Thursday, July 31, 2008

Okay, big downer, bills. I mean I'm a big Dave Ramsey fan. We follow a budget, well we try to anyway. I do my best, but it's difficult. It seems right when I get in a groove of paying everything down, I need a cat scan or something unexpected. Brain is fine, by the way.

Well, those of you facing the first of the month bills.... I understand. Keep up the good work. Of coarse today in my reading was Proverbs 31. The Jesus of women. I just can't compete with that lady... I have no fields to buy with all my extra earnings today. I have a few hospitals to call to ask if a payment plan of.... $10 a month sounds good..hee...hee.

That's all, I need to sulk for a minute. Anybody need a faithful van to buy? I have one. Ella named her star. She's looking for a good home.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Favorite Place

Proverbs 30:8,9
Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

I have a friend who was sharing her difficulty reading her Bible regularly. It wasn't until this year that I have really gotten into a good habit of reading scripture. The difference for me was having a pretty place that I could curl up in and read every morning.

The picture above is "my chair." I can say to the kids, "would you get my glasses that are on my chair." They know just where to look. Remember back in the day when men had their Lazy Boy? Maybe they still do, but this is my chair. It's huge, so I really snuggle up. If you notice above, all my children can fit. It has a favorite quilt, and on the night stand is a basket of my books, a lamp and my glasses. It's a place my kids see me reading and praying every morning. Sometimes I'm up before them, sometimes I have prepared their breakfast and I'm sitting there watching them eat and reading(it faces the dining room). This summer I have gotten up with the kids, I will soon be setting the clock again and getting up before them.

I was convicted this past year that I was more faithful to my morning cup of coffee than I was to spending time with Jesus. I am totally spoiled by my husband when it comes to coffee. Every morning he makes the coffee, mixes mine just how I like it, and brings it to me. I don't even know how I best like my coffee. When I try on my own it's just not as tasty. That said, I don't have my first drink of coffee unless I've read some scripture. That is legalistic, I know, but it has been a rule that encourages me to read the Bible. Many times Jason brings me my coffee in my special chair where I read. It's my favorite way he serves me! Coffee=Love, especially the way it comes to me.

Ideas for your reading spot... Use your favorite things you have. Move them to one spot. I used a produce basket I had for my books, a lamp I thought was pretty, and I did buy a vintage table cloth that had some stains I found super cheap on ebay. I put my favorite decorative pillow, a quilt and my favorite books.

I knew my children understood what the chair was when Jason and I went away for one night for our tenth anniversary. We were walking out the door and Harper looked at my chair and saw that I had left my Bible (Jason had his). She ran to me with it yelling, "Mommy, mommy, you can't forget your Bible for tomorrow morning." Jason was about to tell her we had his, but I stopped him. I said, "you are so right Harper, I would have really missed it." I hope someday she will cherish her own special spot. More than that, I hope she cherishes Jesus.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Feeling Jilted by the Money Saving Mom

Okay, okay, okay, I know I take myself way too seriously, but I'm feeling jilted. Yesterday I made a big step. I posted a comment on Money Saving Mom. It was my first, and I have to say I'm a big, GIANT fan of hers. I tell everyone about her. Even in line at Target. I stopped someone once I overheard talking about Walmart having the best deal on diapers. I told her about my friend, the Money Saving Mom, and that Walmart wasn't the best deal in town. Well, she looked at me like I was wildly crazy, but what good is wisdom if you keep it to yourself?

Well I posted an idea to save money without coupons. I thought it was a good idea. Well, long story, well long. That's all I do. She posted 68 comments, but not mine. I was actually quiet at dinner last night over this. I have actually been checking the comments to see if mine has made the cut. No such luck. A lady that said shop at warehouse stores did, but not me. I'm almost too embarrassed to share my idea. I mean, if it's not good enough for the comment section of Money Saving Mom, why would I subject my two faithful readers to my idea.

