Monday, November 29, 2010

Who Makes you Give Thanks?

As a church we are memorizing Matthew 5:14-16

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can not be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

First, let me give credit where credit is due, thank you Newsboys for helping me memorize this so quickly.

I taped these verses to my mirror and memorized while I straightened my hair, did my makeup and went over my Christmas shopping list for my day out.  It really is amazing how good I've gotten at multitasking...though I don't know if memorizing scripture should be put into my beauty routine (which is getting longer by the day, might I add). Whatever, it's in my memory and that can't be a bad thing.

As I was saying this verse over and over in my head I wondered if I give thanks to the Father in heaven for others' good deeds. At first I thought, no, I don't really give thanks much for those missionaries overseas and those who help the poor. I was kind of thinking large scale - giving thanks for the obvious things believers are doing for the Lord.

So I began to think what or who causes me to give thanks?  It didn't take me long to realize I had given thanks that week, many times, for what believers were doing. Here are a few examples:

My mother-in-law agreed to take the girls so I could do a little Christmas shopping. I called her the night before praying she hadn't backed out and she said "what time are my little cherubs coming? I've been looking forward to it." I breathed a quick prayer when I got of the phone and felt so grateful the rest of the evening. Thank you Lord for two wonderful sets of Grandparents, who love to spend time with my girls, I feel lucky.

I am the Preschool Director at our church. When the quarter switches over I frantically make phone calls trying to get volunteers to teach Sunday school and Children's Church. This completely stresses me out and I often wonder why the heck I agreed to do this in the first place. Then I remember, oh yes, I would much rather do this than volunteer to teach the kids! So this week I called one of the parents to see if she would do Children's Church a couple times for me and she said "yes, I've been wondering when you'd call." Thank you Lord for positive and willing volunteers!

I got an idea to have a birthday party for Jesus at my house this year.  It seemed like a great idea until I remembered that I'm about the farthest thing away from a party planner there is.  Not to mention I have no idea what to do with a group of kids. I began to stress about what I was going to do so I called my crafty sister Ann to get ideas. The next day she emailed me a full detailed list of what to do and when and how to do it. Amazing. Thank you Lord for setting an idea into motion so that I will carry it through for your glory.

I realize all these examples affect me personally, but what all these people did for me and their heavenly Father made me turn my eyes toward heaven and give thanks. They are letting their light shine before men. Cool, very cool.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Humble Life in a Nutshell

Rylie: "Mom, what's leprosy?"

Me: "Leprosy? Well, back when Jesus lived many people had sores all over their body and he helped heal them. But no one gets it anymore."

Rylie:  "Oh, like the sores on your face?"

Me: "Nevermind. Just forget it."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Perfect Mother for a Minute

Yesterday I ran some errands with my 2 year old, Austyn, while Rylie was at Preschool. Is it not so much easier with 1 kid?? Anyway, I decided to stop and have a little quality time with her over a cup of coffee and a juice box. About 5 minutes into our coffee break, an elderly lady yells from a few tables over, "it's so nice to see a child sitting nicely and quietly, there's just no excuse for kids running around and screaming in places like this."

I opened my mouth to say, "this is a rarity." But then I stopped myself and gave her an "oh boy, do I know what you mean" nod.  Then I did what any smart mother would do....I inhaled my coffee, grabbed the juice box and said "let's get out of here" to Austyn. Why take the risk of tarnishing my "perfect mother" reputation?

Then, as if trying to sabotage my high, we went into a store with insanely tiny and breakable collectibles.  We were the only ones in there of course, magnifying my every motherly move.  Austyn's little fingers were itching to touch and making the salesperson a nervous wreck. Then, as if on cue, she started coughing so hard a lung almost came up.  Let's just say that if looks could kill, I'd be dead.  The cashier stared me right out of the place as if to say "what kind of mother are you? First of all, do not bring your child in here....ever.  Second, how can you even think of taking her out of the house with that cough?"

