Tag Archives: acceptance

How Do You Relate to God? Four Points, Part 1

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Salad or Stew

How Do You Relate to God – As a Judge or Father

“How you think of God, determines how you relate to God,” said Pastor, Craig McLaughlin of Marysville Church of the Nazarene. Indeed, “family is the primary way God relates to us.” That is certainly true for me. All my major turning points in my life were through relationships with my family, and how God manipulated those family circumstances that moved me along His path for my life. God thinks in terms of family, too. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are” (1 John 3:1). This verse is evidence of the concept of ‘family’ used in Scripture. God is the parent and we are His children. But the crux of the matter is this: How you think of God, determines how you interact with Him.

If you were brought up with the understanding that God is a detached being, uninvolved in your life, you may also see Him as a distant ruler that you can’t relate to. If this has been your perception of God growing up, then that perception will influence how you relate to Him later in life.

God As A Judge

When John Calvin arrived on the scene in the 1500’s his view of God wasn’t so much a distant king or a ruler, but as a judge–a righteous judge. As a result, many people of his time viewed God in the same way. This mindset believes God is always ready to condemn us. It’s the inner belief that if I fail in any one area, or break some rule, He will judge me harshly.1 This view of God fosters an unhealthy manner in which we relate to Him.

God As A Father

Then, in the 1700’s along came John Wesley. His view of God was more in line with how we believe God wants us to view Him–that as Father. He is our heavenly Father and we are His children, not just in eternity, but right now.2 And just like we would be available for our own children, God is also available to us. Like parents, God also wants His children to seek Him for meeting all our needs–the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. God isn’t some remote king uninterested in our lives. Quite the opposite, He created family and this means family matters to Him.

Have you seen the television commercial of the daughter who is backing up in her car and she hits the lamp post at the end of the driveway? She turns around to see her father coming towards her with a serious look on his face, but then her father’s countenance suddenly changes to a gentle grace-filled smile. This is not the face of a parent coming to judge her for backing over the lamp post, but to come alongside her and teach her how to use care and caution in backing out of the driveway.

God is Grace as Expressed in the Flesh

When our children break a house rule and they need discipline, that discipline isn’t all about punishment, but in showing grace (to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t deserve it or can never earn it). True, grace corrects, but always with accepting the person, not with dismissing remarks such as “you can’t do anything right,” or “you never use your head or think.” These are shaming statements and it breaks down a person’s sense of worth.

The Creator Knows His Created

The first thing God deemed not good was Adam being alone in the garden. Adam needed family, so God created Eve. Ever since, we have the ‘essence’ of family wired into us; It was put there by God. “All that is good in life is connected to family whether directly or indirectly.3 Since family matters to Him, it also means our heavenly Father is a relatable God.

Next Post: Part 2, Is Your Family Like A Salad or A Stew?

Tweet: How do you relate to God? http://www.LisaNixonPhillips.com/blog.




1 Pastor Craig McLaughlin, “What Matters to God?” (accessed 4/3/16).

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? A Promise to Be There

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Are You Committed to Your Children?

Are You Committed to Your Children?

Part 10

Sons [children] are indeed a heritage [blessing] from the LORD,…like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4 NRSV).

So far we’ve looked at four elements of the blessing according to the authors of The Blessing, Gary Smalley and John Trent: meaningful touch, a spoken or written message, conveying high value and a special future. The final element, having a genuine commitment, is crucial if the blessing is to be a reality in your children’s lives. Trent and Smalley state, “Giving the blessing involves action, linked to our words.”1 There are four steps Trent and Smalley share that shows our commitment to bless our children. We will address the first one in this article.

