Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm Undone

By our big God.

I have to admit when I wrote "The Modesty Meltdown: Are Parents to Blame?" my finger shook as I hit post. I was nervous. Not because talking about modesty is taboo. Quite the opposite, everyone everywhere is talking about modesty. The problem is that it is popular to point out how clothes leave less to the imagination each season and how it goes directly against God's heart for how we define beauty. It is quite another to point the finger of blame at ourselves. At we parents who have lost our backbone and, therefore, perpetuated this deeply entrenched, twisted sin that has hurt our culture and brought deep pain into the walls of our homes.

So, I actually stayed up until midnight - the time the post would go live on MODSquad - and, at the stroke of twelve, said a prayer that mothers would see this post through the lens of grace and self-empowerment rather than judgement. And, I asked God to thicken my skin, thinking arrows were soon to follow.

Even though I was sure this truth was one God wanted me to post in the way I wrote it, I was scared.

When I woke up the following morning I was amazed. Emails indicating MODSquad comments already filled my inbox...and they were positive. Words of thanks for the reminder and the community that emerged to encourage one another in their parenting was unimagined. Mothers of boys even chimed in and males entered the conversation on the MODSquad link comments. I saw the number of facebook "shares" mount on MODSquad, Pam's page, and with people cutting and pasting the link. I watched it go through my twitter stream. Priscilla Shirer, whom I quoted, and Dannah Gresh sent messages that they loved it.

And my eyes blurred with tears.

I've written time, time, and time again about how I've let fear stop me {perhaps it's a good thing we're going through Angie Smith's "What Women Fear" for our next Bible Study :)} As I watched all He was doing with the post, I couldn't help but thank Him that I didn't cave and limit the way He intended to use me.

I just finished Priscilla Shirer's "The Resolution for Women." In the final chapter, she talked about the legacy we will leave for our children and their children. Although that can feel overwhelming, the thought that continued to pop in my head is that my legacy will not be determined by one grand action. It will be determined by the several simple choices that I make throughout my day...because my children are watching and the world is reading. What will the message I send write on their/your hearts?

I want to stand boldly for Christ.
 

I don't want to shy away from the gospel because of what others might think. I want to be the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)

And I want to pass that along to my family.


Isn't my new van decor cute?

But if I'm going to do this, I need to trust God. When He places words on my heart, I need to speak with confidence that He has a plan for my words that extend far beyond what I can fathom in my little human brain.

I need to lay my fear at the foot of the cross and watch my God raise it up in ways only He can.

I'm thankful for a God that said see?! to me again this week. I'm thankful we can turn our eyes to Him and He can resurrect in us hope where fear once resided. And, I'm hopeful that when we choose to do this, our way of living would swing back towards Him.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Modesty Meltdown: Are Parents to Blame?


“Mom, did you see her high heels?”

A quick glance to the left reveals a small girl wearing high wedge heels.

“They’re pretty. You can have those when you’re older, remember?”
I think the conversation is over but when we get in the van my kindergartener continues.

“Why can’t we have high heels?”

How do I enter this big girl modesty conversation with a little girl who is still entertained by the Berenstain Bears?

Ava is nearly one.

“What would it look like if I put on Ava’s swimsuit?,” I ask her.

“Silly,” she says with a giggle. “It’s for babies.”

“Right,” I reply, thankful for the recognition. “The same is true for high heels. They look appropriate on older girls, so we are going to wait.”

Later my husband and I go on a supper date. As we wait, a group of young teenage girls walks wearing dresses that barely hit their thigh. My heart silently breaks for them and I begin to wonder how much they paid for such little material when my husband stops my thoughts all together.

“Did you SEE how short those dresses were?”

Shock from a father who wants to protect his girls with everything in him.

Days would pass before I find myself sitting in a meeting. A mother fearful for what her small son will face says, “I can’t believe how provocatively girls are dressing these days.” She’s right and clearly not alone in her concern because the very next day I hear it from another mother in a casual setting. “But, you pick your battles,” she sighs.