That said... I still love the Money Saving Mom! She really is the best. Maybe that's why the sting is so Reader, check her out! Really! Because of her, we now have about 10 tubes of toothpaste, 12 packs of diapers, and don't even talk to me about female products! She has truly saved our family money! So, I may be jilted, but I'm still faithful.

I do have news to report. I was put on another persons blog as a link for the very first time today! The best part, it's not even someone I know. Her name is Kathy, and I feel very proud to have my first official link. If I can figure it out, I will link you all to her. She just had a baby! Hooray....

Here is my list of top ten things I don't have but wish I did:

1. A comment on Money Saving Mom
2. A farm
3. A family member to live close to me
4. A flat tummy (never mind, who cares, I'd rather have my babies!)
5. A big red barn that smelled like hay and has wild kitty's running around (outside Angela)
6. Chickens and goats
7. More naps
8. A deep freezer
9. 5 acres (for starters)
10. A big kitchen for you to come over and have coffee with me!

So I covet farms, can you tell? It's not happening, but if Sharon gets her twins, I surely can have a farm! Right?

Grocery Tote

With all the weddings in our church this summer, it has been tough to come up with a bunch of presents. I have hosted three bridal showers, and attended three weddings. Ella was the flower girl in two. This past wedding had two showers for the bride.

This particular shower was a "pounding" and grill shower. I had never heard of a pounding before I had come to the South. When Jason and I moved down here they had a pounding for us. It was so great. We shared our testimonies and everyone brought a "pound" of something to fill our cupboards. You wouldn't believe how much food we received.

So, I decided at this shower to make grocery bags for the bride. I found the idea of homespun heart. Though hers actually probably come out the same, mine were a labor of love from me. Mine, well, they are all different. Check out her tutorial. It's really helpful. She even offered to help me when I was stuck. Here's how mine turned out.

Keep them close to your heart!

Proverbs 29:17
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.

Someone once told me the difference between discipline and punishment is that one draws a child closer to you and one is a pushing away. When I notice distance between myself and a child after being disciplined I must search my process and see if I was in sin.

This past weekend I really agonized over a particular incident with one of my children. It was clear that the child had disobeyed, but my heart was not at peace. I played the incident over and over in my head. In the midst of it, I asked Jason to help as I was not certain how to proceed. I know I'm speaking in generalities....But I want to be careful not to embarrass my children in this forum.

Nonetheless, my heart was not at peace. Though the disobedience was clear, I needed to ask the forgiveness of my child. I noticed how this child was distant to me and it made me realize that I had punished and not disciplined. When I asked forgiveness and we discussed what happened our relationship was restored.

I don't know if any of this makes sense without details, but I guess my point is that as parents we must be vigilant over our own hearts when dealing with the hearts of our children. We must be ready to apologize for our unkind words and actions. When we notice a child pull away from our affection we must look at our past behaviours with our children and be willing to be wrong. Our children need to see that they have parents that are needy, daily, for a Saviour. Parents able to come to them and the Lord for forgiveness. Parents who say, "I'm sorry, please forgive me." Parents willing to try again next time and not give up on discipline because it is hard.

I love the promise of the proverb....and he will give you rest. Even now, when I am disciplining as the Lord would have me, I have peace. I am also thankful for the unrest I had until I had dealt with my own heart. I'm so glad He isn't finished with me!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I figured it out! I think...

Proverbs 27:15,16
A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one's right hand.

These verses make me laugh every time I read them. Proverbs are full of, well proverbs, about arguementative wives. When Jason and I are in a season of frustration I have asked him if he'd rather sleep on the corner of the roof. Humor is normally the thing that breaks Jason and I out of our funk. Not that these proverbs are jokes, but they do strike me as funny.

This weekend we helped with another beautiful wedding. Ella did great as a flower girl...she's a pro these days. Last night I heard the bride and groom missed the boat for the cruise. I felt so very sad for them, but then I thought of the reality of marriage they are very quickly facing. He is quickly learning the huge range of emotions his wife can express, in a minute.

