Archive for My Family

5 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2015 {AKA Seasons Change}

I’d like to pretend I’ve put a great deal of time into planning for 2016. Although I do have a few goals for 2016, the truth is that I am in a season of adjustment and some days I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. It’s not because I am running myself ragged or that I am just so incredibly busy that I can’t keep up. It’s more like I’m in a season that I didn’t expect.

Many of you know that I’m caring for a toddler boy right now. We are absolutely in love with him, but, as with all foster care, there are so many unknowns that it can be exhausting and overwhelming. I’ve told my closest friends this, and I guess it’s common in fostering, but I worry more about this little guy than I ever did with my own children. Everything’s fluid, nothing set in stone.

12390965_10153233382060785_5542351305404369267_nThere’s a great deal of unsettle-ness that comes with the fostering territory and I don’t even know if I could explain it if I try. You try to make things “feel” permanent when you know they aren’t. You make every effort to assimilate them into your family and make them feel attached, when you know that it could all change at any moment. Sometimes it feels fraudulent and like a big social experiment. You worry that it will end in hurt for this little guy and it breaks your heart.

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On a day-to-day basis, I’ve come to the conclusion that all I can do is love this little one the best I can. God ordained for Him to be here and what God ordains is always good. I can’t worry about tomorrow even though I find myself daily fighting with the “what ifs” that pop into my mind. We’re all better off for having had this little boy in our life, if only for a season.

I’ve learned several lessons in the last 8 months, all totally unexpected ones.

  1. Acceptance. Most of them include the concept of accepting God’s will when it feels awkward or unstable. Submitting to God’s plan when I wonder if it will ultimately end up hurting my children’s hearts.
  2. Surrender. I think we confuse commitment to God with surrender and they are two totally different animals. I can commit to what I want: the ministries, the priorities, the activities. Commitment puts me in the driver’s seat. Surrender is completely letting go of my own ideals and plans and accepting the path God has laid out for me. It puts God in the driver’s seat.
  3. Time. You never know how God will rearrange your life, so spending time in God’s Word in BULK when you can is an imperative. For the last 8 or so years, I’ve had the luxury of lots of time in the Word. I could sit at my leisure and study because my kids were older and more self-governed. During these years, I went through 2 Journaling Bibles, studied numerous books of the Bible in-depth, took detailed notes that I can return to during this season. I can see now that God was “growing me” and driving down “roots” for the stability I’d need for this season.
  4. Love and do good–no strings attached. It’s easy to love those who love us back, and harder to love those who are unkind or rude, yet God’s love benefits the just and the unjust. Fostering has taught me an aspect of God’s love that I needed to learn again: selfless love. Love that gives time and sacrifices energy for the benefit of another who might never remember you at all. Love that desperately wants to keep the child but prays earnestly for the recovery of the child’s bio-mom at the same time.
  5. Serving. I’ve said this before but serving God doesn’t always look the way you think it will and that’s what’s so exciting about the Christian life. Hospitality and “kitchen table counseling” continue to be the ministries God ordains for me mostly. For those of you who are serving God by caring for toddlers or the elderly and wonder if your service is small compared to what others are doing, ask yourself this question: “If Jesus walked into my home today, would I:
    1. offer him a drink?
    2. cook a meal for Him?
    3. serve Him a snack?
    4. care for Him if He were sick?
    5. comfort Him if He were discouraged?
    6. wash His laundry and press His shirts?

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

Any service, however menial or insignificant, done with a mind toward’s God is like doing it for Him. This mindset changes you!

Next month on the blog I’ll be referencing a book that will help you study the Bible for yourself:  How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word by Kay Arthur. It’s so important that you learn to study God’s word on your own. I know that sounds cliché, but from what I see, most people rely on second-hand knowledge to learn. They read a passage and then “study” the Bible by pouring over the ideas of Matthew Henry or John MacArthur or John Piper. This is not the same as studying the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good commentary and appreciate all of the wonderful study aids we have at our disposal, but not if they become a crutch so that you don’t have to do the slow, hard, work of studying the Bible for yourself. Anyway, we’ll talk about that more next month.

