Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Challenge to Robin Thicke & ALL the Adults of America

Sunday night there was an award show on.  I didn't know it at the time because, at times, I'm out of the cultural loop and I prefer it that way.  We were snuggled on the couch watching Tinkerbell for the millionth time with our two year old who's currently obsessed.  Obsessed.

Once she fell asleep we placed her into her crib and turned on our new favorite show, Duck Dynasty.  I'm not sure if it was a DD marathon or my hubby replaying episodes off our DVR and honestly I don't care.  It makes us happy, happy, happy. 

Quickly glancing at Facebook, I noticed my stream was blowing up with Miley Cyrus slams and I commented, "There must be an awards show on?" to my hubby who replied, "MTV's." 

Yesterday the comments and posts continued to balloon.  It seemed that every other one was a note of disgust or a repost of one of a smattering of blogs reminding Miley of her value and how we should shower her in love to heal what is broken, both of which I support.

I still didn't watch the performance, but I googled a news story that revealed the obvious lack of clothing and foam finger.   And, I heard about the ummmm..... actions.

I have to be honest that it really doesn't surprise me.  Since when did we believe MTV to be a healthy moral compass?  Did we really expect more from this station?  I'm thinking if you want that you should probably change the channel to Duck Dynasty.  Awards shows have struggled to be "good" for quite some time and when you put someone on stage to sing "We Can't Stop" pure seems pretty much out before it even starts.

Because of my books on teen purity and media influence most would think my commentary would fall in line with focusing on Miley.  As the parent of three girls I get the public outcry concerning the horrible message this sends about how females get value and the problem of young girls following Disney girls gone bad before they are mentally mature enough to decipher when to stop.  It also reinforces my decision to make sure Disney is turned off once the nice animated Doc McStuffins and Sophia the First are done and real people with blood pulsing through their veins are on.

Miley Cyrus is a fairly young girl with a troubled history.  She's long been in the news for partying, modeling with less clothes on than she wore to the VMAs, and accused of stealing.  She is 20.  By the law's standards she isn't even old enough to crack a beer.  My heart weeps for the place she is at in her life because I know when God looks at her He sees more.

I wanted to leave it at praying over her.  I figured enough had been written.  But God nagged at me so much I couldn't sleep with a message seemingly less popular but arguably more important.

My real concern lies with Robin Thicke and all the adults around her perpetuating the message that she is what her body can do and tweet popularity is the mark of success.  He is 36 - a husband and father to a toddler.  And, as my hubby pointed out, "This couldn't have even happened at random because they have to practice for these award shows."

Now my heart officially breaks because this isn't just a problem of Hollywood.  This is a problem in our own homes and communities that we are a part of it.

Adults of America, we can tell the children we love to make right choices until we are blue in the face but as long as take a laissez-faire toward harmful planned activities and think it's cool to promote "twerking" after promising "you and you alone" to another how can we expect them to take us seriously?  We are called to be whistle blowers to the less mature.

Miley's fall is happening one concession at a time but these are PUBLIC actions.  Our kids will miss right from wrong but sometimes it happens immediately under our nose.  What are we going to do? Try to stop them or encourage their fall with silence?

My prayer is that we take this little media stint as a challenge to better ourselves.  Satan's war is waging all around.  We must stand tall and choose better. When the kids are young we have to be okay with being potentially unpopular with a few "no's" to try and protect them down the line.  We need to be select about what we expose them to.  When we know something to be compromising of another's inherent value we need to say I won't participate or watch or promote or allow this because you are worth so much more.  When manhood is in the limelight I pray males will turn away from the scantily clad and tell girls through it that what makes them attractive has nothing to do with their skin and everything to do with guarding their heart.  Moms and adult females need to reinforce this by living this belief out in their own lives so we set the example we pray our girls to follow.  Young boys will see integrity by modeled and want what is good.  Marital faithfulness through both thought and action will ensue.  Godly character will be glorified.

Our hearts must be pure before we can reasonably expect their hearts to be pure.

Adults are supposed to train up the children in the way they should go.  Until we take that verse to heart, live by example, and stop what we know to be unhealthy when we can, all of our daughters will be at risk for buying into the lie that sex makes her special and sons to believe that wandering eyes and gyrating body parts with clothes on after the "I do" is okay because it's "not really" infidelity.

Let's be thinking, honorable adults.  Let's be the whistle blowers we were intended to be.

