Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Every Opportunity

I was reminded tonight as I lay with my boys that I need to appreciate the time God has given me with them and to take every opportunity to show them they are loved. As they both drifted off to sleep, Cooper curled into me, images of him as a baby came to mind. This happens often, but my emotions got the better of me this time and I could feel the tears welling up as I lay there with him. My five year old son--how did he get there so fast? To five, I mean? Sadness was creeping in at the thought of time passing so quickly and I was overcome by emotion.

Images of him dancing in our old livingroom with his diaper on, sippy cups, his favorite board book, etc were going through my mind and I laid there a little longer than I normally would just to take in his breathing and his head on my shoulder. My five year old.

It goes by quick, huh guys? And if we stop for a second and think about it, it sometimes catches us off guard. The other day I playfully grabbed Cooper to give him a hug thinking he'd pull away and run off. Having a three year old, it's just so natural to have Griffin in my lap and to give him kisses and to be more physical with him. Cooper has become quite the daddy's boy and Griffin is still mommy's little one. But when I grabbed Cooper thinking it was a game, he wrapped his arms around my legs and wouldn't let go. He wanted to be held and I was a little taken aback by it. Hello, five year old son. Not that I've forgotten about you, it's just that time goes by day after day and I don't always make a conscious effort to love on him in the same way I do Griffin. It is so sweet to know that they still need that. And you better believe I sat him in my lap and took that opportunity to let him know even though my lap had shrunk, my love for him was just a big as ever! Take advantage of the time you have! I know I am reminded of that tonight as I lay with them.

Dear Lord,
Give us sharp minds that appreciate the details of our everyday. Sometimes, day to day routines can seem burdensome and long. But looking back, we can see that time goes by so quickly and our kids grow up fast. Teach us to love them boldly and to use our opportunities with them to be present and real.
In your name we pray,
Amen.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Remember When?



She makes sure her dealings are profitable
Proverbs 31:18

Remember the days when we were living at home with our first job? Our money was ours to do with whatever we pleased. Few, if any bills or obligations. We could spend 20$ on shampoo, get monthly pedicures, buy the latest designer purse, shoes, outfit, etc. Kate and I were reminiscing about those days just last week on our way to get our hair done. A friend of ours who is an incredibly gifted hair dresser and make-up artist (among many other things) helps us stay at home mommies out by doing our hair out of her home for a fraction of what it costs in a salon. It really is a time I look forward to, a little bit of pampering and treating myself to a fun afternoon with a friend and a new hairstyle without the guilt.

In making the decision to stay home, we realized that we would have to tighten our belts. It took a while for me to get used to this new budget, and I do sometimes miss pedicures, expensive make-up and hair products, frequent dining out, etc. But the sacrifice is well worth it. Not only do I get all of the blessings of staying at home with our children, but by sticking to our budget, we reduce the stress and strain that financial woes put on a home and marriage. I get very excited when I go under my grocery budget or when I find a killer deal or awesome coupon.

I have had to say goodbye to "retail therapy" but that was never really a solution to problems anyway, just a little but of fun and relaxation to help ease stress. I used to think, "you deserve it, you work hard". Now, while I still do work very hard, my thought has become, "do you need it?". There will be a time when we have 2 incomes again, and I will be able to reintroduce some of life's little luxuries, but, even so, this is an area we as woman need to claim as the Lord's and have self-control in through all seasons.

I pray that today we will all take a look at how we can honor our Lord and our husbands in the area of finances and budgeting. Is there an area where you can cut back on your spending and be a bit more thrifty in order to take some pressure off of your husband as provider? Let's commit this area to the Lord and bring it under submission to His authority.

Father, I thank you for meeting all of our needs according to Your riches and glory. I praise You for every bill we are able to pay on time, for every grocery purchase we are able to make, and for our home, clothing for all seasons, and all that You daily provide to meet our basic needs. I pray for wisdom for my husband and I in creating a budget that works well for our family, and I commit to fulfilling my role in staying on or below that budget. May I bring any self-control issues I have had in the past into submission under Your authority and realize the damage my lack of self-control has on my husband and my family. Please help me to make wise choices in spending that honor You and bring peace and trust to my husband's heart and in our home. Please provide ways for me to reduce stress and refuel that are within our means through this season and help me to look to You first and foremost to find fulfillment rather than material things. I commit my ways to You in this area trusting that You will be the source of my success. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Corner Piece

“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord”. Proverbs 18:22

I am a “center gal”. I love the center piece of a brownie (yep, the one in the middle of the pan). I love the center piece of a casserole, of lasagna, etc. I think the piece with absolutely no crust in and the dead center of everything good is the best part of any dish. Because this is my favorite part, for years I would fix my husband’s plate for dinner (or whatever meal we were eating at the time) and I would give him my prized center piece. I saw it as an act of love…to give him the piece that I thought was best…the one I really wanted for myself! After several years of doing this, my husband one day asked me, “Why don’t you ever give me the corner piece? I love the corners! That is my favorite part!” What? You mean after all these years of me sacrificing my delicious center piece he really wanted the corner piece all along? I would be happy to give him that! Then he added, “I am a corner man.”

When I think about the above situation, it makes me laugh. I now gracefully devour the center piece and my husband inhales the corner pieces. :) But more importantly, I learned that day (and am still learning), how important open communication is in marriage. Sometimes we mistakenly assume we know what our husbands really want, and then we try our best to give him that. However, I ran across an excerpt from a book today that I really want to share with you. Here it goes:

Have a Meeting of the Minds with Your Husband

For years I placed unrealistic expectations on myself because I thought I knew what I needed to be a great wife to my husband. I ran myself ragged trying to keep up “the perfect wife charade.” Then one day the thought occurred to me that I had never stopped to ask my husband his definition of a good wife. His answer was so simple: ‘Take good care of the kids, exercise to stay in shape, and keep the house tidy.”
I was stunned and wondered, That’s it? Where are the 500 other things I thought I needed to be doing for you that have resided on my to- do list all these years?
He helped me see that if I did these top three things he felt very happy and well taken care of. The other things could be delegated to another family member, and he was the first to volunteer. He now does all the grocery shopping and is happy to do it.
All it took was a simple question. Try asking your husband his definition of a good wife—you might be surprised and relieved by his answer!”