I remember my first years of marriage. Though they were sweet in many ways, I don't wish to return to them. I am embarrassed by my own selfish behaviors, and I am grateful for the mentors that called me out. I can't even imagine what I'll think of myself ten years from now. I'm so thankful the Lord isn't through with me yet.

So I think I have the picture thing figured out! Let's see....So I can't figure out captions, and I need to stop messing and get to my laundry. So above you will see my Grandpa Homer, my girls and my guys. Sorry, no messy house pictures. It's all picked up now. Even my windows were cleaned. Thanks Jason! I love you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love, Warmth, and What's Important

Proverbs 24:3,4
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

It's Thursday, and I'm a little closer than I was before. My laundry is mostly done, and I actually put it in the drawers. My kitchen is clean, but I need to empty the dishwasher. The playroom is played out, but I'm waiting until the wedding to get it finished. I could chase them around the house with toys, but, alas, they play and I can clean.

This morning we had a dance party in the living room. Dance party trumps everything in my home. It is the stuff of precious and pleasant riches in our house. Story time, snuggle time, dancing, cooking together, eating are where the Lord displays His love through us. My stuff is not fancy, my house not perfectly decorated, but our door is ever open and I hope what can be found inside is pleasant and precious. We offer friendship, love and Jesus.

As I write, Ella is on my left, Harper on my right and Lake keeps coming up to play with mouse, then falling back on the couch. The nearness of the Lord is my good. The nearness of my family is precious.

I haven't given up on getting the house in order. I do think a good system will allow more of the above mentioned activities. So, sweet reader, I will continue this morning. Today, one bathroom, mopped floors, clean kitchen, and more order in the laundry room. And my room, it's much better. Jason helped...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Family Worship

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The whole idea of family worship was new to our family a few years ago. We certainly had an understanding of personal devotions, but family worship time was something entirely new to us.
Once we got started, it has been a great time together as a family. We have done many different things with our kids, and it's never really the same twice in our house.

First, I want to stress that it should be simple, at the level of understanding of your children. Our kids may wiggle and snuggle, so long as they are respectful and listening. For one summer, we made up silly ways to remember the ten commandments. Another time, we read one or two proverbs and asked the kids questions. Currently, Jason is reading a book that tells Bible stories in about a page of narrative. Then the kids have an opportunity to share. Some nights, it's simply picking a favorite song each and praying for family and what we are thankful for that day.

The trouble I see people facing in getting started with family worship is they try and make it too complicated or they feel intimidated leading spiritually. We must understand it to be a spiritual battle to bring such practices into our homes. Also, there is grace for the busy times in our lives that make such practices difficult. To me, it is creating a platform for your kids to ask YOU questions about their faith. A practice to start young and continue throughout their lives.

I have to admit, I have noticed some pride where the issue of family worship is concerned. Just because a family accomplishes family worship everyday, does not mean they are doing the training mentioned in Proverbs. If a 6am meeting is assembled daily where everyone hears scripture, does not always mean the training is happening throughout the day. On spiritual matters, I think we must remain very humble. We must be ready throughout the day to train our children spiritually at play, at rest, and when shepherding their hearts. We must not look at our worship with our families as a check list we must fulfill in order to create faithful children.

I also know several women who feel that they shouldn't be the ones to lead here, and they are waiting for their husbands to step up and do this for their families. In that case, I would suggest praying first for an opportunity to share your heart with your husband. Then, if you know a family who regularly does family worship, perhaps, together with your husband, invite them to you house to show you what they do with their family. Ask them to show you the basics. If it is a family that has an elaborate family worship it could make the process intimidating. I hope this is an area your pastor can give you direction in for your family.

Lastly, just get started. There is no right or wrong way to do this. If you eat breakfast together, read and discuss a verse there. Keep is simple. Remember, the Holy Spirit will encourage you. I would be glad to share the titles and verses we have used.

