Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolution?

A resolution according to Google is a firm decision to do or not to do something. In my opinions that takes A LOT of discipline. My daughter and I seem to major in A LACK of discipline, so we have resolved not to have resolutions!

"But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ - Luke 14:28-30

We, for many years, have set yearly goals. There are measurable and attainable although challenging. We print, post them and every few months, we go over them. Sometimes they need adjustiing. We set them in a way that if we don't attain them, we are still better off than when we started the goal.

A result should not be your goal. Explore how to attain the result and THAT should be your goal. For example, "In 2014, I am going to go to the gym, three days a week" is probably not an attainable goal if you haven't been going to the gym on a regular basis. If you miss a few days, then a few weeks you  could get discouraged and quit. Instead, explore WHY you want to go to the gym? Is it to exercise? Then maybe a better goal is to exercise 3 times a week. Next, list 10 ways to get exercise, such as the gym, a walk with the kids, a bicycle ride, etc. This makes the goal attainable.

Next, measure your goal. Put an E (for exercise) or a smiley face on the calendar every time you exercise. This will both motivate you and implore your kids to keep you accountable (LOL). Even if you missed an exercise every week, at the end of the year, you would have exercised over 100 times!

Check your entire list of goals often to re-motivate or remind yourself of the goals. Keep your goals in prayer!

Challenge: Make a list of measurable, attainable goals. Have your children make goals for themselves. Maybe start with 3-5 goals for the year. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Defeating Self-Doubt

"Defeating Self-Doubt" by Moments with You -Dennis & Barbara Rainey
We ourselves speak proudly of you.
-2 Thessalonians 1:4
If there's anything that characterizes the teenage years, it's self-doubt.
Barbara and I had six teenagers progress through our house. At one point we had four at the same time. And it was frequently obvious that the origin for some of their behaviors--and for many of the words coming out of their mouths--was their doubts about themselves.
As difficult as they sometimes would be, we knew how imperative it was for us to look them in the eye and say, "I love you. I believe in you. I'm glad you're my son [or daughter]." There's nothing like a mom and dad's love to soften their hearts and ease their doubts.
On our FamilyLife Today program, we interviewed Josh Weidmann, who has become a passionate Christian voice to teens and college students. He told us about once being at a youth camp and preaching on the biblical story of Esther.
As he told about how beautiful the queen was in form and feature, he said, "You know, I want to stop here and tell you--every individual woman in this room--you are beautiful, and you are God's creation." As soon as those words left his lips, he heard what he describes as the loudest gasp he'd ever heard in his life. Why? Because so few of these girls believed it. So few had been reassured at home that they had worth and value and were loved--just for who they were.
Even after my sons outgrew me, I would hug them and tell them I loved them. I never had the sense that I said it too much. When my girls had become beautiful young women and I wasn't always sure I should hold them too close, I would hug them and affirm them and tell them how lovely they were to me.
No matter how big they get and how adult-like they look, never stop expressing your belief in your children. They need it.
Give yourself a grade on how well you do on expressing love and belief. Talk about how you can express it more.
Pray that your children will never be starved for your love and affirmation.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Making a List & Checking it Twice

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
-Psalm 9:1-2

A wise friend encouraged me to get a spiral notebook & keep a log/list of all the excitement that happens each Christmas season and journal about it. From the highlights to gifts that were received - memories are written down to cherish and relive the next year as you open up your "Christmas Box" that's been stowed away in your attic for 12 months.

So I did just that. It was a blessing to go back and read what the "highs" were of the previous year. With that said, I want to post one last Christmas Traditions - its part #5. I hope as you read through this post from my friend Elizabeth - that you start your own journal to be pulled out each year and treasured. She gives some great hints and ideas that I plan to continue and use next year too. Enjoy! Journal on!!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Best Day Ever!!