Excerpt taken from Leading Women to the Heart of God by Lysa Terkeurst

Prayer:

Heavenly Father,
In your graciousness and your infinite wisdom, you made us all so wonderfully unique. We were created in your image and likeness, and we praise you for that. God please help us to be a reflection of you to each other in our marriages, and may we love you and our spouse more with each passing day. Father, please help us to communicate honestly and freely with one another, and may your grace fill in all the gaps. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Challenge: Ask your husband what his definition of a good wife is. Try your best (and pray for help) putting his ideas into practice. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Keeping Up" by guest blogger Fran

2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for My
strength is made perfect in weakness.

I am not a writer or a blogger. When my friend Kate asked if I could write, I
initially said maybe, then I said it was going to be too much for me at that time. So being the godly woman that she is, she asked if I would pray about it and I did. I prayed Lord, if You want me to write then You are going to have to give me something to write about… That was a few months ago and since then I have had my
3rd child, we moved homes, my husband lost his job, and I decided to home school…

Overwhelmed was how I was feeling when I felt the urge to blog. I was rocking my 4 month old Andrew and crying out to the Lord because I didn’t feel as if I had the strength to keep up anymore. With what you might ask? With everything us moms
try to keep up with. The home, laundry, parenting, dinners, “The Joneses”, being a good wife, being a good mommy, looking pretty, having nice clothes, a nice home, etc. You name it and I tried to keep up with it.

I needed that cry to hear the still quiet voice in the back of my head saying “this is where you are today but I will not keep you here, I want you to let go and let Me be glorified” I was grateful for my weakness because I knew the Lord would renew me. I knew He would restore me and give me the strength I would need to be the woman, wife, and mommy He wants me to be, the other stuff really doesn’t matter. We will all go through difficult seasons, whether it is due to loss of a loved one, disappointments, marital troubles, financial stresses, sickness, or something with our children. But one thing we can count on in our times of trouble is the one who will always remain the same, Christ our Lord. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday, today, and forever.

Lord please help us to rely on You. Help us to rejoice in the good times and praise You in the hard times for You alone are worthy of our praise. You give and take away and no matter what the circumstance help us to remember You work all things out for Your glory. Help us to trust You when nothing else makes sense. Thank you Lord for being that constant in our lives in such an inconsistent world…
Amen

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Words of Wisdom - PART 2*





Last Saturday we gleaned from seasoned moms as they shared thoughts on motherhood with us. With many Godly women willing to share their insight, we decided to break it  up into two weeks. Enjoy the following encouragement and allow Him to speak to you through the lives of His people....enjoy!
 
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.   
- Proverbs 11:14



"I like what Chuck Swindoll shared,  to be careful when you train your child up in the way they should go, that you take into consideration their different personality.  You may have to figure out what gets through to one that may not work well with another.  It is worth taking the time.  And give them opportunity to share their feelings without being afraid that there will be reprisal.  You want to encourage them to communicate with you honestly, so that, as they get older they will be free to share what is going on in their life." 
-Chris, mom of three, grandmother of five




Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. - Proverbs 15:22








"God has taught me to allow my children to be who God created them to be. They are all so different, and if we aren't careful, we can frustrate or hurt our children by pushing them to be who WE want them to be, rather than letting them follow the bent that God put in their hearts. God impressed upon my heart early on in motherhood to pray for wisdom daily and ask God to direct my children's paths in following their hopes and dreams. Proverbs 3:5,6 was a verse that my mom prayed over me growing up, and in turn, I've prayed that verse for my children over the years. God is faithful!" 
- Jan, mom of three, grandmother of 2




Instill in your children what they can do for others, not what others can do for you. The fruit from that for me has been that my daughter's friends at college can't believe she's an only child. Jesus came to serve, not be served. Matt 20:28
- Patrice, mom of one




Some of the best counsel I EVER received was from a sweet friend, Catherine, who reminded me in times of confusion, to stop and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. How grateful I am for those simple yet profound words I have remembered many days as a mommy. The Lord spoke through her at just the perfect time.





Thank you to all the moms who have ever encouraged another because of lessons learned through trials and testing in your own life. We are all better because of it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Good Grief!

      I was reminded this week that grieving doesn’t just have to apply to death.

      My friend has come to the realization that her six year old daughter may have some academic and behavioral delays.  Today she will be seeing her pediatrician for preliminary testing to determine what to do next.

      I’ve walked that path before.  Grieving for what isn’t. Weeping for what won’t be.  I know what its like to think I can try something else. I can make it right, make it better, fix the situation, fix “her.”

II Corinthians 1: 4 “HE comforts us every time we have trouble so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.”

Matthew 5: 4 “They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them.”

     I can’t change my friend’s daughter or mine.  I can share the comfort I have been given.  Better yet God can comfort her.
Image found: Google Images
  Dear Father, please go before my friend and her daughter as they enter the Doctor's office.  Help them to trust you.  To feel and know your peace as never before.  Help them not see her diagnosis as a punishment or an accident.  Please help them to know your comfort.  Give them perspective of your future plans, that they too will be able to comfort others.  Thank you for choosing to be our comfort in the midst of our pain and grief.  We love you Lord!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Outburst

“You little brats get out of here! Take these baskets and do not come back until they are full!” This was what Hansel and Gretal’s mom yelled as she sent them out the door, into the forest where they came upon the witch’s house.

What a terrible thing for a loving mother to say to her children. As I watched this movie with my kids the other day this is what I thought, but I also could feel the pain that the mother was in and understand her outburst. She was so stressed. Her family was out of food and the little bit they did have was ruined. Although it was an accident, all the mother could think of was where the next meal would come from. This had been going on so long and the stress was so high she just exploded. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her children but in her anger she sinned and that sin hurt those she loved most.

“In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26

When we are stressed, hungry, tired, or sick, and we behave in a way that is contrary to our regular behavior, we have a tendency of apologizing and adding an “I am just so ______" (you fill in the blank). I heard a sermon once where the pastor said, "that which you are apologizing for is the 'real' you." That statement made me look at myself a little differently after one of those outbursts. I saw the need for a heart change.

What I saw was that these outburst occurred most not because of sickness, hunger, stress or tiredness, yes they were factors, but the real reason was because I was not getting my way. Whether it was the kids not listening or unmet expectations it all came back to selfishness. I wanted it my way, NOW!