We can be a part of this change.  And that starts in our own homes.   
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reminder: You have until this Saturday to order your custom KraftyKash bible verse, map, or dictionary pendant necklaces at 20% off with the code she gave special to you, my readers. Think Christmas. Code here

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Meet KraftyKash: Interview WITH a Discount Code for You!

I have a new favorite online jewelry store.  You're familiar with it because I've included KraftyKash pictures in several posts, but after my most recent purchase


(Psalm 28:7 to celebrate my grandma's recent medical news & Proverbs 3:5-6 for a loved one going through a life change)
 
I became curious about the woman behind the custom jewelry that could capture stories inside a pendant.  Each of her pieces, whether it be map pendants, dictionary words, bible verses, or something more give rise to an experience one has lived and makes it wearable.  I LOVE that!

When I messaged Kashoan, the woman who hand creates every order out of the etsy store, she immediately jumped on board AND she was gracious enough to offer all of you a discount code so be sure to catch that at the end!

Have you always wanted to be a crafter?  When did you open your shop?
I opened our Etsy shop in Sept of 2009 with the idea of selling a few random things that I enjoyed creating. I never imagined it would be what it is today. We are truly blessed to be able to do what we do.

Your concept for custom map, dictionary, and bible verse necklaces is certainly unique.  How did you come up with the idea?
I am in love with words. They are so incredibly powerful. I had an old dictionary that belonged to my Great Grandma. That was the first dictionary I used in our business. I like to think that my Great Grandma is looking down from Heaven and is proud of what that dictionary has become. I am not much of a traveler, but I do love to dream of fun places to travel someday. That is where the map idea came from. Bible verses can be so uplifting, meaningful, and sacred. I love making Bible verse necklaces.

Your store focusses on clipping from vintage sources.  What is the magic in the vintage for you?
I grew up in NE around old things. My Great Grandma had an old metal suitcase that was filled with family photos. She would sit on the floor of her farm house and tell us about every picture. Her farm was full of treasures. My Grandma was the queen of garage sales.  We loved "thrifting" with her in Colorado.

What has been your favorite custom gift to make and why?
We have made so many special custom necklaces for some amazing customers. Each piece has its own unique story. 

Allow me to interject here, friends.  I asked this question because I've been so deeply touched by her jewelry that I wondered if she had any "stand out."  If she did, I knew it would be amazing. That said, I can see why she can't.  Besides the two special gifts above she made the necklace my hubby gifted our daughter Grace with at the last All Pro Dad that was packed with symbolism.



Seriously.  I cried.  And Family First found the story so powerful I received an email telling me they shared it with everyone there.

Or there's my confirmation mentee's life verse


That I gifted with a note about remembering and using it to rise above teenage temptations and walk in His grace.

And when one of my best friend's graduated nursing school after rising above teen parenting odds



I gave her the verse she used as a focal point when she was a young girl about to take on the new title of mom along with a letter about how she has shown the rest of us to live the verse out.
 
My mother-in-law selected the word "roots" as her word of the year we ordered that
 
 
And then each of us included a letter saying why we are grateful they chose to lay their roots in the same city we live.
 
 
 
 
That I just wore again Monday when the new dance year started up.  Grace and Hannah currently dream of becoming dance teachers, making their love of the studio profound and my time there a gift.  Some mamas are baseball moms, or soccer moms, or basketball moms, or band moms and wear their colors proud.  My pride rests in a delicate pink, white, and black.
 
This is, of course, just to name a few.  I've ordered more, but you get the idea.  What you love, messages you want to send, hope you want to share.... it can all be put in these necklaces to cherish forever.  Now we'll resume the interview.  I just didn't want her sweet humility to get in the way of seeing how incredible she is. :)
 
What do you most hope to accomplish for your customer with each order?
We want our customers to love their jewelry. It means so much to us to know that we are making a difference in someone's day with one little word, map, or verse.
 
How can people keep in touch with you?
For the latest updates: www.kraftykash.net
Retail Therapy: www.kraftykash.etsy.com
Follow me on Twitter: KraftyKash

Facebook Fan Page
 
Are you totally in love?  I know.  I'll stop the interview so you can ditch my site for hers and get something great. :)  AND, while you're there be sure to enter the discount code AUG20 at checkout for 20% off your order. It will expire Aug 31!
 


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Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to School {Pics & Interview}

This morning the kids woke up long before they needed to buzzing with excitement for a new school year.  Before my husband and I could even get out of bed, they had heaping bowls of cereal dished up and brand new clothes on.



We painted matching nails last night to sport their room pride.



And backpacks & lunch boxes with their first lunch box love notes of the year were slung over their shoulders.