True.

“I’d rather deal with that than sex.”

And there lies the rub. If we think these issues are mutually exclusive we are deceiving ourselves...

To finish reading my post, please visit MODSquad here

Monday, April 23, 2012

"8 Great Dates for Moms & Daughters"

This is the name of my fellow purity author Dannah Gresh's book for parents of tween girls.

For those of you raising girls this age, you know understanding and connecting with them can feel complicated. Sometimes the issues they face feel so overwhelming you want to crawl under a rock and pretend them away. Other times their new hormonal swings turn them into a child you fail to recognize.

Yet, this season of a young girls life is perhaps the place where you can make the biggest mark.

Failing to talk with them about the heart issues now is a recipe for disaster. Pressure to drink, have sex, and rebel in a multitude of ways is just around the corner (if it isn't already there). But now she is old enough to have frank fun discussions before she has to make her own choice.

Dannah's book is a GREAT tool to empower you to discuss the critical issues over fun dates with your girls. Her direction will help prepare you to chat about the tough topics in an open, inviting way.



And here's the awesome thing. MODSquad writer Tracie is hosting an "8 Great Dates" series. She's taking her daughter, Piper, on dates and adding a link up so that you can feel bouyed by fellow mothers in Christ on the same journey.

The link up for date one is up, so pick up your copy, take your daughter out, and jump right in!

And, be sure to check back with MODSquad this Wednesday for my post on modesty and parental responsibility!  Good food for thought to accompany this read! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's Cookin'? {& my DIY Menu Board}

Confession: When I was first married I planned to have both sides of our family over for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Unfortunately, I took my mom’s words “Take the turkey out of the freezer a few days in advance” literally and one bad smelling turkey and gross garbage can later I still have PTSD.

On the up side, I threw it out before poisoning anyone and I did make this soup for the first time that night. It instantly became a family fav... proof that every cloud has a silver lining. :)

Since then my culinary skills have grown and I actually love to cook. However, between family schedules, my writing, etc., life is busy and I discovered the need for a visual reminder of what I planned to make. So, I began looking for a cute menu board to accent my kitchen walls. Quickly discovering premade options to be spendy, I looked to pinterest, which, by the way, has unearthed a whole new level of crafty in me I didn’t know existed.

I found several that didn’t fit my style. But, I came across a dry erase “to-do” board that got my wheels spinning and I came up with this.


Didn’t it turn out nicely?!

My kitchen is bright. I LOVE my red walls and the color accents on top of the cabinetry are red, blue, and green so it was fun to bring out blue and green color on the wall.


To make it I simply used a 12x12 black frame, glitter day of the week stickers, scrapbook paper that I already had, and dry erase markers. Before framing the paper, I adhered the stickers. I figured having them underneath the glass would protect them and give it a classier look.

Since we are memorizing a MODSquad monthly memory Bible verse, I created the “enjoy today” box. It’s been a fun way to keep the verse front and center.


I write directly on the glass and erase with a tissue.

Voila.

So there you have it. A peek into my kitchen and the reveal of my crafty side. This cheap, easy, and pretty wall d├ęcor helps me keep track of what’s cookin.’

And for any wondering, that still doesn't include turkey. :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Incase You Need a Laugh

Today I decided to organize my laundry room/storage.

In the process I came across this - which might explain the need to clean. It's practically museum worthy.


When I started laughing the kids rushed in.

Hannah: "What's that?"

Me: "A tape player."

Off I went to help Grace register her American Girl and back I came to this


Hannah: "I don't understand how it works."

Oh, how times have changed... :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

SUSIE



She called and asked me to coffee. With a latte in hand, I took my seat across from her.

“When I’m at youth group or camp I feel so strong. Everyone believes as I do. But, everyday life is so hard.”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard this. Tweens and teens navigating the waters of peer pressure elevated to a new level. Feeling like the last virgin on earth, only person saying no to the parties, etc., they must decide: Will I trust in the fulfillment that comes in through the promise of God’s Word or will I fall for the perceived joy of these earthly choices?

