Sunday, October 12, 2014

Friend, What Did You See In That Selfie?

Friend,

I noticed you just took a selfie. Can I ask what you saw when you looked into it? Don’t worry. You’re safe with me.
 
 

This world is rapidly changing.  Gone are the days of planned picture sessions with dropped off film in a bag whose results remained a mystery.  Now we are a 24/7 ready people with cameras on our phones and our phones always on us, creating mirror moments all the time.  The outcome of this change is a mixed bag, at best.

Selfies can be so much fun. I love their ability to capture any moment in time. I love how I can actually appear in a photo or two with the fam because before I was always the one taking them and rarely actually in them. :) These documented, unplanned photo moments make for a better scrapbook of life, and that is awesome.

But there is the flip side. The ugly side when we gaze into our phone screen and see ugly in us. I am a faith-filled woman but I still live in human skin. Maybe if I just changed my angle I’d look skinnier or if I lower my chin my nose look better or…you fill in the blank with whatever critique just ran through your head.  So one picture turns into another picture followed by more critique and then another picture until the quest for imagined perfection blinds you of all the beauty staring back at you.

A light-hearted, random moment gets twisted into something frustrating and staged. Because we take the picture often with intention of posting it and since we want people to like what we see the purity of the moment can morph into an acting job complete with filters as our airbrush. 

Do you see yourself in that picture, friend? Or are you a character?

Social media pushes us to the seek the approval of many when we’re really just here to gratify the heart of One.

And He says,


Child,

I KNEW YOU BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN YOUR MOTHER’S WOMB. BEFORE YOU WERE BORN I SET YOU APART.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes” 1 Peter 3:3

“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

So Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

 For we are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians 2:10

“Be strong and courageous.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“YOU ARE ALTOGETHER BEAUTIFUL, MY DARLING, THERE IS NO FLAW IN YOU.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)
Love, God

Paint your moments, friend, not an image.  For you have been uniquely crafted by the Maker of it all.  This world of technology has changed things but it doesn’t have to change us.

As you read this today please know I’m praying over you.  And, if you’re a tween/teen who has found your way here, I ask a special hedge of protection around your heart.

May we all live boldly as our authentic selves and redefine beauty along the way. 

 
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Monday, October 6, 2014

What Does a Purity Ring Say, Anyway?


Mom, Can you come in here? I think there’s a mouse in my room. A Barbie just fell.”

For the record, I hate mice and if I had any fear there actually could be a mouse I would’ve sent my husband.  But, with a history of zero mice in the house and a brimming over the top of the basket Barbie collection, my confidence in the situation led me right into her room.

“Honey, there is no mouse, “ I assured.  “Were the Barbies piled high over the top?”

“Yes”

“So do you think it’s reasonable that you accidentally just knocked her over getting back into bed?”

“Ya, that makes the most sense.”

I thought our conversation was done and pivoted to exit the room.

“Mom, how do you know who you are going to date? I mean, you can’t just be walking around and then all of a sudden be dating.”

Why do these conversations always come from left field? Weren’t we just worried about a mouse?

She loves 19 Kids and Counting and on recent episodes Jill is preparing for marriage.   Knowing this was going to be a longer chat, I crawled into bed beside her.

“Long before you date any boy you think about the qualities you want in a date.  Things like knowing them well, that they love Jesus, and that they treat girls nice… because you only want to go on a date with someone that respects you and dad approves of. It’s important to be slow and selective.”

“I know some boys who love Jesus and treat girls nice in my class, mom,” Hannah pipes in from the top bunk. “Should I start a list of potentials for when I’m older?”

That girl is always good for comic relief and, while it came from a true place of sincerity in her heart, I was grateful for the laughter it bubbled, lightening the moment.

“You can wait, Hannah. We aren’t dating anyone before we’re 16.  You’ve got some years to focus just on friendship.”

I’m ready to go but the wheels are still clearly spinning in Grace’s head.

“So if you’re careful about who you date then how do you know if the person you date is the person you are supposed to marry?”

She’s N-I-N-E! I know this is the planting of seeds and falls directly into the lap of my work but I’m still a normal parent, desperately praying to get this right.

