This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9
I know I’m a homeschool mom, but I promise I can count. I realize I have two traits listed this week. These terms stand side by side in approximately twenty verses, depending on the Bible translation you read. God emphasized them together intentionally. Today more than ever before, we need to live strong and courageous.
Strength and courage take many forms. Sometimes we need them in order to stand alone and do the right thing. Other times they empower us to speak out against injustice—or simply to ask for help.
I’ll never forget listening to my five-year-old daughter Kendra tell an older neighbor boy she couldn’t go with him to the park down the street. We were in the early stages of letting her play out front by herself—she has always been fiercely independent—and I peered out the open door every couple minutes to check on her. As I listened out of sight, I heard the boy attempt to persuade Kendra. She boldly stood her ground and emphasized our family rules. Pride swelled as I thanked Jesus for my strong and courageous little girl. Though Kendra hadn’t met any other kids in our new neighborhood and desperately wanted friends, she stood firm in her convictions.
What we do speaks so much louder than what we say. I’ve found people often pay closer attention to our lives than we realize. Kendra didn’t know I watched the exchange. She did the right thing even when she thought no one was looking. That took strength and courage.
So, how do we cultivate these attributes in our children? First and foremost, we model them ourselves. You’ve likely heard the adage, “More is caught than taught.” Our kids often learn more from how we behave than what we say.
As a counselor, I’ve also found positive reinforcement to be a powerful tool in character development. What we water eventually grows. When we spend all our time focused on correcting negative behaviors, we struggle to see the positive growth, but as we invest in strengthening better habits, they blossom—and the undesirable ones naturally decrease.
Positive reinforcement simply means we reward the traits we want our children to repeat. We can compliment them while also labeling the desirable trait: “Great job! I am proud of you for showing strength and courage when your friend tried to pressure you into breaking the rules.” Physical affection such as hugs and high-fives provide positive reinforcement; we can also increase their freedoms as they demonstrate these behaviors. Regardless of how we do it, we want to take time to notice and celebrate as our kids cultivate these biblical characteristics.
Dear God, thank You for remaining with me wherever I go and empowering me by Your Holy Spirit to live strong and courageous.
Teach me to equip my children to be strong and courageous in every situation. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
I am strong and courageous, and so are my children.
Imagine you are the captain of your own superhero squad, or queen of the castle. You get to pick five people with different abilities to help your squad.
Create a list of strong and courageous people or characters. Include people you know, biblical characters, and even some favorite cartoons or sports heroes. Talk about the different ways they exhibit strength and courage. After you’ve created your squads, share times you have observed each of your children demonstrating strength and courage. Ask your kids if they can think of ways you have shown strength and courage.
Our lives are made up of rocky roads, but by the grace of God, with a little strength and courage, we can overcome even the rockiest roads. God promises to work each unexpected twist and turn together for our good.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God
and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
Hand each person one of the ingredients in today’s recipe. Ask how they feel about their treat. Explain how we experience seasons in life that don’t always make sense. We can find ourselves wishing we received what someone else has. Separately, the ingredients in the recipe may not seem like much. Yet, when mixed together and baked for the right amount of time, they make something special. God is the master baker. He can take anything we face and create something amazing from it; we simply need to trust Him and remain strong and courageous.
ROCKY ROAD FUDGE (GLUTEN-FREE)
1 bag (11 oz.) chocolate chips
(semi-sweet, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or peanut butter)
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup nuts (optional; substitute toffee pieces, rice cereal, pretzel pieces, etc. for those with tree nut allergies)
1 (10 ½ oz.) bag of mini marshmallows
Butter or line a 13x9” dish with parchment paper.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, milk, and butter. Microwave on high for one minute. Carefully take out and stir. Microwave for one more minute.
Fold in vanilla, nuts or crunchy substitute, and marshmallows. Spread evenly in buttered or parchment-lined baking dish.
Let mixture set, then cut into squares and enjoy. (You may also cover and refrigerate to set.)
From Dishing Up Devotions: 36 Faith-Building Activities for Homeschooling Families, by Katie J. Trent (Whitaker House, 2021)