It has been several years since I heard that sermon and since I prayed that God would help me with that heart change. I can tell you that there is improvement but I am not yet outburst free. My plan: to continue to store up good in my heart and pray.

Luke 6:45 "A good man from the good stored up in his heart brings out what is good; and an evil man from the evil stored up brings out what is evil; for from the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Grandfather's Prayer

"Faith is being...certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

"Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe." (Mark 11:24)

There once was a boy whose grandfather prayed would live out a life pleasing to God and who would follow the will of his Father. He was a normal boy. He loved boy things. And as he grew up decided he would live a normal life. His grandfather continued to pray throughout the years and the boy that now had become a man began to feel in his heart the need to start an organization that would one day be known all over the world. That organization is Focus on the Family and the boy was James Dobson. The power of a praying grandfather had impacted the life of a normal, everyday boy to change the world for Christ.

Dr. James Dobson spoke at my parent's church in Michigan last summer and we had the privilege of hearing how Focus on the Family came to be. Over and over again, Dr. Dobson repeated how diligent his grandfather was in prayer for his grandchildren. He spoke as if all the credit should go to the power of prayer. And it left a huge imprint in my mind of how big our God is and how he can take any ordinary person and make them extraordinary for Christ.

Dear Lord,
Teach us to pray for our kids. Help us to be diligent and faithful in prayer that we might put our trust in you to form our kids into the men and women you want them to be. There will be influences from all sides that will try to pull our kids away from you, but we trust in you and know that through prayer you change things. Change our hearts, Lord.
Amen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Before Your Very Eyes




This past Christmas, our daughter Selah became very fond of the classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas. We loved watching this together, and we especially love the part where Linus tells the true meaning of Christmas. She still asks to watch it and knows all the names of the characters.

We decided to rent the Valentine's Day episode of the series for her to watch, and she was very excited to see the familiar characters on a new adventure. However, as the show progressed, I began to feel a tug in my spirit as the characters began speaking harshly and mockingly toward one another. As cute as it was to hear Selah saying, "good grease (grief)", she also started saying some of the lines from the show that we didn't like so much. So, we sent it back.

This is a sensitive issue, and you have to decide what works best for you and your family. For our family, we have decided to carefully guard what we allow our children to watch in this way. If we would not want our children to mimic what we see and hear on screen, we don't allow our kids to watch it.

When they are older and want to watch things we disagree with, we have decided to preview the show first, then sit down and watch it with them, discussing what is inappropriate about it. We want them to learn how to discern for themselves what is inappropriate and why, rather than just "no because we said so".

The challenge set before us today is to take a look at what is on the television in our homes and pray through what parameters you and you husband will set up for your family as well as how to teach your older children how to discern for themselves what they watch.

Turn away my eyes from looking and worthless things, and revive me in Your way.
Psalm 119:37

Father, I pray today for wisdom and discernment in how we spend our time in front of the television and what we set before our eyes. May we seek to honor You with what we watch and teach our children to desire to do the same. Please help me to make these choices in a way that brings You glory and impart that wisdom and discernment to my children. May we set no evil or worthless things before our eyes and may You heal and restore from any images already set before us that do not bring You glory. May we honor You with our minds, hearts, and eyes, Lord. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quiet Waters

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3

There’s a quote that I ran across the other day that I thought was so true. It stated, “Babies don’t come with directions on the back or batteries that can be removed. Motherhood is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You can’t “leave the office.” Hmmm, I love my kids very much…sometimes so much it hurts because I feel so responsible and so vulnerable at the same time. After all, I can only control so much. I have to commit my kids to God each day. I need to let my mind rest even if my body can’t yet. I need God to lead me beside still waters.

In “The Bathtub is Overflowing but I feel Drained: How to Deal with Mommy Stress” by Lysa TerKeurst ( a book I highly recommend), she tells a funny story about her dog named Champ and his tendency to run away…over and over and over again. She humorously states that while their little Jack Russell terrier loved them, he loved to run away even more. He simply “had no idea of the dangers of speeding cars, poisons that can be found in many garages and bigger dogs who would eat him for lunch.” Lysa lived on 12 acres of land at the time so she could not get a fence and she thought shock collar fences were very cruel…until he ran away for the umpteenth time and could not find his way home. She eventually ended up investing in an “invisible fence”—something she once abhorred. (As a side note, I think many moms start off feeling this way about spanking (NOT BEATING, slapping, or smacking—that is wrong), until their little one gets out of hand. I would argue that this should also be done in love and not overused, but there is definitely a time when the threat of momentary, slight physical pain can save your kids life. They may not remember all the good reasons why they should not run into the street, but maybe a little healthy fear of punishment will keep them out of it. Anyway, that lesson is for another day!)

What I really want to emphasize is Lysa’s point that just like her Champ, we too need to set boundaries as moms—for our kids, BUT also for ourselves. Perhaps she says it best:

“The demands on mothers seem to be never ending, but even the best athletes require a time-out every now and then. So do we. Whether we lean more toward being a slacker mom, supermom, or realistic mom, the reality is we need to give ourselves permission to stop being a mom for a while and just be a woman…a wife…a friend. I can’t tell you how many moms I’ve met who pride themselves on having never left their children for any reason. They put everything on the back burner in the name of being mom extraordinaire…If you don’t take care of yourself, and give yourself permission to get refreshed and refilled, don’t be surprised when you constantly feel drained and secretly resentful of your family.”

Lysa has so many other good points about a myriad of topics, and I would encourage you to get this book…especially for the “Refresh my Soul” scripture and devotional section at the end of each chapter, but I really want to harp on this idea of rest, quiet waters for moms. I went out for a mom’s night this past Saturday with a few of my girlfriends. We talked, laughed, ate good food, and listened to music. We had a great time! It was just what I needed…to simply be a friend and have friends without kids around, knowing that my husband was capable to watch our kids…even if he doesn’t do things exactly like me.

I would encourage you to first and foremost, be aggressive about your quiet time with the Lord—nothing can take the place of that time. Only God can fill the impression of your heart that he left when he made you. BUT after that, plan a little time to get away with your hubby or your friends…or just yourself and enjoy being a wife…a friend…a woman. Here’s the real challenge, try to make your escape somewhat regularly (once a week, twice a month, etc.). :)

Prayer:
Dear Father,
How we yearn to be more like you! You model the perfect balance for us. You created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Please help us to have a healthy balance of rest and work so that we do not become so consumed with cares of this life that we feel exasperated. Lord, we need alone time with you to hear your still, small voice. Thank you that you are always speaking to us. Please help us to take time to listen. Lead us beside your still waters and restore our souls for your name’s sake.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Blessings" by Guest Blogger Alicia




My name is Alicia and I was asked to guest blog for this week. I am married to my husband, Alex, and we have a one year old named, Lexie.

