Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Make Time to Take Time

Three girls call me mom.  Three want my attention.  Three need my heart.

Yet I am only one.

Every woman that responds to “mommy” to more than one voice knows the gift and struggle this creates. 
How do we be enough for each of them?

I am a firm believer that God blesses us with children He chose us to parent.  There is no such thing as giving us “too many” and He won’t spread us to thin.  When He creates life in the womb He has a perfect plan for us to parent that child in the mix with the rest.
But, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take enormous energy, and even more importantly, intentional focus.

To connect on a one-on-one level takes awareness and personalized investment.
Our youngest is now 21 months...
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Let God Pen The Plan {And SISTERHOOD magazine}

I was in middle school when I first sat down with my advisor, a blank high school course planning sheet, and a book with more classes than I knew one high school could hold.  Ironically, it was the same day that I made flan for extra credit in a course that I already had an "A" in.  Overachiever was a label I wore well and ready I felt to map out my life. 

Never mind the fact that I wasn't old enough to drive or cast a vote.  According to the schools this was a critical step in making sure I took all the right classes to have an impressive college application and make my adult dreams a reality.  Apparently my tween self was old enough for that.

I bought in to my plan hook, line, and sinker, even taking summer PE and geography to fit in the extracurriculars plus advanced placement classes I needed to take to one day be a medical doctor.  And, outside of my physics nightmare where I couldn't figure out where to place the annoying paper cup to make the marble fall into it after working its way through a contraption, landing me after school time in the classroom, it went very well.

During my junior year I applied early admission to my college of choice and was accepted.  Excitement overwhelmed me.  Everything was falling into place.

However, when I started classes on that campus - more mature in my faith and having more self-awareness than that feather banged, pegged jean life planning girl did- I felt God tugging my heart away from the science courses and towards religion and psychology.  What do you do when you don't find joy in the direction you always believed yourself to take?  For me, it meant parking myself on my pastor's couch in a heap of tears with lots of soul searching to do.

That is why I love SISTERHOOD magazine (formerly known as SUSIE).  It's a global community for teen girls that helps them make Jesus the center of who they are and empowers them to live that out in a pressure-filled world.  And, through rubber hits the road articles, it encourages keeping the Holy Spirit a more powerful guide than any thought we have.

This month I'm honored to have an article about choosing your next step after high school graduation entitled "Let God Pen The Plan."

In it, I ask girls to consider if they are doing what's right for them are if they are fulfilling someone else's expectations.  I also challenge them to consider the next step in following God's lead (work, tech, or a 4yr school) and how to pray over location, setting, and size.  Through it all, I encourage them to remember God has a greater purpose for each and every one of them.

Pressure for what we believe to be right for our lives can threaten to drown out the voice of God.  But, as one who followed the path to medical school and turned out an author, I know there is true fulfillment in living out the plan God pens for your life.  And often, it's one we would never dare to dream.

If you have a teen girl, you absolutely need to put this magazine on your subscription list.  Also in this 63 page issue are articles on modest, trendy beauty, being changed by grace, talking about faith with non-Christian friends, making dating decisions, inside looks at Anthem Lights and Kelly Clark, the trust story of how one girl found healing from sexual abuse, and much more all on the face of really cool layouts with an additional online sisterhood component so subscribers can be actively encouraged by the body of Christ. This is one magazine you will be GLAD to have in their hands.

Tween, teen, or adult, God wants all of us.  And, in order to find true happiness, we must always stay tapped in to the Holy Spirit, willing to follow its lead and trusting the Author to write our story. 
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"And The Bride Wore White" Giveaway

I'm so excited about today's ModSquad post that I had to let you in on the goodness so you don't miss it.  My friend Tracie did a brilliant review of Dannah Gresh's "And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets of Sexual Purity" and is GIVING ONE AWAY to a lucky winner.

When Dannah was in the process of writing this updated version I had the privilege of responding to her email and providing her with the information Pam Stenzel and I share with parents and teens in our book about the HPV vaccine. 

I've not yet gotten my hands on a new copy, but I'm sure it's great (like all her books) so make sure to click this link to better prepare for chats with your daughter and/or to gift a girl you love.  There are multiple entry possibilities.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

DIY Thumbprint Heart Decorative Tile

In the midst of staff appreciation I've also been helping out with Valentine's parties in my girls' classrooms.  Last Valentine's Day for preschool I was in charge of treats and I made these adorable "God Choo-Chooses You" cupcakes.  I was up all night doing them but it was totally worth it because I want the kids to know first and foremost that they are chosen by God.  The younger they grasp their identity in Him the easier it will be for them to understand their worth and make wise choices. 

This year I was in charge of the craft.  Considering the children are four and five, I wanted to make something relatively simple that they could gift their parents with and keep for years to come.  After my oldest made an adorable snowman tile with her handprint at her Christmas party, I thought I could use the same concept with thumbprint hearts.

For a sample, I made one with the thumbprint of each of my girls.  The girls wrote the letters and I painted their thumbs and helped them place the hearts. {It does work best if they write the "I," then help them do the thumbprint hearts, and have them finish with the "U" last so it doesn't smear.}

It turned out super sweet and I will put it, along with the one Hannah made at her party, out around Valentine's Day for years to come.  The back is dated and they fit perfectly on little easels. Adorable home d├ęcor. :)

These have got to be some of the cheapest savable crafts in the existence of man.  The tiles were 13 cents each at Menards and we had acrylic paints.  You can date the back with Sharpie.

All of the parents loved them.  A simple craft turned timeless treasure.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Staff Appreciation: Cuisine Theme Style

This week embraces the best of mom hood: thanking God for His love and the gift of our children, helping with Grace and Hannah's Valentine's parties, and paying it forward to the amazing staff in Grace's elementary school with yummy meals for conferences kick off the week before a relaxing family day Thursday.  Blessings abound.