On another subject.... I said I would post pictures. I can't figure the thing out. Yesterday I tried to post several pictures to no avail. Sorry, you don't get to see my messy before pics. I'll keep trying. I have a bride getting ready here this weekend, so I better get cracking. No pool time for me today.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Feed Your Mind

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

One of the defining moments with Jason was when we were at Uno's Pizzeria. I remember everything about that date. It must have been twelve years ago, but the things Jason told me have forever changed me. It was not profound, but it was a thought I had yet to think. But the moment I heard it I knew it to be true and I knew Jason would be a person to be faithful to what he said.

Throughout the time that we dated, Jason and I played the question game. It's simple, we took turns asking each other questions. We were trying to know absolutely everything there is to know about each other. Remember those days, where sleep wasn't your most prized commodity?

So, here we were at dinner....why do I take so long to make a point? I asked him, something like, what will get your priority your children or your wife. Without hesitation he said, "my wife." With his great love for kids, I was really not expecting that. I thought we were supposed to become all about the kids, right? Wrong.

He went on to tell me what confidence would be gained in a child where parents intentionally loved each other. How the kids leave and grow but a marriage must last forever. It immediately rang true to me, but it is something I had never thought before.

I agree with what he said, but how do we make this happen? Sometimes we do better than others. We are not people who go on a date a week, but our priority is our marriage. That said, we have had plenty of seasons where our priority was very focused on our babies. Especially newborns.

For me, I feel it's a priority to try and grow in lots of ways to stay interesting for my husband. One year a friend and I tried to read through all the Pulitzer prize winning novels. Not that good fiction is something Jason cares about, he doesn't. But it caused my mind to stretch and grow, which he does care about...I am constantly trying to learn something new. I mostly do it through reading. The topics may not be interesting to Jason, but they cause my mind to work.... I want to be interesting to my husband. We do spend plenty of time talking and reflecting on the kids, but it certainly not all we talk about. Have you ever been with a person who only talks about their kids all the time? Do you know all potty behaviours of their children?

Don't get me wrong, I could write page after page about my children. But I agree with Jason, if I want my children to grow in confidence, I will work to grow in my love and respect for my husband. We don't do this only for the confidence of our children, we do it because loving each other well honors the Lord. In our church everyday, I see those relationships that have obviously grown through the years as well as those that have simply existed. I know which I hope for at the end of my life.

Think big thoughts, wear pretty panties, and kiss your husband in front of the kids.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Battle Continues

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Okay, okay, okay, I'm an organizing failure. I get so side-tracked. Yesterday I saw the great deal on picture books on moneysavingmom and I packed my unorganized bags and headed for our local CVS. Which, incidentally, didn't have that killer coupon. No matter, two books with my sweet faces and some ecbs. What? Why, you I trekking to CVS when I said I would clean my room. I don't know.

In bed last night, I couldn't sleep. I decided to get up and finish my crafty chore chart. Because the kids will love chores if they have a crafty way to measure the work, right? Not so much. Maybe if I had a nifty chore chart....No, I just need to stop my sloth. And stop MSM for a day or two.

Day #2. Today I'm going to take a bunch of before and pictures of 3 rooms that really need my attention. The laundry room, play room/school room, and auggg my bedroom. I will post the results...I should put my desk in that list too.... I need grace.

I'm going to be more realistic today. We have our VBS tomorrow, and I have a ton to do so I'm going to give myself until....hmm, what's fair. Next Wednesday. And we'll invite someone over Friday for dinner. Autumn, can your family come? I think you are the only one reading this. You can be my cheerleader!

I will again refer to earlier rules listed below. Pray, kind, play...

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times

Is clutter alive? I certainly feels like it is. It seems to grow in my house, my heart, and my children. Where does it all come from? And what is it's plan. I think it has come to distract, steal peace, and cause me to be weary about hospitality.

My plan this week to get it out of my life and house!

1. Pray, pray, pray.
2. Remember kindness. No frantic, unkind mommy moments.
3. Remember kindness.
4. Take water, potty and play breaks and book breaks.
5. Once the clutter is gone, come up with a plan to keep it that way.
6. Get homeschool room together. More school room, less play room.
7. Spend extended time alone searching my heart for the priorities that have cluttered my heart and distracted my walk with the Lord.
8. Tackle my bedroom. NO more lost laundry in my room..(this will be the hardest for me)
9. Really do #8.
10. Enjoy the freedom of clutter by having a new family for dinner, not to show off, but to motivate me why I'm doing this in the first place.