        You may remember last year I was dealing with a disappointed teenager on Christmas Day.  She had wanted an Iphone to keep up with her peers on Instagram. 
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I was sorry about her lack of enthusiasm over what we had given her and her lack of gratitude.
         This year?  I was a hero!  No not for my teenager (although she did show much more enthusiasm and appreciation.)  This year it was my son-in- law.  We gave him a coffee pot.  I mean it was some sort of beaker experiment looking glass pitcher with wood around its neck.  I think it looked like a glorified carafe but he wanted it.
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         As he opened it the biggest smirk came across his face.  He quickly said how much he appreciated it and how wonderful it was.  Before our attention turned to the next person to open a gift he said almost under his breath, “Best Christmas Ever!”
         Done!  “Best Christmas Ever!”  What a blessing to hear one of ours celebrate the moment.  I didn’t need to open another gift or eat our big family meal.  There was nothing else I needed. 
         I read this morning, Psalm 118: 24, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  I thought of the how blessed I was to hear Cole express his pleasure in his gift.
         I wondered how much more the LORD would be blessed if He watched us seize the moment with our children. 
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Recognizing all that happens while we parent is an opportunity to rejoice and be glad.  Wouldn’t the LORD stop and smile when he would hear us say, “Best Day Ever!”  All the more, not because the day was going our way, but it is the “Best Day Ever!” strictly because it is HIS!
        Let’s commit to declaring this our “Best Day Ever!” Teach your children this verse and have them repeat it throughout the day.  Acknowledge this is HIS day and we will rejoice!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jesus, Thank You

Thank You for making life a thing to live, really live!
Thank You for making death a time for rejoicing.
Thank You for coming the way You did.  I celebrate You right now!!
Thank You for Christmas morning wherever I am, whomever I am with and wherever it happens.
Thank You for being the ultimate gift.
Thank You that as a mom, I have the amazing opportunity to show my kids Your wonderful gift.
Thank You for entrusting these little lives to me and giving me plenty of opportunities to bring Your name up when learning the stuff of life.
Thank You for choosing Mary – a great example of a mom who listened, obeyed, trusted and had peace in our Father concerning You.
Thank You for allowing us to have new mercies each morning (cause a lot of times I really need it!)
Thank You Jesus.

Psalm 107:1 “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”  (At some point read all of 107 –awesome Psalm!)

Merry Christmas momma.  I hope you enjoy this special day.  (And I hope you filled your stocking with lots of yummy chocolate candies!!)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Miracles

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

A miracle, as defined by Merriam-Webster.com is an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God.

The birth of Jesus is most defiantly a wonderful event caused by the power of God! As we celebrate His birth, take a moment to realize the miracles in your life. 

At the beginning of this year, My daughter and I decided that throughout the year we would jot down unusual or wonderful events in our lives caused by the power of God. We wrote them on small pieces of paper, folded them and put them in a little box. Tonight, Christmas Eve, we open the box! I can't wait to relive the miracles God has performed in our lives! 

I encourage you to sit with your family tonight, and just remember and praise God for the unusual or wonderful events He has caused in your lives. 

Challenge: Start your box of miracles! You kids will LOVE it. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gut Honesty...Part 1

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:5-6

My husband and I had just finished making a batch of homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. The kids helped and dashed sprinkles on them as we prepared to decorate our Christmas tree. After dinner, we all sat down by the tree to eat a cupcake with a cold glass of milk. Except I noticed one little thing…my hubby only ate half of his cupcake. Thinking little of it at the time, I said nothing.

Later, however, I asked him what he thought of the cupcakes. His response was, “They were OK. I am all about the icing, and I didn’t really like the icing.” Hmmm, I thought. He said it so nonchalantly. This may sound crazy, but….I was a little sad that he didn’t like the cupcakes, but I was totally excited that he was HONEST with me about his feelings over something so small…at a time when he could have easily cooked up a “little white lie.”

I’m so glad he didn’t. You see, honesty is something that I value greatly. It is also an area in our marriage that has not always come easy. I was so excited to see God redeem the big and little areas of honesty in our marriage from deep confessions to simple matters of icing and cupcakes.

Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, I want to encourage you to be a woman of “gut honesty”. Be diligent to speak the truth in love, even in the small things, and watch how God will transform your relationships. Perhaps the best gift you can offer this Christmas season is a heart that is honest before God and your fellow man…or woman.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. This blog is written in honor of my friend Shannon. She has always been honest with me…even when it hurt. I am a better woman because of her friendship. She challenges me to be honest at all times. She leads by example. She is more than a friend; she is a sister. J

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Traditions -part 4

If you have not read "Christmas Traditions" part 1-3 yet be sure to get caught up & for today lets enjoy another post from my friend Elizabeth.
Ps.Check in tomorrow for part 5 too!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Boundaries and Freedoms

