Friday, January 31, 2014

Mundane Moms

Judges 6:11
“Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress…”

         I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it has been to have my parents with us since the first days of the new year.  I’m happy they are out of the snow and cold and enjoying our version of “winter” here in South Florida.   I am happy they are away from their many volunteer responsibilities (although they have volunteered with my work details from home!) 
         I have enjoyed watching them “join” my world.  Whether jumping in as we carpool our daughter to school, attending our church, fixing or cleaning up meals or having coffee in the morning together, having them close brings such security.
         Having my mom attend my neighborhood small group Bible study has been particularly special.  This week we looked at the often-mundane existence God has called us to.  Looking at the life of Gideon we have learned that even in his mundane circumstances there remains a symbol of God’s favor.
         As I sat this past week and looked around our circle of neighbors, my eyes fell upon my mom. My eyes saw her, my ears heard her, but my heart was stirred with memories.
         I would not be able to count the amount of lunch bags and boxes she packed between four children.  I will never know the countless hours she has spent driving my three brothers and myself to sporting practices and games.  I know she has spent hours turned to weeks and then months of washing, drying, folding, ironing and putting our clothes away.  All those mundane tasks she did without complaining.
         Yet, she left me “feeling” like she loved us.  “Feeling” she liked these mundane tasks.  “Feeling” like we mattered to her.  My mom did such a great job with the mundane; she made me desire the same.  Mom made mundane seem like a worthy, enjoyable, desirable profession.
         God doesn’t give us the mundane to make us bored or irritated or even bitter.   He gives us the mundane to challenge us not to give up.  He gives us mundane to see His faithfulness at work.

         I saw His faithfulness in my moms mundane and it made me desire the same for my life.  I pray that our children will one day say the same.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can God...?

They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness? True, He struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly, but can He also give us bread? Can He supply meat for His people?”

When the Lord heard them, He was furious; His fire broke out against Jacob, and His wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in His deliverance. (Psalm 78:19-22 NIV)

So often God gets questioned, “Can...?”  Oh yes He can...but are we looking? Are we expecting?  Are we leaving our eyes open and giving God room to work in ways we never dreamed, thought, or imagined?  The question should never be “Can God…?”, but “Can I be open to Him?”,  “Can I believe and trust in God, in His deliverance, in His sovereignty?”

God’s ways are beyond my understanding.  He created the world and everything in it!  There are many things in His creation that I see and know in my greatest moment of creativity my imagination could have never come up with. Next to God my imagination doesn’t compare. Think about it, who in their right mind would ever think: “If only God would rain down manna from heaven or loose the winds and blow our camp full of birds.  What a feast that would be in this wilderness.” 

Yet He gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; He rained down manna for the people to eat, He gave them the grain of heaven. Human beings ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat. He let loose the east wind from the heavens and by His power made the south wind blow. He rained meat down on them like dust, birds like sand on the seashore. He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents. (Psalm 78:23-28 NIV)

Whatever it is that you are facing, be open to see God at work.  Be open to His greatness, don’t try to contain within your own imagination that which cannot be contained. 

Has a difficult child taught you how to love more? 

Has a struggling marriage drawn you closer to God?

Has a sudden loss of income increased your faith?

Has an unexpected death or illness given you an eternal perspective? 

We want to love more, draw closer to God, have increased faith, and an eternal perspective.  But would you have ever thought that these would be the way they would come?  You see…keep your eyes open in the storm and in the sunshine.  What does God have for you in the smile of a child, the dew on a rose, a kiss from the one you love or a word of encouragement from a stranger?  Who knows?  GOD DOES!

 “Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him...Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.” – Oswald Chambers

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. (Psalm 81:10 NIV)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Theme Park 101 - PART 1

Then you will walk on your way securely,
 and your foot will not stumble. 
-Proverbs 3:23

I am POOPED! I have spent the last 5 days in Walt Disney World theme parks. Tonight I pulled my minivan into the driveway mentally & physically exhausted. I also was thoroughly excited to climb into my bed and just relax. Our trip was awesome making sweet memories my kids will file into the memory banks of their minds. I have some simple and valuable lessons learned I want to share with you.

1. Make a Schedule 
Plan out each day what you hope to do or where you plan to go.     Look up show times and write them out in the "notes" part of
your phone so you always have them with you. This allows you     to have a goal each day of things you'd like to see/do. With 
kids the days always seem to flow better with a plan.