 Pray for the Lord to Endorse (Carry-out) the Blessing

When both of my children were under a year old, we had them dedicated to the Lord. Often this is done as part of the regular church service. As a family, we went before the body of Christ (congregation) and while the pastor laid his hands on the heads of my children, he explained how they are a blessing (the “arrows” as described in Psalm 127) from God and as Christian parents our role in shaping their faith by raising them up in the Lord. He then directed his attention to the father of the child and explained his particular role in raising his child, (love unconditionally, teach, guide, protect, biblical discipline-training for correction that leads to maturity, among others) and then he asked the father a specific and pointed question: “Are you committed to these things and will you carry them out?” The father replies, “Yes, I will.” And the same is done for the mother. To close, the pastor prays for the child. The pastor is asking God to approve and authorize the blessing. This prayer is similar to what Isaac did when he blessed Jacob. He asked, “May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine” (a special future). Then, when Jacob blessed his sons and grandchildren, he also said,

 “He blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, …bless the boys; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.’” (Gen. 48:15-16 nrsv).

These patriarch fathers knew of God’s commitment to them and therefore called on God to put into action their requests.2 Smalley and Trent, authors of The Blessing give us this example:

 “In churches all across the country, pastors close their services with the words, ‘May the Lord bless you, and keep you.’ By linking God’s name to the blessing they spoke, these pastors were asking God himself to be the one to confirm it with his power and might–the very thing Isaac and Jacob did with their children.”3

 God’s Genuine Care

Another reason to ask the Lord to bless our children is that it teaches our children that God really does care about their lives. As parents, we recognize that our ability to be committed to our children is provided by God’s strength and might.4 In and of ourselves, we are not able to consistently sustain this ability over the course of their lives. If your children are grown, like mine are, it is never too late to begin praying pin-point blessings on them.

Even though the military lifestyle may take you away from your children during deployments and military training exercises, you can still keep a strong commitment to your children by calling home as often as you can, emailing each of your children and implementing the five elements of the blessing (as discussed in the previous posts) into your emails in creative ways, and letting them know you are committed to them despite the distance.

One truth I realized more deeply is that when our first child went off to college, we never stop being a parent even though our children leave home. My friend, Kathy, said it best when her grown children were coming home for Easter, “We have a full nest.”

 Next time we will look at Trent and Smalley’s second step of how to make the blessing for our children happen. If you would like to share your thoughts on this article, I would be thrilled to hear from you. It is so much more rewarding to know those of you who visit this site regularly. This blog is for you and if there’s a topic you’d like to read more about, relating to parenting as military parents/families, please let me know. The best material is what you are interested in. I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas. Make it a great day in the Lord!




1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 136.

2 Ibid. 137.

3 Ibid. 138.

4 Ibid. 139

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? (Your Child’s Potential)

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Will your kids reach their full potential?Part 9

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jer. 29:11 NRSV).

In my last post, (part 8) we read about using word pictures to bring down defenses our children might put up, so we can communicate high value to them. King Solomon did this with his bride because of her insecurity over her looks (Song of Solomon 1:6). Today, we will explore the fourth and last way to convey high value to our children–uncovering qualities they may not know they have in a way that adds to their hope of a special future.

 Highlight Their Potential

 When we know we are good at something we feel more hopeful about our lives. As parents, if we point out those qualities that our children possess it will do the same for them. We are highlighting possible channels for them to travel and explore later. Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we use a pellet stove during the winter months to heat our home. Whenever we come indoors we automatically navigate to the pellet stove for what it provides–warmth. Words that convey high value to our children work like that pellet stove. They provide the needed warmth of a parent’s concern along with the hope of a fulfilling their potential. So, how do we convey words of high value to convey a child’s potential?

 My son, Lawrence, is like his dad. He works well with his hands. As a toddler, we noticed he liked to work with moving things; he had an insatiable desire to know how things were put together and how they functioned. It wasn’t unusual for him to take something apart just to see how it worked. At two, his strong interest in building with Legos began. Each year he mastered several Lego kits progressing through the various levels of difficulty. Before long, he was building complex objects such as fire trucks, towering cranes, Monster trucks, or airplanes just by looking at the pictures. Some of these kits had over 1,000 pieces. We couldn’t keep up with his need to go on to the next challenge. He finished them quickly and what seemed to me, effortlessly. It wasn’t long before he mixed all the Lego pieces together and began designing his own colossal structures. I was amazed at his creativity.

