Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Family Thanksgiving Prayer


You teach us, So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” John 13:34. May Togetherness motivate our family life. May we never become too busy to love grand events and simple every day living.

At the heart of each interaction we pray for Honesty.  “We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable” (2 Corinthians 8:21). For we know trust is built and maintained through the sharing of truth.

In the midst of those interactions, Lord, may we “Love each other with genuine Affection” (Romans 12:10a). Without touch the appreciation we have for the special people You’ve given us can never be visibly known or fully felt.

Give us a Nearsighted mentality...

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Friday, November 20, 2015

If You're Struggling to Feel Thanks This Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, music tells us. And we want to believe that. The Hallmark movie Christmas countdown is on (adios productivity). Beautiful lights are strung outside. And, people are publically counting their thanks while preparing for turkey dinners.

This time of year erupts in joyousness otherwise kept quieter.

This is good and right. To pause and give gratitude for what we do have keeps life in perspective. To point to the Giver postures our focus on Hope.

Yet for some, this is the most lonely time of year, Christians included. I remember writing the Christmas letter the year my father died. I know the confusion I felt with my God when another calendar year would pass without a positive pregnancy test to begin the family my husband and I both longed for.

Broken dreams and overwhelming disappointment can make us feel like a fake this time of year. When the mental expectations we set for what the holiday experience should be doesn’t match the reality of our life we question if who we claim to be is who we really are. We juggle what we know to be True with what feel in our hearts.

This unsettling feeling makes us feel something of an island from others. Even from God.

I know some of you feel like your soul is dying because you’ve told me over coffee or hugged me in hallways or written me your stories. You’re crying out to God with desperate hope that your put-together mask doesn’t crack and trying not to scream at the busy materialism of our culture and restraining yourself from throwing things at the radio for words that hit shallow or worse, make you feel like a bad Christian.

I’ve been there and the ebb and flow of life pretty much ensures that I will be again.

And today I have good news that I didn’t see in my rocky holidays but that I will never allow myself to forget.

Isaiah 41:10 is one of my absolute FAVORITE Scriptures. It reads, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Do you see it?

We tend to originate success or failure in ourselves during the holiday season but God gifts us zero expectation days, imploring that we quit working out of our own energy and fall into His. 

If it be in your heart to sing loud and count with abandon then do so. I can only imagine how it delights our God. But if you’re shriveling inside and struggling to find voice, you remain just as right with Him. In your being nothing He can be everything and THAT is a Spirit-filled holiday.

Quit trying so hard. Quit putting the integrity of your faith on trial.

The Lord sits with you.

The Lord is strengthening you.

The Lord will uphold you.

You are intimately communing with the One these holidays are all about. (The only right goal for the masses.) Fruit is sure to come.



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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

I just opened my computer and found a fruit snack stuck to the exterior. Don't even ask me how it got there because it wasn't me but I totally ate it like a bonus find. How fitting that I'm sitting down to write a real mom confessions post :)

1. Conference Writing. It's conference week at the school my two oldest attend. While in Grace's conference her teacher told us that they turned a real life moment into a full fledged fiction story. Now, I heard some of the details of this story as she was working on it from home, but had no idea I would hear her announce in conferences, "I wrote mine about when I fell off the garbage can." Of course you did. Because every great parent misses their children climbing on top of a garbage can, right? At least I can feel good that is has the makings of a "remember when..." story when she is older.

