Favorite Tweets from November

Pregame sideline action at a USC game.

There is a lot for me to be thankful for this past month:
  • Took three Allendale-Fairfax football players and my two sons to a USC football game.
  • Coached four football games -- one to win the region championship, and three in the playoffs.
  • Wrote about two-thirds of my novel.
  • Kept my blogs going (especially thanks to a couple of guest posts). 
  • My wife and kids giving me the freedom to do all of the above. 
  • Read and shared some great thoughts on Twitter.

Tweets from Others:

@FurmanPaladinsFINAL!!! 16 Georgia Southern 14!!!!

@TheFatherEffectAs a dad, it's okay to admit you don't have all the answers. &Authentic

@MatthewMurphyDiscipleship is meant to be done in community. Get in a Gospel centered community that is on Jesus' mission and you will grow in Jesus. 

@PastorTullianThe hub of Christianity is not "do something for Jesus." The hub of Christianity is "Jesus has done everything for you."

@j_harkey:  Be the salt of the earth. Or even pepper. Whatever. Just don't be oregano. Never ever be oregano. 

@jjtru:  People need more than your used clothes. They need the family of God in their neighborhood. - Dr. John Perkins 

@BackRowBaptist:  Sure, you catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar, but you can catch WAY more flies with a dead body. 

@pedrodeabreu: "Cry in the dojo. Laugh on the battlefield." -- Japanese proverb 

Tweets from Me:

At another game. First time for my sons! @ Williams-Brice Stadium

Today I'm thankful for having a wife who tells me I’m a great dad   

Challenging: "Our money, our gifts, our time, our influence, our family — they are not ours to do with as we please."  

"10 percent of the world’s population possesses 86 percent of the money."

isn't about having a perfect story but one that endures. --

Thanksgiving + Hanukkah = Thanksgivukkah?

Hanukkah started at sundown yesterday (November 27), so today is the first day. It last coincided with Thanksgiving in 1888, and it won't again for over 77,000 years. I don't think we'll make it. (And read this article to learn when, and why, Hanukkah will coincide with other holidays.)

I hope you get to enjoy your day with family and friends.

Want to learn about Hanukkah? Then ignore this video: (Really, it's terrible, except for a laugh.)

If you want more accurate resources, check out Why I Celebrate Hanukkah. And for an old story from our family on Thanksgiving, check out "Are They Pilgrims?"  

Today, you may be celebrating . . .
  • Thanksgiving 
  • Hanukkah 
  • Black Friday (because apparently, it now begins on Thursday)
  • anything else!

Whatever it may be, I hope you have a great day and a great weekend.

God bless!

Let's Hear It for the Girl

Saturday morning robotics workshop

In three years of blogging here, I realize I haven't given a shout-out to my wife on her birthday, though I have written about our anniversary in 2010, 2011, and 2012. For the record, her birthday was yesterday, and, no, I didn't forget.

I am celebrating the last year of her 30's with great joy, having known her for 15 years and married to her for 14. She is my perfect partner in this adventure we are on. She stays busy with discipling and teaching our three children, with volunteering (and leading) in our after school school programs and camps, and with serving in other ministries in Allendale.

And while we prefer serving together, she also partners with me by giving me the freedom and strength to use my gifts in unique ways. Coaching football consumes a significant portion of my week during the fall. I spend hours each week blogging. And she has supported me in all my crazy goals this year, including writing a book this month (only 20,000 words to go!).

Happy birthday to my treasured wife! I love you, Joanna!

How Are Babies Made?

How are babies made? NOT like this:

But if you want ideas for having a real talk with your child about sex and babies, try these posts:

And if you want to learn some amazing facts about babies, try this video:

Big Truths: On a Mission Like Jesus

I shared this photo last month (Instagram: JoeyEspinosa).

I love visual illustrations and reminders. I regularly confiscate our family's dry erase board to pen thoughts and inspirations. And I often use it to sketch visual ideas of what I'm trying to teach our kids.

This was a simple illustration which we had discussed as a family over breakfast. Here's what I was teaching them:
  • Jesus had a mission to bring Good News.
  • He was sent on this mission by the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit. 
  • Likewise, we are sent by the same Father and empowered by the same Spirit to bring the Gospel to the world.

I'm not great about doing regular family devotions, and when I do them, they usually do not involve a grand euphoric moment where my kids tell me that I'm the best dad ever. But it is important for me to teach them God's truth from His word. So, I stumble along and do my best (by the power of the Spirit, of course).

Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God I've already recommended the book Big Truths for Young Hearts (by Bruce Ware). I love how this book methodically takes deep concepts, and puts it in a language that I can explain to my kids.

If you don't have a copy, be sure to buy one soon! Your kids will tell you that you're the best parent ever.

Well, maybe not. But your kids will learn some important theology. And that's more important than any praise you get from them.

PS -- Some of you know that I also gave my kids this follow-up assignment. We had talked about two roles that the Holy Spirit has in the lives of Christians (gives us new life, and brings us into one body/family). They were to come up with His other main task.

