Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New For You

Friends, do I have good news for you!

It's my goal to make every post readily available to you and since I only post as God prompts, the timing in which new posts appear varies.

But now you don't have to miss a thing.

I've added SUBSCRIPTION options to my blog!  You can choose the email option, where every post goes directly to your inbox, (I subscribe to all my my favorite blogs this way!) or subscribe via the RSS feed.  Both of these options make it easy for you to see EVERY post without check backs...and who doesn't like that?!

To subscribe, simply select your choice option in the upper right hand corner of this screen and fill in your info. 

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Young Lady, Stand Strong

Teenagers today are growing up in a culture of shifting sand.  The issues that face them and standards for popularity threaten divide between the friends around them and personal commitments to their God.  So, this is what I want all young people to know. But, today, it is written specifically from the female perspective for Mattea, my confirmation mentee who on this day chooses to affirm her own faith in the Lord.


It seems like just yesterday that I sat in your living room for the first time to celebrate your first birthday.  You were a diaper wearin' girl most excited by frosting.  As you grew, sources of excitement changed, and pretty soon make-up was far more thrilling.  I'll never forget the day you stepped out into the grass with eye liner on.  Not only was I shocked that you seemed to go from girl to young woman over night, but I was also dumb-founded as to how your generation skips the awkward faze we went through and goes right to gorgeous.  Maybe it has something to do with the feather bangs and big-framed glasses that are no longer in.  Just a guess :)  Needless to say, when you asked me to be your confirmation mentor it was a call I didn't take lightly.  You matter and what you do with this faith that was easy to live out in youth group now past while too young to fit into the adult circles makes this a critical time.  From our conversations, I know that you have great plans to continue active in the faith and for that I am thankful.  But, as our "required" time draws to an end, I want to leave you with this....

When you parents seem "uncool" and totally old school, remember to honor them (Exodus 20:12) because they can see years beyond you and each "yes" or "no" is made with protective love that will serve you well down the road. 

When you get behind the wheel by yourself or with friends, treat that machinery with care.  For your body is not your own, but a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and one ding of a text or distraction from a friend could place it in jeopardy. 

And, if ever you're with those friends and alcohol or drugs make an appearance, remember that your faithful God will never let you be tempted beyond what you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:12) and turn the other direction.

If a boy you think you love ever treats you unkind or pressures you to cross boundaries you know you shouldn't, remember that a Godly mate will love you like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25) and walk away. QUICKLY!

When mean girls mock you or tease behind your back for the choices made above, let them go and find someone more like-minded, knowing that you're always hanging with a Perfect Friend so faithful He would lay His life down in your name (John 15:13).

Undoubtedly, you will mess up along the way.  We all do. But, rather then covering it up I beg you to fess up to our God of grace who with repentance makes you as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) and daily gives you new opportunity to walk in His will.

Pray your way through each day, trusting that the Spirit will intercede for you (Romans 8:26) when the words won't come.  This will keep you constantly in tune with Him and help you when temptation or calamity strikes.

Because ultimately to confirm Jesus as your Lord means to verbally submit to Him as your master (2 Corinthians 4:5). He should have power over you and the goal should be that every detail of your life obey and point towards Him.

And, through it all, remember that He has given your life a special purpose (Jeremiah 29:11) and through your life verse (Philippians 4:13) you can see that glory come to fruition.

I had it made into a beatiful KraftyKash necklace

So that you can wear His promise and walk in His power.

Young lady, stand strong.  Know that my prayers are with you.  And, always feel free to dial my digits or those of another faith-filled adult. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Family Journal

She came home from school and dropped it on the table.

“What’s this?,” I ask, smiling at her artsy handwriting.
“It’s a family journal,” she responds matter-of-factly.  “I write it in it at school and then the family member I write gets to write me back.”

Before I know it she’s out the door riding her bike and I turn my attention from the laughing seven-year-old girl out the window to the purple spiral bound notebook on the dining room table.  Inside I find a sweet note along with a humorous reminder that she doesn’t have school Friday…you know, in case I forgot. J

Who knew a 17 cent notebook could produce such joy?
From an incredible principal and office staff who not only keep track of but genuinely love our kids to top notch teachers who daily inspire our children, I can see God’s hand at work in her school.  And this journal is confirmation.

Ongoing written work to develop her writing is enriching our family in the process.
The frequency with which the purple journal makes its way home seems to increase.  Unique to the rest of her work, she takes it out of her bag and very obviously places it on the dining room table each time.  It’s the silent check this out, mom message.

So far I’ve read things as enlightening as did I know a spider had eight eyes complete with a diagram highlighting where they were located to priceless messages

That make my heart smile.
Grace loves her first grade teacher.  I’m forever thankful for her.

