Thursday, September 30

More about Birthdays at our House


Birthdays in our house start a few months before actual birthdays. That is because the girls and I make the invitations and the decorations, and I want to give enough time so that it does not become too overwhelming. (This part of the birthdays is the part that is all me…it is my personality to want to hand-make them…if this stresses you out…don’t do it…I know plenty of people that would be totally overwhelmed by this and that is not the reason I am sharing this. It is to inspire and motivate you to celebrate your family in the ways God has gifted you).

We spend a lot of time talking about what the theme should be for each party. Some years it is really easy and others we struggle a little more. I usually do not try to sway them one way or another…other than trying to help them choose something that is really them at that moment and to make sure it is something that is doable. For Maddie’s 4th birthday we decided on a “dem bones” theme (a favorite song…long story…another days post) and Abigail decided on a mermaid theme from a book she was reading with her best friend. Both themes captured who they were at that moment and were doable…with some creativity.


When Abigail chose a Mermaid party, we decided to combine mermaids with an underwater theme so we would have a few more choices for decorations. I used new sand toy buckets to serve the food and beverages in…they worked great. I just hand washed them and set the food in each one…very cute!

I also found these adorable plastic fish plates on sale at TJMaxx. This is a little tip I will share…if you check out clearance racks and discount stores you can often find reusable dishware that is cheaper or the same price as disposable plates and decorations. I have collected a variety of plastic plates in various colors to use at my parties. I end up saving money in the long run because I can reuse the dishes as opposed to throwing them in the trash. I try to find generic plates that can be used for various themes. I have cute pink flower plates that I used for a flower party for Abigail and them reused them at a pink party I had for Maddie. I am also fortunate enough to have storage space so take that into account when deciding what to buy as well.

Although I absolutely love making the invitations, I think the reason I take the time is to be able to do it with my girls. They love helping me and I love the time we spend together. We usually make the thank you notes at the same time as the invitations to save time on the back end. The thank-yous are often very similar to the invites…we just leave a space for each girl to write out their thank-yous.




Here are a few more pictures from the past years’ birthdays…let me know if you have any questions…Have fun celebrating with your family!








Monday, September 27

Birthdays at our House

This week I am going to share a little about birthday celebrations in our home...

We love celebrations and birthdays are no exception. I absolutely love the planning, making and executing of these parties. My favorite part has to be working with each of my daughters to make their party a celebration of who they are at that moment. They help me create the invitations and decorations, help bake and frost the cake and set up on the day of the party. It is a whole process that we do together. That is why I love these parties. I am able to use my strengths to help them have a day that really celebrates them. I will share more about what we do for their parties in the next few days, but today I am going to share a few traditions/ideas we have for our girls’ actual birthdays.

The first being we do not have their party on their actual day. That day is a day to celebrate just as a family. I decorate their door the night before so they wake up to streamers and balloons as they open their door. I also decorate the table for breakfast...breakfast just happens to be my girls’ favorite meal. While the decorations/theme may change from year to year, there are a few constants at each birthday morning celebration.

A few years back I came across this adorable glass cupcake called "The Hidden Cupcake." It can be found here: http://www.thehiddencupcake.com/

(I found mine at TJMaxx or Marshall's for a fraction of the cost, but it is fun to read the stories and ideas on their website).

At this time we do not hide the cupcake we use it to write what we love about the birthday girl. I set it out for each of my family's birthdays. A few days prior to a birthday, the rest of the family writes a few things that they love about the birthday boy/girl on small pieces of paper. I set the cupcake on the table and it is the first thing that gets opened on their birthday. I love the idea of telling each other what we love about each other, and I love that it has become one of my girls’ favorite part of their day.

One other tradition we have is we let our girls choose what is for dinner. They may choose something at home, but more often than not it is Chuck E. Cheese. Whatever it is...we do it just as a family. I love that part as well. It makes for a relaxed day for all of us...

We also have our girls open their presents from us on their actual day. We usually give 1 larger gift and maybe 1-2 smaller gifts. We are trying very hard to be aware of the number of gifts we give. Our girls are so very blessed and need very little, but we also still want them to receive gifts…we just don’t want the celebration to be all about the gifts. That is basically my whole philosophy on birthdays…to celebrate the person and their special day.

Thursday, September 23

Lauren's birthday party

Lauren turned one this month! Here are a few pictures from her special day. We had so much fun celebrating her birthday and one year of Loving Lauren!










Wednesday, September 1

They grow so fast...


How often have you heard that? Well, I am going to say it one more time. Today I took my 9 year old to her open house for 3rd grade. We met her teacher and she put all her school supplies in her desk. She is so excited! So is her sister, who is still only 4 and will be at home with me one more year, but she so wants to be just like her big sister. She carried her own backpack so she could be just like her big sister. As I took pictures and watched this day unfold, I am reminded of just how fast time goes. It seems like only yesterday we were bringing home a 6 lb. Abigail from the hospital that barely fit in her car seat. I guess I am writing to encourage all those of you in the throws of sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and all that having young children entails. Even though I am keenly aware that your days at times seem to be never-ending...they will come to an end. Life will pass by before your eyes and all that stress will be gone. Please take time today to appreciate where you are at and to fully be engaged. As I look at my now 9-year old, I am sad because she is growing so fast, but I am so grateful that I have been present for it all. I have enjoyed her and loved her as best I know how. I am so thankful that God gives us just what we need to handle today...He does not promise us tomorrow, so take time today to enjoy your little one(s)...because before you know it he/she will be off to school...off to college...and off on their own. Invest in them now so that when they grow up you can look back on the memories with no regret.

Friday, August 27

Thanks!

Thanks for all your prayers and inquiries about my clumsy accident! I am doing amazingly well. My mouth is healing remarkably and the scrapes and scratches have lost their scabs! I can talk and move my tongue just fine now.
My bite is a concern because my front 2 teeth were moved back in my fall. I will have to see if that works itself out. I have a couple of chipped teeth, but that is a miracle because I could have broken some so easily. I am still drinking my meals and dream about the day I will be able to eat popcorn again.
I have learned that I eat alot more than I realize when I am under stress. This week I found myself in the kitchen so often to get something to 'chew on.' My only option was to drink something, and that didn't really do it for me.

I can't quite get my head around how much I was protected in this fall and how unbelieveably fast and well I have been put back together. Thank you for your prayers.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent on the blog this week. Next week we will return to Happy Homemaking posts. Go out and enjoy something crunchy for me tonight:)

Thursday, August 26

Waiting to be Healed

After my tumble, I find myself waiting to heal. I can't venture out anywhere for fear of scaring people and I can't eat solid food. I realize how impatient I can get. I check the mirror each time I walk past it to see if I am healed!