Grace decided to make polka dots her theme.  Hannah chose Merida because she is so "brave" to go to kindergarten.

Grace will be starting second grade today.  Here is a snapshot of her.




What is your favorite color?  Pink
What is your favorite song? I can't decide between "Hello, My Name Is" & "My Girl"
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A dance teacher
If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?  To fly
What is a super power you wish you had?  To find anything I lost by snapping my fingers
What is your favorite thing about yourself?  That I love God
What is your favorite summer memory?  Going to the pool
What are you most excited about in school?  Meeting more new friends
What are you praying for your teacher?  That she is well when she has her baby
How do you want to let your light shine for Christ when you are there?  By doing what the teacher says

Hannah is all geared up for kindergarten now that she's read Grace's advice.  This is what she had to tell me.



What is your favorite color?  Purple
What is your favorite song? Amazing Grace
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A dance teacher
If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?  To have pixie dust
What is a super power you wish you had?  To sing a song out of my mouth without talking
What is your favorite thing about yourself?  Being God's princess
What is your favorite summer memory?  Playing with my cousins
What are you most excited about in school?  Seeing my teacher
What are you praying for your teacher?  That she'll have fun with us
How do you want to let your light shine for Christ when you are there?  By sharing with other people

It does my heart good to know that these two sweethearts are going to be in the same place



Even if it means a huge transition for me.  The last time I was alone with one kid most of the day was over six years ago, which means another forced refiguring of my time.  Theoretically I'll get five afternoons of writing and I'll be able to give Ava the one on one time she has rarely had. 

Transitions...they usher us into new sew seasons of life and keep us honed in on Him.  A gift to say the least.
 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A 7 Year Old's Advice to an Incoming Kindergartener

When Grace was entering kindergarten I wrote her a note as encouragement for her and therapy for me. :)  She was my first babe to leave for school and I struggled with it....until I quickly saw how much fun she was having inside the walls of our incredible school.  Now, with girl number two starting kindergarten this coming Monday, I invited Grace, the "seasoned pro," to guest post a message on the blog to her little sister.  I expected things like "always listen to the teacher," "be quiet during munch down minutes," "walk in the hallway" and other rules that when followed make for a smooth day.  What she surprised us with was so much better... 



Hannah,

As you walk through the door in kindergarten and put a happy face on God blesses you.  You will be awesome at what you're doing even if you have to try again.  God looks at you and says, "Keep trying.  You're doing great!."  You will keep trying.  You can do it.  You're a nice, kind, and intelligent girl.  You'll learn and succeed.  If you say, "I can't do it," can't isn't going to help you at all.  Look with God's eyes.  He says, "You ALWAYS will achieve."  You will make it through the day, month and year.  So keep moving on and do your best.  When you come home from kindergarten say, "I did it.  God made me a great person."  You can do it.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
 Grace

Yep.  I cried.  A beautiful reminder of who we all are in Christ through the eyes of a 7 year old. 

Whatever season of life you read this in, be encouraged.  And, Hannah, know that we will always be your biggest cheerleaders. 
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How the Academic Calendar Changed My Parenting Perspective

 
When my oldest two were a toddler and newborn people often took the liberty to share the classic mom line, “Don’t blink.  You’ll miss it.”  I thought they were crazy.  Quite frankly when juice was spilled for the millionth time, cheerios were crushed on the floor, diapers were removed by tiny fingers in the crib, and overly tired little people turned into crying bears I wanted to miss it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved my time with my children but I yearned for less mess and more normalcy.

They continued to grow and we excitedly welcomed girl number three into our home.  Or, in other words, more of the same crazy sleep schedules and untidiness.  Obviously it wasn’t all the time but it is a normal phase of motherhood that can’t be pretended away.  Children aren’t born into the world neat little individuals with particular concern for keeping life tidy and parents happy.
Stretched, I learned to breathe through it and even laugh at the disarray.
Tonight girl number two has her kindergarten back to school night.  First day of school clothes are picked and supplies are properly labeled in their new backpacks.  Next week we’ll take part in a back to school ceremony and the educational schedule will be back in full swing. 

And I find myself feeling a big lesson before they even enter the classroom.

Find out what it is & enjoy more back to school lessons in August's MODSquad

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Our Last Summer Hurrah

We just returned home from a relaxing weekend at my Uncle Brian's.  He lives near a beautiful lake and each summer we cherish a weekend of paddling around in the canoes and kayaks.