         One of the most delightful parts of the holidays is a little less structure.  Whether your children attend school or you educate them at home or even if they are not school age, you just have more freedom and more opportunity during this time of the year.
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As I have watched my friends with their children the last several weeks, I have been reminded of a very practical tool we have used with our children.  Due to this seasonal freedom, children are constantly asking if they can play at a friend’s house or bring a friend home.
         Often the calendar would allow for them to jump in your car and bring them home to help make cookies (or keep your children occupied so you can.)  However the hard and fast rule made was this: “If you ask us in front of your friends the answer will ALWAYS be NO!”
         Sounds like I’m a party pooper right?  Well, we found it worked for us.  It trained our children to be self-controlled.  It taught them to excuse us while they explained an invitation they would like to extend or accept.  It gave us time to determine if the plan would truly work for our family. I think most importantly it left no one blindsided, embarrassed or disappointed.
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         Parakaleo is written to “come alongside other parents” and to “encourage your parenting decisions.”  This tool of an automatic “No” was a boundary for our children.   It also helped when they did NOT want to go with someone and they could discreetly tell me on the side. I could then explain our child would not be able to accept their invitation.
         No one loves having extra children in our home like I do but sometimes my seasonal freedoms are just to enjoy our own children and allow them to be best friends.  You know what works best for your family.  Build boundaries that reflect your family’s values and you will be better able to enjoy your seasonal freedoms!
Proverbs 31; 26
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teachings of kindness is on her tongue.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ravens and Jars Part 1

As a mom, a wife, a woman, and a child of God, there is nothing that encourages and challenges me more than the Word of God.  Recently I have received an abundance of encouragement from what God’s word has shared with me through the life of Elijah.  This bit, today, comes from 1Kings 17.

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” (1 Kings 17:2-4 NIV)

Elijah had just told King Ahab that, per the Lord, there would be NO dew, NO rain for the next few years until he, Elijah, gave the word.  Then the Lord sent Elijah into hiding because, I imagine, that once Ahab realized this was no joke; the hunt for Elijah would be on. The Lord sent him to a specific place, with the direction that the brook would be his water supply and the ravens would bring him his food.  That was it.  There was no time frame mentioned or discussion on how comfortable he would be by the brook, Elijah just went.

Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:7 NIV)

This is just an assumption but I think Elijah probably noticed the water level of the brook declining day after day.  He probably even wondered what would happen when it was dried up. But it wasn’t until after the brook dried up that the Lord gave Elijah a new direction.

Then the word of the Lord came to him: (1 Kings 17:8 NIV)

And this new direction, by the looks of my map, was about 70 miles away.  So a nice, little journey on foot was ahead of him.  This new direction from the Lord took Elijah to a widow and her son getting ready to have their last meal with the little flour and oil they had left. Elijah told the women, “Don’t be afraid.”

For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’ ” (1 Kings 17:14 NIV)

Again the Lord directed and supplied Elijah with what he needed.  And that direction and supply didn’t come until after the brook was dry.

I saw in this God’s amazing and untraditional ways in which He supplies for His children. I also recognized that God did not give a new direction until exactly the time it was needed, His perfect timing.

There was a prayer forming in my heart as I meditated on this scripture: Father, thank you for your direction and your supply. I know mine has been a road of untraditional methods but, amazing and miraculous.  I thank you. I also pray that you would help me to see the amazing and miraculous more than I see the level of the brook going down or the long journey.  Instead, help me to see the ravens and the jars that are always full when it is time for the next meal. And to wait patiently on Your direction in Your time.

I seem to be in constant need of God’s reminders to stay focused on Him.  With this reminder I found myself wondering if I would notice the ravens and jars if there were no brooks drying up and no long journeys.  Would I see God’s hand constantly at work in my life if I did not see the need? Am I that prideful that without the need, I would think, “I sure do have my life together.”?  It saddens me more than I can express to say... that I probably would. Thank you Jesus for what you can do with the most ugliest of hearts!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best Gift to Give?

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace"
Isaiah 9:6

It's the most wonderful time of the year! We have been given the greatest gift: JESUS CHRIST.  As we dwell on that truth and teach our children, no matter what the ages, to do the same, then our constant companions will be Peace and Joy. We will become a family that overflows with God's love and that freely gives the best gift to give: Hope.  