Early on I began with words such as: “Wow! Lawrence, you can really build neat things! God put that in you.” Later, as he moved into his pre-teen years those words became: “Like your dad, you are good at building and creating with your hands and this skill that God gave you will help you find your life’s work.” And so on, you get the idea.

 A Special Future from Words and Nature

 The prophet Jeremiah also spoke words of a special future directed to God’s people in Judah (the southern kingdom). “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 nrsv). God’s people were in exile but Jeremiah’s words brought them confidence, optimism, faith, and hope.

 According to John Trent and Gary Smalley, the authors of The Blessing, God also communicates this special future message through nature. There are numerous “spiritual truths that illustrate the importance of providing a special future for the ones we love.”1 Our four seasons of the year, for example, provide many spiritual lessons, as does small creatures, such as the caterpillar that emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly. Just the transformation process of the caterpillar can be the catalyst for words that can transform a child’s potential into his/her reality.

 When our children were born, God placed them in our care. It is as if He said to us: “This child is mine, but I’m giving her to you–a gift–to cherish and love, to guard, to nurture, and to draw out her potential I place within her.”

 Like me, I know you want the special future that Jeremiah 29:11 speaks about for your children, yes? So, the question is, What will we do with this gift of potential?




1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 121.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Words of High Value

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Words of high value start at birth.

Words of high value start at birth.

Part 8

Last Thursday, in part 7 we looked at the third element of the blessing by exploring two ways to convey words of high value to our children. The first is to find everyday objects to capture a character trait or physical attribute, such as the nickname “little man” I gave my son, Lawrence, for his small stature (until he hit age 14 and suddenly shot up past his father).  And the second is to match the emotional meaning of the trait you are praising with the object you’ve picked.  I  used daughter’s name of Megan and associated it with the nutmeg spice (see Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Part 7).

 Today we will use the third way that authors John Trent and Gary Smalley in The Blessing describe to convey words of high value to our children. They call this “Using Word Pictures That Unravel Defenses.” Sometimes we see this as some sort of insecurity.

 Use Word Pictures to Bring Down Barricades

 When people put up a wall to hide behind their particular insecurity, we have to be creative so our words will actually mean something to our children. The authors of The Blessing, Trent and Smalley, use the example of the Shulamite woman in chapter 1 of Song of Solomon.

She worked in the vineyards during the day and the hot sun tanned her skin.1 Her dark complexion wasn’t desired by most men of her day. The fair and soft skin of the city girls was considered more desirable. She says, “Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards…” (Song of Solomon 1:6 nrsv). Here, our Shulamite woman was putting herself down, saying she didn’t possess external beauty and asked the king not to even look at her. She felt insecure because she didn’t look like the women in Jerusalem. But, if you read Song of Solomon you’ll see that the girl’s image of herself changes. Just flip over to Chapter 2, verse 1, and she now describes herself as “the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” What changed?

 Solomon used word pictures that conveyed high value to her as a way to break down her insecurity over her looks. He wanted her to know that even with her dark skin, he valued her anyway. He even liked her tanned skin! He did this enough that with each declaration of her value to him through the word picture associated with beauty, he expunged any traces of lingering negative self-talk (her defense). Just look at how she felt about herself after they were married. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:1).

 This is just one example for insecurity, but it can work for other defenses our children might put up. The point is most people appreciate the association of word pictures as they tend to linger in our hearts and brain longer. Jesus knew this, too, as he used word pictures to “communicate both praise and condemnation through his teachings and his parables.”2 Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepard over His sheep, the Light of the World, and the Bread of Life. And He wrote with His finger in the sand in John 8. The Bible doesn’t say what He wrote or drew with His fingers, but perhaps He spelled out forgiveness in the sand because the scribes and Pharisees had just brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. Now that would of been a word picture the Pharisees wouldn’t soon forget!