So right now, some old lady thinks I'm a mother who does no wrong, while some cashier has me pegged.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Be All There

Whenever I go on trips I like to take a step back and really look at my life. I like to pinpoint the things that I need to work on and just don't feel right about. I think it takes me getting away from it all to clear my head and have some thoughts of my own.  Thoughts that don't involve potty training, how I'm going to get my kids to share, or what I'm going to make for supper.

When I was in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, I spent some time in thought and in prayer about how I viewed my life as a mom. I already told you a while back I have a hard time viewing my kids as interruptions rather than my focus in life. This is something I've struggled with for a while now so I decided it was time to deal with it. I spent some time trying to answer these questions: Why can't I just be content with the job the Lord has given me?  Why do I fight so hard against motherhood and all it entails? Where is that happy medium between a helicopter mom and a checked out mom?

Obviously I love my girls, but I knew I needed to be more present for them, not only in body, but mind and soul as well. Oh...we play hard, read countless stories, paint and color things, but I often feel distracted while I'm doing this. My mind pulls me away and tells me there's something better to do. I find myself fighting against what my life has become. Well, I didn't get any major answers on my trip, but I came back with some renewed energy and a resolve that I will be present for my children. Kind of that renewed love for your life after you get away from it for a while.

I did get a pretty firm answer the week after I got back though. My devotions took me to Luke to revisit the story of Christ's birth.  With my views on motherhood in the back of my mind, I saw Mary in a new light this time around.

I saw her as a woman who didn't ask to be a mother but didn't hesitate in the least to take that call. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered, "May it be to me as you have said."  No fit throwing, no arguing, just acceptance.  I asked to be a mother and I feel like I'm hesitating.  God has given me 2 amazing gifts and I still feel pulled to a life that involves my rights, my selfishness. 

Mary was a trusting mom, not a hovering helicopter mom. At 12 years old, Jesus was accidentally left at the temple after the Feast of the Passover. I mean, sure, he was perfect and all, but she let go of her need to control his every move.  She didn't give into fear of the "what if's." (There was also the added pressure of making sure nothing happened to the Savior of all mankind.)

Even though Mary didn't hover, she was a very caring and thoughtful mom. She "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."  She treasured her moments with Jesus. She reflected on how people reacted to him and how he responded to questions. I'm sure she knew his time was short so she cherished what little time she had.

As if Mary's account in God's Word wasn't enough, I also came across this quote in a book I was reading:

Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.
 ~ Jim Elliot, Christian missionary and martyr

I believe motherhood to be God's will for me.  I need to be all there.  When I'm spending time interacting with the girls my focus needs to be on them. I need to treasure up and ponder their questions, answers, reactions, interactions in my heart so I might know and understand them. But I also need to trust the Lord with them when I'm not spending quality time with them - he can hover over them.

I'm sure at times I will be distracted, tired, irritated, and selfish but I will discipline myself to be there, and I will want to be there...I will be all there.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gwyneth Paltrow...a country singer?

I'm not trying to hate on Gwyneth because I love her as an actress, but does this make any sense to you?

A few quick questions/observations about her trying to launch a country singing career:

- Has she even seen a cow? Like, in real life?

- From watching an interview a while back, I know she doesn't eat cows...just animals that have 2 legs.

- Has she driven on a dirt road before, or cripes, has she even been in a Western movie?

- She has a pretty good voice but, Country Strong?  Really? I kinda found myself laughing and then becoming a little irritated that she would even claim to know what "country strong" means.  I guess I'm more fiercely proud of my roots than I thought.

- I don't think the country crowd will buy what she's selling.

This is equivalent to me rapping a duet with Eminem about life on the streets. But hey, kudos to her for being gutsy and looking good while doing it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Girl is Born Again

My little girl became a Christian a few days ago. October 28, 2010. What a blessed day. A day of rejoicing and a day of answered prayer! 