“That takes time too.  And a whole lotta prayer.  As you date and talk to God and that person about how you are feeling God shows you if you are better together. Your dad is my best friend.  We love being together but we also strengthen each other in tough times or when we are sad, and he inspires me to live for God in all the decisions we make. God gave me a ‘for sure’ feeling that I didn’t want to spend a day without him.”

“Okay. So when should I be married by?”

I smiled through the darkness at the innocence of a curious little person trying to figure out what makes a fulfilling, successful life. “Not everyone gets married. The best life comes in living for The One not in finding someone.  You just need to listen to His voice and trust it always because God has a plan for your joy and ignoring what He desires for you always leads to pain.”

“Alright. Thanks for the talk and picking up my Barbie.”

I exited their room and promptly rewarded myself with a huge peppermint patty stuffed chocolate cookie bar.  Holy cow did I deserve it and boy was I thankful to return to the mundane folding of the laundry.

However, as I folded, I peered into their room.  Two tiny little heads, crazy hair all over their face, who mean the world to me.  Two girls I wish I could shield of every pain.  Two girls I pray never settle.

So what of the purity ring thing?

Like many of you my husband and I intend to one day have special one on one dates with each of our girls to accompany the “big talk” and gift them with a reminder of their value, giving object permanence to the importance of their life, body, and purity.

But, why?  What is the end goal of these rings, necklaces, or whatever we choose?

 
 

And God makes very clear ALWAYS POINT TO ME.

In a world of Barbie and Disney where happily ever after most often comes in the finding of a spouse we need to be mindful as parents that the underlying messages and giving of these somewhat common gifts doesn’t sell self-completion through marriage.  To do so is to set some of our children up for feelings of failure and it makes their primary focus finding “the one” instead of keeping a steadfast mind on “THE ONE” who truly has their best at heart.  Motivation is found in the flesh rather than experiencing true reward in the Spirit.  It sends the message, “I am not complete until…” 

I never want that for my girls and I’m quite confident you don’t want that for your kids either.

So it is with that in mind that one day we will present a gift with the message, “Wear this as a reminder of The Bridegroom that loves you more than any human ever will.  Trust in His heart and his boundaries and live for Him because then eternal fulfillment will be yours.  Please wear this as a reminder that you ARE whole.  And if, one day, a man of God blesses your life, take it off for the ring symbolizing a life committed to jointly serve, but always keep this as memento of who you are.”

And then I shall promptly reward myself with dessert once more J

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I Love These Faces {Family Pictures 2014}

My girls love to get their picture taken.  When they play house, one of them is often "Michelle" with a V-Tech camera in hand :)  Needless to say, when the calendar date actually read, "pictures with Michelle," they were squealing with excitement.  We gussied up, headed to the park before sunset, and I can't stop smiling at the personalities perfectly captured...

Grace - 9



Hannah - 7



Ava - 3


And this



I love these faces!
 
 
Our girls are no longer babies.  I look at these stunners and yearn with everything in me to protect their innocence and keep their inner light aglow.  Navigating that in today's world will be a challenge, but God has set on my heart discussing a few of those issues this month.  I hope you'll join me!


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Monday, September 22, 2014

Who Is Your Solomon?

I open my Bible Study and begin to fall in love with him. Solomon, a king whose leadership I’ve somehow missed in all my years, is only a child when he takes the throne, but his wisdom bears spiritual fruit I want to eat of.

In a dream, God grants him opportunity to ask any one thing he wants, and Solomon’s answer is, “give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kings 3:9).

It is granted and this wise leader immediately stands out amongst the rest because his motives are different from the rest. Humble rather than heady, Solomon became a vessel. “From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom,” Lucado & Frazee write (The Story), leaving inspired, enlightened, guided, and stronger in the faith. Even when the queen of Sheba tried to test him, he remained steady. In Solomon’s presence people seem to feel the presence of the Lord.

Enamored, I drive to study and join my gal pals around the table. “Can you imagine a leader guiding like this? Whose desire above anything else is to know God’s heart and act accordingly?” I ask.

So often we shake our heads and bemoan what we see in the world around us. Messes feel too big. Hurt runs too deep. And, we just want to throw our arms in the air pleading, “Jesus, come.”

And He reminds I have, and I am.