 Words of high value that combine the use of images are what unlock hearts of unbelief, doubt, distrust, or skepticism. Jesus was unconventional; He thought outside the box and His teachings and ways did more for people then just speaking from a street corner.

 What ways can you think of using an image to attach high value to your children. We will cover the final way to attach high value to our words on Wednesday. If you have used these ways to convey high value to your children, I would enjoy reading your story.


1 Bible Note for Song of Solomon 1:6, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World   Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 109.


Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Words That Attach High Value

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Part 7

What high-value word picture have you attached to your children?

What high-value word picture have you attached to your children?

 “To value something means to attach great importance to it,” says, John Trent and Gary Smalley in their book, The Blessing. If you look at the root word for blessing it conveys a double meaning. The first one is that it means to “bow the knee” and second, to “add value.”1 John Trent and Gary Smalley put it this way: “In relationship to God the word came to mean “to adore with bended knees.”2 Wow! What an illustrative picture of what Christ-followers desire God to mean to them. In my last post, we read about our words and how they matter. Words can bless or curse or bring life or death.

  As parents, when we pray and ask God to bless our children, what are we really asking God to do? Look at Psalm 103. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (nrsv). The phrase, “bless the Lord” are words that attach high value. We’re conveying to God that He is valuable and therefore worthy to be praised on bended knee. The same concept applies to our family members, but for the sake of this series, our children.

  In the United States, bowing the knee is rarely done. But in Old Testament times, bowing was a mark of respect and honor, something that was expected in the presence of an important person.3

Word Pictures that Convey High Value

The Bible is full of word pictures to describe an Old Testament figure. Today, we do the same. In our family business, we have one employee who is a military veteran. His short stocky muscular build has earned him the honored nickname, “Shrek.” If you look at Joseph in Genesis 49:22, he’s described as a “fruitful bough” by a spring. Joseph was indeed fruitful. His long list of descendants include Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land, Deborah, Gideon, and Jephthah, all judges of Israel (Judges 4.4; 6.11, 12; 11.11) and Samuel, a distinguished prophet (1Samuel 3:19). Another example is Jacob. He selected word pictures for each of his sons. “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing” (Gen. 49:28 NRSV). Notice Jacob said, “suitable blessing.” He customized each son’s character with a personal word picture. His son, Judah is described as a lion’s whelp (cub). A lion was a picture of strength. It was also a symbol of royalty in the ancient Near East.. 4

Use Everyday Objects

 There are two ways to attach a word picture to your child that conveys high value. According to authors of The Blessing, Trent and Smalley the first way is to use an everyday object. The idea is to pick something that is familiar that captures a character quality or a physical feature inherent in your children. For my daughter, Megan, I gave her the nickname, “Sweetpea.” She was a tiny baby when she was born weighing just 5 lbs. 9 oz. and she was the most content baby, a fact that as a first time mom I was grateful for. For my son, Lawrence, we called him, “little man.” He was small for his age (both sides of our families are short and stocky), but I later realized we missed the mark. At 14, he had a huge growth spurt and now stands at 5 ft. 11 inches, taller than all of our living relatives combined (possibly from a recessive gene from my grandfather – the only tall one on both sides of our families).

  Match the Emotional Meaning of the Trait You Are Praising with the Object You’ve Picked.

  The second way Trent and Smalley show us how to attach a word picture to your children that conveys high value is to match the emotional meaning of the trait you are praising with the object you’ve picked. It just so happened that our second nickname we occasionally called our daughter, Megan, was a word-play on her name.  As a teen she hated learning to cook; she preferred to bake. As most little girls do, she loved baking alongside me. So, when I began making cookies and pies that called for the spice nutmeg, I flipped the word and began calling her “megnut” whenever we baked. Nutmeg has a nice and sweet aroma to it and it matched her sweet and sometimes “nutty” personality.

 If you haven’t already done so, think of several word pictures for each of your children that conveys a message of high value unique to each one.

  On Monday, we’ll look at two additional ways Trent and Smalley of The Blessing teach us to attach high value to our children through word pictures. You won’t want to miss this. It’s a word picture that helps us to communicate high value to people who put up defenses such as insecurity and using word pictures to highlight a child’s potential.