Because her inspiration has birthed new communication in our home that will extend many years beyond elementary school.
Obviously face to face communication with our children is most desired...

To finish reading this post visit MODSquad 

Monday, October 22, 2012

When Your Plan Tanks & the Day Seems Ruined

The email was sent early last week complete with bolded points for travel arrangements, hotel and dinner reservations, and conference details.  Some might call me uber Type A.  I prefer “organized.” J

On Thursday, when the first vehicle for my group left, I was confident they would know where to be, when.  I was a part of the Friday crew with additional personal plans to meet Sheila Walsh Saturday AM.  Everyone’s I’s were dotted and T’s were crossed.  This Women of Faith group leader was prepared.
As I packed my bag, I reviewed the girls’ schedule with my hubby and double checked emails for my staff appreciation PTA co-chair role as well as room mom responsibilities for my two school age girls.  This is what planners do.

After an incredible first night of worship my head hit the pillow late but raring to go for Saturday.  My mom’s cell phone alarm was set.  My girls’ favorite Gigi book was in my purse.  My spirit was eager to absorb the conversations and messages to come.
“Melissa, wake up.  It’s 7:45”

Though still completely groggy, my adrenaline threw me into panic mode and I flew out of bed.  A phone alarm fail plus comatose-like sleep due to the absence of my teething baby left me fighting for time.

Booking it to the Xcel Center at a pace that could seriously have won me Olympic speed walking gold, I hoped against all hope that Sheila would still be there.  But, when I arrived, all I saw was empty space.
I melted down the wall and buried my head in my hands - warm tears of shock, sadness, shame, failure streaming down my face.

HOW could you have done this?  Sheila personally made a plan with you and you didn’t show.  Why did you rely on a phone when you could’ve gotten a wake up call?  How can you effectively plan for others when you can’t even get all your own scheduling right?  You failed yourself, Sheila, and your kids.  Opportunity over.
“Melissa?”  The voice of my friend Jess surprised me and my cheeks pinked up with embarrassment.  I was, after all, a 30-something woman crying by the elevator.  Classy.

My mind raced as I searched for words to explain myself.  After nine years of taking groups to WOF, I've come to describe Sheila like an onion.  Each year she peels back more layers of her story, growing sweeter in the process.  Initially I appreciated the way her powerful messages and unique ability to envelope the broken-hearted in God’s grace resonated with me.  But, since that time, I’ve become a mother to three precious girls, and she’s profoundly touched my children.

Her “Gigi: God’s Little Princess” line is without question their favorite and at an age where many girls believe princesses to be ashen, made up characters requiring a “true love's kiss” they KNOW they ARE princesses because they are daughters of the King. 

Every day (And that's no joke. It started today at 7:40am) I watch them pick up the many books and choose the delightful DVDs, growing in self-confidence as Gigi illustrates God's powerful, unfailing love for them and perfect plans for their life.  The crisis pregnancy counselor in me is thankful for this clear understanding long before mean girls use bullying words and wayward boys try to murmur selfish sweet somethings in their ears.  My girls know they were made with care, are treasured beyond measure, and can be confident that His way will always be the best way largely because of Sheila's kid-friendly stories.  How can a mother fully thank for this priceless positive impact on her child’s present and future?  My sentences weren't yet formed but I was excited to move beyond electronic correspondence and finally meet in person to give it my best shot.

Sheila has been a gift to our family.
Jess, filled with grace, needed no explanation.  She only told me she’d gotten in Sheila’s line, spoken with her, and Sheila said she'd meet with me later in the day.  Eventually, I made my way down to the floor and in a very dignified way walked confidently over to the side hid myself between someone’s stroller and a garbage can along the wall.  The rule follower in me was certain security would haul me off.  This is so not going to happen.  Get back to your seat.  You failed, remember?

The buzz of my phone directed my eyes to a message glowing bright on my phone.  It was Sheila telling me to meet her stage left.  Overwhelmed by her kindness and added effort, the salty tears resurfaced.
Our moment came

And I humbly apologized. 

“I feel like I stood you up for a date.”
Her warm laugh was quickly followed by a hug and conversation about our children, the value of young ones getting such critical messages in their early years, and Barney.  Appreciation for this everyday woman with an amazing gift grew as we continued to chat female to female, mom to mom.

“It’s probably a good thing it turned out this way,” she added before parting ways.  “It gave us more time together.”

She fulfilled my girls’ wish
(Can you tell this book has been well loved on?)
And I gave her one more hug before returning to my assigned seat. J

As I sat down, I silently acknowledged the Lord who'd hit me over the head with a two by four.  I got it.