Have you ever just sat at the end of your day and just really truly “counted your blessings?” As I was driving home the other day, I thought of all the blessings I had received so far that day. First, I got to spend some alone time with my dad. Second, my mom babysat for my daughter so I could volunteer at a city jamboree. What a blessing!! Then, I later found out, my daughter had bumped her head pretty hard at my mom’s house. So, I took her to a walk in clinic that my husband works at. The doctor saw her at no charge!!! Such a blessing!!! The doctor found her to be just fine J Another blessing!! I could write about many more for just that one day. But, my point is: Do we ever stop to really think about all of our blessings? And, do we remember to thank God for them?? There are so many people God has put in our paths each day to bless us. The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22)


As a mom, I want to be able to share these blessings with my daughter as she grows up. I want her to know that we aren’t  “lucky,” we are blessed! All of the material things and non-material things we receive are blessings from our Heavenly Father. My point is that I want my children to know that God is the one who gives us all of our blessings. More importantly, God wants us to be blessed. Everything we receive is a gift from Him. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17) A friend of mine had suggested getting a notebook and start writing down all of your blessings each day, week, etc. Then, you will be able to share some of them with your own children. I would like to even get her to do that very same thing as she gets older. Or, get a special box, write them down and put them in there. At a later date, look at them and share with your child. You will be amazed at all the blessings you can continue to add to it. 

 

Also, I want to be able to teach her how to bless others. I want her to have that experience to know what it is like first-hand to bless someone. I feel that, as moms, we need to set the example. We need to show our little ones that when we do something for someone, we are “blessing” them. I don’t want her to be boastful and brag about how we blessed this person or that; I want her to do these things in a humble manner. I want her to know that God wants us to bless others just as he blesses us. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 28:2)

So, ladies, I encourage you to take a moment this week and reflect on all of your blessings you have in your life. If possible, write them down in a journal or put them in a special box. Spend a few quiet moments to thank God for each one of them.

Have a blessed week ladies!



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Words of Wisdom - PART 1

Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. - Titus 2:3-5 MSG

It was last Saturday that my mom and I, along with my boys, ventured out to Target. On our way there my mom and I began a discussion that catapulted me into this blog post today. She shared with me wisdom she learned through her seasons of being a mom.  About how different things are now versus when she was raising us girls. Times have changed. I thought for today we would listen in on some wisdom from different moms, what they have gleaned and hope to pass on to you. Sit back, read, and allow the Lord to shine light on your life and where you can relate to these ladies. I pray you enjoy these as much as I have. P.S. My mom, a.k.a Brigid, is the first one to share below!!



"I was blessed as a first-time mom to have experienced moms around me who encouraged and supported me in my mothering. They gently nurtured me as I experienced the ups and downs of motherhood and helped me understand the value of being a stay-at-home mom. Some words of wisdom I've experienced... Cherish every moment you have with your child. Time passes so quickly and the day will come when you look back on those memories. Make the most of the time you have. Enjoy where you are and experience it fully. We are sometimes so anxious for one stage to pass, that we miss the joy in the present. Don't compare your baby or child to any other. Quality moments only happen when we spend a quantity of time with our children. People are more important than things. Don't be fooled into thinking you or your child need more "things" to be happy. Pray for your children daily. Pray, also, for the boys and girls who will one day be their godly mates."
 - Brigid, mom of three, "Mimi" to three grandchildren


"Don't be afraid to admit your mistakes to your children.  It is an excellent example when you apologize for a wrong and seek forgiveness.  Our children don't need to think that we're perfect!  They need to see a real-life journey of faith and trust in the Lord and the growth that brings! "
- Kori, mom of three 


"Enjoy every minute, they grow up so fast. Patience is essential. If you need a break, call someone to help. Even a trip to the grocery store alone will give you a different outlook. When they're small, the problems are small, a deep breath & a quick prayer will help. Allow yourself some alone time. "
- Lin
da, mom of two, grandma of two





"I would say to allow the words to really soak into your heart- THE TIME YOU HAVE WITH YOUR CHILDREN GOES SO FAST! It truly is a blink of an eye before it’s over and on to the next season. Our children are the most precious gift we could ever receive from the Lord!"
 - Suzi, mom of two




"Don't get discouraged by the culture. We can impact the world. God has your kids here, right at this juncture, its not accident. If you are following the Lord, God will often even overlook your sins and bless you because you are seeking to follow him. It's OK to be human. I look at my kids and say, "WOW! Lord, you are so cool!"
-Linda, mom of two, about to be a new grandma in March




"I would encourage mom's of young children to set boundaries at an early age. This will help set standards of Godly principles as it relates to Internet usage, social networking, t.v., dating, etc...as our kids mature into teens. I would also advise moms to learn how to talk WITH---NOT AT---your kids. I have to admit that I often times forget & struggle w/this simple fact. It is such an important element in communicating effectively with your teens."
-Yirsi, mom of two


to be continued next week...Words of Wisdom- Part 2

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's Love Got to Do with it?


     On Valentine's Day, Greg and I would throw out a random line of a love song.  The other would have to see if they could sing the rest of the song with its tune (our own rendition of Karaoke.)  We spent much of the day laughing at ourselves and each other.  Do you remember the song, "What's Love got to do with it?"

Luke 6: 32 - 33 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.”HCSB


Recently, the Lord has been convicting me about these verses.  I have been asking myself, “Why do I do what I do?” For example: if a neighbor asks me to pick up their child from school and bring her home, and I do.  Does that show love?  Consider, if the person who asks me lives down the street and the school is the same school my child attends.  Really, it’s no big deal, right?

Compare that with: Someone asks me to pick up their child and take them home.  They attend a different school than my child and doesn’t live in the same direction I’m driving.  I do this.  Which situation shows the greatest love?

The bigger question I am asking is, not who am I showing greater love to but who am I showing CHRIST’S LOVE to?