Because of strict rules on this little lake, there is no wake and on a perfect day the water ripples shimmer like diamond dust.  Warmth melts away stress.  And paddles bring out the perfect opportunity for adventure and fun.  Just ask my two grown uncles who I caught in a little water fight.  :)



This year Grace and Hannah asked Brian to add fishing to the agenda.  Having never gone fishing before and true girly girls - as in cry over bug and ant sightings kind of girls - I was fairly confident this wasn't going to end well.  It conjured up images of the young me being so appalled by the idea of touching worms (which hasn't changed) that I put plastic bags over my hands, leaving my dad down right horrified.  He rightly wrote me off as a lost cause and we didn't return to fishing again. :)  I was totally okay with that.

Needless to say, when their big morning came I decided to go along.  Not because I had any interest in participating, but because I wanted to photo document this first.  It's my motherly duty and, quite frankly, I thought it was going to be pretty entertaining. 

Brian's rule was that an adult would bait the hooks (thank you, Brian, for saving them from injury and Charlie for ensuring that Brian wasn't the only one on this task) but they could pick the worm if they wanted.  I was shocked.  They touched them.  And, they sat patiently waiting for a fish to bite.  It was like a miracle.  I sipped my coffee and snapped photos in utter disbelief.       




After only a few minutes Grace had her first catch. 

 
It was a fairly sizable large mouth bass and later she caught something big enough to literally make her shake while trying to reel it in before the thing broke her line and stole the opportunity to meet face to face.

Hannah sat there like a pro and had two escapees get away before she could raise her hook above water, but she loved it nonetheless and spoke endlessly of next year before calling it a day.


I still have no desire to bait a hook and I'm not a fish eating fan.  But, I loved every second of watching the excitement in our little loves' eyes when the bobber would begin to bounce and the moments dangling feet over the dock and whispering conversation.  That was precious and something my husband and I will totally go for year after year.

The tiny tot didn't come down to the lake, but she played with the dogs and tried to enter Charlie and Kevin's basketball court and laughed with her cousins in grass green.  And, when evening fell, her dirty feet told the story of a day well lived.


One of adventure and chasing all the possibility a day can possibly hold.  A day we all lived and loved.

Tonight we reinstituted the school bed time routine.  Tomorrow morning Hannah meets for her one-on-one with her kindergarten teacher.  How is that possible?  Bookbags are packed and first day of school clothes are ready.  I find myself resistant to the change.  I'm loving this summer with them. 

But maybe, just perhaps, this fishing adventure prepared my heart a little bit more for Monday the 19th.  There is a season of new discovery ahead of them and I can't wait to watch the excitement unfold before their eyes.
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Using a Food Diary to Lose Weight & Balance Meals

A little over a month ago I went to my doctor for my physical and found myself frustrated by the stable weight on my chart.  Despite my workout efforts, I wasn't seeing the number change anticipated.  Upon expressing that, she lovingly suggested that I check portion sizes to better accomplish my goals.  It takes an amazing woman to be able to say this in a way that keeps patients on the offense rather than placing them on the defense.  She rocks.

While some in this situation feel called to weight management systems, paid for products, and shakes, that just isn't me.  I knew if I wanted to grab hold of better health for myself and my family I wanted to be as natural as possible.  After all, God created me and He created sustenance.  Clearly there is a way in His design to balance them well.  :)

So, I downloaded the free My Fitness Pal app (I briefly mentioned a few weeks ago) that my mother-in-law told me about

 

and let the math and science nerd in me live in its glory.  Immediately I found myself grateful for the calorie count and food chemistry info and let me tell you why....

It quickly became apparent that I was greatly overdoing my calories on some days causing my body to want to grow and drastically under-eating calories on other days confusing my body into thinking I was going to starve it so it should hold on.  There was no consistent healthy window for my body to experience normalcy (and lose unhealthy pounds).

This was an eye opening revelation for me.  With increased awareness, I found myself better pairing meals together.  I haven't eliminated anything.  I've only shifted around some side choices.  And, when I come in under calorie, I dig into the ice cream without guilt!

The scanner makes for a dorkishly fun little toy to add in my foods, which is the only downfall.  It does take consistency in putting in your food and drink to be effective.  But, my mama always taught me that everything worth while takes work :)

Because I'm the primary meal planner in our house, everyone has benefitted from the awareness.  They're eating even healthier more rounded meals and I feel better about the influence my meal choices directly have on their bodies.  Plus it has fostered some good discussions with my girls, who are twigs.  At their one notice of my using the app and mentioning calorie intake, I was gifted with the chance to explain that we shouldn't be afraid of calories because our bodies need them (may that serve them well in the future when society tries to impress its version of beauty onto them), and, since God calls our bodies temples we simply need to try to choose healthy foods to care for the one body The Lord gave us.  That message is re-emphasized in my working out and lack of scale ownership.  It's not about a number.  It's about healthy habits.