For now, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned this year? How has God changed you? Share in the comments.

Teach Your Children Virtues, Not Just Rules


The internet is full of advice for mothers. Full.

Yes, motherhood is hard. It is. No denying it. Tough days, frustrations, exhausted nerves pushed to the limit of almost crazy. We all know this.

Yet, in all of these discussions, one topic is lacking: teaching virtue.

We focus on rules because we believe that rules get results.

Yes, rules are important, for sure. Boundaries should be clear, consistent, and enforced. But rule keeping is only one side of the coin.

The other side–the reason for law and order–the reason for the commandments is virtue that allows us to love God and others well.

Do most people know what virtue is? In a world that’s false and Photo-shopped and me-centered, where does virtue fit in?

What does the Bible mean when it says, “If there be any virtue…think on these things?”
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Virtue and Integrity go hand in hand. Virtue is the sense of what is noble, fair, right, just. It’s all that’s good. Integrity is the character that allows you to pursue virtue. It is the same in the light as in the dark. Integrity does the same in private as it does in public. When nobody else sees, a woman of integrity does what’s right.

A mom lamented that her child was sneaking food. The food is an issue. Chocolate before supper is naughty. But the real issue is a heart that was willing to deceive—to do something that they wouldn’t have done if mom was there.

Look for ways to teach virtue. More importantly, live virtuously.

So, for instance, a mom who yells at her kids but then answers her phone sweetly is not living a life of integrity.

The mom who screams at her child and then expects the child to respect her might as well forget it.

The mom who lies to her kids or exaggerates to others can’t expect her kids to trust her when they are older.

Bottom line: What will stop a child from lying? Is it your threatening? No. Only an elevation of the truth and the love of it.
What will stop selfishness and self-focus? Seeing the beauty of generosity and kindness against the backdrop of our own dark hearts.

What will stop a teen from gossiping or laughing behind someone else’s back? A love for justice and for protecting people.

What will stop any sinful behavior? Nothing–absolutely nothing, until you behold the humility and perfection of the Savior and want it for yourself. Seeing the virtue in our Savior shows us our lack and inspires us towards goodness and godliness.

Behold the Lovely

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Virtue is a forgotten tool in the mothering toolbox.

Highlighting virtue in our daily lives inspires our kids to be noble. When we see goodness, we want to be good.

When we experience grace, we want to be grace-givers.

And then when we see injustice or are the recipient of hurtful behavior like prejudice or gossip, we should abhor the behavior, and it should propel us to love virtue even more.

2 Peter 1–

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

…For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You might be caught in the “no” cycle–saying no for wrong behavior more than you highlight noble behavior.

Have you praised the generous child who shared a cookie, or the unselfish one who offered a better spot on the couch during movie time, or the compassionate one who offered a hug when someone was sad?

I remember the hard days of parenting, but the good news is that children can grow into lovely, compassionate, virtue-loving adults. (Why don’t more people write blog posts about that!)

I have three adult child and three younger ones in the home, and I have been on both sides of the “hard parenting” stage. Can I just tell you how much of a blessing older children are when they exhibit the virtue of scripture?

My daughter Emily is sitting out for a semester. While she’s home she’s been clipping coupons for me and writing out the local deals. She takes initiative to straighten out the house. She’s generous with her money and loves buying gifts for people. She plays with our foster child. She offers her clothes to her younger sisters. All these things are not part of the rule following, but are part of the virtues growing in her.

Rebekah is a dorm counselor at Bob Jones University and she has a coffee ministry in her room. She offers French pressed Starbucks and treats to anyone who needs to talk. Last week I sent her fall napkins in a care package and she was so excited to be able to give her girls a cookie on a “pretty napkin.” She’s concerned with the needs around her and when she comes home, she jumps in with the needs here.

  
Matthew is generous almost to a fault. He texts to ask how our foster boy is doing because he misses him. He’s always on the look out for his sisters safety and even, occasionally, for mine. There’s nothing more attractive than kindness and gentleness in a man.

Although I love to brag on them, (ahem) I’m not using them as an example to say what a great parent I have been. On the contrary. I’ve stumbled along the way and had to learn on the fly.