I really enjoy having families in my home. I love sharing about family worship and talking about issues of the heart around my table. I have gotten away from this in the business of doing so many other things that seem important. In the end, I feel like my ministry is around my table. I need to make this a priority, and I need to say no to the things that I am not called to do.

What clutter has grown in your life? What things are on your calendar out of obligation rather than being led by the Holy Spirit. Who do you see suffering in your life from your overcommitment? Or what? Is your laundry room in chaos, or are you eating out too much because you are too busy? When were you together around your table last? I hope to be there tonight after I fight all the clutter, in my house, heart, and on my calendar.

Lastly, when this is all done... I really want to paint my dining room table black. That will be my reward. It will be my crafty motivation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Best Best Best Birthday Present EVER!!

Proverbs 16:24
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

I received the very best news of my life yesterday. First, let me share some background. I have been a person who loves Jesus for just over 14 years now. The Lord plucked me out of one life and planted me in this new, amazing walk at the end of my high school career. Life has never been the same. Immediately, when I met the Lord I knew I had to tell my grandma. She is a woman who never once preached to me, but she was always showing my sister, brother and I Christ. Do you know anyone like that? She was one of the first I told and we cried together.

Since that time, Grandma and I together have committed to praying for the hearts of our family. About three and half years ago my brother came to Christ. Again, tears of joy. Nothing is better than seeing a heart find peace.

As I wrote earlier, my amazing grandma has had a stroke and been living in a haze of medication and dementia. My grandfather has also joined her in the nursing home. My grandpa Homer is no less dear to me than my grandma. I have not shared about him, as my heart has been so heavy for him.

As we named our first daughter after grandma; we also named our first boy for this special man. His name is Homer Lakes, and we named our son Lake. My grandpa is a generous loving man, but he always made it clear to me that he didn't believe in God. I have fallen asleep many a night crying out to the Lord for the salvation of my grandfather. Recently, during a prayer meeting I shared my burden for my grandfather with my church. I was crying so hard by the time I finished I had to leave the sanctuary. I'm a very messy and loud crier.

Though I know it isn't about me, but I also know how specifically Jesus loves me, my Grandpa Homer prayed to receive Christ on my birthday with my very special Uncle Jim. Jason listened to the message on his cell and turned to me and said, "Kara, your grandpa became a Christian." I could hardly drive for the joy. I had to pull over and stop and call my uncle. Though I have been praying for over 14 years for grandpa, I know my aunts and uncles have been praying much longer. I praise God for the faithfulness of my extended family. I am just beginning to know of the rich faith in our extended family. Truly, the best birthday present ever. I cannot wait to go to church tonight and share with my church family that has prayed so diligently for Grandpa Homer.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Making it through long weeks

Proverbs 12:18
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

For the past five years, every July my husband spends seven days away from the family in Florida taking the youth of our church on a retreat. I know I may sound lame, but it is always a challenging week. I realize some of you have husbands who travel weekly throughout the year. Today, Jason comes HOME!

I turned a corner this year. Though I was busier than I normally am when he's gone, my attitude was much changed. Like I said before, I overbooked this week, but, my attitude was still my responsibility. I really wanted to honor my husband and the Lord by taking loving care of the kids even in my exhaustion.

In my head, (and sometimes out loud), I would say I have exactly the amount of energy to get through bedtime tonight. I may fall asleep one minute after the kids, but I can make it to that minute after bedtime. I continually prayed for dependency on the Lord's supply for my energy and the fruit of the Spirit to show in my life.

When the tests came and the entire camp of children decided to mutiny and not sleep. I was especially dependant. They were keenly missing daddy by day three and me being harsh would not bring sleep any quicker. I certainly failed, but when I reminded myself of the energy being there. I would do much better. The supply of God's grace is often there, but I'm so busy grumbling and complaining that I don't pull from those reserves.