Needless to say, I was still curious if this effort was making an honest difference.  People were commenting that I'd looked like I lost weight and without any immediate doctor appointments on the horizon I stepped onto my mother-in-law's scale and guess what?  In just 3.5 weeks of using a diary I dropped to a weight lesser than my chart has shown in three years.  Yes!

If you find yourself feeling like you're eating well and living right but not seeing the results or maybe you aren't even trying to drop weight but just want to eat a healtheir diet, I would encourage you to try a food diary.  The awareness and documentation will help you create balanced meals and treat your body in a way that better glorifies the One who created it.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Peace Like a River {at Palisades State Park}

Friday we packed up the minivan and headed for some family relax time at the Palisades State Park Group Lodge. Literally sitting on the river, this cabin allows for the best version of camping you'll ever get me to do while enjoying the constant hum-drum of the peacefully flowing river. 



 

On evening one we sat on the deck for a game of Tell Tale and soaked in this scenery. 




The great and powerful hymn "It is Well" sprang forth in my heart because of the surroundings- "When peace like a river attendeth my way..."  Yet it was the second line my heart recognized by circumstance- "When sorrows like sea billows roll." I knew I wasn't alone.  We are a family united by a common thread of transition at the moment where the weight of earthly stress weighs heavy.

I wondered what God would be up to.  How new memories would mold outlook and how perspective would influence the heart.

All twelve of us claimed bedrooms, blessed with space large enough to commune and quiet enough for a little alone time when needed.  Each night the different family units made a meal and together we came around one table to eat.  During the day, my sister-in-law manned the oh so tasty "fat kid dips."  We played Yahtzee on the porch and teased my mother-in-law for dating the scorecards (which, impressively enough go back to 1995), the kids threw countless games of horse shoe, foosball was ongoing in the house, and hikes were happening in abundance.  The adults reclaimed our youth and ran around the property for family tag.  And, on the huge adjacent lawn we came together for a family football scrimmage.  With five kids 7 and under that involved a lot of redirecting running rotations on the field and I may have taken a huge crash resulting in a battle wound trying to outrun my brother-in-law because I'm just a tad bit competitive wink but adding this new activity to the yearly gathering conjured up images of fun opportunity as the children age.

It doesn't get much more simple or joyful than this.

At night fall chairs were gathered in a circle and my father-in-law prepared the fire.



S'mores delighted our tastebuds and darkness made way for dreams to be spoken, stories to be shared that made us laugh so hard we cried, and most powerfully, hymns to be sung.

"With thanksgiving, I'll be a living Sanctuary for you..."

Our heads hit the pillow exhausted and our hearts grateful with anticipation of more porch discussions, games, and fun to be had.  So much so, we noticed, that we never even felt the urge to leave what was afforded to us in that space.

When the yearly talent show arrived, we crowded onto the wrap around couch pumped for what was to come.  Each year brings with it new skits, dances, songs, raps, unfolding of the family history, etc.  But perhaps most beautifully to me was how my mother-in-law ended this year's.  She's been known to invite the family into creative activity, like the family tapestry, and this year she chose an Emmaus walk.  Pairing us in twos, we went out assigned three points of discussion.



Partnered with my brother-in-law Joe, I walked the trail in capris.  Those of you who know me well know this is an act of faith in itself.  I don't dig getting up-close and personal with nature, particularly without the aid of long pants, socks, tennis shoes, long sleeve shirt, etc. to distance me from the bugs.  If you were to ever see a girl outside in the summer that looks seasonally confused, it's probably me, and that's a long shot because I don't make habit of doing it often.  I really, really don't like bugs.

But, I followed Joe's suggestion in faith all the while talking faith.  Along the way I was captivated by the creation, magnifying God's power and reinforcing the gift that comes in being His.



 


It was like I, we, could all look around and hear the Jesus say, "I got this."  Rest.

There is no struggle to big, no transition to great, no dream to impossible for the One who gave us each other and leads us forward.

Thus, I left this morning genuinely feeling all was well with my soul.  For when we give the Lord our hearts and rest in simplicity without the distraction of everyday life and work, refreshed perspective follows.

If you find yourself weighed down, I encourage you to take a break with people you love.  It will fill your cup.

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