I’m saying that the tough days do pay off. You’ll wake up one day to these wonderful adults and, like the pain of childbirth, you forget the trauma. 😉 Well, almost forget.

If you are in the trenches of the early years, make your child obey the rules, yes. Be consistent, certainly. But train them to love virtue and give them plenty of good examples to follow.

Praise them when they are good, and make virtue something to be pursued and emulated.

Don’t let “first time obedience” be your end all. Who wants to raise a rule keeper who is heartless?

After your child’s faith in Jesus Christ, mind 2 Peter 1 and “add virtue.” Don’t skip this.

Need parenting inspiration? Get into God’s word and look at the life of Jesus and talk about it. When you read with a heart to imitate the goodness, it highlights the virtue instead of always focusing on the forbidden.

Does that make sense? Let me know if I’m not clear in the comments or tell me what you’ve done to instill virtue in your kids.

Have a great day!

RESOURCES FOR TEACHING VIRTUE:

God’s Wisdom for Little Girls: Virtues and Fun from Proverbs 31
The Book of Virtues
Loving God with All Your Mind

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Hello? Hello? Yes, I’m still here.

Hey guys. It’s been a while since I’ve written and I feel like I’m out of the blogging loop lately. We just got two of our kids back to college, we’re getting ready for school, caring for sweet Little B,  and we’re gearing up for house renovations.

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I was talking to a friend about how many transitions we’ve had in the past five years. I’ve realized that I get emotionally tired during transition times and that being self aware is not one of my strengths.  I’m super intuitive when it comes to caring for everyone else, but not when it comes to me. (Case in point: I was getting read for a dinner party last week when I realized that I had a headache. It was 5 pm and I hadn’t eaten all day. That.) Sometimes you need to plan for self-care.  Physically, I need to plan rest. Emotionally, I need solitude, even for just an hour. And spiritually, I need to take in God’s Word in slow, careful amounts, meditating and ruminating over the truths in them. I really appreciated this article 10 Ways To Overcome Spiritual Weariness.

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And although transitions are hard for me, it’s really exciting to see how God goes before, directs, and helps our hearts at these times. And can I just say that Peter is amazing during these times? He’s so wise about what needs to be done, what should be let go, what is primary vs. the peripheral. I’m so thankful for him!

Sometimes I really start to question what God is doing and if this is all going to work out in the end, and lately, everything that God has been pointing me to in my devotions, readings, and sermons can be boiled down to these 3 things:

1. The destination is not for me to choose. I go along for the ride and trust God.

2. The outcomes are not as important as faithfulness along the journey.

3. Sin is a daily companion that must be crushed. To overlook it in our own lives is to actually sow a crop that we don’t want to flourish.

I’ve been seriously overwhelmed by the news lately. Have you? It feels hopeless, doesn’t it? I recently read that nearly 400 pastors were “outed” in this Ashley Madison leak and can I just say that it is God’s mercy on them that they were exposed? And it was God’s watch care over His church that allowed such disgrace to be addressed?

And while we’re all wondering how these people could possibly be serving God and living such a double life, let’s remember our own propensity to sin and fear the consequences of it all the more.

I talked to my kids a little about it and explained that the fear of God is supposed to be our motivation not to sin. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But honestly, because we can’t see God, sometimes we don’t respect him as we should. I told them that oftentimes, when I am tempted to sin, I think about the affect it would have on their father or them. I try to think about the look in their eyes. And then I came across this piece by Sarah Mae, What I Know About Cheating and Consequences, which expressed my thoughts exactly (and more beautifully than I could.)

This world is broken, and eternity looks better and better every day, doesn’t it? Key take-a-way from the nightly news? People need the Lord in a desperate way!

I tend to freeze up when I hear horrible news. OR I clean like a mad woman. I don’t know why. Does anyone else do this? Because I tend to be an Idealist, the enormity of the mess of this world makes me want to give up, which of course is crazy.

We can’t do everything but we can do something.

You can start right where you are, small. Start with you. Make sure your life is a life of integrity. Is your public life a true mirror of your private life? (Ask your family. They’ll tell you.) If not, this is the very definition of hypocrisy.