 1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 96.

 2 Ibid.

 3 Ibid. 99

 4 Ibid. 102


Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Words that Matter

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Part 6

Do your kids sense your approval?

Do your kids sense your approval?

Proverbs 8:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (NRSV).

Earlier we read that to step towards someone is life and to step away is death. The spoken word can either be words that bring blessing or words that bring cursing. And if there aren’t any words from parents that communicate love and acceptance, children will assume they aren’t worthy of words of blessing.  This is tragic. They will end up wondering in life if they really mattered.

God must think highly of the spoken word because He gave us the Bible, His Word. But He also gave us His son, Jesus. His Word “became flesh and lived among us,” (John 1:14). If God communicated His blessing to us through His words, then so should we. James, Jesus’ brother describes our spoken words two ways.

If you’re a parent, your words, like a ship’s rudder steer your children in a certain direction. “Though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs” (James 3:4 NRSV).

Words carelessly spoken can do terrible damage. Words that speak death can divide people and relationships. Parents who speak critical words can sear pain straight to their souls, leaving scars for life. On the other hand, words that speak life, bring the blessing full circle and can propel children to a special future.

James also describes a careless or critical tongue as a fire. “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell” ( James 3:5-6 nrsv).  Notice the last part of that verse­–“the cycle of nature.” In most cases, if parents lack the ability to convey words of acceptance and love, it is usually because they didn’t get them from their parents. This is why speaking words that bring blessing has to be deliberate. By putting off sharing words of love and acceptance till someday down the road, may never happen. Leaving unspoken words that bless is leaving the opportunity to chance.  As God was deliberate in sending his Son, Jesus to be the Word in flesh, we also need to be deliberate in sending words of love and approval to our childen.

John Trent and Gary Smalley say in their book, The Blessing: “Words of blessing should start in the delivery room and continue throughout life. Yet the “lack of time” and the motto, “I’ll have time to tell them tomorrow,” rob the children of a needed blessing today.”  But words that speak life and blessing can literally transform a child and breathe life into that soul. It can even change the course of direction for that child.

Solomon, in all his wisdom also said, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (Proverbs 3:27 nrsv). Let his words be your source of encouragement to communicate words of love and acceptance to your children, family members, and even our friends.

There is much more on this topic from Trent and Smalley’s book, The Blessing. I encourage you to read the book.

If you are a parent that is deployed, your words of blessing can still be conveyed even if you aren’t home to speak them yourself. See how on Thursday when we’ll explore the “how” and “what” to say when conveying words of blessing. The next element of the blessing is attaching high value to our words.

Don’t forget to download my 15-Day Devotional that accompanies my soon-to-be-released book, “Faith Steps for Military Families.” Just enter your name and email address in the bonus box at the top right hand side of this page and you’ll have access to the devotional. Thanks for coming. I invite you to leave a comment.


Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Part 4

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Did you miss the parental blessing?
Did you miss the parental blessing?


Are You Damming Up Your Relationships? 

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” Deu. 30:19

In my last blog post, (Part 3 of “Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? – Making a Choice”), we read about a decision we all must make.  If we choose to move toward God and others, we add life to our relationships. “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 nrsv). If we chose to step away from God and others, we’re choosing death. Authors of The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley tell us: “The idea is that death is stepping away from others, from life, from what we have built or shared with others.”1 But there’s more to Deuteronomy 30:19. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses…” (NRSV). Today, we’ll look at the idea of blessings and curses. This understanding was profound for me in light of my upbringing and how I would parent my own children.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you probably already know that Jesus is our ultimate blessing. There is no other blessing more valuable. When we highly value someone, we give them honor and our hearts desire to bless them. Liken the Hebrew word for “bless” to that of “bowing the knee.”2 When meeting a king or queen today it is customary to bow before them in order to give them their due honor. The word “honor” also has a similar word meaning. It carries the idea of adding weight or value to someone.3 Here is again a portrait from John Trent and Gary Smalley to give us a word picture:

I biblical times, you didn’t just hand someone a coin with a specific denomination stamped on it as we do today. In Old Testament times, a coin might carry an inscription or even a picture of a ruler or someone of great value. But the way you determined how much it was worth was to put it on a scale. The greater the weight, the higher the value.4

When we choose to bless someone we choose to add value to their lives. When our loved one returns home from deployment we honor them in their long-awaited return. We wait pier-side with colorful hand-made banners that shout, “Welcome Home, Dad!” or “We Missed You, Mom!” We celebrate their return by going out to dinner as a family or we clear our busy schedules to spend those first few days together. When we welcome home our loved one in this fashion, what we’re really doing is blessing him or her.

 It stands only to reason then that when we step away from those we have relationships with we’re “subtracting” the good, or the things that would add life for them.5 The word for “curse” in the Deuteronomy passage means “trickle” or “muddy stream” caused by a dam or obstruction upstream.6 We all know that water is necessary for life. Think of those blessings we can choose to give others as the life-sustaining water. Anytime we choose to obstruct blessings to others, what we’re really doing is putting a dam in place and withholding what others need in order to live well. Do we withhold that hug, or refrain from speaking those words that convey affirmation and acceptance? Flowing water symbolizes movement, life, and blessings, but water damned up, unable to flow symbolizes death, and curses.

Unfortunately, for some of us, there are people in our lives that always blocked up the dam. They withheld what was supposed to bless us as children or young adults. While Jesus went about His work on earth doing His Father’s will, part of that will was to bless those who were outcasts. He gave them what had previously been blocked-those life changing words to change their future, or that physical touch to convey He valued them. He stepped towards those others stepped away from and cursed.

Our second choice then, after choosing life, is to choose to bless our loved ones. What do you have damned up that needs releasing in order to bless that someone? What can you add into someone’s life today that conveys your love and acceptance?

There are five elements to the blessing in John Trent and Gary Smalley’s book, The Blessing. On Thursday’s post we’ll get into the first element of the blessing. See you then! If you have a story to share, please reply below. Thank you! 


1 John Trent and Gary Smalley.  The Blessing (Nashville, TN., Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 36.

2 Ibid. 37.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid. 37-38.

5 Ibid. 38.

6 Ibid.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing – Making A Choice

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Which choice are you making?

Which choice are you making?

Part 3

“I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Oh, that you would choose life…” Deuteronomy 30:19 TLB.

 The ancient Israelites had to do it when they left Egypt. Ruth did it as well when she followed her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem. And Rahab also did it when she allowed Joshua’s spies into her home in Jericho prior to its invasion and ultimate victory by Joshua. What did all three of these people do? They made a choice. And in each of these situations it was a life or death choice.

 God is a God of choices. Think about it. He doesn’t force us to follow Him, but if we do, He provides blessings and we get to enjoy them! When we make a choice for Him, we choose life. “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deu. 30:19 NRSV). Choosing life brings His blessings. Think of life in this passage with the idea of movement.1 Authors of The Blessing, John Trent and Gary Smalley explain it this way: “In other words, things that are alive are things that are moving. Specifically, they’re moving toward someone or something. So the first choice we have is to move toward God and toward others. When we do that, we add life to our relationships.”2

 Deuteronomy 30:19 shows us that God desires for us to do things His way–to choose life, but he does let us decide whether to follow him or reject him, but this decision really does boil down to a life or death concern. The word death also carries with it the concept of movement.3 Its literal meaning is “to step away.”4 This is conveyed through the action of stepping away from people, relationships, and other facets of life. When one or more family members takes a different path and moves away from the home relationships the process of decay in the relationship begins. But, by choosing life you do more than just step towards others, you also add, or pour blessings into their lives.

 We have the freedom to make so many different choices in the span of our lives, but God reveals the best of all choices–choosing Him which leads to choosing life. Time is short. Choose life in Him.