2. The Mayflower. Hannah is learning about conditions on the Mayflower. Do you realize how many people were crammed into such a small space with no modern amenities or basic electricity? She received an assignment where the whole family was to sit on a couch or bed and discuss what it would be like in the dark, feeling the waves, the smells, etc. Since Hannah is very literal, no electricity means we did this family-focussed assignment by candlelight. The fact that our house did not burn down is miracle. Hannah wanted to read the assignment paper by candlelight, she was moving around with the waves....my blood pressure was rising, RiSIng, RISING....just get me OFF the Mayflower! This learning moment has expired. Only it hadn't because then she built the tiniest fort for her in her sisters to go in...like the Mayflower. And, when I was laying in a twin size bed with the older to chatting one night, this conversation went down-

Me: Okay, we need to be done. I have to go to the bathroom.
Grace: It woulda been squashed like this on the Mayflower
Hannah: Ya, and you'd have had to go in your pants.
Me: Good point. I think I'd have skipped discovering the New World. The boat conditions wouldn't have seemed worth it.

I guess I'm not always great for education :)

3. Bedtime. Bedtime is as Jim Gaffigan says "a crisis" in our home. They DO look at us like they've never heard of the idea and will resist succumbing to sleep because that would clearly be the worst thing imaginable. So, the other night I did laugh when one of our blessings was so wound up she knocked something off the wall and it landed on her. Since she wasn't really hurt laughter was totally acceptable in my book. I used the teachable moment as reminder that if she would just listen to mom nothing would fall on her. Parenthood drives you to saying weird things.

4. Ava's Thanksgiving Book. Ava's preschool class made the cutest Thanksgiving menu book EVER. In it, they asked the children what they are going to have for Thanksgiving and how they cooked it. This is Ava's response

As you begin Thanksgiving celebrations may your actual meals be healthier than her imagined one :)

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Real Mom Confessions day! More importantly, it's Veteran's Day so let me begin with my sincerest thanks for all who have and are serving our country. You and the families who support you are heroes. Thank you for the sacrifices you make in togetherness for our freedom. Thank you for daily laying down yourself so that we can be free. This week there's been entire too much hullabaloo about freedom being challenged over ridiculous red cups. I pray today is reminder that real people have their freedom confronted daily and that mature faith isn't about sharpie words or loud public professions. Rather it is a humble drawing on the Lord for strength, guidance, and hope. It's a relationship that guides our life.  You've leaned in on Him and courageously accepted a challenging call. We salute you!

This week's real mom confessions started pretty much as the last ones were posted.

1. Stopping Tap to Wipe Child's Rear. My hubby worked late last Wednesday and I'm in an adult tap class so I had my girls read in the dressing room. This works really well, primarily because they are at the dance studio daily so it's like a second home. However, last Wednesday night Hannah came down and loudly whispers, "Mom, Ava needs you." I made the mistake of asking why aloud and Hannah says, "She needs you to wipe her butt." Oh the joys of motherhood. 

2. Learning About Intestines. Speaking of bodily functions, in November we do an Attitude of Gratitude tablecloth. It is one of my favorite traditions. Anyway, Grace has been learning about body parts at school and this is what she wrote the other night

I couldn't decide if I should be happy she's paying attention in science or horrified that this will be on my table all of November. I guess she's right :)

3. Coffee in Church. Ava was thirsty in church last Sunday and really wanted a drink. I didn't want her to leave worship and had nothing for her so I gave her a drink of my pumpkin spice flavored coffee. Judge not?

4. Multitasking When Playing House. Ava loves to play house but my real house has been pretty neglected the last week leading up to the musical so there was much to be done. When Friday hit and Ava wanted to play house again I happily complied and made my job the neighborhood cleaner, allowing me to sweep the floors while playing. I made myself a maid. ON PURPOSE. My twenty year old self NEVER saw that coming.

I hope you had an excellent week!

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

To the Christian in the Secular Work Place

We Christians are an interesting group of people. We leave Sunday church with verbal intention of sharing the Good News but when the awkward unpredictability of culture impresses upon us there is a tendency to flock back to the safety of our own where like-mindedness and God-talk flow freely.

To be around people of shared faith is important. Certainly it promotes the accountability and encouragement we all need in this difficult life. But, it doesn’t do a lot for the building disciples of all nations piece. That requires purposefully stepping outside of our box and into the world around us.