In filtering this most recent conviction, I reflect on my parents.  They are the first to say, "no problem." I can remember many examples throughout my life of them offering to help, offering to love others when it seems just too sacrificial.  My parents, were enjoying their temporary "empty nest" when a coworker publically admitted her own personal addictions and struggles.  My parents brought her three school aged children to live with them. My parents weren't told when or if their parents would return.  My parents loved on these three. They bought them clothes, took them to school, made lunches, played ball in the yard with them, told them bedtime stories and prayed with them as they kissed them goodnight.

As Moms the question isn’t do we love our children.  We do!  The question is, “Are we showing them Christ’s love?”  I have been deliberate in recent days, recognizing when my human spirit balks at our children’s behavior.  At these times I find myself calling on His Spirit within me to share Christ’s love as my response. 

"What's Love Got to do with it?" Christ's love is sacrificial, its  perfect.  Let’s share His love with our children and others God may bring into our paths!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Invitation to Rejoice

One morning I was sitting around the kitchen table with my children doing math. I was working with my oldest son, Boston, when my daughter, Alexis, took my attention from him with a question. The minute I turned back to him he was gone; he was taking advantage of my moment of distraction. I called his name and told him I was ready to continue math, but he didn’t answer. Alexis said, “Mom he is in the living room.” So a little louder I called for him. As soon as I was done saying his name, directly behind me there was a loud “boo!” I jumped and screamed. Boston and Alexis were laughing so hard they were crying. They were so happy and their laugh was catchy. Once my heart found its way back to my chest I too began to laugh. Alexis stopped looked me right in the face, smiled and said, “Mom it is so good to see you laugh it has been awhile.”

Later in the week I was doing a Bible study on Romans that took me back to that moment when Alexis looked me in the eye. Here is what it said:

“C.S. Lewis wrote, ‘Joy is the serious business of heaven.’ Perhaps you’re living at such a frantic pace, so absorbed in your own life and problems that you’re missing God’s daily invitations to rejoice. This week watch for those invitations, and when they come, slow down long enough to experience God’s gift of joy.” (Romans: Becoming New in Christ, By John Kuhatschek)

In that moment with Boston and Alexis I had taken the time to slow down and rejoice in the gift of their laughter by joining them. By accepting that invitation to rejoice it brought my kids and myself joy. What a beautiful gift and I wasn’t even looking for it.

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And web rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to watch this week for your invitations to rejoice and when I recognize them remind me to slow down and experience them. You are such an awesome Father who loves and cares for me. You give me so much to rejoice in; I do not want to fail to notice because I am absorbed by my own problems. Open my eyes. You know what I need and when I need it. I will rejoice in you, your love, protection, and mercy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Word

"...love is kind." (I Corinthians 13:4a)

Definition of KIND: helpful, considerate, and gentle. During its history it came to mean "of good family" and "well brought up, generous." (The American Heritage Children's Dictionary, Houghton Mifflin)

What is kindness to you? What does it look like on a daily basis? Is it something you can see being cultivated in your children's hearts? Are we, as parents, striving to combat a world where everything is about "I" and "me" and seeking to be helpful, considerate, and gentle towards others? Sometimes, it's very hard to do. It's very easy to say, but hard to do.

The other day, our family was taking a walk at a local park. It was a busy place and lots of people were camping and enjoying their time with family. As Griffin and I walked s-l-o-w-l-y behind Rob and Cooper a group of teenagers came toward us on the sidewalk. I, like most pedestrians, stayed on the right side of the sidewalk as they approached. But as they got closer I noticed that they were not attempting to move aside like normal people would. They fully intended on taking the entire sidewalk and fully intended on this mother and her little boy to go around them. My stubbornness got the better (or worse) of me and instead of going around I brushed shoulders with the girl closest to me hopefully sending the message to move over next time. The sidewalk was for everyone. Whoa. Wait a minute. In an instant I was transported back to childhood. Was I any different than these kids on the sidewalk or was I sending the same message they were? You don't matter to me.

Walmart, the highway, the grocery store...these are all places where I've run into similar situations and have experienced the rawness of fallen man. There are times when I fight it with the power of the holy spirit and there are times when I'm in a hurry that I start to blend in with everyone else. Helpful. Considerate. Gentle. Generous. A very high standard in a very hurried world. Are our kids going to see these qualities through our actions and our words or the other way around?

When I taught middle schoolers, I always told them if they really wanted to stick out in a crowd or be remembered for something different that they should smile. I told them that being kind was a very rare character trait and that it would make them different in a world of helping self before others.


Am I teaching this to my own kids through my example? Are you? It has become very obvious to me that I cannot do it on my own. I have the same sinful condition that everyone else has and only through His grace will I be able to give it to others.

Heavenly Father,
It is so hard to stand apart from the rest of the world. Only through your love is it possible to love others before ourselves and our families. I pray that you help us to seek out your example in scripture and to really try to live it out daily. Help us to be examples to our kids, that they may turn the other cheek and humbly serve those around them.
In Your Name,
Amen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sowing and Reaping




Typically, you hear the expression "you reap what you sow" used to warn against the consequences of sin, and quite fittingly so. But recently the Lord spoke to my heart on this verse in a different light. You see, as a busy mommy, hair, make-up, and taking time to make myself presentable oftentimes presents a unique challenge with 2 little girls needing my attention. So, we have made it a game of sorts by sitting both girls in the sink of the vanity while I get ready. We go through the make-up bag together and take turns applying the different cosmetics, brushing our hair, putting on hair spray and smelly lotions, etc. They really enjoy this time, and it has worked well in allowing me to go beyond the ponytail and lip gloss look.

So, what's the problem? Well, my husband and I agreed to not allow the girls to wear make-up until high school. However, it suddenly occurred to me the other day that the seeds I am sowing in this area are not in agreement with what we want to reap. Oops! This led me to think of other areas where I am not sowing properly or even at all. Are there other things we allow that seem "harmless" but could actually lead to more harmful behaviors?

If we want our children to grow into healthy, mature, spiritually solid adults, we should be consistently planting and nourishing seeds in those areas as well as examining and pruning those things that may seem harmless now but will reap a negative outcome in the future. The challenge for today is to look at our children's hearts as little gardens. What plants need tending to? What areas need pruning? Can you just see little buds beginning to sprout that will someday bloom into beautiful, bountiful, fruit bearing trees?