The decision they make will influence the outcome of their future.

Girls travel in packs and talk A LOT. Ultimately, they want to be heard and accepted.

SUSIE magazine to the rescue.

Designed FOR tween and teen girls, this Christian magazine helps them stand up to the rub of culture and welcomes them into an actual everyday sisterhood where they will feel empowered and strong everyday of their life.

So how does it work?

Well, I've written for SUSIE and I can tell you firsthand that Susie Shellenberger has created a very cool magazine your girls should be reading. Inside the pages are contemporary designs, uplifting articles about everyday issues, positive role models, and the voice of fellow sisters in Christ. Then, taking it one step further, they can be part of an online sisterhood. Girls from around the world come together online to pray and encourage one another in modesty, purity, morality, and Truth. Through online forums and prayer, they not only hold each other accountable to Godly moral standards, but they keep each other on fire for doing what’s right. They feel good about making good choices because they have friends all over doing the same thing and reaping the benefit of trusting in God’s will.

And now your girls have a chance to see this awesomeness on the shelf at Walmart!

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see Truth not trash on the shelf as you’re waiting to check out?

SUSIE is in the final round of Get On The Shelf contest. To help make this happen, you can Text 4959 to 383838 or vote using Facebook. You can vote twice daily until April 24.

Soooooooooooooooooooo VOTE!

And, if you have a 12 year old, don’t miss out on providing them this awesome encouragement. I know once my girls are out of the Highlights stage and into middle school this will totally be in our mailbox. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Birdhouse Fun & Matthew 6:26-27

Over Grace's springbreak it was my goal to do some fun activities with the kids. When I saw that the Outdoor Campus was giving away free birdhouses, I quickly fed them lunch and off we went to claim our prize. However, when we arrived, they were gone.

But, my girls are really in to birds right now and I knew that they would love painting some. So, I gathered them back into the car and off we went to a nearby Michael's.

I quickly learned that birds have pretty swank surroundings these days.

Grace chose a bird castle and Hannah a two story house with a picket fence.




Their friend painted an adorable girly flower. And for all you boy moms, fear not, designers have been sure to keep equality in mind. Pirate ship houses were available for purchase as well. :)

The girls had a blast painting them and were off to play house while they dried.

But God tugged at my heart.

There is more to this craft than simple fun.

We just finished our DIY Resurrection Eggs. This was a perfect opportunity to reinforce the Lord's ongoing, ever present love. He didn't endure the cross, rise again, and disconnect from their life. He rose and we are in constant relationship.

A wooden birdhouse to demonstrate His intimate love.

The next day I call them back to the table. We open the Scriptures and Grace begins to read




"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" Matthew 6:26-27


We talk about Jesus' awareness and constant provision for all our needs. Then, they dip their thumb in paint and add a thumbprint heart to the back of their houses as a reminder of His personal love for them.




Before we wash hands I encourage them to think about this lesson every time they see a bird. Since then I've discovered that they see a lot of birds and that they got the message. Hannah runs inside with every sighting and yells, "I saw a bird and Jesus knows all my needs."

Cheap fun (the birdhouses ranged in cost from $1 to $4.99) resulted in a meaningful visual. If you are looking to teach this Scripture to your kids or classroom, this illustration is a powerful, super cute permanent reminder. I can't wait to get their bird mansions posted in our yard!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Play Ball! {Baseball Treats}

We are baseball fans in our house. More specifically, we are Minnesota Twins fans. And, tonight is the 2012 home opener!

Since Grace is on spring break, I thought it would be fun for us to make some baseball treats to enjoy during the game.

Over Christmas the girls dipped oreos in chocolate and covered them in seasonal sprinkles. They were a hit and since oreos are the perfect baseball shape, we are in luck. :)

To make these you only need oreos, vanilla flavored almond bark, and pull 'n' peel twizzlers.