This article, The importance of What We Do In Secret is helpful. Then, be a light wherever you are. Do good, be kind, promote righteousness, and share the gospel.

What about you? Does the news make you want to shut down?

It’s been fun keeping up with your pictures on Instagram and Facebook and seeing what you’ve been up to. And I’m really enjoying Periscope right now. (I’m I’m @joyfilleddays if you want to find me.) Scopes I like: MacKenzie @BOLDturquoise and BoldTurquoise.com, @JessAConnolly from Naptime Diaries and of course, my friend, Ruth from Gracelaced.com @gracelaced.

What have you been reading and loving right now?

Happy end of the summer, you guys! Enjoy your weekend!

Things You’ll Love

This week Hope and I have been sick with colds. We’re both on antibiotics now and are on the mend. Yay for modern medicine!

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We watched Paddington as a family and it was really sweet and funny.  We also got a pre-screening link to view Beyond The Mask and loved it.

SOO, {ducking and bracing} I rarely LOVE Christian films for whatever reason (acting is weak, humor is corny, low budget, all of the above, I don’t know. Don’t hate!) but I will watch them because the messages are usually wholesome. This was NOT the case with Beyond The Mask. The filming was right up there with the best movies I’ve seen and the acting was wonderful! It was full of action and romance that wasn’t trashy, and there was no foul language. Highly recommend!

I spent some time reading At Home with Madame Chic and am really enjoying it. I love the detail that Jennifer Scott puts into life. I also love that she lives her life with high standards regardless of what anyone else is doing around her. We only get one life to live. We might as well live it well!

Some days I was so sick that all I could do was listen to an audio book. By the way, if you’ve never tried Audible you can get two free audio books right now by signing up for their free trial. You’re welcome.

Some favorite reads around the web this week:

Why venting your emotions is the worst choice. Just so much common sense here.

The Small, Happy Life “We don’t all have to shine.”

How are you doing today? Insightful article by Anne about the questions we ask when people are grieving. I agree with Anne that the question should be, “How are you doing right now.”

In Defense of Doing Nothing. A Stanford dean tells us why we should let our kids just live during the summers.

Things have been slow around the blog lately. We all know that life happens and blogs go cold. We’ve been in the midst of carefree hospitality and setting priorities so that we aren’t so busy “serving” that we actually forget about God.

DID I MENTION THAT MY SISTER IS COMING HOME IN FIVE DAYS? We were just together in May, but we love having all the kids together for a few weeks each summer. YAY!!

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What have you been reading and loving this week? Let me know in the comments section here or on FB. I hope you are all bronchitis-free and enjoying this lovely summer.

*post contains Amazon affiliate links.

When Dreams For My Kids Fall Short

“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” That quote used to bring me comfort, on the days when I didn’t feel like much, rocking babies in my comfy pants and t-shirt. The idea of influencing a generation and changing the world for the better took the sting out of the late night feedings and spit up on my shoulder.

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In the early years of motherhood, despite exhaustion and repetition, I had dreams for my kids. I wanted them to be better than I was. I wanted them to be well rounded, happy, healthy, and I wanted to give them the tools and education they needed to change their own little corner of the world for better.

All good things, but my dreams were shallow and fell short and missed the grand goal of them savoring and cherishing Christ.

Oh, I wanted them to know Christ. I taught them to fold their little hands and say grace, we learned portions of scripture together, prayed for missionaries, sang songs, and went to all the church services. From the outside looking in, you would have called me ultra-faithful in the training department, but when Christ is not the “end all” in your own life, the truth is He’s just an “add on” –and that is always a confusing, strange, unstable mix. (You’ll know He’s an “add on” when your true god is rivaled or taken away. You still have Christ, but you’re pining away after the reigning god at the moment.)

Thank God that dreams change. When Christ is all-in-all, everything else is a nice add on, but not mandatory.

Now, I just want them to be whole in Christ.

I want them to be happy in the present, no matter where life that finds them. I want them to be able to look through the hardship and see the Source and count it a blessing.