We are the gardeners of our childrens' hearts. And while it may seem that we do not see the fruit of our labor, those seeds planted and daily nourished will produce a bountiful harvest someday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

On Edge

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12

I have been on the edge lately with my son Mikey--partly because he is a very active, LOUD four year old boy (who likes to push my buttons); partly because I am a woman and have to deal with these blasted hormones. However, as I was reading through an excerpt of The Love Dare, I realized that while I was exhorting Mikey to pray for his heart, I needed to pray about mine. I was irritable! The Love Dare, Day 6 says…Love is not irritable. OK God, I get it! Check out the following excerpt and see if you can relate. I know I can!

“To be irritable means “to be near the point of a knife”. Not far from being poked. People who are irritable are locked, loaded, and ready to overreact…Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This means you must balance, prioritize, and pace yourself. Too often we throw caution to the wind and run full steam ahead, doing what feels right at the moment. Soon we are grasping for air, wound up in knots, and ready to snap. The increasing pressure can wear away at our patience and our relationship.
The Bible can help you avoid unhealthy stress. It teaches you to let love guide your relationships so you aren’t caught up in unnecessary arguments (Colossians 3:12-14). To pray through your anxieties instead of tackling them on your own (Philippians 4:6-7). To delegate when you are overworked (Exodus 18:17-23). To avoid overindulgence (Proverbs 25:16).

It also exhorts you to take a “Sabbath” vacation day every week for worship and rest. This strategically allows you time to recharge, refocus, and add breathing room or margin to your weekly schedule. Establishing these kinds of extra spaces will place cushions between you and the pressures around you, reducing the stress that keeps you on edge around your mate…[or in this case, my kids.]”
After reading this, I realized that we need a little more margin in our daily schedule—a time to unwind, relax, and regroup as a family. I am go-go-go to the extreme, often hanging out with other wonderful families from the morning until just before it’s time for me to go home and make a hurried dinner…I have another confession to make—I tend to follow that same routine every day. We need Sabbath rest. We need margin. Let’s not sprint through life just trying to make it to the finish line (or bedtime) each day.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in your infinite wisdom, you made the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Please help me to follow your example and to take time to rest, both mentally and physically. Help me to delegate tasks that I don’t have to do myself. Help me to have quiet time with you, and help me to teach my kids to have quiet time too. God, I want to be loving, self-controlled, and long suffering. I do not want to be irritable. Please help me, God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Question: Have you been irritable lately? What kind of margin can you work into your daily routine?

Challenge:
Check out the following passages and apply them to your life:
• Colossians 3:12-14 (Getting dressed—spiritually speaking)
• Exodus 18:17-23 (Delegating tasks)
• Proverbs 25:16 (avoiding overindulgence—i.e. too much of a good thing is still too much)
• Philippians 4:6-7 (taking time to pray)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Who Defines You" by Guest Blogger Amy Cudmore


"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created." James 1:17 
 “Well at least he runs fast”. This was the comment that came out of Julie’s mouth regarding my son Samuel.  You see at the age of 5, Sam was long time buddies with Julie’s son David.  Although Sam was three months older than David, David was three times Sam’s size.  It was sometimes a source of anxiety for Sam and a point of boasting for David.  Sam and I often discussed his size.  We both came to the conclusion that he needed to be the size he was to walk in the good works the Lord had for him to do.  This truth was always (and still is) a source of comfort and joy.  Until one day, this truth just didn’t seem to be a comfort to Sam.  As we were discussing his size, he looked at me and said “well at least I can run fast”.  I realized that it bothered him more than he was letting on.  I said a quick prayer for wisdom and proceeded to ask him a question.  “Sam”, I said, “if you were running today and fell and broke your leg and could never ever run again, if you were no longer Sammy the fast runner, who are you?” He looked up at me in all sincerity with his huge green eyes (his eyes were about the only “huge” thing about him) and said, “I don’t know”. 
Do you see my point?  We all have talents or skills but they do not and cannot define us.  What define us are the gifts, the spiritual gifts God makes available to us.   The talents and the skills are the means to which the spiritual and lasting gifts are displayed in and through us. The Apostle Paul talks about this in Corinthians."There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  Now to each one the manifestations of the Spirit are given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and he gives them to each one, just as he determines" (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) He is the gift giver. These are the gifts that last and affect others for the sake of God’s kingdom in Heaven and here on Earth. We all have these gifts available to us. I believe God's word tells us that all we have to do is ask for these gifts. "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11 &12) What gifts are available through the Holy Spirit? Some of them can be found in Galatians 5:22-25 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited provoking and envying each other.”
In light of God’s truth let’s take another look at Samuel’s talent as a runner.  When I consider his spiritual gifts, I see in him the gift of faith, abounding love, kindness, discernment, and wisdom.  These gifts are two-fold in nature.  God has given them to Sam so that he can give them to others. His talent and ability to run fast takes him to places (no pun intended) and lands him on various teams so that the Lord can use his spiritual gifts to reach and touch those around him.  Do you ever concentrated so hard on the “what you do” that you lose sight of the “who you are”? I often remind myself and my children of a quote by Dr. Bob Barnes.  He puts it this way, “As long as I know whose I am, I will know who I am”.
Think about your own children.  What are some of their talents? What spiritual gifts do they have?  Now marry the two in your conversations with them.  Teach them that the talent(s) are the vehicle that brings them to the places God wants them to be to use the spiritual gifts in and through them for His glory alone! Be encouraged, your child was made for God’s greatness.  I urge you, godly mother, do not let your child’s talents define them. Ask God for the gift of wisdom. Then use your mothering talent to teach them about the eternal spiritual gifts told us in God’s word. "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." (1 Corinthians 12:1).  God offers us the eternal gifts, beginning with Jesus Christ, which defines who we are, gives us purpose, and makes, us useful through our God given talents.  Apart from Him we can do nothing; nothing of value and certainly nothing that lasts.
Samuel is now 16 years old, still small amongst his peers and still running really fast.  However, he knows that it does not define him. What defines him is how he uses his spiritual gifts and talents where ever they take him, not just the ball fields, to Love God and love others…after all, Jesus said that is all that really matters.