2. Make a Budget
Know how much you allot to spend before you leave your home on vacation. Save up extra money weeks prior if need be. Try making a jar and putting extra cash in it for spending money. Set up times to eat a simple meal (PB & J) and plan a fun eating out time too. Look for simple ways to make your vacation special while staying on the budget you have set. Many times we don't set a budget which causes us to frivolously spend money we don't have instead of proceeding with caution.

3. Make Expectations Known 
Follow through with rewards & consequences early on in your vacation, with your children, and you will reap major rewards the rest of your trip. Allow your kids some "pre-activity" where you tell them what is expected and the benefits of obeying. This also gives them the chance to understand the "if-then" concept. Many times we "let it go" and the kids grasp that they don't have to obey 
because they are away from home. This causes much tension and frustration. Share what behavior is expected and allow them to WOW you! 

 4. Melt Downs WILL Happen
I was standing in the concession line @ Disney and saw a mom struggle to order food... as her boys were having a melt down. It was so refreshing. I stood there thinking I am not alone. All parents experience kids having melt downs at some point during a tiring and exhausting day. It never fails. Each time we go to a theme park... my kids have multiple meltdowns throughout the day. I am always shocked because they are at the "happiest place on earth." If you stop and "people watch" during your stay at the theme park you will see you are NOT alone. 

How was your last vacation?
Can you relate?  
What is your take-away from this post?


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Daughters of The King

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:10-13
You are a Princess! You are not just the daughter of A king… you are the daughter of thee King… the King of kings! So… act like it. “How does a princess act?” Well, I’m glad you asked. gives us some suggestions on how to behave like a princess. Let’s take some of these suggestions and look at them spiritually.
1 – Improve your grammar: Princesses should speak well and so should you! Practice your speech and improve your grammar and vocabulary to become more like a princess.
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29
2 – Make yourself smarter: Princesses are smart and help solve problems. Study in school and learn more about the world so you can be a problem solver too.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
3 – Work on being a kinder human being: Kindness is a very important princess quality. Be kind and help people, to make yourself as beautiful inside as you are outside.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
4 – Practice good manners: Princesses of course have perfect manners! You can work on your own manners by researching or asking your parents or grandparents for help!
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Titus 3:1-2
5 – Take proper care of your body: Princesses must be clean and look as perfect as a painting. You can do this too!
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
CHALLENGE: List 3 things you are willing to do to be the princess that you are?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wake Up to a NEW Heart....

Tell them just how much you love them this month. Yep it's already February and Valentines Day is right around the corner. I was on Facebook one day and caught this really great idea and wanted to share it with you....

I am excited to try this although... I faced a small dilemma with our boys sharing a room. So I thought I would designate one wall directly next to each boy's bed, as their wall, to put up my love notes to them each day. How fun, right?? 

You could do pink and blue hearts...having Dad write on the blues ones. 
Side note: If Dad is not involved in your child's life...allow their heavenly Father to speak words of life over them. Put scripture on the blue ones. Remind them they have a Father who is always present, always listening, and always ready to encourage! 

Get started! Encourage! Enjoy! Have fun! Be creative! Allow your words to give life and uplift your child! HE wants to use you today! Allow your child to experience a "NEW heart" on their wall of love each day until Valentines Day! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Let Heaven Fill Your Thoughts

This morning I was spending time with the Lord and began perusing through my Bible looking at sections I had underlined throughout. I came across this verse....

Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. - Colossians 3:2

1. Don't get so worked up over the little things.
    Sometimes I find myself so focused on there here-and-now that I feel overwhelmed.
    I want to let go of my frustration and start afresh daily...not holding onto any bitterness
    over sins that my kids don't yet have victory over...realizing it's only
    through prayer that true change can happen. They are a work in progress...just like me.
    Life is short. Enjoy your kids because the time passes quickly.

2. Remember where I am going.
    Daily I want to ponder over where I am headed. I need to
    remember this isn't my home and that while on earth the Lord is giving me tons of
    stretching opportunities to better reflect His image. I want to let heaven fill my thoughts.
    Memorizing scripture and spending time with my Heavenly Father, throughout
    the day, will keep my focus on the things He cares about.

3. Make deposits for the future.
    As I teach my kids and love them through the struggles I make heavenly deposits with
    eternal value. Allowing His Word to speak life over my little ones and it reminds me of Truth too.
    Looking for teaching opportunities to direct their focus on eternity. I have come to recognize that
    as I seek to invest spiritually the Lord does a work in my own heart as well. Making me more
    compassionate while reminding me of His unconditional love.