In ministry, Jason will be pulled away at some of the worst times. I could encourage bitterness in my kids by complaining or use it as an opportunity to love on the person in need he is attending. As a family, we can take time to pray for the need he is attending to in our community. If I were in need, I would want the kind words of Jason if I were in the hospital. I can't be selfish with his love.

He is also careful to protect his time for our family. I must also carefully protect my children's high opinion of their father. If I don't feel like our family time is being protected then I need to take that up with Jason away from the children.

I have a friend whose husband is an OB. She is very careful not to grumble when he is called away. Ladies, you know what crazy times these babies decide to show up. But she honors her husband with loving words in his absense. How do you encourage your families when dad is called away?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Build Them Up!

Proverbs 11:12-14
Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Have you ever been in the presence of a friend when one of their children fails to be obedient? How did they handle it? How do you handle it when your children don't obey you in the presence of family and friends? Sometimes I think these particular tests come to us as parents to humble us. We are so busy comparing, contrasting, one upping, that we forget to be the "abundance of counselors," that which proverbs is speaking.

I have seen many a mom snap at children in the presence of their friends out of frustration. I'm not immune to this myself. But the greatest education for me is the look on the child's face after being publicly "disciplined." I see embarrassment, shame, and frustration. I do believe one of the great challenges as parents is to encourage first time obedience. Oh my, it is a long long road to get there. I have yet to arrive, but I'm seeking it. The fifth commandment is honor your father and mother. The first commandment with a promise. I want my children to have long days.

We cannot hope for our children to desire to honor us if we belittle them in public. I am a firm believer that discipline should never, never, never happen in public. If possible, not in front of other siblings as well. Trust me, they all know what is happening in the other room. Take the time to go into another room and deal with their disobedience as the Lord would have you.

If the behavior of your children makes you angry, you must first look at your own heart. Have you avoided discipline until it has gone too far? Are you needing to apologize and ask the forgiveness of you children for not dealing with issues of the heart? Are you parenting in your own strength, and need to more deeply depend on the grace of God? Have you let attitudes go undisciplined, and now you don't know where to begin?

When I realized that I was asking and asking for obedience from one of my children over and over until my jaw was tense and I was full of frustration. I had to first apologize to my child for my lack of dealing with the disobedience early. I then explained that from this point on they would have a consequence for that particular behavior immediately. First I had to repent. And the disobedience stopped and my repentance.

I have a sister who always points out the bathroom in any given public place. She reminds the child that just because they are in public does not mean they are immune from discipline. Most times that is all that is needed. Kids enjoy knowing the boundary. If we set the expectation high before we go in public and praise them generously when they reach it, we will be training that first time obedience their heart needs. Every week before church we have the same conversation about what we expect of our children in worship. It may seem redundant, but it works. At Sunday lunch, we praise obedience and talk about ways we can improve.

I know it may be an inconvenience to leave a room with a child, but remember your child's heart is more important than time with friends. And friends, let's build one another up. Tell a mom when she handles her discipline with grace and patience that you love her. Call a friend today that stays home and tell her two things you have seen her do great with her kids. Let's spend more time in building up one another rather than comparing ourselves to one another.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Help! I can't say no!

Proverbs 10:11,12
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

This week without Jason has been a whirlwind. I have once again over-committed myself. I never intend to do it. When I say yes, I think to myself, that one thing is not hard. So I have a terrible time seeing everything together. Rather, I see only one thing I've agreed to on its own. I need help! This week I had homeschool training (CC), a baby shower, a bridal shower, and no Jason to give me some time to get my stuff done.

I am so thankful Jason comes home on Sunday. I fear he is going to walk in the door and I'm going to hit the ground running to get ready for the bridal shower. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I really do all these things with a joyful heart, I just feel like I'm managing my time poorly. Especially this week without the help of Jason, I realize how poorly I do everything without him. But I look at that last sentence. I also need to be careful to not let Jason rescue me when I'm over-committed.