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these member do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the other.  We have different gifts according to the grace given us.  If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportions to his faith.   If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of ot­­­­hers, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy let him do it cheerfully." Romans 12:3-8
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it 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 forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:10 & 1
Thank you for reading today’s blog.  My prayer for you is that anything I’ve written above that is of my pride or opinions would be erased and only HIS truth would resound within your brain and heart! May you sense the Lord’s pleasure as you seek to know and love him and live a life reflecting you do!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Breath OK? Do I Need a Mint????


Each Wednesday and Saturday night at the Seawell house we have a special tradition I have come to cherish. On those nights my husband works late I lay down with my oldest son at bedtime until he falls asleep. I LOVE this. Little James and I have special extended prayer and it is just a sweet time I so look forward to.

A few weeks ago as we were praying my son randomly shared, "Mommy, your breath stinks." Very matter-of-factly. Gotta love the innocence of kids. I think that's why the Lord admonishes us to act like children because there is a honesty and openness in them that we as adults struggle with. Anyways, I was taken-aback at first and then it got me thinking that my breath was stinky. It was a smell I was giving off that I was unaware of, but because he was close enough to me he was able to smell what I had digested (literally).


The comment actually caused me to stop and reflect on my words and how they "smell" to others. Am I digesting the Bible enough throughout my day that the fragrance of my lips is a sweet aroma or one others want to turn away from? Whatever we are "digesting" is what our "breath"/words will smell like.

Yesterday at ladies Bible study I waited in line at childcare, to drop off my little ones, when I was encouraged by a ministry worker. She shared how she'd seen growth in my kids and how they were maturing well. I was SO blessed by such a simple comment and it touched the depth of my soul. I have struggled so much lately and the Lord used that friend to breath life into a weary and exhausted mommy. Her words uplifted me and were a sweet aroma. She is one others flock to and are refreshed by (Proverbs 11:25).

Many times in my frustration with my children, or husband, I flippantly say something and later wish I hadn't. My mouth has caused me, on many occasions, to push my pride aside and ask for forgiveness from my boys and my husband as well. One of my sons loves to push my buttons and I need to rehearse, in those brief but trying moments, the verse


 James 1:19- "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."


Oh how that would help me :) Or what about....


Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.


Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.


Proverbs 16:23  A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction

Luke 6:45  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.


I need to allow my words to be a reflection of HIS word and let my children experience truth throughout their day. Lets pray this week that we use scripture to combat those fleshly tendencies :)

How are you doing with your words? Sweet aroma? Fragrance others want to turn away from?
Do you need a "mint"/scripture verse to freshen up?
Is there a verse above you might consider memorizing this week to help?

*above images found on Pinterest*

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Valentine's Gift to you!



     Moms are you thinking about Valentines Day?  Its only 4 days from today…  
Have you bought cards or made them with your children?


image found here: Pinterest valentine
For you who read my Christmas post, you know I am challenged in the area of gift buying.  However, I have found another perfect gift for you to share with your Valentines, no matter what their ages…

God’s Word!  Ask God to lead you in His Word.  Find those special verses that you can share with your husband, your children or a friend.
image found here: pinterest.com/pin/56506170294179600
God’s Word will not return void (Isaiah 55: 10 – 11.) It will gently shape us (Hebrews 4: 12.) It will guide us (Psalm 119:105,) and it will last forever (Mark 13: 31.)

Momma’s be creative. Give this best gift ever!

Father, How blessed we are that YOU would want to be our Valentine!  
Thank you for your amazing WORD.  
Words that are true and are life. Words that we can share with our children our husbands our friends our neighbors and our world.  
Help us to find creative ways to share your word.  
Help us to fall more deeply in love with YOU, our living word – our perfect Valentine!!  
In Jesus sweet name, Amen.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thank Offerings

“Consider this you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:22-23

John Maxwell says. “Life is full of unforeseen detours. Circumstances happen which seem to completely cut across our plans. Learn to turn your detours into delights. Treat them as special excursions and learning tours. Don’t fight them or you will never learn their purpose. Enjoy the moments and pretty soon you will be back on track again, probably wiser and stronger because of your little detour.”

Some of our detours are big and some of our detours are small. Regardless of the size we can always offer up thanks to our Lord to honor Him. In the biggest of detours, even though we may have to look hard, we can find something to thank God for.

I was having a difficult time sleeping the other night when I read this verse in Psalms. I was not so sure about the tearing to pieces part but I was reminded to thank God for what I do have and what He has done. I fell asleep giving thanks to my God.

I know that my children have a lot of detours ahead of them in this life. There is no better time to start teaching them to honor God with thank offerings, especially in the “unforeseen detours.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rain

"Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:2)

The last couple days it has been raining on and off all day. While I tend to think around the rain (What will we do today inside? Is there somewhere we could go? Are the boys going to get bored?), my boys run upstairs for their rain jackets and rubber boots and try to find the biggest puddle to jump in and the longest worms they can find. They meet what the day has brought head on. While I'm wondering how we're going to work around it, they're rejoicing in the rain.

It's a good reminder to me. I know as adults, not everything is as easy as puddles and worms--to turn a rainy day into fun is a lot easier than turning tragedy or burden into rainbows and sunshine. But watching my boys the last couple days has given me perspective, again, on how we should look toward the brighter side of things. That through each storm, growth happens. And how when we're on the other side of it, our days seem sweeter than before. But even more importantly, God dwells among us, catches us, and surrounds us with his peace in these times and it is then that we know we could never do this life without Him.

"Every person and every nation must endure lessons in God's school of adversity. In the same way we say, "Blessed is the night, for it reveals the stars to us," we can say, "Blessed is sorrow, for it reveals God's comfort." A flood once washed away a poor man's home and mill, taking with it everything he owned in the world. He stood at the scene of his great loss, brokenhearted and discouraged. Yet after the waters had subsided, he saw something shining in the riverbanks that the flood had washed bare. "It looks like gold," he said. And it was gold. The storm that had impoverished him made him rich. So it is oftentimes in life." (Henry Clay Trumbull)

Rain is so sweet to the mature plant, yet can wash a seed down river if it's not yet fully rooted. Find your strength in Him today and let Him carry you. He is near.

Heavenly Father,
I praise you for the rain. I praise you for slowing us down every once in awhile with a good storm. Give us faith that this, too, shall pass and that in our time of waiting we put our hope in you.
In Your Name,
Amen.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Loss of a Child

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 2:3-4

This weekend was a tough one in our household, though not as tragic as the title of this blog suggests. Our oldest Selah came down with the tummy flu. Our night was spent changing sheets, cleaning her up, praying with her, and rocking her back to sleep after each episode, followed by rocking her little sister back to sleep as she was woken up in the process.