I no longer try to keep things neat and safe for them, because I’ve learned that I can’t pass my faith on to them through my experiences or via a sterile environment. I can point them to Christ and trust the Holy Spirit to do a work in them. They have to walk the life of faith on their own, and without adversity, hardships, temptations, and trials, there would be no need for faith.

I want them to be content in the midst of crisis, because our happiness is not dependent on our circumstances and I want them to know first hand that God is more than enough comfort when trials come.

I want them to cultivate confidence in their own relationship with God, and I want them to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit when He prompts them to pray or abstain from sin, or to evangelize.

When life is unmanageable and uncontrollable, I want them to grasp God’s promises with their own two hands and never let go. And they can’t do that void of trouble.

I’m not wishing hardship on them, don’t get me wrong. But if hardship is necessary to bring them closer and nearer to Christ, then that is okay, because this world is not the end all.

Christ is the end all, and He desires for His kids to see and know Him more than I do.

What can a mom do? You can faithfully teach and look for opportunities to point them to the good news of the gospel.

And you can pray along with Jesus for them–

John 17:9,15,17::  I pray for them… for they are thine. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

 “God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” 
― Jonathan Edwards,

 

Monday Morning Worries

It’s Monday morning. I’ve already hit the ground running.

Before 7 am, I’ve washed my sheets, cleaned the bathroom, had my devotions and coffee. Last week was crazy busy and I’m not expecting this week to be any different, so I plan and economize and…in truth, I worry.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

I don’t know if I’ll have all the strength, energy, wisdom, resources, or will-power to complete this week according to my ideals.

When it’s all about me and my resources, it’s deflating, friends.

It’s easy for me to get bogged down before I even start the day. I’ve scribble down our to-do list, a grocery list, a remember list. I have to remember to get this child to skating and this child to work. I like checking things off my lists, declaring them “done.”

And our check lists don’t end on paper. Oh no, we also have these mental check lists as well, a sort of running commentary of all the things that could ever go wrong and threaten to overwhelm us. Am I right? There’s no check box for that list. It’s always there, never done.

We think about all that is before us in the future, all the health and emotional needs around us, the unknowns, the looming bills that need to be paid, that problem in our own life that is still unresolved, that problem in our friend’s life that we feel helpless to counsel never mind fix, that problem in our church, that deficiency in our own life, and how all of these things will affect our kids.

In short, we worry and borrow trouble and it weighs us down.

Jesus knew this tendency in humans and tells us to stop living as though we have no Heavenly Father.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 

yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Matthew 6:25-32

Of course, this is just one passage that reminds (actually commands us) not to worry. To worry is to question God’s goodness to His own children.

Earlier in Matthew 6 we see there are other things people worry about:

  • some religious people worried about getting the praise of men, so they used religion as a tool to get what they wanted. They played a role for applause, and God saw it and saw through it and declared them hypocrites. To desire the praise of men is to be a glory-thief. Nobody is worthy of praise but our God.
  • We worry about saving money and amassing wealth and luxury, but God tells us that all earthly treasures will eventually rot. The only treasure that last is what we lay up in heaven by serving the Lord here.

I tend to worry when I forget that God takes care of me and is in control. Matthew 6 tells me that God has not forgotten me and He knows everything I need.

This is a comfort! I don’t need to carry these burdens. “Cast your burdens upon the Lord.” Worrying does nothing but weigh me down and keep me focused on the wrong things.

My focus should be–>”Your Heavenly Father.” (Matt. 6:32)

He knows what I need. He knows what my family needs. He knows what my friends need. He sees that problem and can handle it.

He’s faithful.

When I worry, I’ve forgotten my Heavenly Father.Problems are big and He is small in my mind. I’ve dwarfed Him and minimized Him and I doubt He’s amused.

I’m living like an orphan when I have the best Father possible.

He gently reminds me, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (vs. 33) Stop living for the lesser things (like praise or money). It’s never-satisfying.

Worry is living for the here and now instead of remembering that I’m not made for this world, and I am just a pilgrim here, and my Heavenly Father has called me to a higher calling and to a Kingdom mindset that takes the focus off of self and places it on the majesty and glory of the Lord!