This is a picture of her right after she got saved.  Look at the joy on that little face :)

Over the past several months Rylie has been begging me to go to heaven.  Probably everyday we got into some sort of discussion about Jesus and it would always end the same way. She would say things like "mom, I just want to go to heaven to see Jesus" and "please mom, I really really want to go!"  Staying true to her drama queen nature, she would even work herself up to tears sometimes. This brought forth a few conflicting emotions in me: joy that she has such childlike faith, uncertainty on how to deal with this, and probably the most instant feeling was fear.

I felt fear that she's too young for me to tell her how to get to heaven.  Can a 4 year old truly comprehend salvation? I wanted it to be her decision and not a coached one. I felt fear that I wouldn't know how to explain it right. Then there's the fear that if she kept begging to go to heaven that God would decide to give her that wish. Which gets down to the ultimate fear of letting go of control of your child and putting them completely in God's hands.

Well the other night before bed we were having prayer time and Ry began to beg again to go to heaven. Subconsciously, I think up to this point, the fear of losing my girl overshadowed my need to tell her how she can actually get to heaven.  I would just say things like "someday we'll go to heaven" or "it's up to God to decide when we get to go."

So on this night I gave in and finally said, "did you know there's only one way to get to heaven?" 
"How mom?"
"If you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and and you ask him to come and forgive you of those sins and live in you, then you will go to heaven someday."
Then she said what I was afraid she was going to say, "okay I want to do that now!  I really really want to mom. I want to go to heaven and be with Jesus."
(Wince) Please Lord don't take her from me!
After some more explanation and lot's of "are you sure's???" Eric prayed with her.
She prayed slowly and surely (very out of character) and was beaming from head to toe afterward. My heart lept. Rylie is in the Kingdom of Heaven. Her name is in the Book of Life.
After calming down a little she said, "Okay, now Austyn has to do it too."
She has been very concerned about Austyn's salvation ever since.

My girl said her prayer so confidently and with so much emotion. She knew what she had just done and it showed on her face.  She was beaming.  A 4 year old knows. She may not have all the answers yet, but I truly believe she is a Christian.  I knew the Holy Spirit had been speaking to her, my fears had just been getting in the way.

I don't know if she will remember it as the moment she was born again. But, I will. I hope throughout her life she will be continually reminded of her need of a Savior and will always feel that intense childlike love for the Lord that she does right now.

I'm proud to say that Austyn has been evangelized to many times and even led in a prayer that included a lot of jibberish followed by a matter-of-fact "Anen!"

If you were saved at a young age like this I would love to hear your experience.  Do you truly believe that was your salvation experience? Do you remember it?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Couple Good Reads

When I was on "vacation" I got to read a few books that I normally wouldn't allow myself to read. When I'm home I force myself to read parenting/work-on-yourself type books because I feel a little guilty when I sit down to read a novel.  Why must we as mothers feel shame for enjoying a few stolen moments to ourselves? Whether it be devouring a great novel during nap time or taking a good long shower while I sit my kids in front of the TV, I always feel a little stab of guilt afterward. Blah.

Ok, I love to read a good novel when I'm on vacation. Francine Rivers, probably my favorite Christian fiction author, has a new 2 book series out. It's a must read. She's good because she leaves out the cheesy factor. Don't get me wrong, I love a good cheesy romance novel sometimes, but it's refreshing to read someone who actually lives in the real world where yes...bad things happen to good people. And where (can you believe it!) Christians don't actually say the perfect thing at the perfect time.

The other book that I read I actually bought as a "thank you" to my mom for watching my girls. (She probably deserved a set of fine china.) I had already read the Francine Rivers books so I decided to start in on my mom's gift on the plane ride home.  This was a big mistake because I pretty much bawled the entire way home. The poor guy next to me didn't know what to do (Eric was sleeping the whole time) so at one point he reached over and offered to share his peanuts. I took them. I had already devoured mine because I was so focused on my book and I needed something to go with the rest of my Coke.