So, this morning was quite different from our usual routine. Rather than rushing to get ready and heading out to the gym, I let the girls sleep in. It was very strange to have a quiet household. There was no Curious George music playing on the TV, no juice cups being spilled, no banana pieces being tossed onto the floor, just peace and quiet... and rain. So, I took my time in my devotions, spent quite a bit of time in prayer, took an extra long shower, and got dressed and ready all in one sitting without having a baby on my hip. As nice as all this should have been, the thought occurred to me of how sad I would be if this was my day every morning, if my kids all of the sudden were not here.

Perhaps it was because I had just read of the tragedy in Utah where a father under scrutiny for his wife's disappearance took his life and the lives of his two small boys this weekend. Maybe it was just my fearful tendencies creeping up in me, but I took a moment to reflect and pray for protection for my children and for comfort for all of those who have lost a child. Whether it be a miscarriage or some other tragedy, a child lost is devastating. So, today I hope we can join in prayer for all of those who have experienced this kind of loss, asking our Father to comfort them and help them get through the day to day life and difficult moments of grief, finding comfort and healing that only He can provide. Please join me.

Gracious and Loving Father, We come to you today lifting up all of those Moms and Dads who have lost a child, whether recently or many years ago. Lord, we know there is no love quite like that which You give us for our children. And while life must go on and You have a plan for the time ahead, that missing piece will never be filled in their hearts until they are once again holding their baby in their arms in Your eternal kingdom. Until that beautiful and glorious day arrives, we ask Lord for Your loving arms to be wrapped around their hearts, for Your peace that passes understanding to infiltrate their minds in those moments of utter grief, and for the comfort and healing only You can provide in those moments of missing the sounds, the smiles, and the hugs. Please surround them with love and fellowship as a source of Your love and comfort here on earth. Please protect our children with Your mighty right hand. Please outstretch Your arms to all of those little ones in heaven right now waiting for Mommy and Daddy to join them in Your perfect timing. Please give them the hug that their parents are longing to give at this very moment and let them know who it is from. We love You Lord and trust in Your sovereignty, even when it is so difficult. We look forward with rejoicing hearts to the day where once again these families are whole in Your presence. We pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Education at its Best

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

I do not want to be a fool! I don’t want to do foolish things, and I don’t want to my kids to act like fools! I want wisdom, I crave understanding, and I desire to do what is right and best for me and my family. Many of you may know that I am in the process of homeschooling my four year old. Being that this is his preschool year, I am doing a hodge-podge of various curriculums to make sure that this year is fun and challenging for him. There are so many curriculums to choose from, and while I experience great freedom in selecting one that suits him best, I want to be careful to put Christ at the center of his education.

One curriculum that I really like for building a Biblical foundation for learning is My Father’s World. I by no means want to seem like I am advertising for them. There are pros and cons to this curriculum, and I often find that I have to supplement it with other things like math, phonics, etc. However, one thing the preschool and kindergarten curriculum really emphasizes is building a firm foundation in God’s word as well as exploring God’s wonderful creation. For example, one lesson is about leaves—there are science projects, art projects, songs, and letter recognition activities that center around leaves. BUT the one thing that stood out to me was this activity.

The gist of the activity is as follows: Go outside and collect a branch with multiple leaves on it. Bring it inside and talk about how the leaves are nourished by the nutrients in the branch. Then, we are supposed to talk about how the branch in our lives is God and his word, the Bible. We are supposed to remain connected to him so we can grow. The next part of the “experiment” gets really good. Next, we are supposed to ask our kids what they think will happen if the leaf decides it want to do its own thing and leave the branch. What if the leaf doesn’t want to be obedient anymore? What if the leaf thinks it can do better on its own…without anyone telling it what to do?

Notice here, we are just supposed to ask and not supply the answer. After they supply their own answers we pull a leaf off and observe. At first it looks just like the other leaves—healthy. As the week goes on, we observe the leaves on the branch versus the leaf by itself. Naturally, the lone leaf starts to shrivel and dry out. The other leaves that are connected to the branch still look pretty healthy. Then we discuss how when we decide that we know better than God, or we want to be God, or we don’t want to listen to God and the parents he gave us (i.e. we want to do our own thing) we suffer natural consequences for our rebellion. So while we are learning about leaves, enjoying God’s beautiful creation, and creating leaf collages, and making textured leaf paintings and drawings, and learning about the letter “L’, we are also learning how God holds everything together and that we should stay connected to Him.

I just want to encourage you to reflect on what the Bible tells us: No education is complete without knowledge of the Holy One. Our children’s every day education needs to point them to the awesomeness of an all-powerful Creator—thus giving meaning and relevance (i.e. what does this have to do with me?) to their education.
My agenda in homeschooling is to bring up kids with strong character, strong family support and relationships, and a love for learning. This is the route of schooling that God has placed on my heart. Your path may be a bit different, and that is OK. God may have directed you in a direction that looks far different from mine. I love that our walk with the Lord is so personal. So that being said, your kids may be in a public school, a charter school, a magnet school, a Montessori school, a secular private school, or a Christian private school. Whatever schooling route the Lord has placed upon your heart, I would encourage you to put Christ at the center of your child’s education—regardless of whether or not their school does so. This may require a lot of extra work on your end, but I guarantee you that you will reap the benefits of this and they will too.

Some Biblical Principles to consider:
Math—God is constant. Just as 1 +1 is always 2, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Science—True science points to a highly intelligent, omniscient Creator.
Literature—God uses stories to teach us his truths
Grammar—God’s word is perfect. Clear language helps us better express His truths.
Social Studies—History tells us His story. When we veer from God’s plan, big messes happen (which we should not repeat). When we stay close to Him, beautiful milestones are left behind for others to follow.

These are just a few ideas. I encourage you to add to these and put them into practice.

Prayer:
Dear Father,
Thank you for the knowledge of you, the Holy One. May we seek your face in all things and put you at the center of our children’s’ education. Please guide us in the path of truth, and draw us closer to your heart. Change the way we think so that our thoughts please you. Help us make disciples of the next generation. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.