And with that mindset, worry vanishes, just like that.

A six word question that has saved me many times.

At the end of our lives, we want to say that we lived our life well. I don’t want to look back with regret, or realize that I majored on minors, spending my precious energy on things that didn’t matter or things I couldn’t change.

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The fact is, we only have one life and we only get to live it once. It’s non-refundable. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.

This means that our decisions are important. I know you agree on the big things of life, like where to move, what job to pursue, etc…but it’s even more important in the little things of life.

“The way we live our hours is the way we live our days. And the way we live our days is the way we live our lives.

I have a question I ask myself whenever I am at a crossroad. Six little words that have helped me choose wisely: What is most important right now?

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When the house is a mess and the kids are in creative mode in every.room.of.the.house and drill Sargent mom starts to surface demanding that they clean up in short order, and frustration is mounting: What is most important right now?

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When you’ve got a million things to do, and nobody else seems to have two arms or two legs that day: What is most important right now?

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When you’re frustrated by people who don’t seem to have a clue about the basics of common courtesy: What is most important right now?

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When you’re dealing with that woman who just can’t seem to control her tongue, and you’re tempted to give her a piece of your mind and put her in her place once and for all: What is most important right now?

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When you’re overwhelmed with life, and you are asked to cram more into your schedule: What is most important right now.

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When ministry opportunities are abundant and more requests are coming your way: What is most important right now?

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Asking the simple question takes you out of the arena of the “immediate”–I’ve got to say something, or do something—and gives you a chance to make a wise decision.

Many times, prayer, time, and checking with your spouse adds clarity, too, and keeps you from prioritizing your life so you won’t be sorry.

The answers to “What is most important right now” may vary: God’s glory, devotional life, time for kids to be creative, teaching our kids to be kind with our words, practicing imperfect hospitality, stewarding well our spiritual gifts, being there for a friend, the laundry (!!!), being with a loved one in their need, encouraging a friend, getting this meal on the table.

It’s simple, admittedly. But it has helped me more times than I can recall.

Do you talk to yourself? What questions do you ask?

 

 

Would You Pray for Addy?

Today, I simply want to ask you to pray for my sister, Hannah, and her daughter, Addy. If you’ve read here at all, you know a little bit about Addy’s journey. With all of her difficulties, she is one of the happiest, funniest kids I have ever met and is often the life of our family parties because her humor is hysterical.

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Some history for those of you who don’t know:

If you don’t know Addy, her story is here: CaringBridge 

I’ve praised my sister’s faith during trials by sharing a bit of her story here.

I’ve told you what every parent needs to know before seeking medical attention if you have a special needs child, and about how Children’s Hospital in Boston failed Addy because of Code Slow.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

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I’m just telling you that my mom-heart is praying for a successful surgery and that Addy will walk again.

Somehow, when I pray the fragile words, “on earth as it is in heaven” I’m forcing myself to see the connection between the two places that I miss when life is trial free.

Trials give us eyes to see life as it really is: fragile, dear, precious, connected to eternity. Like dew sparkling on a singular spider web, we catch a glimpse of the connection between heaven and earth when we acknowledge that God envelopes both, controls both, and oversees both. And we’re not so scared to pray “Thy will be done.”

A word about praying that comforts me: I can pray in Jesus name.

If you’ve grown up in a Christian home and have prayed this way since infancy, this may seem like ho-hum news. We don’t always realize that it’s a privilege to use His name because we’ve never known anything else and were never taught the significance. “In Jesus name” can become like the closer–like a “sincerely yours” scribbled mindlessly on the end of a letter.

It’s honestly a privilege and a trust given to believers and this is how I like to think about it:

When I was a child, I was proud of the fact that my father was not only a good and godly man but an expert in his field, one of the areas most knowledgeable cranberry growers. As his daughter, I learned from observation that people knew him and respected him, so when he gave me his “permission” to use his name, as in “Go tell them to fill the car up with gas and just charge it to Larry Harju,” I had no qualms about ever having any problems. As his daughter, I was entitled to the respect he had earned in many areas. He trusted me and gifted me permission to use his name (or credit card!).