I am reminded of this story about a TV evangelist who had throat problems and was told he shouldn't speak for 3 months! The evangelist protested that that would be impossible. He prayed and was healed miraculously. The man who related this story said:

Can you imagine telling God--the God in whom there is no beginning and no ending, the eternal, always was and always will be God, the God who buries tulip bulbs in the darkness of the soil, the God who hides oak trees in acorns, this God--that you don't have 3 months? It seems bold to me, to say the very least, to say this to God who knew you long before you ever came to be. To suggest to this God--who has promised to gather up all of your life and transform it into the goodness of His purpose--that He should get on with it because you don't have time to dilly-dally around is pretty daring! I can almost hear God saying, "I think I'll just heal him. It will be easier than explaining it to him."

Good words for me and anyone 'waiting' to remember! I love to think of God burying tulip bulbs and in His good timing they will sprout. It is worth the wait.

Tuesday, August 24

Face-Plant!

This week on the blog I was going to share a few summer activities to do with your kids...until I fell down!

Saturday night I was visiting with my neighbor while I was walking back home with two armsful of produce from her garden. Without warning, I tripped and 'face-planted' my teeth into her concrete driveway. I rolled over and asked her if I had any teeth left!

"Yes, your teeth are there, but I think you broke your nose" she reassured me.

In my confusion, I picked up my bags of produce, still intact, and hurried home to assess the damage.

After a trip to the emergency room Saturday night and the dentist yesterday, I am amazed that the body is able to take such trama and hold together.

My deeper concern surfaced minutes after my fall, however, when I thought, what is this going to do with MY LOOKS! I humbly confess that my issue wasn't with the fact that I may be gumming my food for six months, it was how was I going to face the next day if my face was all bashed in.

I know we women can encourage one another that our looks do matter, and that I would be justified in thinking that way, but I am not sure that that should have been my first concern. It wasn't MY LOOKS that would be stabilizing my thinking as I went forward with this situation.

My next thought was about my theme for this year: humility. I would have smiled when I thought of the irony of this if the pain wasn't so intense. 'Oh Lord, I've had humility as my focus all year but apparently there are more lessons here to learn'.

My thoughts were sporadic at best, but the thought that calmed my soul the most was this question, "Will you pursue ME in the process of whatever you are going through?"

That brought my thoughts into perspective. That has kept my mind at ease.

Once again I was reminded that being a follower of Jesus requires me pursuing Him daily so when my life is run-amok I can stabilize quicker and apply some truth into my situation.

I haven't always done that.

I have counted on my own devices and strengths to pull me through more often than I would like to admit.

But everytime I rely on myself, I demand answers. Why did this happen? What are you doing here, Lord? What could I have done differently?

By asking myself if I am going to pursue God in the process of this fall, the answer isn't as important as the process I am going through.

Thursday, August 19

My First Project

I love my girls! And these dresses were so much fun to make. A very simple first sewing project. I have to be honest and admit that there were many seams that I had to rip out and try again. But I love the finished results and can't wait to see these little dresses paired with some skinny jeans in the fall!

Monday, August 16

Calling All Crafters

I have recently found a new hobby....SEWING! I love it! I am not amazingly talented at it yet, but I am learning. I just finished making two dresses for my daughters and I have almost finished a shirt. A couple of weekends I purchased more fabric for a skirt and pajamas. So exciting! I will post some pictures of the dresses later this week. In the meantime, if you are itching to sew... I would highly recommend the book Making Children's Clothes by Emma Hardy. It is what I have gotten my patterns from and it has really easy step by step directions. Happy Sewing!

Thursday, August 5

Susie Larson Wisdom

Stacy wrote a few weeks back about a book written by Susie Larson called Growing Grateful Kids. Stacy and I were fortunate enough to hear her speak at my church and we couldn't get enough of her and her wisdom. She sends out a newsletter every so often and I thought what she had to share in this last one was worth sharing here. If you have a moment after you read her message, check out her blog. She has some great resources to share. It is days like these where I am thankful for the body of Christ and the wisdom He gives each of us to encourage and challenge each other. We really serve a great God. Enjoy!

Replace the Good with the Best!
Susie 100x100
Summer is a great time to pause and reflect, to wonder and to wait, to ponder and to pray. God has some very personal and specific words to share with you and me. He is ready to help us make a few adjustments in our lives. He wants to give us rest, He wants to teach us to run with more efficiency, He wants to train our hands for battle, and, He wants to teach us how to walk on high places.

If you're like me, you're feeling the urgency of the times. And yet, far too many people, Believers even, are walking around in a spiritual fog, completely oblivious to the importance of the times. If we're out of touch with the sound of God's voice, we will commit to all of the wrong things, and we will miss the best of what God has for us.

Proverbs 19:2 says this: 'It's not good to have zeal (passion) without knowledge; nor to be hasty and miss the way."

Two things jump out to me here: We MUST be in the habit of waiting on God, and we MUST increase in the knowledge of Him!

We cannot allow the pace of our culture to dictate our lives! In a day when leaders and people of influence fully embrace a lie or worse yet, only a splinter of the truth, followers and non-thinking people are at great risk of being deceived. We must ask for our own godly discernment and not just assume that because something sounds true, or even feels true, that it is true. We must know and walk in THE Truth. Read John chapter 15 and fully embrace the idea that you and I are appointed to make an impact, to bear fruit that lasts long after we are gone. That's pretty incredible when you think about it. And it won't happen by default. Life-changing fruit comes out of a our Divine connection to the Vine. So important!

Use this summer season to take inventory of your time investments. Wait on God. Ask HIM to confirm His best and highest plan for you. Replace the good with the best. Your place in history matters. What you do with your time matters. We have this one life to live, and to advance God's Kingdom. May we walk in a high level of discernment (and not confusion), may our faith increase (and not decrease) may we step out (and not shrink back), may we increase in godly influence (and not be spiritually insignificant), and may we stand strong in battle (and not seem irrelevant to the devil). May we live in a manner worthy of our call.

Visit Susie's Website


Tuesday, August 3

Train up a Child

I am quite sure that Barb has blogged about this before it but it’s worth repeating. One of the first years at homemakers, Barb challenged us by saying, “If you love someone, become an expert on them.” (If that doesn’t require being intentional I’m not sure what does). At the time we were talking more about our spouses, but I also think this applies to parenting. How well do you know your children…I mean do you really know them? Are you an expert on them?