I hate to say no. I hate to disappoint. But after this week I see how it takes away from my time with the kids when I'm running around doing all the little things. It challenges my kindness when I'm rushed all the time. Fortunately, I have an amazing church that regularly offers help. But my two closest friends at church are like me. You know who you are. All of us stay very busy with the work of church. I realize my work is not my relationship with the Lord, but I still can't say no.

What say you?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ode to Daddy

Proverbs 7:19
For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey....

Okay, Okay, I know. I totally took this verse out of context. Way, way out of context. But I read proverbs with the calendar and today, yes, is the 7th. Today Jason took the youth of our church to Florida to a great youth conference. RYM to be exact in Panama City.

My oldest and I woke before 6 to say goodbye to our special guy. Ella, my oldest, is her daddy's girl. To be honest, all our kids are daddy's kids, I'm a Jason girl myself. Words fail me now trying to explain what an amazing dad Jason is. I understood it, without words, today as I had to carry my weeping 7 year old inside after he left today.

Missing Jason acutely reminds me of the many large and small blessing my husband is to me. I am rich beyond all measure with the love of this man. He makes my coffee for me everyday, he prays for us constantly, the Lords kindness directs him, his affection is constant, his patience endless. My husbands love humbles me and continually shows me the love of the Lord. He wears so many hats: husband, dad, pastor, teacher, student, and I never, never feel second. I could go on and on, but I am so thankful for Jason. I can barely do this for a week without him. I'm thankful the Lord created marriage.

Friday, July 4, 2008

No more nagging! Help for those endless toys!

Hip Hip Hooray Daddy is Home Today!

Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.

This morning I just want to quickly add a practical parenting tip that we are just in the process of starting. I have combined something I learned from Love and Logic with another new idea. I cannot take credit for either.

I hate to be a nag about picking up toys. More than that, I find that it is my oldest daughter that will do all the picking up of toys. Both unacceptable. Before rest time and bed time Jason and I tell the kids, "Feel free to keep the toys you put away." We also give plenty of kid time for them to clean up the mess. You know, clean a minute, play a minute, twirl a minute. We often play fun oldies music while cleaning. I always enjoy loud music when I'm cleaning to keep me focused.

Once they have had plenty of time, we proceed to teeth, bed, etc.... Any toys that are left out, we then put in a penalty box. Our box is just a large plastic tub. You can be as creative as you'd like. We chose a place out of sight for the box. There is nothing worse than a kid weeping over a toy all day. Most often, the kids don't even know it's missing. They have so many toys.

Saturday morning we get out the penalty box, and the kids must choose a chore per toy to get it back. If they don't care to rescue the toy with an extra chore, then it is a toy ready to be donated to charity. A toy with no value to a child will never be picked up. Put on music, enjoy doing the extra chores, and watch your children find a new appreciation for their toys.

We are still in process with this concept, but we are motivated. Please let me know if this works for you or any other ideas. It has allowed my heart to be kind when it comes to messes. some days the monotony of picking up toys was giving my life the feeling of total futility. I have a friend who said her daughter would say, "I don't care, just take my toys." I would bet the time would come where the toys would dwindle down enough to motivate a few chores. Give it a try. It's a fun way to teach personal responsibility. And it reduces the nagging!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Love is Kind

It ceases to amaze me how many people I know combine discipline with anger. When I challenge a Bible study or group of women that both discipline and kindness can exist together, I get looks of confusion.

Recently at a bridal shower I spoke to the issue of 1Corinthians 13 verse, "Love is kind." I challenged the women to love their husbands with kindness. It is kindness that will make an impact on our families much more than a rant. Roman 2:4 God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance. When I sat down after speaking an older woman proceeded to speak poorly of her husband. I just sat in disbelief and exhaustion from having just spoken (it is taxing on ones spirit to share). She must have seen my dismay. She turned to me and said, "I'm just too old to learn." Is God truly that powerless?! I think not, because He changed my hard heart.