They turned out pretty cute!

You could use any flavor of oreo you like. We chose Berry Burst Ice Cream Oreos. They add some extra "pop" to the vanilla almond bark.

If adults were making them, you could let the almond bark dry and then use red icing to create a more specific baseball lacing look.

But, the girls' smiles show just how much fun we had.



GO TWINS!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

If Social Networking Told the Easter Story



Since Pam and I's newest book for teens is on the impact of media I'd be remiss not to share this wonderful video. A few years ago a similar concept was used to share the Christmas story, but the developer of this video expanded it from facebook alone to include popular social networking options such as flickr, foursquare, twitpic, and text messaging. Everyday we have choices about the media we consume and share. This is an example of social networking glorifying God to tell the greatest love story of all time.

Have a blessed Holy Week, friends. And, don't forget to "share" the Story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In a House of Girls

So after years of praying God made me the mom of girls three times over.


In a house of girls we do lots of dress up


Play house more than I ever dreamt possible, and take the utmost care of our American Girl dolls.

We cook


Spend hours at the dance studio


And accessorize with frilly leg warmers and fun hair bands from our favorite Love Bug Baby Boutique. {Her once a month online auction sucks me in every time.}


Obviously there are LOTS of girly dresses, nails,

And one day we will do make up


Hopefully better than this!

Years down the road weddings….


But for now that is just dress up fun too. :)

Every Friday night is family movie night in our house and my older two princesses


always say to my hubby, “Daddy, will you be my prince and dance with me?”

He obliges.


My prayer is that they find someone as wonderful as him.

God has blessed us richly and we couldn’t be more thankful.

As we work to raise them with a spark for life and love for Jesus, I enjoy writing for and being encouraged by MODSquad (Mothers of Daughters).


This is the life.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do You See Me, Lord?

I stood in a sea of many. The church was filled with people celebrating Jesus’ triumphant entry. And along with the processional were hundreds of church kids walking down the aisles proudly waving their branches.

I knew I was supposed to be in the moment. But my mind was elsewhere.

Jesus, I’m celebrating you day. I ALWAYS celebrate your goodness, but do you see me?

My husband and I were aching to become parents. If there was one thing I’ve always known it was that I was cut out to be a mommy.

But it wasn’t happening.

After waiting and many medical visits, we’d finally seen a little face and strong heartbeat on the screen. We’d fallen in love and couldn’t wait to meet our little guy or girl. Only we weren't meant to meet this side of heaven.

Loss. Heartbreak. Fear of trying again. Hope of a dream fulfilled.

I was there.

And, as I watched the children process, I could only place my heart before God.

Lord, if you choose to bless us with a child, I promise to raise him or her in your name. Blessed be your name.




He would provide.

I can still tell you exactly where I was. Back third of the sanctuary on the left side about four people in from the aisle swallowing back my tears so that no one would see.

But He saw.

He always sees.

Sometimes things don’t happen in our timing. Sometimes God chooses to answer in a different way than we prayed. His plan is altogether different.

But He still sees.

You can fill in the blank with what lays heavy on your heart because we all have something. Life isn’t easy. But, the One riding that donkey sees you today. He saw the heart of every person waving the palms as He rode in to Jerusalem and He sees you now- blended into the congregational crowd and lonely in the quiets of the night.

And, in His design He will draw near, rejoicing with you in times of celebration and tenderly holding you through heartache.

He sees you. He knows every detail of your heart. And, He will die to commune with you.

You might feel like you blend into the crowd but you NEVER will to Him.

And this adds to our joy as we proclaim, ”Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Praise God in highest heaven!” (Matt 21:9)

ALWAYS!

{In light of this Palm Sunday memory, I give thanks today for a God who knows every corner of my heart, the ability to say "Hosanna" translated "save us" and trust that He will in His own unique way through every situation I face, and my girls. :)}

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