As Jeff and I were trying to decide whether to home school Abigail or not, one verse became a deciding factor for us and continues to be in our parenting of our two extremely different children. In Proverbs 22:6 it states: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

What stood out in that verse to us was “in the way HE should go.” We were challenged to think about Abigail as an individual. We are commanded to teach her about God, but in the way she needs to be taught. She has bents and a personality that has specific needs whereas Maddie’s needs are completely different. For example, Abigail needs everything explained to her when it comes to her walk with the Lord. She loves to talk with Jeff about the bible and would ask questions for hours. She also questions everything. Not just to be difficult, just because it is her. Because we have taken the time to get to know her, it becomes less frustrating to parent her and her needs. Whereas Maddie will pretty much do whatever you tell her because she is a people pleaser. Knowing that will help us teach her how to communicate her boundaries to others while using her strength of kindness to serve others.

Taking the time to know our children takes just that-time. Have you ever heard the saying that children need quality time not quantity time? I believe that you cannot have quality time without having quantity time. You cannot be an intentional parent without spending the time needed to really know these incredible gifts God has entrusted you with…God gave you your child because you are the perfect fit for him/her. God chose you to raise this child because He saw something in you that He knew would mold that child into the person He hopes that child will become. That is an unbelievable and overwhelming responsibility. I challenge you today to take the time needed to really know your child and parent to his/her bents.

Monday, August 2

Intentionality in Parenting

Today I wanted to share a few more thoughts from the book I am reading, Living with Less so Your Family has More by Jill Savage (in my last post, I shared some thoughts on this book). The second chapter is titled “Redefining More,” and Jill shares some ideas of what “more” looks like. One particular section stood out to me on parenting, and I thought it was worth sharing.

More energy and intentionality for parenting

Kids need more than a present parent; they need an intentional parent. And intentionality takes an enormous amount of energy. An intentional parent has a vision for how they want to see their grown-up children living their lives. The intentional parent makes deliberate decisions because of their farsightedness, their vision.

Both of us grew up in very different family environments. When we started our family, our expectations of what parenting should or should not look like created more conflict between us than we liked. It wasn’t until we took a parenting course through our church that we finally found ourselves sharing a vision for our family. No longer battling one another, we valued the same strategies and were working toward the same goals. The unity was refreshing and empowering.

When we’re stretched too thin, our parenting is negatively affected and we can sometimes unintentionally step into some ineffective parenting styles. Child-centered parenting often comes out of the guilt we experience when we have limited time with the child. We hate to take any time away from them either to take care of ourselves or to take care of our marriage. However, when our whole world revolves around our child, it’s not healthy for us or for them.

Permissive parenting happens when we lack the energy to be consistent. It also happens when we feel we have so little time with our kids that we hate to use that time to correct them. We overlook misbehavior in an effort to keep the peace and not ruin the moment.

Authoritarian parenting happens when we lack the time or emotional capacity to be patient, loving, and consistent in our direction and discipline. Authoritarian parents motivate with anger and produce obedience by fear. Because love feels conditional, children of authoritarian parents often equate success in school or sorts with love.

Children do need authority in their lives. Understanding boundaries and having those boundaries enforced contributes to their sense of security. Children thrive under authoritative-not authoritarian-parenting. This is when a parent develops a close and nurturing relationship with their children while keeping a balance of expectations, rules and guidelines. Authoritative parenting takes energy and intentionality and it is a “more” that every child needs.

I think I liked this section so much because it is a good reminder that parenting is hard and takes our energy. I need to be intentional about how I spend my time and energy each day so that I have enough to parent my children. After all I was the one who chose to have children in the first place.

I also really liked the ides of being intentional and looking at the big picture. I think that is the best way to parent…with the end in mind. (I think I need to add that while there are no guarantees in parenting, meaning that if I do all the right things my girls will turn out just the way I hope, I do believe it is my job to do the very best job I can with these little ones God has entrusted to me). I want to give my girls every advantage I can. I believe that is what God wants from each of us…to do our best with those gifts he has given us.

Wednesday, July 28

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

As my children get older, I am becoming more aware of their little eyes...and how those eyes are observing and watching all day long. The things Samuel sees me do and then copies is incredible. And very scary.

Most of the time it's small things throughout the day. But as he gets older, those small things are going to get bigger and more important.

When I think about my kids at my age, I wonder what they will remember about their mom? What will they have seen and observed and copied? Will they recall a woman who was kind? Spoke words of wisdom? Filled with joy and laughter? Someone who took time to play? A parent who loved and listened and wiped tears away? 


The following poem expresses how I hope my kids will feel some day...it challenges me in my role as a mom and reminds me that my kids are always looking!

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I felt you kiss me goodnight,
and I felt loved.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's all right to cry.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to be
everything that I could be.

~author unknown

Monday, July 26

Learning about my little people

I'm in a stage of life where I'm trying to learn all I can about the two little people that now live with me. Never before have my days been spent talking to, playing with, learning from, teaching, observing, disciplining, and caring for two little people.

I really have no idea what I'm doing most days.

Sometimes I wish I had a degree in early childhood development or elementary education. I want to know all the tips, tricks and ideas for teaching and training my little people.

That's why I am so very thankful for those who have gone before me.....and for all they teach me!


Every page I read, I think: "What a great idea!" Or, "I should try that!" Or, 'Why didn't I think of that?"

I look forward to implementing some of the things I am reading and discussing what I am learning with my husband. 

One strong message that I am receiving over and over again from the parenting books I'm reading is that action is more effective than words. As one book put it: "Words alone will not be effective in managing your child’s behavior. Instead use kind, firm action."

I'm a yeller. I grew up in a house where we yelled and it comes naturally. It's easier to yell from the kitchen sink, "Samuel don't dump out your milk!" than it is to walk over to the highchair, take the milk away and offer it again later.

Just like it takes practice for my little people to learn how to crawl, walk and talk, it's taking me practice to learn how to teach and train them. And I'm quickly realizing that to be the parent I want to be, I'm going to have to do a little changing.

What are your favorite parenting books? What is one lesson you have learned about raising little people that you think has been invaluable?

Please share, I'd love to learn from you!

Friday, July 16

Sweet Stuff

How about something completely different to finish off this week?!

Here's with a great summer recipe,

Easy, No-bake Chocolate Oat Bars

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter

Melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in oats and cook 2-3 mins over low heat. Press half of mixture into the bottom of 9x9 pan (greased). Reserve the other half for the topping

Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth. Pour over the crust in pan and spread evenly.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours. They cut best at room temperature. (I have doubled them for a 9x13 pan)

Remember: A balanced diet is 2 cookies in each hand!

Thursday, July 15

Final Words

In the Bible, in Titus 2, the older woman is instructed to train younger women...

It doesn't say the older woman needs to know it all. It doesn't say the older woman knew it all when she was a younger woman! I think the older woman is instructed to train younger women so they both continue to grow and learn and continue to develop a relationship with Christ and others.