On Monday, we’ll explore the second part of Deuteronomy 30:19, to bless or to curse. Please share your thoughts on today’s topic below. Thank you for visiting!


1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 36.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Part 2

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father and son

The blessing involves five key components

 Then he [Esau] said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Gen. 27:36

My heart can’t help but feel sorry for Esau, who was tricked out of the family blessing from his father, Isaac. Not because of sibling rivalry, but more so because it reveals a family as a whole that didn’t always get along.  Not only was there conflict and disunity between the two twin brothers, Esau and Jacob, but also between husband and wife (Isaac and Rebekah). It’s also a story of a mother who favored her younger son and of a father who favored the eldest son. No doubt, this created a troubling struggle in that family. Not much has changed. Favoritism is still a problem in many families today, but what is it about the blessing that created such an uproar in Esau’s family?

 May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone that blesses you! (Genesis 27:28-29 NKJV).

 Before a father passed away, it was customary to perform a ceremony to formally give the blessing to the firstborn son.1 In fact, in Hebrew, “firstborn” is bekorah, whereas “blessing” is berakah. These two similar words, “firstborn” and “blessing” use a play on words to link their meanings together.2 Although Esau was the first born son, and according to the custom of the day was the assumed recipient of the blessing, a father could pass the blessing on to another son if he so chose. However, once the blessing was given, it was irrevocable. This is because in ancient times, a person’s word was binding, especially when it was a formal oath.3 

 The birthright of the first born son (in our story that is Esau) is different than receiving the blessing. Remember, Esau had sold his birthright for a pot of stew (Gen.25:29-33). But the blessing was an extension of the birthright and included some personal and heartfelt words along with a gesture from the father. When I think of the birthright I think mostly of the tangible things passed on to the eldest son. He received a double share of his father’s inheritance.  However, with the blessing it is far more personal and therefore more deeply felt. The blessing includes words from a father conveying worth, unconditional love, and acceptance to his son. Those are life-sustaining words. Like it did in Esau and Jacob’s day, the blessing can propel a child onto the path of God’s will for his or her life. Receiving the blessing can satisfy a deep longing of the heart. You can feel Esau’s pain in his words to his father as he begins to bitterly sob at the realization that his brother, Jacob, took the blessing deceitfully from him. “Not one blessing left for me? O my father, bless me too” (Gen.27:38 TLB).

It was not uncommon for fathers in Esau’s and Jacob’s day to wait until late in life to pronounce the blessing in case the first born son wasn’t deserving of it. This way the father could chose to give it to a more deserving son.4

Isaac did have words for Esau’s future, even though the blessing was not to be his. However, they were words probably hard to take in. Isaac says, “Yours will be no life of ease and luxury, but you shall hew your way with your sword. For a time you will serve your brother, [younger brother] but you will finally shake loose from him and be free” (Gen. 27:39-40 TLB). Being that Esau was Isaac’s favorite, perhaps knowing that he would no longer be struggling against his younger brother brought some comfort.

 It’s also worth noting that God had chosen Jacob over Esau to receive the blessing, however, his mother, Rebekah decided to manipulate the situation and hurry up God’s plan.

Today the blessing is still conveyed, but perhaps with less protocol than in Bible times, but the importance is still no less needed. In a couple of months, my son, Lawrence, will be graduating from high school. My husband, Ray, and I are working on the words we want to convey to him as we mark this milestone in his life.

 In The Blessing, written by John Trent and Gary Smalley, it describes the importance of the blessing: “The family blessing provides that much-needed sense of personal acceptance. The blessing also plays a part in protecting and even freeing people to develop intimate relationships. Perhaps most important, it lays the foundation for a genuine and fulfilling relationship with God that can survive even the rocky teen years, when many young people pull away from faith.”5

John Trent and Gary Smalley describe the five elements of the blessing of which we’ll explore in the next blog article. “The presence or absence of these elements can help us determine whether our home is–or our parents’ home was–a place of blessing.”6 The foundational truth to the blessing is that it is wrapped and sealed in Jesus’ unconditional love. His love is so profound, we can’t even take it all in. We see our flaws, weaknesses, screw-ups and hang-ups, but still, He sees His created children that He chooses to love–without exception.