“Is there anyone you admire in this way?,” I dare inquire. A leader who seeks God first, becomes a magnet by virtue of their acumen and whose warmth is as inviting to the spirit as the coffee I’m sipping is to my soul.



And I immediately identify a Solomon in my life.

She opens her mouth with wisdom & on her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26

This person sits on a throne of sorts, though you will rarely find her there. In this woman’s life...

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

{No Bake} Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

You guys! I opened my Delicious Desserts Pinterest board the other day and tragedy struck.  One of our family's favorite desserts linked to a different dessertThis cannot be.  My mind raced.  I mean, how could this and my hand-held frother die in the same day?  It's like the taste bud happiness gods were against me :)

Obviously all recipes that increase to life satisfaction still need to be on good ol' fashion recipe cards.  This one included.

Since everyone is busy but can always use a tasty, simple recipe in their back pocket, today I bring you a link that will work and not change.  No siree. 

These tiny delicacies are no bake, no egg, no time consuming goodness perfect for school birthday treats, parties, or a simple family movie night.

But, be warned, they won't last long!



Ingredients:
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
6 ounces miniature chocolate chips
chocolate flavored microwaveable almond bark

To make:
* cream the butter and brown sugar together
* blend in vanilla extract and flour until smooth
* mix in miniature chocolate chips
* roll into 1 inch balls and place in fridge
* melt as many almond bark squares as desired (I use 3 per batch)
* remove balls, drizzle chocolate on top, and place back in fridge to set


I typically make my balls slightly smaller than an inch and yield approximately 50 treats.  A lot of delicious in only a tiny amount time.  I like it! And I'm confident you will too :)
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

How to Throw the Best Cupcake Theme Birthday Party in Town

Three words. Oh. My. Cupcakes.

Yep. That's your answer.

This week is a big birthday week in our house. Grace will celebrate her golden ninth and Hannah turns seven. When talking about their theme idea - and this has been a carefully considered discussion since basically the first of the year - they landed on a cupcake theme.



Because they love Oh My Cupcakes, a local Christian based company whose mission is "To shine God's love and make people smile...with cupcakes," I called and was blown away by how awesome they were to work with.

These party kits were just $8 a box. 



Along with a two full size cupcakes, each child was able to pick their own sprinkle, candy, and icing color, making each box custom and special.  Just like the girls.  Grace and Hannah's had candles to add extra spark to their celebration. 

Much to our surprise, the space was decorated for our girls.


 




We loved the warm feel it gave the room and felt so blessed that they went this extra mile to make our girls feel valued.

As if they hadn't done enough, Oh My Cupcakes allowed us to borrow their pin the candle on the cupcake game so I didn't have to make one.  Good thing because I couldn't make one nearly this cute.



I also printed off this free Birthday Bingo download friendly for all ages to play



As a fun transition game to get the girls back to the table for the cupcake fun.

They decorated in style with these very fitting headbands I found on Target clearance,


And they moved their heaping tubes of icing to create cupcakes with their own unique flair.  Once all the cupcakes were finished, the girls went around the table to display their design and share what they named it.  We had everything from the elegant "Winter Wonderland" to our three year old's "Poop."  We Nesdahl's know how to keep things classy :)





It was most definitely a good time had by all.  And, to top off the joy found in sharing time with their besties, Hannah's kindergarten teacher, affectionately known as her "second mom," came to join in the fun.  She's the best. I wouldn't be surprised if Hannah invites her to be in her wedding someday.  Not. Even. Kidding. 
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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Back to School Prayer

As our girls head back to school, my heart brims with emotion.  And so today, I, we, as moms join together in prayer….



Lord God, today we moms lift our hearts up to you
In prayer for the precious little girls
You’ve entrusted to us.
We lift this to you, Jesus.

Comforter God, these new school years are bittersweet
We are grateful for the excitement that comes
In new teachers and times with friends and opportunity to grow
And yet we are sad for the little in our girl that is lost,
Their steps closer to independence.
Lord help us navigate each step of the way.
We lift this up to you, Jesus.

Saving God, we pray our girls’ hearts would be led by You
That in the midst of all the voices and all the fears and all the excitement
You would reign the strongest guide.
We pray that they would be a light
And emulate Your love through kind words and thoughtful action.
We lift this up to you, Jesus.

Teaching God, we pray over their learning, 
That they would...
 

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