I wasted many a year on futile things but God was patient with me. What I've been sharing with you this week is insight I wished I had grasped when I was a young mom. I was busy and distracted. It was easier to 'do' for God than to 'be' with Him daily.

I would like to complete my thoughts of the last few days with just a couple of things I wished I had known when my Homemaker friend asked if she should play it safe and not speak up about her faith in Christ. I would answer:

1. Spend time with God daily. How? I don't know. How do you spend time with anyone that you want a quality relationship with? You'll find a way if you really see that you NEED God daily.

2. BE with God all throughout the day. Christ lives in you, be in constant communication with Him. Lose confidence in your own efforts...believe that God is able where you are not.

3. Focus on being what you ought to be and God will give you plenty to do. God is not interested in what you can do for Him; He is far more interested who you are. Pride motivates us to do.

4. Be very mindful of your friends. Iron sharpens iron. Be sure the women you have in your life on a constant basis are iron! Not all friends will sharpen you! Make sure they are living with the realization that Christ is living in them and is empowering them daily.


Focus on these 4 things and you won't have to worry whether you step out in faith and then get hit with tough stuff in life. Tough stuff will happen either way... growing your relationship with God means you will have the one resource of strength that will never 'leave you or forsake you'.

Wednesday, July 14

Elephants and Mosquitoes!

A pastor told me once that he thought that the average Christian dealt with the stampede of the elephants better that the onslaught of mosquitoes.

What he meant was when we are face with the tough stuff in life we often shut down all options and go to God. He is there to help when trials come.

When the daily mosquitoes bother us we tend to swat and apply lotion, but it is all done in our own effort. God isn't called upon to deal with mosquitoes.

But that isn't what God intended.

If Christ is living in me, He sees the mosquitoes.

He feels the mosquitoes.

He can deal with the irritation and often irradicate them, but we are usually so used to being in control, we just put up with the problems.

We also are a 'chip off the old block'. Eve taught us to seek to be wise...in our own efforts. She reached out for the tree that would make her 'like God'. So too, we have a natural tendency to be our own god for everyday living.

Why don't we seek God's help in the little irritations of life? Why don't we consult with Him when we have daily decisions to make? Why do we muddle along in relationships and be satisfied if they just 'look good.'

Pride.

The original sin.

One aspect of pride is an independent spirit. It is saying to God, whether consciously or subconsciously, "I don't need You."

Every sin can ultimately be traced back to pride. Pride says "I have a right to what I want; I am what matters."

Then we lead our lives controlling as much as we can including how we please God. We begin 'doing' and 'striving' and making our lives look like we are depending on God while all the while we try to control the details of our lives. It's safe. It's predictable. It's pride. Life will come crashing down when the tough stuff happens if all our days are orchestrated by us.


Bob George, in his book Complete in Christ says a person can be a 'theoretical Christian" and live as a 'practical atheist'.

"A practical atheist is someone who, regardless of his doctrinal beliefs, approaches life as if he were the only resource available."

My original Homemakers group may not have questioned stepping out with our faith if we dealt with the 'mosquitoes' in our life with Christ in us. If we had spent more time seeing God's activity in our daily life we all would have had the confidence to know that God would be there for us when life got difficult.

Life in general is hard...life as a follower of Jesus means we have the best resource available in good times and tough times...Christ in us.

Tuesday, July 13

The Tough Stuff

I think all of us realize it's not a matter of IF we will have tough stuff happen to us in life, it's just a matter of WHEN we will get bowled over by hard circumstances.

Whether we are Followers of Christ or not, tough stuff comes into everyone's life in some way, at some time. Life is hard.
I think there was a time in my life when I was hoping I could tiptoed around and avoid times of stress and heartbreak. Those were the days when I was trying to control my life.

Galations 2:20 changed my perspective:

"I have been crucified with Christ, I myself no longer lives, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Christ didn't just die so I could have eternal life, He died and rose again so He could live with me daily. I no longer had to be fearful that I couldn't handle all that might come into my life, I just needed to spend time with God and know Him so well that I could truly believe that I was able to "do all things through Him who made me strong.''

As Heidi said, "He is my portion"
She can say this because she has a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. She can trust His promises.

I like how the Message translation puts it: "I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not mine, but it is lived by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave His life for me."

I don't need to prove to God I can handle the tough stuff. I don't need to prove to myself or others that I can handle the tough stuff. I can't...but God in me can.

Sounds so simple, doesn't it when it is written down in a few sentences, so why don't we draw upon the fact that Christ is living in us all the time?

Ponder that question and I'll address that tomorrow!

Monday, July 12

Tough Stuff

I belonged to a Homemakers group when I was a young mom. About 15 moms met once a month and we talked about most everything. I remember one intense discussion when one of the moms voiced what I think all of us were thinking, but didn't have the nerve to speak up.

She said something like, "Sometimes I think it would be safer if I just didn't go out on a limb for God. I am scared that if I really take a stand with my faith, God will test me and I will just be asking for hard times"

I remember thinking at the time that maybe that made sense.

I also remember none of us responded with a good answer.

Are we to live 'under the radar' so maybe God will not test us too heavily?

I was reminded of my friend's statement when I read Heidi's postings last week. The first time I met Heidi, I was blown away by her strong stand for the Lord. Her desire to follow Him and know Him has been such a focus of her life and it is just a part of who she is. Did she set herself up for tough times since she verbalized her faith so boldly?

If my Homemaker friend made that same statement today, I think I might have an answer that would have been good for me to have known as a young mom.

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). That doesn't sound like we are to be living 'under the radar' to avoid having tough stuff in our lives. But so many women I talk to today say they aren't really living an abundant life whether they have tough issues or not. "The Christian life is just hard."

I think that the Christian Life is hard today because to us it is a performance...to the people of the New Testament it was an experience.

If we have to 'perform' each day to 'live the Christian Life' it will not only be hard...it will be impossible.

When my friend asked if she should live a safe life without taking a stand for the Lord, I think she was fearful that she wouldn't be able to perform and live a Christian life well if the road got too hard.

What I didn't understand then was that the good news of the gospel wasn't just that Christ came to die for me, but that He came to give His life to me.

Romans 5:10 says, "If, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life!"

God isn't here to test me, He is here to live His life through me.

I think I will talk about this abit more this week. It may not be as fun as some of the topics we cover in this blog...but I think it may be one of the more important ones we discuss.