Read this and keep a box of Kleenex handy:

This is Stephen Curtis Chapman's wife. It's a lot about her life with Stephen, her adoptions and losing one of her adopted daughters in an accident that involved her son. Heartbreaking, yet uplifting. We grew up listening to Stephen's tapes - yes tapes - in the car.  My dad would blast them everywhere we went so it was fun to read about what they were going through in life when we were listening to "I Will be Here" and "More to This Life."

I would love to hear about any "must reads" you suggest for my next, business trip.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Advent Conspiracy

Our church is supporting the Advent Conspiracy movement this year. The Advent Conspiracy basically is about spending less money on your gifts and giving more to those in need. It also encourages you to put more thought into your gifts by really focusing in on what would be meaningful to the receiver even suggesting to handmake a gift.

Suggesting to handmake a gift would normally make me laugh out loud, but now that I'm a professional knitter I see washrags in a few lucky people's futures. I like the idea of really trying to get meaningful gifts and honestly I often think long and hard about my gifts for others. I definitely have picked things up last minute, but for the most part I try to find that perfect thing for that perfect person.

In one of our family circles we've tapped into the Advent Conspiracy mentality a bit. For the last couple years we have been donating to charities in each others name. We donate things like clean water wells, school supplies, animals. This is all very commendable and I'm sure the good Lord approves, but tell me this.....why do I feel like George Costanza after receiving a clean water well given in my name?

Donating in someone's name has been good for me because it brings out my ugly side....kind of like parenting. It brings out the old selfishness "me" mentality that I like to carry around in my back pocket. Doesn't anyone want to spend time thinking about the perfect gift for "me?" "I" like traditions. "I" like opening gifts. All the presents under the tree are for my kids. What about "me?" Why do they get to have all the fun? Me, me, me!  (And yes, I'm 31.)

See what I mean. 

Don't act like you would jump up and down either though.

Yes, I want to help those in need - I'm not a complete waste of space. And do I need anything? Definitely not. Maybe it just goes back to my love of shopping...I don't know.

So the question is: am I just another consumer being sucked into a consumer driven society? Is there something to a traditional Christmas? And, darn it! Why is it so hard for me to be happy about "a piece of paper with my name on it?"  Someone just got clean water or food for their family to get them through an entire year. Stuff I have plenty of.

I'm sure my inner "George" will rear his ugly head again this Christmas.  But I'd like to think I'm giving him a fair warning this year.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Big City Fashion

Whenever I go somewhere new I like to just sit and watch people walk by.  Mostly because I love to see the latest trends in fashion. Since we live in a rural area, big city fashion tends to hit here a few years later so I like to see what's up for us next.

Here's one that has been around for a while, but everyone is doing it in Philly.
Skinny jeans with tennis shoes:

Not just the teenagers...their parents too. I felt very out of place in my boot cut jeans and Nike's. Boot cut jeans are no where to be seen in Philadelphia.  I just can't get on board with this. I think maybe the main reason is this:

short + big feet + skinny jeans + tennis shoes = disaster

So for now I will say "never." I do like the skinny jeans for heels and boots though. 

Next thing I don't know if I can I'll go ahead and say "never" is:

Leggings as jeans:

I can do leggings if my butt is covered but again, everyone in Philly was wearing the leggings as jeans.  And you know what that means....also, disaster.  I'll take the firm stance that leggings worn as jeans should not be offered to everyone.  Maybe just models.

Here is a trend I could definitely get on board with:

Leg warmers - super super cute!

This was my favorite: Leg warmers with short boots

And one more that I actually did get on board with and bought a pair for myself was...

The riding boot

People were wearing these with black leggings (as jeans, of course) and skinny jeans and I thought it was really cute. It's bringing back the equestrian look evidently.  Now all I need is a horse and hat and I'm ready to go!

Fun, fun, fun....I love fashion!
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