We women strive to keep our lives, households, school and volunteer obligations, work and ministries in order.  And, when something doesn’t go as planned, the mentally destructive self-talk tape cues with lies that we’ve messed up beyond repair and all will cave in.
But will we continue to plunge ahead in our own energy, devastated by each mis-step and negative thought?  Or, will we loosen our grip, let Him take the lead, and consider it from the Lord’s perspective?

My plan tanked, I thought.  “My plans are better,” He whispered.  “Look at the gift I just gave you.”  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What Have We to Offer?

It was a day my oldest had been anticipating for months.  MindCore, a set of 100 challenging questions per grade level, was underway.  The kids had studied hard and today was their day to show off all they had learned.
Proud of my girl, I gave her one final surprise at the breakfast table

and she went out the door with her daddy proudly wearking a dress and glitter shoes.  

Shortly thereafter, I entered the parking lot, half groggy from a night of sleep that amounted to a glorified nap thanks to our teething baby.  Searching for the best place, I completely circled the lot before admitting that the best spot was in fact the furthest spot from the school.
With my coffee in hand, I stepped out of the van and was stunned at the site before me.  The brisk air swept across my face, sending a shiver down my spine, but somehow my feet still couldn’t move.  I was blown away.  Vehicles everywhere.

When I made way into the gym, over a hundred folding chairs were lined up with volunteers ranging from parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, the area superintendant, a news anchor, and police officer in uniform, sitting one-on-one across from toothy, grinning children, excited to share all they had learned in hours outside their school day.
Quickly finding a seat, I had my first student along with her questions and answers (and let’s just thank God for the answers.  I seriously felt like an idiot when I realized how much these elementary school children knew that I, admittedly, did not).  That chair would rotate with students who knew them all to ones who were confident an answer was coming and would repeat it until it did.  There would be kids that astound me in their methodology to little ones who would make me laugh through facial expressions and answers.  Come on, “Don’t punch someone in the face” in response to “what is the golden rule?”has got to make you chuckle. J 

Before I knew it the principal was reporting that all 600+ students had individually shared their knowledge and the volunteers were free to go.  A few hours later I would pick up Grace and the entire ride home she would talk about “the girl in charge of all the schools” (superintendant) being there and the mayor of our city.  She was puffed up with excitement about knowledge.  Then I opened her family journal (first grade sounds) to find this- “Today was an exilent day. We got to see the mayer and I got all the MindCore questions right including the bones quistons.  We got a cookie…I’m glad you came for mindcore.” 
My exhaustion seemed to lift and I silently gave thanks to a God who reminded me through a packed parking lot and loud gym (not always two of my favorite sites) and young girl’s writing that we need not be selfish with our time.  Yes days are busy and schedules are packed, but He has given us gifts to share with others and if it is a calling from the Lord He will most certainly make space in our lives and energy in our spirit for it to happen.

I can’t help but believe that ALL those kids went home more confident in themselves after being championed by loving adults who realized their time wasn’t their own, but God’s.  A small chunk of time that could have ripple effects on the future.
Are you tired today?  Trust me, I get that.  I spent last night in the chair with that same teething baby again.  And am I advocating that you say “yes” to everything and run yourself dry doing works for the Lord?  No.  There is risk that doing too much “for Him” will take our eyes off of Him.  But I am saying to think about your gifts, your passions, your loves, and bring them to God trusting that He will give you all you need when He nudges you to use your uniquely given strengths.  He didn’t give them to us to hoard.  He enabled us with them to build each other up and create stronger community.

Enjoy giving, friends!

Shared at Titus 2sdays

Monday, October 8, 2012

If Teens Know Their Values, Good Choices Will Follow

Just a friendly reminder that free shipping for Nobody Told Me and Who's In Your Social Network ends this Friday

Don't let your child be the one to say, "Nobody told me.  I didn't know this would be the consequence" in relationships or with social media. 

The choices they make today will affect their tomorrow.

Your free shipping code is BACKTOSCHOOL!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Eyes of Your Heart

This week our baby girl started closing her eyes

And doing this.

As my heart burst with joy, I was reminded of why it is so important...such a close off our vision to what is around us in favor of focussing our heart solely on the One above us.

Sometimes I forget this Truth.  I center in on life circumstances in front of me that, at times, leave me frustrated or, or worse yet, defeated.  In doing so, I sacrifice tapping into the inner strength made available to me through His promise.

And I want the abundant life, don't you?

Power and energy greater than anything I could ever accomplish in my own strength.

Lord, may I close my eyes to the world more often and better see my life through your lens.   

Shared at She Shares
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