Friday, July 9

My Portion

Driving home from the cabin on Sunday night we noticed something a little different with our daughter. Almost immediately my heart sank. I was thinking to myself, "Is this when this disorder becomes real in our family?" Not just a diagnosis, but something we actually see symptoms from. Because NF is a progressive disorder, we do not know when or if she will experience the effects. As a mom I am left without any control over the situation. On Monday I called her clinic and waited for them to call me back. The clinic was closed and I had to wait until Tuesday for her doctor to respond. I felt that knot of worry in my stomach. I was praying that night and asking the Lord for this to be nothing. I told Him over and over that I my heart is not strong enough to deal with some of the consequences of NF. I told Him I will never be ready to walk down that road. On Tuesday morning I was listening to Shane Bernard's song called My Portion. Here are the words...

Whom have I in Heaven but You
I desire none but You
My heart and flesh may fail but You
Are the Strength of my heart, the strength of my heart

You are my portion forever
You are my portion forever
You are my portion forever
You are my portion forever

Did you see what I heard from the Lord that morning? He is the strength of my heart. I am right in saying that apart from Him my heart is not strong enough to deal with pain. I need Him. I really, really need Him. He is my portion.

Thankfully our doctor gave us great news on Tuesday afternoon that this symptom did not appear to be anything NF related. I praise the Lord for that. I also praise the Lord that in the midst of an uncertain time for me, God still assured my heart that He is with me. I am sure there are going to be more times of uncertainty but I will continue to turn to Jesus. He is my portion.

Wednesday, July 7

When our daughter was first diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis (also known as NF) we went to a symposium to hear about other people's experience with the disorder. It was at a local library and it seemed like a really good way to gain more understanding. Although we knew it was a good event to attend, we were honestly dreading it. Upon our arrival we noticed the sign on the door....Children's Tumor Foundation. I instantly had a giant lump in my throat. I honestly didn't want to go in. I just kept thinking how in the world are we now connected with a group called the Children's Tumor Foundation. I feel like I have heard stories of people dealing with tumors or disabilities but it has never hit close to home. Now we were the parents of a child with NF and in a few minutes I would have to introduce myself and say that my sweet daughter has this condition. I felt like saying it out loud to a group of people would make it that much more real in our lives...and it did. We walked away from that meeting with a mix of emotions. Of course I had tears. Tears for what is unknown in her future. Tears that we now pray every night against the growth of tumors. Tears for any possible pain she might endure. But I also left encouraged. I had found a group of people who had walked the road I am now on. I saw people with NF who were doing wonderfully. I found out about research that will hopefully find a cure. I found support.

At this point Claire shows no real complications of NF. She is a normal, healthy, and might I add darling little girl. For this we are so, so, so thankful and we pray that this is the case her entire life. My husband and I could have let our fear or grief stop us from meeting others in the Children's Tumor Foundation. I am so glad that it didn't. My encouragement for you is to find support when you encounter hard things. Seek people out who have walked down the road you are on. I have found that although sharing your heart with someone can hurt, the encouragement is well worth it.

Monday, July 5

Welcome to Holland

This week I am going to blog a little bit about our experience receiving the news that our daughter has Neurofibromatosis. I have debated whether or not to share things about NF on this blog because I don't want these entries to seem like a big downer. However, millions of moms out there experience disorders or diseases that maybe they wouldn't have picked for their child but they now face the reality that this is what it is. She was diagnosed in December and our world was most definitely changed. My husband and I went to a symposium to gain more information about this disorder we had never heard about before. They opened the meeting by sharing this poem by Emily Perl Kingsley. It was written to describe what it is like to find out your child has special needs. Even if this doesn't pertain to you, I think it gives you a really good perspective on what other people experience.

Welcome to Holland Poem

Friday, July 2

Living with less...

so your family has more is the name of the current book I am reading. It is written by Jill and Mark Savage. Jill is the founder and CEO of Hearts at Home, an organization that encourages, educates and equips mothers. You can check out her website at http://www.hearts-at-home.org/. I bought this book a few months back, and it has been sitting on my nightstand waiting to be opened. Well, this week I finally took the time to open it. With the economy the way it is and with friends losing their jobs and being forced to live with less, I thought it was a good time to check this book out. I am only a few chapters in but feel that it asks a lot of great questions and just makes you think about the choices, we as mothers, are making everyday. Here are a few paragraphs that I thought were worth sharing…

Maybe you’ve thought or even said aloud:

  • I’m tired of living with constant stress.
  • I feel disconnected from my spouse.
  • I feel disconnected from my kids…
  • I just wish our family could sit around the dinner table each night laughing and talking about our day.
  • I can’t do this anymore: work, day care, soccer practice, quick meals and shallow relationships.
  • There are not enough hours in the day.
  • There has to be a simpler way of doing things.

If you have had those thoughts, you are not alone. We all want the best for our kids, but sometimes we lose sight of what “best” just might be. We want to give them more, but we’ve allowed the world to define “more” as things that money can buy. We long to give them every opportunity possible, but we’re missing out on being a family because there are just too many opportunities. We’re focused on providing tangibles-things that money can buy-when what most of us really long for are intangibles-things money can’t buy. The pace of life that many of us are traveling at is actually hurting rather than helping our families.

I love the line about the world defining “more” as things money can buy. I will admit I think that…good food for thought…our children just mostly want our time and attention.

One more section I would like to share with you is a few paragraphs where they ask a series of questions about three particular areas of life that we can intentionally downsize…

Less money-Are our financial challenges really about the high cost of living or the high cost of the way we choose to live? Where can we make different choices in our income and expenses that allow us to find the “more” we’re actually looking for?

Less stress- for may of us. Life is lots of activity, an emphasis on overachievement and accomplishments, and moving up the ladder of success. But what if we defined success differently? What if we looked at accomplishment through a different lens? What if we made countercultural choices that actually resulted in less stress?

Less activities- The world offers parents and children so many opportunities. But just because something is offered doesn’t make it a wise choice for our children, our family, or us. What if we learned to say no more often? What if we created some healthy boundaries that kept us home and focused on family more?

Like I stated before, I have only read the first few chapters, but I love the premise so far. I like reading books that challenge my thinking by asking thought-provoking questions. Books that make me stop and look at my life and make sure that the choices I am making on a daily basis match up with my long-term goals for my family in general. My prayer for you is that you will learn to live with less so that you can enjoy the family that God has blessed you with-happy Friday!

Thursday, July 1

Organization Motivation

A friend and I met earlier this week and she shared with me about this closet that had been haunting her since they moved into her new house. She wanted to organize it but with two small children she was afraid to pull out all the stuff during naptime only to be half done when they woke and by bedtime she was too exhausted to tackle it...yet it was driving her crazy. I am not sure if I was a very good friend at this particular moment, but I looked at her and said, "It will probably take you less than an hour to actually clean it, and you will feel a load lifted if you just do it." I would like to take credit for this advice, but I remember reading in some organization book that the number one reason we don't take the time to organize something is because we "think" it will take us forever so we don't do it. In reality if we would just tackle it head-on it usually takes way less time than we thought, and our minds are able to concentrate on more important things in life. My friend emailed me the next day saying thanks for the motivation and that she now had a beautifully organized closet...so today I am going to try to motivate you. Think of that one project that has been hanging over your head and just do it...you may be surprised at how quickly it gets done and how much better you feel...happy organizing!