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" Proverbs 13:12 

Ironically, but not surprisingly, the Christmas season can make us forget the hope we possess through Jesus. We often choose to exchange our peace and joy for much less worthy companions: Worry and Discontentment.  We have the power to stay on course with Peace and Joy.  To be an ambassador for Jesus Christ. Choose to do so. We have the power through the Holy Spirit, to give the best remedy for a sick heart: Hope.

Enjoy this day today my fellow sojourner.  Enjoy this Christmas season! My prayer for us today is found in Romans 15:13.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit"

Merry Christmas with love from our family to yours through our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ!
The Cudmores

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Live, Laugh, Love

Going through some old files I came across the theme of one of our family reunions I planned. Live, Laugh & Love. I was reminded to live every moment, laugh everyday and to love beyond words.

Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. Ecclesiastes 5:18 (NKJV)

I visited my 92 year old grandmother in the hospital last night. To see her deteriorating, I am reminded that life is a vapor.

 “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. - James 4:14 (NKJV)

Today, I encourage you to live, laugh and love. Live every moment. What have you been putting off? Celebrate each day with your spouse, children, family and friends. Make plans and keep them.

Laugh everyday. Just look around you. If you look, you can find humor in your life everyday. Kids making silly faces, embarrassing moments or even talking with a friend.

Love beyond words. SHOW people how much you love them. Make a card, bake someone cookies, or any random act of kindness.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, show us how to live every precious moment You have gifted us. Let us enjoy this earthly life, until You bring us home. Please forgive us for any time that we have taken for granted. Lord, help us to be light hearted in this fallen world. Help us to laugh at ourselves and bring joy and laughter to others. Show us how to love beyond words. Use us Lord to accomplish Your holy will. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sound Mind

   For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  - 2 Timothy 1:7
I’ve been living in fear a lot lately – ok let’s be real, for a long time.  And now our son is going to be four years old at the end of the month and it’s like a whole new world is opening.  We need to finalize our decisions on if/where to send him for VPK, which sport(s) we can finally enter him in, and where to enter him in those sports, etc.  2 Timothy 1:7 keeps coming to my mind when I get tangled in my thoughts about it all.  

It’s also Christmas time and it’s the last week…and I’m SO far behind.  How did this happen?  I started SO long ago to prepare, looking online for what gifts to get people…and like I said, it’s a week out and…I’m…I’m… “…sound mind” momma.  This verse means God has given us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind and we have been called to live this verse no matter how hard it is to do in our daily lives.  Read the verse again. 

  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  - 2 Timothy 1:7
Maybe you’d like to write it on an index card or sticky note and keep it in front of you this week.  By the way, you will be a shining light for Jesus if you practice this verse especially this week.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Balanced Thinking

" Balanced Thinking" - Moments with You - online devotion
by Barbara Rainey
Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly.
Job 8:7
A lot of moms, especially those with young children, ask me, "How can you balance making time to be with your kids when there are so many other tasks to do?" I think the answer lies in understanding the word "balance."
I think many mothers misunderstand what balance really looks like. I like to think of it like riding a bicycle. The only time a person on a bike can have it perfectly balanced is when the person is not riding at all but straddling the bicycle with both feet on the ground! When riding the bike, however, there are constant movements to the right and left, back and forth, dozens of muscles working in concert to stay upright and keep from crashing. Sometimes there are sudden swerves to miss a rock or a limb on the road.
Parenting is a lot like that.
I think moms (and dads) need to let themselves off the hook a little and realize that true balance can only be seen by looking at the overall ride. What matters is the sum total of what you've done over time, the choices you make for the important things that balance the mundane things of life.
For instance, your house may be a mess all week before you can take time on Saturday to re-create order. All week long you've berated yourself for letting the house get out of control. But look at things from a bigger perspective--did you accomplish something significant in your family because you used your time in a different way? Weigh the important choices with people against the more mundane choices with tasks, and you may see that you did in fact achieve overall balance.
When do you feel the most out of balance? What kinds of choices encourage balance in your lives? Talk about how you can help each other daily and weekly.
Pray for God's perspective regarding the truly important, because that always leads to balance.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Constructive Criticism

The dictionary defines Constructive Criticism as: 

:criticism or advice that is useful and intended to help or improve something, often with an offer of possible solutions.

