, by author Mikaela Vincent, are two Bible study workbooks for ages 14 and up you won’t want to miss! Packed full with tips for listening to God’s voice, knowing His will, finding the spouse God has prepared for you, and breaking free from sin habits and strongholds that keep you from the sweetest things in life, these deep dives into the Word of God just might change your life:
Lord, Please Bring Us Back to What Matters...
So, yesterday, I was joking with the Lord that I should post a photo of food on Facebook or Instagram, because that’s what so many people do that all their friends “like” on social media. I could totally take a picture of my supper, and more people will probably “like” that than any post about His beauty, His love, the joys of hearing His voice and walking as one with Him… I may still do it. Just for fun.
But… oh, my … He woke me up with a dream this morning that totally ATE MY SUPPER WHOLE, so to speak!
O, Lord, forgive us, please … We are throwing away true treasures and grabbing hold of the fleeting pleasures of this world, the things that make us happy for a moment, as what matters most to us. I am guilty, too, Lord. … Come near to us, even while we’re busy with other things that have distracted us. Call to us. Draw us back. Remind us that You alone are our One Desire. That You alone satisfy. Restore us to intimacy with You. We’ve wandered so far we’ve forgotten what it’s like. Touch us today, so directly, so intimately, so intentionally, that YOU distract us from the world and remind us of what we left behind back there when we pushed You away, … when we shut out the voices of those in our lives who walk close to You, … when we turned out all the lights that exposed our sin, … hiding so we could continue on without distraction…. Forgive us, Lord. We need You.
“They (we have) exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25 (NIV)
The Way It Is ... Or Is It?
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in this world–trying to make it to the next paycheck, pass this test, get the kids off to all their soccer matches and still make supper….
Every day is so filled with hecticity. I know, I made up that word. But you know what it means. In fact, you can probably explain it in detail with your daily to-do list.
But this world isn’t all there is. And probably half those things on your list really won’t matter in the scheme of world and time if they get done or not. No one’s going to remember or care tomorrow or next week if you did all that busywork. But I guarantee your kids WILL remember you lying on the front lawn with them counting the stars before you get them ready for bed. They WILL remember that special book you read them at night. And all the times you stopped your busywork to listen. Twenty years from now all those busy things won’t matter. Only love.
Each time you love someone, not just in words–although words are SO important (I hope you husbands who mostly grunt rather than make intelligible sounds hear me on this one!)–but in deeds, in actuality.
So take a look at your hecticity today. Lay down what you can, even if you never pick it up again. And pick up a child instead. Pick up the phone and call your mother. Pick up groceries for your elderly neighbor. Pick up something of value.
Every act of love today counts for all eternity. 1 Corinthians 13.