See if you can come up with the 3rd role:

My answer (actually, Bruce Ware's answer) is that the Holy Spirit changes and empowers us to say and do things that bring glory to Jesus. My kids had focused on specific tasks, like evangelism, service, and making us holy. But I think the author's answer encompasses all of that.

Do you want to have family discussions like this? Then buy your copy of Big Truths for Young Hearts today!

Related Links:

Seeking God with $20

A few weeks ago, as a result of an unexpected gift, we gave each of our kids $20. I told them that they could do whatever they wanted with it, but they had to spend a few days thinking about it and asking God what He wanted them to do.

Honestly, I was not going to sway them at all what they should do. This was as much an experience for them as it was a way for us to get a peek into their hearts.

I had this idea a few years ago, and wrote about it on an old children's ministry blog. I will re-post it below (with edits) and then talk about what happened this time around.

Seeking God with $20 (adapted from 2009)

I had been trying to figure out how to redeem our family's time and money during this Christmas season. Plus, God had shown me that I have not led and shepherded our children well in a few areas, particularly in the areas of prayer and money. So, I came up with a way to combine all this into one "project."

I explained to our three kids that I was going to give each of them $20, and they could use it on whatever they wanted. If they wanted to save it, or spend it on themselves, or give, or buy something for someone else, that is fine.

I did not want them to do anything based on what they thought I wanted them to do. The only thing they had to do was consider what God wanted them to do. Normally, they feel so much pressure from me to "do the right thing" and "be good kids," but they need to learn that they should seek to please our Lord. Before anything else, we need to seek Him and His will.

When I did this two years ago, Hannah immediately said that she was going to buy a gift for her best friend. Elijah said that he was going to give it away. I asked them if that's what God wanted them to do. They were confused, since those were "good deeds." I explained that those were good choices, but they may not be want God wants at this time.

Soon, Elijah asked, "But can I ask you for advice?" What a great question! Of course he can, but only after he learns to ask God. Within 10 years, I will no longer be a primarily authority figure in his life; I will be in a role of delegating responsibility, and later we will be in partnership.

This project was a great opportunity to sow nuggets of truth as we seek to disciple our kids according to Deuteronomy 6:7 - "Repeat [these commands] again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."

What we hoped our children would learn through this endeavor:
  • Whatever we do with what God has given us can be an act of worship. That could mean sharing, saving, or even enjoying His blessings.
  • Just because something is good does not necessarily mean that God wants you to do it.
  • I will always love them, no matter what choices they make.

(You can read about the results of this project from 4 years ago.)

What They Did with $20

A few days after I gave them this "assignment," I asked them what they came up with. We went from oldest to youngest (so the youngest could have a chance to observe and learn).

  • Hannah wanted to use the money to make something to give away. After brainstorming with us, she decided to use the money to buy fabric so that she could sow skirts for some of her best friends (Greenville and Allendale). We thought this was a great way to combine generosity with her God-given skills.
  • Our boys were more "by the book." Elijah gave $11 to God (i.e., the local church), $6 to savings (they want a new Wii remote), and kept $3 for himself. Great.  
  • Sender gave $5 to the church, $5 to savings, and kept $10 for himself. Also great.

A very simple project, that you may want to do before the end of the year.

Related Links:

She Doesn't Want Me to Fix It

Men, we know we like to fix things. But our wives just want us to listen and be sympathetic.

No matter what.

Seriously, though. My 14th anniversary coming up next month, and I can think of only a handful of times when I've done this well -- when I've responded with sympathy instead of my "ingenious" solution.

When our immediate response is to "fix" her problems, we are saying, "It's a good thing you have someone as smart as me to help you." How condescending.

Guys, if we can do more listening and more feeling, she will appreciate it. And in terms of strengthening our relationship, we'll hit the nail right on the head.

How Do I Know If My Child Is a Christian?

How do you know if your child is a Christian? Probably no other question burdens the minds of evangelical Christian parents.

Brian Croft answers,
"Admitting the obvious—that we are not God and cannot see the heart—I maintain certain evidences can help us discern the legitimacy of child or teenager's profession of faith."

He lists five evidences based on teachings by Jonathan Edwards. They are: 
  1. Growing affection and need for Jesus and the gospel.  
  2. Heightened understanding of the truths of Scripture.
  3. Increased kindness and selfless toward siblings.  
  4. Greater awareness of and distaste for sin. 
  5. Noticeable desire to obey parents.

Want to learn more? Be sure to read the entire article, Is Your Child a Christian? 

Related Links: 

Taking a Blogging Break . . . Sorta'

Since I'll be writing a novel this month, I need to cut back on my blogging. After all, averaging 1667 words per day is quite enough writing, don't you think?

But I won't let this blog go completely dormant this month. I plan to post:
  • short posts
  • funny videos 
  • links to parenting resources
  • guest posts
  • old posts that have been re-worked

Thanks for giving me this leeway. In the meantime, would you please take this quick poll on my other blog? With just one click, you can let me know the first thing that you think of when you hear the word POVERTY.

I appreciate your help. Have a great week!