Thursday night this definition came to life. It was at my house, where a behavior specialist observed our home setting, for future services with our son who has been struggling. Our insurance approved a few sessions and I was initially so excited, until I found out she would be "observing" us. 

Satan had fun consuming my thoughts all day. I worried, like crazy, thinking someone would be watching and critiquing my every move as a mom and how that impacts my son's behavior. I was so afraid of what she might say about my parenting. I failed to see Andrea as a "helper" and thought of her as a critic instead. 

I was so wrong. She wanted to see his behavior and how we, together, could help him succeed. The night went good and we had a few "episodes" that were very minor compared to normal. At the end she gave positive feedback and some constructive criticism as well. The Lord had softened my heart and allowed me to receive. Through her, I saw some areas I need to work on, as a mom, as well as those my son needs to hone in on. I took notes and made a plan to implement her ideas into our routine daily. 

The Bible talks about constructive criticism too.

If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. - Proverbs 15:31

Without wise leadership, a nation falls; with many counselors, there is safety.  - Proverbs 11:14

If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you will be honored. - Proverbs 13:18

A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash. - Proverbs 15:14

If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. - Proverbs 15:31

How do you receive constructive criticism?

In those tough moments, when a friend needs some counsel (or constructive criticism), are you willing to pray and pull them aside to share. 

I am grateful the Lord used Andrea to nudge me along and invite me to be a better mommy. All throughout life, God provides opportunity for growth to make us look more and more like Him. It's important to keep our hearts open and ready to receive it. Because the Word says, in doing that, we will be among the wise :) I want to be a wise mommy, don't you?

What is God saying to you?
What do you think He wants you to do?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Polluted by the World

When all my kids were little, life was crazy and I was exhausted. Four kids in four and a half years is a lot of diapers, and no sleep. It was definitely a challenging time. But I am finding that as my kids get older, the challenges of that kind are obviously gone but, the challenge in shepherding their hearts is daily with me. The conversations go deeper. There are things to teach them that I wish I didn’t have to but do because we live in a world that does not reflect the heart of God. And many times I am left crying out to God clueless as to what to say or do. Recently one of those challenges shook me.

My oldest daughter and I were reading a book series together.  We were on the second to last book in the series.  She had already finished the book and I was nearing the end. One night as I lay reading the book I found myself very disturbed by the direction this author had chosen to take the story and felt the dread of what was to come next. My daughter had already finished the book. She had already read what I was reading and I could not take it back. Her innocence of the sins of our world was now about to change.

My first reaction was there is no way we will finish this series or ever, ever read this author again.  I stopped and prayed for this new moment of cluelessness I found myself in. I could either ignore what I had read and hope she didn’t understand it or address it.  But I am not one to ignore. I want my kids to learn things from me so they get a biblical perspective. So with a lot of prayer I took the teaching moment but it didn’t necessarily take the direction I thought it would. This was among the scripture that God had given me to share with her:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV)

We did talk about what happened in the book. She didn’t understand it so I had to explain it to her and we referenced scripture to get God’s view on what happened and how it was sin.  But this was not the main topic I felt led to discuss. Instead, we talked about the importance of knowing God’s word, being in it everyday, and putting on our full armor of God because the world we live in, in most ways, does not live the way God desires.

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I won’t be able to read every book she reads or be there to preview every movie she watches, or magazine she looks at, or listen to every conversation she is hearing.  I can do my best, in this short time that she is with me, to protect her from being polluted by the world.  But leaving her blind to the world she lives in would not protect her.  The main topic The Lord had pressed on my heart to share
was this: The importance of her learning to do just as the Word says, “to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

A teaching moment that I think I learned as much from as her. I saw her heart and her desire to keep from being polluted. We discussed what to do with the book and agreed that I should read the last one in the series first to make sure it didn’t get graphic.  We also discussed other topics that may come up in books or movies, her being bold enough to put the book down or turn the movie off, and the freedom she has to come to me with any questions.

I was also reminded that I can wholeheartedly trust God with her heart.  I am free to be her mom, I don’t have to be her god as well.  I don’t have to manipulate and control every detail of her life to keep her “safe.”  She is already in good hands, the best.  I can just love her and be a part of shepherding her heart. It is not my job to mold her and make her, that is God’s. He is more than able and much more suited for the job than I am.