As kindness relates to parenting, ask yourself how your tone with your children is when you are frustrated? Do you snap when a mess is made? After disciplining your children, do they draw near to you or are they distant? Even in your toughest moments as a parent the Lord has an abundant supply of His kindness for you as you direct the hearts of your children.

As parents, it is our duty and God's plan for us to discipline. Kindness certainly never means ignoring the sins of our children. I am always humbled by the high calling of discipline when I read in 1 Samuel of Eli's refusal to discipline his sons. Here is what God had to say about it. It was the first thing He chose to speak to Samuel about.

1Samuel 3:11
Then the Lord said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."

I have often shared these scriptures while disciplining my children. To ignore the discipline of our children is a sin, and God longs for us to direct the hearts of our children. Many have gone before me to encourage me in my discipline, and I am continually learning and growing. Proverbs and Shepherding Your Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp have been the greatest encouragement to Jason and I. Our church actually went through the video series that goes along with the book. It's insight was tremendous. As parents, I believe it is easy to get hung up on the behavior of our children and miss dealing with their hearts. If I don't point my children to their own sinful heart, how will they ever see a need for a savior? And if my discipline is angry and harsh, how will they view discipline from God?

Proverbs 3:11,12
My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

I pray for the Lord's discipline in my own life. I am ever grateful for the moments where His Spirit is dealing with my sinful, unkind heart. I fear the moment of His silence concerning my sinful nature.

Today is a day to love the hearts of our children with the Kindness from the Lord. Only then will we see change in the hearts of our children. If you struggle with anger in discipline I would love to encourage you. Not that I have attained all this, but I am striving to take hold of it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Seek Wisdom....enjoy the moments of insanity.

Proverbs 2:1-8
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

I am in a season of losing things. I recently lost two pair of glasses. My husband and I searched our house, and then I finally broke down and bought myself two new pair of glasses. Well, before I even received the new glasses the other two turned up. It was both humorous and discouraging. We are working so hard to save money, only to be set back by my careless mistakes. Thankfully, I am married to a gracious man who is very understanding of my many faults.

Then again, I lost my cell phone. Another turning over of my house. This time I even went to the library and checked out every book on getting organized. My house is generally somewhat tidy. Being a wife of a pastor who lives in the manse (parsonage), I try to keep my house in stop by friendly condition. Though it is normally youth that stop by, who really don't notice my sloth, I do try my best. This second loss was the end of it. I decided to get my house straight. So far, so good, but for some reason I cannot get to my bedroom. I keep waiting for someone to come rescue my bedroom from the endless laundry that hasn't found it's home. Nonetheless, my new phone came today, so I'm waiting for my old one to turn up any minute now.

Then this morning I read in Proverbs what my search should truly be. The pursuit of insight and wisdom from the Lord should be my insatiable search, and there I will find wisdom, insight and the fear of Lord, which is the greatest treasure of all.

After reading Proverbs 2, pondering my own pursuits of silver, phone, glasses and all, I was humbled by my own wandering heart. I came to the computer to write when I spotted my 18 month old son trying to put away his cereal bowl like his big sisters had done. One can only imagine the sight, floor, chair and child covered in the mess. I stopped, and thought, "Lord what is your insight here?" Only with His grace was I able to praise my sons efforts rather than scorn his mess. Together we put the bowl away and used washcloths to clean up the milk and the Lord gave me the insight to see his effort rather than his failure. The Lord deals with us with such love, I am grateful when He allows me opportunities to love as He does.

Truly, who needs a clean house over a pure heart. With God's grace I can have victory over my grumpy heart! I can see the efforts of my children, and His own love for my babies. May your heart be directed to the kindness that only comes from the Lord. How rich we will be if we seek His face. And when you are tempted to bark at the messes, remember how the Lord deals with the messes in your heart. His grace is able to increase your gentleness.
A place to find encouragement to love your little ones, your husbands and those you come in contact with daily. Two does not have to be terrible. These are years to grow not simply get through!