I’m always watching how people do this well because I wholeheartedly believe faith lived speaks much louder than words ever will. I know there’s room for growth in my own life and rejoice in daily opportunity to improve.

When Rebekah said, “I feel Eternally responsible for every word that comes out of my mouth” she had my attention. 

Our lives crossed because she’s part of my daughter’s world. Before my oldest was even assigned time with her she walked into Rebekah’s space and announced it to feel like “home.” The feeling only grew and it left me wondering what it was about this woman that she could make a child feel so secure without any verbal backing to what I privately knew guided her heart.

Opportunity would present for our time to cross. I studied her, although she didn’t know it. Encouraging words were placed all around. Her voice carried with calm except in moments meant to make her people laugh. Grace-filled coupons piled on her desk to remind kids that a mistake doesn’t make them a failure. Life inspiration was intertwined into book lessons. Information gathered to better know each child’s heart created ability to make each moment valuable for the pair of eyes facing her. And they do. Like they can’t get enough.

Rebekah exemplifies love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Fruits of a Spirit they are eating up without knowing it. They look and listen to her and see Someone Good.

And she does it simply by loving people where they are at. It’s their turf. Their questions. Their needs. She’s right there…and it makes the people she comes in contact with desire that confident, joy-filled living in their own lives. What feels like “home” becomes something those with her seek to emulate. Her Guide magnetizes.

Christians in the secular workplace, allow me to tell you thank you tonight. Thank you for creatively inspiring all of us to be more effective in our own lives. Thank you for taking heart the commission to being salt and light. You are growing faith in the faithful and sparking Hope to those who don’t know Him. I know it isn’t an easy task and yet it is the most important thing any of us could ever do.

Jesus always went to people. We must do the same in a way that relates to their experience.

Soon Rebekah will move on to serve God with another in a new way. Bittersweet tears fall but the root of our thoughts we will always be

May we all live by example.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Here we are again at Wednesday. Time marches by way too quickly and God is working on my heart in so many ways. There are so many things I want to share with you but the timing has to be right and this has been a crazy busy week because we are in MUSICAL week. Remember that musical I'm choreographing for school? It is here and I can't even count for you the many ways that I've loved being a part. The new music teacher picked an amazing show and she's done an unbelievable job at exciting the students. To see the fullness of her gifts makes me smile. And my friend Jenni who does the costumes? Besides being crazy talented she's funny, and honest, and real. These are some special women. The kind God puts in your path to accomplish a mutual goal but also to appreciate life and victories. The kind you encourage and share hugs with but also laugh hysterically with when things go awry. And the kids have come SO FAR! Working with them has been a privilege. This whole thing just makes me realize what treasured small moments happen inside big picture goals. I LOVE education and kids and family so. very. much.

That said, busy does not stop embarrassing mom moments so here a few for your enjoyment.

1. Apple Salad Fail. I guess Ava needed a fruit for her preschool class to make fruit salad during "F" week but guess who didn't read the communications? That'd be me. Consequently, I was giving my child her goodbye hug when I heard a totally with-it parent say, "And they need a fruit for the fruit salad today, correct?" Of course they do. Thank God we only live a few blocks from preschool. I went home and got the last honeycrisp apple out of the fridge, returning it before anyone could realize I wasn't with it the whole time.

2. PJ Day. Grace's class was rewarded with a pajama day at school. This is like her dream come true. She LOVES pajama day and rarely gets them. However, she's been having this huge, continual growth spurt lately. In fact, she's only an inch shorter than me but who's counting? Needless to say, she has no pajamas that fit correctly and I haven't invested in any because people don't see them. Her pants-  now capris- work. Unless you are going to pajama day. In the MidWest. In the end of October.  With brisk air. Thankfully Target had buy one get one half off. She was all fashion in fitting wear and my check book celebrated savings. Win-win.

As long as we're on kid school situations on to Hannah.