Giving the blessing, according to John Trent and Gary Smalley is all about choosing–stepping towards someone.

On Thursday we’ll look at the concept of stepping towards our children. Again, if you have a story to share, or this blog article spoke to your heart, please reply in the section below. We grow by sharing.








1 Bible Note for Genesis 27:33-37, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for Genesis 27:4, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL.: Crossway, 2008).

3 Bible Note for Genesis 27:33, Life Application Bible

4 Bible Note for Genesis 27:33-37, Life Application Bible

5 John Trent and Gary Smalley, The Blessing (Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1993), 27.

6 Ibid., 34.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing?

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Passing Down the Blessing

Passing Down the Blessing

Have you always felt like you didn’t quite measure up in your parent’s estimation? Did they fail to convey to you that you are valued with a special future? Did you leave home emotionally hurt, dejected, even ostracized? Is there a deep felt need that was never met?If so, then you may not of received the blessing from your parents. The blessing is the unconditional love and acceptance from your parents. Essentially, there are five key components to the blessing. The picture above portrays one of the components.

Today, the blessing is customarily given by the parents when a child graduates from high school, leaves home, such as going off to college, or securing the long and sought-after job, or getting married. But the blessing components are also communicated on a day to day basis, with special emphasis given when a child meets a special milestone or momentous occasion in their life.

I’m taking courses as part of the certification process for obtaining my credential in Advance Christian Life Coaching through Light University. My first course called, The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley, immediately spoke to my heart. That’s because I spent years in deep inner turmoil always searching for my mother’s approval. With each life milestone I met, I secretly hoped it would be ‘the one’ that would make her finally accept me. It would never be. As a military wife  raising my own children,  the awareness of her absence was no more keenly felt than when my husband was away on deployments and training missions. But during the time my husband was at sea, my heart was additionally burdened. I was very concerned if my kids were missing out of their father’s blessing.

Because this subject matter of family disunity is prevalent in our culture today,  I’m running a series of blog posts, hopefully with reader input, (that’s you!) around the biblical principles of this topic.

Whether you are a military wife, the military member, or a faithful supporter of our military, and can relate to missing the blessing, I invite you to follow along with me in this series of blog posts. You may even want to buy a copy of The Blessing to go deeper. The emphasis here is to always move forward in Christ, taking what is discovered to enable you and I to bless our children despite the absence of the gift of unconditional love and approval from our own parents.

If you are a parent, who like me, missed out on receiving the blessing, but understand how vital this is to pass on to your own children, please join me weekly here. I would enjoy your company. My hope and goal is to come alongside you-the military wife, mother, father, or military couple, who despertly wants to learn what the blessing is all about, where the idea of the blessing comes from, and how to pass on the blessing to your children.

It doesn’t matter what type of family you and I came from, (military or not) but if you and your spouse are a military family, this is meant for you since my desire this blog is to help strengthen the military family in spiritual readiness. And giving the blessing to your children is part of spiritual wellbeing. To get us going, here is a snippet of my own story.

Unconditional Love and Approval – Always Just Out of Reach

I left home at the age of eighteen without ever getting my mother and step-father’s blessing. On that dreadful day in 1980, there were no hugs, no tender words of, “I believe in you,” “you’re doing great,” or, “my heart swells with joy thinking about the future God has for you,” or simply a long embrace to convey I mattered.  No longer welcomed in my home,  I was ordered to have my things moved out by the end of the weekend when my family would be returning from camping over the 4th of July holiday weekend. I did not know about the blessing when I was eighteen, and I suspect neither did my mother.

Sadly, it has been over 30 years since I last saw my stepfather and 18 years since….

Why was I told to leave home without the blessing? That is my next blog post. So come on back tomorrow when I share the rest of my story and we’ll also jump into where this idea of the “blessing” came from?

Blessings to You!