After my last post sharing staff appreciation ideas I received private messages from people wanting to refocus their PTAs to better reward the staff in their area schools.  Surprised and honored, I responded with info on our sign up system and basics on when we served our staff. 

Today completed spring conferences and we did three cuisine themes.


Google translator made the fun signs possible.  Incredible parents who join with us in thanking the staff donated all the food and drink.

Ironically, my co-chair and I are chairing this committee for the first time this year.  I loved sharing that with those who wrote because this isn't something that takes years to master.  It only requires some time to plan, a few trips back and forth on conference/staff appreciation days to make sure everything has arrived and is organized, and a thankful spirit. 

We've discovered that people will flock to help in this cause.  And, as parents, how can we not?  We trust these caring, inspiring people with the little ones we love most and our children grow to adore them.

It also makes me wonder what other schools are doing to gift their staff.  Have you been part of a PTA or personally led staff appreciation?  What did you do?  Or. maybe you are a teacher/staff member that wants to share a favorite?  In sharing our ideas, we can make even better events for the most deserving of people. 

Thank you, school staff!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Where the Silly Becomes Sacred {My Dad & the Super Bowl}

There are three places where I can "see" my dad.  Not just remember him, but actually see him.

One is the Lincoln high school parking lot.  I excelled at locking my keys in the car during those first driving years and one of the many times my dad came to my rescue he said, "Melissa, the average person only locks their keys in the car 2.3 times."  For the record, I think he made that number up because, really, who knows that stat on the fly?  But, I met his info with a little truth of my own.  "I always strive to be above average, dad."  He was less than impressed, and when I drive past that parking spot I see my flabbergasted dad and laugh.

Then there is Prairie Green golf course.  Oh yes, the summer day I showed up to my father-daughter date golf tutorial in flip flops and a spaghetti string tank top.  Not. Popular.  Apparently I was supposed to be thinking more about sports than my tan.  Oops.  However, he quickly got over it and covered my hands in his to teach me the appropriate club grip.  It was the beginning of hours of teaching, laughing, and chatting.  I was terrible, but he actually got a win (he was no golf extraordinaire himself) and I got a nice tan so it amounted to a win-win.  Today I look at those rolling greens and see my dad investing in me.

Finally there is the NFL.  When my brother and I were little he'd hang with us for hours after church, teaching us the logistics of the game.  The time investment was his alone because my mom could care less.  She occasionally dawns a Packers shirt but that is more about annoying me than it is having any kind of team spirit.  We sat around the kitchen counter - him always sitting on the end, always in his dorky zubaz. 

He was a 49ers fan and with each touchdown he'd fly off the stool into a victory dance that looked more like a seizure than any sort of coordinated dance move.  When my brother claimed the Cowboys and myself the Vikings, the dance became a taunt and the smack talk flew.  More hours were logged watching the pigskin fly together than I could count.

And, even though that made kickoff Sunday tough for me after his death, it also became one of the most special places God shifted my perspective because every Sunday during football season memories come alive of cherished time spent together.

When the Vikings fell out of playoff contention, my support naturally went to his Niners.

Today they will play in the Super Bowl.  I didn't think it was possible to love seeing a team that wasn't my own in the game, but I've never been more excited for the title game.  We're having a taco bar because Mexican was my dad's favorite.  Milk Duds and Whoppers will be available by the handful because those were the candies he loved so much that he actually hid them from us so as to not have to share. 

To top it off, I got a package in the mail from my brother.  When I opened it my emotions flip-flopped between laughter and tears.  I can only imagine his smile in heaven. 


In my teen years I rolled my eyes over these loud pants and swore I would never wear them but today I can't imagine anything more appropriate.  Nicely played, bro.  Paired with a black long sleeve T from Santa and beads that my 5 year old bought me at HyVee, I'm ready to fly off the couch into a victory dance of my own.

And, as I do, I will see my dad dancing too.

Today the silly becomes sacred.  Flying pigskin, yummy food, and obnoxious, ugly pants connect us here on earth to my dad in heaven, and I am forever grateful.


Love you, dad

Picked up by Sharing at What I Wore Wednesday.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Fireworks in a Jar

I've been excited about this weekend for quite some time.  It is sure to be filled with many meaningful moments beginning with tonight's science fair.

Last year Grace loved her hand sanitizer vs. soap experiment so much that the first day she could sign up for this year's she had the paper printed and filled out completely on her own, only asking me how I wanted to volunteer. :)  Then, she logged onto my pinterest (Yes.  It's true.  Only a first grader of 2013...) to find a "pretty" experiment.  Thus,

Since Grace was learning some basics about density in school and knew that the heavier stuff went to the bottom, we adapted this experiment to make it science fair worthy.  She formed the question

Which is the most dense: vegetable oil, food dye, or water?

And started in on the scientific method. 

To do the experiment she used a jar 3/4 full with water, a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1 drop of four different colors of food dye.

First she poured the oil into the water.

The density difference was obvious.

Then she added the food dye one drop at a time. The drops slowly sunk through vegetable oil, indicating that they were more dense than the oil.

But once it made it to the water it formed "fireworks"


And then totally dissolved.

This surprised my little scientist who hypothesized that they would form three different layers.

Her discovery was that to form different layers it had to be different density AND different molecules.

Going into polar versus non-polar would be a bit much for a seven year old so I left the teaching there, but an older student could definitely expand upon the chemistry.

At the science fair tonight she did some live demos and excitedly shared all she learned in a cute, girly dress. 

We are so proud. :)  It was truly the perfect start to a family-focused weekend.
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