3. Traveling back pack. Hannah's class took a field trip today. I really have not been home very much lately so some areas of my life that are normally kept tidy haven't ranked priority. My vehicle is one of them and it's pretty much turned into a traveling back pack. So, when Hannah's teacher said she was going to ride with me today a small piece of me died. Thankfully, she's the most gracious lady you'll ever meet so she didn't care. Or at least pretended well :)

To top this off, we were going to an outdoorsy learning experience place. This is the picture of an indoorsy girl on an outdoorsy learning experience.

She was not impressed by the food chain. And, to be honest, I kind of wasn't either. It would really be an unfortunate lot in life to be a decomposer.

3. Pumpkin Seeds. The apple didn't fall too far from the tree when it comes to gross things. I don't like them either. Pumpkin carving, therefore, presents a yearly dilemma. I like the end product but getting there is kind of painful. This year I came up with the perfect solution.

A grocery bag over the hand.

We had adult friends over that evening for a pumpkin carving party and they got a real kick out of this.

Adam openly announced, "I'm judging you." It was the hilarious....but I still contend totally necessary to get the task done.

Hope you had a great week!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Real Mom Confessions: Well Child Check Quotes

I had real mom confessions sprinkled from throughout the week ready to go in my mind when we went to the girls' well child checks yesterday, but the event deserved a post on its own. Oh my stars. Here we go.

1. The Interview. Pediatricians are smart these days. They interview the children instead of asking the parents. This way they are sure to get the full truth. Well, our girls' doctor was asking them the color of their milk lid. About bike helmets and sunscreen and favorite foods and school. At which point Hannah goes,

"What are supposed to do here? Just sit around and talk?"

Excellent. We're off to a fantastic start.

2. The Dentist. Before making a departure from the interview station the doctor asked if they went to the dentist twice a year. People, I take my kids to the dentist twice a year. However, I rescheduled our last appointment because of a scheduling issue. Please keep in mind I take myself + my three spawn all at once. This is not an easy or quick reschedule which upsets my girls because they LOVE the dentist (mad props to my dentist & his hygienists for a job extremely well done) so Grace says,

"My mom won't take us to the dentist."

Somebody. Make. It. Stop. 

3.  Gross Body Parts. On to exams. Grace lays down and the doctor starts tapping her tummy. The girls are super intrigued by what he is doing and their physician is kind enough to explain what the different sounds mean and how it sounds different on different areas of the body. "See, this is the liver," he says, "it doesn't sound the same does it." Now let's keep in mind he is a physician. He's not only good with kids but he's also genuinely INTERESTED in the body. How does my sweet Grace respond to this little learning lesson?

"We learned about liver and other gross body parts in elephants today."

Am I invincible yet? Teachers, you can say she's making a connection all you want but I say we limit verbal connections to a time when we are not referring to the gross body with the DOCTOR!

4. Healthy Breakfasts. Before he's done with the kids the doctor encourages the kids to keep eating healthy breakfasts because they named healthy foods that they like in the interview that Hannah cut off. I was feeling pretty good about that and then this.

"Well, I've been eating pancakes with sugar this week."

Calgon take me away. Did I say that I was feeling good about something?! I lied.

5. Flu Vaccine. Before heading out from this dream visit it was time for their yearly flu vaccine. I told the girls we'd go with whatever they deemed to be most effective- shot or mist. The nurse suggested the mist and both of my older two started whining. Yes, WHINING because they WANTED the SHOT. What in the world?! They both suggested that the mist made them a little dizzy last year and I told them sitting down for a few minutes of dizzy would be better than the horrible-ness of Influenza. Take it from a mom who knows, girls. I think the commentary has ended when my delightful little Ava, who really is always funny, moans,

"Then them will see my boogers."

Whose kids are these? Certainly not mine. Someone call their mother to come pick them up. I'm OUT.

That's our house in less than an hour's time. What happened in your family life this week?

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