Wednesday, June 30

Allowance

As I stated yesterday, we decided to keep chores and allowance separate from each other. We really agreed with Dave Ramsey’s view on that there are jobs within the home that just need to be done because you are part of a family and that allowance should be used to teach your child about the management of money.

Every month we give Abigail a $10 allowance. She must put $1 in savings and $1 in giving. We support Operation Christmas Child every Christmas and she usually saves all her giving to go out and purchase items to put in her shoeboxes. It is a fun charity because she can relate to getting presents, and it is fun for her to be able to choose toys that she would like to give to another child her age.

A few years ago we opened up a savings account for her and told her that whatever she put away in savings, we would match that amount. We are trying to encourage saving as much as possible.

We then allow her to spend her money as she chooses, giving her advice along the way, but the final decision is hers. When she runs out of money she must wait to buy something until the next allowance. I must admit she does an awesome job. When she is out of money, she will often not want to run to the store with me for fear of finding a toy that she doesn’t have the money for…we really feel that using money to teach good habits now is a very effective way to teach these skills. Thank you Dave Ramsey! We will more than likely start giving Maddie an allowance sometime soon as well. She is almost 4 and a half and has just started asking questions. I believe we started Abigail around this age.

We also allow our girls (mainly Abigail because of Maddie’s age) to do other jobs for money if they are interested in earning extra. Examples of jobs she has done are washing the car, picking up sticks in the yard, weeding small areas of our yard…jobs that she is able to do that help us out. We agree upon a set amount before the work begins so that she can take as long as she would like to complete the job. It is usually only a few dollars because of her age. These jobs are a win-win for both of us. I would love to hear your thoughts on allowance…have a great day!

Tuesday, June 29

Children and chores

I was struggling with what to start out with this week when I opened an email from Stacy suggesting I blog about chores and allowance…what a great idea…so here is my two cents worth on chores…(I will share about allowance tomorrow)

Jeff and I decided early on that we didn’t want to have chores and allowance connected. I think it was Dave Ramsey who inspired this line of thinking and it made sense to us. Basically doing age appropriate chores are just part of being part of a family…making your bed, keeping your room clean, brushing your teeth, setting the table…are all things we each do as members of a family and should not have monetary value. It is everyone doing their part to help our home run smoothly. While it is easy to say this…we needed a way to help remind our girls each day what their responsibilities were. So I made these adorable chore charts for our hallway.

On the top ten circles there is room to write each child’s chores. Then the bottom ten circles are little magnets that the girls move to cover the chore once it is done for the day. Then at night all the magnets are moved back to the bottom. This chart worked for about the first two weeks, then we realized that, while cute, it wasn’t very functional for us. My girl’s needed something more hands-on and a little more in your face for lack of a better term. I just happened upon Stacy Julian’s blog and copied her idea of a small clipboard with a list of chores for each child.

I set them out on the table every morning and they check off each chore after it is completed. So far it has worked really well of us. The girl’s love carrying around the clipboard and leaving little notes for me at the bottom of them.

One other thing that I would like to stress is to give yourself a little slack…if something isn’t working for you and your family, change it. Something may work for a while and then become more of a burden. Remember why you are doing something. I desire to teach my girls to do their part in our family…if I get caught up in the cute chore charts I have missed the point…I think as mothers we often look around and think we should be doing things just like someone else. Sometimes that works, other times it becomes a burden. Remember to think of the purpose, keep the end goal in mind…how you get there doesn’t matter as much as actually getting there. I would love to hear your ideas of keeping track of daily chores…you know me and ideas…

Friday, June 25

Pancake powder

A few months ago Betsy and I heard the author of Growing Grateful Kids share some key points from her book. We thoroughly enjoyed Susie's talk and both purchased her book on the spot.

One of her main points is that you cannot impart what you do not possess. You can not pass on gratefulness to your children if you do not have an attitude of gratefulness yourself.

Susie gives the example of having many medical bills and very little money. She recalls walking into her kitchen and only having pancake mix to prepare for her kids. Susie decided to make a very large pancake for her three boys, stuck a candle in the middle and made it a fun memory for all of them.

Susie chose gratefulness. Her children were not aware that there wasn't money to buy food. Susie took her role as a mom - provider, protector of their hearts and minds, role model - so seriously that she made pancake powder into a family celebration.

I have thought often of that story recently. While we have so much more food than a box of pancake mix, I desire to protect my young children from the realities of life right now. I don't want them to feel the stress and tension that comes with unemployment. I don't want them to experience fear or insecurity.

I want them to know love, comfort, stability and joy - even amidst the unknown future. So much of that rests on my shoulders. My words, actions, body language, facial expressions...my children can see, hear and sense what is happening around them. 

So I have to choose. Every day I have to choose an attitude of gratefulness. It's up to me to choose to make pancake powder into sweet, sweet memories.

Wednesday, June 23

Grace

This evening I got home at 6:10. The kids and I had a long commute home from my in-laws after being gone since late morning. 

My husband was home most of that time and I had some expectations when I walked in the door. Like the dishwasher emptied and some food warmed up for dinner. Maybe some time spent on a house project or two.

Without going into unnecessary details, I'll just say that my attitude was not a positive one once I got home. In my head I was calculating all I could have accomplished in six hours home alone without any children. I was creating a mighty good argument in my head.

But my husband told me he had had a rough day and was feeling very discouraged about being unemployed. So I kept my mouth shut. I tried to understand what it would be like to be home when you'd rather be working and supporting your family. I probably wouldn't feel like tackling home projects either.

Nearly two hours later I walked into our bedroom and saw a card on my pillow. It was a card from my husband thanking me for supporting him during this difficult time.

I felt a big lump in my throat as I read the card and silently whispered "thank you" to God that I had chosen to give my husband a little grace today rather than the attitude I had wanted to give him when I got home.

I don't write this to say, "Look at what a great wife I am." I write this because it's times like these that I am so thankful for the grace God has given me.

I don't know how it feels to be let go from a job. I don't know what it's like being the sole provider for a family of four. I don't understand the stress and pressure that comes with desperately seeking to find another job.

But I understand grace. I've experienced it. And now I can offer it to a husband who has given me grace so freely, willingly and without any strings attached.

Monday, June 21

Unemployment: good for me?

As some of you may know, my husband lost his job almost a month ago.