Praying in Jesus name assumes sonship and alignment with His heart and will. Jesus is entrusting you to ask on His behalf, like saying “You and I are one in purpose. You ask the Father.”

I often think about that when I do things, {i.e. pray, minister, work} in “Jesus” name. It’s an awesome gift that’s entrusted to us and one that we cannot, in good conscience, abuse.

I am praying that God’s will would be done. I trust that God has all of our best interests in mind.

Would you pray for Addy as well? And ask your churches to pray?

Thanks so much, friends.

Do Small Things

What would the world be like if we encouraged each other to do small things?

We’ve all heard “Do Great Things”….

But what if doing truly great things means doing exceptionally small things?

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In a Christian world that encourages the “radical,” I believe we’ve underestimated the “ordinary.” And in doing so, the ordinary has become the exception to the rule.

Moms everywhere,

{yes you, who just plopped down for a five minute break to catch your breath between diapers and dishes, whining and sippy cup searching}

what if you are the one truly changing the world?

Although you’ll never get a Grammy for singing the best lullaby,

Or have your name written up in Bon Appetit for your teddy bear pancakes,

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Or make the pages of National Geographic for your amazing discoveries,

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what if the daily “small” that you share with your loved ones is the most important of after all. 

If you’ve been on the receiving end of these small, tender mercies, you’ll know that these small things change us and form us into “civilized” and loving people. They teach us how to love. They communicate, “You belong and are worth the effort.”

These tiny acts, almost too small to mention, shape the person and

as that wholehearted person raises their wholehearted child,

generational influence begins.

Some examples of small kindnesses that I’ve received that are indelibly etched on my mind:

  • Entering my Noni’s Italian kitchen, greeted by the warm smells of garlic and chicken, and her rushing to offer me ginger ale and cookies or grapes.
  • My grandmother, taking me out for blueberry muffins and hot chocolate with whipped cream. Her cards, with her gorgeous handwriting sprawled on the front. Her little bowls of cookies and goldfish that she’d take down when we’d stop over.
  • As a child, my own mother’s influence was the greatest. She spent time with us. She lugged us all over creation, she entertained our friends and was a mother to anyone who entered our house. She was hospitable and then some. She served tea, she served meals. No one ever went hungry in our house. She made a difference to us kids and to all of our friends.
  • Peter’s mom always has time for people. Even when we were dating, she’d sit and talk. She’d offer tea and drinks. She made me feel included instead of “under inspection” as a daughter-in-law. She makes and serves Sunday dinner every week and has for as long as I’ve ever known her. To some this may sound like drudgery or menial work, but I can tell you as someone who has experienced her Italian cooking that it means the world and communicates love because she loves us and loves to cook for us.

So, when you feel like everything you do is small and unseen,

when you’re tempted to think,

it’s just a cup of tea,

it’s just clean sheets,

it’s just a friendly chat,

it’s just a meal, or clean laundry, or a little note, or teddy bear pancakes,

remember that your small deeds communicate. They shape another person. And especially in motherhood, we’re showing love to the littlest among us, the least of these. It’s teaching by example. It’s pouring your life into anyone God put into your path.

It’s like doing it for Him. And that totally matters.

Embrace the small things. In a world that is so fractured and independent and dysfunctional,  we could use more of the small and self-less and loving.

Beautiful New England

This week our entire family is enjoying the Maine coastline.  I’m in love with the ocean and am so thankful that we live close enough for frequent visits. It’s calming, refreshing and so wholesome for the kids. Plus, we love Maine blueberry pie and fried clams. Who doesn’t. lol

And there are so many reminders of God and His powerful promises to us near the sea:

(I took these pics on a morning coffee run. The fog was so thick and gorgeous, it was hard to tell where the ocean ended and the sky started.)

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He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)

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If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:9,10)

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How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake and I am still with you. (Psalm 139:17,18)

Have you ever read this sweet poem to your kids?

If Once You Have Slept On An Island

By Rachel Field

If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,

You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.

You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.

Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.

Rachel Field puts it beautifully, doesn’t she?

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