Do you get worked up over the little things?

Is your focus on where you are headed or where you are now?

Are you continuing to invest and make deposits that will have a great return value as your kids grow?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Job style Parenting

         I was having lunch with friends this week when one of the moms confided the sweetest story of her husbands role as dad.  It reminded me of a passage I have been meditating on.
From Job 1:1-3 Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!
4-5 His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking. When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.
         My friend shared about her four children.  The older three have all been living for the Lord.  The youngest is in her last year of high school.  My friend’s husband had taken a second job to help pay off debt.  My friend continued to mention she felt their youngest was feeling her husband’s absence with the new job.
         The youngest began to make compromising decisions.  After months with this new job, my friend said she was surprised to see her husband on his knees in front of their youngest daughter asking forgiveness for his taking this second job.  He went on to apologize for all the time he had been away from her and her siblings.  He told her he put in his two weeks notice and was giving up that job to be with their family.
         That was the breaking point for their daughter.  They began to see immediate improvement in her decisions, behaviors and attitudes.
         After hearing this story I went back to Job’s response to his children’s actions.  He took responsibility for his children, “just in case they’d sinned.”  This has spawned the question in me, “how am I seeing my part in our children’s behavior?”  “Am I taking responsibility for my children’s action?”
         I’m not insinuating that we are responsible for all our children's choices but maybe I am influencing their choices.  Both their good choices and the bad.  I feel confident that the description of Job is in many ways a reflection of his parenting.  Job was described as “honest,” “a man of his word,” “totally devoted to God,” “hating every kind of evil,” and he was “the most influential man in the East!”
         The Bible doesn’t give attention to Job’s parenting style as authoritative or permissive.  It doesn’t tell us how he corrected, instructed or encouraged his children.  It simply records, “in case they’d sinned” Job offered sacrifices on their behalf.

         Just like my friend shared her husband’s response to his daughter’s choices, we too can help our children as we take responsibility for our part in their choices.  This week as we parent, before we dole out corrective measures lets consider what part of their choices reflect a deficit in our parenting. As parents we can ask the Lord to reveal what is really in our hearts and how we can do a better job as their parents.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beauty in the Roaring Fire

A few weeks ago the Pastor said in his sermon that we often get trapped in our thinking, thinking the way the world does. We seem to think that the next thing God has for us will be bigger and better but that isn’t always the case.  Sometimes the next thing God has for us is smaller and simpler. This spoke to my heart a truth that I have been seeing in my life everyday.

A couple of years ago a Sunday afternoon, on a cold winter day, would look something like this for our family of six: We would each grab a snack, maybe some hot cocoa or tea, get blankets and our books   and find ourselves a comfy spot in the living room of our very large house. Some of us curled up on the couch, some on beanbags on the floor, but all of us had the same focal point, the beautiful, roaring fire.  The heat it gave off was warm, the pleasant smell of burning wood and the crackling song it sang was relaxing. At times it seemed perfect.

Over the last couple of years God has moved our family on to the next thing. There are many ways that this next thing has been bigger and better, but the bigger and better has happened in the hearts of man.  Our hearts have drawn near to God and He has drawn near to us. There has been repentance, forgiveness, and love, bigger than any of us could ever dream or imagine, poured out into our hearts.  Our path has taken a new direction, one that to us, seems bigger and better because there is purpose and passion in our hearts that did not exist before. 

Google Image

But the next thing for our family has also been smaller and simpler. We find ourselves on this cold winter, Sunday afternoon in our little home. A home, that in its entirety, could probably come close to fitting in our last living room.  We have grabbed snacks, hot cocoa or hot tea, a blanket, a book or a game.  We have found our comfy spots around our television that is playing a movie of a crackling fireplace.  There is no warmth coming from it or smell of burning wood.  It lacks the cozy feeling and the beauty of the real thing, but what I saw was more beautiful than any large crackling fire in a big house.

My kids were all in their comfy spots, my husband in his recliner, and me on the couch with a blanket and a book. The kids were all whispering so they could hear the crackle of the “fire”.  My son came up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, bent down to my ear, and whispered, “This fire is so nice Mom.” A smile spread across my face, joy filled my heart, and this verse filled my head:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12, 13 NIV)