Each week we are learning what that means for our family of four. As the clothes-buyer, grocery-shopper, food-prepper, coupon-clipper, sale-searcher and gift-giver for our family, I feel a lot of responsibility to reduce our spending as significantly as possible.

When Ryan and I were first married, I had a budget of $50 a week for groceries. I would take my coupons and my calculator to the grocery store, and I would add up my purchases as I went. I did my best to stick to under $50. 

Now it's not so much about sticking to a budget as it is about spending as little as possible...because how do you set a grocery budget when unemployment only covers your mortgage and health insurance? There's not much left for groceries!

However, I have hungry mouths to feed so there's a few things I'm doing to try and be as responsible and wise as I can in this season of unemployment (hopefully it's a very short season).

I'm reading articles, blogs and anything I come across that has suggestions on how to get more bang for your buck when it comes to food. There are plenty of sites that offer budget-friendly meal ideas and I'm trying out some of them or keeping the ones I already have in my recipe collection at the top of my menu-planning.

I'm trying to make recipes that include rice, pasta or potatoes rather than those that are just meat-based. Everything I read about preparing economical meals, suggests doing this because meat is expensive.

I signed up for coupons online from a local grocer (https://emailsignup.cub.com/). I'm trying to pay attention to the double coupon days at another local grocery store so I can get even greater discounts on my groceries.

We got a coupon in the mail to receive the local Sunday paper for only $1.25 a week. If I double just a couple coupons inside each week, I can easily save more money than what we're spending on the paper.

I'm also learning to shop what's on sale. In the past I have certainly purchased items on sale. But now I really pay attention to what's on sale and that's the fruit or meat I purchase for the week(s). And I've been buying many more generic foods (canned and boxed items) than I have in the past.

I'm not gonna lie. It's hard. I have my preferences when it comes to the brands and type of food I like to eat and prefer to prepare. I'd rather not have to take the time searching, making lists, cutting coupons, going to multiple stores, and getting generic items.

But it's just not an option. I do not want to come out of this season with loads of debt.

And you know what? This isn't just good for the pocketbook, it's good for me. It's forcing me to choose wisely. It's encouraging me to be aware of mindless spending. It's challenging me to stretch myself in an area where I don't want to be stretched.

Yes, it seems unemployment just might be good for me...in so many ways.

Sunday, June 20

Hymns

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.

I love, love, love this song. I grew up hearing my mom sing it to me and now I sing it to my girls. Some of my fondest memories are when my mom would sit on my bed and sing me to sleep. I can even think of times in high school when I would be struggling with something that my mom would lay in my bed and sing me hymns. I received such comfort from the words she sang. This is something I want to pass down to my children. It is my prayer that someday the words that I sing to my girls will be much more than just a lullaby. I want them to know who it is that I am singing about and that every word that I sing is true.

Tuesday, June 15

Nook



Yesterday was my birthday and my husband bought me some new accessories for my favorite electronic device... the Barnes and Noble Nook. Upon opening these gifts, I was immediately convinced that I need to share with you some of the reasons I love the Nook. If you enjoy reading, I would highly recommend this little e-reader. First, let me tell you that I am not a fan of book shelves. I always feel like mine appear cluttered and unorganized which drives me crazy. Well, with the Nook all of my books are on my little device. No more need for bookshelves. Second, I love that any book is available to me at the simple touch of a button. I can shop for books in the comfort of my own home and even download a sample of them before choosing to purchase the book. Heavenly! Third, I can change the font size at any time in any book. This is helpful because I used to prefer reading books that are in large print when I am on the treadmill. Now, I can just change the font before running and change it back when I am done. And finally, books can be purchased at a discounted price. Hooray for saving money on books!

I have to tell you that this is not a tool you would want to use if you love to highlight or make notes in the margin. The Nook does have highlighting capabilities but I have found it not as handy. For that reason, I do not use my Nook if I am reading in a book club. It is easier to actually have a hard copy of the book for moments like those. However, if you love reading and you find yourself running out of room on your shelves, then the Nook is for you. :) Happy reading!

Monday, June 14


You are probably wondering who is that adorable girl in this picture. Well, let me tell you. It is my younger sister Jill and on Friday we celebrated her wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and believe me she was a stunning bride. :)

As I stood on the stage on Friday, I kept watching my parents. Thinking about how this is their third and final daughter to be married off. I was thinking about what they must be feeling. Because my kids are so little now, I honestly can't even begin to picture what that day would be like as a parent. A true mix of emotions I am sure. Happiness that your child is an adult who has fallen in love but also a little sad that you are no longer really parenting them in the same way. Your role as a mom still remains but looks very different.

That got me thinking about life right now and how my role is technically changing so frequently. Just this week my oldest daughter has decided that she no longer wants my help climbing stairs. She has decided she wants to do it and I just stand there to watch. My youngest daughter has started crawling and she loves to be on the ground exploring. She isn't as content to snuggle in my lap anymore and again I am left to watch. I celebrate these little steps of independence with pride but still have a little sense of sadness in how quickly children grow. This feeling is probably a similar to how my parents felt on Friday night.

As a way to document my child's accomplishments and my feelings as a mom, I journal. I have a separate journal for both of my girls and I write in them whenever I feel like I want to be sure to remember something or when I feel like someday they will relate to what I am feeling. Sometimes it is once during the month and other times it has been more frequent. Sometimes I just let them know how much they are loved and other times I use it as a way to write out a prayer for them. When they are older I will continue to write in these journals. They will be able to look at them whenever they would like and when they leave my home, they can take it with them. Someday, if my girls have children, I hope this will be a way to jog my memory on how it feels to be a young mom and also allow my girls to see that I went through all of the same emotions parenting them. More than anything I hope that it will be another tool used to introduce them to a relationship with Jesus and used to show them how incredibly loved they have been from the very start.

Friday, June 11

Why Men Shouldn't Write Advice Columns!

(A male client gave this to me...enjoy!)



Dear John,

I hope you can help me. The other day, I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching TV. My car stalled, and then it broke down about a mile down the road, and I had to walk back to get my husband's help. When I got home, I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbor's daughter!

I am 32, my husband is 34 and the neighbor's daughter is 19. We have been married for 10 years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admittd they had been having an affair for the past six months. He won't go to counseling, and I'm afraid I am a wreck and need advice urgently. Can you please help?

Sincerely,

Sheila



Dear Sheila,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps,

John



(credit given to Steve Sanderson, Gilbert, SC)

Thursday, June 10

Balance

At the end of Homemakers this year, Betsy briefly summarized a topic we had been discussing throughout the year, "What makes a mom GOOD?'

When I was a young mom I often heard that so & so was very talented in music and she made a good mom. Someone else was very creative and she would be a good mom. It seemed like certainly qualities made a good mom, but if I didn't have those qualities, did that make me a bad mom?

I decide to pursue the question, "What makes a mom good?" and then proceeded to figure out what I could do, or learn to be good in those areas.

For example, I found that listening to my kids made me good. So I put that on my list to develop.

Loving my kids' dad made me good, so that went on my list.

Learning to be a friend to my girlfriends made me good.

The list got quite long as I asked myself what else it would take to make me good as a mom.

It really was just being intentional in many areas of life that I needed to pay more attention to. If I had not asked myself that question, I am not sure I would have developed in many areas and skills

One area I shared with Homemakers was the area of balance. I found what makes a mom good when she is finding balance in her life is to be ok with being off-balance when necessary. Let me explain.

Think of yourself balancing on a big exercise ball. In order to stay on top of that ball you need to stay in constant motion. To keep your balance, you need to tilt one way or the other to keep you balanced. In life, I think you need to sway quite abit from time to time to stay balanced.

Unexpected interruptions and life changes can throw you a curve, but so can everyday demands. A mom who is good is a woman who is pursuing a life that is commited to knowing God...and she sees life from that vantage point. She realizes that it is not all about her.

There is a quiet confidence that comes from being ok with being off-balance, provided that being off balance comes because of life circumstances and changes, not just self-induced upsets! Being off-balance is a time to identify priorities.

Learning how to be off-balance at time leads to 'inner beauty' I think. A mom is good...or can become good when she realizes that being off-balance is a time to trust God. In the big and small things of life.

Wednesday, June 9

A New Family by Friday:)

I was sadden to hear that Al and Tipper Gore announced this week that they were separating after 40 years of marriage. That is a long history to walk away from.

Wouldn't you like to think that if a marriage got past a certain number of years you would finally have mastered the art of making a marriage work? Like 10 years of marriage and you are home free?!

Marriage, like everything else will follow the Law of Disintegration if it isn't nurtured and given the proper attention.

Betsy is celebrating her 15th anniversary this week! Last week, she shared the book by Dr Kevin Leman, Have a New Kid by Friday. I'd like to suggest another book of his, Have a New Husband by Friday. This author writes with alot of humor and makes it an easy read but still has great insight into relationships.

The book is chocked full of good information so I am going to share the 'Top Ten Countdown to Having a New Husband by Friday here. There is so much more to glean from this book, you still will want to check out this book if you are looking for a way to bring back life into your marriage.

10. Respect what he says
9. Tell him how important he is in your life
8. Tell him how much you need him in your life
7. Pursue him
6. Don't correct him or make fun of him, especially in front of others
5. Don't talk down to him. He's your husband, not your child
4. Touch him physically. One caress can last a long time and will really get his attention
3. Say nice things about him and to him
2. Eliminate the words, why, never, and always from your vocabulary
1. Think about what you're going to say and divide it by ten

My husband and I will be celebrating our 39th anniversary next month. I know there was never a point when we could say we could finally put our marriage on auto-pilot and know we wouldn't crash and burn. We have had to work each and every year to maintain our relationship. It is in the working of it that we have grown individually and as a couple.

One of the basic premises of Homemakers with Hope is that marriage is hard...and a good marriage is even harder. As the older woman in this group, I can assure you that if you work on your marriage, you will not be disappointed. It will be worth it.

Tuesday, June 8

Praying for your Children

A frequent question I am asked at MOPS is, "How do I pray for my children?"

My quick response is, "Just do it!"

To give any real insight takes abit longer. I wrestled with this question as a young mom and tried many different approaches. When my kids were little I remember praying for things that seemed overwhelming and out of my control.

"Why is he crying all night, Lord"
"Help me to know how to explain my concerns to the doctor"
"I don't think I can do this on my own, Father"

As my children got older, I began praying that God would cover the areas I could not take care of...

"Be with Ryan as he goes off to camp"
"Help Rachel to do her best"

I found I was speaking to God in such generalities and often about things He already promised that I knew I needed to take a look at my prayer life.

I have prayed Bible verses for each child.

I have taken a day of the week and prayed throughout the day for a particular child.

I have found principles and qualities that I wanted manifested in my child's life and prayed specifically for those to be brought to my child's awareness.

I discovered that much of what I was doing that I considered prayer, was really just ME DOING something I thought God wanted me to do.

But, like everything else in my walk with the Lord, prayer is something He has provided for me, to draw me closer to Him...but He produces the results. It has nothing to do as to whether I pray for each child by name, if I find a verse to back up my request or if I eloquently said my prayer without error.

My prayer life has changed over the years. Prayer has changed me because once again I realized that what I wanted for my kids could only come by Christ living in them. I couldn't make them more compassionate, joyful or kind by praying for that in their lives. I could pray that my children continued to have a heart to know God. I could pray that they would trust God. That they would be humble in coming to God and simply rest in His promises.

I could pray that they would 'abide in Christ' and by abiding they would see the fruit of the Spirit become evident in their lives.

Much is written about prayer. Many 'programs' are taught, but it comes down to praying for a relationship for your child that will produce all the fruit of the Spirit because they simply abide in Christ.(John 15:5)

Is this different from what you have thought about prayer? Prayer is not an activity as much as it is BEING in the presence of God and letting Him live His life out through you. It is becoming REAL in relating to God.

Monday, June 7

The Number One Reason

I loved what Betsy wrote last week about Abigail's Christian Birthday! I must add that that is sooo Betsy. She consistently celebrates her kids...but more importantly, she lives what she teaches her kids. This is so important when you are talking to your kids about God

Let me ask you a question...

Do you know the number one reason kids leave the church when they are old enough to choose?

A poll taken among kids who had left the church said the number one reason they left was...

"God was never real to my parents"

That puts a pretty big responsibility on parents doesn't it? The responsibility isn't to make our kids be good, or to have them memorize scripture or tell them to love God or tell their friends about Jesus or speak nicely....

...our responsibility as parents (let's say 'moms' since that's probably the only readership we have:)) is to make sure our relationship with God is real to us as a mom.

That's it.

That focus alone will make a huge difference in our KIDS' life.

How do you do that?

I heard a pastor use a clever line when talking about teaching kids about God. He said, "Use the temporary to build the permanent." He went on to explain that when kids are young, kids believe their parents. Kids believe in their parents. This is the time we need to take the temporary faith our kids place in us and use it to build a permanent faith in God.

The window of opportunity for a child to accept Christ as their Savior is between 4-14 years of age...the ages that they are basically living at home and interacting daily with their parents.

Betsy would agree with me that it is easier to talk about Christ than to TRUST HIM at times, but it is in those times of trust that our kids will learn the most.